Twitter GOTY “Poll”

TheSecretWorld 2013-08-20 23-32-51-84

Last night was a bit of a rough night, because we had a massive storm blow through.  A side effect of the storm was the fact that about 11:30 my wife woke up on the couch because something dripped on her foot.  In the middle of our living room, dripping from one of the beams was a slow trickle of water.  At that point there really isn’t much to do other than put down a towel and a bucket and hope it stops.  However that sort of ruined any thoughts of a really solid nights sleep.  This morning I had originally intended on writing about a rather hamfisted absurdist article that is making its way through my twitter circle, but in truth I am simply going to not deal with that today.  It reminded me of conversations that myself and Tamrielo have on a regular basis… but I also wanted to approach the topic with more grace than I probably have in me right now.  So instead I am going to answer a twitter poll in blog form.

While technically not a poll, it is definitely a thing that I thought looked interesting so this morning instead of tearing into discussions that I don’t really want to get into…  I started thinking back upon various years and trying to determine the games that mattered the most to me during that time.  Also I may or may not be applying a little “in retrospect” to a few of these choices, but that is also ultimately my prerogative.  I limited myself to only picking games released during a specific calendar year, but in many cases the true impact the game had happened much later.

2012:  The Secret World

TheSecretWorld 2013-08-20 23-32-51-84

I really cannot say enough good about this game… from the perspective of someone just starting out playing it.  I’ve said an awful lot about this game over the years in three pages worth of blog posts… and probably some others that I failed to categorize correctly.  This often makes my “best games I am not playing” list whenever I compile one.  Functionally there are two vastly different game experiences…  the leveling game when you are digging through the story and trying to solve the mysteries of the world…  and the end game where you lose all creative freedom that you had while leveling.  The first game is phenomenal and something that I feel everyone should experience at least once.  The later…  is ultimately what caused us to quit and keeps me from reattaching to the game for any length of time.  However that said the ride is well worth it, and the game has some of the more interesting dungeons in MMOdom…  until you reach nightmare levels where everything sort of falls apart.  I am really looking forward to the re-release of the game under the Secret World Legends name… and hoping beyond hope that they can give me an experience to latch onto with both hands.

2013:  Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

ffxiv_dx11-2017-02-13-20-15-18-82

The impact this game has had on me and my friends is immeasurable.  Largely because it gave us a common ground in the form of an MMO experience that we all care about.  More than anything however it knows how to tell story in and interesting and serialized fashion, where the story arc from one expansion sets up the key players for the next.  This is also the only MMO that has ever sufficiently pulled off a surprise plot twist, and has done so many times…. and been willing to assault structures that I assumed were fixed and sacred to the game itself.  From August onwards in 2013…  my life pretty much belonged to Final Fantasy XIV until we slowly petered out when we ran out of things we were capable of doing.  However we came back and had a renaissance with the game that has continued to the present times with this still being the game we can all sort of agree on.

2014: Destiny

RemotePlay 2016-05-13 06-08-29-84

This is another game that realized its ultimate impact on me long after the year it actually released in.  Destiny is a really important game to me for a whole lot of reasons.  Firstly it has amazing moment to moment gameplay and it is hands down the best feeling shooter I have ever played.  From the moment I heard about the world and the setting I was completely sold… and in truth this is the game that pushed me to buy my way into the current console generation.  I got my PS4 console the week the first PlayStation exclusive alpha was happening, and the little I played of it hooked me extremely hard on the concept.  Year one had a lot of problems, and I sort of picked at it like you might pick at the remains of a meal you know you are done with…  but just keep nibbling on.  I did return to paying regularly towards the tail end of the first year, so that I was primed and ready for the launch of The Taken King.  From Year Two on however I have been a dedicated acolyte of the world, and own it for both PS4 and Xbox One…  and am contemplating making the leap to PC version with the launch of Destiny 2.  The game still has some narrative problems, but it does not stop me one bit from enjoying it.

2015: Fallout 4

Fallout4 2015-11-10 18-58-40-01

I love Fallout as a franchise.  I still remember saving up the cash to buy the first one when we were in college, and I was completely hooked.  I am not old school enough to remember Wasteland fondly, but I have always been a fan of the whole post apocalyptic nukepunk genre.  So while I am listing this as my game for 2015…  it is a hype cycle that began long before and continues long after.  This is still the game I boot up when I am in a specific mood.  Similarly I have played Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas countless times, and Fallout 4 simply replaces those in succession.  This game is proof to me at least that I care far more about systems, and gameplay…  than I really do about the main narrative in a game.  In fact the only reason why I probably beat this game is because we chose this as our November/December AggroChat game club game for the tail end of 2015.  I would probably still be avoiding the main story… and still off on my own having adventures in my head….  which is in truth my preferred method of playing a game.  Just talking about the game has given me this huge urge to boot it up…  right now…  which would be a horrible idea considering I have to go to work.

