Fortnite outsmarted PUBG, and won

Go onto any online gaming message forum, and the debate will be there. PUBG vs. Fortnite, the Battle Royale duel between an early concept that skyrocketed in success, but a true winner taking their idea, flipping it on its head and creating something much, much better.

Before I get into this, I have played Player’s Unknown Battlegrounds, for about twenty minutes. When it first came out, I was dying to play it, but without a PC, I was left watching twitch streams and youtube playthroughs. One day in November, I was browsing the PlayStation Store looking for something to play with my buddies, and I stumble across Fortnite. It looks pretty simplistic, a copycat of PUBG for sure, but it’s free, why not give it a shot. I log in, and I’m hooked. I immediately got my friends to download it and the six of us rotated through playing squad games, and to this day the majority of us still play pretty often.

pubg_vip_nell_notext-0

PUBG came out on Xbox One in the new year, and since I picked up a One S, my buddy and I decided to split it. It was buggy, way too much real estate and not nearly as thrilling as Fortnite. We ran around for a good 15-20 minutes, found a car, drove it into a river, got out, ran around some more before being picked off from a quarter mile away. Fun. I quit the game, haven’t picked it up since.

What makes Fortnite so genius is that they not only made the game free to play (sort of), but they took everything that made PUBG so popular, and completely reversed it. PUBG is full of detail, realism (for the most part) and grand maps that let you explore and team up for survival against 90+ other players. While Fortnite kept the basic values of PUBG, they went for the simplistic approach, which is good news for their developers. They took the giant map and crammed it into a smaller space, but not too small, for fast-paced action, more weapons, less realism for a wider audience and most of all, building, which gave the game a fresh perspective and made it seperate itself from PUBG. All this was a perfect strategy to profit off of something that was great, but could be much more, by taking things away rather than adding more.

fortnite-battle-royale-team-trailer_z1a4

Sure, the game has expanded a lot over the past few months, with miniguns, hand cannons, rocket launchers and all kinds of other gadgets and traps being added to the game along with a re-designed map and crisper graphics, but Fortnite has reached its peak. We’re talking about it, friends are talking about it, celebrities are talking about it, professional athletes are hooked on it. Fortnite has officially hit the glass ceiling. Now the question is, how long can they sustain this popularity? And can PUBG make a comeback? To be fair, PUBG still has a very large prescence on PC, but Fortnite has dwarfed them across all platforms. Once Fortnite releases its campaign (which should be out by now, no?) another wave of players will flock to it to test out the co-op zombies story mode for a fresh take, but they will need to continue to make the Battle Royale mode fresh and exciting, by hosting unique modes and challenges every week in order to keep the current player traffic at the rate it’s currently at. While personally I don’t think Fortnite can possibly stay this popular past the new year, it’s been an absolute blast to play considering it was free, and I still enjoy picking it up every now and then and giving it a go, although I don’t think I’ll ever win a solo match. Ever.

As far as PUBG goes, it’s back to the drawing board if they want to catch up with Fortnite, but again, don’t see that happening.

Advertisements

Board Game Recommendation – enDANGERed Orphans

UPDATED: Purdy Pictures

I like to play board games. Lots of different games. Most people don’t get to experience the good games out there as most of the developers don’t market, usually due to budget constraints. Some of the best games are Indy developed and need crowd funding to make it to market in the first place.

The big companies out there have big budgets allowing them to put commercials on TV and print copies by the millions to fill every Walmart and drugstore in the World. Games like Monopoly or LIFE that have the big studio behind it usually fall painfully flat on the fun-o-meter but sell like crazy due to the name recognition compared to the Indy developed offerings littering Kickstarter.

I own quite a few games myself, but nothing compared to a friend of mine. He is an addict. He has an entire double wide bookshelf dedicated to his addiction. This is beneficial to me and my friends because we can play lots of a really good games with out the price tag (Thanks Chris!). It will also allow me to review or recommend a bunch of games you’ve probably never heard of, and maybe you’ll see something you like!

