The Top Ten Games of 2013
First, because there were too many games to cover here, here’s a supercut I put together of some of the best games of 2013.
I feel that everyone putting together a best of 2013 list that truly cares about gaming only does so after slamming a recently emptied bottle of whiskey down on their desk and sighing deeply.
2013 was one of the most packed years in gaming history. From every available outlet poured titles that are without comparison, even when weighed against the entirety of gaming history. Sure there was the usual flood of crap and frustration, but it seemed that bi-weekly we were getting one of those games that you just had to play. Of course, that’s because we were.
Even if you don’t take into account the launch of two next gen systems and all the other major industry occurrences and just focus on the quality of the games themselves, you’d be hard pressed to name to many other years ahead of 2013.
A lot of hard decisions had to be made when putting together this list, but I feel that this is as comfortable with the honors as I’m ever going to be. Just note that if you don’t see your favorite game it’s either because I didn’t play it, painfully had to cut it, or just didn’t like it. The curious can ask in the comments below.
Without further ado, here are the best games of 2013.
10. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Let me get “Assassin’s Creed IV’s” biggest problem out of the way first. It’s still an “Assassin’s Creed” game. Therefore it carries all of the faults of that series including a far too simplified combat system, some seriously uneven mission quality, and obligatory futuristic plot elements that are getting more and more superfluous.
But, sweet Jesus this game is just pure fun. A lot of that fun derives from the perfect implementation of its pirate elements. “AC:IV” is the absolute greatest pirate game ever made. It gives you nearly everything you could ever want from the romanticized pirate experience many of us are familiar with, and does it with sheer glee. It certainly doesn’t hurt this is also one of the best written and best acted games I’ve played in some time.
Were this game developed from the ground up as an entirely new series called “Black Flag” it may be even higher on this list. As it is, though, there are few games more entertaining than “AC:IV” regardless of your feelings towards the series up until this point, or any specific video gaming turn ons and peeves you may have.
The age of the true survival horror game seems to be coming to a close as a growing number of developers pussy out and implement more and more action elements into the genre in order to make it more appealing to a larger crowd.
That’s a true shame, as a game like “Outlast” shows the tremendous amount of life left in the traditional horror style. This is quite simply one of the most terrifying games ever released, and at no point does it give a damn if you are enjoying yourself while playing it or whether or not you feel safe. It’s an uncompromising realization of the the potential gaming has in terms of conveying pure horror, and you’ll love every minute you hate playing it.
I’m so very thankful the new generation of YouTube players have spread the gossip of “Outlast” and all its terrible wonder,s and helped let the people know that for all the waves of shitty action games with occasional jump scares that dare label themselves horror, there are still some games that do it right.
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Posted in: Editorial
Tags: Assassin's Creed IV, best games of 2013, best games of the year supercut, Bioshock: Infinite, game of the year 2013, game of the year 2013 supercut, game of the year awards 2013, Grand Theft Auto V, Gunpoint, Outlast, Papers Please, stanley parable, Super Mario 3D World, The best games of 2013, the best video games of 2013, The Last of Us, video game supercut
If They’re Not Careful, Telltale Games Runs The Risk of Overexerting Themselves
Ever since their acquisition of the “Sam and Max” license, Telltale has garnered a reputation as a studio that does things a little bit differently.
It was with that series that the studio kicked off their unique episodic format, where a series is released in monthly or bi-monthly installments over the course of a season. While the quality of their individual installments varied from great to “meh” with some regularity, for the most part the approach was viewed as a gimmick by many.
That was until the release of “The Walking Dead.”
With that series Telltale finally made it all click. The series of choices and consequences in those games made the episodic format actually matter, while the quality of the writing and direction made “The Walking Dead” the first series from the studio to maintain a standard of excellence throughout. The general consensus winner of the 2012 game of the year awards, “The Walking Dead” was a runaway success.
Much like the runaway success “Walking Dead” TV show, however, its increased attention also drew increased criticism. Many gamers lashed out against “The Walking Dead” games for not actually being games. Instead they saw them as a series of story sequences loosely strung together by the occasional dialogue choice or QTE section. As a result, “The Walking Dead” became one of the most cited titles in the growing debate of whether or not the term video game is still appropriate when describing the state of the medium today.
Regardless of where you stand on that particular issue though, the sales numbers don’t lie, and the numbers tell us that “The Walking Dead,” was a success. It was such a success, in fact, that it allowed TellTalle to not only continue “The Walking Dead” series, but begin entirely new series within the high profile worlds of “Fables,” “Borderlands,” and “Game of Thrones.”
