God of War or A Divine Tale of Gore and Boy

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Played & Explained with tags , on May 13, 2018 by Rabidgames

As someone who has never liked the previous God of War games, mostly because they were too linear and too fucking full of fucking quick time fucking events, the worst ever sorry excuse for actual gameplay mechanics, Rabidgames is pleasantly surprised how incredibly awesome the new God of War is.

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Kratos and WWE’s Triple H – twins from alternate realities?

But make no mistake, the new God of War still is linear for most parts, it’s just rather well designed so you don’t feel the linearity that much. There are some branches that lead to some goodies, some paths that merge again, and some puzzles ask for a close observation of your surroundings. There’s also a big open area for you to relax and listen to Kratos’ stories, although his stories are not to everyone’s liking. But don’t worry, you’ll meat a better storyteller soon.

The combat system in this God of War feels slower but meatier – and seeing your thrown axe sink into an enemy’s flesh feels pretty satisfying, too. There will also be a second weapons later on, which will speed up combat a bit (no spoilers though). There is less gore in general, but the finishing moves still include Kratos ripping apart bodies, limbs and fountains of blood. But while the combat system is fun – and gets upgraded quickly with runic attacks from your axe and the boy’s bow attacks, enemy variety is a bit underwhelming. There are a handful of enemies that appear over and over throughout God of War, and only reappear with new skins later. The same goes for boss fights – there are only a few real boss fights, most are fighting the same set of mini bosses over and over again.

That being said though, it doesn’t have that much of an impact because the pacing in God of War is well-rounded for most parts – story, exploration, fights, puzzles and the odd “what the fuck?” moment work well together – pretty close to the pacing of Uncharted 4 (although the puzzles in God of War are more diverse and sometimes involve more thinking – although never THAT much more). The only time that wasn’t the case was towards the end when there were mini boss battles after virtually each step – honestly, that was the point where Rabidgames said “fuck this shit!” and went to finish the game on Easy – because once you figured certain enemies out, it was nothing but a war of attrition, which can become boring if it happens 3 times within 10 minutes …

Now, the story … without a doubt, this is where God of War really, really shines. What starts as a journey to spread the ashes of Kratos’ wife turns into more. Honestly, the less is said here the better but Kratos in the north works remarkably well, his interactions with others do, too. And virtually everyone you meet, from a stranger coming to your house (starting the first epic boss fight) to a mysterious witch, plays a part in this cosmic Norse play – it’s a bit of a bonus if you know a bit about Norse mythology, sure, but obviously, Sony’s Santa Monica Studio has taken some liberties there (which don’t feel terribly out of place).

As with the Greek mythology, the Norse gods were also pretty much giant (no pun intended) assholes. Don’t expect God of War to be a Viking Metal fairytale where the heroic deeds of Odin and Thor are praised. On the contrary, the gods are depicted as big jerks. Which makes sense, because if you read your Edda, they actually were. Or well, as actually as fictional characters can become …

You also get to travel a few of the legendary 9 realms in God of War. Starting in Midgard, you travel to some during the story, but there are also 2 realms that sadly only exist as glorified arenas. It’s a shame to do that, as it would have been awesome to explore these realms a bit more. A few are also locked permanently – sorry, we don’t get to see Asgard and Valhalla this time.

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Black breath can’t be healthy.

And then, Atreus, or “Boy” – forget Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite, forget Ellie from The Last of Us (who was utterly useless in combat anyway), Atreus now officially is the new best juvenile sidekick in gaming. Not only is he a very, very integral part to God of War’s story, he changes from a weak little boy to a competent fighter – and more. In fact, he is a bit overpowered when fully levelled, which means all you need to do is evade and block and have Boy fire his arrows at enemies.

The writing also manages to portrait the relationship between Atreus and Kratos without it being tacky or soap operesque (is this even a word? Whatever). You can sense the bond between them growing because of the events in God of War, because of Atreus learning more and more about the world he’s growing up in, and you can feel it by how Kratos addresses his son. What exactly happens and what the implications of the revelation towards the end are, well, let’s say it makes more sense to not talk about it here, because, let’s face it, you should go and play God of War to see it for yourself. Speaking about implications, yes, there is a massive motherfucking cliffhanger! But in this case, it even makes sense. Let’s just say that Kratos’ bloody actions start a series of events that would probably have not fit into one game, hell, that would have been too epic for one game!

While this God of War might not appeal to all of the old-school fans of the series, the new mainstream approach has worked perfectly well in terms of metascore ranking and sales – and for a reason. Just like Uncharted 4, God of War is a masterpiece of storytelling and combining different gameplay elements together into a narrative machine that does a great job. And like Uncharted 4, God of War also is a very polished experience. Who would have thought that it pays off to publish a COMPLETE polished narrative masterpiece and make money with a SINGLE PLAYER game in this age of “games as a service”? Because fuck you, turns gamers actually like to play games like reading books – a complete experience you can wrap up in one sitting. And sure, there’s a cliffhanger, but that ain’t different with certain books. Right, George R.R. Martin?

Rabidgames bathes in the blood of Kratos’ enemies: First, Monster Hunter World has emerged as a GOTY contender, and now God of War throws its axe into the ring. And with Red Dead Redemption 2 on the horizon, there might be more to come … But one thing is clear – it will be hard to beat the story of this journey to Hel and back!

 

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Agents of Mayhem or No Saints No Flow

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , on May 10, 2018 by Rabidgames

It’s a shame. Agents of Mayhem could be great, but it’s not. It could be fun, but it’s not. It’s just mediocre at times at best. Story missions, gameplay and other activities are way too repetitive, the humour is way worse than in the Saints Row series (the good joke ratio is probably 1:10), and everything you do feels like a chore. And it doesn’t help open-world Seoul is soulless and devoid of anything meaningful. It looks nice but there is no depth.

In a way, Agents of Mayhem can be described as Saints Row with 95% less fun, and it would be accurate. Sure, the gameplay can be engaging at times, but then again, it’s hardly ever truly awesome. The missions, split into sub-missions (some of the ever-boring category of “go there, shoot 5 guys”), are … there. The dialogues are there, the gameplay is there, and sometimes it can be alright, but never great, and after a few hours, mixing and matching the different agents is all that keeps you engaged. The agents are pretty much Overwatch as a single player. They are relatively fleshed out and sometimes have an interesting back story, and they also play differently. They also have some missions of their own. Sadly, 95% of the missions are EXACTLY the same missions with other skins. Imagine Saints Row The Third but even more repetitive.

And then, bugs. Missions in Agents of Mayhem are pointlessly long, involve too much of the same, and if you’re in the last phase of a boss fight but then you’re buttons become unresponsive and you have to quit the game to come back to 20 minutes before, well, that screams fuck you! If you’re lucky, you just have to reload a checkpoint because your task is to kill everyone in a room – but one enemy is in the next room, and the door will only open if everyone in this room is dead. Oh yeah, the game counts the guy in the next room as one who is in this room … Fuck.

And then there are DLC characters – having Johnny Gat as DLC in Agents of Mayhem was a good move – and an asshole move as well at the same time. Why have THE best Saint only as physical version pre-order? Why even as pre-order? Come on! Then there’s Lazarus, who is mildly entertaining with her shooting insects around, and Kinzie, the cool FBI hacker, who is pretty much the same character in this universe. Kinzie is worth getting as her playstyle is pretty cool, but well, what does it say in a mediocre game?

So yeah, Agents of Mayhem is a game that should only be grabbed from the bargain bin, because not only is it repetitive, it is also partially broken. Its only saving grace are some of the Agents that suit your playstyle, and the camouflages from the Saints Row games. The rest is, well, there. But just being there doesn’t get the agents a gaming participation medal. And while they are the best Agents of Mayhem has to offer, the rest is just too bland, lazy and uninspired to justify more time in Seoul. Let’s hope we can book another vacation in Stilwater or Steelport soon.

Rabidgames is sad: Shame. What could have been great is just mediocre. No one asked for this, no one will ask for it ever again. Volition, we want another proper Saints Row, not some cheap bargain bin AAA game that is put to shame by most indie games.

Monster Hunter World or World-Class Hunting and Gaming

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , on April 27, 2018 by Rabidgames

Remember Capcom? Last generation, they came up with failures like Resident Evil 6 and countless fighting games with even more countless rip-off DLCs, and then, out of the blue, they gave birth to the cutest dragon ever and named it Dragon’s Dogma. This generation Capcom has fared a bit better; Resident Evil 7 actually was a decent effort rather than an absurdity. But Monster Hunter World is this generation’s gem – a rich game that defies many conventions and attracts lots of fans, in this case old and new.

So why is Monster Hunter World that big a hit, when it’s just all about a world where you hunt monsters. Ecologically speaking, you are actually doing to Monster Hunter’s new world what white settlers did to the ecosystems of North America – decimate it first and then wonder why species go instinct … And let’s be honest here: the rather half-baked story that talks about the need to hunt predators because they have appeared in greater numbers than ever is pretty much the game’s manifest destiny.

The story about old monsters in a new world surely wins no literature nobel prizes yet somehow still works though – a few cutscenes here and there and new monsters showing up keeps players motivated – although the main motivation is the hunt. In Monster Hunter World, there are plenty of monsters to hunt (although less than in previous games of the series), and combine that with the dozen of different weapons to choose from, and you have a game to sink hundreds of hours into. Because a new weapon opens up a new world of combos, stances and getting hit a damn lot until you’ve learnt how the weapon works. Don’t even bother finding out about all of them, you won’t have the time. Pro tip: Learn a melee and a ranged weapon so you can switch between them when fighting monsters. Otherwise, you might waste time fighting that one monster that is a long, slow, death-filled toil because your current weapon can barely scratch its shell …

There are also countless items to help you battle monsters in Monster Hunter World – you can lay traps to capture them (giving you some special rewards) or put up barrel bombs, you can blind them, stun them or literally throw shit at them to make unwanted monsters go wash their shitty hide, you can set up boosters to help out your team … and more.

