Bethesda annoys everyone.

I hate being ill. Yesterday I spent the day laying on the couch staring into space and wishing I was at work. A rarity for me, to wish I was at work, but not being able to focus properly on anything meant I wasn’t even using the time to watch films or something that could be useful for this site. 

Thankfully Bethesda gave me something to write/rant about with the Fallout 76 subscription being launched. On top of the initial £39.99 that they ask for to allow you to play the game, they have now stuck a price on several features that have been heavily requested by the small but passionate community playing that game still.

I never jumped into it, it never struck me in quite the right way despite initially intriguing me. The idea of a multiplayer coop fallout game was something I had always wanted. To be able to run around Fallout 4 with a mate or three would have really added to the already great experience. What I did not want was a relatively empty world populated only by other players. No NPC’s no single player story.

Upon launch the game was met with terrible reviews and it came out with bugs that had been fixed by the communities’ mods on Fallout 4, suggesting that the players were more capable than the developers of the game. That aside, a community began to develop, people love the fallout world and therefore wanted to enjoy this world despite Bethesda’s own mistakes.

Now, ages after release they are releasing a subscription service that players will have to buy on top of the initial fee, in order to get a load of new features. On the one hand I understand why they feel entitled to some money for the development time spent on this, but on the other hand these are not ground-breaking features. They’re essentially Pay to win features like a move-able fast travel point and unlimited storage for the materials you collect in the world.

I have been tempted over the last year or so to jump into 76 and see what it’s like, this has now turned me off completely. It also has put questions in my head about Bethesda in general. They were once my favourite studio. Fallout New Vegas & Skyrim are two top tier games that I will always love. Skyrim came out in 2011, a year after New Vegas, and since then they have not made a game that has really blown anyone’s socks off. Fallout 4 was just more fallout. It released 5 years after New Vegas, and yet was built on the same engine with basic graphical improvements and not much in the way of new gameplay mechanics besides the crafting/building of the settlements. The shooting was improved, but for a 5 year cycle the game felt very similar to its predecessors.

The call for a new engine has been going for years, and although that is not really the right thing to be calling for (The game engine has changed a lot over the years), it’s the easiest way of saying Bethesda need to produce something new. Outer Worlds will be with us this weekend, and that game looks much better than Fallout 4 and it’s going after the same audience. Whatever their next game is will be scrutinised for bugs and errors, things that were once put down to Bethesda’s ambition and their games being so huge in every way.

That excuse has been burnt to a cinder because of games like The Witcher 3, which have released with bigger worlds, more stories, and a lot fewer game breaking bugs if any. Bethesda can’t afford another Fallout 76, and if the past is anything to go by, the next game will likely be an Elder Scrolls title.

Now I am a little bit protective of that property, and I will be so annoyed if they fuck it up. I have played through Skyrim 5 times, on 3 different platforms. I will play the next game on day 1, and if they only give me Skyrim with a fresh paint job and a new map, I will be…probably too in love with the world to care but deep down I will be furious. I want Bethesda to be the best again, but right now they’re so far behind the Naughty Dogs and Respawns of the world I am worried they may have had their best days already.

That was a long winding roundabout way for me to say “I want a new elder scrolls game” but that’s just where I ended up today. Hopefully Friday’s post will be about something more relevant.

‘Til then.

ChAzJS

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Ultimate Team is….

This year I really tried. I really tried I did. I wanted to like it. I wanted to be hooked and to get into the weekly grind. To get the satisfaction at the end of the weekend when you’ve got your wins and are rewarded with multiple packs and coins to spend on improving the squad. But I just cannot do it. 

I am of course talking about FIFA 20’s Ultimate Team mode. The microtransaction monster that has dominated the game over recent years and been the primary focus of the development team because it makes EA so much money. While most of the game modes in FIFA have gone through minute changes from year to year, every year there is overhauls to how Ultimate Team is played.

I tried a few years back and gave up when I was being drawn against teams with players I have never heard of with low ratings, and then being torn apart because all of them have 99 pace ratings. I left it alone for years only dabbling a little in the game mode to see what’s what. This year I decided to follow my mates and play it, and at first all was well. I opened some packs, and despite how much I hate microtransactions I bit the bullet and invested £20. I got some okay players, nothing amazing, but it was enough to build a decent team and play some squad battles to improve the team a little.

