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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Dark Souls 3 Retroactive Review

The dust has settled and the game has been released. I've had some time to play it and really chew into the game a bit more. The problem with RPGs in general is that they take far too long to see all the content available from the time of release to the time when the review is posted. Since this site isn't terribly famous, I'm not able to ask for review copies of games, forcing me to stay up all night playing the game and churning out a review as quickly as possible. This is the first but probably not the last time I'm going to to do something like this. The purpose of this post is really just to point out some things I was unable to mention in my initial review, further clarifying other points I wish to put out there without having to change my review. I often say that a game will hook you within the first twenty minutes. You've gotten past the tutorial, played what can be played and generally the game has begun to reach its overall stride. Its not indicative of the overall experience of the game. I will say that I've stopped playing a game because I wasn't feeling it but picked it up later out of sheer curiosity or just simply good reviews on the game months after it was released.
The game has been a mixed bag so far. The PC port of the game has been sketchy at best. Most people with better PCs than I have been saying that the game is laggy in the weirdest possible ways and places. I actually asked Steam for a refund on the game and have been since playing it on my Xbox One. I was playing online with some friends on a particular boss fight against the Crystal Sage. The boss has a second phase where it spawns these dopples that can be killed in one hit. While we were doing this and got the boss to about 10% health, the boss disappeared and only a dopple remained that became unkillable. Another attempt the game made the frame rate choppy like I was playing on Ultra settings for a computer. Most of that should have been alleviated in the ports. The game also has a few other bugs that vary from minor, hilarious and frustrating. Before the Crystal Sage fight, I was attempting to summon two of my friends to my game. It didn't work. Nothing worked. They put their signs down and each time I saw it, it would dissolve away. The idea of a password system was to allow cooperative play between friends or acquaintances not only more possible but with less hassle, neither of which I could see. Enemies sometimes teleport into walls. I've seen a dog go through a wall, a skeleton jump through a wall into oblivion, a lizard exit the game world entirely and even had a few enemies land hits that I could see should not and were physically incapable of landing on me making for some cheap deaths or simply damage that should have been avoided. All of this can be fixed later, but its really annoying when they basically did a country wide beta test when they decided to release the game to Japan about a whole two weeks earlier than everyone else yet didn't seem to fix any of these issues for the North American release. I recently picked up a new weapon and was trying to work it out, when I found out that if you have it in your offhand while using a bow completely fuzzes out half of the entire screen until you decide whether or not you want a weapon you worked so very hard for if it means dying because half of the game is obscured from your vision.
A lot of the pacing sort of goes out the window after the Catacombs. Enemies spike so high in difficulty its astounding. You go from skeletons who have relatively low poise, yet do considerable damage and have their own unique styles of combat to a bunch of knights who not only have high damage weapons, considerable amount of poise but also do about five hit combos regularly. So you get the shaft if you're anything other than a pure ranged class and playing with others who can take the aggro. Weird thing is you can actually skip this area for the moment and go to another area which is the new Lost Izalith or demon area. And the demons are less powerful than these knights. How does that make any sense? I could understand if they were quick and had considerable poise but to offset that, the weapons have to be scaled down. If an enemy can kill you in a single combo regardless of your gear and stats, there's a huge problem going on. And when demons are far less difficult than these near generic knights, this is also a huge problem. In fact the bosses difficulties are switched too. The boss for the knight area is also quick, has high damage weapons that hit in multiple stun locking combos that can kill you in a single hit. While the main demon boss is slow but to make up for it he hits like a truck and has considerable amounts of fire attacks that punish you for getting too close or too far. And no, the demon area is supposed to be after this area. I lead a bunch of people who summoned me to this area and they cleaned house.
All of what was said before may seem like a bit of nit picking and to be honest it kind of is. Though my points are solid as far as I'm concerned. However, the one thing I cannot give way on are the press release copies of the game. Like I said before, I wasn't able to get a review copy since this site isn't too well known. A few people did and what they got is anything short of unusual and almost infuriating. They got a massive wooden box that not only game with the game but also a bunch of 'free' items that any major fan of the game would shell out at least two hundred dollars for in a special collectors edition. Is it available to the public? Not through the legitimate sources, no. If you want it, you'll have to look on Ebay and shell out about six hundred dollars for it. That is if you're lucky. The whole thing seems like some sort of bribing idea to get reviewers to give better scores. The only way I found out about this was via a YouTuber I've been subscribed to telling a bunch of people. Their response was about as 'positive' as was mine above and they have said they will be sending the items back. Honestly, I would have done the same thing. I'm not entirely sure what possessed Bandai Namco to make this decision, but I think it was the same mindset that made them release the game two weeks in advance in another country without any sensible reason, and the same mindset that made them use the excuse that "the game wasn't completely finished" to be a sensible option in their eyes.
Its a good game, don't get me wrong, but this is beyond Bethesda levels of beginning game glitches. Especially when they begin cutting into the pace of the game, ruining it for a lot of people.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Dark Souls 3 PC Review - 9/10

