Tripwire Interactive - Rising Storm 2: Vietnam
Rising Storm is a realistic military based video game franchise that topped the Steam charts when it released as a mod for Red Orchestra 2 back in 2013, in fact PCGamer gave it an 86/100 when it first released. Later on the title was looked at as one of the best PC exclusive massive multiplayer war titles of all time and saw an exceptionally massive amount of hype when the news broke that Rising Storm 2 was happening. Rising Storm originally took place in World War II, fighting through the korean theater in huge 64 player battles and now it takes place in the what some would disclose as the worst war the United States ever took part of, Vietnam. Releasing fully after 8 different waves of beta on May 30th, the team at Tripwire released what will live on as a honest and amazing sequel to one of the world's best military simulators of all time.
Tripwire kept true to the ways the developed in the first title with how brutal, unforgiving and realistic this style of shooter is. There are very minimal ways to learn how to get better, you die repeatedly until you learn to take it slow and embrace the combat system for what it is. Selling for $22.49 on its first week and then later at $25 for its official retail price, you truly are getting a bang for your buck. Ultimately, upon first launching Rising Storm 2, you notice a few things, one being that the super long and unnecessary loading times to get the game launched that you find in other Tripwire titles such as Killing Floor 2, are not present. You jump into the game relatively fast and are first greeted with some options that Red Orchestra players will find very nice. It allows you to choose between the new Rising Storm 2 keybindings or switch over to the old school Rising Storm/Red Orchestra set that veterans of the series will know and (maybe) love. Once you choose a set, you are always free to rebind whatever keys you want in the settings menu. Rising Storm 2 is full of those video options that make a PC game so glorious, from the unnecessary depth of field and (now removed, changeable in the .ini) motion blur settings to the vegetation and texture quality settings ranging from high to ultra.
There are quite a few different menus you will encounter on the homepage besides the Play Online Now button that sends you over to a server browser such as Character Customization and Profile/Stats. It’s always great when a FPS tracks your stats so you can see what your most used guns are or what maps grant you the most wins. It’s also insanely satisfying to watch your Kill/Death ratio raise as you play more and gain more skill online. Seeing as Rising Storm 2 is one the first online shooters in the past few years that have no sort of microtransactions whatsoever besides the digital deluxe edition, it’s cool to see that the game grants you new gear to make your characters stand out in the treelines upon progressing through the games (now redone since beta) leveling and experience system. There’s nothing I want more in this game than to kill charlies with no shirt on, a pornstar mustache and be covered in tattoos while soaking in the massive heat of the Vietnam sun. There are four different teams that can be customized, for Vietnam, you get the NVA and the Viet-Cong Republic which have different variants of clothes and options to apply. America gets the normal US Army and the USMC (United States Marine Corps) to choose from.
When you load up a game you’ll see some new game modes that weren’t introduced with the original game, like Supremacy or Territories. Supremacy is a game mode that has multiple objectives on a field that both teams have to capture, whoever captures the most by the end of the timer or by the time a team runs out of tickets, wins. Territories is a wave based mode that pushes the americans to take objectives from Vietnam pushing their spawns farther and farther back into their base, the game ends when either the americans run out of spawn tickets or the vietnam team loses every objective. Both game modes run flawlessly and feel perfectly unique, they tend to vary upon different maps. There are some smaller based modes that only pit 16 players instead of the usual 64 called Skirmish, however I didn’t get around to playing any of that. For the Supremacy and Territories modes, you only get five maps, which get old pretty fast, so that does tend to be a bummer however the multiple different player based classes you can play on do add some variety that tops off the fun. Personally, because the game is so cheap and the Tripwire teams are deciding to add more content in the future, I don’t mind the lack of content maps & modes wise that much. It’s still a very different style of game then you’ll find anywhere else on the Steam marketplace right now and it’s pretty refreshing.
I’d have to say that right now, Rising Storm 2 is one of my top contenders for Game of the Year. It may still be very early to decide but we are now at the halfway mark for the year. I’d recommend everybody that digs first person shooters and wars from the past picks this game up given the opportunity, it’s dirt cheap and even cheaper if you pick it up on a site like CDKEYS. Tripwire is going to be constantly updating the title with small optimizations for performance and content so for now, I’ll be fighting in the treelines.
- Dakota G.
Dead Cells - Motion Twin
Should You Wait?
Release Date: Tentatively 8-12 months after EA launch (5/10/17)
On the outside looking in, Dead Cells is the game of the month, the title that people will talk about for 30 days and will more than likely forget after. I had the same opinion until I watched one of my favorite YouTubers play it in a one-off video and used all the buzzwords I care for. Rogue lite. Dark Souls-esque. Metroidvania. Having stepped away from The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth after 350+ hours, I’ve been craving something to fill that void. As I watched the video, I noticed a few other things: the player can engage in combat at their own pace, and promises truly interesting new items as you progress. So, what the hell? Its $16.99, and if I sell some CS:GO skins, I can get it under $10.
