Search for

More Recent Stories from Pliny The Welder
"}]},{"style":"Normal","type":"LinkPreview","url":"https://www.youtube.com/c/PlinyTheWelder"}],"mainMedia":null,"largeOnStream":false,"images":[{"uid":"bpi7vzou78vjce6zdbfq","originalWidth":1158,"originalHeight":451,"format":"png","width":1158,"height":451,"id":"bpi7vzou78vjce6zdbfq","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"ieopv86gmjvtchk0qggh","originalWidth":259,"originalHeight":194,"format":"jpg","width":259,"height":194,"id":"ieopv86gmjvtchk0qggh","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"cejihmuz4gfdd45ma6so","originalWidth":259,"originalHeight":194,"format":"jpg","width":259,"height":194,"id":"cejihmuz4gfdd45ma6so","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"dmksv1ifqv0li1ps1ygj","originalWidth":835,"originalHeight":833,"format":"png","width":835,"height":833,"id":"dmksv1ifqv0li1ps1ygj","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"shrvuuwrbdwx8k8qdgix","originalWidth":800,"originalHeight":450,"format":"jpg","width":800,"height":450,"id":"shrvuuwrbdwx8k8qdgix","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"higeqfqkwtyvbrj3ytuw","originalWidth":907,"originalHeight":444,"format":"png","width":907,"height":444,"id":"higeqfqkwtyvbrj3ytuw","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"d4k8yoomamvhcna2pous","originalWidth":398,"originalHeight":229,"format":"png","width":398,"height":229,"id":"d4k8yoomamvhcna2pous","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"qctqjodofkmleixycnem","originalWidth":2391,"originalHeight":627,"format":"png","width":2391,"height":627,"id":"qctqjodofkmleixycnem","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"zatsnyl6ien5a7txnzmn","originalWidth":942,"originalHeight":440,"format":"png","width":942,"height":440,"id":"zatsnyl6ien5a7txnzmn","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"xzgnnxzqrg1fwgf1rmnu","originalWidth":964,"originalHeight":605,"format":"png","width":964,"height":605,"id":"xzgnnxzqrg1fwgf1rmnu","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"kezwzbq5ybmxer7uc8cz","originalWidth":1920,"originalHeight":1082,"format":"jpg","width":1920,"height":1082,"id":"kezwzbq5ybmxer7uc8cz","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"g7b9p2t5dmuemfs3uwdw","originalWidth":1083,"originalHeight":609,"format":"png","width":1083,"height":609,"id":"g7b9p2t5dmuemfs3uwdw","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"qxsujy8dfhyb3kzd5bf1","originalWidth":1098,"originalHeight":615,"format":"png","width":1098,"height":615,"id":"qxsujy8dfhyb3kzd5bf1","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"psrr2t6jtqsap6wtwvp5","originalWidth":955,"originalHeight":560,"format":"png","width":955,"height":560,"id":"psrr2t6jtqsap6wtwvp5","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"uhhufk2zbb8myhpxanq3","originalWidth":1085,"originalHeight":612,"format":"png","width":1085,"height":612,"id":"uhhufk2zbb8myhpxanq3","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"ks2sibzfglyqkc38b0te","originalWidth":979,"originalHeight":608,"format":"png","width":979,"height":608,"id":"ks2sibzfglyqkc38b0te","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"mdcgbjgpckjsqxlvuzpo","originalWidth":250,"originalHeight":212,"format":"png","width":250,"height":212,"id":"mdcgbjgpckjsqxlvuzpo","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"zcafwefn7kcs0m8fyogv","originalWidth":1083,"originalHeight":615,"format":"png","width":1083,"height":615,"id":"zcafwefn7kcs0m8fyogv","frozenFormat":"png"}],"videos":[{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"ctunrdcuabommngeouut","format":"jpg","width":0,"height":0,"id":"ctunrdcuabommngeouut","frozenFormat":"jpg"}]}],"publishTimeMillis":1516659900201,"lastUpdateTimeMillis":1516707954173,"timezone":"America/New_York","defaultBlogId":"1634563201","parentId":null,"starterId":"1822314201","parentAuthorId":null,"salesAvatar":null,"sponsored":false,"sharedUrl":null,"status":"PUBLISHED","authorId":"5876237249235617220","authorIds":["5876237249235617220"],"ownerId":null,"byline":{"byline":"","show":true},"properties":"{\"dropCapEnabled\":false,\"hideFromRss\":false}","allowReplies":true,"showAuthorBio":false,"approved":true,"author":null,"authors":[{"id":"5876237249235617220","screenName":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","status":"enabled","isSuperuser":false,"isSales":false,"avatar":{"id":"zxsj7lof8rm9cjyfqgfj","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"token":null,"membership":[],"remotes":{},"authName":null,"isGmgMember":false,"isEditStaff":false}],"tags":[{"canonical":"tayclassic","urlName":"tayclassic","displayName":"#TAYClassic"},{"canonical":"kotaku","urlName":"kotaku","displayName":"Kotaku"},{"canonical":"deadcells","urlName":"dead-cells","displayName":"dead cells"},{"canonical":"videogames","urlName":"video-games","displayName":"Video Games"},{"canonical":"analysis","urlName":"analysis","displayName":"Analysis"},{"canonical":"darksouls","urlName":"dark-souls","displayName":"Dark Souls"},{"canonical":"bloodborne","urlName":"bloodborne","displayName":"bloodborne"},{"canonical":"thebindingofisaac","urlName":"the-binding-of-isaac","displayName":"The Binding Of Isaac"}],"defaultBlog":{"id":"1634563201","name":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","canonicalHost":"plinythewelder.kinja.com","hosts":[],"status":"ENABLED","timezone":"America/New_York","timezoneOffset":-18000000,"createTimeMillis":1428094514748,"ownerId":"5876237249235617220","description":null,"properties":{},"avatar":{"id":"o1cviek0sodh7bfuq7m5","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"logo":{"id":"apgdn7mbb3mwguvzikdh","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"}},"storyTypeId":null,"storyType":null,"parent":null,"isRoundup":false,"isFeatured":false,"isVideo":false,"featuredMedia":null,"qaParticipants":null,"qaMembers":null,"relatedModule":null,"relatedPosts":[],"category":null,"categoryData":null,"subcategory":null,"subcategoryData":null,"permalinkRedirect":null,"permalinkHost":"https://plinythewelder.kinja.com","permalinkPath":"/dead-cells-binding-the-dark-soul-of-isaac-to-bloodbor-1822314201","plaintext":"I think I’ve said everything I need to say about Destiny 2 until something actually changes and I have a reason to play it again so today we’re going to talk about how and why Dead Cells is the most fun I’ve had with a new game’s combat system this year. Motion Twin’s Early Access rogue-like-lite takes several gameplay systems from a couple of my favorite titles and crafts a highly refined, addictively fun combat system that’s good enough to carry dozens and dozens of hours of gameplay.","customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"bpi7vzou78vjce6zdbfq","width":800,"height":311,"format":"png","frozenFormat":"png"},"adSettings":null,"template":null},"id":"1822314201","headline":"Dead Cells: Binding The Dark Soul Of Isaac To Bloodborne","body":[{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":1158,"caption":[],"id":"bpi7vzou78vjce6zdbfq","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":451},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I think I’ve said everything I need to say about Destiny 2 until something actually changes and I have a reason to play it again so today we’re going to talk about how and why Dead Cells is the most fun I’ve had with a new game’s combat system this year. Motion Twin’s Early Access rogue-like-lite takes several gameplay systems from a couple of my favorite titles and crafts a highly refined, addictively fun combat system that’s good enough to carry dozens and dozens of hours of gameplay."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" When mixed with Rogue-lite elements like interesting items and powerful synergies it ends up being a recipe for a game that, when there is enough content here, might just waste hundreds of hours of my time."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Before we go any further people have made clear to me that I haven’tdone a good job with the whole “spoiler coming” thing in thepast."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I suppose I will be “spoiling” the game in that I’ll be going into great detail about what the game does well and the linked video shows many of the levels and enemies but Dead Cells isn’t a narrative experience and it doesn’t rely on mystery and surprise like some of the games it borrows from. So I don’t think anyone’s experience will be any worse for having read or watched this unlike say, if I was doing an analysis of an unreleased Dark Souls title or if you hadn’t played Nier Automata and read or watched that piece. But for what it’s worth...."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Jpg","attribution":[],"width":259,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Those are spoilers btw. They go on the back of cars."}],"id":"ieopv86gmjvtchk0qggh","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":194},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I think it’s also important to make it absolutely clear that Dead Cells is still an early access title and is subject to further refinement and improvement. With that being said I’ve played Dead Cells for 136 hours and I think I’ve played enough to have a grasp on what it’s doing well."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"With all of that out of the way we’re going to take a look at Dead Cells’ unique blend of influences and examine how it borrows it’s most important combat mechanics directly from Soulsborne. We’ll take a look at how it handles player progression and check-pointing correctly and finally discuss how blending these two systems with a Binding of Isaac and Risk Of Rain style item synergy system makes it the best genre blender I’ve ever played."}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"ctunrdcuabommngeouut","format":"jpg"},"start":0,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This is a really long blog post. The video is really long too but at least it features fun visual aids and the ability to critique my gameplay thereby making yourself feel just a bit better about your own skill level."}],"id":"_9nMvYKSOlw","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Combat is the soul of gaming. It’s….dark soul you might say..."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In general, real time combat systems in games are exactly what they’ve always been. You attempt to do damage while avoiding damage yourself. That’s obvious but we’re going to use it as a jumping off point to examine what makes a combat system truly engaging."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Early games were greatly constrained in the amount of information that could be shown on screen. In spite of that ("},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"or hell maybe because of that"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":")the control and combat in some of those early games were extremely tight and focused. Galaga (probably my favorite arcade game ever and one that I routinely thrashed other people in at a bar my wife and I haunted in our youth) had you strafing side to side, avoiding enemy projectiles and ships and firing back. Asteroid had you boosting around a screen and rotating a triangle 360 degrees to shoot rocks into pieces. The mechanics of almost all early video game combat was simply avoid pixels by moving and destroy pixels by attacking and many of the earliest games featured combat that was only fleeing from damage."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Gameplay wise these old games hold up shockingly well today because they are the foundational rock of video game combat and are tightly focused on thevery core of the experience. In fact those foundations hold up farbetter than the combat in the early 3d console games."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Jpg","attribution":[],"width":259,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Fun Fact! This company publishes Dark Souls these days. "}],"id":"cejihmuz4gfdd45ma6so","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":194},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"All games that feature a real time combat system from the earliest games to today have avoiding damage and doing damage as the core mechanical systems. But if so many games have combat systems that are nearly identical to one another and even to this day the very foundations are unchanged why do some feel so much better than others? Yep you guessed it. We’re going to be looking at Dark Souls again!"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"All good modern combat systems rely on a couple of key features which go a long way towards making a game feel “fair” and one of the most overlooked is intuitive player feedback. A great game gives satisfying feedback to the player. Some modern games still inexplicably struggle with this or don’t realize how important it is but a lack of feedback is a recipe for an extremely frustrating experience. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"For instance one of my main criticisms of the gameplay in "},{"reference":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6E4QLphUow&t=2s","type":"Link","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Wolfenstein 2"}]},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" was just how bad that game was at communicating to the player. Deaths felt fast, cheap and arbitrary because the player never has a good feel on how much damage they are taking."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Without knowing why you took damage it becomes impossible to learn, adapt and improve to avoid taking damage again."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This feedback system also extends into offensive situations. Whether that’s through animations or sound effects the player needs to somehow"},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":" feel "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"that she is the one damaging enemies not the avatar on the screen. Reviews and analysis of games with great combat systems often use terms like“weighty” or “smooth” to describe this experience of combat feedback."}]},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"If You Ain’t Dodgin You Ain’t Winnin The Importance of Animations"}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":835,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This picture ended being HUGE. I don’t know how to make it smaller. I probably should have used something different right? Totally."}],"id":"dmksv1ifqv0li1ps1ygj","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":833},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" A truly great combat system needs to have predictable and avoidable damage. Imagine a game like Dark Souls except instead of being damaged by enemy attacks you only took passive DoT. Without the ability to consistently use skill and tactics to avoid damage you’ve got less than half of a satisfying system. This is what makes the combat in most modern shooter games somewhat lackluster."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" In an effort at simulating realism most modern shooters use hitscan weapons with enemies that have varying degrees of accuracy based on difficulty setting. This means the player cannot mitigate damage in any way other than simply breaking line of sight with enemies. This, in a way, is a step back to the beginning of video games. A Call Of Duty game is using the same damage mitigation system as Pac-Man. As such the average modern shooter has you stationary behind a rock or piece of cover then standing up and shooting enemies until you’ve taken so much damage you need to crouch behind the rock again and wait for your health to regenerate. The player has almost no tools at their disposal beyond shoot and hide which can lead to the game feeling like it’s on rails. There is one way and only one way to solve a combat situation."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Doom 2016 and Destiny 1 were two modern FPS games that did combat right because they had excellent feedback systems through fantastic animations and sound design but even more importantly most enemies in those games did not have hit scan weapons and the movement systems gave the player the option of dodging enemy attacks and staying on the offensive at all times. Just the simple change of making enemy attacks have a travel time that players can react to means that the player is given the opportunity to mitigate damage through clever use of those games movement systems and environments."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Jpg","attribution":[],"width":800,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"If you haven’t played this game it’s a fantastic example of how to craft a shooter that relies on more than crouching behind rocks to avoid damage. You also spend a good chunk of it cutting things in half with a chainsaw. But even without the chainsaw it would be awesome. Less awesome for sure. But still pretty awesome."}],"id":"shrvuuwrbdwx8k8qdgix","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":450},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Now of course a hack and slash isn’t’ an FPS but the same general principles apply to almost all games from Galaga to Bloodborne. To be a great combat system a game needs to effectively communicate to the player and has to be able to give the player control over whether or not they take damage beyond simply hiding until they have enough health to stand up again. Dead cells does enemy damage correctly. When you take damage in Dead Cells it was your fault %95 of the time. ( Enemies and areas are procedurally generated so there are occasionally some no win situations but to Motion Twins credit these are very very rare.)"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Motion Twin describes Dead Cells as a“Roguevania” and while I understand what they’re trying to communicate I think the game is much better described as a Roguebourne (that’s better than RogueSouls or SoulRogue... it’s the best I could come up with....fine....let’s see you do better.) "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I try not to throw the Soulsbourne label around too liberally outside of an obvious homage to the formula like Salt and Sanctuary and Nioh but Dead Cells has a tremendously fun combat system that absolutely deserves that lofty comparison because it borrows and distills the most important parts of that system. AC Origins apparently thought the most important part of Dark Souls combat was a lock on feature bound to the right stick and a dodge button but those are the tools From gives to the player to navigate their systems not the heart of the system itself."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":907,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Yeah I know I’ve been harping on this game an awful lot. But it’s reviews were so good and I just don’t get it. The game is fine. It’s ok. It’s not a waste of your money. But it’s not terribly good. It’s just fine."}],"id":"higeqfqkwtyvbrj3ytuw","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":444},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The Soulsbourne series rightly holds a reputation for some of the best combat that games have to offer. So it’s not terribly surprising that the heart of their combat is...the ability to consistently avoid damage and an amazingly intuitive and communicative feedback system. This is accomplished in Soulsborne,and in Dead Cells, through slow and highly telegraphed enemy animations, equally slow and telegraphed player attack animations,top flight sound design and abilities that allow a player to dodge damage if timed correctly."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In my opinion there are few gaming experiences more beautiful or satisfying than combat in Soulsborne. Fodder enemies still hit hard enough to kill you but they have low health and only one or two attack animations. These low level enemies almost all have attack animations that are extremely slow and exaggerated and serve as wonderful “tutorial sections” without the game needing to stop and explain anything to you. The earliest enemies in Dark Souls rear all the way back to swipe at you and make it obvious you need to dodge or block."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Boss fights feature enemies with larger pools of attack animations that vary greatly in their timing so the player needs to become familiar with all of them in order to succeed. The core loop of the game lies in recognizing these enemy attack patterns, timing your dodge or block perfectly and then punishing the enemy after they miss."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dead Cells combat uses this system. Starting the game on the very first level players will encounter either the green zombie or the archer. Like in Soulsborne being hit by either of these enemies will take a significant portion of the players health, meaning that even the games weakest adversaries need to be taken seriously. And just like in Soulsborne these enemies have a very small pool of attack animations that are long, obvious and telegraphed."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The green Zombie will rear back with his arms,grunt and have a visual cue appear over his head. The player is given 3 types of alerts about an incoming attack. The enemy animation, a convincing and obvious audio cue and an exclamation point that appears over the enemy. The low level ranged enemy, The Archer, has a long exaggerated bow pull, the sound of a bow being pulled and the same exclamation point over his head."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The player is given clear indications they are about to be damaged and has several ways of avoiding that damage. They can dodge roll, block with a shield, jump over the attacks, run away from the attacks or go on the offensive and attack."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The animations tied to both player and enemy attacks vary depending on a wide variety of variables like enemy type, weapon choice, combos, stagger or stun animations etc. These animations are tied to another one of the genre’s important but sometimes overlooked aspects. Weapons that feel “weighty”."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":398,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The combat in Bloodborne feels so good because the animations and sound design seem absolutely real."}],"id":"d4k8yoomamvhcna2pous","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":229},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The use of exaggerated animations and convincing sound effects makes the player feel the combat in a way they don’t when attack animations are sloppy or less convincing sound effects are used. In the linked video I do an interesting comparison between a combat sequence in a Dark Souls and a combat sequence in Assassins Creed Origins. The clips are about 10 seconds of each game during combat with the original sound."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" AC Origins takes the fundamentals of the Dark Souls combat system including the 3rd person lock on tied to the right stick, a dodge button and light and heavy attacks bound to the bumber and trigger respectively. The combat in the games is essentially identical when looking at what buttons are pressed and the timing of those inputs. And while the removal of stamina means the combat is significantly watered down it’s still true that these combat systems are mechanically very similar. Much more similar in fact that Dead Cells and Dark Souls are. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So why does something feel so....insubstantial in the AC combat system? If the mechanical systems are basically identical why is one games combat servicable and one games considered some of the best gaming has to offer? It’s all tied to providing convincing player feedback through animations and sound design. "},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Animations and sound design are not just window dressing or coats of paint laid on top of a game system. They aren’t mechanics but they fundametally change how we interact with a games mechanics. Animations and sound design create the game “feel”. And “feel” is often the difference between great combat and mediocre combat. Because these variables aren’t inputs the player interacts with it’s easy to miss how crucial they are to the game we’re playing."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":2391,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Replayability is greatly impacted by variety in games weapons"}],"id":"qctqjodofkmleixycnem","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":627},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And finally the combat relies on items and weapons that are different enough that they change the way you play, allowing for the possibility of getting a dramatically different experience simply by switching to a different weapon. Imagine playing Dark Souls if there was only one straight sword andone shield available and you had to go through the entire game thatway. The combat would still be fantastic but it would grow stale atsome point. The huge array of weapon move-sets allow for many different styles of play in each play-through and gives the game much of it’s replayablility."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Now Dark Souls is a helluva lot more than just it’s combat system. The world and level design, music, art direction, graphics... Dark Souls does an awful lot right. But the success of Nioh shows that even without all those other things the combat alone is enough to carry a game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This basic combat formula has carried Soulsbourne through 5 games and it’s still good enough that I’ll take 25 more. And this basic combat formula has had me play 136+ hours of an early access game. Dead Cells does it’s combat right."