Age of Empires has been the staple of the RTS genre for decades. It is followed closely by Starcraft and the Command & Conquer series. Ever since, AOE came out in 1997 and garnered a fanbase that could not be erased by time. Over the last several years, developer Forgotten Empires was tasked with creating definitive editions for the 3 games made by Ensemble Studios. However, something was different with the release of the new AOE3 Definitive Edition this year.
In an unprecedented move, FE decided to effectuate what can only be described as a minimum effort PR stunt. To understand the context, we first must understand some concepts from AOE3.
Unlike previous games in the series, AOE3 gained its uniqueness from a mechanic that cannot be found in any other RTS game. This is known as the home city. Each civilization has one, and it is your base of operations from your homeland. They act to give you reinforcements and benefits as you progress not only through a match, but through multiple playthroughs. They serve as a means of progression so that every match feels like you’re continuing towards an end goal. This will be important for later.
The base game came with 8 European civilizations. Its first expansion, the Warchiefs, came out almost a year later to the day of the base game. It featured 3 Native American civilizations. A year later, 3 more civilizations were added via the Asian Dynasties expansion. Furthermore, there are 22 “minor” civilizations within the game. They’re mostly Native American or Asian, that you can ally with in certain circumstances for benefits and reinforcements. Its similar to the home city as a game mechanic but more focused on your specific match.
For the definitive edition, FE took it upon themselves to correct “stereotypes and inaccurate representation” within the game. This would be fine by itself. But the absolute bare minimum effort that was put into this policy is what makes it clear to be no more than than a marketing ploy. The game was now up to 16 official civilizations. With 2 new ones introduced in the DE, there are plenty of stereotypes and inaccuracies to go around. However, FE only decided they would correct 2 of them. They changed the name of the Sioux civilization to Lakota, and the Iroquois Confederacy to the Haudenosaunee. Why? To provide “Authentic and Respectful representation” and call them how they would have called themselves during the era. They also renamed a native american building, the Fire Pit, to the Community Plaza. And that’s entirely it.
Beyond that, the lack of effort is instantly apparent. One of the 9 campaigns within the game is entirely about the Iroquois Confederacy during the Seven Year War. They couldn’t even be bothered to change the voicelines from Iroquois to Haudenosaunee. So, there are still plenty of instances you’ll hear the “incorrect and unauthentic” original voicelines.
The same happens with the Sioux, though they don’t have their own campaign. They only show up in select missions during the Knights of Saint John campaign. They couldn’t even get the only two civilizations they changed right. Let alone the glaring disparities in all the other civilizations. For example, the Dutch would have called themselves Nederlanders during this time period, but that was overlooked. They’re also stereotyped in game as being good with money. One of their civilization bonuses is the unique ability to build banks. The worst offenders are by far the Asian civilizations. They are filled with stereotypes but didn’t get the PR stunt treatment. Why? Because Asia wasn’t the focus market for the game to be sold in.
If they wanted to bring more representation to the game? They could have easily done this via the previously mentioned Home Cities. All 8 European home cities had a high degree of customization that you unlocked as you leveled up with that civilization. However, the 3 Warchiefs civs, the 3 Asian Dynasty civs, and the 2 newly released DE civs do not have any customization whatsoever. This puts them at a severe imbalance with the original civs. Being able to customize your native tribe should be the bare minimum in helping with representation. As it stands there is a huge discrepancy between even the Swedish home city and the other Europeans who were introduced in the base game.
Oh yeah I almost forgot 2 important points.
There’s 4 native american civilizations in game but they only remade the North American ones. Because again south america isn’t the focus market. Though to be fair, 1 of the 2 South American civs were introduced in DE. But they play almost the same as the Aztecs who were the other south American civ already in game untouched.
Also, they hired one native american consultant. This one person is supposed to know the history of both the Lakota (Wyoming-SD area) and every tribe in the Iroquois Confederacy (New York-Great Lakes area). As if they’re going to be able to be experts on tribes who aren’t their own. This is the equivalent of asking a Korean to explain the history of Japan. Just because they’re Asian so they must know about all things from Asia.
