Titantall 2 Tech Test Hoopla and the Respawn Response

Truth be told, I wasn’t planning on writing about Titanfall 2 again this week, mainly because I don’t want to beat you all over the head with the same content over and over. As they say, variety is the spice of life.

With that said, it’s nearly impossible to predict things, and something I didn’t expect to happen so soon actually happened. Respawn Entertainment responded to fans regarding the Titanfall 2 tech test last weekend, detailing what the team is updating with the game based on player feedback.

titanfall 2 cooper and BT

The technical test pretty much caused a huge rift in the community. I was surprised to see a high amount of negativity in the official forums, with people detailing the things they hated about it, along with a bunch of people even hoping the game gets delayed. I mean, when do you hear of things like that, ever?

Sure, there were a bunch of people on there praising the game as well, but the loudest people were the ones who disliked the experience as a whole. While I wouldn’t go nearly that far, I did have some concerns as well in my impressions post from earlier in the week. I also mentioned that I was curious to see how Respawn would use the data to tweak the experience, though I never expected them to actually reveal their plans so quickly.

While I’m not going to go over every point (you can read about that here if you want), I’m going to take a closer look at how Respawn is tackling some of the points I raised:

My Issue #1: While I know many will be happy with the removal of AI fodder to shoot at, it does seem to have a negative impact on the ecosystem. Without the ability to gain points off of grunt kills, calling in titans is a much slower process as players need to take out other players or find ways to score points to fill a meter in order to call down your titan.

Their Response: We still want objectives to be the fastest way to get a Titan, but the goal of every player being guaranteed a Titan per match hasn’t changed. Pilots will once again acquire a small passive amount of Titan meter every few seconds.

My Issue #2: One thing that I noticed is that the titans felt a little more squishy this time around. I don’t know what it was, but man, taking damage really wiped out your health bar and there were times where I’d call in my titan and 30 seconds later have to eject.

Their Response: This is one of the more complex issues to address for several reasons. First, we’ve changed from Titans having energy shields to a new Titan battery system which we believe improves rodeo gameplay and rewards teamwork. As players become more familiar with the system, we expect that Titans will live longer.

Another factor is that the balance of Titan gameplay in the Tech Test build is heavily affected by the limited amount of content we released in the build. For example, some Titans that aren’t in the Tech Test have strong defensive abilities, certain Titan kits provide defensive upgrades, and even Pilots have a boost that can improve Titan defenses.

Lastly, there has been a lot of tuning since the Tech Test build that will tone down the amount of damage many weapons deal to Titans.

So there you go, some interesting developments coming to titans within the game. Pilots also got some love as well as air speed and wall-running will make them faster and Respawn actually found a hidden bug which was preventing players from accumulating and retaining speed while chaining together wall-runs.

Some of the changes will be going live this weekend for the next test, though we don’t specifically know which ones as complete change list has not been posted at this time. Players will need to check back on the forums later this week to see the complete list.

Overall, I think these updates will go far to satisfying disgruntled veterans and keeping the newer players happy. It’s all about striking that balance, and if this past weekend was any indication, the studio should be expecting another landslide of feedback after this coming test. It should be interesting to see how both players and the studio respond.

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Titanfall 2 (Very) Early Multiplayer Impressions

The first technical test of Titanfall 2 has quickly come and gone and I think the team at Respawn has learned a lot from it. The early build of the game allowed players to get a very small taste at what the final version of the game will offer with three multiplayer modes, and a training mission which gives some insight into the world of Titanfall and where things are after the events of the first game.

Titanfall 2 ronin

Before I get into my impressions, I want to take a minute to stress that this was a pre-alpha build of Titanfall 2, a very early version of what will eventually be the final product. So while I thought the game was visually impressive, especially when compared to the first game, I’m not going to spend too much time talking about things like that because it was an early build and it will likely change. What matters most in this case is the actual gameplay since those core mechanics are set in stone.

With that said, here’s what I thought of the early experience…

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Saturday Video Round Up: August 14 – 20 GamesCom 2016 Edition

If you’re a fan of game videos and trailers, well then this has been your week, now hasn’t it?

The annual Gamescom event was in full swing this past week and with it a bunch of new trailers for many of the upcoming games were shown off as well. There’s a ton of great content to get through so kick your feet up, crank the volume, and enjoy. Here’s a small taste of what awaits you below.

Before we get to the insane amount of game trailers, make sure to check out the next Overwatch animated short feature Bastion. It’s been a while since we got one of these and I am incredibly happy a new one has emerged. I’m hoping a couple more are on the way as well. We all know there are plenty more characters that need covering.

I’ve also got videos for most if not all of the major games coming out int he next 8 months or so, including ReCore, Watch_Dogs 2, Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1, and so come check out this week’s batch of trailers!

