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Hyrule Warriors

I have never played a Dynasty Warriors game or any of its off-shoot variants. Really I had no desire to, especially hearing most people say that all you do is “press x” and wade there tons of enemies. However if you want me to buy anything all you have to do is slap a Nintendo theme on it, especially something related to the Legend of Zelda. So I’ve been pretty jazzed about this game ever since it was announced and through all of the Nintendo Direct videos they have shown. Surprisingly enough it actually delivered on everything I hoped it would be.

What’s it like?

In Hyrule Warriors, and what I can only assume is every other “warriors” game, you do run around mashing an attack button and wading through a multitude of mindless enemies. You do, however, also get some other combo attacks but they aren’t anything too complex to pull off. It’s pretty much variations on press B and Y multiple times. It’s seems simple but it does make remembering specific combos across all of the characters very manageable. Like I have a pretty good idea what B-B-B-Y does on every character.

So you run around hacking through all of these dudes and regardless of what your goal is it will usually boil down to capturing keeps or killing specific guys. The maps are spread out with multiple keeps and outposts that generate units. To capture an oupost you kill its captain and to capture a keep you need to first take out a multitude of the smaller units and then take out the captain when it appears. The little guys like soldiers, bokoblins, and stalchildren wont really bother you at all. What they will do is overwhelm your keeps and cost you map control, so that’s why they need to be put down. The guys that will give you trouble are the larger dudes, specifically anybody that you can lock-on. Depending on what army you are fighting it could be anything from a goron, stalfos, or poe. Then there are specific characters you will encounter from the Zelda series. In the story mode the good guys are mostly on your team but throughout the entire game you will face Darunia, Impa, Shiek, Link, Ganon, Zant, etc. Pretty much everyone of them is also a playable character or probably will be in DLC. There are also several large boss fights which are really cool and add some nice diversity to the game.

Is there a story?

There actually is a story and it’s fairly interesting. I thought this would be some non-canonical off-shoot from the series but it actually works surprisingly well within the Zelda universe. You encounter familiar characters from the Zelda series as a whole as well as specific characters from Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword as well as locations unique to each game. Noticeably Majora’s Mask, my favorite, is missing and none of the characters or levels are represented here. Hopefully that gets remedied in future DLC. My fan boy indignation aside, it’s actually really interesting and you even get to play as the bad guys at some point.

Can you get upgrades?

Your character does level up but that really only means an increase to your base damage and possibly some increased health. You specifically upgrade your character with different materials that you acquire from defeating foes. They come in varying forms of rarity and there is a lot of them. You use them, along with rupees, to add upgrades to your character in the form of badges. Basically it’s a skill tree, actually three, and the upgrades increase your defense, add combos, and give you other combat perks.

Weapons also can be found when defeating enemies. Each character starts with a specific weapon and you will only see variations of those weapons drop. They can have varying damage, slots, and skills attached to them. In order to get better weapons you need to acquire a higher level upgrade to that weapon type. So until Link gets his level 2 sword upgrade only level 1 swords will drop, etc. When weapons have empty slots you can take them to the forge and combine them with other weapons.So say Sword B does more damage than your old Sword A but you want to keep the still attached to sword A. Luckily Sword B has an empty slot so you take it to the forge, pay some rupees, and pick a skill from Sword A to combine into Sword B. You know reading that back it all sounds more confusing than it really is.

So wait, there are MULTIPLE weapons? For each character?!

Yes! Well, sort of. Most characters will only have their one weapon style that can be upgraded over time. However characters like Link, Zelda, Impa, and the new character Lana have multiple weapon types. So Link can used his traditional Sword & shield or go with a fire rod or even powerful gauntlets. Zelda can use a rapier and the Wind Waker and Lana gets a neat sorcery book and an awesome staff/spear that summons Deku related attacks. It’s all really cool stuff and being able to use different types of weapons on the same character is awesome. Link obviously gets the most choices, ending up with something like 4 or 5.

What about classic Zelda items and sub-weapons?

