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Far Cry New Dawn Review

Far Cry 5 ended on somewhat of a sour note. After spending hours adventuring across Hope County and battling the Eden’s Gate cult, nuclear bombs rained from the skies, and our protagonist was left in a bunker with the cult’s leader, Joseph Seed. Far Cry New Dawn is a direct continuation of Far Cry 5, bringing us from a largely forgettable story in modern-day Montana to a largely forgettable story in post-apocalyptic Montana.

Being a direct sequel, New Dawn feels like Far Cry 5 in a lot of ways. The game still takes place in Hope County, albeit only a small section of the original map, and there are a lot of pink flowers and colorful animals roaming around. Other than these minor aesthetic changes, New Dawn mostly has the same look and feel as its predecessor, which, after spending 20+ hours exploring Hope County last year, did little to engage me.

There are some changes to the game’s core design, but they feel half-baked and arbitrary. Many of Ubisoft’s major franchises have shifted their focus to RPG elements, and Far Cry has finally made the transition into RPG territory, although not to as great of an effect as some of its cousins like Assassin’s Creed. Weapons and enemies fall into one of four tiers now, and engaging enemies above your current weapon’s tier is doable, but it becomes an exercise in frustration due to how spongy they can feel. Tiers are not random, however, as the game’s campaign sends you further and further north, away from your base of operations, and enemies get stronger as you make your way through the world. This gives definitely gives the game a more linear feel, but you very quickly get access to high-tier weapons that make little work of any opposition, so it leaves the RPG elements feeling more like roadblocks than actual progression.

The perk system leaves a lot to be desired as well. Like Far Cry 5, you can complete basic challenges (get x amount of kills with this weapon, kill x amount of deer) to earn perk points. There are roughly 25 perks in total, and as I scrolled through them I thought to myself “I don’t want any of these”. Sadly, pretty much all of New Dawn’s perks suck. Being able to melee takedown high-tier enemies, swim faster, or carry more medkits are not enticing enough to actively work for perk points. Because the challenges are so simplistic, I ended up with a multitude of perk points just by playing, but that didn’t make the act of spending them any less boring. There are some more interesting perks later in the game, like a double jump and invisibility, but they come too late, leaving you with little time to get familiar with them and no incentive to incorporate them into your playstyle.

Luckily, New Dawn does have satisfying progression in other areas. The aforementioned base of operations, Prosperity, can be upgraded, providing you with access to better weapons, more health and ammunition, and other quality of life features like fast travel and maps. Prosperity is upgraded with the use of crafting materials that are obtained through Far Cry’s core gameplay loops. Liberating outposts, completing treasure hunts, and even hunting all grant materials, the most precious of which being ethanol, and the rewards make these activities feel more useful than in previous entries.

These side activities are the shining light of Far Cry New Dawn. Outposts function similarly to older Far Cry games. Sneaking in and disabling alarms or going in guns blazing with a co-op partner are both equally satisfying. New to this entry is the ability to scavenge an outpost, allowing you to retake it from enemy forces at a higher difficulty than before in order to earn more coveted ethanol. Each time you repeat an outpost, there is a change of a cosmetic drop, and it only takes a few tries to get a complete outfit. Some of these get pretty wacky, as per usual with Far Cry, and some personal favorites include the unicorn onesie and the knight armor.

Prepper Stashes from Far Cry 5 return in the form of Treasure Hunts, and they are easily the best content in New Dawn. They offer more cerebral challenges rather than combat and provide a nice change of pace from the game’s nonstop action. Solving a Treasure Hunt rewards you with a bevy of crafting materials and even a handful of Far Cry Coins, Ubisoft’s premium currency for this title. I had a blast trying to find my way into bunkers and hideouts full of rewards, and it’s a shame there are only 10 of these in total.

Hunting and fishing return as well, to little fanfare. Pelts can be traded in for crafting materials and meat is used in crafting recipes like bait and medkits. There is little restriction to how you go about hunting, and pretty much nothing will ruin the pelt save for hitting the animal with a car or burning it with a flamethrower. Coming off of Red Dead Redemption 2’s hunting system, it feels good to blast a deer point-blank with a shotgun, skin it without any animations, and put it into my endless video game backpack next to my four assault rifles and my bundle of crocodile skin. Unfortunately, there is little reason to go out and hunt. The time invested is not worth the small amount of materials you get in return, and you’ll have more than enough materials from outposts and exploration.

A new addition in Far Cry New Dawn are expeditions, side missions that take you to unique locales outside Hope County, like a theme park, a Splinter Cell themed plane crash, or even Alcatraz Island. Expeditions offer a welcome change of scenery and interesting, linear levels to play through, but they all have the same objective: get a package and extract as quickly as possible. This makes them feel samey, and the emphasis on speed doesn’t let you admire the new environments or explore at all. Expeditions do you net rare resources, though, so they’re worth doing if you’re short on supplies.

Speaking of exploration, the world is relatively bland. There is nothing of interest in New Dawn’s colorful wasteland except the things that are marked on your map. Because of this, exploration feels completely inorganic, and I found myself either fast travelling or flying to my objectives, ignoring everything else. The most interesting thing that’ll happen to you if you choose to walk or drive is an enemy encounter, and there is so little incentive to combat that I just drove past threats most of the time. Interesting locations or beautiful vistas would have been appreciated and could have done wonders to add variety to the game’s barren world.

