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Everything posted by pinholestar

  1. I mean you won’t need me to tell you that there’s really no right or wrong way to approach which order you do things because it’s guaranteed to be magnificent fun whatever route you take, but I would really recommend having a look at that quest because it’ll only broaden the palette of how you go about things. You’ll see what I mean.
  2. About 60 hours in (please don’t do the maths) and after mostly clearing Hebra and pottering about doing all sorts I decided to follow the second part of Josha’s quest and properly delve deep into that aspect of the game. Ability/Josha’s quest spoiler: Nintendo are taking the absolute piss with how good this is. Other developers must be looking at it and shaking their heads in disbelief at how they can ever begin to compare.
  3. The remind me of Subnautica and that's about the highest praise I can give. It has that same sense of an incredibly atmospheric and tentative creep out into a long lost land, danger at every step and the unsettling feeling that you really don't belong down here as you go ever deeper, down into the gloomy unknown, the faintest of lights twinkling in the distance your only guide. Awe-inspiringly vast yet suffocatingly oppressive at the same time. Just fucking brilliant and a fantastic contrast to the korok and cockmobile shenanigans taking place elsewhere.
  4. So I just found out that (you’ll be told this in Kakariko Village but some may have found it out anyway) you can fuse: 🤯
  5. Days Gone is a great shout. Loved that game and it was criminally overlooked. My nomination is this immersive sim masterpiece: Developer Arkane Austin would of course go on to make the highly acclaimed Redfall...
  6. If you’d asked anyone what they would want from a BotW sequel most would’ve probably suggested things like proper dungeons, more weapons, return of the hookshot etc. Bigger, better, more, kind of shit, because we’re mere mortals with mundane minds. Instead the collective creative genius brains at Nintendo looked at one of the greatest games of all time and in thinking how to improve it thought “let’s enable the player to create vehicles using fans, rockets and flamethrowers, let them fuse all the items in the game together to create the most bonkers gadgets and contraptions imaginable, let them travel vertically through any surface, send them high into the sky and deep down underground, and then allow all of these intricate systems to interlock with one another in a vast world absolutely crammed with possibility and adventure in every direction and just let them fucking have at it however they choose. Roast koroks on a spit, strap ‘em onto a hoverboard and send it flying over a mountain with rocket boosters, stick a bomb onto a spear, make a flashlight shield, make a raft festooned with mushrooms and fruit, throw a tree into the air, swirl it round in a figure of eight and then reverse time so it lands on top of a moblin’s head, traverse the plains of Hyrule in the Cockmobile, whatever the fuck you want because why the fuck not. Enjoy”. They’re just on a completely different level to anyone else, it’s ridiculous. I played this for a scary number of hours over the weekend, pulling a couple of all-nighters in the process. Haven’t done that since I was a student 20 years ago. Their ability to engender child-like wonder and fire the flames of imagination is unsurpassed. This game is staggering in its brilliance, so savour every moment because we’re not gonna get anything that can match it for a very long time indeed.
  7. I had to force myself to go outside for a walk and see some daylight and sunshine today. I live on the coast and was walking along the seafront when a kid on a skateboard rolled past me and all I could think was how much better off he’d be if he attached a rocket and a couple of fans to the back. I’m probably about 30 hours in and feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Just a constant and relentless cascade of new ideas and possibilities spinning off in every direction. I described Breath of the Wild as a game that planted a flag in the ground from which all others would be measured from that point on and somehow they’ve raised the bar even further and done the same thing yet again. The creative sandbox they’ve handed to players in such an enormous world rich with possibilities bounded only by imagination is absolutely extraordinary. It makes everything else feel rudimentary and hollow in comparison. I made
  8. Right I’m calling it a night, seeing as it’s… uhh… nearly 6am Game of the forever.
  9. Fucking Nintendo, man. Ain’t nobody that can touch them when they’re firing on all cylinders. Absolute joy so far and the creative possibilities with all the new abilities is mind-boggling. Just imagine all the wonderful, weird and whacky shit there’ll be to discover over the next hundred hours or so. This is gonna absolutely walk rllmuk’s GOTY just like its predecessor did and any industry organ that doesn’t award the same can literally go fuck its own face.