Several of classic items in Links arsenal are also present in Hyrule Warriors. Namely the bombs, hookshot, bow, and boomerang. I found most of them to be kind of useless but you can find powerups on the battlefield that temporarily increased their potency like giving you a GIANT bomb, a multishot bow, tornado boomerang, and a hookshot that pulls down the Moon from Majora’s mask. Oh right, there’s the MM reference… Even so I found that I only really used these in the situations that actually require that you use them, like when it is needed to reveal an enemy weakness and so on. Still pretty cool, though.

So what else is there to do?

The main story mode, which I believe is known as Legend Mode, has a bunch of levels in it and three different difficulty levels, along with an additional fourth that you can unlock. Each level also has heart pieces for specific characters along with Gold Skulltulas that only show up when you kill 1000 enemies, plus even more show up in hard mode once you beat the game for the first time. Aside from all of that there is a very interesting Adventure mode. It takes place on the Hyrule map from the original Zelda game and each of the selectable squares is a different mission. This is the mode that you will need to play to find weapon upgrades, new weapon types, addition hearts and skulltulas and even a few hidden characters. Sometimes you get a reward for just completing a mission and other times you will need to beat it with a gold rating to get one of the rewards. Rewards can also be hidden and require a compass item to locate and then the use of a specific item to reveal them. Only then can you acquire them in the mission. It’s actually a lot of fun and pretty challenging. Right now I’m trying to tackle the map and it’s a lot harder than I thought

So should I get this?

Well, if all of this sounded good to you then yeah, go for it. I really enjoy it and there’s already plans for additional content spread out until sometime in March next year. There’s actually a season pass available now and it was the first season pass I every bought without batting an eye, which is pretty interesting since the whole concept of season pass dlc greatly irritates me. I just couldn’t help myself when I saw that if you get the season pass you get a Dark Link skin right now. I mean, who could possibly resist that?

 

Super Smash Bros. 3DS

smashbros-3ds

I have a pretty big backlog of blog posts that I need to get around to writing, I’ve played a lot of stuff that I have yet to really talk about. So today’s topic is: Smash Bros.

I absolutely LOVE this series thought I am by no means a competitive player. Just having fun and playing is my only objective so you will likely never find me playing those “items off, final destination only” matches. I just don’t see the point at all but kudos to whoever enjoys that. Anyway, Keen and I have very much enjoyed the series ever since the N64 days but I have yet to convince him to pull the trigger on the 3DS version. So please if you could pressure him into that it would be fantastic.

The Controls

This is a pretty big question on people’s minds, at least it was on mine. I had no idea if the 3DS circle pad and buttons would in anyway feel right when controlling a Smash Bros. game and as it is now I am torn. I still feel scared that I’ll break something and all of the horror stories and pictures out there don’t alleviate that at all. I grip my controllers very tightly, especially in intense situations. So having to dial back on this and get used to not thrashing a control stick around was a bit of a challenge. Mainly at first it affected my ability to input commands and even accurately move my character but over time I was able to adapt and I feel I am able to control the game fairly well, though probably not on the same level as with a controller in my hands. So really I wouldn’t say that this is a problem with the game on the 3DS so much as it is with me. Even so I imagine there will be a learning curve or adaptation period for everybody. [Read more...]

Destiny is, oddly enough, growing on me… But things could still be better.

I had a lot of mixed feelings over Destiny but for some reason I keep going back. Almost everyday I would pop in and do my daily stuff and try to work towards some better gear. I knew I was on a loot treadmill but I just kept going anyway. Before long I was already at level 28 and pretty much at the end of what you could accomplish solo. So at that point I was forced to tackle more group-oriented activities.

Unfortunately Destiny has one major problem that really needs to be fixed. For some reason Bungie decided not to include matchmaking for the weekly strike mission, the weekly nightfall mission, and raids. The first to weekly missions are a great way to get specialty resources and raids are the only way you will find gear to get you to 30. This is pretty much the end game of Destiny right now but Bungie is making it really difficult to actually participate in it.

I’m not sure what Bungie’s logic is for not including matchmaking in those events. Some people seem to think it’s because they are a good deal harder than other stuff and PUG-ing it would be difficult. That doesn’t really make that much sense to me since that is what everybody is doing anyway. So far the only way I have been able to do any of these is by going onto various message boards and searching for groups. So most of us are already trying to find random people to do these weekly missions with. For some reason Bungie must think that everybody who plays the game must have 3-5 other friends who also play on the same system and at the same times. This really wouldn’t be that big of a problem if there was some kind of public chat in the social area of the Tower but nothing of the sort exists. There’s really no way to communicate with other players that is in any way easy. Players shouldn’t be forced to use a third-party just to find other like-minded players.