And then there’s the events introducing new and pretty tough monsters, or new skins like Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn or the MegaMan skin for the feline Palico friend or some Devil May Cry themed stuff soon. And you know what- all of this shit is FREE! Sure, some cosmetic stuff isn’t free but who cares about cosmetic stuff … Turns out the awfully named boardroom trend “games as a service” does not necessarily mean you HAVE TO rip off gamers with micro-DLC, micro-transactions or fucking lootboxes!

Speaking of Palicos – not only are they just awesome – okay, cats are always awesome, they help you a bit in battle, help you communicate with other creatures that can also help you in battle, and if you help them train Palico tools, they can be super useful in fights, too. Just don’t expect them to do all the work for you though. Here are some of the coolest Palico outfits, and some Brüno (if you ask who that is, your loss. Seriously! Google him! Now!) impression as a bonus:

And then there are the different dynamics of solo vs multiplayer. If you’re new to Monster Hunter World or you’re training a new weapon, you need to practice on your own if you don’t want to be a burden to your team and cart three times (aka dying three times which ends the mission). But for farming, multiplayer is incredibly quicker, and even if you don’t deal much damage, you can specialise in healing and buffing your team. Just … some random players are stupid as fuck. From dying because of immense stupidity (why heal yourself? why not get hit 3 times in a row by the same attack?) to prematurely attacking a sleeping monster while your team mate place some fucking bombs, there will be scenes of stupidity and frustration. But then again, if you’re lucky enough, you can actually join a hunt where everyone is quickly killing off 5 different and tough monsters in 10 minutes, so it’s a bit of a gamble.

Surely, Monster Hunter World is a game you either get our don’t get it at all. Spending dozens, perhaps hundreds of hours hunting the same 30 or so monsters over and over again, grinding some to get the best gear, and then changing the gameplay and trying to master a new weapon – it’s a virtual dream for some, a snorefest for others. But that’s fine. After all, not everyone gets the boring grindfest that is Dark Souls or the mindless explosionfest of Just Cause either …

But one thing is for sure, compared to previous games, Monster Hunter World is definitely an easy access into the genre of hunting monsters, although it is still not easy by any means – hitboxes, avoiding getting hit or learning how and when to attack are different from other games, so there is some learning curve involved. But once you have defeated your first massive opponent, once you have witnessed two alpha monsters battling themselves – a sight to behold – then it becomes hard to put away the gamepad. Because you can surely do just one more hunt before 11pm … or well, 2am.

Rabidgames sharpens the blade: Monster Hunter World is to Monster Hunter what Final Fantasy VII was to Final Fantasy more than 20 years ago – it catapults the franchise from J-obscurity to general gaming popularity. Sure, releasing the game on proper consoles with a big enough fan base might have played a part, but making the game more accessible definitely played the biggest part. 

Once a generation, Capcom pulls off something unexpected – in a positive way. This generation, Capcom has made hunting monsters accessible for the Western world. Kudos!

 

 

TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge or Falling over the Edge?

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2018 by Rabidgames

Hold on, what is this? Okay, quick introduction: The International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Race is an annual race on the Isle of Man where pretty crazy bikers race themselves around the island. There have been hundreds of fatalities and many more injuries over the years, and well, you can read more about the real-world event here.

So, the game, let’s call TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge … a bit long, that one, let’s call it TT IoM RotE from here on for simplicity’s sake, so TT (come on, let’s just go with that, shall we?) is a motor bike racing game with the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race as its centre stage. And it is a pretty hardcore game – no rewind (a mistake made is a mistake that stays), not too that many options to customise your bike (there are some, and tweaks are quickly felt), and the tutorial is pretty much just a short introduction to the controls. After that, you’re free to go online and race others, race the AI or try out the different tracks in Time Attack. And … that’s all there is to do. Nothing to unlock. Only the career to complete. No extras.

There are also 9 additional tracks across the United Kingdom, but most are rather short. In the career as well as for your progress, they serve as stepping stones for the big race – and if you start out, they are hard as stone (sorry not sorry). Speaking of the career of TT, it is very, very bare-bones. Hardly any presentation, you read a mail, choose a race, you start the race. That’s pretty much it. Oh, and in order to make money in the career, you have to win races. Second place gets you nothing. Couple that with the lacklustre presentation and the high difficulty that TT offers, and if you’re not an expert in racing games, you can easily spend hours no earning virtual money at all …

But the racing itself … fucking hell, this is where TT really delivers! This is a game where you actually feel the wind in your face when you rush down a straight, a game where you need to learn the tracks because every little bump can send you into the walls … And this will happen. You will crash. A lot. The drivers don’t mind – they can crash at 250 km/h, dust themselves off and magically sit on the bike again. Thankfully, otherwise the frustration levels would be on Dark Souls level!

But here you will notice the subtitle “Ride on the Edge” actually applies. You have to ride on the edge, otherwise you won’t win. For most of us, that also means we will go over the edge a whole damn lot of times … The following video shows both the great feeling of speed you can enjoy in TT and what happens when you fly beyond the edge. And sure enough, the crash physics are rather funny than realistic …

At the end of the day, TT is a game with nice enough graphics and a decent racing core, but everything else, which isn’t that much anyway, isn’t too great. Unless you’re a die-hard motor bike racing fan, TT doesn’t have much to offer. But if you are, this game could be your personal ride to heaven.

Rabidgames hits the wall: It is frustrating to play for results for someone who’s more a racing games casual. Then again, just riding as fast as hell and thinking to use a blow-dryer or fan just for some cool effects and actually managing the next corner without the umpteenth faceplant feels pretty good. But you definitely need a laid back approach to racing games, or your driver and your bike won’t be the only things flying around uncontrollably …

Gravel or Accessible Arcade Action – Light

Posted in Hands On, Played & Explained with tags , , , , on March 13, 2018 by Rabidgames

What exactly is Gravel? In short, it’s an extremely accessible arcade racer with an okay-ish selection of cars and tracks (you need to unlock basically everything) by Italian developer Milestone who’s mostly focused on racing games with 2 and 4 wheels. Gravel features cars that mostly go off-road (including gravel, of course), and the career mode “Off-Road Masters” is presented as a TV show.

When you first boot up Gravel and have a look at the options, you’ll notice quite a few settings. You can set your braking and stability helps, brakes, whether you want the ideal trajectory (aka the racing line) to be shown, and more. The thing is – the more help you turn off, the more bonus points you get! The same system applies to difficulty – the harder the more points. Sadly, the whole system gets offset by how very easy the game is on, well, very easy, so a victory there nets you by far more points than the +5% for 4th place on Medium.

But Gravel doesn’t stop there – you can also play around with your front and rear suspensions, transmission, differential, brakes and alignment (in a completely different menu just before the start of a race that you might actually overlook). If you’re into that kind of thing, you can get a bit of time out of it, but unless you’re really struggling with your chosen car on a course, it’s not really needed to be honest. Besides, there are only minor differences with the handling, or the speed, of the cars anyway.

Then again, the problem is you need to unlock virtually everything in Gravel, so feel free to win races (unlocking cars, liveries and tracks) to earn points (to unlock more cars and liveries). You do that via career which is presented as a couple of races and championships, followed by a face-off with the allegedly best driver in a category you then have to beat a few times. Each race won/finished in a set position/finished nets you a certain number of stars, and a certain amount of stars unlocks more races. It’s a neat little system where it’s alright to jump into the game once in a while to get in a few laps even when you don’t have the time to simulate an entire one hour race. The highlight of Gravel’s career mode are the races against the “masters” of a discipline (and you also get a promo clip introducing their personality). In reality, it is just 3 more or less difficult 1-on-1 races – but you have to win all of them!

Now, for the arcade-ness of Gravel, most races only take 2 to 4 minutes, and the A.I. is pretty foreseeable. On higher difficulties, your opponents are just a bit quicker and tend to be more in our face, but don’t expect tactics or team play. Rubber-banding is also there, although if you’re quick, you can have a comfortable lead anyway, it’s more the case that the A.I. doesn’t get away when you’re behind.

But then again, the game gets considerably hard sometimes out of the blue (because you won’t expect it); time-trials have times that are not that easy to beat in Gravel, and the outright idiotic “Smash-up” events where you have to hit the correct signs in your way are pretty hard and, most crucially, the opposite of fun. You have to get out of your way to hit some of them, and the whole joke is a chore to be best ignored.

The discrepancies in Gravel are stark – with A.I. on easy, you can easily win with 20 or more seconds to spare in races against cars, but the same result gets you 3rd in Time-Attacks and last in Smash-Ups … something absolutely doesn’t add up there. Furthermore, it is a bit too arcadey that the weather and surface hardly have any effect – asphalt, mud or grass don’t make much difference in terms of handling, and rain and snow should feel way more different.

But at its heart, that only emphasises the fun factor of Gravel’s arcade approach – everyone can jump in for a quick race – sadly, there is no split-screen, which is a massive oversight for this kind of game. There are a few online multiplayer modes, some of them probably fun for those who are into multiplayer – Capture the Flag with cars is certainly more Destruction Derby than racing. And while crashes might not see the cars falling apart, at least you can have some car-flipping fun:

But for all the fun, there isn’t too much substance in Gravel. Mind you, it is a full-price game, and when you compare it to DiRT or GRID, Gravel falls flat on its bumper. Yes, it is accessible, but the main target groups, arcade-racing fans and casuals, probably don’t care too much about a racing game like Gravel where you get instant fun for a premium price. Besides, the graphics aren’t too great either (sometimes it feels like a late PS3 game) so you can clearly see the AA charm of the game. Couple that with the fact that most stadium or race tracks are samey, and you only have a few shining tracks like the wilderness of Alaska, the coast and desert of Namibia and the snow-covered Mont-Blanc, and the at times contradicting design decisions, and you end up with cheap popcorn fun for the price of a full-on experience.

Rabidgames parks the car: For half the price, Gravel would be a nice and smooth ride. For full price, it’s the equivalent of buying tickets to a Formula 1 race but then seeing Formula E instead – it might still be enjoyable, but a bit of pace, quality and glamour is amiss. But if you’re actually looking for a racing game to just jump in for 10 or 20 minutes after a labouring day, this might be your pick. For those who prefer to sink their teeth into a game, Gravel doesn’t offer enough substance for a hearty meal though.

