What Are Your Favorite Gaming Memories As A Kid?

Author: Nathan Doverspike

With the recent rumor of a Sypro the Dragon trilogy remaster coming in 2018, it sent me on a massive nostalgia trip. It made me think of all the late nights I stayed up way past my bedtime on a school night playing Tomb Raider 2, Sypro the Dragon and Ripto’s Rage. I have so many fond memories of gaming as a kid, and I want to know: what are your favorite memories gaming as a kid?

For me, there are two specific games that I vividly remember loving as a kid and also enjoying playing with others. First is Tomb Raider 2, which is a game I have a deep love/hate relationship with. I hated how bad I was at jumping in the game (pretty sure it wasn’t just me though from all the FAQs I read back in the 90’s). The other memory is playing the game with my dad, with whom I didn’t always have an ideal relationship with at the time. Even though we butted heads on more times than I can remember, he was always willing to sit down with me for an roughly an hour or two countless nights and help me figure out the puzzles, and even assured me that it wasn’t the end of the world when I accidentally deleted a save before the final boss and had to replay the last quarter of the game all over again.

The other memory is more of a compilation of playing Halo 2 with a childhood friend. Time hasn’t been kind to our friendship, but I’ll always appreciate and thank him for all the times we stayed up all night, drank Mountain Dew/Pepsi, and played Halo 2. We would play online (one of the first Xbox Live games that was truly great), cruise through the fantastic campaign split screen (back when that was still incorporated in video games), and play shotguns and energy swords against each other for bragging rights. I hope that my kids will have similar experiences with a friend that they will remember forever and look back on fondly as they grow older.

That’s enough about me, what about your experiences? Are there any particular games that you remember playing as a kid? Do you ever revisit them from time to time, or have they aged poorly over time? Let me know in the comments!

Micro Transactions in Single Player Games Are The Next “Season Pass” But Worse (Updated)

Author: Nathan Doverspike

Updated: Battlefront 2 came out, and it was worse than any game with micro transactions before it. Progression itself is based on random drops of varying loot that may (or may not) help you progress your classes, characters, and overall rank (you could buy premium currency, but EA pulled that out at the last minute and slightly adjusted the requirements for acquiring major characters from the Star Wars universe). Or, as is expected, you’ll end up with a load of junk cards that aren’t relevant to your play style and you’ll be stuck grinding it out to get any characters of value. Honestly, the grind is so excruciating that players are building robots to circumvent the horribly designed game. This is pretty much the worst possible outcome: a game that was promised to be better than its predecessor is unbelievably worse because…give EA all your money. Right, great reasoning EA. I take back the insult to WB Entertainment Interactive in the last paragraph of this article (fixed the previous mistake, you’re welcome WB). EA will without a doubt ruin Anthem with more micro transactions, because they are EA and EA is the worst. If you feel like reading more scathing words towards heinous video game practices, keep reading and enjoy!

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Yup, you read that right.  Micro transactions in single player games are the next fad, the newest iteration of the darker and more greedy side of gaming, just like seasons passes were (and still are).  They were a way to generate even more money in addition to the cost of a full priced game, and sometimes offered very little, if any substantial content to the experience.  Plus, there is usually no clear indication what you were getting in most cases until the game was close to release or already available for purchase in stores.  They were a cheap and shady way to get money for content that was even cut from some games.  Other cases saw high-profile games, like Destiny, release content that, while satisfying, was way too short for its price (you can also buy loot boxes in that game as well, if you feel like you haven’t spent enough on the five expansions and base game like me). In a way, micro transactions in single player games are becoming even more sinister than season passes, and here are some examples to back up my claim.

Dead Space 3 – Released February 5th, 2013

Developer – Visceral Games

Publisher – EA

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This one kills me, because it is one of the first ones to have micros transactions in a single player experience and it is one of my favorite franchises.  Even though Dead Space 3 had some disappointing aspects compared to the first two, it was still generally considered a solid game.  The coop was fantastic, especially since you were able to experience some areas differently depending on which character you were (Isaac or Carver).  The game play was also still solid, even if it did feel more like Resident Evil 5 than a Dead Space game at times.  That’s where my compliments end, and the criticism comes out.

For the first and only time in the series, you could make your own weapons with components you found in breakable boxes and hidden areas.  These crafting materials have ratings, from common to epic, and are designed to improve the weapon you are creating by giving it better statistics or additional attributes.  The problem?  You could just simply purchase a loot box, get an epic weapon, and wreck every enemy in the game.  That completely defeats the purpose of Dead Space games, which originally gave you that sense of dread and fear that you are always running low on ammo and an enemy could ambush you from anywhere.  Not with these epic weapons they won’t!  Even though I enjoyed the core experience, I didn’t approve of these changes and hope they never incorporate them into a future Dead Space game.  P.S. Please make another Dead Space game!

