Archive for Beta

Anthem vs The Division 2: Open Beta Face-Off

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , , , , on March 9, 2019 by Rabidgames

We don’t often see two massive, open-world(ish) titles pushing out open betas to try to convince people just before their respective launches in such a short time. While Anthem is more of a sci-fi game with futuristic tech and rather fantastic enemies, The Division 2 is a slightly futuristic-ish game with human enemies. And well, both are always-online loot shooters with a “games as a service system” so lets compare the shit out of them!

One thing – let’s not pretend an open beta is more than just a demo. If you really have to test your servers or your game that late in development, you’re fucked anyway.

It’s been a few days to let the open beta experience of The Division 2 sink in, so let’s get going now and see how both open betas fared!

Technical stuff

GRAPHICS: Anthem looked nice and impressive, whereas TD2 (let’s be lazy, shall we?) looked a step down from its predecessor. Both betas were plagued by pop-ups and other problems, but this point goes to Anthem because the world actually looks stunning at times.
Anthem-Division 1:0

SOUND: This is a tough one. Both games weren’t too convincing in the sound department, and both betas showed signs that there is still some work to do in both cases. However, TD2 had some serious issues with the weapon sounds. giving Anthem the edge here.
Anthem-Division 2:0

STABILITY: TD2 had issues in the closed beta, but so had Anthem. In Anthem’s open beta however, it was very common to either not be able to connect or to get thrown out of the game when connected, which happened on a very regular basis, making the game unplayable for tens of minutes at times. TD2 on the other hand, ran fine with very few connection issues and very few hiccups.
Anthem-Division 2:1

STARTING OUT: Anthem was cumbersome – Going from the hub veeeery slowly to the hangar area took a while, and going back to report and get the next objective was the same drag. Matchmaking was also rather weird and sometimes resulted with no results, wasting’everybody’s time. TD2 was more fluid from the get-go, and running inside hubs can help. Sadly, neither beta offered an easy drop in/drop out service, which seems odd in this day and age.
Anthem-Division 2:2

Beta Content

CUSTOMISATION: Both betas show not much in terms of character customisation. Anthem let us lightly customise the Javelin and our loadout, TD2 let us lightly customise our agent and the loadout, too. However, it felt easier to try out different builds in TD2 as you could do so on the spot instead of collecting orbs that were sent to the hub. All the cosmetic stuff you found to individualise your character was also more accessible than the convoluted way to change the colour of the Javelin (which also was lost when rebooting the Anthem beta the next time).
Anthem-Division 2:3

THE WORLD: We got to see most of the world of Anthem. It looked nice, yes, but also devoid of many landmarks or points of interest. You also had to actively look for activity beyond angering wildlife because it was pretty empty. TD2’s overgrown and green Washington DC was full of life, be it animals, friendly or hostile humans – there could be danger just around the corner all the time, so it’s easy to see who wins here.
Anthem-Division 2:4

WORLD BUILDING: The hub in Anthem felt static and sterile, filled with static NPCs, pointless dialogue choices and “not available in beta” signs instead of actual dialogues in most cases. Just like the rest of the world, it felt empty, even a bit trivial After you did missions, you came back and it was all the same. TD2 showed a world you rebuild and actively change. After all, you literally re-build the world in TD2.
Anthem-Division 2:5

MISSIONS: Anthem had some missions and one end-game mission. And free roam. TD2 had some main missions, lots of repeatable side missions, free roam was part of the world anyway, and also one end-game mission. While both are mostly go from A to B to kill C, Anthem was quite boring as it felt pretty generic, whereas TD2 offered more interesting levels that required some tactical planning. Being able to explore and discover seamlessly between missions and free roam is an easy win for TD2.
Anthem-Division 2:6

Gameplay

MOVEMENT: Obviously, flying around in a vertical world is cooler than walking and running around. You can fucking FLY!!!
Anthem-Division 3:6

SHOOTING: Technically, that’s a point for Destiny here. Shooting isn’t too great in either Anthem or TD2 compared to Destiny’s only strength. But between those two, TD2 actually had a more diverse cast of weapons at its disposal and shooting them felt slightly more “real” and satisfying.
Anthem-Division 3:7

ABILITIES: To be fair, Rabidgames has a weakness for the primer/detonator combat of Mass Effect that is also built into Anthem so that’s a strong point for the Bioware game. The abilities in TD2 felt a bit nerfed, making it harder to use them to our advantage. They’re not useless, but not as fun as the combos in Anthem.
Anthem-Division 4:7

GAMEPLAY VARIETY: Well, both are shooters. You aim, you shoot, boom, splash, splatter. But while enemies in Anthem are either weak or bullet sponges – and could be easily copied over from DestinyTD2 offer variety with its human and robot opponents. Firefights in Anthem’s open beta all played out the same in the categories grunts and bosses. You shoot until they fall, and sure, bosses eat 10,000 bullets for breakfast, resulting in extremely boring circle and shoot orgies while occasionally escaping super attacks. TD2’s fights were a bit harder – you needed to cover your flanks or you were wiped out. Also, a screen full of enemies, drones and remote-controlled bomb-cars in a narrow room was an intense feeling, and bosses there had visual armour you can shoot off to finish off the boss quicker.
Anthem-Division 4:8

