Mass Effect Andromeda Is Almost Here And Players Can Try It For 10 Hours

Mass Effect Logo

Platform: PS4, Xbox 1, PC

Release Date: March 21st, 2017

In an effort to continue to grab money from gamers, Mass Effect: Andromeda is close to full retail release. In the meantime if you have the PC version pre-ordered and are subscribed to EA Access, you can play the game for 10 hours. Here are some things that we can see by playing the demo.

This is a BioWare Game So Character Customization Is a Thing

Mass Effect Characters
Image Caption: http://kotaku.com/people-are-ripping-apart-mass-effect-andromedas-animati-1793334047

Players will get to create a male or female version of their “Ryder” character. Unfortunately though, you can only choose the human race as an avatar. The same was true for the first Mass Effect games but I think players were hoping for something different. Speaking of characters, there has been some coverage about the unnatural movements and mo-cap of the human species in the game. The alien races are fine so that doesn’t surprise me. Don’t be taken back by some of the make up choices for the human women especially.

This is a Completely Different Mass Effect story

Mass Effect Crew
Image Caption: https://www.technobuffalo.com/2017/03/15/heres-mass-effect-andromeda-on-pc-vs-ps4-pro-vs-xbox-one-slim/

It should go without saying but this game is not a continuation of the previous Mass Effect trilogy. Starting with a note from Pathfinder Alec Ryder the game is ready for players to immerse themselves in it’s universe. As you progress through the story and get a feel for Ryder, you will notice that even the main character is different from Shepard. They appear more youthful, inexperienced and have more of a personality than the previous iteration. Shepard is still a great character but this one may be different.

To give a bit of back story, Ryder and the crew wake up after being asleep for centuries on the Ark Hyperion to try and find new planets to inhabit. Unfortunately when you wake up its not all sunshine and roses. Players land on a new planet with hostile everything waiting to kill you as a warm welcome.

There Are A Slew Of New Game Mechanics

Mass Effect Combat
Image Caption: https://www.origin.com/usa/en-us/store/mass-effect/mass-effect-andromeda/standard-edition

This game is still a 3rd person shooter and the controls seem to be smoother than before. There are a few notable changes to gleaned. One is that there is no longer a button mapped to put your character into cover. Ryder will hide and crouch almost automatically when you come near certain things in the environment. Players are no longer trapped into one build which promoted multiple play throughs to try different play styles in the previous games. Instead, players can customize their characters to take different skills from categories in their respective skill trees. One last thing I’ll note is the introduction of the dash mechanic which can change the tactical tide of battle. It does have a slight cool down but it can save you from life of death with the better AI of enemies.

The Online Multiplayer Is More of the Same

Mass Effect Online Play
Image Caption: https://www.masseffect.com/

There is no player versus player mode which is normal for the Mass Effect series. However, if you have played games like Rainbow 6 Siege, when you go into Multiplayer mode you can choose different archetypes for battle. Those characters can also be of a different races so that may be the players only opportunity to play something new. There are also loot boxes to buy with in game currency or money for new weapon mods and new characters. The rest is business as usual with new things to be added after the game is released.

Your Demo Progress Transfers Over and All Upcoming DLC Will be Free

Mass Effect Ark
Image Credit: https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/mass-effect-andromeda-trailer-release-date-gameplay/

You read correctly. The demo will save your progress so no time is wasted thank goodness. Bio ware is also doing us a service and will not charge for DLC that most of us probably can’t afford at this point anyway. The DLC schedule hasn’t been released yet but hopefully they will support this game for the long haul.

Are You In?

We only have a week to wait until the games full release and so far the reception appears positive. Have you tried the 10 hour demo and what do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

Let’s Talk About Playing Games As a Career

Career

Thinking in Playing Games As a Career?

I was minding my business coming home from work when my 10 year old nephew told me he had some news. He informed me that he had started a YouTube channel and he wanted me to check it out. I felt my heart began to race due to this turn of events. Yes, I am well aware that this is the era we live but I didn’t think this is where he would be going. My nephew loves games the way that I love games. I am probably the person who got him into playing games as a hobby. But here he was starting a YouTube channel about Bey Blades and Google Play Games. It was then I knew we had to have “the talk” so I said, ” Let’s talk about playing games as a career”

Playing Games As A Career Is Not That Easy

Twitch Logo
Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Twitch_logo.svg

I did mention my nephew was 10 right? Asking about what he wants to do when he grows up is not a far fetched question. Trying to gauge if that future included playing games as a career needed to be put into perspective for a child so I would attempt it. There have been several articles around lately discussing the issues with choosing to live as a video game personality. One such issue is not knowing when to turn off the camera.