Let me start off by saying I have a... past with the Dark Souls series. I started with the first game after I heard so much praise about it but quickly scrapped it after the experience and difficulty was so jarring from the other games I had previously played. I picked it up again when I felt I didn't give it much of a chance after I saw a bunch of devoted YouTubers who dug into the game's code and found some interesting cut content or stories I had never bothered to even try to grasp... and then got rid of it again after many many deaths.. Where I truly picked up on the series was the second game and really loved it. Which I felt was a shame since most everyone else felt it wasn't a good sequel... which I can admittedly see why in some respects. Though personally I felt the atmosphere of the first game was superior yet the gameplay of the second was better. So while neither game gave me what I felt was the perfect experience, I had high hopes for the sequel. While I wasn't one of those lucky YouTubers that got to play the game early or those who got the Japanese version, getting the game with everyone else is still a treat.

The Good:
Absolutely gorgeous. Just about any screenshot will show you that the game looks amazing. Not only are the levels and environments diverse, but the sky boxes are just a treat in and of itself. Kind of like getting to Anor Londo from the first game. Not only do these sky boxes look amazing but they are also giving you a preview of what is to come. While the world isn't super interconnected like the previous games, these sights alleviate this some by giving you something to look forward to. I haven't been through most of the game as I've been playing it from launch so I have this ice place to look forward to like the DLC from Dark Souls 2.
Being more of a fan of the second game is definitely something not everyone shares with me. A lot of the mechanics were weird or at least different from the previous title and it all around felt like a different game. This game seems like the proper sequel to the first game blended with the graphics (albeit amped up) and weapons from the second. A good sequel should elevate the previous, building upon ideas and mechanics that were introduced previously.  Dark Souls 2 may have been a good game in my opinion, but it falls short of being a good or otherwise faithful sequel. Dark Souls 3 really looks and feels like a merger of the two. The visuals better than the second, weapons of both the first and second, being a sort of spiritual successor to the Demon's Souls franchise as I believe it was always meant to be. Add in new mechanics like weapon arts, new items a long with some returning, interesting story filled with varied enemies and bosses, building upon the lore of the game's and giving a unique perspective on the world by adding in new ideas that also pull into the gameplay perspective. A lot of the items expand upon the new mechanics, offering varying gameplay styles that could pop up later in PvP or just items good for PvE use.
I'm a person who doesn't like PvP... like at all in any game. Though Dark Souls has always been... decent about it. What I mean is there's always avenues to get out of it, use the game's mechanics to your advantage or the ability to get others on your side. The previous games have been halfway decent about this. One funny story I have is that I was in the forest area for the first game exploring when I was cut off by a fog wall, meaning I was about to be invaded. I'm a pretty bad player so I knew I would just end up dead. Fortunately I was in a pretty secluded place so I opened up the chat and started spamming, "The legend never dies!" After a while they got annoyed and left. Time was all you could do to avoid PvP was be in the right covenant or turn off your internet. With the second game, they allowed you to have the chance for help against a Red invader by Blues (Blues attack Red invaders because Red invaders kill other players who are just trying to get through the game). Ultimately this left you very limited in what you wanted to do. Say you wanted to be in the Sunlight Covenant so you could get the rewards from killing bosses but you were afraid of a Red attacking you. In this game you're able to switch covenants on the fly. While I don't know if this has any repercussions, you're given a whole lot more options on how to play the game. And since the universally criticized Soul Level mechanic is gone you can farm areas at your leisure and get all the items for your covenant without having to leave an area you're particularly good at.
