The Witcher: From Books to Game

The Witcher

It wasn’t until I finished the Witcher for the first time and the credits rolled that I found the game was based on the world created by polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. I believe that this is the first game I have played that is based solely on a book series. I have played games that have supplementary books to add to their universes like Warcraft or Halo, but I have never encountered a game that originated from a book.

I was amazed to find after reading a number of the books, how faithful CD Projekt RED had been to the world and characters from the books. Geralt plays just like he reads, and even though you make many of them, his actions and choices make sense within the context of the world that existed before the games.

The first Witcher game uses the conceit that Geralt has lost his memories as a way to justify you being able to level up and get more powerful as the game proceeds. However as you meet Geralt’s old friends throughout the course of the game they tell you more about yourself and allow you to shape your own view of how Geralt should act.

The game has three different endings depending on which path or faction you choose to follow, do you side with the Scoia’tael (Squirrels) the non-human guerilla fighters who are at war with humans. Perhaps you feel like siding with the Order of the Flaming Rose the people fighting against monsters and non-humans. The final choice is the path of the Witcher, or true neutrality where your take no sides and protect yourself and your friends to the best of your ability against whatever comes your way.

In this world there is no real correct choice only shades of grey, and you find out about the light and dark sides of each path as you play through the game. The settings you play through also lend to this idea as well. Each chapter has you playing through very specific areas, chapter one has you gaining the trust of the people in the outskirts of a city so you can get permission to enter the city. Naturally the tasks you complete are those of a witcher, killing monsters wherever you find them.

The quests in this game, even if they are side quests allow you to find out extra things that will later apply to the main story, and these things can play out in interesting ways if you are paying attention. I won’t spoil it but the first chapter has you dealing with a number of locals whose motives aren’t quite what they seem.

The biggest hang up I have with the Witcher even in its Enhanced Edition, is with how incredibly dated the controls feel, eventually you do get used to them but they just never feel quite right. This game is also very difficult when you head in for the first time, it very much expects you to take advantage of all of the systems such as witcher sign’s (magic), or alchemy to enhance your combat abilities.

If you are just there for the story I would recommend playing through on the easiest difficulty, as you will not come across too much that will slow you down. If you do want the challenge I would recommend searching for some good level grinding spots, as they will become very necessary to make sure you stay on par with your enemies.

One of the great things about combat in The Witcher is the use of the witcher’s two swords, Silver for monsters and Steel for everything else. This plays into the fantasy of the world really well as the game allows you to switch at will between them, so you are always dealing maximum damage to your target. Witcher’s signs feel great to use as well, especially at high levels where you can set entire groups on fire as you dance your way through them with your sword.

I greatly enjoyed this game, I have finished it twice at this point. The first time was on an easy play through just so I could experience the story, and the second was a 100% completion play through on normal, because this is one of those games that allows you to pull your progress into the sequel.

If you are a fan of fantasy, dark or otherwise, I would recommend giving this game a try. However you must be aware that this game does feel dated in its combat sequences. It stays true to its source material very well and although it is not necessary to play this before playing the sequels, doing so will give you a deeper appreciation of the story and characters that you encounter in the sequels. So if this game sounds interesting to you pick it up, it is regularly on sale through Steam or G.O.G and often comes in a pack with its sequel making it easy to play the series right through.

Rise of the Tomb Raider: A Fantastic Sequel

Rise of the Tomb Raider

When it was announced that the Tomb Raider franchise was being rebooted by Crystal Dynamics, I didn’t care. I had never played more than a demo for an old PS1 Tomb Raider game, and so I ignored all of the news around this reboot. It was a wonderful surprise when I saw it and played it for myself, I fell in love with the franchise and couldn’t wait to see what would happen with the sequel.

Usually I am the kind of person that devours anything related to the franchises I love, but in the case of Rise of the Tomb Raider I decided to ignore as much of the news as possible. The idea being that I would be as pleasantly surprised as I was when I played its predecessor Tomb Raider. Luckily even with the amount of gaming news I consume, from news sites to podcasts and YouTube videos, I managed to go into Rise of the Tomb Raider without having had anything spoiled for me.

It was worth it! I downloaded the game to my Xbox One and was immediately wowed by how good the game looked, it was the first time I had ever sat there staring at the screen not realising the intro cut scene had ended. I have heard people talking about this before but it was amazing to experience it for the first time.

