E3 2018-The Good, The Bad, And The Very UGLY

 

E3 is like Christmas for nerds. For a few days, major publishers get on stage and show off new footage, whether it be gameplay or CGI trailers, of their up and coming games. The companies involved include EA, Sony, and Bethesda. Like many others, I watched many of these live myself, or at the very least had it on in the background while I was working on something else. Now that E3 happenings are wrapping up, it’s time to do what every geek like me does…grade the conferences!

A few things to mention before I give my thoughts on the different conferences. First, I’m basing my feelings on the conferences based on two things: games and presentation. I place the emphasis on the games at the end of the day, but presentation can factor into how I feel about a conference. Also, I’ll be omitting Devolver Digital, Square Enix, and the PC Gamer Show from this particular discussion since Devolver’s is mostly a joke conference and Square Enix didn’t really show anything in their conference that hadn’t already been seen in others, specifically Microsoft’s. As for PC Gamer Show, I remember watching the first one they did and being bored for three hours, and I’d rather not do that again. With that out of the way, let’s get to grading, starting with…

Oh boy, EA…let’s just get them out of the way. I’ll say this about EA, you can always count on them to be the most boring of all them. No style, no real interesting games beyond a couple EA Originals…just a stale presentation. It doesn’t help that they once again spent a good chunk of time talking about sports games because they haven’t realized yet that nobody tunes in to E3 to learn about Madden. The ultimate takeaway here is that EA does not seem to understand how gamers work. They don’t seem to know what they want or what they’re here for. That’s why we get dreadfully long segments talking about the next FIFA game or the awful looking Command and Conquer mobile game.

There’s only two games that EA showed that were at all interesting. Unravel Two, a platforming game where you play as creatures made of yarn, looks pretty fun. I’m actually tempted to see if my wife is willing to give it a go with me, since it seems like it’s built to be played with another person. As it turns out, this game is out now, so it’s not like we have to wait to try if that’s what we decide to do. The other game is Sea of Solitude. I can’t say I fully understand what the game is, mechanically speaking. Hard to tell if it’s supposed to be a 3D platformer, an exploration focused game, or a puzzle game. But it looks visually interesting and could potentially be an enjoyable game. At least as enjoyable as a game about loneliness can be. But other than those two games, EA’s offerings were very slim.

I also thought it weird how much time was spent trying to convince us that they “made a mistake” when really they knew exactly what they were doing with Star Wars: Battlefront II and just wanted to nickle and dime us for all we were worth, only for their lootbox focused strategy to blow up in their face. They’re promising all sorts of things with Bioware’s Anthem game, and I just can’t see it ending well. I don’t see how anyone can be excited about Anthem when EA has essentially shown us what they really want to do with their games. But we’ll see…Anthem still looks boring. Yeah, I said it. Putting aside the fear of EA tampering with Anthem to make as much money out of it as possible, the game itself doesn’t look very interesting to me. Always online games tend to bore me. They promise to have a campaign or something for single players, but I get the feeling that will go the way of Destiny 2 where the campaign was pretty forgettable. Regardless, single player is obviously not the focus for Anthem, and thus it does not have my interest.

Conference Rating: F

If you had told me that Microsoft would have been one of my favorite conferences of all the E3 shows, I would’ve laughed. But I think it’s a combination of the rapid fire presentation of a variety of games along with the fact that many of them will come to PC (my platform of choice) actually had me really happy with Microsoft’s presentation. They kicked things off with a trailer for Halo: Infinite. No gameplay was shown, but I’m happy to see some Halo finally making its way to PC. I’m wishing so hard for a proper Halo to come to the PC platform that I’m even willing to play this even if it’s some always online game, just so Microsoft can know that they’d have people willing to buy Halo on PC. Because let’s be honest, if you’re a PC gamer then you have no reason to get an XBox just for one game since most every XBox game is coming to PC anyway. And even if you’re not a PC gamer, I would still question the need to get an XBox.

But this isn’t about consoles right now. This is about games, and Microsoft came out swinging. Kingdom Hearts III got its first of many showings here. A cute fox game called Tunic was shown off that looks like it could be a lot of fun. Fallout 76 took up a little time, but obviously Bethesda was saving most of that game for their own conference. From Software’s newest title, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice reminds me that I still need to try Dark Souls sometime. Gears Tactics could also be right up my alley, as I do enjoy a good strategy game. There were, of course, a couple duds. Forza Horizon 4 is not going to sell an extra copy by being at E3 (but at least they didn’t bring out the car this time), and Gears Pop looks weird and out of character for the Gears of War franchise.

Of course, we can’t mention the Microsoft conference without talking about the reveal at the end. Cyberpunk 2077 has been in the works for a long time now, and it’s nice to finally see that come out of hiding. There was a ton shown here, and it would take forever to talk about them all. Needless to say, however, Microsoft’s show has given me a few things to keep an eye on. In terms of conference presentation, everything was so rapid fire that there was barely a presentation to speak of. It was just one game after another, with a few occasional moments of talking. The focus was on the games here, and for that I’m pleased.

