Pierce Pioneer

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrator

Even if you aren’t exactly a gamer, you might enjoy Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It offers a nice escape from reality, where players can explore and build their own island paradise, with the help of friendly neighbors. There’s a reason the franchise has been popular with adults and kids alike for years. There is something calming about the game, in which players can put themselves into an alternate reality and be in charge of what happens at their pace.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the latest in the popular Animal Crossing franchise from Nintendo. Available only for the Nintendo Switch, this game involves a lot of the same elements of the previous games: players arrive in a new land, find resources to use or sell, participate in events, and interact with anthropomorphic animal villagers. However, what makes this game different is that instead of arriving in a pre-built town, players have to create the town entirely from scratch, with the help of a Racoon named “Tom Nook.”

As a 13-year player of the Animal Crossing franchise, I have to say, there is definitely some significant progress from the previous games. For starters, the graphics are clearer. The villagers are finally able to move their pupils, whereas, in previous games, they would just turn their heads when walked by. Players can also see more detailed flora and fauna.

Also, the idea of building a town from scratch seemed like it would take a while. However, once players get the hang of the controls, it’s easy to navigate the island.

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrator

Speaking of the island, players can name it themselves, as long as the name’s appropriate. Alluding to my Scandinavian heritage, I named mine “The Fjords.” Learning how to find resources is straightforward, and once players take Tom Nook’s DIY workshop, resources can be used to make furniture and tools.

A new feature that wasn’t in the previous games is gifting. Building relationships with neighboring characters unlocks an option to give them presents when players interact with them. Sometimes, they’ll even give something back.

Yet another new feature is energy. Unlike previous games, eating fruit can give players energy, which can make them strong enough to chop down trees, uproot trees (which can be replanted later), or smash apart rocks. Players can have a maximum of 10 energy at a time.

In the game, there are locations players can unlock as they progress, like the museum, airport, shops, and a campsite. After playing for a while, buildings like the general store and town hall will go through upgrades.

At the airport, players can redeem tickets earned through an in-game point system called the “Nook Miles System,” head to “Harv’s Island” to take pictures at a photo studio, or visit friends via the Nintendo Online system. Players can also send postcards from the airport.

The in-game currency, “Bells,” can be confusing. For instance, players can sell a dinosaur bone for 3,000 Bells, but a giant teddy bear costs 8,500 Bells. However, Bells are easy to earn through selling items found on your island (or other islands), or, if in a pinch, can be received through “Bell Vouchers,” which are obtained by cashing in Nook Miles.

One thing that I’m on the fence about is the Nook Miles System. Even after getting the upgrade to “Nook Miles Plus” on your in-game smartphone, it takes a while to earn enough miles to cash in for rewards. A Bell Voucher (worth 3,000 Bells each when exchanged at the general store) is 500 miles, and a Nook Miles Ticket, which can be used at the airport to find resources on uninhabited islands, is 2,000 miles.

Although, in my opinion, Bells are actually a bit more complicated. Players can sell resources, furniture, and wildlife to earn bells, but prices are high at the stores on the island. A postcard from the airport alone costs 200 Bells. So be careful about how you spend your Miles and Bells!

My favorite part of the game, however, is the museum. When you catch a new species of bug or fish, or if you find a dinosaur fossil, you can take it to Blathers, the museum curator, and he will help you display your specimen.

Abri Wilson / Staff Illustrator

If you bring him something the museum already has, he will politely reject it, but offer to teach you some interesting facts about it. Even though the museum has an entomology (bugs) wing, Blathers is afraid of bugs, so players can get some pretty funny reactions out of him when they bring him a bug. 

Now, what really makes the New Horizons museum really great, is the facelift it received compared to the previous games. The museum is very fancy, complete with a butterfly room with a fountain in the middle, a walk-through deep-sea aquarium, and amazingly detailed fossils in the fossil wing. Unfortunately, there is no art wing so far, unlike previous games. However, the museum is still a favorite for both me and my brother, Nathan (“Nate”), who has his own character in the game. 

Overall, I would give Animal Crossing: New Horizons, 88%. While some parts of the game are complicated, and there are still hiccups to get through, it is a fun game, and a great way to relax during the stay-at-home order.

 

Pokémon Sword and Shield gives a fresh new take on a well used formula

The Pokemon Company / Courtesy Photo

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, the newest members of the Pokémon video game franchise, are two fun, engaging games that will inspire both seasoned players, and curious newcomers to ‘catch em’ all’. These titles are the first ‘traditional’ Pokémon games being released exclusively on the Nintendo Switch, and fans of the series will be delighted with what the games have to bring.

