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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Elder Scrolls Online Review 2016

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When ESO launched it had its fair share of criticism. I personally really enjoyed it back then but even I have to admit it had its share of bugs and glitches. Goodness was it a mess of a game. I’ve jumped on here and there with little success through the years since it’s launch and noticed steady improvements. I herd more and more from the players about how much better it is now. The overall MMO player base seems to agree for the most part that ESO is one of the better MMOs on the market. I would consider it to be one of the top 3 MMOs on the market right now. The other 2 being World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2.

Elder Scrolls Online has revamped its system since launch. It’s smooth and glitch free. It’s gained a bunch of new expansions with solid and varying gameplay mechanics and lastly with the newest update (One Tamriel) it’s removed the need for your level. Your level is still there it’s just not as important as your gear and your skills. Now like Elder Scrolls games should be you can go and explore any location in the game without worry or limitations. You are free to play with newer or more experienced players now regardless of level, gear or skill.

The game plays smoother and the animations are excellent. My sword swings hit with force. The game falls into and action combat style which I personally don’t like for the most part. I personally prefer the classic tab targeting of old or a slightly more hybrid system like we see in Guild Wars 2. That’s being said this is Elder Scrolls we’re talking about and tab targeting just wouldn’t be right here.

If your are a fan of story, adventure and exploration than this is the game for you. All the quests are voice acted. When I say all of them I mean all of them. They all very in the style and story told. Aside from the main story line there are many side quests you will just walk upon and get swept up in. Some are sad some are funny and some are just harsh wake up calls. You will run into a variety of these by the time you hit level 5.

The dungeon content in ESO is some of the best I’ve seen. I would go as far as saying this is some of the best all around PVE and dungeon content I seen since Tera Online. I’m also saying that from the perspective of a PVP player. You got to go the extra mile to get me to enjoy your PVE. I’m just saying its nice to have dungeons content that is actually hard. It’s exciting and focused. Im worried about every pull and satisfied with every kill. Overall Elder Scrolls Online is killing it in the PVE department.

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They are also doing pretty well in the PVP department. If large scale siege PVP is your thing than this is the game for you. It doesn’t have its equivalent of arena or battlegrounds which I think is a missed opportunity to be honest or at least something they should consider down the line. That being said they nailed large scale alliance PVP. Cyrodiil is what they call the area you battle in for PVP. It is located in the very centre of the the world map and it is a solid chunk of it. If you have played Guild Wars 2s World vs World than it is very similar but imagine instead of 4 large maps you have one giant map called Cyrodiil. I would say when it comes to scale, Cyrodiil is as big as all of GW2s WvW maps put together. The swaying large scale battles are excellent and there is even room for solo and smaller groups to make a difference.

There is a hell of a lot of stuff I didn’t cover like the crime system and duelling and much more but just know this here is a good game that has gone back to its roots. It looks like Elder Scrolls, it plays like Elder Scrolls and most importantly it feels like Elder Scrolls. I’m not going to give this game a rating due to the expansive nature of MMOs, instead. I’ll say this. If you want an active game that you can play with your friends at any time, with an extensive universe and excellent questing, PVE and large scale siege PVP than Elder Scrolls Online is the game for you.

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VOEZ App Game Review

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Coming off the the mess that is Mafia III Rivals last week I thought I should talk about a game that is actually really enjoyable. VOEZ is a game that has quite a decent following of players. There is even an active sub Reddit. It was originally released in Asia with very good reception they decided to port it to the rest of the world

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What is VOEZ? It is a music based rhythm game where you press keys as they fall from the top of the screen to the bottom in sync to the music. Similar to games you have probably played or at least herd of like Rockband and Dance Dance Revolution. Something I noticed and liked right from the start is how absolutely beautifully the app is designed. Other developers need to look at this game and take notes. It has this pleasant melody playing lightly in the background as you open it up. The UI and layout are smartly placed for ease of use and style. The whole app from the loading screen to the gameplay looks beautiful. It’s I game I wouldn’t mind not playing and just watching. There is also some sort of story that seems to be progressing based on how well you play and meeting certain achievements. It’s not something I find myself caring about in this kind of game but from what I can tell it seems to be a pleasant story to unlock.

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VOEZ has a decent amount of tracks that sway more towards Asian pop/techno/happy hardcore/hardstyle type music. If you are looking to jam out to the hottest new Drake track then you are out of luck. I don’t mind it personally, I appreciate all styles of music and the higher bpm tracks in VOEZ make the gameplay come across more intense and enjoyable. There are also slower easier tracks that don’t require as much effort as some of the more focus driven tracks the game offers. The tracks are all given a level. The higher the level the more difficult the track is. Each track falls into 3 different levels at 3 different difficulties for each track. Easy, Hard and Special. Special seem to be the most difficult of the 3. Also don’t forget the difficulty of a track is based on the individual track not an overall system. So all special tracks for instance are not the same level. It’s best for you to find tracks that fall into the difficulty/level that best suits you and work up from there. I find I like hard tracks and I’m at a skill level of about 8–12.

