A mere 11 years after the game first was released, brining with it the sunken city of Rapture, I have finally wiped Bioshock 1 from my pile of shame and I enjoyed it so much I went right along and completed Bioshock 2. As of writing this I've also finished the Bioshock 2 DLC Minvera's Den and I started playing Bioshock Infinite yesterday. Today I want to talk to you about my first double bill experience of Rapture.
My journey started, as everyone else's did, with a plane crash. Landing in Rapture for the first time was quite a strange experience, even now I don't think it is common at all for a AAA game to release you into a game world without you really know what is going on. You get this type of experience quite regularly in the Indie scene, but not so much in AAA games. Despite how famous and incredibly popular this game is I knew relatively little about it thankfully, the extent of my knowledge was that it was an underwater City and some people with Drills protect little girls. As I started exploring the city of Rapture it soon drew me under its spell. This is one of the finest examples of world building I have ever seen in a linear game, the difference being that I see world building as a very different skill in open world games. From the plasmids that give you what can only be described as magical abilities, to the drug riddled enemies you fight called Splicers, this all together would fall down flat if it wasn't supported with a highly intriguing story and stellar cast of fleshed out secondary and tertiary characters.
I only have one problem with this game, and that is the way the story is portrayed to the player. What I mean by that is the fact that there were a lot of small chunks of the game when the main story wasn't being progressed, but little side characters were being developed mainly through audio diaries you can pick up. This may have been a bigger problem for me due to my play style, which was to clear every last corner of the map before moving on, so it is possible that I was playing at a slower pace than was intended. However I would spend as much time as I wanted searching the map for extra ammo or cash etc. then proceed with the objective and felt like I was picking up the main story again after listening to a lot of audio diaries, thus be slightly confused with what people were referring to. I will say now that I had this same problem in Bioshock 2, so it may be the fact that I played it slowly, or it could be a design floor that the snippets of conversation that makes up the main story were punctuated to frequently by lore building audio diaries that gave the story in the exact same way by people talking to your radio. There are no cutscenes in Bioshock 1 apart form to start and finish the game so there is also the fact that sometimes when people are speaking to you, progressing the story in some way, it is possible that you are in the middle of being attacked by Splicers, meaning that you aren't paying attention to what is being said. Lastly I want to quickly mention the plot twist that occurs in Bioshock 1, which I will not be spoiling, which I absolutely loved, it changed the aim of the game and also totally surprised me which isn't often the case with plot twists in games.
Moving on to Bioshock 2, I had no idea what to expect from this one, as it felt like Bioshock 1 had been wrapped up very neatly, but the way they reintroduce a more dilapidated Rapture, 8 years after the first was a very interesting premise. The first few hours of Bioshock 2 and I was ever so slightly disappointed, the experience at that point felt very much like Bioshock 1, with a lack of innovation or meaningful change. I can't say for sure whether I simply accepted this fact and got on with enjoying the game, or whether the game slowly changed further and further away from Bioshock 1. By the time I finished Bioshock 2 I was totally convinced that I had enjoyed this more than the first.
There are several key differences between Bioshock 1 and 2, they are the combat, the map size and the lore. Firstly the combat is different by the fact that you don't need to change between being able to use a Plasmid and a Weapon, rather you are able to use both at the same time. This seemingly simple change had a huge impact on the way I approached combat in the game, in the first game I barely used Plasmids, as my weapon of choice simply was more effective than swapping to use a Plasmid. It felt so refreshing to be able to adapt the plasmid I was using on the fly at the same time as firing my weapon. The flip side to this fantastic change to combat is the lack of innovation as far as the weapons are concerned, in Bioshock 2 you are basically using the same weapons as in Bioshock 1 just with a different aesthetic. This definitely did disappoint me, but I was thrilled to see the new weapon upgrade system in Bioshock 2 which felt like the upgrades had more meaningful changes than in the first game. This is also aided by the revamped Tonic system, in Bioshock 1 you can only equip a maximum of 5 of any one category of Tonic. In Bioshock 2 you are still limited in the number of Tonics you can have active, but no longer limited by their category, meaning that I can use more combat focused Tonics in 2 than 1, thus giving me a greater sense of freedom in terms of how I want to approach the combat. On one quick final note partly related to the new Tonic system, the hacking in Bioshock was so unenjoyable that I never did it, I either bought the Hack off, or just moved of. In Bioshock 2, the Hacking was so much more enjoyable and resulted in me hacking everything I wanted to!
The next two major changes are very closely linked, the map size and better lore. The size of map has both increased in terms of scale, from one end of the map to the other, and also the density, with it being quite common to have multiple floors to a building. This increased density means that there are more places to hide Audio Diaries, which I genuinely had as much narrative fun listening to as the main story. There are far more Audio Diaries hidden away, to fill out the new sized map, some of which are stand alone tales of people who lived in Rapture. Some are linked to the main characters of the story, some are incredible links back to the events of Bioshock 1, and some are connected to other Diaries, meaning that by finding the Diaries you are effectively uncovering a side quest of story content. There is a trophy that I earned close to the end of the game for listening to 100 Audio Diaries, just to give you an idea of the quantity.
Well then, I think I have written quite enough about these two games for one day, the TLDR of it is that I love both of them to bits, and once I have finished Bioshock Infinite I am confident I will look back at playing all three games back to back as one of my favourite gaming experiences ever. It annoys me greatly that I have been a gamer for so long without experiencing these incredible games, if you are like I was, having never played a Bioshock game, I urge you to try the Bioshock Collection for yourself!
As always thank you very much for reading,
The New Year has come and gone, and so it is time to start looking ahead to all of the amazing games that will be released this year, today I want to walk you through the games that I am most exited about. Though as a warning, quite a few of the games I want to discuss are simply labelled for release in "2018", and some of them I highly doubt will actually release this year. That not withstanding, let's begin!