I also wish New Dawn took better advantage of its setting. Despite being set in a zany, colorful post-apocalypse, everything is pretty much the same as before the bombs dropped. You still fight regular, humanoid enemies and the occasional animal, and, for the most part, you still use the same guns you did the first time you tore through Hope County. The guns and animals do look a little different, but fundamentally they’re the same thing, just with the odd splash of color here or duct tape there. The only new weapon is the saw launcher and it’s the first gun you’re handed. There is very little in the way of innovative new weapons or creative combat scenarios.

New Dawn’s story did little to grab me. I couldn’t stand the story in Far Cry 5, and New Dawn fares even worse. The plot and writing are absolutely insufferable, and after playing so many games with at least decent writing over the past year, this just feels inexcusable. There wasn’t a single likable character, not a single plot point resonated, and most of the optional dialogue was skipped. Even the game’s antagonists, twin sisters Mickey and Lou, leaders of the roving bandits The Highwaymen, are completely forgettable, which is strange for a Far Cry game. The plot takes itself way too seriously, provides no reason to care for its characters, and fails to deliver a satisfying payoff in any way, shape, or form. Performances are good, even great in some cases, but there’s nothing to back them up, and all the stakes feel wholly artificial.

Even the Guns For Hire, most of which return from 5, are flat out annoying. They do cater to widly different playstyles, Timber the dog spots enemies to help you with stealth, Horatio the boar soaks up damage to help you with a full-on assault, and Nana comes equipped with a sniper rifle to help you pick off targets from a distance, but I mainly used Timber not only because he’s a good boy, but also because the human companions kept talking to me. As much as I’d love to bring Hurk along for his RPG, he won’t shut up, and the same goes for every human companion. Their lines aren’t even just meh, they’re bad. All the dialogue in this game is awful, but luckily most of it can be skipped. It’s almost as if Ubisoft knows the writing is garbage because every quest giver has a voice line if you skip their dialogue, and some of these did make me crack a smile, mostly because of how ridiculous it is that there’s basically an “I don’t care” button.

Thankfully, Far Cry New Dawn doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s not nearly as long as the previous game, only clocking in at around 8-10 hours, and its more linear nature trims the fat and reduces the bloat that the Far Cry series is so well known for. The shooting is still impactful and fun and clearing outposts is as addicting as ever, especially with the new rewards, but the main campaign, both in its narrative and mission structure, is incredibly subpar and never comes close to realizing its full potential. There are a lot of good ideas in Far Cry New Dawn, but it does very little to capitalize on them in a unique and fulfilling way. It’s an enjoyable but wholly unremarkable and disappointing spin-off that could’ve been so much more.

Final Score: 6

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30 Games to Look Out For in 2019

2018 was a standout year for gaming. AAA games are in an incredible place right now (for the most part, Todd Howard is still on time out), there was a surplus of phenomenal indies like Celeste and The Messenger, and the industry is holding its breath waiting to see what new hardware awaits us in the coming years.

But now it’s 2019, so naturally, none of that matters anymore. What does matter are the games, and there sure are a lot of them, so without further ado, here are the most noteworthy titles releasing in the next 12 months.

Life is Strange 2

Dontnod’s Life is Strange is widely regarded as one of the best episodic games ever, and its sequel is already off to a strong start, arguably a stronger start than its predecessor. Life is Strange 2 is, at least for now, unrelated to the first, so feel free to jump right in. The first episode is already available, and and the next four will be released over the year. It’s a touching story about two young Hispanic brothers on the run, and it doesn’t stray from political themes. It’s a complex story that we don’t often see in video games, and this is sure to be one people will be talking about more and more as the story progresses.

Resident Evil 2

Originally announced back in 2015, the remake of survival horror masterpiece Resident Evil 2 is long overdue. Capcom has undergone a resurgence over the last two years, revitalizing and reinventing each of its key franchises. Resident Evil 7 brought the series back to its roots after the questionable 5 and 6, Monster Hunter World brought the niche series to consoles and it exploded in popularity, Mega Man 11 was a return to form for the Blue Bomber, and Devil May Cry is finally back. Capcom has proven to the world that it knows what it’s doing again, and everything they’ve shown of Resident Evil 2 looks amazing. The aesthetics, gameplay, and sound are all top notch, and that, on top of the already phenomenal source material, makes this one a surefire hit.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Finally.

Kingdom Hearts 2 was released in 2006. Now, 13 years later, Kingdom Hearts 3 is finally upon us. There have been Kingdom Hearts game since 2, but they’ve seemed to cover every number but 3. 358/2, 1.5, 2.5, 1.5+2.5, 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, and even 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage, whatever that means. All jokes aside, Kingdom Hearts 3 is real, and it feels good to have a Kingdom Hearts game that doesn’t feel like studying for a calculus exam.

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

Ace Combat games have a small but extremely devoted fanbase. They’re fun arcade air combat games with surprisingly interesting stories and great soundtracks. Essentially, they’re Metal Gear Solid with planes. If that doesn’t sell you on Ace Combat, nothing will. Pre-ordering Ace Combat 7 gets you a digital copy of Ace Combat 5 on PS4 or Ace Combat 6 on Xbox One. There’s also a VR mode for all you PSVR owners out there.

