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.

5 Star-Crossed Lovers in Video Games

Zack and Aerith

Star-Crossed

Video Games – some of them have great and immersive stories and more often than not, there are lovers in these video games that we envy or love; and they earn a special place in our hearts. Not to sound cheesy but, one way or the other, they remind us that love is such a powerful force. Unfortunately, not all love stories have happy endings filled with flowers and dancing-in-the-rain sort of romance. As usual, there are spoilers. So if you read the characters of a game and you know you haven’t played it yet, play them first then come back. I believe that these stories will have more effect if you’ve built a strong relationship with the characters. Without further ado, Here are some of the star-crossed Romeo’s and Juliet’s in video games. Enjoy.

Max Caulfield and Chloe Price

That look : Chloe looking at Max
That look : Chloe looking at Max

Probably one of the most memorable games I’ve played in recent years, Life is Strange. It tells the story of Maxine Caulfield, who discovered that she has the ability to turn back time after seeing her childhood friend, Chloe Price, killed by her annoying spoiled classmate, Nathan from the influential Prescott family. After saving Chloe – through Max’s newly discovered ability – Max opened her powers to Chloe and the pair decided to use it for good. Starting there, the player is brought to a series of breaking in various areas, solving puzzles, and of course, time-reversing moments. All to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Chloe’s friend, Rachel Amber. I won’t reveal who the perpetrator is and jump right to the ending.

Because of Max’s playing around with time, she brought a huge tornado closing in to Arcadia Bay, a fictional coastal city in Oregon. And the only way to save the town is to reverse time to when it all started. At the bathroom where Max saved Chloe using her new ability. It is then the player’s choice to save Arcadia Bay by letting Chloe die or to sacrifice the town to allow Chloe to live.

Life is Strange Max and Chloe
Whichever you path you choose, the pain will still be there…

Remember that philosophical question about which train track would you pass a train: a track with the one you love tied on the path or the other track with multiple people tied on the path? That was how I felt making that decision.

Master Chief and Cortana

Master Chief and Cortana
Master Chief and Cortana

Imagine yourself as a super space soldier, so powerful that even alien species know your name; then, imagine yourself accompanied by a caring, intelligent, and gorgeous woman who is slowly dying. What would you feel? Would the feeling be the same if I told you she’s an Artificial Intelligence?

Meet John-117 aka Master Chief, a Spartan-class commando of the United Nations Space Command, and Cortana, an AI tasked with assisting the Chief through his missions. Playing Halo for all these years, we develop a bond between the two and the player. Which made the events of Halo 4 devastating for the players out there. We can feel Cortana’s feelings for the Chief during the intro and ending of the live-action film, Forward Unto Dawn, which also acted as an introduction to Halo 4. What hurt more was when Cortana, despite ‘decaying’, harnessed all her remaining power to appear as a human-sized version of herself just to feel and kiss Master Chief. Also that part where Cortana sacrificed herself to save the Chief; I don’t know about you but, that hurt like hell.

Cortana confesses
I’ve waited so long to do that…

Ellie and Riley

Ellie and Riley
Ellie and Riley

Oh, Last of Us, we are going to talk about you again. But this time, we will talk about the DLC, Left Behind. It tells the story about Ellie’s flashbacks as she was looking after Joel after he fell on a piece of metal that pierced his flesh during the course of the main game.

Ellie’s flashbacks showed us the story of how she and her best friend, Riley, worked together and survived the harsh world filled with hordes of infected. Along the course of the DLC, we become attached to the pair. They laughed together, helped each other when in danger, but it all reached the climax when Ellie suddenly kissed Riley – Out. Of. Nowhere. Even I was shocked despite anticipating such a reveal. Despite, their sweetness and joy together, the universe didn’t agree. During their struggles in the mall, both of them were bitten and we all know what happens when you’re bitten by an infected. You turn. You become infected yourself. That just what happened.