The full list of videos await you after the jump…

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A Handful of Changes I’d Like To See With Destiny 2

When it released two years ago, Destiny proved to be a very divisive experience for many. Player hype was through the roof, and frankly, there was probably no way that the game was ever going to reach fan expectations, similar to another recently released and divisive game called No Man’s Sky. While we now know how troubled the development period was, Destiny is a game that has clearly evolved since its original, “vanilla” release.

The game has already seen multiple expansions, with the next major iteration arriving next month. Each expansion has steadily improved upon the formula, correcting many things players disliked or generally wanted from the base game. NPC characters like Cayde-6 have seen a rise in importance, The Taken King expansion finally fleshed out the world by giving players a cohesive story line to follow along with cutscenes, and general quality of life improvements have enhanced the already great gunplay.

Destiny Moon Wizard

For all of the improvements the game has seen, there are still some things that are still lacking in Destiny. With Destiny 2 currently in active development, I figured it was a good time to take a look at some of the things I’d like to see when the eventual sequel arrives sometime next year (probably). Bungie has clearly learned a lot from these past two years, and I’m really hoping that knowledge is being put to good use for the sequel.

I won’t lie here, many of these ideas came from Tom Clancy’s The Division. While that game has issues of it’s own, it is a Destiny-like experience that manages to improve on many things that Destiny doesn’t do well.

So how can Bungie improve Destiny? Here are my ideas:

Matchmaking, Matchmaking, Matchmaking!
This is an area where Bungie absolutely needs to take a page out of The Division’s playbook. Ever since the game first launched, certain end game content such as Nightfall strikes and Raids do not feature matchmaking, meaning solo players are left out int he cold. Either group up with friends, or join third party websites in order to coordinate efforts to partake in some of the more interesting content the game has.

And why is it like that? The Division features matchmaking for everything, making sure that players of all styles can check out the content n the game. I’m assuming at this point, restrictions stem from processes put in place from the start, meaning that it would take a complete overhaul in order to change this restriction. Obviously, something that can’t happen in a now two year old game. That’s why I’m hoping Destiny 2 launches with this feature on day one. Time to be more inclusive to solo players, Bungie.

Less focus on Grimoire Cards
Vanilla Destiny players quickly discovered that if they wanted more information on the world of Destiny, story, characters, and everything else, they’d have to venture to a website to read about it.

While this aspect has been improving with each new expansion, lets not try and pretend that these things are more than what they are. Granted, I’m sure some of you like these things, but they were really just a stop gap and a quick solution to the story being gut months before the game launched. It’s well publicized. Personally, I have little to no interest in going to read about the story for a game I’m playing by going outside of the experience. I want the story to be integrated into the game. Hopefully, Destiny 2 places less of a focus on things like these and fleshes out the world inside of the game rather than outside of it.

The Old Russia Wasteland

Cutscenes and Story
Speaking of lore, vanilla Destiny did a really poor job explaining things as you’re playing through the game, including its story. What’s the giant orb in the sky? Why was my character initially dead? What is the Darkness? These are relevant questions that the story never really answers through the main story line, and a hugely missed opportunity in my opinion.

As more and more post-launch content was released including the excellent Taken King expansion, you could see Bungie had learned from past experiences. The Taken King gave fans what they wanted by featuring story heavy cutscenes, an actual cohesive story, and making many of those previously useless NPC characters relevant by getting them more involved along the way. Rise of Iron looks to continue this trend and I’m hoping vanilla Destiny 2 will start things off on the right foot, rather than needing a few expansions to get it right.

Quality Loot
Another thing Destiny struggled with was providing meaningful loot. We all remember the Cryptarch memes that rose out of the first few months of gamers getting basically nothing good from that stingy man. You know things are bad when players are willing to shoot at monsters spawning in a cave over and over just to potentially score something decent.

Again, updates have improved things in favor of the player, but I feel like this element could be even better. Okay, maybe not quite on the levels of say Borderlands or Diablo, but I’d love to see loot and gear have a bigger focus and drop more often. Out in the world, engrams don’t drop nearly as often as I’d like them to, meaning most of the loot is gained after finishing a Crucible match or some other event. Why can we get more drops out in the wild like most loot based games? Not only would it make people want to play more, it helps justify the time that people sink into the experience. Is there anything worse than playing something for an hour and feeling like you’ve made no progress whatsoever?

More Locations
When it was first announced, many believed that Destiny would span the entire solar system, letting players explore different planets. Obviously, that wasn’t the case and may have been more ambitious than anything else. It’s worth noting that more areas have opened over the years Destiny has been active but for players who thought there would be meaningful content on other planets like Neptune or Jupiter, it never happened. I’d love to see new areas open up in the existing planets such as Earth (other than Russia) as well as see some new exotic locations on other planets as well like Mercury (I know there are some Crucible maps here already). The galaxy is huge, so there’s definitely a ton of potential here.