  10. Yeah, there's a few boss difficulty spikes here and there but from about the halfway point with a nice set of rerolled gear and the deflection timing window well and truly locked in I found it to be a bit of a cakewalk. Most bosses fell on the first try without too much trouble. Great game but the difficulty balance kind of falls apart at a certain point. NG+ is quite challenging though, or so I've been told. Had my fill of it once I'd completed the first run through though, so can't verify that myself.
  11. Bought a Series X at launch along with 3 years of Game Pass up front. Owned a PS4 but never an Xbox One, so was all set to transition to PS5 and remain primarily a PlayStation user with a Switch on the side. The value proposition of Game Pass and the stable of excellent first-party studio purchases (such as Arkane lol) swayed me over to Xbox at the start of this gen, with the intention to pick up a PS5 a few years down the line once a nice bunch of exclusives were ready and waiting. Series X hardware is fantastic and Game Pass has been a revelation and frankly absurd value for money. I don't think I've ever played a wider range of games in my life than I have these past two and a half years and that's entirely down to the Game Pass library. I've never been short of great things to play and there's been tons of indies and titles from genres that I've never touched before that would have completely passed me by otherwise. It really can't be overstated just how much money the Xbox offering has saved me these last few years. I 'bought' Elden Ring, Cyberpunk, Marvel's Midnight Suns and Destiny Lightfall but used MS Rewards points for all of them so haven't seen a single penny actually leave my bank account in the name of video games for nearly three years now, apart from the recent pre-order of Zelda. It's bananas that I've had nearly three years' worth of consistent and varied entertainment from video games for a sole up front payment of £120, which is less than the cost of two new releases these days. I've saved absolutely fuck loads of money and so for that reason I've been thrilled with what's been on offer. Very happy customer in that regard. However... There's no denying that despite all the promises, year after year, despite the allowance for Covid delays and games already being in multi-platform development at the time of purchase yada yada yada - the first-party output from Xbox Game Studios' 24-strong stable of developers really has to get its shit together once and for all and start delivering high quality titles on a consistent basis now. Enough's enough and Xbox owners have been more than patient. "Trust us bro, this year is the year" has become a meme at this point. People can make all the snide 'over-the-shoulder sad dad simulator' snipes at PlayStation first-party games all they want, but there's an undeniable quality and sheen to Sony's offerings. You may not particularly like the style of God of War, Horizon or Spider-Man (I think they're great for what it's worth) but there's a guarantee when a PlayStation first-party game releases that it's going to hit a level of technical excellence, polish and mechanical proficiency that makes it feel like a genuinely premium product. Same goes for Nintendo. Never in a million fucking years would either of those companies have allowed the release of something like Redfall and that's a huge part of the overall perception of their respective brands. Flight Sim, Forza Horizon 5, Hi-Fi Rush and Grounded are all fantastic games and Pentiment was a sort of minor miracle in terms of its dazzlingly original and beautifully written esoteric charms, so it's not like Microsoft haven't released some really good stuff. But it's all a bit inconsistent in terms of release schedules and you don't really feel any confidence that their first-party offerings are gonna be sure-fire bangers. I enjoyed Halo Infinite but it was blatantly cobbled together at the last minute and its utter paucity of content for a supposed 10-year platform for the franchise was embarrassing. This was one of their flagship IPs and it fizzled out like a wet fart and was forgotten within a month. For good or ill, big AAA bangers are the bedrock on which successful platforms are built, third-party support is secured and brand perception takes hold in the mindshare of the general public, and in this regard Xbox is flailing badly and has been for years now. Starfield could be incredible and as a massive fan of Bethesda Game Studios' previous games I'm anticipating it hugely, but is anyone honestly not at least a little worried that it's gonna be a buggy undercooked mess at launch? Perfect Dark could be a wonderful reboot of an old classic, but tales of development and studio troubles in its gestation mean it's just as likely to be a disaster. What the fuck actually is Rare's Everwild? Nobody knows. There's just a lack of clarity and focus in their first-party approach and marketing and whether that's down to too much of a 'hands-off, let the creatives cook' lack of oversight or just plain poor project management, it needs to be better because it's severely tarnishing the perception of Xbox as a whole. It's been one PR disaster after another this past year, and as wonderful a GOTY contender as Hi-Fi Rush was, it's not nearly enough to stem the tide of perception that Xbox is floundering as a platform while PS5 goes from strength to strength both critically and commercially. I understand why they went for it but the ActivisionBlizzard nonsense (and I think the CMA were absolutely right to block it) has felt like it's taken an enormous amount of focus away from what the core of the Xbox business should be about: making consistently great games with talented studios and providing some robust competition to Sony's offering. Microsoft has more money than God and literally thousands of some of the world's best developers under their wing. There's absolutely no excuse for them not to be delivering the goods by now. TL;DR: Hardware, Game Pass and overall value great. First-party not nearly good enough. Future decidedly uncertain.