Right from the start Rise of the Tomb Raider does its best to make you feel like this game is a step up from the first game. The tutorial section is split between two opposite places in the world, an icy mountain peak, and somewhere in the Middle East, this is a contrast to the first game being set entirely on a windswept island. It also does the job of making the game feel much larger just by giving the player the idea that Lara Croft has travelled a great distance.

It is unfortunate that it is the story that lets the game down a bit. The basic premise is that Lara went back to the world after the supernatural events that occurred in the first game, and was ridiculed for telling her story. A newspaper headline “Another Crazy Croft,” and some explanation from Lara tells us that her father was discredited for his own theories about the supernatural and archaeology, to the point that he shot himself.

So after her experiences on the island Lara sets out to solve her father’s theories about an Immortal prophet as a way to validate her own experiences and redeem her father’s name. As such Lara goes on this expedition alone rather than risk her friends from the first game, in fact Jonah is the only character to return from the first game.

Needless to say, Lara finds that she is not the only one searching for the immortal prophet, and so general mayhem follows. Alongside the main storyline is the expansion of the idea from the first game that some of the collectibles tell stories of people from the past. In Rise of the Tomb raider these collectibles tell the story of the Immortal prophet’s people running from Trinity (a religious order of some sort), and a Trinity soldier who is sent to follow their trail and report the prophets location.

These side stories are simple and if you get into them, make you want to find the next collectible so that you can read the story of these people. In Tomb Raider I found that these side stories spoiled the major twist for me. However Rise of the Tomb Raider only tells a supplementary story, the only purpose it serves is to flesh out the history of the game world and nothing else. Being interested in stories of all kinds I loved this addition, and I was happy that Crystal Dynamics expanded upon this idea.

When it comes to gameplay Rise of the Tomb Raider does a great job of improving on the first game’s systems. I didn’t notice it too much in tomb Raider but the auto cover system works flawlessly, you are able to hind behind trees or rocks without button presses or awkward controls for getting in or out of cover.

Also added, is the ability to have multiple variations of the same type of weapon. For example you have a number of different bows with different attributes, a longbow that does more damage but is slower to draw and fire and you are unable to keep the bow drawn for a great length of time. Aside from this is a compound bow which does slightly less damage but can be kept drawn for a long time and is more accurate than your other bows.

The same goes for guns, you can have a revolver or a semi-auto pistol; an assault rifle or a bolt-action rifle. Added on top of this is an upgrade system similar to Tomb Raider’s, however it is treated more like a crafting system, where you must collect resources from enemies, animals, and crates to add things to your weapons. Such as adding a scope to your bolt-action rifle and turning it into a sniper rifle so you can take out enemies at a greater distance than you can with your bow.

Another improvement made in Rise of the Tomb Raider is that the challenge tombs you come across now give you a reward other than experience and a treasure map. You now get secret skills that augment your gameplay, like an ancient archery skills that teaches you to quickly fire a second arrow immediately after firing your first, or “inner strength” which gives you a second wind if critically damaged.

The tombs do have better challenges than the first game and they can be massive, some of them are amazing surprises as well. Imagine climbing a barren cliff, and just as you climb around the side of a rock you see a massive temple carved into the side of the canyon wall, you work your way towards all the while hearing a low humming noise. You work your way through the temple and as the final door opens the low humming noise becomes the deafening sound of a massive pipe organ. The temple was built around a natural formation that sounds like a pipe organ when the wind gusts down through the canyon.

And that is just one of the challenge tombs. The others are just as good, you can tell that Crystal Dynamics put a lot of time and effort into this part of the game. Alongside the challenge tombs are some secret crypts that give you pieces of an ancient weapon, the puzzle here is finding the crypts but each one tells the story of a founder of the immortal prophet’s city, which is another thing that adds to the story of the game world.

Rise of the tomb Raider is not an open world game, however it does a great job of making you think that it is. There are a number of large zones that you can explore to find secrets and resources, and each of these large zones are connected by smaller zones that have secrets of their own. This makes the game world feel much larger than it is, you rarely see a loading screen once you are in the game unless you choose to fast travel around.

All in all Crystal Dynamics did a great job with Rise of the Tomb Raider, they managed to improve upon every aspect of Tomb Raiders systems, and they have once again set up for a great sequel. As of writing this the DLC for Rise of the Tomb Raider is all out although I haven’t yet played it, once I do I will write about those as well. I can say with confidence if you enjoyed Tomb Raider you will most definitely enjoy Rise of the Tomb Raider. Even if you are new to the franchise it should be easy to jump in here without much trouble as there are only a few references to the first game.  Pick it up, you will not be disappointed.

