Something for the weekend – 26th-27th June

After last weekend’s toddler focus, I’m looking forward to a weekend of relaxation and chill times.  Chill times in particular, as I will no doubt spend much of it trying to optimise a recent purchase of AIO watercooling for overly toasty AMD 5800x.  Most likely I will continue to regret a purchase of a case that promoted itself as being quiet, with its awful air flow that requires fans to be going at such speeds that makes it anything but quiet.

When not tickering, I shall be indulging in the following games over the weekend and throughout next week.

Doom Eternal – PC

DOOM Eternal

So, this was intended to be last weeks main game, but I didn’t get too much into it.  I’ve been playing more during the week though and hoping to get some more time with it over the weekend.  I have thoughts and I will likely write these up into a more complete piece when I’m finished with it.  Headline though is that it continues with DOOM 2016’s trend of being a gloriously gory good time, filled with fast past gibbing action.  The formula is expanded a bit from the previous game, not always successfully, but the core gameplay is still fantastic and doing something that very few big FPS games are attempting.

Lord of the Rings – The Adventure Card Game – Switch

The Lord of The Rings: Adventure Card Game

So, my conversion to this franchise continues.  I had this awhile a go on PC as part of some digital tabletop gaming bundle and had played a little bit of it, but the portable console felt a better fit.  I’ve not explored the deckbuilding side of this too much, but I’ve enjoyed the main gameplay of the card game itself.  There is a good balance between the complexities that these sorts of games deliver, but still maintaining the kind of moment-to-moment decisions that anyone who has played something like Hearthstone or its daddy Magic: The Gathering will be familiar with.  The campaign stories are suitably Lord of the Rings-esque, be you commanding the forces of Rohan or battling spiders to rescue Bilbo and lends good motivation to the banging portraits together.

It feels like there is plenty of depth here, although I also sense that this digital version might exhaust itself (pun for the card game players out there!) of content before it really explores everything that is on offer from the ruleset.  It also makes me tempted to pick up the physical card game, which I understand is quite different.

Murder by Numbers – Switch

Murder by Numbers

I know very little about this, beyond it being a visual novel, with picross puzzles dotted throughout the story.

I love a picross puzzle though.  There is something very relaxing about them, much like the better known sudoku puzzles that were a big fad 10-15 years ago.  I don’t normally find them particularly challenging, but they are still really satisfying to complete.  Hopefully the story here will be interesting too, so I’m not just waiting for the next puzzle to come along.

Still have a bit of the first Phoenix Wright game to complete though, so will likely finish that off first.

Phantom Abyss – PC

Phatom Abyss

This is a game whose trailer really caught my eye when it was shown off during one of the many streams a couple of weeks ago.

It’s a first-person platforming game, in which the procedurally generated courses can only be completed by one person.  You try to be the person, as you watch the ghosts around you of previous victims and their failed attempts.

This is another one I will probably write a bit more about, but it is a simple idea that seems to be executed quite nicely, in my brief 20 minutes with it.  It is only in early access at the moment, so I expect there is quite a few missing features, but I will be giving it a bit more of an explore soon.

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Something for the Weekend – 19th-20th June

Peppa Pig

This weekend is going to mostly be occupied with family time, including with my baby and toddler nephews.  So, my cultural highlights might not extend much beyond Peppa Pig (not a terrible predicament, I’ll grant you).  At least this weekend won’t be quite so full of endless streams from game publishers telling us very little about their upcoming games.

When I do get some screen time, this will be what I’m taking a look at:

DOOM: Eternal – PC

DOOM Eternal

I absolutely adored the return of DOOM back in 2016.  The energy and non-stop visceral action was tonic for the relentless drudgery that had become most of the FPS genre since it became dominated by the plague of the modern warfare sim and tedious slow paced fare.  DOOM rekindled my love for these games, with its great update of the formula and smart design choices that re-educated the player in the joy of charging into combat rather than cowering behind cover.

DOOM: Eternal came out last year and I never got around to it at the time.  I’m ready to rip and tear this weekend though. Initial experiences of running into weird log in issues with the Bethesda account system and a broken map when HDR is enabled are not hugely positive, but the first 20 minutes or so of the game itself still seems to offer the same carnage and joy that the previous game did.  Hopefully, this will continue and I don’t run into any other issues.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Switch

'Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy HD'

I’ve already played a fair amount of the first game in this trilogy pack, having reached about halfway through the fourth episode.  Will be aiming to finish this before the end of the weekend.

I do have some issues with this, mainly the way that some of the solutions are a little obtuse, requiring a little bit of trial and error.  That is made worse by the trial sections having only a finite amount of guessing that you can do before your client is found guilty and you are forced to restart from the beginning of that day again.

Besides that, I find this a really enjoyable and relaxing game.  The characters are pitched just right, with them being very much caricatures, but with enough personality for their stories to be interesting to follow.  Some of their little animations are delightful and that extends beyond the classic finger point the series is known for. 

Story is also light, but intriguing, with strong vibes of a Diagnosis Murder or Murder She Wrote.  The way some reappear across multiple episodes and the overall story is woven into the different cases is handled just right and it keeps you wanting to move onto the next one.

They are quite long games, so I will likely take a break after I’ve finished the first one, but been very much enjoying these.

In The Heights

In The Heights

Around about a year ago, I was meant to go and see Hamilton.  For obvious reasons, that ended up not happening.  I’ve held off watching the Disney+ version in the hope that I will actually get to see the real thing at some point.  This will have to do in the meantime.

Not sure if I will get a chance to see this over the weekend, but I’ve been looking forward to it coming out and will certainly see it soon.  The trailers have looked like a real burst of energy and tune that is used is a banger.  It seems to be the perfect film to go see during this time, with the world still going through such a shitty time.  A little bit of musical magic is very much required.

I don’t know very much about the musical that it is based on, so going in fairly blind, but still with high hopes that it will be good time. 

