My Favourite Games of 2017: Day Five

It’s that time again. When we as a collective come together to write, read and argue about our favourite games of the year. Not wanting to break from tradition, I proudly present to you, my favourite games of 2017.

Now instead of boring you with a traditional list, I thought I’d ‘spice’ it up a little by writing a post about each game. Don’t worry, this won’t take long. I’m a busy man and let’s be honest, you guys have read enough about PUBG and why Hellblade is amaze-balls on this blog already.

 

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds

 PC – PUBG Corp

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I think I’ve finally found my forever game. Yes, I’ve said this before with games like Rocket League, Destiny and Overwatch, but this time I think it’s going to stick. Because even after nearly 250 hours of this ugly, buggy and at times downright infuriating mess of a video game……I can’t stop playing.

PUBG isn’t the prettiest game. It’s far from the most feature complete and it certainly won’t win any awards for polish. However its core concept is so perfect in its execution that it doesn’t matter. It’s proof that above all else, gameplay wins through.

The idea is simple: 100 people jump out of a plane armed with nothing but pants. The last person alive wins. It’s so simple that I can’t believe it’s taken as long has it has done to truly take off outside of the occasional in-game mod.

As simple as it is, don’t be fooled for thinking it’s short on depth. Far from it. Solo play delivers a genuinely nerve-wracking experience that is unmatched in the competitive online space; it’s a horror game masquerading as a shooter, and whilst it’s not the first to try this type of thing, it’s certainly the most effective.

Duo’s and Squads takes the game in a much different direction. Less tension inducing horror and more tactical squad combat. It’s a subtle difference but one that allows the game to offer two distinct types of play experiences without changing the games basic concept.

PUBG is going to change what online shooters are for the next decade. In much the same way that Modern Warfare changed how we play the FPS, Battlegrounds will surely have a similar effect on the games we’re playing over the next 8-10 years. And that’s a testament to just how utterly successful this game is at what it tries to do.

There will undoubtedly come ‘PUBG clones’. Many of them will look, run and feel better than Battlegrounds does, and I cannot wait for them. Because what PUBG gets right, it gets so right that I may never need to play another shooter again.

And so I’m pleased to say that not only is Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds my new ‘forever’ game, it’s also my favourite game of the year.

Surprise.

 

 

 

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My Favourite Games of 2017: Day Four

It’s that time again. When we as a collective come together to write, read and argue about our favourite games of the year. Not wanting to break from tradition, I proudly present to you, my favourite games of 2017.

Now instead of boring you with a traditional list, I thought I’d ‘spice’ it up a little by writing a post about each game. Don’t worry, this won’t take long. I’m a busy man and let’s be honest, you guys have read enough about PUBG and why Hellblade is amaze-balls on this blog already.

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Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

 PC/PS4 – Ninja Theory

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Here’s the thing about Hellblade. For all its technical achievements, incredible moments and it’s emotional weight, the moment to moment gameplay isn’t all that rewarding.

The combat for example, is a ho-hum affair. It’s not overly difficult, and at times it feels like it was added to give the player something to do whilst traversing the world; something to keep you interested whilst you move onto the next easy to solve puzzle or set piece. And you know what? When the rest of your video game is as good as Hellblade is, that’s okay.

As much as I enjoyed Hellblade, it isn’t a game I hear too many people talking about. In a year dominated by 100 person shooters and Robots with feelings, it fell through the cracks. And whilst it’s recently done well at the Video Game Awards, I think more people should give this game a look.

Why? Because in 2017 video games are slowly marching into a world where shorter, more digestible narratives are becoming a thing of the past. Hellblade is one of those games and it deserves your undivided attention. Not only for what it tries to do but also for what it actually achieves.

Hellblade isn’t perfect, and many would take issue with how it handles its core themes and conflicts, but in terms of putting you inside the head of a character dealing with the things she’s dealing with, no game has ever done it better. Traumatizing and deeply disturbing, Hellblade is a game that doesn’t flinch from its darkness. It doesn’t ask its player to watch as Senua’s world falls apart, it pulls them into her world and helps her re-build it.