2016: World of Warcraft: Legion

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I have to give a lot of credit here to World of Warcraft and the rebirth of the game that happened with the launch of the Legion expansion.  They took a game I thought I no longer really cared about, and was legitimately done caring about…. and turned it into an experience that I rabidly played.  I even managed to return to raiding and didn’t check out this time until we were a few bosses into Nighthold…  which is in truth way longer than I lasted in Draenor.  I’ve reached this point where I am not really playing the game or following it now… but the transformation that took place should nonetheless be honored.  They tried a whole bunch of new ideas that they admittedly borrowed from other games… but wove it together in a fashion that felt new and fresh.  Similarly I feel like it has to be said that they have done and continue to do a great job of managing patch cycles.  They finally broke the “three and done” mold that had happened with Pandaria and Draenor and by all accounts are still releasing interesting content.  I know at some point I will return and at the very least finish out the Legion flight meta achievement, but for the time being I am simply not forcing myself to play a game I am not super into.  Legion however is probably going to go down in history for me as their best expansion…  toppling what was previously my current favorite Wrath of the Lich King.

 

So now that I have given you mine… what are yours?  Feel free to post them in the comments section here… or join in the twitter poll.  I am curious to hear everyone’s thoughts.

 

 

 

 

Blaugust and Nephalem

Last Day of Blaugust

As the subheading says, it is in fact the last day of Blaugust and as such very soon I am going to begin tabulating the results.  It has been an interesting month, but also a very quick one.  It seems like just yesterday I was kicking off this challenge, and now we are staring at the finish line.  It has also been interesting just how many people have participated in one way or another.  Even if you did something as simple as retweet a Blaugust post, you are part of this and I thank you.  In truth I was not really sure how the turn out for year two would end up looking.  The biggest surprise honestly was just how many year one folks came back for this year.  You’d think that they would have learned better by the time the second event rolled around.  As I sift through the results it is going to be interesting to see just how many folks have completed both years at this point.

The big take away this year is that we have already reached a point where we are just too big to be planned somewhat “on the fly”.  Up until July I was still questioning if I would actually go through with a second Blaugust.  I was somewhat shocked at the number of people who were looking forward to it.  So I pulled things together and we ended up with this year, that went significantly more smoothly than the first.  As a result I think for the 2016 Blaugust I will be starting to pull things together about four months in advance.  Folks offering to sponsor prizes was a brand new concept to me, and this year we had Anook and KingsIsle Entertainment both chipping in prizes.  I greatly appreciate them both, but I am hoping if I start the wheels moving several months ahead I will be able to get a few more people to come on board.  It would be awesome to get some game keys donated for a sort of “Blaugust Game Club” like our AggroChat Game Club.  Where every Blaugust writer has the opportunity to play a specific game and write about it, because it is super interesting when you collect a bunch of opinions on the same title.  I realize we are just how wrapping up, and folks are I am sure sick of it for the time being…  but I am already thinking about how to make next year better.

Nephalem Ascended

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Friday night when I got home from eating with friends I started a brand new Female Barbarian, and as of last around 8 pm I managed to hit 70 securing at least some of the Season 4 rewards.  While I managed to get drug along for a handful of levels, this is still the fastest and most dedicated I have ever leveled in Diablo.  In part a huge chunk of it has been that I have largely been leveling with my friend Grace, who keeps pushing me to go do content rather than just piddling around like I normally do.  Pushing is the wrong word because she was not even insistent… she just gave me a reason to keep grouping up and doing interesting things.  The other big change this season is that I pretty much completely ignored the story line.  In Season 3 I attempted to level my way through the story, which is apparently the worst possible way to level these days.  Instead I largely started adventure mode from the moment I created the character, and the result is as I leveled I tended to always have legendary weapons that I could craft for my character.

diablo3Season4Journey

One of the big changes that came with Season 4 was the introduction of the “Season Journey” interface that serves as a way of unlocking the various rewards.  Just for hitting level 70 on a seasonal character I unlocked the transmogrification pieces, but in order to get the Portrait Frame and the Pet I have to complete all four Chapters of the Season Journey.  As of last night I have completed the first three and they were honestly all pretty easy.  The final element that I needed was to defeat one of the major bosses on Master difficulty or harder.  Since Belial is the fastest to get to on Adventure mode I popped over there and took him out with relative ease.  Now I have to do some of the more grindy things like taking out each of the key masters on Torment difficulty.  I also need to finally use the Kanai cube to extract a Legendary power, but I am trying to sort out what sort of power I want to keep.  Honestly I feel like I need to read up on how exactly that process works before making any decisions surrounding getting powers from it.  I know that once you do this you can choose at least one power as a permanent buff, and I have a few that are really nice.

