What I’ll be doing in October, November, December, and beyond…

There is so much gaming goodness coming our way! Among the titles I’m most looking forward to are the usual suspects: another Fallout, more Assassin’s Creed, anything related to The Witcher, and a follow up to The Last of Us. With E3 wrapped, I’ve been watching videos and reading up about the games I’m most excited about. Here, in no particular order, are my top four.

*game links refer back to reviews and rambles on this blog

The Last of Us Part II

Okay, I lie. This is the game I’m most looking forward to, so I’m going to talk about it first. The Last of Us was my favourite game last year and is in my top five games ever. It’s also the game that affected me the most emotionally, just eclipsing Dragon Age: Origins by a single box of tissues. (Damn you, Alistair!)

What I’m looking for in the sequel is that same emotional impact along with a story that isn’t just another run through the wasteland of a zombie apocalypse. I also have questions I’d like to see answered—which I’ll try to allude to without spoiling the first game. For those of you who have played: remember the scene at the end when Ellie asks Joel if he’s lying? I want to know if that is going to come back to haunt us. Developer Neil Druckmann has confirmed that Joel and Ellie will continue to be central to the game, though Ellie will be the only playable character. So however it plays out, we’re only going to get one point of view.

After watching the recent gameplay trailer, I’m also really excited about the combat tweaks. The Last of Us is already nail-biting and edge-of-your-seat when it comes to the fight scenes, with the scarcity of resources, smart opponents, and no two scenarios playing out the same way. Now it looks as though combat will become more dynamic, taking the environment into account in ways I haven’t seen before.

What I’ll mostly be playing for, though, is the story. Fingers crossed it’ll be a good one, and that Joel will get enough screen time. For lots and lots of story discussion, including hints and theories, visit this fantastic article https://www.usgamer.net/articles/22-06-2018-the-last-of-us-part-2-release-date-characters-story-trailer-everything-we-know

 

Fallout 76

The Fallout games have some of the most immersive worlds I’ve played in. Even months after I’ve finished the main quest, I’ll find myself thinking about other parts of the map—mini quests I stumbled across, the quirky side characters, and the unique and diverse environments from each game. To this day, I cannot travel the Metro in D.C. without having a Fallout 3 flashback—and an overwhelming urge to play. I adored the faithful rendering of the environment in New Vegas, which reminded me so much of the real place, and when I’m out hiking and find abandoned and broken down buildings, I’m instantly in one of my favourite games—thankfully without a marauding population of radscorpions.

Fallout 76 is exciting for a number of reasons.

  • It’s another Fallout. Duh.
  • It might be set in West Virginia (or neighboring Virginia). I’m not as familiar with that environment as I have been D.C., Vegas, and Boston, but “Take Me Home, Country Roads” took me right there.
  • It’s going to have base building. Yes! One of my favourite parts of Fallout 4 was building towns. It was a new addition to the Fallout activity roster and even though I eventually tuned my radio away from the Minutemen because, oh my God, those towns always needed rescuing from something or other, I did enjoy dotting the map with several iterations of Kellyville.
  • It’s going to be online…

My excitement skids to a slow halt about here because I’m pretty much over multiplayer online games. Recovering WoW addict, here. Also, I just don’t have the time to compete with other players in a persistent world. I am always going to be behind and playing catch up isn’t the same as playing a game. But, it has been confirmed that you can play solo, so I’m hoping the experience will be similar to BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, which I mostly played solo, co-oping now and again to complete difficult quests.

I will say that having other players inhabit the roles usually reserved for NPCs—from vendors to raiders—could make the game more dynamic. I’m hoping the PVP aspects will be flexible, though, so that I’m not spending all of my time dodging other players.

Despite this bump in the road, I am still really looking forward to this game.

 

Cyberpunk 2077

I’ve been interested in this one since I finished The Witcher 3 and started poking around the internet for hints as to what the team at CD Projekt Red might do next. Though slightly disappointed that it wouldn’t be another Witcher game, I found it hard not to be excited by the early concept art and gameplay descriptions for a near future cyber thriller type of game in my favourite setting: an open world.

