I Can’t Play Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 released on Tuesday, the most recent AAA game to get media and gamer attention. (If you’re unaware, AAA is used to refer to big-name publishers who put millions of dollars into their games and run large companies. Examples include Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, and so on.) Far Cry 5 is an Ubisoft joint and premiered to around 260,000 viewers watching it on Twitch on its first night. Sales numbers aren’t available yet but it seems to be pretty popular as a lot of streamers were booting it up – even streamers that normally play other games exclusively. Fan and critic response has been pretty positive on it so it looks like it’s going to be a generally well received game.

There’s just one problem.

I can’t make myself play Far Cry 5.

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Movie Theory: Let’s Talk MCU

Today I had the day off from work due to an unexpected springtime snowstorm. With several inches of snow on the ground and nowhere to be for the day, I turned my focus inward to think about the really important things in life. Namely the order in which I would rank all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. It’s very, very important work. So I’ll start off with my ranking of movies, but after the ranking (and a little bit of explanation behind why certain movies are my favorites) I’m also going to talk about the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole and how it’s affected the entire movie ecosystem with its popularity.

Here we go:

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Fortnite ft. Drake

So I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus due to a long out-of-country vacation. I wasn’t planning on starting up my blog entries again until next week, but something of a big deal happened last night in the video gaming world and I figured I’d throw up a quick article about it.

Late last night, Drake (yes, the rapper/singer/gif star Drake) casually dropped on Twitter that he’d be playing some Fortnite with a popular Twitch streamer named Ninja. Over the course of the stream Drake learned what Discord was and installed it, got carried to a Victory Royale by Ninja after he accidentally died (although he did survive pretty long in that particular match), and oh, Ninja’s stream broke over 600,000 concurrent viewers, shattering the previous Twitch streaming record of a little under 400,000.

If you don’t follow video games you might not know what Fortnite is or even understand how the battle royale genre craze is sweeping video game culture. But don’t worry, that’s what I’m here for! I’m going to give a brief history of how battle royale became a thing, how Fortnite has suddenly blossomed into a huge phenomenon, and why Drake breaking Twitch is a big deal for the future of gaming.

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Endgame Discontent

Endgame content (also sometimes referred to as postgame content) has always been a thing in video games. What it refers to is the idea that you’ve been the main story of the game, but now that that’s over there’s more stuff for you to do if you want to keep exploring the game’s world. These are different from sidequests that are just super hard but still available to you before you beat the game: this is specifically content you’re only given access to after you’ve completed the main storyline. One of the more well-known types of endgame content include “raids” that were popularized by World of Warcraft – very hard bosses that you have access to once you’ve completed the game and have hit a high (or max) level with your character. These raid bosses can take anywhere from 3-4 hours to complete and teamwork from many different players. But they aren’t required for the main game – they’re only for people who really love World of Warcraft and want to participate in that kind of epic strategical play.

This content is a way to keep players engaged and challenged in your game after they’ve supposedly done everything they actually need to. Super Mario Odyssey, for example, only requires a certain amount of moons to beat the game – but once you have beaten it a whole bunch more moons are unlocked across all the worlds along with a completely new world. These moons are more challenging to get but are completely unnecessary if you’ve already had your fill with the game. It’s a good way for developers to add more content for people who really enjoy the game but not to overwhelm other people who play the game more casually.

The problem is that as developers are extending game length, the idea of “content” starts selling at a premium. And the emerging idea of Games As A Service (which I talked about in my very first blog post on here) had made it so developers don’t want their games to end at all. So endgame content stops being extra and starts becoming a part of the actual game which becomes a detriment to the game (and overall game design) itself.

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Souls Hard or Hardly Souls?

I took the last week off because I unexpectedly needed a bit of a break from writing, but I’m back for a new entry! Today I’d like to talk about a game series that’s near and dear to my heart: the Souls series. The main series is, of course, the Dark Souls series – but there is also Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne, as well as games that have similar styles like Nioh and The Surge. Elements of the Souls series have popped up in all sorts of other genres due to its immense popularity and it’s been one of the more influential modern series in terms of game design.

It’s also unfortunately gotten a bit of a reputation due to a certain subset of its fans. The Souls games are often heralded as a series for “true gamers” and the internet meme of “git gud” is often closely associated with it because the so-called “difficulty” of the Souls games is what lots of people like to talk about as if that’s what draws people to the series. Souls games are almost a trial by fire in the gaming world and lots of arguments have been had over whether the series needs an easy mode or a better way to get new people into the game. And since I’m a huge fan of the series, I have opinions on the subject. So here’s what I think:

The Souls games aren’t hard.

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Apology Not Accepted: The Internet’s Judgment is Final

Last Thursday night, the Dallas Fuel played the Houston Outlaws in the Overwatch League. Going into the match, it was expected that the Dallas Fuel would destroy the Houston Outlaws because the Fuel was considered to be one of the better Western teams in the league and near the top in talent. The Outlaws then ended up crushing the Fuel 4-0 and it looked really, really bad for Fuel. There was no communication, a lot of bad playing, and just in general they did not look like a top tier team.

That night after the match Felix Lengyel aka xQc – a tank player for Dallas who didn’t even play in this particular match – got on his Twitch stream (which he has thousand of follower for and is one of the more notorious and/or popular Overwatch streamers) and insulted the main tank player for the Houston Outlaws, Austin Wilmot aka Muma. Muma is openly gay, and xQc’s insult was homophobic in nature. You can see the clip of xQc’s comment here. (Warning: Graphic language in this clip.)

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EEEEEEEEEEE! Sports.

The Overwatch League started this past week and it’s kind of a big deal. It’s the first real push to make e-sports into a viable, watchable event in the same vein as regular sports. Normally e-sports are focused around tournaments – a company or organization sponsors a particular team who will work together and compete in tournaments across the globe all year for money and prizes. One organization can sponsor teams for multiple different games – Cloud 9, for example, sponsors teams in Rocket League, Dota 2, Counter-Strike, and Overwatch among others. In certain genres, though, there aren’t teams and it’s just individual players who play at all the tournaments that are hosted at different conventions. Fighting games are a specific example – for tournaments like EVO it’s all individuals who are competing for the prize money.

Overwatch League is an attempt by Activision Blizzard to make e-sports more than just single tournaments that happen across the year. They’re specifically using the popularity of Overwatch as the game to launch their bid into a possible multi-billion dollar sports league that will generate revenue through thousands of fans watching the games. Like regular sports teams, the teams competing in the Overwatch League are based out of particular cities so there are “home” and “away” teams just like other sports. There are owners of teams who are forking up the cash to get the team in the league – Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, is the owner of the Boston Uprising team in the Overwatch League. If that doesn’t make you realize how big a deal this is and just what Activision Blizzard is attempting to accomplish with the Overwatch League, I don’t know what will.

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