There is certainly a time and place for those games as a service, and if done well can be a very rewarding experience. For the purpose of this article though, I want to explore the reasons why we could benefit from more games like God of War.
Author: Nathan Doverspike
Back in the 90’s, I was just a kid who found endless amounts of joy exploring worlds as a purple dragon that could breathe fire onto unsuspecting sheep and charge head-first into enemies. Never would I have thought that single-player only games like Spyro the Dragon (I can’t wait for the remaster to come out in September!) would become overtaken by games like Destiny 2, Farcry series, or recent Assassin’s Creed titles, games that prefer to be a service instead of a singular experience. There is certainly a time and place for those games as a service, and if done well can be a very rewarding experience. For the purpose of this article though, I want to explore the reasons why we could benefit from more games like God of War.
Awhile ago, I wrote and article condemning micro transactions in video games. It appears I am not alone, as the ESRB has begun cracking down on them, countries have started outlawing them completely, and there is even a petition online to have them halted altogether. These are steps in the right direction, but until these companies see a direct impact in sales (both Assassin’s Creed Origins and Farcry 5 were well received critically and sold well) I don’t see this issue going away. The loot boxes in Shadow of War, a game that was obviously crippled by their inclusion, recently removed them. I would give them a slow clap, but it’s too little too late for that game. These gamble boxes of random nonsense prey upon people who may have an addiction to gambling, or could possibly develop one due to this insidious practice. Jim Sterling, a moderately famous YouTuber, has been extremely vocal about the abolition of loot boxes in games for these reasons and others, and I highly recommend checking out his content to see exactly why they should be removed. They impact the balancing of the game, with the core experience often tampered with to make you feel inferior without dropping additional money to have better gear, weapons, etc. God of War doesn’t fall into this trap, and it deserves recognition for it.
Also along the lines of scumbag practices are season passes. These promises of extra content to gamers for extra cash often don’t live up to the money you invest in them. Whether it’s not as much story content, maps that don’t feel worth the price of admission, or outright screwing over customers with incomplete content, there always seems to be a downfall to a game’s season pass. God of War could have had one of these. There are multiple realms you do not visit in the game, and quite honestly I would pay extra to travel to them because the game is so extraordinary. But they aren’t available for purchase, and most likely won’t be according the game’s director Cory Barlog. For the first time in a long time, we have a COMPLETE game at release. No need to pay to finish the story, get more loot/gear, or unlock other content like characters that were already included on the original disc (Mortal Kombat I’m looking at you on that one). This gives us something to look forward to in the sequel.
Speaking of complete story, not since The Last of Us did I think a story was so well-done. It kept me engaged and always wondering how they were going to overcome their next challenge. Like the relationship between Joel and Ellie, Kratos and Atreus aren’t always on great terms. In fact, for the majority of the game, they butt heads more than a millennial and baby boomer stuck in a closet together. Which makes their evolution throughout the game that much more interesting. You see where each is coming from, you see the regret over the terrible things Kratos has done, and how hard it is for him to express that to his son. And without spoiling anything, you see how some of these rifts are closed by the credits, and how some more could be opened in future installments. Too many games are shifting to imitate a service instead of an excellent experience.
Being a single player game, without a season pass or expansions, you would think that sales would be down right? Publishers want to claim that multi-player games sell so many more copies, thus making them considerable amount more cash. God of War would like to disagree, with it selling over 3.1 million copies of the FIRST THREE DAYS! This sold more than Uncharted 4 (had multi-player) and Horizon Zero Dawn, both Sony first party games. It is hard to believe that if this were released on even just Steam as well as PS4, that the sales numbers would be even more impressive. Even still, the notion that single player games don’t make as much money would be labeled as busted if it were to be analyzed on Myth Busters.
It’s my hope as a gamer that studios continue to release quality big budget games that aren’t looked at as a service. Something that I can sink a decent amount of time into (currently sitting just short of 40 hours in God of War) and feel like I received a full and complete experience. The Last of Us did it, Horizon Zero Dawn did it (speaking about before the later expansion), and God of War did it as well. All were successful, and I strongly believe that single player games can continue being profitable for companies and provide their audience with experiences that stimulate their gaming senses. We just have to hope that publishers like EA, Activision, Ubisoft, and Warner Brothers come to their senses before another collapse occurs.
While there aren’t many things to gripe out with this game, here are my pros and cons for God of War for your reading pleasure.
Author: Nathan Doverspike
If the title didn’t give it away already, this is one of my favorite games. Ever. I don’t say that phrase often either. Only Mass Effect 2 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt fit into that category for me in the last 10 years of video games. There aren’t many things to gripe about with this game, so here are my pros and cons for God of War for your reading pleasure.
The Combat Is The Best in The Series
From the minute you were able to throw the ax at an enemy’s head, have it stick in it and freeze them, then lunge forward with a flying punch to the face, I knew this game was going to be special. You don’t get as many weapons in this game as you did in the past God of War games, but they more than make up for it with robust
The Visuals Aren’t Just Breathtaking, They’re The Best
Graphics aren’t everything. Mass Effect 2 looks slightly aged now, but I still think it’s one of the greatest RPG’s ever. But unlike Mass Effect 2, God of War looks leagues better than its competition in a way that the Mass Effect series never did. The fact that I took a screen shot of mud in the game…should tell you everything you need to know about how great this title looks.
