Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Road to Destiny... Pt.4: The Crucible - PvP

The Future. Touched by the Light of The Traveler, we have braved the Stars. But an ancient Darkness is coming to end us all...

Destiny...The Place you will come to Rule. And Own. But not Teabag.

The Beta is near, and after showing you some of the Alpha's Solo and Co-Op Activities in my last post, let's take a look at the Competitive Multiplayer:

"The Crucible": It's Player-versus-Player Warfare - Train for the "Fight for the Light" by shooting other people that Fight for the Light. It totally makes sense.

Then again, PvP never had to make sense. It's about the friendly, competitive challenge that engaging another human-controlled player inevitably comes with. It's definitely not about owning people, or tea-bagging them into rage-quitting. Thing to note here: No corpses in Destiny - No Tea-Bagging. All that's left after a kill is a lone Ghost, one of each Guardians' floating robotic helpers - you might even be able to get revived, although that never happened in the Alpha to my knowledge.

Yes, you play with your own Guardian, with your own weapons, your own gear. No more Red vs. Blue. You also have access to your full inventory, and can change gear, weapons and even class ability upgrades at any time during the match. But don't you worry about high-level players having access to much better gear. Destiny is not Battlefield, after all. "Level Advantages (like higher Damage or better Protection from high Level Gear are) Disabled".

In short, this means, that in The Crucible, a level 20 gun will do the same basic damage as a level 1 gun, while level 1 Head Armor will offer the same protection as its level 20 counterpart. It's a very nice way to level the playing field, while still retaining your individual play-style preferences.

Now, there are small differences, since the bonus stats of Uncommon and Rarer Gear are still in effect, and weapon upgrades, like scopes, that are unlocked by using a single weapon quite a lot, can give the more experienced player slight advantages. But if there's one thing Bungie is good at, it's matchmaking - something we've had to experience in the steep decline of match-making from Halo Reach (Bungie) to Halo 4 (343 Studios) - so the chances of level 20s battling level 5s are pretty slim.
As to what game modes will be available, the Alpha only had one ("Control" certain static areas on the map and kill enemies for points), but teased with icons of at least 5 more. One can safely assume that the (sad) staple of FPS Player-vs-Player "Team Deathmatch" will be present. Possibly there might be a "Free-for-All" Everyone kills Everyone game mode, as well. Hell, if Halo is any indication, two of the other icons may even just be "Big Team" Versions of Control and TDM, increasing the usual 6v6 into 12v12. 

Something I am personally hoping for, is a mode that combines different game modes, like Killzone's Warzones or Ghost Recon Future Soldier's Conflict. Control was a lot of fun, but I like variety plus fun even better.

The two Maps in the Alpha were called "Rust Lands" - a relatively small, no-vehicle map in a dilapidated industry/warehouse area on Earth - and "First Light" - a bigger map, with both spawning offensive vehicles and use of your own speed bike, plus several threatening turrets on the Moon's surface.

The gameplay on each map differed accordingly, but take a look for yourself in the video montages below.

And before anyone worries, I am, at best, mediocre in PvP, yet I never really felt helpless, nor frustrated. And best of all: (almost) no more Bunny-Hopping. If you ever played Halo games, you will be familiar with the concept of simply hopping everywhere. Thankfully, with the new double jump feature, that was almost completely absent from MP. In the 20 or so matches I played, I saw a single guy hopping up and down behind some cover.

And there you have it. All the things you could do... in the ALPHA. Yes, all caps. It deserves it. There were full Xbox 360 and PS3 games that had less content (Homefront, anyone?). If the Alpha is just a part of what the full game will have to offer, I honestly cannot wait for September.
So... you know. Wake me up, when September comes...

Seriously, though, Destiny is shaping up very nicely, indeed. If you get a chance to pre-order, see for yourself in the upcoming Beta, starting July 17th on PS3 and PS4, and the end of July on Xbox One, Xbox 360.

This marks the end of my four-part Destiny Blog Series. If you missed one, click the following links to get touched by the Light (ooohhh, that sounds dirty!):

Part 1: Destiny - First Look Alpha Impressions
Part 2: Destiny - Who you are and where you gather...
Part 3: Destiny - Things to do, Things to Kill...

For all your Playstation or Xbox or PC Gaming needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere... 

The Road to Destiny... Pt.3: Things to do, Things to kill...

The Future. Touched by the Light of The Traveler, we have braved the Stars. But an ancient Darkness is coming to end us all...

Destiny...The Place you will come back to. Again and again. Because (possibly), there's just so much to do.

With the setup, races and the social hub explained in my previous post, let's look at some of Destiny's activities showcased in the Alpha (apparently that's what you call game modes or missions, now, because we're not playing video games, oh no, we're "engaging in social activities").
And "engaging" surely is the word, since most of what you do is about either "engaging" other characters (violently), or preparing to engage other characters (violently). Oh, yes, you can also chat and dance and mess around, buy stuff and upgrade stuff, but Destiny is a First Person Shooter - so saying it's mostly about shooting things, albeit in a very "social" spirit, is nothing to be ashamed of. 