Upon starting the game, a rolling pile of waste bears the husk of a fallen warrior to a dungeon garbage heap. After selecting two of the three initial offerings (sword, shield, and bow), you traverse the side-scrolling pixelated gothic world. After a few minutes of play, the game becomes intoxicating with its simplistic and precise controls. This is the essence of “easy to learn, difficult to master.” Enemies telegraph their attacks with both visual and audio cues without overwhelming the player, with the caveat that different enemies have longer or shorter tells, and the variety of tells encourages the player to learn the best response to each as quickly as possible, whether it's blocking, rolling, or attacking through it before the animation finishes. The myriad of weapons and items with unique and meaningful properties that influence playstyle deepens the complexity of combat. For instance, the electric whip stuns targets with consecutive attacks, and has great range against both ground and air, while the rapier is extremely short in range but attacks after a roll are guaranteed critical hits. Currently, playstyle is dictated by item drops unlike games like The Binding of Isaac, Nuclear Throne, or Risk of Rain that allow for more choice, although there are shops that sell various weapons and items dropped by enemies or hidden in secrets, helping to mitigate that element of randomness, to an extent. It also helps that you can come across pure statistic upgrades where you can choose between health, strength, and active (skills) to help tailor the run.
If you’ve played a rogue-lite, you know that progression can make or break the game. Dead Cells has that down pretty well. As you go through levels, enemies can drop blueprints to weapons or items, and if you survive to the intermediary area, you have the opportunity to unlock it. This is where things get a little grindy. Before finding these items through random drops, you have to put a certain number of cells into them, which is basically the Dead Cells of souls in Dark Souls. They’re usually how much you’d get from killing everything in the first level, never an outrageous amount. Beyond that, you can dump more cells to upgrade the effectiveness of these items at an exponential rate. Further, cells are used to upgrade the charges of your health flask, gold recovery on death, or starting items. The page of unlocks and upgrades can be daunting to start, but you’ll figure out where to dump your cells after a little experimentation. Cells are easier to come by on the later levels as your foes increase, but without utility that complements your playstyle or proficiency in the mechanics, it is difficult to get far. Sounds discouraging, but once you learn the fundamentals of the combat, it becomes easier to adapt and push through obstacles, essential for a rogue-lites and roguelikes.
Where the game shows it's still in early access is in its nuances. One of these is the length of finishing runs. From start to end, there are seven levels to fight through, two of them being solely boss fights. It's not exactly a lot, but it's a little deceptive. The first group of three levels have three differing paths that open up after defeating specific elite enemy spawns which drop runes, the keys to those paths. These paths feature unique settings and difficulties--high on the ramparts of the castle, down in the sewers, or in the haunted depths of a prison-- but, more importantly, yield greater rewards. After the fourth level, a boss, levels don’t have that choice. There are also some features one would assume would come with the incredibly robust controls, like the ability to deflect explosives to damage enemies, but they don’t. I understand that they still affect the player, but it's a minor annoyance that the developer has already addressed and has already fixed for an upcoming patch. Whether the construct of the later game will also get an update is up in the air, but considering I’ve made it this far once in 7.5 hours and died about 10-20 minutes in, I still have a way before it really affects my time in the game. In terms of performance, the game is solid. It seems to be capped at a steady 60fps, and the only times I’ve seen it dip is when I have a Twitch stream on my second monitor (40fps at the lowest) or, oddly, when my blue light filter kicks in at night (15fps). Dead Cells is the only game that I’ve seen affected by this. If anything, it's just another sign that it's early access.
So, should you wait until it's released, or later? Taking into account the price and the time I’ve gladly spent on the game, I say it's worth it. It's hard to put into words how great the game feels to play, or even show in a video. You just have to play it yourself and find your rhythm to entirely grasp how robust it is. There are a number of unlocks that provide different experiences, and to see it all, you have to put in time and develop your skills. Honestly, the game is as rewarding as Dark Souls. You come to a roadblock, die, learn what you did wrong, face it again, progress, and maybe find a new item along the way. If you don’t feel the same way, you probably won’t enjoy Dead Cells because that's it at it’s very foundation, more so than The Binding of Isaac where there are pure bullet-hell moments. I wouldn’t be surprised if this climbs the rankings over the months. It's had too much time in people’s hands between the original flash, Wrath of the Lamb, the remake Rebirth, Afterbirth, and Afterbirth + and its booster packs. It’s been added to and refined for so long, a new IP isn’t going to take its place in its first year, or even second, but if Dead Cells continues to see growth after that, it could have the potential to unseat Isaac as king.
- Alex B.
Tripwire Interactive - Rising Storm 2: Vietnam
Should You Wait?
