Finally got around to starting NieR: Automata

I’ve heard nothing but good things about NieR: Automata (mostly from Giant Bomb), but I hadn’t gotten around to checking it out until this past weekend. So far I’ve been nothing but impressed with the game, which features one of the strongest opening segments in all of video games. I was blown away from the start, and I only hope that the rest of the game lives up to the intense opening sequence.

I’m looking forward to playing more, but at this point I’m only creating a backlog of games that will be practically impossible to conquer (Fallout 4, Gears 4, Halo 5, Horizon Zero Dawn, Persona 5, Tales of Berseria, Prey… not to mention ongoing games such like Battlegrounds…)

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Gumballs Plays: PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (22 May)

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Watching me player PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS is probably like watching paint dry. I tend to make a beeline for a building, stock up on whatever’s inside, and then find somewhere to hide in a cowardly manner for as long as humanly possible. This strategy has worked in my favor more often than it seems like it should, as I’ve often gotten lucky and ended up well inside the circle early on. In tonight’s game I scored 3 kills, my highest yet, but unfortunately I’m still terrible once I get out into the open as the circle contracts toward the end, and this is where I always meet my fate.

As boring as it is to watch, I love playing this way. It’s incredibly tense. In tonight’s game I heard someone pull up in a vehicle, get out and open the door downstairs. The footsteps got closer and closer and I felt sure they were going to burst through the door and kill me at any moment. Then, for whatever reason, they turned around, went back downstairs, got into their vehicle and drove off. My heart was racing as I stood up to watch them drive away.

The next person to enter the house wasn’t so lucky. Unfortunately, I eventually had to leave my shelter (I probably could’ve stayed awhile longer) and work my way toward the new safe zone and my ultimate death.

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition (Xbox One) impressions

I remember playing a little bit of Bulletstorm when it came out for the Xbox 360 in 2011, however it never hooked me and I didn’t spend a lot of time with it. After seeing some coverage of the remaster that released earlier this year I decided I wanted to give it a second chance. I’ve played for an hour or two so far and have really enjoyed my time with it. It certainly feels like a 360 shooter, but that older gameplay and style feel somewhat refreshing in 2017.

The shooting is satisfying, as is the grapple hook which allows you to fling enemies around and pull off sweet moves such as pulling an enemy toward you and kicking them into exposed electrical wires. The text on screen that describes and scores each kill is also quite satisfying. In most shooters your only concern is mowing down enemies as quickly as possible, but in Bulletstorm you get rewarded for killing with style. You use the points you earn to upgrade your weapons and abilities which allow you to take down your enemies in more exciting ways.

The game looks great and plays smoothly on the Xbox One, and never seems to drop in frame rate no matter how many enemies and explosions are on screen. I’m really enjoying the game, and it’s definitely worth picking up if you passed on it during its initial release. The singleplayer campaign will take most players around eight hours to complete, so the $60 price might not justified for some people, but if you happen to find it on sale for around $30 I wouldn’t pass it up.

Playing Breath of the Wild on the Wii U

zelda

I’ve never been a huge Zelda fan, but with the release of the Switch and the huge amount of hype leading up to the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I figured I needed to see what all the excitement was about. I never did get into Ocarina of Time on the N64. I rented it a few times, but as an impatient eleven year old I never could figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Even in recent years I’ve tried to give it another shot, but often found myself running in circles trying to figure out what to do, or if I did find myself headed in the right direction I would repeatedly die at the hands of the enemies I’d encounter.

My time with Breath of the Wild so far has been pretty positive. First off it looks great, with a beautifully unique art style and it runs relatively smoothly even on the Wii U. I absolutely love the way they handle the map in the game, where you do all of the icon placement yourself. This keeps the map from becoming overwhelming early on, as you can climb a tower, mark a few things on your map and then set out to see what you’ll find there. That doesn’t mean you won’t get sidetracked along the way, however. I’ve found myself headed toward a tower or shrine, only to veer off in a different direction when a camp of enemies catches my eye.