Conference Rating: A

 

For the third year Bethesda has brought their own conference. I think of all their conferences, this might be their second best. Their first conference still reigns supreme, but I feel this did a fine job. Though I could’ve done without the concert at the beginning before Rage 2 was announced. In fact, I think the entire conference could have been shortened by a good twenty to thirty minutes and we wouldn’t have lost much, if anything. But once again, let’s get to the games. Rage 2 and Fallout 76 were the two main titles of Bethesda’s E3 conference, with more emphasis on the latter. We started with Rage 2, and I still think that game could actually be pretty fun. It looks to borrow a lot of ideas from the DOOM reboot, and I believe DOOM 2016 sets the bar for how first person shooters should be from this point forward. We’ll just seen when it gets here.

Speaking of DOOM, a sequel to the 2016 reboot has been announced, but it was ultimately an announcement announcing an announcement. We got a teaser trailer for DOOM: Eternal, and then were told that gameplay would be shown at Quakecon in August. I wish they had just not said anything and shown off everything at Quakecon instead, but at the same time I can’t be mad about a new entry in what I think is the best shooter to have ever graced us. We also got a look at a new Wolfenstein game, but once again there was no gameplay.

Fallout 76 was definitely the main attraction here, and I gotta be honest I’m not sure what to think of it anymore. I think I’ve made it clear that online only games aren’t very interesting to me, but Fallout 76 has the potential to be an exception to that rule. It’s hard to know without playing it though, and considering it’s coming out around the same time as Smash Ultimate, I doubt I’ll get to playing the game for some time, if ever. One game that surprised me in how fun it looks is The Elder Scrolls: Blades, a mobile game of all things. Yet it seems to be a mobile game that actually, you know, has gameplay. Once again, it won’t be till Fall of this year when we get our hands on it, but consider me intrigued. Bethesda ended it all with two teasers, one for a new IP called Starfield and another for Elder Scrolls VI. There’s not much to say about either one, since we did just get logos after all, but I’m always down with new IPs and I’ve been waiting a while for Elder Scrolls VI to be formally announced, so it was nice to see them.

Conference Rating: B-

Starting off with a dancing panda was not a great way to start Ubisoft. Stop doing stuff like this. Anyway, I’m so terribly indifferent to the Ubisoft conference that I considered not bothering with reviewing it when I started thinking about this blog post. Ubisoft is a bit like EA in that nothing they do is particularly exciting or interesting. But the difference is whereas EA just has boring conferences, Ubisoft has boring, predictable games. We’ve seen Assassin’s Creed over and over again. Just Dance is nothing new. The Division looks like an online only bore. The only possibly interesting thing they had was Beyond Good and Evil 2, and I still have no idea what to think of this game. I’ve not played the original Beyond Good and Evil and even I know the tone of this game is very, very different from its predecessor. And being open world doesn’t help my interest levels.

Starlink could be cool if they cut out the toy stuff. Transference could be interesting, but it’s VR only and who knows when I’ll ever get a VR headset. I still question the future of that technology. I could talk about the Donkey Kong Country expansion for Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle but that’s for a game released last year. There’s so little to discuss here that I think I’ll just move on. If you like Assassin’s Creed or The Crew, then I’m sure there was something here for you. But for me, there was nothing of interest. Just a very “meh” showing. The dancing panda did not help.

Conference Rating: C-

I hope you’re not squeamish because Sony made it a point to bring out all the blood and gore in the games they showed. I also hope you’re not the type of person who has trouble sitting still for several minutes because Sony made sure you would do that for far too long. Things kicked off in a confusing fashion. The auditorium was dressed up like it was supposed to be some kind of church setting, with a man playing the banjo for several minutes. Then a trailer begins, and it’s for The Last of Us Part II. I know a lot of people are looking forward to this game including myself.

After a lengthy Last of Us trailer, we’re then stuck with talking heads…for thirty minutes. I’m not making this up. A bunch of randoms sat behind a test and talked…and talked…and talked…and talked…and talked some more.

It. Was. Awful.

I was moderating a facebook with some friends commenting on everything live, and when this segment played out everyone, me included, was losing our minds. We could not believe what we were seeing. No gameplay, no trailers for anything, just talking heads for thirty minutes. And when things finally begin to pick back up, we had to listen to some musical number before finally getting a look at the next game, one of the only ones shown at the Sony conference that I found interesting. Ghost of Tsushima is not only a pretty game, but it looks like it could be quite a lot of fun. Although I can’t say much more than that since the gameplay wasn’t necessarily something we’ve never seen before, but it looks like its well put together.

