Dungeons and Dragons: I’ve Finally Levelled Up My Nerd Status

Zack "The New Hire" Layton

I’ve finally done it. After growing up with watching movies/T.V. shows of people playing Dungeons and Dragons, (while never playing it myself), I finally experienced my first adventure.

My fellow Replay Value co-worker, Darcy joined me with 4 of our other friends. One thing I do need to note is that we played this through Skype using an online site Roll20 to connect us with someone online who can create an adventure and DM for us. (I also finally learned what DM means; Dungeon Master).

Before I started setting up my character, I had no clue how much detail there would be in setting one up.

The Set Up

Half-elf_PHB5e           

I decided to create a level 3 Half-Elf Sorcerer named Zarnon Manwë and I focused so hard on the details within my character. It pretty much took a week for me to build my character and I spent that time reading through the manual.

As the only “noob” on the team, I made it my goal to “wow” them with my rich character background and information. I spent time researching Elf names, the specific meaning, my name in Elf, and the meaning of my name in Elf. However, no one said a peep and for the record, Manwë is Zack in Elf, which means “Pure.” (I hope my team is reading this now and feels bad).

After letting go of my ego, I finally finished everything and let my team know that I was ready to start.

The Execution

            Before the start of the adventure, I was nervous because I didn’t want to let down my team, especially since I put so much work into creating my character/backstory. When we actually started, it was a bit of a slow burn, which was fair since we were all new at using Skype to play D&D. After 5 hours of playing, we decided to stop after leaving a tavern to speak to a priest who is important in the story.

All in all, I believe it was a success. Our DM did a great job in immersing us into the story and fleshing out specific traits of our characters. She created a really intriguing story that made all of us keep guessing one after another and she was also able to successfully lead us on to the next story arc, so we that didn’t get stuck.

I’m really interested to see how our characters progress in the story. One interesting thing that happened was that she started developing the story by connecting my characters backstory in it. I’m intrigued to see where this will lead us.

The WTF Moment

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As successful as our adventure was so far, there were some “interesting” situations that occurred. For starters, we learned that Darcy made his character to be a horny, “I’ll screw anything that moves,” character and it definitely added some crazy elements to the story.

Throughout the game, our team kept rolling our eyes or sighing because Darcy went to go talk to another female character. Also, my character is apparently in a love triangle already with Darcy’s character and one of the female leads? Well, I guess we shall see how that plays out in the future.

Another interesting moment that occurred was when our self-proclaimed leader, Darcy, went to go attack these wolves that were attacking people, blindly. Now I assumed there was something “fishy” about these wolves, but I wasn’t able to communicate that before Darcy screamed “ATTACK!” Of course, this was a fatal mistake.

This lead to him being surrounded by all of the wolves and the team had to now focus on saving Darcy, instead of the people who were being attacked by these wolves. I really hope Darcy’s character can learn what it means to be a team player!

End Result

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All in all, I really enjoyed starting this adventure with the team. Besides Darcy’s irrational battle strategy, I really think we worked well together! Who knows, maybe Darcy’s actions brought us together to work as a team to save him? One thing to say though is that our team would definitely not be the same without him!

I’m really excited to continue our journey and for the future shenanigans to occur. So far, everyone on the team has pulled their weight and I can’t wait to experience new adventures with them soon! Plus, I didn’t embarrass my self, so I guess that’s a plus right?

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Rank Up: My Quest for Skill in Heroes of The Storm (Part Three) “How I got to Silver”

heroes-facebook-preview-bcon

Darcy Selke "Editor in Chief"

Welcome to the final installation of my quest for a proper rank in Heroes of The Storm. If you haven’t already you can check out my first games here and here. Last week I was incredible and won almost all my matches.

Game 8: Use The Stun (Win)

So the game started off with a guy saying the n word right off the bat so I was already expecting this to be a shit show. Weirdly though the game went fine. No one raged, everyone communicated normally after that, it was like having someone yell a racist term but then sit down for a proper dissertation.

So we won this game by basically just putting pressure on Abathur instantly, I find Abathur is useful for gaining map control so if you hem him in early, he can’t really pressure you because the rest of the map is so unsafe for him.

Stop Abathur, get the win. Simple Enough.

Toxicity Levels: Low

Despite the random racist comment right at the beginning the game was pretty mild. One guy was getting all angry because people were “pinging too much” but I mean he didn’t rage, he just muted the pings and moved on.

Sorta…you know… what you should do if that stuff is bugging you. Other than that the team communicated and everyone basically followed the same strategy.

Work together, get the win.

My Score

Muradin Game 8.png

So again, as per my other Muradin Game, we got the win but I didn’t lead in any category. I think sometimes stats can be a distraction. When I play Muradin I use his stuns to set up kills for other people which I would expect to be reflected in the “Assist” Category but everyone else was getting them too.

It’s sort of like that guy in sports who does the little things right. I think if you watched the game you’d see I played well, helped set up kills and got the “W” but it wouldn’t show just from box scores.

Game 9: Salty Team loses Salty Game (Loss)

Yikes, this game was a rough one. I actually think I did really well but my team was just complaining non stop. Diablo would run in and die to 4 people and then say it was someone else’s fault. You’ll see when I post my score…he uhh…he did not have a good game.

Anyway I think we coulda won but honestly people were just spamming chat and pings and everything to a point I just tuned it out. I know I say “communication” is key in a game like this but there’s a difference between “not shutting up” and “communication”. It was all complaints too, everyone just blaming everyone else, ugh just an ugly ugly game.