Ratchet and Clank: A Game Based on a Movie That’s Based on a Game

Ratchet and Clank

Even though I have never owned a PlayStation 2 or a PlayStation 3, I have still managed to play most of the ratchet and clank games at one time or another. I had never finished one before this new rebooted game, but I still have very fond memories of playing the hell out of my friend’s copies whenever I visited them.

Story wise this game is a little bit disjointed, it feels like you are hopping between planets a too quickly. It doesn’t help that planets also feel much smaller than they did in previous iterations of the franchise, but this could be put down to wanting the game to release before the movie, or simply not having the time or money to build a massive game that looks as good as this one does. Basically it is supposed to be a re-imagining of the original 2002 game.

This is augmented by the fact that the story of the game is told by Captain Quark telling his life story to a fellow prison inmate, which leads to some funny voice over lines from Quark while you are playing through the game. It is interesting to note that the way this game ends could easily tie the rebooted game back into the whole franchise, as this new game is a story being told by an established character. Hopefully this means that there are more Ratchet and Clank games to look forward to.

There are also a few characters that remark on the absurdity of the setting of this game. Captain Quark for example “They made a game, based on a movie that’s based on my life.” Or the plumber on Novalis who remarks how familiar you look when you meet him, and as he says good-bye tells you “See you in the next reboot.” With this you can tell that Insomniac isn’t taking this too seriously and are still able to have fun with their characters and stories.

There are familiar gameplay sequences like the hover board races in Blackwater city, or captain quarks training course. These sequences make the game feel familiar to fans of the franchise, but I feel like there are enough differences to make the game feel new and not like a HD remake. I have a couple of friends who are massive fans of the series and I will be interested in showing this new game to them and seeing what they think about it.

All of the weapons, even if they don’t feel powerful initially each feel unique and have a power creep that makes each one fantastic one they are upgraded. It could be said that this reboot is a masterclass in designing a Ratchet and Clank game as Insomniac has clearly taken their best ideas and put them all into this game.

Weapon Upgrading for instance now has three paths to take. You level weapons up simply by using them, secondary to this is the use “raritanium” to unlock a hexagonal grid of perks that augment how the weapon performs. The sheepinator for example has a number of perks that increases the chance for raritanium to drop from enemies, on one planet where I was facing a large number of smaller enemies with the sheepinator I ended that section with about 40 shards of raritanium where I had been finishing sections with 8-10 shards before.

Ratchet And Clank

The third tier to weapon upgrades has a few requirements to unlock. Firstly you must get a weapon to level 5 which is the maximum a weapon can reach in your first play through of the game, secondly you must complete a set of three holocards (which you collect from enemies and secret areas) for the weapon you want to upgrade, thirdly you must finish the game once and begin a new game in challenge mode.

Once you have completed these three steps you are able to purchase omega (ꭥ) variants of a weapon which then can be upgraded to level 10, and also have more raritanium unlock slots, making weapons even more fun to use.

The RYNO is a special case, in previous games in the series it must be unlocked after paying a massive sum of bolts. Here however it is unlocked after completing a special set of holocards hidden throughout the game that feature the RYNO, the massive cost of bolts is left to the omega variant of the RYNO which is set at a whopping 1,000,000 bolts.

Graphically this game looks better than any game I have played on the current generation on consoles, it looks and feels like you are playing a modern-day Pixar or DreamWorks movie. It is also one of those few rebooted games that looks how you remember the original game looking back in 2002.

This is especially apparent when you have caused absolute chaos to unfold on the battlefield. For example throwing out a grovibomb to make your enemies dance, while you toss out a proton drum that pulses and arcs lightning towards enemies, with agents of doom running around and exploding on enemies, while also sheepinating enemies, then finishing the room off with a barrage from your RYNO. The amount of explosions and quality of the particle effects looks amazing, and the rain of bolts that is left after the carnage has ended shows how much time the developers have spent making this game look so great.

Anyone that owns a PS4, whether they are a fan of Ratchet and Clank games, or just missed the franchise, should give this game a go. It’s not very long but it is unbelievably fun, there is some good replay value in the challenge mode, as you keep your old weapons and have the chance at upgrading them further, allowing for even more chaos the more you play. So I recommend that you pick this game up, I do not think you will regret your purchase.

