Dragon Age 4: The Hype is Real

I just can’t wait for this game, current speculation is for it to come out in 2021, and I’m like, WHY?!?!

I’ve already waited four years, I mean, I have to wait another three?

That’s too long. I’m still looking forward to it, the hype is still very real.

It’s just, why?

Also, Solas, you betrayer! I will fight you in combat, you’ll be the greatest Shakespearean villain in gaming, if done right.

I’m hoping this game isn’t another Mass Effect: Amdromeda. Don’t get me wrong, I like that game. But please don’t let Dragon Age 4 be a buggy mess, please just let it be awesome.

I’m ready for the game, just, don’t disappoint me BioWare!

Advertisements

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (2017) Review

[This review contains spoilers]

More of the same is best way to describe this expansion.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I liked Horizon Zero Dawn, I thought it was a good game, and I think this is a good expansion. What I liked most about it was the amount of content you get with it.

This is very similar to amount of extra content that Witch 3 and Oblivion gave you. Most modern games don’t go out of there way to give you this much content anymore. A lot of DLC is throwaway nowadays, so its nice to see something that really does feel like an expansion.

Now one of the biggest issue I had with The Frozen Wilds was the difficulty curb was too hard in my opinion. It also taught me something else, that once you play the ‘new game plus’ mode, you can’t change the difficulty, which is in a word: Bullshit.

It hampered my overall enjoyment, despite it being a well made game.

The Frozen Wilds really did make me appreciate one thing though, Horizon Zero Dawn was, and is, beautiful. The visuals are still stunning, even when compared to new game releases.

Another issue I had with the game is that it felt like a rehash, like they didn’t know what to do with the plot; so they just rinsed and repeated what they had before, which just came across as lazy to me.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s competently written, and there is nothing wrong with it. This game just could’ve been better.

I mean I liked the characters introduced, like Ourea, that worships an AI like a God, but somehow still befriends her. I always liked how Horizon handled these tribes people explanation of technology as something magical, it’s the contrast between the future and the primitive that’s just so interesting.

However outside that, don’t expect much, like I stated before it’s more of the same. While that isn’t bad, that isn’t a great thing either.

Most Anticipated Games of 2018!

2017 was a great year for video games, but I think next year will be just as good.

Spider-Man:

This is easy to put on the list. It’s a game about being a web-slinging badarse. Why wouldn’t it be here? Is it the greatest looking game ever? No. I like the bright colours and the kinetic energy. The only thing I really wish is that there was more variety of colour. Maybe there will be, we’ve only seen a trailer, but so far so good!

God of War:

I mean you’re a God with an axe! You travel with your son. Nothing can really measure up to you as you stomp their brains into the ground. I see no issues here.

Red Dead Redemption 2:

A cowboy in what appears to be a very compelling, beautiful, open-world. Sounds good to me. I just hope I get a female option and that there are no microtransactions.

Days Gone:

Zombies! Zombies everywhere! I couldn’t help myself. This honestly seems like a fun game, nothing ground breaking, but I don’t think it has to be. So long as it’s fun with a decent story then I’m happy.

Kingdom Hearts 3:

I hope this game isn’t delayed, it looks amazing. I think Pixar as a video game is never something I thought I wanted, but now I do. So again, please come out this year! It’s a really damn pretty looking game.

Vampyr:

I’ll be a vampire. It’ll be total rpg. Meaningful choices. A flexible plot. Sounds great. Sign me up. The graphics could be better, but I’m not complaining.

Skull and Bones:

I want to be a pirate. I heard that the ship combat isn’t the only element to this game. I hope it has a first person campaign, because then it’s got my attention.

Shadow of the Colossus:

A remake of a classic game. I really want to see that. It looks lovely and compelling. I’m on board.

A Way Out:

Couch Co-op! I missed you! EA can’t be trusted, so I hope to God this is a good game!