That's the look when you know it's all going to end...
That’s the look when you know it’s all going to end…

Then, they just decided to just wait it out Instead of committing suicide – enjoy the little time they had together. But, things can get worse. Only Riley turned. Yes, Ellie discovered that she was immune and now she is – incoming pun – left behind. Without Riley…what an ending. Thank you Naughty Dog. Neil Druckman, you…you’re awesome.

Squall Leonhart and Rinoa Heartilly

The graduation ball. Isn't she cute?
The graduation ball. Isn’t she cute?

You must be like, “Final Fantasy…Why am I not surprised?”. Well, unsurprisingly for us, Final Fantasy have some favorable couples in their series. But, we are only going to talk about one pair in particular. If you want to add Ramza and Delita here, be my guest. I was considering them when I was writing this article. *Hysterical laugh* Oh, Ramza. Seriously now, we are going to talk about Squall Leonhart and Rinoa Heartilly from Final Fantasy VIII.

This is probably one of the entries in the franchise that has quite a complicated story that only Whovians can understand right then and there during their first playthrough. Still, we all remember that sweet dance they had during their graduation ball which reminded us of our own Junior Senior Promenades, right? Plus the soundtrack; who didn’t feel something move in their chest every time they hear Eyes on Me play?

Squall and Rinoa
Squall and Rinoa

Even though the couple didn’t exchange I Love You’s, their love for each other is obvious. They even talked in private on where to meet if they lose their way during their last mission against Ultimecia during the big wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff that is the Time Compression Spell. Rinoa also brought out the “sweet and caring” side of Squall who is very serious, introverted, and cold prior to falling for Rinoa.

Wander and Mono

Wander with Mono on the altar
Wander with Mono on the altar

When I first saw the cover and the gameplay video for the Shadow of the Colossus, I prepared myself for the action and the challenge that was waiting for me. What I didn’t expect was the plot twist that was lurking at the end of the game. I did have mixed feelings when confronting the giant creature guardians dwelling in the world; a mixture of “Do I really need to kill these guys?” and “Meh, let the challenge begin, down you go, big fella!”. Little did I know – honestly, I didn’t really know, no idea at all – that I was releasing a demon with each colossus that I defeat. All I knew when I was playing through the game is that, I was reviving my love that I left on the altar at the beginning of the game.

Then, down goes the last colossus. I just released a demon and I acted as a conduit for the big guy. Yes, I did revive my love but, I fell into the depths of darkness.

Wander struggling
Wander struggling

Consumed by what I have been slowly releasing through the course of the game. Unable to at least touch a strand of my love’s hair, hold just a shadow of her now-alive beauty, or hear her angelic soothing voice once more. What struck me then was that the game broke my anticipated happy ending and caught me off-guard with a dramatic ending. You can feel Wander’s desire to be by the sides of her love at the ending when you’re controlling him as he struggle against the darkness that was pulling him away from Mono. And then you’ll feel it was all for naught and a same time feel good for the guy. Whether he knew what he was doing or not, it doesn’t really matter. What we all know is that Wander was willing to do everything to bring Mono back.

There are other star-crossed lovers in a lot of video games out there and these are just some of them. How about you? What video game broke your heart after falling for the couple in the game? Which video game couple made you feel what it’s like to love and be loved? Share with us in the comment section below and let’s talk about love and pain.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor was More, and Less, than Meets the Eye (of Sauron)

Shadow of Mordor

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor was an arcade-style beat-‘em-up in the guise of an open-world adventure game.

The 2014 game, which will be getting a sequel soon, boasted the unique “Nemesis System”, which allowed the game’s orcs to have power struggles, comment on the player’s previous actions, and allow for personalized game experiences.

With the Nemesis System, orcs levelled up with the player. They began at the bottom of the food chain, and as the player advanced time (usually through death), the orcs would beat each other up to gain status and new abilities. If the player were to be killed by an orc and fight them again later, the orc might say, “Didn’t I already kill you?” Or if the player “killed” an orc in a particular battle, the supposedly-dead orc might reappear with a scar or burn mark, ready to take revenge.

