Bloodborne, Bane of My Souls

I’m a Dark Souls fan. I own all the games in the franchise including Demon’s Souls. So of course I purchased Bloodborne. There was never an option to not purchase that game. Same genre. Same developer. Of course I bought it. Now I didn’t buy it at release because I didn’t have time to play it then. I purchased it new as a physical copy for $20. Of course before I actually opened the game but after the return date passed, they put it on sale on PSN with all the DLC included for the same price in a flash sale. I was disappointed but not at all angry. I honestly have no interest in the DLC. I’ve purchased the vanilla version of every game in the franchise and I’ve never purchased any of the DLC. I just want to beat the final boss, see one of the endings and move on with my life. That’s actually how I play most games and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It’s my money and my time. I purchased the game new, thus supported the developer. I purchased the physical copy of the game, thus supporting physical businesses and not allowing SONY to believe that it’s acceptable to charge the same price for a digital copy of a game as a physical, because it’s not. I just wanted the base game and that’s what I purchased. Honestly Bloodborne is an amazing game. I won’t say it’s better than Dark Souls but I absolutely enjoyed every minute of it. It’s just too bad I’ll probably never get to finish it because technology and bad coding practices screwed me over.

Souls series

One of the biggest selling points of PlayStation Plus has always been “the cloud”. You are promised the ability to save your files online and then the ability to access them anywhere in the world. I never really liked the cloud. I keep saves of games I’ve beaten on there but I never really used it for anything important before Bloodborne. I’m an American with an American PSN account, but I don’t live in the United States. Now the first problem that new technologies have created for me is of course region locks. This most disagreeable, fascist, and just plain terrible practice has cost me so much money that I shouldn’t have had to spend. Every time I want to buy a physical copy of a game I have to import it from the US. That means that whatever you pay for a game, I have to pay plus the cost of shipping overseas. The reason for this is quite stupid. They always sell these new consoles/games today as being region free but that’s a half truth. The DLC is still region locked even if the discs aren’t. That means that because I have an American account, if I purchase an Asian copy of a game I will never be able to use the DLC on my main account because you can’t change account regions or have multiple regions tied to a single account. Now usually this doesn’t actually end up mattering because most games today get an English translation sold here in Asia and rarely do I buy DLC. But I still don’t tend to buy games here in Asia and instead import them because now every game ends up having some form of DLC one way or another and because of the region locks on DLC I’m required to have an American copy or run two separate accounts which I just won’t do because it’s a multiplayer nightmare to try to get all your friends worldwide to add and keep track of two different accounts for the same person. Especially when meeting randoms online. Also trophies.

the cloud

Region locked DLC is the reason I don’t own Nioh yet. I want a physical copy and I got all the alpha and beta free DLC. But the only way I can access that DLC is buy having an American copy. Yes I could purchase a digital version of the game, but I don’t like digital copies. Nor will I over pay for my games. When it comes to release day games, which I rarely buy, it’s no problem to go digital because the price will be the same. Of course assuming I don’t want the special edition physical swag. Looking at you Horizon: Zero Dawn. But when I don’t care about getting a game on release it really comes down to price. 100% of the time the physical price of games is lower than the digital price after the initial release window. And if you have an Amazon prime account the physical price is lower at release as well. In less than six months Nioh will have dropped to $30 for a physical copy. Other than in a possible flash sale, which may never come, the PSN store price will still be at $59.99. I will not pay $60 for a game I can get for $30 as a physical copy. Now of course I have to take shipping overseas into account, but all that means is that I have to wait till a bunch of games I want are all on sale at the same time so I can bulk ship them and try to recoup/justify the cost of shipping overseas. That’s the reason I end up buying so many games on Black Friday. It justifies the cost of shipping. Now if SONY would just choose to sell digital games at fair market value, I wouldn’t have this problem outside of special edition physical swag scenarios. But they just won’t price software fairly. So here we are. But I have digressed quite a bit so let’s get back to Bloodborne.

The reason me not living in the United States is important is because I recently went to visit my family in the US. While I was there I decided to play Bloodborne on my cousin’s PS4. This was the worst gaming mistake I’ve made this gen. My cousin has a digital copy of Bloodborne and told me that I could play while I was visiting. I did everything correctly so that I could reap the benefits of the promised new conveniences of new gen gaming technology. I saved my Bloodborne file on the cloud. Now I can’t actually tell you how many hours I had put into the game at this point because save files showing you that information seems to no longer be a default standard in game production. Some games will still tell you in game but many won’t. All I can tell you is that I was above level sixty and that I had defeated Shadow of Yharnam and was near the boss door for Rom the Vacuous Spider. I went to my cousin’s PS4 and logged into my account. I downloaded my save file from the cloud, which I’m allowed to do because I’m a PlayStation Plus subscriber. I played my Bloodborne save file on my account with my cousin’s digital copy of the game because you are able to play games owned by other accounts on the same console. By the end of my visit I had beaten Rom and gotten all the way to Yahar’gul Chapel. I saved my file back to the cloud. Here’s where I first started to notice things were fishy but I didn’t go with my gut for some reason and trusted a combination of SONY’s new saving system and what used to be considered common sense.

Rom

On the PS3 when you save anything to either the cloud or the console you can create multiple save files and copies of any one save file for any game. I used to do this all the time with RPGs. I would create multiple saves at various points and keep all of them. We have lost this luxury with the PS4. In order to save my file from my cousin’s PS4 I was forced to overwrite the file I already had saved in the cloud. I don’t know why this is now the case, but on the PS3 I could have kept both files simultaneously. I reluctantly accepted the overwrite because I had made so much progress during my trip. When I got home, I went to pull the save off my cloud storage and again I was forced to overwrite my console save instead of having both at the same time. I don’t know why I didn’t back up the original on a usb drive. I don’t know why I trusted SONY or any company for that matter to not screw me over because empirical evidence and statistics shows that they always will. But I agreed to the overwrite anyway believing that things would work the way they’re supposed to in a sensible gaming scenario. Boy was I wrong.

