E3 2017 Wrap Up – Games and such

I don’t think I’ll ever go to E3 in person, and that’s just fine by me.

I’ve never been to E3, and I doubt I ever will. That’s mostly because it looks like there are far, far too many people in a big, hot hall. I’m more than content to read about and watch the games in comfort, and not have to go near crowds of humans who may be infected with a dormant form of the zombie plague.

So here are a few thoughts on the bits and pieces from during the event.  I’m sticking to the games and tech mainly, and avoiding the god-awful, cringe worthy presentations.  Stop with the faux YouTuber nonsense!  Anyway, enjoy!

EA

EA Logo

Sports, innit!  Madden has a story mode now, just like most of EA’s other sports franchises.  FIFA will also have a continuation of its story mode, The Journey, which my wife will be fairly happy about.  There’s more content for Battlefield 1 coming, which I don’t really car about much.  Seems to be a lot of night time maps, so if you like that sort of thing then brilliant I suppose.  Need For Speed is back.  PAYBACK in fact.  It’ll have a story mode once again which is the one thing it has over Forza/Horizon.  It looks pretty but I’ve never really been interested in racers for their plots.  If the racing is good then I may take a look, but it seems to be full of scripted sequences which may break the flow of the racing.  I’ll keep an eye one it but I’m not holding my breath.

There’s Battlefront 2 on it’s way as well.  It looks pretty, and there’s a single player campaign now too.  Basically this looks like what the previous game should have been, but then we knew that already.  Then there’s A Way Out, which is the one thing here that actually grabbed me.  A co-op (only) prison escape action adventure.  THAT HAS LOCAL CO-OP!  That last bit alone is enough to interest me, but it looks gorgeous, is from a developer with a good history, and it seems to stand out somewhat from many games.

Verdict: Lots of “Meh” with a little bit of “Oh, now that’s interesting”.

Microsoft

Microsoft logo

Microsoft needed games, and I suppose they had some.  They also needed to show off the Scorpio (or Xbox One X as it’s now called) well, and I’m not so sure about that.  I suppose the new system is powerful, and the Forza 7 trailer certainly looked good running on it, but it’s not really a system seller, and that’s what was really missing.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Forza a lot, but I won’t be buying a new (expensive) machine especially for it.  The original Xbox backwards compatibility was a great thing to show people though!

Anyway, games aplenty here!  A new Metro game, named Exodus (which may be exclusive, I’m not too sure) has me interested.  Dark, scary, and very serious.  It’s a series I like and I’m glad it’s back.  Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, the battle royale style game, is a bit of a Twitch darling right now, and is heading to the console.  The Darwin Project seems to be in a similar vein but more light-hearted.  I’m not too fussed about either.  Skipping a few (seriously, there were a lot),  Dragonball Fighter Z looks fun, The Last Night and The Artful Escape have interesting art styles, Sea of Thieves is something I don’t care about, Cuphead still looks cool but really should get around to coming out and Crackdown 3 still exists.  There were a ton of other indie games, before getting to see Ashen, which seems to be trying to fill the void left by Dark SoulsOri is getting a sequel which is nice, and Shadow of War looks great too.  Then we got to see Anthem, which seems to be EA wanting to take on Destiny, which is pretty brave.  It does look good though!

Verdict:  Xbox One X is a thing now, too many games but very few system sellers.  Microsoft seem to be aiming at current users rather than new ones.

Bethesda

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This was about as safe as they get.  Bethesda took few risks, with VR versions of DOOM and Fallout 4, which will probably be pretty cool, and more Elder Scrolls.  We had Skyrim on Switch (again, and not looking brilliant if you ask me), and extra stuff for Elder Scrolls: Legends, their card game.  DLC for Dishonored 2 (honour has a ‘u’ in it!) is fine for fans of the series I’m sure, and a sequel to The Evil Within (which I didn’t like much) had a pretty great trailer.  Then we got the only bit I was really interested in, Wolfenstein 2, which looks pretty great.  The New Order was excellent so I’m hoping for more of that quality.