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Nintendo continue to not talk about the Switch Pro

It shouldn’t have been a surprise really.  The rumours that were circulating around a new Switch felt slightly more plausible than before and when nothing came out about one before the digital E3 weekend there was always an outside chance that Nintendo might use the Direct to mention a new machine, be it an update or a new console.  Even Nintendo’s tweet saying they will be focusing on just games could have been misleading, as their tweets often are.

Instead, we just had a bunch of games talked about.  Mostly stuff that was already on the horizon or new versions of games that were on other systems, but it was still a good showing, letting everyone know that there will be stuff to play on your Switch in the coming months.

Expectations were set fairly low from the start, with Tekken joining Smash Bros. Ultimate.  Supposedly the chucking characters into a volcano is a Tekken thing, but my confusion was worth it to see Kirby sneak away after being thrown in.

The first big surprise came with a fancy little animation for Life is Strange.  Initially, it looked like it might be a new game especially for the Switch, but it turns out to just be the Remastered collection arriving on Nintendo’s system, as well as the new True Colours.  Great to see, as the first game is very enjoyable.  I’m not sure if I will personally be revisiting, but the Switch is the perfect place to play something like it and I would consider playing True Colours there.  Pity the second game doesn’t seem to be included, although reception to that was a little lukewarm.

We then had some quick-fire third-party games coming over to Switch, including the just announced Guardians of the Galaxy game.  A little surprising, as I would have thought it would need some extensive downgrading in order to be played on Switch.  How well that will work out will be interesting to see, but I have a feeling that other platforms are going to be more suited to it.  Of course, it could be something that benefits from a yet to be announced hardware upgrade…

There is also Two Point Campus, which looks like another good fit for the Switch.  More management games would be good to see and the quirky tone of the Two Point games is a great fit.

Metroid Dread für Nintendo Switch ist ein 2D-Plattformer ...

Back to Nintendo games, we have the only real surprise announcement of the stream, with a brand new Metroid game, Metroid Dread.  Not quite the Metroid Prime 4 that most people were likely expecting, but a return to the 2D origins.  A shame that we didn’t see the new first person game, nor news of the Prime series being remastered, but this was still a great looking game.  Metroid games are all the rage in the 2D indie space, so it will be interesting to see how the granddaddy of the format holds up.

From the footage, it looks like there will be some AI enemies that will be stalking the player, perhaps in a Resident Evil Nemesis style.  That extends to a bit of a horror vibe too.  Looking forward to seeing more of this and it is launching in October.

Another favourite series is returning, with a new Wario Ware, named Get It Together.  It looks like it will be following the same format as other games in the series, with a bunch of quick reaction mini games.  New addition is two people being able to play some of the minigames at the same time.  Should add some fun spice, particularly if the players can sabotage each other.

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water will be making the move from Wii U to Switch, as so many before it.  I’m not familiar with the series and for some reason didn’t get this on the Wii U, but this drew me in with a suitably creepy trailer.  Not so sure about the selection of costumes shown which seem to not be practical wear when battling ghosts, but the game itself looks like it could be enjoyable.  Same goes for the recent remaster of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 that is going to be coming to Switch.  I haven’t gotten around to it on other platforms, but may well take the plunge when it comes to Nintendo’s console.

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water is getting a remaster ...

Besides Mario+Rabbids, which we already knew about from the Ubisoft stream, the next game of note is updated versions of Advance Wars 1 and 2.  My only really experience of this style of game is briefly playing some Wargroove on PC, which was a great idea and something I didn’t play too much of, mainly as I was meaning to pick it up on Switch. I might as well not bother now and just go straight to the original game created the style.  The chunky cartoon style looks really neat too and I imagine quite the improvement on the original games.

We finally move into the last segment of the show, focus on Legend of Zelda.  Nintendo must have enjoyed messing with everyone by starting this section with a Hyrule Warrior DLC, as if that were the only thing being shown.  Fortunately, we got to see a little more of the Skyward Sword remaster and then a neat looking Game&Watch system that will have The Legend of Zelda 1 and 2, Link’s Awakening and Vermin, a previous Game&Watch game that has been changed to have Link as the playable character.

None of this is what people were waiting for of course.  Finally, Nintendo have shown a little of Breath of the Wild 2.  It pretty much looks like more Breath of the Wild, with the main change being that you will supposedly now be exploring land above Hyrule, where floating landmasses have appeared.  There also look to be a few more abilities included, with a flamethrower arm and something that appears to reverse time on a giant spiked ball.

There isn’t much more to add really, as it is still quite limited what we are seeing the trailer.  The vertical gameplay looks quite neat though and I hope we get to move between these quite freely.

Just a 2022 release given, so likely we are still waiting quite a while for it to come out.

And that was it.  Perhaps a little underwhelming, but on the scale of other Nintendo Directs it certainly could have been worse.  It would have been nice to see a few more new announcements, but it looked like there will be a few bits and pieces for us to enjoy.  There is always enjoyable stuff coming from Nintendo, even if it isn’t the most exciting of their titles.  The past year or so has felt like Nintendo were coasting a little bit and although this show didn’t completely destroy that image, it went some way to correcting it.

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Microsoft/Bethesda E3 show – All about the games

Microsoft have been accused in the past to be too focused on selling their games division as a multimedia experience platform first and for games second.  That image has been dying of late and it looks to be positively eviscerated with their 2021 E3 showing.

There really was nothing but games on display at their show, a huge range that is unlikely to have left anyone without at least some anticipation for something.  There may not have been much shown of some of those, but just the mention of them should be enticing enough.  It certainly put Ubisoft to shame and with Sony MIA this year, it only leaves Nintendo to possibly upstage them.

This show also saw the first time for the Microsoft show to be combined with Bethesda’s, following their recent merger.  This certainly injected even more life into proceedings and gave the selection a much-needed boost to the diverse games on offer. 

And, as has been the case in recent Microsoft press events, Xbox Game Pass took centre stage and Microsoft were not shy in telling us about all of these games that we will be able to play as part of their subscription service.  27 of the 30 featured games would be coming to the service.  It continues to be the best deal in gaming, whilst also being slightly terrifying in some of the potential directions that it might decide to take.

