Big Additions Arrive in Final Fantasy 14 Patch 3.5

Patch 3.5

For anyone unaware, Square Enix has made another Final Fantasy MMORPG called Final Fantasy 14 (FF14). The game had a horrible start but has redeemed itself in the eyes of the community with the release of A Realm Reborn. FF14 is on the verge of it’s next expansion StormBlood which will be released on June 20th, 2017. While we are waiting for the end of the current expansion, Heavensward, players have Patch 3.5 The Far Edge of Fate to hold us over.

Quality of Life Changes Rule the Patch

Cross Server Party Finder Changes the Game

Cross Party Finder Interface
image retrieved from FF14Lodestone. Cross Server Party Finder Interface

I was going to start with the new raids that were introduced but that would be doing a disservice to the HUGE quality of life (QOL) changes we got this patch. The first, and biggest game changer was the implementation of the Cross Server Party Finder. Most of the instanced dungeons help players find companions across the data centers via Duty Finder (DF) to complete content. A few patches ago they added the Raid Finder (RF) for the 8 man raids, Alexander, and extreme Primal/Eikon fights, Sophia, Zurvan, Niddhog, etc. That was a great addition but it was not stopping the frequent server migration that started in Patch 3.1 of players looking for more people to “play” with.

The main reason why this is important is because the old school Party Finder (PF) allowed for players to form groups to enter content. If a player was on a smaller server the likelihood of finding other like minded players was very slim. Even my mid to smallish server of Brynhildr on Primal Data Center had 5 to 8 PF groups up nightly during peak times. Since the patch, released Tuesday, the PF groups have jumped up to 30 or 50 because it reaches across the whole data center. There are some other elements that go with it so you can read up on that in the linked patch notes.

GPose Filter
image retrieved from FF14Lodestone Filters Galore

Group Pose Gets Some Upgrades

For the photographers in game, they added and expanded the group pose camera options. Players can now changed the lighting, add effects, filters etc to their photos. Players can also take close up shots and get their favorite NPCs in on the picture. I don’t take many in game shots but it was cool to see added.

Egi Glamours Are Finally Released

Egi Glamours
image retrieved from FF14 Lodestone Carbuncle Pet introducing Ruby Color

One of the last things I will highlight is the implementation of Egi-Glamours for the Summoner Job. Egi’s are the FF14 version of pets. The players have been requesting this since the beginning of Heavensward so now the pets can return to their Carbuncle forms.

What Playable Content Was Added?

New Main Story Quests

Yda
Image retrieved from FF14 Lodestone Scion Yda in her Pugilist/Monk Glory

The end of the Heavensward conflict occurred in patch 3.4 so the game is moving us into the new expansion scenario. The main story quest (MSQ) will be told in two parts and players get to experience the first this patch. The campaign lasts for about an hour if players don’t skip the cut scenes and speak to all the NPCs around each quest marker, which I encourage. A lot of things were revealed but it does end on a satisfying cliffhanger.

Conclusion of 24 Man Raid, Dun Scaith

Diabolos
image retrieved from FF14 Lodestone Diabolos the Main Antagonist of the 24 Main Raid

Players will also get the conclusion of the 24 man dungeon scenario with Dun Scaith. The dungeon can be a bit challenging to players learning the mechanics but once you figure it out its only a matter of execution. The biggest hurdle is getting the other 23 players to cooperate and follow directions. The dungeon is stylish and has a Alice in Wonderland vibe that I’m sure everyone will appreciate. The reward for the dungeon is new armor and the i270 upgrade token for Scripture Tome gear. As a quick fan service bit, head to the Gold Saucer once you finish the dungeon and you might see some familiar faces.

New Dungeons Baelsar’s Wall and Sohm Al Hard Mode

Baelsar's Wall
Image retrieved from FF14 Lodestone Baelsar’s Wall
Sohm Al HM
Image retrieved from FF14 Lodestone Sohm Al Hard Mode

The next pieces of content were the two new dungeons, Sohm Al hard mode and Baelsar’s Wall. The latter is a part of the MSQ so players have to complete it before it is unlocked. The former can be found via Moogle NPC in Idyllshire hub. Both of these dungeons were great to trek through and the monsters within hit hard. My favorite would have to be Baelsar’s Wall because of the lore attached to it and the final boss.

Face The Demon, Zurvan of the Warring Triad

Zurvan the Demon
image retrieved from FF14 Lodestone. Zurvan the Demon

Players will also get the conclusion of the Warring Triad storyline by facing Zurvan the Demon. Zurvan is the final Eikon of the Triad after Sephirot and Sophia. Players will find out where the mysterious boy came from and the identity of his master. I must say I wasn’t expecting the story to end quite the way it did but it was an awesome adventure along the way. The story battle itself was a bit challenging but nothing players can’t tackle with some practice. Once the story is complete, players will be able to challenge the extreme version of Zurvan.

PVP Event Based on Japanese Show, GARO

PVP Gear
Image retrieved from FF14 Lodestone. PVP GARO gear.

The last piece of content is the new Player versus Player (PVP) event based on a Japanese show called Garo. Think Power Rangers and you will be on the right track.  The event allows for players to receive unique titles, class/job specific gear and mounts. FF14 is a more Player versus Enemy (PVE) styled game so PVP participation was low at best. This event has given PVP some life to help with the cue times. Another QOL that helped with this event is the ability to cue without worrying about your Grand Company (GC) Affiliation. Players chose their GC at the beginning of the game and PVP was locked behind it until now which made cues long and unbearable.

Get Ready to Jump In

All in all, this patch is a great time for returning and new players to jump in. There are so many more things I could have highlighted so read over the patch notes if you’re interested. There is more content to hold us over until the next patch and enough incentive for players to catch up to end game. I was very satisfied with how everything turned out and I am craving more which is always good.

Have you played FF14? Have you player other MMOs? Does this patch sound like the game is progressing positively? Let me know in the comments below.