For those who aren’t familiar with the popular franchise, Pokémon is set in a world where the massive wildlife population, collectively known as Pokémon, hence the series’ name, are traditionally caught and trained by individuals known as trainers. These trainers attempt to take their Pokémon team to the top, by means of battle between the creatures, in hopes of being the best of the best.

Pokémon Sword and Shield represents this well-worn formula well, while also adding its own new take on the traditional trainer’s journey. While players explore the newfound Galar region, they will not only encounter many Pokémon they know and love, but also an assortment of brand-new creatures native to the area.

Anyone who’s played previous Pokémon games will be relieved to know that Sword and Shield manages to maintain the traditional control and turn based battle schemes, unlike the Nintendo Switch’s first Pokémon title, “Pokémon Let’s Go”, which received much controversy upon its release.

Detail-wary players may notice the games’ newer art style, which differs slightly from the design in previous games. The graphics are presented in an attractive, colorful manga reminiscent style, seemingly blown up into the third dimension, but with much more clarity than previous games. This is perhaps due to the fact that the Nintendo Switch, the platform upon which the games are exclusive to, has a much better resolution than any previous hand-held consoles that housed older Pokémon games.

One of the most anticipated new features of Sword and Shield is the option to ‘dynamax’ one’s Pokémon during battle. This new feature allows Pokémon to grow to a massive size, greatly increasing both their power, and general awesomeness factor. During a battle where dynamaxing is permitted, a player may dynamax one Pokémon for the duration of three turns. This new tactic will certainly play a key role in players’ strategizing during battle, as Sword and Shield will soon be the newest official platform for competitive gameplay.

Pokémon Sword and Shield is a promising successor to the many other games in the franchise, with the perfect mix of both new and familiar content. Wandering the extensive Galar region, long-time fans of the franchise will be excited to see how the locals have refreshed the usual trainer’s journey, and players just picking up their first Pokéball will have a blast battling till they themselves become the champion.

Since this has been written, Nintendo has announced new DLCs to be released in June 2020 and in Autumn 2020.

Student pursues running a ‘Let’s Play’ Channel

With hopes for the future, Reggie Williams wants to make fun content for everything gaming

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Reggie Williams

Williams is a Pierce College student pursuing a General Arts degree. But in his free time, he has guest starred on his friend’s channel, “Metal Jesus Rocks” on YouTube. Williams has recently started his own YouTube channel, “Radical Reggie.” His channel focuses on things like “top 10’s,” favorite memories of games, and their history with playing video games.

“People really liked me on his channel,” Williams said, “I’ve gotten a lot of fans, and now have about 17,000 subscribers.” YouTube channels typically start out pretty small, and though 17,000 seems small in comparison to creators like “PewDiePie’s” 53 million subscriber count, but starting in the thousands with one’s channel within less than a year.

Williams is unable to do “Let’s Plays,” a form of playthroughs where someone plays through a game in its entirety, but Williams has hopes in the future to get the equipment to expand his range and audience.

“I’m more into the older games, but I might try more modern games,” Williams said, “Right now, however, any footage a play of a game comes out chopped out.” Williams has used recording services like the PlayStation 4’s Capture mode, which allows people to record their gameplays and post them online. This service is far from perfect: pixelated footage, sound issues, and bumpy video has plagued this service for years. “I plan to get a good gaming PC, but for now I’ll work with what I have.”

Williams considers his gaming as just a side gig, he at first didn’t have a clear idea of what he wanted to do. But after trying out YouTubing, Williams found it far more enjoyable than he expected. He is inspired by the fans, who have seen the videos from his friend’s channel that featured him, and after getting some heartwarming messages encouraging him to do it, Williams finally started his channel.

“They said I came off as a nice guy,” Williams said, “Soon or later I said ‘why not?’ and tried it out.”

YouTube has had its fair share of negative commenters, whom Williams refers to as “Hecklers.” These people are generally seen as ones who say hurtful, insulting and inappropriate things just for the sake of it. Williams’s friend on “Metal Jesus Rocks” has deleted some of the worst comments, but Williams plans to simply ignore them on his own channel.

“What you do is you don’t feed those guys,” Williams said, “If you engage with them, you’re not going to get a sensible conversation out of them.” Williams is open to answering questions and having discussions with fans who do want a genuine conversation in the comments section.