No way that I will be able to cover everything that was shown, but here are some of the highlights:

Starfield

Starfield Gameplay And 2022 Release Date Finally Revealed ...

It has been much anticipated for a long time and it seemed likely that it put in a showing at this event.  Previously, we had juts seen a planet and panning down to the title.  We don’t really get much more of a flavour from this and it still remains very much a teaser.  However, we do see the world we are seeing is relatively realistic and is likely to be in the not too distant future, during early days of space travel.  There is also a robot companion of some sort.

To see Bethesda doing something new, rather than their stables of Elder Scrolls and Fallout is exciting, and personally is more interesting to me than those other series.  Too little is known to get that excited though and we are still a way off, with the 11th November 2022 announced as the release date.

STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl

The Stalker series has always been massively ambitious and it has often struggled to really live up to them.  The first game was much delayed and went through a lot of development woes and it was released to fair amount of acclaim, but it was still a very buggy game.  It was very much ahead of its time, even though it took a long time to make, it’s A-Life AI system that saw creatures and rival Stalkers roaming the land and having encounters completely independent of the player is still something we barely see in games.  Most of those systems worked half the time and when they did the game was a joy, but often things would fall over a bit.  The third game managed to get things mostly right, but it felt like the series had became fairly niche by that point and it isn’t surprising that it disappeared for quite some time.

This fourth game in the series (despite the 2 in the title), got quite an extensive showing.  It looks like they have upped the narrative ante, with plenty of dialogue being shown.  The character models and animation far exceeds the original, so good to see it is being put to good use, as we watch fire side stories being told.  Hopefully, we still have the non-linear and emergent gameplay that the series has previously shown, especially considering as this will need to differentiate itself from the Metro 2033 games.

Graphically it looked fantastic and still drips that fallout scenary of the original game.  The dark lab as the player is haunted by a squid faced creature is haunting and the lightening riddled metal tower is… striking.

We also get a glimpse of the anomalies from the original game.  These made the environment almost as much as a threat as the creatures and enemy stalkers and to see them in their next-gen ray traced glory is quite something.

28th April 2022 is the date for this one.  Looking forward to getting back to the Zone.

Battlefield 2042

Some more Battlefield 6 was shown off, after last weeks announcements.  We get to see actual gameplay this time around and it continues the trend we saw previously of looking like a real sequel to 4.

The action is as hectic as you expect… except for a brief pause in a lift, where we get to see on the fly weapon customisation.  We also get to see some of the much talked about weather effects with the massive hurricane causing a sandstorm.  It really did look like quite something, as it pulled vehicles into its centre.

Really though, it just looked like more Battlefield, which is no bad thing in my book.  Whether it will win back the fans they lost from Battlefield V (and to some extent 1) is still to be seen, but it is clear they are tailoring their marketing at them as much as possible.

We will be getting back on the battlefield on 22nd October 2021.

Twelve Minutes

Pretty much the same as the other trailers we have seen, but I can’t imagine there is a huge amount more to say about this.  I’m still massively intrigued by it though and look forward to it every time they show it off.

The cast is great (Daisy Ridley, James McAvoy and Willem Defoe), the look striking and the concept is intriguing.  This is a time loop game, in which you play through the same 12 minutes of a couple’s life.  Making different choices will see the 12 minutes playing out differently each time and I assume your goal will be to discover how to escape the loop.  I don’t much about the actual plot, beyond what we have seen in trailers, but it seems there is a birthday, a police raid and likely some murder.

It will depend on how well the plot holds up as to whether this will be good or not, but I’ve been anticipating this one for quite some time.  I will finally be able to get stuck in the loop on the 19th August 2021.

Psychonauts 2

The original Psychonauts was filled to the brim with great ideas.  One level saw you chasing a conspiracy obsessed milkman, another would be running away from a neon bull and then you would be jumping around a meat circus.  This trailer looked like it would contain just as many unique levels and ever changing gameplay.

Hopefully this time around they will be able to get the platforming bits right, which were mediocre at best in the original game.  Perhaps we will also see a little more interesting combat.

I don’t think that matters too much though, just as long as it manages to capture the writing and imagination of the glory days of Double Fine, which has been a little absent in more recent years.

We won’t have too long to wait either, as this one is dropping on the 25th August this year.

Atomic Heart

4Gamers - Atomic Heart dropt heerlijk absurde trailer

What really stands out about this game is the incredible fidelity of it.  I’m still not entirely sure if it is all a big lie, as it doesn’t seem quite possibly that a game made by a fairly unknown studio would look quite so good.

Not only are the graphics impressive, but it also has wild art style.  I’m not sure if it entirely works or if it will just end up being a complete mess of ideas, but I’m interested to see it in action.  Whether it will actually turn out to be a good game or if it will be a fairly standard shooter is still to be seen.

No release date is shown on this yet, so don’t how long we will have to wait until we find out.

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This E3 just can’t stop showing off the insane quality of art that is coming from the smaller studios at the moment.

The trailer doesn’t give too much away as to what this will actually be, but the style oozes cool.  This is a strange mix of pixel art and 3d.  It looks stunning and not quite like anything I’ve ever seen.

It appears to be a futuristic world, likely with some sort of dystopian threat.  There is a bit of combat shown off as well as some platforming, mixed in with some sad walking to the right (breaking from tradition set by Limbo, it is grown man walking left not a boy).  All looks solid.

But it is that art style that really stands out and I want to see more of it.

Just 2022 listed on this, but hopefully won’t be too late in the year before we get to stare at more of it.

Age of Empires 4

It feels like a long time since we have seen a trad strategy game.  Iron Harvest 1920+ last year was quite good fun, but very much like playing Company of Heroes.  Besides that, it feels like the last one was the rubbish Dawn of War 3.

Relic should hopefully make up with past mistakes with this grand looking new entry in the classic series.  On the face of things, it does look like a modern update of Age of Empires 2, but I have no doubt that Relic will bring their experience to inject a bunch of new ideas to format.  Plus, if it does end up just being AoE2 with nicer graphics and UI for the modern player I could see it being plenty enough.

