GW2: Path of Fire [Game Review]

bqi6jim3wcc4gh0jtt34

Release Date: September 22, 2017
Console/System: PC
Beaten: 05.13.2018

Guild Wars is one of my favorite games of all time! This does not just mean the original games, but rather Guild Wars as a whole is my passion! I am not the best at the games or even the most experienced…but what I lack in skill, I make up for in trivia, knowledge, and an overall adoration and love for these games and series.

But last night I finally beat the 2nd expansion for Guild Wars 2 (I’m still working on Heart of Thorns) and I am ready to write a review! Dedicated readers will know that I have been following Path of Fire since it was first leaked online– and at first, I was not really impressed by what I was seeing. I knew that most likely we were returning to Elona since one of the maps was marked as the Domain of Vabbi- but Elona as a whole was something that I was still not that experienced with. I had only dabbled in Guild Wars Nightfall…so I felt a bit disconnected from what I was seeing for lack of nostalgia. The thing that threw me off the most though…was the leak for the mounts.

I thought that mounts would be the thing that finally ruined GW2 because other MMOs often made mounts rare and expensive…my thoughts were that it would cause a huge gap among the players and that they would evolve into a popularity contest. I also was not sure what purpose the mounts would have since traveling through Tyria was already made convenient via the waypoints.

As most things that are new…I am hesitant of change and was super critical. But, as more time passed and more was revealed for Path of Fire, I found myself less skeptical and more stoked for the release. I even started playing more of Guild Wars Nightfall in preparation for this new journey because I wanted to make sure I got the fullest experience possible when this game finally released!

On release day, I was there in the live-stream counting down the hours and minutes until the build went live. So this review will be a little lengthy. I want to discuss the aspects of the game itself mixed with whether or not my hopes and dreams for this expansion came through. So I will stop my rambling now so that we can get right into it.
Like before…

…come and take a journey with me.

DISCLAIMER: Spoiler alert- plot twists, reveals, and etc. Ahead! Also spoilers for the plot of Guild Wars Nigthfall! You have been warned!


gw2-pathoffireexpansionannounce

  • Return to Elona:
    —Elona: Land of the Golden Sun. In the past, this land was prosperous…being held together by three provinces: Istan, Kourna, and Vabbi. For those not familiar with this area, its location is Southeast of Tyria and is the continent where Guild Wars Nightfall took place. This is the land surrounded by savannah, desert, and plains. It is a harsh land where only the strongest survive, and yet it is unrivaled in its beauty that the people of Elona have created.

    Great Kingdoms used to rule Elona…their rule spread all the way into Tyria, even the Crystal Desert where Glint was said to reside. This place is rich in history and in lore. In the past it was the place where Abaddon was denied re-emergence into this world and where the mortal known as Kormir ascended into Godhood. It is also the home of the Sunspears. Elona (while mostly covered in sand) also has tropical sectors…with fresh water and palm trees. Over the years, Elona has lost the rule of the Princes and has fallen mostly into the hands of an undead King known as Palawa Joko.

    Joko once waged war with Elona and was finally stopped by a man named Turai Ossa and his army. His Elites could not kill the Lich King, thus they bound him in a tomb, and Turai gathered his elites into a group he dubbed: “The Order of Whispers”. There is much about Elona’s past that affects GW2 even before Path of Fire’s release. Like with GW2 itself, it’s a deep story and set of lore that I feel is lost when newer players fail to play the original games. For a lot of players, the return to Elona is a throwback…and much of what it offers is nostalgia.

    It’s fun getting to see returning places and how they have changed over time. It’s sad to see bustling markets now covered in dark crystals as part of the brand, and even more devastating to see the awakened walking around, knowing that people suffer because the land grew weak after Kralkatorrik awoke, and was taken advantage of by Palawa Joko (again, someone we meet in Nightfall). We return to the places we once stopped evil (like the mouth of torment and the sulfer wastes)- but while nostlagia for others, for newer players…what they can expect is endless deserts and dangerous creatures. Beautiful pyramids and clay buildings with colorful tapestries await!

    Bustling markets, colorful characters, and even a casino is waiting to be explored. Cliffsides, tropical outlets, harpy nests, rampaging choya…much is to be uncovered in this land of golden sun! I think veteran Guild Wars fans and new ones alike will never see a map as beautiful and mysterious as the returning Elona in GW2.

 

32492024_10211861799795489_4895332195595452416_n

  • Battle with a God:
    —The biggest twist of PoF was that the main enemy was not an Elder Dragon! Up until this point we have slain Zhaitan, killed Mordremoth, and now we journey to a place that has been ravaged by the Crystal Dragon Kralkatorrik! But as it turns out, Kralkatorrik is not the main enemy here…rather it is one of the last things you would expect: We are up again Balthazar- one of the six human Gods!

    If you paid attention to the things being said in the main campaign you would know that the human Gods have been silent for a long time. No one knew the reason why the Gods left in Tyria’s time of need, but the humans have tried to keep faith that they would come back one day.

    Well now the God of Fire and War has shown up in Elona, destroying everything in his path on his way to kill Kralkatorrik. First, he will kill the Elder Dragon and take all of the Dragon’s primal energy…then he will use that energy to clear out the Gods that he considers “weak”. He leads an army of corrupted soldiers known as “the forged” that wreak havoc across Elona and leave death and fire wherever they appear. The people are helpless against all these major forces eating away at their lives: the branded, the forge, Joko’s minions- they are left with no hope.

    Not wanting to go into any major plot points here (because I have to leave some things for you to discover)…Balthazar is a very sinister and dangerous foe. He has to be the hardest boss we have ever had to face thus far, and the fight with him is actually very conflicting. It’s a lose-lose situation when it comes to the world. You either kill a God and feed his energy to an Elder Dragon, or kill an Elder Dragon and feed his energy to an angry God. It’s a choice to find the greater of the two evils.

    We find out why the Gods left Tyria, and how Balthazar was frustrated with this decision…not because he thought it was right to save Tyria, but out of his own pride and non-concern for the destruction the God’s power would bring to the people down below.

    Balthazar is ruthless…he is powerful…and scariest of all is his cunning. I have never felt more satisfaction than in that moment when your character is barely clinging to life, and you see Balthazar break away into tiny pieces before you. It’s an epic battle across several chapters where it all seems hopeless until you give it your all at that very end…and for just one second, you have earned yourself a tiny victory among all the loss.

 

1501527405-pof_mount3

  • Mounts!
    —As mentioned before, something I was the most skeptical about was the inclusion of mounts in Guild Wars 2. This was a new mechanic that I originally felt did not serve any real purpose. At first we did not know how many mounts there would be, nor how much they would cost. My fear was that they would not be easy to obtain for the casual player (like mounts in WoW) and that rare mounts and mounts purchased with real money would cause a huge gap in the player-base due to popularity and such.

    So, how did it all turn out?

    Well, it turns out that there are 5 mounts in PoF: Raptor, Springer, Skimmer, Sand-Jackal, and Gryphon.

    Each mount actually serves a purpose in getting across the maps in Elona. The Raptor can run really fast and with enough experience can bound across large chasms to reach the other side. The Springer is for hopping up cliffsides and reaching the high places. The Skimmer allows players to traverse across water, quicksand, and the sulfur wastes. Finally, the Jackal allows players to enter special sand portals to reach secret places they could never get to before. The Gryphon was more of a ‘secret’ and extra mount that allows players to soar through the skies and get small leaps in the air for height. The first 3 are absolutely essential for those wanting to make it through the PoF campaign and missions point you in the direction you need to go to unlock them all. Each mount is obtained by doing tasks near the ranches where they are being contained, and then a player must purchase their mount using trade contracts (specific currency for Elona) and gold. Luckily, all the mounts are rather affordable, and the hard part is making sure you have the trade contracts to spend.

    Each mount (once purchased) can also be dyed to help them match your character a bit more…and unique skins can be bought with real money to make your mount stand out. So, I loved the fact that they introduced mount ‘skins’ rather than making new mounts that people could buy.
    As mentioned before, I feared that mounts would not be so accessible for the casual player…and while the Gryphon mount is a bit harder to achieve, it’s not impossible. But mount skins allow players to still have a unique skin that they can customize with dye; making the mounts look a lot more varied but still having them be the same type of mount that everyone else has (at its base). It was handled a lot better than a other MMOs (in my opinion) and really put all my fears and worries at ease.

    Mounts in this game are also amazing due to the fact that they have “attacks” and abilities for engaging enemies. Mounts cannot fight for an entire battle, but, a player can enter a battle by using a mount attack that will give them an edge. The Raptor sweeps his tail hitting every enemy in the area. The Springer has a cannonball jump that hurts enemies and interrupts their actions. The Skimmer does a barrel roll that plows through enemies and can eventually revive downed players, etc.

    So it turns out that mounts are not so much used for the convenience of travel in Elona, but rather they are a necessity in reaching the vistas, crossing chasms to get to new maps, and finding hidden treasures. And sometimes having that little speed boost really helps since Elona does not have very many Waypoints in which to travel with.

    Mounts also have a purpose in the new event which is racing! Mount racing is an occurrence in every map in Elona! They have become so popular that races have even been included in events such as the Labyrinth during Halloween and the Super Adventure Box! Once a mount is unlocked through one character, every character on your account can use that mount (whether they have gone through PoF or not), and while mounts can be used in other parts of the game (like the main campaign and HoT) be warned that at times they can be game breaking. So be careful!

 

32313365_10211861833476331_932979248740696064_n

  • More Masteries & Achievements:
    —Originally when talking about my hopes and dreams for this new expansion, I mentioned how I wanted less Masteries. While Heart of Thorns is a great expansion, I felt like the Mastery-system had you all over the place while having to take long pauses in order to train up all these different abilities. It was hard to pick what was a priority before the game made you come to a screeching halt because you lacked something, and you found yourself missing out on some cool things while tackling the campaign because you could not afford to spend the points on something other than what was a necessity at that time.

    So I hoped and prayed they would not do the same thing when it came to PoF, and in a way, I got my wish. There are new masteries in PoF, but at least there are fewer of them. There are fewer masteries and you unlock them in order (for the most part) which made my life a whole lot easier. Mastery points are still earned the same way (via story instances and also unlocked by finding them on the maps) with a few new masteries added in that require collecting items, killing some monsters, and even helping a chef in the kitchen- but the masteries, rather than focusing on languages, player techniques, and interactive things in the environment, they actually focus on your mounts…
    You use the masteries to unlock the mounts basic abilities as well as their more advanced abilities that you will need to progress through the campaign. Each mount has 4 tiers of mastery, but you only need 3 in order to move on to the next mount. The final one is completely optional (which is good since it takes so many points).