Crackdown 3

The poster child of development hell is finally releasing in February. Announced in 2014 and originally set to release in 2016, Crackdown 3 will finally be in the hands of Xbox gamers on February 15. This entry focuses on destruction on such a large scale that it uses Microsoft Azure cloud computing to make sure everything is destructible. It’s also got Terry Crews, if that’s your thing.

Far Cry New Dawn

Every Far Cry since 3 has come with a spin-off following it the next year that reuses assets and the general layout of the map but with a drastically different theme. Blood Dragon followed Far Cry 3, Primal followed Far Cry 4, and now New Dawn is following Far Cry 5. New Dawn is different in that it is a direct sequel to Far Cry 5, and the game’s existence itself is also a massive spoiler, not that Far Cry 5’s narrative was anything to write home about. New Dawn probably won’t have an award winning plot either, but the shooting will be solid, the setting is gorgeous, and there are moss covered bison and deer with scarlet red antlers. It’s dumb fun, but it’s good fun.

Metro Exodus

After two linear entries, the incredibly atmospheric post-apocalyptic Metro franchise is going open world. Metro games have a way of pulling you into their world, making you use a compass and lighter to navigate and having your gas mask crack and get dirty. Bullets are scarce, and mutants roam the outside world, so people spend most of their time underground in the metro. Venturing outside was always a tense moment in previous Metro games, but more open environments will require planning and vigilance even more so than before.

Anthem

Bioware’s Iron Man Meets Destiny Looting Extravaganza, more commonly known as Anthem, was initially brushed off by many upon its initial reveal as a shameless cash grab orchestrated by EA to get a slice of the Destiny pie, but the more they show of the game, the more unique and inspired it looks. Bioware’s narrative prowess began to show itself more and more, especially in later trailers and the showing at The Game Awards, and now Anthem is shaping up to be not as big a disappointment as people thought it’d be. Of course, nothing is certain until launch, but Anthem went from Destiny clone to its own thing that could actually hold its own against today’s multiplayer offerings.

Left Alive

A Square Enix mech game wouldn’t garner that much attention under normal circumstances, but this is part survival shooter, part mech game, and the team behind it is incredibly talented. Toshifumi Nabeshima, director of Armored Core, Takayuki Yanase, designer of mechs featured in Mobile Suit Gundam and Xenoblade Chronicles X, and Yoji Shinkawa, character designer of the Metal Gear series are all working together on Left Alive. An all star team working with a completely original IP, there’s definitely a lot of potential here.

Devil May Cry 5

After the solid but bland reboot, Devil May Cry is finally back with a new mainline entry. It’s been a full decade since Devil May Cry 4, and it feels good to be racking up stylish combos again. The Devil Breaker system’s disposable arms spice up the gameplay and add a layer of strategy to the combat in which arms you bring with you and which you destroy. A fluid combat system, awesome music, and charming characters make Devil May Cry 5 a must play in 2019. There’s a demo out on Xbox One right now, so be sure to take a break from Forza Horizon 4 and go check that out.

The Division 2

While The Division wasn’t the tactical team-based experience many wanted it to be, it was a solid RPG shooter with interesting ideas like the dark zone that ultimately didn’t pan out in quite the way the developers intended. However, like Ubisoft’s other titles, The Division wasn’t abandoned, and it was elevated to a truly great co-op RPG shooter with an interesting story and a remarkably detailed world that was a joy to explore. The Division 2 looks to be starting off right at the level of quality The Division 1 ended on, and numerous quality of life changes like reducing the sponginess of certain enemies makes The Division 2 a joy to play, and a game you definitely shouldn’t skip.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

From Software, creators of the Dark Souls franchise and Bloodborne, is one of the most talented studios in the industry. Now that Souls is over, From has the freedom to pursue a new IP and free themselves from the formula they’ve used since 2009. The result is Sekiro, a game that looks faster and more fluid than Souls with a focus on stealth, aerial combat, and free-flowing fighting. There’s also a grappling hook, which is a huge plus.

Mortal Kombat 11

There’s not much that needs to be said about this one. Mortal Kombat X was almost four years ago now, and people are hungry for a new Mortal Kombat. A surprise reveal at The Game Awards showed that Mortal Kombat 11 was happening, and very soon. The game is scheduled for April, launching day and date on the Switch, too. It appears classic characters will be a focus for this entry, and character customization will be included as well. More Mortal Kombat 11 news will come at the game’s full reveal event, but as it stands right now, Mortal Kombat 11 is shaping up to be a solid new entry in the series.

Days Gone

There’s not a lot of buzz around Days Gone. Since its reveal, it’s been written off as generic, forgettable zombie stuff by pretty much everyone, but as more and more people have been getting their hands on it, public perception is starting to change, but just barely. The gameplay is where this game shines. Maintaining the bike, scrounging for gas and supplies, and circumventing the truly massive crowds of freakers (the developers are very adamant about not calling them zombies) are the bread and butter of Days Gone, and while there is no shortage of open world zombie games, there hasn’t really been a high budget, quality, AAA open world zombie survival game other than maybe Dying Light, but Days Gone and Dying Light are aiming for completely different experiences. People love to be critical of Days Gone, and the marketing and demos of this game really haven’t helped its case, but just give Days Gone a chance. There are zombie bears, man. Sorry, freaker bears.