After one week of those rewards, my premier league team was built. Jamie Vardy up front, a strong core and a formation I know very well from Career mode. 4-3-3 is my favourite formation, with a holding midfielder to protect the centre backs. Well in career mode this works, I even have the holding midfielder dropping deep to collect the ball at times. I have everything ready; my team is set up to play in the exact way I have grown used to playing the game in every mode. I am yet to be beaten by anyone online in other modes and I haven’t been beaten face to face on FIFA in about 10 years.

Things start off ok. I jumped into Division Rivals placement games and noticed straight away the gameplay was not the same as in other modes, or even in the Squad Battle challenges. The players feel loose, and they look like they’re barely able to bring a ball under control and tackling anyone is a bit of a lottery. Sometimes your player will come out of the tackle with the ball, other times it will ricochet unnaturally to another player, be that on your team or the opposition.

Ultimate team’s gameplay is like normal FIFA with all the stats slightly adjusted, and a load more random things that at times feel unfairly balanced one way or the other. There is a big discussion about how regularly goals are scored after conceding, something I always thought was much ado about nothing. Having played the game mode a bit more, I have to say it really is oddly hard to win the ball no matter how cleanly it seems like you tackle the player. It makes for a very frustrating game of football and doesn’t give me anywhere near the satisfaction I get from dominating a game of Pro Clubs or leading a team of home-grown players to glory in Career Mode.

What I find most frustrating of all is that Ultimate team has the components to be a very fun experience, but when the part where you play football is the worst part of a football game mode, you have to wonder what could have been. I have had more fun in the squad building challenges than any other mode. Those puzzles have entertained me for hours and I am looking forward to the next load of puzzles, but it’s now just a glorified mini game to me. I sold my squads and will probably forget about the puzzle mode after a while.

Ultimate Team’s days are possibly numbered, with governments all around the world looking into the legality of the loot boxes and the gambling aspects of video games, it may well mean that FIFA ends up with a R/18 rating for gambling mechanics. I can’t imagine that will fly well with EA, so they may need to revamp the mode completely.

For now, though, I will stick to Pro Clubs for most of my FIFA gameplay, and leave Ultimate Team to those who can deal with the frustration.

Have a great weekend!

ChAzJS

 

Sony is making something called a “PlayStation 5”

In news that has stunned and surprised absolutely nobody Sony have unveiled the official name and release window for the next game console they will be releasing. PlayStation 5 is scheduled to release “Holiday 2020” which is almost exactly when everyone expected it. I personally feel ready for a new console, but the real questions are does PlayStation 5 have enough to convince me that a stay at home console is worth my investment in a world where game streaming services seem to be right around the corner. 

There is a slew of technical information out about the Sony’s new flagship console. An article on over on Wired goes into detail on the Ray Tracing hardware that has been confirmed and an explanation of why the SSD hard drive is so superior to the current hard drives in games consoles. Less space is needed, and it can be accessed faster, so it’s all good news. To be honest, the power of games consoles is becoming less and less relevant, and the real selling point for any new console will be what it brings that I haven’t seen before or didn’t expect.

Each new generation is more powerful than the last and allows for games to be played at higher resolution and gives developers the horsepower needed to produce games with the size and scope of a Red Dead Redemption 2. What I need to get me excited is something new, something I didn’t see coming. Sony have realised this too it seems, and the most interesting innovations are not coming from what’s in the box under your TV, but from what’s in your hands.

The new controller, which is not officially called the DualShock 5, but we all expect it to be, features a couple of new features that genuinely sound like they will enhance the immersion for a wide variety of games. The new feedback that can be programmed into the triggers and analogue sticks is something completely new for consoles.