 

How to Get a Head Start in Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Posted in Hands On, Played & Explained with tags , , on February 23, 2018 by Rabidgames

As you might know by now, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a devilishly hard game. You start out as a poor peasant with hardly any money, skills or knowledge, and the world is hostile to you. But don’t fret, Rabidgames has a few tips for you:

  1. Finish the tutorial quickly if you want to get to the really open world. There is no need to hang around. Well, you can get some gear and earn some groschen, but you can do so as well in the open world later.
  2. Focus only on fleeing when you have to flee at a certain point in the tutorial. And whistle strategically to help out a damsel in distress if you decide to play as a decent Henry!
  3. You learn by doing. Like in Skyrim, the more you do something, the faster you learn it. This goes for pretty much everything, including speech. So talk to every named character.
  4. Advance in the main story. This is the quickest way to get better gear and eventually a horse so you can explore at good pace, and you can store more stuff. You don’t have to, but it makes medieval life considerably easier.
  5. Take your time. Enjoy the game at its slow pace between story missions, side missions and fighting. Be careful with accepting quests as some are time-sensitive. If you can, enjoy the atmosphere once you have some spare time, and remember, you will still learn by doing things, even if you just collect flowers, walk or ride around or you go on leisurely hunts (don’t get caught poaching though).
  6. Collect flowers. Sounds boring, is pretty boring, true. But you do level up herbalism, which means you can collect more flowers with each one you pick, which means you can sell them to make quite a bit of money early on. And, at level 10 of herbalism, you can choose a perk that lets you level up your strength with each herb you pick. Sounds cool, doesn’t it? And as a bonus, pick a perk that gives you +2 Charisma when you carry around scented herbs. As an super extra bonus, you get +2 Vitality if you collect many poisonous herbs …
  7. As soon as you can practice fighting, do it. The more you practice, the more you level up your various fighting skills, and more. Attack, block, move around all the time.
  8. Archery is tricky. Pretty early on, you can find some bows (don’t waste your groschen on buying them, they appear early on in the game). Do so if you plan to use bows (attacking enemies before they can reach you is worthwhile in Kingdom Come: Deliverance). It takes a while until Henry gets half-decent with bows, but later on, bows become fun. The first 5 levels are definitely a pain though.
  9. Picking locks takes practice, too. And it sucks. But eventually, it’ll get easier. It still sucks though. The same goes for pick-pocketing.
  10. Pay attention to your clothes. Social standing depends on them – people will react differently, and sometimes even prices will change as well. Don’t explore with heavy armor – you won’t be able to store anything. Don’t steal while dressed in white clothes, and don’t fight with a cloak. Oh, and repairing your own stuff instead of having it repaired is cheaper – and again, you get experience for it.
  11. A balanced diet helps Henry and your wallet. A balanced diet is important, we all know it (and often ignore it). Even in this game. But there are a few things to keep in mind; whenever there is free food, grab it and eat it (be careful not to steal it unless you’re sure though). Some mushrooms are edible, apples are sometimes lying around – a great source of energy for Henry although they spoil pretty fast. Dried food keeps forever however. Or at least a very, very long time, so stock up on them whenever you can afford them. And when you see a big pot with delicious whatever-it-is-in-there, one portion is usually free, so enjoy!
  12. Make sure the game saves! Never just assume it did, always check out the Load option before leaving a session. The game will fail tos save when you sleep. Always have at least 2 Savior Schnapps at the ready, you never know when you need them.

The First 10 Hours in Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , , , on February 15, 2018 by Rabidgames

After a long wait, some changes, the reveal of strange ideas such as drinking schnapps to quicksave and a political discussion or two, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is finally out and about, and we can jump into a world previously described as Skyrim/Witcher without magic but some hardcore gameplay set in the European Middle Ages.

But before you play, there’s a whopping 23 GB day one patch waiting to be downloaded, and afterwards, prepare yourself to wait for almost a minute until you see the main menu. The first time it happens, you might be inclined listen to some narration about the historical events prior to the events in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, but after the tenth time of the booting the game, this starts testing your patience. Oh, and from the main menu to the game is usually another minute of waiting time.

The first thing that comes to mind once you can finally start playing Kingdom Come: Deliverance is the odd choice of using English names in the middle of Bohemia – it can be doubted the blacksmith’s son was really called Henry – for a game that takes pride in portraying medieval life accurately, anglicising names, and anglicising the name of the protagonist above all – seems an odd choice, especially when most characters around Henry actually DO have proper Bohemian sounding names …

Anyway, Kingdom Come: Deliverance starts out pretty relaxed: Our boy Henry wakes up after a long boozy night out (see, teenagers haven’t changed at all) and gets sent by his father to do stuff. Said stuff can be done in quite a few ways, although if you fail spectacularly, you might just end up rotting in jail and see a game over screen before the hour mark has passed …

Graphically, the game has its ups and downs; while foliage and water look amazing up close, forests look dead-ugly with almost PS2 textures from afar. Cutscenes generally look stunning, but in-game, it’s not that great. Mind you, you wouldn’t realise it that much if the cutscenes weren’t so nice looking. Speaking of cutscenes, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is full of them. Even talking to a trader involves a cutscene – and loading times. Then again, some dialogue outside cutscenes involves lips no moving or characters staring in Bethesda manner, so one could argue that cutscenes would have been better there in the first place.

The world in Kingdom Come: Deliverance is pretty big and those who live in rural Central Europe might actually feel at home (if that home was devoid of technology), but also relatively empty of things to do. There are flowers to collect and animals to shoot and at times, a little spot near or in villages where you can find useful things. Most houses and sheds are accessible but there’s not much in there. And yet, there’s a certain magic by just casually walking around in Kingdom Come: Deliverance. You can almost smell the fresh air, the scents of the forest and you can almost feel the sun on your skin … It is easy to get lost by wandering around.

The first 5 or so hours in Kingdom Come: Deliverance are pretty much a tutorial introducing you to some gameplay mechanics and the lore- or rather history-heavy story of the game. Unfortunately, on one rather strange occurrence, you might get teleported to the next part of a quest, even if you wandered off into the opposite direction … which is a heavy offender in terms of breaking immersion because it just happens suddenly without any indication or explanation. In general though, the tutorial tells you some things you feel overwhelmed with, but at the same time, it is very linear, a tad too linear actually. But don’t worry, freedom will be yours soon!

So, about those comparisons … well, forget them. Yes, like in Skyrim, you gain experience by doing things – from fighting, stealing to collecting flowers (which can net you some money early on if you feel like doing it), but as opposed to Skyrim, you don’t find enemies hidden behind every corner in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and then fighting itself is a more complicated matter of five-directional attacks and the choice of stab vs slice, plus combos and blocks. And then some, from taking into account armor and the type of weapon to checking your stamina … Kingdom Come: Deliverance boasts a very complex fighting system that rather resembles Dark Souls than Skyrim. Thankfully, you get proper training a few hours in to explain things to you, and from then on, fighting becomes a thing – if you want. And if you get it. And if the game happens to be responsive, which it is not at all times. At any rate, it is a long and steep learning experience, so no, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is rather the opposite of Skyrim.

Now what about the comparisons to The Witcher 3? Well, you have a medieval looking open world torn by war and greed, an already pre-defined protagonist – although Henry is a peasant with hardly any knowledge so the RPG aspect and learning is way stronger in Kingdom Come: Deliverance – and a strong focus on story (no spoilers about it in here, but it starts out like an episode of Game of Thrones without dragons in Bohemia, and following the main quest stays interesting throughout the first 10 hours) so there’s that – and it works well. There are also consequences, some quickly leading to death or the game over screen …

Furthermore, Kingdom Come: Deliverance also puts some emphasis on alchemy (think of the potions in Witcher to give you buffs). However, as almost everything in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, it comes with obstacles: First, you need to be able to read. Otherwise, you actually cannot read books. Actually, you see letters but they make no sense, which is a nice touch. Sure, it’s realistic for those times and there’s a quest tied to it, but it also feels like an unnecessary extra step to prevent you from cheaply acquiring your quicksave schnapps. And believe Rabidgames, you WANT that good shit as soon as possible!

Why? Well, saving in Kingdom Come: Deliverance is unnecessarily complicated. Sleep in your bed and the game sometimes let you save – sometimes you can’t (this might be patched later, fingers crossed), leaving you without the ability to save for potentially a looooooong time, or you drink some schnapps, which can make you addicted and also uses up that bottle of very expensive alcohol. Ouch! Sure, you also save when you begin a quest (rather pointless if you’re far away from the next step of it) and sometimes, the game autosaves, too. Rarely. If you’re in the middle of a quest and the guy you need to talk to becomes unresponsive – you’re fucked. Go back to that save from an hour ago, thank you very much.

Now, saving is just one of the things that makes you realise Kingdom Come: Deliverance makes things considerably more complicated and user-unfriendly than it would have needed to. Same goes for archery – before level 5, you tend to injure yourself. If you want to know what archery looks like inKingdom Come: Deliverance and how awful it is at first, look here:

So, many things can summed up like this: Realistic, yes. Fun, fuck no! Same goes for fast-travel – you get tired and hungry when fast-traveling, so long ways are rather … difficult at first. Yes, this was also in the hardcore mode of Fallout New Vegas, but there was a reason it was called hardcore mode. An optional mode.

Long story short: Kingdom Come: Deliverance turns out to be a promising game. Wandering around in the lush and vibrant countryside is a joy, walking around in towns and villages and watching medieval folks is also fun, and you get to learn a lot if you’re interested in history. But as a game, Kingdom Come: Deliverance has some way to go. Making everything abstruse and overly complicated might be what the devs had in mind, fair enough but it also sucks out the fun in the beginning and the save system is nothing but frustrating, and not all of this shit is intended!

Warhorse needs to fix the save system, and coming up with a Story Mode with the ability to save whenever you want, or making the need to eat, sleep and bandage your wounds optional as well as simplifying the stupid and almost impossible lockpick and pickpocket systems – all of this would make Kingdom Come: Deliverance way more accessible and also commercially appealing to the masses who like the simplicity of Bethesda games.