    Not only are there new masteries in this expansion, but there are more achievements for all you achievement hunters out there. Up above is a screenshot of me sitting on top of Palawa Joko’s throne after storming the Bone Palace. I was originally there for a hero point, but decided to be funny. Sitting on the throne landed me an achievement which was pretty cool…and there are so many others to unlock.

    New slayer tiers because of new monsters to fight, more map completion and item collections. Bounty boards and Bounty runs are a thing now and they have their own set of achievements as well. You can earn miniatures and titles from finding secrets within story instances…so really get out there and see what new things PoF has to offer!!!!

 

1501527619-pof_ssoulbeast

  • New Elite Specializations:
    —Specializations were first introduced in Heart of Thorns, and people fell in love with these new ways in which to play their characters. Well PoF has come out with new specializations for each class, and while I won’t go into detail about them, there are plenty of videos and blogs going into the stats, damage, etc of these new skills and how they can be utilized the best.
    My worry was that PoF would force players to use the new specializations in order to play through the game. But as a Ranger, even with “Soulbeast” unlocked, I rarely ever used it, and the game still allows you to play however you want to, even if that means posing a greater challenge to yourself. Here are the new specializations per class:

    Ranger>Soulbeast (dagger mainhand, become one with your pet through beastmode, stances)
    Mesmer>Mirage (axe, replaces dodge with a mirage cloak that allows you to ambush foes, deceptions)
    Warrior>Spellbreaker (dagger, full counter, meditations)
    GuardianFirebrand (axe, tomes replacing virtues, mantras)
    RevenantRenegade (short bow, citadel orders, Kalla Scorchrazor and her legendary renegades)
    Elementalist>Weaver (sword, attune to two elements simultaneously, stances)
    Necromancer>Scourge (torch, shades replacing death shroud, punishments)
    Engineer>Holosmith (sword, photon forge replacing the elite tool belt skill, exceed skills)
    Thief>Deadeye (rifle, deadeye’s mark replacing steal, cantrips)

 

69157_15027964492

  • Races, Bounties, and other Events!
    —The Elona maps are alive with events that take place at every moment whilst you play. Guilds and groups go after bounties across the deserts while the Elonian people try and hide against rampaging Choya in the streets! Cities hole up to defend themselves against Joko’s Abominations, and waves of Branded will take over camps! Balthazar’s Forged will storm the fields and it’s up to you to stop them! Then there is, of course, the collection quests.

    Mount races are also extremely popular in Elona and help to unlock parts of the map as well as test your riding skills! There is a lot to do, and I can only imagine new things will be added in the future! Bounties are my favorite thing to do because it takes so many people to face off against Elite, Champion, and Legendary monsters! It takes a lot of work, but the loot is good and the community is even better!!! So even if you have beaten PoF, there is always something to do so that you never get bored!

 

28577157_10211403832066582_5063166720234456531_n

  • Lore:
    —I always have to bring up ‘lore’ as one of the focuses of my reviews for these games, because you have to remember that this is Guild Wars 2, and that we have a few games prior to this that ties into the same universe.
    A lot of this game is tied into the events of Guild Wars Nightfall including main characters like Palawa Joko and Kormir. Not only that but there are other characters that were mentioned in the original Guild Wars (Guild Wars Prophecies) such as Glint, and her not-so-well known (or remembered) child named Gleam (now renamed Vlast).

    Someone that has never played any previous Guild Wars game would miss out on these small details, and like with the main campaign of GW2, would have to go digging in order to fill in the missing pieces. Vlast was Glint’s only egg to ‘technically’ survive in a challenge within the original Guild Wars. “Gleam” as he was called, was not mentioned often, and when Aurene hatched, people were confused with why Gleam had never been brought up. In PoF, we get that answer as Gleam finally makes an appearance…one that many GW2 players whom had never played the original games would not know the significance of.

    Another thing newer players might miss is the significance of Palawa Joko, the Sunspears, and the importance of Kormir’s presence in this place. Palawa Joko has been around since Elona’s earliest of times. By the time Guild Wars Nightfall happens, he has long been imprisoned by the Order of Whispers after his undead army was defeated by a man named Turai Ossa. Unfortunately, in Guild Wars Nigthfall, we (the player) are forced to free Palawa Joko and help him reclaim his Bone Palace in the sulfer wastes so that we can stop Varesh Ossa from summoning the Dark God Abaddon into this world. Thus, in this new Elona where Palawa Joko has made use of the people’s plights to finally take over most of Elona, for veteran players it stings because we are the only reason he ever returned to any sort of power in the first place.

    While PoF does explain Kormir in the simplest way, Kormir was the leader of the Sunspears that got kidnapped by Varesh, and Abaddon’s demons ate out Kormir’s eyes. Kormir then sacrifices herself to contain Abaddon’s power after his defeat in order to save the world, and her selflessness earned her Godhood.

    So, lore is important for the fullest experience in PoF but it’s in no way necessary. Players can gather bits and pieces from events via the actual storyline, from items that reveal certain plot lines, and even from NPCs that tell the tale of Nightfall and what has happened to Elona since that time. As always, I feel as if events could have been explained more clearly. Nowadays I see less people who are interested in digging deeper for facts that should probably be there from the beginning.  Also, there are some amazing YouTube videos that explain Elona’s history so that people don’t have to play Nightfall in order to fully understand the circumstances. My favorite video is from “The Krytan Herald” and you can check it out yourself by following the link: HERE

 

29214594_10211488858112180_6925588061325623296_n

  • Overall Additons:
    —Path of Fire added on to what we already have in GW2, and here is what this expansion in particular brought in:
    1. New Regions
    2. New Ranger pets
    3. Mounts
    4. Bounties
    5. A new story
    6. New Elite Specializations
    7. New Weapons Skins
    8. New Armor Skins
    9. A new Guild Hall
    10. New GH decorations
    11. New Adventures.

    Also, you don’t need to own previous expansions in order to play PoF! All you need to download is the main campaign and you must purchase the expansion for PoF- but Heart of Thorns and Living World is not a necessity! HOWEVER: if you want to be able to understand the story thus far (not including the lore) here is the order in which you will want to play the episodes and expansions:

    Main Campaign > Living World Season 1 (recap) > Living World Season 2 > Heart of Thorns > Living World Season 3 > Path of Fire > Living World Season 4.


32231291_10211846181125032_1445311122793037824_n

In conclusion, I have to say that Path of Fire is the best expansion by far in GW2. Though it is actually a lot shorter in length than HoT, I felt like it was much longer because of how in-depth the whole mission felt. We have instances inside of more instances…taking us through deserts, temples, death, and back. We got to lead an army of undead against the great God Balthazar and it was amazing!
Every moment was tense, every little piece coming together built up that anticipation towards the grand-finale. Even the ending was bitter-sweet, thus making us ready ourselves to face off an even greater threat in Living World Season 4.

I find that all my hopes (for the most part) were met with this expansion. The mounts were affordable and they are available to everyone despite whether they are a casual or not. They serve a purpose other than just traveling to places faster…and even the skins that are paid for with real money do not make mounts any better than what the other players get. GW2 stuck to its example of not being a pay-to-win game which I love.

Originally I said I had hoped for two new regions rather than it just be Elona…but that was because I did not know just how massive Elona was and all it had to offer. I had not gotten very far into Nightfall and therefore had no real experience with the region which is why I was hoping for addition of something more familiar. This was pretty selfish of me, and in the end, I’m glad there was just the singular Region focus.

For those not interested in a story and rather in it for the gameplay, PoF holds much more challenge than Heart of Thorns, and mounts keep things interesting and fresh with the changing terrain. The final boss battle is amazing and amazingly difficult, and crossing the brand is an interesting task all in its own. People had mixed reviews on the new specializations with most preferring the ones we had in HoT, but, there were also a large number that liked the stuff that was new.

Even now they keep tweaking powers and balancing them out, so it’s still a work in progress.

But what do YOU think?

Have you played this expansion? Did you prefer PoF or HoT? Which mount was your favorite? What was something you felt could have been done better? What was your favorite parts of the expansion? Have you ever played Guild Wars Nightfall?

As always, let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comment-section down below. Thank you all so much for reading- here are more blogs that I have done concerning GW2 and the expansions:

Thank you all again, and as always, I will see you all in the next blog! 😉


  • Video:

 

Advertisements

5-mechanics I hate in any game!

recovery

Its been a minute since I stopped to talk about gaming in general rather than just a particular game. So, I decided to make a list of the 5 mechanics that I tend to hate in ANY game, no matter what it is!
As a person that plays all sorts of games (on all different consoles), these are the mechanics that start to make me annoyed- they are the reasons where I might put down a controller (or handheld) and then not pick the game back up for months or YEARS! Some of these will make sense to most gamers, while others might just be me being my picky-self. Either way, I thought it would be fun to share this list with you, to see if you might feel the same.

None of these are ordered from worst-most worst or anything like that…in general I dislike all of these mechanics pretty equally.

WARNING: Possible Spoilers Ahead!
(game plots might be explained when used as an example- this is your warning)


onedoesnotgrinding

1.Level Grinding:

As a person with a love for all things RPG, this is the first peeve that comes to mind on my list of game-mechanics that I hate. Strangely enough, I will level-grind in Pokemon for hours and DAYS before challenging a gym or the Elite 4, but in Final Fantasy, I groan with dread at having to gain 5-10 levels to take on that next area, boss, fortress, etc.
Because at least when playing Pokemon there are trainers to battle, money to be earned, or you might find another Pokemon for your Pokedex. Leveling up a Pokemon means new moves or even an evolution, so it feels like you’re almost being rewarded for all that time you put in.
In your typical RPG though, nothing changes in a way that feels obvious or even rewarding. You just hit things a little harder…and that’s it. I can not count how many times I set down a game knowing that I was going to spend a few days level-grinding. Worse again is the feeling when you have a game like Dragon Quest IX that means gaining 2 levels can take over a week because enemies are just that pitiful no matter where in the world you travel to. So yeah, I hate the inevitable level grind.

Even in MMOs, the level-grinding can feel like it lasts a lifetime. Trying to gain those last few levels for a mount or new weapon can either feel like it takes minutes or like it takes YEARS. It really depends on the game. But, I never look forward to it, and dread it enough that I’m willing to stop playing the game for awhile just to avoid it (even though I end up doing it eventually).

 

2. Plot Deaths:

I hate it when a game has your character scripted to die in order to move the plot along. First of all, I always hate it because I feel like the death is pretty pointless. If you’re the hero, we already know we are coming back to life…and whether that’s crawling out of hell, or facing final judgement, it’s always an area that is extremely hard and extremely tedious in any game!
Another reason why I hate it is because we usually end up dead after a long-and-epic fight with some awesome boss. My most recent example of this is fighting Balthazar (again) in Guild Wars 2. I have NEVER fought better in my entire GW2 career- I was pulling out all the evades and the interrupts and was not getting killed. I was being strategic and using my character the best way I knew how. I was super confident…and then I got knocked over. I was mad because I didn’t want to die because I had been fighting so hard. Then I noticed that the boss is healing me…and he says: “Not yet”.