Release Date: Q2 2017 (April 1st - June 30th)
Rising Storm is a series that found its roots being a mod for the Red Orchestra titles on Steam. However, the second Rising Storm was promised to be its own standalone adventure that Antimatter Studios was creating with the help from Tripwire Interactive (Killing Floor.) Rising Storm 2: Vietnam promises fun for both new and returning fans of the series however it’s not for the faint of heart. Comparing other titles like Insurgency or now Day of Infamy, to its slow paced, boots on the ground combat system works well. Games like these with these kind of skill ceilings are unforgiving to new players, it’s a rinse and repeat cycle for learning. Tripwire knows what is gonna sell copies though, regardless of the skill ceiling, the Vietnam war era. We haven’t seen many shooters of this capacity rise from the Vietnam war since the early 2010’s, so that is sure to pull an audience. Especially since it seems lately, players are wanting to go back in history instead of forward, mostly notably from games like Call of Duty: WWII and Battlefield 1. Indie games are hard to sell, however Rising Storm 2 has its seventh beta wave rolling out this week. Tripwire has lined up sponsors all over for Antimatter’s new 64 play gritty war shooter such as PC Gamer and Gamespot to give out codes for the tests so, really is the game worth buying or should you wait?
Rising Storm’s social media account announced late last month that the game was up for pre-purchase on Steam and it would guarantee you access to the last closed beta wave before the open beta later this month. This wasn’t the only string they’re pulling to snag those sales in though, currently the only purchase option is the deluxe edition of the game which is a near $22.99 right now. Antimatter made a statement that this is actually cheaper than the standard copy of Rising Storm 2 will be upon its release, which is rumored for the last week of May or the first week of June. I believe the standard edition the game will be retailed for about $30 on launch and the deluxe will probably be around $40, but the incentives of it being a “deluxe” copy are pretty boring. You get some extra skins for your character customization (which we’ll dive into a little bit later) and you get a digital download of the soundtrack upon release. Personally, I dove into the web and found a copy of the game on CDKEYS for a price tag of $18.60 so I purchased it, because even if I get 20 hours of fun from the game, I got my money’s worth. The sale on the digital deluxe doesn’t have an end date, or at least it doesn’t say. Beta wave 7 starts this Thursday though, as part of the bonuses.
Seven waves of beta testing have apparently paid off vastly for the teams though, they say they’re taking the feedback of fans very seriously. Fans are loving the game, myself included. From the short amount of time I got with the sixth testing period, I saw how polished the game was for a beta and I’m blown away. Rising Storm 2 is built on Unreal Engine 3, which is severely outdated now, but the game still looks absolutely stunning, just like Killing Floor 2 does on the same engine. From the stunning vegetation across the maps to the destruction from the traps placed around, the game blows me away. Shooting every gun is amazing, it feels crisp and clean just like you were placed back in time standing in the treelines. You switch on and off between the Vietnamese Army and the American Army every game which gives you a diverse look at both sides of the war. I would have to say for being in beta, my biggest complaint for the game is the announcer voices, they seem cringy and generic. Hopefully those will be worked on for the full release, as the actual character voices are phenomenal. You’ll find your character shouting nicknames for the enemy soldiers that were popular in the Vietnam war, Charlie and G.I, depending on what team you’re on. Overall, the most satisfying sound effects in the game are shooting down an enemy helicopter with an RPG and/or getting a headshot in game, the clunkiness of the bullets hitting the helmets is almost gross in a sense of violence.
Character Customization in Rising Storm 2 is up to par with most AAA titles in the gaming industry today. Starting with a basic model for your character depending on what side of the war you are fighting on and then developing a different outfit and even tattoo ideas for them. There aren’t a ton of options, although pre-ordering the deluxe gives you about five or six more. It doesn’t feel like there needs to be too much, as the development teams are trying their absolute hardest to hold this game as true as possible to the disaster that was the Vietnam war. It’s always awesome to see your character model running around the battlefield, after all you made that person what they are. I’m excited to see the finalized way the leveling system and experience plays out, right now you level up but there doesn’t seem to be any incentive to keep leveling. For me atleast, I just love to see that high rank number next to my player name so I can’t really complain even if it’s simple.
I love games like Insurgency and the Arma series for their PVP, I even play quite a few different battle royale titles on the steam marketplace. Obviously, with that being said if you can stand the unforgiving and painful learning process behind how to play Rising Storm 2, I’m gonna recommend it. You have to get used to the clunky camera angles found in any shooter that rewards heavily on reaction time, but it’s not hard to adjust. CDKEY’s still had quite a few keys on their marketplace, so if you’re uncertain on paying the $23 price tag, you can get the $5 off there. It may not be much, but I’m sure your wallet will thank you eventually. Ultimately, this depends on the style of gamer you are but I wanna say buy, don’t wait. You should definitely pick up Rising Storm 2 before the sale on pre-orders end, because you don’t wanna be stuck paying a hefty amount for the standard edition.