As it stands, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a hardcore game for the hardcore niche. But below the hardcore surface and the manyfold technical issues (intended or not intended) lies a game that has the potential to enthral almost every gamer – without the need for magic! At this stage however, be prepared you’re about to go onto a journey that is not always comfortable, and that will be very demanding – in terms of focus, time and nerves. You will be nicely rewarded, sure, but the journey is all but smooth.

Rabidgames saddles his horse: 10 hours in, Kingdom Come: Deliverance slowly starts to shine. After the linear start, you are now free to explore and get to know the world at your own leisure. If the technical issues and design choices have not put you off yet. So yes, the game needs some patches and some polishing, but it might just take a few smart steps to change a rough diamond into a shining gem.

 

Monster Hunter: World Beta or From “What The Fuck?” to “Nice!”

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , , on December 11, 2017 by Rabidgames

So, imagine you’re a total noob from Noobsville, and you happily start playing the Beta of a complex and deep game like Monster Hunter: World. Oh, there is only a less than bare-bones tutorial. What could go wrong here?

The start was easy enough – creating a character, creating one’s Palico (a feline companion, isn’t THIS what we’ve always wanted, guys), a few explanations, choosing a weapon (bow, not the best of ideas, but more about that later), starting the quest … the first monster of the Monster Hunter: World Beta could easily be beaten by just randomly shooting at it, so fair enough. Now onto the second monster … well, it ended in epic fails and big monster hunter tears to say the least. The idiotic 20 minutes time limit did not help at all, and the limited explanations of the different weapons, controls or functions neither. With no clue what was happening and why, rage quitting was the safer option given that controllers are so fucking expensive these days.

The next day then, Rabidgames tried some Monster Hunter: World again – this time, choosing the Insect Glaive but kinda neglecting the insect part. Why? Well, you can use the glaive as a pole and then jump onto monster to attack them while riding them – sounds great. Soon after, the second hunt was done. The third hunt however proved to be a challenge, but after diving into the multiplayer – it took too many tries to get a stable team together (not because of the players, because of the awful connections) – the last hunt was quickly dealt with, too.

It seems perfectly fine to go solo in the game – or take your feline friend with you, who fights, has tips and heals if necessary, but multiplayer might be a good option if you want to watch, participate a bit and learn how to attack the bigger hunts in Monster Hunter: World. If Capcom actually monitored the Beta, they better prepare more servers though, otherwise there won’t be much fun in multiplayer …

Just to show how others do it and what happens when you “git gud” (Disclaimer: it is only used to provide this example and not as judgment, as everyone knows folks who use this expressions are usually douches and assholes), here’s a video of some lunatic going crazy in Monster Hunter: World’s demo, pardon Beta:

Interestingly enough, it really makes sense to compare the beloved Dragon’s Dogma to Monster Hunter – not only because of riding monsters and a completely different feeling depending on the weapon you use, both share that awkward and strange gameplay as well as controls that feel a bit clunky at first, but when you keep playing them, you can use them to your advantage. In Monster Hunter’s case, it means knowing your attacks and the attacks of the monster, and knowing when to evade and when to attack.

Now, once has to wonder why the fuck Capcom has been actively trying to make the series more appealing to a wider audience, but then delivers with a Beta that is a haven only for Monster Hunter experts, while telling noob to piss themselves and then go crying or try some more. It doesn’t make any sense and might have lost them sales, too. So, did the Beta do a good job of highlighting Monster Hunter: World’s strengths once you overcome its weaknesses? For those who persevered and learned a few things, definitely. Here’s to hoping the final game will include more tutorials to really understand how weapons and the dozens of gadgets work – from slingshots with different ammunition, bombs and traps to gillies and more. Of course, the main motivations will break parts off monsters and kill them, loot them, craft better stuff, take on more dangerous fiends, rinse and repeat, etc.

Now, will that be enough in the long run? The Beta showed a promising game, but we’ll see. After all, the gameplay could be very, very repetitive, and it might become boring after a few weeks. Like Dark Souls, for instance. Then again, if you get Monster Hunter: World for PS4, you can (more or less) play as Aloy, and you even can have a feline robot companion!

AloyMH

Fuck, how can one resist now?

Rabidgames waits for now: Well, let’s see. So far, Monster Hunter: World looks promising. But so did Shadows of War or Battlefront 2 until loot boxes destroyed their reputation. So for the time being, knowing how Capcom can be especially with their murky DLC politics, why not do what a hunter does best – lie in wait?

 

Rubgy 18 or What Is Going On?

Posted in Hands On with tags , on October 31, 2017 by Rabidgames

So imagine you like watching Rugby. And now there’s a rugby game, so why not get it? So you go out and buy Rugby 18 only to realise there is only a bares-bone tutorial explaining a few things and then you can read about rugby. No videos, no audio, just text. Ouch.

But come on, how hard can it be? Well, perhaps Rabidgames is lacking talent or any kind of understanding for rugby. But after 3 matches of Rugby 18, the score was 0-0. Yep, 0-0! Defending comes relatively natural, so no, defending isn’t a big issue. But going forward only works at snail’s pace, if at all, so what to do? You keep on playing, you try new things, but not much really happens until you finally score a try. Mind you, that’s on the easiest difficulty setting of Rugby 18. You get the ball, you pass, you get tackled, you get the ball, you pass, you get tackled, rinse and repeat. Rucks and scrums are presented by mini-games, and if that’s better thought out then the core gameplay of passing and running, you know what you need to now about the sorry state of the game.

There also a career mode, but there is hardly any presentation whatsoever but a few extra menus where you can loan players or check your finances, making the career even more boring than the rest of the game. The rather boring menus in PES look like fucking Oxford Street a week before christmas compared to Rugby 18

The commentary in Rugby 18 is also, well, it seems random. And when the teams are introduced, there are even audible pauses, that you can hear during matches at times, too.

What can one say about Rugby 18? You know some games include grinding, but if grinding is part of the gameplay itself, you’re in for an awful treat. And that is exactly what Rugby 18 is – an awful game plagued by boring gameplay, and even more boring presentation and then some technical issues. But hey, at least the graphics look nice!

Rabidgames needs an energy drink: Hands down, Rugby 18 is one of the most boring games ever. If you’re a big massive fan of rugby or an insomniac, you might want to give it a try. Everyone else should just avoid it.

 

 

Assassin’s Creed’s Timeline or Full Circle

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2017 by Rabidgames

With Assassin’s Creed Origins just out, why not take a look at the history of the series? For this purpose, we’ll only look at the main games (Liberations not included as it is considerably smaller), and if they’re worth visiting again. For this purpose, Rabidgames has played each game for at least 5 hours.

Assassin’s Creed

The Setting: Medieval Middle East during the Third Crusade. We can explore three cities, Jerusalem, Acre, Damascus, as well as the hub and assassin hub of Masyaf. And we meet a real life Templar leader …

The Story: Pretty much just killing Templars to obtain the Apple of Eden, a powerful artifact (it’s a long story). In present times, we are introduced to Desmond, Lucy and Abstergo, the modern-day Templars.

The Gameplay: Repetitive. The first Assassin’s Creed is 9 assassinations – the good thing is you can do them however you please (to a degree), the bad news is you have to repeat the very same steps leading towards the assassination 9 times. Oh, and you better enjoy gathering a million flags …

The Verdict: Hard to get into now. Essentially a tech demo.

 

Assassin’s Creed 2

The Setting: Renaissance Venice, Florence, the family hub of Monteriggioni and a few more locations. You get to meet folk such as Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolò Machiavelli, Caterina Sforza, Bartolomeo d’Alviano, Lorenzo de Medici, the villainous Borgia and uncle Mario.

The Story: Experience how Ezio turns from spoilt playboy to feared Assassin leader who takes on the corrupt pope and meets members of the first civilisation (who created the Apple from AC1 and lived on earth before humanity). In present day, Desmond meets a few more Assassins.

The Gameplay: More varied, more counters, more tools. If you’re into puzzles, you can explore caverns and tombs, or you can solve glyph puzzles that give you some insight into the world of Assassin’s Creed.

The Verdict: The story is still great, the gameplay feels a bit bare-bone now though. Still worth experiencing though.

 

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood

The Setting: Renaissance Rome, including all points of interests and the outskirts. Also, you can explore present-day Monteriggioni. Most of the cast from AC2 appear again. Desmond gets a bit stabby at the end of the game.

The Story: Monteriggioni is attacked. A wounded Ezio arrives in Rome to take revenge. And take revenge he does …

The Gameplay: Well, mostly a refined version of AC2. Plus you can now recruit and command assassins and send them on missions. We learn more of the perennial bad girl Juno. For whatever idiotic reason, multiplayer gets introduced. Who asked for this?

The Verdict: Commanding your brotherhood never gets old. Still fun to mess around with.

 

Assassin’s Creed Revelations

The Setting: Istanbul/Constantinople. The city looks and feels different from the previous games.

The Story: Ezio travels to Istanbul/Constantinople to discover an important secret. Also, we get to know more about Altair. Desmond is stuck in the Animus.

The Gameplay: More of the same, but with bombs and more mobility. Sadly, no more glyphs but a poor Tower Defense mini-game. Unfortunately, multiplayer is still in.

The Verdict: This game has a same old, same old feeling sadly. Lots of extra stuff not worth your while.

 

Assassin’s Creed III

The Setting: The American Revolution. Set in the wilderness, protagonist Connor’s homestead and rather rural looking Boston and New York. A stellar cast, including Franklin, Washington, Jefferson and many more.

The Story: The American Revolution. However, the game deviates from its predecessors by telling the story in different shades of grey. We also get a bit of a Vader/Luke situation. Also, the end of Desmond’s story and Juno’s release.

The Gameplay: A few changes, but mostly just redefined from previous games. A hint of naval battles and trekking through the wilderness – a highlight in deep snow – as well as hunting gave AC3 a different feeling though. There are also quite a few segments in present day with Desmond. Unfortunately, multiplayer is still in.

