Do you ever wake up and just marvel at how bloody amazing this world is? Take something as simple as the smartphone, most of us own one and as we wander around bumping into street furniture, many of us take for granted the power we wield in our hand. Even something like making a video call to someone on the other side of the planet is now just a common thing. This ability that is just commonplace would have seemed like alien technology or some secret government project a few decades ago, imagine where we will be fifty years from now.
So why am I wittering about mobile phones and first world privilege? Because I often get this same sense of unfettered awe for the games we play these days and their increasingly complex nature. The first games were merely blocks of colour with some simple collision code. We now have access to vast open worlds, rich in content, dripping realism that would have blown my 16-year-old self away. With games like Cyberpunk and Red Dead Redemption 2 now impelling other developers to cast routine aside and embrace true innovation, it is exciting to think what games will look like in the distant future.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I was part of the press pack for the latest EGX in Birmingham this year. It was also my first time at the event, despite trying to make it as a punter for the last few years. I was booked into the Premier Inn for two nights and so had a chance to have a really good noisy around all of the shows many hidden corners. There were some big studios on site, showing off their hard work, but the indie section was by far the highlight of the show for me. You can check out my EGX article here. I would especially encourage you to have a look at the indie games that show we are not our of cool gaming ideas just yet.
Two of my most recent reviews both hold some striking similarities, in that I’ve been gadding around murdering rum folk with my highly capable female protagonists. Of course, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the last in the rebooted series and overall it has really impressed critics. For me, however, this final chapter (which I don’t believe for a second) unfortunately finishes on a bit of an underwhelming thud. There are some redeeming features that will certainly make it worth picking up in a sale or if you are a hardened fan of the series so far. You can check out my thoughts here.
Then we have the gargantuan Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the next game in this newly invigorated series from Ubisoft. Odyssey has scored very well in the mainstream media sites but has still received some criticism for the inclusion of microtransactions and paid experience boosters. This is an unfortunate blemish on what otherwise could be considered the best Assassin’s Creed game so far. Even with my review topped and tailed, I am still running around this truly stunning game, mostly agog at the visuals and still finding interesting things to do. There is also a lot of post-launch content to come, you can check out the video below to get a summary of this as well as my review here.
My latest review is for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, the annual offering from developers Treyarch and publishers Activision. While there is no single player campaign this time around, the three components that we do get are substantial and well refined. I think most people know roughly what to expect from the standard multiplayer maps but don’t write them off as a rehash: this is some of best competitive shooting available. The Zombie mode is both fantastic fun and packed with customisation that gives it surprising longevity. It is, however, the new Battle Royale mode that is the star of the show, offering what is by far the best game in this genre to date. Blackout runs so well it is hard to believe there are a hundred players running around the same map. Overall this a competent and refined Call of Duty that should keep you busy for months. You can find my full review here.
There is a reason that this month is becoming known as ‘Broke-vember’, on top of the already massive amount of games that have been releasing in the last few months; the flow now turns into a deluge. While not a PC game (yet) Red Dead Redemption 2 released on the 26th of October, to say this game has done well critically is an understatement. From what I’ve played so far the sheer amount of insane details and craftsmanship is beyond anything we’ve ever seen. Details like your horse's nutsack shrinking in cold water give you a hint at this. As you guys know, while I champion PC gaming here at Rigged for Epic, I also celebrate all gaming platforms. Red Dead Redemption 2 made me break my rule on day one purchases for the second time this year, (Spider-man was the first), I expect the world GDP dropped by a significant percentage on the 26th of October.
On the 13th of November Agent 47 will be setting out on his next murderous outing. Considering we very nearly didn't get this sequel to the 2016 reboot, Hitman 2 is looking extremely good. I got a chance to play it at EGX and it has certainly kept the insanely high calibre of level design we loved in the last title. This time around the game won’t be arriving in episodic form but will still be getting supported after launch with features like the elusive targets. These are missions in which you must use your intimate knowledge of a level to track and kill a specific mark. The best part is that these hits are a one-shot deal, if you fail they are gone forever. In a killer move by IO Interactive, Sean Bean has been advertised as the first potential victim in what I assume will be a long line of interesting targets.
Following in the wings of Hitman we have the highly anticipated (and increasingly controversial) Fallout 76. I think it is fair to say that Bethesda foray into the multiplayer scene has not gone down very well with some fans. Thanks to a friend who preordered the game I managed to get hold of a beta Code for Fallout 76, the last beta session that ran Thursday night. I will admit that on the back of all the reported problems, I booted up the beta with a healthy dose of scepticism. However, after playing numerous beta sessions with a few friends now I am becoming increasingly hooked on the game. That still doesn’t change the huge number of issues that still face the Bethesda’s flagship MMO-lite. Just this week, a gamer on Reddit laid out some pretty incredible claims about the way Fallout 76 runs. The post is here but basically, this game is wide open to hacks and exploits: there has already been a lockpicking mod created to prove this is a real thing. There are also some huge problems to overcome in both design and narrative implementation. I myself have seen a litany of visual bugs and gameplay issues, such as settings being reset every time I log out or enemies literally appearing out of thin air. All that said, I do love the look and feel of this Fallout map. There are just so many places to explore and each area has an air of mystery. Bethesda has also just addressed many of these issues saying they will add support for wide monitors, increase stash space and add push to talk options (maybe). I know, I know, these should all be in there as standard but it does feel like Bethesda are now coming around to the idea this game might need a lot more work than they’ve been letting on. If that translated to a price decrease I think it would help matters tremendously, but being realistic we all know that won’t happen. Please, for the love of Jobe, do not Pre-order Fallout 76. Wait until either myself or another reviewer has had a good look at how the game stands up on launch day, then you can make an informed purchase decision. You can check out some of my screenshots from the beta below.
Ok folks, I think that is about all for this month. Going forward I’ll be continuing to wander around in Red Dead Redemption 2 unwashed and sporting a beard that would put Brian Blessed to shame. Coming up I may see if I can shake the coffers and pick up Battlefield V, but my focus now will be Fallout 76 (if a code is forthcoming), Hitman 2 and then Just Cause 4 in December. How did Christmas sneak up on us so far again?! I hope you are all well and your gaming is awesome, whatever you are playing.