Monster Hunter World, launching January 26th on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with a PC release coming "Autumn 2018". This is a game that I'm not 100% convinced by, I played both Beta releases and I enjoyed the second one, but struggled a bit with the first. That isn't to say that anything major changed between the two Betas, just that I understood the game more and had a more enjoyable time with the game. This is not a game that I'll be storming out of the house for in the first week, but it is certainly one that I may play later in the year if there is a dry spell of releases.
Shadow of the Colossus, launching February 6th as a PlayStation 4 exclusive. I never played Shadow of the Colossus when it was released on the PS2 or PS3, so I feel it necessary to play it now, with its very shiny new coat of paint. I've never even played an Team Ico game, though I do have The Last Guardian staring at me from my backlog shelf of shame, so between the two PS4 releases, I would like to have completed both of them by the end of the year!
Dynasty Warriors 9, launching February 13th on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. This is a franchise that has a bizarrely high level of nostalgia for me personally, having played Dynasty Warriors 5 back in the glory days of the PS2 I am incredibly excited for this new Open World iteration of the franchise. Whether it is a critical success or not, I feel my nostalgia for the series leaves me no choice, I must play this game!
Devil May Cry HD Collection, launching February 13th on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. There are a few series of games that I am yet to play at all, Metal Gear Solid being one of the most noticeable, DMC is up there as well. With this collection including DMC 1, 2 and 3 it will be a hard package to turn down! I would also be intrigued to fully understand the controversy that arose when the aesthetic of the protagonist was completely changed in the series reboot a few years ago!
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, launching February 23rd on PlayStation 4 and PC. This is one of my most anticipated games of the year(that we know will release this year). Having missed the bus on the first game I am saddened there is no PS4 port of Ni no Kuni, but I am happy to join the series in its second iteration. I am on the fence about Studio Ghibli films, but I truly in love with the anime-esque style that is the core of this games aesthetic!
Far Cry 5, launching March 25th on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. I've only every played Far Cry 4 from this series, but I fell in love with it. Certainly there were issues with the game, but the freedom and combat the game served up for the player was, and still is great fun. By all accounts Far Cry 5 is looking to return to these staples of the series, there also sounds to be a very interesting story to boot. Tackling religious zealots and cultists is usually a plot point saved for small side quests in AAA games, but here it is front and centre and I applaud it for that!
Brief interlude to say that they are all of the games I'll talk about today that have firm release dates, the next segment will be on games that are simply slated for 2018 release dates, some I believe are guaranteed to release this year, while other games I think are bound to be pushed back to 2019.
God of War, launching on PlayStation 4. I start this section with this game, not because it is my favourite of the games on this list, but because it is going to be releasing relatively soon, it was recently leaked via the PS Store that March 22nd is the release date, time will tell if this is accurate. The God of War franchise is another series that I have never played, so for this game to be the start of a new story, featuring Norse mythology as opposed to Greek mythology has me very excited. I've heard tell of the fluid and bloody combat, and I look forward to seeing for myself this year!
Detroit: Become Human, launching on PlayStation 4. Staying in the vein of PlayStation exclusives, this title is also currently slated for a Spring 2018 release, more solid detailed should emerge in the coming month or two. The latest release from French studio Quantic Dream has attracted a fair number of headlines, both for the realistic looking graphics as well as widely branching story, but also for one of the recent trailers portrayal of child abuse. Only the release of the game will tell the full story of these issues, but I for one am very excited to see the latest game from this iconic studio.
Days Gone, launching on the PlayStation 4. Another PlayStation exclusive now(sorry, there will be more!), this game has intrigued be constantly since it was announced. From the incredible graphics, to massive hoards of zombies shown on screen at once, Days Gone is a game that will attract, and has attracted a lot of attention. I couldn't bank on it releasing this year, but stranger things have happened.
Spiderman, launching on the PlayStation 4. This is by far my most anticipated game of 2018(working on the basis TLoU II isn't releasing this year). Everything about the game that has been shown thus far excites me to my core. I have so many fond memories of swinging round the city landscape back in the PS2 Spiderman game, and if this release from Insomniac Games comes even close to how much fun that used to be, we are in for a treat. I'd personally put odds at about 50/50 as to whether this game will actually release this year, and while I'm very impatient to get my hands on the game, I'd rather Insomniac take their time and release the game as good as it can be next year!
Dreams, launching on the PlayStation 4. The next game from Media Molecule has been the source of much anticipation for me ever since it was first announce back in 2015. The principle is one of pure creativity, allow the players to create whatever they want, and be able to link them together in the form of dreams. Suffice to say, having put a lot of time playing user made content from the Little Big Planet series, to Trials Fusion, or even Trackmania, I know how creative gamers can be when given the right tools, and a game has never given players more tools to make what they want that Dreams appears to. Pure child-like excitement fills me when I think about the possibilities of this game, I do so hope it lives up to that excitement!
Death Stranding, launching on the PlayStation 4. I don't feel in any way alone when I say that I am excited for this game, but I don't fully know why. Of the various trailers that have been released no light has truly been shed on what the game actually is! Whatever the final product, I'm sure Kojima is working on something that will be talked about for a long time after it has been completed! Don't rule out a release in 2018 either, with Kojima recently hinting that this is possible!
The Last of Us Part II, launching on the PlayStation 4. How could I possibly make a list of the best games that might release this year, without included The Last of Us Part II? I simply couldn't. The first game is my third favourite game of all time, and my absolute favourite story, and linear game ever made. Naughty Dog put the skills of their studio to use to strike gold with the first game, I know many people are with me in hoping that they can make lightning strike twice. If any studio can, it's Naughty Dog. Though the chance of a release in 2018 is incredibly slim in my opinion, I wouldn't be surprised if the inevitable trailer that either opens or closes the PlayStation conference at E3, ends by saying "Coming 2019"!