Diablo III 2015-08-30 21-57-05-55

I really did not spend much time playing Reaper of Souls, and as such I had never actually done a Rift of any sort until this weekend.  Grace on the other hand is an expert at such things and as a result I spent some of my “post 70” time last night with her working on Rifts and then the Greater Rifts that follow.  I have to say they are crazy amounts of fun, and I am trying to sort out how best to use my legendary gems.  Right now I have two of them, and I need to run more Greater Rifts to power up the second one.  The first one is now at level 6, but once again I think I need to do some research in how best to utilize them.  The game is so much more intricate than I remember it being, and in truth I have never played Diablo 3 seriously.  I am having a blast so I guess that is really all that matters.  My hope is that tonight our Final Fantasy XIV raid can down Ravana Extreme… but after that… I hope to put in big ole dent in some of these Chapter IV objectives.

The Revenge of Blaugust

What is Blaugust?

A few years ago I started down this path of madness that I have referred to as my Grand Experiment, where I started blogging every single day.  It has been a grueling experience at times, but also something I would not trade for the world.  I learned a lot of things about myself because when you are writing that many posts… something interesting happens.  At some point in the process you break down the walls you are holding up between you and your readers and start being completely and often brutally honest with them.  I sit down at the keyboard each morning and share a chunk of myself, and this bond I have developed with my readers is something pretty special.  Last year I wanted to channel just a little bit of this with the rest of the blogosphere and started the Blaugust challenge.  The idea is simple… during the month of August blog something every single day.  If you succeed in thirty one days of posts… you are a Blaugust winner.

I had this idea that the only folks that would participate were seasoned bloggers.  You know folks like me with years of blogging under their belts.  The reality however is that a lot of new bloggers took up this banner as their own and produced some amazing stuff as a part of it.  As such Blaugust has become this strange event that allows a lot of folks to essentially rededicate themselves to the craft of writing.  After last year I was uncertain if I would be doing another one of these, but I was not so subtly urged by my readers that they were expecting it to happen once more.  Last year we had 28 Challenge Winners that managed to make it through the month without missing a post, and another 21 Challenge Survivors that participated in the contest.  I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of participation… but in the tradition of all internet things…  lets make this year even bigger.

The Topic

First off let me get this out of the way.  This contest is all about longevity and frequency and not necessarily about what you are writing.  The idea is to get folks in the habit of regular posting, so that after a month of posting every single day… they can settle into a more reasonable schedule after August and do regular posts a few times a week.  So as far as your blog goes… you can tell us whatever you feel like.  These can be game posts, post about some other hobby you are really interested in, or just posts about your life.  Somewhere along my path to madness I reached a point where I am essentially immune to writers block when it comes to Tales of the Aggronaut.  I can sit down at the keyboard and start writing without any preparation and within a paragraph a theme starts to form and I am up and running with a new blog post.  Inspiration is a fickle thing, and essentially I brute forced my way around it.  The plan is to make you realize that you don’t need some magical muse to crank out interesting posts.  Everything you say is already interesting so long as it is genuine and comes from your personality, and the rest is just simply taking notes.

The Guidelines

Last year… the month of August was a blur for me, and it was honestly hell for me to go through.  When you had as many people blogging as we did, a good chunk of my morning was spent tabulating who blogged and who didn’t.  Then when you factor in the international nature of this competition it was extremely hard to actually determine what day a given post was supposed to represent.  As such this year I am going to be quite a bit more strict on the guidelines, because I would really like to exit the month of August with at least some bit of my sanity intact.  I love you guys dearly… but I really need your help on this.

  1. Write a new blog post of no less than ten sentences in length.  This is essentially two large paragraphs and is a good solid minimum size.  If you are doing a screenshot/photo blog just make sure your description explaining what the image is all about fits this constraint.
  2. Include a link back to the 2015 Blaugust Initiative Page.  My hope is that this will allow other people to join in the challenge and play catch up.
  3. Advertise the post on the Blaugust Nook.  When you join the nook I will be elevating everyone to “Blogger” access to do this.  This is extremely key this year, because this is going to be how I log all posts, and if you do not do this you are not going to get proper credit.
  4. Either in the title of your post or the first heading inside of your actual post.. please denote which day this post is for.  Something like “Blaugust Day 21” just to make sure that I am giving everyone credit for the correct day, and this should help to stop the oddities of folks in vastly different time zones getting dumped into the wrong slot.
  5. If you advertise the post on social media, please include the #Blaugust hashtag.  Again we are trying to help spread the word and get folks to join in process… and at very least get folks reading the posts.
  6. Over the course of the month, write 31 posts.
  7. ????
  8. Profit!

