The New Curse Is Impressive

I just recently discovered that Curse went through a major overhaul, and I thought it was cool enough to share. Curse is now more about providing community tools and acting as a platform for content creators, communities, and guilds to interact. Curse is positioning themselves as the facilitator.

Keen and Graev on Curse

As a content creator and curator of a small gaming community, I like that these tools are open to me for free. I use Twitch and Youtube to publish video content, and Curse is now positioned to augment those sites. That’s a much better route than some sites are taking where they try and compete. Instead of going against the grain, Curse is working on chat bots for streamers, facilitating giveaways for streams, helping creators grow their audience, and integrating with these sites through their APIs. Smart idea to tag along rather than stand toe to toe with these juggernauts.

Curse also hooks into lots of games and tries to connect you socially to others. Last night I played some Overwatch and I noticed that all of my friends on Battle.net with Curse accounts could be invited to be my friends in Curse. I thought that was neat.

The only area that I see for improvement right now would be in their execution of the mods side of their site. The new curse app is great and works just like their site, but if I want to use WoW mods I have to have the different mods app. I want both features in one app.

I haven’t decided yet to what extent I’ll use the new Curse. I set up a “server” where you can chat and interact, know when I’m streaming, etc. I may not use a lot of the community stuff, but the tools are pretty neat for streaming and interaction with community.

Ubisoft E3 2016 Conference: Cringe

Ubi kicked things off with an uber-cringe dance number, and the usual host is back with her cringe-worthy moments. So things are business at usual at Ubi this year.

Ghost Recon Wild Lands – Although heavily, heavily scripted, I think there’s some promise here. Playing co-op could be fun. Otherwise it looks a little generic and I haven’t yet found the reason why I should care about this one.

South Park – Picks up after Stick of Truth (which was pretty good) where you’re still the King, but since the kids are all playing a “different game” now that means you’re back to being the new kid and no one likes you. The superhero motif is neat (who wouldn’t super powers like farts ripping the fabric of time?). Probably won’t pick this one up though as I don’t see the draw beyond the gimmick of South Park. Fun once, but I don’t need it twice.

The Division Underground – The original wasn’t great—okay, but not great—so I’m not really psyched about Underground.

Eagle Flight – Reminds me of when the Wii was first announced or Kinect and we saw all these “games” that were nothing more than tech demos. Neat concept. I’m sure it’s glorious in VR. They looked so funny on stage with their headsets on looking everywhere while the guy announced their match like an esport game. Sadly the game doesn’t translate to the audience at all.

Star Trek Bridge Crew – That’s it. We’re done. We can go home. Star Trek wins E3. This single-handedly guarantees I will get VR. I am a bit worried about how much of this is legit gameplay and how much of it is minigame and demo. I want this to be the FULL game where we explore galaxies from our bridge. I want to spend an entire Saturday on the bridge of a ship with Graev exploring the galaxy and fighting Romulans. This better not be a game where one guy puts out fires and another guy “flies” the ship. What was that game on Steam? This warrants another post.

For Honor – It’s like that old game Pirates, Vikings, and Knights but it’s Vikings, Knights, and Samurais. Huh. Gory as heck but looks interesting. I’ll have to check this out more.

[Some weird games not worth mentioning]

Watch Dogs 2 – The first one was a huge disappointment. Fool me once.

Okay so Ubisoft was really weird as usual, but not as bad as it could have been. I’d say they score a C+ where EA scored a D+. Both kinda sucked but Ubi sucked less.  Really lackluster offering this year save for Star Trek Bridge Crew. That has me sold on at least giving VR a shot. Yep, I’m shallow.

 

Bethesda E32016 Showcase

Bethesda had a decent showing in their E3 showcase this evening. They focused a lot on actual games, and brought a good number of actual gameplay trailers. Here’s the breakdown.

Quake – Looks (conceptually) pretty dang good. When they announced the name, I almost died laughing expecting it to be a MOBA (which would enrage the fans) but it looks to be a FPS again. Pretty sure we can expect to see an Overwatch-style game. I’m bummed to not see any gameplay. Meh.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends – No one cares. Why should people care? Hearthstone has superiority in this arena now, and there’s little to no market share for them to scrape. They should stick to making mobile games like Fallout Shelter. There’s a reason it did so well: It was different enough. I’d like to see a Skyrim-like farmville or Elder Scrolls city builder for iOS.

Fallout Shelter – PC version. That’s pretty cool. I’ll play it.

Fallout 4  – Lots of DLC. Meh, not really interested.

Skyrim Special Edition – Coming in October. Looks really pretty. Sure, Skyrim on PC looks prettier when you use mods. I’m interested, but hoping it’s more than a graphical update. I’m hoping for additional features or content or some reason to get us to rebuy the game.

