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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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Fallout 4 Automatron DLC Xbox One Review - 8.5/10

Finally! The first DLC for Fallout has been released! I've had a mixed reaction towards Fallout DLC in the past. While Fallout 3 was a masterpiece, its DLC left me disappointed to say the least. Granted, it wasn't bad. But every single DLC made me feel like it was either rushed and had some better narrative that never got through or it was just bad. New Vegas was a pretty decent game, but the DLC was amazing. The writing, the humor, the settings. All on point. This DLC has kind of left me somewhere in the middle. Allow me to elaborate...

The Good:
The point of a 'good' DLC is to add something into the game. I know that sounds like a weird thing to say but there's a lot of DLC out there that just adds new weapons or something akin to Horse Armor back in Oblivion. It doesn't really do much of anything. I would definitely say this is good DLC. Not only does it add new enemy types and weapons (one of which has become my new favorite gun, the Tesla Rifle) but also adds the ability to literally make your own companion... sort of. You can now build your very own robot to your specifications using the crafting system already in the game and its actually pretty decent selection wise. You can choose between four chassis and a bunch of other cool stuff. The crafting also takes into account your perks, so everyone who put a lot of points into their intelligence tree, like me, is going to find some nice stuff. That's not to say the other trees are neglected of course. Your new robot companion can even have it's voice changed with a pretty decent few options so that's a nice touch. The story is so-so. Its not bad, not great but is satisfying enough. Robots are attacking the wasteland and you've got to stop them. I like how the enemies aren't just in certain places but integrated everywhere and I'll talk about that a bit later.

The Bad:
Ya... remember when I said the enemies can be 'everywhere'? Within reason of course. It seems this... conflicts sometimes. You may have met this random NPC who wants your help in scrapping a downed plane. I left this to the wayside so I could build up my Charisma stat but forgot about it entirely. I came back to it after downloading this and the quest bugged. The NPC won't talk to me and it seems that not only the helpers we would have had along were killed by the new bots but also the raiders. Is this an isolated incident? I'm not sure. Though I will say that the reason I stopped playing was because my game crashed so... Ya I know Bethesda games are notoriously, and jokingly, buggy but when it stops me from playing then I've got a problem. This can all be fixed later but since the robots are randomized (it seems) in their spawn points it may be beyond fixing.

The Meh:
I haven't finished the DLC but it seems really short. Why do I say that? Because me playing this for about three + hours and I've already made it into what I presume and the game is telling me is the main bad guy's lair. Sure, this could be a cop out and SURPRISE! something else. That's not to say this is bad. Ultimately I still have the content where I can make more powerful robots to aid me in my journey so even if this is only 3 hours (not the absolute worst in terms of DLC) it still kind of sucks. I really hope this ends up being a Hearthfire from Skyrim type situation where the other DLCs that were released for Skyrim ended up being multiple hours and Hearthfire was just a nice little add on.

All in all, if you were on the fence about buying Fallout 4 this may or may not be your incentive. Like robots? Then this is for you. Hate em? Well, first off you're dumb and second you won't like this. Unfortunately, if you haven't already picked up the season pass you've missed out on the discount so now its a full $60. That being said, Bethesda is one of those companies who usually just give people a taste of what they've got planned. I'm definitely looking forward to the other DLCs coming out unfortunately much much later.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Why I Don't Like the New Battlefront