Metro Exodus:

This really looks like something different. A shooter with a strong element of horror, with a world that just breathes with character. Awesome. I hope it lives up to the trailer.

Octopath Traveler:

An old school jrpg. I love these types of games, it just needs a great story. For me these games live or die by the narrative. So long as that’s good, everything else should fall into place.

Games I can’t wait for that probably won’t be here until 2019:

If 2017 was great and 2018 has that same potential, I think 2019 could be even better. Honestly, I’m not pulling anyone’s leg.

The Last of Us 2:

This is probably one of the most anticipated games coming out in general. If it’s anything like the first game, I think it’ll be wonderful. I’m certainly looking forward to it.

Dragon Age 4:

I really want this game to come out! It’s been too long! I love Inquisition. I love the world, the lore, the characters. So long as this is improves on the previous game, I think that this will be a fantastic ride.

Cyberpunk 2077:

I honestly adored Witcher 3. It’s one of my favourite video games full stop. I hope it’s just as good as it’s been rumoured to be. I honestly can’t wait for this one. I hope we get some news on it next year, because the anticipation is at full throttle with this one.

Persona 5 Review:

[This review contains spoilers]

This is the first Persona game I’ve played and I enjoyed it. I think that this is a good game that could’ve been great. It has some honest strong points, with great characters, a wonderful art style and fun turn-based combat.

Yet the main plot held it back for me. The god bullet was the largest deus ex machina. The plot twist was just strange, Igor (or his imposter) was a giant grail that was filled with people’s life source? Defeating a god was fun and dramatic, but the plot getting there toward the end was nonsensical.

The game basically ended twice. Both of them filled with too much exposition. There was also too much information that was repeated throughout the game. Maybe that’s fine if you play it over a couple of months, but marathoning the game just emphasises these faults. I don’t need hear the same information over and over again.

Also I felt the pacing was off, one second I’m in the largest dungeon ever, trying to bring truth to light of someone’s crimes; the next, I’m being a high schooler. I didn’t get to do everything I wanted. On one hand that’s great, it leave me wanting more; however I wasn’t prepared for the game to take away months from me toward the end.

So I never got to complete my romance, or fulfil all my confidant rankings. That was annoying and unfortunate.

Especially when I felt like that last twenty hours of the game just dragged for me.

Regardless, this is an over a hundred hour game, and I liked most of it.

I liked chilling with Ryuji, he’s brash but loveable. Yusuke is a stereotypical artist. Futaba is an adorable geek. All these characters are just wonderful. I loved getting to know them, and being their friend. I adored the message in this game about overcoming your hesitations and others expectations. How you are literally embodying the spirit of rebellion.

That’s a powerful message.

I also think it’s great that each major dungeon, or palace, is significant to the narrative. They acted as a stage for the characters to free themselves of doubt and fear. To be true to yourself and having the bravery to do that.

To reform society.

That’s another message I love about this game. That things can only be horrible if that’s all we expect them to be. That sometimes adults and authority have it wrong. That they can be dirty and corrupt. That we can as a society recover from that, by exposing the rot to the light.

That anywhere you go, there will be shitty people, but that doesn’t define us. Being complacent and letting it persist, that’s the true failure.

This game has a lot to love, with great dialogue options and good voice acting. An engaging plot, for the most part. It’s just a shame it’s not always consistent on the narrative front. Because I really did enjoy it.

I thought the dungeons were well designed. I like how gaining more confidant ranks impacted combat. I thought the art was just dripping with style throughout the whole game. I enjoyed the gameplay, it was strangely nostalgic whilst also mixing up the formula.

Is this a game for everyone? No, it’s too long to be for everyone, but it is a good game. An easy recommendation for JRPG fans, and something I think most gamers should at least consider.

A Video Game About Video Games

I know, it’s super meta, but the fact is many fans of video games (including me) aren’t exactly certain about the process that goes into developing and creating one.