Allegedly, Rage 2 was an endangered game until Avalanche Studios “rescued” it. I’m not sure that is truly the case. The shooting in the game is still the ultra-satisfying and fast paced action you expect from id software. It’s just too bad there’s this whole map and plot that get in the way of your enjoyment. How so?
If you like sand, you’re gonna love 80% of this game. There are spots that aren’t sand, and they actually don’t look as good.
There’s no designated aesthetic for Rage. It has been, and always will be, a combination of other similar games smashed together.
The draw distance on the map is dismal, and that’s on the Xbox One X version. And don’t get me started on their FOV slider.
Some games make you stop and stare in awe at the land before you. In Rage 2, I couldn’t ignore the scenery fast enough.
At least there was nothing distinctly terrible about the visuals?
I don’t always skip cut scenes on a first playthrough. But when I do, it’s usually another id software game. Like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, I regularly bypassed the plot out of sheer boredom.
The plot is too hard to follow anyway, the game expects you to just know stuff about the lore of Rage, which is something nobody has.
Did I even need a reason to shoot baddies? The game could have just said “here’s the bad guys, shoot them” and I would have had a blast.
But the game is so serious and the ridiculous action is at odds with the serious plot.
The plot also seems considerably unfinished, like it’s one third of a Far Cry game. And just like Ubisoft, they were keen to just litter the map with different stuff to do that earned you points towards being given story missions. One of which was a real slog.
This game was finished during a 3-night rental. Well, 4 nights total but I didn’t play it one night. I had to sort of force myself to plow through it.
Soundtrack sounds like it’s on autopilot. And even worse, there were times where it became grueling. Because occasionally the action music won’t shut off and continues looping.
I’m trying REALLY hard to remember any song in this game and I just can’t. I distinctly remember the Mutant Bash TV song being OK. But that’s because it was comical.
The guns and explosions are satisfactory. You can certainly feel the impact when you pull the trigger.
Voice acting isn’t bad. Not that I know that much since I skipped half the cut scenes. It’s whatever. It did the job bare minimum.
When you pick up items of any kind you hear the same exact “pow” noise every time. You also get a chime when you upgrade but there are many upgrades where there’s no sound at all. Really removes the “ooomphf” from leveling up your sh*t.
The sound FX are like a poor imitation of Titanfall 2‘s BOMBASTIC level up and weapon sounds.
Despite the open world feeling like more of a nuisance than a gameplay feature, it does leave a lot of areas to go to. And in all those areas are baddies and you get to shoot them. This game is at its best when you are shooting the baddies.
But seriously, id software has first person shooter mechanics down pat. It seems like Avalanche just used the exact same structure they did in their “Mad Max” adaptation, but let id do all the fine tuning.
The powers are fun, and while the challenge dramatically change, it’s not bogged down by any RPG elements. Each location just has a challenge rating, from 1-10, and I appreciate that you can just walk on in to a high difficulty area and still win if you’re good enough.
There are probably cooler guns, yet I spent the majority of the game with a heavily upgraded version of the starter weapon, the ranger assault rifle. And it never got old. Especially when upgraded to high capacity and faster fire rate. Why aim when you can shoot more bullets?
When this game is a shooter, it’s a great shooter. When this game is an open world sandbox, it’s a boring commute between combat sections. I almost would have preferred to just have a loading screen to teleport me to all the missions.
You know what really breaks immersion though? Having a pause menu that stutters and lags when you go from category to category.
Also the HUD disappears if you press the “Xbox” button. I had to do this frequently because I was capturing footage.
Despite all the complaints above, the actual combat just makes up for it in so many ways. It’s similar to Destiny in a way. They got themselves a great shooter that feels well polished, looks good, but lacks in story and creativity.
As stated earlier, this game was finished during a rental. By the time I finished, I had not done many of the side quests and locations to clear. If I had more time, I might be inclined to do them. But, it’s just not a $60 experience. That campaign is short and there are plenty of elements that keep Rage 2 away from greatness.
That’s right, I content that Metro Exodus is a survival horror game that occassionally becomes a shooter. I go over that in the beginning. But after, if I still have your attention, I have some nice tips for you if you plan on taking this incredible journey.
