Archive for Destiny

Mass Effect + Destiny + A Hot Mess – Bioware Writing = Anthem

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , , , on February 3, 2019 by Rabidgames

First of all, Anthem is better than Rabidgames expected. The flying is pretty cool, and the good old Mass Effect primer/detonator combos are back. In its best moments, when there is some flow and your team works together well, it really feels like Mass Effect plus jetpack. And some guy split in three is interesting, well, unless you know Kingdom Hearts where one guy splits himself into 13.

Anyway, sometimes better than expected does not mean anywhere above the line of average. Anthem has some good sides, but the bad sides prevail. By a mile. Shooting bullet sponges has been bad since Destiny (and that was even worse in The Division, where seemingly human bosses survive 5 magazines of lead in their head), and Anthem is as just not food enough here. While you can mix and match flying/gliding and shooting after a bit of practice, it doesn’t make up for the shooting being two leagues below Destiny. You don’t have to like Destiny to admit that they absolutely nailed the shooting …

Furthermore, the gameplay loop is boring: Go there, shoot baddies, upload something, go somewhere else, rinse and repeat, oh look, a boss. Even if the shooting was top-notch (nope), and even if combos were as fluent and intuitive as in Mass Effect (again, nope), it would just be en par with Destiny … at most. But when you end up flying through a mostly empty world for 3 minutes, you get bored quicker than in other games where you walk for ten seconds between shoot-outs. Even worse, the cringe-worthy story told by NPCs that looked ancient 5 years ago … There is no excuse for something that bad from fucking Bioware! Dude gets artefact, smashes it, gets split into three, his worst and dumbest third escapes the city, you get him back, only for the game to freeze in the cutscene that explains it … well done, Bioware.

Speaking of freezing, lags, crashes, connection issues, frame-rate problems and the loss of sound – yes, Anthem has all of this and more. Guys, this is a demo, isn’t it? You want people to convince to buy the game. Instead, hardly anything works as intended. Even worse, Friday was kind of stable, Saturday was less, and hardly anything worked on Sunday. That’s quite poor.

Also, the story. Anthem is like Destiny there – some mysterious stranger, sorry, energy source that can somehow alter reality … Sure, we don’t need all the details now, but after Destiny, mysterious hints are suspicious of a shit show in the story department. Bad dialogues and boring mission design don’t help there either. Absolutely nothing of interest except the guy made threefold happens – so where’s the catch?

Given the utterly idiotic way PS4 gamers will be the last to see the game – and thereby maybe the luckier ones as they’ll know what they’re getting into – we might know soon if the final version of Anthem is indeed ready. But here’s the thing: if, and that’s a big IF, hell, a couple of big IFs, if the game fixes its technical issues, if the story develops into something decent and if Anthem ends up with good content, then it might be a game worth looking at. But the demo does not help – if you judge Anthem by it, it’s a broken mess that is nowhere near Destiny or Warframe.

Rabdigames shakes his weary head: A demo should make people buy the game. In this case, that won’t happen. An unfinished mess with barely any identity is not good enough even though the core gameplay looks somewhat promising. Any hope for Bioware is long gone anyway, but Anthem could be their swansong – after a long decline, it might be soon time EA takes Bioware out into the desert to an unmarked grave full of bodies. If the demo is a sign, Bioware better savours its sorry life as long as it lasts …

Destiny 2 Stealthes to PSN Plus: Panic or PR?

Posted in Gaming these days ... with tags , on September 10, 2018 by Rabidgames

What the fuck? Out of nowhere, and just in time for its next expansion, Destiny 2 arrived on PSN Plus in a rather stealthy manner.

But is it PR? Goodwill? Panic? Or a mix of all of it?

Who knows. Fact is, the player feedback for Activion’s cash trap has been quite negative, no wonder if you take shit out of the base game to re-package it as DLC … There hardly was anything new or worthwhile when Destiny 2 was released, Activision did some idiotic amateur mistakes, and so it’s no wonder the free-to-play competitor Warframe is rumoured to be the best Destiny experience these days (sure, the shooting ain’t as crisp, but there’s already more story and character in its first 10 hours than there has ever been in all of Destiny 1).

To be fair to Activision (even though we probably shouldn’t), it seems they listened at least to some of the complaints and changed quite a few things in Destiny 2. There’s more mix and match possible now with weapons in the fabled update 2.0, for instance.

But after 5 hours in, it’s still the same old and Destiny … yeah, gunplay is great, but fighting the same waves of enemies all over again? Boring. The story now features more cutscenes, but there’s still not much of a story there. The gameplay is still “go there, shoot shit, go there again to shoot shit again”. No tactics, no cinematic stuff after the first couple of missions. There’s a bit of atmosphere when walking through the derelict ruins of the old world, but with enemies and other guardians spawning left and right, the atmosphere is quickly swallowed by the umpteenth meaningless shoot-out. Chances are if you finished Destiny 1 and were already bored, Destiny 2 will bore you to death.