I know it can involve tireless ‘crunch time’, that there are coders and artists that don’t always see eye to eye. That these things can take years to make, ect. But I don’t know how it works in detail, the process, the time, the budget and where it goes, so on and so forth.

I think that this would make a great game that could not only be fun, but teach people how to games are actually made. How would it work? Is it even possible to have a ‘teach me game’ and make it fun. Sure, and it’s been done before, just not in this industry.

Shirobako is great example of this. It’s a show I’ve yet to watch, yet it’s influence on the anime community could be felt by fan’s everywhere (and on most forums). It’s a show about, you guessed it, creating anime. It had such an influence that people would reference it in discussions about how anime was made, and it was as much a work drama as a show about ‘how to make anime’.

And this is how this game would work! Make a work drama about making a video game. Hell anime already tried to make this show with New Game! (another one I might have to check out?).

It could start with a young person (man or woman, depending on your choice) who’s a college drop out that has no clue where to go from here. They thought they wanted to be a lawyer, but after two years of barely passing tests and a recent death in the family (their grandmother?), they don’t see much point to it any more. They’re lost in their life.

Well while walking to the store for some milk, they see a flyer on the ground in a puddle, ‘programmer wanted: no experience required’. They pick it up, and it starts raining. Running home, they realise, ‘I don’t want to keep cooped up in my room any more’, so they make a call.

Who answers but a twenty-something that never finished high school. A person with artistic talent, a dream, and a need to make a game. You meet with them at their house where you find four other people. Everyone who at some point lost their way, so you agree to help them make a game. You’re quick to learn and the drama is never ending.

Maybe someone ends up pregnant, someone else recently quit a dead end job; and the other girl of the group is a stay at home mother that just needs some time in the week away from her kids. And the choices you make either help this game to finish or never get completed. You don’t even need to ‘really code’ in the game.

It could even all be in the same graphic level of Pokemon Gold or Undertale. My point is, I think this is just one example of how a game like this could be made and I’d love to see it. I hope someone makes a really cool game about game development, because I think it’d be a great way to know this stuff. So that there isn’t this great divide between a developer and a fan. So there is just a bit of understanding to be had, and hell, it could just be a cool game too!

Gaming’s Reputation (is it going down the drain?)

Microtransactions are becoming an issue in this industry, and not because they’re creating a profit. For companies they’re great. They’re a passive revenue stream that is the ‘gift that keeps on giving’. For the companies, that is.

For the customer, they’ve become a leech. How many times can you purchase a game? It’s impossible to tell how bad this is going to get. Just this year NBA 2K18 made you pay for a different hairstyle. I mean, buying the game isn’t enough.

Battlefront 2 had issues with microtransactions that have become well publicised, so did Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Assassin Creed: Origins and even Overwatch is starting to get backlash. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Ubisoft is making more money from ‘player recurring investment’ than their ‘digital distribution’. They’re making more money from their ‘live service’ model and the revenue has only grown year on year.

Sony is looking into it, with their CEO John Kodera stating ‘appropriate exploration and decisions taken in the future’ in reference to microtransactions. I think PS Plus is bad enough, but this is getting excessive.

There is only so much blood you can get from a stone.

Games have an ‘entrance fee’ of a certain amount. In America it’s generally $60. Then consoles expect you to pay for online multiplayer. In most games you don’t have the option of couch co-op. Then you now have to pay for things that used to be unlockable content, or in the worst case scenario, gameplay features.

This won’t last forever.

People aren’t made of money and soon they’ll stop playing; or, and this is worrying, it’ll turn into the mobile gaming market. Yes, there will still be good games, with indie games being particularly healthy in this regard, with just an ‘entry fee’. Or as it used to be known, a purchase.

People may continue to pay enough microtransactions to justify this move, but I don’t think it’ll last. Gaming will get the same reputation that mobile gaming has. All it takes is for enough teenagers to ‘accidentally’ spend their parents money for a real issue to occur. Or a spouse to spend too much money for their significant other to really blow a gasket.