There's been a serious overhaul to PvP and other player interactions. Dark Souls' PvP has always been a bit lack luster for me. You're either the invader and having fun or you're not. Dark Souls 2 tried to alleviate this a bit with the covenants and how they operated but it just never really clicked for me. You had more options for healing but that was about it. Scholar of the First Sin added in more players that could PvP at a time which seemed like a great idea but adding more doesn't necessarily make it better. This game seems to be the culmination of all of that. The game actually rewards proactive players, both invader, hosts and co-op buddies. Not only did they add in different variations for covenants but the fights themselves. If you kill a phantom, invader or otherwise, everyone gains an Estus charge. Every person can chug that good old Sunny D free unless you use a Lloyd's Talisman, making fights more interesting. There wasn't really any sensible need for an invader to kill another invader instead of the host, apart from a few souls, but the game rewards that kind of behavior. Sure, its stupid but you might be able to get a better chance at the host with that extra Estus charge. A lot of the covenants have remained the same, apart from a few name changes, but with a little extra. Now a brother of the Sunlight covenant can invade another world and gain a Sun Medal. Previous games only allowed you to get these from helping a host and that was spotty at times where the first game made it so you had to kill the boss with the host and the second game added a timer but Soul Level screwed everything up royally. I never used Cracked Red Eye Orbs or just the Red Eye Orb before, but now I can actually get a use out of it.
I wasn't entirely sure I would like the almost complete lack of fog gates that they introduced into Bloodborne but I've gotten used to it. In fact its actually a really nice addition. Before it would be just, "Don't go there yet". Now you actually have to be wary and watchful. The game makes sure you know not to run around like a maniac, rather take in the surroundings. If you don't like it, every time you die to that particular boss the fog gate appears when you respawn so you won't easily make the same mistake again.
The game has what I would like to call 'The Mega-Man Tutorial'. If you're not familiar with the term, the original Mega-Man games did this really novel and cool idea of not immediately telling you everything at once. If you want a further analysis of this, check out Egoraptor's video on Mega-Man, but basically what it means is the difficultly goes up in spikes. You get shown a particular enemy or a new mechanic head on. You usually encounter a new enemy in a great position. Further in they introduce an enemy that sets itself on fire and lunges at you. However, the game designers put the enemy a decent way away. Unless you rush in or use a ranged means of killing it, the enemy will notice you from pretty far off and will ignite itself. It will then run at you at a far off distance, giving you enough time to prepare for what to do. Roll, backstep, sprint, mad dash, attack it or turtle up, you as a player are able to make your informed decision early on without having to listen to a tutorial. As an added bonus, after the suicider enemy is a bonfire so any damage you take can be negated and then reinforced to make you remember that enemy type and look out for it in this and other areas. Previous games didn't do this so well. The first and second both had their own things you could read to get the information. You could completely ignore them but they never prepared you for it. The first one just sets you down a long hallway and then throws the area's boss at you and the second just gave you punching bags to test out the methods on. Point is, this game teaches you mechanics about the enemies without having to stop the game and give you a guide on what was going to happen, ruining the surprise, but rather did it in a natural setting.
The game is relatively quiet which I feel is actually a positive. You'll be hearing nothing more than the sounds of battle or even the subtle breaths and movements of nearby enemies which makes the game feel a lot more alive. That isn't to say there isn't any. Once you're in a boss fight, get ready to hear some of the most amazing soundtracks since John Williams in Star Wars. Bombastic, rising, demented. When the sound needs to illicit a feeling of "Shit just got real" it knows exactly how to. It also gives a greater feel. Rather than having music all the time or constant ambient sounds, you start to notice the small things that can lead you to interesting secrets like the slight tug at chains or even softly weeping, a rushing of wind or a snarl in the distance. The music turns to a fever pitch in boss fights, giving you the epic climax you know you need to go with a properly tough fight. If I had to use one word, I'd say "Memorable".