Rage 2

Nobody asked for Rage 2. Nobody wanted Rage 2. Rage was good, but forgettable, and it seemed like the only color that game knew existed was brown. It also came out 7 years ago, so the sequel window passed a while ago. However, Rage 2 looks awesome. It’s almost unrecognizable when compared to its predecessor. Much like Far Cry New Dawn, there’s color everywhere, and the game is practically bleeding character. The shooting looks wonderfully satisfying and the new movement amplifying abilities look to complement that perfectly. The development team is also perfect for this kind of game. The minds behind Mad Max and Just Cause teaming up with the creators of Doom to create an open world shooter with lots of driving and destruction? How did someone not think of this sooner?

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

After the success of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, this was inevitable. Crash Team Racing is one of the few kart racing games that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Mario Kart and even top it in some aspects. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled also features tracks from the PS2 games, Nitro Kart and Tag Team Racing. Nitro-Fueled looks like it’ll be the definitive Crash racing experience and the best way to play CTR, just as the N. Sane Trilogy was for Crash 1-3.

Shenmue 3

Finally.

Shenmue 3 is similar to Kingdom Hearts 3 in that the last Shenmue came out forever ago. Shenmue 2 came out in 2002, making it a whopping 17 years between 2 and 3. Today, Yakuza has filled the void Shenmue left open, but Shenmue 2 ended on a huge cliffhanger, so that story needs to be finished. Shenmue was famous for its level of detail in its world, but nowadays video game worlds are filled with a mind-boggling amount of details and secrets to uncover. Just look at Red Dead Redemption 2, for example. Hopefully Shenmue 3 will be able to capture the magic the original games had back in the very early 2000’s. It’ll be difficult, but not impossible.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a masterpiece. Ask anyone who has had the pleasure of playing it and they’ll tell you the same thing. Now that Castlevania has been long forgotten by Konami, Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi has taken matters into his own hands, turning to Kickstarter to fund what he considers to be a spiritual successor to the franchise. Originally planned to release in 2017, Bloodstained was been pushed back to 2018 and now 2019. Ritual of the Night is a spiritual successor to Symphony of the Night, but there was a bonus Bloodstained game called Curse of the Moon that released last year inspired by Castlevania III, and it’s great. A lot of people are wary of Kickstarter games, and they have every right to be after disasters like Mighty No. 9, but Bloodstained is shaping up to be everything that was promised, and Curse of the Moon helps prove the developers love the franchise and know what they are doing.

Animal Crossing

It’s been five years since Animal Crossing: New Leaf released on 3DS, and it’ll probably be six when this new Animal Crossing comes out on Switch. Animal Crossing on Switch was an inevitability, it was just a matter of when. And when Isabelle got announced for Smash, Animal Crossing fans thought that was all Nintendo had to say, but it was a fake out. Animal Crossing for Switch was happening, and so soon, too. The world needs a new Animal Crossing, and everyone will be able to partake in bug catching, fishing, and home decorating sometime this year.

Dreams

This is another game a long time coming. Revealed alongside the PlayStation 4 and officially announced at E3 2015, Dreams is finally coming out sometime this year (hopefully). A beta was scheduled for 2016, and then 2017, and then 2018, and Media Molecule just barely met that 2018 deadline with the beta starting for a select few on December 19 and everyone on January 8. Dreams is the follow up to LittleBigPlanet, letting players create more than just platformer levels, but entire games. Media Molecule also claims Dreams can be used to make films and comes with a complete music creation suite. There’s VR support too, but there hasn’t been much said about it. It’s strange that this game was unveiled at the PS4 reveal event and still isn’t available despite the PS4 being on its last legs, but Dreams should be out in 2019.

Gears 5

Gears of War 4 was a solid entry in the series, but nothing truly spectacular. This was expected, though, as it was the first game in the franchise developed by The Coalition and not Epic Games. Gears 5 seems to be taking the franchise in a different direction, giving Gears of War a much needed change of pace. It looks like it will offer a wider variety of gameplay through vehicles and different locales instead of being a standard cover based shooter.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fire Emblem is back on a console for the first time since 2007. Three Houses retains the same grid based tactical gameplay as the other games but features fully 3D maps and arenas, an upgrade from the 2D backgrounds of the 3DS games. The game’s world is also fully rendered and able to be explored outside of battle, similar to Fire Emblem Echoes’s dungeons but on a larger scale.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Blind Forest took the world by surprise not only with its tight platforming gameplay and metroidvania elements, but also its gorgeous presentation and graphical style. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the sequel to the Blind Forest and looks to be more of what people loved about the first Ori. It’s breathtaking, the orchestral score is sweeping and beautiful, and the gameplay looks solid.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 took everyone by surprise. A sequel to a Marvel series that has been dormant for a decade, and it’s published by Nintendo and developed by Team Ninja? While it may sound like someone drew those names out of a hat, Ultimate Alliance 3 is real, and it looks like it’ll deliver the same Diablo-esque combat and cooperative gameplay that is right at home on the Switch.