I'm going to say it right now: I'm not going to play Battlefront... I mean in the sense I'm going to buy it. I know I missed the buck to fade into the crowd of people saying, "EA's Battlefront sucks!" I've played a bit of Battlefront and what I saw/did wasn't the worst thing in the world. In fact its a damn good game. The controls were tight, the graphics were amazing and the combat was amazing as well. So why am I not going to/am playing Battlefront? Easy. I'm not going to encourage it. Or at least the direction people (not the actual fans of Star Wars, Battlefront series or games in general, just the companies making these games) think what these games are supposed to be.
The original Battlefront games are... flawed, but they are awesome. The idea is novel. You play as a no name soldier set in the Star Wars universe battling against the other side. Basically its like if you took a modern military shooter that was just pretty decent and slapped a coat of Star Wars mod paint on it. Honestly? I'd probably play that game. But that's not all the Battlefront was. There was, of course, the heroes. Where you could play as various overpowered characters from the films to fight in these battles. All of the cannon fodder troops couldn't stand up to these heroes, having to resort to cheap tactics, vehicles to annihilate them and slowly chip away at their health and get back to the military shooting. If I had to rate both of those games, they'd get about a 7 or an 8. Solid, but not much. Fun, but not much else. My favorite had to be the second game in which they added a new mode like conquest, mixing up the game a bit more and added the prequels in the mix so you weren't just fighting against rando troops and threw some droids into the mix.
My point is I don't understand why people hold the original games in such high praise. They were good games and that's it. As a rabid Star Wars fan I can look around my room right now and find not only novels but three posters and that's not even counting the games I have in my Steam library... and even then I only consider them to be just okay. But! I get where the hate is coming from. Someone somewhere on the internet said it best that the only reason we keep coming back to EA is because they have some amazing developers under their boot. Bioware, Maxis (which was the developer behind The Sims) and now DICE. EA continues to survive, neigh thrive, on the whim of these three companies. The Sims will always sell gangbusters because, hell, who doesn't want to play god every so often. Bioware makes some of the most amazing RPGs of all time and even when they fail you can still say, "You know what? Dragon Age 2 wasn't THE worst game I've ever played." Hell, if Dragon Age 2 was the first entry into the series and then Origins came out later, we'd give it a perfect score. It was just disappointing because the previous game was so great. And as much as I dislike military shooters as a whole in the sense of their business model for what you receive (a glorified trash novel about how all foreigners are evil and the only way to stop them is to commit heinous war crimes) I have to admit that the make some very polished shooters that I could have some fun with.
Lucas Arts was never perfect but they were a pretty decent company. They really seemed to try and make good games. They had an iron grip on the Star Wars franchise but never treated it with anything other than respect. Even Force Unleashed 2 wasn't the worst game ever. Short sighted? Yes. Still playable? Sure. The reason why I think everyone hates this new game, apart from just general EA hate, is simply because of the news afterward. Lucas Arts was in production of three amazing sounding games. Battlefront 3 would have revamped the series in such a way I would have to break the "Its okay" barrier I had for the previous games. Their idea of letting you play as Darth Maul in a stealth/RPG game was an insanely awesome idea. 1313 would have been a look at the darker side of Star Wars, not just in the sense of the force or force users but actual depth that could have made for an interesting story. Of course Disney fudged it up when the whole studio was shut down. I really think the company should have been absorbed, letting a bunch of Lucas Arts veterans work along side EA to make Star Wars games. Simply put: every sane person who hates this game is only hating it because the fact of how misguided everything seems. Sure, no singleplayer is insane but its not the worst thing. Its the path that modern shooters are taking these days. And, I'm going to be completely honest, that fucking sucks. No game, other than MMOs, should only be online. That just makes no sense.
Alright, rant over. But why am I not going to buy this game? Its a well polished, probably fun, game. Like I said, I'm not going to encourage this behavior. And neither should you. There's been a lot of annoying shit surrounding this game about the whole extra edition, where you can basically get the best gun in the game unlocked immediately. Is that kind of scummy? Sure. But in most MMOs you can pay to get the best gear and make your character better than everyone else. That's just inherent in most games now a days. Granted, that doesn't make it better or tolerable. My personal philosophy is I will always appreciate the thing that tries to do its best to stand out from the crowd no matter how good it is. As a species we should always be moving forward. Stagnation is humanity's greatest enemy. Our complacency will undoubtedly become our downfall. I've fallen into the trap of things before that are the cheap and easy. EA's Battlefront is like candy versus an actual meal. There's really nothing more to it. You might feel bad later after the elation wears off, there's little to no extra reason to have in the first place but it feels good at the start. Now there may be people out there who actually like this game and that's fine. Personally I'm going to be waiting for the next Star Wars game. Can we get that Darth Maul game within my life time? Maybe a different RPG entirely like the Knights of the Old Republic series. Or how about something completely new. Something no one ever thought of before. Personally, I'm not going to belly ache over EA's vision of Star Wars. Because that just means its just a little more closer to Bioware's RPG hands, or DICE's excellent gameplay or even The Sims' versatility. Come on, EA. Give me some more Star Wars. Make it great. Make it memorable. Make me not regret downloading Origin and give me something great to play. Free games every so often are cool, but I want you to destroy my wallet with the most amazing experience of my life. I want to play this new game and think, "This is it. This is the last game I ever need to play in my entire life." I want this game to ruin everything else that comes after it. I'll be here, waiting.
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