Tomb Raider: The Crystal Dynamics Reboot

Tomb Raider1

Last week I wrote about the uncharted collection and talked about how I feel like I was spoiled for the uncharted games because of the Tomb Raider reboot by Crystal dynamics. Today I am writing about just the first game in the rebooted Tomb Raider series simply because unlike the uncharted games I played them when they first released and I have had time to sit and think about each game separately. I will probably write about Rise of the Tomb Raider this week as well, but I don’t know think it will be tomorrow.

So I was watching E3 at the ungodly time of the morning that I have to get up in New Zealand to watch the live streams, when the reboot of Tomb Raiders was announced, and I have to say that I had no excitement whatsoever for it. This would probably be down to the fact that all I had ever seen of Tomb Raider before this was playing a PS1 demo and watching the Angelina Jolie movies.

Due to my distance from the franchise I just wasn’t at all interested in playing this game, I even completely forgot it was a thing until I saw my flat mate playing the game on his PC. I sat there for a while and was completely taken in by the setting and the gameplay, as he worked his way through a puzzle. I picked the game up the next day and spent the next few days doing nothing but playing through this gem that I had been ignoring for so long.

Tomb Raider is a pretty run of the mill treasure hunting story that turns to the supernatural, with the sections between and around story points being delivered through some amazing set pieces. Like climbing beneath a crumbling bridge to hide from the gunmen above so you can sneak into an ancient palace, which you then have to escape from while being hunted down and outrunning an inferno.

Where Tomb Raider excels is in its combat, it feels so smooth and easy to target and take out an enemy. You aren’t fighting the controls more than the enemies that are on-screen. The bow is especially great, because as you move through the game you are given upgrades that make it your most versatile weapon.

You get the ability to use your bow to fire rope arrows that help you traverse chasms and pull items towards you to complete puzzles. The fun begins when you are fighting enemies that stand on balconies and the roofs of the shacks around the island, if the building has a rope attach point you can pull the balcony out from under the enemies. This adds a bit of variety of variety to combat and can often help you to take out multiple enemies at once.

Upgrading your weapons is a big part of the new Tomb Raider games, and you are able to add a few interesting things, such as a grenade launcher to your assault rifle, or fire to your arrows. As you play you come across crates that give you experience to upgrade your character and the salvage currency needed to upgrade weapons, further into the game you also start to pick up weapon parts that once you have all of them for a particular weapon type, you get a permanent upgrade to that weapon.

Take the tree limb long bow you pick up at the beginning of the game as you progress you get a recurve bow, or later in the game, a compound bow. These small upgrades over time make you feel like you are gradually getting stronger and more capable of surviving the island.

I liked about the tales told through the collectibles that you pick up while exploring the island. There is the story of a priestess to the Sun Queen of Yamatai (the island kingdom), the story of a Japanese ambassador to Yamatai, and a short journal from a World War two soldier about losing all of his men to the island. These add to the mythology of the place, they make the place feel like it has proper history. Unfortunately for me these journals also helped me to figure out where the plot of the game was going way before it occurred in the game itself. So in this case although the stories help to flesh out the mythology of the island, they also hurt the pacing of the story.

Tomb Raider allows you to level up your character and augment your personal play style as well. You are able to choose to specialize in hunting, so you get more resources for upgrading weapons. Or you can specialize in combat, making it easier to take down enemies. You are even able to specialize in exploring, making it easier to find the secrets and collectibles on the map.

That last option really depends on who is playing the game, as some people like the challenge of finding all of the secrets themselves, without the help of the game or a guide. Others like to have the option to highlight the collectibles so that they can find then and 100% the game without too much trouble.

For the people who like to find the secrets on their own, the game has some neat ways of helping them along. When you are close to a secret tomb the game plays a certain musical tone to make you aware that you are close to something important, there is usually also a painting or a symbol near the entrance to a tomb that helps you along your way as well.

And for those that like a bit of extra help, you are able to utilise your survival instincts (super vision) to see a beacon showing you where to go to find the object you have selected on your map. This can still be a bit tricky from time to time as you often still have to explore a whole building to find exactly what you are looking for, but it is still easier than looking without any help.