I hope to see you all out on the battlefield.
- Dakota G.
Nintendo shipped out their newest console early last month, the Switch, has been selling like hotcakes, making it insanely hard for consumers who didn’t find an opportunity to pre-order to find a console. I’ve heard if you were lucky to find one over a week after launch, it was like finding a needle in a haystack, literally. Personally, I went out the Wednesday after they launched and I had to call at least 9 different stores in different counties. I called a variety of different Walmart, Gamestop and Target locations all around Connecticut to be told that they were sold out before I found one, so trust me, I know the pain all too well.
When the console was shipped out, something odd was noticed by fans that couldn’t find a Switch. The console itself was not region locked. This means that fans all around the globe could order from different countries and it would not affect the way the console worked, which is not the case for other consoles out there right now. This opened a lot of opportunities for people to grab the Switch from a store overseas and have it shipped to them instead of waiting around for the small price that was overseas shipping, however the fun didn’t stop there. As we all know there are development companies for games that only make games for certain regions and you would only be able to find them in those regions, however with the Switch being unlocked, it opened a whole new playing field to being able to access those titles.
Following a small workaround that you can find pretty much anywhere that videos circulate on the internet, you can make an account that's linked to the different countries/continents and download games from the Nintendo eShop that wouldn’t be available otherwise. This started to be found around a week or so after the console had been out to the public with games like Dragon Quest Heroes I & II and now with the new Spelunker title found overseas (which will make its way over to the states eventually as a free to play).
Personally, I think the region lock being nonexistent is a good move on Nintendo, because it will give developers the opportunities to see how well their games do in other markets as well, and with Nintendo crashing before the console was launched, it was probably one of the small things they hoped would help push units everywhere.
Have you used the eShop from another region? If so, let us know in the comments below what you think of games like Dragon Quest and Spelunker, I love them but once the games hit the states I’ll make a review for them, until now I’ll enjoy the Japanese demo versions.
- Dakota G.
Destiny is the only game I can think of from the past generation of gaming that can single handedly trigger what some consider the gamer equivalent of Vietnam flashbacks for some people, while others have extremely fond memories. Unfortunately, the entirety of the PC gaming community missed the opportunity to play the rollercoaster of Destiny, drom the rocky launch to its amazing first year of support and gameplay, to the even rockier and more uncertain second and third fiscal years. I say rollercoaster because of the backlash developer Bungie received after being forced to scrap the entire work they had for a campaign mode a little less than a year before the game came out, so they weren’t sued by the old story director that pretty much was forced out of the company. Bungie had first said they planned to give Destiny the life cycle of your average MMO, about a decade, but noticed that the game fell short, making that seemingly impossible. Destiny 2 was announced on the 30th of March with some huge statements hidden inside the original teaser. You see returns from fan favorite characters which indicate that Bungie is really taking a step forward in the attempt at a campaign this time around. It was also confirmed that Destiny 2 would be making its way to PC this time around. It had circulated for quite some time that the second game would of course make it’s way to the “master race,” since Bungie had seen the amount of players that actually wanted to play the loosely styled MMORPG. However, seeing them announce the game seemed almost like the only reason a ton of fans were willing to return. Ultimately, it appeared the biggest things besides a lack of story and seemingly forced expansions that Destiny got shit for was its cap at a mere 30 frames per second, which is inexcusable to most for AAA first-person styled games. The cap made the observant hardcore gamers want to tear their eyelids off, and I can confirm with a mere 963 hours logged into the original Destiny on my old Xbox One. Bringing the franchise to the PC world makes the choices almost infinite on how to run the game, or so we hope. There has been a history with developers for some reason shipping games on PC that were also capped at 30fps instead of leaving it unlimited for people with higher refresh rate monitors and rigs that can run the game at its maximum potential. I have at least enough faith that Bungie will take the high road and leave it uncapped, providing more graphical options to make the game look phenomenal. Destiny 2, just like its older brother or father figure, as some would say, is going to have a beta test on all platforms (which, for those certain they will enjoy the game before gameplay reveals, can be preordered to secure early access to a closed beta phase) that will run probably at some point in the summer over the course of two weeks, one week closed and one week open. Seeing as the beta test is also available on PC, I’m sure some of those players will dig into the programs files on their machines to uncover some hidden secrets just like they did with Black Ops 3, which resulted in the Infinite Warfare beta, completely skipping over the platform as a whole. I’m sure that Bungie, being the team of awesome individuals that they are, will make sure to include some small hidden easter eggs for those hunters to find in the files.
I’m certain that with Destiny 2 coming to all platforms (with the exception of the Switch, which is a good thing) that it will be an absolute bestseller this year for video games, but only time will tell. I can for sure state that I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy for PC and see how they treat the spoiled kids that we truthfully are.
Are you excited for Destiny 2? Let us know in the comments below.