Let’s Plays have gained mass popularity in the gaming community, ranging from the longer console playthroughs of “Achievement Hunter,” to the hyper-edited PC gameplays of “SovietWomble.” The appeal likely stems from less so the games themselves, but the entertainers’ comedic styles. “PewDiePie’s” humor is more vulgar and spontaneous, with wacky voices and silly moments he gets himself into. Whereas “Achievement Hunter” is more energetic, and benefits from the unique personalities that encompass the channel, and how they play off each other. Williams was liked by fans because of his informative discussions, sense of humor, and “nonchalant” kind of reviews over different aspects of games. “I talk about games on the channel like I would when talking to my friends,” Williams stated, “So my videos get less into the specifics of why the game’s good, and more what I just enjoyed overall.”

Williams hopes to see his channel to become full time. He is excited to see where his gaming goes from here, and plans to support his channel for as long as he can.

‘For Honor’ offers visceral battles between history’s fiercest warriors

New video game introduces fun combat despite glaring flaws

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Game News Official

Set in an alternate medieval timeline, where a massive cataclysm shifted parts of continents closer together, “For Honor’s” setting alone sets itself apart from many other games of its nature. The game is a strategic “fighting game,” but is blended with many other elements of combat that makes it both challenging, and rewarding.

The combat is centered around a parrying and blocking style, a cat and mouse game that revolves around players switching between stances as they plot their next move in the moment. A player can turn their stance to the left, right, or up, and switch between these stances on a whim, should their attacker swing in either of those directions. This, on top of varied classes of skill and abilities, makes for every combat encounter an intense battle for survival.

The story is its weakest point, despite the clear effort of the developers, Ubisoft Montreal, made with what feels like a low budget. The story follows 3 different factions: Knights, Vikings, and Samurai. Each chapter has multiple missions following a few characters within that faction, as they face the ever growing and violent Black Stone Legion. Their leader, Apollyon (Catherine Kidd), thrives off of war, and recruits only the strongest and most forthright warriors.

The missions have some surprisingly varied ideas, from chasing a runaway on horseback, to fighting a Viking warlord and his pack of wolves. But the individual fights with every other enemy in the game begins to feel repetitive. When some A.I. enemies begin to break the rules set by the game for the players, the fury a player would feel from having their move that was called “unblockable” in the game menu itself being blocked by a tough enemy, gives the feeling of being cheated.

The feeling that the budget for the game was low stems from the character variety and voice acting. Any character in the campaign that isn’t a Class players can play in the multiplayer are replaced with generic “grunts,” with unmoving mouths and copy-and-pasted faces. Characters mostly have American accents, even though the game has the factions clearly being English/French, Swedish/Gaelic, and Japanese. Though players will hear everyone in their faction speak English, the opposing factions will indeed be speaking their native tongues. But being a Medieval Knight or a Celtic Viking and they have Westcoast-American accents, does pull players out of the immersion.

Another problem with the campaign is that there are many tutorials that crop up throughout the game. After the first mission, it is somewhat understandable that the game would want to teach the players some new mechanics that weren’t covered in the tutorial mode. But the tutorial mode is mandatory, and finishing it then jumping into the campaign, then having to go through it all over again, felt like there was a developmental oversight, or a need in the settings menu to switch off tutorials entirely. Learning a new Class does require some practice, but when the game reminds players how to parry a halfway through the campaign, even though parrying is one of the 3 core mechanics of the game, it becomes a nuisance.

The Classes players choose from are all unique and have varying degrees of complication. “The Warden” is your typical claymore-swinging Knight, and easy to understand and control, but the naginata-wielding “Nobushi” will have move sets that require great practice and attention, for both those playing as her, and those who fight her.

The multiplayer offers a variety of maps and game modes, players will rarely feel tired of playing a match of “Dominion” after hours of play. Boredom seems to be a non-existent issue, given each match players are always trying to hone in their skills with their favorite Class. If they want a change up in style, all they have to do is change Classes and the process of rewiring their brain for a completely different set of moves starts the engaging process all over again. If they tire of playing a certain mode, the Deathmatch based “Elimination” and “Skirmish” modes offer a change up in goals, and the 1 versus 1 “Duel” and 2 versus 2 “Brawl” modes offer a more intense round based style of gameplay.

However, this is where one of the game’s biggest shortcomings shines. The game is superb in 1-on-1 combat, where both combatants have to focus on out-maneuvering each other, parrying and blocking when necessary, then striking when able. But the moment a player has to fight more than 1 enemy, or if multiple players engage all at once, the game turns into an incoherent slugfest. Though a player may be able to hit multiple enemies at once with a well-placed horizontal swing, the friendly fire will result in them harming their allies. Even if the damage dealt towards allies is a much smaller portion than to that which is dealt to enemies. But the staggering it causes to friends could prove fatal as enemies typically see those opportunities quickly, and strike with ease.