Let’s start off with a card game, enDANGERed Orphan’s by Certifiable Studios. The tag line for the game is “A deplorable tabletop game devoid of joy, hope, or humor; which, regrettably, is also far more awesome than it has any right to be.”

enDANGERed Orphans Box

That is very accurate. The game centers around you and your adopted Orphan wandering around a creepy town trying not to be horribly butchered by the Boogeyman. You take turns playing Cove Cards to expand the town. Each card represents a different area of the town which can be played basically anywhere, and each area has perks if your Orphan is on that space. Subsequently, everyone also has Option cards that effect those spaces, usually to the dismay of the Orphan sitting there. These options can also effect you or the other players. As your Option deck runs out (or your Orphan runs out of options, lol) you might be forced to make an Act of Desperation. This is where the Boogeyman is hiding. You draw a card blindly from a randomized set of 6, and every Act of Desperation is a card that helps you stay alive, except the one card that kills you horribly.

20170819_163122.jpg

Once someone is forced to take one of these cards it’s burned for good, so the next time someone is desperate there is one less good card and a higher chance to get the Boogeyman. Short version? You run around a creepy, terrible little town trying to screw over the other players while attempting to not die.

20170819_163118.jpg

The key to success is not using your options deck too fast and forcing yourself to act desperate. Plenty of cards allow you to take from other players decks, put cards back into your deck, or out right steal from the other players hand. So it’s a slow race to the bottom of the Options deck hoping the Boogeyman will eat your friends and not you!

I should also mention the Options deck is static, which means the more players you have the less options you have, and the faster you’ll be brutally murdered by the creepy Boogeyman. So if you have 2 players, you get a set number of Option cards, but when you add more players you have the same amount of cards for the game, but between 3 or 4 players and not 2. Less Options means more panic means getting dead faster. We played with 2 and 3 players on my play through, and 3 was more fun for sure. More people to screw over.

Easy to learn, fun as hell, and hard to master. The game also doesn’t have a time limit as you can actually win turn 1, which is really rare but of course happened to me… Games usually last 15 to 30 minutes or so. So lots of time for multiple games! It offers tons of different ways to play as the game board is different every time you play. The art is incredible and losing is actually fun, as I figured out drawing the Boogeyman card 6 times in a row. A 1 in 6 chance, 6 times straight… Do the math on that. (Hint: It’s 1 in 7776 or 0.0000214% :/ and I have witnesses!)

20170819_164554.jpg

Worth a try. I have linked a YouTube playlist from the official Certifiable Studios account showing how the game works!

 

Have any good game recommendations? I hope to continue this as a series. I have a bunch of games lined up!

Hit me up on twitter @bikeronthemic and let’s chat board games!

Destiny 2 Beta Review: It’s… Serviceable

Destiny was a groundbreaking RPG/FPS, and had massive hype as Bungie’s first major project since departing with Halo and Microsoft. While it was a success in sales and users, for me, it left a lot to be desired. The Destiny 2 Beta came out last weekend to the public, and I got my hands on the beta to see if I would be interested in buying the second installment in the series. Honestly, it feels like a rinse and repeat to me.

Right when you boot up the beta, you’re planted right in the middle of conflict. The gameplay is identical to the first game, with hordes of enemies at a time as you venture through exquisite and beautiful landscapes, ships and space in general. The story seems to serve as a prologue for the upcoming storyline. I had a good giggle when the main antagonist in the prologue looks like a Halo grunt on steroids.

giphy

Seriously, he does. It could be foreshadowing that Bungie could be tapping into their old success that was Halo. Whether it’s ideas, worlds or storylines, it could be interesting to see Bungie intertwine the Halo universe with the Destiny universe. I’m not saying that Master Chief and Arbiter should just show up on our doorstep in the next game, and I definitely don’t think Earth or the UNSC should be introduced, but some of the remains of the Halo Universe that may not have been tapped into during the Halo Trilogy (can we just forget Halo 4 even happened,) and implement them into the sequel of Destiny.

