Gears of War 4 – Cross Play is here!

Graev and I picked up Gears of War 4 and are currently working our way through the campaign. It’s really, really good. I don’t want to focus on any of the gameplay itself. What I want to focus on here is more of the cross play experience.

When Microsoft announced their big push toward “play anywhere,” I was extremely pleased. For the past 10 years I have been wanting PC and Console players to merge. Some games have tried, almost all have not. Developers of hardware and software alike have cited a litany of reasons. Now, I hope that’s over.

Gears of War 4 allows for co-op campaign and Horde mode cross play. It works flawlessly.

At first we couldn’t figure out how to make it work. Graev was on his Xbox One and I was on PC, but I wasn’t getting his invites. Then I found an Xbox app on my computer and suddenly the experience was merged. His invites came in like they do when you’re on Xbox and someone invites you. From there, the entire experience was utterly seamless.

Taking things a step further, if I use the Xbox app on my computer I can essentially communicate and interact in every way I can if I was on an Xbox instead. It’s great.

Here’s the one downside: You can’t play competitive multiplayer modes where PC players would be fighting against console players. Microsoft has said this is currently “temporary,” but I won’t hold my breath. I think they’ve left it out of Gears on purpose — to have no ‘negative’ perceptions of cross play among the early impressions.

Whether or not PC is truly the master race doesn’t matter to me right now. I’m just glad that I can play games with Graev on my PC if I choose, and he can be on his Xbox if he chooses. It’s time for Sony and Nintendo to start moving in that direction.

Our thoughts on Gears 4 coming soon…

Amazon and Twitch: Games, Prime, and Integration

Amazon is finally making their move. This was only a matter of time after their acquisition of Twitch and creation of AGS.

Amazon is going to attempt to evolve the “streamer generation” into its next phase. They’re going to try and bridge the gap between players, streamers, and viewers. As a harsh critic of the streamer generation — just as I was the cash shop generation — I’m watching this one closely. Is it the future, or just the next fad?

Crucible – Last One Standing FPS

This one has my eye for a few reasons. I like the idea of last man standing games. We haven’t had a truly ‘good’ battle royale or king of the hill or last man standing (whatever you want to call it) game. H1Z1 was crap, and Arma 3 mods are wonky.

If AGS can make Crucible into a solid last one standing FPS… cool, I’m on board.

Now, the idea of this “13th player” being the streamer and having influence over the game… that doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t want to play a game dominated by the Liriks of the world, or their community. How much influence this 13th player has will make or break the game for me.

New World – 17th Century Colonial America MMO

In this version of colonial America, the supernatural is real. New World is Amazon’s foray into the MMO scene. How much of an MMO will this be? I don’t know. How much sandbox? I don’t know. How much PvP vs. PvE? No clue. So what we have in terms of what matters… we got nothin’.

“The players are our content”

“Carve your own destiny”

“If you want to be a X and do X, do it”

Those are the epitome of red flags. I hear hyperbole, over-exaggeration, and zero substance when I hear devs saying those words. Is that because I’m jaded? Heck yes. Is that because of experience? Heck yes.

Breakaway – “Sports Brawler” aka MOBA

Right now it’s like a Smite or an Overwatch style where people ‘build’ stuff or interact with the arena. Their goal: Make a fun game. We’ll see! The genre is saturated with mediocrity and vanilla.

Twitch Prime

Further integration with Amazon and Twitch, those with an Amazon Prime account can now have full Twitch functionality — including one free “sub” to a channel. This is, by far, the best feature of this whole thing. I’m always a fan of having an awesome service (Prime) continue to yield value for the same price.


I’m not overly hyped about any of it. Quite the opposite. They could easily go way overboard on the whole “Twitch is a gaming platform” thing and screw up big time. AAA budgets and devs from previous games rarely come together for a win.

Uncharted Collection: An Absolute Must Play

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Review

I sometimes feel silly reviewing these older games, especially when they’ve long been heralded as amazing and I was simply too oblivious or stupid not to try them when they came out. Even though the first game came out nine years ago, let me tell you now that it’s never too late to play these games — especially since they’ve been remastered and the newest game just came out.