Hellblade isn’t my favourite game of 2017, but it may well be the one that sticks with me the longest.

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What’s next for Battle Royale

Player Unknowns Battleground’s has taken the gaming world by storm, selling over 15 million copies in the months since it’s release, and breaking its own record for concurrent Steam players to boot. And whilst the PUBG train keeps rolling, I think it’s time we looked at where Battle Royale is going as a genre. You see, for all of PUBG’s incredible success (it shouldn’t be forgotten that this is still very much an unfinished game), I wonder if the future of Battle Royale is less in standalone games, and more as a part of a larger game?

Player Unknowns Who?

In the 6 or so months since Battlegrounds launched in Steam Early Access, the game has rocketed to the top of both the sales and concurrent player charts. It’s taken the gaming world by storm. It’s success so great that Microsoft saw fit to give them a place on their E3 conference stage, before announcing a console-exclusive deal that’d see them launch on XBOX One before Sony got as much as a sniff at the chicken dinner that is PUBG. Remember, this game is still technically un-released.

In the months since then, we’ve seen Fortnite developer (and PUBG engine partner) Epic drop into the fray with their own take on the genre with Fortnite Battle Royale; a slightly friendlier, less fraught take on what PUBG already offered. FBR (soz) has itself been a run away success, bringing well over 10 million unique players to the free-to-play game in the weeks since it’s release. So there’s little doubt that Battle Royale has a future.

So the question is, where does the genre go from here? Can PUBG and to a lesser extent FBR continue their impressive numbers, build on them and ultimately corner the market? Or will we see other players enter the ring?

100 Games Fall Out of a Plane….

Go into any publishers office right now and I guarantee they’re working out how best to market, package and ship their own take on Battle Royale. Or at least, they should be. Much in the same way that MOBA’s dominated the last half a decade, I expect to see Battle Royale game’s hit like a tonne of bricks in the coming 2-3 years. Some will be lighthearted romps, some will be directly placed as ‘PUBG Killas’ and some of them will be entirely different takes on the mode with, I dunno..rideable sheep instead of cars???

But where I think the vast majority of players are going to get their Battle Royale fix is in other video games. I’d be gob-smacked if in a few years every major FPS release didn’t feature a custom-built take on Battle Royale with their own core audience of fans, their own rule sets and their own unique takes on the genre.

And this is where the future of the genre is. In the coming years you’re going to be inundated with PUBG clones, each with their own ‘unique’ twist on what’s made PUBG so damn successful, but after we as a collective tire of hunting for that chicken dinner, we’re going to see those games disappear, to be replaced by shallower, more approachable takes on Battle Royale as a game mode, not a specialised game into itself.

And my only hope is that games like PUBG survive. Because for all its problems and issues, it’s one hell of a thing. And whilst the likes of Call of Duty and HALO can likely produce a smoother and maybe even better overral experience, I’m not sure it’ll ever be quiet the same.

 

 

 

 

Fortnite and PUBG

Anyone who spends as much time as I do reading about video games will be aware that a few weeks ago, Epic Games announced a competitor to the ultra-successful Player Unknowns Battlegrounds. Fortnite Battle Royale is a F2P take on the genre, and one that perhaps most importantly is available on console. Perhaps somewhat understandably, Bluehole (Epic’s engine partner and developer of PUBG) were somewhat aggrieved by this news, and promptly released a statement threatening legal action.

In today’s post I’d like to spend a little time talking about why it’s quiet clearly a blatant copy, why that’s entirely okay and why if I was someone who had handed over money for Fortnite, I would be a little pissed off right now.


Copy Cat

I’m not here to tell your if it’s right or wrong to ‘copy’ a game mode from another game; video games have been doing that for an awful long time, and truth be told, I think it’s an important part of how the industry grows. With that being said, it doesn’t take too much investigating to see that Epic have dined out on what makes PUBG so damn excellent, and incorporated it into their own game.

Now that’s not to say Fortnite is a carbon copy. It’s obviously got its own unique visual  style, it features a crafting mechanic that undoubtedly mixes things up and the overall feel is a lot less….serious. However the core concepts remain the same; Drop from the sky, encroaching wall of death, last man standing etc.