Now, as I said in "that other post", you launch your "activities" from orbit.  the Leader triggered his exit into Orbit, you automatically came along. The Alpha featured Four, Three "Campaign" Activities for Solo and Co-Op Play, and The Crucible, Destinies Player vs. Player Action (the latter of which will not be included here, but be looked at in the next post, specifically):

"The Dark Within" - Story Mission: Find out what the Fallen are hiding at Skywatch, part of the old Russian Cosmodrome. 

A pretty straight-forward Mission of "Go, Look, Kill" from early in the game. Fun, but nothing special. Good, creepy atmosphere, though. Playable with up to three players.

"The Devil's Lair" - Strike Mission: Deep within the Cosmodrome, a powerful evil Servitor is up to equally evil Shenanigans. Go and stab the evil Cyclops in its eye! (creative license, people!)
A Co-Op Side-Mission (Strike) that is so much better than the Story Mission, simply because it's bigger, longer and features three nice set-piece encounters: a "Survive the Enemy Waves" and two nice boss fights. Recommended to be played with the maximum three players, unless you're hopelessly overlevelled for it. 

Now, both of the Alpha's Mission Types, Story Missions and Strike Missions (and, I guess, the "Raid" Missions not present in the Alpha, all of which can be replayed) featured two Difficulties: Base and Legend. Legend (possibly an allusion to Halo's "Legendary" difficulty, who knows?) ramps up enemy level, HP, armor and damage (all of which was already said by "ramps up enemy level").
The game even tries to show you if you are prepared for it, by giving you "effectiveness percentages" of your currently equipped gear.
It's as confusing as it sounds - until you understand that the game is not lowering (red) or raising (green) your gear effectiveness by the stated percentage, just that it's better or worse than what the game deems necessary for the challenge. 
To illustrate, playing the Story Mission on Base with my low-level starting character, I didn't die once. Playing it again on Legend (which switched the Mission Level from 3 to 6) with a slightly better character, I died a lot - and felt like I was not doing much damage, to boot.

"Explore the Cosmodrome": Take a look around, see what you can find and/or kill. This time, nobody will tell you where to go.
Well, until you accept one of the myriad (and, to be cruelly honest, for the most part dreadfully boring and monotonous) Patrol Missions you can find in the wild via Beacons, that tell you to "Go and kill" or "Go and Look". Bungie did state on their website, however, that the Alpha featured content they would never let the game ship with, so I dearly hope for better and more diverse Patrol Mission in the full game (or even already in the Beta).

Here's some non-commentary footage to give you a bit of the sense and scope of the Alpha's Free Roam Exploration:

Basically, you run or speed-bike around the huge (HUGE) Cosmodrome area (I'd say about a good two to three times as big as the bigger areas in Borderlands 2 - and that's just the part of the area you had access to), kill the constantly respawning enemies, look for loot in little nooks, crannies and caves, take a few Patrol Missions, and maybe get lucky and trigger a Public Event. 

Public Events, as the name suggests, are public... well, events. Mini-Boss fights, Defend-and-Survive Missions, stuff like that. They're not easy, especially with a lower level, but the rewards are big, too. You even get some (considerably smaller) reward, for just competing. And, presumably, anyone in the area can join in - should it happen in their instance of the game. Exploration will already invariably have you meeting strangers in "your" game world, other players that do other stuff. You can help them, join up with them, or just ignore them - the choice is yours (but remember those Orbs of Light!).
Together we guard against the Darkness!

Well, that's the things you could do in the Alpha by yourself or in cooperation with others. In my next post, I will look at The Crucible PvP - and all the things you can do UNTO others :)

For Part 4 of my Destiny Blog-Series, click here: Destiny - The Crucible PvP

For all your Playstation or Xbox or PC Gaming needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere...  

The Road to Destiny... Pt.2: Who you are and where you gather...

The Future. Touched by the Light of The Traveler, we have braved the Stars. But an ancient Darkness is coming to end us all...

Destiny...The Place you will end up. Whoever you are...

With more and more info constantly dropping on Destiny (like the Trophy/Achievement list), and the Beta, only two weeks away (on Playstation, a bit longer sadly on Xbox), expected to present many more people with a bigger part of the game, let's take another look at what the Alpha already showed us. And let us being with the setup, and the social stuff:

The Races and Classes:

Destiny features three Races:
Human, Awoken (who may or may not be Alien-Human-Hybrids) and Exos (who may be Sentient Robots or things wearing a robot-like Exo-Skeleton that makes them look like Sentient Robots).
Both genders are featured for each race, but the races, and their numerous customization features themselves, are only cosmetic in nature - and differ in their dance moves. Those features are quite extensive, with different faces, hair, colors for everything, and even the, almost obligatory by now, Face Paint. Or Tattoos. Or maybe the Exos have Etchings. Or something.

It's not as deep as other games', bu it is still quite fun to create your character. And the chances that you will see someone running the exact same face are really not that high.

The Three Classes, on the other hand, that's where the RPG elements come in. Each Class has different abilities (double-jumps, melee attacks, grenades and "super powers") and different basic stats: The Titan has more armor, but is slower, the Hunter has less armor, but moves faster, while the Warlock can recover from injuries much quicker.