Something that will make Destiny 2 a hard sell, for me at least, is the amount of DLC that was released in the first game. Keeping a game recent is okay, but the originally released game had a campaign mode that lasted about 7 hours of game time, if you weren’t rushing. Then, DLC came out like there was no tomorrow, and unless you’re a die-hard Destiny fan, it’s hard to justify buying an $80 game, just to buy another $100 of DLC over the next year. Plus, it’s harder for casual fans like me to get into Destiny 2 if they reference The Taken King or Rise of Iron etc., simply because I couldn’t justify paying more money after the first storyline didn’t feel very epic and at times felt repetitive.

destiny-2-beta-starts-this-summer-early-access-for-preorders

With the Destiny 2 Beta, it doesn’t give me too much hope that the new installment will improve on that front. The story was somewhat intriguing, but it was only around an hour of gameplay. Plus, it’s hard to tell a good story when the missions include other players and the story is meant to be involve the entire group of players playing the game. When the scale is so big, it’s hard to make the single player feel important, and it’s hard to do storytelling from that standpoint. With Destiny 2, it’s not going to change the wheel, it’s going to stick to its bread and butter on the foundation of what they built in Destiny. While it feels fresh and new for the first month, I just found myself going full circle after that. And once I didn’t buy the DLC, I was basically turned off the game, because the story went nowhere and everyone online had better weapons than I did because they spent $40.

I also played some crucible while in the beta, and again, it’s almost exactly the same as the first game. While there are some minor changes, like new abilities and new weapons, there’s nothing game-changing. The maps I played on were pretty symmetrical, there doesn’t feel like there’s enough action with 4v4, so hopefully when they release the full game they either make the maps tighter or expand the games to 6v6. The movement with jetpacks seems very non-responsive, I try and make a quick jump over an opponent and end up suspended mid-air for five seconds or so, essentially a sitting duck. Unless it’s something I haven’t figured out yet (I must admit, I only ventured with the Titan class,) the jumping physics seems pretty underwhelming.

destiny_the_taken_king_multiplayer_gameplay_-_ign_live_e3_2015-620x348

Overall, I’d say that the Destiny 2 Beta previews a game that will be very similar to the original. For die-hard fans, this might not be a bad thing, but for those who didn’t keep up with the DLC from the first game, it might’ve been looking for something a little different. Storytelling is what is going to be the make or break for me. If they can find a way to make the story compelling while still integrating the “everyone’s involved” concept, Destiny 2 will definitely be in my game library when it’s released on September 6th.

EA Sports NHL needs rival for series revival

Pressure turns coal into diamonds, or at least that’s how the old saying goes. All of the world’s best things have competition. Coke has Pepsi, Sony has Microsoft, Ford has Chevrolet. Everywhere, companies, and people compete against one another to be the best they can be. Without that competition, we get lazy. We take our foot off the gas pedal and stop generating new ideas, original ideas. At that point, it becomes rinse and repeat. For the EA Sports NHL series, this is very much the case.

Believe it or not, there was a time when the EA Sports NHL sector was producing exceptional games. First, you have the early 90’s, with NHL ’94 being the standout game-changer, and one that’s to this day played by sports gamers across the globe. Times changed, and so did the games. Heading into the new millenium, NHL 2002 to 2004 were all fantastic games, for hardcore hockey fans and the general gamer. With wicked soundtracks, limitless creation options, in-depth GM modes, and serious attention to detail with in-game physics and player attributes, these games, NHL 2004 in particular, are absolutely phenomenal.

xbox3601_nhl2k6_07

Then, along came the NHL 2K series. 2K took the greatest aspects of the EA Sports games and focused on why sports gamers came to adore hockey games. The first part of breaking into the market for 2K, was the price tag. While most console-based video games cost $50 back in the early 2000’s, NHL 2K3 debuted on the Xbox Orginal at just $20 a pop. So, if you’re a big fan of EA Sports, but willing to try something new, why not pick up a copy of 2K just to see what they’re up to. And while the graphics, animations and attention to detail wasn’t quite on the same level as their counterpart, the 2K games were always original. Whether it was the arcade with table hockey, the zamboni mini-games, plus the GM mode features which made EA Sports’ games back in the early 2000’s so good, 2K was onto something. And it shook the EA Sports NHL team.

It didn’t help that NHL 2005 was a major step backwards for EA Sports. With 2004 being a huge hit, NHL 2005 dialed back on the customization and creativity, removing the option to create a player, something that had been a part of NHL games since NHL ’95. The Franchise mode was still serviceable, but nowhere near NHL 2004’s standards. The game heavily promoted the EA Sports World Cup, with countries doing battle, and while it wasn’t terrible, it can’t be the biggest part of your game. The Free-4-All mode was a blast, and really saved the game from being a complete disaster, but it opened the door for NHL 2K to really make a splash. And they did.

nhl-2k7-image648151

With ESPN sponsoring the game, NHL 2K5 featured a broadcast-style presentation, Bill Clement on play-by-play, and an overall authentic feel, whereas NHL 2005 still wasn’t quite there. And you don’t have to look further than the most recent EA Sports NHL games to see that they’ve learned their lesson about broadcast-style presentation, hence why we get to see Doc Emerick and Eddie Olczyk before every opening face-off.