The Verdict: Tough one. The story is great, the gameplay can be fun, but it is a few chapters too long and the crafting and economic system are mostly useless. Still, Ubisoft dared to touch this sensitive topic and delivered a game neither neglecting the will for freedom nor how the freedom was exploited quickly.

 

Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag

The Setting: The Caribbean. Pirates. Ships. Your ship. Three major cities; Kingston, Havana and Nassau, a multitude of little islands and your very own hideout island. You meet quite a few famous pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard.

The Story: A pirate (father/grandfather of the protagonists of AC3) turns Templar turns Assassin (and stays there). The story actually spans 3 different times, and present day is narrated from the eyes of an Abstergo employee. Juno says hello, and the Sages are introduced.

The Gameplay: On land, not much changed. Except for awful tailing missions, the low point of Black Flag. The naval battles are an absolute highlight though. You are an Abstergo employee in present day – anonymous and clueless. Unfortunately, multiplayer is still in.

The Verdict: Great and different. Sailing the seas and sinking ships never gets old.

 

Assassin’s Creed Rogue

The Setting: The Atlantic Ocean near the Northern American coast, a smaller map with more islands, New York. And your ship. Not much happens in present day.

The Story: You play as an Assassin turned Templar! Nice change, eh?

The Gameplay: Same as Black Flag, plus a few extras here or there. Thankfully, minus multiplayer.

The Verdict: The story ties together the American saga ACs (although the beginning of Unity is related, too). It’s a bit short in terms of story, but again – sailing and sinking. Oh, and fighting Assassins, of course.

 

Assassin’s Creed Unity

The Setting: Paris during the revolution (the French one in case you’re wondering). A very lively and nicely looking Paris full of details and atmosphere. You get to meet characters including Napoleon, Marquis de Sade and Robespierre.

The Story: Entirely forgettable. Not much happens in present day either.

The Gameplay: A few new systems, but fighting was way too clumsy and not intuitive. Co-op missions are in for whatever reason, another thing no one ever asked for. Speaking of shit no one ever asked for – locked chests you could only open with a companion app – a low point.

The Verdict: Broken at release, now Paris is a joy to explore, but a chore to play through. Boring protagonist and the revolution just happens around you.

 

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

The Setting: London in Victorian times, including the Buckingham Palace, the Tower and Big Ben. And a bit of London during World War 1. Your base is a moving train. You get to meet the likes of Marx, Dickens, Darwin, Florence Nightingale, a young Arthur Conan Doyle and Winston Churchill.

The Story: Two twins take over gangs and take down a Templar conspiracy in London while London oozes Victorian and proto-capitalist (poisonous) air. Something very important happens in present day. And the Assassins save the queen. Obviously.

The Gameplay: Sleek and refined. There are also Hitman-style assassinations and you can develop both characters differently. Diverse and rewarding side missions make sure there’s always something to do in London. Oh, and no more fucking mutiplayer, yay!

The Verdict: The best gameplay, hands down. And a great protagonist (Evie, not Jacob) make the game a joy to play and mess around with gangsters and cops.

 

To sum it up, while Unity can very easily be called the weakest game due to its forgettable story and nothing important really happening (even if we forget about the technical issues at start), it’s difficult to name ONE game to be the best Assassin’s Creed game – story-wise, Assassin’s Creed 2 wins. Brotherhood has the best feeling of being an Assassin leader, while Black Flag’s offer to be a pirate is hard to refuse. And then we have Syndicate with the most fluent and refined gameplay.

Rabidgames ponders: Perhaps Origins really is the best game in the series. That would decide it easily without thinking too hard about the best Assassin’s Creed …

An Obituary for Visceral Games

Posted in Gaming these days ..., The Latest with tags , , , on October 18, 2017 by Rabidgames

FUCK YOU, EA!

That pretty much sums it up now, doesn’t it? The biggest fucking assholes of the gaming world, Electronic Ass, did it again. They fuckers closed yet another studio. Westwood, Origin, Bullfrog, Pandemic and countless others are dead, Bioware is dying, and now the cunts shot Visceral Games in the back – while still developing a mysterious Star Wars game! Fuck EA!

Why did EA close the studio? Fuck knows. Could be that EA’s Frostbyte engine seems to shitty as fuck – rumours are one of the reasons Andromeda is what it is because the engine simply is ill-suited for RPGs but works better with online shooters, could be that EA needs a “new direction” for the game – knowing the shitheads, it probably means loot boxes, always-online and shooting shit on  galleries, or it could be something entirely different. Who cares? Fuck EA!

Bastards! Anyway, in case you don’t know, Visceral worked on games such as Dante’s Inferno, the Dead Space series, some Lord of the Rings games, some Battlefield games, and most notably, for Rabidgames at least, they developed the widely underestimated Godfather games. But see for yourself:

Yes, as was the case with Saboteur and Mercenaries, the controls and animations are clunky, and by today’s standards, the games feel hard to play. But hey, that’s the charm of the lost art of AA games, isn’t it?

The first Godfather was a tough RPG where you ended up dead quickly in the beginning, and had you rising to the top of the Corleone family, with all the famous faces around – except for Michael, because he needed a different face for some reasons. Taking over the city with stealth, shoot-outs and satisfyingly brutal executions was always fun, and you had to be careful not to start a mob war.

Godfather 2 expanded the story from New York to Miami and Havana, and also introduced a crew running around with you as well as a tactical map where you needed to defend your businesses or attack others’. To no one’s surprise, part 2 also introduced a mostly useless multiplayer, and after that, the Godfather disappeared into nothingness.

Rabidgames shakes an angry fist: Again, fuck EA! Fuck off! Their rotten business policy seems to be buy and burn! And to make matters worse, we can safely assume Bioware will be next to rot in an unmarked grave in the desert of EA’s cemetery of the forsaken.

 

5 Reasons Why Dragon’s Dogma Is Still One of the Best Games Ever

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , on October 17, 2017 by Rabidgames

Do you think this sounds a bit much? Well, it doesn’t. No one knows hoe Capcom of all people ended up producing such an innovative, deep and lovingly created gem such as Dragon’s Dogma, but they did.

And console gamers can now play Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen – all DLCs included – for 20 quid in a better version than last gen. Sure, the 60 FPS support from PC didn’t make it over for some reason, but the game now runs like it should have been years ago. But in case you wonder what makes this game so great, well, you’ll find 5 solid reasons below:

 

5. The night is dark and full of terrors

The first night out is not a great experience for most in Dragon’s Dogma – at night, there are more and deadlier enemies about, and if you are foolish enough to forget your lantern and some oil, you won’t even see them coming. Bear in mind though that the lantern only shines light on your immediate surroundings – many an Arisen have fallen prey to dragon attacks from out of the sky in certain parts of Gransys. And then there’s the ever dark dungeon from Dark Arisen, where Death haunts you – literally.

 

4. The sheer depth of customisation

For many, GTA or Saints Row are the holy grail of customisation, but Dragon’s Dogma has lots to offer in this regard – and since you’re creating both your Arisen AND your Pawn, you’ll have twice the fun. From hobbits to lumbering giants, from Danny Trejo’s Machete or Gandalf to Sandor Clegane or Lara Croft, you can create them all. And even more, height and weight also have an effect on your stamina, and rumour has it that there are some holes only very tiny Arisen can enter …

Oh, and equipment? The fact there is a trophy for having obtained 350 pieces of weapons and armour says all about that – and that trophy hails from pre-Dark Arisen days …

 

3. The diversity of the vocations

Speaking of equipment – it makes sense there’s lots of them as your Arisen can choose from 9 different vocations (the classes in Dragon’s Dogma) while your Pawn chooses from 6; do you like fighting with sword and shield or a twohanded hammer? Or do you prefer nimble attacks with daggers? What about sneak attacks with bow and arrow from afar? Or are you a sorcerer at heart who prefers to have comets rain down from the skies or a massive whirlwind tearing through enemies? Well, you can do all of the above, and you can also mix arrows and magic!

While you don’t have to invest into each and every vocation on the road to level 200, you still should play each one for a bit as you unlock useful augments (passive skills) that can afterwards be bought and equipped regardless of your vocation. Oh, and of course, you and your Pawn level up both so you can decide on a completely different path for your Pawn.

 

2. Epic battles

Remember when you confront Alduin, the World Eater (not to be confused with the wrestler Bray Wyatt, the Eater of Worlds), in Skyrim? Man, that battle turned out to be lame. Dragon’s Dogma is one hell of a different story here! Remember dragons attacking out of the blue? This can happen. Or a Chimera is lurking behind the corner and you think “uh-oh” before lightning hits you! How epic battles can be? Well, that’s entirely up to you. There’s a fine line between being underleveled and shredded to bits and having a challenging, long fight, but when you hit the sweet spot in Dragon’s Dogma, you can have epic battles! Imagine fighting that damn dragon from before for 90 long minutes, including reviving your Pawns, frantically searching the surrounding area for healing items because you’re knocking at death’s door, before you manage to bring the beast down! And that is just an ordinary dragon, not the final boss or the Ur Dragon, a massive and dangerous super boss that all players worldwide tackle together, everyone helping to bring its hitpoints down.

And that’s not the end of the epicness! How about you crawl onto the dragon while it takes flight, knowing falling will kill you so you punch it in the heart until it crashes back down to earth? Or how about conjuring the right spell at the right time, bringing down half a health bar in seconds?

 

1. Pawns

Your trusty A.I. comrades should be hailed a revolution in gaming, but it seems no one who hasn’t played Dragon’s Dogma even noticed how the great the system can be – if properly understood. You see, the thing with Pawns is you have to raise them properly – they learn in many ways – by mirroring your behaviour, by following commands, by being rented by others and gaining knowledge there and by drinking potions that change their inclination (the name for their character traits in Dragon’s Dogma). So if you start playing the game with your Pawn being pretty useless, and if the two Pawns you rent are useless as well (there can be numerous reasons for it), the game will suck. But if you get the party combination right, sometimes all you need to do is watch your Pawns tear apart the opposition.