Nobody stayed dead in that game, apparently. I mean, the protagonist dies at the beginning. But it’s okay because he’s got a ghost possessing him? But the ghost is an elf? I don’t really remember the details. Anyway.

It was a well-praised system that ultimately acted as window dressing for killing scores of orcs, which, in most games of this type, would all look exactly the same. Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis System gave personality and history to the orcs and their respective clans, driving the player to more meaningful encounters.

Here’s the thing. Shadow of Mordor wasn’t a very deep game.

It had a beautiful, if mostly bland, open world, and some requisite collectibles scattered around. It had some fun with the Lord of the Rings universe, but never reached the heights of the books. It didn’t have a smorgasbord of minigames or filler quests, like an Assassin’s Creed. And it didn’t have a huge cast of fun characters, like the Arkham Games.

If it were a book genre, it would be sword and sorcery, rather than high fantasy. And as a game, I’d sooner call it an arcadey action game rather than an epic adventure game. And that’s great.

Shadow of Mordor came out at the very end of September, 2014. The previous big game was Destiny, which came out at the very beginning of the month. And the next major release wouldn’t be until November, when all the typical AAA releases came out. In short, it was a fairly dry time of the year (assuming you wanted a break from Destiny). Shadow of Mordor was a snack between big meals.

Shadow of War
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15939671592/

And I think there’s a market for that.

A “good enough” game, released in a slow season, to tide players over until the full-course AAAs can come out to play. Shadow of Mordor was a tight game, with fun action, that didn’t try to be more than it needed to.

Not every game needs world-ending stakes and gigantic set pieces and NPCs with filler quests to pad out the game length. I preferred the lean focus of Shadow of Mordor over the bloated Arkham Knight and the stretched-too-thin Assassin’s Creed: Unity. And I could still enjoy the open adventure format that games like Bayonetta didn’t deliver.

With all this said, I’m open for a bigger and better version of this game with Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. Maybe it’ll be the Assassin’s Creed 2 to Shadow Mordor’s Assassin’s Creed 1. Or it’ll just be more arcadey orc-killin’, which would be fine with me. I just really, really hate orcs. Maybe I should talk to someone about that…

Resident Evil 7: Chris Redfield Is Back!

Chris Redfield's new face

Chris Redfield Is Back

Yep, you read the headline right. Chris Redfield is back in the game. Players can once again shoot the zombies on their knees and rush in for a backhand or a haymaker right in the face! Resident Evil 7, the top selling game of last January, will be having its new downloadable content entitled, ‘Not a Hero’. Oh, and heads up! There will be spoilers here. So, if you have not finished the main storyline of the video game yet, please finish it first. Remember, you have been warned. Enjoy!

Meet the new Chris Redfield

After all the released downloadable contents from Capcom that gave us a glimpse of the life of the Bakers, Capcom twitted the following in their official twitter account:

…and they finally answered the question that people has been asking after finishing the main storyline, “Was that really Chris Redfield in the ending of the main game (Resident Evil 7)?”

Still, many of us are still begging for an answer for this one question, how did Chris transform from this:

Chris Redfield before the magical transformation or illness that we are unaware of
Chris Redfield before the magical transformation or illness that we are unaware of

…to this:

Chris Redfield after refusing to continue going to the gym
Chris Redfield after refusing to continue going to the gym

Did he refuse to eat and sleep or did he eat mama Marguerite’s special meal?

Chris Redfield's WTF face
“Do you seriously think I’ll eat Marguerite’s soup of God-knows-what? Dude…”

Chris Redfield will be starring in Resident Evil 7’s latest downloadable content entitled, ‘Not a Hero’. Yep, he will probably have that Solid Snake vibe saying, “I’m no hero, never was”; saying that he’s only hired to do some job. This downloadable content will be out this coming Spring. So, watch out for it, mark your calendars and prepare for more Chris Redfield.

"I'm no hero...never was."
“I’m no hero…never was.”

What will the new DLC be about?

Umbrella helicopter
Yeah, this was a bummer…tell me you were like, “Wait…what?”, just like I was.

