Friday, June 27, 2014

Destiny Trophies/Achievements announced!

As of today, we have a list of trophies/achievements in Destiny.  It is not specific if this is all them or if any have been omitted due to being story related (AKA spoilers).  You can check out the list here at the bottom of this post over at Bungie:

Of course the one achievement/trophy worth looking at is the one that mentions killing a champion of the Dark.  The name is dragon slayer, so I wonder if that is by chance a clue as to what the fifth enemy in Destiny will look like.  Although I'm not sure if I'd be happy or disappointed if the Darkness ended up being a fleet of space dragons.

Another thing worth noting is the fact that there is mention of a hard difficulty for raids.  Raids are already supposed to be the hardest PvE content available in the game, so it is hard to imagine anything harder than that.  Heck even during the Alpha, the Strike known as Devil's Lair was really difficult when it was done at level 6 (not so much at level 8 when everyone had BiS alpha gear), so I can't possibly imagine what something even harder would be like.

Some of the more annoying trophies/achievements will be the PVP ones, but those are mostly time consuming.  The real challenge will likely be the one where you try to complete a strike without anyone in your fireteam dying.

That is all for now folks, see ya!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Similar Mechanics =/= Rip Off or Clone

So as many of you already know, there is this game called Destiny.  It is being developed by Bungie, published by Activision, and has a massive budget.  How big a budget?  $500 Million.  Yeah, massive.  This budget is bigger than any movie or game or any form of entertainment for that matter.  So naturally Activision and Bungie will want this game to succeed over the next ten years that is the Destiny project. 

Of course one particular complaint I've seen among "gamers" are various things about Destiny being essentially Halo with Borderlands loot and MMO-esque features.  I've played in the Alpha for Destiny, and while you can see where Bungie might have drawn inspiration from various other games I do have to ask one question: Is that really a bad thing?  Game developers copy and steal from one another all the time.  A mechanic that was used in one game will then end up being used in another.  That does not make it a rip off, hardly.  

Want a real example of a rip off?  Check out gameplay from Lord of the Rings: The Third Age.  Then compare it to gameplay from Final Fantasy X.  It is the same exact combat system with nothing changed or modified.  Even the UI is exactly the same minus the coloring.  In this scenario, The Third Age was basically Final Fantasy X turned into a bastardized cash in for the Lord of the Rings movies.  

So what is the difference with Destiny?  It may use similar loot mechanics as Borderlands, it may also be open world and play quite similarly to Halo, but they take those mechanics and make a completely different experience.  It may not be 100% original, but honestly there are few games these days that are.  Developers make games with So whining about a game having similarities to another is like complaining that Assassin's Creed has a big city you can run around and explore just like Grand Theft Auto.    

In fact, let's take these complaints and throw them into the realm of satire.  

Destiny has strikes and raids that are the equivalent of dungeons and raids in World of Warcraft?  Destiny is a WoW Clone that is the lovechild of Halo and Borderlands!  Destiny has space ships?  Destiny is a rip off of [Insert first Sci-Fi TV Show or Movie you think of when you think of space ships]!  Destiny has guns and is a first person shooter?  Then it is a rip off of every single FPS that has ever come before it.

Do you see?  It becomes ridiculous.  A good game company will take mechanics from other games and use them in a way that is unique, even if it bears strong resemblances to something else.  

Sure, Destiny plays like Halo.  However, Halo was praised for how polished and smooth the gameplay is.  People loved Borderlands and the loot aspect of it, and so they spent hours hunting down that one gun or mod that would allow them to kill more stuff more efficiently.  A game that combines elements of those two without copying and pasting sounds like the recipe for a game that will be insanely fun.  As I said before, I played the Destiny Alpha and I can tell you one thing: It is insanely fun.  Videos do not do the game justice, it is something that you should experience for yourself.