Pokemon

A fully fledged mainline Pokemon game is scheduled to come to the Switch sometime this year. While the Switch already has a Pokemon game in the form of Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, those aren’t the mainline games that were promised. The new games will likely be the eighth generation of Pokemon and feature a more traditional experience instead of the more beginner friendly approach of Let’s Go.

Skull and Bones

When Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was released back in 2013, a lot of people liked the pirate parts of that game and didn’t really care for the assassin parts of that game. Skull and Bones is just the pirate part of Black Flag, but fleshed out into its own game. Unfortunately, players cannot leave their ships and explore islands like in Black Flag, but the naval combat and gameplay have been expanded upon and improved. The game is primarily a cooperative or single player experience but there are “uncharted waters” where PvP is available, similar to The Division’s dark zone.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a Star Wars game being developed by Respawn, the studio behind the phenomenal Titanfall 2. Not much is known about this game other than that it is slated for late 2019.

Untitled Goose Game

Untitled Goose Game is the actual name of the game, not a working title. Untitled Goose Game is a stealth game, believe it or not. You play as a goose, and you are let loose to cause mischief in a small town. It sounds wonderful, and it’s out this year.

Doom Eternal

Doom 2016 is such a fantastic shooter. Nobody expected it to turn out as good as it did. It was the first game to follow Bethesda’s anti review copy policy, and people thought it was indicative of the game’s quality. It turns out the game was extraordinary and the review copy thing was unrelated. Doom Eternal is the sequel, and this one is set on Earth, just like the original Doom 2: Hell on Earth. This one has an energy sword and a grappling hook. It’s also coming to the Switch. It’ll be good.

The Outer Worlds

Obsidian Entertainment are the go to guys when it comes to RPGs. They made the incredible Fallout: New Vegas, the wonderful Star Wars KOTOR 2, and the Pillars of Eternity series. The Outer Worlds is their newest creation, a first person shooter RPG that looks like Fallout meets Borderlands. The reveal at The Game Awards was awesome and it was pretty much all everyone was talking about afterward (besides Joker being in Smash). Obsidian knows how to make a good RPG, and the Outer Worlds is one of the safest bets for 2019.

All of these great games in pretty much the first half of the year. There isn’t really anything dated for Q3 or Q4 yet, so there are still many more surprises to come. Did we miss anything big this year? Any indies we should keep on our radar? Let us know down below, and be sure to stay tuned to Circle Square games.

The Future of Circle Square Games

Hey y’all.

When I started Circle Square Games last August, I didn’t really think it would go anywhere. I was sure I’d give up after a month or two. I didn’t even tell anyone this website existed for a while. Even though it didn’t blow up and become the next big thing, people actually read some of the things I wrote, which was all I could ask for.

I’m incredibly thankful for the support you all have given me. I read comments and looked at a lot of statistics in my time with Circle Square, and I recognized those of you who hung around for a while. Shoutout to all my regulars.

Of course, all things eventually come to an end, and while I loved every second of writing for my own website, it’s time for me to move on to bigger things. I’m now writing for The Outerhaven. Some of my work has even already been published there! I’m so grateful that the team there has given me the opportunity to write for them. My work will reach more people, but that’s not the reason I’m moving there. Working with a team that shares my same passion for video games will do nothing but inspire and motivate me to create bigger, better things for you all.

Since I can’t be in two places at once, I won’t be writing on here anymore. I might come back some day, maybe I’ll come back just to ramble about whatever game I’m currently obsessed with, but for the foreseeable future, you’ll only be able to find me at The Outerhaven. Not much else is changing. I’m still me, my writing won’t be changed in any way, and you all can follow me to a better website with an array of talented and passionate voices.

I think it’ll be better for all of us. I hope you’ll stick with me at The Outerhaven, and thank you all for providing me with the opportunity to jump start my career into this crazy industry.

Until next time,
Diego

Google Stadia and the Game Preservation Problem

Most people are already aware of the major issues with streaming video games. Latency, data caps, subscription models, and ownership seem to get brought up every time a newcomer enters the streaming scene. However, these are all problems that will be sorted out over time. There is another concern that people don’t bring up as often as they should, though, and that is the problem of video game preservation.

This week, Google announced Stadia, their new service that will allow users to stream AAA video games to just about any screen they can think of, whether it be a television, a phone, a PC, or a tablet. The idea behind Stadia is great; lowering the entry barrier to gaming will open the doors of this great medium to so many people, but an all-streaming future presents problems that haven’t quite been experienced at a large scale yet.

Stadia games aren’t owned by the players, they’re just streamed from whatever data center the players happen to be connected to. What happens, then, if a game is pulled from Stadia? What if Stadia shuts down entirely? Games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or Doom Eternal, both of which were featured prominently in Google’s keynote, will still be available on other platforms, but what about Stadia exclusive titles? Stadia Games and Entertainment is Google’s first-party studio tasked with creating exclusive games for the platform. This studio is comprised of incredibly talented developers who will no doubt create excellent games, but what becomes of these games when Stadia is gone? Even if Stadia is a runaway success, the servers will be turned off one day. It’s an inevitability, and when that inevitability happens, those games are lost.