 

RUMOR ALERT: Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls VI Project on the Horizon?

Bethesda's Elder Scrolls VI Project

Has The Time Come for The Next Chapter in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls Franchise?

It’s 2017 already. Thus, marks the beginning of year 6 since the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been released. Although, sure…you can argue and say the October 2016 release of the remastered version of Skyrim for the next-gen consoles and PC counts. But, it’s not the release we really were excited for. Bethesda for the most part have been hush-hush on opening coming out and saying the Elder Scrolls VI project is in the works. But, just because they haven’t said it doesn’t mean they haven’t been hard at work on it.

It’s clear that Bethesda doesn’t need to follow the popular trends to be successful. They’ve paved their own path to success and it continues to work well in their favor. They’re never in a rush to release sequels to popular games. Unlike, some other companies. I’ll leave names out of it but they know who you are (Hint…Call of Duty).

Bethesda aims to please. They strive to create the best possible game no matter the time is takes to do it. Just look at the gaps in years between sequels of some of their games; Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion to Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim took 5 years. Dishonored to Dishonored 2 took 4 years. Fallout 3 to Fallout 4 took 7 years. Shall I go on?

Time means very little to the developers at Bethesda. However, is anyone complaining? The results speak for themselves. ($750 million in sales for one day during the release of Fallout 4)

Official Unofficial Hints

Being completely direct, in an IGN interviews with Studio Head Todd Howard after 2016’s E3 conference, Howard said that Bethesda will be making a new Elder Scrolls game. I know—lets the cheers rain down!

However, that’s about all that has been official when talking about the next instalment of the Elder Scrolls franchise. Howard never said Bethesda was currently working on the game current though. Which, for a lot of us sounds like more waiting. Sadly, that’s the truth. But just how far away are we from getting our next fix of the Elder Scrolls?

The Waiting Game

It’s safe to say that none of us shall expect another Elder Scrolls game in the next couple of years. Studio Head of Bethesda, Todd Howard, has said that the Elder Scrolls VI development is “very long off” from any kind of release. As you may already know, the Elder Scrolls huge world design is not a simple feat to accomplish. Especially now that the next-gen consoles have introduced the stunning 4K formatting.

Bethesda has stated after Dishonored 2 dropped in late 2016, that they’re working on 2 huge projects that much like the size of Skyrim and Fallout 4. These 2 games will  be released before the Elder Scrolls VI project will be.

If Skyrim was any indication of how advanced Bethesda is looking to expand and improve-on means, we could be getting next-level pioneering in effects and gameplay as a result! You know…when it does come out.

The Conclusion

As for me, all I can say is it’s going to be a journey to its release. I don’t expect to TES6 to be released until 2019 at the earliest. Maybe at 2017’s or 2018’s E3 Conference we’ll finally be told much more about the future of Elder Scrolls VI. Until then, keep playing gamers.

10 Characters that Need to Be in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

Marvel vs. Capcom

Which Of Our Favorite Heroes Will Find Themselves in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite?

Who didn’t at some point want to be a superhero? Think about it– you get an awesome ability like super-strength, you most undoubtable get a sweet signature super suit, and the best part is that iconic superhero name that your fans will shout when they need you most. Well…as much as we’d like to hope someday our dream of superhero stardom will happen, the closest thing for now that a nice consolation prize are movies and video games. 2017 marks the return of the fan favorite series of games from Marvel and Capcom in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.

 Exclusively for the next-gen consoles, as well as PC, you’re given the chance to battle with and against some of the best superhero and villains in the Marvel and Capcom universes. With its late 2017 release date, the entire list of characters has yet to be named. Leaving much speculation as to which characters will fill the slots. Already confirmed characters, from Marvel you have Captain Marvel, Iron Man, & Captain America. From Capcom, you have Ryu, Mega Man X, & Morrigan.

So, as you can see there are a lot of openings for the cast.  To make things just a bit more fun, here are 10 characters that need to be in the Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.

Quake (Marvel)

Quake (Marvel)

 

Made even more popular by Chloe Bennett’s portrayal of Daisy Johnson (Quake) in the ABC hit show, Agents of Shield, Quake would make an excellent break from the over popularized heroes like Hulk, and Captain America. Because of her ability to generate seismic activities, like a focused earthquake, Quake is seriously more powerful than she’s given credit for.

Imagine her blocking with such force that the waves attack back into her attacker. That’s what you’d expect if she gets casted. You can’t tell me her offense and defense isn’t something you like use to your advantage in this game.

Frank West (Capcom)

Frank West (Capcom)

Fans of the super addicting videogame series Dead Rising know this character all too well. The photojournalist turned zombie hunter would add a much needed “badass” element. You know, in case there probably wasn’t enough already.

He’s incredible strong being a former wrestler. He’s the loose cannon that we all love to hate. Finally, he’ll bring his baseball bat with him and be sure to document his entire beating of his opponent. Check the papers.

Dante (Capcom)

Dante (Capcom)

 

Speaking of badasses, none are more prevalent for Capcom then Dante from the Devil May Cry video game. I mean, just look at him. He’s unbelievably cocky, I’m sure if he was real he’s tell you himself too. He fits the combat heavy action game like no other.

Dante is a master when it comes to weapons. Either guns to sword wielding. Also, he has demonic abilities thanks to his father’s lineage of ancient demons. Dante’s has sliced-and-diced demons like they were nothing. He’s confidence will not be an issue to win any battle, including in this game.

Hellstorm (Marvel)

Hellstorm (Marvel)

The Son of Satan has always been a questionable character for Marvel. Simply because from his creation in the comic Ghost Rider (1973), Daimon Hellstrom was for all sakes a good guy; Despite being part demon (spoilers: his father is Mephisto). However, he’s flipped sides many times to fit his own desires.