Toxicity Levels: High

Not to high on the racist or derogatory terms but just in general. Everyone in this game was just mad. Mad when they died, mad when they lost an objective, and nothing was ever there fault.

I was going to type stuff back to them explaining why I was laning (hint: it’s because getting level 10 is very important) but honestly it just wasn’t worth it. Once I saw Diabloe dive in past 4 people and ask where I was I figured this is gonna be one of those kinda games.

My Score

Falstaad Game 9.png

 

Ahh there it is I went 6-3, did a bunch of dmg and contributed the most XP. I know I just said stats don’t tell you everything but I’m going to also give you the flip side. If you’ve died 7 times and only have 1 kill and your healer has died 5 times with only 1 kill it means you’re not surviving team fights and neither is he. Something is wrong.

Basically out team got caught out of position and no one really wanted to help. Diablo just kept running into fights with 0 set up, Uther didn’t do a great job healing him and all of these fights were picked when I wasn’t even near the team.

Blech glad to get that one’s taste outta my mouth.

Game 10: Overcoming a Bad Team Comp (Loss)

Team make ups in many ways can make or break you. In this last game we had 2 tanks, a Healer and 2 Specialists. That’s right, no damage dealer.

To start this off the “captain” who gets to pick banes etc. “went to the washroom” and missed both chances to ban people, then came back and picked a 2nd specialist. For those of you who don’t play HOTS, it’s like picking another QB for your football team when you need someone to run the ball.

So we’re off to a bad start and it’s pretty clear this guy is doing it just to troll the team. But I figure you know what? It’s my last game, I’ll play healer, I’ll mute the troll and i’ll just do my best.

And it worked!

Toxicity Levels: Low

The rest of the team quickly realised this Murky was just trying to troll us but to their credit that didn’t stop them either. Everyone sill played their role including the Murky. It made the game tougher at the beginning but I didn’t see any in-game chat of them yelling at him or anything.

My Score

Uther Game 10.png

 

So even though I think the Murky pick was a troll I can’t deny he did his job so maybe i’m wrong. Even still, don’t be that guy. Your team needs a healer just pick the damn healer okay?

I actually out-healed the Lucio and I don’t really know how that happened, that’s not really a thing that should ever happen. I guess the map sort of favoured us, Dragonshire tends to split teams up pretty nicely but still.

I felt really good about that game which led to me finally being placed in….

Rank Silver.png

So there it is! Silver League, that actually feels pretty good considering a few of my losses were legitimately out of my control.

I can’t wait to start my next quest to get Gold!

Rank Up: My Quest for Skill in Heroes of The Storm (Part Two) “All I Do Is Win Win Win”

Darcy Selke "Editor in Chief"

Hey everyone and welcome back to my quest for skill in Heroes of The Storm. Last week I played my first ranked matches and went a respectable 1-2. Placement matches are weird because in some games (like the ones I’m about to talk about) you get matches with people who just look like they’ve never played before, followed up by games where it feels like you’re in MLG.

Game 4: Relaxation (Win)

Ah the perfect reflection of MOBA culture. 3 Minutes in someone on our team dies and one guy will just will NOT let it go. “GG” “Noob” “This Naz” etc etc.

Basically if you play a MOBA, you know this person, if things are not going perfectly they’re commenting on everything you’re doing. You’re struggling? Oh trust me this guy noticed.

We ended up winning because you don’t really lost games 3 minutes in. Once we hit level 10, team fighting became easier we won the objectives and ultimately we won pretty easily after that.

Toxicity Levels: Medium

Yeah this guy playing Uther was just a Grade A Asshole, Naz wasn’t doing what he wanted and so all game he was just riding him.

The most random part was when we won Naz actually acted like the whole team had been talking shit. So he goes off on how he “saved them team” blah blah, man it was like, no one was worried we were gonna lose except these two and they acted like it was them against the world.

My Score

Artanis Game 4.png

Ignore the “My Fault”, I was just being nice, but yeah 4-3 not bad. I didn’t lead in any stat but I think my ability to swap people into the rest of my team gave us a few team fight wins. Not my best game but definitely not bad.

Game 5: STOMPED (Win)

This game took 10 minutes,

Basically our whole team was built on keeping people together and wailing on them. They had a team of all melee heroes so every team fight was like running into a line of machine guns for them.

Toxicity Levels: None

There wasn’t even enough time.

My Score

Okay so I don’t remember what I got and because the game was so quick I forgot to take a screen cap. SORRY but lets say I went like 1-2 or something, and I was playing Tassadar.

Game 6: The Grandmaster (Win)

Ah the perfect reflection of MOBA culture. 3 Minutes in someone on our team dies and one guy will just will NOT let it go. “GG” “Noob” “This Naz” etc etc.

Basically if you play a MOBA, you know this person, if things are not going perfectly they’re commenting on everything you’re doing. You’re struggling? Oh trust me this guy noticed.

We ended up winning because you don’t really lost games 3 minutes in. Once we hit level 10, team fighting became easier we won the objectives and ultimately we won pretty easily after that.

Toxicity Levels: Medium

Yeah this guy playing Uther was just a Grade A Asshole, Naz wasn’t doing what he wanted and so all game he was just riding him.

The most random part was when we won Naz actually acted like the whole team had been talking shit. So he goes off on how he “saved them team” blah blah, man it was like, no one was worried we were gonna lose except these two and they acted like it was them against the world.

My Score

Lucio Game  6.png

I mean what more can I say, 103 k in healing? I might be the best Lucio to ever play the game. Seriously tho, he’s one of the most OP heroe’s in the game. So long as you know how to click and stay around your team, you’ll be fine.

