Blizzcon 2018 Review

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Diablo Immortal

I usually start these reviews with World of Warcraft but its hard to do that this time around with the spectacle we got this year with Diablo Immortal. There has been a lot of talk over the last few years about how Blizzard has lost touch as a company with the fans of their games but this year was the first time I agree to a point. That was just not a good idea or a good way to announce this game. Not to this crowd. I was amazed it got through to that point and no one at any point of the presentation asked if it was a good idea to go about it like this. Me watching from home and the audience in attendance where stunned that this is what they were going to close the opening ceremony on. Even the presenter could tell on stage that it did not go over well from the dead eye expressions looking back at him.

A truly legendary moment in Blizzard history. Even as we speak the backlash of the announcement of a mobile Diablo game with still no real word on a Diablo 4 is going strong. All this being said the nerds rioting on the internet now will play Diablo Immortal first chance they get. Personally speaking I don’t mind it. I can’t say I’m a huge Diablo fan. I like the lore and the style of the game but I cant say II’m and avid fan. Diablo for sure isn’t my World of Warcraft. I just play the story and enjoy hardcore mode and coop. So Diablo Immortal is something I am looking forward too. But to the fans of Diablo this was the equivalent of a kick to the balls and spit on your face. I cant even imagine how upset I would be if something similar would happen to World of Warcraft. Just the thought gives me a sinking feeling in my chest.

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World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth

Naturally there wasn’t too much to be said about WoW this year. We are in the middle of an expansion so there was just talk about the new content and some zones. Some balancing and mounts coming to time walking. Probably the most exciting thing for me being the Zandalari Trolls coming out with the next big content patch. Its also cool they can be Paladins. I mainly want to make a Zandalari Druid because their Druid forms looks amazing. Kulturen Humans also seem to be really cool. Also big surprise their mounts a horse. Alliance really gets the short end of the stick with this stuff. There wasn’t much else said here overall. We seem to be going down the roadmap smoothly.

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World of Warcraft Classic

I said it before and i’ll say it again I don’t think Classic is the answer. Make the current game more old school don’t remake an “old” version of the game. As a Virtual Ticket holder I get to try the game out and it is not Classic it is straight up old. People really need to take the nostalgia glasses off and smell the roses here. I would be surprised if this game does well in this day and age. Most of the people who asked for this game were the annoying private server trash or people who barely played the game in the first place and stopped playing years ago. Like you are literally pirating a mediocre version of the game and complaining and demanding things from Blizzard. Crazy thing is it worked. Thats like going to the guy who pirated all the Marvel movies and being like what do you want to see in the next Marvel movie?

The other annoying crowd thats been asking for Classic is all the people who stopped playing altogether way back when. Why are we listening to these people too? People who are playing World of Warcraft want World of Warcraft to be better. We don’t want to go back to a time when choices mattered. We want Blizzard to make choices matter again in World of Warcraft right now. I don’t know people, I’ll keep an eye on this. Form what I played there were for sure things I missed and would like to see worked into the current game and there was a lot more I’m glad is long gone.

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Warcraft 3: Reforged

Easily the biggest well received announcement of the convention Warcraft 3: Reforged. I cant say I’m the biggest original Warcraft fan but this does look like a cool game. I wish we got Warcraft 4 instead but it really looks like they are testing the field with this to see if the fans will take the bait. If it works they will probably jump on announcing Warcraft 4 the year following the release of Reforged or the year after that. Overall very cool and long asked for.

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Overwatch

Very lackluster compared to last year. Just a new hero announcement really. Ashe does look cool and the fans of Overwatch do seem to be happy with this. But Overwatch fans are like loyal dogs. Whatever their master Blizzard gives them they will eat it up and say thank you. If Overwatch Immortal where to happen you would see these guys going on about how it’s a revolutionary idea and mobile is the future and such. The funny thing is Overwatch would translate well to mobile. The gameplay is simple enough and it already has loot boxes. Something for Blizzard to think about. Overall I don’t care here and the fans seem happy.

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Starcraft 2

If Diablo didn’t exist I would say Starcraft 2 is the game Blizzard hates the most lol. There wasn’t much to talk about here. They announced a new commander and mostly tuning changes. As someone who’s not a Starcraft player it was as lackluster as the Overwatch coverage maybe even more. From what I saw of the tournament though it was fairly interesting. I cant say if the fans were happy or indifferent here. Wouldn’t say they seemed to be upset in anyway which is a good sign. But if Blizzard is looking to piss them off I recommend Starcraft Immortal.

