Dude’s Chronicles 2-16-2017: Gonna Be A Long One

eaglelrstageNo, this post won’t be long but I’m going into a long weekend… which is nice.

Entertainment

  • Shameless – Made it into season six and will probably finish it this weekend.
  • Metal Gear SAGA – THE MOVIE – Finished watching all twelve hours of this and I still don’t understand the game any better. I’m convinced nobody understands this game and never will.
  • Halo 5: Guardians – Watching the YouTube film of the entire story didn’t make me like it any better. With Halo Wars 2 coming out I thought I could get myself back into Halo but this actually made me less interested.

Games

  • Overwatch – To show how little I still know about this game, I never realized you can get additional loot boxes by earning them in the arcade mode every week. I managed to clear last week’s wins for those loot boxes and this week’s for additional loot boxes. I even played the 3v3 mode to get the second set of boxes. Luckily I managed to group up with two other random players and we marched straight through three wins in a row.
  • For Honor beta – I appreciated the game but just don’t have enough interest in buying it. Playing the beta was all the time I needed with this game.

News

  • For Honor launch problems – Wait…a multiplayer game with server issues at launch? How could this ever happen? This is unfortunately something that I and just about everybody else expected to happen. Still doesn’t excuse it but it is nothing particular to this game.
  • PewDiePie – Apparently he made some videos with anti-Semitic content and did show much remorse about doing so. Even when he did try to apologize he made claims that it was the media attacking to discredit and devalue him. He has now lost contracts from both Disney and YouTube.
  • PlayStation Now drops platforms – The stream service will only be accessible on PS4 and PC after August 15th. So much for an open palate of platforms to play PlayStation games on.

Closing Arguments

For my three day weekend I’m trying to convince myself to play more of Watch Dogs 2. I purchased the game during PlayStation’s Holiday sale but I probably have less than two hours into it. Every time I start playing I remember all the bad things about the first game that I didn’t like because they are still in the second game. Hopefully I’ll give it another go but I can only image I’ll give up after about 20-30 minutes just like I do every time.

For Honor – Passing Thoughts

 

forhonor_og_1200x630Although playing the beta did not change my mind about buying the game I did find a new respect and glimmer of hope for Ubisoft’s latest game, For Honor.

In a world that has known nothing but conflict for centuries you find yourself caught in this endless cycle with no choice than to do battle to survive. For Honor’s premise is that the world has been at war for centuries after peace was destroyed by an unknown/unnamed cataclysmic event. Three factions now and eternally fight for land as well as precious resources in order to live. You take arms to fight along with one of these factions and fight to survive as your ancestors have before you.

The game presents itself in a somewhat strange and undefined manner. This may be how they are trying to sell it but it may also be one of the largest detractors of the game. Ambiguity can be a useful mechanic but when you are asking a player to invest hours on end in a game you should provide a clear reason for them to be there. For Honor may not be doing this with story rather it may be keeping players around for the combat and battle mechanics.

Without getting too far into the game I realized it was something that was going to forever be beyond me. I went through the basic and advanced tutorials to try to learn the mechanics of battle but I never really got comfortable with them. I may have known how to do a block against an enemy but it was an entirely different story when I needed to do it in the heat of battle and found myself struggling mightily to do so. This is not to say that the game functions poorly, rather it is a statement that I am not good at these type of games. As soon as the game asked me to parry, counter, and block my interest quickly waned  as the soul crushing torture of Dark Souls came to mind.

Not that this game is going to fall into the Souls-esqe category. The combat may remind some of those games but it is strictly and multiplayer arena. There are modes with AI components but those look basically like all the multiplayer mode just with AI for those that are risk adverse and don’t want to play against real players. One thing that caught me strangely was the need to play a duel in order to enter the multiplayer arena. Even though I never wanted to ever play a one-on-one match, I was forced to before I could even enter the other online multiplayer modes. Why this would be forced upon players is beyond me especially since moving on into the arena modes is completely locked until success is found in this duel mode. Somehow I dumbfounded my way into winning three straight encounters and quickly moved on. It may have been a deal breaker if I had not been able to get passed this duel requirement.

In the end, the game offers many good things – just not enough to garner my interest. The PS4 version was gorgeous even for a beta. I would only imagine the the retail release(available now) is even better.  Having not gotten too far into the upgrade trees I can’t speak for them. What really makes me excited about this game even though I don’t want to buy it is that it appears that it has a high level of polish. There may be a few things that will need tweaked but the foundation is solid for those that want to play this hand-to-hand combat game.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Dude’s Chronicles 2-9-2017: Snow Before the Roses

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It’s a bit snowy here but that’s ok. It’s been a mild winter so far and we are well over due. Oddly that still doesn’t stop people from complaining.