Scenarios like this aren’t even hypothetical. They’ve already happened to beloved titles, both low-profile and high-profile alike. Konami pulled P.T. from the PlayStation Store following the cancellation of Silent Hills, and even those who own it can no longer redownload it. Aside from some very wonky workarounds (and a very faithful fan recreation on PC), P.T. can no longer be played. Being a strictly digital release that can no longer be downloaded, P.T. practically doesn’t exist anymore. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game were both pulled from digital storefronts as well, presumably due to licensing issues. On top of these examples, the closure of the Wii Shop Channel in January left a multitude of WiiWare titles abandoned, unable to be redownloaded.

Luckily, these games still have homes on consoles where they’re still installed. However, a service completely centered around streaming like Stadia won’t allow users to install games locally or access the files at all. When Stadia goes the way of the Wii Shop Channel, those games will be gone for good.

Even if games aren’t pulled from the service outright, there are still other issues that arise with an all-streaming future. Final Fantasy XV has undergone radical changes since its release back in 2016, and although it may be a better game in its current state, the vanilla version still has value, at least from a historical perspective. With a disc, the vanilla version is playable offline if updates aren’t installed, but a game like Destiny 2 doesn’t have that luxury. Vanilla Destiny 2 doesn’t exist anymore. Destiny 2 is not playable without updates or an internet connection, so there’s no way to experience the game as it launched.  At least with single-player games, older versions can be accessed offline, but with online games, the experience is constantly evolving, and older versions are lost. With streaming, even single-player games cannot be experienced pre-patch, and games might even be replaced by inferior versions, like the awful Silent Hill 2 HD version replacing the original masterpiece.

Game preservation is a tricky subject, especially in today’s climate of live services and ever-changing games. Regardless, video games are art. They’ve been recognized by the government as art since 2011 and they’ve been recognized by gamers as art for far longer, and it’s time for people to start taking game preservation more seriously, before some games end up permanently lost and forgotten.

Rainbow Six Siege’s Reverse Friendly Fire Aims to Combat Toxicity

Rainbow Six Siege has a team killing problem.

It’s no secret that friendly fire is an issue in Siege, with complaints about toxic team killing dating back to the game’s launch in 2015, but a new patch introducing “reverse friendly fire” is Ubisoft’s first attempt at solving the team killing problem. If a player shoots their teammate, the damage will be reflected back at them. This even applies to gadgets like Twitch’s shock drone, which is frequently used by toxic players to harass their teammates. With the new update, any damage that would’ve been inflicted by the drone onto an ally will be reflected back to the drone itself.

Of course, team killing is a core aspect of Rainbow Six Siege. Being able to accidentally injure allies in the heat of the moment is a large part of what makes Siege’s gameplay so tense and rewarding, so Ubisoft is allowing for some flexibility with reverse friendly fire. The system only starts after the offending player’s first team kill in order to allow for some accidents. After a teammate is killed, the victim can choose to forgive their killer if they believe they were killed by accident. If the kill is deemed accidental, the killer is not punished, but if the kill isn’t forgiven, reverse friendly fire is activated.

Penalties are being reworked with this update as well. Prior to this patch, team killers would be kicked from the match after a certain number of team kills, accidental or not. Now, even if a team kill is deemed intentional, the offending player will stay in the match with reverse friendly fire activated. Ubisoft will continue to track team kills and issue appropriate punishments, usually timed bans, to repeat offenders. The patch is currently live on Siege’s test server. There is no word on when it will be added to the main game.

Reverse friendly fire is just the first step in dealing with Rainbow Six Siege’s rampant toxicity problems. Ubisoft detailed a bevy of changes when it laid out the content roadmap for the game’s fourth year, and while map reworks and new operators were at the forefront, Ubisoft made a point to highlight the adjustments being made to minimize toxicity. With a game as rapidly growing as Rainbow Six Siege, it’s imperative that Ubisoft make the game as friendly and welcoming to new players as possible. So many players are already turned off by Siege’s very steep learning curve, a curve which grows steeper and steeper with every new update, and the game’s well-documented toxicity only serves to scare away prospective players and sour the experience for existing ones. Reverse friendly fire is definitely a step in the right direction, and upcoming changes to the ranked matchmaking system alongside other quality of life improvements prove that Ubisoft is not planning on slowing down support or content updates for Rainbow Six Siege anytime soon.

Rainbow Six Siege is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Cuphead is Coming to Nintendo Switch in April

Microsoft’s first-party side-scroller Cuphead is coming to Nintendo Switch next month, Nintendo announced in today’s Nindies Showcase.

The game, developed by Studio MDHR, was originally released in 2017 as an Xbox One console exclusive. While it released simultaneously on PC as an Xbox Play Anywhere title, that was the full extent of its reach until now.

Microsoft has also stated that they are working with Studio MDHR to implement Xbox Live functionality into the Nintendo Switch version of Cuphead. Now you’ll finally be able to earn achievements on the go. Cuphead is the first non-Xbox game to receive Xbox Live achivement support, but more are likely on the way with Microsoft planning to bring the service to both Switch and mobile.

Cuphead will launch on Nintendo Switch on April 18. The game will be priced at $20, and it’s already available for pre-purchase on the eShop.