Shenmu 3, launching on PlayStation 4 and PC. The first of a few games I want to quickly give mention to, I'm both sceptical that this will actually release this year, and also not excited at all for it. I've never played Shenmu 1 or 2, so this will be a pass from me in all lightly hood, though I appreciate that a large number of people are incredibly excited for its release!
Beyond Good and Evil 2, launching on unknown platforms. Another game that I would put money on not releasing this year, this game was quite probably my most exciting reveal of E3 2017, and I'll be paying very close attention to it as we move closer to the, probably, far of release date.
Red Dead Redemption 2, launching on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. I only mention this game briefly because I'm intrigued by, but not excited for the game. I was impressed by Rockstars last release, the small indie release of 2013 GTA V, but it didn't draw me in for the long game with the introduction of GTA Online. I'm sure this will review very well, and I'll more than likely play it at some point, but a launch game for me, it is not.
Anthem, launching on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. This could have been my favourite game shown at E3 2017, were it not for my own pessimistic thoughts that the final release will be far cry from the amazing trailer we were treated to. Time will tell, but this could be truly incredible, or the next game to be thrown on the disappointing and downgraded rubbish heap!
Honourable mention to finish this list off, Sea of Thieves on the Xbox One and PC looks to be an incredible game, and I hope it does very well. However by not owning an Xbox this will be a pass for me!
There you go guys a list of my most anticipated games of 2018, and probably beyond. If a lot of these release this year, I predict it will be one of the best years for gaming, and specifically PlayStation, in recent memory!
Thanks for reading,
Recently Bungie took the relatively bold step to cancel the third and final stream advertising various aspects of the upcoming DLC Curse of Osiris. Instead of this stream they opted to put the minds of the community to rest by speaking on several key topics that have been extensively requested over the 3 months since Destiny 2 released. I want to talk about my problem with how they are releasing all of the changes they detailed.
In their blog post detailing all of the changes we can expect to see in the update on December 5th, 12th and “early” next year they impressed upon their readers that this was the start of the conversation between the community and Bungie about the direction the game will be taking from now on. This is good new; isn’t it? On paper yes I think this is good news, my problem lies with the fact that firstly we are three months into the life cycle of the game, how can this conversation only just be starting? Secondly we are now in the fourth year of the journey of Destiny, the problems that a lot of the community have, were created in Destiny 2, where they were’t present in Year 3 of Destiny 1, such as repeating end game and enjoyable Strike Playlist to name two. I don’t want to go off the point too much, as this topic of game system regressions is one that I could spend all too much time ranting about, so I digress. Let us then embrace the fact that they are starting this conversation at all, and ignore the fact that they are far to late to this party. My main issue with their blog post is that it is just too big. Let me explain.
Ever since the launch of Destiny 2 on September 6th, there have been a total of 10 hot fix patches released for the game, these fixed nothing more than bugs such as emotes allowing access to unintended places. There was a “proper” update for the game released on September 25th which contained the Faction Rally event, which as many players will attest, held little reason to return to the game if you had already moved away from it. Back to my point that the blog post was too big, there are 10 major new additions or tweaks to the game announced, ranging from the new Masterwork system for weapons, to purchasing Legendary Engrams for Legendary Shards. There was a very exiting list of additions that will hopefully be the start of the road towards making the game that Destiny 2 arguably should and could be. My problem is that this is a veritable avalanche of highly requested features that will be dumped upon the heads of players in one go, after receiving nought from Bungie for three whole months. Taking aside the fact that these features would have been very welcome when the game launched, why couldn’t Bungie have drip fed these changes to us over the last three months? The community is complaining about set rolls on all weapons? The next This Week at Bungie(TWAB) should have roughly outlined the Masterwork system they were working on, and said they would be able to deliver it within the next few weeks. Next week people are crying out for different things to spend their Legendary Marks on, the ensuing TWAB should again outline the ideas they have for new ways to spend Legendary Marks and pledge that these changes will be implemented into the game by the release of the first DLC at the very latest. I could repeat the same point for all of the major changes they have outlined but I’m sure you get my point. For a company as large as Bungie, and a game that once was, and will hopefully return to the millions of people who have played Destiny 2, their lack of communication both feels like a slap in the face to the devoted fans of the game, but also highly detrimental to the game itself. I can say with the utmost certainty that I would not have put the game down after “only” 100 hours if some of these changes had been added to the game sporadically over the last few months.
Both the game Destiny, and the developer Bungie can get better, and I truly hope do get better. I have tried to be constructive and offer ways in which Bungie could better serve the community of Destiny fans. As always I would very much like to hear all your thoughts on the issues I’ve raised above, either in the comments below or on Twitter.
Thanks for reading,
September the 9th 2014 saw the launch of Destiny which was, at the time, disappointing for the majority of people who played it, this is unfortunately the beginning of the history of Destiny, but it is the truth that even die hard fans such as myself must accept. Many people left the game for ever soon after the launch of the game, some people left for varying periods of time, destined to return when future expansions were released. Then there are some who have stuck with the game through thick and thin and played through the best times of the game, but also the worst. I would consider myself in the third group of players who have never really stopped playing it, over the last three years I have amassed over 500 hours and have seen this game evolve on such a spectacular scale over there last three years. I come to you today, mere hours before the release of the much anticipated Destiny 2, to look back on Destiny as a whole, to look at the state of the game after the updates and expansions have finished. Destiny has been updated for the last time, and so I can give you all today, my final review of Destiny.