Game 7: How to Throw Away a Game (Loss)

So this game started weirdly with someone wanting to pick Abathur no matter what our team needed. (We need tanks and healers). He finally switched and picks Xul instead. With him and our Samuro constantly pushing/getting camps it meant we couldn’t team fight because we were always down two people.

We finally rally late and have one last attempt to push the core and win and these guys decide to go get camps…so naturally we lost because the other three of us died.

For anyone who plays the game and thinks they’re smarter than everyone else let me say this clearly. I don’t care how good you think you are stay with the Team!

Toxicity Levels: Medium

Yeah the team was bickering right from the get go and these two guys response was just to push endlessly and basically play them vs the creep waves.

Then when we died and lost they pretended like they intentionally were bad, yeah nice try guys.

 

My Score

Uther Game 7.png

Yeah I’m not proud of this one but honestly with only one tank, and no one around me in team fights I couldn’t heal anyone, and they quickly focused me and killed me early in every fight.

You see how Samuro and Xul had similar scores? Yeah that happened all while they were dying alone by themselves.

 

So there’s the next instalment of my quest for a rank in HOTS. These games were a bit better than the earlier ones but still seems like we tend to lose whenever you team are just dicks to each other.

Team make ups are important but really if you just co-operate you probably have a more than likely chance you’ll win simply because the other team is probably bickering and fighting.

Stay tuned for the conclusion where I actually get placed!

Rank Up: My Quest for Skill in Heroes of The Storm (Part One)

Darcy Selke "Editor in Chief"

I downloaded Heroes Of The Storm about a year ago. Zack Layton mentioned in his recent post that he plays game for narrative content. I used to do that too but after playing Defence Against the Ancients I stopped hating multiplayer games and learned to love the messy chaos that is the online experience.

So I’ve been playing HOTS for about a full year but just unranked quick matches, this is in stark contrast to DOTA where I actually played enough ranked matches to watch my rank drop a full 1000 MMR. For those of you who don’t know what MMR is it’s basically how they rank your skill, like leagues in a sport. I went from Amateur to “can barely play” pretty quickly.

I’ve decided that throughout February I’m actually going to track my quest to improve in skill in HOTS. One of the downsides of the unranked matches is that Team Composition in many ways can determine your success in a game. If there’s an invisible hero and I’m playing say Tracer I can’t really do much because the only way to reveal a stealth hero is to hit them with an area of effect ability, of which Tracer does not have. Ranked Matches put a much bigger focus on how you draft a team.

So anyway without further ado here are my findings for Part One of My Quest for Rank in Heroes of the Storm.

Game One: Hero Abandoned (Loss)

My very first Ranked Match we had someone leave within 45 seconds. This basically set us up for a 12 minute long shit show.

It’s not just that you’re “down” a person, it’s that the AI that controls the character is quite possibly the dumbest thing alive. It runs into lanes by itself, and if you click to make it follow your character it basically sits there and watches as you get murdered by 4 people, never casting an ability, never offering any help.

Toxicity Levels: Low

Game One was sort of a mulligan because someone left.

There was one guy on the team who seemed mad I didn’t come and help them more but again, with one person down I can’t really afford to be flying all around the map. I can’t stress how much being down a person screws with your ability to make plays.

Really though he wasn’t mean spirited he just seemed mad at the situation and was mad I wasn’t doing more to help.

My Score

Falstaad Game 1.png

So in my first game I did alright, something like 2-0. The only reason that was acceptable was because we were down a person. In general scores don’t matter as much because every hero has a different task but for DPS/Assassins Kills and Damage Dealt are definitely things you can judge yourself on.

You can see I was also the only member on my team who got any kills so I felt pretty good.

 

Game Two: My First Win (Win)

I played Muradin the tank and found it worked perfectly. Character with stun affects are much more useful in skilled games because they all you to help your team mates get out of jams.

We had good communication and we just sort of played the game based around objectives. The other team had an Abathur meaning we had to deal with a lot of pushing but for the most part we managed to win the big team fights and free up space.

Toxicity Levels: None

Seems to go hand in hand with how the game is going but since we weren’t getting crushed there wasn’t really anyone talking bad to each other. This would be the kind of game Blizzard would want to advertise, (based on this only, not on any skill).

My Score

Muradin Game 2.png

So I sort of didn’t have a great game. I spent a lot of it keeping people off my team mates but you can see I didn’t lead in any stat.

1-2 Isn’t bad but it’s pretty clear we got carried by our Chromie.

Game Three: How to Throw A Game (Loss)

This one hurt, we were dominating for so long as then our Dehaka just started making dumb plays and then I started making dumb pays following him.

Heroes, like most MOBA’s, punishes greed. It knows that getting another kill is a lot of fun, but retreating and setting yourself up for the next objective is the smarter move.

Toxicity Levels: None

Again no one was raging at anyone, you could see the frustration when we finally caved and lost but no one was blaming anyone really.

My Score

Falstaad Game 3.png

So at one point I was defintely 5-0 but then we just fell apart. I died 3 times in a row.

Dehaka sorta of decided to play balls to wall, and I think it showed in his score. It was so frustrating because like we were doing fine but yeah, you gotta keep your foot on the gas for the whole game.

Tune In Next Time

So 3 games isn’t a bad start but apparently you need 10 in order to actually get a rank so this may end up taking a bit longer than i expected. Let me know your thoughts on MOBA’s and the idea of rank. I always felt that when i played Halo I was one of the better players according to score but MOBA’s are a different animals.