It’s a ticking time bomb. In a few years from now, if all games require additional purchases, how long will it be before people decide gaming, or to be more clear AAA gaming, is just too damn expensive? When a parent looks at a kid and says, I already bought the console and the game, what else?

It won’t be what a parent remembers from their youth. It could stop lapsed gamers from ‘coming back’. It also doesn’t help that the practice of microtransactions are being compared to gambling. It’s an unflattering look.

It’d be different if games updated consistently with new free content to offset this ‘cost’. Titanfall 2 did it a little bit, Overwatch did, so did Arms, Witcher 3 and Splatoon 2. Three of these games you only had to spend money on once (the last three). When Witcher 3 had additional content for sale, it was worth it. The expansions were so big, they were ‘games’ on their own (in terms of length). Even Horizon Zero Dawn had an expansions in a similar vein.

But generally speaking, this isn’t happening.

Gamers are a stone that’s been bled dry. I’m convinced that if it keeps going this way, in a few years, they’d have killed the golden goose. And gaming? It’ll have a reputation that it just won’t be able to shake.

What Ever Happened to Couch Co-op?

[This article may contain spoilers to everything]

Remember when multiplayer meant handing a spare controller to your friend? I do. What happened? That’s what I think whenever I boot up a game like Titanfall 2. Don’t get me wrong, I like that game, a lot. But I can’t play the campaign mode with a friend. That cuts down the re-playability to me from hours of fun to 0.

If I wanted to play with a friend, we’d both need two TVs, two consoles, two wifi connections (if you’re in separate houses), two controllers, two copies of the game, ect. That’s not even including potential other costs like microphones, headphones, and so on. This doesn’t even count paying for online multiplayer. It’s ridiculous.

I’d like to play games on the TV with one console. Thank you!

Before you say that the current consoles don’t have enough power, what about Halo 4?

Halo 4 still looks like a game that came out this generation, but it was out on the Xbox 360 when that hardware had become ‘obsolete’. Yet that old piece of hardware is more capable than a PS4 and Xbox One when producing a great looking game with traditional split screen functionality?

I’m just not buying.

I’ve seen people get around this by having two TV’s and the whole set-up with two games and everything. So that they can play on the couch together. That’s far too much effort to just simulate split screen. It shouldn’t be that hard, especially ‘in the future of gaming’. It should be as easy as putting in a disc and handing your friend a controller.

Now there are some modern examples that break the trend, mainly indie titles and stuff from Nintendo (like Arms and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, both coming out this year). It’s nice that the Switch seems to be at least trying to bring it back. But these are more and more becoming the exception, not the rule.

Is this because companies make more money selling more versions of their games this way, while Sony makes you pay for PS Plus for the privilege of playing with your friends? You know, it’s very possible.

I remember when consoles really did have an advantage over the PC and it was the fun that was couch co-op. Now I’m not saying it can’t be done on PC with mods, ect. But it isn’t the same, it not as accessible or as simple as it should be.

It’s not something that as a console player I want to be meddling in. I want it to be simple, I don’t want to work at getting the experience I had with gaming a decade ago. Especially if the mod doesn’t work and I’ve got to figure out why, it seems like too much to ask for something that used to be so easy.

So slip screen, where are you? I sincerely hope you don’t go the way of the Dodo.

When An Ending Ruins Everything!

[This is a dumb article filled to the brim with fan word-vomit…you’ve been warned!]

[All the spoilers! Everywhere! Run!]

Final Fantasy X’s ending made me angry, why? Well before the credits, I was satisfied. Tidus is a dream, he basically dies and returns to his father. Ambiguous, makes no sense, but it’s a Japanese game, I expect weird (if you don’t believe me, watch the Space Adventure Cobra movie opening, it’s worth it, promise). Then he just swims to the surface of the water for no reason. So what? Is he dead? Alive? Does him high-fiving his dad mean nothing?

