Monday, February 11, 2019

The Ups and Downs of Anthem’s Demo


If you asked me at the beginning of the year what my most anticipated game of 2019 was? I would’ve said Anthem without question. Who doesn’t like a cool looking exosuit that is fully customizable to look like Iron Man. After the two demo weekends I got a very small sample size of what the game is going to feel like. I came out the demos with lowered expectations, which is a good thing. This Demo did what I wanted to and that was to find out how if this game was for me, and it is definitely a game I see myself putting long hours into. Though I did like enough of what the Demo offered, it set my expectation for the full launch.

If you preordered, or have a subscription to EA origin or Access, you were able to access the VIP Demo on the 25th of January. The open Demo was on the weekend of Feb 1st and was the same in terms content. The VIP Demo didn’t start out the way Bioware wanted to, due to server problems that gated many players out for the first 3-4 hours. But give Bioware credit, they tackled the problem fairly quickly and as someone who has played many online games at launch, they handled it really well. This wasn’t the only technical problem I encountered, once I got into an instance at Fort Tarsis (the players hub) to put on my Javalin the loading screen would completely stop at 95%, this happened throughout the first weekend of the Demo, and some players were experiencing this at the open demo, which was worked on to iron-out some of the bugs.

 Even though all these technical problems persisted through the VIP Demo, I had no problems with the open weekend. This is a “Demo/ Beta” after all, what I wanted to know about this is demo was how was flying around the map feel? It felt so, so, so good. Remembering that first E3 trailer seeing the Javalins travel from skyhigh towers, to large terrain, to a deep underwater cave it looked too good to be real. After playing the Demo its as seamless and smooth as it was in the E3 trailer.

My Personal Javalins

Storm
Colossus
Interceptor
Ranger

The combat is… mixed on my feelings. The powers and abilities you choose feel impactful, and integral to the combo system Bioware added. Each Javalin has unique abilities, a Storm uses elemental powers that rain destruction, and an Interceptor is smaller and more agile, but it hits hard with its melee abilities.  These are just some examples for what these Javalins can do, but just like Javalins their abilities can be changed and customization too. These abilities will have extra stats that will cater to your playstyle. I can see it now, an insane build that wreaks everything in sight or a build that would mainly be about flight and getting that height advantage at all times. Things like this really speaks to me, something that will give endless replay ability like getting better gear with random stats and the personalization of the Javalins that expresses my unique styles.

The abilities and powers of the Javalins are the things that draws me to combat, not so much the shooting. I think the shooting is fine, but in a world where we have great feeling gunplay with Destiny 2, The Division, even Boarderlands 2 – Anthem falls short in making the guns feel impactful, or even necessary. Granted the Demo only allowed us to crank the difficulty to Hard, and there were limited guns available. The full game will definitely have more weapons and gear and hopefully the difficulty to make them more fun to use.

The Demo gave us a small piece of the structure of how the story missions are going to unfold. The Demo had four story missions to go through, they’re all different, but most of the combat scenario is, go kill big waves of enemies. They do break it up sometimes with mini gather quest while enemies shoot at you, other times there’s a puzzle to mix it up. But after hours of replaying the one Stronghold mission (like strikes in Destiny) I felt each encounter felt dull and uneventful. The first couple runs was fun going underwater and seeing this massive spider at the end was exciting, but now the magic isn’t there.

This worried me the most, if end-game is about replaying these missions over and over again, but this time on Grandmaster difficulty, it can grow old on me quick. Diablo has a similar structure and though playing those levels are fun it can get really dull when you’ve put 100-200 hours into a game like this. I know the game isn’t out yet and there are so many mission-type contents that I haven’t experienced with the other two Strongholds, and the legendary contract Bioware keeps talking about.

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I’m still excited to play Anthem at launch, nothing has change on that front. What has changed is my expectations. I want to have the power fantasy to be exactly like Iron Man, Anthem delivers that, but as a long-term game that I would put in 200 hours in? that’s still in the air. I know that is game isn’t going to be perfect, especially at launch, but it has the potential to be a great games-as-service over time.