I was ready for my next Bloodborne session and had gotten a friend to agree to login in order to help me with the next area. I was met with a rude awakening. I could not load my save. Instead I was given a message saying that I couldn’t use my save until I downloaded the Old Hunter’s DLC. I didn’t know why at the time. I didn’t have the DLC and I had no interest in buying it. What I found out later was that my cousin had/has the DLC on his console and his PS4 laced my save file as a DLC version even though I hadn’t actually accessed any DLC content while I was playing on his console. Due to lazy coding on the part for From Software, the game would not load up without the DLC being present on the console once a trace of the DLC’s presence had added itself to my save. Not using the DLC was irrelevant to the situation. Essentially my save acquired a hidden virus that can’t be cured. And to top it all off, because of SONY’s decision to no longer allow multiple saves I didn’t even have my old save from before I went to visit my cousin.

Can't Load Save

More than 70 levels of gameplay trapped behind a pay wall that costs as much as I paid for the vanilla game. If you read my blog regularly then you know I don’t do paid DLC except in very rare and very specific situations. You also probably know that the only thing I’m less willing to compromise than my beliefs about how gaming should work is my price points. I paid $20 for Bloodborne because that’s the price I chose to pay long before I bought it. The DLC costs $20. There is no way that I will pay literally a 100% markup just to finish the base game I already paid for. And even if I did purchase the DLC, I honestly wouldn’t play it. I’m not interested in playing it. I just want to finish the base game as I have with all the Souls games (excluding DS3 which I own but haven’t played yet). It goes against just about everything I stand for to pay $20 for this DLC.

I’ve tried multiple fixes. I uninstalled and reinstalled the licenses multiple times. I disconnected my internet and tried to play offline. Nothing works. The one thing I tried that seemed to work was logging into my cousin’s account on my console and downloading the game and DLC. I believed this would solve the problem because I had played the game on my account on his console just a week prior. I’ve also played numerous games owned by other accounts than the currently logged in one on various PS4s. But when I tried to run the digital copy of Bloodborne from my cousin’s library on my account the content was locked. I’ve literally never seen that happen before. But what did work was when I put my physical copy in the console and ran it. It used the permissions from my copy to run the game and still made use of the DLC from my cousin’s account. Together I was able to play my save file. This was a grand day. I was extremely happy. I thought everything was back to normal. And I still had no plans to play the DLC even with access to it. I just wanted to finish the game. I played a bit and then inevitably had to stop because life is a thing. I went on to play other games both physical and digital over the days following. Then when I went back to play Bloodborne, once again with the same friend coming in to help me, the save wouldn’t load again. I cannot think of any reason why it just stopped working. But I didn’t lose faith. I deleted all the content from my console again and re-downloaded the game from my cousin’s account believing I would get the same results. This time it didn’t work and I can’t even begin to explain why.

bloodborne dlc

This whole situation really hurts me. I’m a loyal gamer. I’ve never purchased a single used game for my PS4 or really any console except for one time when Gamestop conned me into purchasing a used copy of Mirror’s Edge on XBOX 360. I’ve never hacked any of the many consoles I’ve owned over the years or pirated a single game for any of them. I do my best to support the industry even though I often don’t agree with a lot of the decisions made by companies today. But there’s just no way that I can be ok with this outcome. I am not going to pay $20 to finish a game that I purchased new and have already put probably more than 50 hours into. I shouldn’t have to do that. I’m not gonna start over either because that’s no less of an unacceptable concession that I shouldn’t have to make. I haven’t done anything wrong. I purchased a game and I just want to finish that game. I feel that I’m not over-asking by making that request. I’ve tried to contact From Software (developer), Japan Studio (publisher), and SONY (console distributor) multiple times through multiple platforms, but all three companies have ignored me. From Software and Japan Studio don’t even have a means to contact them on their respective websites. They literally link you to SONY’s support page which is no more helpful. They don’t even take emails anymore, which is really odd in my opinion. I finally was able to get a response from @AskPlayStation on Twitter and all they told me was use the live chat. I had to work around the time change between USA and Asia to try to contact the live chat support. Then when I finally managed to do that they have the nerve to tell me the live chat is region locked. What the hell is that!? Why would you region lock customer support? While I’m logged in with a USA account no less. Then when I explained that the live chat wouldn’t work for me because of my location to @AskPlayStation they had the nerve to tell me to call them. Because I’m going to place an international call to a company that clearly doesn’t handle customer service well that will end up costing me more than the DLC. The whole situation stinks.

Ask PlayStation

I don’t have some grand argument here or opinion on some important current event. This is just a plain despicable situation brought on by modern DRM practices and bad coding. From Software and Studio Japan are both companies that I have always respected up until now, but if I can’t finish this game with this save file for a total of less than five additional dollars (the largest concession/compromise I’d be willing to make) then I think I might just be done with both companies. That’s not something I want to do. But I believe in the rights of consumers and this is blatantly wrong.

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Crass Effect: What’sWrongWithYa?

Usually I publish posts on here Wednesdays but I had to make sure this went live before Mass Effect: Andromeda dropped. As I write this, we have less than 16 hours till those of us not lucky enough to get advanced copies can take the plunge. In fact, there’s a good chance you will have played the game for several hours before you ever look at this. I wanted to get it published sooner, but I do the best I can with the time I have.

I’m not gonna critique the game right now. I don’t have a right to do that because I haven’t played it yet, because it isn’t out yet. Yet recently a lot of people, who also haven’t played the game, have taken it upon themselves to not only negatively critique the game but to also harass members of the Bioware staff because of it. Now this is absolutely ridiculous for so many reasons, but I’m not actually interested in discussing harassment in this post either, so I’ll just sum up my views on the subject as quickly as possible.