I feel like a lot of the times, team comps and the ability of a team to actually communicate with each other completely throws the skill system out of wack.

 

Till next time,

Why I Just Spent Over $200 On God of War

God of War

Zack Layton "The New Hire"

 
I wanted to start off by thanking Darcy, my Editor in Chief here at Replay Value, for giving me the opportunity as a new contributor for the blog. As much bullshit as I spew, it obviously must mean I know a thing or two, if he wants me to keep writing for him!

Pre-Orders

That being said, I just broke one of the top 5 rules to not break as a serious gamer. I, Zack Layton, pre-ordered a game. Holy crap, I’m the worst right? To make matters worse, I also bought the most expensive version of a collector’s edition that they had to offer. (For the record I’m shelling $200 Canadian for this).

Now for some of you reading this, (who aren’t thinking “he’s an idiot for spending that much on a video game”), you might think, “so what?” Long story short, the reason why people are so upset that everyone is pre-ordering games, is that it is argued that it’s the main reason why we have loot-boxes today. As there are both sides to this argument, I really want to focus on why I spent $200 on a video game…because who cares on the other boring topics right?

A New Me

Like I mentioned in my previous article, I am a very picky gamer. It’s very rare that I play a game and feel that I was successfully immersed in a game world. The games that come to mind that succeeded in this however, were What Remains of Edith Finch, Last of Us, The Witcher 3, and now most recently Nier Automata. Throughout these games, there has been a significant amount of time between these releases. So it’s been quite stale recently in my opinion. (I’m sure I’m going to get some arguments on that statement *eye roll*).

So now, I believe the next incredible, ground-breaking game that will come out and the reason why I spent over $200 on a game is for God of War.

 Now before I go more into my point, I have to preface something because I have yet another confession. As Darcy knows, more so than any other person, (because I chewed his ear off constantly regarding this), I was one of those gamers who predicted that No Mans Sky was going to be THE next big thing. Well we can see how that turned out right? I’m human and I make mistakes… That being said, I believe that God of War is going to be in the running for game of the year, once it comes out.

Narrative Depth

I’m a long time fan of the God of War series, and I can confidently say that it is the first series that brought me into the action button mashing gaming world. As I grew up playing the games, the narrative also developed for a more mature audience. However, near the end of the series, everyone felt that the narrative was starting to get repetitive. Essentially it was the gods backstabbed Kratos, he needed to get his powers back, then seek revenge on those same gods, and repeat. Needless to say, it got stale.

When Cory Barlog, (the Creative Director on God of War II and the new God of War), announced that they are taking the narrative in a whole new direction and adding an even more mature aspect to the narrative, fans rejoiced in this.

Now a beloved series will have the “Last of Usapproach and I know that may piss some people off, but I am only comparing it to that game because it is one of the only games that is grounded in realism. It will be very interesting to have a continued God of War narrative grounded in that same aspect of realism.

Of course, there were some fans that weren’t too happy about this and are upset because they believe that the old game mechanics were essential to the series. I believe that if a series needs to grow and develop, it needs to evolve and change with their audience. As a fellow purist for other beloved series, I understand how frustrating it could be. However, fans can’t seriously expect to get the same story and mechanics for a game to survive 10+ years. It’s only natural that it needs to change and add new elements to still feel fresh for the audience.

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This is why I can confidently spend over $200 Canadian for the collector’s edition of God of War because it finally understands how a series can be successful over a long period of time. God of War will evolve from being a 5 game length revenge tale to now showing the emotional struggle that Kratos endures.

I am excited to see this approach because it may actually make him a redeemable character in the future. Most developers would just make a new character in the same gaming world to continue the series, however Santa Monica Studios decided to accept the challenge to make the audience finally connect with Kratos emotionally for the first time. As I’ve posted below, this new story trailer will show you the emotional depth that the game will achieve and I am counting down the days until I get to open my $200 package.

Thank you for reading this and if you have any questions or have any other games that you spent a lot on, please share in the comments section. I’d love to hear about it and maybe it will make me feel a bit less crazy for what I just spent on God of War.

Nostalgic Gamer: KOTOR Gets Classic Star Wars Right

Darcy Selke "Editor in Chief"

First off let me start by giving a heartfelt thank you to Replay Value’s new contributor Zack Layton, who did a fantastic job with his article about a…Walking Simulator?

Just kidding, I think Zack is a great addition and I’m hoping with a few different writers it might start to spice up what Replay Value can offer. Zack and I basically have a friendship based on arguing about games and movies so I’m sure those arguments will find a home on the site. Anyway moving on…

The latest Star Wars movie came out in December to some mixed reviews including one I wrote. With that in mind, this article might be one of the most interesting to come out after the movie. TLDR: Everything The Last Jedi tried to argue about Star Wars fans of the game series Knights of The Old Republic had already seen.

Reading that article spurred me to download the very first KOTOR and see how it stacks up after 2 new Star Wars Movies ($10 on Steam!).

I have to say with confidence, if you have never played KOTOR or haven’t played it in years, go buy it right now. It’s amazing and while iPad ports can be tricky due to control issues, it’s still great and if you grab it for a PC I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Itunes Store

Screen cap from the Itunes Store

Story

The best part of KOTOR is it’s classic Star Wars. Anyone who has watched the original trilogy can see how KOTOR is almost a recreation of it.

-Evil Empire vs Good Republic (Empire vs Rebellion)

-Empire Blows Up a Planet (Death Star Blows Up Aldeeran)

-Big Revelation in the Middle (Darth Vader= Luke’s Father)

-Story of Redemption (Vader is Redeemed at the End)

So while the story mimics the original trilogy it does it without you realising that’s what it’s doing. With the added role playing element it effectively lets you play through the original trilogy as a character YOU control.