Legacy of the first blood has concluded with the final chapter, Bloodlines. In our last video on this, Chet went through a series of questions as to what was in store for us on this episode. Turns out, some of those guesses were true. Have a look and see what Chet totally called back in January.
Chet supports AC: Odyssey’s Season Pass. 3 episode DLC, a $40 game, and then another 3-episode DLC, it’s absolutely worth it.
It’s been a long time since the Feudal Japan era had some new skin in the game of gaming.
Tenchu was the king of the PS1 era. Then Ninja Gaiden stole the throne. And now we have a new challenger. Developed by From Software, of Dark Souls fame (and Tenchu for real old heads), Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a third person hardcore action RPG published by Activision. With a lot of similarities, many people have been comparing it very much to the Souls Series since its release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on March 22nd, 2019. Is the story, action and adventure worth the intense challenge?
Without question, Sekiro takes place in one of the most interesting worlds in video games, especially of recent. Vast mountains and beautiful landscapes turn from peaceful scenery to bloody battlefields in seconds. The development team at From Software definitely put their all into balancing the feel and look of the environments. But, even with all that effort, graphically it isn’t doing anything unexpected or dazzling. The character animations are mostly incredible, which is critically important for a precision based game. However, Sekiro never feels as stunning to look at as some of the other games released this generation.
Twists and turns galore in this adventure of how a lonely boy gets adopted by one of the most dangerous men on the planet. Actuallym it’s even crazier than that. It’s really a master shinobi adopting an orphaned boy and making him a master Shinobi. Then that new master Shinobi being tasked with protecting the legacy of the Ashina family. Seriously, the game gets so deep in the lore that its damn never impossible to really explain it without spoilers. All that needs to be noted is that the story is fire. 🔥🔥🔥 Need further validation? Every single thing you find in the world, key item or plain inventory, has a story attached to it.
It’s always important to remind oneself that no-one could ever truly say what the past sounded like. But, when a company makes their world so realistic that people are willing to debate the realism, they win. In this case the sounds in Sekiro win. There’s an immediate tension generated deep inside when the sound of a blade draw comes whirring out the screen. Or the way the blood splatter and gurgle just make skin crawl. The most important sound in the game however, is the giant roosters cooing. Those damn roosters.
Precision, Precision, Precision! Every single step in Sekrio: Shadows Die Twice is about precision. But unlike past games Souls games, the Wolf is extremely agile. And that’s what makes the game great. The precision strikes feel that much more satisfying when everything feels like it’s happening at mach speeds. On top of the standard gameplay most souls devotees are familiar with, Sekiro has a very strong emphasis on stealth. Shouldn’t be much surprise considering the game is based on the ninja (aka Shinobi) and samurai, but man did they nail it.
The single stand out super feature of the game is by far the prosthetic arm. In all its gadget filled wonder, it adds an additional element of action to the game. At times it’s easy to feel like SpiderMan swinging through the air with the grappling hook. Meanwhile, the various other upgrades bring elements from other incredible heroes and warriors to the forefront. Without spoiling too much it’s important to note that a lot of the upgrades can be missed entirely. In true Souls fashion however, these boss battles prove to be controller breaking tough. And your tiny little health bar leaves very small room for error.
Stealth crawl through tall grass. Hang off the ledge and shimmy across to the other side. Come up and stab samurai through his damn chest. Oh, not a fan of stealth? Hang on, let’s try a different scenario. Walk calmly across the battlefield. Make eye contact with samurai. Draw blade and assume posture. Block then parry samurai’s strong offensive. Slice samurai off balance and stab him in his face. How’s that? See there are so many ways to approach any battle in this game that all play styles work. Want to rush in to battle and take on three samurai at a time, feel free just strike with precision. Want to run across rooftops and drop down on unsuspecting monster size targets to avoid a long battle. Go for it.
It is incredibly easy, once you get the hang of things, to get lost in the captivating world that From Software has created for hours. Even the enemies that look the same all approach battles differently. Almost as if their personalities are on display just as much as their swordsmanship. Despite what the media is saying, this game is not terrifyingly challenging. It is for sure realistically dangerous. One wrong move and its death. That rollercoaster thrill is fun.