Hellstorm, thanks to his dark soul, Trident of Hell, and his epic carriage of hell horses he uses to travel, makes for an exciting NEW character we can all enjoy. Hellstorm is immensely powerful in his realm. In addition, he can do any type of magic (like flight, and time travel). Also, he can wield fire with ease. Most of all, his Hell Fire move can cripple the life force of any enemy. Sounds like a great choice to me!

Cable (Marvel)

Cable (Marvel)

The son of Cyclops (Scott Summers), was sent 2,000 years into the future to be protected from harm. He returned as a techno-organic warrior (infected by tech virus) who mastered his powers of telekinesis and telepathy. Like that of his mother, a clone of Jean Grey.

He packs some serious power, especially in his future weapons. Like his gun for example.  Cable has fought Wolverine to a draw. In addition, he had beaten Iron Man, Red Hulk, and Falcon, all while being inches from death from his virus. Seems like power and skill are of no small value here. Cable can send this game into the future with an appearance.

Blanka (Capcom)

Blanka (Capcom)

Shout out to all the 90’s kiddies here. His first appearance in 1991’s Street Fight II (Capcom), launched him into fans hearts. Easily a favorite of anyone who’s a fan of the Street Fighter classics.

Blanka is seriously one of the craziest and wildest characters around. He can be chalked up in one word, INSANE. However, he’s not as technically sound as fighters like Ryu. Blanka relies heavily on brute instincts. Therefore, he’s not shy about uncontrolled attacks out of left field. Oh, did I forget to mention he can also emit huge amounts of electricity? Of course, not naturally but still is quite the skill. Having him involved in this game would lead to some insane showdowns. Capcom needs to bring him back.

Moon Knight (Marvel)

Moon Knight (Marvel)

Stumbling upon an archeologic dig, Spector was inches from death where his life gets restored if he becomes the avatar for the god Khonshu. After that, he had dawned Khonshu’s silver clock and became Moon Knight. His powers (super strength, durability, speed) are depended on the intensity of the moon phases

Moon Knight, Marc Spector, has the kind of background made for fighting games. He’s been a former Heavyweight Boxer (200+ lbs. division), a United States Marine, and even a mercenary after his service. Most noteworthy, he’s a master at hand-to-hand combat fighting. Also, he’s been said to be even more athletic than most Olympians. Let’s hope Marvel gives the Moon Knight a much overdue appearance.

Chun-Li (Capcom)

Chun-Li (Capcom)

You’re looking at the most popular female character in all of video game history. Yes, even more popular than Lara Croft, sorry. Since 1991 Chun-Li has been using her lighting fast fighting skills to put all other contenders to shame.

She can literally deliver kick after kick with lighting speed and precision that you will never even know what hit you. Also, she can produce some serious energy blasts that can send you down for the count. So, I think it’s a safe bet that she makes an appearance in this game.

Asura (Capcom)

Asura (Capcom)

 

No matter what the story is in video games, it’s hard to ever hate a great revenge story. Asura from Asuaras Wrath, is a character that is enraged with anger and thirst for revenge. He’s not one to let things go. He doesn’t use his words; he much prefers to use his fighting skills to smite everyone who wrongs him.

Strong enough to crack the earth when he punches a foe, and beat a God that stands bigger than Earth. Almost sounds unstoppable, doesn’t it? Consequently, he’s only made a single appearance in Capcom. Probably not ideal for a game like this, but he could bring a nice new element of rage to a game packed with action.

Dr. Doom (Marvel)

Dr. Doom (Marvel)

There’s a reason why Dr. Doom is one of the greatest villains of all time. He’s so immensely powerful that he just can’t get enough. A master at all things science, sorcery, and hand to hand combat. Dr. Doom is also packed with gadgets that can even make Batman blush.

Dr. Doom has all the tools needed to be a beast of a competitor in this fighting game. His smarts, powers, and gadgets can emit incredibly damage. As a result, Dr. Doom makes an action-packed fight with anyone. All these characters can be doomed if the Doctor is selected.

I’d love to see these characters get their chance to shine in this upcoming game. They all make a great case for themselves and seeing some new and old faces will give the game a much-needed jumpstart into expanding the popularity of both universes. Most of all, share your thoughts on my selections. Let me know who you’d choose instead.

Why I Fell In Love With Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley

I was one of the people patiently awaiting for Stardew Valley to make it to consoles. Whether it was on my Vita or PS4, I was ready to dive head first and get lost in the charming pix-elated world. Full disclosure, I was one of those people who would plan my day around the Facebook game Farmville. I knew when my crops would spoil so I had to be there on time to harvest them. But unlike Farmville, in Stardew my crops didn’t wither in real time so its already a more relaxed experience. So on December 14, 2016 I set out to start my new life as a farmer.

Moving to Stardew Valley

Ignore the lightning bolt, check out all the stuff on your brand new farm.

The motivation to get players to the farm is a simple one. Your dying grandfather leaves his farm to you and encourages you to come run it when the 9 to 5 grind wears you down. A short cut scene later and there you are at Stardew Valley with Mayor Lewis to greet you. The place looks a hot mess when you get there with scattered debris, sticks, grass, etc all over the place.

As a new farmer you have a whole lot of work to do. Working on the farm makes time pass and your energy will deplete with each action. Upgrading your tools will help to consume less energy and eating Starfruit will increase your energy bar. These are all things you will learn as the game opens up and explains them to you.

Get To Know Your Neighbors

Private action with Penny and the kids.

Farming isn’t the only thing players can do. As a new resident, one of the first tasks is to get to know your new neighbors in Stardew. Most of them will be wary of you at first so you will need to talk to them daily and give them gifts to raise their affection towards you. You can give them just about anything as a gift including the things you grow on the farm or things you scavenge around town and mines. It will take some trial and error but eventually you will figure out what your neighbors like. I was a bit impatient so I looked up a guide.