Star Wars All Grown Up

Some of the praise being lauded on The Last Jedi movie is that it showed a grown up version of Star Wars. Heroes don’t exist, Redemption is a myth etc etc.

I think KOTOR was a grown up Star Wars without resorting to just breaking Star Wars themes. Sure you could play a version of your character who was Evil but even still the game took careful steps to show you how one would fall to the dark side. First the Jedi went to war to defend people, they needed power to do so and that quest for power corrupted them. They took steps to show what a true “seduction” to the dark side meant.

Themes of slavery, native rights and ends justifying the means are all dealt with in KOTOR but with respect. The Wookie Planet is a great example of this, while your initial instinct is to side with the Wookies and that the Czerka Corporation is enslaving them, the game takes it’s time to reveal to you just how many Wookies are in on the slave trade. Selling out their relatives and family for a few bucks.

It’s a powerful reminder that there is evil on both sides of any conflict. While of course as a “Light Side” Jedi I helped free the planet from Czerka the game does a good job of showing how in many ways the Wookies are to blame for their own problems.

Compare that to The Last Jedi where the giant Casino city is demolished to free a few CGI horses and somehow freeing those horses at the expense of human lives in a war for survival is seen as “worth it”. (K sorry last criticism of The Last Jedi I swear).

Characters

I write this in every review but KOTOR has some really memorable characters:

Carth comes off as an annoying paranoid soldier but his story really makes you think of all the soldiers who volunteer to join the Empire. It’s one thing to think of a Jedi “Falling” to the Dark Side, it’s another to think of the everyday soldiers who watched their mentors, friends and family turn on them.

HK-47 remains an absolute treasure, in many ways he became the mascot of the franchise. A sarcastic assassin droid who refers to humans as “meatbags”? Sign me up.

My one complaint is some of the characters are a tad dull, the young scoundrel Mission comes off as insecure and bratty and really once I left the first world I never used her again.

Canderous gets a bit tiresome after you’ve heard 4 stories of “war is amazing, being a soldier is honourable and sometimes civilians.” The writers seemed to not know where they wanted to fit Canderous, often flipping between war criminal and cool guy you’re supposed to want to talk to.

Lastly Jolee Bindo is perhaps the best character in my opinion. An Ex-Jedi who left the order after his failed attempt to train an apprentice led to her turning to the dark side and killing many more Jedi. Bindo was left stunned when the Jedi Council tried to promote him instead to Jedi Knight where he felt he deserved punishment.

The conversations with Jolee allow for an actual examination on what the Jedi as a Star Wars universe staple are. What does being a Jedi really mean, are they necessary etc.

Gameplay

I really loved the Real-Time/Turn Based Hybrid. locking in your attacks to then sit back and watch the fight happen gave a really cool cinematic feel to the game, like you’re watching a Lightsaber fight that’s been choreographed beautifully. Compared to other action heavy games where your weapons just seem to unnaturally wave at people (looking at you Jedi Academy).

The dice system can be a tad tricky. Basically any task you want to complete the game rolls a virtual dice and adds your “modifier” (comes from items, skills etc). It’s not bad for a simple thing like your roll to hack a computer but some of the bonuses start to get really confusing. My armour gave me 21 defence total but Jolee with no armour had a 25, and it didn’t really explain how he was getting that number.

The iPad port is pretty brutal for the mini games. Trying to shoot fighters out of mid-air or complete a swoop bike race is pretty annoying because the iPad requires you to both swipe and tap. It’s not the game’s fault but it’s just annoying.

Stray Observations

-The graphics are funny to look back on now, every 5th character has the same face.

-I loved the blurred line between Fantasy and Sci-Fi, where else can you have Dragons and Droids exist in the same universe?

-Customisation is amazing, I loved that you play as a single lightsaber, dual lightsaber or the kick ass “Darth Maul” lightsaber. You could even do a play-through using only a blaster pistol, it’s all up to you.

-They needed a few more reasons to bring along other party members. The Jedi characters are just too overpowered with force abilities. Why would you not bring them.

-I remember the BIG revelation the first time, I was like 13 and it blew my mind. I read a bunch of stuff later about how people saw it coming and yeah I think if you were smart they made it pretty clear but I’m curious now if anyone who hasn’t played it would have the same experience as me.

 

Game Review: Examining What Remains of Edith Finch

Title
Zack Layton "The New Hire"

As I look back on 2017, I can easily say that it has been a rollercoaster full of excitement and letdowns within the gaming industry. We got more detailed open worlds, creative multiplayer content, and we were finally able to “fight the system” and prove to gaming companies that we won’t stand for loot-boxes (I hope you can sense my sarcasm in that).

However, besides the drama that occurred, as I look back at the one game that stuck out to me the most, I have to be clear that it isn’t Breath of the Wild or Mario Odyssey, (I know, It’s a shame I’m not a nerd band wagoner right?). Instead of these over hyped video games, that were pretty much a let down for me, my number one game of 2017 is a walking simulator. Are you still reading this or has your gaming ego been bruised?

I need to start by prefacing that I play games for narrative content. As much as I love Rocket League or Call of Duty, I invest my time on games that will force me to feel emotions and to be “moved” because at the end of the day, isn’t that what makes us human?

Story

What Remains of Edith Finch is a collection of short stories about a cursed family in Washington State. Each story offers a chance to experience the life of a different family member with stories ranging from the early 1900’s to the present day. As you progress through each story, you understand the life of each family member in an intelligent and thought provoking way.