With EA Sports NHL in a bit of a lull from 2005-2007, it allowed NHL 2K to capitalize and broaden their fan base. I don’t have the facts, but I’d go as far as assuming that there were more copies sold of NHL 2K games than EA Sports NHL games in the span of 2005-2008. And it all came down to creativity, and moving forward rather than staying status quo. This was the peak of NHL 2K games.

It must’ve been somewhere in the early months of 2007 that EA Sports realized they needed to get their asses into gear if they were going to take back their monopoly on hockey video games. The franchise’s saving grace came in the form of NHL 2008, which introduced the skill stick and changed the way we played hockey video games. Previous games had flirted with the concept of using the thumbstick for stickhandling, but EA Sports was the first to include puck protection, dekes and shooting all with one flick of the stick. Add the inclusion of the EASHL in NHL ’09, with an amazing soundtrack, great visuals and an overall superb product, and the EA Sports NHL department regained their supremacy. NHL 2K would have moderate success with 2K10 and 2K11, but discontinued their product after the 2011 release. 2K is still releasing hockey games on mobile, but it appears their run as a console-based developer in the hockey side of things are over. If you’re a wrestling fan, the 2K vs. EA battle on the NHL front feels eerily similar to the WWF/WCW Monday Night Wars in the mid to late 90’s.

With that history lesson, let’s jump to 2017, and look at EA’s last three releases. I’m giving NHL 15 a bit of a free pass given their tight timeline, and the fact they were forced to release a product for the new generation consoles, and it was obviously a rushed project. However, it’s yet to really expand from their leap to next-gen consoles. NHL 16 saw the re-addition of EASHL, but it wasn’t true EASHL. The mode was still missing a lot of key features, some that had been in the game since the mode’s inception in NHL 09. Be A GM / Franchise Mode still doesn’t feel right for some reason, whether they’re getting too in depth or aren’t focusing on the basics, it’s not what it used to be. The relocation options and customization is coming around with NHL 17, but the franchise needs to follow suit with the NBA 2K series and make everything customizable. EA Sports has failed to let their gamers use their full creativity to make something they’ll enjoy. They’re on the right track with NHL 17, now they just need to commit to the idea 100 percent. There’s already been a couple teaser trailers for NHL 18, and to be honest, it looks the exact same as NHL 17 with a couple new dekes. My point is, EA Sports needs a kick in the pants once again. Whether they need some more funding from Electronic Arts or simply more creativity and effort, the series is getting stale.

I’ve owned every NHL game since NHL 99, and I’ve owned every NHL game within the first week of release since NHL 08. I played NHL 11 vigorously, ranked in the Top-100 in HUT for the whole year. I know what it’s like to be invested in a good NHL game, and since NHL 14, I’ve pretty much let my NHL games collect dust for NBA 2K, MLB: The Show and an assortment of other games. GM Connected mode, which was highly regarded as a breakthrough for the franchise, has been discontinued since NHL 14, and while it had it’s flaws, needs to be in the game in this day in age. NHL is notorious for introducing new game modes and features, only to take them away in six years and reintroduce them three or four years later as a “new feature” to draw gamers in.

Whether it’s 2K re-investing in a console-based NHL game, or an outside video game publisher giving the EA Sports crew a run for their money, it needs to happen in order for EA to start churning out good, original material. As of right now, it feels EA looks at what NBA 2K does, and introduces features 2-3 years down the road, for example, the whole relocation feature brought in for NHL 17. For those of you keeping track, NBA 2K introduced that in 2015.

In the end, this is a disgruntled diehard NHL gamer who wants something fresh, something that feels new, and original. It’s time for a wake up call over at EA Sports when it comes to the NHL franchise.