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Hearthstone: Rastakhan’s Rumble

This was extremely weird. I don’t now what the Hearthstone player demographic is but all the coverage of this game this year felt like it was made for a kindergarten class. Like the same kids who are into Fortnite would have loved this coverage. I couldn’t watch it with the sound on and even found myself looking away due to how cringey it was. It was like they thought I was an idiot and but they were the dumb ones. I really don’t know. Im kind of worried and cant say I’m excited or care for Rastakhan’s Rumble. Before it seemed light hearted and chill like hanging out in a cabin and talking about Hearthstone and now its like Twitch TVs most annoying cringe streamers present Rastakhan’s Rumble. I can see why most of the people I know who were really into Hearthstone are jumping off into Yugioh and Magic The Gathering.

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Heroes of the Storm

We got a really cool new hero Orphea announced. Our first Nexus Heroes of the Storm exclusive hero. I really like her look and play style. Looking forward to play her in the future. Other than that they mostly talked about balancing and tuning and for the most part I like the direction they are going with the game. The idea of making mercenary camps a bigger deal is something I’m interested in. I can see it leading to more in jungle fights over camps. Overall similar to Overwatch here I just care about this and don’t care about Overwatch.

Closing Thoughts

Overall it was a legendary Blizzcon and a very mediocre one at the same time. Im just happy to have been apart of it all as it happened. I wonder how things will turn out in the long run. I think most of these games will have their ups and downs and people will accept Diablo Immortal eventually. I mean even back when Hearthstone got announced as a World of Warcraft fan at the time I was openly disappointed in the game. But really enjoyed it for the following years. I mean not anymore but it was good during the time Blizzard still had ideas for the game. I would say Diablo Immortal will probably go through a similar process in the future.

P.S. Im posting this as the closing ceramony is happening and I never herd of this band (Train) but damn they rock. Im going to downlod all their albums.

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Persona 4 Golden Review

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Ive been on a serious PlayStation Vita kick the last month or so. Ive had Persona 4 Golden for a few years now and have been meaning to sit down and give it a serious go one of these days but it just kept getting pushed back. I find I don’t have the time I once use to when it comes to smashing hours into a game. Even when that game is portable. But this time around I made a serious conscious effort to finally play through Persona 4 Golden. I consider Persona 3 to be one of the best JRPs I have ever played. Im not sure how well it still holds up now but from my memory of playing through it in high school it was one of the most genuine JRPG experiences I ever had. Who would have thought mixing dating sims, Pokemon and a collectible card game with a traditional dungeon crawler would yield such results.

Persona 4 Golden is no exception. It is a further refined version of the play style and systems made popular in Persona 3. I haven’t played Persona 5 yet but due to how well that games doing I would suspect its been refined even further there. Persona 4 Golden starts off with your voiceless, nameless (Yu Narukami the in game story name if you want to use it) character moving to Inaba a small country side town of Japan. You live with your uncle Dojima and little cousin Nanako. Soon after arriving you find yourself intertwined with a world inside the TVs and a series of murders you and your high school Investigation team have to solve. The characters are all so dynamic and genuine. You can’t help but feel a friendship grow between them. During my first play through I would think on certain days oh I haven’t seen so and so in a while I should go hangout with them, not because of some advantage I might gain later but because I like the character and want to see what they are up to.

As the game progresses you will build “social links” with others who inhabit the town. These social links are directly connected to a persona type. I look at it like types of Pokemon. You have Fire, Dragon, Psychic and so on in Pokemon and in Persona you have types like Magician, Justice, Chariot. A lot of which are based off tarot cards. The more you use these persona in battle the more they will level, again like Pokemon. The stronger your social links are with the corresponding person that represents that personas type the stronger your persona will be and the more powerful the personas you make of that corresponding type in the future will be. It’s safe to say the out of combat social link aspects are the most important part of the game overall. It’s also the most interesting part for me personally. I genuinely feel connected to the characters I formed strong bonds with through the game. When I finished my first play through I felt a sinking feeling in my chest thinking about how its over and I won’t see them again from my perspective.