As you get to know them, private actions will start to show up deepening your relationship. A lot of them depend on the time of day, weather and number of affection points, represented as hearts, to trigger. They seemed rather arbitrary so I would stumble on them by accident. The good thing is that time doesn’t progress during these scenes so it’s no harm in watching them. After you get to 8 heart points you can make an eligible bachelor or bachelorette, the gender of your character doesn’t matter, your significant other with a bouquet from Pierre’s shop. At 10 hearts, you can get married by proposing with a Mermaid Pendant to have a wedding 3 days later. I chose to romance Elliot and haven’t looked back.

Passing The Time In Stardew

Beginner farm design

Other than romancing and getting to know your neighbors, farmers can, well, farm. After you understand where to buy your seeds, how much time things take to grow, how long each month is and the seasons, you can get started making your farm. Getting money for more seeds is always a chore so growing your crops are important to remain in business. One of the best parts of the game is designing your farm and how you plant your crops. Some of the farms online can get really elaborate and players have a few templates to start with at the launch of the game.

Adventures in the mine.

When players are bored on the farm they have the option of going into the mines. The mines give players the materials necessary to upgrade their tools or find items to give as gifts. The mines are dangerous though so players will need to upgrade their gear in order to survive the lower levels. Another caveat is that the penalty for death is steep. If you die players will lose a ton of money to cover medical expenses and lose items taken into the mine. That alone made me less inclined to visit the mines but I did in order to build up the community center.

Help Stardew Valley Feel Like Home

This is how the community center starts off

After a while players will get the choice to help the town to build up the community center or join Jojo Mart corporation. Selecting one will lock you out of the other so the choice is yours. I chose to help the community center because it gave more purpose to my actions by completing bundles. Those bundles also provide gifts to the player of farm equipment that may not be affordable at the start of the game. While with Jojo Mart you just buy everything with money.

Players can also attend seasonal festivals. There are four seasons in the game (read:duh) that last 28 days. Each season the town has 2 festivals. The Mayor will send you a mail reminder a few weeks before then another a day before the actual event. Attending these events can raise your affection with your neighbors as well as earn players prizes for participating.

This Game Is Worth The Time

Summer festival. Be sure to make a good impression.

I could go on and on about this game because it’s so charming. It is hard to imagine that only one developer made this game and it’s paid off in a big way. I am glad that it got ported to the PS4 and I got the chance to play. I easily spent 60 hours in Stardew before I got to the “end” in year 2. The game could “technically” go on forever so players have spent hundreds of hours here. Check out the game’s website and give the game a shot if you haven’t tried it out.

Have you tried Stardew Valley or other farming sim games? How does the game stack up for you? Let us know in the comments.

Did They Deliver? Thoughts on the Nintendo Switch Reveal

Nintendo Switch Reveal

Enter the Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch Reveal
Image retrieved from Nintendo.com

I was probably like the rest of you waiting up until the wee hours of the morning on the east coast to hear about the Nintendo Switch. Unlike some of the others though, I am not a Nintendo Fangirl. I have jumped ship from Nintendo consoles long ago in the Playstation 1 era but I do still buy their handhelds. I have a feeling that with the launch of the Switch they are folding their handheld and console consumer base into one house. From a business perspective its actually really smart. But their consoles have been lack luster and disappointing since the break out sales of the original Wii.

So I waited with bated breath to see if I could be convinced to invest in this new console/handheld device and I’m sad to say at this time that answer is a resounding “No”. Stay with me as I explain my thoughts on the Nintendo Reveal and why they couldn’t sell me on the Switch just yet.

The Console is Too Expensive

Nintendo consola
Image retrieved from Nintendo.com

Let’s jump on in. This console is 300 bucks. 3 hundred damn dollars. Most media outlets were projecting $250 at the most for several reasons with the main one being that they were late to the console party. PS4 and Xbox One have a bigger install base than Nintendo so they needed to convince players to shell out another huge sum of money for another console. With the console costing 300, the same amount as the base model of the PS4 and Xbox one, the barrier to entry is too high for my tastes.

Most of their handhelds started at $189 to $200 and while I didn’t expect it to be cheap this price was unexpected. Not to mention, their peripherals are expensive too. $69.99 for the Joy Pro controller, $79.99 for replacement JoyCon controllers, etc. I just can’t get over their audacity but I shouldn’t be surprised if I think back to the launch of the New 3DS system.

Where Are the Games?

Zelda game
Image retrieved from Nintendo.com

We all know Zelda is coming to the system so they should have lead with that reveal not ended the conference with it. While it is true that other launch games have been announced at a different event following the conference, why didn’t they show those titles to the players? A lot of people tuned out once it concluded so Nintendo may have missed their window to grab them.

Players like me who are not hardcore Mario and 1st party fanatics needed another reason to pick up the system. Sure they showed off some interesting games like Splatoon 2, Shin Megami Tensei 5, and Xenoblade 2 but none of these games had projected release dates. What if these games don’t come out until 2018? With the Xbox Scorpio looming around the corner, why would players waiting for games buy a Switch versus waiting for more power promised with the Scorpio?

Make no mistake, I understand that the Switch would not be graphically superior to either system and that doesn’t really matter to me. However, Nintendo has not learned that players buy consoles for games. Period. The End. By not showing those games off, some players are wondering why they should own a Switch and that is a problem.

Online Service Incentives Are Lackluster

Nintendo online servicePaying for online service is nothing new. PS Plus is $60 dollars now but we get free games every month that we can keep as long as the subscription is paid. Even if we lapse in our sub, players will still have the game but won’t have access to it. On Xbox Live, players pay their fee and keep their games regardless of having a Live subscription. Nintendo of course has to be the odd ball.

According to an article cited on Kotaku, the online service will only allow for players to try out the “free” game for a month then players will have to pay for the game. What in the world is happening Nintendo? Why make such a decision when your competition is doing the exact opposite? Xbox is even offering backwards compatibility for a majority of their library. At this time, no one knows if players who brought games from the E Shop will be able to bring those purchases over to the Switch. We will have to wait and see.