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018's Game of the Year from Me!!

2018 has been a series of ups and downs for me. Most of the positives were from the new releases that came out this year and some were not so much. Last year was a stellar year for video games, this year, was better. I feel like video games can only go up from here. I won’t be surprised if 2019 tops this year. But we can wait until next year to really see how 2019 is for video games, for now let’s talk about some of the amazing games that came out this year.

This year’s list is going to be a little different. I’m going to add more games to the list, but they won’t be ranked. There were so many games that I consider putting on my that just won’t fit and ranking them doesn’t really make sense, especially games from this year. I want to celebrate video games in 2018, not create competition, ill leave that to the pros.

God of War
I know that I didn’t want to put a ranking on the games but, God of War is my #1 game of the year. Not only was I excited about God of War when they first showed it at E3 2016, with the amazing live orchestra coinciding with the first game play reveal, I loved it from beginning to end even with the huge expectation I had for it. There were many questions about how it will play and how the story would unfold with a new mythology. But the core gameplay though different has the same feel. Hacking and slashing through the enemies feel just as satisfying as the “Blades of Chaos”. The Axe (Leviathan) was such a fun change from the blades, just throwing it into an empty void or throwing it to stick a monster on to a rock to then recall it is just the best feeling to have right after a tough combat sequence.

It was good to see that combat was on par if not better then what the series was, because this series is known from there fun stylist action, but the thing that has always failed in the series is Kratos as a character. He has always been the face of anger, pain, and violence in video games, so much so that it got dull and lifeless. To see Kratos in a new environment with a wife, with a kid, with responsibility was refreshing, but also heartening. Through out the new God of War you see Kratos character progress from a hard-nosed dad that wants his past hidden from his son for his son’s benefit into a dad that not only cares of his son but understands what Atreus is going through with his new-found knowledge of the gods. Going through this father, son adventure is so different in tone than the past entries, though different, it made the series move in a more emotional direction.

Into the Breach

This game was so big I heard it in 2017. From the makers of FTL: Faster Than Light, Into the Breach is a turned-based rouge-lite that is place on a grid. I know, those are a lot of genres to associate with Into the Breach, but Subset Games use these genres to great effect. The goal of the game is to kill these kaiju before they can destroy the city. There are four island that must be protected, and once you complete a mission on an island you get the ability to choose which island to tackle on your next run. There are 9 available mech squads in which has a different style of protecting the city. One squad is about pulling the enemies out of position, another is about freezing them into place. Once you’ve unlocked a second squad your able to customize your own squad out of the available mechs, or if you want a small challenge you can randomize them all.

Now, the combat is the meat of the game. As I said before, the objective is to protect the city at all cost. This being a grid based-game I expected percentage accuracy, but one of the best parts of the game is that they don’t have percentages, every hit is 100% intentional. Attacking is intentional and so is everything else you see on the board. One of the biggest reasons this is at the top of everyone’s list is because of all the information that is laid out at the beginning of every turn, which is why it feels so satisfying. It makes you feel like the smartest person alive, but you never feel angry about a failed turn because I knew if I looked and thought hard enough, I could get through it.

The rouge-lite side of the game is the thing that makes you doubt your decisions. At the start of each combat sequence you get a 2-3 side objectives that will provide energy, which are essentially the cites or tokens which is a currency that is used to gain new abilities on your current mech. These objectives have put me in so much difficult situations, having me juggle disasters. Do I take a hit to protect this building? Or should I take out this big bad for an objective to get a better advantage for the next encounter? These are the difficult choices you must make it Into the Breach which is why it is at the top of my list.

