Destiny 2 Beta Impressions – The Chosen One?

The moment many fans had been waiting for finally arrived last week as Bungie pushed the green light on the beta for Destiny 2. Unfortunately for me, I was away on vacation and without access to the internet for the better part of a week, so my time with it was somewhat limited. Interestingly enough, this exactly mirrors the situation I found myself in years ago when the first Destiny beta kicked off.

Unlike that beta however, this one for Destiny 2 didn’t reveal quite as much, only giving access to much of the content that had been seen during the Gameplay reveal livestream back in May. Fans got an opportunity to see how the Tower fell in the first story mission known as Homecoming, The Inverted Spire strike, and two crucible modes: Control and Countdown.

So after spending some time in each of the four main areas, how was it? Is Destiny 2 on track to be a better game than its predecessor? Here are my thoughts:

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Wednesday Video Round Up: Early July Edition

We’re deep into drought territory now and most of the video goodness that I bring you each and every week has dried up for now. Between vacations and E3, I’ve been stockpiling what little there has been so I present to you, the Early July edition of the Round Up!

As a special treat, it’s coming at you on a Wednesday this time and I’ve managed to gather new trailers from the first half of this month for your viewing pleasure. Here’s a small dose of what awaits below the break.

After long last, Doomfist is finally revealed for Overwatch and he is definitely not voiced by Terry Crews as many expected. Still, the man with the huge freakin’ arm looks to be a great addition to the roster as he smashes his way through the enemy team. Before you get to busting stuff up like the Hulk, why not take a moment to learn his backstory?

While I wasn’t too hot on the Bethesda E3 2017 showcase this year, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was an absolute standout. This time around, the Nazis won World War II and they’re working to take over America. If you want to see an alternative history where America is becoming a German state, check out a duo of interesting trailers below.

I’ve also got new videos for Destiny 2, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Monster Hunter: World, and so much more after the break, so come check out this week’s batch of trailers!

The full list of videos awaits you after the jump…

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Red Dead Redemption 2: Learning From Grand Theft Auto 5 And What To Steal

Note from Derek: Special thanks to Simon Mitchell for stepping in to write today’s post. Show the man some love in the comments below and if you’re so inclined, you can follow him on Twitter here: @ReflectiveGame1. Enjoy!

Rockstar Games is a developer with much experience in open-world action adventure games. It is, after all, the genre they’ve mostly stuck to since their foundation. The studio’s last release, Grand Theft Auto 5 fits this bill, as does their next, upcoming game, Red Dead Redemption 2. That’s not to say the company’s portfolio hasn’t changed over the course of ten years, but there are many ways to build upon experience.

Red Dead Redemption 2 will likely most resemble its own predecessor, Red Dead Redemption from 2010, however many lessons learned during the development of GTA 5 will remain relevant when crafting the world and gameplay of Red Dead Redemption 2. Many of the underlying mechanics in these games are similar if not identical, and technology has allowed for some solutions in GTA 5 which weren’t possible at the time of Red Dead Redemption’s release.

The standout aspect which Rockstar should try to emulate is the level of detail seen in GTA 5’s open-world itself. The map makes or breaks a sandbox game in many cases, and with GTA 5, it definitely achieved the former. A level of detail was baked into the virtual world of Los Santos and Blaine County that no other video game has managed to match, let alone eclipse, ever since. Even though the game was released almost four years ago.

With the bar set so high, Rockstar will need to make sure to hit the same standards with Red Dead Redemption 2. When driving through the virtual streets of Los Santos you might make note of how there is barely any repetition in the buildings, which is rare in large city locations in video games. While in the case of GTA 5 this is due to the developer striving towards representing Los Angeles accurately, applying a similar no-repetition rule to the fictional cities of Red Dead Redemption 2 would boost the game’s immersion factor significantly.

