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 racingĀ 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.

Forza Horizon 3: Hot Wheels!

I played a little bit of the latest Forza Horizon 3 DLC, Hot Wheels and had an absolute blast with it! I didn’t know a lot about the expansion going into it, and mostly assumed it would just feature Hot Wheels cars, but they went all the way with it, right down to the orange plastic tracks that loop and turn in wacky ways! There’s so much attention to detail, and I especially love the mechanical sound the launchers make as you approach them (it sounds like a rollercoaster). I’m looking forward to checking out more of the game this weekend!

I can’t wait to get home to play PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS

I first found out about the game PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS last week after seeing it played on Giant Bomb, and their continued coverage of the game has made me unusually excited for some random, non AAA game on Steam. The game unleashes up to 100 players into a huge playground (or ‘battleground’ if you will) and it’s up to the player to scavenge for weapons, armor and supplies while trying to survive until the end.

This was the idea that sold me on Day Z initially, but I could never get past the complexity of the game. Battlegrounds seems to be much simpler to dive into, and it also looks to run reasonably well. I tried it out on my laptop (Acer Aspire V15 Nitro), but it doesn’t run as well as I’d like it to so I’ve mostly avoided playing it so that I can dive in using my desktop once I return home.

Until then, I’m going to continue to enjoy watching the guys at Giant Bomb screw around in the game as they try to be the last man standing.

I’m really not into Mass Effect Andromeda

The Mass Effect series has provided some of my favorite moments of my entire ‘video game life’ (even Mass Effect 3!). Up until last night I was incredibly excited for Mass Effect Andromeda, and thought for sure I would be buying the game. The only decision I had yet to make was whether I’d get it for the Xbox One or PC. However, the two hours I spent with the 10 hour EA Access trial last night has almost entirely dissuaded me from buying the game.

Right off the bat I found myself annoyed with the writing. Not only was the set up a bore, but the dialogue between characters, both during cut scenes and during background conversations was cringe worthy. At one point one of my squad mates uttered something to the effect of “Did that hurt? YEAH BECAUSE I SHOT YOU IN THE FACE!”. I almost shut the Xbox off right then and there, but I decided to keep trudging through to see if anything exciting would happen. It never did.

My time on the first planet felt like nothing but busy work. Run here, then here, then here, Scan some things. Shoot some things. On and on. I know this isn’t wildly different from the other games, but at least on those games there’s a real sense of purpose. The whole Pathfinder concept just comes across as cheesy, right from the start. The opening dialogue trying to make the journey to Andromeda seem like some “grand adventure” just made me cringe, and as I spent more time as Ryder I wished there was a button Nier Automata style to just shoot myself in the head and get a game over screen.

To make matters worse, the combat just feels sloppy. I found it difficult to line up shots (kind of slow, but all over the place at the same time) which sucked because I had been playing Mass Effect 3 all week and loving how solid the combat feels in that game. The guns and abilities feel like they have very little bite, and there’s no satisfying “pop” as you drop enemies like there is in Mass Effect 2 and 3.

Even worse than the combat are the textures, animations and voice acting. The first planet isn’t very pretty to look at (a darn shame after spending time with Horizon Zero Dawn or even Breath of the Wild), but beyond the art style there are some incredibly flat, muddy and ugly textures (the dark matter particularly). The animations have probably been ragged on enough by everyone else on the internet, and I could probably ignore them if it weren’t for the god awful voice acting. Some of it has been so bad that I nearly burst out laughing. Specifically, the first lines out of the female Turian’s mouth on the Nexus are horrendous. Shortly after speaking to her I had to turn the game off and boot up Mass Effect 3 instead, I couldn’t take it anymore. She’s not alone, however, as most of the characters sound like they were voiced by the developers themselves, blandly reading lines into a microphone with no enthusiasm or emotion.

Lastly, there are some really bad pop in issues, most noticeable while on the Nexus. As I found myself running into rooms, entire groups of NPC’s would pop in two or three seconds after I entered a room. Maybe this is a bug that gets fixed with a patch, maybe it’s a limitation of the Xbox One, but regardless, it really screws with any sense of immersion you might have.

Ultimately, I’m not even sure it’s worth my time to play another couple hours of the free trial. I feel like I’ve seen all I need to see. I don’t think I could take another minute of easily the second worst game I’ve played in 2017 (second only to Ghost Recon Wildlands, another game that suffers from some of the worst voice acting I’ve ever heard in a video game).

I don’t mean to hate on Mass Effect, I really wanted to love the game as much as I’ve loved the rest of the series, but I don’t think it’s possible at this point. At least I can take some relief in knowing that Andromeda was developed by an entirely different team than the original trilogy, and I think in the long run many will come to look at Andromeda as a sort of B-level spin off, rather than a continuation of such a great series.