Knowledge plays a major role for Pawns in Dragon’s Dogma as Pawns can learn how to fight enemies – sure, you can burn an enemy who’s weak to fire, but if he is doused in oil, he’ll burn more. And guess what, show it to your Pawns, and they will remember! If you’re stuck on a quest, rented Pawns or maybe your Pawn have done the quest before, and they will give you often useful advice on how to proceed.

And of course, there’s Pawn banter: From useful tips such as “wolves hunt in packs” or “to tis weak to fire”, and quips such as “even in numbers, a weakling is a weakling still” or the kind of contradictory “strength in numbers, Arisen”, to unforgettable lines like “it bears the head of a cock” or “it seems all roads lead to Gran Soren” (sometimes said when in the middle of nowhere with no road in sight), there are plenty of funny one-liners. You want to hear less? Tell your Pawn.

Rabidgames goes back to Gransys: What’s more to say? Dragon’s Dogma is one of those precious games that is so much more than its parts, it is unique and fun once you’ve really understood how the systems work together.So without further ado, go play it! See you on the perilous roads of Gransys!

Of Lootboxes, Micro-Transactions and Ads Telling the Truth for Once

Posted in Gaming these days ..., The Latest with tags , , , , on October 12, 2017 by Rabidgames

Oh boy, we’ve come a long way. It started with the now oh-so-innocent Oblivion horse armour, continued with  pre-order DLC, season passes and micro-transactions, and now we’ve come full circle with lootbox micro-transactions and an ad telling the truth for once about pre-order shit. Ironic.

So, first, lootboxes and micro-transactions. Middle-Earth: Shadow of War uses them in its fourth act Shadow Wars (how playful, eh?), a series of 20 attacks on 4 fortresses – without story or anything else attached to the grind fest it seems. And the enemies WILL be stronger than your Orcs, pardon, Uruk army so you will have to grind. And grind. And grind more. And keep grinding. To see the “real” ending of the game. Or you buy lootboxes with real money to make it considerably quicker and easier. Well, that is simply fucked up. For Rabidgames, that move alone moves (how playful, eh?) Shadow of War from must-have to probably-later-when-cheaper, although that disgusting behaviour where WB pretends to be oh-so-charitable has also played a part in this decision to be honest. And how a spider “bloated and grown fat with endless brooding on her feasts” can become a hot chick … well, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

And now this; here’s the story of an ad for Assassin’s Creed Origins from Gamestop (US) that might have gone wrong:

This is really unfuckingbelievable. In a fucking ad, they tell you that the “bonus mission” is “blocked”. Probably by accident, we hear the truth about pre-order “bonuses” – that they are cut out of the game because some fucking asshole in a fucking suit decided that’s the way to go fucking forward. It’s nothing new publishers and retailers feast together on the bloody chunks cut out of embryonic games, but wow is it weird to see it ADVERTISED! It might be coincidence AC Origins is the game where a retailer slipped up, but it tells you a lot about the disdain those fucking suits have for us.

Sure, a pre-order mission locked away mostly and merely equals the missions locked away but unlockable once you buy the game new, but this strike against the second hand market is still fucking stupid behaviour. We’ll see what happens now after Gamestop inadvertently told us the truth about this shit. Just don’t expect any of the shit to change.

Oh, you know what? Let’s talk about micro-transactions while we’re at it. There are two kinds: Games like Assassin’s Creed or Ghost Recon: Wildlands come with “time-saving” unlockables (for things you can easily get in the game), you know also known as fucking shit for lazy bums, and then some cosmetic stuff – not great but you can enjoy the games without it entirely, no problem. Other games though, like Shadow of War and most notoriously GTA Online, design the game with tons of grinding on purpose so they can grind you down to make you buy the shit. Fuck, try to buy something in GTA Online and you can imagine how long earning money to purchase it will take naturally. And yet, Rockstar gets away with this shit (and let’s better not think about what this might mean for Red Dead Redemption 2) while Shadow of War is getting attacked by layers of carpet bombing metacritic user reviews – rightfully so, mind you. But it is interesting, isn’t it?

Let’s face it: This is what gaming has become – a fucking predatory capitalist bullshitting industry where there are too many fucking rich idiots around who buy time-consuming games and then buy time-savers so they don’t have to play them … seriously, think about this for a second. WHAT THE FUCK? And by doing so, these morons fuck up games for the rest of us, too.

Rabidgames sighs: At the end of the day, who is to blame: The greed publishers or the stupid consumers? Spoilers: It’s consumers. Without hordes of braindead drones buying all the shitty micro-transactions, this fucking trend would stop quickly. But don’t get your hopes up – after all, we live in an age where even Idiocracy begins to look like an utopia …

A Word About nazis in Gaming, Please!

Posted in Gaming these days ..., The Latest on October 6, 2017 by Rabidgames

Remember the time when we grew up? Back in the day, there was a time when everyone agreed that nazis and racists were scum. Despicable scum, vile shit to be flushed down the sewage pipes of history. It was simple. Nazis and racists were bad. But at some point, things changed.

It doesn’t matter when. Or if it was precisely Trump, Brexit or Syrian refugees opening the floodgates for the nightmares of the past to haunt us again. Here and now, we have woken up to a world where racism – and even fucking assholes parading around waving around fucking nazi flags are tolerated. Fuck, not just tolerated, they’re being endorsed by the fucking president of the supposedly free world!

(Disclaimer: Sure, in the US, they are legally allowed to parade around waving nazi flags under the freedom of speech, and that is fine. But remember, it is also fine to despise this scum and to speak out against them.)

So it is no wonder gaming is also infected by the viral disease that is racism, that gaming sites and forums are also full of fucking right-wing trolls and true believers of this shit. We’ve heard it all when a certain youtube toddler celebrity with probably a lower IQ than your usual church mouse yelled “nigger” at someone, and then tried using the incredibly idiotic “I tried to come up with the worst word” defense. We’ve heard it all when an old World of Warcraft sign that got “hijacked” by nazis was defended as “inconsequential evidence” and that there are zero similarities to nazi flags. We’ve heard excuses, tales of relativism and tons of apologetic bullshit before!

And now, this:

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And this for good measure:

So, what the fuck is wrong with these brainless fucking idiots? What on earth? Do they not even know what kind of disgusting ideology they are defending? Do they even know what the flying fuck Wolfenstein is all about? It shouldn’t be a surprise really, but oh well, human stupidity IS truly infinite …

But hey, what’s the point you ask? Well, the point fucking is that we have come to a fucking point where racists are tolerated and nazis, motherfucking nazis, are on the verge of being tolerated again as well! And fucking hell, we can’t fucking have that! Think about it for a minute.

We need to step out of our gaming bubble, we need to leave escapism behind for a few minutes, and we need to tell the fucking racist shitheads and the fucking nazi scum to fuck off! We need to let them know we don’t want them, we don’t tolerate them and that we are sick of them. Say it loud clear: Fuck nazis! Fuck racists! Fuck supremacists! Fuck ’em all!

Rabidgames sighs: It really seems we’re slipping back in time. All the talk about “never again” and “lesson learnt” – bullshit! Reality is proving we have learnt nothing. We – each and everyone one of us – is responsible for voicing our disgust and disapproval towards that scum to make sure they fuck off. Or do we want another time, another place, another scenario when we look at each other and say “had we paid attention, we could have seen it coming”?

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana or How About A JRPG Holiday?

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , , on September 18, 2017 by Rabidgames

First of all, what the fuck is wrong with Japanese companies and their otherworldly game titles? Dissidia Duodecim or Star Ocean’s nonsensical Integrity and Faithlessness were weird enough, but using the game title, the number and a subtitle all makes together is weird – and with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana it’s not even easy to abbreviate it – YsLoD sounds pretty bad now, doesn’t it?

So anyway, YsDan8 (okay, that doesn’t work either) is a different kind of JRPG – not as epic as Final Fantasy XV, not as snarky as Tales of Berseria, and not as weird as Nier Automata. Instead, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana feels more like an old-fashioned JRPG with traditional storytelling, engaging but light-hearted dialogues and music (from calm village tracks to fast-paced rock tracks) and the real-time action RPG battles fans of the series will be familiar with. And of course, the quirky and somewhat cutesy atmosphere JPRGs have been known for.

But the premise is a different one this time – after a short introduction to the characters and the systems, you’re stranded on an island and your first tasks are finding more survivors and fortifying your hideout that slowly turns into a village. By means of being able to open blocked paths once you’ve found enough people, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana opens up the secrets of its big but not massive world slowly but surely. So in a way, there is a certain Lost feeling as you gather the castaways trying to build and strengthen your village.

But it also feels strangely directionless for a JRPG at times. It can happen that you will need to scour everywhere you’ve been to before because you missed an essential conversation in the corner of the map, or that you didn’t spot another area with a NPC waiting for you. That’s not necessarily bad as Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana gives you plenty of experience to level up and plenty of ingredients to craft new, better stuff, and let’s face it, exploring should mean you have to explore thoroughly.

The fighting system of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is very action-oriented and rewards timing and accuracy, but if it’s more your thing, you can hack away, too, at least on lower difficulties. To be fair though, the fighting is fun but not really a highlight of the game as there is less suspense and more forgiveness than in Nier Automata and there is less tactical thinking required than in Tales of Berseria. But on the plus side, it’s a more accessible system so you can just walk around and casually kill monsters if you feel like it – isn’t that we all usually do during our holidays after all?

Apart from fighting, exploring and all the while gathering stuff you can go back to your base, trade or craft your gathered materials, do some side quest to make everyone like you better or play some kind of village defence mini-game where you kill of waves of enemies until you get goodies, and of course, everyone likes you more. Here, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana doesn’t go the extra mile, but you won’t miss more as the exploration part keeps you busy anyway. Besides getting that fucking call to defend the village while you’re knee-deep in a dungeon is just plain annoying! And there’s fishing. Well. Fishing. It nets you items and you can feed a bird with your fishes, but well, fishing just isn’t that exciting. For most of us at least.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana’s story can be split into the daily survival and exploration of the Seiren Islands, and then there are the nocturnal dreams where we follow the story of the eponymous Dana, a mysterious destined for mysterious greatness. Both are bound to combine at some point, but for the first 30 hours played, they are only connected by dreams (more on that later). For whatever reason the two big nations in the game are called Romun Empire and

But in one department, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is simply too Japanese – the gender stereotypes and generally the clichés are just a bit too much. Sure, it is just a JRPG and we kind of expect it, but after Tales of Berseria gave us interesting characters and a sarcastic heroine, Ys VIII (better, but still not a great abbreviation) pretty much just gives a box of talking stereotypes. It seems like a wasted opportunity, but oh well.