There are a lot of speculations as to what the whole downloadable content will be about. Especially now that Capcom hinted in their tweet that Chris will be chasing someone or something. One of the speculations is that, the DLC will feature Chris and his hunt for our beloved Lucas Baker. Yep, the one and only trap-and-party-loving-psychopath-that-blew-a-freaking-cake-for-fun Lucas. A lot of people speculated this because he is the only survivor of the Baker family and Umbrella might want something from him. Which brings us to one more speculation, the DLC will answer the question on how our beloved Chris Redfield become an Umbrella agent. Yes, Umbrella, that pharmaceutical and medical company-slash-organization that started the whole virus thing? I am sure you have heard of them.

The last speculation is the former two combined. Some say that the latest DLC will start from how Chris Redfield became an agent of Umbrella Corporation, to him ending up saving Ethan – and Mia, depending on the player’s choices – from the Bakers, and end with Chris confronting Lucas Baker. If so, we may be subject to another ‘game’ by that crazy, yet brilliant, psychopath.

Mad Chris is Mad
“Get me out of here, Lucas! I swear if I get to you…You piece of – “

Are you excited for “Not a Hero” DLC?

These are just speculations and we can not wait for the release of the downloadable content. Is Chris Redfield now an Umbrella operative? Will Lucas Baker make a grand comeback? What do you think is the significance of the label “Not a Hero”? Tell us what you think in the comments down below and let’s talk.

 

The Smallest Co-op Feature Made These RPGs Amazing

Co-op RPGs

The Smallest Co-op Feature

There aren’t a lot of co-op RPGs out there. I’m not talking about hack-and-slash RPGs or (God forbid) MMOs. I’m talking about games like the old Final Fantasy series—character-driven, turn-based JRPG-style games. But there are two games that will forever spring to mind for me when the subject of co-op RPGs is brought up.

Eternal Sonata and Final Fantasy IX.

Eternal Sonata Co-op RPG
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tadeuviniciusgames/5800392578/

You’ve likely heard of the latter, but Eternal Sonata flew under the radar. Probably for good reason. I mean, the whole thing took place in Chopin’s anime Lolita fantasy fever dream. Yes, that Chopin. And no, I’m not kidding.

For what it was worth, the battle system was intriguing. It was still turn-based, but during the player’s turn, they could control a character and run around the battlefield freely, attacking and casting spells in live action—for a couple seconds, and then it would be the enemy’s turn to run around and attack.

At first glance, Eternal Sonata and Final Fantasy IX might look very different (you know, other than the big heads and insane character designs). But there was one tiny feature that connected them.

The ability to choose a controller for each character.

That one feature turned these typically single-player games into incredible co-op RPG experiences—at least for my friends and me.

Eternal Sonata Co-op RPG Battle
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/unscripted360/968966575/

You could have a separate controller for each of a battle’s three player characters in Eternal Sonata. Yes, you’d still have one player controlling all the running around the world and buying items, but there was enough battle to make everyone sitting down for the whole game worthwhile. And given how batshit loco Eternal Sonata was, you pretty much have to be pulling a Mystery Science Theater on the cutscenes to be able to stomach it. And the best way to do that is through co-op play, so every player is invested in the characters they control.

I didn’t discover that Final Fantasy IX shared the same feature until later.  I already loved the game. But one summer, my roommate and I popped the FFIX PS1 disc into my backwards-compatible PS3. We split the characters between the two of us, and had an absolute blast playing through it.

Solitary experience

RPGs are usually a solitary experience. You absorb the story, fall in love with the characters, and feel a personal connection to the game world. They’re more like books than movies. But playing through Eternal Sonata and FFIX co-op, even if it was just the battles, was a gaming experience I’ll never forget.

FFIX Co-Oop
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alduinx/16558079596/

And it all had to do with one simple feature: allowing you to switch controller inputs for different characters.

Sure, if you wanted, you could pass the controller around. But it’s not the same, is it? It’s not co-op—it’s taking turns in the driver’s seat.