First, the triggers. The new controller will allow the developers to adjust how much resistance is felt when the player pulls on the trigger buttons. This seems like a novel idea but imagine how different it’s going to feel when you fire a sniper and the trigger resists a little before clicking as you shoot, and then it flings back into position. Or when you’re playing a driving game, and the break trigger will be harder to push the harder you break just like the real thing. This little kind of innovation has a lot of potential to make games feel a lot more intuitive and immersive which is where the next generation of consoles must start heading. With VR slowly becoming a bigger component, these types of physical feedback controllers will allow for entirely new ways to play games.

With the analogue sticks, it is even harder to visualise how these are going to work. Basically, it seems like they are going to feel different depending on the surface your character is walking through. So, for instance on Assassins Creed Odyssey, running through grass will feel different to sand, with the sand feeling a bit slower and feeling more resistant, and then on ice it will loosen up and slip about with ease. It sounds novel, but I am not sure how it will work.

Of course, I am not sure exactly how both these systems will combine until I have the controller in my hands but that is miles off. For now, I am just very excited that these kinds of innovations are where Sony is focusing their attention for the next generation. Their biggest problem, as I hinted in the intro, is that I am not convinced I will want to have a box under my TV.

Stadia and Xbox both are looking like they will be offering a streaming option for playing games, and for me that works better than any console. The one barrier to entry with all these streaming services is the quality of the internet and how good of a connection you need to be able to play latency free, HD to 4K games on them. If my internet at home is good enough to play games at that level, I am not so sure I will need a dedicated home console.

The ace up Sony’s sleeve of course is their range of first party exclusive titles. If it means missing out on TLOU3, Sequels to Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War, and other possible exclusives like Infamous or Spiderman, than I will not be sticking with just a streaming option.

Regardless of whatever software and hardware combination the next generation of gaming platforms arrive in, it’s the games that are available on them that will define them.

‘Til tomorrow.

ChAzJS

 

The Autumn Video Game Budget

Borderlands 3 signalled the beginning of the period that hurts all gamers wallets. For some reason this 3-month run up to Christmas is when the decision makers at the big companies decide to release every game that people have been looking forward to. I get it, Christmas is coming, but surely some of them should have brought their releases forward or delayed them into 2020 to avoid the overload. 

Without using google, I can list off PES 2020, Borderlands 2, FIFA 20, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Destiny 2’s newest expansion Shadowkeep which is like a new game, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, The Outer Worlds, Death Stranding and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. If we optimistically say £50 per game, that’s £450 to keep up with the conversation and that’s assuming I haven’t missed any games.

Okay now I have googled it and I missed the new Pokémon and Doom Eternal. They round it off to a cool £550. So, there is ELEVEN games potentially fighting it out for your Christmas list just of the ones I would have any interest playing. If you want to keep up when you’ll need to have a fair amount of disposable income to do so, and that is without looking at all the types of games I wouldn’t play like 2D platformers and puzzle games.

I understand the need for Sports games to be released at the start of new seasons in their respective sports, so PES and FIFA, NHL and Madden all kind of have their set release windows and that’s just how it has always been. Those games sell millions and always will because they have people invested so deeply in them. Games such as Call of Duty or Ghost Recon though, make less sense to me.

Ghost Recon seems set to be one of the losers in this fight. The last game was a game I thoroughly enjoyed, and I am excited for the next one, but there is so much competition around at the time. For me, it means Destiny 2’s expansion will be put off until the Christmas break and I will probably not go for one or the other between Outer Worlds and Call of Duty. In general, though, Ghost Recon isn’t nearly as popular as a title like Call of Duty or Borderlands and doesn’t have the curiosity around it that a game like The Outer Worlds has going for it.

Surely releasing it back in august, when there was a huge gap for a meaty game like Ghost Recon to fill would have been a better move from a business sense and got more people interested in playing it. As it is the over saturation of the industry in the autumn months will probably mean the game gets cannibalised by its competition.

A similar thing happened a few years ago to a Tomb Raider game, which was a single player story driven action adventure game that released one week after Spiderman on the PS4. The result was that I didn’t pick it up until it was on the game pass on Xbox, meaning they missed out on the money I would have happily paid if they had released at a less busy time.

I know this post won’t change anything, but I would love to see these big games show a bit more common sense and move out of the way of each other rather than fight it out.