“Several said that, starting out, depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation plagued them, all stemming from the nagging fear that fans would forget about their channel as soon as it went off-line.”

A lot of people underestimate the physical toll that streaming on Twitch or YouTube can take on your psyche. When I was explaining to his mother, my sister, I likened it to working on commission. If you don’t work you don’t get paid so having it as a viable career is daunting.

A lot of full time streamers deal with a myriad of things when starting out. In an article posted via Kotaku mentions “Several said that, starting out, depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation plagued them, all stemming from the nagging fear that fans would forget about their channel as soon as it went off-line.” In the era of fads and videos going “viral” one day off line can derail days and weeks of work. That is not healthy in any respect so boundaries need to be set and kept. This is not something she would be able to shirk off when it came to a kid.

The Price of Living The Streamer Dream

Brian Poshybrid Vigneault
Image Caption: http://kotaku.com/in-the-wake-of-marathon-streamers-death-twitch-communi-1792650183

All of this came on the heels of another shake up in the Twitch community. A relatively small streamer named Brian “Poshybrid” Vigneault was conducting a 24 hour charity stream and died after taking a smoke break. This caused a conversation to be had in the streaming community about healthy stream practices. Because let’s be frank, most streamers are not healthy if they play games “all day”. Most streamers start off as regular people who would love to be paid to play games. In the regular scheme of things, a play session can be hours of sitting in front of a screen or monitor only getting up for food or the bathroom. On a day one release most of us don’t even do that.

Most streamers start off as regular people who would love to be paid to play games. In the regular scheme of things, a play session can be hours of sitting in front of a screen or monitor only getting up for food or the bathroom.

There are so many different things that go into choosing to stream or make YouTube videos for a living. I follow a lot of content creators on Twitter so there is constant conversation about YouTube algorithms and missing subscribers. Low views mean less money and that is the commission/entertainment lifestyle in a nut shell. It’s become sad to watch YouTubers that I followed for years become cynical, burnt out and jaded from trying to do what they love which is play games.

Bringing It Full Circle

My nephew is bright eyed and bushy tailed. He has no real idea how any of this could potentially work. In the meantime, I am encouraging him to continue to learn about YouTube while finishing his home work. I am working with my sister to help establish rules so that he is safe while exploring playing games for entertainment. It’s starting early folks, but playing games may not be as fun or easy as we all thought it was.

Do you stream content on YouTube or Twitch? Are you a content creator of any kind? What do you think about playing games as a career? Let us know in the comments section below.

Super Mario RPG: The Mario Game Nintendo Forgot

Super Mario RPG

Super Mario RPG

When Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars came out in March of 1996, I was nine years old. Back then, I went to the video store with my parents and literally judged games by their cover. This game had Mario on the box. I was in.

I didn’t know this particular game was very different from the usual platforming, hop-and-bop gameplay you might expect. For one, it was an isometric game. Yet when I loaded up the save file of whoever played the video store cartridge last, the first thing I did was jump on a goomba. When the game screen wiped into a completely different area that had Mario on one side and the goomba on the other, I knew what kind of game this was.

It was like EarthBound.

Mario at Bowser's Castle
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7279025226/

It was another turn-based game with lots of text (even though Mario never spoke a word) and memorable characters. Developed by Squaresoft (before they merged with Enix and became Square-Enix), it had classic Final Fantasy gameplay with a Mario twist. The game had timed hits and timed blocks. Both Princess Toadstool and Bowser could join your team.

As a kid whose first video game ever was Donkey Kong, and first console game ever was the original Super Mario Bros., this game was insane. The graphics were amazing (for their time), and the world of Mario became so much more than just floating platforms and turtle dragons. There were towns. There were regular people, with regular jobs.

This was a Super Mario World I wanted to live in.

I fell in love with characters like Mallow the cloud prince, and Geno the battle-puppet. I still hum the game’s soundtrack to this day. And the timed hits system was so ahead of its time, when games like Legend of Dragoon came out, it was old hat to me.