The Sony conference continued at a much better pace after that. A remake of Resident Evil 2 was shown, as well as yet another Kingdom Hearts III trailer. Death Stranding made its third appearance, and we still have no idea what it is. I really wonder about Death Stranding and how it will be received once it finally comes out. I fear it’s getting more hype than is really healthy, and on release it could suffer for it. But only time will tell, I guess. A new game called Control looked pretty interesting, but not a whole lot was shown. Nioh is getting a sequel. But the last game shown, and the other Sony game that has my attention, is the new Spider-Man game. We got a good look at what gameplay is like as well as some characters who will be making their appearance. A lot of people have compared this to the Batman: Arkham games, and I think that’s a good comparison to be made. If Spider-Man plays at all like the Arkham games, then I think we’ll be in for a real treat.

After so many successful E3 shows, it was pretty hard to watch Sony fail so hard this year. A lot of was down to how it presented its conference. A thirty minute long talking head segment soured the mood fast, and brief musical numbers throughout the show all felt extremely out of place. I found out later that those music moments peppered between trailers was for that Dreams game, which has been in development for a long time now, but I wouldn’t have known that just from looking. All in all, presentation was bad and there weren’t many games shown that interested me at all.

 

Conference Rating: D-

They showed Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Instant A+.

Okay, but really. Nintendo got right to business by showing Daemon X Machina, a mech based action game. I like mechs a lot in video games, so it quickly got my attention. I also really enjoyed the visual style of the game. We then got a look at a Xenoblade Chronicles 2 expansion, then swiftly moved on to the two new Pokemon Let’s Go games. I was surprised by how little time was spent on Pokemon Let’s Go, but at the same time I think I see why. Most people know how Pokemon works at this point.

Another neat looking title was Fire Emblem: Three Houses. If they can move away from the waifu simulator stuff the last Fire Emblem game (or rather, games) did, then that’ll be enough for me to be a happy camper. It’s also nice to see Fire Emblem coming back to the big screen after being relegated to the 3DS for a long time. They then showed off a handful of 3rd party games coming to the Switch, but a lot of them we already knew about like Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Wolfenstein II, and Dark Souls: Remastered.

Then we get to the main event: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. A lot of people wish more was shown, but being someone who considers Smash his favorite game series, of course I was all over this. The main takeaway is that everyone who’s ever been in a Smash Bros. game is coming back. This includes Solid Snake, Young Link, Pichu…yeah, they mean everyone.

It may come as no surprise then that I loved this conference. I will eat up anything with Smash Bros. in it. So this rating might come off as a bit biased, but there’s a good reason for that…it is. But as I mentioned, I judge these based primarily on games. And I love Super Smash Bros., and a half hour of that is perfect for me. Yes, I’m still giving this one an A+.

Conference Rating: A+

Regardless of my or anyone else’s opinions, I think it’s safe to say at the end of the day there was something for everyone here. I think Microsoft should especially be proud of the show they put on. I didn’t expect to be saying that at the end of E3, but here we are. Nintendo would of course captured me with ease when they started showing Smash, but I didn’t expect to get so much of it. It’s a shame Sony’s conference dropped the ball so hard when it came to presentation, but they were bound to do so at some point. Even if most of the games don’t interest me, I’m sure there are plenty of people excited to play Nioh 2 or The Last of Us Part II, so to you all I say happy gaming. Now we just need to hope that none of these projects get cancelled (RIP Scalebound). My ultimate (heh) conclusion is that there’s still not a great deal of games coming in 2018 that I desperately want to play, but since 2019 is when a lot of the games shown are planned to release it looks like it could be a crazy, fun filled year.

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Dark Souls 3 Review

The “Dark Souls” series has become synonymous with one thing: punishing difficulty. But the series isn’t just for masochists who crave a more difficult brand of video game. “Dark Souls 3” has a comparable difficulty to its predecessors, sure, but the experience is much more than a rigorous loop of trial and error. 

 
The “Dark Souls” experience is about discovery, progression and success that grants a sense of satisfaction that is severely lacking in much of the adventure genre. “Dark Souls 3” impeccably improves on the structure of the original “Dark Souls” and “Dark Souls 2” all while managing to make the experience more accessible to newcomers. 

 
“Dark Souls 2” introduced players to a vast open world, but one that suffered from flaws in its layout. In an otherwise excellent game, it had several new areas to explore that all branched from the central hub area. Having the hub at the center of everything meant that the player had to do a lot of backtracking, and never ventured far from home. There’s a psychology to that design that doesn’t mesh with the game’s tone. The “Dark Souls” experience is about exploring areas that feel inherently foreign. Each new environment welcomes the player with hordes of dangerous creatures and numerous twisting paths that lead to parts unknown. By design, each new area is supposed to feel alienating. Some of that feeling is lost when the warm, welcoming hub world is nearby. 


