There is not really a lot to gather from this trailer. Mostly that Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 is a go, but other than that, there is no gameplay or real story shown here. Just that they are shooting to release in early 2020, and that it clearly takes place in Seattle. What is also interesting is that at the end video it says it is coming to “Xbox” not Xbox One, so I am guessing they are hoping for this to be a launch “window” game for the new console. Though it does say it is coming to PS4, so maybe I am just reading too much in to it. Either way, I will be looking forward for this in Q1 2020.
The Paladin and I finally beat the main questline for The Division last night. It was as anticlimactic as I had heard, but it was always going to be. Ubisoft wanted us to play The Division for 100s of hours, so to have an ending that pretty much said, “Well, you did it! Go back home to your family and friends for the few days you have left. You know, because while those half-masks look cool, really cool, there is no way they keep super-viruses from infecting you. I mean, they don’t even cover your eyes and ears. Anyway, thanks for all the help. Burn all your gear and take a chemical shower on the way out.” No, they want you to continue hunting down rogue New Yorkers with extreme prejudice for forever.
Which is kind of the problem with these games, expectations. According to the in-game stat counter, I have played The Division for 1 Day and 16 Hours, so to max out the main base, get to level 30, and finish the main quest it takes about 40 hours. For a dad that works full time. 40 hours is plenty of game. Had the game been sold that way, most people would have been fine, but that is not what happened. It was going to be the game to end all games. You would never need another game. It was the cornerstone in Ubisoft’s future financial plans. However, once it was released the hard-core players did the base stuff in about two days, and then demanded their “End Game”. AKA the real game. Judging by all the cool stuff I can play and do now in The Division, it looks like there is a lot of end game content now available, but for many players it got added too late, and they were off to the next thing.
What is curious, is that this keeps happening. Ubisoft is releasing The Division 2 saying that this time they got it right. Bungie and Activision said the same thing about Destiny 2. EA said that Anthem was a game you would be playing for 10 years. Right now, you are lucky if you can play Anthem for 10 minutes before it tries to destroy your console. Why do companies keep doing this? Why keep chasing the new MMO craze every time they come around? Games are expensive, and they are getting even more expensive to make. Even chasing niches costs a lot of money. You should go check out the Game Informer interviews they did with Obsidian about The Outer Worlds on YouTube. See how many times the lead developers, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, said they wanted to do something, but it was cut due to time and budget, that they hope gamers are satisfied with the smaller scope of the game, or with the CEO Feargus Urquhart when he says that the reason they got bought out by Microsoft was that even “little” games now take a lot of capital, and there is no way to really afford that alone anymore.
In an era where it costs 100s of Millions of dollars to make a game, having a game out there that continues to bring in cash year after year grantees a company’s stability. Not to mention, if people are rushing through 40-hour games in days, and then complaining there isn’t enough to do, an endless game sounds like something that can fix that, so to keep striving to be the next WoW, or Warframe, or even Eve Online makes a lot of sense. Even if they keep screwing up. Because, if they get it right it can keep their company afloat while they work on other projects. Most companies will fail to create their forever game, but I don’t think we will see them stop trying any time soon. Not when GTA V is still selling millions of copies and tons of virtual currency.
Hey it is me! Remember when I said that I wouldn’t be getting Anthem or The Division 2 until after they had been out a few months (like last week)? Well, it turns out a Streamer that I follow on Twitter, Exellion, had other ideas. I won his Anthem contest, so now I am playing the 10 hour free trail period of the game, and I thought I would give a quick update on what has changed.
The biggest thing that I have noticed right off the bat is that the frame rate is better. I don’t think it is perfect, but it doesn’t have the big hitches that it had before. I think the game is a little blurrier, so I am guessing that they dropped the resolution down a little bit, or they made the dynamic resolution a little more aggressive. Either way, the game is now much more responsive.
You can run in Fort Tarsis now! In the demo you had to walk from place to place to talk to quest givers, but now you can go a little faster. Running may be an exaggeration, but faster is faster. It isn’t a big thing, but it shows BioWare/EA is at least listening to their fans.
Once you get past the opening you get to choose your Javelin. You aren’t just stuck as a Ranger, and the other Javelins are sweet. I am loving the Storm. Hovering over the battlefield dropping lighting blasts and raining down bullets. Apparently I am not the only one, I have seen a lot of Storms out there. I am almost to level 8 where I get to pick my next Javelin, and I think I am going to go Colossus. Be a big bruiser that can mount a mini gun or two. Seems like the tactical opposite of a Storm, so that should be fun.
The biggest change is that I have not crashed or dropped once. There was one connection error that happened during matchmaking, but instead of crashing the game it just took me back to the Expedition screen so I could launch match making again. Which is how it should work.