The challenge tombs are great fun as well, they are neat little puzzles that challenge the way you can use the games mechanics to be able to platform around to the tombs reward. Such as using your rope arrows to pull a buoy into a rivers current so that it can make a flag pole turn so you can jump across it to a climbing wall that so you can get to your goal. The only problem with these puzzles is that they are not very difficult, it would be odd make more than two or three attempts to be able to solve a tomb. Even when replaying the game a couple of years later I was able to remember each puzzle and complete them straight away.

I love the work that Crystal Dynamics has done with this rebooted Tomb Raider series, and I hope they are able to keep up their good work, and give us even greater gameplay as the series moves on. I know they have improved from the first game into Rise of the Tomb Raider, I just hope they can continue this trend.

If you haven’t picked up this new Tomb Raider series, I recommend that you do. I’ve played it to completion on PC, Xbox 360, and Xbox One and I can recommend it on any of those platforms. So pick it up if you want to have a few hours playing through some amazing scenery, and having great fun while doing so.

 

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

Uncharted

I have only recently been able to pick up a PlayStation 4, and I thought it would be a good idea to start by playing some of the games I missed due to not owning a PlayStation 3. So I went and picked up Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and The Last of Us. Given that both of these are Naughty Dog games I figured I would start with the oldest game and work my way through and try to see how Naughty Dog has developed over the time it took to create these games.

Going into this collection I was all too aware of how beloved these games are and how well they were received at the time they were launched. I have heard many a person over the years say how much they loved these games, and how excited they were for the release of the next game in the franchise.

Unfortunately for me I didn’t really like these three games that much. This was an odd realisation for me as the setting and story for the uncharted games should be right up my alley. I love the Indiana Jones type of story where someone is set on a journey to uncover a long-lost treasure that turns out to have some mystical properties.

I guess as a concept I love the idea behind each of the stories for the uncharted games, for example finding El Dorado, and Shambala. I do have to say that the story of 3 was probably my favorite as finding a place like Ubar, deep in the desert that is somehow connected to King Solomon, adds up to a great idea.

However Uncharted 3 also ends in a similar way to the previous two games, where we find out that the treasure being searched for is unbelievably dangerous. My biggest problem here is that we are never given an explanation as to why, or how these artifacts have the power they do. They are destroyed or hidden with no explanation. I don’t at all mind that they are destroyed as in these types of stories that is always the outcome, but I always felt like I needed something more to be said about the artifacts themselves.

Perhaps part of my problem was playing these three games in succession over a week, where they were the only games that I played. In doing so I saw similarities between the games that felt almost like a template to me. These similarities make the games feel like they run together in my memory, making it difficult to remember in which game a particular sequence took place.

I think if I had played these games when they were current I would have loved them the same as everyone else. This is because of the simple fact that at the time there were no other games like this out on the market. Whereas now I have already played games like the Tomb Raider reboot, and Rise of the Tomb Raider, that to me are much better games.

I realise that this might seem strange loving the Tomb Raider games so much when they are known for having average stories when the uncharted series is beloved for its story telling. I think for me it is the combination of story and gameplay together that make the game better. I love the game play in the new Tomb Raider series, it is just plain fun and I never get bored with how it plays.

Uncharted on the other hand, I found myself frustrated by the gameplay. Platforming and puzzle solving was fine, but the combat felt like a series of wave based arena battles. Each time I went into a new area and there was a pillar lying halfway across a hallway, I knew I would be fighting my way back out, as I could tell that pillar was supposed to be used for cover. So as I went through the games I found myself liking combat less and less, as each time it only felt like a way to increase time spent between set pieces.

The strangest thing for me, is that although I didn’t care for the story of these three uncharted games, I love the characters. The quick-witted thief that is Nathan Drake, The wizened Mentor that is Victor Sullivan, Elena Fisher and her strength in taking her experiences with Nate in Uncharted 1 and using that to improve herself, and grow even more fearless as the series moves on. I also loved Chloe Frazer, as among these larger than life characters, she was the one reacting how I think a person normally would in her situation.

I believe that a big reason for this is the use of fantastic voice actors that are able to bring out the personalities of these character so well. Some of these actors are Nolan North as Nathan Drake, Richard McGonagle as Victor Sullivan, Emily Rose as Elena Fisher, and Claudia Black as Chloe Frazer. Of course it helps that I am a fan of Emily Rose as Audrey Parker in Haven, and Claudia Black as Vala Mal Doran in Stargate-SG1.