In “Dark Souls 3” the hub world can’t even be accessed on foot. It’s far away and can only be accessed by bonfire travel. The knight, or warlock or thief that you’ve created is on his or her own in the uninviting and terrifying world. Every step journeys farther away from a place of normalcy. “Bloodborne” perfected the art of an interconnected open world; one where progressing to new areas somehow linked to previous ones. “Dark Souls 3” shows that From Software recognizes that perfection. Discovering new areas in this game conveys a mix of reward and fear of what lies ahead that isn’t found in other games. 


 
The “Dark Souls” series usually has a front loaded difficulty. That’s especially the case with “Bloodborne.” The beginning areas are the most difficult while the player figures out what works and what doesn’t. Then things finally “click” and the player can breeze through future areas. “Dark Souls 3” is more balanced. The beginning isn’t as punishing. Actually, it is, but no more punishing from the rest of the game. 

 
The balance of “Dark Souls 3’s” combat is one of its most underrated achievements. Balance is as important to a game like this as it is to something like the “Street Fighter” series. There are many ways to approach its action. The game offers dozens of weapons to choose from throughout the journey, all which have different attack speeds and unique abilities. Different characters can rely on spells or arrows for ranged attack. It’s possible to make a character who relies on counter punching after a successful block or parry. I got hooked on “Bloodborne’s” style and never relied on a shield, and instead crafted a character with good agility for dodging. 

 
There isn’t a right or wrong way to approach a character in “Dark Souls 3.” Every type has their own strengths and weaknesses. There’s no exploitive easy button character. “Dark Souls 3” is designed to be challenging for every character class. My advice is to choose one path and continue it. Don’t start with a mage and change it to a knight halfway through the game. Don’t become a jack of all trades and a master of none. Specialization is key. 
“Dark Souls 3” is an excellent jumping off point for the uninitiated. The lore isn’t connected to the first two games, at least as far as one could tell during the review process. The “Souls” series is lore heavy, so there may be some deep-seeded connection between all three games, but newcomers won’t miss much in that department. More importantly, “Dark Souls 3” doesn’t assume the player knows the gameplay mechanics from the previous games. That’s partially because much of the core mechanics have been altered in the sequel. 
 
Hollowing is gone. The biggest annoyance and arguably the most punishing aspect of “Dark Souls 2” is no more. Hollowing used to mean the player’s maximum health decreased with each death. In a game like “Dark Souls” where one dies a lot, this can be a serious hindrance on progress. I always viewed it like the game was punishing me for even attempting a new area or boss. Fortunately, that mechanic is gone in “Dark Souls 3.” Well, it’s mostly gone. The player will lose some health upon death, but it doesn’t stack with subsequent deaths. The process can be reversed with ember items, which are comparable to human effigies from the previous game. Restoring humanity (it’s called harnessing the power of the Lord of Cinder in “Dark Souls 3”) with embers is also tied to the game’s co-op gameplay. 

Co-op phantoms can only be summoned if humanity is restored to the player. In other words, you’ll have to use an ember in order to summon help from a friend. Ember availability is close to how plentiful human effigies were in “Dark Souls 2.” They can also be purchased in exchange for souls in the hub area. Defeating any boss will also restore humanity without having to burn an ember usage.

Online play of the “Souls” series has always been unique. Summoning a friend is an easy way to get through a boss that has been beating you to a pulp for ten or more attempts. It’s the same in “Dark Souls 3.” There should be a limit on how many times one can summon a friend. It takes away from some of the game’s difficulty, which takes away from the satisfaction once victory is achieved. 

 
The game’s message system thankfully returns, which is one of the most genius uses of online play in any adventure game. Message senders are limited to what words they can leave for other players, but the game gives enough options to be descriptive. Each message is a helping hand from a nameless player going through the same tribulations that you are. It’s like the players are bound by the fraternity of “Dark Souls” and feel compelled to leave helpful messages to others in need. There’s hope for internet comments yet!

The “Dark Souls” series has an undeniable learning curve. There’s absolutely no way anyone will pick up a game controller for the first time and begin with a “Dark Souls” game. It’s an acquired taste that requires patience and appreciation for what the game asks of its players. Once that “eureka” moment happens, the game becomes one of the most rewarding experiences in the medium. Give it a chance, stick with it and make each death a learning experience. It might just become your new favorite series. 

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ADR1FT Preview

Last week at the 505Games event I covered, I had the chance to try out for the first time the Oculus Rift. What that is you may ask? well it is an upcoming virtual reality head-mounted display, being developed by Oculus VR. The game I have tried out which was shown for the first time to the press was ADR1FT.

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Adrift (stylized as ADR1FT) is a first-person video game developed by Three One Zero and published by 505 Games. It is scheduled to be released in Q2/Q3 2015 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The story follows an astronaut, who floats through the wreckage of a destroyed space station with no memory of the incident. Over the course of the game, players find clues that piece together the events of the incident, and attempt to repair the escape vehicle to return home.