Injustice 2 – Released May 11, 2017

Developer – Nether Realm Studios

Publisher – Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment

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Here is where the problem begins to manifest.  Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, known for publishing the Shadow of Mordor, also published the sequel to super hero fighting game Injustice, called simply Injustice 2, on May 11th 2017.  The introduction of micro transactions were met with cautious skepticism, since this is a fighting game with a single player campaign and multiplayer modes as well.  The purchasable loot boxes contain gear for random characters, that can be better or worse than their currently equipped gear.  They are also locked to a level restriction, but that can be changed by using one of the multiple currencies in the game to change it. Instead of criticizing it for having too many currencies, I am going to focus solely on the loot boxes.

I understand that the loot is disabled for some multiplayer modes.  I commend Nether Realm for implementing that in their game. It needed to have that, or else the multiplayer mode would be unbalanced and absolutely unfair for players not forfeiting their hard earned money. Thankfully, that isn’t what this concern is about. It is about having to spend real money in order to get better gear for characters, only for the gear to drop for characters you don’t even use. I never used Bane, and yet I ended up with a ton of gear for him since that is what dropped from the loot boxes. Don’t like what you get? Well why don’t you spend MORE money to get something better. But wait, better hope it’s for a character you like, because if not it will just get disassembled into more currency to spend on the next (usually) drop of garbage gear for characters I never used in the game.

Shadow of War – Releases October 10, 2017

Developer – Monolith Studios

Publisher –  Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment

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Are you seeing a pattern yet? I sure hope so, because it sure is clear to me.  Shadow of War, developed by Monolith Productions and the sequel to the 2014 Game of the Year Shadow of Mordor made by the same studio, is releasing on October 10th, 2017. Originally slated for an August release, it was delayed two months before its release and scheduled for the new date in October. It is easy to overlook this delay as polishing, but I strongly believe it was due to the inclusion of micros transactions. A game published by WB Interactive in 2017 has micro transactions in it? No! It cannot be true! The dark lord Sauron must be the head of WB Interactive to make such a henious decision.

Seriously, another single player game with micro transactions in it, and it by the same publisher as Injustice 2, and released the same year just months apart. That’s not a coincidence. To me, this game doesn’t need the addition of micro transactions to catch my attention. The original did that by having fantastic game play and a serviceable story. It was, by all measures, a great game. Did everyone like it? No, and that’s okay. That doesn’t take away from how good of a game it was. The balancing between your character’s abilities and your enemies always felt fair, with a gradual learning curve and satisfying progression throughout the experience.

Shadow of War, which should now be named Shadow of Give Us More Money, has loot boxes and two different currencies.  One seems like a dummy currency: you earn it but can’t spend it on loot boxes. The other one, called gold (really…gold is the best they could come up with) is the premium currency and is dropped sparingly throughout the game and is used to purchase said loot boxes. The boxes come with three rarities, and can include minions for the multiplayer mode similar to Metal Gear Solid V’s base building mode, or additional weapons and XP boosts. Sounds invasive but not game breaking yet right? Think about this: will the game be balanced to take into consideration that a few whales might drop a couple thousand on loot boxes and just stomp out your base and make your gaming experience miserable? My guess is probably not. Making a single player game literally pay-to-win isn’t fun, and spending 40 plus hours to unlock a legendary weapon or Orc you could get by spending $20.00 on loot boxes sounds like a pretty terrible way to play a game.

It seems that the choice to add these loot boxes into the game came from the publisher. Even still, it is Monolith’s decision to sign with that publisher in the first place, knowing full well that it might mean altering their game to fit the publisher’s greedy and slimy desires. They want to make money, lots and lots of it, even if it means potentially ruining what could be a fantastic video game in the process. I don’t excuse Monolith, but I don’t completely blame them. However, their reaction and body language in a recent live stream that explained and demonstrated the extent of loot boxes does concern me.

To conclude, WB Interactive Electronic Arts is like a skid mark in my underwear: it’s ugly and hard to clean the stain out of them. They aren’t doing the gaming industry any favors, and I would be more than pleased to see them cut this crap out of having micro transactions in single player games before it gets even more out of hand than it already is. They prey on gamers who have a tendency to gamble, or flat out take advantage of those unable to control their spending. That’s disgusting, and we need to tell them how we feel by speaking with our wallets.