The Bad:
This game may not be for you. What I mean is that every single game From Software has made, from Demon's Souls to Dark Souls 3, they are very niche games. Difficult as all hell, unforgiving and controller breaking frustration... and that's kind of the point. 2 tried to alleviate some of this with more healing items but even that faltered in it's own way, as fans were concerned, making the game a little bit easier. If you're reading this, it probably means you're a person who wants to pick it up and isn't a fan, and by all means you should. Its a great game. But I'd personally say you should play the other games, at least Dark Souls 1 and 2 in order to get in the right mood for this game. They're probably pretty cheap by now given that they came out X amount of years ago. Then again, if you did feel like picking it up immediately, don't let me stop you. Point is, not everyone is going to enjoy this game. Its difficult, unforgiving and a lot of the times doesn't make sense and you'll have to use a walkthrough at certain points. This may detract from the game for certain people.
If you haven't read one of my previous posts, this game came out about two or three weeks before in Japan and then everyone else got it. I'm not going to go into immense detail about how much I really really hate this, you can go on my previous post and see why this is so terrible. There I talk about how this detracts from the game in certain ways or at the very least how it takes away from the experience that players WOULD have had.
The game runs like syrup on my PC... WITH all of the settings turned to the lowest possible point. I don't mean the game was choppy in certain places, I mean that it was like I was running a high powered game on a low powered PC. I put this in the negative because, as far as I remember, it wasn't like that before. If you could play the first game on your PC, the second one could play just as well. While the graphical leap is nice it sucks when everyone isn't able to have the same experience gameplay wise. Looking nice is... well nice, but playing nice is amazing. A side note, the game will actually force you to play singleplayer mode if your FPS is too low, which I thought was a nice touch. I was clocking about 12 at best in the first area. Firelink Shrine was also pretty garbage considering it was around like 20. Windowed mode, lowest possible graphics settings and the lowest possible resolution barely got me anywhere.

The Meh:
This game is definitely harder. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Enemies are tough and varied. There's not a lot of humanoid enemies but a bunch of varied types from bestial, draconic and even a hybrid. Not only that but you're going to find a lot of other types of difficulty. In one area there will be and endless mob of slow enemies that can put a persistent bleed effect on you. Directly after that area is a lot of quick but squishy enemies along with some archers that you can't kill from where you are without ranged attacks. Bonfires get fewer and fewer the more you go on. Sometimes you won't even find one close to a boss room and have to fight through difficult enemies. This can be frustrating, but you can always go back to later areas to level up and upgrade your equipment if possible. Areas are very open and spaced out. Going through a place once will get you about 70% of all the items and you may need keys or find alternate ways to get to different places and finish side quests. Not everyone is going to like this and, while I don't like every single thing about this, there's a lot in this game so it should keep me fairly busy until the DLC comes out.

All in all a good game. I've got a few gripes but ultimately it might just be from my perspective. They really seemed to have pulled out all the stops for this new/last entry and it shows. I'd definitely recommend buying it.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Where Do We Draw the Line? Microtransactions

Microtransactions are basically the equivalent of buying a sandwich at a restaurant and having a list of items that you can add for a small fee. Now these aren't things that are in the way of significant additions to the meal like a side or a drink but something closer to like mayonnaise, mustard or even pickles. Ultimately its not going to add much to the meal itself but its an optional thing that you can buy to make the meal either taste better or just simply be better. I should make the distinction that its not DLC. Microtransactions are constant. You have the ability to buy it an unlimited amount of times. DLC is more like adding a new map or a new gun. A slot has been filled and can no longer be refilled.
Its a trend that most people are against, and for good reason. Microtransations are basically a 'pay-to-win' ideal, where that gun or item would have taken hours to gain someone can just outright buy. Personally I'm a bit on the fence. I've delved into my fair share of microtransactions here and there. I've spent about a thousand dollars on a specific MMO apart from a subscription fee or DLC to add in game money. I'm not proud of this. Recently I've been playing Warframe. At first, I played it on my PC and didn't really jell with it. I've gotten back into it on my Xbox One and have been having a lot of fun with it. I got a bit more money this paycheck and instead of being a responsible adult by saving it, paying off bills or even just not spending it on stupid crap I went and pushed about $80 into this free game. I'm not proud of it but I stand by my decision.
My personal feeling is if you want to get it, why not? Its an option and people are angry at the idea of the option... for some reason. Ultimately the game isn't telling you "You must buy this" otherwise that would be a completely different idea, rather its giving the option or ability to go further into the game. Warframe has a bunch of weapons and the aforementioned Warframes (which are basically classes with their own unique abilities and stats you can use and change out on as much as you want) but there's a limit to how much you can carry at once. You can have two Warframes at a time and a few weapons in any melee, primary and sidearm category. I've hit this ceiling a bit and its kind of annoying. I had to sell some weapons in order to use these new ones I've built... some of which I regret later because they totally suck. In any case you can spend real money for in game money which can be used to purchase new gear, items, weapons, frames, ships, blueprints and just about everything else under the sun including the ability to hold more of everything.
Where I personally draw the line is where the game hampers your overall progress and forces these transactions as the only way out. This is why I don't play mobile games or a better term would be 'Freemium' games. 'Freemium' is where a game is introduced as free but constantly stops you and forces you to halt your progress for an arbitrary amount of time, "But you could alleviate that buy giving us money!" The real annoying part of this is where the fact that Freemium games usually are already making money off you via adds. And I will say that I praise those Freemium games that use the sensible approach to giving you these items as long as you sit through this small commercial. That makes sense. Everyone wins. You get what you want minus the stupid real money cost and they get more ad revenue.
Warframe is the ideal balance between that for me. The ceiling only hits when you have too many weapons. Ultimately I only need a few weapons so its not really a big deal. Apart from that, there is a way out not counting the real money idea. Just sell these weapons and make some money while freeing up some space. That makes sense. Apart from that, the game is truly free (minus the fact I have to pay for Xbox Live, which is a whole other can of beans, and my internet has to be paid). Warframe is a game that is worth about $40 in my opinion. Its a good game that keeps adding more content free of charge so my idea is that rather than paying my dues I'm showing appreciation to the developers for making a solid game where the microtransactions aren't a necessity but still a viable option. The sandwich is great but some extra mayo or even ketchup would be nice. Microtransactions aren't bad... when they're not blatant. The idea is it should enhance the game or experience rather than being a necessity to find some modicum of enjoyment.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Why Dark Souls? The Effect A Single Game Series Has Had on the Industry