Verdict: Safe.  Very few risks here which is a little disappointing.

PC

XCOM 2 content!  Everything else can go home as far as I’m concerned, this wins.  It looks like a sizable expansion too, in the vein of Enemy Within.  Very excited!

I suppose I should mention other things too.  BattleTech seems to be coming along nicely, which is nice considering I backed it on Kickstarter.  Mount & Blade 2 and Total War: Warhammer 2 look fine too.  There were a few VR games too, but I’ll leave those to better qualified people to discuss.  Lawbreakers was mentioned too, offering some serious looking competition in the hero shooter genre.  Wargroove looks quite interesting, seeming to bring back the strategy of the classic Advance Wars.  I’m interested in this one.

Verdict: Go home everyone.  There’s more XCOM 2.  Life complete.

Ubisoft

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This one surprised me more.  I expected a lot of stuff we already knew, but there were a few unexpectedly interesting games.  So, forgetting about Assassin’s Creed: Origins having a trailer (that looks to be playing it safe with the series), Far Cry 5 still looking interesting, and the bizarre Mario/Rabbids crossover game, there were some cool announcements.  The Crew 2 exists (not interested), South Park has a release date (let’s hope it sticks this time), and Steep has some DLC (did that sell well enough).  Then there was Skull & Bones which is a pirate game!  Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag was great so I’m expecting a top pirate themed adventure here.  I know piracy is often frowned upon in gaming (ZING!), but I’m pretty excited by this.  Transference could be brilliant, terrible, or mad as a bag of cats.  It’s some something to do with VR I think?  There’s Elijah Wood in it which is…good?  Maybe?  It was bizarre enough to get my attention.

We had a game called Starlink, which seems to combine No Man’s Sky style space exploration, with the toys-to-life mechanics seen in Lego Dimensions and co, and an actual story.  I like space shooters so I’ll keep an eye on this one.  Then the one that people have been clamouring for for years: Beyond Good & Evil 2.  It’s been so long since the original that I’m not sure if I’m interested anymore.  Also, it’s a prequel so that trailer from years ago will still go unresolved.  Still, the trailer looks pretty cool so here’s hoping the franchise can finally be resurrected successfully.

Verdict:  Better than I expected!

Sony

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A problem I had here, was just seeing more trailers for games that had had trailers last year.  Spider-Man, God of War 4, Detroit, Days Gone, and so forth had been shown before.  I think this is a problem with E3 generally, showing games way too early leaving me to burn out on them before they get close to release.  Anyway, enough of that.  Gran Turismo is back, which is great although it will need to do well to compete with Forza for my racing attention!  Crash Bandicoot wasn’t really a surprise, but it’s nice to see.  Knack 2 is a thing that exists.  Hidden Agenda looks interesting, from the people behind Until Dawn.  It seems to a similar choice based progression but with multiple players using their phones to progress and interact with the game.  I like the look of this!  Superhot VR is a nice thing to have on the console, but I was very happy to see Undertale on a console.  Such a tremendous game deserves to be played by as many people as possible.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy had a trailer appearance and looks good (I’m not that into the series though).  A console based Monster Hunter game is a great thing to see.  It feels right at home on a big screen.  I’ll probably pick this one up.  Speaking of ones to buy, Shadow of the Colossus is getting a PS4 remaster (or remake?) which means I may finally get to play this classic that I missed out on.  Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite got a story trailer (and a good one at that), but I’d like to see some gameplay in it.  Call of Duty WWII had a trailer too and very much looks like a Call of Duty game.  I think everyone knows what to expect here.  We got some Destiny 2 as well, which is fine if you’re interested in the series.  I don’t think it’s going to sway me though.

Verdict: A lot of what we’d already seen, but some pretty good stuff all the same.