So how come very few people seem to remember this game?

Mario RPG World
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/10594718535/

Easy answer? Squaresoft broke away from Nintendo to join the Sony squad. The PlayStation was simply the best console for Final Fantasy VII. So while Nintendo may own Mario and his friends, characters like Geno and Mallow belonged to Square.

In short, these characters would never come back in a Nintendo game. Even after Square-Enix patched things up with Nintendo and started doing the Crystal Chronicles thing, Mario RPG was old news. And we all know how much Nintendo hates their old beloved SNES RPGs.

While we might see it on virtual consoles for Nintendo systems, the franchise has effectively been replaced by Paper Mario and the Mario and Luigi Superstar games. Which, if you ask me, are vastly inferior.

I will not stop clamoring for Geno and Mallow to become Nintendo regulars. Why can’t I punch Mallow’s fluffy face in Smash Bros? Why can’t I blast tennis balls from Geno’s arm rockets? I want my beloved childhood back. In closing, life is unfair. And so is Nintendo.

Why Players Should Appreciate The Diversity In Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Aloy

The Diversity In Horizon Zero Dawn

I’m an African American woman and seeing a lead protagonist that fits in any of those categories is rare in the video game space. At this point in my life, I’m 30, it’s one of those things that I have come to accept. Note, not okay with, but accept as the norm for the genre.

The targeted demographic for video games is normally white, straight men between the ages of 15 to 30. So imagine my surprise and joy that as more games have come out recently that conversation has begun to change. That is where Horizon Zero Dawn comes in and I would like to take a second to appreciate the strides with diversity taken in the game.

The Lead Protagonist In Horizon Is A Woman

Close up of Aloy
image credit: https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/horizon-zero-dawn-ps4/

Aloy, our beautiful red haired wild girl, is the lead protagonist in Horizon. While a lot of games that feature a woman lead tend to focus on her “woman-ness” this game did the exact opposite. It needs to be said more often, but when it comes to diversity people that fit multiple minority groups don’t need it to be explicitly stated in the game or narrative.

Aloy could have easily been Alan and the story would not change that much if at all.

The fact that Aloy is a woman had literally nothing to do with the story. Aloy could have easily been Alan and the story would not change that much if at all. I appreciated that the game normalized Aloy being the lead and female without drawing attention to it in the narrative. Kudos Guerrilla for doing this despite Sony’s initial reservations about the choice.

The Population In Horizon Is Diverse

Horizon Nil
Image Credit: https://www.vg247.com/2017/02/22/horizon-zero-dawn-devs-discuss-lack-of-loading-screens-creating-high-quality-facial-animation-in-new-video/

I’m going to be frank, in a lot of dystopian games it appears like the only survivors of the apocalypse are white. It is rare that I see games take the time to flesh out the world to include other ethnic groups. I’m not going to sit here and say that these companies are racist or other extreme things. But I will say that it is an over sight that has not gone unnoticed.

I’m going to be frank, in a lot of dystopian games it appears like the only survivors of the apocalypse are white.

It may appear like in the years of “PC” culture and people becoming too “sensitive” that we are being inundated with these complaints. I am here to tell you that in the black community we have had these conversations among ourselves and we have them a lot. I am sure that other groups who feel under represented have done the same. So while it may be new to main stream it isn’t new to the rest of us who have to live with this reality every day.

In many of the mediums I consume, black people resemble white people dipped in brown paint.

To add further to this point, all of the character models look beautiful. In many of the mediums I consume, black people resemble white people dipped in brown paint. It’s obvious, it’s lazy and it makes me wish they didn’t bother. That wasn’t the case in Horizon where all of the NPCS Asian, Black, White etc each had a very polished and true to life look. I almost shed a tear when I saw the first black person and their hair. MY GOD THEIR HAIR! Hair, which they almost never get correct, looked as glorious as their skin. Thank you Guerrilla.

The Narrative Doesn’t Fall Into Familiar Stereotypes

Horizon Petra
Image Credit: https://se7en.ws/horizon-zero-dawn-guide-all-main-and-side-quests-where-to-initiate-them-and-how-to-get-the-best-ending/?lang=en

I mentioned it a bit earlier but it needs to be said again. I appreciate that the story did not focus on Aloy being a woman and the issues that women face. There was no talk of her being weaker than a man or even romance options. As a matter of fact I was a bit sad that Aloy didn’t get to choose someone to romance male or female. But that wasn’t the focus of the story to be told here so those aspects did not get any shine. Her sexuality was not on the table at all to the point where any advances made by other characters felt a bit out of place.