I would firstly like to start of by talking about the developing story Destiny players have witnessed over the last 3 years. The story of Destiny is regarded by many as worthy of nothing more than being the laughing stock of modern narrative gaming; and whilst it did begin, at least on the surface, with a note that still makes very little sense or impact today, the ensuing additions to the story and characters of the world of Destiny are something to behold. It is undeniable that the best stories of Destiny are locked away in the Grimoire cards that are collected in game, yet read elsewhere. Taking some time to either read these cards, or allow others to summarise the important parts, will reveal a depth to the characters and world that I hadn't thought possible before further seeking the lore of Destiny. For those who choose to learn it, Destiny holds some incredible rich stories and a vivid cast of characters. It is unfortunate then, that within the game itself these assets of the story are put to very poor use. Even in the two major story expansion packs, The Taken King and Rise of Iron, which both do well to expand the story, yet feel highly confined by the narrative groundwork layered out from the original release of Destiny. It has been this poor start to the story of Destiny that has resulted in follow up stories still hiding their greatest stories and narrative teases in places that most players will never look. You would be a fool to say that the world of Destiny has no story, but a scholar to suggest that these narrative feats are immeasurably weighed down by the chosen method of delivery.
Next I would like to talk about the Strikes in Destiny, these are 15 to 20 minute activities that I would class as the primary method of levelling up your character to reach the end game. For example you can currently level up to Light 390 with end of strike rewards, it is the final push from 390 to 400 that require different levelling tactics other than playing strikes over and over. I have played on average each strike 92 times, and I think is incredible that they are still enjoyable for me. This is baring in mind the fact that I haven't needed to play strikes to level up for a very long time, I have simply continued to play them because I enjoy them! Part of this enjoyment stems from the modifiers that are featured on the Strike Playlist on any given week, it is clear to me that the more enjoyable boons that buff your character, making the strike easier, are the times when I play Strikes more. However if the random modifiers for the week are such that they reduce the power of the player, thus making the activity less fun for me, I will play far less.
Now I want to talk about the Raids of Destiny, arguably the jewel in the Crown of the game, these are the hardest activities available to the player, but they also offer some of the most prestigious loot. Walk around the Tower equipped with armour from the latest Hard Raid and heads will turn. There have been four Raids released over the last 3 years, The Vault of Glass, Crota's End, Kings Fall and Wrath of the Machine, all of which have their own unique mechanics as well as high points and low points. Each raid is made up of 3 core encounters, each of which usually provide slightly greater difficulty than the last, until you reach the final boss which have 2 phases to them. These final bosses grant the best rewards from the Raids, in the form of Primary weapons as well as the elusive Raid Helmets. In all my years as a gamer, nothing has ever quite come close to the feeling of seeing that last sliver of health disappear from a Boss in a Raid. It is both a celebration for having beaten one of the hardest parts of the game, but also a time to hold your breath and hope for the rewards you want. A Raid is the most distilled version of Destiny you can find, all the fat has been cut off the game here, the environments are beautiful, the bosses difficult by demanding constant coordination between your team and then the music accentuates the ebb and flow of the fight. I know many people have never completed a Raid in Destiny, but I can truthfully say that it feels to me as though beating a Raid is reaching the precipice of the whole game.
The last major activity in Destiny is the Crucible, a game mode centred around pitting varying sized teams of players against each other to see who comes out on top. Whilst I have clocked up a fair amount of time in the Crucible in the years since launch, it has never been anywhere close to a priority to me when I have sat down to play Destiny. I have always preferred the PvE(Player vs Environment) content, such as story missions, strikes or Raids, to the Crucible. There have been various iterations of what is powerful in the Crucible, and the times when it has felt the most balanced and fun have undoubtedly been when I have spent the most time doing battle against other players. This is my core complaint with the Crucible since the game launched, the balance. There have been times where it has felt like even an average skilled player like me can do well with a sizeable array of weapons and perks. The worst times of the Crucible have been when it is far more difficult to do well within a match unless you are using a certain few weapons. I have always enjoyed the game modes that only have 6 players total, with 3 on each team, which I why I am very excited for the new Crucible of Destiny 2, wherein all matches are in a 4 vs 4 format, as opposed to the standard 6 vs 6 of Destiny 1. The Crucible has been a place where I have had wildly varying amounts of fun in, sometimes during events such as the Iron Banner, I have forced myself to play a bit more in order to reach Rank 5. Whilst other times the Crucible has been anything but fun for me, and I have avoided it at all costs, here's hoping the Crucible in Destiny 2 is filled with more high points than low points, unlike in Destiny 1.
All of these aspects of the game are all very well and good on their own, they all offer gameplay mechanics that are unique from each other, however these aspects of core gameplay would be useless on their own, if there was no reward for them. This is what I would class as the heart of the Destiny experience, the cement that holds the whole game together, the loot. The various items that are given as rewards for all of the above activities are what drives all players of Destiny to want to keep coming back after they have finished all of the content for the first time. There is always something to chase, whether it is a piece of armour that gives slightly better stat bonuses than what you currently have, or a weapon with the perfect combination of perks that will work perfectly for you. For example I recently completed my collection of Snipers and Shotguns, three of each type in all three elements, all six of these weapons have the perfect roll that I want for them, and so no matter what elemental burn is active during any given week, I am prepared for it. This is what many would class as min/maxing, to minimise damage taken and maximise damage dealt, which is to say that it is the final stage in the end game of Destiny. First I chased the ability to beat all of the most difficult content in the game, then I wanted to be able to beat said content with better gear, more accomplished gear than I had before. Then comes the grind where hours are sunk into chasing perk rolls that only give a miniscule advantage, and yet signifies that you have brought the game to heel, and has been conquered. As I said at the start of the article, I have played Destiny for over 500 hours over the course of the last three years, and I simply would not have come close to that figure, if there hadn't always been something I could aim for that would optimise my equipment that all important fraction more.