Gimmicks Galore

Gimmicks Galore
image retrieved via Kotaku

I had a feeling that Nintendo would not give up motion control completely. After reading a few more reports today it seems as if the JoyCon controllers are actually a good fit. I suppose I’m more irritated that it took up a good portion of their conference time. That time should have been used to showcase more games. We all had Wii Motes so we already have a point of reference for these controllers. The rest we could have discovered once we had the device in our hands.

To Sum It Up

I’m not worried about the Nintendo first party offerings. Mario in all of its forms are usually very good. I really want Nintendo to get a win for once but with all of the questionable pricing decisions I’m not sure if they will. I’m fed up with developers and game companies in general preying on the nostalgia and hype of their fans. I want players to finally get the console they deserve and at this moment, Nintendo is not doing it. Time will tell if they will improve as we get more information.

What did you think of the Nintendo Reveal? Did it meet your expectations? Are you still hyped for the console? Let us know in the comments.

 

What Tracer Being Gay Means For Diversity in Gaming’s Future

Diversity in Gaming

Tracer’s Out the Closet

It’s been a few weeks since the news of Tracer’s sexual orientation went live. If you missed it, you can read it in Blizzard’s comic “Reflections” on their website. The story is a really cute look into the life of the Overwatch mascot and her journey to buy her girlfriend a scarf. They share a simple and chaste smooch near the end then set the internet on fire. Tracer’s sexual orientation isn’t the first controversial step in improving diversity in the gaming industry. But now that the dust has settled I wanted to explore why this is a great thing for the future.

Sound the Alarm For Diversity

Full disclosure, I am an African American woman. I am a part of one of the populations that does not get as much screen time in games. It’s no secret that games have been staring and tailored to inherently heterosexual white males. It is something most gamers know but in recent years the calls for diversity have increased. And players didn’t just want any old diversity, they want meaningful diversity.

Tomb Raider Box Art
Image owned by Edios

Have their been a few games with female protagonists? Sure. However, if she was not eye candy ala Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft then she may not have made it to the forefront. Have there been black protagonists for games? Sure. They are mainly male but if he was not a criminal, like AJ from GTA San Andres, then they didn’t make it to the forefront either. Have their been characters that aren’t heterosexual in games? Absolutely. But unless they were comical or made to satisfy the wet dreams of men like Fear Effect they weren’t discussed much either.

Why Diversity Matters

In research published in The Journal of Experimental Child Psychology showed that African American children form negative perceptions of themselves based on how they are portrayed in different media. That media includes books, television shows as well as video games. Another study cited on CNN discussed how television images of powerful, positive and strong white men can raise the self esteem of white boys but have a negative impact on girls of all races and African American boys.

There has been a lot of conversation about how things are “better” for diversity overall. While I agree that positive strides have been made, the journey is far from complete. If I can still peruse the comments section about Tracer being gay and read the dismissive attitudes of some of the community we have more to do. Change doesn’t happen overnight and until there is inclusion for many types of stories then the conversation will continue.

Things Are Improving 

Mafia 3 Box Art
Image owned by 2k Studios

I wasn’t kidding when I said the climate was getting better. Despite Tracer’s sexual status, she is still the mascot for OverWatch one of the biggest selling games of the year. This year we have Mafia 3 staring a black protagonist and tackling the issue of Racism in the 1960’s south with no remorse. We also had Watch Dogs 2 staring another black protagonist as a computer hacker wearing hipster clothes versus white tees and jeans.

Mass Effect Romance
Image retrieved from IGN Wiki. Mass Effect is owned by Bioware

We have had more inclusion for different types of sexual relationships over the years as well. In the Mass Effect series players can romance men as well as women. That is even the case in the surprise hit Stardew Valley. In the MMORPG Final Fantasy 14, players can also marry any player of either sex if they so choose without jumping through hoops.

The moral of the story is, Tracer’s reveal is continuing to push the conversation of diversity forward. For those persons who it does not effect none of this should matter at all. For those of us who do care, it helps us to continue to enjoy the games we have always loved even more. To be honest, saying that Tracer is gay in a comic that is not included in the actual game can still give players the chance to ignore that aspect of her identity. I can accept that for now as we “baby step” these changes into the normal game conversation. The climate for diversity is changing and it will be better for us all.

What do you think about Tracer’s sexual orientation reveal or diversity overall? Let us know in the comments below.

Note: Feature Image retrieved via Polygon. Tracer and Overwatch is owned by Blizzard.

5 Reasons Sony Should Make Vita 2.0

5 Reasons Sony Should Make Vita 2.0

With the Nintendo Switch and next gen handheld gaming on the horizon, should Sony make Vita 2.0? It’s no secret that the PS Vita has been treated as the forgotten step child by Sony and the sun is starting to set on the aging system. Will the console’s legacy end quietly or does the Vita still have a chance for a comeback?

Full disclosure, I am a Vita enthusiast and have happily owned my system since it released. I dropped the full amount for the system, a little more for the memory cards, popped in Persona 4: Golden and haven’t looked back. As Colin and Greg from Kinda Funny Games would say, I am a card carrying residence of Vita Island. The PSP successor, ignoring the PS Go, PS Vita was ahead of its time and gone too soon.

Despite it’s slow decline and cult following, I’m here to talk about why Sony should make Vita 2.0.

Sony Knows Its Hardware

LCD V OLED
Image retrieved from Geek.com

Even with lukewarm reception, the Vita was a work of art. It had a sleek design, two analog sticks, pretty OLED display and could fit comfortably in your hands, pocket, bag etc. Since PS3 was the current gen system at the time, being able to produce PS2 level graphics on the go was no small feat. In comparison to the 3DS, which is a great system, it is surprising to see who ended up the ultimate victor.

If Sony changed some outdated features like removing the back touch controls and update the internal components, the current Vita design could still work. The Switch mobile screen looks very similar, minus the analog sticks, so the Vita 2.0 has a shot.