When I first put on the Oculus Rift, for a few seconds it felt like I was putting on an football helmet but then I seen the amazing visuals as one person would if they are in outer space. you can also move and tilt your head in any direction and the rift will pick up your movements. But back to the game. From what I have played at the event, you begin in an destroyed space station in zero gravity, maintaining sufficient oxygen levels by collecting oxygen tanks. During this, you have to go different rooms and find other audio logs that expand the situation of what happened over there and solve puzzles. I have ran out of oxygen twice so I could not get far but it did left me anticipated to find out what is next for me to explore. From what it is also known, the objectives are to survive and to return home safely.

I will sure purchase this game and I will have my full review posted here but check out these cool screenshots.

ADR1FT Screenshot 01 ADR1FT Screenshot 04

ADR1FT Screenshot 05 ADR1FT Screenshot 02

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Video Game Reviews: WWE 2K15

With the last gen versions of WWE 2K15 (Playstation 3/Xbox 360) getting a universal negative reception, can the current gen versions (PS4/Xbox One) deliver the hype? I am Julian Cannon and I am reviewing the Playstation 4 version of WWE 2K15.

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This game looks more close to real life than ever this time. From the camera angles to the lighting and the arenas along with the detailed look on the superstars and divas, this is the best looking WWE game to date. Most of the superstars and divas had their entire body scanned for the game. The ring was even scanned so it can look exactly like it is on TV. Everything may look a little smaller than the previous games but it will grow on you in time.

The roster is actually a huge let down. Compare the roster on last year’s WWE 2K14 to this game and you will notice that last year’s game had the better roster. It is good to see the addition of new NXT superstars such as Sami Zayn, Adrian Nevelle, Bo Dallas, Rusev and more, the rest of the roster is the weakest since Smackdown vs. Raw 2008. Many of the superstars are very outdated with their attires and music. Most notably, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have their shield attire and music. However there are a few legends in the roster such as Booker T, Rob Van Dam, Kevin Nash, Ultimate Warrior and some good ones including The Wyatt Family, The Usos, Xavier Woods, Big E and more but some of the superstars in the game are exact copies of themselves (for example, current Batista and retro Batista should be just one character with a costume change instead of two separate characters).

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The gameplay has changed drastically for this year’s game. A new chain wrestling mini-game has been implemented to make matches play out more realistically. Pressing the grapple button at the beginning of the match will initiate a collar-and-elbow tie up. From there, each opponent will press one of three face buttons to place their opponent into a side headlock, a wrist lock or a waist lock with a rock-paper-scissors style outcome. (Headlock beats Wrist lock, Wrist lock beats Waist lock, Waist lock beats Headlock.) Whomever wins will place their opponent in the corresponding hold while both players rotate the right analog stick to find a “sweet spot”. If the attacker finds it first, they’ll perform a move, if the defender finds it first, they’ll gain the upper hand. Additionally, the attacking wrestler can strike or wrench the opponent’s limb, making it harder for them to find the sweet spot. This mini-game only happens 2-3 times during the match and can be turned off via the options menu. Strikes have returned to their normal speed with improved collision and selling animations from the opponent. Unlike in previous games, superstars will not stand up immediately after taking a bump or slam, the player must rotate the right analog stick in order to stand up.

The stamina system returns in this game but it has changed as well. It is a three-tier stamina meter which controls the pace of a match. Each move that is performed, especially striking and running, will drain the stamina meter. During the first tier, the wrestler will be full of energy and perform moves easily. During the second tier, the wrestler will begin to slow down. In the third tier, the wrestler will be completely exhausted, even being unable to perform their finishing moves should it drop too low. Although the stamina meter cannot be turned off, stamina will slowly regenerate as long as a meter is not depleted and can be adjusted to drain more slowly. The game’s submission system has been revamped. The “Breaking Point” submission system has been replaced with a two part circular gauge. The mechanic of the system remains mostly the same, but players only have to mash a single button rather than all four.

Wake-up taunt finishers are now known as “Charged Finishers” which combines the taunt & finisher into a single animation by pressing the finisher button when the opponent is grounded. Signature moves can now be stored as well. Catch and Catapult finishers have also returned. Both fighting styles and skill sets have been brought in to ensure that the characters behave more like their real-life counterparts. For example, high flyers like Rey Mysterio will not do power moves and will focus on diving and springboard moves while giants like Big Show cannot climb the turnbuckle and will focus on power moves. Superstars who cannot climb to the top rope can climb to the second rope and deliver moves such as Bret Hart’s elbow drop or Big Show’s slingshot body splash. The gameplay changes take some time to get used to so you will have to play around with it for a few times but if you do not like the new controls, you can revert to the controls from last year’s game.