So there you go guys, my recap of all the major elements of Destiny from the last three years, suffice to say I have enjoyed this game perhaps more than any other I've ever played. I can not wait to start playing Destiny 2 and seeing all the experiences it has to offer and memories waiting to be made!
As always thanks for reading
The forested world is your oyster in the latest game I've played from the so called "walking sim" genre. I'm rather a big fan of games like Firewatch, the two that immediately spring to mind are Gone Home and Everybody's Gone To The Rapture, both of which have had a lasting impact on the way I view stories in games. The huge downside of this genre, is that the narrative must be superb, there is nothing for the story to hide behind, other than perhaps a visually arresting world. This I feel is the downfall of Firewatch, the heart of this game, the story, has such an underwhelming finale that since beating the game I have only thought about the narrative opportunities that it missed in the closing moments of this game; rather than some of the amazing dialogue and character building that came before it. I won't be spoiling any of the lacklustre ending, but I will say that for the first 5 of the 6 or so hours this game lasts I was in love with it. The game was asking questions of the world that I enjoyed guessing at, as well as a fantastic physiological analysis of the two main characters. I felt very connected to both of the characters, but especially Henry, who we play as, because we are given dialogue options throughout the whole game via the walkie-talkie communication between the two characters. This trend of choosing the what kind of man Henry is starts with the opening 10 minutes or so of the game being purely text based. Campo Santo, the developers, utilise this rare approach to opening a game to great effect, I was almost moved to tears with the emotions and choices the game gave me so skilfully and so quickly, setting the emotional tone for the first few hours of the game. I say the first few hours, because there is a very clever emotional shift that subtly occurs during the course of the game, I won't spoil the arc of this shift, but I can definitely recognise, looking back, that in a relatively short space of time, Henry evolves.
Why then is the ending such a let down? It is conceivable that I was looking for something in the game that was never on offer in the first place, yes I admit the fault could lay at my door, was I expecting a result from the story that was never built towards? This I can not answer until I play it again with the foresight of how the game concludes. At the time I felt like the mystery the story was setting up was heading in a certain direction, and because I played it over the course of 3 or 4 days, I had plenty of time in between playing the game, for my mind to run wild with where the story may go. The ending not withstanding, I want to mention briefly the voice acting, which is fantastic, though nearly the whole game takes place with just two people communicating back and forth with each other via a walkie-talkie. For such a simple system, the emotion that grows and connection with the characters that is established is incredible, whether it be the sarcastic quips or sombre moments that are almost too difficult to listen too, the way the lines are delivered are a triumph. The score also adds to this emotional feeling of the game, though to a more subtle note than the two main characters.
Traversal of the game is simplistic, with walking, jogging and ascending or descending rope lines being the extent of your movement options. This is mirror with the ability to pick up and inspect many of the items in the game, some have weight based on the story or dialogue at that time, others are simply there to successfully make the world feel lived in.
To conclude, this is a game that I am very glad I have played, and would also recommend you all play it, just try not to allow your mind to run wild with the possibilities of where the story may take you, that excitement will only detract from your enjoyment. To break this game down into three segments, the opening is sublime, and worth playing the game for alone, the middle built up the suspense of the story while expanding the characters I grew to feel very close to. Then the end is easily the low point of Firewatch, or at least it was for me, the end did its job in that it wrapped the story to a conclusion, but both left me disappointed with the narrative conclusion, and also wanting more at the same time.
Thanks for reading,
I'm back! It's been such a long time since I last wrote about gaming for you all, and it feels so good to be back! I thought I would run you through what I've been playing since my last post, for my return!
- Bloodborne; perhaps my most notable game during my absence has been Bloodborne. What a magnificent game this is! I played it after beating Dark Souls 2 and 3 so the genre and style of the games wasn't new to me, but this game still surprised me at every turn. From the faster style of combat where offence was as good a defence as is required, to the amazing Gothic visuals that never ceased to amaze me. I beat this game and then simply needed to play more, so I beat all the optional bosses, as well as carved my way through the Chalice Dungeons to come out with the Platinum! As of writing I have 11 Platinum Trophies, and not one of them comes close to Bloodborne in terms of the challenge as well as the rewarding completion. In the months since beating everything in the base game I have bought the DLC and am waiting for a spare few weeks to slice my way through the last droplets of one of my favourite games ever made!
- Indie Games; I've paid particular focus to finishing some of the indie games on my back log in these last few months, a quick list for you: Everybody's Gone To The Rapture(9/10), Tales From Borderlands(9/10), Gone Home(9/10), Day of The Tentacle Remastered(7.5/10),Hitman Go(7/10), Colour Guardians(6/10) and Deadly Tower of Monsters(4/10). Everybody's Gone To The Rapture and Gone Home have both been two of the very best stories I've ever seen in games, and have really opened my eyes to the hidden gems that rest in the Digital Store! I have also started playing Stardew Valley, and while I'm not far enough in to the game to form a final opinion, I can say that I'm enjoying my time with it immensely and I can't wait to see how my years progress!
- Watch Dogs 2, this was a real gem of a game, that while it didn't break the bank in any particular area, it did everything well. The world is fun to explore, the graphics are great, the music flows well, combat is solid and satisfying, finally the hacking is actually wonderful and easily leagues ahead of Watch Dogs 1! It is certainly the most I have enjoyed a Ubisoft game in quite a few years! I'd say this is an 8.5/10!
- Destiny, I need to quickly mention that I have, as I have always done, put a decent amount of time into Destiny. I did the new raid several times, as well as Vault of Glass and Crota's End at 390 a few times, generally just enjoyed the last burst of activity on Destiny 1, whilst also getting excited for Destiny 2!