I believe Epic Games saw the successes its partner was having, and decided to dive in head first with a quick cash grab; launching a free version of a very popular game (that they helped develop), on platforms that their rival/partner had yet to launch on. Again, they’re entitled to do just that, even if it does leave a somewhat skeesy taste in the mouth, not least because they’ve been helping Bluehole with development of their game since before it launched in Early Access.

And I think all of that is okay. Is it a little messy? Yeah probably, but ultimately I don’t think you can lay claim to an entire genre, and whether or not that is what Bluehole is attempting to do, I’m not sure they have much of a leg to stand on. If I was being kind, I’d say their biggest issue was with how Fortnite Battle Royale is marketed, with Epic freely using ‘PUGB’ in that marketing, as well as the fact that the two were supposed partners – If I was being kind.

What Now For Fortnite?

The game launched a few months ago in an Early Access state. Nothing new there right? Well what makes Fortnite different is that not only are they charging for Early Access, but eventually the game *will* go F2P, meaning players are essentially paying for beta access to an unfinished game that’ll be free in a few months. Yucky.

Battle Royale mode is however is entirely F2P, regardless of whether you’ve bought into Fortnite Early Access or not. We know why this is; they want players, lots of them. Making it free on console and PC gives them just that. But I wonder if it doesn’t provide a big, hard, wet slap to the face of players who already paid money for Fortnite Early Access.

With the F2P Battle Royale pulling in some very impressive numbers over the first few days, will Fortnite-Prime itself survive? And if you’re someone that’s handed over money for the promise of what Fortnite could become, how are you feeling right now knowing that development time has gone into a mode that you didn’t pay for, and possibly didn’t want based upon what you original invested in?

I’m yet to play Fortnite Battle Royale. I’ve got it downloaded, and I’m eager to take a look at it. I don’t know if it’ll maintain its lofty launch numbers, but if it does well enough for Epic and ends up becoming defacto Fortnite, I think we’ll find an awful lot of people are left with a sour taste in their mouth.

 

 

 

My Month in Games: September 2017

My Month in Games is exactly what you think it is. A monthly look back at the games I’ve played that month and what I think of them. 


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Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds – PC

It should come as no surprise that I’m still playing PUBG. Anyone who follows me on twitter will know how enamored I am with the game that has for many people, become their go-to game. It’s still a tense, anxiety inducing horror show that leaves me both exhausted and desperate for my next more. And after 167 hours of game time, I don’t see that ending soon.

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Heat Signature – PC

I busier month than this would have ultimately forced Heat Signature off of this list, however with my life becoming ever more busy, my game time is slowly dwindling away. As such Heat Signature gets a mention; more so for my disappointment with it than anything else.

It’s not a bad game, it’s just not one that I wish to spend any more time with. And after Tom Francis’s previous game Gunpoint went on to become one of my favourite games of 2013, I can’t help but be disappointed with how Heat Signature turned out.

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Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle – Switch

Aside from having a really bad name, Kingdom Battle is a pretty great overall experience. Charming, colorful and full of challenge there’s enough going on to keep your occupied for well over 30 hours.

If you own a Switch, you owe it to yourself to play this game. And if you don’t, then it’s another in a growing list of games that should make you want a Switch.

 

 


And there we have it. My month in games. What have you been playing this month? Drop us a line in the comments.

What’s Got Me Excited: July to December

A few months ago I wrote about some of the games I was most looking forward to through the first 6 months of the year. Amazingly those 6 months have come and gone, and as such it’s time we delved deep into the recess of the video game release calendar to have a brief look at what’s getting me all hot and sweaty in the coming months. There’s no time to lose. Lets begin.


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Splatoon 2 (Switch) – July 21

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about the prospect of another new game on the Switch. However Splatoon 2 looks incredibly fun in its own right. I’ve left Overwatch behind to some extent, and I think I’m ready to see what this game…is. I didn’t play Splatoon, but Splatoon 2 is primed to dominate my time through the end of the year.