Which is partly why I’m playing through it again on New Game Plus (NG+). Got to catch all those Pokemon right, I mean Personas. NG+ is an option you unlock after your first play through. On your first play through you will encounter options you wont be able to use due to insufficient Courage or Knowledge and such. These are things you will raise through the game as you do certain things. They can be maxed out and it would be best to max them out before the end of your first play through. Which you can do very easily on your first play through by simply keeping an eye on it and doing the corresponding tasks to raise them. Another thing that carries over with NG+ is your Persona Compendium which is basically your list of Persona you have created or found over your first play through. Some other things also carry over but I would say these are the most important and standout aspects you get to take with you. Also something very useful with NG+ is the option to change your difficulty in game. On your first play through you will be locked into the difficulty you choose when you start the game so choose wisely. I went with Normal and found it fairly challenging myself. Im now replaying it on Very Easy and well its very easy. This is meant to be a Trophy run for me so I’m ok with that but I think the best middle ground for me would have been “Easy”. If I were to pick it up again just for fun in like 10 years that’s the difficulty I would pick.

Speaking of trophies. You cannot get all the trophies in your first play though. You can get a lot of them but you will be missing some that are ment for a following play through. Which is partly why NG+ exists. Its a genuinely great feature for a game like this. I don’t have many cons for this game but one I will bring up is when it came to the overall investigation of the murders I found every person I was suspicious of ended up being a key part of story. Best way I can put it without spoiling anything is I called it every step of the way and I’m talking about the True Ending here where there’s a lot going on. In the games defense I am a big fan of mystery in general. Sherlock Holmes is one of my heroes so naturally when dealing with a murder investigation in a game I’m trying to break it down very aggressively. Also a bit of a humble brag here but I am also a licensed private investigator here in Canada so I’m a bit more suspicious than most people would be simply playing through this game. It’s also why I love Naoto Shirogane so much. So thats one issue with the game which again is more an issue with me than the game itself.

Another small issue I have is after you max out a social link you really loose the incentive to see that person again. It feels a lot like I got what I needed from you now buzz off. Which feels really bad from the standpoint of someone you got to know well enough to max out their social link. Even something as simple as experience points following a maxed out social link to the corresponding persona type would have been a good enough incentive. I wonder if they made a change to this in Persona 5.

Persona 4 Golden is a 10/10 all day every day. This game is a reason to buy a PlayStation Vita if you haven’t got one already. If this is the only game you ever get for the Vita than it would be money well spent. I cant seem to get myself to put it down. Ive even gone as far as having a 2 different dreams about the game. Im already planing out my fall schedule so I can finally play Persona 5. Keep an eye out for that review.

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Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Review

I finished Omega Ruby last night. I didn’t post any progress pictures since I honestly wasn’t feeling this version of the game. It’s been well over a decade since I last beat Pokémon Emerald but I feel it is still the superior version of the Hoenn games. I remember it being genuinely a lot more challenging and getting to see both sides of Team Magma and Team Aqua was nice. Not saying Emerald was this perfect Pokémon game, just in comparison I feel it still stands out for 3rd Gen.

That being said a lot of my issues from the original games make a come back here. The pacing is all over the place. A story focused around climate change and global warming could have been great but was handled very poorly. People will say it’s a Pokémon game so they made it simple for kids but anyone who’s played this can tell you it’s not simple, it just doesn’t make sense. Neither teams reasoning has any sense or backing at all and when they have their change of heart later in the game it’s like…really? No shit it didn’t work as you intended. Now I an 11 year old boys has to go save the region form a literal force of nature, twice. I wish with the chance for a remake they fixed a lot of these issues with the story or reworked it altogether. I mean it’s a whole new timeline. Why not have it make a little sense?

Also IGN was right. Hoenn has too much water. The last 20% of the game or so you spend on your surf Pokémon. I found it annoying in Ruby and then Emerald over a decade ago and I still find it annoying now. I was expecting some sort of quality of life improvements when it came to this but it was how I remembered it. And yes I know Hoenn is An island based region, so is Alola and getting around worked fine there. (Partly because of ride Pokémon) Speaking of ride Pokémon, how much do I miss them? A lot that’s for sure. The amount of HM you need is a bit ridiculous really. Dive and Waterfall are not needed as HMs at all and could have been worked into Surf or worked around very easily. Instead of having to lose 2 more moves. It’s really annoying when trying to do a nuzlocke or a mono type run.