Momentum Is Strong for Mobile Gaming

Mobile GamingDespite many adults owning a PSP and/or Vita, in the US owning a handheld gaming device can be seen as childish. If you look at the many ads for handheld games they are dominated by 3DS cartoon-like games directed to children. Don’t get me wrong, those Pokemon Sun and Moon commercials were for me too. But if you are a grown up, not into Pokemon, Yokai Watch, Story of Seasons etc. then a handheld device may not appeal to you as a product.

The Switch has made it look “cool” to take your platform on the go. Nintendo may have dominated the handheld space but that doesn’t mean some healthy competition isn’t good for the consumer. Vita 2.0 could have a chance since the climate for mobile gaming has improved.

New Games Are Coming To Vita In Japan

 

Danganronpa
Image retrieved via Playstation Blog

Even though the Vita hardware sales stalled out in the states, it is doing pretty well in Japan. The Vita receives a steady stream of games which, through localization, have helped to retain its life despite Sony doing all it could to kill it. The Vita PSN store is littered with JRPGs and other niche games, like the Danganronpa Series, that would not otherwise make it to the states. Catering to this market has carved out a nice audience for current Vita supporters in the states.

Since the Japanese player base has continued to expand into mobile gaming on phones and handhelds why not tap back into that source? While it wasn’t planned, Vita 2.0 could market itself as a system that offers unique experiences to gamers.

Sony Learned From Past Mistakes

PS4Sony recognized that they made some missteps with their previous console, the PS3, and gave us the PS4 as an apology. The marketing push of the PS4 being “for gamers” allowed me to trust that they got their act together. The Vita, just like the PS3, had too much going on. It wanted to have gimmicks so it had screen touch controls, back touch controls, remote play possibilities, cross play possibilities etc. It also had two versions that offered different internet options at launch, Wifi and data plans. You name it and Sony tried to fit it on the Vita.

The other costly mistake were the memory cards. The price could go into the hundreds for the biggest size of 64gb via Play-Asia and was only available from Japan. Additionally, the internal memory space was trash, the original units didn’t come with a memory card or, if it did, it was only 4GB. Sony created a horrible bid for consumer dollars because the barrier to entry was too high. If they made Vita 2.0, judging from the PS4 marketing strategy, they wouldn’t do the same thing again.

It’s All About the Games

Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Image retrieved via Playstation.com

The Switch launch trailer shows that Nintendo has 3rd party support signing up. Their first party offerings, Mario, Smash Brothers, Zelda, etc, can make it a “must buy” for fans of those titles. It may even be fair to say those IPs are the main reason Nintendo is still in the console conversation. Nintendo had some tense moments with 3rd party developers over the years so it will be interesting to watch the company adapt to the times via the Nintendo Development ID program.

Sony has their own impressive stable of developers and a thriving Indie scene. The Vita started off strong with Killzone, Gravity Rush and Uncharted: Golden Abyss so it can be done. Thinking about how hard developing games for PS3 was rumored to be and the PS4 being the complete opposite, the “gamers and games first” logic should be passed down to the Vita 2.0.

Here’s the Bottom-line…

The Switch’s release opens the door for the Vita to be viable in the market. With the growth of mobile gaming in the West and the push toward a more mature handheld audience, Vita 2.0 could offer great competition. If Sony does not repeat the sins of the past and continues to support their peripherals, a new Vita could be just as successful as the PSP. The probability of this happening is slim but we can always dream right?

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Are you a Vita Island resident? Do you think Sony should let Nintendo keep the monopoly on the handheld market? Do you think a new Vita would pass or fail? All opinions are valid here.

 

Until Next Time guys

 

 

 

Games of the Year 2016 (Round-up)

Games of the Year 2016

Games of the Year

Now that 2016 is almost over, it’s time to look back at the best games launched during the year and pick our winners. There were some pleasant surprises this year on all platforms, including some unexpected flops as well, but overall this was a great game for gamers on all platforms.

And in order to make sure that we help you pick the best games to play this year in case you haven’t done so already, we decided to do a “best games of the year 2016” round-up, sharing with you what the best publications in the industry had to say.

So without further ado, let’s check out the Games of the Year 2016 on different platforms!

Best PS4 Games of 2016

The Last Guardian gameGamespot has some interesting picks for this year, in no particular order: The Last Guardian, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Overwatch, Titanfall 2 and Dishonored 2

Destructoid, on the other hand, has an even more interesting list of nominees, including: The Last Guardian, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, The Witness, Dark Souls 3, Abzu or I Am Setsuna. However, their pick as the best PS4 game of 2016 is, unsurprisingly, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

Best Xbox One Games of 2016

Forza Horizon 3Gamespot shares their picks for the GOTY awards: Forza Horizon 3, Dishonored 2, Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1 and Overwatch. It’s a sad list for Xbox One gamers and proves that great exclusives are hard to come by on Xbox One.

Gizmodo has a larger list of winners and their suggestions sound a bit better in my opinion. Their list of best Xbox One games of 2016 include the obvious choices like Overwatch, Forza Horizon 3, Dishonored 2, Titanfall 2, but also interesting picks, like Doom or Quantum Break.

Best PC Games of 2016

Civilization 6 gamePCGamesN has a nice list of great PC titles. In my opinion, it’s the PC right now that offers the most in terms of great, unique, original and brand new games. We love playing sequels of great games, but it doesn’t hurt to have a ton of new concepts to try too. The games listed by PCGamesN include great picks like Civilization 6, The Witness, Inside, Oxenfree and That Dragon, Cancer. Other multi-platform hits are included, as well.

Paste Magazine also picks That Dragon, Cancer as the best game of the year. Other great games have made their list: Stardew Valley, Civilization VI, Inside or Stellaris. A great list!

