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  I have to say that when I originally made my statement that Bethesda had won E3, I was doing so with an over exaggerated amount of hyperbole.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.

Developer Appreciation Week 2015 – Part 1

A few days ago my good friend Rowanblaze tagged me in his post about Developer Appreciation Week 2015.  To the best of my knowledge this event was actually started by Scarybooster, but I cannot for the life of me remember if I actually got a post in while it was going on.  If not then this is something I absolutely need to remedy.  This morning as a result my post is going to be a little contorted but I really enjoyed the format from Ravanel of Ravalation… so I am rolling with that.  Thus begins my super contorted and rambling Developer Appreciation Week post.

Funcom Games – The Secret World Team

TheSecretWorld 2013-06-04 06-15-22-12 This game is absolutely phenomenal.  I was lucky enough to get on board early and do one of the lifetime subscriptions and I have to say I have never once questioned that investment.  Knowing that it is always waiting there for me to return to the world of the Templars and the Illuminati…  makes me happy inside.  While there are a lot of interesting things about the game, the part that always floors me is just how well written the quests are in this game, and how well the whole cinematic feel of them works.  I greatly prefer silent protagonist games, because they allow me to substitute my own inner dialog into the scenes.  What is awesome about TSW is they manage to do this is a way so that the silence feels like an answer.  I desperately need to poke my head back in and try out the new combat changes, because the nightmare level content was ultimately what crushed the hopes of my group.  From what I hear a lot of these rough spots have been ironed out.

Square Enix – Final Fantasy XIV Team

ffxiv 2015-03-28 20-48-43-91 I am constantly amazed at just how damned good this game really is.  Every detail of the game has a loving care applied to it.  Once again it is the storyline that first sold me on the game.  It gave me a series of characters that felt like my party in a traditional Final Fantasy game… and then made me care about each and every one of them..  yes even Thancred.  What has kept me coming back however is just how good their content is, and how frequent their updates are.  I’ve heard that the team is only around fifteen people…  and that they are doing both the live patches and expansion development at the same time.  I am floored that they can manage to crank out a new patch every month, and major patch every few months…  all the while working on a brand new expansion?  The way they manage to make content remain relevant to the players is pure magic, because I really enjoy running low level content with friends… and making it feel like it matters again.  Last night they patched in the 2.55 content… and I am completely amped to log in and play it.

Turbine – Lord of the Rings Online Team

ScreenShot00004 If there was a list of games that I wish I played more of, Lord of the Rings Online would be near the top.  There is so much for me to enjoy in the game, even not factoring in the fact that I love the franchise behind it.  The gameplay is a bit of a throwback to an earlier era, and more than anything it has always reminded me a bit of a modern updated Dark Age of Camelot.  That said the part that has always stood out for me is just how well they have managed to create the world of Middle Earth…  everything is how I had imagined it while reading the novels.  There are so many moments like the above picture where I reach some fabled destination and I have to just stop and sit in awe that I am in this or that place.  Another strange thing that I love about this game are the horses.  They have the absolute best horse movement of any game.  As you are moving around the horse feels right, which adds so much to the feeling that you are in a living breathing world… and not just a themepark.

Trion Worlds – Rift Team

rift 2013-06-24 21-10-59-03 This was the game that finally came along and successfully dislodged me after playing seven years of World of Warcraft, and that in itself is no small feat.  What makes me love the game however is its class system.  I love being able to mix and match bits and pieces of class trees to make something unique that does exactly what I want it to do.  Especially from a tanking front, this game will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first game to give me both charge and deathgrip in the same build.  The raid content was absolutely insane, and I greatly enjoyed the times I was able to experience it.  This is one of those games that I boot up every few weeks to poke my head in, especially now that it is free to play.  I’ve spent a lot of its four year history with an active subscription, and there is just something about the world that keeps me coming back.  With the impending release of the new Wardrobe system I am looking forward to popping back in and playing some more.  Trion was the first team to make me believe that a company could keep a monthly content release schedule, and through it all they have created some very impressive work.

SOE/Daybreak – Everquest II Team

EQ2_000009 Everquest II for me is a tale of the path not taken.  With EQ2 and WoW releasing at the same time, some of my friends went to EQ2, and I and the majority of my friends went to WoW.  That said this has been one of those games that I keep coming back to so that I can re-experience this ball of nostalgia that is Norrath.  This game has hands down the best world building of any game on the market.  I love the world of Norrath 2.0 with all its detail and quirkyness.  Sure it is not exactly how I remember it from the original Everquest, but that is part of the charm for me.  Every now and then you will be knee deep in a dungeon, and you will see some little call back that makes you realize “oh my god this is that place” that you recall from your memory, changed over time and presented in so much higher fidelity.  While I have issues with the combat system and likely always will… this is a game that I cannot seem to keep myself away from for long.  Even today EQ2 is a sort of comfort food for me… where I will hang out inside and vege out on the couch dusting off my Shadow Knight and exploring Norrath with new eyes.

To Be Continued…

I feel like I have so many developers that I want to show my appreciation for…  that I had to break these up into multiple posts.  Tune in tomorrow as I talk about several more developers.  Hopefully this will cause your own upwelling of nostalgia and end up with you posting your own thoughts in blog form.  If you don’t have a blog, feel free to use my comment space for that same mission.  There is so much negativity out there, that I believe completely in this notion of the Developer Appreciation Week.  Reach out and show your appreciation to those games you love.