We will cavalry charge into this on 28th October.

The Outer Worlds 2

A fun pointless trailer that takes the piss out of pointless trailers.  The first Outer Worlds had a good sense of humour and this seems to be continuing with that.

The announce says that the only thing they have finished is the title and no date is given, so I assume we are in for quite a wait to see this finished.

I quite enjoyed the first game, so more is welcome.  I did come away from it feeling that this surely should be the end of this style of game though.  The static characters standing around waiting to give you quests and the very static world(s), besides when you do something to make a scripted change.  Hopefully, they will look to make something that is a little more organic and not just so centred around the player.

Forza Horizon 5

I’m not particularly into racing games, although I don’t mind dipping into them from time to time.  They are a genre that sells the potential for new consoles though and Horizon 5 seems to be no different in that respect.

The game looks stunning, from the shiny cars to the realistic terrains that they are racing through.  The Mexico looks really gorgeous and varied.  Not only that though, it looks like the devs are really look at how they can push next gen outside of just graphics, looking at incorporating seamless multiplayer features and AI controlled elements that learn how you play.

Playground Games are living up to their name by creating a real sandbox of a racing game.  I’ve always heard good things about previous games in the series, but not checked them out myself.  May have to take a look at what other entries have done.

This will be screeching into the fast lane on 9th November 2021.

Redfall

Another game from Arkane is always something to celebrate and it came as a bit of a surprise to me at the end.  With us still waiting on Deathloop later this year, I was not expecting to see anything else.

It is just a cinematic trailer, but has enough to be intriguing.  Vampires are certainly something we don’t get to see that often in games and it seems to be unique interpretation of them.  There is an emphasis on characters here and I’m assuming we are looking at a sort of Left 4 Dead style of co-op game where we will have the same characters that will interject with bits of dialogue as we play through.

There is also some sort of robot dog thing too.

Putting their skills of immersive sims into a multiplayer environment will be interesting to see how well it works.  If they can inject that kind of gameplay into a co-op experience than I am certainly all on board for that.

We will need to wait to take a bite ourselves though, with Summer 2022 as the release.

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Devolver Digital getting into the monetisation game

As ever with E3, Devolver Digital become the conference that is worth watching even if you aren’t interested in any of the games they are announcing.  They really put on a show and don’t feel the need to get awkward developers up on a stage to read some marketing approved message to everyone.  Instead, they blow some shit up!

Given the nature of E3 this year, Devolver have gone for slightly less pyrotechnics this time around, but replaced those with many chilli dogs.  They also announced there brand new MaxPass+, now bringing monetisation to you as a service.  What this actually means I’m not sure anyone knows, but somewhere in their marketing-nese there is a logic so you should probably start throwing your money at your screen for this free service.

Somewhere in this madness there were also some actual games being shown off.  And what games they were.  After being somewhat underwhelmed by the lack of anything massively interesting in Ubisoft’s stream (besides more Mario+Rabbid), this was a nice breath of fresh air.

Shadow Warrior 3

I’ve never particularly gotten on with the reinvention of the Shadow Warrior series.  The first game was okay, but nothing particularly special. The second game went off in a different direction entirely and I bounced off it quite quickly.  The third game looks to be more my jam though.  Only one combat area is shown off, but when that combat area involves some sort of spinning disc blades of doom that you can crush enemies with then I don’t need much more.

The action looks incredibly frantic and there is a whole bunch of grotesqueries for you to do battle with.  Plus, there is yanking weapons out of the mouth of big fat enemies.  Huge amount of colour and particle effects splashed over the screen and I really loved what I saw.  This could be the first in the series to get me on board.

Trek to Yomi

For those that love a bit of artistic flare in their games there has been an abundance of that coming out of the indie side this E3.  So many really great looking platformers in particular.

We can add Trek to Yomi to those great looking indie games too, with its really gorgeous looking black and white representation of historic Japan.  The black and white images and the use of silhouettes makes this look really striking and I really want to see more of it.  Not much of the actual gameplay, which seems to be a side scrolling game with sword fighting, although I’m assuming not a platformer.  Hopefully it will be a simple system that is easy to understand, but difficult to master, along the lines of Unto the End, but there isn’t much to go on.

Phantom Abyss

This looked like a lot of fun.  A first-person runner, with you dodging traps in tombs that look like your classic Tomb Raider.  That would probably be enough to have my interest, but the addition of seeing the ghosts of other players that have failed to get through adds a nice bit of modern spice to this.

The trap variety looks varied and the movement looks pretty good, complete with the almost obligatory grappling hook.  It could result in something that lends itself to time attacks and I have no doubt we will be seeing this come with scoreboards and modes to race ghosts of the best players.

Again, this looks to be continuing the trend of just really fun games coming out of Devolver.

Wizard With a Gun

Trailer opens with treating us to a nice animated cinematic.  The in-game footage equally looks quite nice, although quite similar to Don’t Starve.  The animation looks better though and everything moves really smoothly and with more variety.  The gameplay itself seems similar to Don’t Starve, although with a bit of an action focus.

It looks enjoyable, but I’m not a big fan survival mechanics, so those are a bit of a turn off.  Probably the one that interested me the least in the showing (besides a mobile game, which I’m not even sure if it is a real thing or not). Still, I can certainly see the appeal for some.

Death’s Door

Again with the gorgeous looking artwork in what appears to be a Hades-alike.  The environments looked a little less procedurally generated than that, but the action seems to be similar.  We see a couple of boss fights that look a bit more interesting too.

There appears to be a few different tools at your disposal, so I hope we have plenty of ways of customising abilities and weapons.

Inscryption

A new game from the creator of Pony Island and it looks to be equally as twisted.  This one is inspired by card games, although even the trailer doesn’t manage to hide that more is going on, as there also appears to be some environment puzzle solving and also some found footage FMVs appearing.

This actually looks like it might be genuinely creepy, such as seeing the hands of your card playing opponent reaching out to grab you.  The environment is really dark and there is definitely a bit of an occult vibe going on.