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The 2K Showcase focuses on two rivalries. One of them focuses on the Triple H and Shawn Michaels feud which began in SummerSlam 2002 and ended in Bad Blood 2004 and the other is the CM Punk and John Cena feud that began in the summer of 2011 and ended in February 2013. I personally liked the HHH/HBK feud more than Punk/Cena but there should have been more feuds added to this mode such as Rock/Austin, Hulk Hogan/Randy Savage, Bret Hart/Kevin Nash and more that can fill up this mode but choosing only two out of many raises more questions than answers. The way you play these feuds is the same dragging style that was featured since WWE 13. Fight until a certain part of the body changes to red, do objectives, cutscene and repeat. I felt that this style of cut and paste should have not happened in this game. Two games to have this style is enough, three is overdoing it.

The MyCareer mode is the best mode in the entire game period. You take your created superstar and you build his career (cannot create divas on this version of the game). You start all the way at the bottom in the performance center, then to NXT. After you reach the ranks there, you will then head on to Raw and Smackdown and eventually to main event WrestleMania and become a WWE Hall of Famer. During this mode, whatever you do, outcomes in the experience such as wrestling as a Babyface or heel, forming alliances, and etc. there is a never ending cycle to this so it can get repetitive down the line. Also, There is a 1-5 star match rating system that will rate matches based on technique, pacing and momentum, with squash matches getting lower ratings and back-and-forth matches getting higher ratings.

There is new feature that allows you to import images from your computer to the game for created wrestlers but I couldn’t access this feature at the time I was reviewing this game due to the servers not being open yet. Also, returning from WWF No Mercy a very long time ago, every superstar and diva in this game is editable. You can change their entire look but you cannot change their hairstyles. The biggest blunder is that you can only create 25 superstars.

This is the point where it gets very disappointing. Players can no longer create divas, arenas, championships, finishers, use custom soundtracks (although an update to next gen consoles will fix this soon), and the only preset custom entrance for custom superstars is the one where the superstar is carrying the phone.

There are also many and I mean MANY matches removed on the current gen consoles

1 vs 1:

– Inferno
– Ladder
– I Quit
– 2 out of 3 Falls
– Special Referee (yet is in the showcase mode)
– Casket (yet is in the Showcase mode)
– 3 stages of hell (Yet is in the showcase mode)
– Backstage Brawl

2 vs 2:

– Tornado Tag
– Extreme Rules
– Hell in a Cell
– Ladder
– Steel Cage
– Table
– TLC
– Elimination Tornado
– Elimination Table
– Mixed
– Backstage Brawl

Triple Threat:

– Falls Count Anywhere
– 2 out of 3 Falls
– No DQ
– Ladder
– Steel Cage
– TLC
– Backstage Brawl

Fatal 4 Way/4-Man:

– Battle Royal
– Hell in a Cell
– Ladder
– Steel Cage
– Table
– TLC
– Falls Count Anywhere
– 2 out of 3 Falls
– No DQ
– Backstage Brawl

6-Man:
– Elimination Chamber Tag
– Championship Scramble (Was removed in 2k14, but notable still)

Handicap Matches:
– All handicap matches

Final thoughts: if you want this game, the only good things are the MyCareer mode and the new gameplay features. You cannot hype a game this much for 6 months and then give us a half-assed game with missing features. 2K showcase is just a copy and paste of 30 years of WrestleMania from last year’s game and the Attitude era mode from WWE 13. I cannot find a reason why to spend $60 plus tax on a game that presents only half of what last year’s game had. If they kept all of those features in, this would have beat out last year’s game. I know this year’s game engine is built from ground up but that is no excuse to remove many features especially for the ones in the create suite community. The decision to take away the ability of creating divas is a slap in the face to every women who plays WWE games. Although you can create divas on the last gen version, that is not the point. My conclusion is that everyone should wait for next year’s game instead or keep 2K14 until next year. This game gets a final rating of 5.5/10

Video game reviews: Destiny

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What a disappointment. Destiny isn’t a bad game, per say, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to living up to its original promise. At its core, Destiny is what Bungie likes to call a “shared world shooter.” It has the controls and mechanics of a first person shooter, the progression system and sandbox open worlds of a role playing game, and the online connectivity of an MMO. To set Destiny apart from the competition, Bungie promised that it would feature a sprawling, dynamic, and ever-evolving galaxy with a rich story that could make the game last as long as a decade. What I got instead was a largely formulaic game that I don’t foresee playing for more than a week or two.