The Vlogger Clause

Since this contest is far more about longevity and doing things on a schedule… I thought I would open it up to a slightly different audience this year.  Blogging is awesome, and I love it dearly… but Vlogging is also awesome.  Being willing to put yourself out there, and on camera…  on a regular basis is quite the daunting task.  As such I wanted to open this up to folks who are vlogging, and essentially allow them to count a daily vlog as a valid post for the month.  As such I am going to throw some loose requirements around it.

  1. Vlog must be at least five minutes in length.
  2. Include a link back to the 2015 Blaugust Initiative Page in your videos “dooblidoo” and mention the Blaugust initiative at least once during the video.
  3. Advertise the vlog post on the Blaugust Nook.  When you join the nook I will be elevating everyone to “Blogger” access to do this.  This is extremely key this year, because this is going to be how I log all posts, and if you do not do this you are not going to get proper credit.
  4. Inside the “dooblidoo” mention what day you are posting for.  Something like “Blaugust Day 21” just to make sure that I am giving everyone credit for the correct day, and this should help to stop the oddities of folks in vastly different time zones getting dumped into the wrong slot.
  5. If you advertise the post on social media, please include the #Blaugust hashtag.  Again we are trying to help spread the word and get folks to join in process… and at very least get folks reading the posts.
  6. Over the course of the month, write 31 posts.
  7. ????
  8. Profit!

Some Revisions

Last year I did some madness that I won’t be doing this year.  Essentially the deck was stacked against anyone who was not ready to go on day one.  Inevitably there were folks that started one or two days late, that got knocked out of the running for the big prize for not being there from day one.  I didn’t really feel like this was fair, because ultimately they put the same amount of effort in during the course of the event, it was just that they had to play catch up a bit.  As such I basically have three categories that I am going to be dividing people up into.

  • Challenge Winners – Anyone who makes thirty one blog posts during the month of August.  I will be tallying the Results on September 2nd as to allow for all possible time zone strangeness.
  • Challenge Survivors – Anyone who makes at least  fifteen blog posts during the month of August is going to be considered a “survivor”.
  • Challenge Participant – Anyone who did not quite make it to fifteen is still awesome in my book and deserves some recognition for showing up and joining in the fun.

The Rewards

As with last year I will be keeping track of these things in my big spreadsheet of blaugust, and at the end of the month on September 2nd I will be tabulating the results.  From the contest winners I will be doing a drawing for several prize packages.  I hope you enjoy games, and want to acquire more of them…  because that is what we are going to do.  Last year someone summed up the contest as “write awesome stuff and get games!”.  Over the course of the years I have acquired a bunch of spare game download keys, so I will be dipping into this grab bag of awesome to get some prizes for folks.  I will be using a secure dice roller to determine one Grand Prize winner and three additional prize winners from the pool of Contest winners.

  • Grand Prize!

    I hope you follow me on Steam, because I will be picking a game off of your Steam Wishlist and purchasing it for you.   Nice and simple.  If there is something you have been craving like a special store mount or something of the sort from your favorite MMO, we can probably work that in instead.

  • Three Also-Awesomes

    Additionally to a grand prize winner I will be picking three other individuals to get to choose something from the grab bag of awesome.  May the odds ever be in your favor… because once again I will be relying on the dice roller to determine who gets first picking order from the grab bag.

  • All Participants

    All participants are going to get sidebar badges to denote that they participated in Blaugust 2015 with special versions for the Survivors and Winners.

If there are any companies that would like to sweeten this pot, contact me because I would most certainly love to give everyone who participates in this contest something for doing this challenge.

The Sign-Up

In order to participate you need a few things.  Firstly you need go over to the forums on the Blaugust nook and post your intention to participate in this handy forum thread I have created.  This is going to help me prepare to start reading your posts during the month (if you are not already in my blog reader).  Then as the month goes on post your new entries to the Blaugust Nook so that you get proper credit for them.  The nook also serves as a jumping off place for the Blaugust community that builds up around this event.  Share your struggles and your victories, and lean on each other for ideas.  We are all in this together, and the hope is that at the end of the month each of us is stronger for the participation.  As always if you have any questions feel free to pop me a line on any of the many avenues that I leave available for folks to contact me.  Lets have an awesome August and a truly phenomenal Blaugust!