Each Class has its own Ability tree, with additional abilities and ability upgrades to unlock, and it works (or worked in the alpha) by leveling up, then using the ability to upgrade it. Upgrades were not of the passive, permanent variety, though. To explain, once you gain the ability to double-jump, you will eventually unlock three different upgrades (more distance, more speed, more control in the air, etc) but only one upgrade could be applied at a time.

The most "interesting" ability are of course the "Super Powers" - Supers, in short. Once you unlock it, you charge the ability by killing enemies or just waiting for a long time (in the Campaign), or generally earning points (in "The Crucible" Multiplayer). But since Destiny is all about working together with your fellow Guardians, those life forms touched by "The Light" and chosen to fight against "The Dark" (yeah, it`s quite original) in a semi-Utopian Future, there is one more way to quickly charge your Super: Wait for someone else to use his and be effective with it. 
Every time you successfully end an enemy's existence with your super, you will generate "Orbs of Light". These pick-ups are not for you, but for every other Guardian on your team (which are all Guardians during the Campaign, but only your, well, team, in The Crucible). It's a small, but very clever way to encourage sticking and playing together.
When you are "Super Charged" - little, cute side note: the Super Charge Bar turns yellow, when filled; and so does your PS4 controller's LED light - each class can unleash it's own special brand of "Super". There are actually two different Supers per class, but in the Alpha you only had access to the first due to the Level Cap.

The Titan's Super "Fist of Havoc" has him slamming down his fists in good old "Hulk SMASH!" style to obliterate anything around him. His second Super, not unlockable for the Alpha, will see him create a bubble shield around him.
The Warlock's "Nova Blast" sees him jumping into the air, then firing an arcing"artillery" shot at what he's aiming at, similarly obliterating anything around the point of impact. The second Super, which we didn't see, "boosts the effectiveness of all his abilities" by infusing your Warlock with the Power of The Light. Whatever that means.
The Hunter's "Golden Gun" is a bit more difficult to use, but it offers you three extremely powerful shots from a Golden Handgun - powerful enough, to kill any enemy in Multiplayer with one shot. The Hunter's second Super, "Bladedancer" seems to also infuse him with light, but that light allows you to run around really fast and stab people to death. 
And I will unashamedly admit, that I very much dread this one, because it so eerily reminds me of "Marathon-Lightweight-Commando with the Tactical Knife", the most annoying thing to ever come out of Call of Duty.

Some might already have seen this vid in my first Destiny Alpha post, but it shows the three classes and races in Campaign Action (albeit only the female of each, but they are known to be the more deadly, anyway):

The Tower:

The Social Center or "Hub" is called "The Tower". And lo and behold, there is a tower at its center. The Tower is where you go to purchase weapons and new gear, decode "Engrams" (i.e. Blueprints) for weapons and new gear you looted from fallen enemies, upgrade your jump ship, your speeder bike, and much more.

Gear and weapons, as you might expect, will play a central role. The better the gear, the better the... well, gear, but better gear also comes with bonus perks, like faster reloads, more ammo, or quicker recharge of your abilities. The Tower also features a Vault, through which you can share your equipment between characters - and thankfully, it has 20 slots each for Armor, Weapons and Resources. Take that, Clap-Trap Vault. Presumably, you will also get missions here (more than just the "Do this and get stuff for it"-Bounties), enroll in a faction for PvP for more access to different gear, get mail (whatever that means), and possibly even more stuff. Or just... well, you know. Be social. (And please excuse the commentary.)

The social aspects still seemed a bit stunted, with emotes and chatting with strangers apparently the only option you had, but the Alpha really only showed a small part of what we expect to see and have available for us in the full game. And let's be honest, that whole social MMO thing is still pretty new on consoles. Console players lack the ease of impersonal communication a keyboard provides - and who wants to start chatting with some squeaky 10-year old, by mistake?
One thing you couldn't do from the tower was launch a mission. Which was weird, and, coupled with the pretty long load times, a bit aggravating. No, to launch a mission - sorry, an "activity", you had to go into Orbit. At least, if you had joined a "Fireteam" (.i.e. Party), once the Leader triggered his exit into Orbit, you automatically came along.
From Orbit, in your nifty Jump Ship, you could launch your activities -  or first gather friends, and then launch your activities.

On which I will expand (copiously) in the next posts :)

For Part 3 of my Destiny Blog Series, click here: Destiny - Things to do, Things to Kill...

For all your Playstation or Xbox or PC Gaming needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere... 

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Road to Destiny... Pt. 1 (Destiny PS4 Alpha Impressions)

The Future. Touched by the Light of The Traveler, we have braved the Stars. But an ancient Darkness is coming to end us all...

Destiny... The Place where it will all end. Or, maybe, all begin? Who knows?