Something I admit I really liked was the very end and I mean the very end. I’m talking after the credits when your rival now borderline girlfriend or boyfriend waits for you and you head back to Littleroot together and have one last battle. Even showing the small pond that keeps coming up in the opening cinematic of the game as the place you first met. My dark frozen heart melted a little with that. Sadly everything before the credits didn’t get any of this quality treatment. It also felt really random since you rarely even interact with your rival through the game. Regardless it is my favourite addition to the original games.

Now onto the Delta episode which I like a good bit more than the main game. Nice to have some sort of a story here that isn’t complete nonsense and a decent tie in to the Mega timeline games. It was a bit too wordy and there was a lot of just going from place to place but overall I didn’t mind it. Flying is for sure better than surfing.

Overall I’m glad to be done with Omega Ruby. It for sure over stayed it’s welcome and I don’t see myself replaying it for at least another decade. That is unless they remake it again which could be great if done right and with some heart like the after credits portion. My final thoughts are, as a Pokémon game it’s just fine. Far from the best and I can’t say if it’s the worst but you know what to expect here if you know Pokémon. For a Pokémon game I would rate it at about a 4 out of 10 for the main game and at about a 6 out of 10 for the Delta Episode.

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Subsurface Circular First Impressions

I had an eye on this game for a few days now on the Switch eShop. When I found out it was a Bithell game I bought it instantly. Mike Bithell and his team are the ones who brought us Tomas Was Alone and Volume. I haven’t played Volume yet but Tomas Was Alone is one of the best puzzle platformers I’ve ever played. It also has some of the best writing and voice acting I’ve herd in a long time. I mean you are playing as a bunch of different colored blocks and the writing sold me on the “characters”. That’s not easy to do. Here we have their newest game Subsurface Circular where you play as a robot detective trying to solve a series of disappearance. You seem to know the cause of the disappearances rides the train you are on. You wait and get into conversations with other robots who get on trying to solve your case. I just started but I’m really enjoying it so far. The writing is up to the standard I expect from the Bithell team. There isn’t any voice acting though so if reading isn’t your thing you probably didn’t get this far on this post anyways. If you did make it this far you probably will enjoy it. It’s short, only a little over 2 hours or so but it’s also cheap at about $7. I recommend it. Always support good indie titles. If you have played it let me know what you think.

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Blizzcon 2017 Thoughts

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World of Warcraft Classic — I’m really surprised they announced this since all the Vanilla WoW kids seemed to have given up a while ago. Once Legion came out most WoW players on the bandwagon stopped caring about Nostalrius since all they wanted was content and the guys who were on the bandwagon just for the hell of it weren’t going to play to begin with. The small fringe groups of Vanilla WoW fans stopped playing WoW altogether or moved onto another private server. Even the ones pushing for Vanilla WoW servers in my group of friends stopped talking about it well over a year ago and they were never really into WoW to begin with. Blizzard didn’t really talk much about this and based on what they said I’m sure it is a fair bit off. Just to be clear I’m all for this I just prefer new content. Everyone looks back at these expansions with rose tinted glasses but every single expansion had its shares of pros and cons. I’ll for sure give it a try when it comes out.

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World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth — I was a little sceptical and still am about this. Anyone who’s been following BlizzCon for a while can tell you the whole “Bringing the War Back to Warcraft” line is a bit cursed. The last time we heard it we got Cataclysm which had its ups but also had a lot of downs and Warlords of Draenor which mostly had downs but some ups. I blame Blizzard for WoD. Not WoDs fault it didn’t have any content and garrisons were a bad idea for the same reasons they didn’t end up putting player housing in Vanilla way back. I’m just saying I’m sceptical of Battle for Azeroth. A really good opening cinematic that got my heart pumping isn’t enough for me to be satisfied. All the following coverage just kind of looked ok to me. Legion has been awesome and I think we will look back at it as one of the best expansions. Compared to that this looks lukewarm so far. That being said I am really liking what they are doing with the amulets which are pretty much replacing our artifact weapons. I still think artifact weapons are far more interesting but I understand the reasoning for cutting down 2 to 4 weapons into one amulet. Even though you lose a lot of epic flavour with it. Little quality of life improvements like this are nice, just the overall epic scale doesn’t seem to be there.

P.S. Only 3 new sub-races per faction? Still no Red Orcs?…sloppy Blizz, sloppy…Upright orcs though, so thanks for that.

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Diablo — ?