Shiva Down

Last Of the E3 Shows

I think at this point I am ready to be done with E3 2015 for awhile.  In theory yesterday was the tail end of the major conferences.  I have to say that when I originally made my statement that Bethesda had won E3, I was doing so with an over exaggerated amount of hyperbole.  I have to say however as the dust settles… they still managed to put on the best event and was the only show where every single thing they announced was something I cared about, at least on some level.  The most frustrating event for me personally was the Square Enix event, in part because they combined a line up of amazing games…  with a high school speech classroom quality of presentation ability.  I am not sure how they managed to make these games seem boring, but they certainly did.  All of that said I am completely amped to get my hands on Just Cause 3…  or that game that lets me blow everything up.  I got a see a little bit of game play on Twitch yesterday evening that showed them taking out bridges… and I could not be more enthralled.

The surprise of the year still is Microsoft in the fact that they presented me with what was an overall enjoyable conference after several years of being frustrated by their product offerings.  The problem being that last night during PC Gaming show they pretty much destroyed all interest I had in picking up an Xbox One, when they started announcing that several more previously Xbox exclusives would be coming to PC.  It seems as though I am going to finally get to play Gears of War in the new premastered form, and get my hands in the new Killer Instinct.  This makes me question even more of their previous “exclusivity” statements because it seems like they are treating Windows 10 and Xbox One as the same platform.  I guess in the grand scheme of things I am completely fine with this.  This lets me focus on a Gaming PC to get the Xbox exclusives and PS4 Console to get any remaining Sony exclusives.

Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5

tony-hawks-pro-skater Of all the games that I saw over the course of the last three days, the one that I am the most gleefully happy about is probably a surprising title.  I am so damned excited to see the return of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise to modern gaming, and yesterday I got to watch some game play on the twitch stream.  It looks and feels like a beautifie d version of the game I loved and remember spending so many hours playing in the original playstation, and later the playstation 2.  I cannot fully explain my love of this game, other than the fact that one upon a time I was a little skater punk kid.  While I never had the skill to do half of the things that you can do in THPS, I always wanted to carve and insane session out like my one time idols.  This is absolutely a guilty fantasy fulfillment experience for me, that allows someone who is relatively uncoordinated and has a shitty sense of balance to do insane grinds down every possible surface I can find.

Now Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD has been available on Steam for awhile now, and while I enjoy it quite a bit…  it is missing a lot of the reasons why I enjoyed the THPS series.  Firstly I loved the create a Skater mode that allowed me to essentially create a version of myself in the game and work my way through a “career mode”.  This feature thankfully has been confirmed to be in the new THPS5, as is the create a skate park feature that is also missing from HD.  Apparently there is going to be an in game market of sorts that will allow you to swap skate parks with folks online, greatly extending the replay ability of this title.  The negative is that it will initially release on the PS4 and Xbox One and then later on the other platforms including PC.  For me this is a simple decision since I played all the original Tony Hawk games on with a playstation controller in my hand, I have no problem picking this up for the PS4 which will also let me play it over my Vita.  Watching folks play this game, and seeing the new version of Warehouse and School 2… that has been renamed to School 3…  just put a massive cheesy grin on my face.

Shiva Down

ffxiv 2015-06-15 21-04-02-97

I had originally intended to write about this yesterday, but wound up with far too much to talk about on the E3 news front.  Monday night was our last raid night before the expansion lands Friday morning, and as such we focused on the two things that have been in our way for awhile now.  The first of which is the last of the extreme primal encounters, Shiva.  This fight is such a frustrating experience because it combines elements we are horrible at.  Namely our group is bad at doing the same dance over and over.  For example on Turn 9, everyone else does this method where they stack up and run as a group to drop the meteors.  However for us we simply do this thing we lovingly refer to as the “Benny Hill maneuver” where we just try and spread out around the edge of the room and move as the meteors drop.  Shiva combines elements of get away from everyone and stack the hell up in a way that ultimately ended up in many deaths along the way.

The worst of her mechanics is the bow attack, which she starts in phase two.  This fires arrows in a 270* arc from the front of her meaning that you have to be stacked tight on her ass to keep from getting hit.  What makes it worse however is that the normal damage dealt by bow to the tanks is truly insane.  Ashgar and I had to essentially cycle through cooldowns while in bow phase to have a shot in hell of staying alive.  On the attempt we defeated her, our strategy absolutely revolved around staying alive long enough to get a level three limit break… and then using that to resurrect the entire party and finish her off.  There is something so damned satisfying about the level three healer limit break, it is like a giant screw you to the boss when you can bring back your entire party.  It makes the whole experience seem like one of those insane Anime come from behind victories.  While we did not get much further in Turn 9, we did manage to take down the last of the Extreme primals so I can go into this expansion with a feeling of accomplishment.  Granted I know we will be fighting all of these extreme primals again partially for ponies and partially to get other guild members through the quests.  I feel like I am completely ready for Ishgard now, and I am going to have so much trouble sleeping tomorrow night.