Probably one to go into knowing as little as possible and I’ve got a feeling that it will likely be a memorable experience.

Demon Throttle

A very old school looking scrolling shmup.  It isn’t a genre that I know much about and often looks a little Samish to me, but this might be a good introduction to it.  It really is going for the old school vibe, with an art-style that looks just like those old games, although no doubt done in a way that could never be achieved by them.

Might be worth checking out, although it is taking the weird route of only being released as a physical game.  I’m not really sure why they would do that, as it looks ideal as a digital only release.  Perhaps a physical release in some special package would making sense, but it is just in a standard Switch box.

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Ubisoft Forward 2021 drops (the ball)

The first big publisher show of E3 2021 has arrived and it is Ubisoft leading the charge.  And… it was a bit of damp squib, without too many surprises.  There were a couple of big announcements appearing at the end of the stream, but one of those was slightly tempered by Nintendo accidently leaking the info a few hours before the stream went up.

Still no mention of Skull and Bones or Beyond Good and Evil 2 and fans of Splinter Cell and Rayman remain disappointed.  There was a lot of variety though and I’m sure most would find something to appeal to them.  There just wasn’t anything new announced or anything massively unexpected.

Here are some of the highlights

Rainbow Six Extraction

First off was the new game in the Rainbow Six series.  After Siege, which seems to have been around for years, it is good to see something new from the series and it appears to be taking quite a different approach from previous games.

Dropping the PvP of Siege and going for a co-op PvE experience, it almost could be a similar experience to the older Rainbow Six games and their covert operations.  Instead of terrorists with hostages though, teams will be battling aliens.

The cinematic trailer and the devs description sounded really interesting.  The design of the aliens and their oily gooey look was quite interesting, reminiscent of those in Prey.  They also talked about the cool idea that operatives could be captured and will be unusable by the players (including the unlocks) until you go on a mission to rescue them.  With persistent elements like that, you could almost see this playing like a first person XCom and losing your favourite operative could be a similar tough pill to swallow as losing a squad member there.

Unfortunately, the gameplay itself was a little underwhelming.  Everything just seemed too straightforward for the players and always all very calm.  Maybe this was just footage of everything going right and I could definitely see elements of the tactical gameplay the series is known for, but there didn’t seem much reason to be tactical based on what we were seeing, as there was demonstration of what would happen if you did go all guns blazing.  We only ever saw a handful of enemies at once and they all went down fairly easily, besides the larger types that would pop up in what seemed like boss battle sections.

Those enemies also lost the cool edge they had in the cinematic trailer and looked much blander.  They were just fairly grey looking and in general the graphics and art was quite dry.

There is still some hope though.  I really like the description of the game and there were some genuinely interesting game mechanics mentioned.  Also, I’ve always been put off Siege by the reputation of the community, so a PvE game in the franchise would be really welcome.

Riders Republic

I didn’t play Steep, which is the obvious touch point for this one.  Not sure how this compares, but it looks like quite a complete package, with the different downhill transportation options having plenty of gameplay to form their own game.

The rocket powered wingsuits stood out the most, but you also have paragliding, snowboarding, mountain bikes, skiing and bikes topped up with junk.  It looked like there was going to be some fun options available and possibly enough for those that want to take it a little more seriously.  The big races look pretty hectic and likely to be the main draw.

Far Cry 6

Just a cinematic of the main game showing off some more Giancarlo Espirato’s Anton.  Looks like he is going to be much more interesting than the Seeds in 5 and you obviously are going to expect good things from the performance.

Perhaps more interestingly though was the announcement of what the Season Pass will involve.  We will be revisiting those previous villains and get a chance to play in their shoes for a bit.  We even got Vaas saying his thing about insanity again!  Whether it will actually be enjoyable to play as those villains is to be seen, but it certainly made for some cool looking sequences.

There was also a mention of Blood Dragon, but not really sure if you just get a copy of that game with the season pass or if there was something a bit more involved than that.

Mario+Rabbids: Sparks of Hope

My personal highlight for the stream.  The first Mario+Rabbids game was such a pleasant surprise, something that on paper sounded like it would be absolutely disaster, but turned out to be a joyful cartoon XCom game.

The concept for the sequel sounds like it is going to be inspired by Mario Galaxy, which is as good as place as any to take inspiration from.  Nothing massively new is shown in the footage, besides a couple of new characters (Rabbid Rosalina looks great).  The final moment shows Mario using a flaming luma to call down a bunch of fiery asteroids, so perhaps we are just looking at more of the same but on a much grander scale.  That sounds great to me.  The original game was pretty much perfect, so messing with formula would be a bad idea.

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

Avatar made so much money that it is inevitable that the franchise would grow, even though it seems to be taking its sweet time over it.  A sequel film is supposedly coming next year and I imagine this game will be aiming to ride the coattails of that.

It’s a franchise that feels quite suited to Ubisoft’s style of game and I could see them aiming to get some of that Horizon energy going with it.  That is just speculation for now though, as the footage was just a cinematic.

Personally, Avatar’s massive box office takings has always been a bit of mystery to me.  The film itself was perfectly fine, but instantly forgettable.  It also doesn’t seem to be a film that everyone stopped talking about quite quickly, once the veneer of the supposedly revolutionary technology behind it wore off (3D cinema vanished pretty quickly after the release too, making it feel like a signal that it was really a creative dead-end).  The reemergence of the franchise isn’t massively surprising, given the money it took, but I’m not sure if there is a big appetite for it and I could see it all being a bit of a flop (come Christmas 2022, I will no doubt be eating those words when the sequel becomes the biggest selling film of all time).

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Something for the Weekend – 12th-13th June

Suns out and the British summer is finally starting to get underway.  What better way is there to enjoy that then to sit in a dark room looking at moving pictures or sat in front of the desk and clicking on things, all while trying to avoid seeing or hearing about rich young men kicking a ball around a field.

Here are a few of the things I will be getting up to this weekend (and some that will likely spill into the week).

