Minecraft Wii U Edition & Mario Mash-up Pack

Minecraft Wii U Edition

Graev and I picked up Minecraft for Wii U over the weekend along with the newly released Mario Mash-up pack. That pretty much explains where my entire weekend went. The digital version is available for $29.99 on the eShop, and the physical version comes out June 17.

As a veteran to Minecraft, I’ve played a lot of what the PC has to offer. Graev is a purist and refuses to touch mods — he wants nothing to do with them, and says if he wanted something more complex then he would go and play Space Engineers. I haven’t played basic MC in years. I love Feed the Beast, Sky Factory, Tekkit, and all of the mods bundled with them. Minecraft on the Wii U is about as vanilla as it gets, sitting around v1.6.4.

Getting used to Vanilla MC again took me a little bit. I struggled to cope with going from wood to stone to iron, and there being no copper or tin in between. The resources are a fraction of what’s available. Nevertheless, these aren’t things I feel that I should ding the game for since I went outside the game to mod my experience on my own. After a few hours, I finally started to come around to what was available and began to realize there’s still potential to “make cool things that do things” (which is what I like to do in Minecraft), they’ll just take a lot more imagination and be a lot rougher.

My biggest gripe about the game is the lack of gamepad utility. It’s simply a duplicate if what you see on the screen. Huge opportunity missed here for easier inventory management or even gameplay like tapping blocks and placing blocks.

We got multiplayer up and running flawlessly in seconds. Minecraft Wii U edition comes with several texture packs, including the Mario Mash-up one which transforms a lot of blocks into Mario-themed goodies. Sheeps are Koopa Troopas on all fours, Zombies are Koopa Troopas, chickens are Goombas, plants are the Mario plants, flint and steel are the fire flower, etc. The music is also swapped out for all Mario music. It’s a TON of fun. More to come on this version soon.

Lots of other DLC packs and texture packs from with the Wii U version, but there are plenty of other bits of DLC for sale. The Skyrim pack, for example, costs $3.99 and the Star Wars Rebels skin pack is like $2.99.

Last night my wife and I also started our own split-screen world together. She’s never played Minecraft, but quickly started getting the hang of how it works. The hardest part for her is managing the controller. Two sticks at once in a 3D environment was a first for her, but she’s getting the hang of it. We made a little base underground, started mining, and getting the basics all set up.

I’m trying to figure out how to stream from my couch which is across the room from my computer. I think I’ll jerry-rig the laptop to try and stream through my Avermedia Live Gamer Portable. Should hopefully work, and I’ll be able to stream my awful vanilla MC noobiness.

Overall, tons of fun. I think 10 hours was gone in a second. I definitely recommend it for people like myself who enjoy variations on a game like Minecraft and won’t baulk at buying a game you already own on PC in order to experience it differently on a console. And of course the kids will love it too. I also enjoy the Mario goodies on the new Mash-up, and highly recommend you choose that texture pack when creating your world.

I’ll call this an early review, but I intend on showcasing the game more and talking more about the Mario texture pack once I have more experience with the game.

So Many Games. So Little Time.

I’m in some serious trouble here. There are so many great games coming out that even if I could play games all day there wouldn’t be enough time to play them all.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

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You won’t believe this, but up until just two weeks ago I hadn’t played a single game in the Uncharted series. Turns out, they’s AMAZING. I feel like this is what happened with the Assassin’s Creed series all over again. I never played them, then suddenly I had to buy them all and now I’m a diehard fan.

I picked up the Nathan Drake Collection (great deal) which contains the first three games. I’m bingeing my way through them now hoping to start up Uncharted 4 by the end of next week. Looks like the graphics are insane, and Drake goes full-spider-man.  I’ll write up formal thoughts on the collection as well as Uncharted 4 asap. I can already tell you it’s worth playing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mutants in Manhattan

This one came out of absolutely nowhere. Graev texts me the other day asking which platform we’re getting TMNT on. My resounding “huh?” was followed by a few “how did I not know about this?” followed by opening my wallet again.

Graev and I have played the original TMNT games for over 20 years. When did the original NES turtles game come out? ’89? So pretty much most of our lives have been filled with TMNT. Loved the original cartoon series. Turtles in Time is still one of our favorite games. Co-op and turtles? Count us in for Turtles in Manhattan.

Overwatch

Overwatch New Blizzard IP

I’ve been on a rollercoaster with Overwatch since alpha. I originally thought it was generic, but then I found my rhythm and started to play a little more with the characters. Despite it being an absolute 100% TF2 rip-off without the mods and community aspect of servers, it’s still a really great shooter.

Graev and I are both getting Overwatch as well. In fact, I think 4-5 people from our community here are getting it and we’ll all be playing together as much as possible over the coming weeks.