Another aspect Rockstar nailed with GTA 5 was not merely filling the open-world with detail, but with life. Sandbox titles often make the mistake of constantly reminding players that this is a video game world, a fake world. No measure of graphical finesse can hide things like rigid NPC routes, static reactions and quest-gives being riveted to the same spot 24/7. The NPCs of GTA 5 feature AI programming much more complex than most similar bystanders. Their paths are not pre-determined, they have diverse behavioural patterns, prominent characters in the story move about during the day and night and perhaps most importantly, these NPCs do things on their own instead of relying entirely on the input of the player.

Mission variety is also nailed in GTA 5, and Red Dead Redemption 2 should mirror this lest it falls into the typical error of open-world games wherein the gameplay is filled with repetition. The key is keeping the amount of distinct game mechanics limited, lest the player is overwhelmed with countless, half-baked systems. Rather, a limited but focused set of mechanics need to be used in creative and distinct ways, keeping gameplay both fresh and familiar at the same time. GTA 5 takes on-foot shooting mechanics and vehicular mechanics, two fairly basic types of gameplay, and gives players a massive game which stays interesting through the end. The single player cheats which Rockstar Games are well-known for including in their titles can also provide countless hours of fun, a mechanic often overlooked in modern games.

Ultimately, GTA 5 represents the peak of open world gaming today, and Rockstar will have to one-up themselves with Red Dead Redemption 2. No matter how good the game is, it will inevitably be compared to GTA 5, and in the unforgiving world of game ratings, if you’re not better, you’re no good at all.

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The Indie Update: Smaller Experiences Perfect For The Summer Months

I don’t know about you but I find the slower summer months the perfect time to really dive into some of the smaller games out there. Without much in the way of AAA titles releasing in during this time AND with the Steam Summer Sale recently wrapping up, I managed to get my hands on a number of indie titles currently making the rounds.

In case you’re looking for something to do during these hot summer months, here are a few quick impressions of some of the indie games I’ve been dumping my hours into. ALso, if you picked up some cool games recently, let us know in the comments.

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Warning! 3 Games I’m Worried About in 2017

So far, this year has delivered so many excellent titles that it’s been difficult to keep up with. For better or worse, the year isn’t slowing down for anyone as there are even more great titles on the way including games like Star Wars Battlefront 2, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Middle-earth: Shadow of War and countless others. I hope you’ve carved out your time and are saving up for the eventual wave of games.

Still, not everything is as hunky-dory as it seems on the surface. There are a few games arriving soon that really concern me going forward. The three titles listed below are games that I want to see do well, but there’s just something about them that isn’t sitting well with me.

In my opinion, the issues facing these three are fixable, but with time running out, is there enough time to do so?

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Now Arriving: Games of July 2017

I’m back from vacation, fully recharged, and ready to go. The first order of business is getting you the July list of games and as I’m sure you guessed, the list is pretty light. Gang, we’ve entered the drought month, so the selection this month is going to be a little lighter than normal.

The good news is that it gives you a chance to prepare yourself for the onslaught of the second half of 2017 though.

The highlight this month comes from an unlikely source: Nintendo. For Switch owners, the wacky and colorful shooter Splatoon 2 finally arrives, giving players the opportunity to splat other players online with kids who are also squids. I personally loved the first game back on the WiiU so make sure to check this quirky shooter out once it hits.

There’s a few other interesting titles out this month as well, such as the long in development shooter/builder hybrid, Fortnite from Epic Games. I don’t typically cover digital only titles here, but Pyre is absolutely worth mentioning here as it comes from the talented team at Supergiant Games.

Other than that, I’d say enjoy your time out in the sun, stay cool, and prepare for the coming months. The complete list of games for the month of July awaits you after the break…

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E3 2017: Microsoft Press Conference Recap and Review

I feel like I say this about Microsoft every year, but E3 2017 was a very important one for the company and their Xbox brand. For them, the focus this year was almost entirely on their secretive new hardware, Project Scorpio.

While Microsoft revealed the system’s hardware details a few months earlier, almost nothing else was known including how it looks, the price, release date, and everything else in between. Coming into E3 this year, Microsoft had two things to ultimately satisfy its fan base: Reveal the new console in full and show off new first party exclusive games.

So did Microsoft accomplish those goals? Here’s the recap and my thoughts on how they did.

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