}]},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Character And Level Progression Pt 1: The Importance Of Limited Healing"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"We’ve gone over how Dead Cells borrows heavily from the Soulsbourne genre in it’s combat design but there’s something else that Dead Cells has in common with the experience of playing a Soulsborne. Character progression is tied to exploration and the player has only a very limited amount of healing items that can’t be refilled until a checkpoint has been reached."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Let’s imagine a small change in the design of Dark Souls. What if the player didn’t have Estus Flasks for healing but instead their health bar was longer and represented their total maximum health? That takes a huge part of the game away doesn’t it? In Dead Cells like Dark Souls (Wow. Believe it or not that’s the first time I realized how similar the names were. Good job naming your game Motion Twin) deciding when to heal is a game within the game. Players need to efficiently manage their healing items to get the most possible health out of a level."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Not only must the player manage when it’s most efficient to heal but they need to decide when it’s SAFE to heal. Dead Cells uses an exaggerated healing animation (not as stupidly bullshit long as Dark Souls 2 but still...long). If the player is hit before the animation completes and the healing begins he’s dead. If she’s hit during the animation the heal can be interrupted or if hit while the healing is active he’ll lose much of the healing effect. This greatly increases the tension of any individual combat encounter. A player knows going in how much potential health she has and whether the enemies before them have the potential to kill them before they can escape and heal."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This adds a degree of strategy to how the player tackles a level. You have to manage total health, health within each encounter and most importantly how much of the level you feel comfortable exploring."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":942,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dead Cells fills the map as you explore. Exits are randomized and hidden. Exploration is a natural extension of the combat and it rules."}],"id":"zatsnyl6ien5a7txnzmn","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":440},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Part 2 Progression Through Exploration."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dark Blood Souls Bourne games famously require the player to acquire the souls (or...Blood Echoes) of defeated enemies to level up and become more powerful. The player can only accomplish this by fighting and killing as many enemies as possible within each level. So the most efficient way to progress the player character is to explore every inch of the map and kill every enemy on that map. Exploration is further rewarded by discovering items and weapons that are cleverly hidden or guarded throughout the levels."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This tension between exploring levels to reap the maximum possible reward and making it to the check point alive only works because all progress is lost upon death and because of the limited healing available to the player."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dead Cells uses this formula with a couple of small tweaks. Dead Cells doesn’t use defeated enemies to level up. Defeating enemies rewards the player with Gold and occasionally Dead Cells which are used to unlock and level up weapons and items but the player character levels up by finding scrolls. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dead Cells distills the leveling experience by simplifying it. Now I’m the kind of guy who loves complex RPG progression systems. I prefer the Dark Souls system to the Bloodborne system. And one of my main complaints with Destiny 2 is that they took the Destiny 1 progression system, which was far too shallow and simple, and replaced it with a progression tree for dummies."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But those are RPG’s that rely on long hours spent with one character. Building out and equipping your character is one of the core experiences of the RPG genre. Dead Cells is a rogue-like-lite first and foremost. The game is crafted to be fun in 40 minute bursts. It’s not a game that’s meant to have you poring over spreadsheets and comparing notes on a sub reddit to craft the build that will milk 1 extra damage per second out of your equipped weapon."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":964,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"That is......a ridiculously huge progression tree. I’m going to have to play Path of Exile."}],"id":"xzgnnxzqrg1fwgf1rmnu","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":605},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dead Cells has 3 stats. Brutality,Tactics and Survival. Brutality increases the damage of red weapons,tactics increases the damage of skills and turrets and Survival increases the effectiveness of shields and offers more potential health than the other 2 upgrade paths. The current build tweaks the system nicely by giving health boosts no matter which upgrade path you take and while there are still some interesting choices to be made for the most part your leveling decisions will be made by what items and weapons drop for you in any particular run."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dead Cells spreads these scrolls out in fairly random locations on the map so the player needs to explore the level fully to find the scrolls as well as any shops where powerful items can be bought and for the one or two treasure rooms that give free items to the player. There are also timed doors that greatly incentivize speed running but we’ve only got so much space here."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"All this has to be done while managing total health and healing flasks. The player uses accumulated Cells to unlock and upgrade items so they need to thoroughly explore each level to progress their character for that run while also making it to the end of the level successfully to progress their character for future runs."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Jpg","attribution":[],"width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"You’ll be unlocking intersting, powerful and game changing items and weapons for dozens and dozens of hours. Then you’ll spend dozens more upgrading them to provide fun synergies."}],"id":"kezwzbq5ybmxer7uc8cz","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":1082},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Very few games effectively pull off this tension and Dead Cells got it right almost from the start. It’s been carefully balanced to always be pulling the player in opposing directions. Do I take the door out, spend my cells and move on to progress my character for future runs or do I take that elevator down with only one healing flask left and risk it to find the last scroll on this level for a better chance at winning "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"this run?"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" This tension and decision making is core to the experience and means the game takes a long time to get stale."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The Dark Souls experience at it’s most fundamental is about interesting combat and the tension of whether or not to rest at a checkpoint and level up or press on for more Souls. Dead Cells has been designed to provide this same experience except in 40 minute bursts of a 2d side scrolling rogue-like."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Unlocking and leveling items and weapons is one of the most important things a player can do in Dead Cells as the more an item is upgraded the greater possibilities for game breaking synergies arise. And those game breaking synergies remind me of another one of the best games in recent history."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dead Cells gives me the exact same feeling I get from Dark Souls but throws in everything I love about The Binding Of Issac to boot."}]},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Why Was the Binding of Isaac A Perfect Rogue-Like-Lite?"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" "}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":1083,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So this is one of the greatest games ever made. It features some of the greatest music ever in a game. And the art it has spawned is amazing. I love this game."}],"id":"g7b9p2t5dmuemfs3uwdw","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":609},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’ve played The Binding of Isaac for 540+ hours on Xbox alone and I own it on 2 other platforms. While I think it’s on a very short list of the greatest games ever made it’s combat is a much different experience than Dark Souls. In fact it has almost nothing in common with Dark Souls. You don’t have any dodge options in Isaac making it much closer to the pure old school arcade game combat where you simply avoid attacks. There’s a bit more to it as you can bait enemies into moving and attacking in ways that work for you but it has none of the depth of a Soulsbourne combat system."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I don’t think it’s controversial to say that the most important aspect of Isaac’s success was the synergistic possibilities offered by it’s tremendous amount of items. Issac is a completely different game playing with only the base tears of a character. In fact the game is much much less fun like that. That example I gave before about playing Dark Souls with only a straight sword and shield? Yeah, I’d probably still play that game all the way through. If I had to play Isaac with only the starting tears? I wouldn’t have played nearly as long."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" If Isaac only had the base tears it wouldn’t even be the best rogue-like of recent vintage because Nuclear Throne and Enter The Gungeon have better, more responsive base combat systems than Isaac provides. It’s the"},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":" items "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"and the way they surprisingly break the game and interact with each other that makes the game so special."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Isaac works because a tremendous amount of items, upgrades and tools are available to the player and the random nature of each run means that there are nearly limitless possibilities."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":1098,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The Binding Of Isaac has a few items. Some of these items interact with each other in interesting ways. Google a seed for Brimstone, Tammys Head and Spoon Bender. If you finid one I garauntee a splendid time."}],"id":"qxsujy8dfhyb3kzd5bf1","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":615},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In hundreds and hundreds (and HUNDREDS) of hours only once did I ever get Brimstone, Tammy’s Head and Spoon Bender in a single run. That combination meant that for the next 20 minutes I obliterated everything that spawned in moments. Including bosses. That’s the key to Isaac’s success. It’s where the fun is."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Most runs don’t end up with ridiculous combinations like that (damn I wish I’d written down the seed for that one. I’d like to play that again,)but the possibility that any particular run "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"will"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" gives Isaac it’s“just one more run” gameplay loop."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"That Dead Cells manages to successfully pull off both of these in one extremely fun package is it’s greatest triumph. The combat with the rusty sword the player starts the game off with is solid and fun. The basic combat and movement system are tight and responsive enough that just traversing the levels and fighting enemies at it’s most basic form is enjoyable and skill based. Like Dark Souls the combat in the early levels is basically the same as the combat in the later levels on a mechanical level and while you’ll unlock new weapons and skills that make combat play slightly differently, unlike Isaac you won’t get an item to make your sword grow 20 times larger and orbit your head so that it instantly faceroll’s everything on the screen."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So while the weapons in Dead Cells aren’t as ridiculous and game breaking as they are in Isaac it has enough synergistic possibilities that will occasionally line up to make you an unstoppable force of destruction."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":955,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This is exactly as much fun as this picture makes it look. More even."}],"id":"psrr2t6jtqsap6wtwvp5","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":560},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"As in any good Rogue-lite you’ll need to play a good bit to unlock these items. From the very start you’ll be consistently unlocking weapons and items and very quickly you’ll have several that you’ll be very comfortable with. In fact, unlike most Rogue-lite’s there are almost none that I dislike enough tonever use them (aside from boots. People say their powerful but I’mgood on kicking things when I can dismember them with swords and Ifind the animation much less satisfying). But just unlocking the items isn’t the end of the story. You’ll have to go through several upgrade paths with those items. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" After defeating the current final boss you’ll discover a mechanic that allows you to make future runs more difficult with later stage enemies now appearing in earlier levels. This also unlocks the second tier of upgrades which allows each item and weapon to have a flat stat boost as well as up to 3 modifiers. These modifiers are key to creating the wonderful synergies that any good rogue-lite needs."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"As an example: My favorite weapons are the blood sword, war spear, Impaler and any freezing item like the ice grenade, ice bow or especially the frost blast. Very occasionally you’ll get frost blast early on only to later discover one of your other favorites that now carries a bonus +%175 damage when used on frozenen emies and +%100 damage to poisoned enemies. Finally you’ll stumble upon another item that releases a toxic cloud upon enemy death. And thus deos the carnage begin."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Unlike Isaac’s Guppy transformation Dead Cells never becomes trivial with the right build but it does become easy enough so that just around the corner there is a pay off for the frustration of previous failures."}]},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Difficulty: Or Why DoesThis Seem So....Difficult For Developers To Get Right?"}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":1085,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Furi is very hard. Much harder than Dead Cells or Dark Souls. Nearly as hard as Cuphead. But it doesn’t revel in your misery like a certain colorful cartoon game I know."}],"id":"uhhufk2zbb8myhpxanq3","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":612},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’ve addressed difficulty in several videos and articles and I’ll be addressing it again because I think difficulty is one of the most important mechanics in a game. It’s the most fine balancing a developer has to do. Make your game too difficult and you severely shrink your potential audience. Make your game too easy and you do the same while assuring that even the audience you do have will become bored very quickly unless your story is truly special."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"A brief aside:"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I remain baffled as to why all games don’t simply include a wealth of difficulty options but...people are strange and seem to have a real problem with being given options."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" They also apparently feel that their experience is somehow soiled if someone else has an easier time."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Or maybe they just don’t trust themselves to not play on easy."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Whatever."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Either way."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Outside of the best, easiest and most obvious solution of offering difficulty tiers, games often have to either decide they’ll just live with the small audience or they have to be clever about throwing the player enough bones so that they don’t rage quit and tell everyone they know the game blows."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dead Cells handles this like Isaac does, which is to say, very, very well. The game is carefully balanced with enemies on each level scaling up as you level up so you’re never ridiculously overpowered but having enough powerful items and modifiers (called affixes on DC forumsin Dead Cells)so that a player, if smart with their gold and paying attention, will occasionally run into an extremely powerful combination that allows him to relax,enjoy the game and let off the tension of failure."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This is what Cuphead didn’t do. The game was gorgeous, and everything about the gameplay was tight. It was always “fair” when you were damaged. But the difficulty was so high it required a level of time investment I just couldn’t sustain. By the 3"},{"styles":["Superscript"],"type":"Text","value":"rd"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" boss of the last island I was drained and had no desire to keep playing. Every design decision where the developers could have offered the players less frustration they seemingly chose instead to offer more. For instance Cuphead gives you almost zero i-frames after damage whereas Dead Cells will give you a couple of seconds to recover and continue playing. Dead Cells punishes repeated sloppy play or failure to learn but it isn’t cruel."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":979,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The more I played the Cuphead the more it felt like player frustration was actually something the design was intended to produce. A game can be difficult without being demoralizing if developers take player frustration into account."}],"id":"ks2sibzfglyqkc38b0te","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":608},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dead Cells, unlike Cuphead seems to recognize that there is a difference between challenging and frustrating. If I love all the Soulsborne games, and Furi why did I have such an issue with Cuphead? Because there were almost no design decisions that were aimed at relieving the inevitable frustration that would arise in the player. Make your game hard by all means but don’t waste my time and once in awhile throw the player a bone to keep them playing. My first article dealt with this and I made a long and absolutely awful quality video about Cuphead so I won’t go any further but suffice it to say Dead Cells acknowledges your frustration. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The game rewards your patience not only with a constant feeling of skill progression but the crucial, always there possibility, that the next shop will have a weapon that makes your load-out unstoppable. It manages to keep the player hopeful and engaged without ever becoming so over powered the experience is boring in it’s simplicity."}]},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Dead Cells Does All TheLittle Things Right: Including Big Things Like Not Wasting My Fu***ngTime"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The game also doesn’t waste my time. Any run can be paused and exited at any time and when you boot the game back up you’ll be right back where you were. This isn’t a small thing for me."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Back before Isaac allowed this forums were full of people defending the in defensible lack of this option with idiotic statements like “the game is short just finish a run or don’t start if you don’t have time to complete it”, or “you can always come back later” or “just put your console to sleep but leave it on overnight”."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" No. No no no."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I expect that if I’m going to invest hard earned money and a significant amount of my life into your consumer product the least you can do is respect that investment by not wasting my time."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dead Cells has an intuitive and unobtrusive UI that’s simple and easy to read but still conveys all the information the player needs. Item descriptions feature and easy to understand fonts and the flavor text is clear and simple to understand which makes choosing load-outs and upgrades easy. I never had to pause more than a couple of seconds to make a decision in a shop or a chest room."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" It runs at a stable 60 fps. I have never once experienced a crash. And in well over 100 hours I experienced exactly ONE glitch. An elevator in the Ossuary level turned invisible and I could not progress."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":250,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The enemy design is quite amazing. Enemies behave how you think they will be first looking at them."}],"id":"mdcgbjgpckjsqxlvuzpo","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":212},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Everything feels very carefully designed for ease of use and simplicity while keeping it’s complexity confined to it’s combat system where it belongs. Enemy design is uniformly excellent. Simply looking at an enemy conveys visually most of the information you’ll need which is quite the feat. Every enemy behaved how I thought it would behave the moment I saw them. I think it’s important to recognize how impressive that is. There is more than enough enemy variety and thus far two of the three bosses are fun and fair though the current final boss is difficult enough that you’ll still occasionally lose if your weapons aren’t well suited or you’re just off that run. Now I like to write articles and make videos criticizing things because I’m cranky and this has been a bit of a love fest so...."}]},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"How about a littlefriendly criticism before we go? Or Here’s Where I really Fish For Something to Nitpick"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"There are only a very few things to even complain about in the games current state. As I said it runs at a stable 60 fps and looks beautiful but it could use some more settings options. Though the attention to detail already present in early access gives me confidence settings will be expanded before release."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The former final boss has now been moved to a mid game optional boss and while visually very cool, it’sstill not terribly fun or interesting to fight. Much of the charm of Dead Cells relies on it’s speed and the aggressiveness of it’s combat. Fighting The Watcher requires an awful lot of waitingaround which usually isn’t very good gameplay outside of stealth titles and feels particularly out of place in this game. Also the fight can be an absolute chore if you end up with a slow and heavyweapon."}]},{"syndicationRights":false,"format":"Png","attribution":[],"width":1083,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This guy is still sometimes annoying to fight. I’m a very impatient transplanted New Yorker. I wait for no one eyed chain squid."}],"id":"zcafwefn7kcs0m8fyogv","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":615},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"There’s an enemy in a late game level called the Golem that seems terribly unbalanced in his current state. The entire game is built around having enough ease of movement to make fleeing a legitimate strategy and this particular enemy has a large health pool, a long range AOE attack, a stun, and the ability to teleport you back to him making fleeing literally impossible."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"There’s a level near the end of the game that’s so punishing there’s almost no reason to risk even visiting it. It’s more difficult than the games current final level. It features scores of powerful teleporting enemies with extremely long aggro range who will never stop chasing you and a gameplay mechanic that’s currently tuned to be far too punishing."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" There’s a darkness mechanic that damages you if you spend too long away from a light source. Now that could be a really cool late game mechanic that challenged the player and made her make some very difficult risk reward exploration decisions. But the damage from the mechanic can take a player from full health to death in literally seconds. The effect is too strong to even heal through and it’s simply too punishing to feel fun or fair."