Dragonball FighterZ

If you told me sometime in 2017 that Dragonball would be the biggest fighting game out right now, I would’ve laugh, tell you how it wouldn’t happen, and you know, giggle about the possibility. But holy hell this game is incredible in almost every way. I would be the last person to have a fighting game on the list because, though I appreciate fighting games and the community around it, I can get myself to get into one deeply. Dragonball FighterZ was the first one that I wanted to dig my teeth into and I did try, but damn is there’s a lot to learn. I tried out Teen Gohan and was trying my hardest to practice, but I just couldn’t. But that didn’t stop me from mashing buttons against CPU or a friend beside me.

As a competitive fighting game, it’s as deep as ever, but as a casual fighter it’s just as assessable. The auto-combo system gives the satisfaction that you want in a fighting game, while also looking incredible with all the flashy lights and crumbling mountains. Like all Dragonball games this has fan service like none before. When selecting characters, if you choose characters that has history in the shows a small cutscene referencing that moment in the show, same goes for the finishing moves. For example, when defeating Cell with Gohan’s special there will be a scene right from the Cell-saga. It is a cool nod to fans of the anime series.

Oh yeah, the story mode…. Its ok. Its an original story that is just fun if not serviceable.

Marvel’s Spiderman

Yes, finally a “amazing” Spiderman with great swinging, stylized combat, and an engaging story to boot. One thing I’ve heard and full heartedly agree on is how Marvel’s Spiderman feels like a highly-produced Spiderman movie. The music when you first load in was triumphant like we’ve done something great even before I started the game. But once I started, it was a blasted.

Swinging around New York made me feel like a superhero, running on buildings, zipping on a ledge to jump to then having extra momentum for a higher swing. That feeling doesn’t really end, expect for when you’re playing stealth sequences as Mary-Jane. Though those sequences were delivered in an interesting setting, playing them were just not fun.

The combat is cool, and fun... for the first 10 hours, but then it started to feel like I’m pressing the same button for 10-15 mins especially for the bigger, more tanky enemies. One thing I will say for the combat is how cinematic it looks, the takedowns are cool in the way Spiderman animates with the jumps, webs, and swinging. It’s something I can see in one of the actual Marvel movies.

I saying it looks like a movie, and it does, but I feel like the story was written for a marvel film. The relationships/ enemies he forges over his 7-year career as Spiderman shows how mature and focus Peter is compared to the films. I loved the relationship between Peter and Mary-Jane, its been told to death with all the iteration of Spiderman’s medium. It isn’t the hero coming to safe the heroine, but it’s about the friction between Peter wanting to protect Mary-Jane at all cost, but Mary-Jane not wanting the protection because she knows she’s strong, independent, and fearless. The story is one of the best, considering I had no hope of having a great story to go along with a great playing Spiderman game.

Hitman 2

I’m not going to talk to much about Hitman 2, because this is pretty much the same game as 2016’s Hitman which was one of my favorite games in 2016, but now I can play it again with all the new shine things. It’s insane that the 2016’s Hitman was integrated into Hitman 2, which is already a great value, but also having new maps and a continuation of the story makes this a steal.

Most of the changes are small but do so much for the overall gameplay. Hiding in foliage or crowds gives us assassins more leeway to run, hide, blend in, and depose of bodies. Another quality of life change is when someone finds a dead or knocked out body its now shows you a picture-in-picture image of who was found.

All they change are cool, but the real stars in Hitman 2, like in the first Hitman are the maps. IO interactive doesn’t disappoint when it comes to depth in maps. Hitman 2 comes with 6 new maps along with the older fantastic maps. These maps from IO always gets me excited to play it, just because all the silly, dumb stuff the goes around in these maps.

Super Smash Bros: Ultimate
I haven’t owned a Smash Bros game since the Gamecube and I had a blast playing it with friends. With Smash Ultimate I’m having the exact same feeling, expect this time I’m pretty good at it. I’ve always admired the people that loves smash, but I’ve never thought that I would enjoy it as a fighting game, I’ve always liked it as a game where you can have the craziest of match-ups. Characters like DK vs. Link, or Mario vs. Sonic, these are the dumb things I’ve enjoyed in the years prior. But something about Smash Ultimate brought out this competitive fighting side of me, something I’m loving as of recent memory.