And that’s what worries me.
See, I’m firmly in the crowd that loved “The Walking Dead.” While that’s mostly due to the quality of the game’s storytelling, I also attribute that to the fact that there wasn’t really anything like “The Walking Dead” series, even in the TellTalle canon. It was a breath of fresh air in the gaming world, and made the choice to buy “The Wolf Among Us” a no brainer.
By the end of the first episode of that game, though, it became pretty obvious that Telltale had no intentions of abandoning the gold mine of design they stumbled on during “The Walking Dead.” I don’t want to sound like I’m writing off “Wolf” as a re-skinned “Walking Dead,” but rather want to point out that if the appeal of “The Walking Dead” lied in it’s uniqueness and quality storytelling, the appeal of “Wolf” lies just in its storytelling.
That’s fine, but it does raise the question of whether or not TellTalle can justify releasing several high profile series in succession that all follow that “Walking Dead” style. After all, how many times can you hope to catch lightning in a bottle?
Now it’s not like I think Telltale should look at the success of “The Walking Dead” and say “Well, we made a good game so its time to shut down production,” but they already have both “The Walking Dead Season 2” and “The Wolf Among Us” releasing concurrently and now apparently have “Game of Thrones” and “Borderlands” titles in the works as well.
There’s no studio in the world that can possibly handle that amount of production and maintain a consistent level of quality, especially if the games they are making all follow the same basic template. We’ve seen before what happens to studios who feel the obligation to make annual releases of the same series and, with few exceptions, the results are not pretty.
In the case of Telltale, however, it’s even more tragic. Here’s a studio that made their namesake by releasing a game that shook the foundations of gaming and had some questioning the validity of the classification gaming itself. Going from that, to just continuing to do that but in new worlds reminds me of the executives from “South Park” who surmised that if saying shit in a TV show was popular and revolutionary, then saying shit even more and in different episodes is sure to be just as popular and revolutionary.
I believe that TellTalle is a great developer, and will never intentionally start banging out games routinely in the “Call of Duty” style. However, whether it is their intention or not, unless they start exploring a style beyond that of “The Walking Dead,” or at the very least limit their releases to a series at a time, they run the risk of overexerting themselves and learning a lesson that entertainers everywhere have learned the hard way for years.
After a while, the same act starts to get old.
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: gaming, gaming blogs, gaming news, Telltale, Telltale Borderlands, Telltale Game of Thrones, telltale games, Telltale VGX, The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Too many Telltale games, Video Games
What Role Will the Survival Concept Have In Gaming’s Future?
Gaming, like so many other things, is not immune to trends.
With some regularity entire styles, genres, and concepts go in and out of fashion. Sure certain aspects of gaming remain consistently popular, and others remain consistently despised, but for the most part you really have to keep a finger on the pulse of gaming in order to hope to keep up with which way the winds of change are blowing.
Do that, and you’ve probably noticed that survival games have been growing in popularity over the years, and have become especially prolific throughout 2013.
Nowhere is this more true than the indie market, where it seems like every week brings with it the reveal of yet another title that cites sneaking, scrounging, and surviving as its main attractions. Sure there’s been a number of AAA games to use survival elements (“The Last of Us” is a great example), but if you’re looking for the heart of the survival movement, it’s into the indies you must go.
Now unlike some other trends in various walks of life, the emergence of the survival genre on the indie scene is one that’s fairly easy to understand and trace.
Simply put, survival games represent a marked departure from nearly everything that the majority of AAA games represent. They do not hold your hand, they allow for (and require) a healthy amount of creative freedom, and most importantly they present a very real chance of failure without glory. In a way they are becoming the James Dean of indie gaming. An icon that so perfectly represents the antithesis of the current cultural climate, that those with similar spiritual beliefs cannot help but be drawn to their magnetism.
Unlike James Dean, however, whose global impact only required a few films, survival as a stand alone concept has yet to really produce a champion to the masses that so perfectly represents everything it stands for that its presence can no longer be ignored.
Now I want to make myself clear on that point. Survival has been a part of some of the greatest games of all time, but only a part of it. For instance, “Resident Evil” was survival/horror. “Minecraft” was survival/crafting. “Fallout 3” was an FPS RPG with survival elements. Hell, while we’re on the subject, just about every video game incorporates at least some elements of survival.