- Overwatch, I've been playing an increasing amount of Overwatch in these last few months, ever since the Arcade Mode was added I have constantly been chipping away and now I'm sitting at Level 68! I love this game so much, I would easily say it is the best multiplayer shooter I've ever played, it is a pared down PvP masterpiece, where everything works beautifully together. To round it all out all the new content such as maps, modes and new heroes are added for free, there is no divide in the community a year after launch, when Call of Duty and Battlefield split their player base within a few months of release. A true breath of fresh air!
- Dishonored 2, I started and finished this since last we spoke, I'm rather torn on it I don't mind saying, there were elements that were fantastic, I would say that it is better than the first in nearly every way. However when I finished the first game I went on to play all the DLC, and start a second High Chaos Playthrough, but with Dishonored 2 I just haven't wanted to, even though I haven't played Emily at all. I'm just not excited by the idea of going back and playing it all again with slightly different abilities. My main problem is the unsatisfying method of unlocking perks, namely by using Runes that you collect in the large slices of open world that forms missions. For the first 4 or 5 missions I played very slowly and collected as much as I could, so I have a good range of Bonecharms, and quite a lot of Runes. There was an element of boredom on my part as I was being so meticulous to go to nearly every corner of the map to collect everything. Then it dawned on me, I'd pretty much bought every perk I wanted, and seeing as I was playing purely Low Chaos, Stealth, a lot of the perks there meaningless to me. So then for the last 4 or 5 missions, I didn't feel inclined to go in search of Runes and Bonecharms, as I had already got a build of charms and perks that did everything I wanted it too! So feeling like I had nothing left to do but the objective, the last couple of missions felt decidedly empty and often shorter than I would have liked. This led in to the final "boss" fight, which is horrendously designed if you are playing stealth, and made the very final moment of the game somewhat sour for me. This game started so well, but petered off more than I can forgive for a game that I had such high hopes for! I would give this game a 7.5/10
There you go then guys, all the big gaming moments that have taken place while I haven't been writing here, for you all. I'm sorry that I have been away for so long, I really have missed writing my thoughts on our world of gaming. I'll see you back here soon after E3!
Thank you very much for reading,
I've been away for quite a long time now. I never intended for a break of any length, but as I started the new University Year last October, I have been pretty swamped. As you will know if you follow me on Twitter, I haven't gone anywhere I just haven't been posting, not for a lack of ideas I might add. This year of my degree is Creative Writing which is the first time I've ever studied the art of writing in any kind of a serious way and there is a very big difference between how I write for my course and how I write to you all, here. I have been unhappy with the lack of content on this site for quite some time now. I have come to the decision that rather than force myself to write hear, at the expense of experimenting with creative writing, that I shall focus on what I am enjoying doing at the moment, which is creative writing. By no means does this signal the end of this website, I am very passionate to write about gaming and the games industry, just not for the next few months. Rest assured I will be back at an undetermined time in the future, despite it being a very, very large window of time I can only say that I will be picking up where I have left off this year. It could be a matter of weeks, it could be a few months, at this point in time I just don't know, and I apologise to you all for the lack of specifics, but I just ask your patience for a little while longer while I focus on my Degree.
If you want to stay up to date with what I'm playing and when I'll be writing, then Twitter is the place to be!
Thank you very much,
Another year has rolled round in the Destiny calender and that can mean only one thing, a new expansion. Since last years expansion titled The Taken King, the Destiny community has been crying out for new content to play. The only answer to this calling was the freely released “April Update” which included a new strike, a remastered strike and the reintroduction of the Prison of Elders. This went a ways towards appeasing the communities never ending need for new content, but hasn't proved enough to maintain a substantial player base through the thinnest of content times. This so called drought of content has come to an end with the release of Rise of Iron, the latest release in the Destiny franchise! I'm here today having spent a lot of time with the game, I have played everything this expansion has to offer including the Raid, so I'm here today to bring you my review!
First up let's talk about the story, I have seen quite a bit of criticism that the story missions in Rise of Iron are too short, and in total amount to a very short campaign, and on paper they are short. There is no doubt that if you are at the appropriate level for the missions you will finish the campaign quest chain in a matter of hours. On a slight side note I have gone back and played the campaign again on another character(that was admittedly incredibly over levelled for the content) and with the expressed wish of clearing the content as quickly as possible, I spent around 40 minutes on all of the story missions! However I do not think that these missions are too short, I think they are collectively the perfect size for this expansion, baring in mind that no one is still playing Destiny for the story content. I liked the way it introduced new characters, though felt the conspicuous absence of our old friends(apart from our trust Ghost), it set up our battle against the new enemy, SIVA, very well. The whole thing felt like the story missions from The Taken King, but with some of the bells and whistles taken off. When you do finish the story missions though, you are immediately welcomed to the proper new content with a host of 6 new Quests, some of which are short some are longer, with many more quests to be found by knowing the right place to look. Case in point, it has recently been found that a Raid based puzzle leads to an Exotic quest that is taking people hours upon hours to complete! This is where the “story” of Destiny comes alive.
Now, let's talk about the new Strikes introduced with Rise of Iron, there are three in total, with the Summoning Pits and Sepiks Prime being brought up to date with a SIVA remastering, and a new one by the name of The Wretched Eye! I will admit that it is a shame that there is only one new strike, that being said I do think it is a fantastic strike. The only caveat to that being that the boss encounter is definitely fun, but also one of the tougher Strike bosses that you can come across in the Strike Playlist! I would put this down to the lack of substantial cover in the boss room, when there is the boss with a lethal laser weapon, a blind ogre that will come and stomp all over you, and then intermittent additional enemies that spawn, it can go wrong very quickly! That being said there is also a distinct satisfaction to completing the strike, I certainly would welcome the Strikes moving more in that direction!
