I love Bioware RPGs. That’s something I feel is quite obvious if you spend any time on this site. However, there is one in particular I have been replaying for the third time and feel is absolutely worth picking up if you love RPG’s. Here are five reasons why you should revisit or pick up Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Author: Nathan Doverspike
I love Bioware RPGs. That’s something I feel is quite obvious if you spend any time on this site. However, there is one in particular I have been replaying for the third time and feel is absolutely worth picking up if you love RPGs. Here are five reasons why you should revisit or pick up Dragon Age: Inquisition.
The Story Is Better Than It Should Be
A big hole in the sky spewing out demons into the world is the main crux of Dragon Age: Inquisition. At first glance it might sound like the story is going to be underwhelming like its predecessor. Fortunately, the story is more than adequate to keep the player’s interest. Gaining agents and allies for the revival of the long-dead inquisition, seeking out why you have a strange mark on your hand that allows you to close the portals, and ending the threat is all entertaining to say the least. Plus, depending on your choices throughout the game, the ending will have vastly different outcomes, which is always nice to see that your choices do matter in an RPG from Bioware.
The Characters Are Likable, and Useful
This is huge bugbear for me in regards to other recent RPG’s that have characters that are supposed to be interesting (any character except Drack in Mass Effect: Andromeda, the Bioware game that came out after the main studio was forced to focus its efforts on Anthem) but really aren’t in a way that makes them almost a drag to have in your party. I played Andromeda for over 30 hours, and not once was I engaged enough with the combat to get over the extremely poorly written dialogue for your companions or their bland backgrounds. With DA:I, neither the characters or their usefulness comes into question. Sure, there are certain combinations that are nearly unstoppable like having Cassandra, Cole, and Iron Bull all in your party, but that doesn’t mean that others like Varric or Solas aren’t useful in their own ways. It’s obvious the team at Bioware spent a good amount of effort on making sure all the pieces fit together, just as they did prior with Dragon Age: Origins (if you like a more tactical RPG like Baldur’s Gate or Neverwinter Nights 2, also Bioware products, I highly recommend giving that a shot as well).
The Combat Feels Satisfying
An RPG that is centered around combat needs to be satisfying to keep the player engaged, and that’s something that DA:I does so well. As a rogue character on my current hard difficulty play-through, I can’t believe it’s a class I haven’t chosen before. It plays so well and is so exhilarating to get those massive damage shots off on unsuspecting enemies, then dodge out of the way, dealing damage and escaping their range just before their attack lands. Don’t worry if bows and daggers aren’t your thing, the warrior class is really fun to play (especially as a reaver), as is the mage.
A Beautiful Rich World
An area where Dragon Age 2 slipped up, and one where DA: I far succeeds its predecessors, is the world you explore. Don’t misunderstand that statement: I still love Dragon Age: Origins, but the areas in this game are so detailed graphically and with so many different events to uncover, that it feels alive in a similar fashion to the Mass Effect Trilogy. For me, it isn’t just that the game is beautiful, it’s all the little side quests you can find by exploring. You can potentially go into the final portion of the game with almost the starting party and no one else. The game doesn’t force you to get characters like Sera or Iron Bull, but gives you the option to seek them out. It gives you choices that are less and less frequent in more modern games.
Your Decisions Matter
As mentioned previously in this article, a staple in Bioware games is choice. The choice to side the mages will lock out any cooperation with the Templars down the road. The choice to exile Sera from your inquisition means she will leave, permanently. The decisions you make in this game have lasting effects, and seeing all the different ways the game handles them is fascinating. There isn’t a real win or lose in a lot of them, but there are entirely different outcomes and situations that arise.
Have you played Dragon Age: Inquisition? What do you think about the game as a whole? Do you feel it still holds up compared to other games in the genre? Let me know in the comments!
Throughout the conferences, we learned a fair bit, from new titles coming out, to the acknowledgement that Microsoft and Sony are developing their next gen consoles. After all the excitement, I have compiled a list of my top six surprises from E3 2018.
Author: Nathan Doverspike
As with each of these lists, the opinions and lists themselves are my own.
E3 2018 had its fair shares of high points and one giant abyss called the EA conference. Throughout the conferences, we learned a fair bit, from new titles coming out, to the acknowledgement that Microsoft and Sony are developing their next gen consoles. After all the excitement, I have compiled a list of my top six surprises from E3 2018. Let me know in the comments what I missed!