THE LOOT: We got weapons and other goodies only after missions in Anthem, which didn’t felt satisfying. At all. And the selection was even less interesting than in Destiny! In TD2, you can play with new loot on the spot, which made playing around with builds and mods more fun. Of course, the endgames in both games will show how good loot really is, but for now, it seems you can do more with it in TD2 – from crafting weapons to donating it to friendly settlements, you shouldn’t sell all you have.
Anthem-Division 4:9

THE SYSTEMS: Now, this is a tough one judging from the beta. Both are RPGs that let you build, craft and customise the gear you like. Anthem pretty much has the mission -> rewards -> customisation loop, while TD2 has more – you upgrade your base and settlements, you open up checkpoints to control districts (where you then open up a door with loot). Plus, you get to see your changes in TD2’s world. In RPG terms, both are pretty light though – the dialogue choice in Anthem are a joke though, if you think who did it!
Anthem-Division 4:10

THE FINAL RESULT: Anthem 4, The Division 10

Rabidgames thinks: It is inexplicable why Bioware/EA chose an outdated version that was a technical nightmare to proudly show off Anthem. It also didn’t do much to tell anything worthwhile about what’s going on. The Division 2 however showed us how the game starts, what’s going on and how many of its systems work together. Substance over style sums it up nicely – Anthem had a nice world with cool flying, but that’s about it. The Division 2 offered lots of content to be experimented with.

It’s no surprise The Division 2 beats Anthem in the beta contest because of those factors, which shows EA either doesn’t get what a beta is these days or that Ubisoft is more confident enough to show us what they got up their sleeves. Or both.

That being said, expect Rabidgames to get Washington D.C. up and running in The Division 2 soon. Anthem must wait, also because the “final” game itself is far from final …

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The Crew 2 Open Beta or The Structureless and the Aimless

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , on June 26, 2018 by Rabidgames

The Crew 2 is going to be a strange game … sure, the first The Crew hardly had any memorable story, but this game has you driving to get followers while mysteriously being able to transform your vehicle to car/boat/plane instantly without any explanation ever except for “it’s for a TV show”. Seriously? Sure, the premise might be too much suspension for disbelief from the get-go for some, but let’s try to talk about the game, shall we? After all, fuck it, it’s a game!

Well, first, the world. It is a 1:1 rehash of the first game. Still there’s no Memphis, no Portland, no Boston … and no one knows why. Shame. The map looks better though. No surprise since you can fly, right? Speaking about flying in The Crew 2 … it feels weird. It is arcadey, sure, but sometimes you bounce back from hitting a tree! Ouch. Hitting a bigger obstacle will reset the plane, as will leaving the map. Flying itself is fun if you want to discover the landscape, but if you want to do that, you can also zoom into the map to see everything without having to change camera angles constantly. If you want to grind, you can constantly gain followers by flying around and doing stunts, too.

Boat racing … sorry, it is shitawfully boring. It’s a pretty much useless addition to The Crew 2 … for navigating the map, it’s useless as you can’t traverse much, and you can see the same and more via plane. The racing is also very boring. It’s just not fun. Car racing is mostly the same from the original The Crew. It is split up more, sure, but it doesn’t look or feel differently.

Progression works with followers won and ranks unlocked. You also earn money to buy new vehicles in new disciplines, which in turn need to be unlocked by progressing in ranks. And cars cost a lot of money. Sounds not exactly fun? You’re right, it’s not exactly fun. The Crew 2 seems to be an eternal grindfest.

Yes, the story in original game was rather on the shit side of things, but hey, there was some structure to the game at least. The only structure in The Crew 2 is that if you start a discipline, you get introduced to some future boss. And then you randomly choose races or challenges and win them. Over and over again. Oh, you can also search for live packs that give you random upgrades for your car (you can also get upgrades by winning certain races or challenges). A welcome change from racing are photo opportunities, where you are tasked to make a photo of some wildlife. Interestingly enough, you can get lots of followers and cash for making a photo.

Oh, and the voice-acting and the dialogues are atrocious. Utterly atrocious. You know when you hear someone is looking for “badassdom” in racers … The Crew 2 is a sandbox game in a very pure form – here are your tools, now play. No story, no explanation, no meaning, just racing. On the same map it shares with its predecessor. Sure, there is some addictive element to progress just a bit more, and if you’re inclined to play with others, this always-online game might be your cup of tea.

At the end of the day, the verdict is very negative. And yet, there are some addictive elements to The Crew 2, and the easy-going racing against others, against time are quite entertaining. And the good thing about the lack of structure is that you gain followers, money and parts by not even doing some serious racing, just by wasting some time. Which can be a nice thing after a long working day, you know … but it’s also an experience that can wait for a price reduction.

Rabidgames is bored: 30 minutes in, the game gets boring already. Races all feel to similar at the beginning, and there is no urgency to anything, or incentive to do something just now. Sorry, recycling a map and adding some half-implentend and unexplained features isn’t enough to justify a full-price purchase. Not this time, Ubi!

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?

 

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.