E3 2015 Day Zero

Microsoft E3 2015

MinecraftHololens Yesterday was a huge day of E3 shows with Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony all strutting their stuff with big press conferences.  While I still stand by my statement yesterday, that Bethesda software is winning this E3, everyone involved had some interesting things to show off.  Mainly for me this is the year that Microsoft figured out how to do a relevant press conference.  The past two years since the announcement of the Xbox One have provided extremely awkward and disconnected moments, but for the most part Microsoft nailed it this time around.  They provided a wide scope of games to appeal to all genres, and while I don’t believe in their exclusivity after seeing titles appear on steam months later, I do feel like they are trying really hard to wrap up a large stable of winners as far as software goes.  The big title that I am interested in is the new Tomb Raider game, which makes me realize that I really need to finish the last Tomb Raider game.

I’ve never been a huge Halo fan , but even I have to admit that the Halo Guardians demo looked pretty amazing.  The title I was most amped about seeing again however was The Division, since we had not really seen much since the last E3.  It seems like now we have a pseudo release date and a beta beginning towards the end of this year.  My big concern was with the lackluster showing of Destiny so far, that this title might have simply quietly been cancelled.  Thankfully that is not the case, and we will be exploring a new action role-playing game setting early next year.  The video that takes the cake however for Microsoft is the Hololens demo showing off a special Hololens version of Minecraft.  The more I see of Hololens the more I think it is going to be a real force in gaming, and not just another gimmick hoping to find a Market.  Virtual Reality headsets extract you from the world, and Augmented Reality keeps you interactive with the world…  I think that is going to make a big difference.  The little I have played with the Occulus Rift was cool, but I suffered a pretty massive headache and was dizzy as hell as my mind tried to readjust to the “real world” after being in the unit for only around fifteen minutes.  I cannot imagine what it would be like after some of my marathon gaming sessions.

EA and UbiSoft E3 2015

As good as Microsoft did with their press conference, EA doubled that effort in the opposite direction.  The entire thing was this awkward and disjointed mess trying to play towards too many different demographics and just coming off as frustrating to I believe all of them.  The biggest frustration for me personally was the fact that this press conference was about one thing for me… getting to see the new Mass Effect game.  We got a minute and a half trailer…  and that was quite literally all we saw of Mass Effect.  Similarly with Mirrors Edge Catalyst… the game so many people have been amped to hear more news about…  we got a two minute trailer.  It seems that all EA actually cares about is peddling the new years edition of the same damned sports titles they have been selling for decades.  From what I can tell roughly an hour of the presentation was tied up in these sports titles with blips at the beginning and the end about something interesting.  I do have to say though that Star Wars Battlefront still looks amazing, however I have had that on preorder from the Playstation network since the Fan Fest announcement.  They didn’t really need to sell me on that title, but I am looking forward to it all the same.

UbiSoft on the other hand unleashed a whole bunch of interesting stuff.  We are apparently going to colonize the moon in Anno 2205, which looked amazing.  They are releasing a version of Trials Fusion where you apparently play a cat that rides a flame breathing unicorn.  We got to see even more staged footage of The Division, this time centering around the “Dark Zone”PVP area.  The game I never thought I would be interested in however was Ghost Recon Wildlands, which for all intents and purposes seems to be their answer to the Just Cause franchise.  Big open world game where you take on drug lords in whatever fashion you see fit.  It looks like it is going to be extremely fun in the same way that I lost serious amounts of time to Just Cause 2.  The real triumph of the show however is that Aisha Tyler is amazing, and I want her to host every press conference from this point on.  Additionally they brought out Angela Basset at one point, who is the absolute badass mocapped leader of the new Rainbow Six.  While there was not a whole lot that I was extremely interested in, it was nonetheless a good show or at least looked amazing as compared to the train wreck that was EA.

Sony E3 2015

ff7remake_cloud Finally we wrapped up the night of E3 events last night with the Sony Press conference, and honestly even hours afterwards I am not 100% sure how well it went.  They dropped some massive bomb shells on the crowd, but it only really plays to the folks who were already PS4 fans.  Ultimately the goal of an E3 press conference for both Microsoft and Sony is to sell hardware, and at the end of the day I end up with the same equation.  Most Xbox One exclusives also come out on the PC, and I own a fairly solid gaming PC.  Most PS4 exclusives don’t, and as a result that is the hardware I chose to buy.  This years game conference only serves to give me more reasons to be happy with my decision.  The show lead off with finally giving a date to a game many had just expected got cancelled…  The Last Guardian.  This game was originally slotted for the PS3, and it was questionable if it had survived the generation hop.  The big reveal of the night however is that Final Fantasy 7 is in fact getting a Remake.  It was glorious to see at least glimpses of Cloud and Barret as they moved past the camera in all their ps4 glory.