One of Destiny’s biggest missteps is its story missions, which I expected to be the highlight of the game considering Bungie’s track record with the Halo series. Despite its rich lore, the story itself is extremely lackluster; unfinished even. By the end of the main campaign, I found myself just as confused about vague entities like The Darkness and The Traveler as I was when I first booted up the game, and I never quite got the sensation that a chapter of a long running series had come to a close. Instead, it felt more like someone had torn off the second half of an already incomprehensible and boring book. Like a season of Lost, Destiny answers few of the questions surrounding its world’s mystery, but at least Lost presented its story in a compelling way. Rather than taking advantage of the interactive medium that is video games to draw players into the world to make them feel like they are experiencing events unfold, the game takes to exposition through Peter Dinklage’s boring narrations as the Ghost (the player’s miniature levitating artificial intelligence robot companion) to tell its story. Playing through Destiny’s main campaign was essentially like playing through a sophisticated audio book – one with little to no character or plot development.

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Even more monotonous than Destiny’s story was the mission structure, which remains exactly the same for every mission from beginning to end. Missions essentially bog down to going from point A to point B, deploying the Ghost to scan or hack an alien technology, and then either going from point B to point C and deploying the Ghost again, or, usually in the final stages of a mission, fighting off a horde of enemies while the Ghost hacks into whatever system it was deployed to. That’s about it. It was fun the first few times, but this repetitive mission structure became stagnant and stale very quickly, especially throughout the course of a dozen or two hours. The only reason I stuck with the main campaign was because it was one of the best ways to level up my Guardian, but it felt like a tedious chore for the most part. Without a doubt, Destiny’s main campaign is the worst aspect of the game.

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To navigate from mission to mission, players must make use of the game’s beautifully presented galactic map, which shows accessible planets in the Solar System. Planets and missions are unlocked as players complete story missions, which further incentivizes players to complete Destiny’s boring main campaign . When a planet is selected from the galactic map, it zooms in to show a map of its sandbox game world with various map markers, each of which represent a mission. It’s only after selecting one of these markers that players will be taken to their selected planet to tackle their selected mission. Most of them are story missions, but each planet features at least one Patrol mission (which allow players to free roam a planet’s sandbox world and complete small and often tedious and boring objectives) and one Strike mission (instanced dungeons tackled with a strike team), and some planets feature high level events called Raids.

While these sandbox worlds are large in volume, I would be more thrilled if they weren’t so barren. Filling Destiny’s worlds with interactive NPCs who could tell players more about the lore and the situation of a particular planet or offer players side quests would have gone a long way into making the worlds of Destiny more compelling. These worlds do spawn enemy creatures throughout the map once in a while, but unfortunately, the enemy variety in Destiny is abysmal. Each enemy race (Fallen, Hive, Vex, and Cabal) only features a handful of creature types whose color palettes change every once in a while to indicate that they are a higher level than the ones from before. While the game does space out the introduction of each enemy race evenly, there is a long stretch of time between each introduction, and during that time, I found myself facing the same handful of enemy types over and over again. Once I did encounter a new race, it wouldn’t take long before the game showed off all the creature types of that race, and the cycle would repeat.

Despite its incomprehensible and uninteresting story, formulaic mission structure, barren game worlds, and lackluster enemy variety, the game does make some great strides when it comes to core gameplay mechanics. As you would expect from a Bungie game, gunplay is fast-paced, smooth, and satisfying. The game does only run at 30 frames per second, which may disappoint competitive players, but in my experience, that did little to detract from accurate and precise shooting. The gunplay feels even more thrilling when combined with the game’s high level of challenge. The game is not a cakewalk by any means. While it is mostly a run and gun game, players who don’t take the occasional cover or choose a strategic position from which to take out their enemies will find themselves hitting the sack often, especially because of how smart, relentless, and visceral the enemy AI is. Despite the game’s repetitive mission structure, the challenge it offers does make it satisfying to overcome each mission.

Where Destiny shines even brighter is its RPG elements. Character progression in particular is very well executed and quite addictive, making the chore of playing through story missions to level up or to obtain new items and equipment almost worthwhile. The game begins with players choosing one of three classes (Titan, Warlock, or Hunter) and customizing their race, gender, and appearance. Only the player’s class will have any major impact on gameplay; the rest are simply aesthetic choices. I was expecting character customization to be more extensive than choosing from a bunch of presets, but there are enough options to allow players to create relatively unique characters.

With each level, players will earn new skills that are unique to their subclass. Each one of the game’s three classes features two subclasses: one which is readily available from the beginning and another that unlocks at level 15. Since each subclass can equip any kind of weapon, choosing a subclass is less about filling the shoes of a pre-defined role and more about finding something that matches your playstyle. The Titan’s Striker subclass is suited players who like to run-and-gun and get up close and personal, while the Defender subclass is suited for players who like to play defensively. The Warlock’s Voidwalker subclass is suited for players who like high offense and crowd control at the sacrifice of defense, while the Sunsinger subclass are like clerics in MMORPGs: geared more towards those who prefer a support-based playstyle. Finally, the Hunter’s Gunslinger subclass are for marksmen who are all about precision shooting, while the Bladedancer subclass are for those who like to use stealth and close quarters combat to outdo their enemies. But at the end of the day, players can take advantage of each subclass’s skills any way they please, use them with any combination of weapons, and develop a style of their own. The best part is that players can switch between active skills and on the fly to mix and match ones that better suit their playstyle for certain situations. The game even allows players to switch between subclasses on the fly, which is almost unheard of. Destiny truly does offer one of the most flexible character progression systems out there.

