Star Wars: Battlefront Beta Impressions (PC and PS4)

I got my hands on both the PC and PS4 beta for Star Wars: Battlefront last night! I played for about 4 hours between both systems, and definitely have some thoughts on what is easily one of my more anticipated games of the entire year.

Sorta “Meh” Sorta “Woah”

My first impressions were actually a bit flat. For the first half hour I was thinking along the lines of, “aw crap… this is it?” The graphics are gorgeous — especially on consoles which surprised me — but the gameplay was a huge letdown from what I was expecting.

Over the next few hours my opinion started to take on a little more shape. I unlocked a few more weapons, played several rounds of each mode, got to pilot all of the vehicles, etc. I really, really like the system of picking up tokens or powerups around the map to spawn vehicles. This is a brilliant alternative to camping vehicle spawns. Basically, you run around playing and there will be these faded blue hologram looking tokens that you pick up and suddenly you realize you can take control of a Snowspeeder or an AT-ST, or a TIE Interceptor, or become Darth Vader, etc.

Speaking of Darth Vader, the 40 player mode has the hero characters as tokens. I saw Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker running around the map all willy-nilly throwing their lightsabers, force jumping around, and basically slaughtering everyone. I was spawn camped by Darth Vader — that wasn’t very fun.  The heroes do have this sense of “WOAH” and are incredibly powerful. Vader threw his lightsaber 50 yard to kill me. I was too impressed to be pissed off.

The maps in the beta are really bad. I think this is where most of my “meh” comes from. The Hoth battle mode is a tiny map with a rather boring mechanic of having to either turn on or off these stations that call in Y-Wings to bombard AT-ATs lumbering toward the Rebel base. The other mode was way too deathmatchy for me and felt really small as well.

I wish the maps were larger, and the objectives more open or involved or something. I went in expecting Battlefield maps, but found myself in a relatively tiny map with boring, one dimensional objectives. They only feel larger because there’s this absolutely stunning and gorgeous skybox. They nailed the atmosphere.

Unlocks are decent, albeit a little simple. You rank up, earn credits, and buy unlocks as they become available. I don’t know if what we’re seeing is the beta version of the unlock system? I hope there’s more to it like some of the more involved Battlefield unlock and customization systems. Right now it’s more like you reach rank 4 and get the next blaster.

One of the best features is the party implementation. You can form a party and even choose one other person to be your partner. Graev and I formed our party and partnered each other allowing us to share our primary “hand” cards. Basically the secondary weapons like Thermal Detonators and sniper rifle cool downs.

Battlefront on PC vs PS4

Going in I thought I would be all about PC master race, but I enjoyed the PS4 version more. Battlefront controls beautifully on a console. On the PS4, the graphics and performance were beautiful 60fps and smooth. The controls were mapped perfectly — best flight controls I’ve experienced. The interface was 100% identical to the PC interface, so I’m betting consoles are the primary platform. There wasn’t a dedicated server browser either. You pretty much just chose the mode you want and clicked join. It found a server for you.

Tonight I’m going to record both versions and upload the video(s). I’ll shoot you guys a link in the comments or maybe make another post.

Overall Impressions of Battlefront

I had fun; I can check that box, but something is still missing… The maps were small and boring in terms of what was involved despite having gorgeous graphics, amazing atmosphere, and capturing a realistic Star Wars feel. I hope more maps, modes, and features unlocked in the full version will give the game what it needs.

Skylanders SuperChargers Review

Skylanders SuperChargers Wii U Starter Set

The toys-to-life genre has absolutely crushed the second half of 2015 with one major wallet-busting launch after another, and Skylanders lands right in the middle of the fray with their strongest entry yet: Skylanders SuperChargers. SuperChargers introduces big change to the Skylanders franchise with vehicles, online co-op, and a Mario Kart-esque racing system. Let’s dive in and take a look!

Skylanders and Adventure Mode

Much of the core gameplay still revolves around the Skylanders figures themselves. Many of our favorite Skylanders return as one of the 20 new Skychargers, each witch a matching vehicle, but a few new characters join the ranks of the Skylanders which I’ll get to in just a moment.