So rather than thinking only of what similarities exist between Destiny and other games, why not celebrate the fact that such a game got the green light from a company like Activision in the first place?  Rather than take it safe and make another generic Call of Duty game that is guaranteed to sell well, they decided to take a chance on such an ambitious project.  This is a good sign in the future, especially if Destiny does well.  I believe that it will be word of mouth that will allow Destiny to become a profit for both Bungie and Activision, as people on the fence will flock to the game when they hear from a good friend about how great the game is and decide to give it a try.  

But don't take my word for it, see for yourself in the beta on July 17th.  Come September 9th, I'm confident that the naysayers with non-valid concerns for Destiny will be silenced for good.  That is, until they find something else to whine and complain and be short sighted about. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rumor Has It...

Apparently the steam summer sale is going to begin today, although there has been no confirmation from Valve as of yet.  Either way, keep your eye on Steam and maybe sometime today you'll be able to lose a lot of cash and get a whole plethora of games.

For those unfamiliar with this grand tradition, every year Valve has a sale on Steam that lasts for several weeks.  The first is usually in the Summer with the second one being during December.  During this time you can get games for a massive discount along with software and tools that are also sold on Steam.  There are even community chosen game discounts that range from 50% off all the way to 90% in some cases.

So is there a game you've had your eye on for some time?  If the rumor is true, you'll be able to pick it up for cheap today.   I'll keep you folks posted.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

E3 2014: Nintendo Online Event

Just like last year, Nintendo is not holding an official press conference in the same manner as everyone else.  Rather, they have decided to go with a different format entirely.  Nintendo broadcasted on online event where they discuss and show some big games that are coming out in the next year.

To start off the event, they talked about Super Smash Bros.  But they started it in a way that was both amusing and entertaining involving some highly recognizable faces from the company fighting one another.  After that, Mii Fighters were revealed along with the new Amiibo, which is essentially a figurine that comes to live when placed on a Wii U gamepad.  The figuring will contain a microchip that stores that characters data.  Super Smash Bros for Wii U will be the first game to use this feature, with other games planning on adding in that functionality. 

Other titles shown were Yoshi's Wooly World and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.  Zelda fans can rejoice, as a new Zelda game was partially announced.  While it has no official name, the video gives viewers a better idea of what to expect.  This new Zelda game will have a large and expansive world where you can explore and go anywhere, including mountains out in the distance.  Nintendo plans to use this concept to build puzzles in a way where they can be approached in any way the player can think of.  As far as art style goes, the game seems very similar to Skyward Sword with a slight hint of Twilight Princess.

The remakes for Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire also made a cameo at the event, showing some brief segments of gameplay.  Bayonetta 2 showed off some footage along with some bonus costumes to use in-game.  Hyrule Warriors also made an appearance, and it sounds like there is going to be a wide variety of characters to play as.  Other games featured included Kirby and the Rainbow Curse and a Wii U version of Xenoblade Chronicles to be released in 2015.

Mario Maker was announced, which appears to be a game that allows players to create their own Mario levels.  No details were given as to if and how levels can be shared along with any limits that may exist.  Spaltoon was announced as well, which is basically paintball with humanoid squids.  It is a very interesting concept for a multiplayer shooter and I can't wait to get more details about that.

Then finally, a new character for Super Smash Brothers was announced in a nice little animated sequence.  Palutena from Kid Icarus is being added to the roster, and it seems like she has quite the arsenal of devastating attacks. 

Well if there was ever a way to get me interested in the Wii U, Nintendo has pulled it off today.  Had they provided more details about the new Zelda game, I'd say Nintendo did no wrong during their event.  But since they didn't provide much in terms of information, I'd say that is my only issue.

RBFB Rating: A

E3 2014: Sony Press Conference

As usual, Sony had their press conference later on the first day.  I knew that Sony would start off strong, but I was not expecting them to start with Destiny right off the bat.  They start with a trailer for Destiny, followed by a series of very exciting announcements.  First off the beta will start on PlayStation 3 and 4 on the July 17th.  They also announced that PS4 players would get exclusive access to the alpha for several days starting on the 12th of June.  Although you do have to sign up for it and there is no guarantee you will be selected, best get it done before the 11th when registration ends.  An exclusive white PS4 will be released on September 9th that comes bundled with Destiny and one month of PlayStation  Plus.