You Can't Judge a Game

Harassment is wrong in any form. But let’s be clear about what harassment actually is. Criticizing a business because of issues you have with their products in a mature and respectable manner for legitimate, well thought out, and justified reasons is not harassment. Whether it’s by email, tweet, Facebook post, forum reply, blog post, YouTube comment, or any other means of communication is completely acceptable behavior. But let’s make sure we’re clear about what “mature and respectable manner for legitimate, well thought out, and justified reasons” means. Voicing a formal complaint about being unhappy with the quality of facial animations in a game with the entire focus of the post/comment being about facial animations with no curse words one time is not harassment. Voicing that same complaint with slurs, curse words, and threats of violence is harassment whether it’s once or a hundred times. Directing your complaints about a game, no matter how respectful and well thought out, at a private citizen, even if they are an employee of the development studio, is harassment. Even if you’re directing positive comments at them, it’s still harassment. It’s just harassment that they most likely aren’t going to be unhappy about.

Bioware is not made up of or represented by one person. It’s a large corporation that has official accounts that the public can easily send messages to in many forms via many platforms. There is no excuse to bother private citizens who work at a company about issues you have with the company and/or their performance. You wouldn’t send a message to the guy who flips your burgers at McDonalds if you saw a commercial from them you didn’t like. Private citizens deserve to be left alone regardless of where they work and what they do at work.

Respect is the Key

So just to be clear, it’s completely acceptable, but pretty stupid, to send messages to Bioware saying you’re unhappy about the facial animations, even though you haven’t yet played the game yourself yet, in Mass Effect: Andromeda. It’s not acceptable to send messages to Bioware saying you’re unhappy with the facial animations in Mass Effect: Andromeda and that it’s the fault of a specific employee because they happen to be a woman. It’s not ok, but won’t be frowned upon to send positive messages about Mass Effect: Andromeda to an employee of Bioware via their private accounts. It’s completely, 100% unacceptable, disgusting, and outright offensive to send negative messages to a private citizen who happens to work for Bioware and blame them for something you’re unhappy with about Mass Effect: Andromeda, whether you played it already or not, especially to tell them it’s their fault because of something out of their control such as their gender, skin color, class, or literally any other personal identifier protected by the Constitution of the United States of America. Even if you’re not an American, these same rules still apply to you if you consider yourself a human being. Now that I’ve taken more time than I should have to in 2017 to talk about this issue, let me get to what I actually wanted to discuss in this post.

If you have an issue with the facial animations of humans in Mass Effect: Andromeda that is completely acceptable. If you think bad human facial animations is enough of a reason to say Mass Effect: Andromeda is a bad game and/or that’s the reason you’re not going to buy the game, you’re an idiot. And let’s be clear about something. This has nothing to do with Mass Effect: Andromeda. This has to do with people incorrectly judging games. A video game, especially an open world, plot based, AAA, is made up of more than just facial animations. In fact, as surprising as it may sound, it’s made up of more than just graphics. A game is made up of multiple parts, created by masses of people, over several months to years in the case of Mass Effect: Andromeda. We aren’t talking about some small one man indie game where you can legitimately blame a problem on a specific person. And in the same vein of thinking, we aren’t talking about a game small enough to be judged solely on any one problem. Not to mention it’s probably the least important problem anyone could ever complain about.

A Game is More Than Graphics

Human facial animations? Who cares? Have we forgotten about Assassin’s Creed Unity? Are we just gonna ignore the many serious glitches in the original release of Skyrim? And who’s playing Mass Effect games for the humans in the first place? If you’re not in it for the aliens then you’re a xenophobic, narcissistic asshat and you should just run along back to your COD. Having not yet played the game yet, my biggest complaint so far is the fact that you have to play as a human . . . again. We did three games of that already. Bioware should have moved on to new playable races for the campaign by now. But whatever. The point is that to make the game breaking issue facial animations of one of many species in a huge, plot focused, open world game without considering any other pieces of the total work is kind of like saying you hate a movie because of the way they drew/wrote the title in the introduction. Most importantly, it shows a lack of ability to properly judge and/or review games.

I’m not saying that I’m the best game reviewer of all time, but I am quite experienced with multiple years of reviews under my belt. While I won’t say that there’s any one correct way to review games, there are a few things that every good reviewer should be doing when judging games. The first and most important is making sure to judge a game in its entirety and not just focus on one specific aspect. This is especially true when picking the score. Personally I hate that reviews are scored. It only detracts from the review because most people take the number as being more important than the words that led to that number. A large part of this comes from the fact that many people no longer take the time to actually read reviews, which is a shame. But in any case, the number should reflect a score for the totality of the product and not just represent a specific aspect of it. The second thing is that the number should accurately reflect what the reviewer wrote about the game. Not what the reviewer felt in his/her own head, but what they took the time to write down. The review should back up the score, not exist independently of it.

Avoid Bias

I haven’t looked at a single review for Mass Effect: Andromeda yet. They are coming out as I write this post. I’ve made the conscious decision not to read any reviews or check any scores because I plan on reviewing it myself and I don’t want my final thoughts and score to be manipulated by anyone else’s review. That’s the third thing that I believe should be standard practice for all reviewers. They should make a conscious effort not to see any scores for a game until they’ve already settled on their score and ideally finished writing their review. I always score games after I’ve finished writing the review. Again, the score should not dictate the review. The review should dictate the score.

While I don’t necessarily believe that everyone should write reviews the way I do, I do believe that every reviewer who takes that responsibility seriously should have a set in stone rationale for how they review games that can be presented upon request. I have shown mine many times and you can see it in practice with every review I write.

The 5 Components of a Game Review
Seen more doesn’t mean more important.