Horizon Vlad
image credit: http://n4g.com/news/2021616/horizon-zero-dawn-review-paste-magazine

I also appreciate that there were no separations of the tribes by race. There were things that separated each group to be sure but colorism was not one of them. If you follow the narrative [Spoiler] closely you will find that one of the researchers did a thing to make sure that mistake would not be able to be repeated again. Or at least not repeated in the same way come hell or high water.

It’s all the little thing’s that count with this game so while you might be off having Zelda adventures don’t forget to include Horizon too. Have you explored the world of Horizon? Do you have any thoughts about the diversity in the game? Let us know in the comments below.

EarthBound Inspiration

earthbound

I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that my love of storytelling didn’t come from literature, or even film. Not originally, anyhow. It came from video games.

It bothers me to no end that I have to defend games as a medium. Truthfully, I don’t even like to call them games. I’d sooner call them interactive media or the like, but that just makes me sound like I’m calling porn “adult entertainment.”

I could go on forever about the medium. But I’m here to talk about one game in particular, and how it influenced me growing up.

It was called EarthBound

earthbound screenshot
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/14086391369/

A cult RPG on the Super Nintendo about a thirteen-year-old kid in contemporary America (called “Eagleland” in the game) alongside his best friends, saving the world from cosmic horrors. It’s one of the goofiest, trippiest games to come out of Japan at the time, and that’s saying something.

In a time when most RPGs were sword-and-sorcery fantasy, along comes this game where the hero uses yo-yos and baseball bats, orders pizza from payphones to heal, uses the ATM to get money, sleeps in hotels, travels via buses and bicycles, gets homesick, goes backstage of concerts, and fights hippies, taxicabs, pedophiles, ramblin’ mushrooms, wild ducks, possessed tents, and more. All done to a jazzy, ‘60s-’70s Western pop music inspired soundtrack. You can practically sing the Beatles lyrics along with some of the game’s soundtrack.

All this plus themes of courage and friendship and adventure. It was about leaving home and seeing the world–and not your usual fare of dark forests and magic castles, but of suburbia and big cities and wintery private schools and beachside vacation destinations. Ness, the hero, came from a small house in a suburb with his family. He had a baseball cap and a scruffy dog. He was me. And he had best friends that he saw the world with. This was my On the Road in the 1990s.

EarthBound was the first game that I’d played that was so chock-full of text that I might as well have been reading a pile of books

EarthboundScreen2
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/14273041415/

It had a quirky, but heartfelt story that I fell in love with. And from then on, I needed my games to draw me in with the story and the setting and the characters–a fact that continues to this day. “Fun” is secondary to aesthetic and narrative. I want art and I want story. Games got me drawing and they got me reading and they inspired me to create my own stories.

When I was in grade, oh, four or five, I did one of those reading evaluation things that teachers give you. They told me I read on a college-grade level. I was a quiet kid who had little use for books, but I read more than most book-lovers. After all, the games I loved were filled with words, back before everything was voice-acted. My reading skills came from games.

And EarthBound was the start

Earthbound Screenshot 3
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/14273039595/

It made me want to run away and have adventures. To write screenplays about psychics and mad scientists and aliens invading the suburbs. I wanted to build a house in the woods and listen to the Beatles on the radio all day long. I can think of so many beautiful, iconic moments in this goofy kids’ game that I could make this post go on and on and on.

Ultimately, EarthBound gave my mind a fictional wanderlust. Even though it was a game, it made me appreciate the beauty of the world outside my house. I look at the stars or smell the earth after it rains and I remember this dreamy feeling of wanting to put on my trusty baseball cap, leave home and save the world. Games like EarthBound provided this imaginary escape–the same kind books like Huckleberry Finn would do for readers. It was freedom. And that freedom is why I play games.