That was the moment I knew something was up. Sure enough, my Dragon came to save me, Balthazar trapped her, and then murdered me. I ended up in the Domain of the Lost and then came back to life via a miracle…and I was pissed! I FOUGHT SO HARD WHEN I WAS JUST GONNA DIE ANYWAYS!!!!

Yes I’m a bit salty but I hate plot deaths! Unlike the death of an NPC that often rips at your heartstrings (or makes you happy depending)- plot or scripted deaths of the main characters are just cheesy and a waste of time!!! Good thing I didn’t waste any of my items fighting that fuck otherwise I really would have been really mad. Then dealing with the Domain of the Lost was a mission within a mission and it took FOREVER! I’m not saying it’s bad…but after such a long battle it was just tedious, and I was in a really foul mood. But yeah…plot deaths are the WORST!!!!

 

wowgoldpiles

3. Item Farming:

I think most people can agree that any sort of item farming is TERRIBLE! In World-of-Warcraft, farming for gold is so tedious and it takes so long. Because the economy/market in WoW is so competitive…you basically have to be an economics expert in order to make any sort of real money. It’s not like mounts run you 100-gold here or even 500-gold there. No, mounts run from 5,000 to 27,000 to 100,000 fucking gold in this game!
It costs me 50 gold just to repair my armor if my Guild wont foot the bill. So when I’m having a bad week and getting slaughtered, I’m LOSING money! Thus it means running a lot of dungeons, going and destroying mobs to go sell their loot, or mining for days just to sell my ore in the marketplace hoping to make a few gold here-or-there.

But it doesn’t just come down to gold-farming. No…I’m talking also about item questing/hunting, and even collectibles! They all fit into this category.

RPGs in general are notorious for making you go and hunt for rare items. I’m talking about that item that you need to continue the story that only drops from one monster, that only spawns in one dungeon, that only has a 10% chance to spawn, and then a 2% chance to drop the item you are looking for. And like level-grinding, this could mean hours, days, or even weeks of your life unless you get extremely lucky!

Nowadays with achievements being a huge-thing that everyone likes hunting for…that means item-farming has only gone up in popularity (among game mechanics anyways). This means finding those small little dolls in DOOM, or looking for those Stray Beads in Okami. This could mean running every dungeon in WoW or even running the SAME dungeon/raid every-single-day so you can fight that one boss that has a 0.02% chance to drop a rare mount but ONLY IF YOU ARE PLAYING SOLO.

*breathes*

When I come across these types of missions, I will attempt them. I will spend those hours and maybe even a few days before I start going insane. I started making a list of how many fish and how glass vials I caught PER DAY in the sewers of Dalaran while trying to get the Sewer Rat. It has been a year…A WHOLE YEAR and I still have not gotten it yet.

So yeah…item farming, gold farming, collectibles to get achievements, they can all go suck my ass (to put it nicely).

 

final-fantasy-vii-discs

4. “The Point of No Return”:

So I chose this picture of the discs for FFVIII because I recently had to explain to my wife, the struggle of one game being on several discs. She never had a Playstation so she would not know. However…we have all run into a situation that we can recognize as “that point of no return”.

In the case of these discs shown above…In the old Final Fantasy Games that had multiple discs, the story would progress to a certain point, then you would save your game and would have to change out discs to continue the story. Well, what if you were under-leveled? What if the 2nd disc had you run straight into some sort of boss you couldn’t beat? That wouldn’t be too terrible so long as you kept your old save file from the previous disc.

In Final Fantasy VIII, I had finally made it to disc 4. Sure enough, I ran into a battle with the main villain. My party was way too weak and had all the wrong things equipped to try and fight this creature. I was dead in a matter of minutes. Try-after-try it was GAME OVER. This was when I knew I needed to level-up. The problem though? I had gone through that “point of no return”. The game would not let me leave the facility where the boss was. Even if I could, the characters wouldn’t let me go to an area to level. Every time I clicked the ship they would say: “We can’t go now, we have to save (blank).”

So I had to do the one thing I was dreading…I had to go back to an older save file from Disc 3. That meant I had to go through some of the same bosses I had already beat (just barely). I had to level up for those hours/days/weeks and then make it all the way back to where I was in Disc 4 to HOPEFULLY beat the boss again. This happened back in 2007…and I have not picked up the game since.

This is not the only instance of this happening in games. We all run into those areas where the game forces you to move forward whether you are ready or not. There is never any way of knowing when these moments will pop up, therefore no way to plan. These are the reasons why people keep multiple save slots because we all know those games with those moments where you desperately need health, ammo, or desperately need to level…but the game has programmed in this sense of urgency that won’t let you backtrack and has you stuck in a perpetual loop of death because you are running into a fight ill-prepared.

While I understand them wanting you to feel as though there is something you must do in that moment (because developers love making people panic)-they can really kill a good game that way. Because think about it…if you’re that person that saves over the same slot over-and-over-and-over…then you run into one of these moments? You would then have to start your game all over again…from scratch, from the beginning…and that’s not cool.

But boss battles, changing discs, and leveling are not the only examples of this. Earlier I mentioned the stray beads in Okami. Have you ever played a game where they have rare weapons or collectibles…but you only have ONE CHANCE to get that item in the game? Yeah…Okami has that. It’s in a forest that has you in a timed-run. You have 1 chance and 2 sections to go through to find 4-5 hidden beads! This means multiple save files, multiple tries…No bueno. Final Fantasy VIII also has a moment like this where you can get a special monster. It’s actually a pretty useful one, but it only comes from one boss during one moment…you get ONE CHANCE to get this thing but only if you know it’s there!!!

These also count as “points of no return” because once you miss your chance…that’s it. You either start a new game to try again or go back to some previous save file to try again. There really are no other options. This mechanic is for sure one of the most frustrating in any game ever created!!!

 

videoblocks-game-over-8-bit-funky-a-funky-colorful-4k-game-over-screen-animation-letters-falling-towards-the-center-8-bit-retro-style-red-and-yellow_hcqx9_kax_thumbnail-full06

5. Starting back from the Beginning:

When I talk about “starting back from the beginning”, I am talking about the mechanic known as “Final Death”. This is a mechanic where, if you die, you start back at your base stats with no weapons, armor, whatever.

Some popular examples of this would be Minecraft and Dark Souls. In Minecraft…your death means you lose all your levels, items, and gear. You have to run back to your shelter and start punching trees again to make new things (unless you were smart and had spare things in some chest somewhere). This also means getting all your levels back by killing more enemies and mining more ore etc. This can really suck if you have really good gear such as diamond armor or enchanted gear. While there is a chance you can run back to where you died and get some of this stuff back…chances are you spawned nowhere close to where you died…and by the time you make it back all those items have despawned (or worse, a zombie picked them up and is now charging you in your awesome gear).

Same thing goes for Dark Souls…but to the more extreme. You lose items, gears, potions, levels, and humanity. You start back at square one and now must fight your way back to where you were and hope the process doesnt rinse and repeat.

Even the popular game known as Runescape has a similar mechanic where you dont lose levels, but you lose all your items.

These mechanics can be some of the most frustrating in ANY game, especially those games where chances to save are rare IF they even exist at all! Even retro games like the classic Mario can fit this example. There is no way to save your game, and getting a GAME OVER means that you start all the way back at level one. In the SNES version you could keep your progress and just turn the console off before you got a GAME OVER…but for people playing the classics, this mechanic was brutal!

I do play a few games with this mechanic…but even my wife knows not to bother me if I die. She knows not to bother me if I am playing this sort of game because raging at the game upon a death is damn-near inevitable. You could pour so many hours or days into these games, all for it to just run down the drain because of one moment, one flaw or fluke. You lose it all in an instant and it can be downright heartbreaking!!!

So, do I hate this mechanic? Absolutely! Would I stop playing games that have these mechanics? Maybe if I could never beat them then yeah…
But would I stop buying games with these mechanics? No…because even if I hate the mechanic, I honestly like the challenge sometimes. Maybe I’m a masochist.


 

But there you have it! These were the 5-mechanics that I hate the most in ANY game where they might exist! By now I’m sure a few of you readers are nodding your heads because you understand my pain. Maybe a few of you don’t. But that’s why I want to know what YOU think! 

What are some mechanics that you despise in games? Do you have any stories relating to the situations I wrote about above? Do you think this list was reasonable? Why or why not?

Remember to leave me your thought and opinions in the comment-section down below. Thank you all so much for reading, and as always, I will see you all in the next blog! 😉

Throwback to Guild Wars Utopia!

utopia4

Concept art for Guild Wars Utopia

As one of the leaders for the Guild Wars 2 Amino, I have a few planned posts per week. The first one is “Tyria Tuesday” where I showcase the more ‘scenic’ shots from the GW2 vistas, and then there is the classic “Throwback Thursday”.

Usually for tbt I post pictures of my characters from the original Guild Wars, I post my “Lets Play” of Guild Wars Prophecies or something like that. But someone suggested I do some lesser known Guild Wars trivia that somehow relates and works into GW2. So, this week for throwback thursday, I am going to talk about some Guild Wars history that most people might not know about: The cancelled campaign known as “Guild Wars Utopia”.

32260508_1402937569812929_4682005353301278720_n

Concept Art for Guild Wars Utopia

Before GW2 became the main focus of ArenaNet & NCSoft, they instead had planned a 4th campaign to go along with Guild Wars Prophecies, Nightfall, and Factions. This was because they wanted to make a new campaign every 6-months.

In fact…Utopia was trademarked and underway in 2006 but just disappeared. Why? Because it was just too complex.
Long-story-short…the ideas for Utopia were too-grand for the current system being used in classic Guild Wars, and such a big idea would not be able to be finished in 6-months. Developers also did not want to risk ruining a system that was fine as-is. They worried that any changes made to accommodate Utopia would ruin the flow of the gameplay they already had established…So Utopia was scrapped and instead, was split up into 2-parts: Guild Wars: Eye of the North & Guild Wars 2.

Raptor old

Possible mount- concept art for Guild Wars Utopia (via Reddit)

So what parts did we not get of Utopia?

Well a lot of concept art shows us where buildings were inspired for the new games we got, but nothing quite fits exactly into what they had really planned. Little is known about what could-have-been but Utopia was going to be the first game in the series to introduce mounts. As most people would know, mounts never made it into the classic Guild Wars, rather we only recently got the mounts with the release of GW2’s expansion: Path of Fire.
-> (the threads say the mounts they were trying to make were horses and giant beetles so aren’t you glad they waited to give us something cooler? And yes, there was concept art showing what probably became our Raptor mount.)