I do. At least, I had a chance to see (my) Destiny in... I'm hesitant to say "in its full glory", because this was supposed to be an Alpha Test. But truth be told, that Alpha looked more polished, played far better and was a lot more stable than some "finished versions" of certain Battlefield games of a certain Franchise I will not mention here.
To illustrate that point, during my... I'd say good 15+ hours of the Destiny - First Look Alpha, in Single Player, Co-Op and Competitive Multiplayer, 15+ hours in which I raised all three possible characters/classes to the Alpha Level Cap (of 8), explored every part of the Alpha Campaign Map, and participated in every activity and mission the Alpha had to offer, I disconnected once (ONCE!), couldn't log in three times, and was victim of a single obvious bug, where I repeatedly found myself in a completely empty Social Hub usually teeming with other players.
Let me reiterate. One Disconnect. About 10 Minutes of not being able to log-in (which means I couldn't play). One Obvious Bug.

Of course, I only saw a fraction of Destiny's full content in the Alpha, and it was a part of the game we had seen footage from for quite some time, so it stands to reason, that this was a quite polished tidbit I could test. And it played like a dream:

Solo-Missions and Exploring in a huge area, in which you could just run into other random players, potentially having the joy of triggering a public event - a mini-mission with often surprising difficulty, but grand rewards.
A full Co-Op Mission with diverse and fun engagements, featuring two good boss-fights.
Two PvP Maps for "The Crucible", playing a venerable "Capture and Control" game-type, in a PvP Suite that already seems more polished and balanced than many other shooters were at release.

And it really played amazingly well. And it looked amazingly... amazing. Digital Foundry took a look, and the Alpha ran at a solid 30 FPS in 1080p - and Xbox One owners rejoice, that same is the very possible performance you will get to enjoy, too. At the cost of any Kinect features, but still, I'd say it's a win. Final PS4 numbers for the full game are not yet known, by the way.

Destiny's release is less than three months away, and if this is the state of the Alpha, I can see great things for the coming Beta in July, and even greater things for the full release on September 9th.

Destiny doesn't reinvent the wheel. It's not terribly or outrageously inventive, like for example Okami, Shadow of the Colossus or Little Big Planet were. It's a Sci-Fi Shooter from the guys that brought you Halo 1-3, plus ODST and Reach. That heritage is very evident - some might say too evident. If you played Halo you will find yourself instantly on very familiar ground with Destiny. You will also, obviously, see parallels to Borderlands.

So what's so special about Destiny?
No, it's not (yet) perfect. Yes, everything it does has (kinda) been done before.
But never has "Everything" looked and worked this good.
And in an Alpha, to boot.

In the last week(s) - hey, I do have a life - I have taken the time and now posted several more posts about many if not all aspects of the Alpha, look at the different Classes, the "Alpha Campaign", Co-Op, PvP Multiplayer and other stuff.
With quite a lot of direct gameplay footage, so scroll down below for Part 2 :)

Now, you had enough of pretty pictures and want so see some Action? You wanna take a look for yourself?
Well, here you go (but please look in HD)!

Spotlighting the 3 Different Classes with Action from the Alpha's Open World, on good Old Earthen Russia:

For Part 2 of my Destiny Blog Series, click here: Destiny - Who you are and where you gather...

For all your Playstation or Xbox or PC Gaming needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere... 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

E3 2014 - Sony, don't get cocky...

These are my impressions of Sony's E3 Press Conference, and as the title may suggest, I was generally stunned, sometimes amazed, but a little let down, too.

But first, here it is, in its fully glory:

The games:

Destiny: Casting Peter "Game of Throne's Tyrion" Dinklage as a really, really small one-eyed robot companion might not be entirely PC, but it's fun! And Destiny itself keeps looking better and better. Granted, it looks very much like Halo in a different dress with some cooler Powers, but still. Very Good. As it should. Release is only a few months away, with the Beta starting next month - and, as was announced, a 3-Day Alpha coming to PS4 this week (to register for a chance to join, go here). Playstation will get some exclusive content, including one full co-op mission, and a new PS4 Destiny Bundle will feature a WHITE PS4. Yay?

The Order 1886: Not so much action, but much more gloom in this gameplay snippet of the upcoming 3rd Person "Victorian Steampunk meets Werewolves" shooter. And... well, while it looks really nice - and gloomy - the gameplay doesn't wow me. At all. Too much control taken from the player, and put together with earlier gameplay footage, I get a feeling of it being a very narrow, almost on-rails experience. It's too early to tell, yes, but the high hopes I had, have died a quick ugly death.
PS4 Exclusive, for Life!

Entwined: A fish may love a bird, but where would they built a house together. No, not the edge of the river. On Playstation. As somewhat of a closet romantic, the game's premise (fish, bird, love) was instantly appealing. Controlling two different characters with each stick was intriguing. The mesmerizing graphics alluring. The price point, at 10 US Dollars (and it's available NOW), convincing. Of course, it might turn out to be ridiculously bad, but it looks nice enough to set itself apart from the "usual PS4 indie fare".
Might be exclusive, but it will come on PS3 and Vita, too.

Infamous - First Light: Stand-Alone DLC, basically small games in themselves you don't need the big game for, are starting to become something of a trend. And it's a pretty smart way to give people a teaser of what the "mother-ship" (the big, full game) might play like. Infamous - Second Son is the next game getting a stand-alone expansion, telling, presumably, the story of one of Second Son's NPCs. You don't need Second Son to play it, but if you do, you get some "additional content" - which could mean anything, really.
It's coming this summer, and will be showcased at E3 in the coming days. All only on PS4.