5 Reasons Why Players Should Check Out Night In The Woods

night in the woods banner

Night In The Woods

Platform: PC, PS4 Digital

Release Date: February 21st 2017

I have been playing a lot of story intense games over the last few weeks. 2017 has been churning out some real winners at the start of this year. Tales of Berseria has tugged at my heart strings and so has the critical and commercial darling, Horizon Zero Dawn. However, the game that I want to talk about today may have flown under the radar since so many great games have arrived. That game is called Night in the Woods and I present to you 5 things you should know about before you start.

Night in the Woods Is An Adventure Game

Night in the woods adventure
Image Caption: http://www.nightinthewoods.com/

Not an adventure game like Horizon is an adventure game. More like how Broken Age is an adventure game. It’s a side scroll game that has player take the main protagonist Mae through her hick town. Just about everything can be interacted with but may only open up once you reach certain parts of the story. It has been great searching around the town to see what new things you can reach. I make sure to travel everywhere before I make any major commitments to see what pieces of dialogue I may uncover. Mae is able to climb on wires and roofs of buildings so make sure to look around.

It’s a Grown Up Zootopia

night in the woods dialogue
Image Caption: http://www.nightinthewoods.com/

Or Daria for the new millennium whichever you prefer. Even though the characters are animals the commentary is surely not cutesy at all. The dialogue tackles some serious issues like being a college drop out, failing to meet parental expectations, bad break ups etc. You name it and its in here. The dialogue is smart, witty and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Even if all the plot points don’t resonate with you I’m sure someone in town will.

There Is Also Rhythm Game Play Involved

night in the woods mini game
image credit: http://kotaku.com/night-in-the-woods-rhythm-game-is-on-point-1792633078

Did I mention that the Mae was in a band before she came back from school? Well she was and her friends are psyched to bring her back into the fold. I wasn’t prepared to be thrown into a rhythm game where you needed to coordinate 3 buttons. And unfortunately I don’t believe the difficulty can be adjusted for it. There is no real penalty for failing but I’m sure there is a trophy for being successful.

The Possum Springs Is A Town Is Full of Personality

night in the woods town
Image Caption: http://www.nightinthewoods.com/

I’m not from a small town but I could imagine if I was everyone would know your name. In this town everyone does know your character which is refreshing because of their dialogue. They also have distinct personalities so u may find yourself liking the townsfolk better than Bea. I especially enjoy the bear who writes poems or the penguin right next to her that has nothing but asshole stuff to say to you every day. Mae also has a computer that you can use to interact with your friends which gives a real sense of immersion.

There Is A Mystery Afoot

night in the woods mystery
Image Caption: http://www.nightinthewoods.com/

From the very beginning of the game there is an a sense that before Mae left something went down. Some of the towns people mention it but they don’t ignore you because of it. The main character herself makes it seems like it’s something that shouldn’t be talked about it. At some point this comes to the forefront so you will be thrust into that part of the adventure as well.

I am totally in love with this game and cannot wait to see how it all ends and the relationships I build. Have you checked out this game? What have you discovered? Do you play adventure games? Let us know in the comments below.

Video Games With Unique and Innovative Gameplay Mechanics

With the beautiful games being released this past few weeks, we can’t help but wonder if they will also capture us with their gameplay or detach us from the immersion that the game’s graphics or story gives us. Most of these upcoming games are overly hyped and we don’t want another, for a lack of better word, disappointment. No man wants to see a sky of unfulfilled promises – I know, not the best wordplay out there. Heads up! Minimal spoilers ahead. I did my best to keep all the spoilers to the least while keeping the integrity of the explanation about the video games with innovative – or unique – gameplay. Here are video games that got us hooked with their gameplay. These games are not rated on which is the best; this is an unsorted list. *wink* Enjoy!

Superhot

Unique Gameplay. Simplicity truly is beauty
Simplicity truly is beauty

Minimalist graphics? Check. Challenging levels? Check. Innovative and easy-to-learn gameplay? You guessed it – Check. Meet Piotr Iwanicki, the game designer of one of the best examples of indie-done-right video games. And, no, I will not try to pronounce his name. Superhot started out as an entry in a 7-Day First Person Shooter game jam back in August 2013. It was then greeted with a lot of praise from gamers and critics alike. Finally, released into a full-blown game back in 2016, thanks to crowd-funding and a lot of great publicity.