32190844_1402937603146259_8645868883103711232_n

Chronomancer Concept art from Guild Wars Utopia

Another thing that Utopia was going to bring to the table were some new professions for people to play with (as was the custom for every new campaign in Guild Wars). Chronomancer and Summoner were going to be the two new professions introduced in Utopia. While we have yet to see a summoner class arise, in GW2, a Chronomancer Elite Specialization was introduced later on. Ancient technologies and time were supposed to be huge factors in the plot and theme of Utopia…so the Chronomancer was the bigger focus due to it being a time mage.

32150827_1402937646479588_365447514402324480_n

Every Guild Wars game of course had a theme…and Utopia was to be no exception to this rule. ANet and NCSoft had decided upon an Aztec-theme which is why people often link Utopia to Guild Wars: Eye of the North (due to everything in the Tarnished Coast). The Asura were planned to be part of Utopia but were originally much more primitive.
Their original clothing in Eye of the North and the Pyramids they build and inhabit go back to this Aztec-theme.

32169090_1402937623146257_5753437459853606912_n

Sidhe Concept Art- Guild Wars Utopia

Even the Sylvari are rooted in Utopia. They were originally a race known as the Sidhe…though not much more can be said about them. This would have been the first time that we got to play as something other than human. It was said there would be other races to play as well, though they were not listed. Since the Asura had been mentioned, they too might have made the list for playable races. Rather, in Eye-of-the-North we were ‘introduced’ to some new races that later became playable in GW2 (The Norn, Asura, and Sylvari respectively – the Dwarves died out unfortunately).

32130367_1402937689812917_5672753329512382464_n

Tanneks concept art from Guild Wars Utopia

Was there any hint of a plot?

No…not much can be said for the story-line because not much was ever released outside of concept art and speculation.

There were enemies known as the Tanneks- and it was thought that their forms were reworked into what we now know as the Destroyers. Judging by the art, I can see where some Destroyers were at least inspired via their shape, but it might all be a long shot. Still, we can wager that it would not be so different from what we already know Guild Wars to be…
There would be some great evil, and we would have to stop it.

There was mention of Utopia’s location not being a “continent” and rather taking place in the Mists. While it was Aztec-themed, it would center heavily around the Gods, and would introduce a whole new Pantheon that we had never seen before including Dwayna’s Father.
I feel like this is a lost opportunity because we honestly know so little of the Gods. We know they influence matters directly in the original Guild Wars, and are all but absent in GW2 (or “silent” as the players say). We have two moments of contact with Gods directly in GW2 Path of Fire, but it’s in a way that we will most likely never see them again. I feel as though Utopia would have bridged a huge gap as to why they went absent in the first place (and yes, I know it’s explained…but I would rather see and ‘experience’ it rather than just being told why) and then lead to a more heartfelt farewell in Path of Fire. But maybe that is just me.

But who knows? Maybe they will bring this project back…
There is always that chance with expansions in the future.


Conclusion:

There was a dark time of “silence” between Guild Wars original and GW2. NCSoft started working on new MMOs such as Wildstar and AION while ANet was keeping quiet on anything it had planned.
While we had been told that a new Guild Wars game was coming, everything just seemed to fall off the radar for awhile. Even after we got Eye of the North and some bonus content like the War on Kryta, the silence was uncomfortable…and year-after-year it seemed like there was less of a chance of us ever getting a sequel to this beloved game.
On the day we finally started hearing about GW2 and got a solid ‘teaser’ trailer, I remember sitting at my laptop and crying with joy.

So hey! Here’s some fun facts and trivia you might not have known before (and also goes to show how much I love Guild Wars that I know of these things)!

But let me know what YOU think! Have you ever heard of Guild Wars Utopia? Do you think they will bring it back or has it been scrapped forever? Are you glad or disappointed that we never got the 4th campaign in the original Guild Wars line?

I have to agree with the developers that Guild Wars Utopia did seem a little too complicated for the standard Guild Wars formula. I do not see mounts having been effective in that style of gameplay…and it would not have been fun to just ride them around certain zones. The older games have a lot of limitations to them and I just don’t see something as expansive and explorative as Utopia being something they could pull off. Though, I do think it would be neat to see a choice between different races in the original Guild Wars.

But you know what to do! Leave me your thoughts and opinions in the comment section down below! Thanks so much for tuning in and reading- and as always, I will see you all in the next blog! 😉

.Hack//Infection [Game Review]

51dbejg3a3l-_sy445_

Release Date: June 20th 2002
Console: Playstation 2
Beaten: 2011 & 04/25/2018

As some might have read from my blog post about the new GU game getting some hate: I am a MASSIVE fan of Dot Hack. I collect the manga, novels, figurines, anime, and yes…I also own all the video-games. There are seven of them altogether, and what most people might not know is that the GU series was not the first set of games out for the Playstation 2…rather, it was the IMOQ-series that came first.
IMOQ stands for: Infection, Mutation, Outbreak, and Quarantine…because like the GU series, the IMOQ series is broken into 4-separate parts.

But today we are talking about “Infection”.

Infection is the first game in the IMOQ series…and is also the cheapest and easiest to find online. A used copy of this game only runs for $13-$15 at the most. But I can’t say that I know very many people that have played this game. While stats online show that it got mostly positive reviews, I have barely met a person that knows what Dot Hack is…let alone all the games that came out for it.

Anyways…despite my love of the series, I am still going to treat this like any other game review. Nostalgia aside, it’s time to shed the light on this game: what it does well, and the places where it absolutely failed.

But enough of my rambling…lets get into this review, shall we?


maxresdefault1

  • The Story:
    —Kite gets invited by his friend Yasuhiko to join the largest online MMO called “The World”. Kite chooses to play as a Twin Blade as he logs in and meets his friend (a character-name Orca) by the Chaos Gate in Mac Anu.
    In the beginning, Orca just explains the game and how it works. He takes his friend to a beginner’s area, and explains the gate, the dungeons, fighting monsters…basic stuff. But while the two are wandering the dungeon, a girl in all-white zips past them, and she is being chased by a strange creature with a red wand.Already it seems that Orca has heard of this girl before…he refers to her as something that he thought was just a rumor and it’s even more obvious that whatever was chasing her is not something normally programmed into the game. But Kite and Orca follow the girl, only to end up taken from the dungeon zone and landing in a strange and corrupted area. The girl appears and gives Orca a book. She says the book holds the power of salvation or destruction at the whim of the user; and without any other explanation, she just fades away. Suddenly, the creature from before appears. It takes Orca and drags him into the sky where it uses a strange power that seems to corrupt Orca’s data. Orca’s last words to Kite was that he was sorry, and that Kite should run or else the monster will kill him too. Kite is caught in the crossfires of the creature’s next attack when a staff-like object falls from the sky, and Kite is teleported away.

    We learn afterwards that Kite got away and logged out for the night, only to find out the next day that his friend Yasuhiko had fallen into a coma. Now the hunt is on to find out what caused Yasuhiko to go into a coma…and also if there is a way to save him.

    And that’s all just scratching the surface. Infection has a lot of different things going on at once…like people joining your party for their own reasons, a secret message in The World, hints that The World is more than just a game…but rather something alive, and then a conspiracy that the CC Corp somehow knows this game is causing people to fall comatose, but they are not dealing with the problem like they should. Meanwhile Kite and his companions search for the secret of Aura…who she is, and why she gave him (Kite) a mysterious bracelet that is not a legal item within the system.

 

512e661f6wl

  • Combat/Mechanics:
    —Infection tries to be as authentic to MMOs as it can actually be, with combat relying heavily on using skills and relaying strategies to your ‘friends’ (the NPCs in your party). You play as Kite, but you do not adventure alone. Through the game you pick up member addresses of other players…and you can use them to make a team of 3 people to aid you on your journey.
    This is where things kinda get complicated. You see, there are your ‘main NPCs’ (people you will have in your party often), and then there are the ‘filler NPCs’ (people you recruit only when you have to). Characters like BlackRose, Mistrel, and even Mia are often used to progress the story…and you will find yourself playing alongside them more often than you would someone more random like Sanjuro or Piros. But anyways, each player has their own class…and you use their classes to build the perfect team. Each class has its own set of skills as well as its own set of weapons/armor it can use.When you play this game, there is a lot to keep track of! You not only have to remember which person has what skills…but it’s also your job to level up these characters, and outfit them with armor and weapons! Not only that, but weapons and armor can change what skills they can now use! So, just to keep up with what player has what-thing (without having to check the status menu every 5 minutes)…I actually made a stat chart for all the characters! I’m not even joking! But anyways…you have your team, so now what do you do?

    Well, Infection is not a game that is on the rails. In fact, the story only holds your hand so far before you are basically running around with nothing to do. The game has 4 sections to it: You have your desktop mode where you can read the online news, check your email, and even customization your background. Then there is The World’s login screen. On the login screen, you can read the board to see if anything new has come up. Once you log into The World, you have the Root Town where you can do all your shopping and trading, and then lastly there are the field that you teleport to for combat.

    In this game, the story takes you through reading your e-mail (in order to get hints and links on where to go next in the game) and checking the BBS (or Board) for info. It tries to replicate you actually being a kid that is looking for answers about his friend falling into a coma, and the board will actually get new posts from time-to-time making it look like people are actually having some sort of discussion. Through your email and the board, you will be given keywords to use at the Chaos Gate. This gate requires you to place in 3 keywords in order to be transferred to a field.

    Once you are in a field, monsters can now spawn…which means you can finally put your blades to good use. In the field there are a few things you can do. You can either run around collecting buffs and Grunty food, you can drop a weapon or armor piece into the magical springs to see about getting an upgraded item, you can open magic portals to fight monsters, or you can find the dungeon and go inside.

    Combat is not really hard in this game…and it’s really all about the multitasking. For Kite, you have 3 options: press X to attack repeatedly, use a skill, or use an item. The hard part about the combat is that while you also have to figure out how you are going to fight the monsters…you have to tell your party what to do as well. Do you want them to attack the same monster as you? Do you want them to use their skills? Did you want to designate what skill you want them to use? Do you want your wavemaster healing everyone?

    There is a separate menu to control Kite than there is to control your party…and while not difficult, it does take some getting used to. After you successfully kill a monster, you get experience. Gather enough experience and you level up. Basic RPG stuff, right?Monsters come in a lot of shapes and sizes. Not only do different monsters have their own set of skills…a lot of them also have ‘elements’. The elements in this game are : Thunder, Dark, Fire, Water, Wood, and Earth. If you are fighting a monster and you are using magic, you want to hit them with an opposing element to create a critical hit called the ‘elemental hit’. I listed elements as they oppose each other up-above. It’s weird because this is not like Pokemon. In the world of Dot Hack…Fire is super effective against water, but water is also super effective against fire.  Not only that…but sometimes a monster will have a special ability like a tolerance to physical attacks. When a monster is tolerant of physical attacks, only magic will work on it. So defeating monsters because of these things does take some thought and strategy. This is not always a game where you can run in and hack-and-slash to win.