The story is rather thin, as all Skylanders stories tend to be, but that doesn’t detract from the point of each mission: Explore, beat up the bad guys, collect lots of coins to upgrade, and beat bosses. The gist of the story this time around is that Kaos has destroyed much of the islands by harnessing the power of darkness. The Skylands are shattered apart and it’s up to the SuperChargers to use their vehicles to save the day. They’re totally up to the challenge, of course.

In terms of time to complete, the campaign is roughly 10-12 hours for those looking to do a full clear on a harder difficulty. Graev and I played the entire thing co-op, and each mission ended up taking easily 1.5-2 hours. I don’t want to gloss over this point: ONLINE co-op in two different houses with our own copies of the game and our own consoles. You can play finally play with friends!

Each mission definitely had a unique feel with unique looking bad guys and gimmicks. That’s not to say the levels were really all that different in terms of the way in which you went about completing them. The real flavor comes in the form of the new vehicles. [Read more…]

Rainbow Six Siege Closed Beta Impressions

Rainbow Six Siege Closed Beta

Holy smokes… I haven’t played a Rainbow Six game since like the Rogue Spear days. Anyone else remember the old school multiplayer platform? I think it started with an ‘M’ or something; Gamespy might have bought them. Anyway, wow, long time ago. Okay wait all of that might have been a lie — I think I tried one of the Rainbow Six games a few years ago like Ghost Recon or something. Does that count? Anyway…

I got my hands on a key for Rainbow Six Siege closed beta on the PS4. Graev got one too so that means we were able to play together in multiplayer (there is no campaign) and shoot some terrorists! Woot. The terrorist hunt modes have always been my favorite. Something about coming up on an embassy with terrorists hiding inside and having to storm the place and use strategy and planning makes for a great experience. I’ve always loved teaming up with four players going against AI.

Terrorist Hunt is back in R6S, but I feel like it’s missing a bit of the strategery that made the older games in the series more memorable. I haven’t seen a hostage rescue mode yet, which is one of the things I also loved from past games. There’s a mode where players go head to head against each other and one team defends while the other attacks. The act of having to do one or the other makes the matches feel way more real and involved than a simple deathmatch where you just roam the map trying to kill each other.

The maps are well-made, though, and I really like the destructible environments. Shooting through walls is satisfying. Repelling — holy crap it’s AWESOME! Going up, down, changing positions, etc., are all superb. Things like drones can be used to sneak around and drive under doors, taser people, etc. Wall defenses can be put up to reinforce structures from collateral or direct damage. Suffice it to say, lots of gadgets are cool in R6S

The system of unlocking “characters” so to speak is done by earning points while playing. Point gain is faster on harder difficulties, but so far it seems pretty slow. Oh, and characters are also classified as attackers or defenders for obvious reasons of being a terrorist or CT and having to defend and keep people out vs. having to break your way in.

Shooting mechanics are okay. R6S as a shooter in general isn’t anything to get uber hyped up for in terms of advancing the genre TOO far ahead from where we’re already at — especially in terms of graphics which are just ‘okay’ at best on PS4 — but the gameplay in general is nice.

My worst experience was definitely with load times. They are abysmal. Combine that with people purposely team killing and you get what amounted to 20 minutes of load screens with less than 5 minutes of play for me and Graev last night.

Check it out if you can. It’s worth playing for a couple of hours during this beta (which ends Oct 4) if for no other reason than the cool stuff like rappelling.

Also Not Sure Whether or Not to Get Skylanders SuperChargers

We’re big Skylanders fans. We’ve played them all from day one. We even have week one footage of the original Skylanders launch on Youtube. The fanboy force is strong over here. We normally receive a review copy of Skylanders from Activision, but so far we haven’t received any SuperChargers. It got mailed late, right? It’s just lost in the mail and will be here any minute, right? Right? ::lower lip quivers sadly::

I posted last night about my dilemma over LEGO Dimensions. It’s expensive, it might just be another LEGO game, yada yada, but it’s LEGO and it has Gandalf and Doctor Who and who am I kidding I want it.  The same dilemma exists over Skylanders SuperChargers.