Little Big Planet 3: 4 player co-op (Yay!). New companions with new abilities. Cute, funny and endearing, a world to play and build in and get lost. LBP seems to never put a foot wrong, right down to the adorable lisp of the presenter. And know what else? LBP3 will be able to play ever single LBP level made by the community with LBP 1 and 2 - on the PS4, with enhanced graphics.
It's so damn cute, it's hard to not like. I will try, but I will fail.
PS only.

Bloodborne: The game most may know as Working Title: "Project Beast", coming from the creator of Demon Souls and Dark Souls. Which makes it pretty damned hard, not to get excited. Really, really excited. You don`t see much in the CG trailer, but it looks dark, foreboding, dangerous. I'm so happy.
Coming to PS4, possibly only PS4.

Far Cry 4: Looks gorgeous. Grappling Hook? Insta-win. The wing-suit? So much better than the sparsely doled-out hang-gliders of FC3. Co-op? Well, it's there, even if it might not be 4-Player (what a novelty), but it looks fun...ctional. You can never be sure about the actual fun. What does sound awesome is that on PS3 and PS4 you can (allegedly) invite players to join you, even if they DON'T own the game! Now, where was I? Right. Attack Elephants? Well, kinda. FC3 was great, but had its fair share of frustrations, most due to the lack of options moving around. FC4 seems to have learned from that. New moves (hijacking vehicles via takedowns), new location (gorgeous Himalayas) and hopefully even more diverse missions, and I'm loving this game already.
Coming this Holiday on consoles and PC near you.

Dead Island 2: Sequel to the surprise hit of Dead Island (Duh!), it was shown off in a small trailer. Funny, but who knows? Dead Island was First Person Zombie Survival with a focus on Melee Combat, and I wasn't too interested in it. Which kinda goes for this one, too.

Battlefield Hardline: Cops vs. Robbers, Battlefield Style. Leaked a few weeks ago, then presented at the EA press conference, including a closed Beta exclusively for PC and PS4 starting RIGHT NOW (well, yesterday, but back then it broke PSN for an hour, or so), I don't really know what to make of it. Car chases around a City, changing venues, different cars. It looks fast paced, but that might not be a good thing. But it could be fun. I got me a Beta Code, and I will report.
Coming Later this year, to all consoles.

Magicka 2: Coming to PS4. Magicka was, apparently, an up-to 4-player co-op, fantasy RPG. With wizards wielding laser staffs, or something. Apparently it was also pretty challenging, yet funny. Done by the people that will bring us Helldivers soon, Magicka 2 looked very enticing.
Coming. Sometime. Somewhere.

Grim Fandango Remastered: Coming to PS4 and PS Vita, one of the most iconic and wonderful Adventures ever made, is getting the re-vamp treatment, exclusively on PS consoles. If you're old enough to remember Monkey Island and other Lucas Arts greats, you will already be salivating uncontrollably. Truth be told, right there, I loved Sony to bits.

AB-ZU: I want it. From the Journey Creator, under the sea. Beautiful, eery, fascinating. Words fail a bit. I'm totally stunned.

No Man's Sky: And I'm floored. Infinite, procedurally generated planets in a possibly "infinite" universe. Exploration. Space Combat. FPS-Combat. Colors. Seamless transition between ground exploration, space exploration and ground again. Walk around, jump into your Space Ship, fly off to another planet, walk around again. No loading screens. Floored.
If you loved Star Trek, and you kinda missed the planet exploration from Mass Effect 1 in the later games, it's hard not to get excited.
This seems to be a Timed Exclusive on Sony's Platforms, coming... well, not soon enough.

Mortal Kombat X: Gruesome, maybe too gruesome, but if you like the 2D side-scrolling beat-em ups, this one looks pretty, pretty deep, and pretty... well, gruesome.

Batman - Arkham Night: Finally, some gameplay. And Oh. My. God. Huge City, lots of verticality. The Batmobile - 'Nuff Said! It's simply amazing. Looks, gameplay, everything I was hoping for. Of course it got delayed until 2015, but still.
PS4 will also get some exclusive content, here.

Then we had a few more Trailers, one for The Last of Us - Remastered (nice, not in the least, because apparently the Last of Us Zombie enemies will make an appearance in the Diablo III Ultimate Evil Editions on PS4 and PS3), and one for Metal Gear Solid 5 (that scene where he rubs ashes from an urn on his face made me cringe - how melodramatic can it be before it gets unintentionally funny?), then one for Suda 51's Let it Die.

And there was that announcement about GTA V on Next-Gen Consoles and PC, but seriously, who cares? ;) Note of interest, current-gen GTA V players can import their online stats from PS3 AND Xbox 360 to the PS 4 Version. Nice.

The Indie-Games: Now, as much as I like Indie Games, I've really had my fill, since PS4 barely has anything BUT Indie Games. So I really don't care, especially about all the Pixel Graphics stuff. I don't see the appeal. There was one that looked at least decent, Talos Something, but apart from that, enough with the Indies, already.