The quiet pairing of From Software and Activision created a game the world needed. The redemption of the ninja and samurai. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the unofficial spiritual successor to Tenchu. And despite all the games being great, except for Tenchu Z of course, this one ended up so much better. Sure, it might be a bit more challenging than the standard third person game but it’s worth the price of admission. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a must have for any gaming fan’s library.
Ubisoft and Tom Clancy have shared what is quite possibly the longest healthy relationship in all of gaming. Seriously, fact check it. And Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is the latest entry into this abstract marriage. Released on March 15th, 2019 on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC The Division 2 is a third person multiplayer squad based action shooter. Developed by Massive Entertainment, The Division 2 aims to be the improvement of everything that was great about the first installment.
The Snowdrop Engine looked amazing 3 years ago when it was first used on The Division. Division 2 however, is the first true example of what the Snowdrop Engine is really capable of. As soon as the game launches everything looks incredibly amazing, but that’s not the big selling point. The big selling point is the amount of control, even on consoles, the player has over the visuals of the game. Ubisoft’s proprietary engine allows for so much customization to allow anyone to set the games visual to exactly how they’ll enjoy it most.
The freedom and control the Snowdrop Engine offers coupled with the fact that the game looks great is incredible. Every animation, from person to animal to explosion, looks fantastic. Nature blends itself well into the concrete settings of post apocalyptic destruction filled D.C. Character movements look and feel astonishingly natural, especially for a game so tethered to online. Take some time to kickback and just enjoy the scenery. It will not disappoint.
Within the world of the Division exist a major crisis. It’s been a little over half a yeas since the initial infectious outbreak that brought down the U.S. And now things are reaching anarchic levels of bad. Members of the Joint Task Force have defected and left the white house completely vulnerable to the Hyenas and the Outcast. The worst has literally come to fruition and there’s a lot of work ahead to make things better. The story itself is great however the presentation not so much.
Being an online multiplayer game diminishes the value of the story and makes it really hard to feel like a part of it. Lines between campaign missions and side missions are very blurred because the real gameplay goal is to become stronger. Very rarely does the game stop and allow for the narrative to position itself upfront and center. The focus was clearly on gameplay and shoot’em up mechanics over narrative delivery.
The Division 2 has a very unique sound design issue. The world is designed to be chaotic and feel unsafe. However, unless there is a nearby firefight the visual fidelity makes everything feel peaceful, somber, and a bit messy. It has a post car accident feel. Everything looks like something really bad happened, but that bad thing passed. The emptiness of the world makes space a very lonely audio feeling. The good news is this ambience is nearly perfect for an online squad based shooter. Considering most of the sound will be the nonsense chat amongst the squad.
Third person cover based shooters typically suffer from inconsistent character behavior. Everyone whose ever played has fallen victim to being completely exposed to the enemy because the game misunderstood your cover request. Division 2 has not entirely fixed this but it doesn’t suffer as much as other games. Not sure why, but not complaining. Outside of that major genre flaw, everything in the game feels great. The dynamics of weapon modification is pretty cool even if it suffers from the online game issue of racing to higher numbers.
A lot of the tactics of understanding weapon mods is removed because the overall goal is to increase the overall gear number. That number represents the truest strength of the character. The controls in action are super tight and have a vast number of customization options to fit any play style. And the development team is being super supportive of the community, listening to request and complaints.
Despite being a multiplayer game, The Division 2 is still incredibly fun as a single player game. The squad based combat with friends online is hands down the best way to experience this game. However, the experience alone is just as fun, especially if you don’t mind the added challenge of doing it alone. The frequency of ammo and supply restocks make it feel endlessly exciting. The thrill of an even match against enemies keep the action nonstop. Are far as third person shooters go, there really isn’t anything on the market as exciting as The Division 2.
The Division 2 is an incredible sequel and an incredible example of “games as service” done right. The load times could be better, but once the game is loaded hours could fly by without feeling gaming fatigue. Although Division 2 is an online multiplayer game, it is accessible to anyone who enjoys single player third person cover based shooters. Simply put, save for the lack of narrative focus, this is a great game.