As I await Dark Souls 3's launch with both anticipation and anger from the fact the game has been out for a whole two weeks in one part of the world for no sensible reason, I find myself doing whatever I can to pass the time. My greatest time sink so far has been, of course, video games. They're technically endless if you pick the right game, infinitely re-playable and different every single time due to the fact you now have an understanding of the game you didn't have before. When I started playing Stardew Valley, I had no idea you could actually marry people and didn't even touch the caves. That all changed when I made a new save file, picked the character I wanted to marry and started looking up on the official Wikia for extra tips.
My first experience with Dark Souls was not great. Coming from years of games telling me, "You're the best!" and handing me all of the best stuff spoiled me in just about every sense. Basically, Dark Souls was one of the most original games I had ever played. The story was pushed to the side in favor of the gameplay which was designed to make you feel as powerless as possible, a community either bent on crushing you simply because its fun or desperately trying to make sense of the plot with duplicitous characters that would make an 80's action movie blush. Jarring really doesn't give it enough credit. But I stuck through it and got to the next game, ultimately giving me a better appreciation for all games as a whole.
But what about the entire industry? How really does a single game affect the whole medium of games? Recently there have been quite a few Soul's like/inspired games either released or planned for future release. Hyper Light Drifter, Titan Souls, Salt and Sanctuary, and Necropolis just to name a few. Each game borrows a bit from Dark Souls in some fashion. Usually in difficulty, sometimes in story while others borrow various themes and elements that Dark Souls is known for. If I had to guess, I think that people are kind of disenfranchised by gaming all together in some ways. The market is over saturated with games we once thought were novel or just simply really cool. First person shooters weren't super common when I was growing up, but now you get about five every year. MOBAs were a pretty new concept when League of Legends first entered the scene, now I have to carefully scan every article about a game to make sure it isn't a MOBA and then be annoyed when I find out it is. Sorry, I just do not like the genre at all.  Dark Souls is different. In fact it might have even pioneered a new genre of tough but fair games with bleak worlds.
Alright, I may be stretching a bit here. Tough games were the norm back in the day. But they had to be. Memory limitations were a necessity. The games had to be tough so you would take time beating them. Remove the difficulty and you were left with about an hour, at best, for a game. Once we got more memory, difficulty could be a thing of the past. Sure you had the option for Easy to Hard modes in games, but that's not exactly the same.I think Dark Souls is the culmination of all of that. Past and present ideals merging to create a new breed of game but even better. From Soft is meticulous in making their games as intricate as possible. Each enemy is placed with care, every item drop has a story, every NPC and special enemy is in a place with a hidden purpose, story is hidden behind things you can pick up to the words people say and even the landscapes you traverse through. It would be like if that new gun you unlocked had it's own backstory or if the map you played on held some key role to the game as a whole. Where a game like Call of Duty may do it's best to hammer in it's B movie script to force a feeling in you Dark Souls has littered it's story everywhere and neither forces nor asks you to care about it. To you, Lucatiel must have just been a warrior wandering the land. Patches the Hyena is just a guy who really likes to laugh. Every Firekeeper is just a woman with a soft soothing voice. Every boss and enemy is simply an obstacle to be traversed... and you aren't wrong for thinking that. The game gives you the option to care or not care. Even the online component gives you some depth. That's not just some nameless NPC come to kill you. That's an actual person who's maliciously hunting you down simply for an item and money.