What games do you think should have been on this list?  Do you agree with my opinion, or think I am a doomsayer and losing my mind?  Let me know in the comments!

Video Games Should Be Play to Win, Not Pay to Win

Author: Nathan Doverspike

It seems like a long lost time, but believe it or not a time existed when video games allowed you to play them to improve, instead of paying your way to victory. Games seemed way more satisfying during that renaissance. No need to open your wallet time and time again when you were shot and tea-bagged by someone with a higher grade weapon or character you could only get by spending $20.00; or you could just forget about family, friends, and bills to play the game for dozens of hours en lieu of dropping that cash. Full price video games SHOULD be play to win, NOT pay to win.

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Before I get to beating the dead horse that is Star Wars Battlefront 2, I want to offer some praise to a game that I don’t personally play, but one of which I admire due to their business practices. That game is Overwatch, developed by Blizzard. This game, which released on May 24, 2016, has yet to charge one customer for a single map or in-game character, instead opting to go another direction for continual revenue. They offer in-game cosmetic rewards from random loot boxes. Wait, don’t I despise that form of monetization in modern, full price video games? Well, yes and no. In this case, because they offer no advantage to gameplay and are strictly cosmetic, I don’t see an issue with the implementation of the loot boxes (whether or not it is addicting and/or gambling is another topic entirely). It clearly paid off as well, since in Q1 of 2017 Blizzard reported Overwatch had exceeded $1 Billion in revenue. Not bad for a game that only requires you pay for it once and never forces your hand to reach into your thinning wallet for more and more dollar bills.

If Overwatch is the shining example of how to correctly offer additional content in this situation, there must be a bad example, right? Exactly, and for this I would like to present Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2017) as the stinky, half flushed turd that just won’t go away. This monstrosity of a game has managed to piss off so many of it’s own fans, that the publisher has reported to have sold less than half the volume of copies as they did Battlefront 1 (2015) in the UK alone. Don’t get me wrong, they still made money on the game, but that’s a significant drop, even for a big publisher like Electronic Farts…whoops I mean Electronic Con Artists…wait I meant to say Electronic Arts. Whew, didn’t think I was going to be able to make it through that sentence. I’ll just refer to them as EA from now on.

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If you would like to read about the scope of the drama, feel free to read this recap of the PR disaster. Here’s the short story: loot boxes are tied to individual character and overall player progression. Buy more loot boxes, and you have a better chance at getting better cards and upgrading your characters. You are literally paying to MAYBE upgrade a character you use and/or prefer. Yup, EA felt it was a good idea to force players to play for a ridiculous number of hours before unlocking either Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker, the two most known characters in Star Wars. Even after cutting the number of in-game currency required to unlock them by 75%, it’s still based on luck. Basically, you may advance your progression in the game, or you might just get useless cards for characters you’ll never use. That sure sounds like a trap to me!

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Eventually, after tons of outrage and contempt towards EA, they decided totemporarily remove the premium currency(it wouldn’t surprise me if they turn it back on immediately after the holiday season). That would solve the problem, except the grind to unlock all the characters and ships is still there; it’s just now “whales” or “dolphins” or “sea urchins”  or whatever they are calling them now can’t pay for it. That doesn’t address the issue that it takes far too long to unlock anything by simply playing casually (because some of us have jobs). Plus, the progression being tied to random loot still isn’t fixed, and might never be fixed if EA has the final word. While they did take a decent hit to their stock (it dropped 8.5 points overall in November, causing shareholders to lose $3 billion), they are such a massive conglomerate that they will have to have much worse months than that to make any permanent changes. Perhaps the increased pushed for legislation to become involved will persuade them to shy away from these greedy and downright predatory practices. While I don’t always think more rules and regulations are the correct solution, it might be the only band aid that patches this Wampa sized wound.

My hope is that more publishers and developers see the backlash towards EA and their practices, and in turn decide to take different avenues to monetize their games. These publishers and developers are entitled to revenue, as are we all. Let’s just hope that the next exploitative solution isn’t as revolting as the season pass or loot boxes tied to progression.

How do you feel about these practices? Do you prefer to drop some money on a game you like to possibly get better loot, or would you rather spend some more time to get that content instead? Let me know in the comments!