Nintendo

Nintendo Logo

I haven’t been big on Nintendo for while now.  I feel for every innovation they push, they make 2 boneheaded moves that ignore modern innovations.  Still, the Switch seems to have done well for them!  Most of their stuff gets shown in the Nintendo Direct stuff they do, but they had some nice presentations here.  Xenoblade Chrinicles 2 looks fantastic, pity I haven’t played the series at all.  A new Kirby game is nice, but I suspect a lot of people were very excited to see Metroid Prime 4.  Whilst it’s only a logo for now, it’s a great series to try to bring back.  I think I’d have rather they try to create a new Metroid series, but Prime was an excellent trilogy so I understand their thinking.  Yoshi.  Yay.  Fire Emblem Warriors.  Also yay.

Rocket League is coming to the Switch which is nice.  It has cross play too which makes a lot of sense in this era.  Throwing in Nintendo items is a smart move.  Then, there’s Mario Odyssey.  Damn that trailer is good.  Suitable song, fun looking gameplay (I want to possess a koopa!) and frankly stunning visuals.  This and Breath of the Wild are pushing me towards buying a Switch.

Verdict: Nintendo forever relying on their established franchises.  Still, what they have looks pretty good.

So what did you like most from the show?  Would you rather go there in person?  Let me know!

 

Deathtrap – A free game that I paid money for…

Deathtrap is this month’s free game on Xbox Live’s Games with Gold promotion!  Which would be fine if I hadn’t bought it on Stream a couple of months prior.  Annoying, but at least I bought it in the Steam sale for next to no money.  Anyway, this is supposedly set in the same universe as the Van Helsing games.  Which I have not played, so don’t expect me to explain any of the plot (what there is of it) beyond a perfunctory nod to monsters in chaos gates or somesuch.

Deathtrap Monsters
Standard machine gun turret shoots standard monster.

Tower defence games are everywhere.  On PC, consoles, phones.  You could probably play one on a potato if you were inclined to (I’m not).  Whilst there are some good ones, not many of them really do much different save for the towers doing damage in slightly odd ways.  A few have tried to shake up the formula by allowing you to control a hero character who can fight alongside the towers.  Deathtrap is one of these.  You create a character using one of three classes which fall into the standard archetypes of warrior, rogue and mage before marching off to build traps and fight monsters!  Hurrah!

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This is the world map where you choose levels, spend gold and distribute points.

The story appears to be that we are soldiers sent to defend the portals to the real world from demons coming through chaos gates.  Or something along those lines.  The plot is fairly meaningless in this game really.  The gameplay breaks down to building traps and killing monsters.  Killing monsters earns essence which is spent on building and upgrading traps in preset locations to kill more monsters as they travel along their paths to the exit.  If they reach the exit, you lose one or more of your 20 lives.  If you’ve ever played a tower defence game, you know exactly what to expect.  Your character has a weapon and abilities to fend off monsters and power up your towers.  If you die, you will also lose a life before reappearing a moment later to continue the battle.

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Large enemies seem to be designed solely as bullet sponges, although some have interesting abilities.

Completing levels earns you points to add buffs to your traps and character abilities.  You don’t earn a huge number of points here, so it pays to specialise in a style that suits you.  You can always use gold to respec if needed.  As well as points to spend, you will also collect items and weapons at the end of each level which your hero can equip.  Weapons, armour, rings and the usual array of equipment you’d expect in most RPGs can be found (or purchased between levels).

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Some traps will summon minions to fight for you.

And that’s about it.  There isn’t really anything that stands out here.  There’s a co-op mode which is nice and can make the harder challenges more manageable, and there are the usual endless modes and difficulty modifiers.  But there’s nothing here that makes this stand out from the crowd.  Worse, the game isn’t really all that polished, with pathfinding glitches and graphical errors being quite noticeable throughout.  I could forgive those if the game itself was something special, but it’s just so ordinary.  Even the traps are standard, with fire traps, ice towers and machine gun turrets.  Some spawn monsters to fight for you which is nice, and powering towers up between stages could be fun if the upgrades were more interesting than “Trap will cost 1 less essence to build”.  In gaming, there is really not much worse than being a boring game.