18225727733_fb611b7f50_z The title that both came from out of nowhere and stole the show for me however was Horizon Zero Dawn from Guerilla games.  This apparently ushers in a brand new breed of post apocalyptic storytelling, that manages to do so without weaving in a zombie premise.  We live in what seems like a Clan of the Cave Bear like setting, until we see the first giant robot roaming the landscape.  This is Turok the Dinosaur hunter, meets Last of Us, meets Zoids.  We get to see the female bow hunter protagonist take down a giant robot t-rex like creature.  As Tam commented during the stream, we have apparently gotten really good at making fighting giant monsters seem awesome.  Had I not already purchased a PS4, this would have been the title that sold me the console.  I am really hoping this ends up being a vast open world landscape that lets us wander around and explore, hunting the big game and unfolding what happened during “the darkness” that lead to the machines roaming the earth.  There were of course other titles announced that looked great, and that I will likely play, however at six in the morning… the day after the show…  the Sony conference was all about FF7 and Horizon for me.  You can check out the full show trailer below.

Bethesda Just Won E3

It is nights like last night that make me realize I am wired just a little bit weird.  Last night while the world seemingly was watching the season finale of Game of Thrones, I was tuned into the E3 2015 festivities over YouTube and eventually twitch.  It started early in the evening with the 2015 Nintendo World Championships, and concluded later with the phenomenal Bethesda Softworks showcase.  E3 is this miraculous time of bottled hope, that seems to pump up the heart of a gamer about what might be or at least what could be.  If you did not have a chance to watch it, I highly suggest you check out the Nintendo Championships.  It was equal parts charming, and thrilling… and when we finally got to the heads up match between the last two contestants I have to say I was literally tense for them.  The hoops that they were asked to jump through were just silly, and in the proud tradition of the Nintendo Championship… they were in fact forced to play a “game” they had never seen before.

Doom 4

doom_e3_2015_6_Unwilling_Caco The real excitement however started when the Bethesda showcase began.  When a game company shows off its wares at one of these shows, it is a rarity that there are so many different titles that I care about coming from the same place.  Doom will always hold a special place in my heart, because in theory it was the game that really sold me on the power of PC gaming.  I remember my parents getting so damned frustrated with me for tying up the phone lines as I dialed into a friends computer to play the game cooperatively.  I remember spending hundreds of hours creating my own levels and imagining what my own version of the game might bring.  I devotedly played the derivatives like Heretic and the oddball narrative spinoffs like Strife, because I literally could not get enough of the game.  The problem being that with Doom there also comes a lot of disappointment, and strange decisions like that god awful movie.

The problem is that ID Software for whatever reason lost its way.  The last Doom game shipped in August of 2004 and we have had to endure a decade of waiting.  There was this period of time where ID seemed to forget what made its games great in the first place, as it curiously focused instead on building more complex engines…  than creating interesting games.  That wait however is apparently nearing its end, because last night we got to see Doom 4 in all its glory, and I weep at the system I will need to have to play it in all its glory.  The game play I saw was this gorgeous carnal ballet of demons and zombies erupting into red volcanoes of gore and blood on the screen.  It seemed to capture everything that made Doom amazing, and strutted its stuff with a level of technical detail that I am just floored by.  What makes me even happier is it seems this time they did not forget that it was ultimately multiplayer that made the Doom franchise famous.  They showed off this awesome new tech that will maybe once again make level creation simple enough that anyone can pick up the map builder and start making awesome things.  The builder also seems to support the creation of game play modes themselves, so I am really hoping that we once again start to see some innovation from the community in moving the FPS genre forward.

Dishonored II

dishonored-the-brigmore-witches-wallpaper-2 If Doom was not enough, moments later the folks from Arkane Studios took the stage to talk about the leaked announcement of Dishonored 2.  Dishonored holds a special place in my heart because it is in theory a “stealth” game that I actually loved playing.  Granted this is because it allows you to play the game in a way that takes all sneaking about and stealth game play out of the mix.  The awesome thing is, it apparently also plays extremely enjoyably for the folks who do want to stealth about and have a zero body count.  It is one of the few games that both myself and Tamriello raved about when it was released, so quite honestly I was going to snatch up whatever game came from them next regardless of its hype.  All of that said it looks like the continuation of the original Dishonored game is going to be amazing.  One of the most interesting features of the first game is the interaction of the character Corvo Attano and his “charge” Emily Kaldwin.  As you play through the game, your actions effect the upbringing of Emily.  If you play the part of a bloodless hero she focuses on the good things in life, or if you are like me and go for 100% bodycount… she focuses on the death, destruction and carnage.