They also announced that PlayStation players will get exclusive weapons, armor, a multiplayer map, and a strike mission.  I had thought that the PlayStation exclusives would be cosmetic things only, but this does not seem to be the case.

After Destiny, a brand new trailer for The Order: 1886 was shown and it is looking pretty good.  This was followed by the announce of Entwined, which was released for the PS4 yesterday.  Out of the left field came the announce of Little Big Planet 3, which I was not expecting to see at E3.  There were also a few CG trailers as well for the announce of games like Bloodborne, Dead Island 2, and for the latest insane and bizarre game by Suda 51 known as Let It Die.

Many other games were announced at the press conference, including Magicka 2, Grim Fandango remastered, and Abzû.  Abzû is being designed by some of the designers who worked on Journey, and the music will be composed by Austin Wintory.  No Man's Sky made an appearance at the press conference, but still no word on a release date though.  A whole bunch of free to play games were announced that will be coming out over the next 12 months.

There was a brief discussion about Project Morpheus, although it was nothing more than just a: "we have Project Morpheus here, check it out at our booth" then it was an announcement of anything new or interesting about the VR headset.  During this time there was a bunch of statistics about the PS4 that were revealed, like the fact that roughly 1.25 Billion hours have been played on PS4 systems across the globe.  They even know how many times the share button has been pushed, which is a little scary.  It was then announced that the PS Now Open Beta would launch at the end of July.

In an unexpected move, Sony announced that the PlayStation TV is coming to North America and other regions this fall.  To be honest, I thought that was going to remain Japan exclusive.  The PlayStaiton TV will allow you to play Vita games on your TV along with download and stream a wide variety of titles from PlayStation Now and the PSN.  The standard price for the PS TV will be $99.99.  After this they had the world premiere of actual gameplay in Mortal Kombat X, although it is pretty much what you'd expect from a Mortal Kombat game.   

Despite taking time to show a trailer for the Ratchet and Clank movie along with some exclusive TV show about a graphic novel, Sony was able to pack in even more games into their conference.  First off they showed a trailer for the remastered version of The Last of Us (Release Date: 7/29/14), then a trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, then GTA 5 for PS4, a gameplay demonstration of Batman Arkham Knight, and then the finale was the announce trailer for Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.
Sony did a spectacular job this E3, although I feel like they should have had some more live demos on stage.  To be honest, I was expecting that they'd show off Destiny competitive multiplayer during that segment.  That and they really should not have spent so much time talking about that exclusive TV show Powers, as it doesn't look particularly interesting.  But overall it was a pretty good press conference.

RBFB Rating: A  

E3 2014: Ubisoft Press Conference

Ubisoft has typically had mediocre press conferences during E3 at best.  But this time around, they had their best one yet.  Still not anywhere as good as Microsoft or Sony, but they have improved.  At the very least there are less attempts at humor and more focusing on games. 

Ubisoft kicks off their press conference by showing off Far Cry 4 footage, or at least the first five minutes of the game.  After this the host, that same girl from last time, claimed that Ubisoft starts out strong in their presentation and will get stronger.  Yet this doesn't seem to be what actually happened as the conference was inconsistent in terms of presentation quality.  The next game presented was Just Dance 2015. 

Next a CG trailer for Tom Clancy's The Division was shown as well, and thankfully they did not have people on stage trying to "communicate" and make a staged demo exciting.  After this, Ubisoft moved on to a very interesting game known as The Crew.  The Crew appears to be an MMO Open World racer where you can drive from the East Coast of the US of A all the way to the West Coast.  It sounds like an ambitious game, and you can check it out yourself in the closed beta (if you can get in).  The Crew releases on November 11th, 2014.