  12. Well I gave this 10 hours of my life that I'll never get back and I'm sticking a stake in it. I played through to the end of the first major region, clearing out all the areas in the town and doing all the side quests in the vain hope that some semblance of a good game would emerge from the murky gloom, but it just never happened. Ordinarily I would have given up long ago but this is Arkane man, one of my very favourite developers - surely they'd produced something that was worth persevering with? But as soon as I entered the second region and saw the size of the map and realised that I'd be doing the exact same shit for another 10 hours I just noped out and uninstalled it. Life's too short and I ain't getting any younger. Play the first hour or two of the game and I promise you that you've seen everything it's going to offer. It doesn't develop in any meaningful way, every mission is functionally pretty much the same dull fetch quest, fighting the vampires becomes completely pedestrian once you have a UV or stake gun, the AI and pathfinding of the human enemies is genuinely some of the worst I've ever encountered, the loot aspect is very poorly implemented, the skill tree utterly superfluous, the quest hubs and mannequin characters just dumbly standing around them are like something out of a third-rate Eastern European jank factory, and the world is so empty and dull that any effort to extract something, anything of engaging interest from it is an exercise in futility. There's just barely anything there in terms of substance to hold your interest. I honestly struggle to think of a game that has ever disappointed me more, considering Arkane's incredibly rich pedigree. It never convinced right from the moment it was first revealed, but I hoped we'd at the very least get a passable 7/10 experience, something that had moments of brilliance dotted among its span, however sparse. Instead it's just a big, tedious, dreary bag of... nothing. It's not worth the 70GB download and it's most definitely not worth £70 that's for sure. Microsoft are taking the fucking piss to be charging that considering the state it's been released in. Hi-Fi Rush was less than half the price and is ten times the game this is, and in comparison to Sony's tentpole first-party releases it's frankly embarrassing. I know that Game Pass skews the value proposition starkly, but promising that big first-party hitters are coming and then dribbling out mediocre 5/10 games like this on to the service is just not good enough. Fuck knows what happened behind the scenes with this game because I'm absolutely baffled as to how a developer that produced the brilliant Prey could follow it up with such a huge nothingburger of a game. It's truly bizarre. It has raised my childlike anticipation for Zelda's imminent arrival even higher than the absurd level it was already at though, so... every cloud and all that.
  13. Battlefield 1. Still playing it regularly 7 years on and it never fails to entertain. In terms of pleasure received per pound spent (oi oi), nothing else comes close. I would say Destiny in terms of hours played but the amount of fucking money that Bungie attempt to gouge out of their playerbase these days has seen that equation collapse drastically.
  14. I’ve played it for a good few hours and speaking as someone who’s an enormous Arkane fan and rates them as probably one of my top 5 devs, this is a crushing disappointment. It’s not bad per se but it’s painfully average, bland and uninspired. Never in a million fucking years would you think this is by the same team that made the brilliant Prey. Combat is OK at best, story is somewhat intriguing, quest design is mediocre and repetitive. None of it is in any way great and the whole thing feels very phoned in and you can tell that their heart wasn’t really in it. Right from the off you got the sense that this kind of game was a bad fit for a dev like Arkane and there’s a very good reason why you were probably distinctly underwhelmed every time you saw a piece of preview footage. It’s just not very good in any way and having recently replayed the Dishonored series again it’s almost shocking how poorly it compares to those sublime masterpieces. At the very least I expected some really good world-building, characters and background lore from Arkane but even the notes you find lying about the place are dull as dishwater, as are the quest-giving characters in the mission hubs. Based on what I’ve played so far it feels like the embodiment of a 6/10 game at best, and although I deliberately avoided reading any reviews before playing it myself I wasn’t remotely surprised to see it receive the critical reception it has.