    Now the dungeons are the main focus of going into the field. They have stronger monsters (which means more experience) and they also contain several treasure chests. The goal of any dungeon is to get down to the lowest level in order to get the treasure from the Gott Statue. Inside this treasure chest is usually some form of equipment, and then special treasures that have no use other than for trading or selling. Are you still following me?

    As mentioned before, you are in charge of clothing all the NPCs that you travel with. So you have to outfit them according to their class. Wavemasters can not wear heavy armor, and Twin Blades are somewhere in between. So what if you havent found an item that matches one of the character classes? Well you can trade to get it! You see, after you have finished in the field, you can gate back out to the Root Town. In the Root Town, there will be a bunch of NPCs running around that you can trade items with. You offer them something they want, and they have stuff in return- and this often includes equipment.

    See? I told you it was complicated! So in between venturing to keywords that link you to the story…sometimes you will be left waiting for that next BBS post or email. In that down time, that’s when you will want to try out different maps and explore dungeons in order to get items and level up. And that’s basically all that there is to this game. It’s a lot of jumping back-and-forth between being on your desktop and playing in The World. You will recruit characters through side-quests, and then spend the rest of the time buying more health drinks while trying to find your wavemaster a new pair of boots.

 

datadrain

  • Data Drain and Gate Hacking:
    —Did I say that was all the mechanics? Well I was lying because this game focuses heavily on 2 abilities that Kite has: Gate Hacking and Data Drain!
    When Kite got the book from Orca, he ends up opening it and receiving a strange bracelet. With this bracelet, Kite can use the same power that sent his friend into a coma in order to re-write an enemy’s data (essentially making them weaker).In order to use Data Drain, Kite has to have an enemy down to a specific percentage of health. That’s when their protection barrier goes down. Once the barrier is down, Kite can use Data Drain to take that monster all the way down to level 1. But, the bracelet is pretty unpredictable. Sometimes it will cure the party’s HP and SP…and other times it will drain it. Sometimes enemies will drop items and other times they will drop virus cores. Either way, Kite can not use the bracelet very often. Each time the bracelet is used, Kite’s ‘corruption’ goes up. If it gets to 100%, Kite dies and then it’s game over. But luckily, the bracelet does have a cool down. The more monsters that Kite kills, the more the corruption goes down. So Data Drain is something that you have to monitor. Data Drain also lets Kite fight monsters that are otherwise invincible because they have been infected by a virus.

    Gate hacking and Data Drain go hand-in-hand. As mentioned before…sometimes when Kite uses Data Drain, a monster will leave behind a virus core. Well, Kite uses these cores in order to perform Gate Hacking (which essentially allows him to access protected areas within the game). Virus cores come in many letters and you will have to make sure and collect a good number of each so that they are always on hand for hacking. It may seem like a pain but, several main areas needed to progress the story-line make use of Gate Hacking.

 

hack-infection-part-1-image884521

  • Just like a real desktop!
    —Infection was given praise by how much it really mimicked playing an online MMO. This was actually one of the things that drew me to the game the most, and it was like living a dream for me. Back in 2002, MMOs were still not as widely accessible to people…and I could only dream of being online for hours on end, talking with people and exploring a massive world with my buddies. And Infection felt like the real deal. When you start up the game, you are on your ‘desktop’. There are shortcuts to the online news, accessories (so that you can change your desktop background), you can change your desktop background music, or even check your email.

    As you play the game, people you have encountered will send you messages. They will tell you about themselves in real life, their favorite movies, their favorite foods…and the best part of this game is that you can actually respond! Sure, they a pre-written responses, but, you get a choice on how you wish to interact with these people, and it does affect how and if they write you back in the future! For the time that this game came out, I feel like this was cutting edge.

    In order to play “The World”, you must click the shortcut on your desktop mode. That’s when you are taken to the login screen for the game. Here you can either log into The World or check out the message boards. Like with the email function, the board-function also feels like it is alive. Every once in awhile, categories get added, and responses appear on older topics that were not there before. You can see the author of the post and the author’s of the responses…and it really gives the illusion that there are other people playing this game! Even when you log into The World, there are NPCs running about and talking about several things. Sometimes it’s game related…sometimes it’s related to their real-life job or school. Their chat bubbles appear all over the place and it just seems so real and so cool. This was one of the highest selling points of Infection, and it still impresses me today! It really does feel like you’re playing on a computer!

    Even your NPC companions mimic real-life. Sometimes you can not summon them to a party because they are not ‘online’. While this can be frustrating at times, I still think it’s a neat touch.

 

61-13062

  • Fun extras!
    —Though I said before that there were moments where you would be running around doing nothing (while waiting for more story to pop up), that’s not entirely true. There are a few extras in the game to hold you over while you wait.

    These extras include missions to get more companions (like finding spiral edge of Natsume or getting the Kotestsu sword for Sanjuro)- and sometimes the missions are really funny and warrant traveling with a companion you have already met but may not use very often. There are also ‘challenges’ in The World like playing tag with the Golden Goblins to get their special items…or running through the Zeit Dungeons to try and beat Balmung’s best clear time. There is also one of my favorite parts of the game which is raising Grunties! A Grunty is a pig-like creature that can be found on the Theta server, and when you feed it, it eventually grows into a mount that you can use in the field. What you feed it determines its stats which then determines what kind of adult it will grow up to be.

    In Infection, there are only 3 Grunty that you can get: Noble Grunty, Poison Grunty, and my favorite- Iron Grunty! Once grown, the Grunty will give you a Grunty flute so that you may summon it in the fields…and now that Grunty will be wandering the Root Town with items to trade. So it’s not always just random keywords and level-grinding. Sometimes there are some fun and extra things to do as well.

 

66-dhi_update_10_versusskeith_5

  • The Final Boss:
    —Words alone can not accurately describe my disdain for this final boss! Should it be any surprise that the final boss would be with the creature that place Orca in a coma? Either way…those that have read my reviews before know that I take final bosses rather seriously. And let me tell you, Skeith made me rage-quit more than once!!!!

    To get to the final boss for this game, you have to first have enough virus cores to Gate Hack into the area. If you don’t have them, you have to grind and go get them. Next, once you have hacked into the area…you have to find the dungeon. Just like any other boss in the game, Skeith is located on the last floor of the dungeon which in this case is the 5th level. Yup! Five whole levels!

    And I guess this wouldn’t be so bad if the monsters in this area were not ridiculous. You have monsters that can instantly revive fallen comrades, and other monsters that can swipe and kill you in 3 hits if you’re healer isnt careful. These creatures are no joke…and by the time I made it to Skeith, I had to take a moment, use my items, and get everyone back up to peak fighting performance.

    As a boss, Skeith is…frustrating. He takes very little damage from physical attacks and even less from magical attacks. Because he is one of the ‘invincible’ monsters, you can not even see his health dropping so, there really are no indicators on whether or not you are really doing any damage. Skeith can kill a player with 2 hits of his wand. Not only that but he has a move called “judgement” which freezes all 3 players and cuts out 1/3 of their health. Skeith also has the ability to data-drain players which causes all sorts of abnormal effects which need to be dealt with ASAP because they leave the player as a sitting duck.

    So the entire time you are just cutting away at him. You use item-after-item just trying to keep your wavemaster’s SP up and topping off BlackRose’s health so she can keep going after Skeith. Even after you Data Drain him, the battle is only half over. Skeith is deadlier as ever when he is data-drained and shows his “true form”. Now his physical attacks are an instant KO and you will need all your resurrects to keep your healer alive.

    Not only that but, Skeith is very fast now too…and trying to target him while still staying out of range of his physical attack is near impossible without the help of scroll magic. But once you beat Skeith you always let out the biggest breath you feel you have ever released. The feeling of relief that just washes over you because it is finally over is…amazing. This battle is hard, it keeps you on the edge, and it really does take a lot of patience. The first time I fought Skeith, he murdered my team when I had him down to 10% health…and I lost everything. I lost all the levels I had gained in the dungeon, I lost the rare blade that I had gotten via a Data Drain, and I lost my sanity. It took me a few hours to cool down and then decide that I wanted to try it again. Because losing will really mess you up because how crazy tedious this boss fight is!

 

57-dhi_update11_parasitedragon_5

  • The Giant in the Sky!
    —Skeith really is the final mission for Infection so, does that mean the adventure is over after you beat him? Strangely, no. Logging onto your desktop again after beating Skeith, you will see that you have a message from a guy known as “Roy Bandai”. He mentions the giant that flies through the sky on the Delta Servers (and you will have seen it at some point) and talks about the legend of it. Well, supposedly this is a special-event area…and he not only gives you the keywords for this place…but, he also gives you the virus core to get in there. This allows you one last battle with an extremely powerful boss!!! I guess it was put in to give people something to do while the next game was in development. Still, I wont spoil it too much since it is supposed to be something of a bonus within the game!

 

dothack1

  • Bonus DVD:
    —Each game that came out in the IMOQ series also came with a bonus DVD called “Liminality”. It was a companion to the game and followed the adventures of a girl investigating the comas in the real world (after her boyfriend fell into one). It was pretty neat since we start to see through these DVDs how our actions in the game affect the real world and vice-versa. These DVDs were made to add more story to the game as well as drop hints to special places we could visit in-game to get cool things. But nowadays, finding a game with the Liminality disc included can be a challenge. But luckily, there is always someone who has ripped these episodes and put them online so you arent completely missing out.
  • Transferring Save Data:
    —One of the cooler things about this game is that because there are 4 installments, once you beat a game, you are given a golden ‘flag’ which allows you to transfer over your data to the next installment. Since this is a review of Infection, then once you have beaten the game, your save-file turns gold, and that will allow you to transfer everything to the next game: Mutation. This means your armor, weapons, Grunties, everything! So it’s a neat way to keep the character you have been working so hard to build. But, make sure you have properly leveled before starting the next installment!

 

maxresdefault2

  • Complaints:
    —So here is where I must be completely honest when it comes to these games. When I was younger, these games blew me away. I thought they were just the coolest things, and, I could easily invest hours upon hours into level-grinding etc. Even my main save-point from the first time I beat the game clocks in at a whopping 69 hours!

    But…my first complaint is that the game is really not that long. Even with level grinding and finding new gear for all my NPCs…even that with all the extras, and I beat in the game in just under 20 hours. Now compare this to other PS2 titles? Final Fantasy X had me at 96 hours. Even Okami took me at least 30 hours to beat (because I got side-tracked a lot). So for all the game offered…it really was over too soon, and, it was a bit of a disappointment.