The survival genre by itself, however, is still so young that it’s not even a recognized genre on Steam of all places. You can look and look, but you’ll have a hard time finding any games which classify themselves as strictly a survival game, and there’s a very good reason for that.
Without beating around the bush, survival games on their lonesome just don’t work at the moment. It’s a realization I came to when playing “Day One: Gary’s Incident” and “Sir, You are Being Hunted.” One of those games (“Day One”) is a complete abomination of game design that shows how developing a survival game is not recommended for those who intend to go in with anything but their full ass. I’ll refer you to the infamous Total Biscuit review of it for proof.
“Sir, You Are Being Hunted,” however, is a much more interesting case all around. It’s writing is crisp, it’s world and tone are simply brilliant, and the care put into ensuring its survival aspects are clever and well implemented is quite simply second to none. Yet even then, it’s a game that is hindered simply by the fact that survival (and survival alone) is not really a compelling incentive for long term play. It’s a sort of perpetual motion predicament. You’re encouraged to survive, just so you can continue surviving.
In so many respects though, “Sir” is the epitome of the survival genre as a standalone concept so far. While that isn’t to suggest that a better game can’t come along, the end result of it still being an overall unsatisfactory experience does place some serious doubts on the legitimacy of a survival only genre, despite the growing number of entrants to it on the horizon.
However, I still do believe that the next great trend in gaming is survival.
You see, ultimately it does not matter if a standalone survival experience comes along and stands as its grand champion, as the sheer amount of games that are beginning to incorporate survival elements into their design are already a victory for the concept. Every time a new rougelike comes out, survival gaming is victorious. With every game of the year award “The Last of Us” garners, survival gaming is victorious. With every bit of hype “The Division” generates, survival gaming garners some hype.
As mentioned, this is good for gaming if for no other reason than the fact survival games are radically different from so many other major releases today. Their presence then is beneficial for the simple reason that they offer an alternative to some gaming conventions that are quickly wearing out their welcome.
The reason I think that survival will ultimately prove to be more popular than that, though, is because developers have done such a great job in the later parts of this generation when it comes to introducing survival naturally into more and more games. It’s to the point now where if a game doesn’t have aspects of survival, it feels somewhat hollow. While you could make the argument that survival would more quickly become a necessity if a game came along that used it in a way that “Modern Warfare” made the incorporation of RPG character building elements standard in most games, the survival revolution has already gathered enough steam to plow straight ahead into the next generation.
Gaming is very much subject to trends and fads, and all indications point to survival as the next one. That may sound like a bad thing considering the negative connotations of those words, but in this case it is very interesting, as the incorporation of survival has the potential to alter the current creative direction of gaming on a very serious fundamental level.
Whether or not you actively seek out survival games may soon be irrelevant, as survival games will soon be finding their way to you.
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: best survival games, best survival video games, Day One Gary's Incident, Don't Starve, gaming, gaming news, Sir You Are Being Hunted, survival, survival games, survival gaming genre, survival genre, the future of survival games, Video Game Blogs
The Popular (and Absolutely Insane) Just Cause 2 Multiplayer Mod is About to Get a Steam Release
While I have no problem calling “Just Cause 2” a good game, I’m hesitant when it comes to giving it praise beyond that.
See if you attend the open world game design school, there’s really only two classes you can go to. One preaches using the large in-game world to provide a more intensely cinematic experience, while the other teaches the idea of using that same space to let players just go nuts with few (if any) design boundaries to limit or guide them.
While neither is inherently a wrong pursuit, “Just Cause 2′s” firm attendance and devotion to the latter design philosophy meant that while the game was insanely large and incredibly fun to just mess around in, elements like mission quality and story structure were either limited or non-existent.
Some time ago, however, a dedicated group of modders found a way to capitalize off of the built-in strengths of the game and give it a longevity that even a more cohesive and engaging storyline structure couldn’t do by simply adding a true online multiplayer mode to the game.
It’s not an unprecedented occurrence for a single player only game to get a modded multiplayer component, but when you consider that this particular mod allows for up to 600 players at once within the absolutely gigantic world of “Just Cause 2,” and factor in the game’s already zany and ridiculously fast paced nature, perhaps you can see why this drew so much attention from users who would have otherwise most likely stopped regularly playing the game some time ago.
Now it turns out it was not only individual users whose attention was caught by the mod, but the folks at Valve as well as it was recently announced that Steam will soon be making the popular multiplayer mod available for download as an official Steam release. This not only makes the mod much more accessible to the average person, but rightfully legitimizes it as an essential component of the “Just Cause 2” experience.