What Remains of Edith Finch, might just be a walking simulator in the eyes of some, however it is so much more than that. It flips the genre on its head by adding gameplay elements that you didn’t think would occur in the genre.

One story includes a segment in a fishery, cutting up fish and getting used to the mundane task since the character is bored of his life. While that occurs, the gameplay changes by adding an adventure element because the character starts to daydream. With the left joystick, you need to keep cutting the fish up, while at the same time, using the right joystick, to take your character on the specific adventure, while the narrative continues. It was a breathtaking, creative approach to add excitement to the genre. Of course, this does not end well for the character since these are tragic stories.

Themes

The overall theme throughout the game is death and if you are looking to experience an existential crisis to make you rethink your life choices, this is it. I don’t want to divulge too much of the game, for spoiler purposes, but it’s full of moments where you know exactly what is going to happen, but pray that it won’t because of how dreadful it is.

The game forces you to face these real life situations that make you question what the meaning of life really is. It also doesn’t spoon feed you on which emotions you need to feel. It’s intelligent and doesn’t make the gamer feel stupid because of that. I don’t usually like to compare, but to get the emotional depth of this game; it’s like experiencing the famous Giraffe scene in The Last of Us, over and over again with different elements.

Multiple Playthroughs

It’s rare for a game to keep me wanting to play it over and over again and I can easily say that after my tenth play through, that there is still the desire to dive back into the world of What Remains of Edith Finch. Even though it’s labeled as a walking simulator, it brings new depth to the genre and I know that every gamer will enjoy this for years to come. I’m barely skimming the surface of the story, but it makes every gamer experience something that not many games nowadays achieve: emotion.

Thank you for reading this and if you have any thoughts, please comment below. I would love to hear what games you loved/didn’t love.


			

Game Review: Divinity 2 is a Gift From The Gods

Darcy Selke "Editor In Chief"

I had never played or even heard of the Divinity franchise until about a month ago when a few Dungeons and Dragons streamers I watch were praising the new game. I picked it up on Steam during the holidays and I got to say, I wish I had played it last year because it probably would’ve cracked my top 5 of 2017.

Divinity 2 feels like a Dungeons and Dragons game brought to life through visuals vs other games which feel like Video Games inspired by DnD. I’ll get into it more later but I want to be clear I’m not saying Divinity 2 is a better game than Baldur’s Gate, or Pillars of Eternity or even Dragon Age merely that it nails the “feel” of a DnD Campaign. So if you like playing tabletop RPG’s I HIGHLY recommend Divinity 2

Back To Basics

Divinity does all of the traditional RPG elements very well, and just for the record, I like my RPG’s traditional. They have a robust character creation menu, including an “undead” version of every playable race. All of these races, classes etc have different abilities and drawbacks which are all common things including, *gasp* characters reacting to you if you’re undead?! I love it.

The class system is always something I heavily focus on. I don’t really like games where you’re either a Mage, Warrior or Thief. If 90’s games figured out how to have a big class base you can too. Divinity has enough classes that I really had to think about what I wanted my character to be like. Right now i’m playing a stuck up Rogue who was a former Aristocrat (oooo so much roleplay).

My one gripe is that the NPC’s can change their class whenever you pick them up. It’s sort of a Fourth Wall breaking moment when the mage you met at the beginning of the game says “I can be a magic user if you want, or I can also be a fighter.” It’d be like if in Lord of The Rings Gandalf died and Aragon just said “No problem guys, I’m a caster now” and started doing magic shit.

 

A Team RPG

This was what drew me to Divinity in the first place. The idea of actually forming a party with friends and completing the campaign and the game keeping it’s role playing elements? That’s amazing! I witnessed an NPC die and my character had a completely different reaction than the two characters my actual friends were playing with.

It’s what games like Diablo lack, sure you can play with your friends but all of those character are just blank slates, there’s no “role-playing”, no choices or morals. Star Wars: The Old Republic tried this in their MMO but your characters didn’t really interact with each other, you just got to watch while your friend interacted with an NPC.

So let me reiterate this for any game makers that may be reading, MAKE MORE GAMES WHERE MY CHARACTERS INTERACT WITH MY FRIENDS.

Story

This one is definitely on me for not playing or even reading about Divinity 1 before playing its sequel but I have to say the story is a little confusing right now. All I know is my character is a fugitive who was captured by magic haters and brought to a prison island? I don’t know why my character is a “Sourcerer” considering he’s a Rogue but I’m sure that will all get explained quickly.

The dynamic of them hating magic users because magic people bring terrifying monsters is actually brought with some nuance. Whereas Dragon Age 2 made mage hunters just assholes who get off on killing magic users, Divinity at least attempts some grey area.

The magic users aren’t hated because they’re magic users, they’re feared because they unwillingly can bring these horrible monsters to them. Dragon Age 1 actually had a lot of the same moral questions except they ruined it in the sequel when the mages ended up CHOOSING to ally themselves with the Demons and the Templars went after people who weren’t mages…

Ugh sorry, side tracked..

Anyway, Divinity’s story so far is engaging and there’s plenty of characters to sink your teeth into and they make sense, unlike a certain Templar from a game that shall remain nameless…

 

I’m going attempt to get deeper into the game and even try out their campaign manager mode which sounds basically like I get to run an Online Dungeons and Dragons Campaign (yes please!)  It’s a solid game so far and I think anyone who likes traditional RPG’s will not be disappointed.

Stray Observations

-The art work is a little too “cartoon-ish” for me, everyone’s thighs look like tree trunks.