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" There’s very fine line between challenging and annoying and Dead Cells masterfully manages to stay firmly on the fun side of the line. But the Forgotten Sepulcher isn’t fun in it’s current state. An excellent compromise would be to have the players health drop to 1HP when in darkness so any damage taken will result in death until they get back to a light source at which point they begin slowly regenerating their health."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Dead Cells ramps up difficulty by occasionally throwing hordes of enemies at you and the fights against elite enemies, which are crucial because they provide powerful rewards, can end up with so much clutter on screen that it’s suddenly less about the deliberate skill based combat and more about burning down a bunch of enemies by mashing dodge and attack and hoping you kill it before something in the incomprehensible mess of pixels kills you."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The current final boss The Assassin can occasionally lock you into a distinctly unfun stunned unto death combo which are amongst the most frustrating deaths in any game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Aaaannnnd...that’s it I guess."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I really can’t think of anything else. Writing this section really drives home how great the game is in it’s current build. For an early access title it’s remarkably polished, stable and balanced."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"These are minor quibbles and honestly they feel silly to dwell on. Even if none of these things were changed I’ll still be regularly playing."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Dead Cells, by the developers own admission, isn’t “close to being finished”. Which is amazing because what’s there right now is excellent value. There are already 14 levels (though you’ll only end up seeing about 7 per successful run) and 3 bosses (though you’ll only fight 2 per run) and each run can take more than 30 minutes so I’m not sure how much more it really needs."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" If nothing else was done it would be an excellent game and each update that’s come down has improved and changed it for the better in my opinion. I’m interested in seeing how far Motion Twin plans on going with it. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"If the game doubled in size from here it’d probably be an all time classic. If they polish it up, add two more bosses and 3 more levels? It’s one of the best games in recent memory. And if it stays exactly like it is? It’s something I’m comfortable recommending to everyone who is willing to listen."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"A game that manages not only to artfully blend two of my favorite gaming genres but also recognizes and borrows only the most important aspects of those genres is a masterpiece in the making."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"About the typist:"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Pliny The Welder intends for each piece to be shorter than the last. In fact his original intention for this very piece here was for it to be about 4 pages and 8 minutes on video. Pliny is either very poor at editing his thoughts or very good at repeating himself in clever ways. The latter has the word“good” so lets go with that. He’s truly grateful for the shocking amount of people who’ve been reading his articles. He hoped to get 400 page views and a few dozen video views. But he’s gotten much more than that here at kinja and on YouTube he has more subscribers than he thought he’d get in several years."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Pliny would like to thank you."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"And of course he’d hold you in the highest regard if you checked out his other articles and watched his videos, if you do that he’d be ever so happy if you liked, shared and subscribed and if you do all that he might just be so bold as to request this next dance. The band is playing our song."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Tweetsby TwitterDev "}]},{"style":"Normal","type":"LinkPreview","url":"https://www.youtube.com/c/PlinyTheWelder"}],"mainMedia":null,"largeOnStream":false,"images":[{"uid":"bpi7vzou78vjce6zdbfq","originalWidth":1158,"originalHeight":451,"format":"png","width":1158,"height":451,"id":"bpi7vzou78vjce6zdbfq","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"ieopv86gmjvtchk0qggh","originalWidth":259,"originalHeight":194,"format":"jpg","width":259,"height":194,"id":"ieopv86gmjvtchk0qggh","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"cejihmuz4gfdd45ma6so","originalWidth":259,"originalHeight":194,"format":"jpg","width":259,"height":194,"id":"cejihmuz4gfdd45ma6so","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"dmksv1ifqv0li1ps1ygj","originalWidth":835,"originalHeight":833,"format":"png","width":835,"height":833,"id":"dmksv1ifqv0li1ps1ygj","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"shrvuuwrbdwx8k8qdgix","originalWidth":800,"originalHeight":450,"format":"jpg","width":800,"height":450,"id":"shrvuuwrbdwx8k8qdgix","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"higeqfqkwtyvbrj3ytuw","originalWidth":907,"originalHeight":444,"format":"png","width":907,"height":444,"id":"higeqfqkwtyvbrj3ytuw","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"d4k8yoomamvhcna2pous","originalWidth":398,"originalHeight":229,"format":"png","width":398,"height":229,"id":"d4k8yoomamvhcna2pous","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"qctqjodofkmleixycnem","originalWidth":2391,"originalHeight":627,"format":"png","width":2391,"height":627,"id":"qctqjodofkmleixycnem","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"zatsnyl6ien5a7txnzmn","originalWidth":942,"originalHeight":440,"format":"png","width":942,"height":440,"id":"zatsnyl6ien5a7txnzmn","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"xzgnnxzqrg1fwgf1rmnu","originalWidth":964,"originalHeight":605,"format":"png","width":964,"height":605,"id":"xzgnnxzqrg1fwgf1rmnu","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"kezwzbq5ybmxer7uc8cz","originalWidth":1920,"originalHeight":1082,"format":"jpg","width":1920,"height":1082,"id":"kezwzbq5ybmxer7uc8cz","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"g7b9p2t5dmuemfs3uwdw","originalWidth":1083,"originalHeight":609,"format":"png","width":1083,"height":609,"id":"g7b9p2t5dmuemfs3uwdw","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"qxsujy8dfhyb3kzd5bf1","originalWidth":1098,"originalHeight":615,"format":"png","width":1098,"height":615,"id":"qxsujy8dfhyb3kzd5bf1","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"psrr2t6jtqsap6wtwvp5","originalWidth":955,"originalHeight":560,"format":"png","width":955,"height":560,"id":"psrr2t6jtqsap6wtwvp5","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"uhhufk2zbb8myhpxanq3","originalWidth":1085,"originalHeight":612,"format":"png","width":1085,"height":612,"id":"uhhufk2zbb8myhpxanq3","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"ks2sibzfglyqkc38b0te","originalWidth":979,"originalHeight":608,"format":"png","width":979,"height":608,"id":"ks2sibzfglyqkc38b0te","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"mdcgbjgpckjsqxlvuzpo","originalWidth":250,"originalHeight":212,"format":"png","width":250,"height":212,"id":"mdcgbjgpckjsqxlvuzpo","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"zcafwefn7kcs0m8fyogv","originalWidth":1083,"originalHeight":615,"format":"png","width":1083,"height":615,"id":"zcafwefn7kcs0m8fyogv","frozenFormat":"png"}],"videos":[{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"ctunrdcuabommngeouut","format":"jpg","width":0,"height":0,"id":"ctunrdcuabommngeouut","frozenFormat":"jpg"}]}],"lastUpdateTimeMillis":1516707954173,"timezone":"America/New_York","defaultBlogId":"1634563201","parentId":null,"starterId":"1822314201","parentAuthorId":null,"salesAvatar":null,"sponsored":false,"editorial":false,"sharedUrl":null,"status":"PUBLISHED","authorId":"5876237249235617220","authorIds":["5876237249235617220"],"ownerId":null,"bylineProperties":{"byline":"","show":true},"properties":"{\"dropCapEnabled\":false,\"hideFromRss\":false}","allowReplies":true,"showAuthorBio":false,"approved":true,"author":null,"authors":[{"id":"5876237249235617220","screenName":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","status":"enabled","isSuperuser":false,"isSales":false,"avatar":{"id":"zxsj7lof8rm9cjyfqgfj","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"token":null,"membership":[],"remotes":{},"authName":null,"isGmgMember":false,"isEditStaff":false}],"tags":[{"canonical":"tayclassic","urlName":"tayclassic","displayName":"#TAYClassic"},{"canonical":"kotaku","urlName":"kotaku","displayName":"Kotaku"},{"canonical":"deadcells","urlName":"dead-cells","displayName":"dead cells"},{"canonical":"videogames","urlName":"video-games","displayName":"Video Games"},{"canonical":"analysis","urlName":"analysis","displayName":"Analysis"},{"canonical":"darksouls","urlName":"dark-souls","displayName":"Dark Souls"},{"canonical":"bloodborne","urlName":"bloodborne","displayName":"bloodborne"},{"canonical":"thebindingofisaac","urlName":"the-binding-of-isaac","displayName":"The Binding Of Isaac"}],"defaultBlog":{"id":"1634563201","name":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","canonicalHost":"plinythewelder.kinja.com","hosts":[],"status":"ENABLED","timezone":"America/New_York","timezoneOffset":-18000000,"createTimeMillis":1428094514748,"ownerId":"5876237249235617220","description":null,"properties":{},"avatar":{"id":"o1cviek0sodh7bfuq7m5","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"logo":{"id":"apgdn7mbb3mwguvzikdh","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"}},"storyTypeId":null,"storyType":null,"parent":null,"isRoundup":false,"isFeatured":false,"isVideo":false,"featuredMedia":null,"qaParticipants":[],"qaMembers":[],"staffIncluded":false,"relatedModule":null,"relatedPosts":[],"category":null,"categoryData":null,"subcategory":null,"subcategoryData":null,"permalinkRedirect":null,"plaintext":"I think I’ve said everything I need to say about Destiny 2 until something actually changes and I have a reason to play it again so today we’re going to talk about how and why Dead Cells is the most fun I’ve had with a new game’s combat system this year. Motion Twin’s Early Access rogue-like-lite takes several gameplay systems from a couple of my favorite titles and crafts a highly refined, addictively fun combat system that’s good enough to carry dozens and dozens of hours of gameplay.","permalinkHost":"https://plinythewelder.kinja.com","permalinkPath":"/dead-cells-binding-the-dark-soul-of-isaac-to-bloodbor-1822314201","publishTimeMillis":1516659900201,"customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"bpi7vzou78vjce6zdbfq","width":800,"height":311,"format":"png","frozenFormat":"png"},"resolvedReviewScore":null,"customKinjaId":null,"adSettings":null,"template":null},{"originalProps":{"id":"1821700620","headline":"Nier Automata Is The\nAnti Assassins Creed: Or It's All About Perspective","body":[{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[],"id":"z4qrv8yclxqz81a2u8ox","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Automata is a ps4 console exclusive by a once revered developer in crisis whose previous two games were one of the worst reviewed in history and a game that almost single-handedly ruined a beloved Nintendo franchise."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Published by a company who has been more known lately for unrealistic sales goals and bloated development budgets than for the good games they’ve been releasing there were few reasons to expect it to be a success. But it was a success. The game has sold over 2 million copies and received near universal praise from players and critics alike. So.. why? Why was Nier Automata such a resounding success? Well that ends up being a lesson on scope, depth, having a focused vision and knowing what’s important and what isn’t."}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"t39klsy01rxstk21jrjb","format":"jpg"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"rwuVqQ0i0cY","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Automata is a difficult game to analyze. It comes from a developer who has made a few great games and a pile of games that range in quality from mediocre to embarrassing. It’s an open world RPG with an extremely small map filled with pop in and low quality textures but exceptionally strong art direction and animations produce some of the best screen shots this side of Horizon Zero Dawn. The vast majority of NPC dialogue is text based and the English voice acting is often stilted, simple and direct but the cumulative effect of what the NPC’s are saying ends up having a shocking amount of depth when it’s all said and done. There aren’t all that many enemy types in the game but the combat is exceptional, finely tuned and offers a surprising amount of depth with gorgeous animations that keep the whole thing going. Finally the main story of the game isn’t anything special but that doesn’t really matter because the story ends up not really being the story at all."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Automata has an awful lot going on so the only way I’ll be able to keep this from rambling is to narrow my focus. We’re going to examine how Nier does less with more when it comes to fidelity, map size, quest design and combat density. We’re going to take a look at what the moment to moment Nier experience is and how the movement system and animations make the game enjoyable whether you’re fighting or simply traversing the map like an android trapeze artist. And finally we’ll examine how Nier crafts a story about identity, existentialism and empathy then does something exceedingly rare by having it’s mechanics actually reinforce it’s message and themes. But first, as always, lets get the brief history out of the way."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Platinum Games"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Hoo boy where to begin with Platinum games. Are they the beloved and "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Amazing game."}],"id":"c158viadfbfvctkhkicc","type":"Image","alignment":"Right","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"trusted developer of Bayonetta and Vanquish? Or are they the terrible awful licensed game hacks who produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and a near universally lampooned Star Fox game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Platinum was started in 2009 by 3 developers who had worked at Clover, a studio who worked on some of Capcom’s best games including Resident Evil and Devil May Cry. Capcom eventually …."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Wait. You know what? This is far too complicated to get into here. Let’s just leave it at this...Platinum created one of the most beloved games of the last generation consoles in Bayonetta and one of the best 3"},{"styles":["Superscript"],"type":"Text","value":"rd"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" person action "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Amazing game."}],"id":"djghreagbprtbui4tndx","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"shooters ever in Vanquish but also Star Fox Zero and Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles and when it’s all said and done what it really boils down to is Platinum’s games have never sold all that well. In fact they’ve often sold so poorly that the Studio has been teetering on the edge of collapse for years now. It’s entirely possible that if Nier Automata had failed commercially I’d be making a video about the death of the studio and lamenting the fact we’ll never get another Vanquish or Bayonetta."}]},{"format":"Png","width":698,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"One Of the Worst Reviewd Games ever!"}],"id":"mcncyouaxkj8asnhrqg2","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":400},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" But Nier didn’t fail. In a year that was positively crowded with huge 3"},{"styles":["Superscript"],"type":"Text","value":"rd"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" party releases and a seemingly never ending stream of must have exclusives (except at Microsoft) Nier still managed to sell more than 2 million copies. "}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Does World and Quest Design Right"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier is an open world action RPG. It’s obviously quite a bit more than that but at it’s core anybody who has played an Assassins Creed game or a GTA game will immediately be familiar with much of what Nier does. It has an open world map broken up into a few visually distinct zones. There are several hub areas where merchants and side quests are, there’s an XP bar that fills until the words “Level Up!” flash prettily on the screen. And if that’s all Nier was? Well it would have been an embarrassing failure because the truth is Nier’s open world game is almost last generation in it’s size, it’s voice acting (I was using the localized English voices), and it’s textures and resolution. Draw distance is shockingly low for this late in the current generation, there is near constant distracting pop in and assets are reused frequently. There’s nothing here that isn’t done better in whatever open world Ubisoft game you want to grab off the shelf."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But Nier doesn’t rely on any of those things. And the game remains surprisingly beautiful because Nier seems to have paid most of it’s attention to what players will actually be looking at the most."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier takes is lower resolutions and textures and hides it behind arresting character design."}],"id":"jxvickrcv0my6px5ubtz","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This doesn’t happen by accident. Every creative act is tension between time, resources and ambition. And it’s clear that Platinum focused their resources and energies on perfecting the most important parts of the game and then got the other things to good enough. Big AAA developers are often done in by their ambition and lack of focus. Earlier this year Mass Effect Andromeda was a perfect storm of ambition exceeding Bioware Montreal’s reach. The game was gorgeous and there were 7 planets to explore but huge resources were dumped into creating those systems for a MASS EFFECT game that released with a cringe worthy story. Andromeda’s combat was surprisingly fun, easily the best in the series but having meme worthy animations, terrible lip syncing, and cringe worthy writing in a title that has you spending hours in dialogue trees is game killing. A game needs to know what it’s most important aspect is. Nobody ever played a Mass Effect game mainly for the combat. People played Mass Effect games for dialogue, characters and story. Combat and environmental fidelity should have been lower priorities than dialogue, character development, facial animations and story writing."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The last open world action game I played was Assassins Creed Oranges and at first glance the underlying designs are very similar. Both are open world action games with a strong emphasis on narrative. In my analysis of that game I based almost all of my critique around the fact that AC Origins took a huge budget and spread it everywhere without ever deciding what was actually important. Amazing fidelity but average art design, a huge world that was ultimately empty and boring, a high resolution player avatar with stilted animations and of course tons of voiced dialogue about a story I can barely remember 2 weeks later. Looking back I can’t even remember if AC Origins had any music outside the title screen. I’m sure it did but I can’t recall any of it."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The Map in Assassins Creed Origins is just ridiculously big. But the design needs to compromise to make a map so large."}],"id":"vnvlvywdhmgeis0epvuc","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1080},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Nier doesn’t make these mistakes. It isn’t a huge game spread too thin. It’s small and tight and focused and it makes sure that the important things are polished. It’s environments are small and low resolution but art design ranges from fantastic to stunning. It’s character models are a bit hazy with faces that look kind of washed out but, again, the actual character design is arresting, unique and memorable. The animations are fluid and beautiful making the game a joy to play at all times. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier also has very similar quest design to Assassins Creed Origins, or really any modern open world game. The basic quest has an NPC asking you to help him/her/(it?) with some mundane task. Find a few items. Kill a bunch of enemies and get a thing. Bring that thing to some other NPC. Hell it even has two escort quests. Nothing new here. But Nier manages to make these tasks compelling because you are always IN the world. And Nier’s entire world feels just slightly off, just disturbing enough that the player never feels comfortable carving through legions of machines even as the combat itself is fun. Most of all though, the game continually surprises. The player is constantly confronted with something that confuses them or catches them off guard. Early in the game many of the machines aren’t hostile so the player isn’t sure if any shape they see on the horizon will be aggressive, passive or friendly. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Beyond even that the world is filled with NPC’s that make the player question their actions. One of the escort quests I mentioned has you escorting a group of machines who are pacifist and want to hold a pro peace parade. You’ve got to protect them by brutally carving up dozens of other machines who hate their pacifism. {Also they are dressed like court jesters.) It works on multiple levels, like almost everything in the game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And importantly the game reinforces the feel of each zone by having a musical score that perfectly matches the action on the screen at all times. Too many game developers have decided that music is for cutscenes and a few moments when a tone needs to be established. Nier has music playing almost constantly and the score perfectly matches the tone of the game. If you’re unsure how important the music is to this game turn it on and play with the sound muted for a bit. The combat is intensified by the stellar music."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Speaking of which"}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Nier’s Combat, Movement and Game Feel: Or I Know It When I See It"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"For a game that is heavily about world building and philosophy Nier sure does have a kick ass combat system. A modern game that intends to be a commercial success needs to have combat that feels good, and most great games feature satisfying combat with only a couple of notable exceptions (looking at you Bethesda)."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Automata is a Platinum Studios game through and through. Fighting was clearly a heavy focus of development and it has it’s roots in Vanquish and Bayonetta. The action is fast paced and challenging with as much emphasis on it’s fluid movement system as on attacks. Like most hack and slash games Nier has a light attack and a heavy attack. But like Bayonetta, though obviously to a lesser degree, there are multiple combos possible as well as a similar evade ability that allows you to dodge through enemy attacks. It even has a plug in chip ability that offers a shorter version of the Bayonetta “Witch Time” slowdown after a perfect evade. The games movement is smooth and satisfying which makes fights against hordes of enemies fun and exciting."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This guy has heads for arms! And the heads come off and roll around and stuff! Those are his arms!!"}],"id":"u0cjc1mlnunajtd5vcya","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier also does an excellent job avoiding a severe difficulty spike (with one very annoying exception) by slowly introducing the player to different enemy types and combat mechanics. By the end of the game players will be confronted with a very unique blend of hack and slash melee combat and bullet hell dodge heavy combat. Nier manages to have a combat system that gets hectic enough to be on the brink of button mashing but precise enough to never feel like it’s gotten out of control. The camera and controls are tight and responsive and I never had a combat death feel like it was not my fault."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" And of course, as with any combat system, animations and sound design are crucial to the experience. Nier’s combat animations are almost perfect. Platinum made it’s bones crafting fluid combat and Nier continues that tradition. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"With a wealth of build options, ranged attack types, pod special attack types and weapons with different move sets the combat never gets dull. And that consistent fun extends even to just traversing the world."}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Android Gymnasts: Yo AAA Developers. You Realize That Player Movement IS A Mechanic Right?