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The game is free to play but you have to pay for the tracks. The currency they use are these bird keys. Each key unlocks one track but I could swear I bought a track that cost me 2 keys once. You are given some keys early on but it kind of ends there. They really want you to pay here and there for tracks. I don’t really like is kind of system for the most part but I get it here. I just wish there was and unlock all tracks option that wasn’t just buying a bunch of keys. Then again this let’s them make more in the long run I guess. I personally don’t find much of this to be a problem since they have implemented a song rotation. Every week another random set of songs will be available to play. And yes I do believe the rotation is random. So you can run into a track you have seen in rotation recently.

To get every single track you would probably have to pay for the top key bundle which is $55 for 55 keys. I personally think it’s a bit steep for a mobile game. That’s pretty much full retail price for a high budget game. I mean the new Doom game is on discount right now for $40. I know they are not similar games but in terms of value I just don’t see the worth of $55 here. That being said I really don’t mind paying for a cheaper bundle just to support the game and and unlock the tracks I like. Personally speaking I don’t like all of the tracks anyways and the rotation still gives you the option to play them all at some point.

Overall I think the games awesome and I highly recommend it. This is the first game I am giving a 5/5 for. Don’t expect many of these, I am usually very hard with my reviews so you got to earn that extra star there to complete the set. I hope other developers have a look at this game and take some notes because they really need it. I also hope that developers of VOEZ continue to support the game and the community stays strong.

Rating: 5/5

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Nintendo Switch Or Ditch?

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Like the rest of the gaming world I was watching with anticipation for today’s announcement of the Nintendo NX system. Over the months to maybe even year we have herd a lot of interesting and not so interesting thing things about the NX. Well today we got our first look at the system and probably even more importantly Nintendo’s target audience for the newly named Switch.

Let’s start with the name, Switch. I personally like it. Makes sense, easy to market, easy for people who are not gamer to understand with little explanation. Kind of the opposite of the Xbox One name. The design of the system and even the logo I find to be catered to a more mature audience. It’s not aqua green or sky blue or apple white, it’s black. Sure down the line after launch or hell in the next few months they might show other color options but them opening with only showing a more grown up black system is a pro in my book. I have not been a Nintendo fan since the Wii. I think the Wii even with its initial success killed more fans than it gained. Nintendo was for a long time a games company for baby’s and man child’s if you ask me. They made more toys than games. the last few generations but it really looks like they are stepping back and getting on track. If this system in done right it can really bring back Nintendo’s street cred and put a solid dent in the competition. I’m talk from mobile android and iOS to PC gaming. Now I repeat, if done right.

The 3 minute ad we saw was pushing a more mature crowd the whole time. It was cheesy as all hell but we got the point. There were no little kids or grandparents in sight. It was hip, it was cool, it was active and it was Nintendo showing us they know their target audience. Which is the around 20 to 40 year olds. This is the group of people who have the most disposable income to spend on things like games. The group of people who are actively playing games. Lastly and most importantly the group of people they alienated the past few generations. Why be niche when you don’t have to be? Nintendo never had to be niche but in the race for innovation that wasn’t needed they forced them selves into a corner of gimmicks. The Switch by design might also be one of these gimmicks, only time will tell. That being said I’m willing to bet on this gimmick.

No ones going to believe me but this modular console portable hybrid was something I thought would be cool as far back as 10 or so years ago. Believe me or not, I don’t really care. (Ok I care a little.) I’m just glad it’s happening because I really do believe this is the future. We are already seeing similar in PC gaming coming from Alienware and Razer’s gaming laptops. Console gaming has always been slow to adopt or innovate for the most part. If anything that’s what I have to give Nintendo credit for. Even though I didn’t like the Wii and what followed, at least they tried something different and new. I think the Switch might be the one that pays off. 3rd times the charm right?

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They seemed to want to show that they are taking 3rd part support seriously here. Unlike the Switch’s slightly slow and dumb older brothers it doesn’t look like it’s trying to be the second support console anymore. The Switch wants to be the one and only console in and outside the house. I’m happy to see the list of supported 3rd party developers supporting the Switch.

Now let me take off my rose tinted glasses and put my devil horns back on and get real with all you guys. Let’s talk about the potential failing of the Nintendo Switch. A lot of this will be guessing and interpretation so nothing is set in stone. My biggest question to Nintendo is, “What else does it do?” Here’s the thing it’s at home and it’s small and cool and hip and plays games, nice nice nice. Then the moment I take it out with me will I only be able to play games on it? I ask this because I’m a grown man and I really don’t have the time for that sort of thing through most days when I am out and about. It’s portable sure but it’s bigger than some tablets the moment you add the mounted controllers or even the external wireless one. So on top of my tablet, phone and maybe even laptop I have to lug the Switch around so I might be able to play Zelda. I don’t see it for myself and a lot of people. People will say it’s for the hardcore gamers which isn’t true since hardcore gamers aren’t out and about playing basket ball and going to rooftop party’s where they pull out games. Hardcore gamers are in dark room, sitting in gaming chairs with giant headphones on gaming. The portability is not for the hardcore. It’s for the casual and the middle of the ground gamers which are the exact same groups of people I don’t think will buy the Switch or take it with them. Excluding kids.