Those are my big wants, but what about you? What are you hoping changes in Destiny 2? Hit me up int he comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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My Thoughts On The Recent Splinter Cell Rumors

Could Sam Fisher be making a come back?

For those who didn’t hear the (potential) news, rumors have begun circulating that Ubisoft has a new Splinter Cell in the works. As a big fan of the franchise, this makes my heart swell. Splinter Cell Blacklist was a great return to form for the franchise and I was always hoping that we’d see a new entry finally arrive for the “next-gen” consoles, even if it was simply a Remastered version. If the rumors are true, then it looks like that next generation version may be happening after all.


The rumor also mentioned another aspect that kind of threw me for a loop. In addition to the new Splinter Cell entry, veteran voice actor and the man behind the vocal chords for Sam Fisher, Michael Ironside, was also mentioned as making a return to the franchise. While nothing was mentioned specifically about his role, it’s easy to assume that he’d be taking up the Fisher mantel again.

Here’s the thing though. What’s odd about this part of the rumor is that Ironside effectively retired from the role after Splinter Cell Conviction. As Blacklist was entering development he opted to pass the torch for Sam Fisher to his protege, Eric Johnson. The major reason for this move, from what we heard, was that the development of the game required someone who could not only speak the lines, but act them out as well. Obviously, having to perform various parkour and aggressive combat moves were probably big reasons why Ironside wasn’t interested in continuing with the role.

That’s the big reason why the Ironside stuff doesn’t make sense. With the state of the art facility at the Ubisoft Toronto studio, there’s absolutely no way the next game in the franchise wouldn’t continue in the same way as Blacklist, which means Ironside would have to hit the mocap studio. If he didn’t want to do it 3 years ago, what changed now suddenly? While I’m excited over the news of a potential new Splinter Cell, I can’t see Ironside returning to the franchise without some major shake up in the story. Could Fisher be in more of an administrative role in a new game instead of being an active field agent? The character has always been portrayed as an older figure, so I guess it’s possible, but even then, it would be weird to have a Splinter Cell game without its main character being the focus. That’s really the only way I could see something like this working out where Ironside would return to take up the role.

Splinter Cell Conviction Malta

While I would argue that Ironside is Sam Fisher with his iconic voice, I had no issues with Eric Johnson, who took over the role on Blacklist. In my opinion, I thought Johnson did a wonderful job with the role and I definitely wouldn’t mind having him back on in a new game.

It is somewhat interesting to think how some of these current cinematic action games would look like these days without actors who did both the acting and voice work in mocap suits though.

Think about Naughty Dog and their popular series for a moment. It’s no secret that the studio requires actors who can both perform and do voice lines at the same time. Would Nathan Drake still be Nathan Drake if North read off the lines while someone else performed the moves in a MoCap suit? Would The Last of Us still have that emotional impact without the use of actors doing both the voice lines and actions at the same time?

I’m by no means a developer, but to me, the additional development time required to try to animate the mouth on a character around voice lines from a sound file doesn’t sound easy as compared to capturing both the actions and mouth animations from one person doing it all right then and there.

What do you make of the rumors? Are you excited about the potential return of Splinter Cell and maybe even Michael Ironside?

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Saturday Video Round Up: August 7 – 13

The weekend is back once again and with it comes a brand new edition of the Video Round Up. We’re back again to bring you the best gameplay and trailers from the week that was. Let’s get to the good stuff, shall we?

One of the biggest games of last year is coming back this year. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is getting a Game of the Year Edition, which means all of those pre-order bonuses, little content updates, free DLC, and both huge expansions are getting packaged into one single package. Any way you look at it, this is a massive steal and now there’s no excuse not to check the game out if you somehow managed to miss it.

Surprisingly, Rocket League isn’t done with the free updates quite yet. Though the game initially launched over a year ago, it’s been updated quite regularly with new things like Basketball, Hockey, and a host of other things.  If you want to add even more mayhem into the already chaotically fun title, then get ready for Rumble Mode which adds a Mario Kart twist into the gameplay.

I’ve also got new videos for Watch_Dogs 2, Titanfall 2, No Man’s Sky and so much more after the break, so come check out this week’s batch of trailers!

The full list of videos await you after the jump…

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The Indie Update: Smaller Games I’m Currently Playing

As we move beyond the slower the dog days of summer and the promised AAA titles for the coming fall season inch ever closer, I’ve found myself deep in indie territory. While the summer seems to slow things down a bit, I’ve managed to take the added time to not only to catch up on things that may have slipped passed me, but to put some time into some of the smaller indie style games out there that unfortunately get overshadowed at times.

So here are some of the indie games that I’ve been plugging away at recently along with some of my impressions. Let me know what you think of each if you’ve played them and if there’s something else out there that I should be taking a look at.