And then, there’s the DLC problem – do we really need goddessdamn 25 pieces of minor, “unfree” DLC at launch (and that’s just the PS4 version, the PS Vita one has different DLC!)? No, we don’t. The Witcher 3 and Yakuza Kiwami actually prove we don’t! So for fuck’s sake, publishers, stop this shit already!

Oh yeah, Dana might be the heroine who gives Ys LacriDana (okay, no) the title, but you won’t see much of her for the first 20 or 30 hours of the game, but be warned the beginning chapters of the game take that long, too. So it will take a while until you get to see what the story is really about. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is a long, mostly entertaining and also forgiving game that you can always pop in during a rainy autumn day. If you have become a bit weary of all the angst and impending doom (or of the bro-talk) in FF 15, Tales of Berseria or Nier: Automata, you can always pop in Ys Dana (there we go!), sit back and start playing without philosophy or despair wearing your adventures down if you want to enjoy an interesting but not too thought-provoking story.

Rabidgames reminiscences: In some ways, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana reminds one of the simple times of JRPGs; you need a simple story, simple characters (aka stereotypes), simple battles of the easy to learn, hard to master type, and then you go ahead and simply grind.

 

Yakuza Kiwami or Majima’s Paradise in the Far East

Posted in Hands On with tags , , on September 6, 2017 by Rabidgames

If you happen to be a Yakuza fan, Sony has kinda spoilt you recently, right? Yakuza 4 and 5 on PSN+, Yakuza 0 a few months ago, and now the first game is remastered as Yakuza Kiwami (kiwami meaning ultimate or extreme, which makes sense as you’ll see).

And what a remaster it is! It looks considerably better (well, obviously), the UI and the gameplay mechanics have been updated (you can now save whenever and wherever you want for instance), the story of Yakuza has been enhanced and smoothed, and you can now choose between 4 different fighting styles, from balanced to lightning-quick but relatively weak to slow but strong. Plus, there’s going to be 4 different DLC packs to be released in the weeks following the launch of the game.

The fighting in Yakuza Kiwami is ironically the biggest strength as well as the biggest weakness of the game – it is fun, but boy, does it get repetitive! The fun part is combining fighting styles and showing of brutal finishers, expanding your repertoire, grabbing weapons – either lying around or from your inventory, and generally punishing assholes standing in your way.

But there’s also a downside to fighting …

When you just want or need to get from A to B, but enemies C to Z are in your way, it can become a bit tiresome. Plus boss fights … they are a chore. Not only can’t you grab most of them (meaning no grappling finishers), some will never fall down (again, no finishers), they have absurd amounts of health and enjoy regenerating their health for an extra measure of annoyance. Most of the time, you just attack a boss with the same attack pattern while you defend his attacks with the same pattern – and that can go on for up to 5 minutes. Provided you carry plenty of healing items – and in Yakuza Kiwami, you should ALWAYS carry of healing items around – there is hardly any challenge in boss fights, it’s just battles of attrition.

And then Majima … oh yes, he’s one of the coolest characters in Yakuza, and sure, it makes sense to give such a cool character a bigger role, but THAT big and omnipresent? Remember the random battles – well, random goons go down quickly, but imagine you fight Majima, a pretty tough boss battle, 3 times within 5 minutes, completely randomly. He packs a punch, and he has tons of health, too, obviously. The only thing making those fights bearable in Yakuza Kiwami is the fact that the more you beat him, the more you unlock of your legendary and devastating dragon style.

So, lots of fighting to do, eh? But don’t worry, there are countless mini-games to distract you or waste some time, something the Yakuza series is famous for, and the remake of the first game obviously is no exception; you can play a very strange card game with women dressed as bugs (don’t ask), you can race toy cars, play golf or bowling, sing karaoke (if you insist, it is boring as always), you can gamble in a secret casino, and you also can play mah-jong. And more.

And last but definitely not least, there is the excellent and dark crime story about murder, revenge, betrayal, stolen money and a little girl, with quite a few twists and turns and broken bones and friendships along the bumpy road. It’s best to experience it yourselves, so the less said here, the better. The dialogues is now also entirely in Japanese audio, to immerse you deeper into the world of Yakuza, so be warned you need to read. A lot. Sadly, not all dialogues are voiced, which alongside some archaic UI systems makes you aware of the age of Yakuza Kiwami.

So, how great is it? Objectively speaking, Yakuza Kiwami is a good, maybe even a very good game (if we take the age of the game into account). But … there is tiny bit too much of Majima in the game, and while it is always fun in small games, the repetitive, random and constant fighting around every corner can become a bit too much after an hour. On the other hand, Yakuza can also be described as a mix of Shenmue and GTA, and this remake does a great job of serving as a great way to get introduced to the series and to the sometimes weird world of Japanese daily living – and dying in its underworld, of course!

Rabidgames fights: Yakuza Kiwami can best be described as a fight – with the enemies, with the system to throw Majima in your way way too often or fighting the random thugs who become an annoying waste of time after 10 hours, but then again, it’s a price worth paying to jump into the twisted world of Yakuza – and there’s no shame playing on easy if you want to bring the story forwards instead of breaking your thumbs fighting the not so good fight!

F1 2017 or More Real Than the Real Thing?

Posted in Hands On, The Latest with tags , , on August 29, 2017 by Rabidgames

In a nutshell, F1 2017 takes all the good stuff from last year’s F1 2016, gives us a bit more of it and then adds some stuff. The game boasts of being the most complete F1 game to date, and for once, that PR statement is actually true.

Not only is the career mode of F1 2017 deeper and more detailed than last year – you can now develop your driver and your car over 10 seasons, and grid penalties for engine failures are sadly also included (this being of the dumbest FIA ideas ever), but generally speaking, you’ll need to put more work into it. But there are more rewards than merely becoming world champion; you’ll get invited to some events where you can race classic F1 cars from the past, including Ayrton Senna’s iconic McLaren from 1988 (sadly it’s pre-order only for now, which is obviously a dick move), and then some more McLarens, Ferraris, Renaults and Red Bulls from over 2 decades.

What’s kinda odd is that the older cars in F1 2017 tend to fall apart quicker and easier – maybe not too unrealistic one might think, but still it seems to be a weird design decision. Then again, let’s face it – crashing cars in racing games has always been fun!

Obviously, the cars have no DRS and the cockpits look pretty different as well, but they also drive and sound differently (one could say they sound like any damn F1 car should sound). Besides the invitational events in the career, you can play any race with the classic car. It’s a shame though that F1 2017 doesn’t give us classic drivers as well. You race random names when sitting in a classic car, which seems a missed opportunity.

And F1 2017 doesn’t stop here – you can also find a variety of diverse championships in the new championships mode, where you can race shorter or linger seasons, either a full weekend with training, qualifying and race, just the race, or some other combinations, e.g. a sprint race followed by a normal race. Additionally, there is an Event mode where Codemasters asks us to complete a challenging race, e.g. winning a race with a broken front wing.

The amount of detail in F1 2017 is definitely breath taking – each car seems to have been rebuilt to look like the real-life cars, the tracks look stunning – especially in the rain or the newly added Monaco night-race are something to behold (although you should probably rather focus on the track in wet conditions). Oh, and there are also 4 shorter versions of the circuits there for your entertainment, too …

So far, everything sounds great. Well, the devil is a bit in the detail with F1 2017: Sometimes, the first corner is quite chaotic, and then you get hit out of nowhere. And then, you get a penalty for getting hit! Sure, this has only happened a few times, and it might be a realistic portrayal of the arbitrary penalties the FIA dishes out in the real F1, but it can be quite annoying. At the same time, there is no apparent logic to the penalties – from a caution to a +3 second penalty to nothing, everything can happen if you hit a car – sometimes you get even different results after rewinding and hitting the car again …

And then, there’s last year’s dilemma, too – the game is pretty much a simulation for rather casual racers like yours truly, while simulation racers might think it is lacking a bit in that respect. But even if an entire championship seems to much for you, F1 2017 is pretty much worth it for every F1 fan who happens to at least like racing games – you can either relive the full weekend, you can enjoy a shorter campaign with sprint races without the hassle of a career, or you can just get to know the track of the weekend via Time Trial – F1 2017 has lots to offer for every kind of racer.

Rabidgames : For two years in a row now, Codemasters delivers a strong racing game. It might be somewhat in the middle between casual racing and unforgiving simulation, but for F1 fans who like to hear that nice old sound while also trying their hands on different cars from different eras, it’s perfect. 

Dear EA, Sincerely Fuck You!

Posted in Gaming these days ..., News, The Latest with tags , , , , on August 26, 2017 by Rabidgames

You might have heard EA is essentially pulling the plug on Mass Effect Andromeda, which means no more DLC and especially no more patches for the single player part of the game. You know, the part that was consciously released unfinished. It pretty much tells us EA doesn’t give a shit about releasing alpha versions of games, and when challenged as to why an unfinished game such as Andromeda is released, EA abandons the product. Classy.

But wait! It wouldn’t be EA to just kick a an innocent being. Oh no, they rather gut shoot it and leave it out bleed dry just because they are EA! So no more single player hist, right? But hold on, the bastards instead keep serving the micro-transactions wielding MP of Andromeda (which is considerably worse than Mass Effect 3’s MP anyway), but that isn’t the end of that, oh no, just when they said to pull the lug on Andromeda these wankers release some fucking multiplayer DLC packs!

It’s been said before, after the Andromeda disaster, it’s time to say R.I.P. Bioware. EA might be dragging your carcass along for a ride, hell, you might be even end up as a trophy on some asshole-in-a-suit’s living room, but Bioware is dead.

Rabidgames says this: Fuck you EA! And fuck off!