After this, a new stage demo was shown for Assassin's Creed Unity.  They did not use the same area that they did for Microsoft's conference, so +1 to Ubisoft for being able to have something exclusive for a game already shown at another conference.  Then they showed Shape Up, an allegedly exclusive to the Xbox exercise game that will use the Kinnect to make working out a game.

To close up the conference, Ubisoft showed a gameplay trailer (with commentary unfortunately) for Rainbow Six Siege.  This seems to be a game where players are either playing as the rescue team while the others are playing as some random group of terrorists who have chosen to take a hostage in the suburbs.  It is a ridiculous concept already, but the staged gameplay and the terrible attempts at trying to act like they are really playing the game made the presentation a complete joke.  So not the best way to end a conference.

Overall though, Ubisoft did fairly well this year.  It was the least terrible conference they've had in a long time.

RBFB Rating: C+

Monday, June 9, 2014

E3 2014: Microsoft's Press Conference

Microsoft started off the chain of Press Conferences that is the start of E3.  Last year they didn't do so well and received a lot of backlash for some of the more questionable decisions they made.  This time, Microsoft saw the error of their ways and decided to make this year's press conference all about the games and nothing else.

The majority of the press conference was about games that are coming out within the next six months or so.  Among these games include titles like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Forza Horizon 2, Assassin's Creed Unity, and Dragon Age Origin.  New titles like Sunset Overdrive were also announced, along with footage of Fable Legends, Ori and the Blind Forest, and the intriguing Project Spark which allows players to create and share games.

Naturally, Halo did make an appearance at the Press Conference.  Aside from the fact that Halo 5 won't be out until 2015, Halo: The Master Chief Collection was announced.  Coming out on November 11th of this year, The Master Chief Collection has all four of the main Halo games on one disc.  Halo 2 will be getting the Anniversary treatment, with updated graphics and possible additions to the story like they did with the first game.  For fans of Halo 2's multiplayer, there was some good news that the Anniversary edition will be bringing it back completely untouched.  On top of all this content, The Master Chief Collection comes with access to Halo 5's multiplayer beta and the live action series Halo: Nightfall which will help bridge the story to Halo 5.

After the Halo presentation, a series of games were briefly shown.  All of the games presented after this are ones that will come out sometime in 2015, including The Witcher 3 and Phantom Dust.  The conference was then brought to a close by CG announce trailers for Scalebound and a new Crackdown game.

Throughout the press conference, Microsoft did a series of interviews with developers about their favorite games among other things.  It seemed like they were trying to build something with this, but then nothing happened.  More than anything it felt like they were just wasting a few minutes here and there in an attempt to create transitions between presentations.

As usual, the conference consisted of trailers, live demos, and CG trailers.  Most of what was presented was pretty good except for the live demo for Tom Clancy's The Division where the players gave a truly awful, sad excuse for acting out what was happening in-game.  It actually topped the forced enthusiasm from the live demo of Destiny last year, which is impressive in all the wrong ways.

Overall though, Microsoft did a great job this year.  They've made up for last year and proved that they are still about games and not entirely all about expensive gimmicks like the Kinnect.

RBFB Rating: B+

Friday, June 6, 2014

E3 2014: Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMix Release Date

Looks like I was right about one of my predictions, and E3 hasn't even started yet.  I predicted that Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMix would make an appearance at E3, and it looks like it will.  Square recently released a trailer for the game along with a brief teaser for Kingdom Hearts III.  Not only that but release dates for Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMix have been confirmed.

Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMix will come out in Japan on October 2nd of this year, and will be released in North America on December 2nd.  The game will also be released in Australia and Europe on December 4th and 5th respectively.

As for Kingdom Hearts III, I do have some bad news.  Kingdom Hearts III, beyond the brief teaser featured in the trailer I've linked below, will not be making an appearance at E3 this year.  To make matters worse, Final Fantasy XV will also not be present at E3.  Square seems to be holding back for later conventions, likely Tokyo Game Show.