Free to Play: I hate it. It's rarely if ever done right. Even Warframe, which is great fun and is finally now turning into the game it was supposed to be, does milk you for money in the most unexpected and frustrating places. I don't know why they thought this was a good idea to push this a something big, but that was huge let-down for me. Don't get me wrong, Planetside 2 might turn out great, but I was sorely missing one sentence here: "Free to play - but NOT pay to win!"

And at some point it was mentioned that the PS Vita has over 100 games in development. Some are Free to Play. Most might be indies. Yay...

And then there was other stuff. Something. I don't know. Why? Because as Europeans, all that PS Now and PS TV makes us do is get angry at being left out. Again. As always. Second-class citizen, complaining here. But if you care:

PS Now is switching from Closed to Open Beta on PS4 on July 31. US and Canada. Play streamed Playstation games on your PS4, and soon on your PS3, Vita and select Sony TVs. There`s talk about rental prices going from 3-20 dollars, as well as subscription models.

And if you buy a PS TV for 99 $ US, you can just plug that into your TV, get a DS3 (PS3) controller, and use PS Now. At least, that's how I understood it.

Again, I might be a bit biased, but since I cannot take advantage of any of that in the foreseeable future, I don't much care.

Last year, Microsoft was all about Media, this year it was all about games. So, I guess Sony had to pick up the Media stuff, and they ended that with announcing that one of the best ever graphical novels, Brian Michael Bendis's "Powers" will be realized by Sony into a live action TV series, green-lit for two seasons, and available for PS Plus members for free. In the US. Somehow I doubt Europe will get any of that. I'm a huge fan of Powers, and with BMB on as executive producer, well, I have extremely high hopes.

And that was it. Or was it? Oh, right, there was this itty-bitty trailer for Uncharted 4. You saw it. Drake gets up, walks away, some voice over dialog. Nothing special. Until you realize that this was NOT pre-rendered footage, but captured from the IN-GAME engine. Which means, that as amazing as that looked (and it did looks amazing), that`s how the characters will look while PLAYING the game. It's going to be 1080p, aiming at 60 FPS. Looking like that.

Think about that. Then smile.

For all your Playstation or Xbox or PC Gaming needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere... 

Monday, June 9, 2014

E3 2014 - Microsoft on a timed exclusive...

Here it is, the full Conference, for those that still haven't seen it:

And I'd say... okay. Good. -ish. Some was a bit meh.

All in all, Microsoft definitely delivered on one thing - it really was all about the games. Now, the games themselves, well, there were some gems, some things I found personally a bit disappointing, one in particular that positively surprised me, and some stuff I have no use for.

One recurring theme, kept popping up, though: Timed Exclusives. Microsoft seemed to have dug pretty deep into its pockets to get timed exclusives for a lot of 3rd Party Game DLCs, as well as one Multiplayer-Beta (eVolve, that one is). Most interesting might be that two games from Ubisoft, a studio that traditionally has always had a very loving relationship towards the Playstation consoles, a part of that roster of "I get it before you do because my X-1 is amazing" list. And yes, this really is all about the money. You can say all you want that "Ubi finally realized what the better platform is", but the only reason you give timed exclusives is because someone pays you a ridiculous amount of money for it.

Okay! Games:

Call of Duty - Advanced Warfare: Looks pretty enough, like a cross between (the best Halo campaign ever) Halo - ODST and the non-Titan part of Titanfall. "Boosters" they called them, mini-jet packs that seem to allow you very quick vertical or lateral movement.
This is my one positive surprise really, as I had abandoned CoD with MW2, but the boosters seem to give the SP campaign a bit more flexibility, movement-wise. On the other hand, if you found the Halo Bunny-Hopping annoying, well, this might take that annoyance to a whole new level.
But it looks good, new, fresh (if any CoD game can be called "fresh"), and one can only hope that it will give you more open environments to take advantage of the new movement options.
MS will  have timed exclusive on new DLC.

Forza Horizon 2: I kinda missed that. I really don't care for driving games, so I went and made myself something to eat. There was something about seamless multiplayer, open-world Drivatars, but it's cars, so... no, thank you.
MS Exclusive Title. I think.

Assassin's Creed Unity: 4-Player co-op. However that will work in an open world when traversing the city. Or maybe it's just during "missions", which are then area-restricted. Looks gorgeous. French Revolution, Heads on Pikes. And the movement. Dear God, the fluidity of dropping down over ledges... beautiful. The gameplay looked nice, but it was all very rush-rush. Oh, and Ubisoft finally listened to me, and made a "sneak-posture" for sneaking around. Apparently the days of "Walk Slowly" and completely upright when sneaking up on someone are finally in the past. Took them long enough.
Another MS DLC timed exclusive.

EVolve: The people that brought you Left 4 Dead made a Multiplayer only game - and a very asymmetric MP experience at that. It's the title I see the absolute most grief-potential this year. 4 people vs. 1 monster. And as soon as people get their hands on it, they will spend days looking for unfair exploits and glitches, ruining it for everyone else. Mark my words. I hope I'm wrong.
MS not only gets all the DLC first, but also an exclusive MP Beta, presumably quite soon.