Turn-based RPGs make the feature easy to implement. After all, you’re not actively controlling multiple characters at a time. There is little difference to the game system to have the controller inputs switch for different characters. Especially when you can only control one character at a time anyway.

Indie developers and JRPG remaster…ers take note: adding that tiny feature to turn a single-player RPG into a co-op one makes a big difference to anyone who still enjoys a good couch co-op experience.

Working As Intended? Tabata’s Final Fantasy 15 Decision May Disappoint Fans Of The Game

Final Fantasy 15

Final Fantasy 15

I’ve covered a lot of Final Fantasy in the last few weeks much to my joy and dismay. At the risk of inundating the audience with more news, something came out today that could not be ignored. The news was regarding Final Fantasy 15 and the story decisions. If you have not read a review of the game it can be summed up rather quickly. Most reviewers praise the game for the open world and battle system but take away points due to the obvious missing story elements. The most glaring issues coming via Chapter 13 for reasons I won’t spoil here. The team behind the game have already planned to release DLC to address this. However, the way the story is presented may be working as intended and this decision may disappoint fans of the Final Fantasy 15.

Does Story Telling Really Matter?

Most reviewers praise the game for the open world and battle system but take away points due to the obvious missing story elements.

According to the game’s director, Hajime Tabata, the unexplained nature of the story was intentional. In an interview with Game Informer cited via Novacrystallis, Tabata states that “We didn’t want to create a comprehensive and perfectly balanced story in this game. Instead, we placed importance on the main characters and for the player and Noctis to share the same experience when we tell the story.” If that doesn’t sound like a retcon then I don’t know what does.

Elsewhere in the article he mentions the time and money constraints by the latter half of the game but that doesn’t matter. I’m a long time Final Fantasy fan and this statement alone is egregious. What he just said was that even though the Final Fantasy franchise is known for their deep an intricate story telling that isn’t how I wanted to tell the story. That could have been excusable if the story was or felt complete.

Player’s Don’t Get Exposition For… Reasons?

What he just said was that even though the Final Fantasy franchise is known for their deep an intricate story telling that isn’t how I wanted to tell the story.

The main issue with things happening off screen is that it doesn’t give the players context for the events happening in the actual game. There are moments where if one of the bros are saying something important it got stopped when a battle is engaged. Did that conversation start back up once the battle concluded? No. That meant the player may have missed an important part of exposition that they didn’t realize. That’s not experiencing the game through Noctis’s eyes, that is poor story telling period.

In Final Fantasy games its not unusual to find books or documents that expand on the lore and motivations of characters. It’s not okay that the ONLY way players discover why “X” thing happened is to look in the supplementary documents scattered across the world. The game doesn’t even have a story recap that would keep track of things that may have missed by players. Some of the lore can only be found in the ancillary projects like Brotherhood, Kingsglaive and items in the collector’s edition.

Will This Be The New Direction For Final Fantasy?

I further thought that Final Fantasy would be safe because, regardless of how convoluted the stories can get at times, the stories for all the games were complete.

I have long grown weary of game developers not giving players a complete game and regulating it to DLC. JRPGs should have been safe from this phenomenon because the basis of the genre is story telling. I further thought that Final Fantasy would be safe because, regardless of how convoluted the stories can get at times, the stories for all the games were complete. If this is the trend that SquareEnix wants to start then I want no parts of the “new” Final Fantasy.

What do you think about this news about Final Fantasy 15? Does this news impact your enjoyment of the game? Do you think this direction of story telling is effective? Could this writer be overreacting? All points are valid in this conversation so let us know in the comments below.

Video Games That Tackle Social Issues

Ellie and Riley

Video Games – we all enjoy it. Whether you’re young or old, a student or an employee looking to pass the time with a little fun; we all enjoy video games. It is a means for us, an outlet, to do the things we can not do in real life; to experience the things that is not readily accessible to the most of us. Video games also help us understand different types of people by having diverse and – for some games – very realistic characters. But, not a lot of us see the underlying meanings behind the video games we play and enjoy. The implications hidden behind the realistic graphics, the heart-warming soundtrack, and the innovative gameplay. Here is a list of some of the video games that tackle different social issues. Sit back and let us dwell deeper into the meaning of these well-known video games.