I believe that no aspect of game development is more important or more difficult than any other one when it comes to scoring a game. Many people would disagree, and that’s fine, but again, they should still be able to show a legitimate breakdown of how they score games and be able to justify it. I break a game up into what I believe are the five core aspects of game development: graphics, gameplay, sound, writing, and replay value. The order is irrelevant because all five aspects are weighted evenly for a maximum score of two. Combined they can equal a maximum score of 10. That is how I review games. I look at each aspect of a game in detail, score each one independently of the other four aspects, and add those five scores together for a total score. Now to be completely transparent, the website I write for currently only does integer scores so I always have to round to the nearest integer for my published score, but when it comes to actually choosing a number, I used decimals. I believe that this evenly weighted system is the fairest way to review and score a game, but I would never claim that all reviewers should be forced to use this system. Many people have differing beliefs about what’s important when scoring a game and weight it differently. But all legitimate reviewers should be able to agree that all five of the aspects I mentioned should be considered when reviewing a game and no single aspect can make or break a game unless the game is unplayable because of it. A game with a game breaking glitch with everything else perfect isn’t going to get an eight. But at the same time, a game with great gameplay and terrible to no writing shouldn’t get a 10 either. Neither game has performed to the best of the industry and thus both games should be scored to appropriately reflect a lack of perfection.

Mass Effect Andromeda Parts

So as we move forward into the release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, let’s all try to be fair judges of the game and remember that bad human facial animations cannot legitimately make a plot heavy, open world space exploration game with multiple species of characters, the majority of which have totally acceptable facial animations, a “bad game”. Just to clarify, I’m not saying it’s a good game at this point. I haven’t played it yet. What I’m saying is that if your only complaint about it is bad human facial animations and you consider yourself a reviewer or even just a legitimate gamer, then you have a responsibility to judge the game fairly and declare that other than those bad human facial animations it’s a good game. That means you should probably play it before voicing an opinion about it.

I’d love to see how other reviewers weight/score games so please let me know your system in the comments or link me to your own blog post where you explain this rationale in detail. You can get my full thoughts on Mass Effect: Andromeda once I’ve had a chance to thoroughly play the game and my review is complete.

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The Downgrade of Upgrades

This week I published an article about how the better gaming technology seems to get, the worse the experience ends up being for gamers due to lazy and/or greedy development and publishing practices. I published this article on Gaming Rebellion but here’s the introduction:

no games bf

I think it’s fair to say that most gamers today have at least some feeling of like/love for technology. I can code a little bit, build a PC from scratch, troubleshoot most normal level computer issues, and have fixed more than one broken console. I’ve owned every Nintendo and SONY home console (not counting Switch) as well as two of the three Microsoft home consoles and every Sega home console except the Saturn. I’ve owned several handhelds, multiple tablets, multiple mp3 players, and I literally work for a computer component manufacturing company. It is not a ridiculous statement to say that I like technology. Yet it seems to me that as we, by which I mean consumers who call themselves gamers, are forcibly offered “better” technology with each passing generation of consoles, that playing video games has become more expensive and less convenient.

You can read the rest right here. Please check out my Author’s Archive for other articles by me on Gaming Rebellion.

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Assassin’s Seed on Gaming Rebellion

This week I published an article about my experience watching the Assassin’s Creed movie and the various continuity issues it has when compared with the world of the games. This is not really a review, but there are some review aspects to the piece.  I published this article on Gaming Rebellion but here’s the introduction:

acm

Recently I saw Assassin’s Creed the movie. It should come as no surprise to anyone, but it was a bad movie. To be clear, I’m not just saying it was a bad experience in comparison to playing the games. I’m saying that it was a badly made film whether connected to a video game or not. But what I thought was interesting was that it was bad for many of the same reasons I complain about the games. Because of how Ubisoft has talked about the movie, I feel that it’s completely acceptable to compare the movie directly to the games. To be fair though, there are a number of possible key differences that make it plausible to place the movie in its own separate universe from the games. I am choosing not to do that here, because for the most part it’s not necessary to do.

You can read the rest right here. Please check out my Author’s Archive for other articles by me on Gaming Rebellion.

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2016 Year in Review

I know this post is rather late because it’s already almost February and so much has already happened this year. I will get to topics like the Nintendo Switch and Scalebound as soon as I can, but it’s tradition for me to do a review in gaming of the year before so I decided I’d have to squeeze it in.

Let me be honest and say that while I always have my ear to the ground and I’m constantly checking gaming news, I wasn’t nearly as focused on current gaming last year as I usually am. This is mostly because I was busy trying to complete the 52 challenge. Ultimately I did complete it and you can read all about my experience doing that here. But if you look at the list of games I completed last year you can see that most of them, especially the big ticket titles, weren’t released last year. Of the 52 games I completed in 2016, the only ones released in 2016 were Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia, The Division, Hyper Light Drifter, Attack on Titan, One Way Trip, and Strike Vector EX. Of those seven games, only two of them are AAA titles and only five of them are titles that had any possible significance to the general gaming public. I also put in a decent amount of time and effort into 12 other 2016 releases and purchased an additional 16 2016 releases that I have yet to try. My point is that as far as more than just lip service experience through reading and watching videos, I was not personally involved heavily in 2016 AAA release gaming. So while I feel that I am equipped to judge gaming in 2016 as a whole, I am happy to admit that for this particular year I wasn’t nearly as focused on current gaming as I usually am.

When I look back on 2016, I’m a lot more neutral in my feelings than I was for 2015. And even in my 2015 review I wasn’t leaning too far to either side. 2014 though, I was super unhappy with. I would say that this year we saw a number of bad practices and trends start or continue, but for the most part things ran pretty smoothly. So let’s look at the highlights.

Erasing Memories

Crowdfunding has become even more rampant with companies like Square Enix having the nerve to email people in their newsletter to go fun indie games that they’ll take a cut from without having to fund them. This year we didn’t see any crazy Kickstarter projects like Shenmue 3 in 2015, but the practice of larger studios pan handling for money instead of taking the risks on like they’re supposed to has become even more normalized. I just hope people start to see that this model doesn’t breed great games a majority of the time in the coming year. As far as indie crowdfunding goes, I’m still opposed to it but in cases like Hyper Light Drifter the model works. That was an excellent game that had a true justification for crowdfunding the project because the developer was literally unsure about how much longer he would be alive and wanted to have the funds to complete the game before his passing with no designs on profit.