While the latter of this news is disappointing, I am happy to know that 2.5 HD Remix will be released in 2014 as Square Enix promised.  Check out the trailer:

That's all for now folks, next week we will see if any of my other predictions are right or not.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

E3 2014 Predictions

It is that time of year again ladies and gentleman. E3 looms just around the corner, and it is a great opportunity for media and gamers alike to learn about what is coming up over the next half of the year and beyond. For gamers E3 is an exciting time to see what the future has in store, and developers take advantage of that time to show off some cool new stuff while putting on a big flashy show to generate hype and interest in future products.

So what can we expect to see at E3 this year? I do have some predictions for what to expect, and I will break up my predictions into several categories. The first will be Nintendo, followed by Sony, then Microsoft, and then a brief discussion about EA and Ubisoft. 

Despite being a media event only, E3 is a big and exciting time even for regular gamers.

First off, Nintendo will not be doing a big staged press conference. They also did this last year, so perhaps this will be the new standard for Nintendo when it comes to E3. At E3 they will have a Super Smash Brothers tournament featuring the upcoming Smash Brothers game for the Wii U. Obviously, or at least hopefully, Nintendo will use this time to announce some new games. The Wii U is in need of some more games to draw attention to it, and only a few things could bring them that attention from gamers. It goes without saying that a new Legend of Zelda would likely increase Wii U sales exponentially. But most importantly, Nintendo needs to get a third party developer to make a killer app for the Wii U. But since the latter is unlikely, my prediction is that Nintendo will announce a new Legend of Zelda game.

Sony did a spectacular job at E3 last year. They didn't miss a moment, and took advantage of Microsoft's blundering and lack of understanding of what gamers actually want while also showing a strong collection of games and announcements. Sony is in a very good place to have another great E3 and possibly come out on top once more. As far as predictions go, they will likely talk about the remastered version of The Last of Us, Uncharted 4, The Order: 1886, and several others. Not only that, but several companies seem to have a deal with Sony where they show new content and announce trailers on PS4 first. Like last year, I imagine there will be a new trailer about Kingdom Hearts III along with a possible release date for Final Fantasy XV. They may also announce the release date for Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMix as well. Destiny will appear at Sony's press conference and it is very likely that the starting date for the beta will be announced. I'd also be very surprised if Sony does not discuss that virtual reality headset of theirs (AKA Project Morpheus), as there is a great deal of potential there.

Microsoft seems to have finally learned that most gamers don't really care for the Kinnect, and have claimed that they will focus more on the games and less on gimmicks. They also recently stated that they intend to do something that has never been done at E3 before, but this could be a massive bluff. I expect that there will be more information on Halo 5 along with confirming the rumor of that Halo 2 Anniversary edition that has been floating around for some time now. I imagine Microsoft has a few exciting announcements they have in store and haven't said anything about, and I imagine one or two of them might be Xbox One exclusives. Either way, Microsoft has a lot of ground to cover if they are to have any chance of redeeming themselves for the disaster that was their press conference last year.

As for EA's press conference I imagine they will show footage of this year's edition of the various sports games they release annually. I'd like to think they might also announce Mass Effect 4, but I realize that prediction is more wishful thinking than based on fact. Preferably they shouldn't announce another Dead Space as that series is, well, dead as a door nail and should be left so that gamers can remember when that series was actually good.

Finally, Ubisoft will likely talk about Far Cry 4 and various other projects they have. I'd be shocked if they don't have some kind of footage of the latest Assassin's Creed game that they are cranking out. Ubisoft needs to be able to focus more on their presentation and less on terrible presenters that try to tell crap jokes in order to fill time between presentations. I don't particularly have any high hopes or expectations for Ubisoft, but they have surprised the audience in the past with left field announcements like Watch Dogs.

For many gamers, E3 is like Christmas in Summer. Each announcement is like a present under the tree, and we can only hope that the contents of those boxes will be something worth being excited about. Not only that, but hopefully those boxes have no CG announce trailers that lack real substance. How many of my predictions will be correct? Find out next week when E3 starts. Microsft will start E3 with their press conference on Monday at 9:30 AM PT (12:30 PM ET).