What the Fuck is Purrfect Date?

Posted in Gaming these days ..., The Latest with tags , on August 17, 2017 by Rabidgames

Imagine you’re dating cats while also solving a mystery on some island somewhere. “Hold on, what?” you might ask. Yes, that’s the summary of a weird upcoming game called “Purrfect date”. And it doesn’t stop there.

Imagine a trailer that announces “come for the pussy, stay for the tale” …

Seriously though, “tale”, not “tail”? What a missed opurrtunity there.

Rabidgames is speechless : Sorry, no more puns. Just plain and simple WHAT THE FUCK!?! again.

The Welcome Onslaught of Strategy Games on Consoles

Posted in Gaming these days ..., The Latest with tags , , , , , on August 13, 2017 by Rabidgames

Now, strategy game ain’t usually something one associates with consoles, but it’s nothing unheard of – after all, there were quite a few great games such as Supreme Commander series (the spiritual successors of the best RTS game ever, Total Annihilation), a few well-ported Command & Conquer or the underrated R.U.S.E. on last generation’s consoles, and this generation has already seen a few.

After all, a game like Tropico 5 has been out for a while if you feel like a revolutionary, we could manage entire kingdoms in the likes of Grand Ages:Medieval or Nobunaga’s Ambition, or we could fight aliens in XCOM, and the ingeniously evil Plague Inc. has enabled us to eradicate mankind for a while now. Ah, the fun in that …

But in 2017, things have sped up: there’s the ob simulation Constructor, the alien world explorer and manager Aven Colony, there’s Shadow Tactics: Blades of Shogun, that wonderfully reminds one of Commandos, and if you’ve played hundreds of hours of Transport Tycoon Deluxe, a game such as Industry Giant 2 looks very familiar …

Chocobo INC., 4. Jan 2004

Final Fantasy VII’s Midgard in Transport Tycoon Deluxe.

But that’s not all, the two arguably biggest strategy hits are yet about to come onto consoles: Sudden Strike, the renowned real-time strategy series, has just returned with Sudden Strike 4, and the game one could call Sim City without the EA bullshit, Cities: Skyline is soon to follow.

Sure, some of these games are not exactly new, and traditionally, strategy games have led a rather quiet and overlooked life on consoles, but with a bit of luck, that’s about to change now.

Rabidgames sighs: So many games, never enough time. First world gaming problems, true. But if there’s a genre that eats time (even more so than RPGs), it’s strategy games. It’s going to be tough to pick the best ones, that’s for sure.

Dragons Dogma Will Arise on 3 October!

Posted in News, The Latest with tags , on August 10, 2017 by Rabidgames

Finally, we have an official release date for one of the most-awaited remasters of one of the best games ever. Objectively speaking, of course.

Anyway, we will finally be able to delve into the world of Gransys on our next-gen systems on 3 October, when Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen finally returns!

If you can’t wait like yours truly, here’s a new little Dragon’s Dogma video to watch – it helps just a bit, but better than naught:

Rabidgames looks anxiously at the calendar: So many days, too many days left till we will explore the world of Dragon’s Dogma once more! So let’s not forget there’s “strength in numbers, Arisen”!

Diablo 3’s Necromancer – Overpriced Body-Stripping or Bone-ripping Fun?

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Played & Explained, The Latest with tags , , on July 30, 2017 by Rabidgames

Well, if the Necromancer has just been the class you’ve been waiting for in Diablo 3 and you enjoy nothing more than tearing a screen full of enemies to shreds with exploding bodies, it’s hard to answer that question objectively of course.

Sure, 15€/12£ for one character sounds fucking expensive, but it’s nothing unheard of – look at all the fighting games or shooters where you shell out 10 quid for a map or two. Just as an example, there are DLC characters in Injustice 2, each costing 5 quid. Any outrage there? But to be fair to Blizzard, it’s not just the Necromancer, his character models and animation, balancing and voice overs being implemented into Diablo 3, it’s also the unique sets and set dungeons that come into play.

Besides, Blizzard has been very generous since abandoning their failed auction house and always-online shenanigans of the failed launch of Diablo 3 – from the PS4’s launch onwards, there have been quite a few free updates giving us bonus dungeons, Greater Rifts and now Challenge Rifts, the Horadric artefact Kanai’s Cube, seasons and more. Always for free.

Plus, the Necromancer is one of the best classes to quickly rise through levels and to quickly raze enemy hordes. It is deadly early on and you can easily switch to Torment from level 50 onwards. It is also one of the most versatile classes in Diablo 3; you can play it as the lord of the undead, telling your minions who to attack – and here’s the big difference to the Witch Doctor, who cannot order his minions around – you walk around dressed in a Bone Armour throwing around Bone Spears or you spend your own life force to create deadly explosions while you replenish your HP by devouring corpses (every slain enemy leaves a corpse). Oh, and you can also temporarily raise up to 10 Skeleton Mages attacking enemies …

But the real beauty is what you do with corpses (not THAT, you perv!) – will you devour them or revive them? Or detonate them? You can. But the most fun is having sharp bones ripped out of corpses flying and destroying everything on screen in a heartbeat! Corpse Lance is surely one of the best skills in Diablo 3 – if there wasn’t a problem on higher difficulties: Sometimes, there are no corpses lying around, and they’re never enough. Until you get skills that create corpses for you or an item that makes sure your golem shits a corpse each second … well, it doesn’t say it literally …

So, is the Necromancer worth it? Let’s have a look at it from this angle: For speed-runs, be it in a season or (Greater) Rifts, they’re very viable characters with the right skill set and items. Even without that, reaching level 70 is a breeze as especially the first 40 or so levels can be slow grinding with other classes, e.g. monks, whereas the Necromancer can summon an army early on. So objectively, the Necromancer is a decent addition to Diablo 3. Subjectively though, well, who knows? Read about the class or watch some videos. Some classes might not be for you, others are perfect for you. But hell, who doesn’t like exploding bodies across the screen, right?

Rabidgames raises his thumb: Right off the bat, the Necromancer is now Rabidgames’ 2nd favourite class. Wizard is still running supreme, especially after finding that awesome Firedbird’s Finery set that makes everything burn within seconds, especially bosses! Oh, anyway, Necromancer is already a close second though! At least here, it was 12 pounds well spent for .

Why the Success of GTA Online is Actually Bad News

Posted in Gaming these days ..., The Latest with tags , , , , on July 26, 2017 by Rabidgames

First of all, this is the perspective of a disgruntled long-term Rockstar fanboy. GTA Online is fun for many, sure. It can be fun, and that’s all fair and square if it’s your cup of tea. But unfortunately, it’s also a giant money machine. Which is also the biggest problem if you don’t give a flying fuck about it. Because post-launch, GTA Online is all there is while once the campaign is completed, there is nothing but a few consolation outfits, weapons or vehicles.

For GTA Online however, we have heists, stunt tracks (to be fair, these are really cool), businesses to make you some money, property to buy, and so on. For some inexplicable reason though, everything is that absurdly overpriced so you have to grind for a decade to be able to afford the good shit … or you just give Rockstar some cash and you’re set. Great, eh?

Somehow however, Rockstar forgot its roots. The company forgot about the GTA V singleplayer part of the game, the part that used to be the meat and the reason to play Grand Theft Auto. What happened to it? Blinded by the easy cash of GTA Online? Too lazy to come up with a story and/or characters for a DLC campaign? To be fair, the GTA V campaign has its moments, but it has been missing something, as if the developers decided to start there and then focussed on something else rather than flesh it out completely with … you know, aliens or post-story heists. Something else meaning a certain online component …

Whatever the reasons for the decay of the campaign, it is bad news for us old-school single-player Grand Theft Auto fans. And not just that – can you imagine the focus will now NOT be on the multiplayer of Red Dead Redemption 2? Sure, Rockstar has made a shitload of money with GTA Online, but who gives a fuck? Apart from JRPGs and the glory of The Witcher, where are the big open worlds with compelling stories and satire (we can always go back to Just Cause, Saints Row (after 2) or Wildlands, but well, their stories are not their strong suits)? Where is the stuff that once made Rockstar great, where has their DNA been in recent years? Has Rockstar smelled easy money and lost its ways? Well, Red Dead Redemption 2 will soon tell us if Rockstar still follows their legacy or if they sell out for quick cash. Fingers crossed!

Rabidgames sighs: Let’s hope Rockstar won’t be remembered as yet another company that shits on their past and instead delivers soulless chunks of game that might look pretty but is devoid of substance. Looking at you, Dragon Age 2 and Destiny …

 

 

Destiny 2 Beta … More of the Same, Less Story

Posted in Hands On, The Latest with tags , , on July 22, 2017 by Rabidgames

Remember the original Destiny Beta? Great gunplay, a bit to explore, a nice teaser for a story. Shame 99% of the story was in the beta though …

With the Destiny 2 Beta, we get even less story: The tower and the traveller are being attacked, you flee, you die. That’s it. Everything’s also very linear and it is exactly Destiny – not more, not less – the same three classes, great gunplay, alien bullet sponges, a few tweaks, but that’s it. No interesting cliffhanger at the end of the Beta, no really new elements, no exploration. Destiny 2 is playing its Beta safe – you get what you expect, but nothing more. Actually, it’s even a bit less without even a bit of exploration, without finding new loot and without levelling.

Sure, there’s also a Strike in a more open environment that has a cool boss encounter where you fall through the floor repeatedly. Well, that’s the interesting part, as the boss requires nothing but emptying magazine after magazine while you try to stay alive.

But story-wise, it seems Destiny 2 is either hiding a great story or there isn’t one. Judging from the first game, one should be rather cautious than expect an epic narrative. This bare-bones Beta with a bare-bones story string won’t convince anyone who got disappointed by the first game. Bungie wasted a good opportunity here, that’s for sure.

Rabidgames yawns: This Beta only shows that Destiny is still the same old – if that means good or bad, that’s for us to decide. Pre-ordering the game on the merit of the gameplay alone might work for fans, but Rabidgames rather waits for the reviews to see if Destiny 2 is more than endlessly running through the same environments slaughtering the same alien sponges without anything really happening – again.