The games to movies thing tried to happen again in 2016 and no surprise it was all talk and no delivery. Warcraft the movie fizzled out long before it ever began. I personally didn’t even go see it because it looked boring as hell and everyone I talked to said it was a waste of time and money. Just for reference, it got a 28% on Rotten Tomatoes. I actually did take the time to see Assassin’s Creed the movie and that was terrible. It was so bad I took the time to write a rather detailed piece about it which you’ll see published in the next few weeks. Basically again no studio has understood how to properly adapt a game to a film because the people on one side don’t play enough games and those on the other side don’t watch enough movies. We also had Ratchet & Clank the movie, which I didn’t take the time to watch because I wanted to play the game which is a remake of the original game anyway so it seemed redundant to pay money to watch a movie based on a game that I was already going to play that was already based on a game I had already played. But Rotten Tomatoes gave that a 17% which is even worse than Warcraft so I’ll just assume my choice not to watch it was the right one. I’m currently playing the game however and I’m having lots of fun. And everyone seems to have forgotten the importance of narrative quality in visual based entertainment mediums in general. But now let’s get to the actual gaming.

acm
They don’t even really show the leap of faith properly.

I’d say the best way to do this is to just touch on the highlight games of 2016 one by one. So in my opinion the top 10 games of 2016 in no particular order were The Division, Uncharted 4, Battlefield 1, Final Fantasy XV, No Man’s Sky, The Last Guardian, Street Fighter V, Quantum Break, Pokemon GO, and Overwatch. Please note that when I say “top games of 2016” I am in no way, shape, or form saying that these were the best games of 2016. In fact some of the titles I just listed can and should be considered on the list of the worst games of 2016. By “top” in this case I mean popular and /or noteworthy. These are the games that garnered the most attention from the press and public in 2016. There were some other honorable mentions such as Dishonored 2, Titanfall 2, Mafia III, and Doom but these 10 are the ones that caused the most buzz for the longest amount of time and I think sum up gaming in 2016 as a whole best. So let’s tackle them one by one.

The Division was another Destiny scenario. A great concept ruined by a lacking plot, terrible end game, and a screwed up economy. Again, I fell for the beta and preordered it and again I, like so many others, was left disappointed. The Division however, was a lot faster about their updates and added multiple new modes of play in the first year of the game. But Ubisoft, like so many other developers, failed to realize that once a player base is lost it’s nearly impossible to bring it back. The loyal players are still playing and some returned, but most of us never took the time to try it again after finally getting fed up. I preordered the gold edition yet I have not logged back in to even try Survival even though I have multiple friends still playing it that have told me the new expansion is great. This always online, PVP focused, crappy end game scenario just keeps coming more and more and it’s really a problem. Probably one of the lowest points for gaming in 2016, but by no means the lowest.

the-division
Buyer’s Remorse courtesy of Ubisoft

Uncharted 4 was a high point for both the franchise and 2016. It won countless awards including PlayStation game of the year by the users, which in my opinion might be the most important award a game can win. As in player’s choice game of the year, not specifically PlayStation. I haven’t played this one yet, but I already bought it and can’t wait to complete Nathan Drake’s adventure. That was also a high point in my book. The fact that Naughty Dog chose to conclude the franchise instead of milking it for as long as they can. The plot drives development other than being added in last minute like with so many other games and franchises today. I hope 2017 has more moments like Uncharted 4.

Battlefield 1 was heavily hyped from the beginning and set against Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. I don’t play either of these franchises and I didn’t buy either game, but I have to say that both games impressed me this year because they did things differently for once. Battlefield 1 decided to go the opposite direction of every other mainstream FPS game for like the last two to three generations of consoles. You’re always either in WWII fighting Nazis, in the Middle East fighting “terrorists”, or in the future fighting aliens and it’s gotten so old. Battlefield 1 goes back to WWI which is pretty much unheard of in modern shooters. The trailer looked great and the gameplay looked like it would at least be kind of different from the same boring crap these studios dish out every year. But I also think Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare deserves to be commended for actually trying last year. COD is a series that always gets panned for having a crappy campaign. It’s a game that people buy for the PVP and until recently they never took serious issue with that. But in recent years Infinity Ward has legitimately been trying to be taken seriously in the narrative gaming genre. Advanced Warfare was praised by many people for actually having a story worth playing. I didn’t play it, because I never buy COD, but I was actually curious about the story starring Kevin Spacey. The trailer for Infinite Warfare looked even more legit for plot with epic speeches by Kit Harington (Jon Snow from Game of Thrones). I was so impressed by the trailer that I actually considered buying this one. Kudos to both franchises for finally thinking outside the box. I don’t like the fact that new CODs are made every year, but if these pew pew franchises will actually put some effort in then more power to them.

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You almost got me this year Infinity Ward

Final Fantasy XV finally dropped. It had a very long and very disheartening development cycle. Originally it was supposed to be a completely different game. At times people didn’t believe it was ever gonna get released, but it finally did. I first tried it at a mall in Taiwan back in 2015. Right away I was impressed. This was not another shitty FF13 scenario. This was the Final Fantasy game we’d all been waiting for. A real time FF game that runs smoothly, looks beautiful, and has characters that people really relate to. Square Enix has disappointed us a lot in recent years, but FFXV is a step in the right direction. I haven’t really started it yet but I already bought my copy. My one beef with the game going in is that it takes less than 40 hours to beat. It seems the days of long RPGs that give you over a hundred hours of high quality gaming are a thing of the past for Square Enix which is sad because they basically invented the genre. Overall though FFXV is definitely a win for 2016.

What can I say about No Man’s Sky that hasn’t already been said about the Assassin’s Creed movie? It came out exactly as disappointing as I predicted it would be months before release. You can read about that here if you’re interested. Everybody hyped it. Everybody, well except for me, preordered it. And everybody was disappointed. Ok that’s not entirely true. Some people liked it. But an overwhelming number of people were unhappy with the finished product. It set a new record for refund requests on Steam. Hello Games failed to deliver so many of the things it promised and then went dark after release in the wake of all the negative press. The game was overpriced, under done, and a huge blunder for everyone involved. I’m just glad I saw it coming and was able to help the few people who took my advice seriously from making a big mistake. Probably the lowest point for gaming in 2016.

