On Nostalgia, Live Service Games, and Being an Adult

I’ve been feeling particularly nostalgic lately, probably in large part to Splinter Cell Conviction going free last month on Xbox Live along with the recent World of Warcraft cinematics Blizzard put out to hype up the upcoming Battle for Azeroth expansion.

Now, I haven’t played WoW since Wrath of the Lich King, the second of seven expansions that continue to keep that game alive and kicking. By my estimates, that’s 10 years now. Still, I have this fascination with the franchise thanks to my familiarity with these characters through my time in WoW and through one of my favorite RTS games of all time: Warcraft 3.

I love the stories that game managed to tell through the base game and its expansion. Watching the downfall of Arthas Menethil, the rise of heroes like Jaina Proudmoore and Thrall, and even the character arc of Illidan Stormrage was fascinating and enthralling for me. So many twists, turns, and surprising moments that continue to be an amazing achievement for a real-time strategy game.

I’ve been wanting to return to Warcraft 3 for a long time now, but I keep running into a situation where I just don’t have the time to devote to it. I barely have enough time to put in a good hour into any games each day, so to sit and play a real-time strategy game where you’re methodically building structures and characters, it just isn’t in the cards. A real bummer for sure.

It’s amazing to think back at how much time my younger self had to devote to games. Playing a game like Warcraft then jumping to something else was never a problem. I seemingly had time for it all. And this is in addition to other things in my life like friends, schools, and whatever else I had going on. Then, as if something changes overnight, you’re suddenly no longer able to manage all these games.

Everything, these days, fights for our time. The best example is the recent games as a service revolution. Games like Destiny 2 and Rainbow Six Siege constantly add new content in an effort to keep players hooked and coming back. I’ll never shun free content, especially when it comes to a game I love playing. It’s having a serious impact to my backlog though because I feel compelled to log in to finish that weekly quest, take part in a special in-game/limit time event, or finish off that quest. With my limited time, I have to pick and choose what I play and I kinda feel like the system is rigged towards those live-service games. I’m falling right into developers hands.

Being an adult isn’t easy as they say, especially if you’re someone who enjoys games. I love this hobby I have and I don’t have any plans to give it up, but I think I’m facing a new reality where I just can’t play anything and everything that I want. Gone are the days that I could pick up a couple games on release day and play through them both in a timely manner. Just like a Pokemon, I think I’m evolving.

Have you noticed a shift in priorities or are you still gaming through the night? 

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Nintendo Switch: The Power of Portable

As someone who grew up with Nintendo, it really warms my heart to see the company doing so well once again after the struggles it experienced with the WiiU. Lately, I’ve been fitting the late adopter mold, grabbing the WiiU and now the Nintendo Switch outside of its typical release window. While the WiiU never really struck a chord with me, my time with the Switch has been a revelation thanks in large part to the most unique thing about it: portability.

I’ve always really liked the design of the Switch, ever since it was first shown off but it takes on a whole new meaning once you actually get your hands on it. This summer I’ve gone on a few trips and facing some downtime, it was the perfect time to actually try out the Switch on the go.

Frankly, it was an amazing experience. The small nature of the system, in general, made playing on an airplane a breeze, regardless of the game. It’s compact, adaptable (thanks to its removable joy-con controllers), and can be used even when mobile devices are still frowned upon. Ultimately, it really helps me pass the time on those long boring flights and for that, I am thankful.

With the new “play anytime” mentality, it’s really made me reconsider where I buy my games. While I’d still call the Xbox or PlayStation my “mains” I’d be lying if I said the portable nature of the Switch hasn’t caused me to pick up a game or two on that system instead. Darkest Dungeon, an already pretty fantastic indie title, has been made even better on the Switch thanks in large part to its touchscreen. Being able to manage my inventory, check out the map, and see valuable stats has been made much easier thanks to the Switch. I’ve also downloaded games like Fallout Shelter, Paladins, and Fortnite to see how these experiences differ from their other platform siblings.

Much has been said about Nintendo’s reliance on ports and I’m all for it. The biggest reason is that the WiiU just didn’t have the audience that the Switch does, so a good portion of these consumers has likely never played these before. These games which are admittedly fantastic, are now getting a much deserved second chance.

The other big reason is that the majority of these ports add in new content. Take a look at Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which is almost an entirely new game. Not only does it include all of the previously released DLC, but it adds in a couple new racers as well as the highly requested Battle Mode. In my opinion, the thing that is likely overlooked but is a well thought out addition is an option to turn on driver assist which basically prevents players from driving off a course. For small kids who may not be great at driving, this is a huge addition and lets them play and succeed.

If there was one area where I feel the system comes up short, it’s with the internal hard drive. Unlike its competitors, the hard drive is minuscule, unable to hold many games. It’s a bummer, especially if you plan on downloading most games. Zelda comes in and takes up nearly half of the space, forcing players to basically pick up a memory card to hold other games. It’s not a deal breaker by any stretch, but it’s unfortunate that Nintendo didn’t bother adding a bigger HD.

Overall, I’m a very happy Switch owner. While it’s a solid system in its own right, being able to easily take it and play it on the go is really making me re-think where I purchase many games. Still, with amazing first party games like Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild, the Switch is a no-brainer must have in my opinion.

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Uldren Sov: The Prince We Never Knew

With E3 now a distant memory, we’ve entered the wasteland that is July and frankly, it shows. The news has basically dried up these days and as a content creator, it has certainly impacted me. Even with no much to talk about, inspiration can strike at any moment like the recent announcement that Bungie has teamed up with Level52 Studios to create a $300 statue of Prince Uldren Sov.