Deathtrap Skills
One of the point distribution screens for leveling up your abilities. These are the mage skills.

The enemies you face are fairly standard, fitting into the gothic monster style you would expect.  You have your zombies, flying creatures, some steampunk clockwork robots.  The designs are interesting enough, but most are either hordes or bullet sponges.  Some of the boss creatures are more interesting, having special effects such as healing when minions die, or disabling your towers.  Some are very aggressive and can take you out fairly quickly, so wading into battle is rarely a good move, meaning leaving your traps to do the work whilst you pick off the stragglers or use abilities to slow or weaken stronger monsters is the best course of action.  Again though, the monsters don’t really stand out, and by the 10th level you’ll have seen most of what the game has in terms of enemies, and if you’ve played a game of this style before you’ll have probably seen them anyway.

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Bigger enemies tend to cause you to lose more lives if they reach the exit.

A nice addition though, is the level creator which does exactly as you’d expect.  There’s quite a few community made levels for you to have a go at, or use to grind achievements if that’s something that takes your fancy.  Whilst this isn’t the first game in the genre to have a level creation utility, it’s always a nice feature to have, especially when it’s user friendly.

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The pentagram on the ground acts as a way to teleport around the level allowing you to quickly move to where the action is.

Deathtrap is developed and published by Neocore Games.  I played the game on PC and I really wouldn’t recommend this one.  Even for free, it would be you spending your time on something that just isn’t that good.  Maybe if you’re a fan of the Van Helsing game series you could get something out of this, but otherwise, I wouldn’t bother.  It’s possible that the Xbox One version has cleaned the game up a little, and maybe added more features.  I’m sure you’ll forgive me for not wanting to put more time into it though.

Renegade Ops – I wish it was Renegade STOPS! *sigh*

Sega are absolutely mental most of the time.  I think this is established by now isn’t it?  From Blast Processing to Sonic being part hedgehog part werewolf to Shadow the EDGEhog.  They published Typing of the Dead: Overkill, park zombie game, part typing tutor.  Have you seen the official Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter account?  It’s glorious.  And terrifying.  I don’t care if it’s associated directly with Sega or not, the company clearly allows this to happen.

Sonic is insane
Look at this tweet. LOOK AT IT!

Anyway, a little while ago they gave away a big load of free games to anyone who would take them on Steam.  Some were actually good, like Golden Axe and Gunstar Heroes.  Even Hell Yeah! wasn’t that bad.  Then there was Renegade Ops, a game that I’m sure was meant to be a parody of or homage to 80s action films.  But here’s the thing, 80s action films were mostly about fun.  This is all about being bored and slogging through it because I don’t want to add another damn game to my list of shame.  So you get to pick a character and follow the commands of Macho McBeardman who wants to stop a terrorist with a nuke named Inferno and he’ll do it by any mean necessary!  So long as those means involve driving a car around following an arrow until you blow up the thing it’s pointing at.  I know I shouldn’t expect much in the way of story, so I’ll let that slide because it’s going for the silly vibe, but that’s about as much praise as this game’s getting.

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Just some of the high quality banter you can expect.

The game boils down to you driving around the map to different targets, which need to either be destroyed, driven into, or collected.  For the first half an hour it’s fairly good fun, as the Avalanche engine (of Just Cause 2 fame) does a good job of letting you blow up nearly everything.  But before long you realise that you’re doing the same thing over and over again.  It’s a small mercy that the game is only 4 hours or so long.  The game plays like a twin stick shooter, but as you’re in a car you can’t just turn instantly around due to your turning circle.  This makes sense, but does occasionally lead to you getting stuck on the scenery which is a huge pain, often leading to losing a life.