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Starcraft 2 — If you’re a consistent fan of the RTS genre or Just Starcraft in general then there seemed to be some good updates to the game. Blizzard is adding in the expected quality of life improvements and it seems to be more accessible to new players. It also looks like they are making the base game free to play which is pretty cool. None of this will get me playing but I can see returning players and new players going back to the game over this.

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Hearthstone — I personally quit Hearthstone a few months back to focus on Magic The Gathering and their upcoming Online CCG. Nothing against Hearthstone, just my TCG/CCG interests are taken up by Magic The Gathering.  I told myself Knights of The Frozen Throne will be my last Hearthstone expansions for the foreseeable future and with Kobolds and Catacombs…that statement hasn’t changed. Lol, that being said I will come back to Hearthstone to play the new single player “Dungeon Run” content. It is this contained adventure where you don’t even have to build a deck till you enter. You don’t have to worry about buying anything and you just have a good time playing. Pick a class, get some cards and build your deck as you play through the Dungeon Run. I see it a lot like you’re a new player in World of Warcraft and you are entering your first dungeon. You always find new solid upgrades as you go through. Great addition to Hearthstone to keep players like me coming back. What do I think of the new Kobolds and Catacombs expansion? My feelings are /shrug ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ couldn’t care less.

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Overwatch — Man what a surprise from my least favourite Blizzard game. I mean it still is my least favourite Blizzard game even though Blizzard seems to want you to hate Diablo the most. But damn does it look good. I don’t like Overwatch from a fundamental gameplay level. I find it remedial compared to almost every other shooter on the market. Which is exactly why it’s popular. You can be trash and still be useful and improve quickly simply by paying attention a little more. I mean I get why people like it. Everything from Blizzcon 2017 makes me get it even more. I mean how cool were some of those maps and the Reinhardt cinematic? I don’t even like the game but that cinematic got me thinking of getting a Reinhardt tattoo. The new hero Moira is a really interesting take on a healer. Her style and gameplay look really fun. She comes off as a more skill capped healer when compared to others like Lucio and Mercy. Cant go AFK and get MVP on Moira. The new Blizzard World map looks amazing. They said that in the world of Overwatch that Blizzard exists but in that universe they naturally have nothing to do with Overwatch itself. So Blizzard World is an Overwatch map but is themed after the other Blizzard games. Might be hard to follow but it’s a great addition regardless. Not bad Overwatch, not bad. Might just have to pop in the disk again sometime.

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Heroes of the Storm — Another surprising turn of events. I have been kind of done with Heroes of the Storm for a few months now but Blizzcon won me back. A whole bunch of new interesting hero’s like Honzo and Alexstrasza, reworks and quality of life improvements. Fine Blizzard fine. It seems I haven’t paid you enough through this game so I’ll give you some more over the coming months. The single thing that got me the most interested was their new ranking system. Its a new take on their current MMR system but instead of wins and loses counting for a large part of your MMR they seem to be focusing more on you and the hero you pick. If you play a difficult hero and play that hero well and also win you will jump up higher in your MMR. Same goes for if you play an easier hero and don’t perform well and lose, you will go down further in MMR. So winning and losing still matters but you can still move up in MMR as long as you are performing the best you can. They also showed how this leads to much fewer matches you need to play to get placed where you belong. This isn’t the exact numbers but it was something like 240 matches down to 190 matches with the new ranked system. They also said that number should go down further after its officially implemented in December.

Blizzcon 2017 MVP — Overwatch followed closely in 2nd by Heroes of the Storm.

Blizzcon 2017 Loser — Diablo (I mean really. Surprised?)

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Vainglory Review

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Vainglory is a game that shows how mobile gaming should be taken more seriously.

I’ve been meaning to write a review for Vainglory for months now. From the moment I joined The Cube as the App Store game writer, Vainglory was going to be my swan song to mobile gaming. Sadly it was just one of those things that kept getting pushed back for the right “time” and I also pivoted what I wrote about. Simply put I had my Vainglory review on the back burner. But no more.

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Vainglory is a mobile MOBA/ARTS game which has been “perfected for touch” as they put it. I agree. It takes place on a map called “The Halcyon Fold”. It has a single lane with a jungle bellow the lane. You play as one of 3 hero’s vs a group of another 3 Heroes. Like most MOBAs victory is decided by destroying the opponents “Vain Crystal”. (The namesake of the game but basically the Throne or Nexus.) Something different from most MOBAs is your heroes here have one less ability than usual for a total of 2 normal spells and 1 ultimate ability. Unlike most MOBAs that come out nowadays you still have last hitting and on use items. Which is fairly surprising since those are considered aspects from more “hardcore” MOBAs. It all ends up working really well since they kept some things in while streamlining other parts of the game. Overall it feels great and plays fast.