It’s a slow news day and last night I just carried on with Borderlands 3. I posted my review yesterday, but I am trying to convince myself to finish the entire game. That’s never a good sign, but I am now at that point where I am having to convince myself to boot it up. It’s not because it’s a bad game, it just hasn’t grabbed my attention the way some games do.

It’s only 10 days now until FIFA 19 releases, and the inevitable time vortex that game is for me will mean a load of FIFA related posts. As it is, I am avoiding that type of football because Arsenal persist with playing out from the back despite it clearly not working, and now I am a full time NFL fan.

So, if anyone ask’s how my team did at the weekend, they won 43-0 against the Miami Dolphins.

ChAzJS

 

This Week In Gaming – 08.03.2019

This week we have Microsoft cutting out their discs, EA announcing no conference during E3,  and the new PS4 firmware update that allows you to play on your mobile. That and all my usual waffle about what I have been playing this week below. 

What I’ve been playing

This week has been a movie week for me, and therefore games have taken a bit of a back seat. I did however manage to finish off Anthem, and get my first win on Apex Legends. Two games I have written a lot about over the last few weeks. Apex continues to be a game I want to play more of, whilst Anthem is very much the opposite.

Anthem sits in a very weird place for me right now. I do like the game, in fact I like every part of the game. When combined though, something just doesn’t feel right. I am left with the opinion Anthem is a really good BioWare, single player game, with the multiplayer looter shooter components strapped onto the game to make it into a live service. It has great characters, but if you’re playing through the game with friends in your party you will miss the majority of the best moments in the game.

Enough about the games I played, and onto the news this week!

Microsoft leaving their Discs out

Brad Sams at Thurrott.com (full story here) has revealed Microsoft’s plans to release a new Xbox one which will be the first of the major consoles to launch without a disc drive. The new all digital Xbox is being released with the aim to lower the barrier to entry for customers into the Xbox ecosystem. This news is the latest in a number of customer friendly stories that have come out around the Xbox system in the last few weeks, and I for one think the signs are positive, as I have mentioned before.

A digital downloads only console is another sign for me that Xbox is keen to really shock the industry with its next platform. If they are planning for Xbox Scarlett to be available as a service, it will of course not have a disk drive. This new level of Xbox could serve as the gateway drug for a lot of people into this new world, a world without having to get up off my butt and find the case for the game I want to play.

rumours suggest the targeted price for the digital Xbox is less than $200 (Post Brexit that’s just a cool £30,000.00) so it seems the idea is to get this xbox in as many homes as possible and get their foot in the door before the next-gen. The question I have is whether or not this move is a little late in the day. By now, if you are a PS4 only owner you are heavily invested in their system, and unlikely to want to change. The low price point may be enough to provoke one or two impulse buys, but I just cannot see this making a dent in Sony’s stranglehold over Xbox when it comes to active consoles on the market.

That thinking does lead me to believe that once again Microsoft are playing the long game, possibly taking a hit financially here, to gain favor with the public and increase their public image with the next console war on the horizon. They do not have an exclusive game to attract fans like Uncharted or Spiderman, but they have a Game Pass which will give Digital only Xbox owners a huge range of games to play from day one. My guess would be each digital console will come with a few months Game Pass included, just to get people’s toes in the water of the Xbox well.

E3 weekend loses another conference

E3 was the major event of the year in the gaming industry up until just a few years ago. It’s one of those events that I have followed and enjoyed all of the news and content that comes out of the show. Over the last few years the event has seen its guest list of companies throwing press conference has steadily shrunk, down to the point where now E3 is just another event, along with the PAX events and even San Diego Comic Con. It is still the biggest event of its kind, but the gulf has largely disappeared.

EA left the official show a few years ago, and launched their EA Play weekend to coincide with the week of E3. Each of these events to date has featured a key press conference, with game announcements, trailers and unveilings presented in the same manner Sony and Microsoft have done for years. They have now decided to pivot to streaming events for different games, a move which I think only EA could pull off.