I could probably keep going on but I won't. Dark Souls is releasing on the 12th and I'd say you owe it to yourself to at least watch a few videos on YouTube. From Software has said that this will be the last Dark Souls game ever, which I feel is a shame. Might as well sit here and watch the pretty ashes with everyone else.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Tracer's Butt and Slutt Shaming A Video Game Character

Are we doing this? Ya, we're doing this. For those of you who don't know, there's a game coming out called Overwatch. Its a MOBA which is not my type of game but I'm not going to judge those that like it. In it there's a character named Tracer and for a while she's been the subject of controversy which always boils my blood in stupid situations like this. A quick Google search of the character and you can see how she looks and how she is dressed. Which I'd like to add that she's more clothed than most female video game characters now.
The... controversy that was sparked is because there was a victory pose of her with her back to the camera and looking over her shoulder, thus revealing to everyone that Blizzard had the forethought of giving this character a somewhat accurate anatomy. Apparently there were people outraged that they were reminded about the thought of their own sexuality or the fact that butts were still a thing we have and demanded Blizzard remove the content. Blizzard responded by showing they have no spine and removed the content.
Look, I'm going to be completely honest and say that I'm probably not going to play this game. Its a MOBA arena shooter and that's not really my deal but again I'm not going to judge anyone for liking that sort of thing. The unfortunate fact that comes with living with the internet is every jackass has a megaphone to call out to the other jackasses of the world. While we can get information more quickly it comes at the cost of those who should be put on a separate island because they feel the need to keep other people from enjoying life because they are offended by the curvature of a few pixels.
The subject of censoring video games is very important to me. I grew up in a hyper Christian home and was refused a lot of tame games. My mom took away my copy of Super Metroid because Ridley was a dragon and in the Bible the devil is referred to as being a dragon like once. I wasn't allowed to buy Morrowind because the dark elf looked kind of like a demon. Had my mom had her way and I would have never played a single video game. Had she had her way on a global scale, none of you would have ever played the games you had, instead being forced to play terrible Bible games. My mom has since calmed down about the whole subject. I still get the lecture, and rightfully so, every time I play a super violent game and I try not to show her that stuff. "I play the Sims and the Sims isn't violent," is always my fall back statement.
My general statement is that, "Boobs are great and so are butts". I'm going to blow your mind and reveal that I also have a butt. This subject falls in the line of body shaming, a topic I am also very strongly against. Of course its not a direct version of body shaming. What you have here is actually sort of an effigy, but rather than burning it you're pointing out the fact that it shouldn't be allowed to express any sort of sexuality. This is damaging to anyone who sees it and what you're doing to it. Generally decent people want to please others. Psychologically speaking, anyone who sees this and is impressionable will think that everyone hates this part and they will be publicly shamed, so they might do their best to cover up this area. This may become worse down the line where this person pushes these feelings on their kids and then we've got a whole generation of adults who will be ashamed of their sexuality, all because someone felt that a few curves offended them in some way.
I'm going to finish off by saying that this has happened before and will continue to happen if you don't speak out against this. Tracer is pretty modestly dressed all things considered. Her sexuality isn't really an issue here, its the sexuality of others. Ultimately this point means little really seeing as how Blizzard immediately caved and gave in, thereby validating these idiot's very stupid opinions that if they yell and bitch loud enough they'll get their way.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why I Am Genuinely Considering Not Playing Dark Souls 3 (Spoiler Free)