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Heroes are split into 3 roles. Lane, Jungle, and Roam. Lane and jungle are fairly straightforward to anyone who’s played an MOBA before. Lane is best played by hero’s who can poke from a distance and don’t have to commit as much for last hitting or poking the other laner. Junglers rotate around their jungle and sometimes the enemies depending on how ballsy they are looking for gank opportunities. Roam is a more tricky role and debatably the most skill capped. They are usually the leaders of the group and are expected to make the calls on when to go in or out and decide what’s the most important objective. They are a mix between a bruiser or support style hero depending on who you play.

They have a few game types but their main standard MOBA game type (Halcyon Fold) lasts about 20 mins. A decent amount of time but nothing crazy. They also have a few others which will take less time. The fasted game type being “Blitz” which is emphasized for only being just about 5 mins long or less. This is also their newest game type that was added with the latest patch. I prefer the standard game the most but Blitz is the game type that will see the most play from me when on the go. I’ll have 5 mins on the go far more often than 20 mins. Basically, you have options for how long you want to play and how you want to play them.

The cash shop if you ask me is a bit of a mess. Even after getting used to it I feel confused at times with it. You can buy things with either real money or in-game currency. The real money currency is called ICE. The earned in-game currency is called Glory. On top of that, you can also get Opels which is a separate currency that can get you some skins. These special/seasonal skins can only be bought with Opels and not ICE or Glory. There are other skins you can buy with ICE for a fairly big premium or craft with cards. Yes, that’s right another resource that is specific to skins. If you are confused right now reading this don’t worry because I’m confused writing it. You can make skins using these cards and to get these cards you can buy them with either ICE or Glory or break down other cards for guess what? Yes, that’s right another resource called Essence. I’m not going to go any further but I think you got the idea. Hey, Super Evil Megacorp lets try and get it down to 2 maybe 3 currency’s /resources guys. Honestly its getting a little ridiculous.

Aside from the unnecessarily complicated currency/resource system, you have your usual fair of market content. Heroes, Skins, Chests, Account Boosts and so on.

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The game can be played on Android or iOS cell phones or tablets. It comes with customizable control schemes across the board to tweak to your liking and you can also get scaling options for varying screen sizes.

Overall I am genuinely impressed with this game. From a technical standpoint to a gameplay standpoint they nailed it. It plays smoothly and anyplace with an internet connection becomes a LAN party all of a sudden. They make it easy to stay in contact with your friends with the guild and party system. Alone or with other, if you have 5 mins to 20+ there is something to do on Vainglory. I give Vainglory a 4/5. If they fix their shop it would be an easy 5/5.

Ratting: 4/5

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Albion Online: A Beautiful Game Stuck In Development Hell

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I heard of Albion online near the end of the MMO boom. You know when there was a new MMO getting announced/released at what felt like every other week. I want to say that was around 2013 when MMO hype was still big and games were being announced but the overall MMO player base was starting to fall off. When I first took a look at Albion Online I wasn’t impressed or interested. It wasn’t my kind of game. I thought it was cool how they wanted to launch on multiple platforms, iPad, android tablets and PC. The idea of a fully featured MMO on the go as much as at home was an intriguing idea for me. All that being said the crafting/gathering/grinding nature of the game was a huge turn-off. Those were all the things I hated to do in most the MMOs I played. The more appealing selling points for me about Albion Online were the PvP, world explanation, and death penalties.

Albion Online is a fairly hardcore game to today standards wrapped up in a simple to get into package. After trying it out almost 2 years ago with their founder’s pack and testing the game out over its extensive alpha and betas, I think it’s in a bad spot. I think the developers are so afraid to let this game fail that they will inevitably make it fail. The game was never going to be big. It was made to be a niche title. Competing with Eve Online more than say World of Warcraft. After almost 2 years of “beta testing” and even longer of alpha testing, they are starting to lose their dedicated niche fans. This is a game I feel has been “ready” for at least a year now and they are still talking about 1 to 2 more wipes before release. They say this is the “final beta” but seeing as we have been in beta for easily a year to 2 years now that doesn’t mean much.