I’m going to approach reviewing Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection by giving my brief thoughts on teach of the games, and my overall thoughts on the series so far.

Uncharted PS3 vs. PS4

Remastered for the PS4

Part of me rejoices in the fact that I waited so long, because playing all of them on one disc in the PS4 in HD looks a heck of a lot better than it would have back on the PS3. The graphics for all three games look great. I was telling Graev (who played them all originally when they came out) that if I didn’t know the original game came out in 2007, I would have pegged it more around 2012’ish. The graphics in Drake’s Deception are as good as many games released today on the PS4.

Drake' Fortune

Drake’s Fortune

The first in the series kicks things off strong by tickling that treasure hunter itch. You’re the descendent of Sir Francis Drake (one of my favorite historical figures since I was 7, btw) looking for his long lost treasure. This starts you down a journey that continues to unfold throughout the rest of the series.

Drake’s Fortune features a lot of puzzle solving, jumping puzzles/navigation scenes, but most of all lots of shooting scenes. Back in 2007, the cover mechanics and climbing would have been really quite a feat and were probably pioneered through this game. The story is intriguing, though definitely takes an Indiana Jones turn when it goes a bit sci-fi — a turn that manifests itself in many ways throughout the series.

Overall a very catch story that sucked me in right away.

Among Thieves

Among Thieves

The story continues, sort of. This time Drake is in a new setting. Instead of islands and pirate ships, Drake is navigating the snowy Himalayas and Asia while following the trail of Marco Polo. Unfortunately, there’s very little connection at all to the first game’s plot except for the characters and their relationships. These relationships, however, are a huge element of the game for me and kept me going.

Among Thieves featured waaaaay more puzzles and climbing with relatively less shooting than the original. The story was slightly less intriguing because my interest in Marco Polo’s adventures pales in comparison to Sir Francis Drake. Once again the series takes on a mystical plot twist that I actually feel is sometimes at odds with the rest of the game. Uncharted 2 had a weird resolution for me. With so much build up, I feel like it ends relatively short of the huge story it built up.

Drake's Deception

Drake’s Deception

Easily the best in the series so far, Drake’s Deception brings us back to the story of Nathan Drake’s ancestor and more about the treasure we may find at the end of this long adventure. We see a change of scenery once again. In fact, we see lots of scenery changes in Uncharted 3. The game begins in London and travels all over from France to Yemen to the Rub’ al Khali desert.

Uncharted 3 introduces a lot more fist fighting and a heck of a lot more emphasis on sneaky gameplay. There’s also a lot of quick time events which make for more cinematic gameplay, but aren’t necessarily my cup of tea. Gameplay overall finds a very healthy balance between puzzles, climbing scenes, and fighting. By the end, I did wish for more puzzles. Thankfully the mystical nature here ends up working a little bit better than Uncharted 2, but it still resolves too quickly to have built up for so long.

Uncharted 3 has so many breathtaking moments where the gameplay had me on the edge of my seat. Bri (who is watching me play the entire series) and I would often be like “OH CRAP!” and all sorts of exclamations at scenes where the game threw me into these perilous intense moments that somehow manages to transcend the feeling of a game. It’s crazy what they’re able to enact on the player; On more than one occasion I was awestruck by how the game was so fluid and seamless in its ability to make me feel like I was doing all of these amazing things on my own, when in reality I know that’s the course they meant for me to take.

An Amazing Journey

Playing all three games back to back in less than a month was a blast, and now I’m ready to start the newly released Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (look for my review in a couple weeks tops). Uncharted is now among the top games on my all-time favorites list, right up there with Warcraft RTS and Assassin’s Creed.

The shooting, sneaking, climbing, jumping, cinematics, etc., all of the mechanics are all superb, and only a few times was I ever frustrated by the actual ‘playing’ part of the game. The story is top notch, yet predictable at times; Yet in its predictability it still manages to be told extremely well. All-around a near-perfect series. If you like shooters mixed with historical fiction, a little mysticism/scifi, and and puzzles… don’t make the same mistake I did by passing on these for so long. All 3 games with PS4 graphics at half the price of ONE game? Yeah, that’s a no-brainer.

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.

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.

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 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?