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Leveling also influences what weapons and armors players can equip, since equipment in Destiny are only capped by the player’s level. Destiny does not feature any attributes which players can add points to after leveling like in other RPGs or MMORPGs. Instead, most of a Guardian’s power and stats are directly influenced by their equipment’s stats, so it’s vital that players obtain up-to-level equipment as soon as they can. Since equipment has such a large influence in Destiny’s character progression, finding new ones always feels like Christmas, especially since most of them look pretty cool, especially towards the higher levels. The satisfaction that comes from equipping Guardians with new gear and watching and feeling them grow more powerful, paired with the game’s flexible character progression, was one of the main reasons I kept coming back to Destiny despite its repetitive nature.

Destiny soft caps players to level 20, but players can go beyond that by equipping rare equipment that come with a stat called Light. The higher the amount of Light in a piece of gear, the more powerful it is, and the total amount of combined Light will define how many levels above 20 a Guardian is. Some equipment with Light can be found by playing missions in high difficulty after reaching level 20, but the most powerful weapons and armor can only be purchased through one of various vendors in The Tower (the game’s social and non-hostile hub). These vendors only accept one of the game’s various currencies.

Glimmer is what players will be using initially to purchase items, weapons, and armors, but eventually, they will begin to earn Vanguard Marks, Crucible Marks, Motes of Light, and Strange Coins. Vangaurd Marks can most effectively be earned by playing Strike missions in the Vanguard hub or by completing Vanguard bounties, Crucible Marks can only be earned by playing competitive multiplayer matches in the Crucible hub, Motes of Light can most effectively be earned by leveling up after reaching the level 20 soft cap, and Strange Coins can most effectively be earned by completing weekly heroic Strike missions. Earning these different currencies is an extremely slow process that involves repeating certain tasks over and over again. It’s tedious and it definitely feels like grinding, but those who can bear with it will be greatly rewarded. I do wish that the game would simply have one universal currency though. By the time I reached level 20, I felt as though I had wasted my time collecting and saving up Glimmer, as they cannot be used for anything substantial towards the end game. At least giving players the ability to convert Glimmer into other currencies, even if at a high cost, would have made a big difference.

It’s not all about cooperation though. Another way the game brings players together is through Crucible, Destiny’s competitive multiplayer hub. Crucible features four game modes: Control, Clash, Rumble, and Skirmish. There are other game modes that will become temporarily available in the coming days and months through special events, but I’ll be reviewing the game as it ships. Control is your typical point-control style game mode, Clash is essentially team deathmatch, Rumble is free-for-all deathmatch, and Skirmish is similar to team deathmatch, but it reduces team sizes from 6 to 3 while allowing players to revive fallen comrades, encouraging them to stick together. Destiny doesn’t do anything revolutionary with competitive multiplayer, but I still found it to be a lot of fun. The Guardians’ powers in particular separate Destiny’s competitive multiplayer from the competition, as they bring about an interesting new dynamic to what could have otherwise been a sterotypical multiplayer mode. The ability to use earned gear to annihilate other players is an added bonus.

The biggest praise I can give to Destiny is that it’s presentation is immaculate. Despite its lackluster story and narrative, the lore has been richly realized through incredible artistic direction and visuals. I was skeptical at first about Bungie’s intentions to mix the aesthetics of fantasy with sci-fi, but it paid off big time. The lore looks and feels like a fantasy story taking place in the future. Even more mesmerizing than the game’s visuals is its soundtrack. Destiny features some of the best orchestrated music I have listened to in a video game in a long time, and they kick in just at the right time during gameplay to provide the appropriate mood and atmosphere for certain situations. It’s easy to tell that everything about Destiny’s lore, aesthetics, and presentation has been crafted with love and care.

Despite Destiny’s beautiful presentation and polished core mechanics, its lackluster story, uninteresting worlds, and repetitive mission structure keep it from becoming legend. The game is by no means a disaster. The satisfying gunplay, the challenging missions, and addictive character progression will keep players hooked for a decent amount of time. But in its current state, there is no way this game can stay alive for 10 long years. I don’t think Bungie comprehends just how long that is, especially if they expect players to repeat the same mission structure over and over again while experiencing a story that is as incoherent as it is uninteresting. It’s hard to say what the future holds for Destiny, since the game will constantly evolve as new content is added throughout its lifespan, but as it stands, Destiny is a good game that could have been so much more.

My final rating for this game is a 7.5/10

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