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.