One of the criticisms of the game early was how many characters that must be unlocked before having the full roster. You start off with 8 characters (original N64) and must unlock the rest of 64 characters throughout the series. This might seem a lot, it did for me, but after I had all the characters, I missed having the new challengers on screen every few matches. It broke up the serious nature of a tough match into a cool little reward for everyone playing.

There are multiple ways to unlock characters, one way is to play with friends, or the next best way is to dive into the story mode. I didn’t like this mode, because you start off only using Kirby, and as you move around this over world you unlock buffs or characters. It gets dull fast, your using Kirby for a first few levels and the characters are random, so it might be awhile before you have your preferred character. As I went farther, I had no incentive to keep playing once I had all 72 characters.

As for the overall fighting, it feels amazing and balanced. Each character feels unique, they have their own style in the way some animates and the different abilities they possess make every match new and exciting.
Tetris Effect

No game has ever made me feel a rollercoaster of emotion then Tetris Effect did. Mizuguchi created an out of this world experience that I could reach. The music, sound, and art design work so well with Tetris, the way the blocks chime with the music when your rotating or dropping them is unbelievably smooth. When playing in VR the art is so bright and apparent you can’t ignore it, which can be a bad thing for a Tetris game but its works well in VR.

I’ve been telling friends that Tetris Effect is a rave and you’re the DJ playing with Tetris blocks. It is so accurate, in my opinion, seeing the art is like seeing the audience at a rave, the music is on a rotating playlist like a DJ would do, and playing on a controller is like spinning a turn table when the blocks are moving.

I still can’t believe we live in a world where Tetris, a game that has been in the video game circles for decades now has a new and refreshing take on its original or even small incremental iterations like Tetris Vs. and PuyoPuyo Tetris.

If there is one way to first experience Tetris Effect try VR if you can, it made me feel like no Tetris has ever done.

Honorable Mentions



       Moss (PSVR)
A great simple action platformer starting a mouse. Uses great depth of the world, peeking around corners and trees for collectibles is a cool novel idea that I hope is used more in VR.

·        Monster Hunter: Worlds
I’ve only experience Monster Hunter: Generations on the 3DS in 2016, and I really enjoyed it, but Worlds is just a better overall experience. I loved the monster designs and how deep the hunts can be. Preparing is a whole process making food to boost your stats just a bit, so you can have an advantage can mean life or death in curtain situations. The weapons feel great to use and didn’t miss a beat from their handheld heritage.

·        Destiny 2: Forsaken
Bungie did it again, they sold us another expansion that over hauled the core experience but in the same vein as Taken King in the first Destiny. The grind was fun and filled with objectives to clear and a new story involving the death of Cayde-6. Though I loved the grind I also hated how long I had to play to get to max or appropriate Light level to do the high end-content. But like the first Destiny I know I’ll jump right back in when I see something new and shiny.

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Calming, out of this World Experience from Tetris Effect is a Great Change of Pace and Emotion from Other Tetris games



Ahh, Tetris. A game that your parents and almost every other parent knows. The longevity of it has made it evolve over its existents with the “hold” mechanic – which I’ve grown up with -- and doubling down on the competitive nature of Tetris with Tetris Battle, Tetris DS, Puyo Puyo Tetris, and more. Growing up I was terrible at Tetris – making lines with falling blocks was simple enough, but I didn’t understand how to fix my mistakes. There are many insane Tetris players that I can’t even think about competing with. The stress of trying to keep the best layout of blocks while trying to keep up with my opponent is too intense for my taste.