Rabidgames wonders: One thing is for sure – Activision doesn’t give away Destiny 2 out of the goodness of their rotten, microtransaction-infested hearts. But if the aim is to lure in players by presenting an overhauled base game, fine. If the aim is a cry for attention, also fine. It’s a chance to look at the game again, and it might suit some. But if you look for more than great gunplay (solo, co-op or multiplayer), Destiny 2 doesn’t offer it.

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.

The Division (Beta) or A Better Destiny?

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , on February 22, 2016 by Rabidgames

The comparison with Destiny makes sense in many ways: Just like the (in)famous Bungie shooter, Tom Clancy’s The Division is an co-op online (and in both it’s questionable why it’s gotta be always online) shooter with light RPG elements, it takes place in a kinda post-apocalyptic world, and in both betas, the story remains abstruse – at best.

But there are differences – while Destiny feels like an arcade story in a sci-fi world far, far away, The Division’s catastrophe-ravaged version of New York feel darker, grittier and more realistic. You can almost feel the despair and the drama, the deaths and the pain in the mostly empty snow-covered streets of Manhattan.

In terms of gunplay, Destiny feels more like the winner – The Division’s guns don’t have the intuitive feel to them. You get used to them, and sure, one-hit kills with snipers rifles are always fun, and the mix of handguns with infinite ammo (that’s where realism says farewell) and two slots for either sniper rifles, shotguns, assault rifles or SMGs is still okay. Modding weapons makes them more unique, and in the full game, crafting promises some more width. Same goes for the rest of the equipment – The Division has plenty of slots to customise your avatar – plus some for appearance such as jackets, hats or shoes.

When it comes to gameplay, there’s a bit of running and exploration (you can enter some buildings and subway stations), and of course, lots of shooting. Some side missions involve you listening to “echoes” (conversations from the past somehow restored) and then following clues – nothing deep or immersive, but a welcome diversion in for sure. There’s also lots of intel and other collectibles hidden across Manhattan, providing us with some back story. Additionally, the old trick “hearing emotional stories from people you’ve never met before still gets you invested” works once more, giving this game already more emotional depth than Destiny has ever had.

In The Division, you also need to gather 3 different resources to expand your base, which in turn grants you new skills and perks for either medical, tech or security wings (security not accssible in the beta), and each section has 10 upgrades. There are tons of upgrades locked in the beta, but judging from the various screens, fingers crossed for some interesting ideas. There are also quite a few vendors in your base, and crafting is done here as well.

Then, there are the dark zones – it’s basically PvP, everyone is pitted against everyone. Yes, you need to play as a team to get to some good gear, but everyone can betray the team in The Division’s rather weird take on PvP. Unfortunately, it is possible you survive the betrayal of your team and some random guy kills you from afar. Well, the beta might be the right point to realise this … There needs to be more balance otherwise it pays off to be doing nothing and gaining the spoils – yes, Wall Street is close but games should be escapism, right?

Now, is The Division any good? Well, there is some potential, and if expanding the base and exploring Manhattan can entertain for more than 10 hours, it might well be worth it. But after Destiny’s hollow shell there is room for doubt, it is fair enough to doubt not to buy The Division blindly if you have zero interest in the dark zones or PvP in general, plus there’s doubt there actually is enough story and content to play the game on your own.

Rabidgames hesitates: After Destiny empty promises, the saying “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” comes to mind. The reviews and word of mouth will show if The Division can become what Destiny utterly failed to be at launch – an online game where you choose how social you want to be, with plenty of content for old-fashioned gamers who want to play on their own. And once more, it makes you wonder how fleshed out the game could have been without the online gimmick …

Destiny or Of Misconceptions and Truths

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags on September 15, 2014 by Rabidgames

There has been much talk and even more hype. Destiny was supposed to really fire up the next generation of console gaming. It was supposed to be a MMO-style co-op open worldish first person shooter revelation. But now that we can peel back the layers of hype, what exactly is Destiny?

It is not next gen. In any way. Destiny has some decent graphics, yes. But the gameplay is nothing new or innovative. It is extremely polished, it is fun, but that’s about it.

It is not as bad as many point out. Frankly, Destiny pays the price for years of stale Call of Duties, Battlefields & Co. Finally, many people are fed up with the same AAA formula: Always play safe, no risks, you know it. For some reason, reviewers and gamers take out all their frustration on Destiny, not on Call of Duty. True, the hype was too big, there were to many promises not kept, but remember how each damn Call of Duty is supposed to be new and different yet it never is?

