K&G’s Video Game Holiday Buyer’s Guide 2015

Video Game Holiday Buyers Guide 2015

Our Video Game Holiday Buyer’s Guide 2015 is now available! Every year we strive to highlight some of the best games to buy during the holiday season ranging from kid friendly titles all the way up to those games you should probably get for yourself. Most will be well-known titles, but we’ve slipped a few hidden gems in there we think you might enjoy.

If you think we missed a game that should be on our list, or if you have any questions, please let us know. We will be adding to this list periodically in the coming weeks because a few additional games are releasing that we want to make sure we try before recommending — so check back often.

Have a great holiday shopping season!

This is Why Hunters are Overplayed

Mechanics Hunter Pets in WoW

I’ve been waiting to play a Gnome Hunter since 2004 and Blizzard has finally made that a reality. In Legion I will be able to play one, but now I’m raced with the annoying realization that I either have to level one from scratch, use my instant level 100 on a Gnome Hunter, or pay for a race AND faction change for my Orc. Bleh.

Seriously though, if being a Gnome isn’t cool enough they went and made MECHANICAL PETS!

Most Mechanical pets will be challenging to tame, requiring you to first locate them and then use your Hunter abilities in unusual ways. (You didn’t think we’d make it easy, did you?)

For example, one rare mechanostrider requires you to create a special punch card that grants access to a closed section of Gnomeregan (we hope you remember the way). Once you locate the clockwork creature, you’ll then need to figure out how to overload its circuits. Solve the puzzle, and you’ll have this magnificent mechanized minion striding by your side.

gnome hunter in WoW

The addition of Gnome Hunters makes perfect sense to me. Hunters use traps. Hunters use guns. These things scream Gnomish tinkering potential to me. Hunters seem akin to the Gnomish spirit of solving problems and making their tools work for them.

New EQ Progression Server (Phinigel) Coming December 9th

Phinigel Server

Daybreak is launching a NEW EverQuest Progression Server. That’s right, the rumors are true! And it’s better than I expected. Phinigel will be a “True Box” Progression Server. This means you only get ONE EverQuest account per computer, and if you want to multibox you’ll have to do it like we did back in 1999: Multiple computers.

There’s more! Large raid targets from each expansion will be INSTANCED in addition to their open-world versions with a 6.5 day lockout. Interesting. This actually seems… fair?

Content will unlock every 90 days. This means Classic – > 90 Days -> Kunark -> 90 Days -> Velious -> Luclin -> Etc. No vote drama on the player or developer side. This I can support.

I think I’ll play here. I hate that I already dumped so much time and money into Ragefire, but it’s EverQuest and I like starting over. It’s what I’ve been asking for, so I’ll try once again to see if this time we can have an actual server community that doesn’t hate each other for stealing mobs or not voting to unlock an expansion or not. A server without so many multiboxers means that content and groups will be much closer to the original experience. It really was a situation on Ragefire where a few ‘bad apples’ spoiled the bunch.

For now, this seems like a win for me. I appreciate their effort to appeal to someone like me. I’ll let you know if I uncover any nefarious details that change my mind.

Star Wars Battlefront Review

Star Wars Battlefront Review

Star Wars Battlefront is out and, after much deliberation, I decided to purchase it after all. You may recall from my Battlefront Beta Impressions that I wasn’t thrilled by a few of the design decisions. I feared the game may be a short-lived phenomenon. I had a few concerns about the game’s longevity because of the maps, the modes, and the features. Now that I can play the full version, here’s how all of those things are playing out.

Maps & Modes in General

Thankfully there are a few more maps per mode than I had originally thought. The ‘biggest’ mode with 40 players has four maps (one on each planet). That brings up a good point: There are only four planets (Endor, Hoth, Sollust, Tatooine) comprising 12 maps, and those 12 maps are more like variations of the four planets or variations of the same map. While the diversity isn’t what I would have loved to see — like a Tattooine city. While not ugly in any way, most are very simple and somewhat flat without a lot of complexity to their impact on gameplay.