Super Ultra Bla Bla Bla Dead Rising 3 DLC: 4 player co-op, all previous Dead Rising Heroes, and pretty much everything Capcom ever made in the last 31 years, comes as crazy DLC to Dead Rising 3. And it's available now. As in NOW! It's an incredible fan-service, so let's hope people will appreciate it. Knowing that 80% of gamers are too young to even remember Street Fighter II, who knows...
Since it's for DR3, it's, of course an MS X-1 exclusiv, and, for now, Download Only.

Fable Legends: 4 player co-op. Dungeon Crawling. Annoying Dialog, Fable style. Plus, 1 guy can be the bad guy, in a "Tower-Defense" Dungeon Master kind of way. And while it looks quite fun, like 3D Diablo, I will admit, the banter did get annoying.
X-1 exclusive.

Sunset Overdrive: No 4-player co-op. Which seems to make it the exception on this day. Funny Trailer, but for me the biggest disappointment. While the movement and environmental traversal seemed okay (if not as exhilarating as you'd think it should be), the gun-play was bland, slow and simply average. It's very colorful, but so are crayons, and children still make horrible pictures with them on your bedroom wall-paper.
X1 exclusive.

Halo Masterchief Edition: Halo 1-4, remastered, one box, one disc, 4000 Gamer Points on X-1. Yay! Seriously, I thought Halo 3 was good, Halo 4 was bad-ish, and I never really played the others. So what? The best Halo games I played are those not in the box: ODST and Reach. Those had 4-player co-op, by the way. I don't care about Halo as much as the next guy. I don't. It's not worth killing for.
X-1 exclusive, obviously, also including the Halo TV Series, but possibly more interesting: over 100 MP maps, and it's all on dedicated servers.

Dragon Age Inquisition: You didn't see much, just a short trailer. And, of course, the almost mandatory "X-1 gets it first". DLC, that is. One thing that you did notice: It's not visually stunning. Even if it's in-game engine footage, some of it, especially trees in the distance, looked pretty... ordinary. It most definitely did not looks as amazing as...

The Witcher 3 - Wild Hunt: Wow. Skyrim with mythological monsters and a deeper fighting system. And it looks... just... jaw-droppingly good. And fun. And there's sex.There totally was  Sex in the latest trailer. So, I really can't wait for this one. A huge open world, beautifully realized, with adult themes that don't try - they just are.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: The Second game in the TR Reboot. They showed a trailer. There might have been exclusivity with something, I don't know. The TR Reboot was a great game, the Definitive  Edition on next-gen just beautiful. I wasn't much about archeology or riddles (those it had were almost annoyingly simple environmental... not really puzzles, but... annoyances), and it was sorely lacking in intellectually challenges - so more of that would make this one really Rise to the occasion.

The Division: If you don't know about it, what are you doing here? One of the most anticipated new IPs in the last few years, we now saw one further bit of Gameplay - which looked like the old gameplay. From last year. And, to my eternal chagrin, they had these "totally scripted and acted-out but trying to sound natural" voice-overs from the "players". Seriously, Ubisoft, stop that. People don`t talk or act like that when gaming online. Not in the least. That said, I still want it, very much so...

Inside - The new game from the creators of Limbo. And it looks like... Limbo. In color. And an industrial wasteland-slash-1984-slash-Brave New World-slash-Zombie vibe. It's still 2D, and it's still a bit creepy, and it looks like fun, but... just not something spectacularly new.

And then there was Project: Spark, the "make your own game" game, lots of indie-titles, a few teasers for games we don`t know anything about (Phantom Dust and Scalebound will be X-1 exclusives) - and then came the Crackdown.

No, really, Crackdown 3, which is actually just called Crackdown. MS exclusive. 4-player co-op. New Studio, but the creative director from the first game. The second sucked bad. They took out manual aim and scoping - even for sniper rifles. The argument was, and I'm not kidding here: "If you could already choose a body part to aim at with pin-point accuracy, why would you want to aim manually through a scope?"

And that was it. Oh, no wait, there was some dancing stuff, too. Nevermind. Well, it was better than last year. It was friendlier, not as arrogant and more fun. And it was about the games. And it did show that a lot of established cross-platform IPs will give stuff earlier to Xbox this time around. But, then again, what's the point of getting it early on one platform? I mean, it's not like that many people will train on new MP maps on one platform, and then play against people on the other platform. I mean, who in their right mind would do that?

And the one word you didn't hear: Kinect!

For all your Playstation or Xbox or PC Gaming needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere...

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Truth (about Watch Dogs` online issues) is out there...


Boy, we were hot for that one. Turns out, it's not all it was supposed to be (as some recently surfaced screenshots showing what was intended for next-gen consoles before they had to downgrade the graphics), but it's still a great game. If you can play it...

Now, we all know how, let's call it "unfortunate" the days around the WatchDogs launch were when it came to online connectivity. UPlay was down, taking part of Xbox Live with it, and pretty much stopping a lot of people from enjoying parts or even the whole game.

What you don't know, is the reason.