The gameplay can be explained in one sentence and the developers did just that stating that, “SUPERHOT is the first person shooter where time moves only when you move.” – You can’t explain it any simpler than that. Yes, time stops when you do; you can see the bullets mid-air, you can stop playing and go do something else, and you can smack people in the head then take their weapons, which you can also see fly up in the air as the enemy falls to the ground. This unique gameplay truly makes you feel like Rambo or Jack Bauer, a hero to save the day. Well, not in 24 hours or less, because you will be playing this game for dayz just to get through the challenges.

Papers, Please

It's fun, you have my word.
It’s fun, you have my word.

Have you experienced travelling to another country? Did you ever wonder how the immigration officers do their jobs? If the thought crossed your mind, I suggest grabbing a copy of Papers, Please, a game made by Lucas Pope. He was a developer from Naughty Dog, the studio behind the award-winning video game series, Uncharted. He made this game with a thought in his mind that video games are a form of art.

In Papers, Please, you get to play as an immigration officer and you’ll get to experience how to stand on the other side of the window in the immigration office. The graphics for the game is simple, but the gameplay is unique. It starts simple, some basic rules will be laid out for you to follow. And these rules will be the basis  whether an applicant can pass through or not. Then as each day in the game progresses, new rules or requirements will be presented: additional paperworks will need to be verified, new tools will be introduced in order to asses the immigrant, and other additional actions which is very similar to how immigration really works. After playing this, you might think twice before unleashing your rage in the immigration office.

Monument Valley

The title doesn't spell "Challenging", right? Wrong.
The title doesn’t spell “Challenging”, right? Wrong.

Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles. We all thought that video game puzzles will always be the same: you will encounter an obstacle, then you’ll be asked to find certain objects or pieces then place them in or on a specific place, you’ll be asked to draw a line going from a point around the obstacle and to a certain end point, et cetera. Then Monument Valley came into the picture and it came in with a bang. With multiple awards, citations, commendations, and praises, this video game sets a mark for the next generation of more challenging and innovative puzzle games.

I’m pretty sure you’ve seen or at least heard of impossible objects. Those objects that we perceive as physically impossible or, at least, bothering. Monument Valley used it as the main gameplay mechanic of the game. The players are asked to control a silent protagonist, a princess named Ida through  various levels of optical illusions. You might be thinking that it’s simple, you just need to get through the whole “illusion” of the stage. Nope. There will also be tiny objectives like, activators, bridges, pathwalks, etc. that you need to activate and manipulate in order to get through the stage. If you’re the type of gamer who likes some excruciating mental challenge, you might want to give this one a shot. Thank me later.

The Elegy for a Dead World

Oh, writing. The act of materializing the wonders of the human mind – the adventures, wishes, dreams, visions, and other abstract or philosophical constructs of the human mind. This is what Dejobaan Games, the developers of the Elegy for a Dead World, used as their main gameplay mechanic.

You are a traveler whose ship was broken and who is tasked to record the history of the planets around you. The gameplay is pretty simple, you get to choose from three planets where you want to write about first. Then, you can start with a certain premise of the world or you can go wild with your imagination with the free writing option. This video game is now being used as a tool for teaching English as a second language or ESL in various schools and universities around the world. This shows that video games can be more than just a ‘game’.

Valkyria Chronicles

You will cry. Trust me.
The 7th platoon of the Gallian Militia

This video game is one of the games I’ve played (and anime I’ve watched) that delivers great story with astonishing twists, relatable characters, and an immersive gameplay. Valkyria Chronicles is brought to you by the developers of Sonic. Yes, that’s right – Sega.

Like most RPG/JRPG, character development is embedded in the core gameplay of Valkyria Chronicles. But, what makes this game unique is its turn-based battle system called BLiTZ or Battle of Live Tactical Zones. I know, sounds awesome, right? Well, that’s because it is. This battle system is composed of three parts or modes. The Command Mode, the Action Mode, and the Target Mode.

The first one puts you in an overhead map of the battlefield. This is the time when you can learn of the enemies’ whereabouts and plan where to position your units and where to strike. Then, you can select a unit to control, which brings the player to Action Mode. While in the Action Mode, you can control your character like a normal third-person shooter. Movement costs Action Points which varies for each of your units on the field. Lastly, when you’re finished positioning your units, you can enter the Target Mode. In this mode, the player has control of the unit’s aim, but you can’t move. This allows for headshots and other awesome kills.