Then there is Nier: Automata, it’s a cool game. I didn’t play it myself, but I watched a friend through most of their playthrough. The story had me enthralled…until the epilogue. It made no sense! Also why did A2 climb the stairs near (ha ha) the end…just like Video Girls Ai’s ending? At least in the one I saw. Then A2 dies, everything falls apart, and we had everything ‘explained’ away. In a monologue, which is weirdly weak given the games top form beforehand.

I mean, when we got the reason for why that Boss wanted to be ‘more beautiful’. It was tragic, unexpected, and moving. It made sense, given everyone’s affection for that man, it drove her mad. That had set up, this speech came out of the blue.

Then I watched a variation of that ending where they live…is this supposed to be Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow…Madoka Magica? It makes no sense! Video Girl Ai makes way more sense…and is more enjoyable, and has closure…for the most part.

Also did Spike Spiegel die or not? The director likes to tease that fact…ambiguity!!!

Here’s the thing, I don’t even mind if an ending is unclear, but it has to earned. Final Fantasy X seems to be baiting the audience, undoing a perfectly good conclusion. Nier: Automata pulled the dumb philosophy card that Pycho-Pass wears proudly. Quoting random philosophy to an audience doesn’t make you smart, it just makes you look like a bit of a try hard. Kind of like Evangelion, a series that’s been milked for decades because of it’s ‘deep’ ending (people to this day seek depth from it’s puddle).

But Rent, surely you jest? Name something with ‘true depth’? What’s something you don’t consider pretentious? (Yes, I used that word!)

Angel’s Egg. It’s thought provoking, deliberate, absorbing. It possibly has no meaning, yet it’s Christian imagery can’t be denied. It’s an experience of a film, and is just beautiful. If you like Final Fantasy’s art, research it, you’ll find a very interesting connection to the two. In some ways it’s the best representative of that art style you’ll ever find in motion. It’s a work of art.

Now everything mentioned here is art (expect Phyco-Pass…); but Nier: Automata, Final Fantasy X, they seem to falter at the finishing line.

Nier: Automata has some of the most beautiful writing I’ve seen in a video game. It’s translation and voice acting is wonderful. It’s not afraid to diverge from a more literal translation, an issue that plagues some anime, and I think it’s better for it. Lupin’s The Mystery of Mamo, the Frontier Enterprises’ dub, is another good example of how to make something feel natural in English.

The Apartment is another film that’s just filled with meaning.

The mirror…it’s broken.”

Yes, I know. I like it that way. Makes me look the way I feel”

That scene just captures every poignant thing in that film. It says so much, without slamming it in your face, and I love it for that.

Nier: Automata kind of just goes off the deep end, like Evangelion. It makes no sense, it doesn’t feel earned. It just felt like it fell apart, adding ‘revelations’ out of nowhere.

Then again, maybe that’s the point? Or, there may have not been no point.

Kind of like this article. At the end of the day, this is all subjective, but to me, this ending wasn’t worth three playthroughs. My friend was left unsatisfied, so was I. It was Final Fantasy X all over again for me, a good game just fumbling at the last moment.

It almost did it…almost.

You’re not a ‘Hardcore’ Gamer!

Now to be fair, I’m not sure that I’d call myself one, but I have been playing them for a very long time now. Probably too long.

What I don’t understand is the obsession in gaming fandom to be super ‘HARDCORE!’ It feels almost hyperbolic. You need to be the best, you need the best gear, and beat the game on the hardest difficulty. Otherwise, you can’t possibly be on ‘their level’.

Now I’m not talking about skill, which is different altogether. Competitive play is a natural thing in games, I’m talking about the people that are elitist. When they troll you because of how you play and what you play on. The PC vs Console debate is a good example of how some gamers can be on this subject.

That’s what I see when scrolling through Reddit and other such forums. Hell. Youtube comments seem to be the most guilty of this.

I saw a great video once on this subject about ‘easy’ difficulties being fun, because they’re about empowerment. I agree with this sentiment. I like feeling I’m ‘the boss’. That I’m the hero. I’m saving the day.