After watching available trailers and cutscenes for Cyberpunk 2077, my number one impression of the game is that it’s going to be fun. I get a Mass Effect crossed with Saint’s Row vibe from the world, which is exactly the sort of game I’ve been hanging out for. I was seriously disappointed by Mass Effect: Andromeda—mostly due to story issues. But I miss the “feel” of a sci-fi game. Mash that up with an interactive environment, new and interesting combat models, and multiple mission approaches, and Cyberpunk promises not to be boring.

Check out this article for a full list of what we’re looking forward to http://www.ign.com/articles/2018/06/12/e3-2018-first-cyberpunk-2077-details-game-is-a-first-person-rpg-more

 

Red Dead Redemption 2

This one’s easy:

  • It’s a western
  • It’s the sequel to Red Dead Redemption
  • It’ll be available for PlayStation as well as Xbox! (And maybe even PC.)

The release date for Red Dead Redemption 2 has been pushed back so many times I’ve often wondered if we’ll ever get to play it. But this trailer keeps the home fires burning.

 

But wait, there’s more…

I am, of course, looking forward to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, but Ubisoft releases new adventures in this franchise so regularly and reliably, I hardly have time to build up a proper flail. The trailer is pretty exciting, though!

I’m interested in Days Gone, even though I’ve been reading some pretty lackluster reviews of the gameplay. One player compared it to Far Cry, which honestly didn’t turn me off because, even though the Far Cry games are variations on a single, oft-repeated theme, sometimes I crave that. A simple story that’s just engaging enough to carry the action, and a world open to the havoc I can bring. Plus, Days Gone has zombies.

Which upcoming games are you most looking forward to?

 

Gaming: Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Warning: I’ve tried not to spoil the game, but if you haven’t played it, or finished it, you may want to stop reading now. 🙂

I’ve been looking forward to Wild Hunt since I finished Assassin of Kings. I was keen to continue Geralt’s story and to see what CD Projekt Red could do to improve on an already superlative gaming experience.

I came to these games in a roundabout manner. While fully immersed in the world of Dragon Age (BioWare), I ran across a comment likening the Wardens to Witchers. A little research unearthed a series of novels and games loosely following around The Witcher, otherwise known as Geralt of Rivia. I ordered the first game and book and the rest, as they say, is history. Continue reading “Gaming: Witcher 3: Wild Hunt”

Ooh, Shiny!

My first impressions of Dragon Age: Inquisition, spoiler free.

About every two years a game costs just a bit more than the cover price. A new video card is required, or your power supply conks out, or you need a new fan…or, in the case of Dragon Age: Inquisition, a new motherboard, processor (DA:I requires a quad core) and, sure, let’s grab some more memory while my wallet is open. So I had to wait a couple of weeks to throw myself back into the world of Thedas. During those two and a half weeks, I successfully avoided all spoilers but one. I kept reading about shiny hair. Apparently, despite the fact the WORLD IS IN PERIL, everyone has had time to apply product to their hair.

A devout role player, I selected a skull trim for my first Insquisitor. I often play nearly bald male characters because the choices of hair are always awful, not to mention the fact ponytails never stir in the breeze and a more elaborate ‘do just isn’t practical when the WORLD IS IN PERIL. So Maxwell Trevelyan entered Thedas with a smattering of freckles, deep blue eyes and a pleasing lack of shiny hair—only to confront Cassandra, whose hair reflected the light of a thousand suns. Andraste’s flaming sword, her hair was so shiny, it cast a glow upon Maxwell’s lips.

I soon realised that his lips would always glisten, regardless of available light.

The Frostback Mountains are cold. There is snow everywhere. Frozen lakes groan beneath the rime. I would have cautioned Max against licking his lips in such temperatures, but I never actually saw his tongue swipe his glossy mouth. Something else was making his lips shine. Sensibly, I could assume he carried a tub of rendered animal fat (no cherry Chapsticks in Thedas). He was rather a pretty boy and obviously preferred not to let his lips chap. But I was going for realism here. I couldn’t have Max halting the Inquisition to reapply his lip gloss.