Cyberpunk 2077 Aiming For Release On Current Gen Consoles
For a game as ambitious and graphically intense as Cyberpunk 2077 seems to be, it’s interesting that CD Projekt Red have confirmed that they are aiming to release the game on the PS4 and Xbox One. If the Witcher 3 is any sort of basis for their quality of video games (in my opinion it certainly should be), then this game should be spectacular from a general perspective as a gamer. That’s why releasing it on current gen consoles is so interesting, since we haven’t seen a game of this scope or graphical fidelity (God of War comes close) on a console. If they are able to get it to run at a stable framerate without sacrificing too much on the graphics part, I am all in for this to be a possible late 2019/early 2020 title. If not, then the next generation of consoles are going to have a fantastic start to their run with this game as a possible launch title.
EA Has Anthem…And That’s It
This one certainly surprised me, and not in a positive way. Besides announcing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (yup, that’s one clunky title) in a very weird and almost uncomfortable interview that put Respawn Entertainment’s Vince Zampella on the spot during a lull in the EA conference (as if the whole conference wasn’t enough of one), there was very little shown that wasn’t already presumed to be coming out. We got the confirmation of a new FIFA game, a new Madden title, and a bite sized bit of Anthem footage shown. And that was pretty much it.
Microsoft’s Show Was Impressive
I own an Xbox One, so don’t assume I am automatically a “Sony Pony” for saying that I have been generally underwhelmed by the exclusives offered on the Xbox One. However, I feel that Microsoft’s conference was well organized and showcased a ton of games, even if most will be coming to PC or PS4 as well. I enjoyed their presentation miles more than Sony’s, and that’s refreshing to say. I loved the Xbox 360, so hopefully they are able to carry this momentum and hit their release date for Crackdown 3 in February. Oh, and this Gears game looks infinitely (see what I did there Halo fans) more interesting than anything in Gears of War 4.
Rainbow Six: Siege Is What Destiny Should Have Been
As someone who casually plays Destiny, I can understand and sympathize with those who think the game should be better in general, from the loot drops, to the lack of story, to the odd narrative choice of killing a main character in an announcement for more paid content. It should be, which is why Rainbow Six: Siege is doing exactly what Bungie stated they wanted with Destiny: have a 10 year plan for the game to allow gamers to enjoy the game whether they purchase it day one or wait a few years for more content. Siege is doing just that, and their presentation at E3 is a great example of how you can overcome a rough start by making necessary changes and being consumer-friendly. It’s true they have too many editions of the game, but that’s something that comes with the concept of games-as-a-service. I haven’t played Siege yet, but I am excited to see what new content they release and to join that player base after watching their E3 conference and all the content they have planned.
Kingdom Hearts Is A Narrative Mess, And I’m Fascinated
This might come off as harsh, but from talking with other people, even the most hardcore KH fans can admit the story is a bit of a mess. That isn’t to say it’s bad, hell even yjr stories in Star Wars can be a convoluted disaster (i.e. The Last Jedi). The trailers shown this E3 really hooked me and have me pumped. Who are all these characters? What are heartless? What the hell is even happening in these games? I must know! Thankfully, Square Enix is releasing a version of the game that includes all KH titles the same day that Kingdom Hearts 3 is out. Count me in, Captain Jack Sparrow!
There Is Such A Thing As Too Many Update Notes
I feel this one speaks for itself, but after sitting through 40 minutes of patch notes about the most minute changes to the game (honestly don’t need to know about WiI Trainer’s facial improvement) I just want the game to release already. I never knew a company could bore me by talking too much about their game before it releases, but Nintendo did just that. This is a day one purchase for me, so it’s fair to say I am still excited for its release on December 15th (don’t worry Jake I’ll still make it to your wedding!). Just, next time they want to talk about an important first party title like Metroid Prime 4 or a new Fire Emblem game, please don’t use two thirds of your conference to provide intricate details about the new lens flare effects or individual strands of hair on Marth’s head.
The gang is back to give our reactions to the announcements, and some games we thought would be announced, in our reactions podcast part 1
To conclude, EA is like a skid mark in my underwear: once it’s there it’s ugly and hard to clean up. 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
We talk some 2D fighters, EA, Micro transactions, Destiny, and Pokemon!