The best advice: If multiple enemies begin to rush a player, that player should either find a ledge and time it right where they can kick one of them off the ledge, or just run for an ally for back-up. If the player is the only one left alive, they best ready their sword, and prepare to die in glory.

“For Honor” manages to offer a dense and original combat system, despite its flaws in some Class balancing, and the multi aspect of the multiplayer combat. Fighting can be exhilarating, and each minor victory feels like a great triumph.

Nintendo ‘Switch’ features innovative design, but uncertain potential

The newest gaming console is almost here, Nintendo’s spotty history may harm the console’s success

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The Nintendo “Switch” is the latest console by the Japanese game development company. This console is set to release March 3, worldwide, millions are eager for the company’s long awaited innovative console, but the question still stands if this this console will be able to contend against the other modern consoles on the market.

The “Switch” continues Nintendo’s philosophy of being more focused on innovation and bringing something people have never seen before to the Gaming Industry. The console has two “nunchuck” controllers, which are separate controllers, each held in one hand. These controllers can click onto a square pad and used remotely for home gaming, or can click, or “switch,” onto a tablet, turning it into a mobile console. The console’s primary selling point is its switching, along with its major first party titles that are launching with the console.

One of the shortcomings for the mobile aspect of the console, is that the battery life of it is approximately 3 hours. This may seem not too inconvenient for those on a city bus or those with lunch breaks at work. But for those who are on long road trips, or plane rides, this 3 hour limit could become very frustrating.

There seems to be clear signs that the “Switch” is the culmination of years of innovation from Nintendo. The “nunchucks” are a more modern and modified variation on the 2006 Nintendo “Wii’s” “nunchuck” and the “Wii-mote” controller, the “Wii-mote” focused almost entirely on motion controls, where players move the controller in one direction, and the character and/or object of the game mirrored that movement. The tablet used for the “Switch’s” mobile features is reminiscent of the “Wii U GamePad,” which served as the primary controller for the 2012 console.

The first launch game for the “Switch” is “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” the long awaited installment of the famous series that looks to be a true return to form for the franchise, dating back to the very first “Zelda” game from 1986. The original “Legend of Zelda” game was famous for its vast exploration, and open world that the player was thrown straight into, with dungeons hidden around the world, and minimal guidance towards the player’s main goal of defeating the evil “Ganon.” “Breath of the Wild” supposedly takes place a century after a massive calamity in the land of Hyrule, which most of the games take place in. This mysterious calamity leaves a ruined Hyrule open for exploration, through far reaching valleys and overgrown and forgotten temples.

The “Switch” doesn’t have any forced on “gimmicks” that have scared away some consumers, though the duel “nunchucks” do have motion controls available for certain games, the motion controls are not required for most of the new games such as “Breath of the Wild” and the to-be-announced “Super Mario Odyssey.” So far, Nintendo has not announced if there will be any use for the tablet aside from its mobile functionality, and the “nunchucks” snapping onto the tablet could make on-the-go gaming an interesting experience for gamers.

Though Nintendo does create video games, its focus audience has not always been pure gamers, entirely. The 2006 “Wii” was aimed towards a much larger audience: kids, adults, elders, and gamers alike. They developed games such as “Wii Sports” and “Wii Fitness” with the idea in mind that a grandparent could pick up the controller and have just as much fun as a child playing “Mario.”

This idea led to a massive success with the “Wii,” by 2007, the NPD Group, which specialize in reporting on worldwide sales and industry analyses, reported that the “Wii” had sold 10.8 million units in the U.S. alone. The “Wii” became the fastest selling “next-generation” console, surpassing Microsoft’s “Xbox 360” and Sony’s “PlayStation 3.” As of 2016, the console has sold 101.63 million consoles worldwide.

The 2012 “Wii U” was a far less successful console, shipping only 3.5 million units worldwide by 2013, and about 96 million worldwide as of 2016. A cause to this less impressive release has been mainly pointed at the console’s title. “Wii U” was largely mistaken as just an extension of the “Wii,” rather than a brand new console.

The “Wii’s” success, however, was considered because of Nintendo’s then-CEO, Sotaru Iwata, now deceased. Iwata turned the company’s focus towards innovation and “pure fun,” rather than trying to compete with the other company’s modern graphics and abundance of Third Party titles. Third Party titles are games created from developers not owned by the company’s who make the consoles those games are sold on.