Renegade ops vehicles
Sadly, I’m not the awesome looking tank, I’m the tiny truck next to it that you can barely see…

Having lives is something of a saving grace until the super secret hidden time limit kicks in!  Yes, you have a time limit, but you won’t be told what it is until you’re about to run out.  No number of lives can save you here, if you run out of time it’s back to the start!  Enjoy rolling through another 20 plus minutes to get back to where you were.  I suppose traveling around the environments would be enjoyable if they were different and interesting to look at, but after the first stage showcasing desert, forests and water, get ready for grey tracks, grey concrete and grey metal to drive your grey truck on.  Dull.  On the plus side, the different characters (including Gordon Freeman!) are all unique, with their own vehicle, special ability, and skill tree to unlock as you suffer play through.  You’ll want to stick to the same one throughout your game though, as you’ll probably need those skill unlocks to stand a chance later on.

Renegade ops grey
How about some grey…but at night!

Now here’s your final positive.  There’s 4 player online co-op, which can actually be pretty fun, albeit messy.  There is so much going on when all the players together in the same area that it can be hard to see what’s going on, but it can have moments of entertainment here.  The real problem with this game is that the developers seem to have taken the idea of Just Cause 2, which was enjoyable and over the top as a third person action game, removed the fun movement system and the beautiful world to explore and replaced it with a dull world and a bunch of cars.  Cars can be fun!  But this isn’t.

Renegade ops boring grey
This time there’s some grey inside! At least the power ups are colourful.

Renegade Ops was developed by Avalanche Studios and published by Sega.  I played the game on PC (via Steam) and I don’t recommend you try this.  It’s barely worth it in co-op. But your time is worth something to you surely!  I don’t care how free this game seems to be, don’t waste it.

Formula Fusion – Plus you can win a free copy of it!

The anti-gravity racing genre has been MIA for a long time.  The success of games like Wipeout and F-Zero seem like a distant memory these days.  The only recent entry is Fast Racing Neo, a pretty good Wii U exclusive.  Thankfully the people at R8 Games are looking to bring the insane speeds and tight turns of the genre to the PC, and they’ve been kind enough to send me a preview copy along with 2 free codes to give away to you fine people!

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These screenshots don’t do justice to just how fast this racer is.

Formula Fusion is currently in Early Access on Steam, which can be beneficial in some cases.  Darkest Dungeon and Starbound are two games recently released from Early Access and are excellent.  I this this will be the case for Formula Fusion as well.  As it stands, the game is limited to single races, practice and multiplayer with 4 tracks and 3 vehicles.  However, from these modes and choices it’s clear that a very good base has been created.  The vehicles are very fast and responsive, the tracks varied and interesting to look at (if you can find a split second to!) and the future plans for the game show a good development schedule.  So far R8 have been releasing monthly updates including new features, vehicles and tracks and plan on continuing to do so right up until the game’s final release.

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The tracks look gorgeous with lots of little details.

Future plans include multiple campaign modes, involving different teams, researching weapons and upgrading your ship.  You’ll be approached by agents who will sign you to teams who will specialise in different aspects of racing.  The racing itself is really rather good.  I found it played best using a controller, with A handling acceleration, X for weapons and the L and R triggers to activate an air brake on each side of your ship.  The air breaks work well, allowing you to drift around corners once you have a good idea of the track layout.  At the moment the tutorial is fairly lacking, giving you very little information and I discovered how these worked more through trial and error.  Hopefully there will be a full tutorial closer to the final release.  However, once you get to grips with it, the sensation of speed is fantastic, especially when using a high end, upgraded ship.

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In spite of being work in progress, the racing feels quite polished at this stage.

The game runs pretty well, even on my 4-year-old laptop, although I had to turn the graphics down a little to maintain a good framerate (No surprise considering the age of the system I’m using).  I would think anything approaching a modern system will run this without too much trouble, even though it looks gorgeous.

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Power ups on the track give you weapons and recharge your shields whilst boots pads will give you a burst of speed.

The menus right now need some work.  They don’t navigate too well, and upgrading your ship can be a little tricky if you’re using mouse controls.  A controller helps here, but hopefully it will be tidied up over time.  The menu isn’t why you’re playing the game though.  The racing is, and as it stands that aspect is pretty great.  If the developers stick to their plan, there should be an excellent racing game released from this, and I’m looking forward to see how it develops.  The team are very community friendly and are keeping players and prospective players up to date with news as it develops.  A lot of Early Access developers could learn from this approach.