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This may be the best No Man’s Sky troll I’ve seen.

The Last Guardian was finally released. After more than 10 years of waiting for that game, Japan Studio finally got it out. People had lost hope. Even my resolve had begun to crumble. But I kept hope alive and I was rewarded. Preordered the collector’s edition and for the first time in years I have no regrets about a preorder. The game is excellent. Now I’ll be honest and say it doesn’t live up to 10 years of waiting. The graphics are good, but it would have looked fine on PS3. And, like all games in the series, it’s not that long. My only real complaint is that I can’t pick up a magic sword and start slaying enemies like in ICO. But it is a great game and I’m glad we finally got to see it released in 2016. We’ll definitely consider this a high point.

Street Fighter V was just a big disappointment for all the wrong reasons. It’s a franchise that has set the standards for most fighters for the last 30 years. The formula isn’t hard. Yet for some reason this time Capcom decided to get all modern DLC and release the game prematurely with a fraction of the normal content. Eventually they put out the single player campaign but honestly the game shouldn’t have been released until that was ready. And you have to pay $30 for a character pass on top of an already $60 fighter. What the hell is that? This is just another example of developers/publishers rushing things out and not delivering the quality necessary to stay competitive in what has become a very expensive and extremely competitive industry. The game also had a lot of controversy surrounding censorship because once again the SJWs decided to get involved in gaming even though they don’t play the games they’re complaining about. Capcom gave in and censored the American version of the game taking NA one step closer to a Nazi police state where no one can have their own ideas about anything unless it agrees with the vocal minority or demagogues. Street Fighter V was not only a low point for 2016, but also possibly a bad omen for the future of game development and release.

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Quantum Break was yet another example of how Microsoft doesn’t know shit about keeping their customers happy or just flat out doesn’t care about it. The game was announced as an XB1 exclusive only to last minute get ported to PC, angering most of the XB1 user base in the process. PC owners felt cheated for being misled into purchasing the console version and console exclusive gamers felt angry that an exclusive title could so off handedly be ported thus negating the value of their console. And Microsoft went as far as saying that they wouldn’t be doing many more XB1 exclusives in general because they want everything to be both XB1 and PC because obviously that’s more profitable for them. While I am all for cross platform games and think exclusives are one of the worst practices in the industry today, even I was disgusted by Microsoft’s comfort with blatantly lying to loyal XB1 users and the gaming public in general. That kind of behavior is everything that’s wrong with the industry today. Also the game ended up being kind of underwhelming as well so just an all-around low point for 2016.

Usually I don’t talk about mobile games, but how could we talk about gaming in 2016 without mentioning Pokemon GO? Niantic Labs delivered a great concept with record breaking downloads and profits only to somehow screw it all up with greed, bad management, slow development practices, and general negligence. I still play Pokemon GO and I genuinely enjoyed the times when it was a thing everyone was doing. But I’m in no way surprised that the game died off for most people because it has so many problems. And the worst part is that most of them could easily be fixed if they would just stop being so blatantly greedy. Pokemon GO is just like Destiny and The Division. Proof that great marketing and a great concept go a long way but don’t hold a user base if the developer doesn’t make player enjoyment the main priority.

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And finally, let’s talk about Overwatch. Now for me you can’t talk about OW without mentioning Battleborn. You can choose to say they weren’t competing with each other, but the public directly compared the two and the public chose Overwatch. Now personally I played the beta for both games and I didn’t buy either. But what saddens me is that the public chose Overwatch. I’ll be completely honest and say that OW has the better basic gameplay, but it’s by no means the better game. Probably the most played game of the year was a game that has no single player campaign or mode, no story, and requires you to be always online to play. People basically told Blizzard and all developers that from now on they can produce half a video game and still charge $60 for it. In return that game will win game of the year, get used in esports, and be the leading search on PornHUB. What the hell is wrong with everybody? If Overwatch had a campaign I would have purchased it. The gameplay is solid and the graphics are good. But I’m not going to pay $60 to have to always be online and rely on other people to define my gaming experience. That’s not acceptable. If the game had of been $30, which would have been an appropriate price for a match based PVP only game, then I wouldn’t be complaining, but you can’t just throw out COD multiplayer with lesbian porn stars and charge the price of games like The Witcher 3. I think the number of controversies surrounding Tracer are hilarious and telling about how people feel about the game. They love the gameplay but they want a story and that’s why they care so much about things like comic books that in no way affect the game. It’s Star Wars: Battlefront all over again with a more diverse roster. Battleborn may not have been the better game mechanically, but it had a story with a cooperative campaign and people chose Overwatch because of the “sexy” female characters. And the most ironic part is the fact that the game is being championed for its diversity while being one of the biggest drivers of sexism and the objectification of females in the gaming community in 2016. It’s not fair to call such a successful game a low point in 2016, but calling it a high point means accepting a future where developers don’t even try when they steal your money.

2017

Ultimately 2016 wasn’t a terrible year. I guess based on my opinion of these 10 specific 10 games it leans a little more towards the negative side, but not by much. It had some very low points both in and outside of gaming. But there were also some great moments in gaming that made 2016 a year worth remembering. The game I was probably most impressed with in 2016 was Attack on Titan by KOEI TECMO. It was a perfect recreation of the show that played well, looked good, and had a lot of play value in it. I’d like to see more adaptations so expertly done. Here’s hoping that 2017 will be a great year of gaming but based on the announcements we’ve seen so far I’m already losing confidence. Fingers crossed for Horizon I guess.

What were your high and low points of 2016? Was it a good year for gaming overall?

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.