While the only available release date is still 2013, regardless of whenever this does actually hit Steam it’s already a big win for everyone involved. This is especially true for us, the players, who will now get an even easier chance to experience a sandbox action multiplayer game that is without chaotic equal. Expect to see a popular new wave of insane YouTube videos and jaws on floors when “Just Cause 2′s” multiplayer mode is released by the end of the month
Posted in: News, PC
Tags: best mods, gaming, gaming blogs, gaming headlines, gaming news, Just Cause 2, Just Cause 2 mods, Just Cause 2 multiplayer, Just Cause 2 Multiplayer Steam, steam, steam releases, Video game news
If Gaming is To Evolve In The Next Generation, It’s Time to Start Ditching the Cinema
Not getting my Playstation in time for the “Final Fantasy VII” craze, my first experience with the series was “Final Fantasy VIII.” While I could make the argument that I got the better game of the deal, that is a topic of heated debate best saved for another day.
Instead the point in mentioning my first exposure to a “Final Fantasy” on Playstation is to reference that moment we all experienced when playing that series for the first time on that platform when you first saw one of the games cinematics. Though I’m not an expert on human behavior by any means, I still feel fairly confident in suggesting that the majority of people’s immediate reaction to viewing one of those beauties was to pick their jaw up off the floor so they were able to better articulate to anyone that would listen how it was “Just like a movie,” and to wonder “When all video games will look that good.”
Now “FF:VIII” may have been my personal exposure to the wonders of the video game cinema, but it would be far from the last. In fact, you could argue that the PS1 was the heyday of the video game cinema, as console developers began to realize the incredible (at the time) graphical potential in these scripted sequences, and just how much they could add to the basic video game story which previously was viewed by even the most intense fans of the medium as a sort of inevitable handicap thats few exceptions of excellence were best treated as anomalies.
Simply put, cinemas on the Playstation were nearly universally thrilling exhibitions that showcased levels of potential out of gaming that may have been dreamed of, but never really considered in earnest as a viable progression.
However, the Playstation came out in 1994 and hasn’t really been actively developed for in about 12-13 years. Cinemas though, in a format that strongly resembles that which they debuted under, remain.
“But,” you say, sensing where I’m going from both context clues and the headline, “cinemas have improved greatly since then, and exercise a level of quality that makes those PS1 examples look archaic and pathetic.
On that point, I don’t disagree. There is a film like quality in the modern cinematic that even during the mind expanding origins of the PS1 cinemas I wouldn’t have been able to properly envision. What’s more is, cinemas of that quality are so prolific now that they’ve reached a point where their construction and implementation can, from a user stand point, be viewed as effortless.
The ability for a modern game to use cinemas in order to make their stories more in line with the presentation style of films may have reached their awe inspiring peak in the days of the Playstation, but in terms of overall quality you can’t argue that every subsequent year makes them better and better.
However, I hate them. Hate them, hate them, hate them. Hate them nearly every time I see them, and have had the experience of several otherwise great ,or at least enjoyable, titles ruined almost entirely by their presence.
To understand the problem with the modern cinema, you really have to look back at why they came to be in the first place. They existed to invoke the aforementioned reactions of “Wow this looks like a movie” and “When will games look this good?” and gave gaming a needed crutch to improve the outward appeal of its storytelling.
However, gaming no longer needs that crutch and is becoming weaker and weaker by relying on it. The idea of a video game being able to mimic a film may have once been a fantastic notion, but can now be accomplished by nearly any reasonable budget.
As such, that same idea is now insulting. While there may have been a time when films were the only known effective way to tell a visual story, that time is no more. To suggest that is the case is to ignore the tremendous strides that certain ambitious developers have made in the field when it comes to finding a way to present a story that is uniquely told by the abilities of video games.
Yet again and again, game developers from all walks of life see no problem in creating a tightly scripted, high graphical sequence that allows you to do absolutely nothing but put the controller down and watch. When you consider that the one universally defining characteristic of video games is interactivity, putting the player in a position where they are either entirely unable to interact with the game, or mostly unable to do so, is crippling and converts the experience from game to digitally animated film instantaneously.
What’s more, the use of cinemas to such an insane degree have also spawned a number of other flaws in gaming. Among them, the most consistently annoying of which would have to be the rise of the QTE. These sequenced button presses are, on occasion, a well done way to add a level of interactivity to story segments, but for the most part are used as a sort of begrudging solution developers offer to anyone who may balk at why they aren’t able to actually play the game they purchased instead of just watch it for its presumed technological grandeur and “epic” story.