In a desperate attempt to adjust the lumen rating of everyone’s hair, I turned to the ‘net for advice and stumbled across a very good, spoiler free article on Kotaku, Tips For Playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. There I learned how to adjust the mesh setting, thus stealing the blinding highlights from everyone’s hair. Unfortunately, the only fix for Max’s lips was to abandon him in Haven and start afresh. Seeing as I had spent two hours swearing at the combat system “improvements”—why, oh why do developers need to tweak the combat in each and every installment of the game?—I happily returned to the drawing board. Sorry, Max.

Say hello to Felix.

Felix Ingesson Trevelyan
Felix Ingesson Trevelyan

I dialed the “lip shine”—really, BioWare?—down to zero, chose a hair style that didn’t suck, dotted his face with freckles, because he’s kind of a ginger and that just happens, tweaked the inner and outer iris colour to achieve a green that’s probably not really possible in real life, and then played with his nose and chin until they looked no different from when I had started. Honestly, you could spend hours in the character creation section. BUT, to my dismay, you are given very little choice regarding class.

One of my favourite aspects of Dragon Age: Origins was the dual wield warrior. A DW warrior is the perfect example of why the DA:O character creation was so awesome. I generally like to play a rogue, with daggers, please. DA:O not only allowed you to train your rogue in a mind boggling number of ways, but you could also play a warrior who functioned very much like a rogue—less tricky, but with more hit points, which could be handy if you were the only man standing near the end of a fight. You could design a true scrapper, and that’s a role I relished through my umpteen playthroughs.

Leveling involved spending points—as it does in Inquisition—but those points could be spread over a number of skills that further specialised your character. You could make a stealthy/sneaky rogue. A persuasive warrior. A pickpocket and thief. Add enough points to dexterity and you could master dual swords. Two swords! Throw enough willpower behind a warrior and they refused to be knocked down in a fight.

The new system of character creation and leveling is easier, I suppose…

Combat has been tweaked again. I had a hard time maneuvering Max during combat, so much so that my party kept dying in the first boss fight, which occurs before they even splash the title of the game across the screen. Ridiculous, right? Now and again in my gaming career I have come across that one fight that stalls my progress for days. I’ve even had to abandon a couple of games there, knowing that I’ll never get beyond that point. To have that happen before a game truly got started was a little disheartening (no, I did not want to turn the difficulty down, generally I enjoy challenging combat).

I figured out the problem. The A and D keys on the mouse have been mapped so that your character looks from side to side. To actually move side to side, you need to click and hold with the mouse. Doing so while using a mouse button during combat is…hard. I’m forty-six, and I’ve just never been that coordinated. You can strafe using the Q and E keys, but teaching my fingers to dive up and to the side when they’ve been trained to WASD for years is beyond me. So, I remapped my keyboard. I now strafe using A and D and if I am struck with the urge to actually look side to side, I can use Q and E for that.

The difference is amazing. Felix suffered no more than a flesh wound up until four and a half hours into the game when I approached a rift I wasn’t quite ready for. My party died a horrible death. I did try to follow the on screen prompts for resurrection with the last remaining party members, then I tried to run. I was cut down without mercy.

I have yet to play with the party combat tactics. That’s next on my “to do” list as I start to engage in battles that require a little more than pointing and clicking. Then I’ll continue exploring this gorgeous new world.

Now that I’ve stumbled through the first couple of hours, I have very few expectations for the game. I’d like to see the story started in Origins brought to a convincing close, and that’s about it. I know Inquisiton will be fun because it’s a BioWare game and I usually find them both playable and entertaining. I’m delighted by the return to Ferelden, even though it makes me nostalgic for characters I role played on a forum four years. My writing partner, Jenn, and I talked about what our boys might be doing now, some elven years after the Fifth Blight. We decided they are happily retired and blissfully unaware of current events. Some characters deserve a happy ever after, don’t they? Speaking of which, Felix takes his name from my hero in our upcoming book Chaos Station (Carina Press, March 2, 2015). When I showed him to Jenn, she created his counterpart, Zander, who is her hero in our book.

Zander Damainos Anatolius Trevelyan
Zander Damainos Anatolius Trevelyan

These characters owe their inception to Dragon Age: Origins and the years of role play we participated in afterwards, so it seems only fitting that my first proper playthrough pays homage to that heritage.