Ni No Kuni is the Open World Pokemon RPG We’ve Always Wanted

Author: Nathan Doverspike

Since Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness, there hasn’t been a 3D open world Pokemon game with the name Pokemon in it. In January of 2013, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch made it’s way to North America, a little over a year after its Japanese release to much excitement and hype. Four and a half years later, this gem of a video game is STILL the best open world Pokemon game (not named Pokemon but close enough) that more people should play. With the release (and undeniable success) of the Switch, it has been speculated that a new Pokemon open world RPG is finally on its way. While I am definitely excited, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Ni No Kuni since it has numerous improvements that Game Freak still has yet to fully realize in their current Pokemon games. Here are some major improvements they could borrow from the overall superior Ni No Kuni.

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  1. More Engaging Combat

The combat in the main Pokemon titles has always been turn based, and Ni No Kuni kicks it up a notch with a hybrid between turn based and real time, usually called Active Time battles. Think something like Final Fantasy XV, but with Pokemon…er monsters. You can use your regular attack that doesn’t require the use of mana (which drains with each spell/attack), or you could use some of that mana to cast a more powerful attack. You can actively switch between monsters at anytime in the battle, which includes changing characters and using their abilities and monsters. This provides a much faster pace to the battles (most are done in 20-30 seconds), and also makes the boss fights more frantic and rewarding. I grew up as a kid playing Pokemon Blue, which is why I would love to see some sort of implementation of this combat in a new Pokemon RGP.

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2. Better Quest System

The popular Yo-kai Watch had a slight quest system in place, which helped add some depth to that game, but ultimately didn’t provide you enough information to help you find where the quest-giver was located or sometimes even enough information to know how to solve the quest. Pokemon, on the far side of that spectrum, has no quest system. That’s right, if Swimmer Joe wants to see a Goldeen and doesn’t feel like getting his face wet while he’s floating in this magical fluid called water where the Goldeen live, then you have to remember to go grab your Goldeen, and then run the whole way back to him (because why would he be close enough to walk) AND remember where he was, just to get a usually trivial reward like money. Ni No Kuni has a whole quest board, and even highlights the characters that have quests with a glowing blue point on the map. Since the game provides you with specific hunts that let you battle optional but powerful foes, those are also marked on the world map so you know exactly where they are and don’t have to surf for half an hour to find the quest. This might not seem like a big deal to people with a lot of time on their hands, but trust me, having a quest system like Ni No Kuni in Pokemon would go a long way to making those games so much better.

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3. Easily Navigated Open World

What’s that, a big marker where you are supposed to travel to for the main quest? WHAT?! No, that’s not something we need! We love wandering around for hours until we accidentally talk to the right person who isn’t easily identifiable to progress the main story. That’s MUCH more entertaining than saving time and patience with markers and clear indicators of where to go and what to do. Pokemon Sun does have a map marker of where you are supposed to go, most of the time. I have found times where I had to search the Internet to figure out where in the world the game wanted me to go. That’s not good quest design, that’s just poor design. For all the things Pokemon games do well, this is one area in particular that needs to improve in order for me to keep enjoying their games.

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4. Better Story

Ok, so the stories in Pokemon games are generally meant for a younger audience. Even with that said, I feel they are too reliant on people playing them just to catch Pokemon and not because the story is engaging or enjoyable. I’ll admit, I am normally one of those people. However, after playing Ni No Kuni and LOVING the story and characters, this is quickly becoming a glaring problem moving forward. For all the good things Game Freak does, this one is probably the weakest aspect.

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5. Make Evolving Pokemon Less of a Chore

This one is probably just me, but I feel that as the years have progressed and as more and more Pokemon games have been released, it is becoming increasingly annoying to evolve certain Pokemon. Take Eevee for example. In order for you to evolve it to Leafeon, you have to get a Leaf Stone. Ok, not too bad right? Well in order to evolve it into Sylveon, you must have it like you enough and then it will evolve in to that form. Yup, it needs to LIKE you, which means you need to feed it candy and brush it or something like that to make it like you, and THEN it will evolve. I miss the days when Charmeleon would hit level 36 and evolve into Charizard, no matter if you were his best buddy or not. In Ni No Kuni, all they have to do is hit a certain level and the option to evolve them is there. You can sometimes get and extra move by leveling them up further, but you can certainly take the road most traveled and just level them up at that time. No need for a ton of petting or grooming or snacks, just hit a level and BOOM you’re done.

With Ni No Kuni 2 right around the corner, I can’t wait to see the changes they’ve made and enjoy what looks to be an incredible story. I still play Pokemon, and have high hopes for a new iteration of the franchise on the Nintendo Switch, but have some reservations about whether or not they can hit all the high notes that Ni No Kuni already hit back in 2013. While I wait for the inevitable announcement of a (hopefully great) new Pokemon RPG, I’ll go back to the wonderful story, beautifully done cutscenes courtesy of Studio Ghibli, and fantastic combat of Ni No Kuni.