  15. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Team Ninja turn their lethal blades towards an adaptation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms and a supernatural twist on the fall of the Han dynasty in late 2nd/early 3rd century China. Anyone who's played either of the Nioh games will feel an instant familiarity in terms of the game's discrete level structure, screen-filling end of mission bosses and fundamental gameplay loop, but it also takes a significant leaf out of Sekiro's book in rooting the combat system in an ever-present (and utterly essential for success) deflection mechanic. Dispensing with the three-stance and ki-pulse approach of Nioh, it essentially replaces them with a spirit gauge that apes Sekiro's posture system. Light attacks raise the bar, getting hit lowers it, and once a critical threshold is reached on the enemy's bar you can deliver a killing blow. This is pretty much the rhythm of the entire game and before long you settle into a pattern of light attack combos, deflections of enemies' strong attacks as you deftly parry whatever comes your way and return it with savage interest and annihilate their spirit gauge, before delivering the coup de grâce of absolute thunder bastards accompanied by dramatic zoom jump cuts and roaring audio cues to reinforce just what a ferocious badass you are as you ram your weapon of choice into the face of the assorted demonic brutes you're pitted against. The weapon variety is good, aided by impactful special moves and a fairly extensive list of wizardry spells based around five elemental damage types. If there's one area where it's a significant step down from Nioh though it's in the basic weapon movesets and combo strings that are fairly rudimentary and one-note in comparison. Making the deflection mechanic such a foundational pillar of the combat creates a more immediate and instantly gratifying feedback but it comes at the cost of a certain depth and subtlety to the overall system. Although its influences and heritage are readily apparent there are some commendably novel additions to the formula that are designed to mitigate common frustrations in the genre and/or force the player to engage with the majority of enemies in each level, rather than just sprinting past them to make a beeline for the boss. The morale system is the most prominent of these, in which each level has you starting at 1 and then gradually progressing up to around 20 or so as you defeat enemies and plant morale-boosting flags dotted around the levels, with each enemy handily signposting its relative difficulty level with an indicative number above its head. It's a clean way of maintaining a constant challenge while at the same time ensuring that you're never gonna get your ass handed to you by blindly running up against an enemy that's way out of your current league. Although toned down a little it also revisits Nioh's gear system and still kind of shits loot at you at every turn, requiring lengthy inventory clean-ups at the blacksmith after every mission. There's a metric fuckton of character stats which can lead to a dizzying number of varying builds and approaches too. Perhaps I was just particularly diligent in maintaining my gear levels and honed in early on a stat combination that suited my playstyle (an ultra high mobility glass cannon that maximised the return on deflections, essentially) but at around about the halfway mark after one or two egregious boss difficulty spikes I suddenly found the game became a relative cakewalk and I fair blitzed my way right through to the end with relative ease, taking down most bosses on the first try. I'm by no means great at these types of games, which suggests that somewhere along the line the difficulty scaling and balance went off-kilter a bit and resulted in a game that got progressively easier as it went on, which is the reverse of what you'd expect. Or perhaps considering the fact that literally every single threat in the game can be deflected, it's a reflection that once you've mastered this skill with its fairly generous timing window there's little in the game that can trouble you. As for the story, it's as melodramatic and bombastic as you could wish for, but I have to admit that the enormous cast of characters all morphed into a giant melange as I completely lost track of who Sun Ce, Sun Jian, Sun Quan, Zhang Ling, Zhang Jiao, Zhang Bao and at least 20 others actually were and what the hell any of them were doing. It's an absolutely fascinating period of history no doubt, but I'm damned if I could tell you anything about it after playing this game. A more streamlined and immediate experience than its progenitor series Nioh, if it doesn't quite possess the same sublimely engineered combat richness as those titles then there's no shame in that, and it's nevertheless a really good game in its own right that I thoroughly enjoyed playing through over the course of a couple of months. The towering masterpiece that is Elden Ring will cast its shadow over combat-heavy Japanese action games for a long time to come, but it's worth remembering that Team Ninja wrote the book on these kinds of experiences and even when they're not firing on all cylinders they're still capable of delivering slick, brutal and satisfying slice and dice action like few others can. 8/10 Previous entries:
  16. Hmm, didn’t realise this was an iteration on the Survival mode from Division 1. I never understood why on Earth they ditched it for the second game as it was fantastic and one of the most tensely atmospheric experiences I’ve ever had. Quite interested to see how this turns out, although the PvP in The Division has always been god awful and being F2P raises the spectre of some sort of bullshit progression mechanics lurking in the shadows, but we’ll see.