Google Stadia is Google’s Game Streaming Service

Google has officially unveiled its long-rumored game streaming service during a keynote at GDC earlier today.

The service, called Google Stadia, will allow users to play AAA video games on any device. At launch, Stadia will be available on any desktop computer, laptop, TV, phone, or tablet. Stadia is the full release of Project Stream, which allowed users to play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in a Google Chrome browser window. While Project Stream only streamed up to 1080p at 60 frames per second, Stadia will support streams up to 4K at 60 frames per second with full HDR and surround sound support. In the future, Stadia will even support 8K streaming.

The Stadia controller was also unveiled alongside the service. It’s available in three different colors and will connect to Google’s data centers hosting the game through Wi-Fi to minimize latency. It has joysticks, a d-pad, and just about everything else you’d expect from a standard video game controller, but it also has a share button like the Dualshock 4 and Joy-Con controllers as well as a Google Assistant button which will allow you to ask for help with whatever game you’re playing using the controller’s built-in microphone. Stadia will also work with any controllers you already own, too.

Stadia will come with an array of features specific to the service. YouTube videos of certain games will have a “play now” button that will let you start playing the game through a Stadia stream. Stream Connect aims to bring back split-screen gaming, enabling multiple streams of the same game on one device. Crowd Play lets streamers open up their games to their audience, creating a lobby for viewers to wait in until they get to play with the streamer. State Share lets you create an exact copy of your game’s state down to the contents of your inventory and the amount of health you have left, which you can then share with others through a generated link. Other players can then go experience the exact moment you shared with them.

Google has partnered with Unreal and Unity, two of the most popular game engines in the industry, and both will fully support Stadia. Google revealed a number of other partners ranging from Havok to Cryengine, so there’s no shortage of initial support for the platform.

Because Stadia is a cloud-based platform, developers don’t have to neuter their visions for their games to meet certain hardware requirements. A single Stadia instance is more powerful than the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X combined according to Google, and developers will no longer be held back by hardware restrictions.

While Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was primarily featured throughout the keynote, other games were shown as well. Doom Eternal, the follow up to 2016’s Doom reboot, will be playable on Stadia at a 4K resolution at 60 frames per second with HDR. Other unannounced titles were hinted at, but they haven’t been revealed yet.

Multiplayer was another key point of the presentation. Because every game will be hosted through Google’s data centers rather than the players’ internet connections, there will be minimal latency because the experience won’t be held back by the player with the slowest connection. Stadia will also support cross-platform play and cross-progression if developers allow it.

Google will be creating exclusive first-party content through Stadia Games and Entertainment, headed by former Ubisoft executive and industry veteran Jade Raymond.

Stadia is slated to launch this year in the United States, Canada, UK, and Europe. More information is set to come this summer, but whether or not that means news will come at E3 remains to be known.

The Problem with Devil May Cry 5

Capcom’s Devil May Cry 5 is currently sitting at an 87% on Metacritic, and I don’t understand why. The game is flawed on a fundamental level, holding onto tropes from over a decade ago for no reason, especially when so many advancements in game design have been made over the past two console generations. Devil May Cry 5 is an awful video game and it’s insulting that its myriad of issues have gone unnoticed by so-called game “journalists”.

Devil May Cry 5’s problems begin to present themselves as soon as you start the game, the first issue being a complete lack of direction. Where are the objective markers? The waypoints? There isn’t even a minimap, which is a complete oversight on Capcom’s part. This is abysmal game design. How am I supposed to know what to do without a gold diamond hovering over my destination? How will I know which route to take if I don’t have a dotted line to follow?

Navigation is only the start of Devil May Cry 5’s problems. For a game so heavily centered around combat, you’d think the combat would actually be good. Unfortunately, Devil May Cry 5 drops the ball in this department as well. The game is a mindless hack and slash in which you’ll find yourself mashing the attack button until the enemies die. There is no variety, there is no skill, and there is absolutely nothing engaging. Two of the three playable characters have guns, but the lack of any sort of customization through attachments or perks alongside the completely baffling design choice of not being able to aim down sights makes Devil May Cry 5’s gunplay feel shoddy when compared to other contemporary titles like Battlefield V or Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2.

Devil May Cry 5’s combat is not only insulting in its simplicity, but also insulting in the literal sense. The game’s archaic and dated rating system keeps calling my attacks “dismal”, which discourages me from even attempting combos. I did not pay $60 to be ridiculed, Capcom. On top of that, parts of the battle theme won’t play unless you can achieve high style rankings during combat. This sort of elitist game design hurts Devil May Cry 5 in the long run, restricting the soundtrack to the same repetitive drivel throughout the entirety of the game’s campaign. Arbitrarily gating things off and rewarding more skilled players creates an artificial barrier within the community, and this game would benefit infinitely from a paid easy combo system ala the ingenious easy fatality tokens in Mortal Kombat X.

Multiple weapon types are supplied in an attempt to break up the monotony, but they ultimately fail to spice things up due to their poor implementation. Nero’s devil breakers, for example, cannot be freely cycled between. Not only that, but they can also be broken. Without any kind of crafting system to repair or modify these disposable weapons, the devil breaker system feels contrived and poorly thought out. Considering the Tomb Raider reboot had crafting all the way back in 2013, it’s downright unacceptable for Devil May Cry 5 to launch without crafting 6 years later.