Given that I like the characters so much I am still waiting in anticipation for Uncharted 4 when it releases on May 10 2016. I hope that this supposed conclusion to Nathan Drakes story can fix the problems I have had with the story in Uncharted, even if it doesn’t I can’t wait to be see how these characters develop further. I just hope none of my favorites die, but that seems unlikely when the title of the game is Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

World of Warcraft: My History and a Few Hopes for Legion

legion-logo

I have had a bit of a strange history with World of Warcraft over the years. I’ve been a fan of the Warcraft series since I first played Warcraft 2 at a friend’s house, and I was even more of a fan of Warcraft 3 and the epic story that was told there. I think like a lot of people when World of Warcraft was announced I was put off by the fact that I had to pay a monthly fee to be able to play this game.

Of course it was my friends talking about the fun they were having playing WoW that eventually got me to buy the game. This was in early 2006 and I couldn’t have been happier with my purchase, even though I found Vanilla WoW difficult and my Tauren Druid didn’t pass level 17 in the two months of an hour a day I had to play.

When The Burning Crusade launched I re-rolled and began playing a Blood-Elf Mage and I had a lot of fun playing, again I never reached the cap of level 70. In fact it wasn’t until Wrath of the Lich King was announced that I made the push and leveled my mage to 55 so I could play a Death Knight when Wrath launched.

I followed this through and my Orc Death Knight Noxforge was the first character I reached level cap with, and has been my main character ever since. I loved Wrath, but although I played this expansion more than the previous versions of WoW I was still limited by the fact that my mum and I only owned one computer, so I was severely limited in the time I could spend playing.

In the lead up to Cataclysm the pre patch “The Shattering” altered the world, updating many of the lower level areas with brand new visuals and quest lines. I thought this was a great chance to revisit that old Druid I had lying around. So I leveled him though this new world to level 58 where I could enter Outland, and I enjoyed this new content immensely.

Unfortunately I hated the Cataclysm expansion as a whole. I enjoyed leveling through the new areas, as they had fantastic aesthetics and did a great job of telling the story of the Cataclysm and Deathwing’s return. But expansion was also the place I first encountered the toxic elitism that online games are often known for, and I think this was what turned me way from the expansion more than anything.

Because of my experience with Cataclysm the announcement of Mist of Pandaria didn’t do anything for me and I had no any interest in Pandaria until the WoW team announced that players would finally begin dealing with Garrosh Hellscream. The fact that as players we would be preparing for a rebellion against a faction leader was such a great idea to me, so I bought Mists and never looked back. In fact I enjoyed the time I spent playing Mists of Pandaria and as I had moved out to live with friends it was also the first expansion where I actually had the time to raid, and progress through the expansion.

When Warlords of Draenor was announced, I had never been more excited to play a WoW expansion. We were actually getting the chance to go back in Time and see Outland before its destruction, and see a bunch of famous characters from the history of Warcraft. For the first couple of months Warlords was fantastic. Leveling was the best it had ever been, and progressing through dungeons to get the gear required to start raiding felt good as well. The problems began when people realised that they were spending all of their time in their garrisons, making sure work orders had been placed, that their herbs had been picked, and their mine had been picked clean. As a result of this the world outside of the garrison felt empty, and players began to encounter fewer and fewer other people out in the world. For example when leveling my Mage to 100 recently, I saw maybe a dozen other players when questing in the world, in the 7 hours that are levels 90 to 100.

However it is clear that Blizzard has me hooked into their Warcraft universe, as the announcement of Legion has me as excited as I was for Warlords of Draenor. All they did is announce that Illidan is returning and Demon Hunters are the new class and I’m sold. The fact that we will all be getting lore important weapons is also exciting. I just can’t wait to wield the Ashbringer on my Retribution Paladin.

I hope that legion fixes the problems that the game had in Warlords. I don’t wasn’t to be stuck in a garrison the whole expansion, and I want the world to feel full of life because other people aren’t stuck in their garrisons.

From what I have read and watched about legion so far it seems that Blizzard is well on their way to fixing these problems. Garrisons have become Class Order halls, which are supposed to be an area for people of the same class to congregate. Instead of your character being the top hero of the world like you were as the garrison commander in Warlords, this time around you are the leader of your class instead. This is a small step back, but to some people who are heavily into the lore it is a nice addition that focuses the story on multiple characters like a massively multiplayer game should.