What I’m basically saying is, if it can do more than just game I would really consider replacing my tablet and bring the Switch with me instead. My iPad mini is my main system of choice at the moment for general tasks at home and when out when my laptop isn’t needed or I don’t feel like bringing it with me . It’s what I’m writing this review on as we speak. If I had the Switch and all it did was play games it would not be a difficult choice to leave it at home for my iPad mini. Games are fun but I have work to do. Even if the additional feature of the Switch were just semi decent I would greatly consider or at least try to make it my main system when out. If not it will simply be a wasted feature/gimmick to me and many other people.

Also something I’m going to go over quickly since it’s fairly self explanatory is battery life. If that sucks and it’s only a gaming system than it becomes a paperweight real fast when outside the house. I don’t think battery life will be that good. Based on what I know about lithium ion battery’s and the graphic capabilities this console seems to be trying to push out based on the ad, it’s not going to last long. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was as little as 2 hours of active game time and would be surprised if It can even pull as much as 5 hours. Battery’s suck. The technology hasn’t changed for decades and I doubt Nintendo figured out a new breakthrough while working on the Switch. Again only time will tell, if they can get it to pull at least 4 hours or more I would consider it a win on the Switch’s part.

The Switch being portable also really makes me wonder what it’s packing for power under the hood. I mean it looked pretty good based on the ad they showed and then being able to take it with you and get similar performance when out. That’s quite impressive. Then again the Vita did look amazing for a handheld and that was what 4 years ago? If the graphics even just match the Vitas I would say they have a solid machine on their hands. Chances are it will be better though.

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My next question is about the dock. Is it just a dock or will it also improve the graphic capabilities of the Switch. If it does then amazing, well done, you should be proud. If it doesn’t than well that was a huge lost opportunity on Nintendo’s part. Being a modular system they wouldn’t have had really make the Switch 2. They could just upgrade the power boosting dock with better specks every year or so to keep up with the needs of the developers and games being made. It would also cost the user less vs getting a brand new system every few years. It also allows people to mix and match builds of different specked tablets and docks catering to their individual needs. They could also offer other size options for people willing to have a smaller Switch when on the go but still want the power when at home. Or options in build. Maybe a more chunky solidly built Switch so you can give it to a kid and not worry about them breaking it.

Overall there is potential here in making this the future of all gaming. Which again the ideas was stolen from my ramblings alone in my room back in grade 9. They must have been listen to me through the Wii. Not only was it a horrible console but it also cost me a multi billion dollar idea. It would be worth it if it turns out to be great, which I hope it does. Only time will tell now. I’ll for sure be keeping a close eye on this one and be preorder one the moment it’s available.

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Mafia III Rivals App Game Review

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I’ll just start off by saying I don’t really like this game. It falls into this category of well made toy type games. It makes you have to come back over and over with the sense of reward but the game itself is lacking and ends up just being a variation of rock, paper, scissors. It might be something to do when in line or a short bus ride but there are far better games laying all over the App Store for that. Take away the animations and fancy graphics and all there really is here is rock, paper, scissors with a bigger budget than it needs. I would have much preferred them working on gameplay and making a decent game then pushing it all into graphics and animation. Sure it looks good but it gets boring fast.

You manage your team equipping them with weapons and then going and battling the other families. There is also a Crew vs Crew option but the gameplay itself falls apart. Or a better way of putting it is the lack of gameplay really makes it fall apart. They makes you think there’s a game here but it’s really just a reason to look at your phone every hours or so and tap things. It’s the equivalent of getting a notification and then opening and closing 5 apps and then putting yours phone back in your pocket. That’s pretty much how the game plays out.

There really isn’t any strategy. Just pick a guy to beat up and click all your guys, keep doing that till all the enemies are dead. If a special triggers use is and that’s going to be how 90% of this game plays. I said this before but App Store or touch screen games fall into 2 categories. Toys and games. Most the apps in the App Store are actually toys and that’s fine because that’s what a lot of people want in their mobile games. This game on the other hand barely even falls into that. If you played any semblance of games before than this is going to be a big pass for you. Don’t even bother, save yourself the battery power and time.

I give this game a 2 out of 5. That 2 is for the graphics, animation, and sound. The game itself would be 0.5 out of 5. I really hope other companies don’t try and copy this style of rock, paper, scissors gameplay. It’s because of games like this the larger gaming population looks down on mobile/touch. Make games not garbage.

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2014 Compendium (x-post DarksterMedia Instagram)

2014 Compendium (x-post DarksterMedia Instagram)

I know I don’t really play #Dota2 any more but the #2014 #Compendium was so well done I had to show my support for the Dota 2 #exports scene. It really is amazing how far #valve took this. Love or hate Dota 2 this is something to be proud of as gamers. Go [A]lliance!!! Go Na’Vi!!! #alliance #navi #Darkster #DarksterMedia