The game has a reputation for being a little difficult, and that may prove to push me away from the game eventually. I’ve died a handful of times in my first hour or so with the game, but the quick reloads into a recent autosave make it more bearable. Oftentimes I’ve found that I died because I’m rushing into combat with multiple enemies and missing a way to use the environment to my advantage.

One other minor gripe, is that the Wii U version completely ignores the gamepad. I assume it’s because Nintendo has basically abandoned the Wii U at this point, which is a shame, because there are many ways they could have effectively used the gamepad, and therefore justified its existence one last time. Of course you can play the game on the gamepad (though I’ve found this seriously detracts from the game’s beauty), but otherwise you’ll just get a black screen with a message telling you that you can play on the gamepad.

Breath of the Wild Wii U gamepad

I’m looking forward to spending more time with Breath of the Wild, but at the same time Horizon Zero Dawn is also calling my name (and Mass Effect Andromeda is quickly approaching). If you have a Wii U and want to dust it off one last time, I can definitely recommend picking up Breath of the Wild for it.

Enjoying Horizon Zero Dawn so far

Last night after work I played about an hour and a half of Horizon Zero Dawn, and I’m pretty impressed so far. It looks downright amazing on a PS4 Pro and a 4K HDR TV. I also really like how they try to make the tutorial into something that actually has a narrative, and is more interesting than following prompts on screen. Things really get fun once you’re given control over the adult Aloy, and I’m really enjoying the combat so far. The bow feels like it has real impact when you land a shot on a critical part, and everything just looks and sounds great during combat. It’s especially thrilling to get into a scuffle with several enemies as once, and the music during these instances works to amp up the adrenaline as enemies close in on you.

I’m looking forward to putting some more time into Horizon Zero Dawn as the week goes on, but I can already tell it’s going to be a great time. The last thing I’ll say is that the game has a real polish, and I’ve run into zero bugs or hiccups so far which is rare for games on their release days lately. I can’t wait to play more!

In a great year for shooters, Infinite Warfare disappoints.

It’s been one of the most exciting years for fans of first person shooters in the history of video games. So many great AAA shooters have released this year, and for the most part they’ve all been hits. We’ve had Overwatch, DOOM, Gears of War 4, Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and now Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. The last 30 days alone have seen the rapid fire releases of Gears (Oct 11), Battlefield (Oct 21), Titanfall (Oct 28) and Call of Duty (Nov 4).

It’s been an unbelievably good year for those who enjoy first person shooters. There’s an incredible amount of variety in the games released this year, and there’s something for everyone.

I’ve been trying to check out all of the shooters that have released recently, however I think the ones that I’ll continue to play over the next year will certainly be Overwatch, Battlefield and Titanfall. That said, last night I rented Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare from Redbox and played for a few hours and wanted to share my experience so far.

Infinite Warfare screenshot xbox

One of the first things I noticed once I started the campaign was that Infinite Warfare is certainly unlike any Call of Duty that came before it. The view of Jupiter above was not something I expected to see less than five minutes into a Call of Duty game, but it was certainly refreshing.

I had a good time picking up a variety of guns during the first few missions, and found the variety of enemies to be refreshing as well. Most of the guys are just random soldiers, but it’s interesting to see robots thrown into the mix, and even some larger bots that take a little more effort to bring down. I also enjoyed the hacking mechanic a great deal once it was introduced. Basically you can take control of an enemy robot while you’re tucked away safely in cover, and use it to take out as many bad guys as you can and even initiate a self destruct mechanism (it’s fun to run into a group of enemies and explode D.Va style) before you lose the signal during the hack.

Infinite Warfare space combat

The space combat featured in Infinite Warfare was certainly interesting. The first time you ascend from a planet and transition into space I got an eerie No Man’s Sky vibe, but you certainly have less control over your spaceship. You’re sort of guided along a set path as you ascend, and in all reality you don’t have that much control, which isn’t necessarily a complaint, it just felt weird. The same goes for landing sequences. I could basically land my ship with hardly any input, as the game guides you along a highlighted path onto the carrier. Besides all that, the space combat was a nice diversion, but I felt that it dragged on a little longer than I would’ve liked.