Yes, I know I just posted another article about Dark Souls 3 and how you can have an 'easier' time with the game. Yes, I know that is basically free publicity and I am in fact supporting the game. But some facts have come to light and I feel I must address these points to you as a gamer.
Dark Souls 3 has been out in Japan for almost three weeks. Why is this such a bad thing? From Software, the company who made the game, is based in Japan. Well, Dark Souls is a different breed of game. The game is meant to invoke a certain feeling of dread, of unknown. Unless you're a skilled player, you're going to die a lot. More often than not to the boss of the current level you're on. Secrets get uncovered if you're a diligent enough person to click and swipe at every wall in your vicinity. Weapons, items, gear and characters are a complete mystery. If you've ever played Dark Souls, you'll know that 'Trusty' Patches the Hyena is anything but.... the Trusty part I mean... But not everyone knows that. Meeting this guy who just really likes laughing and is kind of strange gells with the tone of the game. You only find out he's untrustworthy the further you go or if you've seen anything about him on the internet. People may not have known that the first time they played the game. Even if they did play the game, they might not know that he can become a vendor if you forgive him for trying to kill you. These things come from you experiencing the game or just by simply looking it up online.
Every action in these games has their own, sometimes, unforeseen consequences. Except when people blatantly tell you outright. A while ago, a few lucky YouTubers got their hands on the game in an exclusive private event hosted by the developer themselves, which is honestly how I expect From Software to handle this. There's a lot of YouTube videos dedicated to Dark Souls content, where it may be a bit on the comedic side like Oroboro the Ninja or diving into the deep lore of the game like VaatiVidya. They got to see and play the game first hand and some of them gave their personal experiences on the game via videos. Nothing wrong with that. At least as far as I can see. However, where it gets really awful is in the game's release date.
I've been going mad waiting for this game. I'm not one of those people who absolutely needs to play this game blind but I respect the idea. You want it fresh, new and interesting. I get that. Japan has had this game for about three weeks. Since we're in the age of the internet, they've been uploading videos. They've beaten the game over a week ago. I haven't even touched the game. What the fuck. Nothing about this makes any sense. Sure, they could have been using their time to translate the game into English... except that was already done. So there's this glitch that you can actually purchase the game, right now, on your Xbox One. Wait, I know what you're going to say and no, PS4 and PC users got the shaft on this one. By the way, I want to reiterate this is a glitch. This is not a timed exclusive for Microsoft, Sony didn't screw over anyone at Bandai Namco (the people who did a shit job of releasing the game) and Gabe Newell didn't do something awful to them either. GLITCH. I know what you're saying, and no it hasn't been patched yet (as far as my knowledge goes). Namco actually said that the game needed to be fixed and wasn't fully finished yet, saying that people shouldn't use this method to get the game early here in the states and anyone who wasn't fortunate enough to live in Japan. Which begs the question, did every Japanese gamer get a bad copy of the game? And why hasn't the glitch been fixed yet. A quick call to Microsoft and they could work some technological magic to ensure that no one can download the game until the release date.
Personally I don't care about playing the game blind, though I respect the people who want to. A YouTuber by the name of EpicNameBro has actually cut himself off from the internet in order to keep all these game's secrets a mystery until he plays it. I wonder how he'll feel once he gets back knowing that basically everything has been released and found out already.
The reason I'm considering not playing this game altogether is for the fact that Namco Bandai thinks that we're kind of dumb. Or maybe they just don't care. Just say you were playing favorites with your Japanese audience and giving the middle finger to everyone else. Go ahead, just say it. We all know that's what really happened. Another theory I heard is that they were trying to artificially boost their sales numbers, getting a bunch of buys in Japan at the end of the March quarter and then get the American audience on the April quarter. I personally don't know what that's about but it just doesn't sound good.
Namco Bandai, you have ruined this game for a lot of people. It looked really awesome too which is a real damn shame.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

While I Wait For Dark Souls 3: Beginner's Tips

UGHHHHH. This game is taking forever to come out! I was not one of those few lucky people to get to play the demo nor was I one of those people who got the Japanese version of the game so I have to wait with everyone else till the game comes out two weeks from now. Two. Weeks!
But... the show must go on. Or... blog as it were. In the meantime, I've been torturing myself watching playthroughs of the game on YouTube. Most people will chastise me saying I should just wait and shut myself away so I can get a proper blind play of the game, but I fear that will only make me go more insane. So instead of moping around, I'm going to help teach you guys how to play this game or at least give you some tips so you won't have to spend hours 'Gitting gud' to impress all those online summons. Dark Souls 3 is a bit different from previous games in the franchise so we all may need a refresher. I'll try to stray away from stuff the previous games have already established and focus on the new mechanics (relatively spoiler free).

