We introduce our newly renamed and revamped Star Wars centric podcast: Knights of Revan!
Author: Nathan Doverspike
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
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
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
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 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!
Author: Nathan Doverspike
For nearly 18 years, I’ve been playing video games, from Tomb Raider 2 to Horizon Zero Dawn (go play it if you haven’t, it’s amazing) and loving my time with most of them. Every once in awhile you come across a game that just doesn’t click for you, whether its the story, theme, gameplay, art style, or maybe something as simple as the music. I used to do everything I could to push passed these obstacles, in the hopes that there would be some sort of payoff in the end; some feeling of satisfaction for continuing with a game that I didn’t necessarily enjoy. One title, named Mass Effect Andromeda did just that; it broke me of this habit. As the title of this article states, after playing Mass Effect Andromeda, I realized that I can no longer beat games that I get no enjoyment from playing.
Before I get into all the reason I refuse to beat games I don’t enjoy and the game that ultimately crushed my soul, I need to say this first. I LOVE Mass Effect 1 through 3. I was even alright with the original ending of Mass Effect 3 before they extended it with free DLC. It had a conclusion, even if it felt like there wasn’t as many choices as there could have been. It made sense, and that’s what I wanted. I also adored the characters. There’s a reason there is a giant piece of artwork featuring characters from Mass Effect in my living room. The characters and their stories were the best part of the original trilogy, in my opinion. That said, on to this albatross of a game.
There’s not enough space on this page to describe how frustrating that game was. To start, the facial animations at launch (they released a patch that fixed some of the issues) were not only atrocious, they were appalling to behold. They were so gross, that I thought I was playing some terrible $1 Steam Greenlight game (RIP Steam Greenlight) that used Unity stock assests to make a quick buck or two. Want to see how ugly they can be? You’ve been warned.
Yup, that’s how my failed journey through the boring and uneventful game called Mass Effect Andromeda began. With that face staring at me. Ok, so the combat was satisfying and the skill tree allowed for a bevy of customization. But in a game that resembled Dragon Age Inquisition more than the original Mass Effect trilogy, I didn’t enjoy the exploration, party members (there were only six, SIX), or the bland/terrible story they tried to tell. I loved the premise: you are sent on a 600 year journey to find another galaxy to colonize in case the Milky Way is destroyed by the Reapers. Cool right? It is, until some of the worst writing in video games is on full blast right from the start and all the characters look like they are from some alpha version of the game. It felt unfinished. By all means, it was.
I spent over THIRTY FIVE hours on this turd. I did everything I could to enjoy it. I would play podcasts while playing so I had something interesting to listen to (the dialogue is embarrassing except for maybe Drack and Jaal). That only helped so much, until I realized I wasn’t even having fun exploring the FIVE planets. Yeah, you have the pleasure of exploring FIVE planets the WHOLE GAME. Even Dragon Age 2 had more locations to explore, and they even recycled a lot of them to pad the time it takes to beat the game.
I ended my playthrough after reaching the third planet. It was a giant ice location full of sadness and emptiness. Wait, that’s what I was feeling while I was playing this. Sorry about that. I meant to say it was full of empty space and sparse enemy encounters, sprinkled in a few giant towers that you need to scan (that part sucked too) and a ton of fetch quests that amounted to getting some experience and nothing satisfying. I couldn’t take the punishment anymore, so I traded in Mass Effect Andromeda and used the money to wipe my tears away.
As we come to the end of my sad tale, I want to make it clear that I am totally cool with anyone liking this game. I just found it unbearable for the reasons listed above, but everyone is more than welcome to have their own opinions and likes/dislikes. I want to hear from YOU! Are there any games that you just couldn’t finish? Why? Was it because of the gameplay, story, or something else entirely?
Author: Nathan Doverspike
Horizon Zero Dawn was the biggest surprise of 2017 to me. It didn’t come out of left field like Shadow of Mordor did in 2014, where I knew almost nothing about the game and absolutely loved it, but it did something I feel never fully accomplished: it made me want more even after I was completely done with all of the main and side content. Horizon, in my humble opinion, is the best open world game that has come out in years, and here are four reasons why.
- The Story
Not know for their stories, open world games usually rely on their world-building and interactive environments and interesting characters. That’s why this is my first and most important reason for this game being so good. The story starts slow, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t quickly speed up after the tutorial ends around hour 2 or so, and won’t let you breath until you finish the final mission. In total, I would say I spent about 20-25 hours on the story alone, and loved every minute of it. Every twist and turn, every revelation, every boss battle was enthralling and engaging unlike any other game I’ve played in a long time.
2. The World
The world of Horizon is beautiful, and when I say beautiful, I mean look at the screenshot I took above. That is the game running on a normal PS4 on a 1080p TV. No PS4 Pro needed here, the game is a treat to look at. It’s photo mode really allows you to capture the beauty of the game by letting you take stills of the game in motion. You can even move the camera as shown above so Aloy isn’t even in the picture. The sunsets and snowy mountains aren’t the only highlight of the game either.
3. The Creatures
The nature of the mechanical beasts is a massive spoiler, so I won’t dive into that whole plot. What I will say, though, is that they are so much fun to hunt. Yup, that’s right, you get to hunt giant mechanized dinosaurs and sabertooth tigers in a video game. The giant beasts that inhabit this land are dangerous, and some are downright terrifying to fight. An ability you unlock later in the game makes them even more awesome, but you’ll have to play the game to find out what that mechanic is and how much better the game gets after you unlock it.
4. The Combat
While this is the last item on the list, it could have easily been my top choice as well. That’s what makes this game so amazing: there isn’t just one thing it does well. It does everything almost perfect, mixing so many awesome concepts and mechanics together. The combat is so satsifying. Sliding between a metal T-Rex’s legs, going in slow motion, firing arrows into its underbelly, and regaining your footing only to watch, for a split second, your arrows explode and send giant chucks of armor into the air before dodging incoming missiles and planning your next attack on the monstrosity. That’s just one example of how fluid combat is throughout the game.
I love this game! I put over 40 hours into it, and I am just over half way done with all of the side quests! That isn’t including the upcoming DLC planned for the game, that sends Aloy to a whole new area with new beasts to slay. Hopefully after reading this, you’ll go and at least watch some YouTube videos of it and eventually give it a shot. After all, who doesn’t want to ride around on a mechanical bull and slay giant T-Rex monsters?