  17. Ghostwire: Tokyo Birthed from what was originally intended to be Evil Within 3, Tango Gameworks' Ghostwire: Tokyo transplants the developer's penchant for spooky horror to the neon- and rain-drenched streets of night-time Shibuya. It's a ward of Tokyo that's been seen in one form or another in many video games before, but none have ever recreated it with quite the same level of sumptuous authenticity as this. One of my favourite places on Earth that I was drawn back to night after night when visiting Tokyo myself, the ability to explore the extensive map and immerse oneself within its glittering storefronts and murky warrens of back alleys, frequently stopping to pet dogs and purchase health-restoring sweets from convenience stores staffed by floating cats, provides the game's most gratifying element. After the entire population of Tokyo is transformed into floating spirits by an unknown man in a grotesque hannya mask, leaving only piles of empty clothes and abandoned cars littering the deserted streets, protagonist Akito is brought back to life and bonded with a companion spirit who imbues him with spectral powers, setting out to get to the bottom of events while seeking retribution for his younger sister who has been claimed by evil powers for reasons as yet unknown. Visually, atmospherically and conceptually it's a frequently striking game but sadly there's very little meat on the bones of its undeniably arresting setting and the intriguing premise and story set-up never really go anywhere engaging enough to sustain the experience. The combat is based around three attacks using those JRPG staples of wind, fire and water. From a first-person perspective your character rapidly draws sigils in the air in front of him before unleashing their respective elements to defeat the hordes of spectral demons portrayed as warped salarymen and schoolchildren that now roam the streets. There's a certain satisfaction to be had in combining the various elemental attacks to damage enemies before ripping out their exposed cores, but like pretty much everything else in the game the combat soon becomes one-note and repetitive, and the fairly extensive skill tree doesn't really add anything of worth to the experience. Back-pedalling while lobbing fireballs and following up with rapid-fire wind attacks will comfortably see off just about anything the game throws at you and with one or two (rather frustrating) exceptions the enemies never do anything but walk menacingly straight towards you. There's a huge number of collectables and side-quests to hoover up, and while some of these provide entertainingly spooky little ghost story vignettes and the game does a fine line in item descriptions that covers the gamut of Japanese mythology and culture, they all rapidly coalesce into a chronic case of map iconitis that puts even dubious masters of the craft Ubisoft to shame. There's shades of Crackdown in the ability to leap between rooftops gathering the literally hundreds of floating sprits that festoon the map in every direction, but again this soon too becomes a tedious and repetitive chore. An interview with the game's director revealed that the team at Tango built their digital version of Shibuya first before then constructing an actual game to fit within it. It's hard not to make a short step to the conclusion that this unorthodox approach to game design was highly likely to result in an experience that delivers the style but doesn't have much substance to back it up, and so it proves. A stunningly authentic rendition of one of the most bewilderingly intoxicating urban centres on Earth can only carry the experience so far, and within a few short hours the realisation rapidly dawns that the shimmer of night-time neon reflected in ray-traced puddles on just about every street corner in the game is somewhat emblematic of the title as a whole: it lacks any sort of meaningful or engaging depth and flatters to deceive. The essence of something potentially incredible lies at the heart of it, but the meagre variety and highly repetitive nature of the gameplay on offer ultimately leaves it feeling like a missed opportunity whose beautifully realised setting deserved far more. 6/10 Previous entries:
  18. This just tells me that it’s not fully ready and should be delayed. I’ll happily play certain games at 30fps (Plague Tale: Requiem was fine and I prefer Forza Horizon 5 in quality mode, to give two examples) but a current-gen only, first-party, fast-paced FPS shouldn’t be launching without a 60fps option. I love my Series X and Game Pass has been absolutely brilliant but Microsoft’s management of its first-party releases continues to be alarmingly sub-par. There’ll be a lot of overreactions to this but it’s not a good look, whichever way you cut it.