The modes are what you expect just with different names and range from capture the flag to dog fighting in ships. Except for the air battle mode, the modes are rather lackluster. Both Graev and I would have really loved to see a Conquest Mode similar to Battlefield. The modes for capture the flag and ‘droid run’ are fairly uninspired and lack a desire for much replayability since they drive combat closer to arcade grenade spam than they do tactical Star Wars battles.

battlefront ship battles

Longevity and Replayability

Herein lies probably the most important factor of all: Does Star Wars Battlefront have staying power? I have to go with my honest gut opinion here and say that it doesn’t have the staying power of shooters we all used to love and play 5-10 years ago. While fun, it’s more of that ‘flash-in-the-pan’ kind of experience. Some people call it the “Titanfall Effect” where its awesome, amazing, innovative, tons of fun, but you stop playing two or three weeks later.

The key to Battlefront’s long-term success rests entirely on how DLC and expansions to the game are handled. Unfortunately, EA doesn’t have the most amazing track record with its shooters — namely the modern Battlefields — and their staying power. I can’t see myself playing this 6 months from now. Does that mean I won’t get my money’s worth? That’ll be subjective. Personally, I’ll get enough hours out of Battlefront to justify the $48 I spent (Thanks to Best Buy’s game club I get 20% off new releases).

battlefront capture the flag mode

Guns, Unlocks, Customization, Etc.

I stated back in my beta impressions that this system was lacking. It still is. Simply gaining access to new things linearly as you level and then spending credits you earn to unlock and slot them is too simple. They are completely missing the customization of recent Battlefield games. Alternatively we could compare this to Battlefront 1 and 2’s class system which they are also lacking. Instead, everyone is the same and you can simply change your character’s ethnicity and/or take off your Storm Trooper’s helmet.

Battlefront’s Multiplayer Platform / UI / Framework

Here’s where they’ve started to make great headway. I really, really like how they handled multiplayer and playing with friends. Inviting friends on both PC & Console is easy. Forming a squad works seamlessly. Playing with Graev on the PS4 has never been easier. Being able to choose a “partner” from your group so that you can spawn on them is a very nice touch.

Battlefront, like every game these days (Overwatch, Fallout4, etc), is designed for consoles first. The UI is defined by that experience. An in-game example of this is how AMAZINGLY well the vehicle control on consoles but how poorly they are implemented on PC. The game is full of amazing control and UI decisions that I enjoy — on consoles.

Battlefront droid run mode

Challenge Modes & Singleplayer in Battlefront

There are a few singleplayer modes that work mostly like challenge modes. Graev and I have had some fun playing these. Two nights ago we spent 2 hours trying to beat them on hard mode and failed after being really far into one of them. The harder modes are absolutely brutal and a real test of skill. While trying to survive waves of storm troopers or capturing pods may be a lot of fun — and being able to do it co-op is even more fun — I can’t say this is a replacement for multiplayer. Battlefront is a multiplayer game.

Gameplay & General Fun

Despite my highly critical remarks so far, I feel that Battlefront is a very fun game. I am glad I bought it, and knowing what I know now I would still buy it again. I love the atmosphere. I love shooting blasters, flying X-wings, playing as Darth Vader (SO FUN), and strategizing with Graev on how best to defend our flag or take on incoming enemies.

Is Star Wars Battlefront worth buying? Yes, but go into this purchase knowing what to expect. Battlefront truly captures the Star Wars feel in a very modern way, but falls slightly short of bringing an innovative or new shooter experience.

Smedley Flip Flops on the F2P Model

So here’s a fascinating turn of events. Remember when Smed (John Smedley) was all about the F2P? The “our games will be free forever!!” mantra that was being preached from every channel. Check out the article he wrote on GamesIndustry.biz back in 2011. I particularly like the section headlined, “The Future is Free to Play.”

People can change their minds. I do it often. Apparently John has changed his mind. See the tweets below.

You don’t say? I’m not trying to be an overly snarky ass here. I completely agree with all of his tweets. Check out all of them @j_smedley. I’m cautious, though. This is all a little bit much to take in when you look at the 180 he’s taking.

I hope that more people grow tired of the “development” process being all about how to monetize every line of code. I’m ready to stop feeling like I am being manipulated into spending money, or feeling like everything I do has been calculated to maximize revenue per player. Smed is tired of people questioning whether or not something was done to make money or to make a better game:

Well guess what? I’m tired of having to do the questioning. I’m tired of having to listen to corporate shills tell me why playing for free forever is so amazing for me. I’ll be waiting to see what Smed churns out, and for $20 I just might give it a try.