War“This War of Mine” 

Video Games: This War of Mine is a video game about civilians surviving in a war-torn city.
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Let’s start with a very well-known topic – war. We’ve all heard of different stories about war. And war has been a choice of topic or genre by a lot of video games. But, the creators of This War Of Mine, 11 Bit Studios, approached this genre in an innovative and immersive way. In this game, you don’t play as a well-trained-muscle-torn super soldier equipped with a planetary cannon. Here, you play as a civilian caught very deep in the war-devastated fictional city of Pogoren, Graznavia. You will struggle, because ‘gather’ is putting it lightly, for food. Scavenge for medicines or supplies and try your very best not to bump into soldiers or other hungry survivors.

The day and night cycle plays a significant role in the game mechanics. During the day, you’ll be managing your hideout in a very detailed manner; while keeping an eye on that sniper whose not letting you out. When darkness falls, you’ll be sneaking into buildings and areas for supplies; while avoiding being killed by other people seeking means for survival. You will also be making a lot of moral decisions; whether you’ll kill that one annoying person to save the whole group or watch as everyone slowly suffer. Add to that, the beautifully-made charcoal-style aesthetics; and you have a game that will leave you thinking and reflecting about war and its effect on the human soul.

 

Privacy“Watch Dogs 1 and  2″ 

Video Games: Marcus Holloway and the gang
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Have you ever felt like being watched? Like Big Brother is always around you, lurking in the dark, studying and recording your every move? We are living in the age and time of information and the improvement in technology is far from slowing down. Also, the number of people uploading all of their information in the internet is increasing. Which is why black hats are more eager to steal any sensitive information they can get their hands on.

Watch Dogs, is a video game about hackers waging war on the government for manipulating information and invading the privacy of their people. This video game does not really tackle or explain ‘hacking’ in detail; but it shows what hackers can do with the information that the people, themselves, gave out there in the internet. This game is a sweet reminder that internet privacy is sometimes just an illusion to make us feel safe. It also reminds us that the internet is a very dangerous place to be placing all of our information.

 

Social Difference – Multiple Video Games (Witcher SeriesLife is Strange, The Last of Us, other video games)

Video Games: The Witcher
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So what if you have white hair, feline eyes, sterile, and has high resistance, if not immune, to diseases? So what if you have pointy ears and lives longer than humans? We are all living things and we can co-exist if given the chance and consideration.

The Witcher series, which is set in the world of Temeria, is flooded with racism and discrimination. Elves and Dwarves are discriminated for not being human, despite the humans being the invaders of the land. Basically, humans are the foreigners and, yet, they are pushing away and abusing the original inhabitants of the land. Luckily, Geralt, despite being discriminated himself, acts as the median between the two worlds. That of humans and of ‘non-humans’. Geralt does not make any rush decisions when doing a job. He investigates first and looks for a way for both parties to work together. With an exception, there is no consideration to be given for evil-tainted individuals, human or non-human.

Video Games: Life is Strange
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Life is Strange is a video game that takes place in a small town called Arcadia Bay. A place where a lot of things happen. Including alcoholism, bullying, and child abuse. Child abuse being a social issue that’s very rampant nowadays; this video game shows the whole issue in a different perspective. You play the game and see the world through the eyes of a teenager with the ability to control time, Max Caulfield. The game also includes other issues like teenage pregnancy, social anxiety, and brats who think like they are on top of everyone. Max’s story is also a depiction of how it feels like to be bullied for being “not among the famous”. This is a game definitely worth checking out if you want a relaxing soundtrack and a story that is full of twists.