What are your thoughts? Do you still play Pokemon games? If you do, what do you enjoy about them? Is there anything you wish they would improve? Let me know in the comments!

 

Unboxing The New Super Mario Odyssey Wired Controller Plus for Nintendo Switch

Author: Nathan Doverspike

I just got home from a quick  trip to the local gaming store, and saw they had one more of these sitting on the shelf. Seeing as I need a second controller for my Switch anyway, I decided to pick it up and check it out. Keep reading for more images and impressions!

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Back of the box

 

Overall, the controller has a great feel to it. The buttons have a solid resistance, but not too hard that you can’t push them in all the way. It comes with a ten (10) foot cable, as well as three sets of interchangeable analog caps. This is a huge bonus, seeing as I like to wear mine down in a matter of months! The added caps have one set of concave and one set of convex, so they have both sides of that argument covered.

The design is solid, and the D-Pad doesn’t feel cheap like previous designs of other controllers (Xbox 360 original controller I’m looking at you!).

The back of the controller also has what the box describes as ‘soft-touch rubber grips for added comfort.’ And oh boy comfort it does provide! Instead of an almost slick feeling that an Xbox 360 controller has (I keep comparing it to this because that’s exactly how it looks and appears to imitate) this controller shouldn’t have the same problem of slipping out of someone’s hands if they happen to get a little sweaty (we’ve all been there don’t be ashamed).

To be honest, I couldn’t be happier with my purchase! Not only does it have added features and components that competitors don’t bother to include, the reasonable price point of $29.99 should be a definite buy for anyone looking for a new Switch controller. Well done, Power A, well done indeed.

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Closeup on the face of the controller

 

 

 

 

 

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Triggers compared to an Xbox 360 controller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the Best RPG Released in the Last Decade

Author: Nathan Doverspike

Previously, I wrote an article listing multiple reasons why Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the best RPGs to release recently. Only one game tops that fantastic title, and it’s called the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. CD Projekt RED, somewhat unknown in the United States until the release of The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings (that game is also phenomenal and I highly recommend going back to it if you want to see how much the series evolved between iterations), their name was rightly sung in the highest of the gaming heavens for this masterfully crafted game. In fact, calling it a game doesn’t do this interactive experience justice, because it is so much more than a game. It’s a living, breathing world that is shaped by your actions and interactions with the hundreds of NPC’s across literally hundreds of hours of gameplay. Here are just some of the reasons this game will always have my RPG-loving heart forever.

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This is still one of the most beautiful console games out there.

The World

In order to keep my interest, an open world game needs to have something that sets it apart from other games. The world in the Witcher 3 is not just gorgeous to behold (see screenshot above for proof), exploring it is just as captivating. Every question mark on the map holds something interesting, whether it’s an important landmark, an area infested with monsters that you can claim for the townsfolk to restore, hidden treasure, or a brand new quest. When the Hearts of Stone expansion released, I found myself traveling into areas I wasn’t nearly ready to conquer, just to see what new places and loot I could find on my travels. The second and final expansion, Blood and Wine, adds over 30 more hours of content to uncover, along with a vast land inspired by French architecture. A realistic day/night cycle and dynamic weather also adding to the impressiveness of this gorgeous game. The realistic facial expressions and animations also bring out the believable nature of the game, too.

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Yup, your sword glows when you slot runes into it!

The Combat

While I personally enjoyed the combat in the Witcher 2, I understand why a lot of people I spoke with about the title described it as “clunky.” It sort of was. There wasn’t a nice flow to it like the Batman Arkham Asylum game that released two years prior and really set the standard for how fluid combat in RPG’s could feel. Witcher 3 definitely improved upon its predecessor, adding a new rune crafting system, better inventory management (thank goodness for chests), more upgrade options for signs (magic) to use in combat, and a satisfying counter system. Instead of having a light, medium, and heavy attack for combat like the original, the later two ditched that for just a heavy and medium attack, which absolutely streamlined it with what also worked in somewhat similar titles.

Speaking of combat, how does it sound to take on a dragon. Everyone likes that in games right? What about a GIANT dragon that is as intimidating to look at as it is to slay? Or how about a griffon terrorizing the local folk by eating their livestock? Or maybe you prefer traditional golems and liches that so many fantasy games feature? In this game, you get all of that and so many other varieties its almost overwhelming to list them all. Thankfully, the game keeps a bestiary of each one you encounter so you also know what potions, oils, and signs are effective against them.