After years of speculation and rumors Borderlands 3 will be coming to a console near you. Gearbox and 2K confirmed the long awaited sequel at a keynote during PAX East. Although little information was provided at the initial announcement, Gearbox promised more in the near future.
Check out the trailer!
The next reveals will happen on April 3rd. And, Hopefully we get our bags filled with exciting Borderlands 3 news. In the meantime, true Borderlands fans can rejoice in the second major announcement. Borderlands: Game of the Year edition is will be available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. When? April 3rd. Why? Well because, why not and it’s getting some big quality updates.
For any newcomers to the series, Borderlands is a First Person RPG Shooter. Some fan favorite elements of Borderlands include a ridiculous range of customization and weapons crafting options and 4 player co-op. I mean who am I kidding, everything about Borderlands is a fan favorite. From the unique comic book aesthetic to the different play styles of each character to the amazing narrative. Borderlands is a series that is experienced not just played.
So it looks like it’s going to be a good year for Borderlands fans and the Gearbox crew. Are you excited for Borderlands 3?
Robots forgo hostile human takeover and settle for subjugating us by making addictive video games instead.
Ubisoft, has found a winning formula for their video games. We all know this. And they are sticking to it like a bear on honey. For one thing, almost any game from them will have an absolutely gargantuan map. That and an absolute ton of copy-pasted assets. These same games also follow a pretty simple formula. From Ghost Recon Wildlands, to FarCry, to Assassins Creed, your goal in the game is very simple. You open your map screen, there’s a bunch of things to do. You click on one of the things, and then you go there to do the thing. Then the game rewards you for doing the thing. Then it gives you some things and then unlocking more things to click on and go to.
This “carrot on a stick” form of game design is utter genius. Many gamers, present company included, are perfectly content with these time-devouring opulent offerings. Ubisoft has never been more confident that they have a winning formula until now. Just look at their recent offerings. The Crew 2 is a game with a map that is vaguely the size of the entire USA. They loaded it up with a bunch of pinpoints full of races for different types of vehicles everywhere.
So it begins…
That’s why Ubisoft was proud to announce this in a recent PAX East interview. They want to take the design of their games to the next level. Starting production in May, Ubisoft New Jersey will start on their next Assassin’s Creed title. But this is no ordinary dev team, as Ubisoft New Jersey runs completely run by automation. That’s right, the dev is actually a smart AI called U.B.I.S.O.F.T. (Which is short for Universal Binary Interface Siumulator of Future Technology). Several UBISOFTs will be operating day and night to crank out the next edition of your favorite title.
Ubisoft producer Marc-Alexis Côté mused on this exciting event. “We already know how to make a game that everyone will want to play. We have it down to such a science, that we soon won’t need developers anymore. The UBISOFT AI is perfectly capable of replicating our formula. It has already designed the entire map of the next game. It’s 8 times the size of Odyssey”. When asked if this would decrease morale among the human developers of Ubisoft he was resolute. “Well, the elimination of jobs by robots is just part and parcel of living in a society.”
Right now, nobody, not even Ubisoft themselves, know what the plot of the next game will be. Not even the location. The robo-team at Ubisoft NJ will be performing its own internal company showcase. “Everything is so easy to make. Our AI team will be doing all tasks for this project. The script and the main character will be made by our robot friends. We’ve also asked them what they are going to do for voice talent. They said they’ll either hire somebody on their own, or they might even do the acting themselves! Isn’t that neat? They are so smart they literally don’t need any humans to help them make this game work.”
By the way, this interview? It was also performed by the UBISOFT AI. They used their network database of every Ubisoft E3 show ever. After, they constructed a hologram of Aicha Tyler to ask all these questions. The likeness was completely uncanny, including her saying really awkward things that made the entire audience uncomfortable. Digi-Tyler asked Marc if they even knew the title of the game, he admitted something interesting. “We aren’t sure what they are calling this new project yet. But they’ve already presented several working titles based on the titles of other games on the market. It will still be called Assassin’s Creed, but the subtitle is either going to be: Redemption, Revolution, Sisterhood, and Revelations IV.”