Skylanders Superchargers Action Pack Skylanders Starter Pack = $75.00

Vehicles: $15 each (I’d want a couple)

Skylanders: $13 each  (I’d want a couple)

Sea Racing Action Pack: $35 (New tracks like a Mario Kart circuit, a vehicle, and a Skylander)

There are also “Dual Packs” with a character and a vehicle coming in around MSRP $25 but those have a release date in October. As always, Skylanders are releasing in waves. Wave 1 will have like 4-6 characters and vehicles, wave 2 adds more, etc.

Predicament: Skylanders Wii U vs. PS4 (or Xbox One)

SuperChargers Wii U

SuperChargers on Wii U allows you to play Bowser and Donkey Kong Skylanders which are ALSO Amiibo! Are you freaking kidding me. Genius and insidious in all the right ways. The Wii U version of the Skylanders SuperChargers Starter Pack comes with Donkey Kong, and the 3DS version comes with Bowers. The Hybrid Amiibo/Skylanders do not work on PS4 or Xbox One, so that’s a huge swing to the Wii U side of the fence.

There’s this question as to whether or not the Wii U version looks inferior, but from all of the videos I’ve watched I can’t tell a difference. Anyone out there have a comparison video or own a Wii U copy and see a huge difference?

SuperChargers Has Online Co-op and Racing

Here’s where this gets even harder for me. Skylanders SuperChargers introduces a new mode for racing vehicles that is very similar to Mario Kart; Oh, it’s also online competitive play. Awesome. They also have online (and couch) adventure mode co-op (play the story with friends) which is … yeah, that’s awesome too. Graev and I could play together which is always a HUGE plus for us.

To Skylanders or Not to Skylanders

When all is said and done, I’m probably sitting at (including tax) $180 of Skylanders Superchargers stuff that I want. Whew… But it has multiplayer co-op for the story and competitive racing.  The struggle is real on this one. Have any of our readers out there already bought Skylanders Superchargers? I know some of you have “kids” who like to play. Wink. wink.

Torn On Whether or Not to Get LEGO Dimensions

I’m torn. I really, really want everything. If I had all the money in the world then this wouldn’t even be a debate. I’d buy LEGO Dimensions, Skylanders Superchargers, and the rest of Disney Infinity 3.0 and be done with it all. But I don’t, and I can’t, etc. I want to be able to review it all for you guys, but unless the good people at Activision, Traveller’s Tales, and Disney decide to bestow review copies upon me then I’m stuck having to decide to space it out or forgo something.

LEGO Dimensions

Here’s where I’m at. I love Disney Infinity 3.0. Amazing game. Check out my review of the overall game as well as the TotR play set. That wasn’t cheap. I love Disney and their games. I’ve also been a long-time fan of the LEGO game series and what Jon Burton and team have come up with. We’ve played and reviewed them all here on our blog. But LEGO Dimensions isn’t cheap. It’s $100 for the starter set (LEGO markup is real) and about the same price as the other toys-to-life games out there when it comes to play sets and figures, etc.

LEGO Doctor Who

Can I say no to LEGO Doctor Who?!

When I think about it, LEGO Dimensions could technically just be another LEGO game. I’ve played LEGO LotR, LEGO Batman, LEGO et al. Do I need a LEGO game that would run me, bare minimum, $170’ish for what I want? Part of me says yes. Then I think to myself… okay, it’s LEGO. Does it have the building sandbox style of Disney Infinity 3.0 but with LEGOs? Sadly, it doesn’t, which is a huge missed opportunity.

Yet at the same time, Dimensions has a contiguous story across all of their universes which bridges the whole ‘it doesn’t make sense having characters in here that don’t belong’ because inter-dimensional travel is explaining it all. Disney Infinity sorta just throws it all in together and focuses on the characters rather than the ‘universe’ of their ‘infinite possibilities’.

Graev says I should wait for reviews. I want to be one of those reviews, dangit! I want to bring you guys information as soon as I can to help you make an informed decisions on whether or not you should go out there and buy these games. What do you think? Do I wait for reviews and see if LEGO Dimensions is worth it, or do I bite the bullet and pre-order the base game for $100? Your feedback is very, very appreciated. For now, LEGO Dimensions remains on my wishlist.

P.S. I feel like I could write a followup on Skylanders SuperChargers and hit the same chords… maybe I will.