Iwata was a well respected businessman and became beloved by the gaming community throughout his time as Nintendo’s CEO, until his passing in 2015. He coined the famous quote, “On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” Iwata died from complications with a bile duct tumor, but Nintendo carries on his philosophy of mass market appeal and unique technological innovation, that Nintendo still believes has saved the company many times from economical collapse.

The Nintendo “Switch” is just on the horizon, and whether it will push the Industry forward, or just be another luke-warm Nintendo console, has yet to be seen.

‘The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine’ brings expansive journey to an emotional end

Downloadable content for video game brings fans back for one last engaging adventure

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It has been over 1 year from the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s initial release in 2015. Since then, they have release a series of free downloadable extra content and 1 full length paid downloadable content (DLC) that was released last October. Now, the final-- and quite possibly the largest-- paid DLC has been released: Blood and Wine.

The new story takes place in the land of Toussaint, an ancient and prosperous city, built in and around Elven ruins and surrounded by lush greenery and enriched vineyards. The land is massive, it introduces new temples and fortresses to explore, and a beautiful city to be immersed in.

The story follows one last adventure for the main character of the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Geralt of Rivia, as he is hired to investigate the murders of multiple noble knights. Geralt arrives at the start of a great festival and tournament, and partakes in certain events to further the trust of certain individuals to help his investigation. Geralt soon discovers a much deeper and darker secret that has been the groundwork for the murders, involving the motives of the killer and the victims themselves.

This new DLC truly feels like a final “hurrah” for Geralt, Geralt at one point meets an old friend named Regis, an ancient vampire who is filled with charm, intelligence, and generosity. This friend is weary from all the strife and troubles that fill this world, and Geralt shares this feeling. But Geralt has been appointed by the Duchess of Toussaint, Anna Henrietta, to put an end to the threat that looms over the peaceful city.

Toussaint offers a far different atmosphere compared to the other cities players explore in the base game of the Witcher. Typically, the lands Geralt explores are filled with despicable people, disgusted with Geralt’s very presence, and are corrupted with greed and violence. The only land that offers some refuge from all the misery and hatred was the Skellige Isles, a vast snowy land occupied by ruthless vikings and barbarians. These barbarians, ironically enough, had a respectable honor and courage about them that gave players a bit of a break from the murderous scoundrels and backstabbing thieves that filled the mainlands.

Toussaint is filled with proud and noble knights always looking to pledge their love and honor to their Duchess and the people of Toussaint. The whole of Toussaint mirrors a Italy-France kind of aesthetic and style, with valleys stretching with vineyards and tall colored buildings bordering canals and wide brick roads.

The monsters encountered in Blood and Wine range from pale wyverns to man-eating plants, but most notably is the more imminent and looming threat: vampires. Vampires are far more complicated and diverse in the Witcher universe compared to any other fiction. There are more beast-like and blood-hungry vampires such as Ekimmaras and Katakans, but there are also a class of vampire simply called Higher Vampires. Higher Vampires are fiercely intelligent, unimaginable powerful, can take the appearance of every day humans, and are virtually unkillable. They are for all intents and purposes, immortal, with the only way to truly kill one is for it to be slain by another of its kind. Other than that, they will continuously regenerate and grow stronger the more enraged they become.

Geralt’s friend, Regis, though a vampire, has fasted himself from any blood from any creature, for he was once an addict of blood, close to the point of attacking humans in the streets to suck them dry. He is now calm, collected, and respects human’s kinder natures and apt abilities for ingenuity. He assists Geralt in his investigations and proves a vital piece of the puzzle in the murders.

The story is superb, the characters are engaging, and the new land is beautiful and at times mesmerising in its immersiveness. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine can bring players to the point of tears in its excellent writing. This is a fantastic and well deserved conclusion to Geralt’s long journey.

Fallout 4: Far Harbor’ lures fans back to renowned video game

Expansion to 2015 game offers refreshing experience and a new landscape to explore

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Bethesda Software

Far Harbor is the first major expansion to Fallout 4, the first two smaller expansions were Automatron and Wasteland Workshop. Though these downloadable expansions were entertaining, they only added some new content and only brought fans of the game back for a short time. Far Harbor has added a completely new area to explore, people to meet, and monsters to fight.

One of the biggest things Far Harbor succeeds in is its atmosphere. The base game of Fallout 4 took place in a post-apocalyptic Boston, whereas Far Harbor takes place further north, closer to New Hampshire’s coastline. The large environment is filled with more dense pine forests and fishing towns. Players get the sense that the community of Far Harbor, the name of the main village, effectively survive on this coast. They do, however, live under the constant threat of the looming “fog,” and the creatures that dwell within it.