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I often talk about player movement and how crucially important it is to a game experience. Destiny 1 took a fairly standard shooter and made something truly excellent because player movement felt good. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In any game players will spend lots of time simply moving through the world so it’s crucially important that this basic mechanic feel good. And, as with almost everything else in the game, it’s obvious that Platinum games spent time and design energy making sure that the movement system was satisfying for the player."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Not to be overly harsh to AC Origins here but it’s the last big open world game I played and it really serves as an almost perfect foil to Nier. AC Origins has a tremendous map and traversal is a chore. It’s such a chore that the game gives you the option to have your horse autopilot to your map marker. And because the map is huge you’ll be spending an awful lot of hours simply going from place to place. Nier’s much smaller map is dense with things to see and combat encounters to enjoy and just running and jumping around the world has been crafted to feel seamless, beautiful and just damn fun."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Both 2B and 9S run faster on flat surfaces and after a few upgrades sprinting achieves speeds that feel explosive. Jumping is responsive and tight and the evade button serves as a boost when sprinting or in mid air. All these systems combine to make a truly special movement system. I never felt bored traversing the map. In fact it might have been one of my favorite aspects of the gameplay. And that points, again, to having the priorities right. Players in most open world games will spend much, perhaps even most of their time running from place to place with nothing else going on. I’m not sure most developers even consider the possibility of making that simple mechanic fun. But either Nier got lucky or the developers made a conscious choice to have map traversal be a pleasure. Considering how thoughtful this game is I have to assume the latter."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Simply traversing the map is a joy thanks to fluid and beautiful animations."}],"id":"p6kfj9gf4dmbsqcaeoed","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So with what we’ve already discussed Nier would have been a successful game. It’s open world has fantastic art direction. It’s character model animations are fluid and beautiful. It’s combat and world traversal is fun, varied and satisfying. But none of those things, as well done as they are, are actually the most important part of Nier."}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Keeping It All Fresh: The Importance Of Surprising The Player"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Automata pulls off the impressive feat of never letting the player get comfortable. Just when you’re settling into a rhythm the game will yank you back to attention with it’s story, or a surprising mechanic or it’s NPC or enemy dialogue."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Let’s take a moment to make a broad statement about modern gaming. Complex stories are exceedingly rare in gaming and they are almost non existent in games from the largest publishers and developers. Video games aren’t paintings or novels. Video games are more like tattoos, or commissioned sculpture or custom furniture. They’re consumer products first and art second. Studios make AAA games for the publisher with an audience in mind from the start. Games are expensive widgets and the big budget games are massive investments in time and resources that have to answer to investors as well as consumers. As such they need to appeal to a broad audience to be commercially viable."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This means that games need to be simple and easy to understand if they’re going to have a narrative focus. As such the vast vast VAST majority of big budget games are either hero’s journey tales, revenge fantasies or power fantasies. They almost all include easy to hate villains and very rarely have any moral gray area. Even the games that market themselves as offering moral complexity rarely do. Bethesda’s Fallout and Bioware’s Mass Effect games (all of which I like) basically had the same simple story beats but offer you the choice to choose rude “bad guy” dialogue or heroic “good guy” dialogue. Your average shooter has only a slim thread of story to hang a bunch of gameplay on (Call OF Duty)."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier doesn’t so much tell a story as it builds an imagined world to examine existentialism, mortality, empathy and perspective. Nier begins by just dumping you right into a combat sequence against a huge array of hostile but extremely cute enemy robots. There’s a vague story about humanity in insanely distant future losing a war against an alien invasion and fleeing to the moon. You don’t play as a human however. You don’t ever see a human, you don’t even hear a human aside from one recorded message urging you to continue killing machines for the “Glory Of Humanity.” You’re an intelligent android with complex emotions made in the image of a creator you never see to fight a war for a people you’ve never known."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Early on your player character will make repeated comments about how machines don’t have complex thoughts and are incapable of emotion or society. But very quickly that will be proven obviously untrue. The machines you encounter chatter about their fear of death, they flee from before you. And eventually you’ll find several robot societies ranging from peaceful, to ecstatic, to medieval to, finally, in a particularly gripping sequence, a suicidal religious cult."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The game isn’t communicating with the player through it’s narrative structure. It’s communicating with the player through everything else. We’re going to focus on a few particular moments where the game subtly subverts or manipulates your actions."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The game tackles some very heavy themes. Minor spoiler: Don’t get too attached to anybody."}],"id":"x968xheoizj2qjxkskzu","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The first time through the game I immediately attacked when the first boss’ name flashed up on the screen and it was only on my second play through that I realized the game had subtly manipulated me and my expectations. The sequence leading up to that boss fight has you slaughtering a huge group of machines before chasing a terrified fleeing robot who is pleading for his life into an arena. You then fight another huge wave of robots until they all begin repeating "},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"“This cannot continue...This cannot continue”."},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Finally a naked humanoid is born in front of your eyes. A naked humanoid named Adam."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I’m sure the vast majority of players did what I did and immediately attacked Adam triggering a pretty fun boss fight. But on my second play-through, after having soaked in all the subtle messages about the machines humanity, emotions and fears, I didn’t attack Adam when he appeared. Instead I just waited for him to attack me. And to my surprise....he doesn’t. He stays caught in an idling animation of confusion. Holding his head and swaying slightly from side to side. I walked around him waiting for something to happen. Nothing did. You MUST attack Adam to progress further. This was so interesting to me that I checked old forums where I found people complaining that there wasn’t a pacifist option here."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But Nier isn’t a game about giving you choices (a common and meaningless buzzword in modern gaming). It isn’t even about giving you the illusion of choice. You’re an android and a soldier and you have to do what you were trained for. Nier’s choice of androids as protagonists allows it to examine the nature of free will in almost every moment. You must attack this naked, non hostile life form as he stands dizzily holding his head. This lack of choice is a cunning little bit of gameplay that reinforces the entire messaging of the rest of the game. Nier is about big foundational things like existence, humanity, empathy, life , death and violence. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Ludonarrative dissonance is an obnoxiously scholarly term that refers to conflict between a games mechanics and it’s narrative. Lots, hell most, games have varying degrees of this dissonance because what’s fun and what’s narratively consistent aren’t necessarily the same thing. Famously the Uncharted games feature a player character who is a charismatic lovable rogue with a heart of gold....who also happens to blithely murder hundreds of faceless dudes so he can get a piece of treasure."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Automata doesn’t suffer from Ludonarrative dissonance. In fact it’s mechanics consistently reinforce the one key motif that the game is communicating to the player."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Gameplay As Narrative: The Importance of Perspective"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Nier Automata is ultimately a game about perspective. The game starts you out as a typical video game protagonist fighting evil enemies who stand in your way. But it doesn’t take long before you’re questioning your actions and actually considering the perspective of the enemies the game has set before you. I can’t think of any other game off the top of my head that makes the enemy designs so unambiguously cute. And I certainly can’t think of another AAA game that has enemies flee from you begging for their lives. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier’s enemies in many ways ARE the story. Many NPC’s outwardly question the nature of their existence and much of the game is interacting with machines the player has been told are enemies. In the second play-through you’ll encounter a few NPC’s called “Wise Machine”. These are found in high places staring out at the sky. If you hack them you’ll hear their internal dialogue questioning the meaning of their lives. Over and over the game will present you with characters or enemies who force you to consider them actual humans with lives worth living."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And most importantly the idea of perspective is driven home to the player not only through characters, story and dialogue but literally through the game itself. Nier repeatedly and "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"literally"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" changes the players perspective. The first few times this happened I thought, “Oh, cool. That’s different and interesting.” But as the game moved along and consistently was changing its perspective I began noticing how subtly disorienting it was. In any given sequence the camera will flow from a mid distance third person, to a side scrolling, to a top down perspective. Within those sequences themselves the perspective will shift only slightly making the player have to adjust their actions to the new camera angle. There are dozens of cunning and seamless little perspective shifts. Like when the player uses the amusement park ride to get to a previously unreachable area. Or after the second boss Simone where you first get to Pascals village. Or almost all of the aerial combat sequences that have the camera shift and tilt."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The game shifts the players perspective often. A bold design decision and one that really pays off narratively and mechanically."}],"id":"vqcb03mnn8b7ad5azwjb","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"At the beginning of the game this constant shifting can be disorienting and tricky to adapt to at times. But somewhere along the line the player has had angle and perspective’s shift so often you almost stop noticing. This continues to build and ramp up through the end of the first play through and into the second and third routes."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"After the credits roll playing as 2B the game starts again with you playing one of the simple, child like machines mourning his lifeless brother and trying to revive him by dumping oil onto him. The camera then pulls back and the player inhabits 9S. Allowing you to play the campaign again from a different characters perspective. You’ll be much more comfortable this time and you’ll find yourself noticing the actions and words of the enemy machines more often. 9S lacks a heavy attack but has hacking as his strong option. And hacking unaware or passive enemies allows you to either destroy them, subjugate them to your will or...to inhabit and directly control the game from "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"their"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" perspective."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Near the end of the third run through the game the perspective changes back and forth between two playable characters fighting separate halves of the same enemy. And it’s during this sequence I realized that all of the perspective shifts that were so disorienting at first had become expected and easy to react to. The mechanics stay the same but the player has grown accustomed to seeing the world from different angles and perspectives. "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"By the way. As far as hacking mini games go (which I almost always hate) this one is pretty good. Totally subjective but I’ll put it in the Bio-shock tolerable bucket and not the Deus Ex annoying bucket."}],"id":"mvqumgsta45w9hvxi5zu","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I don’t think I’ve ever played a mainstream release that more fully committed to exploring a theme than Nier Automata. It’s message is subtly communicated though everything in its world. It takes it’s main theme of perspective and relentlessly drives it home through camera shifts, and character shifts, and dialogue and actions until the player has adjusted her expectations and actions and reevaluated everything he thought the game was about. Nier doesn’t tell you a story. Nier takes you on a journey of realization."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Wrapping It Up: This Shit Was Good"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I didn’t know what to expect from this game. Platinum is a studio I was and remain a bit skeptical about going forward. And early on playing it I felt like it was just a pretty good action rpg with slightly dated graphics. There was something uncomfortable about playing it. The low resolution and fidelity felt like a hindrance and the perspective shifts were cool but somehow jarring. But by the ten hour mark I already considered it an absolute masterpiece. A lesson on how to focus on what matters. A demonstration on how to let a player discover a story rather than passively absorb one. Perhaps the best example ever of having a unifying narrative theme conveyed through not only the game’s mechanics but also nearly everything in it’s world. This game could easily have been a fun hack and slash where you kill robots and evil androids and forgot about it two weeks later. And if that’s all it did? It probably still would have been pretty damn good. The careful attention payed to combat, movement and art design alone make it a stand out game. And in almost any other studios hands that’s exactly what it would have been. But an absolute commitment to it’s theme and world make it a game people will remember for a long long time."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I certainly hope Yoko Taro makes another one of these games. And I hope that Platinum gives him and his team a much larger budget next time. Because this team clearly understands what matters and what doesn’t. They wont spend hundreds of hours making sure water is rendered perfectly before making sure it’s fun to move through the world. They won’t write some silly trite story without creating a world that makes sense for their narrative. They won’t create some ridiculously huge map solely so they can say they made a ridiculously huge map. They’ll put that money where it matters. If it was my money on the line I’d have complete trust every penny would be spent on something important. Nier Automata proves that Yoko Taro and his team are the anti-Ubisoft. Nothing without a purpose and a reason for everything."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Pliny (who is old. Did you know that? Dude is OLD) would love it if you read his other articles and checked out his videos on Youtube. If you do that he’d be pretty psyched if you subscribed, liked and commented here there and everywhere. And if you do THAT well...such good deeds will surely be rewarded in this life and the next. Pliny can’t really reward you. He doesn’t even know who you really are! But our benevolent Space Wizard above is sure to be keeping score. Why else would anyone do anything nice? If you weren’t afraid of the Great Space Wizard you’d have no reason not to covet people’s neighbors and honor their children and stuff."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Up next (comment “I DID it!” if you actually made it down here. I’m willing to bet not one person made it all the way down here. SO really I can type anything here. Up next a free hamburger! Up next a day of reckoning! Up next lights in the sky turn out to be just lights! "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Up next a review/analysis of Dead Cells or a piece examning Valves cowardly removal of “You Must Be 18 Or Older To Enter” from steam. Both in the works. Don’t know which I’ll feel like finishing first."}]}],"mainMedia":{"thumbnail":{"id":"t39klsy01rxstk21jrjb","format":"jpg"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"rwuVqQ0i0cY","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},"largeOnStream":true,"images":[{"uid":"z4qrv8yclxqz81a2u8ox","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"z4qrv8yclxqz81a2u8ox","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"c158viadfbfvctkhkicc","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"c158viadfbfvctkhkicc","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"djghreagbprtbui4tndx","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"djghreagbprtbui4tndx","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"mcncyouaxkj8asnhrqg2","originalWidth":698,"originalHeight":400,"format":"png","width":698,"height":400,"id":"mcncyouaxkj8asnhrqg2","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"jxvickrcv0my6px5ubtz","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"jxvickrcv0my6px5ubtz","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"vnvlvywdhmgeis0epvuc","originalWidth":1920,"originalHeight":1080,"format":"jpg","width":1920,"height":1080,"id":"vnvlvywdhmgeis0epvuc","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"u0cjc1mlnunajtd5vcya","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"u0cjc1mlnunajtd5vcya","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"p6kfj9gf4dmbsqcaeoed","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"p6kfj9gf4dmbsqcaeoed","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"x968xheoizj2qjxkskzu","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"x968xheoizj2qjxkskzu","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"vqcb03mnn8b7ad5azwjb","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"vqcb03mnn8b7ad5azwjb","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"mvqumgsta45w9hvxi5zu","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"mvqumgsta45w9hvxi5zu","frozenFormat":"jpg"}],"videos":[{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"t39klsy01rxstk21jrjb","format":"jpg","width":0,"height":0,"id":"t39klsy01rxstk21jrjb","frozenFormat":"jpg"}]}],"publishTimeMillis":1514885460620,"lastUpdateTimeMillis":1514970789747,"timezone":"America/New_York","defaultBlogId":"1634563201","parentId":null,"starterId":"1821700620","parentAuthorId":null,"salesAvatar":null,"sponsored":false,"sharedUrl":null,"status":"PUBLISHED","authorId":"5876237249235617220","authorIds":["5876237249235617220"],"ownerId":null,"byline":{"byline":"","show":true},"properties":"{\"dropCapEnabled\":false,\"hideFromRss\":false,\"isEmbiggened\":true}","allowReplies":true,"showAuthorBio":false,"approved":true,"author":null,"authors":[{"id":"5876237249235617220","screenName":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","status":"enabled","isSuperuser":false,"isSales":false,"avatar":{"id":"zxsj7lof8rm9cjyfqgfj","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"token":null,"membership":[],"remotes":{},"authName":null,"isGmgMember":false,"isEditStaff":false}],"tags":[{"canonical":"tayclassic","urlName":"tayclassic","displayName":"#TAYClassic"},{"canonical":"nierautomata","urlName":"nier-automata","displayName":"Nier Automata"},{"canonical":"videogames","urlName":"video-games","displayName":"Video Games"},{"canonical":"kotaku","urlName":"kotaku","displayName":"Kotaku"},{"canonical":"analysis","urlName":"analysis","displayName":"Analysis"}],"defaultBlog":{"id":"1634563201","name":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","canonicalHost":"plinythewelder.kinja.com","hosts":[],"status":"ENABLED","timezone":"America/New_York","timezoneOffset":-18000000,"createTimeMillis":1428094514748,"ownerId":"5876237249235617220","description":null,"properties":{},"avatar":{"id":"o1cviek0sodh7bfuq7m5","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"logo":{"id":"apgdn7mbb3mwguvzikdh","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"}},"storyTypeId":null,"storyType":null,"parent":null,"isRoundup":false,"isFeatured":false,"isVideo":false,"featuredMedia":null,"qaParticipants":null,"qaMembers":null,"relatedModule":null,"relatedPosts":[],"category":null,"categoryData":null,"subcategory":null,"subcategoryData":null,"permalinkRedirect":null,"permalinkHost":"https://plinythewelder.kinja.com","permalinkPath":"/nier-automata-is-the-anti-assassins-creed-or-its-all-a-1821700620","plaintext":"Nier Automata is a ps4 console exclusive by a once revered developer in crisis whose previous two games were one of the worst reviewed in history and a game that almost single-handedly ruined a beloved Nintendo franchise.","customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"t39klsy01rxstk21jrjb","width":800,"height":450,"format":"jpg","frozenFormat":"jpg","type":"video"},"adSettings":null,"template":null},"id":"1821700620","headline":"Nier Automata Is The Anti Assassins Creed: Or It's All About Perspective","body":[{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[],"id":"z4qrv8yclxqz81a2u8ox","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Automata is a ps4 console exclusive by a once revered developer in crisis whose previous two games were one of the worst reviewed in history and a game that almost single-handedly ruined a beloved Nintendo franchise."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Published by a company who has been more known lately for unrealistic sales goals and bloated development budgets than for the good games they’ve been releasing there were few reasons to expect it to be a success. But it was a success. The game has sold over 2 million copies and received near universal praise from players and critics alike. So.. why? Why was Nier Automata such a resounding success? Well that ends up being a lesson on scope, depth, having a focused vision and knowing what’s important and what isn’t."}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"t39klsy01rxstk21jrjb","format":"jpg"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"rwuVqQ0i0cY","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Automata is a difficult game to analyze. It comes from a developer who has made a few great games and a pile of games that range in quality from mediocre to embarrassing. It’s an open world RPG with an extremely small map filled with pop in and low quality textures but exceptionally strong art direction and animations produce some of the best screen shots this side of Horizon Zero Dawn. The vast majority of NPC dialogue is text based and the English voice acting is often stilted, simple and direct but the cumulative effect of what the NPC’s are saying ends up having a shocking amount of depth when it’s all said and done. There aren’t all that many enemy types in the game but the combat is exceptional, finely tuned and offers a surprising amount of depth with gorgeous animations that keep the whole thing going. Finally the main story of the game isn’t anything special but that doesn’t really matter because the story ends up not really being the story at all."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Automata has an awful lot going on so the only way I’ll be able to keep this from rambling is to narrow my focus. We’re going to examine how Nier does less with more when it comes to fidelity, map size, quest design and combat density. We’re going to take a look at what the moment to moment Nier experience is and how the movement system and animations make the game enjoyable whether you’re fighting or simply traversing the map like an android trapeze artist. And finally we’ll examine how Nier crafts a story about identity, existentialism and empathy then does something exceedingly rare by having it’s mechanics actually reinforce it’s message and themes. But first, as always, lets get the brief history out of the way."