Video Games: Riley and Ellie
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The Last of Us: Left Behind, sparked a controversy when Ellie and Riley hinted quite a number of times about their feelings with each other. We all remember that photobooth scene, right? How about that scene where they dance to a tune and then unknowingly attracted a horde of infected? All of these hints led to one conclusion and a lot of people were shocked. Some related and found themselves in the position of the protagonists in terms of personal identity; some accepted the fact and were happy for the pair; but, for some…they just do not approve of the whole charade. The relationship they have and the characters themselves doesn’t actually raise an issue; but the different ways people responded to the writing of the game, present an issue on sexual discrimination.

There you go. Here are just some of the games that tackle some of the issues we are facing up to this day. There are still a lot of games that depicts issues not mentioned here. If you have played a game with an interesting theme, comment them down below and let’s have a talk. Looking forward to hearing from you!

The Final Fantasy 12 HD Remake Is Coming This Summer

Final Fantasy 12 HD Remake

Final Fantasy 12 HD Remake

Platform: PS4

Release Date: July 11th, 2017

FF12 Ashe
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Full disclosure, I did not finish Final Fantasy 12 (FF12). I can admit as a fan of the series, after Final Fantasy 10 (FF10) I was looking for a certain experience and this game did not do it. It was evident that the battle system and the over world were practice for their Final Fantasy 11 (FF11) MMORPG and I wasn’t trying to be a part of it. I got a healthy way into the story and while it was full of political intrigue something about it didn’t grab me.

This isn’t going to be a bash piece on FF12 but rather an invitation to players who may have missed this game during the PS2 era. Or if you were like me and didn’t give the game the chance it may have deserved and want to give it another try. Square Enix had their Fiinal Fantasy 30th Anniversary event that outlined the different games coming out this year including the release date of FF12. With that out of the way here is some information about the Final Fantasy 12 HD remake that is coming this summer.

Final Fantasy 12 Is An HD Remaster

Vaan and Penelo
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This is a remaster not a remake and that means that the game itself is relatively intact. There are no huge overhauls to the major systems in the game but they did decide to give it a lovely gloss of paint. If this doesn’t impress you check out the trailer they released that can show how the already beautiful game was made even more lovely. This update is also extended to the audio sounds to add more depth to the character’s performances. Some of the lines have been re-recorded to complete the package.

The Bad Ass Judges Are Still Here

FF12 Judges
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There has not been any major changes to the story but here is a brief synopsis. FF12 takes place in the world of Ivalice, (yes that one). The city of Dalmasca was recently occupied by the Archadian Empire leaving it in ruin. Princess Ashe, the heir to the throne who had her wedding crashed, has devoted her life since this take over to liberate her country. On the flip side of that players meet Vaan and Penelo, two street urchins with dreams of becoming sky pirates. Political intrigue complete with Judges ensue as players join these rag tag companions to free their homeland.

The Licensing System Is Getting An Upgrade

final fantasy 12 remake, Zodiac Job system

It’s not a serious upgrade as the gambits and license board are still present. However, they have added the Zodiac Job system which has made the game more like FF10 and possibly harder to break. In the original game all of the license boards were identical while in the remaster each character’s board is different. They have even made it so that every character cannot obtain each Esper which is more traditional for the series.

However, they have added the Zodiac Job system which has made the game more like FF10 and possibly harder to break.

The other big change has to do with the characters limit breaks or Quickening in this game. The characters can only learn 3 of their Quickening licenses with the fourth one disappearing from other boards when achieved. This is something that I will need to explore but this is a different step for the game that could impact the game play in a major way.

There Are Quality Of Life Additions

final fantasy 12 remake, trial mode

The point about the licensing board is major but they have also added some quality of life changes that players will appreciate. They have added a “speed mode” which will quicken movement on the map. The new Trial Mode allows players to take saved characters into 100 battles that test their strategic prowess. This adds an extra element of challenge for players that take a break from the main story or when the adventure is complete. Finally they have added PlayStation trophies, auto saving and shortened load times for more fluidity. It’s apparent that PS2 limitations stopped these changes from happening so it’s good to see it added here.

Are you excited for Final Fantasy 12 HD Remake? Do you plan on picking up the remaster? Will the time that has passed make the game be received better? Let us know in the comments below.

Until Next Time Guys!