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Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (Switch) – August 29

So I’ve been thinking about loading up XCOM 2 once again. I’ve got that deep strategic itch and I’ve got to scratch it. In my head, I want Mario + Rabbids to do just that. Wether it will or not remains to be seen, but if it’s anything like what I’ve got in my head, it’ll be a welcome break from the norm for Nintendo.

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Destiny 2 (PS4, Xbox One) – September 6

I hate myself. I hate my family. And most of all, I hate my free time. Destiny 2, because who needs a social life.

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NHL 18 (PS4, Xbox One ) – September 15

I skipped over NHL 17 for reasons….but with some new additions to Franchise Mode, I’m ready to spend even more of my life watching people skate around after a small black puck.

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Cuphead (Xbox One, PC) – September 29

We’ve been talking about Cuphead for what feels like an eternity at this point, but finally the game’s launch is on the horizon. We’ve got a date and my wallet is primed and ready to throw money at this gorgeous looking game.

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Super Mario Odyssey (Switch) – October 27

It’s a new Super Mario game. I’ll buy it. Obviously.

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Star Wars Battlefront II (PS4, Xbox One, PC) – November 17

[space devoted to the Battlefront campaign we didn’t get] Continue reading What’s Got Me Excited: July to December

My Month in Games: May 2017

My Month in Games is exactly what you think it is. A monthly look back at the games I’ve played that month and what I think of them. 


Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds – PC

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PUBG continues to dominate my spare time, with its tense and utterly engrossing take on the open-world-battle-royale-shooter. I love it, I want to play more of it and that’s exactly what I’ll be doing once I’ve finished writing these words. It’s truly something special.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Switch

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I’ll be honest with you here. I’m not really a Zelda guy. Growing up I always prefered Mario’s adventures to that of Link and it wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I’d finished my first Zelda game. Fast forward 5 years and I’m beginning to appreciate what they’ve got to offer, maybe.

In the limited amount of time I’ve had to play this truly gorgeous game, I can tell they’ve taken the training wheels off. The incessant hand-holding of previous games has been banished entirely, which whilst I good thing, often leaves me aimlessly walking around Hyrule unsure of what to do next.  And you know what? At the moment that’s completely okay with me.

I’m going to finish this game, however I’m in no real rush to do so. The hardware is still super cool to play with, and Zelda is so absurdly large that rushing through it seems counterintuitive.

Batman: A Telltale Game Story Thing – PC

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Months after being assigned to the dark corner of my pc that I call the ‘to finish list’ list, I finally got around to doing just that with Telltales take on the caped crusader, and you know what? It was a-okay; another one of ‘those games’.

I’ll vow to never play another Telltale game again. They’ll get hold of another license I love, I’ll wait for a sale, I’ll play it and then moan about it but ultimately complete it and then we get to do this merry dance once more.

Nier Automata – PC

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I went in for Nier because I’d heard some truly great things about it. And whilst I don’t think it lived up to the hype entirely, I still had a truly fantastic time with it. The characters, the plot and the way the game handles narrative are first class. The way the game plays with your expectations, switches up genre conventions and keeps things fresh are a testament to how unique this game is.

Nier is a game I’ll remember for a long time. It’s a game I genuinely fucking enjoyed. It’s the sort of game I’d recommend to anyone who genuinely enjoys video games as a medium for storytelling. It likely won’t be my game of the year, but it may just end up being one of the games I remember most fondly as we move forward.

Overwatch – PS4

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After skipping over much of what was offered with Overwatch’s previous event: Uprising. I was eager to jump back into the worlds favourite shooter with the recently announced 1st anniversary celebration.

There’s no massive change to the way Overwatch works here, just a bucket load of new character skins, emotes, sprays etc as well as three much-needed maps for my favourite arcade game mode: 3 on 3. And that’s exactly what I want from Overwatch going forward.

This is how I’ll spend my time with Overwatch from now on. I love the lore they’ve created, I love the characters and I obviously love how the game plays. And whilst it doesn’t take up my free time like it did a year ago, whenever Blizzard hosts a special event, I’ll be back to collect new skins, buy Loot Boxes that make me feel bad about myself and generally just have an awesome time.