-This might be the only fantasy world where elves are cannibals, I don’t know how this came up in their writers’ meetings but it’s definitely an interesting spin.

-I wish there was a little more to the levelling system, I want to play a rogue who users a single sword like a swash-buckler but the game rewards dual-wielding too much for me to say not to two daggers.

-I can’t believe how impressed I’ve been with Kickstarter games recently, I don’t know if they’re not making enough money but AAA Games needs to get back on these types of narrative driven games.

 

 

 

The Last Jedi Review

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– Darcy Selke

Yes it’s true, The Last Jedi is not a video game but really if a video game blog can’t talk about the biggest movie of 2017 what’s the point of having a blog at all?

I need to get this all out because for the life of me I don’t see what people like about The Last Jedi. It seems I’m not alone as Rotten Tomatoes hasn’t been kind to The Last Jedi but I need to just purge this from my system. I wanted to like The Last Jedi, I really did but this movie just was too bizarre and unfocused for me to get on board.

I can’t decide if it’s the worst Star Wars movie or if it’s just so difference it looks bad in comparison. So let me explain specifically what I didn’t like about the movie and I’ll give a shout out to things I did like, so with that being said…

SPOILERS AHEAD

The Bad

The “Humour”

My once favourite character Poe Dameron makes a joke about sleeping with the evil General’s mother. It just doesn’t fit Star Wars to have a “yo momma” joke and I don’t see how anyone can say that it does, it was such a reminder that I’m watching a movie, total fourth wall breaking moment.

Every scene between Kylo Ren and Rey had weird moments where a “joke” was insterted. Kylo Ren has like a “Seinfeld” moment where he tries to understand if Rey can see him and he starts talking really fast like george Costanza and Jerry.

Later Rey asks Kylo to put a shirt on during there talk because his rippling chest is too distracting.  It made the movie really hard to take seriously because none of the characters seemed to take themselves seriously.

Swolo

I get that Ren is supposed to be a new kind of villain, but constantly poking fun at him really makes the movie lack any credible villain. 

There’s plenty of moments like this which leads to my next gripe

Tone

The Red Letter Media review of Star Wars Episode 3 makes this point perfectly so if you haven’t watched that review before I can’t recommend it enough. Basically Episode 3’s opening scene is a mess of tones between like a buddy cop film, slapstick comedy and action. The opening scene of Last Jedi has the same problem.

Poe Dameron has his weird comedic dialogue with General Huxton about doing his mom which then leads into a super dramatic and desperate space battle where the viewer is supposed to feel the emotional weight of these pilots sacrifice.

This goes double for the Luke Skywalker scenes, the movie wants Luke to be this grizzled, depressed hermit who’s done with everything but constantly punctuates these scenes with weird fish nuns having there homes broken, and Luke drinking some weird blue milk straight from some space monster’s boob. I can safely say I never thought I would see something so weird in a Star Wars movie.

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Pictured here is hero Poe Dameron NOT doing something weird. 

 

Weird Character Arcs

I’m just going to lay these out as easily as I can.

  1. Finn and Rose’s entire “romance” came out of nowhere. When Rose kisses him I literally had felt 0 romance between these two before. Compare this to Han and Leia in the Milennium Falcon when Leia is struggling to resist Han’s charm.
  2. The Rebel General doesn’t tell her troops their plan and just hopes that they blindly follow her, despite the fact they’ve lost almost everyone in the rebellion and are all losing hope. It’s never explained why she kept this a secret other than to create a reason for Finn and Rose to have to leave.
  3. Snoak just  sort of crumpled as a big bad guy with 0 explanation as to who he was, how he found Kylo or how the First order ever got this powerful in the first place.

So yeah to some it all up this movie just sorta seems like a mess tonally and I’m not trying to compare it to other Star Wars movies, I think the movie was just weird as a movie and I couldn’t take it seriously because it kept undercutting itself.

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Pictured here: The universe’s worst general, who for some reason fanboys are glorifying as a feminist icon? 

 

The Good

Something Different

So my number 1 gripe with The Force Awakens was that it was just a remake of Episode 4. I was really worried that Episode 8 would be a remake of 5 and I would basically just have been tricked into watching the same trilogy twice. So I give Rian Johnson credit, The Last Jedi is like no Star Wars movie I’ve seen before. No Lightsaber ever hits another Lightsaber.

Most of the Characters

So despite the fact the attempts at “humour” didn’t really work I still think as a character Poe still works really well. He works as a Han Solo lite except there’s at least another character who is trying to teach him something. He emerges as a true leader without them stamping out the “independent” aspect of his character. It works really well.

Rey and Ren have a cool sort of story and there is the moment where you really are guessing who is going to flip and join the other one. I didn’t mind Rey’s back story with her parents being no one and Daisy Ridley once again brings a lot of charisma to her performance and I think Ren is a good villian. I say “good” because just too often I couldn’t take him seriously, he’s a child which I think is the point but I don’t know it just doesn’t strike the right chord with me.

Rey and Ren.jpg

Probably my favourite part of the movie was the one moment where I thought these two were going to team up. 

Luke’s character had a lot of really good moments. I loved the scene where he talks about how the Jedi really are a bunch of fuck ups, and the Empire arose because of their hubris. My only issue is I don’t think they got the payoff right, Luke sort of stumbles onto his final sacrifice and I still don’t really understand why he had to die. I get thematically why they did it, but I think it would’ve been a lot better to see Luke kick some ass as an old man and sacrifice himself physically vs that weird projection thing…

Fixable?

Usually when I watch a movie and I have this reaction I try to think of constructive criticism, things I would change.