Best iPhone Games of 2016

Steppy Pants gameIt’s difficult to create a list of the best games on mobile when there are hundreds (or even more) launched each year. According to Touch Tap Play, Apple did the hard work this year and shared their winners, which include silly games like Steppy Pants or The Trail, but also more challenging titles like Clash Royale, Riptide GP, or Reigns.

Best Android Games of 2016

Tap Tap Dash game

Android Central choose their favorites and they’re not what you’d probably expect to see. Their list includes games like Tap Tap Dash, PinOut, Pokemon Go and even Marvel Avengers Academy. An interesting list to say the least.

On the other hand, Android Authority comes up with a list that’s more aimed at the premium gamer. Their list includes titles like Crashland, GTA San Andreas, This War of Mine, but also Freemium titles launched in the past, like Fallout Shelter or Hearthstone.

Best Casual Games of 2016

Mosaics Galore 2 gameAlthough not as popular, there’s definitely a market for Casual games out there for non-mobile players. According to Casual Game Reviews, the best casual games launched in 2016 include titles I honestly have never heard about, like The Keeper of Antiques: The Revived Book, Mosaics Galore 2, Delicious: Emily’s Hopes and Fears or Living Legends: Bound by Wishes. Certainly not titles I’d put high on my “to play” list, though.

On the other hand, the Gamers Decide website comes with a completely different approach, listing casual dating game HuniePop first, followed by other interesting titles like Gems of War or Guns, Gore, and Cannoli. They also consider Left for Dead 2 or Metal Slug casual games, so I am not sure how much trust you can put in their list…

So these would be what gaming journalists consider the best games of 2016. Mostly sequels and more sequels, which is pretty sad unfortunately. But as long as we have great games to play, we shouldn’t complain!

What are your best games of the year? Let us know by commenting below!

Top Four Potential Failures Of 2017

Potential Failures Of 2017

Potential Failures Of 2017

With 2016 coming to a close sooner than later, I cannot help but think of the future and what it holds in such a wild industry full of disappointments, surprises, and drama.

Not only is 2017 a colossal year because of the myriad of new IPs and returning beloved franchises, but also because two potentially game-changing Consoles are rearing their heads for consumers to devour.

The following four releases I’ve selected cannot with any certainty, be considered failures. On the contrary, they’re probably all going to be fantastic products. I just feel that they’ve all to some degree warranted not only skepticism but serious doubt due to the following circumstances.

Without further ado, I present the top four potential failures of 2017.

Red Dead Redemption 2

red-dead-redemption-2

This might be a questionable first pick, but we must focus on the fact that Rockstar, while fantastic at what they do, are a business, and all businesses must make money. With the release of Grand Theft Auto Online, Rockstar has found themselves in the glorious position of raking in so much money that they probably don’t even know what to do with it at this point.

I don’t think that even the most important suits had any idea that GTAO would be as important to them as it is, and that is the main reason I am concerned about RDR2.

If we visit the official page for the game, we see the following.

Developed by the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game’s vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience.

The part that mentions the heartland is intriguing, to say the least, but the part that worries me is the fact that they mention providing a ‘brand new’ online multiplayer experience. So far, we know very little about the game so this is all speculation on my part, but if I wanted to make a boatload of cash as Rockstar, I’d make RDR2 a multiplayer game in the vein of Destiny.

We have what appears to be seven main characters and the foundation for a big multiplayer experience, so why not make the game a hybrid game where you have multiplayer in a persistent online world? I’m sure some of you reading this are gushing at the thought of it, but for me, it is awful.

The moment you introduce co-operative play and online functionality, a lot of the immersion and the narrative gets thrown out the window for trash talk and killing sprees. Something about the idea of Rockstar making RDR2 an online-focused game is the exact opposite direction I wanted them to go. I want to spend at least a hundred more hours in the desert being wholeheartedly absorbed in the incredibly detailed world and story. I do not want to spend my time having people call me horrible names and murdering me for fun.

However, I’m more likely to believe that we’ll have two separate modes. I just hope I’m right.

Horizon Zero Dawn

horizon-zero-dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn blew my mind when it was shown off for the first time. Seeing an incredibly lush and beautifully unique environment filled with bizarre robotic dinosaurs and tribal warriors made my mind wander endlessly about what would be possible in such a creative world.

it seems so obvious to pair technology with the past as they’re doing, yet this is the first time we’ve seen it done in such a way and it’s inspiring at the very least.

The thing about Horizon, though, is that the more we see, the more the doubt drips in. Those amazing looking flat-headed dinosaurs filled me with curiosity. Yet, when they were revealed to be awful Ubisoft towers that unveil the map piece by piece, it just opened the floodgates for what kind of game this is.

Why do I want to unlock sections of a map in such an archaic, counterintuitive sort of way when I could instead explore for myself and allow my own curiosity to fuel the things I discover? I hate the fact that at the end of the day, this game looks like yet another open-world action game with slight RPG elements that takes way to many ideas from the exceptionally tired Assassin’s Creed franchise. Couple all of that with the fact that what we’ve seen in the actual RPG and crafting systems looks to be very similar to every other open-world crafting RPG. How many hours will I spend gathering flowers and other weird herbs?

Horizon was supposed to be different, yet everything we’re seeing says it isn’t, at least, not mechanically. It also doesn’t help that it will be written by Guerrilla Games, who have yet to actually make a great story in any of their past projects.

Resident Evil 7

resident-evil-7

I must say that I’m not personally worried about Resident Evil 7 as far as it being a good video game. I think that the direction it is taking is not only bold but necessary for the future of the franchise. I was so tired of the bland action trash that Capcom has been releasing lately and I wanted the game to back to being focused on surviving and horror.

That said, the reaction to everything surrounding RE7 has been less than positive, and it makes me worried that the game will not only sell poorly compared to the sales Capcom expects, but be received poorly simply because people cannot accept change in long-running franchises.

I can kind of sympathize, though. I think that it would be nearly impossible for Capcom to actually craft a game that pleases most people, as the audience is both very picky about how the games are, and divided on how they ought to be.