Right now the UBISOFT is downloading all the assets used from every Assassins Creed game ever made and will be making slight modifications to them so they look newer. Another arm of the AI has already started distributing random pins on their map where they will eventually add quests to. Expect to hear more about this at E3 this year. The current one.
In case the slow dip into insanity wasn’t enough to tell you, this article is SATIRE. Seriously, Ubisoft New Jersey? C’mon, you know better than that. A simulation of Aicha Tyler? Really? Actually no that would be pretty cool.
“Controls are now crisp and fluid like diarrhea I had one time.”
The original Resident Evil 2 came out in 1998. That’s one year before The Matrix was a thing. Let THAT sink in. 21 years ago. The new Resident Evil 2 Remake is developed by Capcom R&D Division 1 and published by Capcom. The first game defined a genre of horror games and the sequel cemented it. But some really old games don’t always hold up as well as they did back then, and a full, ground-up remake is necessary. So, how is this one?
It has stunning updated visuals and state of the art usage of textures. These include but are not limited to:
A wet look on surfaces like tiles due to rain.
Flooding beautiful locks of hair sprouting from our protagonist’s head.
Lickers and their perfectly rendered lil’ buttholes.
Phenomenal facial animations and character models replace the old 90’s pixelated ones.
Instead of a camera that obscures and can’t be navigated, you can now enjoy the same over the shoulder camera you know and love today. With that, you really take in the atmosphere. Now this is how you remake a game! Everything has been re-imagined from the ground up!
If you like stories about:
Big shadow corporations
Labs hidden away in sewers
The usual sci-fi warning to us mere mortals as to what CAN go wrong the more we meddle with technology…
…then look no further! G-virus! Choose between 2 characters that experience the zombie outbreak via their distinctive perspectives and situations. Replay them to piece together more of what really happened in Raccoon City with 4 possible variations of the events!
The music and sounds definitely enhance the horror and gameplay/ atmosphere. Some tunes come on just to warn when certain enemy variants come into play. The voice acting and dialogue has improved so much since the 1998 release! Despite Mr. X having a straight up banger song play when he pursued you. The game did feel like it could have used more in the soundtrack department, but all the sound effects, each squishy tissue on the zombies was perfect!
So long tank controls and shoddy camera! Hello controls that are now [SEE ARTICLE SUBHEADLINE]. Explore the police station, solve puzzles, and be strategic with ammo and healing items as this game is survival horror. I do however wish there were more updates like a dodge or roll to evade foes. One boss battle in particular bothered me that he could throw things through walls and I had no means of avoiding it. Props to Capcom for making a character like Mr X, he could have easily broken the game, but didn’t, he was an awesome balance to the game.
Although a challenge and a bit of a learning curve, this game is fun! On my first playthrough, I was already ready to take on the final boss with just my knife alone! If I can survive the zombie apocalypse, so can you!
On the core, the game is still the essential battlefield experience. Chet is a relative newcomer to the series, he’s just not a hardcore fan. He may be missing something by not being a regular user. But, the rash of recent backlash and hate left him surprised. Now he feels like because the expectations were set so low, he liked it. That said, EA isn’t off the hook quite yet!
The release of Bethesda’s Fallout 76 has been nothing short of a complete disaster.
Terrible reviews (even from games media).
Abysmal user scores everywhere.
Old glitches that were never fixed.
Tedium, very little to do.
Ridiculously easy to cheat.
Canvas bag changed to cheap garbage.
Annoying map and compass layout.
And accidentally doxx’ing their own customers due to a hiccup in their pre-orders for the Power Armer Edition. Ouch. The UK sales figures are showing a huge drop in sales, a whole 80% or more down from Fallout 4. It’s not a good month for Bethesda. It must be an even worse week for Todd Howard. At least as of now, they are fixing the issue with the cheap bags and getting people what they bought.