During the player’s turn, each action – whether the control of multiple units or the same unit consecutively – depletes his/her Command Points. There are also different classes of characters to experiment with. The environment also affects the flow of the combat. Snipers can take the higher grounds for a vantage point, tanks can knock down walls, and many more.

This game is truly worth the try. But, I suggest watching the anime first.

Other Video Games with Unique Gameplay

  • Patapon – because of using different notes and rhythms for attack, defend, run, etc.
  • Her Story – because of using video footages of a real person
  • Portal – Handheld Portal Device
  • Eternal Darkness – due to the Sanity meter
  • Shadow of Mordor – Nemesis System, enemies remember you and yes – creepy.
  • Katamari – cute anarchy

These are just some of the games that I’ve played that I think has an innovative gameplay. How about you? Have you played a video game with a very unique gameplay that got you immersed for hours? Tell us in the comments down below. We like to hear more games that exhibits innovation.

Show, Don’t Tell: Horizon: Zero Dawn vs. Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Horizon Zero Dawn Logo

Zero Dawn vs. Zelda

I’m having a lot of fun with Horizon: Zero Dawn, and I am also a big fan of game narrative, but sometimes there are just too many words. Today I’m going to compare the design styles of the new Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the aforementioned Horizon. Specifically, how they use (or don’t use) voiced narration to lead the player.

In the first few minutes of Horizon: Zero Dawn’s gameplay, the protagonist, Aloy, points out what’s going on in the environment. Verbally. Even though there’s no one around to hear her. You could argue that you’re hearing her “thoughts,” or that she’s talking to herself because she’s scared, but neither case is a good excuse.

The player simply doesn’t need to hear it

Horizon Zero Dawn game
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/32545636372/

Aloy will describe her surroundings, talk about what she should be doing next, talk about what she just did, and ultimately treats the player like a blind person with short-term memory loss. It’s as though the writer wrote a book and adapted it verbatim for the game, cutting out the he-saids and she-saids and leaving everything else.

Again, I love game narrative. I think games are a powerful storytelling medium. But just because a game can have more words written or lines spoken, certainly doesn’t mean it should. Ideally, the player should be able to play the game with the volume and subtitles off, using only art and design cues to figure out what to do next.

Look at Breath of the Wild. While it’s a longstanding tradition for Link to not speak, many Zelda games since Ocarina of Time gave the player a talking companion who points out everything you need to know. Navi, Midna, the… blue person from Skyward Sword whose name I forget. They all helped lead the player without needing Link to speak a word.

But in Breath of the Wild, like the original Zelda games of yore, has no quest-long companion jabbering in Link’s pointy ear. The game simply trusts the player to figure things out on their own.

This is the ideal design

Image retrieved from Nintendo.com

The ironic part is that Zelda is a game for kids and adults alike on a Nintendo platform that facilitates new gamers. Horizon: Zero Dawn is rated T for teen, and requires the player to use a PS4 controller and its dual-analog configuration that new gamers struggle with.

In essence, Horizon: Zero Dawn holds the player’s hand despite there being very little chance that the player is someone new at games, while Breath of the Wild trusts the player to figure things out without someone yapping at them the whole time.

It’s easy to look at games like Horizon: Zero Dawn as the way of the future and games like Zelda to be relics of the past. But with these two game releases, both at nearly the same time, the “relic” has shown itself to be much more comfortable as a game. And future designers—especially narrative designers—should take note.

Good For The Culture? NieR Automata Allows For Players To Buy PSN Trophies

PSN Trophies

NieR Automata is only a few more weeks away and it seems like there is always something not game play related about it in the news. It was recently reported that players could get a trophy for upskirting the main protagonist 2B among other things. Over the past few days there have been rumblings that something else was going to go on with the trophies for the game. That something was allowing for players to buy their way to a platinum trophy. The question is will that decision be good for the culture of gaming?

How Does “Buying” Trophies Work?

Since this game is not “pay to win”, players cannot buy gold packages outside of the game and must earn it in game by playing.

nier logo
image credit: http://www.gamespot.com/videos/nier-automata-debut-gameplay-trailer/2300-6427948/

According to reports, a reddit user has uncovered that in Japan players can buy trophies using in game currency. Since this game is not “pay to win”, players cannot buy gold packages outside of the game and must earn it in game by playing. The other caveat is that players must also be on their third play through of the game before being able to buy trophies at all. The game boast having multiple endings so for many players getting to a 3rd replay is a possible option.