Like any expansion to a beloved game it is hard to see exactly how well Legion will do. I hope that it will be a return to form for Blizzard, and if they do run into any problems they are able to quickly fix them. My final hope for legion is that Blizzard fixes their content schedule, as for Mists of Pandaria, and especially Warlords of Draenor the game has been stuck on the final patch for far too long, people just get bored and feel like the game they love is being ignored.

Here’s hoping that Legion is the expansion that we fans hope it will be, as it will be great to get back into a game that we have been playing for over ten years. We have put so much time and effort in to this world, we want it to be good, we want to love this game and once again have hours of fun playing it.

 

Overwatch: Blizzards Newest Gem

Overwatch

Overwatch is Blizzards first new series in 17 years, which is astonishing given the quality of games that blizzard is known for. I suppose when you have been managing the growth of mammoth series like Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo, there isn’t a lot of time left for developing totally different ideas.

In this case Blizzard has managed to hit it out of the park, Overwatch is fantastic and it already feels so well polished and complete, even while still being in closed beta. That isn’t to say things haven’t changed a lot over the beta process Blizzard is still pushing to make sure that their newest game is the best it can be before it launches.

Since Overwatch was announced, Blizzard has been doing a fantastic job at getting people invested in their newest universe. This is evident from the announcement trailer for the game, which amazed people with the Pixar quality of its animation. It was amazing to watch this new world unfold in front of my eyes, and already be intrigued by who these characters are and what their stories will be.

Blizzard has continued to build excitement for this new universe by releasing two more high quality animated shorts that focus on particular characters, giving us a further glimpse into the stories this new world has to tell.

The first of these shorts is “Recall” which focuses on the gorilla scientist Winston, and shows a bit more of the mysterious character Reaper, who also appeared alongside Winston in the announcement cinematic for Overwatch.  Second to be released is the short titled “Alive” which focuses on the assassin named Widowmaker and her conflict with Overwatch’s mascot character Tracer.

These cinematics provide small glimpses into the world of Overwatch, but they give just enough information to make you interested in the stories of these characters. At this point I can’t wait to see what Blizzard has in store for us with the rest of the content they have planned for Overwatch.

All of this talk about story and setting is important, because it flows so well into the gameplay itself. Every playable character feels unique, interesting, and full of life, and most characters are easy to jump in and start to play with. This is an important factor as it shows Blizzard is interested in applying the idea of “easy to learn, hard to master,” which is something they have taken from the success of Hearthstone.

Take Overwatch’s mascot Tracer for example, she is able to warp around the map at high speeds dealing damage then warping away to safety. However she doesn’t have a large health pool, and as such she can’t take a lot of damage, but once a person masters Tracer they are very hard to deal with. She will constantly warp in behind you and take you out before you have time to blink, and even if you do manage to start putting damage on her a good player will have timed her recall ability properly and have warped back in time, and now be at full health and far out of your reach.

Overwatch sets itself apart, by adding the gameplay hook that whenever you are in your team’s base you are able to switch to any character you want, this leads to some interesting strategies, as teams will alter their make ups at different points in a match. This also means that some characters are more useful in certain situations. Mei for example is excellent at control point matches as you are able to wall off routes for a short while, as well as slow down and freeze enemies allowing your team to make quick work of them.

As the game evolves it will be interesting to watch different strategies evolve as people figure out which characters are the best to play at certain points in a match. It is also good to note that Blizzard has done a good job of making characters for every type of player. Do you want to heal and have the ability to resurrect your team? If so use Mercy. Or do you want to protect your team from incoming damage? If so use Reinhardt and his massive shield. You could also use Pharah and her jump jets to rain rockets from upon your enemies.

The personalities of these characters shine through into gameplay, as they are constantly chatting with each other, and as you play the game more you grow fearful of hearing the voice lines that announce an enemies ultimate ability is on the way. Such terrifying lines as “Its high noon,” “Justice rains from above,” or “I’ve got you in my sights.” Not to mention characters talking to each other before a match starts, like Mercy mentioning to Pharah how proud her mother must be of her.

It is all of these elements being brought together that make Overwatch such a great game, and at this point I can’t wait for the game to have its full release so I can have even more people to play this fantastic game with. Overwatch release on the 24 of May this year, so if you like multiplayer online shooters with interesting characters and a fascinating world, then pick it up. I know I will.