EA as a publisher boast one of the widest ranges of games on its roster. Alongside franchises like Battlefield, Anthem and Apex Legends, they have the entire flock of EA Sports titles like FIFA and Madden. This huge range means a more focused stream approach should allow viewers to just tune in and watch a good showcase of the games they are most interested in. At present, fans of battlefield have to sit through a whole EA sports section, which could be featuring games they have no interest in.

It opens up the old debate of “Does the industry still need E3?” and for me the answer is a resounding Yes. The show is a focal point for news announcements as well as a place we can see the full diverse range of video games. Here’s hoping nobody else pulls out of the show.

PS4 Firmware Update might hint at their plans

Now this story is almost entirely speculation on my part, but I had a lot of fun last week with the Xbox predictions, so here is my thoughts on the direction Sony might be heading with their next console. The most recent firmware update to the PS4 allowed for access from iOS devices. Now this has been possible for a number of years on Sony’s own mobile devices, but this is the first time we’ve seen PS4 games accessible outside of their own ecosystem as far as I know.

What’s interesting about this to me is the fact that some people at Sony are still working on mobile integration even this close to the announcement of the next console. Could Sony’s next console be able to be played remotely from anywhere? I doubt it, but why on earth are people there still working away on this type of unrequested feature if the technology behind it wasn’t going to aid with their next console. I have never seen much fanfare around playing games via mobile. As our phones become more and more like small PCs, the possibility of me actually enjoying a big blockbuster game via a mobile is increasingly likely.

There are absolutely no details of the PS5, and Sony has no reason to rush it out. I am, as you may have been able to tell, absorbed by the mind games both companies are playing. Right now Xbox has all the work to do, and they seem determined to do it. Sony is in the dangerous position of being on top of the mountain, with everything to lose. The next round of consoles may be the last we ever see, with a digital only world fast approaching, so the winner of this final bout between Xbox and PlayStation may find themselves as the leader of the pack for a long time.

And of course, Nintendo will always Nintendo.

This Week in Gaming – 22.02.19

This week I go over what games I’ve been playing in the last 7 days, speculate a little on what Google could be unveiling at their GDC panel, and look ahead to this week’s big release, EA’s Anthem. 

What I’ve been playing

Last week Shadow of the Tomb Raider was brought onto Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s stupidly good value for money subscription service. I thoroughly enjoyed the previous two games since the franchise reboot in 2013. I didn’t get round to Shadow when it released for one reason or another, but once I had to give it a go once it came to Game Pass.

Square Enix have largely stuck to the formula they have used in the previous 2 games, and not added a great deal I’ve found. A little disappointingly for me, the game feels similar to my time with Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider, but has so far not hooked me into the story. The first two games had shades of Uncharted about them, with the hunt for some ancient treasure being the motivation behind some great character work. This time round the same motivations are there, and we do dive into Lara Croft’s childhood, but its missing that intangible element that just makes you want to keep going back and pushing onto the next part of the story.

I think the lack of a supporting cast we are invested in takes its toll on this third instalment. By the third game in the Uncharted series, we are just as invested in Sully and Elena as we was in Nathan Drake. Lara Croft is the only character I could name from any of these games, I couldn’t even come up with the name of her friend in this game that I have been playing this very week.

One potential reason I grew tired of Tomb Raider, is because I knew I was just a few button presses away from the addictive brilliance of Apex Legends. Neither Fortnite or PUBG ever held my attention quite like Apex is right now, and if I wasn’t writing this, I would be playing it. I went in-depth on a little more in last weeks post, but it’s honestly one of the most well made, excellently balanced games I have played in years. The battle pass comes soon, and with it hopefully a slew of challenges and objectives to mix gameplay up a bit.

Google is coming

This week Google announced that they are going to be unveiling something, no clues on exactly what, at a press event to be held at the Game Developers Conference in March. After the apparent success they had with allowing people to stream Assassins Creed Odyssey through Google Chrome, all signs point to some kind of digital streaming gaming platform.

Google have been expanding into new markets in recent years, with their Phones and tablets emerging as viable options in both markets. They have a very trusted brand, and if they can beat Microsoft and Sony to the punch on a reliable games streaming platform with no latency issues we could be seeing a new contender emerge. Nintendo will always Nintendo, so I don’t see this affecting them very much, but I am sure the big 2 console owners will be watching carefully come March 19th.