As the player traverses the fog, they will come across unsightly mutated creatures including mutated angler fishes, bipedal toad monstrosities, and ferocious irradiated wolves. Though the expansion doesn’t add too much in terms of weaponry, the weapons players do receive are effective and fun to use. One being the lever action rifle that’s fast and accurate, and another being the harpoon cannon, that is self-explanatory.

What brings the player to Far Harbor, storywise, is a new investigation that has presented itself at the player character’s companion, Nick Valentine’s Detective Agency. Worried parents are looking for their daughter that left without a trace, and the player finds a tape that talks about how she believes that she is a Synth, and has ran away to a Synth paradise called Acadia. Synths are synthetic organisms created by the Institute: a secretive facility of scientists who are descendants of the researchers of the Cambridge Institute of Technology, who work deep underground to supposedly help the ruined world above. Some Synths escape the Institute once they being to gain a self aware mind, and feel that they are slaves to their institute creators.

The characters are all interesting: the citizens of Far Harbor are fiercely independent, and have a habit of seeming hostile to newcomers, even if they are desperate for help.

Far Harbor is at odds with an increasingly hostile group of cultists called the “Children of Atom.” These fanatics worship the power of the atomic bomb, and believe radiation is some kind of “transcendence” in the eyes of their god, Atom. Given the citizens of Far Harbor’s near constant war against the horrors that thrive in the fog, they disagree with the cultists to say the least.

The Synths of Acadia wish to bring peace between Far Harbor and the Children of Atom, but Acadia’s leader has a dark secret that the player must uncover that may prove detrimental in the inevitable conflict.

Far Harbor succeeds in its atmosphere, explorative motives, and its story. This expansion has set a high and hopeful bar for any further expansions for Fallout 4.

Dark Souls 3 offers a challenging but rewarding experience

“Embrace the Dark” in this fun soul-crushing game about power

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Bandai Namco Entertainment America

Though the 3rd installment of the Dark Souls games, Dark Souls 3 is a game that anyone can jump into, with little confusion.

The story of Dark Souls 3 seems to take place centuries after the previous games, with the last breath of an ever dying world reaching its end. Fire seems to be one of the only items of value to the condemned souls that sprinkle the world, that, and the power of souls themselves.

Fire is used for survival, while souls are used for power. Numerous souls are gathered with each kill, some of the most powerful souls coming from terrible foes that can crush unprepared wanderers without a second thought.

The player character is called an “unkindled one,” and is seeking to destroy the Lords of Cinder, and take control of the flame. Whether the flame is a myth, a palpable power, or simply a goal that keeps the player pushing forward, it is what they are after, and what they’ll do anything to find.

Dark Souls 3 has sprawling and intricate environments that weave and connect to one another, always keeping the player on their feet and sometimes in awe with the sheer scale of the world they explore. At one moment, the player may be exploring a forsaken catacomb writhing with unthinkable filth and monstrosities, and the next, they may be running through a frozen kingdom filled with dark spirits and forgotten knights.

The main argument those who view the series with disdain is that the combat is too hard. The people who don’t like the games see it as unforgiving, that enemies are far too complicated for anyone to fight fairly. And the fans of the games would agree, but this love for the game’s difficulty spawns more from the belief that the games aren’t hard in the way people would normally describe a hard game, that the enemies, weapons, and overall combat is designed intentionally to be unique and intricate; a puzzle for players to figure out through observation and experience.

The game can be difficult, but fans of the series see the difficulty more as a tactical challenge, rather than a broken and unpolished game.

People who love the franchise love it for different reasons. Some people love it for what they consider the deep lore, hidden meaning, and the internal puzzle solving that can go through a player’s mind as they put together bits and pieces of story that are presented, and also sometimes hidden to them.

Other groups of fans love the games for their tightly knit and challenging gameplay, sometimes completely ignoring the story and diving straight into the game with the hopes to kill everything that has a health bar.

They revere the game for the complicated and intuitively designed enemies and bosses, the wide range of weapons, and the immense feeling of accomplishment upon the defeat of the terrible foes through the blood, sweat, and tears that a player puts into beating the enemies.

Both groups often blend together, loving the game for similar reasons, making games like Dark Souls user friendly in a particular way.

Dark Souls 3 also has side stories and hidden tales sprinkled around the world. These stories can be told either through item descriptions or from lone souls who are on their own journeys.