Entertainment

  • Shameless – I’m most of the way through the fifth season but I needed a break. The show was getting a little heavy but still good.
  • Skarknado: The 4th Awakens – Yes, it is as bad as it sounds… if not worse but still one of those guilty pleasures to watch.
  • Metal Gear SAGA – THE MOVIE – Somebody painstakingly cut together all of the cutscenes and some game play from nearly all of the Metal Gear games in the chronological order of the story. It is interesting to watch the whole story and try to make sense of it. I recommend doing so but will caution you that he video is 12 hours long.

Games

  • Overwatch – A couple rounds here and there was all I managed this week. Really slow week for gaming.
  • Wildlands beta – Didn’t care for the game, so I didn’t play much of it either.

News

  • PS4 Pro firmware beta – External hard drive support and boost mode for unpatched games on PS4 Pro, Sure there is more but those two items seem like the bigger takeaways. Most people will be more excited about the external hard drive support including myself.
  • E3 open to the public – This show has lost most of its luster and prestige over the last few years as many long time exhibitors have stopped coming. It has been made more so by some of those that have left hosting their own events just before E3, like EA. If this is an attempt to start turning E3 into another PAX event then I don’t think it is a good move. E3 has also been more of an industry trade show than anything and bringing the public may only water it down.
  • Destiny 2 rumors – Is it coming this year? What will it be about? I don’t know and I don’t think anybody without an NDA does either. I bought big into the first one but don’t plan to do so with the sequel. Rather, I’m going to be a lot more tempered about my approach and probably wait until after it launches to purchase, if at all.
  • South Park: The Fractured But Whole delayed, again – Apparently it is now slated to release before March 2018. I hate to see this but the first game when through delays and came about to be a solid game. This may change some of my gaming plans going forward though.

Closing Arguments

The plan is to play some of the beta of For Honor this weekend. I don’t have much interest in the game and don’t plan on buying it but you never know. At the very least it will give me something different to play for a little bit.

P.S. – Happy Valentine’s Day

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands – Passing Thoughts

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It’s no secret that Ubisoft and Tom Clancy games have had some rough starts over the last few years.  What was once considered one of the top level of military shooters has become somewhat mired in broken games and fouled launches. Rainbow Six Siege launched in 2015 but took a while to get beyond its broken points but has remained a popular game after fixing itself up a bit. The Division launched in 2016 and still struggling even after major overhauls but has one last planned expansion to try to win players over.

The upcoming Ghost Recon Wildlands is vying to break this trend. Set to release on March 3rd and hosting a closed beta in February, the game is hoping to woo and wow gamers. Since it is a beta and likely the code is months old, there are notable problems that will hopefully be fixed before release. Issues like audio being out of sync or a helicopter sinking into a mountain should be fixable. However, there are other things that may not be as easily fixable that may be of greater concern.

As soon as I started up the game it felt like I was playing Far Cry and I’m not sure that is a good thing. Everything from the map set up to  visuals just looks and feels like Far Cry.  For those that want to go back to Far Cry that is a good thing, for those of us that don’t it is not so good. It brings to front all the things that are good and bad about those games. Things like driving back and forth across the map to do missions like capturing camps or blowing up towers. If that is your thing then this is your game. If you are looking for something else though you best look elsewhere.

The game tries to convey a greater context but its hard to see it from what we see in the beta. The story is supposedly about taking down a drug cartel and planning out the missions to do so but so far the game looks more about doing busy work. Every time the game is shown of at shows like E3 they show mission gameplay of squads making strikes against targets but looking at the map in the game, it appears that these missions may be a smaller part of the game than the developers are letting on.

The perspective I have on the game is my own and others may differ. I can see the game being a blast if you have a regular crew to play with, however playing with random players or solo may be a lot less enjoyable. I played solo and found that the AI teammates weren’t the most helpful. Perhaps my expectations were wrong based on previous Tom Clancy games but I expected to have a little bit more control over my squad. There is a limited set of commands you can give your squad like open fire, hold, or regroup. Maybe I missed it but I don’t see a way to command a squad member to a certain position or selectively take out a target. Those are the kind of things I looked for and couldn’t find. If you are playing with live people this becomes a moot point since you can just tell them via mic. This scenario works great if you have a steady, regular crew but if you happen to end up with someone not communicating things may not go so well.