Luke Skywalker

It was tough to watch what Luke Skywalker became in this movie. I get that it was something new, BUT you are talking about the hero of the original movies. Yes no one stays a hero forever in real life but I don’t know even after Luke’s sacrifice I was left sitting there thinking…that was it? Luke was on my Mount Rushmore of Childhood heroes with Spider-man and Samwise Gamgee. People who did the right thing because it was the right thing. This movie dragged him through the mud a little bit and while I respect the decision, I didn’t like it.

 

No more jokes

I can’t stress this enough. The movie just needs to take itself seriously. Way too many times it seemed lie this movie actively did not like Star Wars. It was a parody of Star Wars or was making a point about how you shouldn’t like the original Star Wars.

The very first scene starts with Luke throwing the lightsaber over the cliff, I get the point of what that symbolises. This movie is different, Star Wars needs to change etc.. except jeez that lightsaber should represent everything to Luke, throwing it away for a cheao laugh just felt bizarre.

 

So if you liked The Last Jedi i’m curious as to why. I saw a little of criticism about how it “ruined” established Star Wars canon and I guess it challenges some of it, but a lot of that canon was built up over 30 years of books, video games and more.

For myself I guess the point of this article was for me to reflect on it because I’ve never left a Star Wars movie and thought..that’s it I officially don’t care anymore and I did this time. I felt like the 3 hours was just a giant stop gap where nothing was accomplished, I was confused, bored at times and I guess I really no longer care about these characters and I’m not sure why. It’s a very weird thought to end on but hey, this movie was really weird.

 

My Top 5 Gaming Moments of 2017

Okay so I was going to do a standard “best games of 2017” but honestly I didn’t have enough money to play enough 2017 games so that list would’ve been pretty small. Instead, I wanted to talk about my personal best moments. Anything from moments in campaigns that meant a lot to me, stories that I think helped define 2017 gaming of anything else I can think of. So without further ado here we go!

Overwatch’s Uprising Event

I’ve written a few times about Overwatch in the past, mostly about how professional “Meta’s” make online matchmaking worse and how games like Overwatch are adding too many characters and upsetting the balance. “Uprising” represented where I think Overwatch should go. Instead of constantly tinkering with the competitive aspect of the game, the co-operative campaign event offered a Overwatch players something entirely new, actual story.

The event let you play as either any character you wanted or, play as an Overwatch strike team made up of Mercy, Torbjorn, Reinhardt and Tracer. The event told the story of the robot rebellion that dominates much of the in-game lore. I played it non-stop for almost a full month and loved the narrative backstory it gave the characters.  Overwatch has such an impressive cast of characters, they really should work on the dynamics between them.

Torment Tides of Numenera

I know I’ve only played the game for a few weeks now and my initial impressions have been…less than stellar but I like to give credit where credit is due. Torment takes storytelling seriously, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Combat is almost irrelevant because there six different ways to get what you want before ever having to fight anything.

The characters are all interesting and I find myself constantly struggling to decide who to keep in my party, that’s about the biggest compliment I can give an RPG. They brought in real writers to actually write for the game, instead of having artists or programmers try and it shows.

The game has drawbacks, it can be confusing to be placed in this world where everything is a jumble of sci-if and fantasy. I also always resent not being able to customize my characters, The Last Castoff can change his/her outfit and weapons but the appearance remains the same. The other characters all wear the same stuff too and I just wish there was a little more meat on those bones.

Space Battles in Battlefront 2

Yes I’ve written about Battlefront for three weeks straight so I won’t waste a lot of ink here but the space battles really are amazing. Flying through trenches to blow up a shield generator as a TIE fighter screams behind you makes you feel like you’re Luke freaking Skywalker. All of the other stuff is still there, Loot Crates, annoying progressions, all of it is bad, but I defy anyone to avoid laser fire while blowing up a Star Destoryer and tell me it’s not fun, I double dog dare you.

First Game of HOTS with a Full Team

Heroes of the Storm has been around before 2017 but I only started playing this year. Playing a MOBA with just your friends always makes it more enjoyable and HOTS is no exception. It makes everything better, you can plan team fights better, your team make ups are more complimentary and you can always chirp the one friend who can’t stop dieing (me).

I’m curious to see what happens with HOTS in the next year. I worry it’s going to go down the DOTA-road and just keep adding characters until the game is almost impossible to balance. Every patch will need adjusting to as the new heroes seem over-powered and then I’ll just stop playing. I hope I’m wrong though.

The Trouble With Streamers

Twitch

I don’t watch a lot of streamers, I enjoy playing games more than watching others play but it’s undeniable that streaming has become one of the largest components of video game culture. This year however we saw the world’s most popular streamer Pewdepie cause the industry to look at how they have treated streamers.

After several racist outbursts, game makers demanded he stop playing their games. He got a lot of support as people cited free speech but I think that arguement only applies once. If you make a mistake and say something you acknowledge is wrong that’s fine, if you do it multiple times, you’re not really learning anything are you?

It’s why i’m hesitant to stream, not because I’ll say something racist or bad but because there’s so much you can’t control. Other people can come on your stream and just ruin it, it’s not really something I look at think, “yeah that’s a good idea for me.”

 

 

So that’s it for my list, I realized I actually didn’t play too many 2017 exclusive games this year, probably because the Xbox exclusives were a joke so I’m hoping 2018 will be a return to form. 

Lastly thank you for reading. This started as a school assignment and I’ve really enjoyed writing this stuff. I’m hoping 2018 will be just as fun and I’m hoping Replay value can keep growing.