Infinite Warfare hair

Some of the cutscenes look really nice in Infinite Warfare, and one of the things that stood out was the quality of the character’s hair. It looks quite realistic, especially as you can see individual strands, but unfortunately once the cutscene ends it transitions back to being more of a blob than realistic looking hair. Someday video games will give us good looking hair! Again, this isn’t a complaint and it’s something I wouldn’t have even noticed had I not been blown away by just how good it looked during the cutscene above and had it contrasted with the gameplay sequence to follow.

Overall I’ve mostly enjoyed the campaign (I have a handful of missions left), but I did have some difficulty with it at times which made it more frustrating than it should be. After breezing through much of the campaigns of Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, I’ve died more than I have in both games combined during Infinite Warfare. During some sections I died as many as six times before reaching a checkpoint and getting past a particularly hairy section. I tried turning the difficulty down, but even that didn’t help and it became annoying to replay the same section over and over again just to avoid dying by a grenade or exploding car I didn’t happen to see quick enough.

How does the campaign compare to Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2? I don’t think it’s on the same level. Call of Duty campaigns have gotten more and more stale over the years, while its competitors have really stepped up their game. Titanfall 2 features easily the most enjoyable FPS campaign since Halo: Reach. The writing is excellent (mostly the dialogue of BT), the platforming in-between shooting sections has a Portal level of polish and the shooting feels great, whether on foot or in a titan. Infinite Warfare definitely tries to do things a bit differently, and at times it felt like I was playing more of a sci-fi shooter, but during its most routine moments it feels like everything we’ve done again and again during Call of Duty campaigns. I feel no drive to finish off the last four missions, and if I do it’ll only be for the achievements, not because I’m necessarily enjoying the game.

The multiplayer doesn’t fare much better. I haven’t enjoyed Call of Duty multiplayer since Black Ops II (MW3 is still my favorite) and Infinite Warfare feels like more of the same. It’s eerily similar to Black Ops III, and most of the time it’s just felt like a skin and some new maps over that gameplay. It just hasn’t been enjoyable for me at all. I just want to go back and play some more Battlefield or Titanfall. In fact, if you tend to enjoy the futuristic combat of Black Ops III but haven’t checked out Titanfall, I would highly recommend Titanfall 2 over Infinite Warfare. Even Jeff Gerstmann, a long time Call of Duty enthusiast over at Giant Bomb, has seemed to have drifted away from Call of Duty. Instead, he has been overly enthusiastic about Titanfall 2, which he scored a perfect 5 in his review.

What made the Infinite Warfare experience even worse for me yesterday, was its community. I experienced behavior that I haven’t experienced since the Xbox 360 days during my time with the game yesterday. During one of my first matches I happened to die a lot (I didn’t play a lot of Black Ops III or Advanced Warfare and needed to get used to it), and mid match I got an all caps message instructing me to “STOP DYING!!!!!!111!!”. I took the time to respond that I certainly wasn’t dying on purpose, to which I received a series of insults and a note saying they recorded my gameplay and will be reporting me for dying too much. Good to know.

But it didn’t stop there. It seems like so much of the Call of Duty community is so concerned about their K/D and winning that they’ll get violently angry at anyone who isn’t playing to their standards. I never experience this with Battlefield or Titanfall. Maybe it’s just the day one players who are the most hardcore, but I played Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 a lot on day one and everyone I encountered was all about having fun.

Overall, I don’t think I can recommend Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare to anyone but the most hardcore of Call of Duty fans. To even those fans I would recommend checking out Titanfall 2 if you haven’t. It’ll provide a similar experience with a much better and more refreshing execution, and I think the games industry would benefit from the increased success of the other shooters on the market.