The game that really highlighted the gravity of this problem to me would have to be “The Last of Us.” While “The Last of Us,” has one of the greatest stories in gaming history, it is made nearly unbearable at times because of its reliance on traditional cinemas to tell the tale. The cinemas themselves may be better scripted and acted out than nearly all others out there, yet still manage to be groan worthy if for no other reason than they force you to stop playing the very game itself. A game that relies heavily on keeping you in the moment, and gains much effectiveness from its tense atmosphere which instantly dissipates the moment a cinema appears.
What’s even worse in that instance is that Naughty Dog exhibits, in the same game no less, the ability to effectively tell a story with nearly no reliance on cinemas. That’s evident both in the banter between Joel and Ellie during levels which does more to enhance both individual characters and their relationship than any cinematic in the game can possibly do, and in the opening moments of the game which show perhaps the most gut wrenching and effective moments of the entire experience and afford you at least some level of interactivity with consequence.
Now even as I type this, I feel a twinge of hypocrisy as I’m among the biggest supporters of Telltale and their “Walking Dead” series, which is more or less an experience made up entirely of cinemas and quick time events. However, the very key difference there is that the “Walking Dead” series openly presents itself as that type of experience. It is a point and click adventure game, which are traditionally expected to be lighter on gameplay, and high on scripted sequences. You know to expect that when you go into it, and the developers are able to put extra work and importance into them since they are the majority focus of the game.
Instead my real problem with the whole idea of the modern cinema, is its appearance in games that otherwise feature an extremely active pace. It’s in those games where I sign up for the action and gameplay, and are instead spoon fed cinema after cinema that, regardless of the overall quality of the individual examples, are with few exceptions nowhere near as thrilling, effective, or certainly enjoyable as the very game they are apart of and, ideally, are only in place to enhance.
There was a time when the cinematic was a useful, exciting tool that showcased the potential for gaming to reach new heights of storytelling excellence. That time has passed, and the entire reason the average pre-rendered scripted cinematic remains is based on nothing more than laziness and an unwillingness, or creative inability, to pursue a viable storytelling evolution that can recreate the feeling and effect of the first time we viewed an elaborate cinema in a game, without harming the game in the process.
Much like 2D gaming or other tropes of the medium once born out of technological necessity, there will always be a place for the video game cinematic, regardless of whether or not it is still universally desired. However developers everywhere, particularly those with budget to spare, need to really sit down and think when designing their next titles if the use of a cinema is actually enhancing the experience in a meaningful way, or is merely preventing the player from actually being able to play and only serving to help the graphic and storytelling teams flex their creative muscles without purpose like the design equivalent of a professional bodybuilder.
Do that, and I think that many of them will come to the same conclusion on cinemas that many gamers have been exercising for years, which is to just skip them all together.
Posted in: Reviews
Tags: best video game cinemas, end of video game cinemas, games, gaming blogs, I hate video game cinemas, no more video game cinemas, problems with the Last of Us, Video Game Blogs, video game cinemas, Video game news, Video Games
Huge Sales Are Coming to the Xbox 360 Just in Time for the Holidays
Not able to get in early on the next generation by purchasing an Xbox One, Wii U, or PS4? Don’t worry because with the holidays approaching, you happen to be in luck.
No I don’t mean insane deals are coming on one of those systems (though that certainly is possible), but rather that the previous gen console you own is about to see some serious drops in game prices, allowing you to go back and play some of those great games you may have missed the first time around.
While PC holiday deals started on Amazon and other outlets some time ago, it looks like the Xbox 360 is the first console to throw its hat into the holiday sale madness ring by offering up a host of hugely discounted titles starting today through Xbox Live.
What’s available? Well for now you can get a host of Arcade greats such as “Mark of the Ninja,” “Dust,” and “The Cave,” while some AAA greats like “Fallout 3” (and all the available DLC’s), “Tomb Raider,” “Sleeping Dogs,” and “Skyrim” for 50% – 75% off.
However, it appears that the real deals are coming later in the week, as one day only sales are available on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is particularly true of the Cyber Monday collection which features some best of generation titles like “Red Dead Redemption,” “Dark Souls,” “The Witcher 2,” “L.A. Noire,” and “Far Cry: Blood Dragon,” all for 75% off.
The full list of games can be found here and, while this is quite honestly nothing in comparison to the PC sales available this time of year, for 360 owners who aren’t ready to make the next gen jump and need some truly great games to play around with during the holidays, this is a sale you absolutely have to take advantage of.