Gaming reboots need to be more creative

They’re taking the gaming world by storm these days, games being re-released with updated graphics. For the hardcore fans of the game, it’s something that is nostalgic and an entertaining trip back to the first time you played the game. For others, it can be a new introduction to a well-received game or series. Depending on the age of the game, there is almost always room for improvement when it comes to these titles. Gaming fans are black and white when it comes to these reboots; either you love them or you despise them. And I understand both arguments. On one hand, you’re revisiting a great piece of your childhood or reliving a classic, and on the other hand you just dropped $70 to replay a game that came out years ago, and you probably own for another system if you’ve still got it kicking around. My solution? Jazz things up a bit.

Now, you can call me a hypocrite because I purchased the Modern Warfare Remastered Edition as well as the Crash Bandicoot remaster that recently came out. While I barely touched the MW remaster because I was too busy playing Battlefield One, I’m loving Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. But I just feel like there’s potential for something greater here. As a person who didn’t play the originals, I just feel like there’s so much more that the developers of the game can do now that we’re in 2017 and there’s a lot of new tools that are available to the developers to work with.

sony-997127

I played Spyro The Dragon non-stop as a kid on my PlayStation 1 back in the day, and if they said they’re only rolling out the remastered original, I’d probably still buy it, but could you imagine if they made an entirely new story with new abilities and features on top of that? As in, you pay the $70 ($80 here in Canada) and you get a brand new title of Spyro to play, and included you get the original game remastered. That way, both new and returning players get something out of it. Now, Call of Duty has done that, but the current state of their games, people don’t even want to play the new editions, and just bought the deluxe editions to play the remastered classics. So basically, both games have to be fairly good in order to make this work.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that these remasters are rolling out, but I still wish gaming companies would be more on board with backwards compatibility, that way we don’t need all these remastered editions coming out and we can play the copies of the games we bought years ago. I also understand it’s a business and companies like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo need to make a profit, but with online subscriptions now costing $60, new consoles costing $350 and above, and game prices continuing to climb, can’t these guys throw us loyal gamers a bone?

The gaming industry seems to be in the same situation as the film industry these days, running out of great ideas. While it’s great to see characters like Crash Bandicoot rising back into gaming stardom, it would also be nice to see some new, unique adventures as well.

Crash Bandicoot is incredibly hard, but also super fun

I never thought I’d have so much fun and be so frustrated at the same time. I was on the fence about getting the game in the first place, but Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a blast. I’m not even done the first game yet, mostly because I’m terrible at the game, but I’m still having a good time. When I originally saw all the reviews coming out that it was “insanely hard,” I kinda shrugged it off. How hard can jumping from one box to the next with timed spikes possibly be?

Then I played it. And while I was enjoying myself, I nearly ripped my own hair out every time I’d come up mere millimetres short of the next platform. I can’t imagine being a six year old kid and trying to get through the grueling levels, so I looked into it, and as it turns out, there’s evidence to back up the theory that the game is harder than its original releases years ago. I can’t find it now (of course), but apparently the animations were revamped in the new game to change the dynamics of the jumping so they’re more unpredictable, hence all the falling.

https://player.twitch.tv/?video=v157644533&autoplay=falseWatch live video from TBennz on www.twitch.tv

Now, keeping in mind that I somehow did not play the original version on the PS1, (I only had Crash Team Racing, which me and my dad played to death) it does seem like this platformer hasn’t aged the best over the past 20 years. While only using two buttons and the analog stick, or directional buttons if you’re real old school, it feels like there’s so much more this game could do. That being said, it is a remaster, but I would be open to a new Crash game as long as it isn’t a rehash of the Ratchet and Clank series. Not to dwell too much, but a lot of the camera angles during the levels are very wonky, and have caused me some trouble on a few levels. While again, it’s a remaster, it would’ve been nice to see some help with the cameras that way I’m not over/under jumping that stupid moving platform for ten minutes.

People have said that this game is harder than Bloodborne, which I must say I disagree with. I bought Bloodborne without ever playing any of the previous Dark Souls games, and I was so frustrated with the game I took it back almost a week after I bought it because I simply couldn’t deal with it. With Crash Bandicoot, I at least feel I have a chance to complete the level. Getting 100% across the board? I doubt it, but I feel like it’s accomplish-able to at least finish the game’s stories.

It’ll probably take me the next month and a half, but I’m excited to finish the game, but more than that, I hope they come out with something new in the coming years.

If I had to give this game a rating, I’d give it a 7.5/10.