It is neither MMO nor single player … Destiny is something inbetween. Sometimes you spot another player, sometimes even two. But that’s it. Compared to Defiance where you can meet dozens of players at some events, Destiny is barren. In the week of its release. So no, it is nowhere near a MMO. However, it is not really a proper single player game. First of all, it’s always online. No internet, no Destiny. Second, you can play the story on your own, no problem, but playing a strike and most likely a raid alone sounds like in-game suicide and real-life time wasting. You need a working team to beat these instances of Destiny.

The gameplay shines … except for the AI. In terms of gameplay, Destiny is as polished as polished can get. The controls are smooth and crisp, running and gunning is fluent, the frame rate is stable, and switching between vehicles and running is perfect. The weapons have some weight to them and feel and handle different from each other, too. Seems good … if it wasn’t for the broken AI. Sure, enemies take cover (especially shielded enemies tend to wait until their shields are up again), but they rarely try to flank you. Even worse, every enemy in Destiny has a radius it never trespasses. Fuck, you can exploit it perfectly in boss fights – there is virtually always a safe spot to retreat to, and a melee boss won’t even touch you if you play your cards right. Come on, test it out for yourself.

It is a Halo/Borderlands/Diablo/Mass Effect hybrid. It has the looks of Halo, the loot system of Borderlands, the leveling up structure of Diablo 3, the coop approach of Mass Effect 3’s MP. As said before, Destiny is not a revolution, not an innovation. But it combines all of the above in a compelling way. You want to explore, you want to find loot, you want to keep on playing. For the loot, mostly. To sum it up, Destiny is all about the loot.

The story is non-existent. We have a cinematic at the beginning, some lines from Tyrion, erm, our Ghost, and some lines inbetween. We know … next to nothing. Sure, you unlock cards in Destiny … cards you can watch at the Bungie website. Seriously? Would it have been that hard to give us the option … you know, in the game itself? What is going on with this second screen nonsense? No one cares for it on the Wii U, the Vita bombs anyway, and smartphone compagnions are pretty much useless gimmicks – why insisting on stuff us gamers do not want? We want all information on the screen in the game. Period.

The long-term prospects hamper the actual game. How? First of all, we know next to nothing about Destiny’s universe. So why should we care about a world without lore or interesting characters? Bioware and Bethesda know you need an appoach to captivate players. Destiny captivates us now, true. But for how long? Second, there’s a ten year plan for Destiny in place, probably all detailed. There’s main games, big DLC, small DLC etc. Speaking of  that…

DLC ruins the experience. “Wait, what?” you might say. “Rabidgames, you don’t know anything about upcoming DLC yet!” True. But look at the rather meagre content (just compare Destiny’s campaign to the one in Borderlands 2). For now, Destiny is a 20 hours experience. At the moment, Destiny looks spectacular, the soundtrack is amazing, and some vistas are beautiful. But there is not much below the surface. A lack of story, a lack of missions, a lack of diversity. Sure, we have the open maps to explore, but how long will we do it? To counter that, Activision and Bungie have promised us DLC. Hell, you can buy a more expensive version of Destiny that includes the first two pieces of DLC! That’s how Destiny is supposed to come alive. Via DLC! That would be perfectly fine if Destiny had been a 20 quid price tag, but full price for a game that becomes a complete game only after shelling out dozens of pounds again? Judge for yourselves!

Its PvP is fucked. How? Well, you have a team with the highest level of 10, the enemy’s average is … 15. Guess what happens next? Either way round, this kind of matchmaking is fucking stupid. Either you wipe the floor with weak noobs or overpowered opponents, usually level 20 upwards, wipe the floor with your sorry guardian ass! It makes PvP in Destiny absolutely redundant and pointless.

It is good, not great. Of course, the hype was so big it was impossible to live up to it. But even if there are disappointments and long-term dangers, Destiny is fun to play at its core. It is fun to travel around, hunt down some bosses, play a strike with other players. But there is no awesome factor. After a while, and that while might be within a month, Destiny will feel stale – especially with the tons of other games incoming.

All hope is not lost! Bungie might still find a way to counter that fatigue that is going to set in eventually – maybe by weekend special events (they have already started) or free updates as the new species, weapons etc. in Mass Effect 3’s MP. If purchasable DLC is the only way for Destiny to survive, its destiny seems all but sure – the bargain bin.

Rabidgame keeps playing: All the long-term issues aside, Destiny is an enjoyable experience to play through and the verdict seems a bit harsh. True, it might not be much more than its core, but its core is the gameplay, and the gameplay is solid fun. Time will tell if that’s enough though …