Let Players Play Their Way on Gaming Rebellion

This week I published an article about how developers seem to be putting their own opinion based priorities about how their games should be played above those of the consumers at the expense of players’ enjoyment. I focused a lot on Activision and Destiny in this post, but many other developers today are just as guilty. I published this article on Gaming Rebellion but here’s the introduction:

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I know a number of the ideas put forth in this post are controversial in today’s world of constantly evolving games. I also know that many trolls will chalk the whole thing up to me just crying about things being too hard and that’s fine. What would the internet be without haters? But the general idea is one that I believe resonates with all gamers, both casual and hardcore. Players should be given the ability to enjoy games the way they want to enjoy them regardless of how others feel, as long as those others aren’t seriously affected by it.

You can read the rest right here. Please check out my Author’s Archive for other articles by me on Gaming Rebellion.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.

The 52 Challenge 2016 Complete!

I don’t know what year it first came to my attention, but I know that for as long as I’ve been gaming on my own dime I’ve wanted to complete the 52 Challenge. For those of you that don’t know, the 52 Challenge is the task of completing 52 games in a single year. For some this might sound easy, but for people like me it’s quite difficult. Finally after a number of years believing I would never manage to complete this achievement I finally finished it this year with two whole weeks to spare.

For me the 52 Challenge is extremely important and meaningful. I don’t consider it something that no one can do. Actually I consider it something that anyone who commits to can do. But the fact that anyone can do it doesn’t make it any less challenging or any less special in my opinion. The fact that all gamers can accomplish this goal doesn’t mean most of them will. It’s the fact that it’s so hard to commit to even though it’s very doable that makes it special and something worth doing . . . once.

challenge-accepted

The concept of beating 52 games in a year is difficult because even after you get past the challenge of being able to purchase/acquire 52 games in a year you still have to have the time and ability to beat them. There are very few moments in a normal person’s life where all the pieces just easily come together to do it. When you’re a kid you have school and in my case a job even back when I was in elementary school working under the table as a delivery boy. Even if at the pre-college age you do have the time to actually complete 52 games in a year there’s a good chance that you don’t have the money. My parents weren’t wealthy but they did the best they could to be able to provide me with video games as a kid. There was no year before I moved out that they purchased me 52 different games in a single year or could have even if they wanted to.

Similar issues of time and resources come up when you’re in college. I was a full time student with two majors and two minors while also working a job and trying to have some semblance of a social life. I played a lot of games in college. In fact fellow gamers were always impressed by my completion numbers per a semester. But I still never came close to completing 52 in a given year.

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I think there’s a deadline in life to completing the 52 Challenge as a normal person with a believable amount of money and work responsibilities. Once you get too old and you have a spouse and children it just doesn’t seem like a practical goal to have. Even when you aren’t married and don’t have kids, a relationship can put significant strain and reduction on your gaming time.

I think the only practical moment in life where a normal person can seriously hope to complete the 52 Challenge is sometime after college, but before marriage and parenthood, having already found a legitimate job. That’s where I am right now. That doesn’t mean it was a walk in the park though. I still had to maintain my blog, YouTube, Twitch, and Twitter, and Instagram throughout the year, never once missing my normal posting deadlines/behavior all while still maintaining a long term relationship. It’s only because my girlfriend supported me from day one of 2016 in completing this goal that I was able to manage it. She took this goal seriously for whatever reason and made sure to do her best not to get in the way of my dream to complete it. It also comes down to taking it seriously on a personal level. I went into January 1st of this year knowing that I was going to not only attempt but commit to completing the 52 Challenge for the first and most likely only time in my life. A time where I don’t yet have the responsibilities of a family, but also have the resources of a full time job made it possible, but not easy.

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For me, choosing which games to play was just as important as actually playing the games. I made it a point, for the most part, to only choose practical games that wouldn’t take too long or be too much of a hassle to complete. Games like Final Fantasy were out of the question. Towards the end of the year I was behind by several weeks because of work related responsibilities and had to actively seek out short indie titles that could be beaten in a single day. Some weeks I beat three games to make up for lost time. I also have to admit that I wouldn’t have been able to afford to get the right 52 games if not for already having a hefty backlog of very specific titles as well as the free games acquired from PlayStation Plus and my position as a game reviewer. This allowed me access to a number of short indie titles that I never would have purchased or most likely heard of on my own.

The gaming aspect was no walk in the park either. Especially in the last month of the challenge. As my list will show, I went into December needing to finish nine more games. I cleared nine games in the first 16 days of the month. This meant multiple nights a week having to stay up till at least 2 AM and then still showing up for work at 9 AM. I completed the 52 Challenge without missing a day of work or blowing off plans with my girlfriend, but I did have to give up hanging out with friends on multiple occasions. But it wouldn’t be worth doing if it wasn’t challenging and great challenges require sacrifice and dedication.

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Everyone kind of sets their own rules for the 52 Challenge, but they’re all very similar. Mine were short but strictly adhered to.

  1. Only games I started in 2016 counted towards the completion of the 52 Challenge.
  2. Game could not have already been beaten in previous years and replayed to be counted towards the 52 Challenge.
  3. Completion of a game will be decided on a case by case basis depending on the genre. All story based games require the completion of the main campaign to count.
  4. 100% completion is not a requirement for games to count towards the 52 Challenge except in specific situations.
  5. All 52 games must be completed before January 1st 2017 (local time).
  6. Game must be recorded in log to count towards the completion of the 52 Challenge.

I know some people are much more strict than I and will only count 100% completions towards the 52 Challenge, but I don’t see the trophies as being that important except in a few specific games.

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Without further delay, I submit for your appraisal my completion list for the 52 Challenge 2016.