It could be that I had the wrong expectations going into the game. From all the trailers and gameplay reveals, I really thought that the game was going to be more like Rainbow Six Siege – just on a much larger scale. I did not expect to see the mission map with all the side missions and outposts. After doing a couple of the side things I got bored with the game and couldn’t continue playing.  The expectations I had of missions being tactical strikes was washed away when I discovered that you have to do all the open world side-stuff to get the intel and then go do the mission. I never even got to the mission in the beta.

Looking at the bright side, the beta helped me save about $60. I was on the fence as to purchasing this game or not and the beta had convinced me not to. That doesn’t mean I want the game to fail or do poorly, quite the opposite. My hope is that the games does well at launch and beyond giving Tom Clancy fans the game they have been wanting for years but you’re not going to be finding me playing it.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Dude’s Chronicles 2-2-2017: Two In A Row

And I’m back for the second week out of two. Still working through a few things and didn’t get to devote as much time to my entertainment and gaming pursuits but then again, how many of us get to spend the amount of time that we want to on the fun things?

Entertainment

  • Shameless – Finished the first three seasons and it still hasn’t let me down. Looking forward to the rest of the seasons on Netflix
  • Hitsmas – If you follow or are familiar with Giant Bomb’s video content and sense of humor you may like this. For the Christmas holiday they got four guys from their staff(Brad Shoemaker, Vinny Caravella, Dan Ryckert, and Jeff Gertsman) to sit down and play Hitman. The twist is they used what they called Mexico Rules by drawing variables of targets and takedown methods from a hat. What ensued was a comical mess-terpeice, especially Caravella’s run. It was so notable that it was released to the Hitman community as “The Caravella Conundrum”. Have yourself a good laugh and give it a watch. I know it was done for the holidays but it still makes me laugh.

Games

  • Overwatch – I did something in this game this week that I have never done before, I quit mid-game. I take no pride in that but when I am frustrated enough that I am screaming at the screen about how stupid my teammates are playing(I normally don’t wear a mic) it is time for me to step away. The match I quit was just a total mess with my teammates not even firing at enemies for parts of the match even though they were with-in range and completely visable. Normally I will play a match out until the bitter end regardless of the team’s performance but I just could not bear it this one particular time.
  • The Division – Like many others, I have taken a break from this game while the 1.6 PTS is ongoing. Not that I don’t want to play it I just don’t have the motivation when I know changes are coming. At least they aren’t changing the gear score again, yet.

News

  • $500 Million Dollars – That is what ZeniMax was awarded in their suit against Facebook/Oculus. This is a lot less than the $4 billion they were asking for and it will be appealed. Still that is a big chunk of change it says that the court did feel there was some level of wrong doing.
  • Nintendo online services price – The rumor is that it will cost $20 – $30 per year. While that is about half or less of Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, the value of the service will be determined in what it actually offers. If online play and monthly access to old games is it – that value may be questionable Then again, what else does the other services offer for their cost?
  • Wii U production stops  – This was rumored a long time ago and comes as no surprise. Not like they were selling a lot of these things anyway.
  • Overwatch’s Bastion buffs inbound – Remember when people complained Bastion was overpowered and shouldn’t get Play of the Game? I guess things change because now people think the character is a liability and are looking to make changes so the it is more viable.
  • Snap mode is going away – It was an interesting idea to be able to have another app open while playing a game on the Xbox One but the amount of screen real estate you had to sacrifice never felt worth it. There is also the argument that it took precious resources away that could have been used elsewhere. There have been mentions of picture-in-picture possibilities but nothing has been made certain yet.
  • For Honor beta – The game will have a open beta from 2/9 – 2/12, which is right before its 2/14 release. This feels like a marketing tactic more than a technical test given the short time between those two events.

Closing Arguments

Rainbow Six Siege is free to play this weekend but there is also a beta for Ghost Recon Wildlands. Think maybe the could have coordinated this better and not had two Tom Clancy games having events on the same weekend? I’ll like try out the Wildlands beta since I’m on the fence about buying and I have no interest in Siege

Nintendo – Switch Me Baby! or Not, Definitely Not.

nintendoswitch_hardware-0-0Nes…SNES…N64…Wii…Wii U… Switch. I may have missed a few steps but that is the general console progression that Nintendo has given us. I owned or had access to the NES, SNES, and N64. There were a few years I fell off of the gaming scene completely but I came back around 2009 and found my friend with Xbox 360’s, PS3’s, and Wii’s. The Wii was the one that stood out. Props to Nintendo for actually innovating and not following. However, Nintendo’s next offering is the Switch and the more I learn about it the less it makes sense to me. There are things that do make sense about it but others that just don’t.