However, Tetris Effect is the total opposite of all those competitive Tetris incarnations. The way Enhanced Games and Mizuguchi plays with music and players emotions to then incorporate it into a puzzle game or even something like Rez: Infinite can give old concepts like Tetris a new breath life. Everything in Tetris Effect is amplified by x50 – the music is one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever listened to in a game. The cleverness of making you part of the music by moving blocks to creating chimes and beats along with the music feels like your part of the band. This type of game is best played with headphones which is the best way to hear the beats, chimes, or melodies that your creating from the blocks.

Visuals and effects are just as important as the sound and music designs in Tetris Effect. After playing through the whole campaign (Journey Mode) these effects just fade in the background, which isn’t bad, but relaxing. Tetris can be already relaxing without all the crazy effects when you get into a groove but having effects on top of the relaxing rhythmic block drops creates an out of this world feeling, especially in VR.


I spent about 30% of the time playing Tetris Effect in VR, which is the definitive way to play if you have a VR headset. Being locked out of the real world and having nothing to distract you other than the beautiful music and particles that are flying at you brings out the full emotions that it creates. With every stage I played everything in my head just evaporated. Watching the effects is a dazzling delight with all the colors and art that is moving with the beat. Tetris Effect is already an amazing game without VR but in VR there is a magic there that must be experienced personally.

Tetris Effect takes an old formula, that was already great, dressed it up perfectly to become a new and shiny Tetris experience. We had competitive Tetris for years now and to me it was a stressful time. That fast-pace type of puzzle experience is something I always had trouble with, but with Tetris Effect I can take my time with no one on the other side trying to complete with me. Tetris Effect combines music, art, and puzzles together to create a space where the real world no longer exists, especially in VR.  This is the perfect game to have right now, with everything happening in the world Tetris Effect can be a shelter, a safe spot, or a space to drift off.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Destiny 2’s New “Gambit” Mode Revived the Game’s Competitive Scene




Destiny 2’s competitive scene has always been a second thought compared to the co-op PvE activities. At the launch of Destiny 2 Bungie tried a different more team-play orientated approach with an all 4v4 pvp match-up. Over time players got tired of that formula, especially, the way players were strategizing. The only way to be competitive is to team-shot a player at long distance, this was the only way everyone played. This kept the matches long and stale. Bungie understood the frustration and decided that they will change something about the Crucible (PvP).

In July, Bungie pushed an update that changed the 4v4 format for Crucible to a 6v6, just how it was like in Destiny 1. Adding two more players on a team might not seem like a big change, but it completely changes how freely your team can strategize, this is especially true with solo matchmaking. Bungie knocked it out of the park with this change, of course they had a lot of help from the community. The community wanted this feeling of being a superhero in Crucible, to run around by yourself with a super destroying everyone in sight – this was the kind of feeling we wanted and Bungie delivered. Players are finally believing in Bungie again with these updates and the announcement of the new Forsaken Expansion.

While players are waiting for the new expansion Bungie invited a few content creators to a Summit at the studio in Bellevue, Washington to tryout and give feedback on a brand-new, never been done mode. Player were excited about what they played, shortly after, Bungie revealed that the mode will be called “Gambit” a combination of PvP and PvE. This was terrific, I couldn’t figure out a better way to blend both player-bases, the question is, how well balanced is it for both the PvE and PvP aspect of the mode for the players that are comfortable with only one type?

Luckily, last week Bungie was at GamesCom in Germany and announced that Gambit will have a free trial on Saturday, September 1st for players that have the base game. This was the perfect opportunity to tryout this new PvP/PvE mode for myself.

After about 2 matches of not knowing what to do, my third match clicked with me in a way I didn’t expect. There’s so many things going on at one time it seems like it would take me 6-7 games to just wrap my head around the basics, but it wasn’t difficult at all. Bungie does a great job at splitting and personalizing parts of the map for easy identification. The map will have 3 parts that are very distinct and will spawn hordes, these hordes will rotate between those 3 areas and will drop motes when defeated. The middle of the map will have a mote bank which you must cash in to summon a boss, to win the match the boss must be killed. This is just the basics of the mode, there are so much depth and strategies you can conjure with your fireteam.