I’m trying my hardest to play this game and enjoy it, but it is so fundamentally flawed, it’s hard to work up the nerve to carry on. This game doesn’t feel like an actual product. It’s at best either an early alpha. It feels more like someone tried to mod a survival game with Fallout elements. But this combo doesn’t stick so well. It’s… bad. You know it’s bad. We know it’s bad. Everyone knows it’s bad. Except for the concurrent user base who are still playing it. They can force their fun in all they want, it’s still not going to make it any better.
So, that’s a bad review, right?
0/2 GRAPHICS – Why does this game look and run so terribly even on the One X?
0/2 STORY – There is no story. What about player progression incentives? Nope. There is none of that either.
1/2 AUDIO – The new soundtrack is surprisingly soothing. But there’s nothing special about anything else.
0/2 GAMEPLAY – Realtime VATS. The inability to pause or be safe anywhere whatsoever.
0/2 FUN – It’s not. It’s really not. I can’t “MAKE” it fun either. Nobody is playing.
If you wanted a number, there’s your number.
But that’s not a real review. And that’s no way to go about it. So, no, that score doesn’t actually count, and we will review the game eventually. We are going to wait and see if Bethesda can fix this. Why? Because it’s possible. There’s been plenty of games that failed when they started and turned out great later on. We all remember the backlash Hello Games got when they released No Mans Sky. A lot of the features they said would be in there were absent. They didn’t say much about this.
Instead they put themselves back to work. Now we have a No Man’s Sky that has a lot more to do and suits many different playstyles. The same could be said of Destiny 1 & 2. Same for Final Fantasy XIV. Even Bethesda themselves had this with the original release of Elder Scrolls Online. Each one was pretty short and dry on content, but expansions greatly improved upon them. The same could be said of a large number of indie survival games.
That’s the boat we are in right now. Bethesda, your game is broken. Fix it. We’ll get back to you when you do.
By now I’ve found a missing person I’ve been looking for, killed a few “Templars,” found the lost city of Atlantis (sort of), and now have to win a war and compete in the Olympics. That’s right, I have four main quests to play on top of all the side quests I’ve been accumulating. The islands you can sail to in this game always have great side-stories that are totally optional. Now that I’m 44 hours in, I can safely say I might be done with one third of this game. Maybe. It’s possible. Give or take. The unfathomably popular Stealth/RPG (stealth optional) series developed and published by Ubisoft is now at its tenth main series game. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey adds even more elements to make it an even further evolution from the roots of the franchise.
This game is absolutely stunning, even on my sub-par Xbox One S. Stable frame rate, great coloration, variety, it’s all there at the baseline for a good looking game. What makes it look better is the sheer marvel of the whole thing. Ubisoft didn’t just make a few cities in Greece for their game. They made ALL OF IT. And it feels like they did, too. Everywhere you go there are gorgeous busts and statues, temples, altars, and residences that are all fully realized. I want to know where they got the time machine so they could take photos of Ancient Greece and use it as references for the designs. It’s the empire in all its glory. An absolute marvel to stand at the top of a mountain and look in every direction. In the distance, you can see all the ships in the water going about their business in real time. You can see other landmasses across the water and know that if you can go there if you want to. There… might be a few minor hiccups and glitches in some of the animation, but that is literally the only bad thing I can think of. And the sheer beauty and aesthetics more than excuse that.
I admit, at the beginning of the game, it’s hard to get into the plot. You are not really sure what you are supposed to be doing. The grand scheme of things is boiled down to simply leaving your home island to go on an adventure because you’re sick of being at home. There’s a goalpost, sure, but it’s far and not too tantalizing. This is definitely the type of game that you have to spend time with to get into the swing of things. The overarching narrative becomes far more clear well towards the 15-hour mark of the game. Once it does hit, it does so with ruthless efficiency. The way the game’s campaign works is the prime form of dangling the carrot in front of the player. It’s hard to imagine you would run out of things to do after being far enough in the game to really open up to the “go wherever you want” phase. Four main storylines. Every location story has its own stuff going on. I was on an island where I helped a young child make some friends while also meddling in “The Bachelor: Greece Edition”. Then I had to overthrow an evil ruler running another island ragged while hooking up with the sexy leader and her boyfriend if I so pleased. Hell, I had to take part in a gay orgy with a goat just to advance the plot. I’m not even remotely joking. A goat was involved. And Sokrates turns out to be the world’s first internet troll. Good times.