Now, if you’d like a copy of this for free (it’s currently £15 on Steam, but I believe it will be rising to £30 on release), leave a comment below telling me just what colour you want your fancy ship to be, give it a re-tweet and follow on Twitter (@robcovell), or a share on Facebook to be in with a chance of winning one of two free copies.  This is running from August 7th 6PM BST until August 14th 6PM BST.  I’ll let winners know once the draw is made.  Good luck!

Danganronpa – Teddy Bear Murder School

I’d never really considered visual novels as a genre of games I’d be particularly interested in.  I felt like there wouldn’t be much actual ‘game’ there (whatever that means).  But this one caught my attention when it turned up on Steam.  Yes, I realise it has been around on PSP for years, but I wasn’t one of the 8 people that bought one of those.  Anyway, a mystery investigation game with rhythm action and hangman elements sounded just a little bit too interesting to pass up.  Also murderous teddy bears.  Japan makes some weird games.

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Evil teddy bear.  Yep.

Without spoiling too much, the premise is that you wake up trapped in a school with a number of other students.  You’re quickly told by Monokuma, the evil teddy bear, that if you can murder someone and get away with it, then you’ll be free to leave whilst everyone else will be executed.  If you are caught out though, you will be executed.  The different characters are very colourful with their own distinct personalities and quirks.  This can make identifying the killer tricky at times once the murders start flying.    Once a murder occurs, you’ll spend time investigating the crime scene and related locations, interviewing the other students and gathering information.  Once you’re done, a trial takes place in which you have to piece together the evidence to find the killer.

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The students range from great writers to bike gang leaders.  All are interesting and well fleshed out, although some do slip a bit far into stereotype territory.

In reality, you’re guided through the trials by the other students.  You need to think through your evidence and find something to disprove statements a bit like in Phoenix Wright, but there aren’t that many to work through at any one time.  You can fail, but if you’re paying attention you’ll probably do alright.  Occasionally it’s not too clear what piece of evidence you’re supposed to use, even though you know what you’re disproving which can be a bit annoying as you’re forced into explaining things in the exact way the game wants.  When this happens you feel less like an investigator and more like a dog jumping through hoops.  Sometimes you’ll have to complete a hangman puzzle or a bizarre rhythm action game involving shooting statements in time to a beat.  These sections are the weakest part of the game in my opinion and the rhythm action section doesn’t seem to fit too well into the theme.

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Each case is distinct from the others, with their own twists and attempts to misdirect you.

The cases will drive you forward in the overall plot as to why you’re even in the school in the first place, and why there’s a teddy telling you to murder each other.  It’s engaging and I found myself wanting to find out what was going on.  I feel like the game was very linear though.  I’m not too familiar with visual novels, but I was hoping for multiple endings or different routes through the game, with differing survivors.  It’s still very good as it is, but I don’t feel there’s much replay value after having finished it.

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Why hello friendly lady!

Danganronpa was developed and published by Spike Chunsoft (although Abstraction Games dealt with the PC port).  I played the game on PC and would recommend it if you’re looking for a good story without too much challenge.

5 Games That Could Do With A Sequel

There are a lot of games that really overdo it when it comes to sequels.  Studios and publishers hit onto a winning formula and then flog it to death year on year (I’m looking at you Assassin’s Creed!) until people are sick of it.  Then there are those other games, the ones that were great fun but may have been a little too niche to be a massive commercial success.  The games that had great ideas and stories but never garnered enough attention to warrant a follow up.  So much wasted potential…

Rules!  These are games that were the only one in their series at the time of writing (not including spin offs) and I have to have played them.  Games that are rumoured to have sequels on the way do not have sequels and so can be included.  Finally, these are my opinions only, if I didn’t include one that you would, either I didn’t play it or I don’t agree.  On with the games!