- Dakota G.
Keep Watch for In-Stock Hardware
Nintendo has had a very rough past few years with the Wii U, whose sales flopped harder than a fish out of water, but they seem certain that the Switch will brings back the fans, the community of casual gamers, and even some hardcore gamers that enjoyed their hardware in the past. Originally passed off as project codenamed NX, it was ultimately revealed to be the Switch at last year’s E3 press conference. Gamers across the globe had no clue what to expect, what it was built with, or what it was going to be. When Nintendo further revealed that it was some weird tablet device that could be played in three separate ways, making it both a home console and the sort of handheld machine that Nintendo is known to do super well with, it raised a lot of questions among the community. Originally, I wondered what the specs on such a tiny machine might look like and how far you could actually take the portable version before it disconnected. I was wary after the same promise was made with the Wii U, which could not be moved farther than five meters from your home console. Fans were skeptical, but gradually, more and more started to believe that this could be Nintendo’s saving grace among home console gamers. Once it was revealed that the Switch is built with a Nvidia Tegra processor, also used in Nvidia’s shield tablet, excitement among fans shot up - especially the players that use Nvidia brand GPU’s in their home gaming PC. Closer to the end of the year, we found out the Switch was hitting shelves on March 3rd, 2017. Now that that date has come and gone, we are going to take a look at what the Switch is and how well it performs in the current gaming market.
Nintendo’s new home console comes in two different color schemes. You can pick the blue with one red joy con, or you can stick with classic gray. I was instantly impressed as I took the screen out of the box. I knew it was going to be small, but I was still quite shocked to see that the console has an iPhone 7+ sized screen. Upon unwrapping the plastic, I noticing the ventilation systems and the kickstand, which also hides an opening for expanded storage via microSD cards. The game cartridge slots feel very flimsy, and I worried they would break with repeated use over a short period of time. I also noticed that the console charger port was on the bottom. This may not seem like a con, but because of the location, you cannot use the console in its tabletop mode to play games while charging, because the kickstand will not work with the USB-Type C adapter in at the same time. One of the best parts of the hardware's presentation is easily the fact that the joy cons can be broken down into two different controllers or used as one, with or without the joy con grip. This makes for seamless local play, which has always been a strength for Nintendo. Another con is dock itself. I felt that there is a chance you might wind up scratching the screen of the console if you placed the Switch into the dock since the plastic is so cheap and rugged. However, I was able to take some of the foam packaging and place it over the plastic to comfortably transition the screen to docked mode. Upon further investigation, I realized that there is no “best” way to play games on the console. Every mode, whether it be tabletop, handheld or even docked, has its perks, making it an all-around amazing piece of hardware. I hope this is supported for years to come, as it is almost revolutionary. My last complaint regarding the hardware is that the button scheme on the controller is a serious pain in the ass for any gamer to adjust to compared to the standard layout of the Xbox or PlayStation.
II: UI (User Interface) and Online Play
7/10 (for now)
Nintendo has had a history of clunky interfaces, but the Switch proudly breaks that cycle. Upon booting the system for the first time, I instantly appreciated the smoothness of the set up and the intuitiveness of the “dashboard” menu. Online play is free for the time being, but will require a subscription fee later this year. Unfortunately, as of launch, there are not too many games to play online seeing as the major contenders are The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or the locally-played 1-2 Switch. Hopefully, the online playing service will beef up for the launch of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Splatoon 2, but there is no way to tell. It does seem likely considering how Nintendo has addressed common issues with their hardware. You cannot preload or preorder any games on the Nintendo eShop, which is a major drawback in comparison to the rest of the console market. However, Nintendo, seems to be doing pretty well following their own path with the Switch.
III: Price Point
6.8/10 (also, for now)
Unfortunately, $300 for a console that comes with no game to play is very steep, especially for skeptics burned by the Wii U. But given the performance capabilities of the console, the price makes sense. $300 is pricey for a handheld machine, but it’s also the same price the Wii U still goes for. Nintendo is on their last straw as well, so this console is going to have at least a six year life cycle if the company wants to make it in the home gaming market. If the sales and third party companies that back the console don’t make you believe that this is a console for an on-the-move generation, wait for E3 this year: we will definitely see some major announcements that will make these consoles fly off the shelves like it’s release weekend again, so watch for that if you need some reassurance. Yes, this console is weak around launch with only one real title to its name. I do have to say, with this price point, 1-2 Switch should have been included with the console like Wii Sports was back in the day. The major problem that I have with this consoles price is the fact that the accessories are stupidly expensive. $70 for a Pro Controller and $50 for one joycon? What’s really up with that?