The game is also incredibly linear. There’s no open world, not even a social hub or anything, and the majority of the levels feel like hallways. Player choice is completely ignored in favor of an old-fashioned predetermined plot. I really wish there were dialogue options in the cutscenes so I could make my Dante feel different from everyone else’s Dante. A story with a defined beginning, middle, and end is a relic of a bygone era, and it feels like something straight out of an antiquated 2001 video game like Metal Gear Solid 2 or Max Payne.

Fans of the series will be exceptionally disappointed with the changes made to the Devil May Cry lore as well. Dante has white hair again, which totally ignores the changes made to his character in 2013’s DmC: Devil May Cry. Stomping all over continuity only serves to further scramble the franchise’s already confusing timeline, and for little to no purpose. Again, if there was a choice between hairstyles when playing as Dante (or even a wholly customizable protagonist, which should be a given in 2019) then maybe this would work, but in its current iteration it doesn’t feel earned.

The story isn’t the only thing that lacks any sort of choice or interactivity, either. The progression system is also very restricting. Devil May Cry 5 forgoes skill trees in favor of an old-school upgrade system in which you spend red orbs, the game’s currency, to upgrade abilities for different weapons. While this works in theory, in practice it only succeeds in annihilating any semblance of build diversity and taking freedom away from players. If players could specialize in ranged combat or stealth and be free to engage enemy encampments in their own way, it’d vastly improve the experience.

A weak story and campaign could be saved by a fulfilling endgame, but Devil May Cry 5’s endgame is anemic in comparison to its competition. The developers just expect players to repeat the campaign on a higher difficulty or aim for higher rankings on missions. Sadly, Devil May Cry 5 doesn’t have any challenging content to work toward or gear up for either. This is a full $60 game without a raid. Of course, Capcom hasn’t unveiled the 2019 roadmap for the game, but launching in a state this content light is a mistake, and the game will bleed players until new content is released.

Devil May Cry 5 has moments where it shines, but these are few and far between, absolutely overshadowed by the assortment of flaws. Sometimes revivals of classic franchises work out, just look at Mega Man 11. Other times, however, it’s best to let the classics remain just that: classics. Maybe there’s a reason it’s been 11 years since DMC 4. Unfortunately, Devil May Cry 5 has a ridiculously small amount of content that is almost never compelling in any way. Its desire to hang on to what made the originals so great ultimately drags down the final product in the end, resulting in a game that feels straight out of the early 2000’s.


(In case you couldn’t tell, this is 100% satire. Please play Devil May Cry 5.)

Five Division 2 Tips to Help You Get Started

The Division 2 has the majority of the features added to the original game over its three year lifespan available at launch, making it one of the most content-rich looter shooters on the market. There’s a lot to take in and a lot to learn, so we’re here to give you some pointers to aid you in your fight to take back D.C.

Check everywhere for loot

The Division 2 isn’t stingy when it comes to loot drops. It’s quite the opposite, actually. D.C. isn’t only littered with trash, but also loot. A good chunk of the crates, backpacks, and bags you come across can be searched for weapons and resources. Make sure to check alleyways and garages for any tucked way caches, and shoot any locks standing between you and a chest. Even if you only get resources like food or water, it adds up.

Do your projects

Settlements like the Theater, which you encounter very early in the game, provide you with optional projects. These projects require you to donate a mixture of gear and resources in order to improve the settlement. The rewards are incredibly useful, ranging from XP to blueprints to bounties. Be sure to hang onto spare weapons and armor just in case you need to donate them. Junk items can be donated, too, so see your projects officer before dismantling any unwanted pieces of gear.

Weapon skins can only be applied to certain rarities

Being a game centered around loot, it’s only natural you’d want to customize your gear to better suit your style. Unfortunately, weapon skins cannot be applied to white and green rarity guns. The same goes for armor and dyes. Only blue gear and above can be personalized, so those of you with special skins from pre-orders or the Ubisoft Club will have to wait a while. Once you’ve acquired a blue item, you can personalize it in the mod menu.

Optimize your perk selection

There are a vast array of perks to choose from in The Division 2, but there’s only so much SHD Tech to spend in the opening hours. Your first batch of SHD Tech should go directly into the Accolade perks, which provide you with more XP for headshots, killing multiple enemies at the same time, destroying weakpoints, and the like. This will speed up your progression and earn you field proficiency caches at a faster rate. After unlocking the Accolade perks, unlock the Field Proficiency Cache perk, which gives you a 50% chance to receive a bonus item when opening a Field Proficiency Cache. Lastly, make sure to pick up the Deconstruction perks, which give you extra materials when deconstructing gear. After investing in these three perks, spend your SHD Tech however you like, but we recommend upping your inventory space and unlocking attachments.

Reload during cover transitions

Enemies in The Division 2 take more than a couple bullets to go down, so you’ll find yourself reloading quite often. It’s not hard to find yourself in a bad spot, out of ammo and being rushed down by a melee enemy. You can reload your weapon while transitioning from cover to cover, so be sure to top off your ammo count while you move to a more strategic location. A full magazine and ideal positioning can mean the difference between life or death in The Division 2, so why not cover all your bases at the same time?


The Division 2 is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.