Archive for Division

6 Reasons the Ghost Recon Breakpoint Beta was a Disappointment

Posted in Commentary, Played & Explained with tags , , , on September 13, 2019 by Rabidgames

If you’re like Rabidgames and you loved Ghost Recon Wildlands and you looked forward to finally jumping into the Beta of the successor Breakpoint, chances are the Beta leaves you numb and wondering what happened there.

1) There are no AI team mates – yet(?)

Running around with the AI, positioning them, lining up sync shots, laughing at them getting stuck – that was the bread and butter of Wildlands for yours truly. For some inexplicable idiotic reason, Ubisoft first decided there shouldn’t be AI team mates in Breakpoint, but then woke up and ensured us to add them … post-launch. But without them, the Breakpoint Beta is fucking boring. It feels like Just Cause on Valium or Metal Gear Solid without the iconic villains – just more of the same open world shooter experience. No AI, no buy.

2) Breakpoint will be always-online

For no fucking reason whatsoever. This isn’t The Division where everything was built from scratch around co-op in tight places (and even there always-online is a questionable choice). This is a very different game with a considerably bigger world and stealth. Imagine playing with some gung-ho shit brain who spoils your plan or wanders off to watch a fucking sunset at the other end of the map. The decision to make Breakpoint always-online seems like a rushed marketing decision, not like a gameplay idea.

3) The world feels shallow

Sure, we only see some regions in the beta but what we see reminds too much of Just Cause 3’s nothern region – mostly emptiness with some enemy structures. There are hardly any towns or villages, just ruins and outposts. A bit boring.

4) Movement feels incredibly clunky

What happened there? It feels like GTA IV all over again, where you had to anticipate movement. Imagine you have to stop 2 seconds so your character stops where you want them to stop. Of course, bikes and cars still handle weirdly in Breakpoint, too.

5) It’s a potential grind-mill money trap

Imagine taking the Division trinity core gameplay mechanics of levels, loot & missions and making you grind for shit in Breakpoint. It works in The Division, sure, but The Division has always been designed as a looter shooter RPG. Ghost Recon hasn’t. Those changes disrupt the core gameplay loop.

6) Level gating kills the sandbox experience

The beauty of Wildlands was that you could start the game, and after 30 minutes or so, you could just go anywhere on the map. Anywhere. Some missions were hard, yes. Some outposts were too hard, too, sure. But 99% of the map waited to be explored without any immortal beings shrugging off your bullets as if they were rain drops. Breakpoint might change that. Not only via the swarms attacking anything that wants to go somewhere “they” don’t want  you to go (that actually are a pretty cool element), but also by making sure your Lv.1 Nomad dies after a Lv.666 Shitdrone blows fart drops in your general direction.

Rabidgames shakes his weary head: Why, Ubisoft? You had a winning system. But then you threw it away. changing a sandbox into a grindbox sucks.

Now, that’s not to say it’s all bad. The camouflage and injury mechanics are pretty neat, being hunted by drones and Ghosts across the map can be fun, the story is grittier and less a shallow patriotic tale about the good US intervening in a bad foreign land, and exploring a live volcano in the full game sounds pretty promising. But there are too many buts in the game right now to recommend buying it. Shame.

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 …