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Platinum Games"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Hoo boy where to begin with Platinum games. Are they the beloved and "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Amazing game."}],"id":"c158viadfbfvctkhkicc","type":"Image","alignment":"Right","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"trusted developer of Bayonetta and Vanquish? Or are they the terrible awful licensed game hacks who produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and a near universally lampooned Star Fox game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Platinum was started in 2009 by 3 developers who had worked at Clover, a studio who worked on some of Capcom’s best games including Resident Evil and Devil May Cry. Capcom eventually …."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Wait. You know what? This is far too complicated to get into here. Let’s just leave it at this...Platinum created one of the most beloved games of the last generation consoles in Bayonetta and one of the best 3"},{"styles":["Superscript"],"type":"Text","value":"rd"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" person action "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Amazing game."}],"id":"djghreagbprtbui4tndx","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"shooters ever in Vanquish but also Star Fox Zero and Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles and when it’s all said and done what it really boils down to is Platinum’s games have never sold all that well. In fact they’ve often sold so poorly that the Studio has been teetering on the edge of collapse for years now. It’s entirely possible that if Nier Automata had failed commercially I’d be making a video about the death of the studio and lamenting the fact we’ll never get another Vanquish or Bayonetta."}]},{"format":"Png","width":698,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"One Of the Worst Reviewd Games ever!"}],"id":"mcncyouaxkj8asnhrqg2","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":400},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" But Nier didn’t fail. In a year that was positively crowded with huge 3"},{"styles":["Superscript"],"type":"Text","value":"rd"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" party releases and a seemingly never ending stream of must have exclusives (except at Microsoft) Nier still managed to sell more than 2 million copies. "}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Does World and Quest Design Right"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier is an open world action RPG. It’s obviously quite a bit more than that but at it’s core anybody who has played an Assassins Creed game or a GTA game will immediately be familiar with much of what Nier does. It has an open world map broken up into a few visually distinct zones. There are several hub areas where merchants and side quests are, there’s an XP bar that fills until the words “Level Up!” flash prettily on the screen. And if that’s all Nier was? Well it would have been an embarrassing failure because the truth is Nier’s open world game is almost last generation in it’s size, it’s voice acting (I was using the localized English voices), and it’s textures and resolution. Draw distance is shockingly low for this late in the current generation, there is near constant distracting pop in and assets are reused frequently. There’s nothing here that isn’t done better in whatever open world Ubisoft game you want to grab off the shelf."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But Nier doesn’t rely on any of those things. And the game remains surprisingly beautiful because Nier seems to have paid most of it’s attention to what players will actually be looking at the most."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier takes is lower resolutions and textures and hides it behind arresting character design."}],"id":"jxvickrcv0my6px5ubtz","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This doesn’t happen by accident. Every creative act is tension between time, resources and ambition. And it’s clear that Platinum focused their resources and energies on perfecting the most important parts of the game and then got the other things to good enough. Big AAA developers are often done in by their ambition and lack of focus. Earlier this year Mass Effect Andromeda was a perfect storm of ambition exceeding Bioware Montreal’s reach. The game was gorgeous and there were 7 planets to explore but huge resources were dumped into creating those systems for a MASS EFFECT game that released with a cringe worthy story. Andromeda’s combat was surprisingly fun, easily the best in the series but having meme worthy animations, terrible lip syncing, and cringe worthy writing in a title that has you spending hours in dialogue trees is game killing. A game needs to know what it’s most important aspect is. Nobody ever played a Mass Effect game mainly for the combat. People played Mass Effect games for dialogue, characters and story. Combat and environmental fidelity should have been lower priorities than dialogue, character development, facial animations and story writing."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The last open world action game I played was Assassins Creed Oranges and at first glance the underlying designs are very similar. Both are open world action games with a strong emphasis on narrative. In my analysis of that game I based almost all of my critique around the fact that AC Origins took a huge budget and spread it everywhere without ever deciding what was actually important. Amazing fidelity but average art design, a huge world that was ultimately empty and boring, a high resolution player avatar with stilted animations and of course tons of voiced dialogue about a story I can barely remember 2 weeks later. Looking back I can’t even remember if AC Origins had any music outside the title screen. I’m sure it did but I can’t recall any of it."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The Map in Assassins Creed Origins is just ridiculously big. But the design needs to compromise to make a map so large."}],"id":"vnvlvywdhmgeis0epvuc","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1080},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Nier doesn’t make these mistakes. It isn’t a huge game spread too thin. It’s small and tight and focused and it makes sure that the important things are polished. It’s environments are small and low resolution but art design ranges from fantastic to stunning. It’s character models are a bit hazy with faces that look kind of washed out but, again, the actual character design is arresting, unique and memorable. The animations are fluid and beautiful making the game a joy to play at all times. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier also has very similar quest design to Assassins Creed Origins, or really any modern open world game. The basic quest has an NPC asking you to help him/her/(it?) with some mundane task. Find a few items. Kill a bunch of enemies and get a thing. Bring that thing to some other NPC. Hell it even has two escort quests. Nothing new here. But Nier manages to make these tasks compelling because you are always IN the world. And Nier’s entire world feels just slightly off, just disturbing enough that the player never feels comfortable carving through legions of machines even as the combat itself is fun. Most of all though, the game continually surprises. The player is constantly confronted with something that confuses them or catches them off guard. Early in the game many of the machines aren’t hostile so the player isn’t sure if any shape they see on the horizon will be aggressive, passive or friendly. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Beyond even that the world is filled with NPC’s that make the player question their actions. One of the escort quests I mentioned has you escorting a group of machines who are pacifist and want to hold a pro peace parade. You’ve got to protect them by brutally carving up dozens of other machines who hate their pacifism. {Also they are dressed like court jesters.) It works on multiple levels, like almost everything in the game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And importantly the game reinforces the feel of each zone by having a musical score that perfectly matches the action on the screen at all times. Too many game developers have decided that music is for cutscenes and a few moments when a tone needs to be established. Nier has music playing almost constantly and the score perfectly matches the tone of the game. If you’re unsure how important the music is to this game turn it on and play with the sound muted for a bit. The combat is intensified by the stellar music."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Speaking of which"}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Nier’s Combat, Movement and Game Feel: Or I Know It When I See It"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"For a game that is heavily about world building and philosophy Nier sure does have a kick ass combat system. A modern game that intends to be a commercial success needs to have combat that feels good, and most great games feature satisfying combat with only a couple of notable exceptions (looking at you Bethesda)."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Automata is a Platinum Studios game through and through. Fighting was clearly a heavy focus of development and it has it’s roots in Vanquish and Bayonetta. The action is fast paced and challenging with as much emphasis on it’s fluid movement system as on attacks. Like most hack and slash games Nier has a light attack and a heavy attack. But like Bayonetta, though obviously to a lesser degree, there are multiple combos possible as well as a similar evade ability that allows you to dodge through enemy attacks. It even has a plug in chip ability that offers a shorter version of the Bayonetta “Witch Time” slowdown after a perfect evade. The games movement is smooth and satisfying which makes fights against hordes of enemies fun and exciting."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This guy has heads for arms! And the heads come off and roll around and stuff! Those are his arms!!"}],"id":"u0cjc1mlnunajtd5vcya","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier also does an excellent job avoiding a severe difficulty spike (with one very annoying exception) by slowly introducing the player to different enemy types and combat mechanics. By the end of the game players will be confronted with a very unique blend of hack and slash melee combat and bullet hell dodge heavy combat. Nier manages to have a combat system that gets hectic enough to be on the brink of button mashing but precise enough to never feel like it’s gotten out of control. The camera and controls are tight and responsive and I never had a combat death feel like it was not my fault."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" And of course, as with any combat system, animations and sound design are crucial to the experience. Nier’s combat animations are almost perfect. Platinum made it’s bones crafting fluid combat and Nier continues that tradition. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"With a wealth of build options, ranged attack types, pod special attack types and weapons with different move sets the combat never gets dull. And that consistent fun extends even to just traversing the world."}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Android Gymnasts: Yo AAA Developers. You Realize That Player Movement IS A Mechanic Right?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I often talk about player movement and how crucially important it is to a game experience. Destiny 1 took a fairly standard shooter and made something truly excellent because player movement felt good. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In any game players will spend lots of time simply moving through the world so it’s crucially important that this basic mechanic feel good. And, as with almost everything else in the game, it’s obvious that Platinum games spent time and design energy making sure that the movement system was satisfying for the player."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Not to be overly harsh to AC Origins here but it’s the last big open world game I played and it really serves as an almost perfect foil to Nier. AC Origins has a tremendous map and traversal is a chore. It’s such a chore that the game gives you the option to have your horse autopilot to your map marker. And because the map is huge you’ll be spending an awful lot of hours simply going from place to place. Nier’s much smaller map is dense with things to see and combat encounters to enjoy and just running and jumping around the world has been crafted to feel seamless, beautiful and just damn fun."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Both 2B and 9S run faster on flat surfaces and after a few upgrades sprinting achieves speeds that feel explosive. Jumping is responsive and tight and the evade button serves as a boost when sprinting or in mid air. All these systems combine to make a truly special movement system. I never felt bored traversing the map. In fact it might have been one of my favorite aspects of the gameplay. And that points, again, to having the priorities right. Players in most open world games will spend much, perhaps even most of their time running from place to place with nothing else going on. I’m not sure most developers even consider the possibility of making that simple mechanic fun. But either Nier got lucky or the developers made a conscious choice to have map traversal be a pleasure. Considering how thoughtful this game is I have to assume the latter."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Simply traversing the map is a joy thanks to fluid and beautiful animations."}],"id":"p6kfj9gf4dmbsqcaeoed","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So with what we’ve already discussed Nier would have been a successful game. It’s open world has fantastic art direction. It’s character model animations are fluid and beautiful. It’s combat and world traversal is fun, varied and satisfying. But none of those things, as well done as they are, are actually the most important part of Nier."}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Keeping It All Fresh: The Importance Of Surprising The Player"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Automata pulls off the impressive feat of never letting the player get comfortable. Just when you’re settling into a rhythm the game will yank you back to attention with it’s story, or a surprising mechanic or it’s NPC or enemy dialogue."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Let’s take a moment to make a broad statement about modern gaming. Complex stories are exceedingly rare in gaming and they are almost non existent in games from the largest publishers and developers. Video games aren’t paintings or novels. Video games are more like tattoos, or commissioned sculpture or custom furniture. They’re consumer products first and art second. Studios make AAA games for the publisher with an audience in mind from the start. Games are expensive widgets and the big budget games are massive investments in time and resources that have to answer to investors as well as consumers. As such they need to appeal to a broad audience to be commercially viable."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This means that games need to be simple and easy to understand if they’re going to have a narrative focus. As such the vast vast VAST majority of big budget games are either hero’s journey tales, revenge fantasies or power fantasies. They almost all include easy to hate villains and very rarely have any moral gray area. Even the games that market themselves as offering moral complexity rarely do. Bethesda’s Fallout and Bioware’s Mass Effect games (all of which I like) basically had the same simple story beats but offer you the choice to choose rude “bad guy” dialogue or heroic “good guy” dialogue. Your average shooter has only a slim thread of story to hang a bunch of gameplay on (Call OF Duty)."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier doesn’t so much tell a story as it builds an imagined world to examine existentialism, mortality, empathy and perspective. Nier begins by just dumping you right into a combat sequence against a huge array of hostile but extremely cute enemy robots. There’s a vague story about humanity in insanely distant future losing a war against an alien invasion and fleeing to the moon. You don’t play as a human however. You don’t ever see a human, you don’t even hear a human aside from one recorded message urging you to continue killing machines for the “Glory Of Humanity.” You’re an intelligent android with complex emotions made in the image of a creator you never see to fight a war for a people you’ve never known."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Early on your player character will make repeated comments about how machines don’t have complex thoughts and are incapable of emotion or society. But very quickly that will be proven obviously untrue. The machines you encounter chatter about their fear of death, they flee from before you. And eventually you’ll find several robot societies ranging from peaceful, to ecstatic, to medieval to, finally, in a particularly gripping sequence, a suicidal religious cult."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The game isn’t communicating with the player through it’s narrative structure. It’s communicating with the player through everything else. We’re going to focus on a few particular moments where the game subtly subverts or manipulates your actions."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The game tackles some very heavy themes. Minor spoiler: Don’t get too attached to anybody."}],"id":"x968xheoizj2qjxkskzu","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The first time through the game I immediately attacked when the first boss’ name flashed up on the screen and it was only on my second play through that I realized the game had subtly manipulated me and my expectations. The sequence leading up to that boss fight has you slaughtering a huge group of machines before chasing a terrified fleeing robot who is pleading for his life into an arena. You then fight another huge wave of robots until they all begin repeating "},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"“This cannot continue...This cannot continue”."},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Finally a naked humanoid is born in front of your eyes. A naked humanoid named Adam."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I’m sure the vast majority of players did what I did and immediately attacked Adam triggering a pretty fun boss fight. But on my second play-through, after having soaked in all the subtle messages about the machines humanity, emotions and fears, I didn’t attack Adam when he appeared. Instead I just waited for him to attack me. And to my surprise....he doesn’t. He stays caught in an idling animation of confusion. Holding his head and swaying slightly from side to side. I walked around him waiting for something to happen. Nothing did. You MUST attack Adam to progress further. This was so interesting to me that I checked old forums where I found people complaining that there wasn’t a pacifist option here."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But Nier isn’t a game about giving you choices (a common and meaningless buzzword in modern gaming). It isn’t even about giving you the illusion of choice. You’re an android and a soldier and you have to do what you were trained for. Nier’s choice of androids as protagonists allows it to examine the nature of free will in almost every moment. You must attack this naked, non hostile life form as he stands dizzily holding his head. This lack of choice is a cunning little bit of gameplay that reinforces the entire messaging of the rest of the game. Nier is about big foundational things like existence, humanity, empathy, life , death and violence. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Ludonarrative dissonance is an obnoxiously scholarly term that refers to conflict between a games mechanics and it’s narrative. Lots, hell most, games have varying degrees of this dissonance because what’s fun and what’s narratively consistent aren’t necessarily the same thing. Famously the Uncharted games feature a player character who is a charismatic lovable rogue with a heart of gold....who also happens to blithely murder hundreds of faceless dudes so he can get a piece of treasure."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Automata doesn’t suffer from Ludonarrative dissonance. In fact it’s mechanics consistently reinforce the one key motif that the game is communicating to the player."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Gameplay As Narrative: The Importance of Perspective"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Nier Automata is ultimately a game about perspective. The game starts you out as a typical video game protagonist fighting evil enemies who stand in your way. But it doesn’t take long before you’re questioning your actions and actually considering the perspective of the enemies the game has set before you. I can’t think of any other game off the top of my head that makes the enemy designs so unambiguously cute. And I certainly can’t think of another AAA game that has enemies flee from you begging for their lives. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier’s enemies in many ways ARE the story. Many NPC’s outwardly question the nature of their existence and much of the game is interacting with machines the player has been told are enemies. In the second play-through you’ll encounter a few NPC’s called “Wise Machine”. These are found in high places staring out at the sky. If you hack them you’ll hear their internal dialogue questioning the meaning of their lives. Over and over the game will present you with characters or enemies who force you to consider them actual humans with lives worth living."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And most importantly the idea of perspective is driven home to the player not only through characters, story and dialogue but literally through the game itself. Nier repeatedly and "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"literally"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" changes the players perspective. The first few times this happened I thought, “Oh, cool. That’s different and interesting.” But as the game moved along and consistently was changing its perspective I began noticing how subtly disorienting it was. In any given sequence the camera will flow from a mid distance third person, to a side scrolling, to a top down perspective. Within those sequences themselves the perspective will shift only slightly making the player have to adjust their actions to the new camera angle. There are dozens of cunning and seamless little perspective shifts. Like when the player uses the amusement park ride to get to a previously unreachable area. Or after the second boss Simone where you first get to Pascals village. Or almost all of the aerial combat sequences that have the camera shift and tilt."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The game shifts the players perspective often. A bold design decision and one that really pays off narratively and mechanically."}],"id":"vqcb03mnn8b7ad5azwjb","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"At the beginning of the game this constant shifting can be disorienting and tricky to adapt to at times. But somewhere along the line the player has had angle and perspective’s shift so often you almost stop noticing. This continues to build and ramp up through the end of the first play through and into the second and third routes."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"After the credits roll playing as 2B the game starts again with you playing one of the simple, child like machines mourning his lifeless brother and trying to revive him by dumping oil onto him. The camera then pulls back and the player inhabits 9S. Allowing you to play the campaign again from a different characters perspective. You’ll be much more comfortable this time and you’ll find yourself noticing the actions and words of the enemy machines more often. 9S lacks a heavy attack but has hacking as his strong option. And hacking unaware or passive enemies allows you to either destroy them, subjugate them to your will or...to inhabit and directly control the game from "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"their"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" perspective."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Near the end of the third run through the game the perspective changes back and forth between two playable characters fighting separate halves of the same enemy. And it’s during this sequence I realized that all of the perspective shifts that were so disorienting at first had become expected and easy to react to. The mechanics stay the same but the player has grown accustomed to seeing the world from different angles and perspectives. "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"By the way. As far as hacking mini games go (which I almost always hate) this one is pretty good. Totally subjective but I’ll put it in the Bio-shock tolerable bucket and not the Deus Ex annoying bucket."