Skies of Arcadia

skiesofarcadia_logoSkies of Arcadia from Sega came out on the Dreamcast in 2000 (There was a rerelease on Gamecube in 2002 as well).  This was an era full of fantasy based JRPGs and I think a lot of people saw this one as just another one trying to get in on the Final Fantasy crowd.  But this was different.  Skies of Arcadia was a sky pirate adventure RPG with a huge world to explore.  Whilst it did have the usual JRPG features such as exploring ancient temples and those damned random battles, it did plenty different.  You could go pretty much anywhere fairly early on once you get access to your pirate ship.  Some areas were locked off for story purposes but you had a lot of scope pretty much from the get go.

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Also, ship vs. ship battles!  Whilst the mechanics weren’t hugely different to a normal battle, a 1 v 1 fight between ships was a great sight.  The special abilities look really good from harpooning enemy vessels to charging up a laser cannon powered by moonstones.  The world was really engaging with plenty to find.  In fact, a side quest has you exploring the world and making discoveries before your rival can over the course of the whole game.  The story is fairly standard JRPG save-the-world fare, but the world was   The world is really why I feel this deserves a sequel.  The story was wrapped up nicely by the end but there was a really interesting universe to explore.  It could follow a new group of adventurers, or a different region of the world.  It’s a shame there won’t be a chance to explore more of this world.

Vanquish

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My experience of Platinum Games has been nothing but good.  Bayonetta, Anarchy Reigns, Transformers: Devastation…and Vanquish.  Platinum are really better known for their melee action games in a similar vein to Devil May Cry & co., but this was a shooter more akin to Gears of War.  Gears of War on amphetamines.  This is a third person cover based shooter turned up to 11.  Rocket packs let you knee slide around at enormous speeds before dropping into slow mo to blow up a bunch of robots who are distracted by a cigarette that you flicked ahead of you half a second earlier.  Because you’re such a bad ass.

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Major enemies are HUGE in scale, firing away with thousands of missiles and physical attacks at once.  They’re like hyper speed Dark Souls bosses.  The plot is pretty uninteresting in my opinion, being just standard space marine nonsense.  But that’s not why you play this, it’s blisteringly fast paced fun that it knows exactly how insane it is.  Too many cover based shooters these days are about big burly soldiers in two metric tons of armour, slowly battling through enemies.  I’d love to see more games like Vanquish and would dearly love to see a sequel.

Bloodborne

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I’m a massive fan of From Software’s Souls series.  I’m also a fan of Lovecraftian horror.  Put these two things together and you get Bloodborne, a game that is nearer to perfect as pretty much any game I’ve played. The story, whilst obscure, is fascinating once you delve into it, the combat is intense yet perfectly tuned to test you throughout the whole game, and the art design is wonderful, packed full of varied environments and grotesque enemies.

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Just looking through my screenshots of my playthrough made me want to start again to experience its adventure once more.  I really can’t overstate how much I enjoyed this game, from it’s top notch graphics and sound to it’s tough as nails boss encounters.  I don’t know how a sequel would work in terms of plot, but another adventure in its world is something I’d deeply enjoy.

Alan Wake

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This.  This is the big one for me.  In spite of its spin off (American Nightmare) there is still a huge amount of story here that’s still crying out to be explored.  Alan and his wife take a trip to Bright Falls (which might as well be called Twin Peaks) which leads to Alan’s wife seemingly being kidnapped.  From here, it seems that what Alan writes comes to pass, leading to some very interesting (and well foreshadowed) set pieces.  This game is absolutely dripping with atmosphere thanks to great visual and sound design.