IV: Switch Moments
Of course, if you pick up the Switch and exclusively play it docked, you may have a different opinion on the machine, but nothing is more satisfying than the moments that make the Switch what it is. I was playing Zelda in tabletop mode the other day while writing. I was in the middle of an important battle but wanted to grab something to eat, so I took the joycon controllers out of the grip, slid them on the sides of the machine, walked downstairs and finished the battle while making food. It’s multitasking on a entirely new level. Some might argue that they would prefer not to play the Switch in handheld mode or tabletop mode because of the 720p resolution on the portable screen and would prefer the better resolution on the TV, but since the Switch has a small 6.2 inch screen, you don’t even realize the resolution is below normal unless you post a screenshot to the web from the in-game capture gallery and look at it on your computer (you won’t notice on your phone, I promise). The portability of the Switch is frankly revolutionary, although you won’t notice until you experience it yourself. Here’s to more of these moments, some of which will be even more awesome in the future - but until I wind up playing Mario Kart at the airport with some random woman like in the trailer, I fully accept the joy in these small moments.
Keep in mind, you have to know what you’re looking for in a console before buying a Switch. If you’re looking for a massive AAA console that plays games like Grand Theft Auto or Mass Effect, you won’t find it here, at least not until the third party developers start to realize the console is a success. Even then, you won’t get your glorious 4K games, so look for that in other markets. If you want something fresh, new, and innovative that markets amazing games that may not be massively advertised, or games that you are accustomed to, then the Switch is for you, provided you can handle the price point and enjoy the Switch for what it is. If you are constantly on the go and need a gaming device for your lifestyle, buy a Switch. You’re going to enjoy the hell out of this machine.
- Dakota G.
2017 is off to a decent start for entertainment whether that be video games, music or movies. We’ve seen some beautiful games like Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (or the other way around in Japan), Gravity Rush 2, and we even got Kingdom Hearts 2.8. This year is only bound to get better, and with that come some more amazing games that everyone should probably keep an eye out for. Keep in mind that not all of the titles on this list may speak to you, and that is okay, but I promise there is something for everyone here.
I: Rising Storm 2: Vietnam
Rising Storm was a hit expansion to Red Orchestra 2, released in 2013, that made waves in the PC player base and was named the best PC Multiplayer for that year. It still has a decent player count in 2017. Following the success of the original, developer Tripwire Interactive (Killing Floor and Killing Floor 2) started chasing the idea of another title, making this its own game set during the Vietnam War. It will be seeing the light this year unless it gets hit with a delay. Rising Storm 2 has seen a decent amount of weekend-long beta tests which are leaving fans wanting more. It’s bound to be another big title for the player base this year since it’s been some time since we have seen a dev team dive into the gritty, blood-soaked era of this particular war.
II: Mass Effect: Andromeda
PC, PS4, XB1
March 21st, 2017.
EA hit gold with the Mass Effect series a decade ago, sparking two sequels in six years after the massive following that the franchise gathered. Fast forward to 2013: Mass Effect 3 is released and fans are very unhappy with the ending for reasons that are most definitely considered spoilers. EA took some time to let it settle before pushing out a new title, which was later announced at E3 as Mass Effect: Andromeda. Showing a vast array of unique, vividly-realized planets that you can visit in-game, EA describes a very linear but exploration-friendly installment that sticks to the game’s RPG roots.
III: Destiny 2
PC, PS4, XB1
TBA (Probably September)
Bungie, the beloved company behind the good installments of the Halo franchise, have made another classic - this time in the MMO universe. Destiny, a MMORPGFPS, made waves in the console player base in late 2014, but unfortunately skipping the entire PC player base. It was something fresh and unique to the console players that had never really experienced an MMO of this nature. The game was simple but fantastic, playing almost like a modern take on Halo for older fans of that series. A year later, doing the most MMO thing possible, Destiny released an expansion that added new raids, planets and bits of story on top of the new gear and level cap to keep the player base alive. Activision, which is the publisher for the franchise, released a statement saying that Destiny 2 is on track for this year and is supposed to be coming to the PC. Fingers crossed.
IV: Red Dead Redemption 2
If you ever needed a reason to keep a console around, Rockstar Games has you covered with their official announcement of Red Dead Redemption 2, which will be released later this year with some sort of exclusivity bonus tied to the PlayStation player base. Some fans believe that it will be a prequel to the original game following John Marston’s past as a gang member, while others believe it will be a direct sequel following the life of his son. I suppose only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: the game is damn beautiful due to whatever engine Rockstar Games uses for their titles.
V: The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind (Expansion)
PC, PS4, XB1
June 6th, 2017.
Elder Scrolls Online has been a game for about three years. It's received a fair amount of backlash in its first years, but is now finally beginning to look like the game most fans expected. Zenimax and Bethesda have unveiled the newest expansion for the MMO that takes players back to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. It should be interesting to see how they handle most of the questing and dungeons in this expansion given that ESO takes place a mere 1,000 years before any of the other Elder Scrolls installments. Following the announcement trailer and release date reveal for Morrowind, the games communities on every platform have seen quite the resurgence in its player bases to get leveled up and prepared ahead of time for the DLC.