}],"id":"mvqumgsta45w9hvxi5zu","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I don’t think I’ve ever played a mainstream release that more fully committed to exploring a theme than Nier Automata. It’s message is subtly communicated though everything in its world. It takes it’s main theme of perspective and relentlessly drives it home through camera shifts, and character shifts, and dialogue and actions until the player has adjusted her expectations and actions and reevaluated everything he thought the game was about. Nier doesn’t tell you a story. Nier takes you on a journey of realization."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Wrapping It Up: This Shit Was Good"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I didn’t know what to expect from this game. Platinum is a studio I was and remain a bit skeptical about going forward. And early on playing it I felt like it was just a pretty good action rpg with slightly dated graphics. There was something uncomfortable about playing it. The low resolution and fidelity felt like a hindrance and the perspective shifts were cool but somehow jarring. But by the ten hour mark I already considered it an absolute masterpiece. A lesson on how to focus on what matters. A demonstration on how to let a player discover a story rather than passively absorb one. Perhaps the best example ever of having a unifying narrative theme conveyed through not only the game’s mechanics but also nearly everything in it’s world. This game could easily have been a fun hack and slash where you kill robots and evil androids and forgot about it two weeks later. And if that’s all it did? It probably still would have been pretty damn good. The careful attention payed to combat, movement and art design alone make it a stand out game. And in almost any other studios hands that’s exactly what it would have been. But an absolute commitment to it’s theme and world make it a game people will remember for a long long time."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I certainly hope Yoko Taro makes another one of these games. And I hope that Platinum gives him and his team a much larger budget next time. Because this team clearly understands what matters and what doesn’t. They wont spend hundreds of hours making sure water is rendered perfectly before making sure it’s fun to move through the world. They won’t write some silly trite story without creating a world that makes sense for their narrative. They won’t create some ridiculously huge map solely so they can say they made a ridiculously huge map. They’ll put that money where it matters. If it was my money on the line I’d have complete trust every penny would be spent on something important. Nier Automata proves that Yoko Taro and his team are the anti-Ubisoft. Nothing without a purpose and a reason for everything."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Pliny (who is old. Did you know that? Dude is OLD) would love it if you read his other articles and checked out his videos on Youtube. If you do that he’d be pretty psyched if you subscribed, liked and commented here there and everywhere. And if you do THAT well...such good deeds will surely be rewarded in this life and the next. Pliny can’t really reward you. He doesn’t even know who you really are! But our benevolent Space Wizard above is sure to be keeping score. Why else would anyone do anything nice? If you weren’t afraid of the Great Space Wizard you’d have no reason not to covet people’s neighbors and honor their children and stuff."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Up next (comment “I DID it!” if you actually made it down here. I’m willing to bet not one person made it all the way down here. SO really I can type anything here. Up next a free hamburger! Up next a day of reckoning! Up next lights in the sky turn out to be just lights! "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Up next a review/analysis of Dead Cells or a piece examning Valves cowardly removal of “You Must Be 18 Or Older To Enter” from steam. Both in the works. Don’t know which I’ll feel like finishing first."}]}],"mainMedia":{"thumbnail":{"id":"t39klsy01rxstk21jrjb","format":"jpg"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"rwuVqQ0i0cY","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},"largeOnStream":true,"images":[{"uid":"z4qrv8yclxqz81a2u8ox","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"z4qrv8yclxqz81a2u8ox","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"c158viadfbfvctkhkicc","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"c158viadfbfvctkhkicc","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"djghreagbprtbui4tndx","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"djghreagbprtbui4tndx","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"mcncyouaxkj8asnhrqg2","originalWidth":698,"originalHeight":400,"format":"png","width":698,"height":400,"id":"mcncyouaxkj8asnhrqg2","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"jxvickrcv0my6px5ubtz","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"jxvickrcv0my6px5ubtz","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"vnvlvywdhmgeis0epvuc","originalWidth":1920,"originalHeight":1080,"format":"jpg","width":1920,"height":1080,"id":"vnvlvywdhmgeis0epvuc","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"u0cjc1mlnunajtd5vcya","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"u0cjc1mlnunajtd5vcya","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"p6kfj9gf4dmbsqcaeoed","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"p6kfj9gf4dmbsqcaeoed","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"x968xheoizj2qjxkskzu","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"x968xheoizj2qjxkskzu","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"vqcb03mnn8b7ad5azwjb","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"vqcb03mnn8b7ad5azwjb","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"mvqumgsta45w9hvxi5zu","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"mvqumgsta45w9hvxi5zu","frozenFormat":"jpg"}],"videos":[{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"t39klsy01rxstk21jrjb","format":"jpg","width":0,"height":0,"id":"t39klsy01rxstk21jrjb","frozenFormat":"jpg"}]}],"lastUpdateTimeMillis":1514970789747,"timezone":"America/New_York","defaultBlogId":"1634563201","parentId":null,"starterId":"1821700620","parentAuthorId":null,"salesAvatar":null,"sponsored":false,"editorial":false,"sharedUrl":null,"status":"PUBLISHED","authorId":"5876237249235617220","authorIds":["5876237249235617220"],"ownerId":null,"bylineProperties":{"byline":"","show":true},"properties":"{\"dropCapEnabled\":false,\"hideFromRss\":false,\"isEmbiggened\":true}","allowReplies":true,"showAuthorBio":false,"approved":true,"author":null,"authors":[{"id":"5876237249235617220","screenName":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","status":"enabled","isSuperuser":false,"isSales":false,"avatar":{"id":"zxsj7lof8rm9cjyfqgfj","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"token":null,"membership":[],"remotes":{},"authName":null,"isGmgMember":false,"isEditStaff":false}],"tags":[{"canonical":"tayclassic","urlName":"tayclassic","displayName":"#TAYClassic"},{"canonical":"nierautomata","urlName":"nier-automata","displayName":"Nier Automata"},{"canonical":"videogames","urlName":"video-games","displayName":"Video Games"},{"canonical":"kotaku","urlName":"kotaku","displayName":"Kotaku"},{"canonical":"analysis","urlName":"analysis","displayName":"Analysis"}],"defaultBlog":{"id":"1634563201","name":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","canonicalHost":"plinythewelder.kinja.com","hosts":[],"status":"ENABLED","timezone":"America/New_York","timezoneOffset":-18000000,"createTimeMillis":1428094514748,"ownerId":"5876237249235617220","description":null,"properties":{},"avatar":{"id":"o1cviek0sodh7bfuq7m5","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"logo":{"id":"apgdn7mbb3mwguvzikdh","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"}},"storyTypeId":null,"storyType":null,"parent":null,"isRoundup":false,"isFeatured":false,"isVideo":false,"featuredMedia":null,"qaParticipants":[],"qaMembers":[],"staffIncluded":false,"relatedModule":null,"relatedPosts":[],"category":null,"categoryData":null,"subcategory":null,"subcategoryData":null,"permalinkRedirect":null,"plaintext":"Nier Automata is a ps4 console exclusive by a once revered developer in crisis whose previous two games were one of the worst reviewed in history and a game that almost single-handedly ruined a beloved Nintendo franchise.","permalinkHost":"https://plinythewelder.kinja.com","permalinkPath":"/nier-automata-is-the-anti-assassins-creed-or-its-all-a-1821700620","publishTimeMillis":1514885460620,"customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"t39klsy01rxstk21jrjb","width":800,"height":450,"format":"jpg","frozenFormat":"jpg","type":"video"},"resolvedReviewScore":null,"customKinjaId":null,"adSettings":null,"template":null},{"originalProps":{"id":"1821581823","headline":"The Best Games I Played This Year (Not Necessarily The Best Games Released This Year)","body":[{"format":"Png","width":1152,"caption":[],"id":"qahe0q0wcm3lkmz6pe6s","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":648},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So most of my articles and videos have been critiques of the games I’ve been playing. Probably because things that piss me off are easier to explain than things that don’t. But in the holiday spirit I’ve compiled a very quick look at the very best games I’ve played this year as well as a brief explanation of why they worked so well for me. Here we go in no particular order until the last 3."}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"Thumbnail_Not_Found_p0odsy","format":"png"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"-prwu_bnCdY","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Dead Cells."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I love permadeath rogue like lite games so much that several will appear on this list. I love them so much that I’ll spend as much time with an only good one like Tower of Guns or Ziggurat as I will with most AAA games in any given year. First up on this years list is one of my very favorites of the year. And it’s not even out of early access. Dead Cells has everything I love. The combat is fluid, it’s based upon animation recognition and like all great Rogue Like’s it’s got combinations that mean almost certain victory for me. Recent updates have "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":271,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I Love This Game. Please Check It Out"}],"id":"razvzai01zthx9zmacto","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":377},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"significantly polished an already fantastic game. Defeated enemies explode into bits of currency, XP and gore and the game combines the deliberate combat of a Soulsbourne with the particle effects of Risk of Rain to produce a deeply satisfying combat experience."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The pixel art is absolutely gorgeous with level back drops, enemy variety and design and attack animations all weighty, beautiful and convincing. Bloodborne+Risk Of Rain/Castlevania=Dead Cells. I can’t possibly recommend it enough."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"As Good As Art Direction Gets"}],"id":"ffgyb4jyl1w5qnbryshp","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":168},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Hollow Knight"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It was in my backlog. And there it stayed despite hearing of it’s excellence from the periphery of my consciousness. Art design matters an awful lot to me and you won’t find better art design than what Team Cherry accomplished with this game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The ultimate compliment I can pay to a game is to say that I would continue buying and playing levels indefinitely or that I’d take a sequel that was the exact same thing. And I would. I can tell when a games difficulty works for me when I get so angry and frustrated that my wife tells me to stop playing and my answer is “Fuck this game,” but then I just keep playing. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" There is just enough depth in the builds and strategy that bosses and areas can be tackled in different ways if something is failing. The game has set rules but enough charms and skills to bend them just enough to get by. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Challenging combat and platforming, wonderful level design, perfect art and sound design and captivating atmosphere combine to make one of the best Metroidvania’s ever created. Know what? Fuck it. This is the best Metroidvania ever."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":700,"caption":[],"id":"g8n2fjuj61wqustcdhqm","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":967},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Pyre."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Listen. The way the story is doled out can be frustratingly slow at times. And I bough it on PS4 only to realize that every fucking menu is designed for a mouse. And the game constantly puts you into dialogue trees that don’t matter all that much and ultimately probably weren’t needed. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" But at the end of the day the story is fantastic and along with Rocket League it’s one of two games that have finally re-imagined the sports genre enough to make it playable again. The game is just damn fun. Local Co-op is so good that I’m convinced a larger studio could have made a very successful online mode. A must play."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":402,"caption":[],"id":"smqgm5uogt7mqfn9ic5n","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":125},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Prey."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Believe it or not THIS is the game that got me writing and making videos about games. This is the game that drove me to get this started. And while that video never happened and probably wont ever now that Prey has faded into obscurity I think it’s important that I recognize this game and briefly explain why it made me start writing about games."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’ve never had a game change my mind so much. This game was so, SO, so, soooo annoying to start. The early enemies are so very frustrating, the wrench combat so very annoying and the pace so very slow that I was convinced I’d bought a terrible game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But about 6 hours in Prey opens up. Powers and weapons that become available turn the game from a chore to a sandbox and deliver on the usual Arkane Studios promise of play your way. Art design, as always with Arkane, is fantastic and the space station is simply a pleasure to explore and exist in. Text and audio logs are interesting and moving, environmental story telling is off the charts and even combat is fun once enough options are given to the player. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The ability to recycle almost everything in the levels, from the usual crafting materials, to couches and drum sets means nothing in the environment is pointless. And although the narrative hits some problems ultimately it ends up quite intriguing if not ground breaking. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I honestly think 3 changes would have made this game a masterpiece. If the player character started the game with a full suite of weapons and neuromods and then lost them an hour in, if there was a larger variety in enemy types, and if the art design of those enemies was more interesting the game would have been a significantly better experience. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" You need to absolutely nail the creature design in your horror game and Prey did not. But all of it’s problems aside the game ended up criminally underrated and it breaks my heart when a new interesting game fails. If you haven’t played it I implore you to go in knowing that the first several hours won’t impress. But once the game hits it’s stride it works wonderfully."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1686,"caption":[],"id":"fcyz4vvn85eathpe9yt1","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":822},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dark Blood Souls."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Ok. SO.... I don’t generally replay games. And even if I do start playing a game again I almost never finish it. I’ve played Bloodborne and it’s DLC 8 times through. I’m on my 11"},{"styles":["Superscript"],"type":"Text","value":"th"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Dark Souls 1 run across 3 platforms and I’m on NG+5 on DS3. I would pay From Software a $15 a month subscription for life if they would give me one Soulsborne level every 4 weeks. Soulsborne, in my opinion, is a near perfect experience."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Wonderful art direction and perfect animations mean even the first game looks great to this day. The gameplay is just addictive and the amount of build and combat variety on offer with only 2 attacks and a dodge is a mystifying triumph of design. Level and world design are quite literally as good as any game ever. I will never stop playing these games. Except Dark Souls 2 which I’ve only played twice. I hate that game. It’s ugly, stupid, annoying and should be forgotten."}]},{"format":"Png","width":292,"caption":[],"id":"bxv1mxm4hjy2zp91wodv","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":173},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Titanfall 2."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Oh EA. My god you suck. I’m not going to go into much detail here. Titanfall 2's campaign is the best AAA multi player shooter campaign in years and the multiplayer got me addicted for several months. Titanfall 2 is not a game one can pick up and play however. The multiplayer gameplay is extremely deep, nuanced and difficult. In fact back when I was playing TF2 regularly I almost always finished in the top 2 or 3 of each match I played, often finishing first. Then I booted up to get some footage for a video and literally had to play half a match to get a kill."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I was mercilessly punished by folks who’d kept playing the game all this time. Between a movement system that’s a weapon all it’s own and player speeds that border on absurd in the hands of a skilled player Titanfall 2 asks allot of the people who play it. But it’s good enough that getting good is it’s own reward. I look forward to unlocking new powerful titan chassis’ in random loot-boxes sometime in 2019. You suck so bad EA."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":500,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Aside from the very last optional boss Furi rarely has you throwing your controller more than once per boss."}],"id":"frmw4fnhfvylmvfbdctq","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":638},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Furi"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Everything that pisses me off about Cuphead is present in Furi. Ridiculous difficulty? Check. Insanely long boss fights that you’ll have to play over and over to beat? Check. An “easy mode” that simply removes phases of the fight? Check."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But Furi is one of the best games I played this year. I’ll be having an entire piece examining these two games against one another and explaining why I love one and am annoyed by the other soon enough. For now it’s enough to simply say Furi offers a new and interesting gameplay experience, beautiful graphics, enough of a story to keep me playing, fantastic music and great art design. The boss fights are such a spectacle that just watching videos of them is enough to put me into a trance like state. A must play for anyone who doesn’t mind difficulty or has roommates/family who will put up with screamed curse words."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Remember when games were fun? Streets of Rogue Does."}],"id":"lrpyhnnpxrwtmthdj3er","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":168},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Streets Of Rogue."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I can’t even explain this game. It’s a rogue lite like. It offers a silly amount of player freedom and a ridiculous group of characters and skills. It looks great. It makes me laugh and it’s a helluva a good time. I’ll be making a video about this one too. It’s probably not for everyone but if you like rogue lite’s man this one is different enough that it’s a must buy."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Sigh."}],"id":"yhecrilucdrumilastqg","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1052},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Destiny......Yeah Just Destiny."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Listen you probably hate Destiny. I’m not going to try and convince you otherwise because if you hate Destiny it’s likely the game just wasn’t for you. But if you like grinding, loot based games like Diablo, complex co-op raids like an MMO and really tight shooters then you loved Destiny 1. A game that appealed to a very specific group of players that was then marketed to everyone. I played 1600 hours of Destiny over 3 years."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" It’s RPG elements were too shallow and it’s loot pool too small and it had so many stupid self inflicted wounds I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain them."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But at it’s core...man this game was a fucking blast to play with 5 other people in a raid."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’ve got another video explaining why I fucking hate Destiny 2. BTW I hate Destiny 2."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":303,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Content Is For Mature Audiences."}],"id":"t3js6oyake4himamzfpa","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":166},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The Witcher 3 DLC."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Amazingly I never got around to playing the Witcher 3's DLC until January of this year. This game is one of the greatest games ever made and features writing and characters better than the vast majority of films."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"A game that is “mature” not because you play as a bikini clad paratrooper lopping off the heads of brown people but because it deals with things like love, hope, betrayal, guilt, fear and loss. It’s mature because it requires maturity to fully appreciate it’s beauty. The DLC alone is worth $60. If games were sold by value and COD is a $60 game then the Witcher would be a priceless work of art. I ended up playing the whole thing again making it the rarest of games in my library."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Still one of the best games availiable."}],"id":"ovrjfjos92bcabfvygax","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"The Binding of Issac... And Nuclear Throne and Enter The Gungeon"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’ve bought this game on 3 platforms because fuck it it’s just that good. It’s an all time classic. It handles it’s difficulty so very well because at any time a run can go from a near impossible grind to a ridiculous, insane synergy of destruction. Rare is the modern game that you don’t play to finish but just play to play. I play Isaac just to play Isaac. Honorable mention to Nuclear Throne and Enter The Gungeon games that do the same thing for me but just not quite as well."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":281,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I Cant Actually Recommend This Game To Anyone"}],"id":"jhsq0skizi9rzjhdssfm","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":180},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"FFXV."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I got FFXV for Christmas last year. I’m not sure why I liked it as much as I did. The side quests were absolutely ridiculously stupid. The combat was extremely repetitive. The story actually feels like crucial parts were accidentally deleted from the download and the overall narrative barely made sense. It’s twist was literally not a twist. The villainous villain was so villainy I assumed he was actually not a villain but... nope. The twist is he totally was the villain."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So...yeah I really loved this game. I have no idea why and I don’t recommend the game at all. My analysis is that there is something wrong with me. Moving on."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The three best games released in 2017 that I played."}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Number L: What Remains Of Edith Finch"}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":936,"caption":[],"id":"lmjzc3elelsfyifwycgq","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":768},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Listen. Is this a game? I don’t know. I do know that most of the “play” we do is either simulated fighting, flighting or loving and that once in awhile I’m in the mood for something different. And those who insist that this is not a game have to deal with the fact that this is still interactive in a way that film and fiction are not. There’s just enough gameplay here to keep the player invested and it immerses the player in a world as well as any other game you’ll play. In fact I’d say one of the triumphs of the design is the nearly perfect balance Edith Finch strikes. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Long cut scenes in other games have me putting the controller down. When those cut scenes are good I don’t mind, when they’re bad I’m annoyed but either way those are long periods of no interactivity at all. You "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"are"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" playing Edith Finch all the way through. You’re very rarely passively watching the narrative and it’s a huge accomplishment to have figured out so many clever ways to engage the player. So what kind of game is it? It’s more interactive than just a walking simulator but it’s not mechanically complex enough to really call it a puzzle game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Edith Finch is it’s own genre of game. Several of these vignettes moved me more than any other piece of art I engaged with this year. It’s a masterpiece of story telling and art design and watching these vignettes simply wouldn’t have been as powerful as playing these stories ended up being. I really can’t give examples without spoiling what makes this game great. Play it yourself if you haven’t. It’s a work of art first and a game second. It’s beautiful, funny, moving, tragic and it features the best score in a video game I’ve ever heard."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":225,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This is getting it’s own article next week."}],"id":"xr9vba1aoyqhhludcipn","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":225},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Letter :Nier Automata"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"My next video/article will be my longest yet. This game actually requires you to play through 3 times and I’m left wondering how many people saw the credits roll at around 20 hours and thought, “Wow. Yeah that was pretty fucking good!” and then never turned it on again. If you did that Platinum failed you. The second and third play-throughs absolutely hammer home the themes of the first hour until you’re buried beneath a mountain of existential crises."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier is a game about perspective that literally switches the players perspective constantly. Nier is a game that’s a lesson about what’s actually important because by modern AAA gaming standards it’s not up to snuff. Invisible walls, reused assets, dated character models, lip syncing issues (in that no lips actually move outside of cut scenes) are all present. And all of these things piss me off when they pop up in a Ubisoft game because without the spectacle of cutting edge graphics and resolution those games fall apart. But Nier Automata demonstrates that those things are just icing. Would I love the next Nier game to look like Assassins Creed when it comes to character models and lip syncing and invisible walls and resolution? Sure. But not if the trade off is in art design, writing, combat mechanics and animations."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier goes from fun, to good, to great to all time classic as it moves along and by the end you won’t give two shits about the invisible walls or PS1 style character models. That’s how good the game is."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":209,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The Years Best I Think"}],"id":"uvsxl9epkhhptuxe2irs","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":241},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Number T: Number Horizon Zero Dawn"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"If Nier Automata is how to do a AAA game on a budget Horizon is how to do a AAA game with a AAA budget. I’ve got a 17 minute video detailing everything this game does well. Which is everything. This game does everything well. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Combat is absolutely perfect. Player movement is engaging, the map and art design are so stunning I took to calling it “Screen Shot The Game.” The story is a simple hero’s journey that engaged and enraptured my 11 year old daughter while the deeper themes found just beneath the surface and in the fantastic audio and text logs means the narrative works for a pretentious dude like me as much as for any 11 year old girl or dude bro gamer. Guerrilla Games deserves a mountain of praise for it’s ability to craft a story that works for such a large audience. It takes serious craft to weave the narrative threads together to work like that. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Most of all, the game feels like every single thing in it is there for a purpose. An open world game that feels meticulously crafted and laboriously designed is a rare gem. It takes the open world genre, keeps everything great, eliminates everything annoying and polishes it to a mirror sheen. An instant all time classic and a game good enough to justify buying a PS4."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"That’s it. Those are the games that came to mind when I sat down thinking about what I most enjoyed playing this year. I’m sure I missed a few. My memory is going. We’ll see how much you remember when you’re old. If you have some I didn’t mention comment down below. Either I’ll tell you why I disagree (Persona 5) or I’ll realize I forgot something or, hopefully, you’ll turn me on to something I should play. They don’t have to be games released this year. Just games you played this year."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Up next! My outrageously long Nier analysis followed by my piece dealing with Valve’s removal of You Must Be Eighteen Or Older To Enter from the Steam Store. Hope to see you next time."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Pliny The Welder would love if you read his old articles at "}]},{"style":"Normal","type":"LinkPreview","url":"https://kinja.com/plinythewelder"},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"He’d also love if you watched the videos linked in those articles."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"If you read and watch he’d be thrilled if you liked and commented and subscribed."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"If you’ve done all that it’s clear that you’re a person who can be counted on in which case Pliny has several large real world problems that need solving. The proper candidate for solving those problems would be independently wealthy, not very curious, trusting like a puppy and have only a very hazy idea of how much money is in any one of their accounts at any particular time. "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" "}]},{"style":"Normal","type":"LinkPreview","url":"https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLli81K54NfifjydidTVm1udz9ldp_l7XJ"}],"mainMedia":null,"largeOnStream":false,"images":[{"uid":"qahe0q0wcm3lkmz6pe6s","originalWidth":1152,"originalHeight":648,"format":"png","width":1152,"height":648,"id":"qahe0q0wcm3lkmz6pe6s","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"razvzai01zthx9zmacto","originalWidth":271,"originalHeight":377,"format":"jpg","width":271,"height":377,"id":"razvzai01zthx9zmacto","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"ffgyb4jyl1w5qnbryshp","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"ffgyb4jyl1w5qnbryshp","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"g8n2fjuj61wqustcdhqm","originalWidth":700,"originalHeight":967,"format":"jpg","width":700,"height":967,"id":"g8n2fjuj61wqustcdhqm","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"smqgm5uogt7mqfn9ic5n","originalWidth":402,"originalHeight":125,"format":"jpg","width":402,"height":125,"id":"smqgm5uogt7mqfn9ic5n","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"fcyz4vvn85eathpe9yt1","originalWidth":1686,"originalHeight":822,"format":"jpg","width":1686,"height":822,"id":"fcyz4vvn85eathpe9yt1","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"bxv1mxm4hjy2zp91wodv","originalWidth":292,"originalHeight":173,"format":"png","width":292,"height":173,"id":"bxv1mxm4hjy2zp91wodv","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"frmw4fnhfvylmvfbdctq","originalWidth":500,"originalHeight":638,"format":"jpg","width":500,"height":638,"id":"frmw4fnhfvylmvfbdctq","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"lrpyhnnpxrwtmthdj3er","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"lrpyhnnpxrwtmthdj3er","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"yhecrilucdrumilastqg","originalWidth":1920,"originalHeight":1052,"format":"jpg","width":1920,"height":1052,"id":"yhecrilucdrumilastqg","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"t3js6oyake4himamzfpa","originalWidth":303,"originalHeight":166,"format":"jpg","width":303,"height":166,"id":"t3js6oyake4himamzfpa","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"ovrjfjos92bcabfvygax","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"ovrjfjos92bcabfvygax","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"jhsq0skizi9rzjhdssfm","originalWidth":281,"originalHeight":180,"format":"jpg","width":281,"height":180,"id":"jhsq0skizi9rzjhdssfm","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"lmjzc3elelsfyifwycgq","originalWidth":936,"originalHeight":768,"format":"jpg","width":936,"height":768,"id":"lmjzc3elelsfyifwycgq","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"xr9vba1aoyqhhludcipn","originalWidth":225,"originalHeight":225,"format":"jpg","width":225,"height":225,"id":"xr9vba1aoyqhhludcipn","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"uvsxl9epkhhptuxe2irs","originalWidth":209,"originalHeight":241,"format":"jpg","width":209,"height":241,"id":"uvsxl9epkhhptuxe2irs","frozenFormat":"jpg"}],"videos":[{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"Thumbnail_Not_Found_p0odsy","format":"png","width":0,"height":0,"id":"Thumbnail_Not_Found_p0odsy","frozenFormat":"png"}]}],"publishTimeMillis":1514305500823,"lastUpdateTimeMillis":1514438712924,"timezone":"America/New_York","defaultBlogId":"1634563201","parentId":null,"starterId":"1821581823","parentAuthorId":null,"salesAvatar":null,"sponsored":false,"sharedUrl":null,"status":"PUBLISHED","authorId":"5876237249235617220","authorIds":["5876237249235617220"],"ownerId":null,"byline":{"byline":"","show":true},"properties":"{\"dropCapEnabled\":false,\"hideFromRss\":false}","allowReplies":true,"showAuthorBio":false,"approved":true,"author":null,"authors":[{"id":"5876237249235617220","screenName":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","status":"enabled","isSuperuser":false,"isSales":false,"avatar":{"id":"zxsj7lof8rm9cjyfqgfj","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"token":null,"membership":[],"remotes":{},"authName":null,"isGmgMember":false,"isEditStaff":false}],"tags":[{"canonical":"tayclassic","urlName":"tayclassic","displayName":"#TAYClassic"},{"canonical":"kotaku","urlName":"kotaku","displayName":"Kotaku"},{"canonical":"videogames","urlName":"video-games","displayName":"Video Games"},{"canonical":"analysis","urlName":"analysis","displayName":"Analysis"},{"canonical":"nierautomata","urlName":"nier-automata","displayName":"Nier Automata"},{"canonical":"horizonzerodawn","urlName":"horizon-zero-dawn","displayName":"horizon zero dawn"}],"defaultBlog":{"id":"1634563201","name":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","canonicalHost":"plinythewelder.kinja.com","hosts":[],"status":"ENABLED","timezone":"America/New_York","timezoneOffset":-18000000,"createTimeMillis":1428094514748,"ownerId":"5876237249235617220","description":null,"properties":{},"avatar":{"id":"o1cviek0sodh7bfuq7m5","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"logo":{"id":"apgdn7mbb3mwguvzikdh","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"}},"storyTypeId":null,"storyType":null,"parent":null,"isRoundup":false,"isFeatured":false,"isVideo":false,"featuredMedia":null,"qaParticipants":null,"qaMembers":null,"relatedModule":null,"relatedPosts":[],"category":null,"categoryData":null,"subcategory":null,"subcategoryData":null,"permalinkRedirect":null,"permalinkHost":"https://plinythewelder.kinja.com","permalinkPath":"/the-best-games-i-played-this-year-not-necessarily-the-1821581823","plaintext":"So most of my articles and videos have been critiques of the games I’ve been playing. Probably because things that piss me off are easier to explain than things that don’t. But in the holiday spirit I’ve compiled a very quick look at the very best games I’ve played this year as well as a brief explanation of why they worked so well for me. Here we go in no particular order until the last 3.","customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"qahe0q0wcm3lkmz6pe6s","width":800,"height":450,"format":"png","frozenFormat":"png"},"adSettings":null,"template":null},"id":"1821581823","headline":"The Best Games I Played This Year (Not <i>Necessarily</i> The Best Games Released This Year)","body":[{"format":"Png","width":1152,"caption":[],"id":"qahe0q0wcm3lkmz6pe6s","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":648},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So most of my articles and videos have been critiques of the games I’ve been playing. Probably because things that piss me off are easier to explain than things that don’t. But in the holiday spirit I’ve compiled a very quick look at the very best games I’ve played this year as well as a brief explanation of why they worked so well for me. Here we go in no particular order until the last 3."}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"Thumbnail_Not_Found_p0odsy","format":"png"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"-prwu_bnCdY","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Dead Cells."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I love permadeath rogue like lite games so much that several will appear on this list. I love them so much that I’ll spend as much time with an only good one like Tower of Guns or Ziggurat as I will with most AAA games in any given year. First up on this years list is one of my very favorites of the year. And it’s not even out of early access. Dead Cells has everything I love. The combat is fluid, it’s based upon animation recognition and like all great Rogue Like’s it’s got combinations that mean almost certain victory for me. Recent updates have "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":271,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I Love This Game. Please Check It Out"}],"id":"razvzai01zthx9zmacto","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":377},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"significantly polished an already fantastic game. Defeated enemies explode into bits of currency, XP and gore and the game combines the deliberate combat of a Soulsbourne with the particle effects of Risk of Rain to produce a deeply satisfying combat experience."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The pixel art is absolutely gorgeous with level back drops, enemy variety and design and attack animations all weighty, beautiful and convincing. Bloodborne+Risk Of Rain/Castlevania=Dead Cells. I can’t possibly recommend it enough."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"As Good As Art Direction Gets"}],"id":"ffgyb4jyl1w5qnbryshp","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":168},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Hollow Knight"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It was in my backlog. And there it stayed despite hearing of it’s excellence from the periphery of my consciousness. Art design matters an awful lot to me and you won’t find better art design than what Team Cherry accomplished with this game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The ultimate compliment I can pay to a game is to say that I would continue buying and playing levels indefinitely or that I’d take a sequel that was the exact same thing. And I would. I can tell when a games difficulty works for me when I get so angry and frustrated that my wife tells me to stop playing and my answer is “Fuck this game,” but then I just keep playing. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" There is just enough depth in the builds and strategy that bosses and areas can be tackled in different ways if something is failing. The game has set rules but enough charms and skills to bend them just enough to get by. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Challenging combat and platforming, wonderful level design, perfect art and sound design and captivating atmosphere combine to make one of the best Metroidvania’s ever created. Know what? Fuck it. This is the best Metroidvania ever."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":700,"caption":[],"id":"g8n2fjuj61wqustcdhqm","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":967},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Pyre."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Listen. The way the story is doled out can be frustratingly slow at times. And I bough it on PS4 only to realize that every fucking menu is designed for a mouse. And the game constantly puts you into dialogue trees that don’t matter all that much and ultimately probably weren’t needed. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" But at the end of the day the story is fantastic and along with Rocket League it’s one of two games that have finally re-imagined the sports genre enough to make it playable again. The game is just damn fun. Local Co-op is so good that I’m convinced a larger studio could have made a very successful online mode. A must play."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":402,"caption":[],"id":"smqgm5uogt7mqfn9ic5n","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":125},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Prey."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Believe it or not THIS is the game that got me writing and making videos about games. This is the game that drove me to get this started. And while that video never happened and probably wont ever now that Prey has faded into obscurity I think it’s important that I recognize this game and briefly explain why it made me start writing about games."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’ve never had a game change my mind so much. This game was so, SO, so, soooo annoying to start. The early enemies are so very frustrating, the wrench combat so very annoying and the pace so very slow that I was convinced I’d bought a terrible game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But about 6 hours in Prey opens up. Powers and weapons that become available turn the game from a chore to a sandbox and deliver on the usual Arkane Studios promise of play your way. Art design, as always with Arkane, is fantastic and the space station is simply a pleasure to explore and exist in. Text and audio logs are interesting and moving, environmental story telling is off the charts and even combat is fun once enough options are given to the player. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The ability to recycle almost everything in the levels, from the usual crafting materials, to couches and drum sets means nothing in the environment is pointless. And although the narrative hits some problems ultimately it ends up quite intriguing if not ground breaking. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I honestly think 3 changes would have made this game a masterpiece. If the player character started the game with a full suite of weapons and neuromods and then lost them an hour in, if there was a larger variety in enemy types, and if the art design of those enemies was more interesting the game would have been a significantly better experience. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" You need to absolutely nail the creature design in your horror game and Prey did not. But all of it’s problems aside the game ended up criminally underrated and it breaks my heart when a new interesting game fails. If you haven’t played it I implore you to go in knowing that the first several hours won’t impress. But once the game hits it’s stride it works wonderfully."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1686,"caption":[],"id":"fcyz4vvn85eathpe9yt1","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":822},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dark Blood Souls."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Ok. SO.... I don’t generally replay games. And even if I do start playing a game again I almost never finish it. I’ve played Bloodborne and it’s DLC 8 times through. I’m on my 11"},{"styles":["Superscript"],"type":"Text","value":"th"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Dark Souls 1 run across 3 platforms and I’m on NG+5 on DS3. I would pay From Software a $15 a month subscription for life if they would give me one Soulsborne level every 4 weeks. Soulsborne, in my opinion, is a near perfect experience."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Wonderful art direction and perfect animations mean even the first game looks great to this day. The gameplay is just addictive and the amount of build and combat variety on offer with only 2 attacks and a dodge is a mystifying triumph of design. Level and world design are quite literally as good as any game ever. I will never stop playing these games. Except Dark Souls 2 which I’ve only played twice. I hate that game. It’s ugly, stupid, annoying and should be forgotten."}]},{"format":"Png","width":292,"caption":[],"id":"bxv1mxm4hjy2zp91wodv","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":173},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Titanfall 2."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Oh EA. My god you suck. I’m not going to go into much detail here. Titanfall 2's campaign is the best AAA multi player shooter campaign in years and the multiplayer got me addicted for several months. Titanfall 2 is not a game one can pick up and play however. The multiplayer gameplay is extremely deep, nuanced and difficult. In fact back when I was playing TF2 regularly I almost always finished in the top 2 or 3 of each match I played, often finishing first. Then I booted up to get some footage for a video and literally had to play half a match to get a kill."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I was mercilessly punished by folks who’d kept playing the game all this time. Between a movement system that’s a weapon all it’s own and player speeds that border on absurd in the hands of a skilled player Titanfall 2 asks allot of the people who play it. But it’s good enough that getting good is it’s own reward. I look forward to unlocking new powerful titan chassis’ in random loot-boxes sometime in 2019. You suck so bad EA."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":500,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Aside from the very last optional boss Furi rarely has you throwing your controller more than once per boss."}],"id":"frmw4fnhfvylmvfbdctq","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":638},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Furi"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Everything that pisses me off about Cuphead is present in Furi. Ridiculous difficulty? Check. Insanely long boss fights that you’ll have to play over and over to beat? Check. An “easy mode” that simply removes phases of the fight? Check."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But Furi is one of the best games I played this year. I’ll be having an entire piece examining these two games against one another and explaining why I love one and am annoyed by the other soon enough. For now it’s enough to simply say Furi offers a new and interesting gameplay experience, beautiful graphics, enough of a story to keep me playing, fantastic music and great art design. The boss fights are such a spectacle that just watching videos of them is enough to put me into a trance like state. A must play for anyone who doesn’t mind difficulty or has roommates/family who will put up with screamed curse words."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Remember when games were fun? Streets of Rogue Does."}],"id":"lrpyhnnpxrwtmthdj3er","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":168},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Streets Of Rogue."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I can’t even explain this game. It’s a rogue lite like. It offers a silly amount of player freedom and a ridiculous group of characters and skills. It looks great. It makes me laugh and it’s a helluva a good time. I’ll be making a video about this one too. It’s probably not for everyone but if you like rogue lite’s man this one is different enough that it’s a must buy."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Sigh."}],"id":"yhecrilucdrumilastqg","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1052},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Destiny......Yeah Just Destiny."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Listen you probably hate Destiny. I’m not going to try and convince you otherwise because if you hate Destiny it’s likely the game just wasn’t for you. But if you like grinding, loot based games like Diablo, complex co-op raids like an MMO and really tight shooters then you loved Destiny 1. A game that appealed to a very specific group of players that was then marketed to everyone. I played 1600 hours of Destiny over 3 years."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" It’s RPG elements were too shallow and it’s loot pool too small and it had so many stupid self inflicted wounds I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain them."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But at it’s core...man this game was a fucking blast to play with 5 other people in a raid."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’ve got another video explaining why I fucking hate Destiny 2. BTW I hate Destiny 2."