Their beta patches for updating the game could all have been nice content patches after the game should have come out over a year ago. Instead, they keep patching content into a beta that isn’t being played anymore since everyone is waiting for release. A release I feel will be too little too late. I thought this was just me but even most of the apologists on the subreddit have turned. Any post they make on their site is followed by a good number of people complaining about the wipes and release. The common consensus from everyone is to wait for the game to come out. On the subreddit, there is always someone asking if they should start playing and it is always followed by someone explaining there will be wipes and to wait for the release. I’ve been watching this for well over a year now. The whole time feeling the games been ready.

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All that out of the way here’s what I think about the game as is. Overall it’s pretty great. Goes to show how much I’ve changed over the years that I find this kind of game fun now. But I’m not sure if I find it to actually be fun or if it’s a really good interactive checklist. It has that World of Warcraft effect to it where there’s always something else to do. Like World of Warcraft use to be in some ways everything you end up doing on Albion Online ends up being a grind. There’s always another tier or node to grind and if you don’t want to do that there’s another weapon or armor piece you can be more proficient in. All of it ends up being something tedious in some way or another but it doesn’t feel like a waste of time. The game is designed around these aspects, the more you do these things the “stronger” or a better way to putting it here is more “useful” your character will be.

The best players have the best gear. The best gear doesn’t drop from dungeons in this game they are crafted. To wear the best gear you have to be proficient at all the previous tiers of that type of gear or weapon. (Cloth, Leather, Plate and Staffs, Maces, Shields etc.) To make the best gear you have to grind material and level your profession. They really mean it when they say player driven.

The game has a large emphasis on group content. Mainly group PVP. Even the PVE content in this game can have PVP happen since the dungeons are not instanced and tagged players can be attacked by other players depending on the zone they’re in. The top players with the best gear, guilds, and coordination battle it out with other guilds at end game. Death in this game means you drop everything. I mean everything. So you better be ready to lose all your gear and inventory you are carrying if you die. They have made changes here and there to different zones and locations to cater to more casual players. Regardless at the top end, it’s still loot the dead. This is part of the risk-reward of the game and what makes it difficult. You can go deep into questionable areas but if you die you have to get back to your body within a time frame or you lose everything. Think about it like yours always playing Hardcore mode on Diablo. The difference being your character still exists and any progress you made on that character is still there. Just now all your gear and inventory has dropped out in the world somewhere and you kind of start back at hypothetical level 1. This is mainly due to how your classes work in Albion Online.

Classes in Albion Online are decided based on your gear. They come in multiple tiers and the aspects of the gear decide what abilities you have on your bar. For instance, if you want to tank you would equip the plate armor pieces and equip a sword and shield. The nice thing about this is nothing is stopping you from mixing and matching. Making says a “Battle Mage” with plate gear and then equipping a staff. Maybe even go with an even more complex hybrid build. I’ve seen all kinds of combinations in the game with varying degrees of success.

I think graphically, design and art wise the game look’s beautiful. An excellent example of simplicity is key. I’ve played much more graphic intensive games with far more detail come off as bland and boring. With Albion Online the colors are strong and the world looks alive. Each zone type is distinct and has its own flavor to it. The artwork on the loading screens and across their site just has something refreshing about it. “Whimsical” would be a good word to describe it.

Overall it’s a great game with lots of potential but I can’t recommend it. I think its a great game but due to the lack of the developers not understanding the needs of the community I feel it may have a short-lived release. Like most the players on the subreddit, I have to say don’t bother till it’s out. At this point that might be never or too late. This is the kind of game that lives off its dedicated players and those are exactly the people they are losing every day they keep the game in beta. I enjoy the game but I do not support the choices of the company and a lot of the changes they are making. It also begs the question how will they handle things when the game does come out one day? Only time will tell…a lot of time it seems.

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Overwatch : The Game I Hate To Love

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Let me start off by saying I don’t like Overwatch.

At least I didn’t at first when I tried it during beta and early release. I felt it was lacking in content, game types, maps, and substance. On top of all that I feel it cost too much for what is offered. A few well made cinematic’s don’t hide the fact that all the maps in the game are basically hallways designed to force high combat situations. You can call it the Call of Duty effect. Forced encounters with high combat interactions in short to medium bursts over a short match time. New/bad players don’t ever feel useless or bad thus making them have less chance of getting frustrated and quitting the game. Also allowing good players to still do well but still get caught here and there due to just bad luck and counter picking. This is in a nutshell what kept Call of Duty on top of the shooter market for so long while games like Battlefield and Halo have taken secondary niche markets.