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The gameplay involves the use of light to protect yourself (as well as attack) the darkness.  It’s very intense for a lot of the game (especially on Nightmare difficulty), but the combat does become a little samey towards the end.  There’s also some slightly dodgy platforming from time to time.  I’m still eager for a sequel to this in spite of these flaws, mostly due to the strength of the story.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

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A little earlier, I mentioned Platinum Games and how I’ve not really had a bad experience with their games and I neglected to mention this utter gem.  Now within the rules I feel I can include this one as even though it’s part of the Metal Gear universe, it is entirely it’s own game.  This is such a major departure from Metal Gear Solid.  You play as Raiden, a cyborg ninja with a cyborg dog buddy fighting robots with a samurai sword.  You can use slow motion at various points to carefully aim where to swing your sword to slice enemies into pieces, a skill that’s used very effectively during boss fights.  The story is totally bonkers, because this is involved in Metal Gear, so I had no idea what was going on.  The gameplay though, is a perfect blend of defending, parrying, and attacking at the right time.  It can be rather challenging at times, but it never feels unfair.

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The soundtrack fits the game perfectly, lots of crazy guitars and angry vocals.  I once heard it described as music that, when combined with the gameplay, makes you feel like to could suplex a planet.  I’m not sure if that’s high praise or not, but it’s pretty damn accurate.  This is another game that feels like it was more interested in being a really polished, fun experience rather than something designed to grab as many sales as possible.  That coupled with Konami being Konami (and Konami is the worst) means we’re unlikely to ever see a sequel to this, which is a damn shame to my mind.

Special mentions

Some games that I wanted to include but couldn’t for various reasons.  Call of C’thulhu (I’m not sure how well it’d work in a modern context), Power Stone 2 (already a sequel, I know!) and FTL (if only to increase the number of different types of encounter) could all have interesting or downright fun follow ups!

What do you think?  Did I miss one that you’d love to see a follow up to?  Do you agree?  Let me know!

The Overwatch Beta

If you remember from my Rainbow Six: Siege write up, multiplayer shooters are something I enjoy but am utterly dreadful at.  So, I went into the Overwatch beta expecting to be terrible but have fun at the same time.  I was half right.  You see, with Rainbow Six there were different characters, but at the end of the day if you weren’t brilliant at shooting the other players you were going to do really badly.  In Overwatch though, the characters are all so different that even if you’re awful with the guns, there’s still a character you can play as to make a positive contribution to the team.

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This is Reinhardt.  You don’t need to worry about shooting with him.  Just hitting things with a massive hammer and protecting your team with a shield.  I like him.

Because I’m such a bad shot, I found myself drawn more to support characters such as the healers.  I actually had a lot of successful games playing this role.  Am I suddenly good at team based shooters?  No.  Not at all.  But this game plays in such a different way that I found myself being useful.  I often played as Symmetra who shields her team mates and sets up turrets to harass attacking players on the opposing team.  Direct confrontations tend to end badly though.

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This is a direct confrontation about to end badly.

The way the game plays prevents you from sticking with the same character throughout a match though.  Depending on how your opponents are playing, you may need to change to something more aggressive (I like to go for Reaper personally, with a pair of shotguns and the ability to teleport) or defensive.  The large variety of characters with differing playstyles means you’ll almost certainly find a few to suit you.

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Using Reaper’s shotguns.  Over long range.  Because I’m smart like that.

Now, I played this on a PC.  A 4 year old PC.  A 4 year old laptop to be precise.  And it played exactly as well as that makes it sound.  On minimum settings I had a pretty shaky framerate so if I were to get the full version of the game I may well go for a console copy.  That’s certainly more a problem with my hardware than the game though.  Running at full clip I could really enjoy this game.  My only worry is a concern I often have with these types of games: longevity.  I can get fairly bored of multiplayer only shooters, even ones as varied as this.  A single player component can alleviate that, but I don’t think that’s likely to appear anytime soon.  It’s something of a shame as Blizzard have built an interesting world full of entertaining characters.  It would be nice to have a campaign that explores that.

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I’m the pretty lady on the right.  Obviously.

Overwatch is developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment.  I played the game on PC and would normally write a recommendation here!  I won’t this time though as this isn’t a full release.  The beta is still going on for a little while after I post this, so you might want to give it go whilst you can!