Next I would like to talk about Archons Forge, the new patrol activity that is a cross between the Court of Oryx and Prison of Elders, I personally think that this mode is fantastic and is both highly enjoyable and also a change of pace from the rest of the activities. A lot of people have been complaining about the fact that you can't stack the offerings required to start this activity, and I would fully agree with this issue. The lack of ability hold multiple offerings means that even with a “full” team of three people on patrol it is still possible that you will need to go and farm random enemies in order to continue playing the Archons Forge. That being said Bungie have gone a way to fixing this issue by increasing the drop rate of offerings within the Forge itself, meaning that it is easier to stay within the Forge and not need to leave! One of the beauties of the Forge is that different offerings initiate different encounters, based on the offering that you use, there are several different enemy types that the encounter can be based around. So there are different difficulties that can spawn, as well as different enemy types, which lends itself to a very diverse range of gameplay encounters!
Now for the biggest PvE activity, the Raid! I've completed the raid once, but got up to the final boss on two other occasions, so I would say I'm rather well equated with the raid to tell you my thoughts. All in all I think it is a fantastic and incredibly fun Raid, it takes a nice length of time, and has a suitable difficulty so as not to put too many people off. My only criticism with the whole raid is the final boss, Aksis is a superbly designed fight, but it feels at odds with the rest of the raid. Both times I've cleared the raid up to the final boss my team(gathered through LFG sites) have had a team wipe once and three times on the different runs, but then Aksis requires so much communication that he is and will be the stumbling block for many people. Let me be clear, I don't have a problem with the fight at all, it is well designed, and totally enjoyable with a good team. My problem is that the Raid is rather easy for the first 3 encounters(including Aksis phase 1) and then suddenly it gets notably more difficult at the last hurdle. I have thought back to last year where the bosses gradually got harder, with the War Priest being relatively easy to do in a couple of attempts, Golgoroth being a step up from that, then there were the daughters to introduce the Oryx mechanics, then Oryx was another step up from that. In Wrath of the Machine, the first boss Vosiks is, I would say, very easy. Then there is the Death Zamboni, or Siege Machine as it is officially, which is a small step up in difficulty, but nothing 3 or 4 attempts shouldn't best. Finally Aksis phase 1 is the Daughters equivalent from Kings Fall, with it introducing the mechanics of the final fight. I almost feel like Bungie accidentally put the Heroic version of Aksis into normal mode! Obviously this isn't the case but I do feel like it is deserving of Heroic mode when compared to the rest of the raid!
Last but not least I'd like to talk to you about my experiences with the PvP side of the game in Rise of Iron. There is a new game mode called Supremacy which serves as the Kill Confirmed game type from Call of Duty, for the large part it is a decent new game mode, though I personally think the PvP in Destiny shines at its best with 3v3 and 4v4 game types. I think my problem is that during the time I spent with Supremacy I was experiencing bouts of rather extreme lag, seeing as I haven't experienced this in other game types I am left to assume that because of the extra Crests(the items dropped upon death) on the map, the servers are having to cope with more than they ideally would have too. I had to play a lot of Supremacy when Iron Banner was recently this new game mode and I can't tell you the relief to go back to a "normal" PvP game mode! It is so shotgun orientated due to the very nature that if you kill someone from afar you are running the risk that the other team could pick that crest up and the enemy will gain a point! I think for the main I will only be playing Supremacy whenever is is in Iron Banner, and little besides! The supremacy game mode aside the four new maps that have been introduced with Rise of Iron are superb, I think Skyline has some flow issues around the staircase in the middle but the rest are very nice additions!
There you go guys my final review of what I'm sure will be the last expansion to Destiny until Destiny 2 and what an expansion it has been. Only time will tell how the so called "drought of content" will effect Year 3 of Destiny! Though I am very much looking forward to the return on Festival of the Lost and Sparrow Racing League(SRL) before the end of the year.
Thanks for reading,
I've been toying with how to write this review for some time now, partly because I had so much hope that this game would succeed, I didn't know where to start talking about my sheer disappointment with it. I'm not one of those people who expected the world of the game, just loved the look of what the game was, and exploration game set in the biggest world ever known to a console gamer. I wasn't expecting features that were never shown or talked about, I wasn't expecting the hand crafted brilliance of a Naughty Dog game, nor the open world adventures that can be found in Bethesda's games. I just went in excited for the game, exactly as it had been shown before. Even then I couldn't have anticipated the level of disappointment that would slowly creep up on me during my 20 or so hours with the game.
I will admit that I did have one expectation going into the game, that I would be playing this for tens(dare I hope hundreds?) of hours to come, I never occurred to me that after merely 20 hours I would feel that I'd seen everything this game has to offer, and then some. Maybe I was just slow of the mark in seeing the game for what it is, tiny. You may feel like with over 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets that the game couldn't possibly be tiny, but I assure you it is. Within maybe a dozen hours I had found and bought my way to a maximum slot inventory and Multi-Tool, at the time I thought that would be the true start of my adventure! It turns out that it was as close to the end as I am ever like to get. I have earned and crafted all of the Multi-Tool and Inventory technologies that I want, my mining laser is so fast that even the largest of Crystals can be harvested with the smallest of taps of R2. So after as little as 12 hours every Multi-Tool station I saw was 100% redundant because it was a fact that I'd learned all the technologies. If you want to fly over the surface of a planet then you will see a wide variety of small bases set up by aliens(almost too many considering how largely empty these planets are of NPSs) but these rarely house more than a Multi-Tool upgrade, maybe it's an observatory you land at, well you're in luck as this will allow you to discover a Ruin which when located will teach you a new word for the aliens that inhabit that System. This is a problem in itself, the languages in this game have been designed in such a way that once you learn enough words(again something I have done in the time with the game) you don't really need to learn any more, at least to achieve what the languages set out to give you. I think they set out to allow you to gain new and desirable rewards from foreign alien races. In reality it doesn't take long for you to learn enough words to know exactly what the alien is seeking, then selecting the option feels empty, almost like I didn't really earn the right to speak with these unfathomable aliens.