1: Weapon Arts! Best use: PvP
While PvP hasn't been implemented (as far as I can see given the walkthroughs I've seen which all feature the Japanese version as I'm lead to believe), PvP is Dark Soul's bread and butter. While it really came down to who could trade the most hits or get the drop on someone, Dark Souls 3 does it a bit different. Weapon arts are a thing that have been brought over from Bloodborne. While Bloodborne had unique weapons with their own unique 'awakening' modes, Dark Souls 3 has similar but different things. While, unfortunately, not every single weapon could have their own unique weapon art they do make combat a bit more interesting. For starters, you now have a new bar called Focus Points that appears just below your health and above your stamina. Focus Points are determined by your Attunement stat which previously gave you more spell slots and made spell casting times shorter. The stat still does that, however your spells are now dependent upon this blue bar as a sort of mana pool like in Demon's Souls. However, this bar is also used for weapon arts. Every single weapon has them and they vary from a different stance to simply being used immediately. After you defeat the first boss and go down a separate path, you can meet up with an NPC who will attack you on sight with a katana. During this fight, you can see the NPC use their unique weapon art with the katana which makes the person using it walk slowly and then deliver a powerful strike. When this blue bar is emptied, you still can use weapon arts however not spells. As far as I've seen using a weapon art when you have no more focus points simply makes the attack less powerful. I haven't seen all of the weapon arts or experimented with them but I would presume they work in the same way either making the effect less powerful or simply stopping you from using it all together. The effect of an art can be easily seen if you just look at the weapon's description. The reason I say this is best for PvP is because it can be a way to change up the fight. Your opponent can be difficult to handle but a weapon art could surprise them and possibly make all the difference surprising them with a feature they may have not suspected.

2: Firelink Shrine is the most important place ever
In Dark Souls 2, you were forced to level up via the Emerald Herald in Majula. In Dark Souls 3, the same is true. You need to beat the first boss and then get to Firelink Shrine to spend souls on gear, items and even the ability to level up. The place is more akin to Demon's Souls Nexus where it was a place cut off from just about every other area and had multiple NPCs who stayed there as the story progressed. You will find various people throughout the world, some of which can be found again in this area, ranging from the simple person going side by side on a quest with you to vendors who will make a permanent stay.

3: Pick up everything
While this may be a pretty easy idea to grasp, its more important in this game than in the previous titles. A lot of the vendors require certain items to get a better stock. Magic trainers require tomes so that they can teach more spells, Andre needs more embers so he can get a greater range of refining your items and another merchant requires ash so she can sell different equipment. Ash can be gained from killing friendly NPCs as well as being found in various places around the world. As a side point, talk to everyone. You may not be a sorcerer yet, but I think it would be better for you to get the sorcerer vendor immediately should you change your mind down the line. Alternatively, you could open up new paths, gain new items or even have the ability to summon NPCs during fights.

4: The game is significantly harder
Dark Souls? Hard? Nooooo... Alright, alright. Fair enough but this game is harder than previous games in a few ways, in my opinion. The game gets progressively more difficult as it goes on, which I like, and it doesn't do this in cheap ways. In the first bits of the game, the enemies will be less varied and relatively easy. Going forward adds in new spikes of difficulty. An area with powerful enemies where your mobility is limited and moving too close to something will trigger more enemies into the fray. Bonfires are fewer and farther from one another, especially when it comes to boss areas. Using sensible tactics will make it so you can go into the boss fight of an area with more health or healing items. You probably want to sweep over an area a few times before going to charge at the boss or at the very least to plan accordingly. Having an assortment of weapons and items can ensure that the best weapons and items will make it relatively unscathed on your journey. Every single boss has at least a second phase which you will have to deal with changing up the fight in some way whether it be a change of scenery or an added mechanic they didn't have previously. Some people might want to research on the particular boss they are coming up against while others will choose to throw themselves at it and use their wits and intelligence to combat the situation. Keeping your wits about and being wary of areas will keep you from being ambushed by enemies or finding more useful items for later use. Everywhere around you could be danger. Make sure to look around and even up to plan ahead. It could either be an enemy, an item or even the possibility of a short cut later on. Enemies are more varied than before as well. One particular enemy looks like a standard knight with a shield. However, it can buff itself to either do more damage and even heal itself. This particular enemy can also buff itself so that when it strikes the ground mines form to protect it. A healthy amount of fear or trepidation is definitely needed to tackle this game in order to beat it.

And that's about it. I could talk more about how to handle the bosses, however, that would be going against what I would have said about the minor spoilers. If you really want to spoil the game for yourself, feel free to check out Dark Souls 3's "Fextralife" wiki page (http://darksouls3.wiki.fextralife.com/Dark+Souls+3+Wiki), a website I've found invaluable in every single Souls game I've ever played.
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