Total War: Warhammer

Here’s another game Graev clued me in to. I’ve never been a Total War fan, but that’s not because I’ve played the games and haven’t liked them — I’ve just never played them. I like Warhammer enough that I think I’ll give this one a try. Of all the games on this list, I think this is the one I might wait on. Looks good though. Anyone here played the Total War games and able to share some thoughts on whether or not a Warhammer version would be good? Sure looks fun…


So yeah… games. Lots of games.  I didn’t even mention the fact that I’m having a blast with Kingdom Hearts Unchained X, Clash Royale, and World of Warcraft (finally don’t hate my Monk now that I’m tank spec). I also have a backlog of at least 5-6 more games. Ack.

Playing anything fun? Picking up any of the games I mentioned?

Integrated Multiplayer is the Future of Console Gaming

While playing The Division yesterday afternoon, Graev and I discussed how we feel that integrated multiplayer is definitely the future for console games. The industry has dipped its toe in the idea of sharing a single-player world with other players, and limiting their interaction to on-demand or only in certain areas, for a very long time. Only in recent years have we seen a real surge toward this idea of building “multiplayer” games around a “single-player” or instanced/phased experience on the console devices.

Destiny wasn’t the pioneer in this technology or idea, but definitely gets the credit for pioneering it on a grand scale. In Destiny, the main hubs were like lobbies where players could see other players yet if you so chose you never had to group up with anyone. I would love to see Destiny’s data to see how many people were in fact only playing by themselves.

Seeing other people is huge. Why? Several reasons. Seeing other people makes the game feel popular and alive. It’s that “other people are doing it so I’m not alone” mentality. Then there’s seeing other people and aspiring to be like them. The psychology behind seeing a player decked out in gear and wanting to be just like him is a massive pull for these games to hook players and keep them pushing hard to get more more more. That urge to “be the best” or “be that cool guy” is all the more reason to buy the DLC so you can stand around town and look cool with the rest — not to mention you won’t be standing in the same town as others if you don’t buy that DLC.

Integrated multiplayer is also a quick and easy way to slap “multiplayer” or “MMO” or whatever label devs want onto a box. Better yet, it’s a way to derive an entire system of you game. The Division uses their integrated multiplayer somewhat similar to Destiny in that you can see the other players when you seamlessly “zone” into a hub (safe house), and they also use it for Dark Zone. Dark Zone (DZ) is the center of the map and players can cross over into this no-man’s land of open-PvP gameplay. This is the only place in the entire game where you could attack or be attacked by other players. It’s a unique part of the game designed to create interaction between players.

Integrated multiplayer is the new fad, ad likely the future for reasons outlined above. I won’t be surprised if the next Elder Scrolls RPG uses this technology to make Tamriel feel more “online”. The next Dragon Age, Mass Effect, or any other big RPG could easily swing this direction to allow players the opportunity to team up easier and provide that “connected” experience. So perhaps my title is even too limited in scope. Perhaps integrated multiplayer can be the future of all these RPGs and single-player games — but definitely console.

Adventure Log Update on Games I’m Playing

I’m slacking hard on blogging. Honest truth here is that I have a lot of games I’m enjoying right now. So let’s dive into an adventure log update!

Keen’s Adventure Log, stardate 2/10/2016.

Final Fantasy Explorers

I’m really drawn into FFE. Graev and I are having a good time taking out Eidolons and building up our characters. This is one of those weird situations where I know there’s no story, I know there’s not true ‘end’ to the game. Things just end when I feel like I’ve gotten the most out of making a character and I want to quit. I’m playing a Dark Knight right now, but I think I want to switch over to Red Mage. Something about chain casting and doing more magic with a balanced sword-wielding class seems fun. I’d feel more useful and less one-trick pony, though a DK’s one trick is to do a ton of damage.

A few of you asked about multiplayer. The multiplayer work where you turn on multiplayer mode in your singleplayer game. You then can choose local co-op or multiplayer co-op. You can make a room and have others join it, or join someone else’s room. These are like lobbies. You can password your room and let your friends join — that’s what we do.

Albion Online Closed Beta InviteAlbion Online

Really, really falling hard for Albion Online. Despite so much about the game being centered around GvG combat and taking territories, I find myself harvesting and crafting. What I’m worried about is the benefit of zerging. Zergs will win everything. Zergs will control the map, and despite it being huge it’ll still be that way. Zergs will feed crafters and outperform a solo crafter, or even a crafter backed by a group of friends or group of 10-15. It’s all about numbers.

The more I play, the more I realize there’s still a ton left to do to fix the balance. I think the devs know this. For example, crafting really is borked. To truly master one line of crafting would take like 2 years, but to get that far in combat takes 2 months. While needing to make crafting easier, they can’t make it something anything can just do on the side, otherwise they’ve ruined crafting. The entire game hinges upon how they balance this out. Please, PLEASE, get this right.

I’m about to upgrade my house and add more laborers. I’ll write up on those sometime here soon.

EverQuest

Every day I come home from work, go to the gym, and then log into EverQuest. It’s my routine. I think to myself, “I’m going to get a group and play!” Then I can’t find a group for 20-30 minutes. I get frustrated. I log off. None of this changes my desire to group. I -WANT- to group. I’m playing a Cleric FFS… It must be my schedule. I’m trying to play around 5:30pm Pacific time. Am I too late? Too early? It’s becoming frustrating enough that soon I’ll come home and go straight to Albion Online or FFE.