  19. Life is Strange: True Colors Don't Nod struck gold with 2015's original Life is Strange, a seminal coming-of-age drama with a time-manipulation twist on the modern graphic adventure game, that through a combination of sympathetically drawn characters, dramatic plot developments, impactful player choices and an almost uncanny ability to engender overwhelming feelings of aching nostalgia for a place one has never known, managed to create a memorable experience that stayed with me for a long time. There was some ineffable magic in that game that triggered long-buried pangs of regret and longing for a simpler time when the pocket dramas of teenage angst seemed like momentous life-altering mountains planted in life's path. Although technically the fifth game in the LiS franchise, True Colors is nominally the third in the mainline series and was developed by Deck Nine, who had previously delivered the very enjoyable prequel to the first game, Before the Storm. All the hallmarks of the series are here: idyllic small town setting with a murkier underbelly bubbling just below the surface, awkward and anxious young female protagonist, rebellious punk best friend, and a hell of a lot of finger-picking acoustic guitar tracks to accompany the inevitably emotive rollercoaster of a story. The main character Alex Chen is a worthy successor in being a hugely likeable protagonist and she's played very well by her voice actor, capturing the insecurity of a young woman unsure of her own fragile identity and place in the world, battling with her inner demons and the fraught emotional anguish of having lost her parents and a childhood of being bounced from one foster home to another. Mental illness and the battle to overcome one's own shortcomings coloured by grief and past regrets, while trying your best to help those around you while your life falls apart around your ears are the key themes of the game and they're dealt with sensitively, framed by a story that starts off with a tragic accident before spiralling into the uncovering of deceptions and betrayals, bookended by redemption and new beginnings. The central mechanic of this entry revolves around Alex's ability to empathetically sense and absorb others' feelings, thoughts and emotions, and the varied cast of supporting characters that inhabit the small Colorado mining town of Haven Springs give rise to a range of sometimes difficult and morally grey choices that'll direct your route through to the conclusion. In truth it feels like there isn't a huge variation in terms of the truly impactful decisions you can take, but there's enough there to leave you with the feeling that the story eventually told is subject to your own personal whims and desires. At the risk of sounding churlish there are times when it gives off the faint whiff of earnest, plaid shirt-wearing San Fran hipsters hanging out in Starbucks with their Macbooks and AirPods, but it's a game whose heart is very much in the right place and there are some beautifully judged and delicately played emotional story and character beats that pluck and tug on the heartstrings with a deft touch. It's quite short but it packs a lot in and delivers a satisfying conclusion (to some degree based on the decisions that you make, of course) to each of the overarching narrative threads and character interactions. Worthy of particular praise is the third chapter in which Alex engages in a live-action role-playing game around the streets of Haven Springs with a young boy suffering from depression, gradually dissolving away the black clouds that hang over his head while making the most of the inherently absurd premise with a knowing wink and warm smile. It's delightfully done and illustrates that even if you reductively conclude that the gameplay isn't much more than walking round and pressing the A button every so often, in a game such as this that's all that's really required as long as the story being told is compelling enough to carry you along for the ride. To some degree I feel that the first game did what it set out to do so well that any sequels can only ever walk in its shadow, destined to retread the same ground but the footfalls never quite being able to land with the same impact. Nevertheless True Colors is the best in the series since its initial outing and Deck Nine delivered a fitting new entry that was enjoyable, memorable and worthy of standing on its own two feet. It left me with the feeling that it's a heart-warming development to see narrative video games like this progress to a stage where they're willing to tackle weighty and emotive issues that'll resonate in particular with young people who are facing similar trials themselves. 8/10 Previous entries:
  20. According to reddit (the most reliable of all sources) it’s most likely due to music licensing issues. Quantum Break has quite a few licensed music tracks.
  21. Yeah that looks predictably fucking amazing. The wacky shit you’ll be able to come up with by experimenting and bolting random things together looks like it’ll be so much fun.
  22. Another vote for using the accessibility options with regards to the combat, and I say that as someone who usually plays games on hard difficulty if it's available. Think I turned off the stamina depletion for most of it and then put no fail on for some bosses and it improved the experience immeasurably. The joy of Tunic lies in the exploration and puzzles, not the combat.
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