                                                                             
 Beach

 Ruins

Trees
 


The motes aren’t just there for your progression bar, but it is also a way to block your enemies from banking their motes. Depending on how much you bank you can summon a small, medium, and large blocker on the opposing side to stop them from progressing until they have defeated all the blockers you’ve summon. Banking 5-9 motes will summon a small blocker, 10-14 motes will summon a medium blocker, and 15 (max) will summon a large blocker. Using this effectively can completely halt your progression if your fireteam don’t be those blockers quick enough.

Most strategies revolve around your invader, the invader is the player that will invade the opposing fireteam, only one player can invade. This happens when your team banks 25 or 50 motes, once you reach 75 motes the portal to the opposing side will stay open and will be on cooldown once a player goes through. Your invader can do 1 of 2 things depending on the situation. First, killing an enemy will cause them to drop the motes they collected that they haven’t banked. This creates a hunt for the most motes, if they can’t bank they can’t summon their boss. Second is when an invader is invading and their boss is summoned killing enemy players will heal the boss. I can’t remember all the times we’ve came back because our invader wiped the whole team and the boss is back at full health. This was one of the most fun and most stressful moment in Gambit that ill do time and time again.


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Gambit was the refresh we players needed with all the same game modes we’ve had since Destiny 1. This type of mode isn’t just refreshing for that PvE player, but it connects with almost if not all Guardians. I give props to Bungie in keeping the gameplay hectic but very manageable with all the audio and visual cues, this keeps me focus on one thing even if I can’t communicate with my fireteam. I believe Gambit is just scratching the surface of what we’re getting in Forsaken, I can’t wait for Tuesday so Gambit is readily available for me and my fireteam to Fight. Bank. Collect. And Invade.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Mario Tennis Aces “Swing Mode” is Really Disappointing



Mario Tennis Aces is the latest entry to the Mario Tennis series. This time around Nintendo did no wrong with their tennis series giving us an adventure mode where you move from level to level to complete a series of challenges, a fun online/offline tournament, and exciting local play. I haven’t played the Mario Tennis series since the GameCube days, but I’m having as much fun as I did back then, expect for one mode that made me hate motion controls.


During the lead up to launch I had questions about full motion controls, if they would support it for full matches? Can it be an alternative? and will it be like Wii Sports or will it have depth will in the base game? These questions were answered just a couple of days before launch and I was disappointed in how Nintendo implemented the motion controls.

Coming from the developers of Wii Sports and how well the motion controls worked with the tennis mini-game gave me hope that Nintendo could do something great with motion controls on the JoyCons. However, that wasn’t the case.


Swinging doesn’t feel responsive, I try hitting one way and the ball decides to travel way beyond the court. Charging up a shot is the only depth to “Swing Mode” (this mode can only be played using motion controls). I’m not the only one who felt like “Swing Mode” was a misstep. Polygon’s Russ Frushtick mirrored the same thought as I did in his article about Mario Tennis Aces makes us want Wii Sports. Russ goes on about how fun and assessable the normal controls are, but then he goes on about Swing Mode.


  ” Here, you no longer need to worry about character movement, and swinging a single Joy-Con controller will return shots back at your opponent. But the nature of Mario Tennis games prevents Swing Mode from feeling satisfying. Swing timing ends up feeling inconsistent and somewhat distant from the actions on screen. It also simply demands too much accuracy from casual players, who will likely be turned off by Swing Mode.”
Our thoughts on Swing Mode are almost on par, we both think it is unintuitive, and unresponsive. Coming from Wii Sports we thought Swing Mode could’ve been better.

 I hate the fact that Swing Mode is locked to a type of mode, Nintendo should be able to let players play the way they want. Not only are motion controls locked, it doesn’t have the same level of strategic thinking that the normal controls do. The only input you use are the joystick, everything else is swing.