Final Fantasy Explorers Review [3DS]

Final Fantasy Explorers

Take the classes and abilities from Final Fantasy with the basic gameplay from Monster Hunter, and you get Final Fantasy Explorers. The premise of the game should be very familiar to Monster Hunter fans. Your goal is to advance your character by running quests, crafting better gear with drops, and mutating abilities. While really not even close to MH’s depth, FFE strikes a chord with me that MH wasn’t able to — FFE’s pacing is way more my style.

Basic Questing / Gameplay

The game takes place on an island with diverse areas/tilesets to explore. The main hub of operations where the player upgrades gear, obtains quests, and advances the very thin plot is in the town of Libertas. From Libertas you can accept quests to go out and slay summoned monsters, bosses, etc., in an overall effort to gain more crystals. I guess you might say it’s Crystal Chronicles meets Monster Hunter.

FFE OdinThe questing system is straight forward. You get to accept one main quest and any number of sub quests. The main quest is something like “Go kill Ramuh” and a subquest can be to use a certain ability during the fight.

Combat is much more intuitive for me than MH. Although deep enough to incorporate positional attacks and skill shots, the interface and execution are easier. Hold LB and RB opens up submenus with X, Y, A, and B for each. So you can basically bookmark 8 abilities, a basic attack, sprint, and item menu. This is way easier than having to remember combos, and it works so much better too.

Battles play out much like a standard RPG or even MMORPG in real time. Combat mechanics include tanks, heals, boosters, and damagers with a variety of ways to execute each. Monsters fight back using the typical, though a tad unoriginal, mechanics too. You’ll see lots of AOE attacks, charging monsters, and ‘get out of the red circle or instantly die’ mechanics. Despite being a little contrived, they work.

FFE Classes

Classes & Abilities: FFE has lots of them

Knight, Monk, White Mage, Black Mage, Dragoon, Paladin, Thief, Ninja, Red Mage, Time Mage, Bard, Hunter, Dark Knight, Beastmaster, Geomancer, Machinist, Alchemist, Sage, Blue Mage, Samurai, and Freelancer. Those are your class choices in Final Fantasy Explorers. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a variety of tanks, heals, dps, and boosters (buffers) to play, and a variety of ways to satisfy each play style. Want pure burst dps? Go Machinist. Want a traditional Tank? Go Knight.

I like how the abilities, in some cases, can be used cross-class. I can use Cure on my Knight to help heal myself in a pinch. Eventually you can master a class and obtain access to additional weapons and abilities.

Mutating and upgrading abilities adds a whole new level of customization. As you use crystal surges (special abilities on timers) you can then use other abilities that, when used in tandem, spark a mutation. Mutations can stack and build custom abilities. Let’s say you use Guard during a mutation opportunity and it adds Haste. This creates a NEW abilities that will give you both Guard and Haste at the same time. It’s like ability stacking, and you can ultimately walk around with all of your abilities no longer basic simple skills but mutated abilities. The customization here is overwhelming, but if you simply focus on making abilities you think are cool and useful then you’ll get by just fine.

Single-player & Multiplayer

Graev and I have been playing FFE together almost exclusively. Multiplayer works flawlessly without any lag at all. Final Fantasy Explorers works great solo, don’t get me wrong. You can create monster pets to act as a companion and do just fine in the game solo, but I think the true spirit of the game is best felt in multiplayer with up to 4 players.

FFE teamwork

Again, combat is designed for that typical ‘group’ gameplay. Graev is playing a Time Mage with lots of support abilities and heals, but a healthy dose of damage too. Remember, you can customize your character quite a bit, so he has made a character that fits his style. I’m playing a Knight (standard tank) until I unlock either Red Mage or Dark Knight. I think both of those sound most fun to me.

Teamwork and synergizing together, planning attacks, etc., are all beneficial in FFE. We did a boss fight against Ifrit and realized we hadn’t properly planned. Neither of us came in with the abilities we’d need to synergize a good combo or to output enough damage. Fixing that issue, we defeated Ifrit again in half the time.

More to Come…

There’s a little much to put here in a review. You know me, I like to keep these short and to the point with a bit of info to satisfy your questions and whether or not you should buy or skip. While FFE’s scope is easier to grasp than MH, the depth is there for at least 100 hours of gameplay. I’m going to try and rig up a way to stream FFE and/or record a video so that you guys can see it in action from my perspective.

I highly recommend Final Fantasy Explorers. Go into it expecting a game all about playing interesting classes and beating bosses. This is a game about grinding for loot drops to craft that perfect weapon, customizing your abilities to make your character feel just right, and simply enjoying to thrill of the hunt. Just don’t expect a plot — there really isn’t one — or anything close to a traditional Final Fantasy game. But trust me, you won’t miss it. Looks for whatever videos I can come up with soon as they’ll answer more questions and provide more insight into gameplay.

P.S. I highly recommend you purchase FFE on Amazon. Gamestops are sold out, and Best Buy laughed at me. Amazon had it to me in 2 days.