We Need More Games Like God of War

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.

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Horizon Zero Dawn is a great example of a single player game that was financially and critically successful.

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.

 

Facing the Facts: I’m Done Completing Games I Don’t Enjoy Playing

 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.

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.

Mass Effect Andromeda Weirdest Face Ever
This is the first person I interacted with in the game. Little did I know, it didn’t get much prettier than that…face.  I think that’s a face?

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?

 

 

 

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Review

Overall, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is both a return to horror and a breath of new life to this decades old franchise.

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The game strikes a perfect balance of being terrifying and gorgeous at the same time.

Author: Nathan Doverspike

I start to panic as my character takes their good old time unlocking a hatch leading underground.  He is right behind me: Daddy is coming. I hear him curse at me as he swings a bloodied spade wildly towards my head.  I luck out.  The hatch opens and I drop down into the claustrophobic crawl space littered with cob webs and a rusted lawn mower (no idea how that got there).  My heart won’t stop pounding as I contemplate just staying put for a moment to catch my breath, cursing Daddy for scaring the living hell out of me.  I can hear the creak from his brooding footsteps above, and I know I can’t stay here forever.  I need to get out of there and find out what in the world is going on here.  This is just a taste of the heart-attack-inducing moments to come, and I loved every second of it!

Ethan decides to go looking for his long-lost girlfriend Mia after he receives a video of her begging him to stay away.  Reckless, and slightly naive, he nevertheless travels to the swamplands of Louisiana to investigate her disappearance.  Once you arrive, all is not as it seems.  The family living there, the Bakers, clearly have a few screws missing, as well as a pile of other body parts along the way.  You fight them, as well as another form of enemy along the way to saving Mia and yourself.  While the game is slightly linear most of the way through, I never felt quite safe from the denizens of darkness.  Besides the safe rooms located throughout the game, no place was comfortable or inviting, and I prefer my Resident Evil that way compared to the travesty that is Resident Evil 6.

Speaking of gut wrenching, please do not play this game if you have a weak stomach or are prone to heart attacks.  That is a serious warning.  This game made me jump off the couch AND scream at the top of my lungs in just the first hour.  The first half is terrifying, and the second half keeps the scares coming but does focus a little more on linear level design and first person shooting gameplay.  While some might have wanted a complete return to form to Resident Evil 1-3 (this game has a house that resembles the mansion in RE1 and even references to the greater Resident Evil universe that are subtle but brilliant), I adored the blend of scares and stealth mixed with tense moments of action.  Even when you are stripped of your inventory during a section of the game, it never feels like it overstays its welcome.  The weapons all have a place, and I never felt like a weapon wasn’t useful or didn’t feel awkward aiming.  The pace is nothing short of a masterpiece, so much so that I began a new playthrough immediately following the completion of the game.  It has its bloody hooks in me that deep.

Overall, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is both a return to horror and a breath of new life to this decades old franchise.  Some fans may not enjoy all aspects of it, and I respect that.  However, I couldn’t get enough of this entry and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Resident Evil if they continue down this gutsy path.

Final Score:  9/10  Excellent