  1. Arcade Archives: MAGMAX (PS4) – 1/2/16
    • 100% completion.
  2. Bayonetta 2 (Wii U) – 1/3/16
    • Campaign completed.
  3. Sonic Lost World (Wii U) – 1/5/16
    • Campaign completed.
  4. Shovel Knight (Wii U) – 1/11/16
    • Campaign completed.
  5. Arcade Archives: Shanghai 3 (PS4) – 1/12/16
    • 100% completion.
  6. Poker Knight 2 (PC) – 1/13/16
    • All unlocks and bounties acquired.
  7. Rocket League (PS4) – 1/14/16
    • Won the Season Championship
  8. Pikmin 3 (Wii U) – 1/21/16
    • Campaign completed.
  9. Dragon Ball Xenoverse – (PS4) – 2/19/16
    • Main campaign completed.
  10. Arcade Archives: Double Dragon II – The Revenge (PS4) – 3/21/16
    • Campaign completed.
  11. The Division (PS4) – 3/20
    • Campaign completed. Reached main level 30 and DZ level 30.
  12. Just Dance 2015 (Wii U) – 2/28/16
    • Completed all songs with a 3* or higher. Most songs 4/5*.
    • All UPLAY actions completed.
    • Online ranking above 50.
  13. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue (PS3) – 4/6/16
    • Campaign completed.
    • All UPLAY actions completed.
  14. Just Dance 2016 (Wii U) – 4/6/16
    • Completed all songs with a 3* or higher.
    • All UPLAY actions completed.
  15. Metal Gear Solid (PS3) – 4/16/16
    • Campaign completed.
  16. KNACK (PS4) – 5/8/2016
    • Campaign completed.
  17. Metal Gear Solid 2 (PS3) – 5/16/16
    • Campaign completed.
  18. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS3) – 6/9/16
    • Campaign completed.
  19. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3) – 6/18/16
    • Campaign completed.
  20. Arcade Archives: Ikki (PS4) – 6/20/16
    • 100%
  21. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PS3) – 7/4/16
    • Campaign completed.
  22. Metal Gear (PS3 Port) – 7/6/16
    • Campaign completed.
  23. Asemblance (PS4) – 7/3/16
    • Campaign completed.
  24. Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U) – 7/13/2016
    • Campaign completed.
  25. Metal Gear 2 (PS3 Port) – 7/14/16
    • Campaign completed.
  26. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4) – 7/17/16
    • Campaign completed.
  27. Arcade Archives: Bomb Jack (PS4) – 7/21/16
    • 100% completion.
  28. Arcade Archives: Solomon’s Key (PS4) – 8/12/16
    • 100% completion.
  29. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4) – 9/8/16
    • Campaign completed.
  30. Arcade Archives: Scramble (PS4) – 8/20/16
    • 100% completion.
  31. Super Luigi U (Wii U) – 9/10/16
    • Final Boss defeated.
  32. Assassin’s Creed: Unity (PS4) – 9/18/16
    • Campaign completed.
  33. Tearaway: Unfolded Crafted Edition (PS4) – 10/6/16
    • Campaign Completed.
  34. The Last of Us (PS4) – 11/8/16
    • Campaign completed.
  35. Small Radios Big Televisions (PS4) – 11/12/16
    • 100% completion.
  36. Hyper Light Drifter (PS4) – 11/14/16
    • Campaign completed.
  37. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4) – 11/20/16
    • Campaign completed.
  38. Double Breakout (Wii U) – 11/20/16
    • All stages completed.
  39. Strike Vector Ex (PS4) – 11/21/16
    • Campaign completed.
  40. Attack on Titan (PS4) – 11/25/16
    • Campaign completed.
  41. Journey (PS4) – 11/27/16
    • Campaign completed.
  42. Gone Home (PS4) – 11/28/16
    • Campaign completed.
  43. Contrast (PS4) – 11/30/16
    • Campaign completed.
  44. I, Zombie (PS4) – 12/2/16
    • All levels completed.
  45. Unfinished Swan (PS4) – 12/4/16
    • Campaign completed.
  46. CounterSpy (PS4) – 12/5/16
    • Campaign completed.
  47. One Way Trip (PS4) – 12/5/16
    • Campaign completed.
  48. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China (PS4) – 12/7/16
    • Campaign completed.
  49. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India (PS4) – 12/8/16
    • Campaign completed.
  50. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia (PS4) – 12/10/16
    • Campaign completed.
  51. Transformers: Devastation (PS4) – 12/13/16
    • Campaign completed.
  52. The Order 1886 (PS4) – 12/16/16
    • Campaign completed.

I’m happy to admit that certain games were really bad and that I intentionally played them because I knew they were short and in some cases easier to beat. But I made sure to play all games on the normal difficulty or higher where the option was available. This was not an easy experience that I was able to take casually. I struggled to get through this on time. Certain games were very irritating and as I played more and more I grew less and less patient with tiny flaws and setbacks. Getting stuck for even a few minutes greatly angered me by the time I got to the last 10 games if not before.

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Completing the 52 Challenge also, in my opinion, affected my physical health. The many consecutive late nights were part of it. Also spending way more time gaming and foregoing usual lifestyle habits like my normal workout regimen definitely had an effect, which I am now working to correct. And I was never even that hardcore about working out to begin with. I’m thankful that I actually didn’t gain too much weight over the course of this year.

Overall I am very thankful that I was able to finally complete the 52 Challenge this year. I wasn’t sure that I was going to make it going into December with a five week deficit. This was an extremely gratifying experience even though it was very difficult and at times both physically and mentally grueling. I have no interest in attempting to do it again next year or most likely ever again, but I am so proud of myself for finally being able to add my name to the list of gamers that have at some point completed this most grueling of gaming challenges.

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I would like to take the time to thank all the people who supported me in completing this goal. Thank you for your encouragement, advice, and support whether through Twitter, Facebook, or in person. And of course thank you to my girlfriend for not only putting up with my constant gaming, but also actively supporting me by watching me play at times and encouraging me to keep going and even buy games I didn’t necessarily want to pay for if it meant completing the challenge. 2016 may have been a terrible year, but it was a productive year of gaming . . . at least for me anyways.

Thanks for reading this year whether you started on my old blog page or just recently joined me. I’d like to wish all my readers a Happy New Year and here’s to a great year of gaming and blogging in 2017.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please take the time to follow my blog, leave a comment, and check out some of my other channels if you enjoyed what you read.