That isn’t to say everything is peachy, I am still not sure how BioWare/EA expects this to be a ten year game. Apparently the main quest is only 30 hours long, and there is only free-play and the one Cataclysm (Raid) after that, so you are left with just playing the story over again at higher levels which doesn’t sound like enough for hardcore fans. For me, 30 hours and then being out sounds fine, but I would like to hear how their content roll out is going to work. Something they have yet to elaborate on.
Anyway, I am having fun. I am playing on Xbox One, so if you see Shmee out there, say “Hi” or emote a wave or something. Maybe we can drop lightning on some baddies together.
I recently played the Anthem Demo and The Division 2 Private Beta, and I came away impressed with both of them. I love being able to fly and the verticality that Anthem has. The Division 2’s location change is nice, but it is its tweaks to its shooting mechanics that really do make the game play better. More like an actual shooter, instead of a bunch of stuff to just auto-lock on to while hoping for a better LMG, so why wait? Because as good as these games are, they will be better a few months down the road.
This has been true of every MMO and now Looter Shooter ever released. The launch is rough, or even if the launch is fine, people complain there is not enough content to keep them busy, or the grind is not tuned properly. Who knows what else. The devs will apologize and then the game will have a big patch and play way better with tons of new stuff to do. It would be funny if people would learn their lesson and stop expecting perfection day one, but they do, and the forums and Reddit blow up with angsty gamers.
Here is the deal, it doesn’t have to be that way. Wait with me. Three months from now when the game is 50% off and the first be patch comes out, jump in. You will have missed all the drama and the unresponsive servers, and just get a fun Diablo style loot fest for you and your friends to play. Better yet, if we all start taking this approach maybe games will be complete and play the way they are supposed to at launch. Maybe, if we stop paying to be beta testers, devs and large companies will stop treating us like beta testers.
Look Anthem and The Division 2 look like fun, and they are on my list to play, but just not at launch. Gamers are always looking for the next big thing, but perhaps we would be better served working on our massive backlog of games for a few months and let the new shooters on the block take their time to get ready for us, or play the anomaly that is Apex Legends that came out of nowhere fully formed and ready to go. Huh, imagine that, a game launching complete and mostly free of bugs with stable servers. That almost deserves to be rewarded even if you don’t like Battle Royal.
If you were wondering if games were going to be slowing down on the Battle Royal craze, I think it is safe to say the game mode is here to stay. Yesterday, Respawn, of Titanfall fame, released a F2P Battle Royal game called Apex Legends. So far it is best described as Call of Duty: Blackout meets Overwatch. Where the speed and weapons make the game feel like Call of Duty’s offering, but the
hero Legend abilities give it an Overwatch flare.
Let’s start with the good. It runs at a silky-smooth framerate. I never saw a hitch or a jitter while playing this game, and if there is screen tearing, it is minimal to the point where I haven’t noticed it. The game is also faster than most Battle Royal games. The sprint feels good and the slide system makes for a fun way to mix up traversal. If you like the weapons from the Titanfall universe, you will be happy. They are all here and accounted for, with battlefield upgrades to attach while playing. Because Apex Legends forces you to play in three-person squads it has created a “Ping” system that allows you to easily mark areas of interest and enemy players. It isn’t quite as good as talking to people, but it allows for some decent mic-less communication. The
heroes Legends are far from original, but their mix of powers is good, and it gives you a role to play in the squad.
Now on to the not so good. I am not sure Titanfall’s weapons are right for this type of game. Titanfall is all about fast-paced up close action, while Battle Royal games focus on picking engagements in the middle to far distance. In other words, all Titanfall’s great up close and personal weapons feel wasted. You end up looking for Assault and Sniper rifles like every other Battle Royal game and leaving all of the Titanfall Universe’s best guns behind. Wall running also got lost in the mix, and I know they got rid of it because it was ruining the group dynamic of Apex Legends, but the free movement double jumping and wall running would have added to the genre would have been exciting. Also, while EA and Respawn have said only cosmetic items are for sale, that isn’t completely true. You also can buy new
heroes Legends, and heroes Legends have unique powers, so if you are not ponying up, you are missing out on some different play styles. Not cool.
Yes, you can technically earn in-game currency to buy the
heroes Legends, but it is quite the grind. Personally, I would like to see a hero Legend pass or something. Where instead of getting extra skins and whatnot, you just get the heroes Legends as they come out. That way there is a real and upfront cost for owning and playing Apex Legends.
After one day and over a million players Apex Legends makes a great first impression. It just works. The “Ping” system is truly revolutionary, and the
heroes Legends are fun. If they can mix up the gun balance and find some way to bring back at least some of the wall running or double jumping Apex Legends would get even better. As for now, it is free and well worth a download. If you don’t like it, so be it, but it is nice to see there are still original ways to play around in the Battle Royal genre. Apex Legends will probably be in my rotation for at least the short term, we will see if they can keep me interested a few months from now.