Nintendo always seems to handle hardware in it’s own special way. They screwed up royally with the Wii U and some of that has carried over to the Switch. It looks like Nintendo didn’t know if they wanted to make a console or a handheld. Hopefully the Switch finds an identity but it seems a bit confused. There is just so much I find questionable about the unit, like…

  • 32GB built-in memory – This seems awfully low given that some of the announced games are already clocking in at 16 GB.
  • SD expansion memory – Unlike the Vita, you’ll be able to use non-proprietary memory when you run out of the built-in memory.
  • No packed in game – It’s not uncommon for consoles not to come with a game but the PS4 and Xbox One had some free titles available at launch, haven’t heard about and freebies on the Switch.
  • Controllers – Detachable controllers that can be put together as single controller? Neat idea but it may depend on the build quality of them
  • Non-symmetrical controllers – This seems odd when you look at them individually and that is where is doesn’t work in my mind. The controller that doesn’t have the centered stick may be awkward to use.
  • Graphics: docked vs. undocked – Nintendo hasn’t been very clear about how the graphics will be scaled down while undocked.
  • No local screen when docked – Apparently you can’t use the local screen and a tv at the same time. Sure would be nice to use both or to have something like Air Play.
  • Costs – $300 for the console without a game and the price of additional controllers seem sort of high.

Of all the things though, the strangest is the emphasis on motion controls. In the day and age of virtual reality, Nintendo is trying to recapture the magic of the Wii. Back in 2006 motion controls catapulted sales of the Wii into the millions but since then they have not faired well. The PlayStation Move controllers were pretty much gone and forgotten until they became part of the PSVR system. Then we also have the complete abandonment of the Kinect by Microsoft. There will possibly be some feel of nostalgia for motion controls but is not a good long term bet when the industry is trying to get behind VR.

For me, there are less reasons buy the Switch than there is to not buy. I’m not a fanboy of Nintendo but I do want them to do well. Plenty of loyalist will buy this system but those that aren’t are likely to be very cautious about the system or pass on it all together. Even those that are enthusiast, if they already own a Wii U they already have a way to play the new Zelda game.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Dude’s Chronicles 1-26-2017: Where You Been Lately?

newkidIt’s been a while since I’ve paid much attention to this blog and I’m working on getting back to it more regularly. The holidays pulled a lot of my time, work has been an exceptional misery, and I’ve been dealing with some health issues. Now that the holidays are over I have more free time, work isn’t going to be getting any better any time soon, but my health has greatly improved. Two out of three ain’t bad, right?

Entertainment

Football is over, basically. We are down to the bowl that is of the super and it involves two teams that I don’t have much of a vested interested in. Like many others, I am rooting for one team to lose rather than for somebody to win.

I did crush some movies and shows in my down time though:

  • Shameless – This Showtime series is fantastic! I’m only about four episodes into the first season and I’m hooked. Sometimes it is completely predictable but the way they pay it out makes it worth watching. Looking forward to watching all of the seasons on Netflix, then I can be sad I don’t I have Showtime.
  • Marvel’s Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell – This was a nice little animated movie to watch as a change of pace from other things. The Hulk teams up with Dr. Strange to battle the master of nightmares. Some times it was a little silly but it is a cartoon about super heroes so set your expectations accordingly. Just sit back and watch the Hulk.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 2 – I remember watching the original(?) Voltron while I was growing up and this series doesn’t disappoint. It is enough like what I remember to give me a slight tinge of nostalgia but it is different enough to make it feel new. This season suffers from the same problem as the first season – it left me wanting more. I binge watched this season in one day and I was actually mildly upset when it was over, for two reasons. The first reason was that it left at a cliffhanger point that I wanted to see the resolution for. I understand this is to bait you into next season but c’mon. Secondly, it was just too short and I wish a few things had been flushed out in more depth. Maybe I’m just greedy and didn’t want to have to find something else to watch.
  • Captain America: Civil War – I keep rewatching this because I think I’m missing something. Also, I’m a bit confused about where the Marvel movie universe stands at this point. I still don’t know.
  • Ratchet and Clank – I expected very little from this movie and it delivered just that. Movies based on videos games are normally not good if not terrible. This wasn’t terrible and it was actually watchable. I would not have wanted to pay to see it in a movie theatre but seeing it via Netflix was just fine.
  • Halo: Fall of Reach – I need to stop watching this because it just pisses me off every time when I realize how badly 343 Industries has fucked up Halo. Sorry, I know opinions differ but I do not like how they have handled the franchise. That is a longer discussion though than I care to carry on here.
  • Justice League: War – I watch this to help me fall asleep. Honestly, I’ve seen it enough times that I don’t have to pay attention to it and I can just drift off while it is playing. I used to watch Spaceballs for the same effect, now I fall asleep every time Spaceballs is on.
  • The Ranch Part 2 – I extremely dislike Ashton Kutcher but I love this show. It not great and I’m not sure it’s even good. Somehow, some way it feels realistic while it shows a way of life I have no familiarity with. I am not a rancher and I don’t know any. I grow up around farmers but I don’t even know what their life is like. Any rancher could walk up to me and tell me this show is nothing but Hollywood bullshit and I would have to take their word at it. Regardless, I find that the show has a certain charm that I enjoy….that mostly may be Sam Elliot.
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 11 – This show keeps trying to go to the well with a bucket that has a whole in it. There are times when the show really hits and makes you laugh but it is countered with times that the set up of a joke takes much longer than the pay off was worth. I remember when this show was fresh and brilliant, I lament those days being gone.
  • Weeds – I really like Mary-Lousie Parker but this show is not something I want to watch. I got through season one and two episodes of season two but I could not force myself to keep going.  This lady that thinks she is the greatest drug dealer in all of suburbia is constantly messing up and almost loosing everything. How am I supposed to believe that she is the weed king pin for the middle-class? I don’t.
  • A Very Murray Christmas – It is Bill Murray + Christmas = BAM! I know it was so 2015 but I still enjoy it. It has its flaws and I don’t deny that but how can not get the vision of George Clooney singing “Santa Claus wants some lovin'” stuck in your head?
  • Trailer Park Boys – I watched all of the seasons, probably two or three times over, and had to stop because I was using “fuck” as a part of my casual and professional vocabulary. Fuck, these boys are funny.

Games

  • Overwatch – I bought this during the PSN sale over Christmas and it makes me sad that I didn’t but it sooner. As I mentioned in my GOTY post, I played the beta and free weekends but until I put more time into it I did not understand how good this game is. Sure there are little things that are wrong with it but Blizzard continues to make adjustments to address them, like Road Hog hooking people through walls. Even after I bought the game I though I would never play certain roles, especially the healer. Now I find myself wanting to play the healer as much as any other role just because Blizzard has done such a good job balancing the game and making each role vital if properly employed. I’ve played the healer, via Mercy, and even though I didn’t have a single kill in the game I felt like I was a valuable player for buffing and healing my teammates to help score a victory. I’m not much of a PVP player but I keep coming back to this game just because it is so damn good.
  • The Division – I like this game but it is one of those love/hate relationships. They released Survival and I thought ai would hate it. I did the first few times I played it but it won me over and now I love it. They just announced The Last Stand expansion as a PVP mode and I can’t applaud them more. PVP has been such a miserable experience in this game that I don’t even know how to describe it. Making a dedicated mode just for PVP is not the end-game for PVP but it is humungous step forward. There are people that love this game but desire a PVP experience that just isn’t there. I don’t know that The Last Stand will be what they want but it is a step closer as it helps to remove those PVE players from the equation. I do have to speak against the arguments that some have made about the Dark Zone expansion aiding the PVP problem. The thought is that since the DZ will be bigger, it is less likely that you will run into rouges/PVP players that will ‘gank’ PVE players. It is my experience that gankers will be gankers. If they see an extraction  being called, they will still come to kill those trying to get their loot out. These instances may decrease, emphasis on may, but you are still going to have those that thrive on causing misery to others and won’t be satisfied with a PVP mode. We come back to the idea that going rouge needs to have more detrimental consequences than it currently does.
  • Watch Dogs 2 – What was I thinking when I bought this game? I feel like I wasted $40 instead of $60 when I bought it on sale. As soon as I started playing the game I remembered all the things I didn’t like about the first game. Perhaps I was lulled in by those that said it was so much better than the first game. I should have been more aware and realized that this was more a testament as to how bad the first game was as opposed to how good the second game is. Every time I try to play the game I get about 30-40 minutes into it and just have to stop.

News

Nintendo announced the Switch, still trying to wrap my mind around the fuckery that that is.

Closing Arguments

In conclusion, I hope to be back here more often and more consistently. I feel a deep regret that I have not paid proper attention to something that I enjoy doing regardless of how many people see it.