I for one hope they release some form of hardware. I don’t believe it will be a box like the current generation consoles, but more likely similar to their Chromecast devices, which can just be plugged into a TV. The device itself will be just a proxy through which users can connect to Google’s cloud processing servers, allowing for HD to 4K quality, high fidelity games to run via the cloud straight onto people’s TV’s.

Such a device could revolutionise how accessible games are, and I can see new TV’s, or even an App for smart TV’s being launched which would allow everyone access to the world of video games with a much lower cost to entry. The elimination of a chunky piece of hardware not only saves space in people’s living rooms, but also reduces the production cost per unit sold for the tech giant. Any news on a release date for the platform is scarce, but all will be revealed in a few short weeks.

Anthem out of tune at launch?

I have been looking forward to BioWare’s Anthem since I first laid eyes on the game a couple of E3’s ago. I love Destiny, and I am a huge fan of Iron Man, so the two being smashed together and being given a story crafted by the creators of the Mass Effect series is a match made in heaven for me. It’s currently installing on my Xbox as we speak and once this is written I will be diving into the game (I prefer PS4, but my mates play Xbox, what can you do).

The game has been “out” for about a week now, although the exact launch day is a little messy. If you have an EA Origin account on PC at a certain level of membership, you could download and play Anthem, the full game, from February 15th. I have EA Access on console, meaning I had 10 hours of gameplay for free, available from the same date. I didn’t take up that offer because of two reasons. For one thing, I knew I had a busy week, and wouldn’t be able to get a decent session in until friday anyway. Secondly, being a platform in a similar vein to destiny, I knew the launch would be a little rocky.

That thinking has been proved right judging by all of the discussion around Anthem this week. Game bugs, crashes and excruciatingly long load screens have all been cited as regular occurrences for players in this opening week. BioWare and EA have announced a Day one patch to deal with these issues, but even the developers themselves aren’t sure exactly when the game released as the patch was dropped on thursday.

I know a lot of people now lose interest in a game if it is broken on release, and i completely understand and sympathise with that logic. With Anthem though, I am willing to give it a bit of time to correct these issues. At launch, Destiny 1 and 2 were fraught with similar bugs and issues. The same is also true for Ubisoft’s own version of these shooter looter games, The Division. What we saw with all of those games, and what I hope we see with Anthem, is continuous support and updates from the developers to make the game the best version of itself that it can be. Destiny 1 and 2 are both excellent games, and I have spent far too many hours on the Destiny 2 grind, and the gameplay and loot cycle have kept me hooked. If Anthem can get into a similar place, we are looking good.

What does worry me, is the comparisons some are making with Bethesda’s “How to botch a guaranteed success” game, Fallout 76. That game released with a load of bugs and glitches, and without the community mod support that Fallout 4 received, no sign of them all being cleared up. Just this week Bethesda banned a player who had committed over 900 hours to the game because apparently he had collected too much ammo for the game and he was kicked off the servers permanently. If Anthem goes the way of Fallout 76, it will be the biggest disappointment in gaming of the decade for me.

I will find out this weekend, and my review in progress (which means I will update it and give a final verdict when I’m finished with the main story) with Anthem will be up on Monday morning at 8am, so check back for my in-depth thoughts on the shooter then.

Thanks for reading!

ChAzJS on XBL and PSN

This week in Gaming – 15.02.2019

I love video games, and I love the industry news and events that come up, so I am going to post a round-up of stories that mattered to me in the last week in the gaming world. This week Activision Blizzard piss off the entire industry, Respawn take on Fortnite, and Nintendo announce new(ish) Zelda and Mario games. 

This week has been a tumultuous one for the industry, with Activision Blizzard’s earnings call with investors causing controversy. The short summary of the story is that Activision have had a record year, with huge profits, and their reaction to this news is to fire roughly 800 members of their staff. On the face of it, it’s an extremely unethical and irresponsible move from the people in charge at Activision Blizzard.

The business side of things, it seems like their reasoning is relatively sound. They are planning to cut down costs whilst producing more games, which is an understandably attractive proposition for any business. The worry here is that you cannot increase production, cut costs, and still maintain the quality of games that we, video game players, demand.