I’m going to mention one prevailing bug in the game that hurts the audio quality in a way. On a regular basis, around twice or more per hour, when you talk to an NPC, you or the character will interrupt each other mid-sentence and say lines on top of each other. It’s annoying. Some of the secondary characters don’t seem really committed to their parts, while other characters go full ham. The voice actress for the soundtrack gets old really fast. With such a big scope, I really, REALLY get tired of hearing the same music every time I open the menu. And the main “Assassin’s Creed Theme Leitmotif” is sprayed over every other song too. It gets old fast. I may eventually have to turn the music off and just play my own tunes or a podcast over it instead. Which would be great because I’m in the perfect setting to put my ｖａｐｏｒｗａｖｅ collection on full blast. But still, this is just the soundtrack I take issue with. The actual sound FX and quality of sound is tremendously satisfying. I will give the full grade because I’m being too personally harsh on the OST, even though it’s objectively decent.
There are many on the internet who say this game has become too action oriented. Sure, the formula has been changed, but it’s been heading this way for a while now. The fact is, you can still play this game stealthy if you want to. There are just more rules to it because you can’t assassinate people who are at a higher level than you. The majority of the EXP you earn will be from completing quests, not kills. So if sneaking in and out of an enemy base is your idea of fun, there’s plenty of that to be had. Yes, open conflict is a bigger part of the game now. It’s the play-it-your-way model that prevails. But everything in the game works and does accommodate for all play styles. Shoot everyone with a bow, bludgeon people with a hammer, death from above, and Sparta-kick your enemies of a cliff. There’s plenty of gameplay to be had here, as iterated above.
Ship combat makes a return to the game and I boldly welcome it as a delicious appetizer to sate my hunger for a good pirate game until Skull & Bones arrives. But that said, it’s a bit more minimalist than it’s predecessor, as there was less maritime war tech in this setting. They have also implemented a mercenary hierarchy that mimics Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system, but it is also bare bones by comparison. Hunting down a devious death cult is the replacement for the assassination quests, but you have to put in the legwork to identify who they are. There’s also a conquest mode where you can take part in a big fight between the Athenians and Spartans. You can also change whichever team you’re on for every battle. You can also fight mythical beasts from Greek folklore, because hey, why not? This all may make it sound like it’s quantity over quality. And to an extent, yes it is. But set in this game, it’s actually not a big issue, it just works.
And now for a bit of controversy. Ubisoft has no problem putting expensive microtransactions in their fully priced games. It gives them big money, they have a right to. However, as an experience, they nearly broke their goodwill on a portion of this game. That’s the progression system. In order to level up or afford things, you have to do more than just missions to get enough EXP to progress. You’ll have to do a lot of mundane-out of the way stuff like exploring caves and attacking small camps at question marks dotted all over the map. I found myself in a position where I was two levels too low to progress through the game because the game is harsh if you are under-leveled. Ubisoft remedied it by offering a buff that will get you 50% extra EXP and money for the whole game, including new games. You have to at least buy the 20 dollar helix credits pack to get this. If you don’t, the game can get very grindy. Plenty to do is one thing, being forced to do everything is another. I caved and bought this buff, and it feels like this is the way the game was supposed to be played. It seems as though this was intentionally done to goad extra cash from the player.
I am willing to forgive this transgression because it was on me to make that choice in the end. I could have bucked up and cleared out every single icon on the map to take the game nice and slow. But, be that as it may, I cannot stop playing this game. Even with the buff, I did manage to get myself into another situation where I was under-leveled. But I kept playing and playing and playing. I told myself I had to stop at 11 PM, then 2 AM rolls around and I’ve conquered another city. I am willing to accept that the price I paid to make this game more enjoyable is worth it because of the amount of fun I’m having with it. Before tax, I paid a total of $68 for the game with the helix credits. That is an acceptable price for this game. I don’t know if I will finish any time soon, and I’ve had plenty of time to play.