Posted in: News, Xbox 360
Tags: 360 game on sale, 360 games on sale, 360 video game sales, best holiday video game sales, black friday video game sales, gaming, gaming news, holiday video game sales, Video game news, Video Games, XBLA, Xbox 360, Xbox Live sales
Blood Bowl 2 Could Be A Much Needed Break From The Same Old, Same Old Sports Themed Game
One of my favorite game growing up was “Mutant League Football” for the Sega Genesis. A parody of the NFL that read like it might have been proofread by the Cryptkeeper (Bones Jackson instead of Bo Jackson, Killer Konvicts instead of Dallas Cowboys, etc.) the game was far from perfect, but it’s complete devotion to making an over the top, often childishly disturbing version of football as we know it was admirable and almost always entertaining.
It was a game where fireballs and landmines were in play, and you could bribe the referee or even murder him if a call didn’t go your way. It’s carefree over the top nature is an even greater breath of fresh air than it was upon the games initial release, especially when weighed against the increasingly stale entrants in the “Madden” series.
Of course since it was an EA title and that company would go on to make all the money in the world from that “Madden” series, “Mutant League” got the axe before it became a full fledged franchise, and theoretical PR nightmare.
This disheartened me for years as I longed for a football game that actually took a fun and creative approach to the subject matter, without sucking too bad (looking at you “Blitz: The League”). It turns out though, that the “Mutant League” games were actually based on an old tabletop strategy game called “Blood Bowl” which has actually been a tabletop tournament staple for years. Unfortunately I’ve never really been able to get into the tabletop gaming scene, and the video game adaptations of the series have been a real mixed bag.
Even still, it’s getting hard to suppress my excitement for the forthcoming “Blood Bowl 2.” In development by Cyanide Studios (developer of the most faithful adaptation of the game to date), little is unfortunately known about the game outside of its usual promise to be the biggest and best digital version of the game to date, with claims of better graphics and animations as well as new modes to back them up.
It’s the usual sequel rhetoric to be sure, but I’ve got to say that the screen shots of “Blood Bowl 2” provided by the game’s publishers are fairly encouraging, and show off a game aesthetically closer to the “Mutant League Football” proper sequel I’ve always wanted.
Of course, “Blood Bowl” isn’t meant to mimic the real time mayhem of “Mutant League,” but its still going to be interesting to see if Cyanide can do justice to the popular strategy game, and make it accessible enough so that those of us longing for a football inspired game that doesn’t take itself so damn seriously can get on board and find a new addiction when “Blood Bowl 2” is released sometime in 2014.
The Top Five Fixes and Features That Need to Be in Fallout 4
In what is quickly becoming the internet’s worst kept secret, it appears that famed developer Bethesda is gearing up to announce the highly anticipated “Fallout 4.” As one of the general public’s most beloved games of the previous generation (feels weird saying that…), the hype train for “Fallout 4” is beginning to resemble a locomotive in India, as fans across the world eagerly await any news regarding it.
While developer Bethesda is usually so generous with their game content it can feel greedy to make requests, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few items on every fan’s wishlist for “Fallout 4,” as well as a few generally accepted flaws in “Fallout 3” that could use a fix. Personally, I know I can think of five things, I’d really like to see in “Fallout 4.”
The Ability to Play In A World Affected By the Ending
I’d have to say my biggest disappointment with “Fallout 3” was that the game just kind of ended. There was the usual climatic final mission, but then you just got a cinema explaining the consequences of your decisions in the final moments. At that point if you wanted to keep exploring the world, you could only load up a save before the final mission and do it from there, with the finale being forever left on your to-do list.
It was a baffling decision that felt like one of the few genuine design flaws in the game. How could a game with so much to see and do just end? While the expansions and New Vegas fixed this particular problem, I expect that Bethesda will learn their lesson from “Fallout 3” and allow us to not only continue to explore the world after the credits role, but hopefully alter it in some noticeable way based upon the ending.
Incoporate Greater Grey Area Options
While “Fallout 3′s” karma system was one of the more involved of all the games that afford you character building moral choices, it’s hard to deny that if you really wanted the world to reflect your personal choices, the only real paths available were to be a paragon of virtue or the most evil bastard that ever lived.