Some items the player gathers as they make their way through a tomb tell the tale of a self proclaimed king who conquered numerous lands, crushing the crowns of the kings he conquered into dust and smelted them into his own crown, but this king soon became overwhelmed with a dark and powerful force called “the Abyss,” confined to a cursed chalice made from his hollowed out skull, only to be killed by the player who is teleported into his realm after touching the skull.

Another side story is of a traveler who the player meets throughout their journey, a polite and kind young women traveling with her mute but closest friend. She eventually gets separated from him, and ponders where ever he could be, but the player learns that this friend, in his solitude, has lost his mind, and viciously attacks anyone who comes near him.

Her side quest could actually become involved in the main quest, depending on how the player handles certain situations, as well as the path the player decides to follow in the main story.

The girl carries on, unaware of her friends location nor his lunacy, and she continues her quest in hunting an ancient lord whom she hopes to kill in the name of those she left at home.

These stories, and many others like it, add more and more depth to this dying world as the player explores its darkest corners. Dark Souls 3 is an accessible, if challenging, game that anyone looking for something different to play can enjoy thoroughly.

Gaming Year in Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

2015 was a special year for video games. There were 3 games in particular that were among the strongest and most well received games of 2015.

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First is the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The Witcher’s developers, CD Projekt RED,had developed the 2 lesser known entries into the Witcher series, but it was the Witcher 3 that gained the most fame and praise- and rightfully so.Wild Hunt follows the last adventure of Geralt of Rivia, a mercenary monsterhunter who comes from a group of top notch beast slayers called “Witchers.” Geralt is known to be the best of the best throughout the country, his senses are sharp, his tracking is to the slightest detail, and his combat prowess can topple beasts any other mortal manwould tremble at the sight of.

The Witcher truly showed how refined the Role Playing Game formulae has become, with crafting mechanics that can make Geralt unstoppable, and a story that can challenge the player with moral decisions that leaves them questioning their own morality while the world around Geralt becomes ever more darker and violent. Geralt is searching for his squire, Cirilla, a young women who has untapped and unimaginable power, who is constantly being chased by a pack of relentless warlords, known as the Wild Hunt.

The player can travel a massive living world that ranges from war-torn battlefields to lush green valleys surrounded by snow-capped mountains. There were so many factors as to why the Witcher 3 played the heartstrings of a captivated audience like a fiddle. The player can become filled with a sense of wonder, fear, impeccable love, deep hatred, and a consistent immersion that is rarely disrupted.

The player meets characters that they will either love or hate, and all for the right reasons. One character is a drunk military general by the title the Bloody Baron, he employs Geralt with finding his missing wife and daughter, and as Geralt searches for them and pieces the puzzle more and more together: the worried father begins to seem far more unpredictable and dangerous quest progresses.

Geralt soon learns that in one of the Bloody Baron’s drunken fits of rage, he accidentally pushed his once pregnant wife down the stairs. They had to quickly dispose of the fetus, and now this would-be child has become a cursed spirit, created from the apathy and disgust of the ones who quickly disposed it. Geralt then preforms a ritual with the Baron, the child’s father, to give it a name and except this dark spirit into his family.

The child then becomes a guardian spirit to defend the Baron’s family and house for all eternity. The Baron chooses to change his ways, and just wants his family back in his arms so that he could protect and love them for the rest of his days.This is but one of the early quests in the game that ranges in different emotions as the player progresses. There are many quests like this or far heavier, which is one of the many reasons that make this game one of the best games of the year.

Retrospect of 2015: Fallout 4

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Fallout 4 - Official Trailer Bethesda Softworks

The Witcher 3 was a game where people looked at with cautious anticipation, Bloodborne was a game that many had high hopes for, but Fallout 4 was easily one of the most anticipated games of 2015.

            Fallout 4 follows the story of a survivor of the Nuclear Apocalypse, who leaves an underground shelter called a “Vault” in order to get back the one he or she lost while they were trapped within the Vault.

            The game takes place 200 years after the Nuclear War, in Boston Massachusetts, where people are barely getting by through many different methods, ranging from farming and community, to raiding and pillaging. Humanity is surviving, through any way they can.

            Fallout 4 took familiar concepts from previous games made by Bethesda Softworks, and made them solid mechanics that make playing the game all the better. The player has to scavenge and wander, kill and plunder, always looking for any equipment and scrap that can give you the upper hand in this merciless world.

            Fallout 4 is probably the most accessible game in this list. It’s easy and fun to just wander the wastes, exploring any ruins you find on your journey with no destination. Everything from the world you walk in, to the people you meet, all the way to the monsters you fight, are all interesting and keep you wanting more.