What’s interesting here is that this is a character that has been involved in the entire franchise for probably less than five minutes. Hell, many of you probably only know of the character because of the cool E3 trailer Bungie put out showing his shocking inclusion into the upcoming Forsaken expansion for Destiny 2.

Prince Uldren Sov

Yes, I know why he’s been given a statue considering his (probable) large role as the antagonist in the Forsaken expansion. I’ll even admit that the character design is very cool. I just find it interesting that Bungie is basically leaning heavily on lore to sell us merchandise, an aspect of the franchise that Bungie hasn’t really proven it has a handle on to this point.

More after the break…

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20 Minutes of Gameplay Lootin’ and Shootin’ with Anthem

If you ask me, Anthem has had a strange marketing campaign since its announcement. When EA debuted it in full back in 2017, I was hooked on the premise. A living open world that mixes third-person shooting with an RPG style progression system? Basically becoming an offensive-minded version of Iron Man collecting loot? I mean, what’s not to love, right?

Since that initial reveal, the game has…gone dark for lack of a better term. We heard everything from delays to all sorts of development issues, especially in the wake of the nightmare tornado that spawned from Star Wars: Battlefront II. E3 2018 finally gave us more information on the game, though EA held back a lot of actual gameplay in favor of telling us about that game through a Q&A panel. Sure, we got great new details, but for a game like Anthem, I’d rather see it than be told about it.

Anthem Logo

It may have taken a few extra weeks of waiting, but EA and BioWare have FINALLY given us the full E3 2018 gameplay demo we’ve been waiting for. Twenty whole minutes of pure gameplay, with developer commentary on top and frankly, this video did more for me than the E3 segment did.

While the E3 trailer ripped bits from this gameplay, it’s quite a sight to see the game tackle a mission from start to finish. We see NPCs, what the mini-map looks like, what the loot drops look like in the world, plenty of actual UI elements, and even how 3 of the 4 classes play. Ben Irving, the lead producer on Anthem, even gives us some neat tidbits like how flying through a waterfall cools the jetpack for the javelin or how the game world changes when night falls over the world.

What really appeals to me about this game is how varied the world is. Thanks to being able to fly, you really get a sense of scale and how high some of the terrain is. It’s really interesting to land on a ledge and see your enemies way down on a different part of the land or even the ground. The sense of scale and verticality is a major aspect and helps to set it apart from other loot shooters like The Division or Destiny.

So in case you missed it, have a look at a full gameplay mission from Anthem.

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Now Arriving: Games of July 2018

We’re a little late this month, sorry! Between the American July 4th holiday and my own personal vacation, I’m a little behind schedule. Though to be honest, it’s July so it’s the perfect time for that to happen, I guess.

As I just alluded to, we’re in the middle of the annual summer dry spell. July is typically a barren month, devoid of major AAA releases, which also means it’s the perfect month to catch up on games you may have missed or, you know, go do something outside for a while. *shudder*

July 2018 is a little more interesting because while we’re still missing major releases, there are actually some quality games releasing this month that I’d say are worth your time. Sonic Mania Plus leads the list, adding even more content to an already quality game that released last year.

As a longtime Mega Man fan, I’m particularly interested in the Mega Man X Legacy Collection coming later this month. Switch owners also have a pair of interesting releases including a newly updated version of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker as well as Octopath Traveler, a traditional RPG with fantastic visuals.

As always, you can find the complete list of July video game releases below. With things get back to normal next month? Make sure to come back and find out! Enjoy the sunny days of July, everyone!

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My 10 Favorite Moments from E3 2018

E3 2018 has been over for a few weeks now and while I’ve written about it a lot, the added time has allowed me to gain a bit more perspective on the show. As it always has, E3 tends to overwhelm the normal fan with information, making it quite easy to miss something.

There’s always a lot to love each year, it’s basically like Christmas for video game fans. While most of you reading my recap and reviews can probably guess some of my favorite moments, I’ve gone ahead and highlighted 10 things that I absolutely loved from E3 2018.

e3 2018 logo

So in no specific order, here’s my list. Let me know what stood out for you this year below in the comments as well.

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E3 2018 Conference Recap and Thoughts: Microsoft

Well, folks, we’re on our last recap and review for 2018, this time focusing on Microsoft. If you missed any of my previous coverage over the past couple of weeks, you can catch up with these links: Bethesda/EA, Sony, Ubisoft, Nintendo.

Just like last year, Microsoft continues to find itself in a position behind Sony, and even losing attention to Nintendo’s powerhouse console, Switch. To make matters worse, Sony just launched God of War nearly a month prior to unbelievable critical and commercial praise, while Microsoft’s two 2018 first party titles State of Decay 2 and Sea of Thieves didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Xbox E3 2018

Still, Microsoft continues to evolve its services, offering unprecedented features like Game Pass, which gives players a ton of games to play for just 10 bucks a month. Not only that, the company received a boost during E3 when it was revealed that Sony locked PS4 players from using their Epic account on other systems for Fortnite, like the Switch. Another bonus point to Microsoft on that one.

Still, I feel like Microsoft has nailed its press conference. They’ve pretty much mastered the idea of quick announcements, keeping the show moving, and keeping fans on the edge of their seats. The same rang true for 2018, though this year Microsoft managed to unleash surprise after surprise.

In the end, though, how did Microsoft do? Let’s Discuss.

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