At the end of the day I was hoping that No Man's Sky would be a game to look back on for years to come as the defining moment in procedural generation, the spotlight was undeniably squarely on the small UK development team forming Hello Games. This was going to be a game discussed for years to come, about the aliens you met, planets discovered, and space explored. Instead people will, for the large part, simply remember that game that had so much promise yet behind the curtain of development seemingly fell at every hurdle without letting on. I think this game will still cause debates, but not the ones everyone was expecting, there will be few discussions about the beauty and majesty of the game. In this place will be discussions of how everyone felt they had been mislead by a developer to the point that their game was arguably the most anticipated game so far of the generation.
It is a saddening, not enlightening, experience to fly from planet to planet, with little to no anticipation of what you will find on the next one after an all too short period of time. I know this review is both shorter and very different when compared to my other reviews, this is largely because I always like to focus on what I like, but also what I don't like whilst suggesting ways that these issues could be improved. However I find myself with this game in the very rare position of believing that this can't can't be tweaked to anywhere near perfection. It can maybe get a little less repetitive, but at its core this is just quite frankly not a good game. I feel there is a real debate to be had over the price point, and whether many people(myself included) would consider if such a failure if we had only paid £15-20 for it. This is a debate that I passionately want to have with you all so do check back soon for my thoughts on that. At the end of the day however, I am here to review the product in front of me, No Man's Sky is clearly a game that thinks its self a AAA game, but fall so far short in both quality and quantity that it is staggering. While I have been thinking about how to write this review, I have obviously also been considering what I will score it. So it is time to finish my review of No Man's Sky, not as an excited space explorer, but as a crestfallen gamer. I give No Man's Sky
Thank you very much for reading, I will be back soon with my thoughts on Battlefield 1!
It is finally here, No Man's Sky is one week away from release. To celebrate this fact I wanted to spend some time talking about the game, interspersed with some of the amazing trailers and screenshots we have seen!
So while we don't exactly know how the game opens, we do know that we all start with a basic ship, exo suit(don't worry it isn't like Call of Duty) and a starter weapon. These three aspects of the game will form the core of your upgrading with better ships offering a better hyper drive, letting you warp to planets of a greater distance away. You will be upgrading your suit, to allow you to brave harsh planets, such as those with radioactive rain, or perhaps extreme temperate both high and low. There are also toxic planets, which should be taken no less seriously than some of the hostile creatures that inhabit them. These fearsome foes will be part of the reason you will want to upgrade you weapon, and also to gather more materials. These materials will in turn feed back into the upgrading process, so from what we know, it might be a good idea to upgrade your weapon first, so you can collect more natural resources from the planets you visit, which will then make upgrading your ship and suit easier; in theory.
So the main selling point of No Man's Sky is that it is procedurally generated, this means that every time you get close to a planet, it will randomly make that planet based on a series of factors. However you may not know that this procedural generation applies to nearly everything in the game. The developers at Hello Games have made a series of different types of animals, such as birds, lizards, sea animals and more, they have then fed this information into their game engine, which generates a near infinite different number of animal variants. The same theory has been applies to the weapons and ships in the game, so while upgrading your ship will get you so far, you will probably also need to buy a new one at some point, so you are almost guaranteed never to see the same ship twice!
Next I want to talk about the trading in No Man's Sky, this won't operate anywhere near to what you are used to from other games. There are different races in the Universe of No Man's Sky, and each one of these races has a unique language, by learning languages of specific races you will be held in higher favour. As a result of this increased favour, you are more likely to get better deals on buying and selling, as well as a greater number of items for sale. You can learn these new languages one word at a time by scanning Monoliths(pictured below) and over time you will be able to get the best possible prices from the different races. I don't know if it will be possible to focus on one of these languages at a time, or whether each Monolith you come too could have a new word for different languages. That isn't to say that learning a language via these Monoliths is the only way to increase favour with specific factions and races, though this hasn't been touched on much by Sean Murray(Lead Programmer), he has hinted that actions such as intervening when a faction is being attacked in space will increase your favour. Only time will tell the lengths we will be going to in order to gain a closer bond with the different races in the Universe!
To trade resources, you will need to be able to craft them, and for this you will require gather and craft them. From what we have seen I believe that your weapon will have two firing modes, one which is for the combat against hostile creatures etc. and also a laser beam firing mode which allows the gathering of planetary materials. In some of the early gameplay shown simply shooting an ore would make it disappear and the materials appear in your inventory, but as the game development has progressed the ores now shatter into little pieces and those pieces are pulled towards your weapon, and thus your inventory. Now these ores are not simply the ones you might find on our planet, no there is a whole new periodic table that has been designed specifically by the Hello Games team for No Man's Sky. So while we have seen more recognisable elements such as Iron or Plutonium, there are also elements specific to the game such as Heridium or a twist on a known element, Oxycen. I am assuming different elements will have different densities, so that will be something we can upgrade our weapon to be able to destroy stronger elements, so if I'm right there will be a progressive order in which some of the elements can be gathered. This is pure supposition so, it is possible that mining upgrades only effect speed and other factors like that. In one of the recent trailer we are shown a weapon upgrade that will allow you to mine two ores at once if they are close enough together.
So there you go guys, the cores bases of the game covered, No Man's Sky is a game I have been excited about for years since it was announced. So to be writing this only a week away from release in incredibly exciting! Be sure to check back soon for more coverage of No Man's Sky once I have my hands on the game, exciting times ahead!
Thanks for reading
Friends of The Games Critic:
My name is Ed, I write everything here, covering all kinds of games, but I only play them on the PS4!