Which brings me to the last improvement on combat: preparation. Playing the Witcher on anything but easy can be a real test of your mettle. You are able to drink potions that vastly increase certain attributes like vitality or strength, apply different oils to your weapons before entering combat with a foe, lay down traps, or cast signs on the ground and yourself to snare your enemy or even reflect damage back at them. All of this helps you take down the biggest of baddies, and for them you will definitely need all of these on your journey to save Ciri.

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Geralt vs. Giant: you already know who wins this one.

The Story

Speaking of Ciri, the whole story of the Witcher 3 revolves around Geralt finding his long lost acquaintance, Ciri, and saving her from a quickly approaching catastrophic event stemming from her being the last in a line of humanoids who can control space and time. Without spoiling anything specific, let’s just say I was left breathless after I finished the main quest. The expansions also have memorable stories to behold, including a massive toad that speaks (sure why not). The fantastical elements never feel out of place in the world, it’s weird and wonderful in its own quirky way. Geralt knows a lot about killing monsters, but even he doesn’t understand everything that happens in the world around him. The game earns a tip of the cap and two thumbs up for not over-explaining every little thing through spoken exposition, and instead lets you purchase books and read the lore in a separate menu if you want to dive even deeper, and I wholeheartedly recommend that you do.

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This is the size of the map for just Blood and Wine expansion.

The Characters

Geralt of Rivia (voiced by Doug Cockle) steals the show as the lead character, but other characters round out a very enjoyable cast that returns from Witcher 2. Also featured in the game is Dandelion, possible my least favorite character in the game, Yennefer of Vengerberg (Geralt’s previous love interest), Triss Merigold (a sorceress and possible love interest), Zoltan Chivay (one of Geralt’s closest allies) and of course Ciri. All actors and actresses did a fantastic job bringing these characters to life, and even though I didn’t care for the character of Dandelion in any of the titles, I respect the great job he did in reprising his role. They all have a unique way of interacting with Geralt depending on how you choose to treat others in the world, something may other games fail to accomplish. If you are a total jerk to other people, not only will you most likely have everyone despise you throughout the game, but you will get one of the most unsatisfying endings you can imagine. Just keep that in mind when you want to continually bribe the poor townsfolk for monetary paying in exchange for investigating their requests.

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a masterpiece of a video game, something I don’t think can be easily replicated  anytime soon. It had the perfect mixture of solid combat, enjoyable exploration, interesting characters, and so many other great touches like the addition of Gwent (the mini-game in a video game, period). This immersive experience is something I’ll never forget, and after over 100 hours of playing, still go back to it on a very regular basis. I can’t wait to see what great things CD Projekt RED has in store for us with their newest title, Cyberpunk 2077. Did you play the Witcher 3? Did you like it as much as I did? Let me know in the comments!

 

Golden Age Gamers Discuss Solo And Infinity War Trailers, Games We’ve Been Playing

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What is the Most Disappointing Video Game You’ve Played?

Author: Nathan Doverspike

Tax season is here! And after totally up my deductions, including student loans, marriage, and buying a house in 2017, our refund is….less than last year? Yup, that’s right, even though everyone I spoke to told me our refund should be quite impressive this year, it’s once again disappointing. Even though we expected it to be pretty good if not great, it still managed to be less than anticipated.

Which brings me to the heart of this article: I want YOU, the reader, to tell me what your most disappointing games have been. Maybe it was something like Mass Effect: Andromeda (that’s my choice), where it failed to live up to its predecessors in nearly every imaginable way. Or maybe it’s a game that had a great story and mechanics, only to disappoint with a thud of an ending. Let me know in the comments

 

Tips and Hints For Evil Within 2

Author: Nathan Doverspike

The Evil Within 2 would have been my biggest surprise in 2017, had I played it in 2017. I arrived a little late but nonetheless enjoyed the hell out of the game. From the twisted and horrifically grotesque enemy designs, to the crazy finale and gut wrenching plot, I was hooked the whole way through. To help you out on your journey back into STEM, here are my tips and hints for Evil Within 2.

New Game + is Great, But There’s a Catch

This is one I wish I knew before I started the game. I finished the game in casual mode, and if you would like an explanation of the different difficulties you can check out this article. You can reduce the difficulty while playing, but you cannot increase the difficulty once you start a save slot. Also keep in mind that beating NG+ gets you additional weapons and resources, so it’s definitely worth playing through a second time just to experience the new arsenal.