I still find myself having fun and coming back despite how difficult they are making things. Really all that needs to be done is adding matchmaking and things would be so much better. Keen always says that I’m antisocial in games but that doesn’t sound anything like me. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go and remove 37 people from my friends list.

Clash of Clans & Star Wars Commander: I’ve Sunk This Low

clash-of-clansI’m in a gaming slump lately. All of the MMOS outright now fail to meet my standards of looking for a rich and deep virtual world experience like I had in all of the MMOs I played from 1999 to 2005.  I play Diablo 3 on the weekends, and I poke around occasionally in other games like Albion Online during the week. I’m actually starting to hate myself for playing 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there of games like Star Wars Commander.

Star Wars Commander, Clash of Clans, and Boom Beach are all sorta this same type of game where you spend real time waiting to build up a base or pay in gems or other currency you can buy to expedite things. Yeah, they are all pay to win in some form but capable of being played for several hours (at least in my experience) if you’re wiling to wait a while in-between sessions. These are all time-waster “games” yet I find myself playing.

star-wars-commanderI wish I could build up a base and play something like this without the pay-to-win elements. I wish I could build up my empire base and run attacks on other squads or make a clan in clash of clans and play on my desktop. I’m not a fan of the little phone screen (my iPhone 4 is kinda small now compared to the other iPhones out there).

I like the jump-in-jump-out nature. I’ve been saying this a lot lately, I know. If I can’t lose countless hours to a MMO then I want my games capable of being consumed in bite-sized pieces.

I’m hoping to see H1Z1 hit Steam soon. I’ll buy the early access out of sheer boredom.

EverQuest Next Lore: Shades of Grey

The lore of EverQuest is changing significantly with the reimagining taking place in EverQuest Next. Not all of the changes are sitting well with veteran players, especially as those changes kill off and radically alter the primary mythology.

Tunare, a well-known and loved Goddess and The Mother of All, is dead. She was killed by ravaners which are some sort of creatures of chaos (not Dragons like one o the panel transcripts stated). Things like these changes have brought significant change to the way in which veteran players are going to have to cope with the EverQuest Next lore.

Personally, I’m okay with the major change as long as what Steve Danuser, aka Moorgard, says is true about more new coming very soon. A lot of what we need to know in order to judge these changes hasn’t been revealed. We know nothing or little about the evil gods (my favorite) like Innoruuk, Rallos Zek, Cazic Thule, or Bristlebane. That leads into what is an interesting topic: The Grey Area.

The way in which Moorgard describes the religion system in EQN makes it seem like much of the world of Norrath is governed by how you do things rather than which things you choose to do. In previous EQ an NPC was good or bad. In EQ both NPCs could be considered good but go about doing their perspective of ‘good’ in very different ways (redeeming evil being vs. eradicating them). If you redeem the evil beings like someone from the Ashen Order would do, then The Knights of Truth might actually dislike you — by doing what one ‘good’ faction saw as the ‘right’ thing to do, another ‘good’ faction saw it as weak and now dislikes you. That example is still a little black and white for me, though. It’s still treating good and evil as universally recognized and acknowledged distinctions.

It sounds to me like EQN could easily adopt much of the original EverQuest’s faction system where pretty much any action you take influenced how another faction treated you.  I love that faction system because it’s not about simply maxing bars. It’s about interacting with the world and choosing who will and will not like you, and as a result what you can and cannot do.

The true test of how open EQN will be is whether or not someone can still be a Druid of Tunare despite Tunare being dead. Can someone still act in her name? Can I still choose to worship a slain god and have my choices influence the world, or will I be confined to the script of each public quest dynamic event rallying call?

As far as all of the changes go, SOE is fighting an uphill battle. They’re changing something people actually loved. If people thought the EQ lore was crap then everyone might actually welcome the changes to the story. That’s not the case. From my perspective, I’m okay with changing the lore and mythology as long as it ends up being as complete and interesting as the original.