VI: Middle Earth: Shadow of War
PC, PS4, XB1
August 22nd, 2017.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor was met with an unexpectedly warm embrace back in 2014 from more than just the standard Lord of the Rings community, which sparked the development of second adaptation Shadow of War, which turns Middle Earth into a full-blown franchise for Warner Bros Games. Shadow of Mordor’s success was due to its unique style of gameplay and location in the LoR universe. Shadow of War promises not only to return with the same gameplay experienced in the first title, but to add onto it, promising that no two players will have the same game and that it will be a completely different experience for everyone. Time will tell if returning to Mordor is worth the trip.
VII: Battalion 1944
PC, PS4, XB1
Early Access First on Steam, Full Release on Consoles.
No Release Date Announced, Estimated Q3 Full Release.
With the decline of futuristic arena-style shooters, one indie team promises to bring you back to World War II in a way you will love this year. Battalion 1944 is the first project by Bulkhead Interactive, who are promising to pay homage to games like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty 2. Bulkhead is hearing fans loud and clear when they say that they Call of Duty: World at War more than they want another Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. The project is completely independent and was started on Kickstarter in early 2016, promising a quality experience for both the PC player base and the console player base. This is the year to return to the ground for sure and experience the visceral darkness of WW2.
- Dakota G.
Should You Wait?
Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Played On: PC
Release Date: February 14th, 2017.
(Article was processed from Beta thoughts, which don’t show every aspect of the full game)
For Honor is a new video game releasing on Valentine's Day from Ubisoft that focuses on a third person, war torn look at the medieval ages. Truthfully, the game has all it really needs to make a game focused so heavily around that time period severely badass. It’s got the gore, more than enough customization and a slew of perfected game modes but the real issue with it is more or less its fun factor for the price point to be set at a $60 price tag. For instance, take games like Chivalry: Medieval Warfare which besides its first person camera is almost identical in many ways to For Honor, which is priced at around $25 to $30 dollars depending on the platform and has for the most part always had that price point. For Honor, as absolutely gorgeous as it is running on a good PC has a very diverse take at controls. Blocking enemy attacks has you moving the mouse to a certain direction at a very fast pace to succeed and on a console you are forced to move the right thumbstick on the joypads to block the attacks. Personally, on a mouse and keyboard set up it isn't bad as long as you have quite a bit of space to move the mouse for these actions, the more limited the worse the controls will feel. However, with a controller if you were to go swing your weapon and then rapidly block an enemy's attempt to counter it would force the player to play what is known as “Stretch” moving your left hand to the right side of the controller to move the stick, yikes to the average player.
For Honor has a lead on Chivalry in one department, being a single player cinematic campaign experience. However, there is no knowledge as to what this is really going to based on besides the three factions you play as in the multiplayer side of the game, Samurai, Knight, and Viking. Taken with a grain of salt, is also Ubisoft’s reputation at delivering unfinished and downgraded products from their previous demos of games, look at Rainbow Six: Siege and The Division for instance. Both products were improved over time with a constant slew of DLC (Downloadable Content) that requires extra purchases. It’s more or less the equivalent of paying for a demo of a game and having to pay for the real one piece by piece like a jigsaw puzzle, having all the pieces placed together over a year or two later. Console players also use the argument that Ubisoft makes their products look visually more appealing in their showcases at events like E3 and then proceeds to tone them down more upon the launch of the game. This argument is valid but invalid at the same time, one must know that most demos at events are played on a PC with a controller input of the sponsor providing better visual fidelity depending on how the PC is built, part wise.
Overall, the game is there in an almost finished, if not already finished state come now preparing for its launch on February the 14th. If you can suffice the overly repetitive multiplayer portion of the game and the estimated 6 to 7 hour single player portion of the game for a sixty dollar purchase, that is on you. As for PC players, you always have the option of searching around on third-party markets and searching for the cheaper CD-key to download even on day one. If you are playing on a console I would wait for a deal further down the road to pay around $35 for this game and to see what Ubisoft’s after launch plans are for this game. PC players should do the method described above if wanting to play on launch, as this product is not worth the full price tag and if not available wait to a Steam Sale maybe even the Spring Sale which is closer than any other, because c’mon it’s gonna happen later on and everyone knows it.
- Dakota G.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier (aka Season 3)
Reviewed on PC
The Walking Dead is a franchise that hits home on many different fronts in the entertainment industry with its variety of different takes from graphic novels to a television hit to even a episodic masterpiece of a video game. Telltale initially booted the series as one of their first episodic adventure games back in 2012, not expecting much of a success from it after the great but poorly advertised previously developed titles such as Back To The Future and 7 Days to Die. Founded on strong character leads and emotionally scripted scenes fans immediately fell in love with this new universe that was discovered. Announced at E3 of 2016 that it would be making its comeback for a third season this year on the new generation of platforms fans rejoiced making it one of the most anticipated digital only releases of 2016.