What Could It Mean For Gaming Culture?

Gaming Culture trophies

We know that gamers are older so trophy hunting is more a battle of time and attrition. If you check PSN profiles and see some of the “seemingly” impossible trophies that players earn one can only stand in awe. Since the inception of trophies, or achievements on Xbox, it was evident that with every platinum that these players were going above and beyond the call of duty. See what I did there?

Will the game have a trophy that let’s other players know you “brought” your way to a platinum?

My concern is that the ability to buy your way to a platinum can start a disturbing trend. Could trophy buying be something adopted by a lot of games including main stream games? Will it call into question every platinum that is earned for this game? Should the game have a trophy that let’s other players know you “brought” your way to a platinum? I checked Playstation Profiles and according to their list there is no such trophy for the game.

Go Platinum or Go Home

Trophies
Image Credit: http://www.nextgenupdate.com/forums/ps3-trophies-game-saves/730149-900-ps3-platinum-trophy-folders-free-cfw-ps3-required.html

Full disclosure, I do not go for platinum trophies. I have one on my PSN profile that I was not actively trying to get. I stumbled across it by accident when I was playing a game that most might not consider worth a platinum. If the trophy doesn’t come during a regular play through then 9/10 I’m not going to have it. That doesn’t stop me from admiring those players that put their time and effort into beating content. Some may think it is more fair for the working/tired adult but it seems to undermine the challenge.

What do you think about “buying” trophies? Do you think it’s fair if players are on subsequent play through? Are you a trophy hunter and have thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.

Twitch The Place to Stream Games And Soon To Buy?

Twitch Logo

I was reading my Twitter feed a few days ago when a streamer announced that viewers could download Banner Saga for free. Since I’m a console gamer, I had a feeling that this initiative would not apply to me but to PC gamers. I was sad to see that I wouldn’t be included in this deal but a part of me wondered how and why they were doing such a promotion. Fast forward a few days later, the news breaks that Twitch will allow for viewers to purchase games straight off the stream. This is a shocking turn of events! Let’s get into the logistics of how Twitch is now becoming a place to stream and buy games.

To Buy On Twitch Or Not To Buy On Twitch?

“Said streamer will get five percent of the sale, with the buyer netting themselves RANDOMIZED Twitch Crates which include exclusive emotes and chat badges among other things.”

Twitch Buy Button
Image Caption: http://www.pcgamer.com/twitch-to-sell-games-in-streamer-supported-initiative-this-spring/

In an article by PC Gamer the “whys” of the Twitch initiative became clear. This new program was being introduced as a way to “support” streamers trying to make their Twitch career goals come true. Sometime this spring, no concrete dates were given, a “Buy Now” button will appear below a stream allowing for viewers to purchase the game they are viewing. PC Gamer reports “Said streamer will get five percent of the sale, with the buyer netting themselves randomized Twitch Crates which include exclusive emotes and chat badges among other things.” Or in other words, player loot boxes ala Overwatch or MOBAs.

How will the players get the games? Not through game keys but through existing services that will be linked to the viewers Twitch account. There is already a partnership with Twitch Prime that allows for players to receive free promotional games so it will probably work through that. There are also several developers on board for this initiative like Ubisoft, Telltale Games and Double Fine. The notable absences are Riot and Valve which, if you frequent Twitch know, dominate the directory with League of Legends and Dota 2 respectively.

Better For The Streamer Or Consumer?

On the other hand, as I understand this is a business, streamers already ask for follows and subscribers so this seems like another thing to “sell” to viewers while watching.

games on TwitchSo this is where my thoughts come into the mix. On one hand, if viewers were thinking of buying the game anyway this is probably a good thing. This would be a one stop shop to get everything you want without needing to change too many tabs and help out a streamers you many like. On the other hand, streamers already ask for follows and subscribers so this seems like another thing to “sell” to viewers while watching. At times I just want to hear the streamer talk about the game or gauge their reactions not feel like I’m watching QVC. Hopefully they will be able to find a balance.

What do you guys think? Is buying your games on Twitch something you never knew you wanted? Is this a bad idea? Let us know in the comments section below.