To play devils advocate, they have just lost Bungie, and the Destiny franchise has gone with the developer. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of the layoffs are related to the marketing side of Activision that were focused on the Destiny games. However, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick inferred that despite “recording record results” they still fell below the expectations for 2018, leading to revised, lower expectations in 2019 and this is why they are “restructuring”. Kotick avoids the words layoff and firing very purposely, spinning everything to a positive for the investors he was speaking to.

The people being laid off are all talents, and I am sure will find roles elsewhere, but its a measure of the unrealistic expectations the big video game companies have. They are not content with making a lot of money, they need to make all of the money. Every year has to be bigger, exponential growth is the target, and that is not an attainable one. Their “ambition” is much more suited to the word “Greed”.

Apex Legends FTW

In much more positive news, Respawn (creators of the underappreciated Titanfall franchise) dropped their take on the Battle Royale craze that has a hold of the gaming world lately with Apex Legends. They are not the first to jump onto the wagon of course, even Fortnite was after PUBG, which itself was a mod for another game before that.

Apex Legends takes the basics of the game, i.e. drop in a large map, scramble and scavenge for weapons, ammo, and armor, then fight it out/hide in a small room until you’re the last one left standing. Apex’s unique selling point, and the ace up its sleeve for me, is the hero shooter mechanics they introduce. Blizzard’s Overwatch game is the best example of a Hero Shooter, and what Respawn have done is take the best elements of that genre, and smash them together with the Battle Royale genre, and make it work perfectly.

I have played a fair bit of Fortnite, a little of PUBG, and a lot of Overwatch back in the day. Apex Legends is as accessible as Fortnite, as fun as Overwatch, and as intense as PUBG. I haven’t enjoyed playing any of the other games on my own very much, but Apex makes playing with randoms in your trio incredibly easy, all without having to use your mic. The RB/R1 button is used brilliantly to communicate with your teammates in a way that is actually effective.

The shooting mechanics are solid, better than Fortnite and PUBG, although perhaps a little behind Call of Duty Blackout. There is no building to master here, the main barrier to entry in Fortnite, and the class abilities are useful without ever feeling overpowered. It’s a very solid game, a great foundation for Respawn to build on and create a rival for Fortnite’s Battle Royale crown. At the moment there is only one game mode, but I expect to see a lot of support for Apex, just like Epic offered with Fortnite.

Nintendo New Game News

I recently sold my Nintendo Switch, as it had been sitting gathering dust for the last 6 months after I had finished with Overcooked. Smash Ultimate is fun, but i have a friend who owns it, and playing alone did not appeal to me at all. So after this weeks Nintendo Direct announcements, I have to say I am… happy I made that decision.

Fire Emblem has never been a franchise I know or care much about and it’s never appealed to me, but there is a lot of news for that out there if that’s your kind of game. There are 2 games I was intrigued by in the direct, Super Mario Maker 2 and Tetris 99.

Mario Maker seems like a great idea, allowing the huge community to create their own Mario levels will lead to some brilliant and creative experience’s. The Little Big Planet franchise had its hooks in me for a hot minute back in the PS3 days, playing other people’s creations was really entertaining. I was never a creator myself, but it was a really cool idea. Mario Maker aims to capture that promise, and deliver it with the polish we expect from the Mario franchise.

Tetris 99 I don’t fully understand, but it sounds fascinating. Essentially its Tetris Battle Royale. 99 players all play at the same time, the winner being the last one out I assume, or perhaps there is a timer and it’s whoever has the highest score in that time. Its a clever way to make tetris competitive, and it’s the only reason I miss owning a switch right now.

The other announcement people might really care about is the remake/remaster of Links Awakening. I never played it, I have never really enjoyed a Zelda game and the art styled doesn’t appeal to me, but I know I am very much in the minority on this one. For those of you that want to relive the 1993 Game Boy classic can do so later this year.

That’s it for this week in gaming, thanks for reading!

Credit to Kinda Funny Games Daily, Kotaku, and The Verge for some of the information above.