In Dishonored II the trailer shows us that dear Emily has apparently followed in your footsteps and takes up the role of righting wrongs at the point of a sword.  Ubisoft really needs to watch what Arkane is doing because they are fucking nailing it.  They are giving us both an awesome and interesting male lead, but an equally interesting female lead.  To make things even better it seems that they are apparently not just carbon copies of each other.  Both Emily and Corvo will have unique abilities and game play styles that will cause you to approach the level design slightly differently.  In theory this means that you have at least two fresh play through of the game, and four if you are trying to get a bloodless victory on each and a full body count victory as well.  Personally I am likely going to play through twice because there is no way I can somehow stomach playing through this game in a full on stealth fashion.  If my actions in the last game “raised”Emily… I would not want to meet her in a dark alley, because I am certain “my” Emily would be a brutal and heartless killing machine.

Fallout 4

fallout4tractor If all of the above was not awesome enough…  we all were waiting anxiously for more tidbits of news about the latest game in the Fallout franchise.  The Fallout fans out there were absolutely not disappointed, as the floodgates opened with information about the new game.  This game is apparently set in Boston as has been long rumored, and for the first time we get to see the world “before the bomb”.  They showed a few minutes of the character creation segment of the game, and the events leading up to being forced to go into Vault 111.  I am really happy with the way they are doing this, but one of the confusing parts about the demo was that people seemed to be excited that you can create a female Vault Dweller.  Far as I remember you have always been able to choose to create a female vault dweller, or at the very least you have been able to since the birth of the modern Fallout series with 3.  That confusion aside the new system looks great and I should be able to create a Vault Dweller I am happy with.  The world out there to explore looked phenomenal, and I got flashbacks to the moment I set foot of the vault into the Washington wasteland for the first time.

fallout4modweapons What was even more amazing however is when they started going into the systems.  Apparently this time around we are going to be able to fully mod out our weapons and our armor to create brand new items that don’t exist out in the world.  Each component is modular and changes the function of the items they are attached to, and while they spent a lot of time creating brutal versions of Laser and Plasma rifles…  all I could sit there and imagine were the awesome shotguns I would ultimately create.  This was not all of the awesome however, in that they showed this amazing modular housing system that was like the next version of what was made possible with the Skyrim Hearthfire system.  In the trailer they showed these insane bases that they had built using the system allowing us to essentially create our very own “Megaton”.  This is playing down my alley because I always spend so much time kitting out my player housing in the Fallout games, because it allows me to have a place to be a packrat.  After showing all of this goodness, to have me salivating… they did the ultimate mic drop.  Apparently this is all going to be available this November 10th.  I should probably give warning to everything that I know… because I will not be seen or heard from for at least a month.

Missing the Point

Now is where I am going to diverge from the full on “fanboyism” for a bit to comment on something I have seen said so many times.  I do not know who Fierydemise is, but the above comment was retweeted into my timeline.  I have no problem with this person, and my commentary isn’t really directed at them, but instead something I have seen for years.  When a traditional Bethesda “Fallout” or “Elder Scrolls” series game is released, there is a group of people that seem to go into them expecting a deeply tailored narrative experience.  Quite honestly if that is what you are looking for you might be missing the point.  These style of open world sandbox games are not really about being told a story, but instead giving you a launch pad and a creative engine for you to wander off and tell your own story through your interaction with the world.  I love them so much because they give me the freedom to enter a world without deep narrative shackles.  They don’t care one bit if I wander off in the opposite direction the in game indicator is telling me to go, and find my own experience out in the wasteland.

fallout4supermutant There are so many games out there that give you a very “on rails” narrative experience, and in each of them I try my damnedest to ignore it… and tell my own story.  I appreciate these games so much because I don’t have to ignore anything.  They give me little nuggets of story when I crave it, but also the insane hardcore explorer porn of going off and conquering an uncertain world.  It has been said that these games sacrifice fidelity for freedom of exploration, and I am completely fine with that.  I guess for me maybe it comes from cutting my teeth playing games in an era essentially “before stories”.  It also helps that I am far more combat drive in a game than story driven, and often times finding myself frustrated when getting bogged down in a series of cut scenes.  There have been so many times when I have waited for games to “open up” and let me “do my own thing”.  With Bethesda titles, I know the moment the character creation is over… that they are going to let me off my leash to go bounding madly into the distance and cause havoc.  These games are designed specifically for me, and people like me… and please don’t try and shackle them with deep narrative.