That’s always been troublesome to me considering that morality in the “Fallout” universe is ambiguous to say the least. Forcing players to ultimately choose between comically good and evil just to get the game to react never really felt in-line with the rest of the world. It would be great if the karma system better incorporated the choice to live somewhere in the middle (neither entirely good or evil) and if the world reacted to you in this manner just as they would if you lived on either polar side of the morality scale. After all, as Bruce Campbell quipped, “Good…bad….I’m the guy with the gun.”
An Expanded, Region Specific Soundtrack
As much as I loved Three Dog and the game’s unique (and often disturbing) selection of 40′s and 50′s music, after a while I’d often turn off the radio as the DJ banter and songs didn’t take long to repeat. While this is expected in a game of this length, it was nonetheless annoying.
An expanded song selection would certainly go a long way to fixing this in “Fallout 4,” but what would really be great is if more individual regions of the map had there own radio stations. After all, it’s not hard to imagine a number of small range pirate stations would pop up here and there, and having certain songs only available in certain areas through those stations would go a long way to cutting down on the music monotony.
Longer Emphasis on Survival
When you first enter the world of the Capital Wastelands, you feel appropriately small and helpless. Nearly everything could kill you instantly and, since the game allowed you to go anywhere at any time, getting in over your head was easy. In those early moments it was vital to scrounge for any and all available resources, even if it meant near certain death to do so.
As the game went on, however, it didn’t take long before you were so stocked with equipment you would often pass up valuable items simply because you couldn’t carry them. Within only a few hours of play you go from fist pumping because you found a clean bottle of water, to better stocked than the local Wal-Mart. While this kind of character building is expected in RPG’s, it would be nice if a better balance was placed on resources availability so that the incredible survival aspects of the game don’t just disappear after the first few hours.
It’s understandable that your character will become more powerful and adapt overtime, but you should never feel as complacent in your available resources as you did in the later parts of “Fallout 3.”
More Imaginative Weapon Crafting
One of the things I liked about “New Vegas” is how developer Obsidian wasn’t afraid to take some chances with the design, since they knew the established “Fallout 3″ formula was strong enough to hold the weight of the occasional tweak and innovation. Among those tweaks was an expanded ability to better your items and weapons through the occasional pick up and crafting. It worked because it makes sense that in an apocalyptic world you would become somewhat adept at making do with what you have, and making what you have better based on what you find.
It was a step in the right direction, but it could go much further in a sequel. There’s tons of seemingly useless items floating around the “Fallout” universe, and it’d be great if you could find uses for them through a more involved crafting system. “Fallout 3” did have the occasional blueprint that allowed you to do this, but it felt too clean and simple. Allowing players a crafting screen to play around with that isn’t necessarily dependent on strict recipes would go a long way to expanding our involvement in the world, and our desire to explore it.
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: fallout, fallout 3, fallout 4, Fallout 4 improvements, Fallout 4 wishlist, gaming, gaming blogs, gaming news, New Features for Fallout 4, things that need to be in Fallout 4, Video Games
The Odds On Which Game Sony Will Reveal in Their Upcoming Announcement
To the surprise of many, Sony recently announced they will be hosting an event in NYC tonight which will air on Spike TV and supposedly reveal a major new game for the PS4. Coming on the eve of the PS4 launch, this is certainly odd timing on the company’s part for such an event, and naturally has curiosities peaked.
While those in the know regarding the event are understandably tight lipped, thanks to a few hints and leaks we do know that the game represents the return of a major exclusive Sony franchise and takes place in space. Based on a tweet from Hideo Kojima regarding the event, it’s also safe to assume that he has some involvement with it as well.
Naturally theories are running wild all over the internet as to what this could be, and while there are some franchises that I’d personally love to believe the announcement pertains to (“Front Mission” and “Legend of the Dragoon” jump to mind), looking at the situation realistically based on the information at hand there are some candidates which seem more viable than others. These are the odds for those candidates.
An early 3D action hit for the PlayStation, “Blasto” was definitely a product of its time and as such is more than a little rough around the technological edges. Still though, there is quite the cult fan base for the title and it definitely meets the return of an exclusive franchise and takes place in space requirements.
However, “Blasto” 2 was scrapped due in large part to the death of Phil Hartman, who voiced the titular character, and since that situation obviously hasn’t changed, it’s hard to imagine the series getting a reboot now. Also, while popular, “Blasto” is not exactly the kind of game that would generate this kind of hype.
Odds – 100:1
Crash Bandicoot/Jak and Daxter
If you’re trying to focus on returning exclusive franchises that can be worthy of an event, these are the two names that probably jump to mind first. Developer Naughty Dog is Sony’s greatest exclusive asset, and these two long dormant franchises still have lots of mainstream appeal and potential for follow ups.