Though the game isn’t perfect, with some technical issues and “bugs” found every now and then, it cannot really pull anyone away from enjoying themselves. The combat can be intense and rewarding, and every story you come across in the world is engaging and unique.

            Fallout 4 simultaneously blew players away, as well as gave them more of what they love. The game can be entered and enjoyed by anyone, without having to play any of the previous Fallout games or any of the other games made by Bethesda. Wandering the wastes of Boston is time well spent, in Fallout 4.

Bloodborne

Will you parish or survive??

Bloodborne

The second game that was among the 2015 greatest games, was FromSoftware’s Bloodborne. A game with probably one of the thickest atmospheres a video game has to offer, Bloodborne is a dark and ominous game with an eerie sense of tension, exploration, and horror.

It is difficult to describe where exactly Bloodborne “takes place,” with the game shifting the player character in and out of reality and other worlds known as “Nightmares.” The Nightmare where the player begins their journey is in the City of Yharnam, a gothic London-esk dystopia with towering cathedrals and spires around every corner.

The player’s character is a Hunter, a skilled and well-equipped warrior with an arsenal that is specially tailored for slaying beasts.And beasts are more abundant than horse carriages in Yharnam. Once the proud citizens of Yharnam, these Twisted, teethed, growling monsters will tear apart anything in sight. The only thing that stands in their way are what is left of the Hunters, which is the player themselves. The night is long, and the secrets of Yharnam are deep. The Healing Church areconsidered once the saints of Yharnam, having complete control over every aspect of the city, gripping it with their ultimate remedy to all ailments and wounds: Blood.

 

As the Hunter explore the city and beyond, they discover the true evils that lie within Yharnam’s very walls. The game soon takes a Lovecraftian turn towards Eldritch Truth and incomprehensible horrors that have driven everyone but the Hunter insane.The gameplay is unforgiving if the player is not careful in their travels. FromSoftware is famous for making brutal, and sometimes considered “unfair” games such as King’s Field,Demon’s Souls, and most notably, Dark Souls. These games, including Bloodborne, have followed a specific formula on cautious movement, tactical and critical thinking, and deeper stories that are hidden below the surface of the tale presented.

Bloodborne is its own game, however. And is the most accessible Souls game to date. Though it is still very difficult, and if the player doesn’t plan out what moves they will make to survive the encounter at hand, they may parish quickly. Despite its difficulty, Bloodborne is a well thought out, at times unnerving game that is very enjoyable to anyone willing to try, though it is still not for the faint of heart.

One of the best-selling video game franchises returns

Activision announces ‘Black Ops III’ as the next ‘Call of Duty’ installment

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Courtesy of Google

Players will again be taken into the future in the new “Black Ops III”

It is no secret that “Call of Duty” (COD) is one of the world’s best-selling videogame franchises around and that it has  hit some tough spots within its long and profitable history. “COD: Ghosts” was one such game which received mixed reception from both fans and critics with praise going towards it multiplayer, but receiving negative criticism for its story.

However, “COD: Advanced Warfare” fared better and reignited what little faith was lost within the franchise with reinvented gameplay mechanics and a more focused storyline even though sales were still slightly down from “Ghosts.” With a new three year cycle shared between developers Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Sledgehammer Games, each new “COD” has the potential to be better game with more development time.

This year, Treyarch is up to bat with their new “COD” installment, “Black Ops III” which will be a direct sequel to 2012’s “Black Ops II.” Teasers were released before the actual gameplay trailer was revealed on 26 April. It revealed new gameplay, characters, a brief glimpse of multiplayer, and the returning fan favorite Zombies mode.

The game’s campaign will take place in the year 2065; forty years after the events of “Black Ops II” and focuses on a group of advanced black op super soldiers who are part human and machine. The game will feature a new campaign that will support 4-player cooperative gameplay, a fully customizable soldier that can be either male or female and will be the first “COD” game to feature a leading female protagonist. The campaign will also have more open arena-like levels that allow objectives to be completed in more ways than one which increases replayability.

Multiplayer will feature a new moving system, a new class system called “Specialists” and a new “Gunsmith” feature that allows for weapon customizations that can be combined in a number of different ways.

The returning Zombies mode has also had a facelift with a new narrative that is separate from the campaign and features its own XP progression system for the first time in “COD” history. The game can be pre-ordered now with a Digital Deluxe Edition also available aside from the standard which includes the season pass unlike the standard edition.

The game is set for a 6 November release and will be available for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.  Those that also pre-order the game will gain Beta access sometime in the future.

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