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Shocking to some, I have actually never watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy, nor have I read the books.  I did try Fellowship of the Ring a few years ago, but I cam away with my initial suspicions of it being too serious and dull to warrant continuing with the other 7 or so hours the following films offered.

Marking the 20th anniversary of the release of that first film, my local popcorn vendor has been showing the trilogy and I thought I would give it another ago.  I still had my issues with Fellowship, but I liked it more this time around and by the end I was intrigued enough to see more of Frodo and Sam’s journey and to see just how many orcs the fellowship would kill.  Two Towers managed to win me over even more with its larger scale battles and more detailed look at the inhabitants of this world.

Now it comes to the final part of the trilogy and very much looking forward to see how this will all play out.  I’ve even considered reading the books soon too.

Loki

How Many Episodes of 'Loki' Will We Get?

Disney are continuing to pump out their Marvel series on Disney+.  This actually came out on Wednesday, but I’ll be giving it a go over the weekend.

I very much enjoyed the weirdness of Wandavision, although I was disappointed by it turning into just more of the MCU by the end.  Falcon and the Winter Soldier didn’t even try to do anything different, but was still worth watching.  Given the nature of the lead, I’m expecting something to be a little more in line with the quirkiness of the first show and the trailers hint that will be the case.  Tom Hiddleston is also just superb in everything he does and really embodies that character perfectly.  Seeing him in that role is never a bad time, even when it surrounded by the rest of Thor 2

High hopes for this one.

Jurassic World Evolution – PC

Jurassic World Evolution Review | The Gosu Crew: Home

Watching the trailer for Jurassic World Evolution 2 during the Summer Game Fest yesterday, I thought that I really should get around to playing this one.  I then discovered that I previously grabbed it in an Epic Store free giveaway and that encouraged me even more.  I’ve played for a few minutes and already had a dinosaur eat another dinosaur.  Surprising how little direction the game seems to give too, unless I just missed a more directed tutorial option.  That is proving to be quite nice though, as I dip into different screens and prod and dino DNA to see what happens.

That theme tune is also still fantastic.

Griftlands – Switch

Griftlands | Nintendo Switch download software | Games ...

My Switch seems to have become my Slay the Spire device, but this might drag me away from that for a bit.  I’ve been enjoying what I have played of this so far, with the battles genuinely having quite a different feel to them than the negotiation sections, surprisingly so as they are both different forms of card battlers.  It doesn’t feel like it offers quite the flexibility of Spire and I’m not sure how well it will accommodate repeat runs, given its focus on story and world building, but it is still nice to have something a little bit different from the genre.  Klei also seem to have put quite a bit of effort into the world, which is nice to dip into when you what a break from flinging cards at people.

Far Cry 5 – PC

Geek Review: Far Cry 5 | Geek Culture

I wasn’t expecting to get quite so dragged into this, thinking I would do the first region, maybe dabble a little with the second and leave it at that.  Progress has moved at just the right pace to keep me going with it though and I’m now likely to see this through to the end.  The Faith region with its hallucinogenic trips with the Bliss did grow a little tiresome by the end, particular with it culminating in a silly boss fight, but I’m now halfway through the final region and heading down the home stretch now.

It is perhaps weird to congratulate a game for being over fairly quickly, but I do find open world games normally outstay their welcome.  The laundry list of objectives and miscellanies to collect bog everything down and feels like it will never end.  So, Far Cry 5’s decision to have every little thing count towards your progression in a region really does help ensure that the game goes at the pace you want it to.

The story is increasingly bobbins and I feel the antagonist and the mini-antagonists are not anywhere near as fun as their predecessors (and, hopefully, Giancarlo Esposito in 6).  Still, I would like to see how it all ends, particular with what I know of the ending, what with the semi-sequel New Dawn being a bit of a spoiler on that account.

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Summer Game Fest – Elden Ring actually shown (and some other games)

Well, it was a fairly underwhelming stream up until the final few minutes.  We mostly had a bunch of announcements for season passes and DLCs for games, whilst the actual new games appeared to be mostly smaller releases.  Those small releases weren’t as interesting as the ones shown at the Guerrilla Collective 2 over the weekend either.

There were a few bits though and you may want to skim through the show.  Might as well just check the news sites for the details though.  They are still live right now, with Day of the Devs stream, but you will no doubt be able to find the show here soon – https://www.youtube.com/c/thegameawards/videos

Before we get into some of the highlights though, lets go into the star of the show.  Yes, Elden Ring is now here. 

Despite what the Internet says, it actually hasn’t been that long since Elden Ring was announced. E3 2019 was when it first shown. Still, that not so long wait has finally ended.

It very much looks like more Dark Souls, but in a more open world.  Open fields are shown and the character requires a horse to travel around.  It still feels like a very constructed world though and I expect it to follow quite a linear path through this world.  There appears to be plenty of places to visit too.  I’m expecting there to be a bit of an overworld that you will travel through to reach more self-contained areas.  There is also plenty of large enemies shown off, so I’m anticipating the usual epic boss fights that From Software do so well. 

It doesn’t show much for those that aren’t already interested in the developer’s previous output though and may well not attract those that came onboard with Sekiro.  This is very much in keeping with Dark Souls, from the artstyle to what we are seeing of the action.  It might be that they are doing a DICE and this is a trailer for the fans, with some more details to emerge to show how it will be different from those older games and what they are bringing in from Sekiro (and even Bloodborne), but from this show there doesn’t seem to be much.

Something that I certainly am not complaining about myself, as I love the Dark Souls games.  As much as I enjoyed Sekiro, it certainly wasn’t the same.

It will be releasing on 21st January 2022.

As for the other games announced, there were only a few things that stood out.  I fully expect that bigger announcements are being held back for publisher conferences that are taking place over the weekend, but it would have been nice to have seen even some teasers here.  The bits that did stand out though were:

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands – opening the show was a new game featuring Tiny Tina from the Borderlands series in her own game, Wonderlands.  It appears to be a fantasy version of Gearbox’s sci-fi looter FPS, but the trailer still showed the character wielding a gun, so how different it will be is still up in the air.  We do see some spellcasting though, which could spice up the character skill system, which I always found underwhelming in Borderlands.  How much you like the game is likely to depend on how much you can tolerate Tiny Tina.