SteamWorld: Heist
To be honest, I completely forgot that I picked this one up during the Steam Summer Sale, but I’m really glad that I remembered. Heist takes place in the same universe as SteamWorld: Dig, where steam powered sentient robots are living life in a post-apocalyptic steampunk world. You play Captain Piper Faraday, smuggler and occasional space pirate, who essentially boards, loots and shoots her way through enemy space ships. As her reputation increases, players can recruit new crew members to help take down rival factions in space.

Gameplay wise, it’s kind of like a 2D XCOM in that it’s turn based where your can move your characters a certain distance and perform a second action such as firing your weapon, or you can make then cover a longer distance at the expense of that second action. The levels are randomly generated each time you play them, so you could definitely replay the same level over and over and it would look different each time.

Thankfully, this is a valid option as the game has light RPG elements, letting players customize their robots with new weapons, gear, and hats, gain experience to level up unlocking new abilities, and collecting loot.

While I’m not super far into the game, I’m having a ton of fun with it so far, and if you’re someone who likes gameplay that revolves around turn based shooting and light RPG elements, SteamWorld Heist is certainly worth a look.

SteamWorld Heist logo

I’ve already mentioned this game in a previous post, but in my opinion it bears repeating. Inside is simple, you’re a kid trying to run away from…well…things really. The story is very, very loose so far, which makes sense considering that this game comes from Playdead, the same group that gave us Limbo. Like Limbo, players need to help this kid overcome obstacles and puzzles, typically which result in death should you fail. I find the gameplay satisfying, though I will admit, sometimes the solutions to some of the puzzle can be a little obtuse at first. Figuring them out and moving on is part of the fun, and I’ve never once felt like tossing my controller in a fit of frustration or anger.

With that said, the game is super weird, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. There so much odd stuff that happens (including a form of minion control to solve puzzles) that I find myself wanting to know more about this world, why the kid is doing what he’s doing, and how this all ties together. The game constantly surprises, throwing the character into new and weirdly different situations at a constant clip. I’m hoping it’ll start explaining things as I near the end, but if Limbo is any indication, I’m sure much of it will be left to player interpretation.

Song of the Deep
At its heart, Song of the Deep is a 2D Metroidvania title, where players can backtrack to unlock new areas once a specific items has been acquired. The story centers around a 12 year old girl named Merryn who builds a makeshift submarine to try and find her father who did not return home after a fishing trip.

A narrator chimes in every so often to dictate what is happening within the gameplay or how Merryn is feeling, and I like how what I’m doing is being narrated, especially by a soothing female voice with a strong Irish accent. The game is visually striking, taking place underwater in distinctive and incredibly interesting zones like a lost city and a ship graveyard to name a few.

Still, I have a hard time figuring out if I actually REALLY like the game. Don’t get me wrong, the music is fantastic, the visuals are breathtaking, and the story is elegantly told. It’s the gameplay that can throw a monkey wrench into the mix every now and then, and sadly, as the biggest aspect to the experience, it also sticks out like a sore thumb when it does miss.

As the game ramps up towards the middle and later half, many puzzles demand that the player interact with explosives, either by using the claw to guide them over to where they need to be or to use the environment to push it in place. Unfortunately, the physics system proves to be incredibly touchy or requires a precision that the game just isn’t capable of.

It’s not a consistent problem, but it’s one that happens more often than not and can be pretty frustrating. I really want to like this game, but I’m just not sure that I do. There’s magic here for sure, but some big elements really bog the experience down.

song of the deep Merrow Ruins

Dangerous Golf
I’ve been a longtime fan of Criterion and their work on the Burnout series of games. For those who don’t know, Burnout is (was?) a racing franchise that prioritized fun over simulation or serious racing. The game encouraged you to drive recklessly, crashing into other cars, and getting rewarded for it. With Criterion having moved onto Need for Speed and now….helping other EA studios, it looks like the franchise is going to sleep for at least a long time.

Many of the core people at the studio left and formed their own indie studio called Three Fields Entertainment and their first title, Dangerous Golf, will make any Burnout player feel right at home. The object is to basically play mini-golf inside real world locations, causing as much damage, chaos, and destruction as possible. Quite simply, they managed to take the Crash Mode from Burnout 3, and convert it into a golf game.

The UI, menus, sound effects, and basically everything will feel incredibly familiar to longtime fans, and thankfully, the gameplay is just as crisp. Seeing a wonderfully put together room turned into a disasterous pit of destruction and then getting everything tallied up into an overall dollar amount of damage at the end is incredibly satisfying.

Dangerous Golf is also very respectful of your time, being an easy pick up and play title, while also being an incredibly fun party game to boot. Burnout fans, party game enthusiasts, and people who love to cause some chaos should give this game a long look.

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