What’s this, the triumphant return of TWIG? Jon’s ACTUALLY been playing some games and paying attention to some gaming news, although there’s only one real story he’s going to talk about this week. Plus, some extended thoughts on the best game of 2015 and it’s super long tail/tale.
When people ask me (hey, it could happen!) what my favorite game in the last few years was, I’d say the Witcher 3 with no hesitation, the main game alone is worthy of discussion in a “best of all time” discussion, but CD PROJEKT RED went above and beyond with their DLC offerings post release. While Hearts of Stone is a shorter (10 or so hours) affair, it’s with the last piece of story DLC Blood & Wine that rekindled my love of going on the adventures of Geralt of Rivia one more time. This DLC even goes the the trouble of crafting an entirely new region for you to explore, the beautiful brightly lit Toussaint, far away from the dire and dingy lands of Novigrad and Skellige.
There are some neat changes to the character progression with the introduction of mutations, which is a separate upgrade path that has some extremely powerful enhancements you can unlock and by researching more of them you unlock the ability to equip more character abilities as well. In addition to the standard side quests, you even get the chance to play amatuer decorator as you inherit a villa you can upgrade and display some of your prized possessions, from armor to weapons and even some “classy” artwork. But in the end, it’s the amazing characters and story that propel this game forward, and even when I’m wandering the countryside looking to explore an unknown location I’m still just in awe of the world that’s been created here. I’ve ended my time with the Witcher 3 at nearly 170 hours of playtime, and it’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that I won’t be going on any more adventures with Geralt anytime in the near future, if ever.
I’d heard some good and bad things both about Watch Dogs 2, and as a prolific Ubisoft apologist, I compared the original game to the first Assassin’s Creed game, a solid foundation with some glaring issues I’d hoped would be addressed in a sequel. It seems like they’ve indeed addressed many of the problems I had with the first game, and while not the jump in quality from AC to AC 2, I’m still enjoying my time with it so far. First off is the setting, which has moved from a “generic” interpretation of Chicago to what “feels” more like an accurate representation of the Bay Area (with some caveats of course). The areas outside the main city feel a bit sparse and tacked on, but the city proper looks and feels right.
Also, the dour and frankly unlikable protagonist of the first game (spoiler alert he shows up in this game briefly) is long gone, and you’re playing a character with an actual personality and traits that make him seem like someone others would actually want to help out in his crusade. They also wisely give him some interesting hacker buddies to pal around with, and I found the banter between these characters much more satisfying. The gameplay itself is still your standard open world fare, although there are several weird design decisions, like the fact that your character is apparently a parkour master, but doesn’t know how to hand from a railing to shimmy to a balcony. Also, a few of the “hacker” tools seem a bit half baked, like the fact that you have two little robot buddies you can use to remotely hack, but apparently on the ground based robot can do a “physical” hack. Also, the game doesn’t seem to have an actual way to “disable” it’s online hooks, so I’m constantly being offered missions I don’t ever want to do, and up until my last play session people would randomly pop up in my world I didn’t really ask for, but I still can’t permanently turn off all the map points for this stuff which is really annoying.
Cool Story Bro
So there’s only one real story that was interesting this week: Nintendo finally “revealed” their new Switch console, and I’m not going to bury the lead here, I pre-ordered one as soon as I was able to do so (multiple in fact just in case inventory is a problem at certain retailers). This isn’t a recommendation that everyone should pre-order this, but as a lifelong Nintendo fan/apologist I’m resolved to the fact that this will be the console to play their games on and not much else. They still seems oddly obsessed with motion controls in a weird way, and there weren’t a ton of games actually discussed during their presentations, but I found a couple of titles I’m genuinely looking forward to playing.
I’m glad they confirmed Zelda would be a launch day title, as delaying that would not have bode well for the console’s launch. They showed off the controllers and it’s features extensively, including the fact that it has an IR sensor and “HD rumble” which I have no idea what that means. These accessories are a bit pricey but with Nintendo’s build quality on their products I’m fine paying a bit of a premium since their stuff has NEVER broken on me. Aside from Zelda, they announced a new Bomberman game with up to 8 player support, which I’ve been wanting since hearing mythical tales of Saturn Bomberman for years now. Also, getting a version of Puyo Puyo Tetris in English that I can play on the go will be nice.
Now onto my concerns, of which there are a few, first being the battery life, which they’ve said ranges from 2.5-6 hours, depending on the game. This seems a bit low to me, and concerns me that they will release a new version in the next year or so that has a much improved battery. This seems more likely since the “guts” of this console are an existing product (Nvidia’s Tegra processor) that is continuing to be improved upon. Also, their online strategy seems to be just as much a mess as before, with introducing a paid service, but also indicating that all of the functionality will be done through a phone app, which is ridiculous. And let’s not get started on their “perk” of the ability to play an NES or SNES game for free for the month, but you don’t actually get to keep access to the game in ANY way after that month unless you buy it. It’s the constant two steps forward, one step back mentality that has frustrated me for years.
In the end though, it’s a new console and I’m excited for new tech, so I’ll wait with eager anticipation for March 3rd and hope that I can play some cool Nintendo games and only worry about the single platform going forward.