Nintendo Switch

nintendo-switch

The Nintendo Switch is a surprisingly great looking console. I was hesitant about it when all we knew were rumors, mainly because this idea that we’d have detachable controllers to take our console on the go would not only spell potential failure as far as graphical potential but also battery life.

With the recent unveiling of the Switch, the rumors have been confirmed as far as what it is, and that is not necessarily a great thing.

Off the bat, I’d like to state that I think it is a very inventive and handy idea. I love that it’s so adaptable. I cherish my Wii U simply because the GamePad allows me to move around and game. The Switch takes that idea and amps it up to 11 by completely removing all boundaries. You can play it like a home console, like your 3DS, or like a weird sort of tablet off-shoot.

The problems, though, fall into what I have mentioned above. When you have this much mobility with a console, you immediately sacrifice power. I fear that just like the Wii U, the console will lose traction after a short time because of third party support. Why would EA want to bother porting the next Battlefield to a console that is less powerful than the Xbox One, which currently can’t even run Battlefield 1 at 1080p60? We’ve seen this happen with the Wii U and it died so fast it’s shocking.

Beyond that, there is absolutely no way they can get the battery life up to a respectable amount of hours while keeping the rumored 720p graphics. I think these two factors could end up destroying the very innovation that Nintendo strives to bring to the console market.

But, regardless of those things, we can all take solace in the fact that Nintendo makes mostly phenomenal first-party games. Even if the third party doesn’t support it, we’re bound to get a few excellent games from Nintendo each year. Hopefully.

Civilization 6: Best Government Type to Win Easily

Civilization

With 10 different government types available in Civilization 6 and 100 policies to choose from, it’s pretty obvious that there are a lot of options for you to choose and create the best government for your civilization. The truth is that there is no single type of government and set of policies that can be considered the best, as it usually depends on what type of game you play and what type of victory you’re trying to get. But it surely is true that some are better than others in most cases, as well as more fun to play.

And I am here to share with you my thoughts on the best government type in Civilization 6, knowing that it can be more or less adjusted depending on your type of play style. Since there are basically two big types of governments in the game (economic or militaristic), it’s a bit easier to decide which path to take in the long run. And always remember that policies are there just to be changed and adjusted based on your needs: there’s little point to have the same policies active when you are at war AND when you’re trying to quickly develop your civilization!

These being said, let’s find out which is the best government type in Civilization VI to have a fun game and an easy win!

Basically, when choosing the right type of government in the game, the choice should be made based on the number and types of policies it allows, rather than the bonuses that particular type of government offers. In other words, if you choose Fascism, you don’t choose it just for the extra attack strength and bonus production Legacy bonus, but also for the four military policies that you can adopt and two wildcard ones. And yes, this would usually be a very good choice for a militaristic play.

So these being said, let’s first find out everything about the government types in the game and what types of policies the allow, as this is extremely important and having an overview is vital:

Government Base Bonus Legacy Bonus Social Policies Allowed
Chiefdom 1 military, 1 economic
Autocracy Capital receives +1 boost to all yields +1% bonus on wonder production for 20 turns. (10% temporary) 2 military, 1 economic, 1 wildcard
Oligarchy All melee units gain +4 Combat Strength +1% Combat experience for units for 5 turns. (20% temporary) 1 military, 1 economic, 1 diplomatic, 1 wildcard
Classical Republic All cities with a district receive +1 Amenity +1% Bonus Great People point generation for 15 turns. (15% temporary) 2 economic, 1 diplomatic, 1 wildcard
Monarchy +2 Housing in any city with Medieval Walls. +1% bonus influence points generation for 10 turns. (20% temporary) 3 military, 1 economic, 1 diplomatic, 1 wildcard
Theocracy Can buy land combat units with Faith. All units +5 in theological combat. +1% discount on Faith purchases for 15 turns. (15% temporary) 2 military, 2 economic 1 diplomatic, 1 wildcard
Merchant Republic +2 Trade Routes. +1% discount on gold purchases for 15 turns. (15% temporary) 1 military, 2 economic, 1 diplomatic, 2 wildcard
Democracy Patronage of Great People costs 50% less gold. +1% bonus yield from district projects for 10 turns. (30% temporary) 1 military, 3 economic, 2 diplomatic, 2 wildcard
Communism Industrial Zone Districts can defend. Land units gain +4 defense strength. +1% bonus on all types of production for 20 turns. (10% temporary) 3 military, 3 economic, 1 diplomatic, 1 wildcard
Fascism All combat units gain +6 attack strength. +1% bonus on unit production for 10 turns (20% temporary) 4 military, 1 economic, 1 diplomatic, 2 wildcard

As you can see from this, it doesn’t hurt to try and switch governments early on in order to try and get the legacy bonus or as much of it as possible, as the Legacy Bonus is permanent and follows you through the ages. So a good strategy could be to first get the Oligarchy government for at least 5 turns to ensure that your units will always get at least 5% more XP, then switch to Classical Republic, then to Autocracy. It’s a bit more difficult to do the same with future government types, but these early bonuses can be easily obtained and they will help a lot in the long run.

But afterwards, what’s the best government type to choose?

In my opinion, for mid-game, the Merchant republic is the best because of the extra money you’ll get, plus the option to spend them on cheaper units (so you won’t completely neglect your military). Having two wildcards is also good, since you can boost your military even more if you need to. Overall, this is clearly my favorite during mid-game.

When it comes to late game, things get a little bit trickier as they are all pretty balanced and more specialized. Fascism is great if you’re military-minded, but Communism is great as well. If you’re trying to get other types of victory, Communism also looks nice, but you could make Democracy work. I would personally choose Fascism at all times simply because I get the bonus to unit production and two wildcards to boost economic growth as well.

What is your opinion, though? Which is the best government type to choose in Civilization 6 and what route is the best to follow?