Metal Slug Tactics – Not familiar with the original games in this series, but really enjoyed the style shown off here.  Very much down with the cartoon vibe and music.  I also liked the gameplay, which seemed to be a bit Into the Breach.  A little destructive environment shown off too, with a bridge being destroyed so it collapsed on top of enemies.  Could add some interesting extra elements to this style of game.

Jurassic Park Evolution 2 – I’ve not gotten around to trying the first game in this series and I really should.  Nothing really shown in the trailer, but I assume the underwater bits are new for this one.  This mainly stood out because it started with Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum, which is always fun.

Chicory: A Colourful Tale – This looked absolutely gorgeous.  A 2D adventure game set in a colouring book.  Not very much shown on the steam, but it is out now and is from the creators of Wandersong, which was a delightful game.  This seems to be following in the same footsteps.

Solar Ash – Another game that looked fantastic.  We saw the main character leaping around across the wings of a dragon like creature and using a grappling hook.  The artstyle really stood out though and I look forward to seeing more of this.

Two Point Campus – Two Point Hospital was good fun (although I need to play more of it).  This seems to be more of the same, but the uni setting might allow them to branch out a bit more, rather than just copying what Bullfrog did in the 90s with Theme Hospital.  The humour seems to be very similar, so will likely be worth checking out just for that.

Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance – This hadn’t been on my radar before, but it actually looked quite a bit of fun.  A co-op action game, which looked to be trying to do away with the slightly dour look that most D&D games go with.  I certainly wasn’t expecting a giant creature to flip off the players as it melted in lava.

Far Cry 6 – nothing actually shown here, likely because there was a big gameplay reveal not that long ago. This was just a chat with Giancarlo Esposito who came across as an absolute delight. Strange to see him smiling so much in a friendly way, but once the oddness wore off he came across as a genuinely nice person.

Tunic – Not too much shown of this, but looks really cute.  It is a isometric game starring a fox and looks to be a bit like an old fashioned Zelda game.

Evil Dead: The Game – Similar to Dark Alliance, this just looks like a fun co-op game.  Only problem is that it mostly looked fun playing Ash, complete with chainsaw arm and boomstick.  If the other characters can be as fun than this could be great, but they all looked a bit ordinary in comparison.

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DICE Apologies to Fans in Trailer Form – Battlefield 2042 Announcement Trailer

It feels like we have been seeing Battlefield 6 for a long time, even though very little official information has been released.  There was one brief snippet of a bunch of soldiers on a barren wasteland, which was more about next gen capabilities than the actual game and the rest has just been that they will be announcing something soon.  Then the last month or so have been filled with leaks of images or small snippets of trailer, showing not particularly much, along with some bits of vague information.

We now finally have something a little more concrete coming direct from DICE in the form of an announcement trailer.  No real gameplay featured (that is to come on the 13th June) but there is a reasonable amount to mull over while we wait for more concrete information.

Perhaps it is no surprise given the reaction to the launch trailer of the Battlefield V, this trailer seems to be tailormade to try to assuage their fears.   The moments that are likely to really stick out to most are going to be the sequences that harken back to classic Battlefield stunts, the quad bike into a helicopter and the jumping out of a jet to fire a rocket mid dogfight.  Those unfamiliar, particularly with that latter move, might be a bit confused by the ridiculousness, but it is clear who DICE are trying to speak to here.

Another notable inclusion in the footage that references a fan favourite is the dog tags.  The melee killer brandishing his victims dog tags references the way that you could wear custom dog tags and steal them from other players by performing a melee kill.  Again, a gimmick that means little to most people, but it is clear from the accompanying fanfare in the trailer that DICE want to make sure that all of the Battlefield Reddit knows that they have been paying attention.

What we see of the maps seems to reference the days of Battlefield 3 and 4 too, where many in the community believe the series was at its pinnacle.  Lots of ravaged cityscapes and helicopters ambushing rooftops.  We will likely get a clearer sense of this in the gameplay reveal, but I expect we will be seeing some returning maps from those games.

But what about what is new here?  Well, we have the rumoured robo dog making an appearance.  How that will actually play is left a mystery, but it seems to feature plenty of armaments, so I’m expecting it to be more than just a support tool.  It is looks pretty pacey, so maybe some sort of recon function. 

Plenty of destruction was highlighted, which is a stable of the series, but perhaps hinting at something a little more dynamic than before.  A large neon sign crashed into the road, perhaps signalling that buildings will break apart a little more organically than the magical rubble that we are used to.  It will also link into the weather effects that make the centrepiece of the final beats of the trailer, with a lightning storm transitioning into a hurricane.  Weather isn’t brand new for the franchise, but these seem a little more impactful than just effecting visibility, destroying structures and tearing apart columns of troops and vehicles.  Looks cool and could prove to create some dynamic spectacle, although I could also see the randomness being frustrating and something that people would prefer to have disabled after novelty wears off.

Lastly, the trailer seems to be emphasising the number of troops.  This definitely feels busier than the usual 32vs32 we have seen in previous games.  An increased player count has been part of the rumours and I think it is probably about time that we saw it happening.  Back in the days of 1942, Battlefield’s 64 players in a single game seemed hectic, but it is a rather prosaic nowadays.  I just hope they make sure that the maps are built to accommodate this larger player count; there really is nothing worse than 32v32 on Metro and I hope we don’t end up with those clusterfudges as a staple.

Not being one to side with the normal vocal group in the Battlefield community that really took against Battlefield V (I found the faults with that game to be more technical and it being poorly managed rather than tonal), the fan service here didn’t do huge amounts for me.  What I did like seeing was a good balance between the silly and the serious.  The setting risks going too dour, so remembering that this is the game in which people load up a quad bike with C4 before launching it off a skyscraper is definitely welcome to see.