Exploring the Worlds Is As Enjoyable As You Would Expect
With so much effort placed in making the visuals some of the best in a video game to date, just as much effort was placed in making the gorgeous locations just as fun to explore. From solving puzzles to defeating powerful foes in the late game content, I never grew bored of any of the numerous caves, beaches, or treks up a mountain. Finding new paths to take as you gain more abilities and progressively better loot was always a great time.
Extra Content After The Story
This is something that I certainly didn’t expect. I had a feeling this game would have a lengthy story for and action RPG, but I didn’t expect it to have a bunch of side quests and content that is unlocked after you complete the story. With all of this content available to complete, this game gives you reason after reason to keep playing, even after the main story is finished.
Bonus: New Game Plus Added
Did you finish God of War and ask yourself: What next? Lucky for you, Santa Monica added a New Game Plus mode that allows you to carry over all of your gear, experience, currency, and talismans to experience the story again. You also have the ability to skip cutscenes, craft new armor and weapons, and even some previously unavailable abilities will be available! The new armor sets add a wonderful twist with positive and negative effects, breathing new life into an already spectacular Game of the Year winner.
I don’t normally get emotional playing games, especially not ones that feature Kratos yelling and grunting his way through them (of which he does a considerable amount less than the previous titles). God of War redefined my expectations for this series moving forward, offering an incredible story and a very moving ending with twist after twist. I love where the story goes, and the curve balls the developers boldly throw at you until the credits roll.
I understand the idea behind having clever things hidden in the environment for the player to find. However, to me the 51 Odin’s Ravens scattered throughout the game are more of a pain than they are worth to find. There are other collectibles like chests, artifacts, and special enemies hidden that are far more interesting and fun to find. Personally, I wish there weren’t as many to collect or didn’t literally blend in with some of the environments to the point of being almost completely impossible to see.
Attitude of Atreus Half-Way Into The Story
This is a minor gripe, since in the context of the story it makes sense. The story is about the journey and how it changes both Kratos and Atreus along the way. At one point, I grew tired of Atreus’s attitude. I understand what the developers were doing with his character, but it didn’t make it any less annoying. Thankfully, his personality doesn’t remain this way for too long.
How are you enjoying the game? Were there any points you think I missed? Let me know in the comments!
Here are some tips and hints for God of War that I wish I had known earlier and some that have helped me enjoy the game even more as I continue my journey to the top of the summit (of gaming and Midgard).
Author: Nathan Doverspike
Almost 20 hours into this game, and I can honestly say this is one of my favorite games EVER. Not in the last decade, not favorite RPG or action game, quite literally top 3 games I have ever had the pleasure of playing. Here are some tips and hints for God of War that I wish I had known earlier, and some that have helped me enjoy the game even more as I continue my journey to the top of the summit (of gaming and Midgard).
Explore, Explore, and Explore Some More
As most RGP and open-area games go, it pays off to return to areas you’ve been. This holds especially true for the new God of War. Kratos and Atreus will receive ways to explore even more of the worlds as you progress through the story, so if you see something that looks important but you can’t access it the first time, make a mental note or real one on paper to return to that area. While some areas pay off more than others, I never felt cheated when I chose to spend some extra time exploring with “Boy”.
Mix It Up in Combat
While the axe is an adequate weapon, your fists can be just as deadly. Mixing it up in combat will help you overcome the myriad of enemies the game like to throw your way. At the beginning of the game, I found myself barely using my fists to pummel enemies. Now, I go all out, using the axe and fists, combined with the separate abilities that correspond with each style, to thoroughly obliterate my foes.
Spread Out Your Upgrades
This goes for both your armor and skills. I foolishly upgraded an early armor a few times, then regretted it an hour later when I found a much more improved armor that I could have improved even further if I didn’t spend all my resources on the one armor set. You get a ton of loot in this game, and most of it is markedly improved over previous iterations. Keep that in mind when you are deciding what to spend those precious resources on.
Play It For the Story
A great story in a God of War game? Yup, and even though I haven’t quite finished it yet, I have seen more character development than many other RPG’s that have come out in recent years. It is obvious how much time and effort was put into making the story not just coherent, but engaging and moving. The characters are interesting, the setting spectacular, and the twists and turns the plot take are sharp and unexpected.
Play With Headphones or a Nice Stereo If Possible
This one might not apply to everyone reading, and that’s understandable. However, if you have the ability to play this game with good headphones on or a nice stereo system, I highly recommend doing so. This game makes sounds I’ve never heard from my speakers before, and the World Serpent made my house literally shake from it’s voice. It’s something to behold that I never experienced in another video game before.
What do you think of the game so far? Are you enjoying the new camera and increased focus on story as well? Let me know in the comments!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Horizon, in my humble opinion, is the best open world game that has come out in years, and here are four reasons why.
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?