Episode 1: Ties That Bend Part I
Season 3, titled A New Frontier, was teased a few months ago with a trailer showing that we would be playing from a new character’s perspective named Javi. Starting around the time the zombie outbreak occurs and I personally feel as if the only way to properly describe the way that S3 started is with one word, chaos. Almost instantly you are shown the love/hate relationship between your character and his brother David, as he calls to inform you that your father is passing away and you need to get to the house asap. You get there to find out it was too late and your brother literally beats you up for it, probably for a way to clear his head or vanquish some of the tilted emotion he is processing. Entering the house you can almost sense the feeling of despair and utter sadness as your family mourns the passing of your father. It starts to get creepy once your niece says that she was filling his cup of water back up since he had “woken up.” I don’t wanna spoil the story much for anyone besides what is visible within the trailers as the game forms so heavily on the decisions you make showing that every thing you do in life can impact you in one way or another. Fast forward a bit, you completely disregard any information on what happens to a decent chunk of your family and are found traveling with your brothers wife, Kate and their two kids, Gabe and Mariana. You eventually stop to find more gas for your car so you can avoid the bigger herds of “walkers” or zombies that are walking throughout the game. You are than taken hostage by two men and forced to abandon your family members for a bit, these people are called The New Frontier. Once you hit that point in the story, it’s pretty much edge of the seat chaos that I wouldn’t spoil, even for people I despise. The only other necessary information is you meet with a very familiar face, Clementine, at a point to continue your travels with.Without a surprise the ending is a cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more, which is what Telltale seems to do best.
Episode 2: Ties That Bend Part II
Immediately picking up where the last episode left off at one of the two possible locations. This episode hooks you with powerful performances from Tripp and Conrad as well as an excellent amount of bonding between your character, Javi and your nephew Gabe. When they first announced the release date for the premiere of S3 they made sure you knew that there would be two episodes because of the lack of needed story in just the first episode, which is made clear by the first fifteen or so minutes of the second episode. The mutual trust level between you and Clementine grows which makes any long time fans of the series presumably happy seeing the previous protagonist and a character fans have come to love not only return but see how much she has matured and grown from the ending of S2. If there wasn’t enough actual physical combat between both walkers and the New Frontier in the first episode for you this one is going to hit the nail on the head. This episode’s focuses on conflict between the group and the shitty situation that they are getting stuck in, making this episode really stand out along with the ending that is currently leaving fans in complete shock and awe after completion. A cliffhanger that will leave the masses praying that the next episode releases within a friendly timeframe. This episode has a very miniscule amount of visual bugs that are sure to be fixed with patches along the road, some of these bugs were in a way game breaking to the impatient gamer. Some but not all were causing what almost felt like an extended loading screen within your usual conversation where it wouldn’t make any sense to have a break to load. If you were hesitant on the new season due to the change of character and what feels like pace in the first episode, move on to this and I completely assure you that it will change your feelings about it. This season is going to be a force to be reckoned with, which is good because of the long period of time we saw nothing out of this franchise from Telltale. I will be, along with an insane amount of the playerbase, waiting for the next episode to release while slowly losing every inch of sanity I have over the ending of this episode, or maybe the “muertos” will get to me first.
- Dakota G.
Have you recently purchased the brand new PlayStation 4 Pro without owning a 4K television? I’m sure if that is the case, with Black Friday being right around the corner you’ve been examining deals from multiple retailers to see what the best price is for a TV that runs 4K resolution. Don’t be fooled though, you might see some for a very remotely good price that seems almost too good to be true which is because it probably is. Samsung and any other AAA brands for electronics that have sales are always safe because they are top of the line, but if you see some off brand screen that looks super cheap and almost seems a steal don’t buy it! Sure, most companies trick you and say its 4K because it does actually lock up the full 2160p but that’s not the only factor to take into account when purchasing one, the quality of the picture is also generated by the screens refresh rate and local dimming. There also is the new technology called High Dynamic Range, or HDR for short, which means basically that your TV will process images and videos differently to process better detail patterns from darker and brighter areas of the picture. Most cheap off brands that are selling these TV’s come black friday and all holiday season are shipping the hardware without a different refresh rate, HDR, and dimming technology. For instance a New York Times reporter, Brian X, stated in an interview “4K content with high dynamic range was noticeably superior to 1080p content, whereas 4K content without high dynamic range had a negligible difference in picture quality compared with 1080p.”
1080p is the pretty much standard High Def resolution for right now, so if you’re gonna catch a sale that seems too good, instead of buying the 4K TV with no other perks besides res, go buy a 1080p TV with HDR for almost the same price, or chip out the extra couple hundred bucks to get the true full 4K experience.
- Dakota G.