So... prepare for "Da Truth!" (from a certain point of view ;)

As an unnamed (that means anonymous) source confirmed to me when we met yesterday at the Playboy Mansion, Ubisoft and UPlay had come under cyber attack - from Hackers. Right on the day Ubisoft launched a massive game about hacking. Who would've thought?

The way he put it, "On May 27th, a day which will live in infamy, the United Studios of Ubisoft were suddenly and deliberately attacked by douche-bags. Little, 20-40 year old virginal douche-bags that launched a DOS (that's Denial of Service) attack on the Ubisoft and Uplay servers from about a million basements in their mothers' homes. The kind of Douche-Bags that think 'hymen' is what they say to their only friends after donning their headsets!"
He was obviously upset.

"Uhm, aren't you describing pretty much all of your programmers and most of your employees?", I wondered.
He chose to ignore me.

"And why?" he asked. "Just because they can?! Just because they need to flaunt their superior intellect in the face of the three people in this company that make enough money to buy ourselves pretty much everything they only know from internet porn? Do they think that makes a man happy?! And when did porn ever do anything good?!"

"Well, there was that one time, at band camp-" I began, but speaking to him when he was like that was a losing proposition.

"So, they're smart! So what?! Didn't stop the ice hockey team from dunking their heads in toilets, now, did it?! So, yes, let them be proud of their win! Hoo-Fucking-Ray for them! They bloodied our nose, but that won't happen again. We`re alert now. We're paying attention. And when they come at us again, we'll sniff 'em out and tear 'em apart like... like..." and there he faltered, then looked at me for help.

I said "Uhm... like uhm, cameras? With... laser-... uhm -teeth? ... that can... sniff?"

"Exactly", he said. "Just like that! D-bags won't even Know what hit 'em... (we should make a game about that... yeah...)".

"Look, man" I said. "Maybe it was more of a... I don't know, an acknowledgement. Like, some friendly hazing. I mean, these people are crazy smart. (and I`m pretty sure that whole virginal thing isn't really true anymore and you just said that because you're kinda angry). They're smart. And they know it. But they're kinda secretive, too. You threw 'em into the spotlight. Which, in itself is quite a compliment for them. 'Look, Ma! All those years I spent in the basement on my computer? It's gonna make me a superhero!' But that's the thing, man. They're not superheroes. They're Anti-Heroes. So, they couldn't just come out and say 'Well done!'. These guys are creative, unconventional. (Although, admittedly, being a hacker and then hacking the game servers for a game about hacking so the people playing the game could, in fact, not go out and hack other people may not be that ingenious - unless the utter simplicity Is the genius. You never know. There`s a lot of pretty funky mold in those basements...) But still. They could've just 'given you props by busting your chops', man. Or something."

"Who the hell are you, now?!" He was looking at me. "Jay Fucking Z?"

"That- that's all you took from that? Fine. I'm just sayin', man. Don't take it so hard. It's not like it... ruined your whole life, is it?"
Wrong thing to say.

"What?!" he screamed. "Didn't ruin-? People were unhappy. The Customers were unhappy. They had paid for a game experience like no other and we couldn't deliver. They don't care whose fault it was! You know why? Because it's not Their job, it's Ours! And in their eyes we failed! We failed! We went out and built and bought new servers, and we made sure UPlay could handle twice as many people, twice the people that even Have UPlay accounts, and then we even rented additional servers just for the launch week to double That! Redundancy in Depth! And all of that turned to Shit. Not because of the hackers. Because of us. Because when we were contacted, I refused to take pictures of myself with a shoe on my head and post them online. (The USU doesn't negotiate with terrorists, cyber or otherwise.) And it was my pride that led to our fall, to our epic fail. We failed the customers. I failed the customers. My life is forfeit. My life is worthless, without meaning. It's dark and drab and cold and lonely and-" He stopped, stiffened, then looked down towards his bellybutton, seeming just a tad bit peeved. "Easy with the teeth down there, you two."

And I said, "Yves", I said. "Priorities..."

None of this ever happened. Nobody is supposed to feel insulted by any of this. It's supposed to make you laugh.
I don't condone any illegal actions, nor will I admit to a certain admiration of people that are able to do such illegal actions. I plead the Fifth.
I don't condone any demeaning actions, either. Bullies blow.
The people and places mentioned in or alluded to in this short work of utter fiction are not real, and do not refer or allude to real places or people. No, there is no Playboy Mansion - that`s just a myth, a magical place fathers tell their sons about to make them do their chores, because if they work real hard and get real rich, they may one day be invited there.
Perceived similarities to reality are nothing but your own dirty thoughts.
Also, this story is not even mine. I was just holding it for a friend - whose name I can't seem to remember.
Now, mom's got my dinner ready, and tonight me and the boys have a big raid planned in the Rift. Yes, me and the boys. Plural. Of Course we don't allow girls in our clan. If I learned anything in my 34 years, it's that girls are like, not real. Or at least, really not like the I like ones on the internet...

Watch_Dogs is available on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. A Wii-U version will (maybe) come later.

For all your Playstation or Xbox or PC Gaming needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere...

Show some love, this one is funny...