 In Swing Mode, you can move your character with the joystick, but that leaves so much room with other actions especially with the bells and whistles that the JoyCons have. Imaging holding one of the triggers to smash, or drop, or even using a super it could’ve made the Swing Mode a mode to desire.

It’s kind of funny, Nintendo was in the for front of motion controls with the Wii and for the most part it work well, the Wii U is the same as it uses the same technology, but the Nintendo Switch was the next step of motion controls for Nintendo with no sensors and a smaller, compacted controller. The Switch has lived up to those expectations (Motion Control-wise), up until now.

Yes, Swing Mode was disappointing, and yes, it could’ve been better, but Swing Mode could benefit other players that have trouble or haven’t encountered a modern controller before. The simple movement of waving the JoyCons to swing is simplistic for any age group. The standard control scheme can be difficult for many players, but I’m glad that a form of motion control support is in the game for the players that can’t grasp a modern controller. Tennis lends itself so well for motion control, it would be a complete misdirection on Nintendo’s part if the game had no motion controls at all.
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Mario Tennis Aces if one of the deepest sports game I’ve played, and I play a lot of sports games (mainly NHL) all the different kind of shots gives me some much options to be on the offense but at the same time options to be defensive. But all that is taken away once Swing Mode is selected.

There is no depth to it, no different kinds of shots, no special shots, and no slowing down time. The only thing keeping me playing is the level of depth that Mario Tennis Aces has removing that depth it’s just another boring tennis game. I am glad that Swing Mode is in the game for the new players, or even new gamers, but it’s not the first mode I would suggest.

I was so excited to hear that Mario Tennis Aces had Swing Mode before launch, I had so much fun playing Wii Sports especially the tennis mini-game I thought Nintendo would have the same level of intuitiveness, and simplicity from Wii Sports tennis, but with the depth of the main game, sadly It didn’t. Swing Mode could’ve been the best way to play if they had implemented it with the fundamentals of Wii Sports tennis. The way the Swinging animation mimics one-to-one on the Wii felt responsive in every way the Swing Mode in Mario Tennis Aces wasn’t.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

E3 2018 - EA Press Conference



It’s finally E3, but for some it might have started earlier in the week. This is always an exciting time for gamers. Seeing all the announcement, trailers, gameplay, all those juicy video game tidbits that we want to know about for the upcoming games. First up on the podium is EA.

Expectations

2017 was a rough year for EA, with Star Wars: Battlefront 2’s loot box controversy. From my perspective, this was the best thing that could happen for EA and the gaming industry. Sure, EA took some hits with sales and players’ perception, but it made the industry act. Loot boxes are now in the back end of any developer’s minds, it even went as far as to banning loot boxes in curtain regions.

What EA needs to do in this conference is to just communicate to the players. They need to be as transparent as possible to give some reverence to the players. Explain how they’re handling loot boxes and microtransaction going forward.

Anthem needs to blow players minds, they need to go into a deep dive about this game, just because of Bioware’s recent game wasn’t up to par as they’re past game. If they deliver on these aspects of their plans they can win players good will back.

Full EA Conference

Coming fresh off EA’s conference, I would say they’ve done just enough to get me excited, and I’m sure others are too. The first half was coming off a little slow, after the Madden showcase it picked up with a new interesting mobile Command and Conquer Rivals and a deep dive into the most anticipated game from EA – Anthem.

Battlefield V was first on stage doing their battlefield things. They didn’t get me excited for this next title, even announcing a battle royale mode I felt that Battlefield V took a backseat this year for Anthem. Speaking of unexciting announcements, Vince Zampella CEO of Respawn was with the crowd and had a quick update on their new Star Wars title called – Star Wars: Jeti Fallen Order also a release window of holiday 2019, which was surprising because an announcement like that should be on the EA stage. Announcing it in that way doesn’t give me confident that they will complete it in that window.