    The next thing is…the story. The story in Infection just leaves a lot of questions. I know it’s supposed to (because there are 4 games in total), but it really leaves a player feeling like they did not accomplish anything for all the time they spent playing this game. Mix that in with the fact that the game is so short…a lot of what a player did for so little story just really seems like a waste of time. But it’s not just the way in which the story is presented in-game that I have an issue with…but rather with the whole entire presentation of Dot Hack’s timeline as a whole.

    IMOQ was being made at the same time as .Hack//SIGN (the anime) and the two are really close to one another in the Dot Hack timeline. But my issue is in how the timeline and major plot of Dot Hack is presented. Dot Hack is a multi-media franchise that expands across several forms of media like the games, anime, novels, manga, etc…and what bothers me is that they gave so little of the story to people who might not be interested in searching for the pieces that are missing. SIGN was all about Aura’s birth and showed that The World was alive. It also explained that people were already getting data drained and falling into comas before IMOQ. It even showed the ‘White Rooms’ we see in the game and explained a bit what they were. There are references to SIGN all over the place in IMOQ. But, how many people are going to watch the anime? The same goes for vice-versa. IMOQ is a huge chunk of the Dot Hack timeline; it may even be the most important story arc of all time in this timeline…and while they eventually made the events into novels- there is no representation of this through any animated media. So the timeline jumps right from SIGN to “Legend of the Twilight” and to me, that’s just not okay. No one can even find these games outside of ebay anymore…and the last game runs for $200+ USED!

    But my last complaint is that there are 4-whole-games in the series. With how short Infection was, once could have easily added in the 2nd game and just made it one title. A critic once posted that consumers buying the games right off the shelves were handing over hundreds of dollars for one game. And while I hate to admit it…they are right. Each game in the series gets a little longer and adds a bit more challenge to it, but it is ultimately still the same game. It’s not like a sequel where there is a chance to update the graphics, the writing, or even the mechanics…this is the same game, with the same graphics, and the same writing, and the same animations. Even the mechanics remain the same…and so like I said, rather than 4 games, they could have just made these into 2 decently-long games instead of 4 short ones. Even though the data-transfer system is cool…I see a lot of issues with it. One issue would be for those that buy future volumes but can’t find the previous installment. Sure they can start a new game without previous save-data…but then they have missed out on all the cool items and customization they could do from the first game. Also, when you transfer data from one game to the other…say that you were under-leveled in the first game? How will you know until you reach a point in the next game where you are constantly dying with no way to level-grind? That was an issue I ran into, and it made me go back to a completely different game just to gain some levels. It’s like the ‘Final Fantasy on the PS1-type’ of problems that should not exist as of the PS2.

    But these were really my only concerns. The game looks okay (even if the fields are kinda boring and dungeons get repetitive). I love the music in this game…and yes, because I know the entire Dot Hack timeline, I love the story as well. But I can see where the casual or even those that didnt know Dot Hack was an anime etc might have a hard time wrapping their noggin around the plot of it all.


hqdefault

For what this game offered, it was really fun and a very unique experience compared to other RPGs. It tried to bring to life a game within a game…and I find that it was ambitious. Nowadays, with the GU series getting a face-lift and a release on the PS4…we can only keep our fingers crossed and hope that IMOQ gets the same treatment, because I really think it was something special.

While it would easily hold up against other PS2 games for being something of a cult-classic…it would never hold up against the games of today. The mechanics are too buggy and complicated, the graphics were rather bland when not in combat or watching a cinematic. Only the soundtrack might stand out as one of the best that I have ever heard in gaming for this particular era…but that’s about it.

The game was one of my favorites because it was like a dream come true. It allowed me to pretend that I was on this grand adventure with other people that relied on my turning on the console. It was a make-believe MMO and was a treasure for kids like me that did not have access to reliable internet or super fun PC games at the time. But like I said, I had to put nostalgia aside and really show the game for how it is: tedious, complicated, slow- but with an interesting story and some really goofy characters. It does set a pretty scene even if I want to kick the combat controls in the face sometimes.

It also had a good boss, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the extra events…even when I replayed it. But that’s just my opinion. I would have to say that you should not buy this game unless you plan on buying the complete series. As mentioned above, the final game alone can run you hundreds of dollars…so, if you arent ready for that type of commitment…then best to find a version you can run on an emulator. For any Dot Hack fan out there…this game is a must-have as not so many copies were made, and the numbers dwindle the higher in volume you get.

But what do you think?

Did you know this series existed? Did you ever play it? Do you own any of the games? What were your thought/opinions on the gameplay? Thoughts on the story? Would you recommend this game to anyone else?

As always, I am always interested in hearing what you have to say…so let me know the answers to those questions in the comment-section down below. I will be continuing this series and hopefully completing it soon. After that I will start the GU series for the first time ever! So, wish me luck!
Anyways, thank you all so much for reading, and, I will see you all in the next blog! 😉


  • Video:

Why are gamers hating on “Last Recode” for the PS4?

header

As a major fan of the Dot Hack franchise and as someone who writes a gaming blog- I was recently approached with the question of: “Why is there so much hate towards the Last Recode on the PS4?”

This question took me back a little because I could not really think of any hate I had seen towards the game. In fact, there had been a lot of hype over the remaster…but then I started digging a little deeper because I wanted to know where this question stemmed from.

So let me answer this question in the best way that I can.


  • There really is not that much hate:
    —Take a look at the reviews on any website. Check out the Steam reviews, Metacritic, and even Amazon. The reviews are mostly positive. The game usually gets a solid 7.5/8 out of 10, and that’s not doing too bad. Occasionally you might get someone rating the game at a 3 for being ‘boring’ or something stupid like that…but those reviews are hidden under the mass of fans praising the game for all that it brings, and for how great the remaster looks.

 

  • Dot Hack is a massive universe with an in-depth story-line that most people do not know about:
    —Lets be honest for a second. How many people care about a good story in a game? I know that I do…and while GU has a story within the game (and even comes with a disc describing the events of the first 4 Dot Hack games), the Dot Hack universe is massive! It’s a multimedia franchise expanding over novels, manga, anime, and video-games…The first 4 games (IMOQ) is barely scratching the surface of what The World is! Not to mention there is a prequel to GU…it’s an anime called ROOTS. Want go back even further? Did you know that Haseo played in The World before? He was a character named Sora who got data-drained at the end of .Hack//SIGN, and then he spent a time as a wandering AI while his 4th grade real self was in a coma. When he finally woke up, he had lost his memory and doesn’t remember playing The World. Surprised? Well, it’s canon! But do you see what I mean about there being a deep story-line that is not on the immediate-surface?So, as someone that has not played the GU series yet, I can not say why people might hate the games. But, if a non-Dot Hack fan is playing these games…they are bound to get confused. Unless they want to watch the anime, read the novels, and piece together all the mysteries and events leading up to ROOTS and GU, well, the story might not seem all that appealing to them. Dot Hack is something I feel like you have to be invested in completely or else it just isn’t your cup of tea.

 

  • The original GU games were not really that popular:
    —Checking out the stats of the original GU games…well, they were really not all that popular. They were much more popular than the first 4 Dot Hack games by far, but even then it was said they were met with a “lukewarm” reception even if they ended up making a good sale. The games were considered really slow-progressing with a lot of missed opportunities for action. Not to mention, people did not care for the writing…and of course, there was the confusion of what was happening in this universe for reasons I mentioned above. So the remaster might be getting hate because the original games were just considered “meh”. People who played the original games and were not impressed would not be likely to play a remaster…even if it did include a brand-new 4th chapter.

 

  • The game has not aged that well:
    —The game was made HD but the character models and the writing still remain the same. Everything wrong with the original games is still going to be wrong with the remaster including a slow-moving story, all the boring battles, and all the crappy writing and character voice-acting. Scripts are still going to make people cringe and if anything, it’s the cringy voice-acting that I have seen have the most complaints when it comes to this game! So, as mentioned above…if someone played the original games and thought they were bad then or at least just ‘okay’ back in the day- nothing is going to change much from then until now. It may be brighter, look and run a lot smoother, and have a brand new 4th chapter…but ultimately it’s still going to be the same game in the eyes of the critic.

 

  • It’s a slow-progression game:
    —I mentioned before that I have never played the GU games. It was only recently that I was able to find all 3 original games at a local game shop because Last Recode probably made them feel like they didn’t need the old copies anymore (their trash is my treasure). All that aside, I have heard from friends that the first volume is SUPER SLOW! The game is long and is tedious…and though things get better in future volumes, if one whole game just drags on, it would not really make people want to play more of it. Also, I have heard of a forest level that takes DAYS to complete! And here I thought getting Pandora’s box in God of War was bad (that shit took me a whole day it felt like)! But anymore, gamers like instant gratification…the golden years of the JRPG has been dying in the USA in favor of more fast-paced games and multiplayer. So if the game is getting hate, it might be for the lack of patience that the player has. Perhaps level-grinding and really working towards a boss battle is not really their style? I mean, it could be any of the reasons I listed…it’s hard to say.

 

As a major Dot Hack fan, I want to defend these games. I want to slam my fist down and yell: “You don’t know what you’re missing!” 
But, in truth…this series just isn’t for everyone. Having recently started playing through IMOQ again for fun, I realize a lot of my love for the game comes from the fact that I loved watching .Hack//SIGN, and that back when I was playing these games…big MMORPGs were not as accessible to people like they are now- so playing a game that felt like a real MMORPG was like living the dream.

A lot of the love that comes from this series really does boil down to nostalgia…and that’s not a bad thing. But, as a gamer I have to be honest when I say that the series (as a multimedia franchise) is amazing! But the series as a set of video-games is not all that good. Level grinding takes forever…the graphics are kinda bland. The sound is good, but the tracks loop way too often…and the story-line is so obscure to those that aren’t interested in doing their research that it’s no wonder that the first four games didn’t do too well, and that GU was met with a very neutral response.

So once more…I don’t think that these games are really getting ‘hate’ so much that more people are now playing the games for the first time and just don’t know what they think about it. If they never played the originals (and loved them) or are not a fan of the Dot Hack series, this might be a waste for them and they are just being honest with their thoughts. Even as a remaster, there is no way these games could stand next to other exclusive titles.

But what do you think? Have you played the remaster? Were you already a fan of Dot Hack? What were thoughts/opinions of the game?

As always, let me know the answer to those questions as well as your own personal thoughts down in the comment-section down below. This game might have been less about gaming as a whole and more about my own thoughts on a series…but since it has to do with a game in question, I figured it appropriate to post it here. Also, as a shameless plug: if you’re a fan of Dot Hack, I decided to make a blog completely dedicated to everything Dot Hack! You can find it HERE if you’re interested.