It’s both gratifying and silly. I like playing that way, because to me; that’s what video games are about, having fun.

Yet some people think you must be a ‘casual’ for doing that. It’s either Dark Souls, or nothing.

I tried Bloodborne, I also tried Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I found them both to be too hard, frustrating and pointless. I don’t like to feel like I’m working when I’m meant to be playing. It also doesn’t help, in the case of Metal Gear, that I’m not the biggest stealth fan.

Normally the difficulty I play is either Easy or Normal. I personally found the easiest difficulty of The Last Of Us hard. I still like that game, and I finished it. It still wasn’t easy for me.

And that’s okay. That’s really all I’m getting at. You don’t have to be the best to still be a gamer.

Horizon Zero Dawn Review

[This review contains spoilers]

This game is beautiful. I feel the need to emphasise that after the old console vs. pc war rages on. It’s an exclusive for the PS4, and that makes it an easy suggestion for any owner of that console. It’s a good game.

However I, in some ways, felt disappointed by it. Not because it isn’t great, but because I was expecting a fantasy, or fantasy-like game, to be more specific. When this game came out, many outlets sang it’s praises. It was compared very favourably to Witcher 3. To me, that’s misleading. It’s a Sci-Fi game, and a great one at that. The story has twists and turns. It has some sequel bait, which is fine by me, I’d like to play one.

The villain feels generic, taking a sort-of ‘skynet’ approach. However the main character, Aloy, despite a funny name, is a great character. It’s refreshing to me to have a great female character in a leading role in a AAA game.

I’m not sure if that’s controversial or not to say. But after playing The Last of Us and Witcher 3; both games where a playable female character get only a brief appearance, it’s nice to have it consistent throughout a game. A game that doesn’t have a ‘pick your adventure’ vibe like Mass Effect or Skyrim.

I should make it clear that I am aware of Tomb Raider, I’ve yet to play it, but that is another good example of a female-lead franchise.

I liked the overall story. I like the mystery that surrounded everything, it drew you in. I even found myself reading notes left behind by the dead civilisation, listening to audio logs. I was also surprised by the inclusion of a lesbian couple earlier in the game; when listening to the last words of a dead woman. It was sad, and poignant. I felt for that couple, just based on one audio log. That’s difficult to do, but I found the inclusions of that, by interacting with the world and coming with your own conclusions, to be one of the strongest aspects of this games storytelling.

I also find it interesting that Aloy had no interest in romance, something that’s normally a staple of games like this. When you can make choices in a game, normally it also leads to ‘love’.

The choices that are in this game are limited, but when they’re there, they feel important. It should also be noted that all your actions, for the most part, feel significant. Especially for the main plot. I felt like I was making a difference, that I was saving the world as we knew it. That I had something to prove and everything to lose.

The story does however have some faults, some key characters introduced at the beginning were wasted potential, they died too early. They could’ve made a larger impact later on, like Rost for example.

I also found the side missions to have a repetitive structure ‘track something down, kill a robot dinosaur, return thing back to person’. This felt weaker overall and like ‘busy work’. However the main plot lines, as stated before, are strong and avoided these issues.

Another problem I had, was that there were impressive cities, yet unlike games like Skyrim, I couldn’t just randomly walk into people’s houses. That felt immersion breaking to me.

The game play is fun, but I found the ‘stealth’ parts to be the weakest part. Especially with the over emphasis on the red bushes, this is something Shadow of Mordor did far better. The attacks via bow and arrow are, however, fun and satisfying. The spear feels closer to a last ditch effort weapon, but is competent enough to be a main weapon for those that prefer it.

The health system, I thought, was unique and easy to use, far better than Shadow of Mordor in that regard. It actually allows you to keep your herbs on hand.

Horizon Zero Dawn is a fine game, that I think, is mainstream enough for mass appeal. It’s good, with a strong story, I’d recommend it to almost anyone.