Explore, Explore, and Explore Some More

On my first run through the game, I thought I explored the open world pretty thoroughly, but I managed to miss a couple weapons and opportunities to upgrade my skill tree even further. Also, there are keys scattered throughout the game that allow you to open up one of the nurse’s lockers. Finding these keys can really help if you manage to get more ammo or health that stay there until you retrieve them.

Play on a Lower Difficulty For Run And Gun Gameplay

I played Evil Within 2 like I played Resident Evil 4 when it came out back in the day. I did a terrible job conserving ammo, was louder than a rhino in a china shop, and shop every enemy in sight. Playing on casual allowed me that freedom, so don’t expect to brute force your way on the more challenging difficulties.

Don’t Kill the Flame Thrower Enemies Before Chapter 13

Without providing any spoilers, DO NOT kill the flame thrower enemies roaming the world before chapter 13. I did, and therefore I couldn’t get the parts needed to repair the flame thrower which is needed for an achievement. Plus it’s one of the most powerful weapons in the game, so that alone makes getting it worth it.

Hopefully you find these tips and hints helpful, because I know they would have helped me decide the difficulty I wanted to choose as well as getting the flame thrower on my first play through. I am currently playing it a second time and experiencing as much if not more enjoyment this run through the standout horror title. What were some tips you found playing through? What did you think of the game overall? Let me know in the comments!

Top 5 Games I’m Most Excited For In 2018

Author: Nathan Doverspike

Two Thousand and Eighteen is shaping up to be quite the year for video games. With heavy hitters across various genres, I can’t wait to dig into them when they release. In no particular order, here are my top five games (hopefully) coming out in 2018.

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The Last of Us 2

Release Date: 2018 (TBD)

Systems: PS4

Developer: Naughty Dog

I’ll admit, I am not sure my first pick on this list is going to launch in 2018, but I want to mention it anyway. If it does release in 2018, it will most likely be a Q4 release according to most sources, but that’s alright with me. It is already shaping up to be just as heart-stopping and beautiful of a game as the original. Even though I loved the ending of the first one and thought the story might not need continuing, more Last of Us is always welcome on my system!

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Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

Release Date: March 23, 2018

Systems: PS4, Steam

Developer: Level-5

I am sure fans will be divided on this title when it releases towards the end of March. It appears to be geared more towards a Western RPG audience, with battles featuring players taking less control of the monsters and more of the characters in the party. Players also have the ability to use Pikmin, I mean Higgledies, to attack enemies instead of regular familiars. Level-5 doesn’t have the famed Studio Ghibli working on the cut-scenes, and while I find that slightly disappointing, I still can’t wait to play Ni No Kuni 2. Want to know how much I loved the original? Check out my article on why Ni No Kuni is the Open World Pokemon RPG Game We’ve Always Wanted!

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God Of War

Release Date: March 22, 2018

Systems: PS4

Developer: Santa Monica Studio

It’s a new God of War game, with Kratos facing off against Norse gods, what more is there to say? But seriously, I love the feeling I get from this game (reminds me of the novel/movie The Road but with Norse gods and more magical axes). This looks to focus more on the narrative than previous God of War games, and also lets you control the camera for a true third person view for the first time in the franchise. The combat looks visceral and I get a feeling both Kratos and his son(?) aren’t both making it to the end of this one alive.

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Spider-Man

Release Date: 2018 (TBD)

Systems: PS4

Developer: Insomniac Games

I loved playing Spider-Man 2 on the PS2 back in the day. That game was fantastic, and I also really enjoyed Spider-Man 3 (even though they changed the web slinging for some reason). A triumphant return to an open world Spider-Man game is just what this industry needs, and I have full confidence that Insomniac is going to pull it off with flying colors. Sure, the previews we have seen might have one too many quick-time events, but I am hoping that is just in the early part of the game that they’ve shown off.

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Agony

Release Date: March 30, 2018

Systems: PS4, Xbox One, Steam

Developer: Madmind Studio

This one is a little out of left field, since one of the only first person horror games I’ve played in recent years is RE7: Biohazard (holy crap that game is good). Needless to say, if Agony is anything up to the visual quality I’m all in, not to mention the mechanic of possessing people and demons to escape Hell. This game looks terrifying, and if you don’t believe me just watch the trailer for it and you’ll understand my excitement!

Those were my picks for the top five games I’m excited for coming out in 2018. What are your picks? Do you agree with any of mine? Let me know in the comments!