Prey – I heard rumors about a Prety reboot. Totally not my thing at all.

Doom – Lots of DLC. Also not my thing. Too much gore.

The Elder Scrolls Online – Every time I see the trailers and DLC and continued talks of ESO I feel this twinge of “ugh, this looks so fun why wasn’t this in at launch?” Then I have to come to grips with reality and realize it’s simply not this way. It’s not that good. Dark Brotherhood DLC… ugh. And this idea of playing any part of the game at any level? I like that. Do I go back once again and try? Every time I do, I last one month. It SHOULD be fun, it’s just… not

Dishonored 2 – I enjoyed the first, and will likely enjoy the second. I was worried we wouldn’t see any more than NPC pathing, fly-throughs, and story narrative. They finally showed some actual gameplay. The scenery is really pretty but the animations look rough. The time piece feature looks amazing. A definite buy for me

Overall, way better than EA but surprisingly lackluster and by the end I was a little sleepy. There was too much focus on old titles and DLC. I was hoping for an Elder Scrolls 6 announcement from Todd Howard and another huge reveal that there’s a new iOS game available immediately… but it never came. They glossed over the biggest draws for me and emphasized in a BIG way Dishonored 2—not a bad thing, but not where Bethesda makes their money, mark on the industry, or builds their community. I would not have ended with Dishonored 2.

Okay, so moving forward we have Microsoft, Ubisoft, and Sony tomorrow. Whew. Let’s hope there’s something worth talking about. So far, I give E3 a solid C-.

EA Press Conference: “I Think We’re Winning!”

Oh EA. I really do wonder sometimes who heads up your marketing department, and why you guys do what you do. The EA press this afternoon was one of—if not the—worst E3 press conferences they’ve ever had. The entire event could be summarized like this:

“Do you like cool games? We’ve made some cool games in the past. But since we don’t have anything cool to show you, here’s some Soccer!”

The highlight of the event was Peter Moore’s cringe-worthy, “I think we’re winning,” comment after the early applause.

I was seconds away from turning off the overly-dramatized,  gratuitous dudebro sporting fest when they suddenly started playing some Star Wars music. Sadly, and to my dismay, nothing Star Wars can even be expected until late 2017 at best. Even then I can’t decide if it’s going to be any good based on what little they showed. At least some of the developers they showcased are talented — some ex-Naughty Dog people there who can at least tell a story.

EA ended their showing with their usual crutch: Battlefield.They showed trailers and stuff we’ve already seen and said a whole lot about nothing (kinda like the rest of the show). They talked about Zac Effron and Jamie Foxx who were there as nothing more than shills for EA to whore out. Ugh it was all just awkward. I’m excited about BF1, but I’m simply not interested in this kind of display.

The bar is set. Even Microsoft will look good in comparison.

Overwatch: Proof Blizzard Can Sell Anything

My review and thoughts on Overwatch will be straight forward and to the point as many or most of you likely already own the game. Overwatch is a rather generic and mediocre shooter when you strip away the Blizzard logo and look at it critically for what it really is. If this were released as a brand new IP from an unknown company, Overwatch would have gone relatively unknown and stood no chance against its competition in the space; In fact I have a feeling most would have knocked it hard for its shortcomings.

Overwatch is a straight copy of TF2 from character mechanics to game modes and even down to the zany nature of its characters personalities. They innovated some on certain abilities and attacks, tossed in more characters, but left it very vanilla after that.

There’s not much to Overwatch, and unfortunately little room to evolve the model. I’m sure they’ll add hats and gimmicks to the cash shop over the years to keep things fresh. That should work.

Team composition matters too much — probably the only legitimate comparison to a moba that I’ll allow. Have a poor team comp and you’re done. There’s also too much cheese. For example, stack a bunch of Toblerones and it breaks certain maps. Certain heroes have abilities which just aren’t balanced — and no, I don’t count having to swap heroes to take them out as balance. I had this discussion with Graev tonight about playing what you want to play vs playing what you have to play or are compelled to play. I like Hanzo the most, but I simply can’t play him when the enemy team comp won’t allow it or my team refuses to play a comp that stands a chance. If you’re on a team where everyone only picks the one hero they love to play, you’re doomed.

Summary:
People aren’t going to stick with Overwatch long, but they’ll get their money’s worth (the single biggest positive influence on my scoring). Overwatch is a ‘good’ game, but it simply rehashes what has already been seen and done before. If you look past the rage-inducing balance issues, cheese, team stacking, and overly formulaic design, chances are you’ll have a blast.