More gaming blogs coming soon! Thank you all so much for reading, and as always, I will see you all in the next one! 😉

Bayonetta [Game Review]

bayonetta_slider-679x350Console(s): PS3 (original)/ WiiU/ Xbox360/ Nintendo Switch/ PC
Beaten: 4/5/2018


Sexy witches fighting angels atop crumbling buildings while jazzy music plays in the background…add all that in with heels, guns, lollipops, and pillow-talk, and you have yourself: Bayonetta.

Bayonetta was released in 2010 in North America and Europe and was one of the titles I never got around to playing because it debuted mostly via the PS3. I might have seen it on the 360 but sadly, I passed it up. However, when I was browsing for new games to play on the Nintendo Switch I saw that Bayonetta 2 was on of their hot sellers, and, if you bought the game, it came with a digital download for the first game.
As some might already know, I have a problem with playing games out of order, and this was getting two games for the price of one. It seemed like a steal for a game that was making waves across the internet. Bayonetta was a figure I had seen often…whether it was art, games, statues, or even clips from the anime (LINK). So, I figured now was as good a time as ever to delve into this world of the occult.

…and I fell in love!

I’m not joking! The game surprised me in every way but ended up being something I truly enjoyed (even if it frustrated me at times). But you know the drill, I am done rambling- so lets get into the review!

[[Screenshots used were taken via my Nintendo Switch]]

30124337_10211646453051955_1525179054729199616_n

  • Story:
    —The Story of Bayonetta starts in a cemetery where Angels have descended to take a soul to heaven, when Bayonetta strikes. It’s unclear right away what side of the coin she is on (good or evil) but that’s when we learn that Bayonetta is suffering from amnesia. She lost her memory after being awakened from her coffin that was located at the bottom of a lake and even though her jokes and sexy poses makes it seem like she doesn’t care- this fog in her memory bothers her a great deal. Since awakening she has been hunted down constantly by the creatures of the Light and she wants to know why.

    This is where our plot begins: Bayonetta is given a lead on her past which has her set off for Europe and a town called Vigrid…and what it reveals is a past drenched in blood. The world was once kept in balance by the masters of Light and Dark: The Umbra Witches & The Lumen Sages. Each side possessed a treasure called: “The Eyes of the World“. Both factions only met when they needed too and both had strict rules on interacting with the other. One day the factions were furious to learn that two of their own had relations and had carried a child breaking the order and decree. Both parents were imprisoned and the child was kept with the Umbra.

    But the child had been born with the power of the “Left Eye” and it was said that when both eyes became one, that the Creator would be made incarnate once more and a new reality born. It was Paradiso’s (Heaven’s) will to make this happen, and the Lumen Sages followed this path because their link with Paradiso. The witches were not willing to part with the treasure for this cause and thus lead to a 100-year war. The side of the Light, fearing the power that the witches possessed began the infamous “Witch Hunts” which lead ultimately to the extinction of the Umbra…and in the end, both Umbra Witches and Lumen Sages disappeared entirely- and they were all but forgotten to time.

    Through her journey in Vigrid, Bayonetta is hunted by creatures ranking higher in the heavenly sphere of Paradiso, all the while unlocking more of her memory. Each creature blessing her and saying she is part of a bigger plan to revive the Creator who will combine all realms together for a new future. Meanwhile, she is also being followed by the last remaining witch (Jeann) which was the person who locked her in her coffin 500 years ago. The combat-strewn world of Vigrid ends at the Ithavoll Cooperation…heavily armed, militant, and top-secret; this place on the Isle Del Sol is home to a man calling himself the last Lumen Sage, and Bayonetta’s Father.

30226609_10211646434131482_5701142788461035520_n

  • Combat:
    —At its core, Bayonetta is a hack-and-slash and utilizes different combos in order to defeat a vast array of enemies. Bayonetta has her own set of weapons that can be mixed and matched- customized for the player’s needs and equipped to her heels and fists. But Bayonetta not only has guns, swords, and claws at her disposal…as an Umbra Witch, she also has several magical attacks that can be used in battle. Bayonetta uses her hair in order to summon demons…and she can also take various forms (such as a panther, crow, and bats) to give her an advantage in certain situations.

    The magic meter underneath a player’s healthbar will be filled during combat to unleash special “torture moves” and during boss battles, her final move is known as “climax”.Bayonetta can also dodge and use items to give her special boosts. Dodging an enemy’s special move makes time slow down which gives the player an extra moment to either move or get up-close and personal for some serious damage. Bayonetta can even pick up an enemy’s weapon sometimes to use powerful attacks against her foes.

    Battles are generally isolated-instances that do not let the player progress through the level until all the enemies in a particular area have been defeated. Fights can not always be fought with weapons, but has Bayonetta use her environment- using her hair to throw cars and dumpsters at veiled foes…and this is because Byonetta takes place within 3 realms that do not entirely touch (PAradiso, Purgatorium, and Inferno). After a fight has ended, you are given a score and medal based on your performance- points are deducted based on damage taken, deaths, and items used. Some battles (boss battles especially) can sometimes include quick-time events which was the single-most complaint that most people shared about the game. While most battles take place in a single area, other enemies will have you running across water, dodging falling buildings, skipping across hot rocks, running up the side of a cathedral, and etc. And while this game is a hack-and-slash…a few instances of combat take place in vehicles such a motorcycle and a missile instance.

 

29790106_10211646455852025_7068728493688750080_n

  • Collectibles:
    —Bayonetta has a bunch of collectibles including achievements. There are several diaries explaining the world of Bayonetta from a journalist’s point of view- from magic itself-to architecture- to the history of the witches and sages. There are also enemy records as you fight your way through the levels.
    Discs are sometimes found in Umbra coffins and after battles- so when a disc (also called an LP) is completed, it unlocks a new weapon for Bayonetta to use (as well as an ALT version of that weapon that can be purchased with halos). There are treasures to unlock for purchase as well as new techniques to use in battle. There are even costumes and accessories to collect as well. There is also finding all the coffins and Umbra Tears of Blood- and that’s just scratching the surface. There are Broken Witch Hearts and Pearls of the Moon that increase Bayonetta’s health and magic…and those are hidden around the world as well. So there are plenty of things to find and red birds to catch while smashing pots and statues in this game.

 

29511234_10211560831831478_6203492958563555471_n

  • Alchemy:
    —What would a witch be without her cauldron? Alchemy DOES exist in this game, but it’s rather simple. As you play the game, Bayonetta will collect ‘ingredients’. There are 3 types of ingredients, and their colors are red, yellow, and green. By mixing these ingredients together, Bayonetta creates lollipops that can help her in battle. Red lollis increase strength, yellow lollis create a shield that protects Bayonetta for a limited time, and green lollis give Bayonetta some health.
    Alchemy is not difficult either…rather, there is a handy chart that pops up in your menu telling you how much of what items is required to make a final product. Ingredients can also be mixed and matched to create other lollis and even a magical flute, but, I found myself sticking to the basics.

 

29791101_10211646436811549_5417751582026498048_n

  • Extra(s):
    —Just like with collectibles, this game is full of extras. For example, at the end of each level, there is a mini-game called “Angel Attack”. It’s a simple arcade-like shooter that earns you points and then allows you to purchase items for the next level and/or exchange those points for halos. Also, another extra is the “costumes” you can change into via the sub-menu (in between levels).
    Because I got this game on the Nintendo Switch, there were 4 special costumes I could use for Bayonetta including a Princess Peach Costume, a Princess Daisy Costume, a Link Costume, and a Samus Costume. Other costumes can be unlocked via regular gameplay (or so I believe).
    After you have beaten the game there is also a gallery one can go through as well as a ‘hard-mode’ that gets unlocked. These are just a few of the extra things that Bayonetta has to offer.

    One of the main things that Bayonetta offers are challenge stages known as Alfheim’s. These portals take you to Paradiso where you face Angels with a timed-task in order to earn a piece of an LP or a Heart/Pearl. These challenges range from easy to hard. They are extra so you have the option of skipping them, but most people like trying them out to get that extra item in the game.

 

29791303_10211646464932252_5620565332222541824_n

  • Final Boss/Ending:
    —As one might have guessed it the final battle takes place when Jubileus (The Creator) awakens in space. We have beaten the Lumen Sage and he is overcome by Jubileus’ power. Now we must stop the ultimate being from creating a new reality.
    Jubileus is no joke when it comes to final bosses, and I found myself gripping the controller white-knuckled. This final boss really does test your skills and all you have learned throughout the game…and it also tests your patience.

    Jublieus is massive, and in this battle you are in an orb-like arena. The camera is not in your favor as you run around, kill cherubs, and wait for the Creator to drop her golden tendrils so that you may strike at them. When the Creator drops her tendrils, it’s a race against time- because she also drops a massive black-hole that you can only outrun as a panther. If you get sucked in, it’s a one-hit KO and you have to start the fight over (unless you reach a checkpoint). At first, it was hard telling if I was even doing any damage to the thing.

    Jubileus will also cast small vortex that if they touch Bayonetta will turn her into a child. I consider this move a cheap-shot, but it’s rather easy to avoid. I think the main thing about beating the Creator is learning her pattern and how to avoid the black hole. After I finally got that down, my final attempt at fighting the God, I managed to take zero damage which really means something. The battle is slow…and does take awhile since the Creator has 5 health bars AT LEAST!

    As for the ending…it took me a minute to really soak everything in. The plot had a lot of pieces that were not explained outright, and it took a lot of thinking to put all the pieces together. And the end itself, ended with a bang that was funny, stylish, and left the player feeling accomplished. Maybe it was a bit clich’e, but to tell you the truth, I would not have expected anything different from this game.


30124191_10211646471812424_2429525294105755648_n

In conclusion, Bayonetta ended up being a lot more ‘deep’ than I thought it would be. I expected the cheesy jokes and over-sexualized battle schemes…but the plot really took me for a loop. Mixing fantasy with history elements and really making something unique out of it…I loved it.
As mentioned before, there were parts that had me confused. At first I thought that Cereza was Bayonetta’s kid, and I hated how Baldar did not tell her how he managed to get Cereza when we learn that Cereza is you. Taking Cereza back into the past only finally makes sense towards the end of the game and it’s some sci-fi craziness about affecting the past (changing it to make a different future) and accepting one’s fate. There were mysteries and just so much emotion coated in sarcasm and style. It really was fantastic.

I enjoyed the game more than I thought I could…and  can say that it would be worth playing again. Maybe not on hard-mode, but playing it again to find all the treasures and everything else that I missed would be nice. I can’t say that gameplay would be too different even with different weapons to combo…but I think that a true fan could play Bayonetta multiple times and never get bored.