6 Tips For Getting Started in Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Author: Nathan Doverspike

After almost a dozen hours in the breathtakingly beautiful world of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I feel it is safe to say I’m definitely enjoying my time with it. The JRPG, which is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, caps of a brilliant first year for the versatile new console. While the story isn’t as engaging as I anticipated, I can’t help but praise the art style, wonderful world, satisfying and sometimes challenging combat, and intricate systems. So without further ado, I present six tips and hints for starting your journey through Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

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1. The Map is Your Best Friend

This one seems obvious, and it should be. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a massive world, with countless side quests which combined together can understandably be overwhelming at first. I found it best to consult the map if I ever had trouble finding where certain side quests wanted me to go (indicated by blue diamond with white question mark inside). The main quest has been fairly simple to track, since it is denoted by magenta diamonds with white exclamations marks inside, but even then I have gotten turned around once or twice. Just keep in mind that you CAN navigate over large roots to trees in the left part of the map where the gold person is found on the image above. I found that out after an hour of wandering around and then getting slaughtered by a level 75 King Kong-looking monster.

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2. Spend Time Exploring the Menus

Like many JRPG’s, this game has A LOT of systems working simultaneously during battles. Whether it is upgrading your Arts, Affinity grid, or unlocking new Blades, there is always something that can be improved in your party if you know where to look.  The Affinity Chart above is a great example of all the upgrades available for completing certain tasks explained for each bubble. One might require you to revive a companion a single time in order to receive 20% extra health from potions dropped from enemies, while another may require you to enter 10 battles in order to get a permanent boost to physical defense. These may not seem like much, but you will appreciate that extra defense and health from potions when the battle lasts 10+ minutes and you have a skill that specifically drops health from enemies.

3. Don’t Expect Too Much From the Story

This one comes off as negative, but it isn’t meant to be. Setting your expectations appropriately for this game will help you enjoy it much more. After the great story from the original, I had high hopes for this one to continue that trait. It might fall flat on its face at times, and the lip syncing during cut-scenes might be laughably bad at times, but the game play and intricate systems make up for it. It won’t win any awards for the story it appears to be telling, but if you can get past that it will reward you with everything else it has to offer.

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4. Grinding Isn’t Just Necessary, It’s Also Fun

Games like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 usually feature some form a grinding, whether it’s White Knight Chronicles, FFXV, games from the Tales series. Grinding is something that is expected and can even be relaxing if you do what I do and throw on a podcast to listen to while you go through the motions for an hour or so each night, chipping away bit by bit at your slowing increasing experience bar. I haven’t found the grind to be too cumbersome at this point, and hope it doesn’t become frustrating come late game content. The enemies have interesting designs, and rounding a couple up can result in fantastically engaging battles that leave you nearly out of breath and HP by the end. A dozen hours in, and I look forward to spending some more time fighting the denizens of Alrest.

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5. Timing is Everything

Whether you are scavenging the clouds for treasure or fighting a plethora of monsters all at once, timing is everything. Whenever you choose to scavenge for treasure, you will be presented with button prompts. Hitting the corresponding button on screen while it is inside the inner circle in every prompt will result in better rewards from the dive, and can get interesting once you progress farther into the game and encounter enemies that are over 20 levels above you when you arrive on land.

Button prompts are also a key element of battles. While using your special attacks, depending on which ones you use with different weapons, you’ll have the opportunity to hit the correct buttons to do exponentially more damage. Timing your abilities just after landing a hit (auto-attack or Art) will increase the damage even further, so it is entirely possible to turn the tide of a lopsided battle in seconds once you begin to master the system.

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6. Tackle Named Monsters of Equal Level

During my time, I encountered a few named enemies that may look like normal enemies, but are denoted by a special symbol and are much more difficult to bring down. I attempted to bring a level 12 beast down when I was level 15, and after 10 minutes of intense button pressing and frantically running to pick up dropped potions, I felled the beast and received numerous rewards for their defeat. I highly recommend trying to tackle some of these once you gain three characters simultaneously in your party. The monster I took down wasn’t overwhelmingly challenging, and I felt great afterwards! They even have a little gravestone where they were that allows you to fight them again should that be something you wish to do.

Overall, I’ve had a great experience with Xenoblade Chronicles 2, despite a few frame rate stutters and the occasional annoying character. It is a JRPG after all, and I can’t stop looking ahead and getting excited about what awesome Blades I will be able to unlock or wonder how this connects to the original game.

Have you picked it up yet? If you have, are you enjoying it so far? Let me know in the comments!