However, Naughty Dog has already shot down the idea that their next game will take place in space. While it’s hard to believe anything you hear out of the game industry until it definitely comes to pass, the fact the company directly addressed this already does make it quite the longshot.
Odds – 75:1
Released shortly after “Metal Gear Solid,” “Syphon Filter” provided a more action based approach on the stealth genre and did it quite well. Much like “Blasto,” the original games are hindered by the technology of the time, but the franchise overall remained quite strong through out its run.
I suppose the biggest leap of faith here is the “takes place in space” element, which would be quite a venue shift for the series. It’s hard to imagine the game going in that direction, but all things considered, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see this as the reveal.
Odds – 50:1
A well crafted and highly innovative space shooter from the PS1, the disappearance of “Colony Wars” from the gaming scene has always been a little bewildering, considering how critically well received the series is and that it sold pretty well.
Buying into the idea “Colony Wars” is the announcement requires you to believe that Sony is willing to reveal a game that doesn’t initially pack a punch, but can impress based on next gen space shooter footage. A “Colony Wars” reveal would send everyone home happy, but it seems slightly unlikely it is worthy of the up-front hype the announcement has generated.
Odds – 25:1
Zone of the Enders
An exclusive, high-profile, space franchise that hasn’t seen a major new release in a long time but did get a, somewhat, successful HD collection recently and Hideo Kojima is involved in it? I think we have a winner.
“Zone of the Enders 3” was quietly cancelled earlier this year, but the attitude behind the announcement gave off the distinct impression that it was more of a delay than anything. The only real problem with “ZOE” being the reveal is that it fits the criteria so well it’s almost boring. However, much like “Colony Wars,” impressive next gen footage of a major mech battle in space would probably be the real selling point.
Odds – Even
Four Computer Gaming Accessories A Serious Gamer Can’t Live Without
As with most things, the stock hardware in gaming can only take you so far. This is particularly true of the PC’s humble keyboard and mouse. If you consider yourself a core gamer or are simply shopping for someone who fancies himself or herself “hardcore”, here are four accessories that should be staples of any serious PC gamer’s toolbox.
1) A Gaming Mouse
Your standard mouse comes equipped with two buttons, maybe a scroll wheel with a third button if you want to get really fancy. While basically functional for most gaming, it shows its limitations quickly with certain fast-paced and input-heavy genres; namely MMOs, RTS and FPS. Aside from the standard buttons, a gaming mouse generally gives you multiple buttons for programmable commands, keybindings and macros. Gaming mice like the R.A.T. for example, also allow you to lock buttons down to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome when raiding for hours in an MMO or building a fleet of units in an RTS game. Not to mention customizable grips, rests, weight and LED colors, and just the fact that many of them look like miniature Transformers.
2) A Racing Wheel
A racing wheel is a must to get the most out of driving sims and racing games. Modern racing wheels give you not just the wheel, but a shifter and the full complement of pedals. The better ones incorporate motor-driven force feedback, simulation of traction loss, and LED gear shift signals. If you’ve got a big budget you can even spring for a racing seat, or roll one of your own out of an old office chair!
3) A Gamepad
Many games simply aren’t designed to be played with a keyboard and mouse. This is particularly true of the classic retro games for consoles which are now appearing for download on various digital download services. When it comes to game genres like platformers and sports sims, something definitely gets lost in translation without a good pad. The Xbox 360 pad (which also works with Windows when plugged into a computer’s USB port) is the current de facto standard in PC gaming, with games that support gamepads nearly always supporting and auto-configuring it. There are a wide range of other manufacturers and styles, however, as well as USB converters to allow you to use the gamepads of various console systems on the PC. If you’ve got your heart set on simply playing some classic Super Mario Brothers, an analog pad and two buttons might be all you really need.
4) A Headset
A good headset is mandatory equipment for organizing raids, planning approaches with squad mates, or just calling someone a noob after delivering a particularly satisfying coup de grace. A quality headset can also improve the aural experience with high-quality audio and Surround Sound. If you’re interested in making gaming videos with commentary, a headset is also basically required studio equipment.
There are other accessories that are good to have that are genre-specific; for example, if you’re into fighting games, you’ll probably want to look into an arcade joystick, or if you’re into flight sims you’ll want a flight stick. The four accessories listed here will allow you to get the most out of a wide range of gaming genres, however. Have fun and happy gaming!