EA originals always has this genuine feel to them. Unravel was the first and it was fine (by the way Unravel2 was revealed and is out now), but last years A Way Out was a pretty big hit. Players were interested in the fact that this game was centered around local multiplayer with an engaging story. This years EA original is called Sea ofSolitude (S.O.S). There isn’t much of gameplay but the setting and feel seems very intriguing. It seems this is about a personal story about being a lone and feeling lonely and how we may express ourselves when these feeling are fresh in our minds.

Right after S.O.S EA introduced two players that will demonstrate the new mobile RTS game called Command and Conquer Rivals (skip until 2 min). At first glance you see trappings of a more realistic Clash Royale. As the match progressed you could see more of an RTS type of play. There are cards like in Clash Royale that uses currency which can be mined on parts of the map. As you summon units you must capture or defend a point that will activate a rocket to do damage to your opponent. Each player can only take two hits from the rocket, once a player takes two hits the match is over. This seems like a bite size strategy game that can be accessible to everyone.

Everything in the conference was cool to see, but to be honest we all watched this conference to learn more about Anthem. They brought out Casey Hudson GM of EA along with an Executive Producer, and a lead writer on the game to have a deep dive in all the things we’ll be seeing in its full release. Casey explained how this game isn’t an MMO, it is a shared world experience in which players change the world and how everyone in the world will see those changes. I’m not 100% sure how this is implemented, but the idea of this active and dynamic world is watch I’ve wanted in an online game in a very long time.

This world is dangerous, to survive and fight we must use these Exo Suits called Javalins. These Javalins comes in four different types (Classes) Ranger, Colossus, Interceptor, and Storm. These Javalins uses different abilities that work in tandem with other Javalins creating combos and chains that decimate enemies. Because this is EA they were asked about loot boxes and monetization in which they responded with no they won’t have any loot boxes, but they will have cosmetics and other purchasable in-game items that won’t be randomized. This was big because of how Destiny 2 handled loot boxes and cosmetic items. The gameplay trailer gave me so much vibes from Destiny, specifically the raids. The atmosphere felt so mysterious and full of wonders, it was really the only time I got excited about this game. They did an amazing job showing us enough to make us understand how the game is played, but not too much in which the mystery is gone. After that great trailer, they announced that the game is going to be released on Feb 22, 2019 that’s less then a year from now, get hyped!

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Before the conference started I wanted to see them make good with the players, along with a deep dive on Anthem. They did explain a bit about how they messed up with Battlefront and how it was difficult for them to actively change the systems, but they learned they’re lesson. Now Battlefield and Anthem will not have any loot boxes whatsoever, that to me says we fucked up and now were making it up to you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

New Switch Bundle Without Dock is Releasing in Japan


Nintendo Japan is releasing a new Switch bundle for ¥26,978 ($246) saving about ¥5000 ($50) from the original – if you can still call it a bundle, but here’s the catch, it’s only available in Japan. This bundle will come with the Switch, L + R Joycons (Color of your choice), and the L + R Wrist Straps. This lesser bundle is specifically for having a “second set” for households that already have a Switch and dock.

This handheld-only bundle is a great response from Nintendo for the players that only use it handheld, especially in Japan, as handheld gaming has taken over Japan. One thing that is necessary for the Switch to work and is missing in the cheaper bundle is the USB-C Charger. This isn’t new to Nintendo as the new 3DS didn’t come with a charger either. Other accessories that are missing from the handheld bundle are the Dock, Joy-Con Grip, and HDMI Cable. For players that want all the tv functionality grab the original bundle, as you will have to give-up some cash for all the accessories if you opt-in with the handheld
bundle.

It’s a bummer that this handheld Switch bundle is only available in Japan, but I’m hopeful that Nintendo will release this bundle for other regions. As of now there are no plans to bring it to the west or UK.

This news is great for many reasons. Handheld gamers will now not have to pony-up extra cash for the tv functionality, and the small price drop is a positive for everyone. If this bundle were to release in North America it would bolster Nintendo sales, just because of that small price drop. That price drop might be the deciding factor in making that purchase.