I find the popularity of Overwatch to be surprising since gamers are constantly asking for more difficult games but the most popular games on the market are usually for much more casual audiences. Regardless of the philosophy of gaming, is Overwatch fun? As of writing this review and basing it on only the game itself I find it to be an amazingly fun toy. Yes, you have read right. If Battlefield 1 was tactical training with high-pressure BB guns and Halo 5 was paintball than Overwatch would be a bunch of kids in the park with nerf guns. Does that mean it’s not fun? Hell no. It’s a blast. I’m just saying don’t take it so seriously. I have friends on PC talking about team builds, strategy and going up and down in ranks but still doing poorly. On the other hand, I have friends in the top 500 who have prestiged multiple times telling me it’s not that big a deal.

Overwatch has become my “main game” now. When I want to play something seriously or just mess around for a bit, Overwatch is where I go. It plays to a lot of different play styles due to the multiple hero setups and the quick action packed matches. If I don’t feel like focusing and just want to hang out with friends I’ll play something like Mercy or Lucio, maybe Bastion and just sit in a corner and crack jokes. If I really feel like playing I’ll play Reinhardt, Tracer or Soldier. Regardless of how well I’m doing and how I’m feeling at the time, I feel I just like joking around and yelling on mic with friends.

Who you play with will make a big difference. I’m not talking about winning, I’m talking about enjoying. A big part of the reason I didn’t enjoy Overwatch at first is due to the friends I was playing with. They were very try hard and took a very casual game too seriously. They would go on about team composition and timing certain abilities but still consistently lost or had trouble moving up in rank. Having played far more complex and competitive shooters through the years I noticed our losses were more due to bad fundamental skills rather than game knowledge. A lack of communication, not knowing when to push off the advantage, not knowing when to back off the disadvantages and simple things like don’t just funnel in one at a time when their whole teams up. Even when it comes to team composition, just because a composition is strong in the meta doesn’t mean it’s always going to work or be used to its full potential based on who’s playing what. Play around the person, not the hero.

I felt the game was too casual for my taste to play alone and I was only ever getting frustrated playing with friends. I’m not saying I’m the next MLG champ at Overwatch but I know my fundamental with shooters. Regardless of how simple the game and what the meta might be the fundamentals are the most important thing in any shooting game. This is made even more clear when another group of my friends bought me Overwatch as a joke on PS4 for Christmas. All of them that didn’t have PS4s at this point got PS4s for Christmas and Overwatch was the game they decided on over Call of Duty, Battlefield and Titanfall simply because they knew I didn’t like it. A bunch of them already had Overwatch and have now prestiged multiple times. But I and the new PS4 owners went in fresh. They insisted that I would enjoy the game more with them. They were right.

Not only do I have a great time playing with them but I’ve met other friends through playing as well. On top of that, we’re winning more. Why is this? Because they have a strong understanding of the fundamentals of shooting games. We barely have to say when to push and when to back since they are aware of what’s going on. In the moment’s someone does say anything everyone reacts on reflex to what’s said and act accordingly. Sure we still lose our share of games but it’s pretty good for pissing in the wind with half your team drunk off the minds or eating while playing.

Now, this isn’t a PS4 vs Xbox One vs PC thing. This is a don’t take a fun toy too seriously thing. Overwatch is a blast but a lot of people need to accept it’s a very simple casual game at its foundation. Unless you really believe you will be the next MLG pro just have fun and enjoy the game. This kind of extends to all games actually. Overall I really like Overwatch now. I still don’t agree with a lot of what it offers and I do think it cost too much for what they are offering. But if that means we don’t have to pay for future DLC then I’ll live with it. As a game, it’s fun regardless of play style and drunkness. If you have been on the fence regardless of what platform you are on I recommend Overwatch. Even more so if you have chill friends to play with. I won’t be giving Overwatch a rating out of 5 as I would normally do since if I were to break the game down as I do with other games it would end up having a pretty low rating. I feel that would be a bit counter-productive to Overwatch’s overall philosophy. So instead I’ll give it 2 thumbs up and a glass of rum and coke.

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