Hope to see more of that when we get to some gameplay on 13th June.

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Bevy of games from the Guerrilla Collective 2 stream

Yesterday saw the first part of the Guerrilla Collective 2 stream launching.  There was a huge bunch of indie games announced during the 2 hours, all with trailers.  No dev chats during this section of the stream, unfortunately, and most of the trailers didn’t show off too much of what the games had to offer, but there is plenty of stuff to look at.

Being focused on indie devs, there is a huge variety of styles being shown off here.  We have some games that hark back to the earliest days of the industry, with Asteroid style gameplay, to a game that is inspired by Max Payne.  We have a game that licences a filmthat is often regarded as the greatest ever made to a game that was inspired by the thought of a axolotl wielding an AK47.  The imagination and the vast array of stuff being shown off here is quite awe inspiring.  I’ll be amazed in the big publisher shows in a weeks’ time will come anywhere near the shear diversity that is demonstrated here.

The stream can be found below and runs for about an hour and half, starting at around the 30 minute mark in the video.  If you don’t have 2 hours to watch all of this, I’ve picked out a few bits that interested me the most underneath that.

There is also a Black Voices in Gaming stream that follows it, which seems to go into a bit more detail on some of the games featured and highlights a few more. 

32:47 – Anno: Mutatinem

First game up in the stream.  It features a sequence in which you are fighting a giant pixel lizard, which is not a bad way to start a stream of game announcements.  Looks like this is a sort of cyberpunk Streets of Rage (cyberpunk appears to be a running theme throughout the stream).  Could be interesting.

37:04 – The Eternal Cylinder

This is the next game from ACE team, those behind the Rock of Ages games and Zeno Clash.  Their games always have a really unique style to them and this is no exception.  The main character appears to be a face on legs, with a long trunk.  The rest of the critters shown are equally odd.  Seems like there might be some Pikmin elements, as you herd a group of animals around this alien landscape.

42:09 – Rubi: The Wayward Mira

I’m a sucker for a platformer with good movement abilities and this appeared to feature the usual suspects of dashing and wall jumping.  There also seemed to be a way to pass through walls as well.   I also really liked the artstyle.  Nothing that unusual for an indie game, with its looking back to the 16-bit era, but just done really well.

46:21 – Industria

Described as a mystery first person shooter.  I mainly pricked my ears up at the mention of it being David Lynch inspired, but they also mentioned Half Life and Bioshock.  The description of the enemies seemed to indicate some interesting AI, such as The Hounds that attacked you in packs and would follow their leader.  The footage unfortunately looked like a fairly dated shooter, but hopefully the description will match up with the final product more.

51:50 – El Paso, Elsewhere

I loved the Max Payne games (okay, not so much 3).  The action was always the best in class and the story managed to tow the right line between being earnest and self-aware.

El Paso, Elsewhere is unashamedly mimicking much of the Max Payne games, with bullet time dives and a character that appears to be in cosplay.  What struck me was the artstyle though, which appeared to be from a time before the original Max Payne.  It seems to be more in the vein of earlier 3D games, like a Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight.  It is quite a maligned period nowadays, but it looks great here.

53:57 – Run Die Run Again

A terrible name, but I love this sort of game.  Seems to be quite similar to the recent Ghostrunner in style, but more of a time attack approach, such as Cyber Hook.  Described as a survival platformer, likely because of the number of laser beams and hi-tech traps you seem to need to avoid, it looks to be great for those that enjoy during to shave a few milliseconds off their time.

1:07:07 – Guild of Dungeoneering: Ultimate Edition

I mostly enjoyed the song for this.  I wasn’t familiar with the original game, but I really liked the look of this and the basic idea.  It seems a little reminiscent of the recent Loop Hero, but without the looping, with the game seeing you lay down cards to build your dungeon and battling different monsters.  Seems a really nice idea.

1:13:12 – Zodiac Legion

I picked this out, even though it looked a little bland and the voice over was incredibly generic, mainly because it just seemed to be a very different game to everything else.  It is a great example of the huge variety of genres that are being played with by indie devs.  Not sure how this tile turn based strategy game will turn out, but it could be cool and can certainly see an audience for it.

1:22:17 – Kung-fu Kickball

I find it surprising that we don’t have more games that use real life sports as touchstones for games.  There is obviously Rocket League and there is the recent Knockout City, but it seems to be a missed opportunity. 

Kung-fu Kickball looks like a fun football adaptation.  It is already in beta at the moment and they are adding a Monkey King character.  Not sure how much variety it offers, but looks like it could be fun for a bit of a kickabout.

1:24:25 – Aeon Drive

Another cyberpunk game.  This one being a platformer.  Again, lots of fast paced action shown off and the pixel art in the cutscenes looked really great.  The levels themselves seem to have a 30 second time limit to them, so speed is obviously emphasised.  Also features co-op, although not sure how much that will actually add to the experience, judging from the footage.

1:31:31 – Omno

This looked like a really pretty game and I particularly enjoyed the flying wand sections.  It also featured a giant dragon that the playable character was riding on the back of.  Some really great animation here and some strong Journey vibes from the desert sections

1:35:49 – Alfred Hitchcock: Vertigo

This was a surprising appearance.  Not sure this is the first film I would jump to for a game adaptation and the developers are certainly setting themselves up for a big fall if this doesn’t go right for them.  There wasn’t too much gameplay footage shown, but the cinematic trailer was certainly very stylishly done.  An interesting one to keep an eye on and certainly going to carry some high expectations.

1:44:57 – Tamarindos Freaking Dinner

I have no idea what was going on when watching this trailer, other than his name being Jacob Jazz.  Only thing I managed to really get about the game was that it was going to be a murder mystery.  It looks completely unique though and it seems to certainly be a different experience.  The tune was great and I was very much left with a desire for tacos by the end of it.

1:47:27 RPG Time: The Legend of Wright

Really loved the visuals for this one.  It has a pencil drawn look and plays with that in different ways, such as the odd bit of flip book animation.  Looks to be packed with plenty of meta visual gags too.

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