The game just had everything: Great music, beautiful graphics, colorful characters, and an interesting universe. Yes, there were naturally parts I did not like. The grading system at the end of the a level seemed really harsh…and it made me frustrated when I felt like I did so good and yet I got such a shitty reward. Also, the quick-time events. They often happened very suddenly and you barely had time to see them before you missed your chance and your character died.
I also hated any and all of the vehicle sections. They were not easy to use and I just ended up taking way more damage than I should have for what I thought were very stupid reasons. A lot of the time in battle I felt like there was too much going on, but it was something I could adapt too. So if I had to say anything negative about the game, maybe it would be that for someone not accustomed to such games, the entire experience could be “overwhelming”. Because while categorized as a hack-and-slash, Bayonetta also has other elements to it including (but not limited to) things like puzzles. Also, whether anyone admits it or not…’Normal Mode‘ does not feel Normal. It is very difficult and you WILL die, even if you think you have ‘skills‘.

As far as how Bayonetta played on the Switch, I felt like the game was very fluid and comfortable with Switch controls. I did hate that they added in the “touch-screen” controls thinking it would make for some easier or more unique gameplay when really it was more a bother. It was especially annoying when quick-time events would show both the buttons you needed to press AND the touch-screen commands. It lead to a lot of unnecessary deaths for me. But despite these things, it was still a great experience on a great console.

Now I get to look forward to starting Bayonetta 2 this weekend and then looking forward to a Bayonetta 3.

But what do YOU think? Have you played this game? What were your thoughts on the plot? what did you think of the characters themselves? Did you play it on an older console or did you play it on a Switch? 

As always, let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comment-section down below. Thank you all so much for reading, and as always, I will see you all in the next blog! 😉


  • Official Trailer:

Sea of Thieves [First Glance]

sea-of-thieves-4

[[DISCLAIMER: This is based on my wife’s first few hours of gameplay- this does not affect how we might feel when the game is complete or when I feel the game has been played enough for a full review. Always remember to research multiple reviews before deciding on whether or not a game is right for you.]]

Much like with “Elder Scrolls Online“- my wife bought a new game, and as I watched her play, I decided to write a little blog about our first impression and any hiccups she might have experienced (as well as what fun she had) while playing.

Sea of Thieves…the new game by RARE that has you playing as a pirate in an open-world. I was really excited for the wife to get this game because it seemed right up her alley. She loves pirates and open-world…add that in with character customization and you have the makings of a great adventure.
But it would seem for as cool as the game looks and sounds…there were some bits to it that got rather confusing and lead to a lot of frustration the first few minutes of gameplay.


  • The Game does not explain itself very well:
    —You choose your pirate, then your boat, and then your crew. Seems easy, right? That’s what we thought anyways. So my wife decided to choose a Galeon because a bigger and more sturdy boat sounds much better than a small and fragile one. Then she was asked to pick her crew. Well, she wanted a smaller and more manageable one. Things were going great.
    But then it started searching for people online and then chose 2 random folks that my wife had never heard of before. Because didn’t you know, the game is an MMO? That’s right. When choosing the Galeon, “Sea of Thieves” becomes a multiplayer game. That was something we didn’t know because we learned very quickly that the game does not explain itself very well.So after my wife loaded into the game, we found ourselves in a tavern. This is the starting place for all new players…and yet the 2 people that the game had randomly chosen as our crew were nowhere to be found. So, my wife did what anyone might do when playing the game for the first time: “She pressed a lot of buttons”. She found food in barrels, found some cannonballs, was able to access her equipment, and then she checked out the shop.

    It was through going to all the shops that she found out that the game runs on quests that you get from the 3 factions within the game. So, she took a quest and was told to find her ship. All-the-while there was no tutorial. There was nothing telling her how to jump, how to use her weapons, or even where to find her ship. But before she had even made it to the docks, after choosing her voyage, she was spawned into an instance: and she loaded right into the brig.

    Then came the 2 people that the game had chosen for our crew. The guy just stood there flashing his lantern. My wife could not do anything. The brig was locked, the guy was typing but my wife could not type back, and she was infuriated. The guy tried adding her to a group so they could chat…but my wife did not want to play with other people. So, she just sat there as cannonballs blew through the side of her Galeon, and she went down with the ship.

    So…to be honest: this whole mess was ‘kinda’ her own fault. I don’t think someone should have to research a game in entirety before playing it…but it might have helped to at least read the box. But even the box only said the game had other players in it…but didn’t explain much else. It did say that there was a solo mode, but neither the box nor the menus we were given actually said how to play solo. So, it took some googling before we could actually figure it out.
    But I say its her fault because for a moment she could have joined a crew for just an instant to learn how everything worked and how to play…especially since there wasn’t a tutorial. But instead she got a bit sour about it. Luckily, my research into the game and figuring out how to play solo made her want to give it another go.

 

skelly_fort

  • It really is a Pirate’s life:
    —But despite the rough start, lets talk about the good things: this game looks amazing! The style is rather toony and is classic RARE-style. It offers a fun atmosphere and universe while still able to be rather sinister and extreme. The waters go from calm and a bright blue, to swirling and black when the weather gets bad. You can see storms brewing in the distance. Everything feels alive and very real despite the artistic form of the game.
    Also everything sounds great too! The music is just what you would expect from half-drunken sailors and wandering treasure-hunters.Your ship is your vessel to adventure and treasures- and make sure you take good care of it! Running into land can put holes in your ship and it will take on water. Patch it up with planks then use your bucket to get the water out or the ship will sink…and if the ship sinks, it’s Game Over for you, mate!
    If other pirates kill you, your character gets taken down to the Ferry of the Damned. And while your treasure might have been stolen, at least you get your ship back.

    Drink ale, eat bananas, steal chests, fight skeletons, earn gold, and be merry! Watch for black waters because it’s a sign of the Kraken! Check your compass and sail wherever the wind takes you, it’s a pirate’s life after all!!!

    The POV of the character is first-person like Skyrim or Fallout, but while you are fighting enemies, they can slip beside you and they disappear. They aren’t behind you, and, if you swing your sword, you still hit them…and yet they are invisible. This can make combat a little iffy. However, with a good strategy, it’s not impossible and can be quite manageable.

    But I think what I love most about this game is the level of detail everything has…even when traveling. It’s not recommended you play solo for a reason…and that reason is that there is a lot to do when it comes to sailing a ship across the waters. Since my wife plays solo she has to do everything herself, and this means picking the voyage, marking the map, raising the anchor, dropping the sails, and then setting and maintaining the course. Once she reaches the island she has to raise the sails, correct her position, and drop the anchor to at least land close to the isle she is doing a quest on. Then there’s patching the ship if it gets damaged (like what I mentioned above).

    And while online articles make it seem difficult for one person to do it all, my wife picked it up rather quickly. Perhaps once she stops doing the starting (beginner)-voyages and starts picking up more difficult missions where there are sea battles it might be a lot different…but for now, at first glance, it’s really not that bad if you want to play alone.

 

sea-of-thieves-skull-dude

  • Exploring is fun- but is it profitable?
    —The map in the Captain’s bunk of the ship offered many isles that one could travel to, and even some small ones that were not listed. But is it profitable to just explore? Unlike other open-world games where traveling around can get you treasures and other goodies; traveling around in this game felt a little lack-luster. Sure there were barrels with more bananas (the main health item) and cannonballs…but there didn’t seem to be much treasure outside of the occasional rare-tea crate, and, this game runs on gold. Ship customization, clothing options, cooler-looking weapons, and everything down to what kind of bucket you have on your ship for draining extra water costs tons of gold. So, while these small adventures are good for maybe refilling on the basics you might need and getting a small bit of coin, in the beginning it doesn’t seem to really offer anything too special.
    There are enemies to fight as well…but there doesn’t seem to be any sort of ‘leveling’ in this game, thus fighting off hordes of never-ending enemies (because they respawn) really does come off as pointless. But again, all of this could change the further you get into the game.

 

  • Solo versus Multiplayer:
    —I can see where the game would be easier to manage and maybe a bit more fun when playing with a crew (especially friends), but there are perks to playing solo. I think the spike in difficulty yields a bit more of a sense of accomplishment…but the best part? YOU DON’T HAVE TO SPLIT THE LOOT!
    A starter voyage only got my wife 94-240 gold in a world where eye-patches can costs thousands. And while starter voyages are free, eventually you have to pay to get more (once you get enough reputation to unlock bigger and better missions)! So you have to manage spending money with voyage money…and when you play with other people, they also get their share from participating. This can make budgeting even harder. So for those that like their booty and don’t like to share, solo is the way to go!

 

maxresdefault2

  • Character Customization:
    —One thing I was most excited to see was the character customization. And while it is neat to see all the clothing options and weapon options…there isn’t too much for the actual character itself. You get a base-model when picking your pirate and that’s it. You can change the hair and clothing…but that’s as far as it goes. AND CLOTHING IS EXPENSIVE! It’s anywhere from 13,000 upward to buy a new jacket, and the same goes for weapons. The weapons you buy do not change your stats, or abilities…it just changes the skin of the weapon you already have!
    So in a way you could make yourself a unique-looking pirate but nothing on the scale of other MMOs out there. But I will say that there is ship customization, and that is actually pretty cool.

 

  • Voyages:
    —Voyages are what they call ‘quests’ or ‘missions’ in the game, and, it’s how you earn gold and reputation. There are 3 factions that hand out voyages on the Sea of Thieves, and the more reputation you gain with the factions, the more voyages you unlock. The more voyages you go on, the more gold you get. But, voyages can be difficult because at any moment you can be attacked by other players.
    Right as my wife got one of her first treasure-chests she was attacked by a group of players and blown to bits. That’s when she landed herself on the “Ferry of the Damned”. She also failed her voyage which means that is reputation she will never gain, and, whoever attacked her stole her treasure chest and the 2 other crates of rare goods she had found along the way…which is money lost.
    Again, this all comes down to whether or not you want to play with others or run the game solo.

So the verdict?

sea-of-thieves-1-1

It’s a very interesting game that allows a lot of freedom to play the way you feel like you want to play. But outside of the promise of riches and adventure, there isn’t much of a story, and there is not a lot of guidance. But the threat is real when you have 3 ships on your tail and you’re trying to make it back to the outpost with a treasure chest in your cabin.

I see it as a very successful multiplayer game where one can easily log hundreds of hours into it if they have familiar people to play with…but I’m not sure it has as much promise for those playing solo. I can see it becoming repetitive rather fast for the solo player…and at times, perhaps impossible to play.

However, everything else sets it up as a really good game…with beautiful graphics, a cool soundtrack, some funny moments, some challenging ones, and a world just full of things yet to be discovered. I can say with 100% certainty that this game is definitely unique in what it has, and, I can only hope that they add more things to it in the future.

But what do YOU think?

Do you have the game? How has your experience been thus far? Do prefer multiplayer or playing solo? Does this game look like something you would interested in playing? Why or why not? Let me know your opinions down in the comment-section down below.

As always, thank you all so much for reading, and I will see you all in the next blog! 😉