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":303,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Content Is For Mature Audiences."}],"id":"t3js6oyake4himamzfpa","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":166},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The Witcher 3 DLC."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Amazingly I never got around to playing the Witcher 3's DLC until January of this year. This game is one of the greatest games ever made and features writing and characters better than the vast majority of films."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"A game that is “mature” not because you play as a bikini clad paratrooper lopping off the heads of brown people but because it deals with things like love, hope, betrayal, guilt, fear and loss. It’s mature because it requires maturity to fully appreciate it’s beauty. The DLC alone is worth $60. If games were sold by value and COD is a $60 game then the Witcher would be a priceless work of art. I ended up playing the whole thing again making it the rarest of games in my library."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Still one of the best games availiable."}],"id":"ovrjfjos92bcabfvygax","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"The Binding of Issac... And Nuclear Throne and Enter The Gungeon"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’ve bought this game on 3 platforms because fuck it it’s just that good. It’s an all time classic. It handles it’s difficulty so very well because at any time a run can go from a near impossible grind to a ridiculous, insane synergy of destruction. Rare is the modern game that you don’t play to finish but just play to play. I play Isaac just to play Isaac. Honorable mention to Nuclear Throne and Enter The Gungeon games that do the same thing for me but just not quite as well."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":281,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I Cant Actually Recommend This Game To Anyone"}],"id":"jhsq0skizi9rzjhdssfm","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":180},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"FFXV."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I got FFXV for Christmas last year. I’m not sure why I liked it as much as I did. The side quests were absolutely ridiculously stupid. The combat was extremely repetitive. The story actually feels like crucial parts were accidentally deleted from the download and the overall narrative barely made sense. It’s twist was literally not a twist. The villainous villain was so villainy I assumed he was actually not a villain but... nope. The twist is he totally was the villain."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So...yeah I really loved this game. I have no idea why and I don’t recommend the game at all. My analysis is that there is something wrong with me. Moving on."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The three best games released in 2017 that I played."}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Number L: What Remains Of Edith Finch"}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":936,"caption":[],"id":"lmjzc3elelsfyifwycgq","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":768},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Listen. Is this a game? I don’t know. I do know that most of the “play” we do is either simulated fighting, flighting or loving and that once in awhile I’m in the mood for something different. And those who insist that this is not a game have to deal with the fact that this is still interactive in a way that film and fiction are not. There’s just enough gameplay here to keep the player invested and it immerses the player in a world as well as any other game you’ll play. In fact I’d say one of the triumphs of the design is the nearly perfect balance Edith Finch strikes. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Long cut scenes in other games have me putting the controller down. When those cut scenes are good I don’t mind, when they’re bad I’m annoyed but either way those are long periods of no interactivity at all. You "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"are"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" playing Edith Finch all the way through. You’re very rarely passively watching the narrative and it’s a huge accomplishment to have figured out so many clever ways to engage the player. So what kind of game is it? It’s more interactive than just a walking simulator but it’s not mechanically complex enough to really call it a puzzle game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Edith Finch is it’s own genre of game. Several of these vignettes moved me more than any other piece of art I engaged with this year. It’s a masterpiece of story telling and art design and watching these vignettes simply wouldn’t have been as powerful as playing these stories ended up being. I really can’t give examples without spoiling what makes this game great. Play it yourself if you haven’t. It’s a work of art first and a game second. It’s beautiful, funny, moving, tragic and it features the best score in a video game I’ve ever heard."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":225,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This is getting it’s own article next week."}],"id":"xr9vba1aoyqhhludcipn","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":225},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Letter :Nier Automata"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"My next video/article will be my longest yet. This game actually requires you to play through 3 times and I’m left wondering how many people saw the credits roll at around 20 hours and thought, “Wow. Yeah that was pretty fucking good!” and then never turned it on again. If you did that Platinum failed you. The second and third play-throughs absolutely hammer home the themes of the first hour until you’re buried beneath a mountain of existential crises."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier is a game about perspective that literally switches the players perspective constantly. Nier is a game that’s a lesson about what’s actually important because by modern AAA gaming standards it’s not up to snuff. Invisible walls, reused assets, dated character models, lip syncing issues (in that no lips actually move outside of cut scenes) are all present. And all of these things piss me off when they pop up in a Ubisoft game because without the spectacle of cutting edge graphics and resolution those games fall apart. But Nier Automata demonstrates that those things are just icing. Would I love the next Nier game to look like Assassins Creed when it comes to character models and lip syncing and invisible walls and resolution? Sure. But not if the trade off is in art design, writing, combat mechanics and animations."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier goes from fun, to good, to great to all time classic as it moves along and by the end you won’t give two shits about the invisible walls or PS1 style character models. That’s how good the game is."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":209,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The Years Best I Think"}],"id":"uvsxl9epkhhptuxe2irs","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":241},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Number T: Number Horizon Zero Dawn"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"If Nier Automata is how to do a AAA game on a budget Horizon is how to do a AAA game with a AAA budget. I’ve got a 17 minute video detailing everything this game does well. Which is everything. This game does everything well. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Combat is absolutely perfect. Player movement is engaging, the map and art design are so stunning I took to calling it “Screen Shot The Game.” The story is a simple hero’s journey that engaged and enraptured my 11 year old daughter while the deeper themes found just beneath the surface and in the fantastic audio and text logs means the narrative works for a pretentious dude like me as much as for any 11 year old girl or dude bro gamer. Guerrilla Games deserves a mountain of praise for it’s ability to craft a story that works for such a large audience. It takes serious craft to weave the narrative threads together to work like that. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Most of all, the game feels like every single thing in it is there for a purpose. An open world game that feels meticulously crafted and laboriously designed is a rare gem. It takes the open world genre, keeps everything great, eliminates everything annoying and polishes it to a mirror sheen. An instant all time classic and a game good enough to justify buying a PS4."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"That’s it. Those are the games that came to mind when I sat down thinking about what I most enjoyed playing this year. I’m sure I missed a few. My memory is going. We’ll see how much you remember when you’re old. If you have some I didn’t mention comment down below. Either I’ll tell you why I disagree (Persona 5) or I’ll realize I forgot something or, hopefully, you’ll turn me on to something I should play. They don’t have to be games released this year. Just games you played this year."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Up next! My outrageously long Nier analysis followed by my piece dealing with Valve’s removal of You Must Be Eighteen Or Older To Enter from the Steam Store. Hope to see you next time."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Pliny The Welder would love if you read his old articles at "}]},{"style":"Normal","type":"LinkPreview","url":"https://kinja.com/plinythewelder"},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"He’d also love if you watched the videos linked in those articles."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"If you read and watch he’d be thrilled if you liked and commented and subscribed."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"If you’ve done all that it’s clear that you’re a person who can be counted on in which case Pliny has several large real world problems that need solving. The proper candidate for solving those problems would be independently wealthy, not very curious, trusting like a puppy and have only a very hazy idea of how much money is in any one of their accounts at any particular time. "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" "}]},{"style":"Normal","type":"LinkPreview","url":"https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLli81K54NfifjydidTVm1udz9ldp_l7XJ"}],"mainMedia":null,"largeOnStream":false,"images":[{"uid":"qahe0q0wcm3lkmz6pe6s","originalWidth":1152,"originalHeight":648,"format":"png","width":1152,"height":648,"id":"qahe0q0wcm3lkmz6pe6s","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"razvzai01zthx9zmacto","originalWidth":271,"originalHeight":377,"format":"jpg","width":271,"height":377,"id":"razvzai01zthx9zmacto","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"ffgyb4jyl1w5qnbryshp","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"ffgyb4jyl1w5qnbryshp","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"g8n2fjuj61wqustcdhqm","originalWidth":700,"originalHeight":967,"format":"jpg","width":700,"height":967,"id":"g8n2fjuj61wqustcdhqm","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"smqgm5uogt7mqfn9ic5n","originalWidth":402,"originalHeight":125,"format":"jpg","width":402,"height":125,"id":"smqgm5uogt7mqfn9ic5n","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"fcyz4vvn85eathpe9yt1","originalWidth":1686,"originalHeight":822,"format":"jpg","width":1686,"height":822,"id":"fcyz4vvn85eathpe9yt1","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"bxv1mxm4hjy2zp91wodv","originalWidth":292,"originalHeight":173,"format":"png","width":292,"height":173,"id":"bxv1mxm4hjy2zp91wodv","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"frmw4fnhfvylmvfbdctq","originalWidth":500,"originalHeight":638,"format":"jpg","width":500,"height":638,"id":"frmw4fnhfvylmvfbdctq","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"lrpyhnnpxrwtmthdj3er","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"lrpyhnnpxrwtmthdj3er","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"yhecrilucdrumilastqg","originalWidth":1920,"originalHeight":1052,"format":"jpg","width":1920,"height":1052,"id":"yhecrilucdrumilastqg","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"t3js6oyake4himamzfpa","originalWidth":303,"originalHeight":166,"format":"jpg","width":303,"height":166,"id":"t3js6oyake4himamzfpa","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"ovrjfjos92bcabfvygax","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"ovrjfjos92bcabfvygax","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"jhsq0skizi9rzjhdssfm","originalWidth":281,"originalHeight":180,"format":"jpg","width":281,"height":180,"id":"jhsq0skizi9rzjhdssfm","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"lmjzc3elelsfyifwycgq","originalWidth":936,"originalHeight":768,"format":"jpg","width":936,"height":768,"id":"lmjzc3elelsfyifwycgq","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"xr9vba1aoyqhhludcipn","originalWidth":225,"originalHeight":225,"format":"jpg","width":225,"height":225,"id":"xr9vba1aoyqhhludcipn","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"uvsxl9epkhhptuxe2irs","originalWidth":209,"originalHeight":241,"format":"jpg","width":209,"height":241,"id":"uvsxl9epkhhptuxe2irs","frozenFormat":"jpg"}],"videos":[{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"Thumbnail_Not_Found_p0odsy","format":"png","width":0,"height":0,"id":"Thumbnail_Not_Found_p0odsy","frozenFormat":"png"}]}],"lastUpdateTimeMillis":1514438712924,"timezone":"America/New_York","defaultBlogId":"1634563201","parentId":null,"starterId":"1821581823","parentAuthorId":null,"salesAvatar":null,"sponsored":false,"editorial":false,"sharedUrl":null,"status":"PUBLISHED","authorId":"5876237249235617220","authorIds":["5876237249235617220"],"ownerId":null,"bylineProperties":{"byline":"","show":true},"properties":"{\"dropCapEnabled\":false,\"hideFromRss\":false}","allowReplies":true,"showAuthorBio":false,"approved":true,"author":null,"authors":[{"id":"5876237249235617220","screenName":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","status":"enabled","isSuperuser":false,"isSales":false,"avatar":{"id":"zxsj7lof8rm9cjyfqgfj","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"token":null,"membership":[],"remotes":{},"authName":null,"isGmgMember":false,"isEditStaff":false}],"tags":[{"canonical":"tayclassic","urlName":"tayclassic","displayName":"#TAYClassic"},{"canonical":"kotaku","urlName":"kotaku","displayName":"Kotaku"},{"canonical":"videogames","urlName":"video-games","displayName":"Video Games"},{"canonical":"analysis","urlName":"analysis","displayName":"Analysis"},{"canonical":"nierautomata","urlName":"nier-automata","displayName":"Nier Automata"},{"canonical":"horizonzerodawn","urlName":"horizon-zero-dawn","displayName":"horizon zero dawn"}],"defaultBlog":{"id":"1634563201","name":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","canonicalHost":"plinythewelder.kinja.com","hosts":[],"status":"ENABLED","timezone":"America/New_York","timezoneOffset":-18000000,"createTimeMillis":1428094514748,"ownerId":"5876237249235617220","description":null,"properties":{},"avatar":{"id":"o1cviek0sodh7bfuq7m5","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"logo":{"id":"apgdn7mbb3mwguvzikdh","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"}},"storyTypeId":null,"storyType":null,"parent":null,"isRoundup":false,"isFeatured":false,"isVideo":false,"featuredMedia":null,"qaParticipants":[],"qaMembers":[],"staffIncluded":false,"relatedModule":null,"relatedPosts":[],"category":null,"categoryData":null,"subcategory":null,"subcategoryData":null,"permalinkRedirect":null,"plaintext":"So most of my articles and videos have been critiques of the games I’ve been playing. Probably because things that piss me off are easier to explain than things that don’t. But in the holiday spirit I’ve compiled a very quick look at the very best games I’ve played this year as well as a brief explanation of why they worked so well for me. Here we go in no particular order until the last 3.","permalinkHost":"https://plinythewelder.kinja.com","permalinkPath":"/the-best-games-i-played-this-year-not-necessarily-the-1821581823","publishTimeMillis":1514305500823,"customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"qahe0q0wcm3lkmz6pe6s","width":800,"height":450,"format":"png","frozenFormat":"png"},"resolvedReviewScore":null,"customKinjaId":null,"adSettings":null,"template":null},{"originalProps":{"id":"1820864439","headline":"Wolfenstein\n2: Muddy Ethics, Confused Gameplay, Great Characters","body":[{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[],"id":"pezz0mjehjhbmxlj6h5m","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It’s been a busy month for gaming. We’ve had the "},{"reference":"https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=l-_DvWAAlPY","type":"Link","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Loot Wars Battlecrate controversy,"}]},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" we had the DLC for one of the best games of the generation, we had a refreshed (though not nearly enough in my opinion) Assassins Creed game, Call Of Duty, Sonic, Nioh releasing a PC port. The list is long."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"What we also had was a sequel to one of the last generations biggest surprise hits. And while the overall game was enjoyable, effective and worth the purchase. A deeper analysis shows it’s also got some serious problems with it’s gameplay, design and particularly with it’s political/ethical message. We’re going to examine each of those issues in that order but first lets quickly get the history out of the way."}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"Thumbnail_Not_Found_p0odsy","format":"png"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"C6E4QLphUow","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In 2009 Bethesda did what Bethesda do. After amazing success buying and rebooting the beloved Fallout series Bethesda went hunting for other famous but dormant IP’s. They eventually reached a deal to acquire gaming royalty in id software. This immediately gave Zenimax/Bethesda Doom, Wolfenstein and Quake."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"All 3 games were relics of the past. Fast paced old school shooters that had little or no narrative and instead were famous for pioneering an entire genre. Still that genre,once known as “Doom Clones” (today we call them FPS titles) had changed "},{"styles":["Italic","Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"a lot "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"in the intervening years and those 3 titles had been on a steady and consistent downward trend."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" In fact in 2009 Activision/Blizzard published it’s own id developed reboot of Wolfenstein. It was not a success. "}]},{"format":"Png","width":953,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"2009's reboot didn’t go well. It needed a"},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" Re"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"-reboot."}],"id":"ojv7niqfplvhqsrl0fzs","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":886},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Fast forward 5 years and Bethesda releases the first of 3 highly acclaimed games from the developer. To say the critical and commercial success of Wolfenstein: The New Order was a surprise would be an understatement. And much of that praise arose from the sense of surprise at what Wolfenstein did well."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Last years absolutely wonderful Doom reboot succeeded because it did exactly what fans hoped. It took old school stripped down mechanics and tweaked them a tiny bit while still keeping the feel of Doom but with modern graphics. It didn’t try to force a complex narrative into a game that is ultimately about cutting demons in half with a chainsaw. It kept light narrative elements and instead focused on honing and updating Doom to make it feel like a true combination of old school shooter speed with modern bells and whistles."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" This is ...not what Wolfenstein the New Order did. I commend id for allowing Machine Games to take chances with Wolfenstein. They should be applauded for resisting the urge to make all 3 of their IP’s clones of each other. It would have been very easy for them to have re-positioned themselves as the “Old School Shooter” developer and done with Wolfenstein what they ended up doing with Doom."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Instead they continued their efforts at giving Wolfenstein a compelling narrative core. Still, we have to acknowledge that id’s previous efforts at this were absurd failures. The simple fact remains that a game about shooting Nazis in a series of boxy corridors leaves only so much room for story. The story was, and to be fair remains: Nazis are extremely bad and they require shooting and dismemberment."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So with the new Wolfenstein it seems that id recognized the limited space for interesting narrative elements and instead leaned hard into the other part of story telling. Strong characters. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" If you go back and read reviews of the New Order you’ll notice one thing that was written over and over. Reviewers almost all commented on the games “surprisingly effective story.”"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" People were neither looking for nor expecting a strong story in that game. But they got it."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This brings us to to the sequel, which this month released to very strong critical reception with an 87 Metacritic score."},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":" [I got it on release on PC and was unable to play past the first few minutes because of an Nvidia driver issue. Once again I was forced to play an inferior version of a game because a PC port was sold to me at full price and did not work. I played on the XBox One S mainly because my PS4 hard drive was full.]"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" "}]},{"format":"Png","width":878,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Thats more like it. Though I’m not sure the game earns this."}],"id":"agmhfgpgzjwfwpt3ccgu","type":"Image","alignment":"Right","height":917},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Wolfenstein 2"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" keeps the majority of the mechanics used in the first game and also doesn’t significantly improve on it’s visual presentation. Character models outside of cut-scenes are still a bit dated, textures and environments are adequate. As far as graphics go they don’t get in the way but also don’t particularly add anything to the experience. On the gameplay side it’s still got fun though marginally effective dual wielding, it’s got the light stealth elements in the level commanders and it doesn’t have regenerating health."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" On a basic level it’s a perfectly adequate shooter but Doom 2016 and Titanfall 2 raised the bar considerably for what I expect in a great single player shooter campaign and while I enjoyed Wolfenstein 2 the gameplay always felt confused. The early Wolfenstein’s were stealth games, then shooters. Then an rpg. Then a relatively ham fisted narrative shooter. And this trend of genre confusion shows up within the new game itself. Like id/Machine didn’t quite know what they wanted this game to play like and this confusion bleeds all through the gameplay and even into the level design itself."}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Lets start with two of the most noteworthy mechanics of the game because the level Commanders and dual wielding are mechanics that seem to want completely different things from the player. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The New Colossus brings back the light stealth elements of the first game. Many levels have Commanders that must be killed to stop them calling in reinforcements. The game also features a cover mechanic with a leaning ability to peak out and scout the area. The problem with this is that I’m sure many players are like me. If there is a stealth aspect to the game they’re going to want to have a chance to ghost the level without being seen. Wolfenstein doesn’t craft levels that work for the stealth it seems to want players to engage in. There’s no feedback to know if you can be seen or not. There’s no attention meter as in most modern stealth games there aren’t any clever ways to navigate the levels. They are basically Doom like corridors and rooms with some boxes and cover scattered about."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" That could be fine, if the game wanted you to only stay in stealth for a few easy kills before devolving into a run and gun type experience. But the game doesn’t seem to want that either because you die VERY FAST in Wolfenstein 2. Enemies are very spongy and shoot hyper accurate hit-scan weapons and once you are spotted you’re movement speed and options don’t allow you to play this game like you would doom."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This game is not Doom 2016. I realize that. And it’s fine. I’m just not convinced the strange run and gun fps and stealth mix is particularly fun to actually play. And I’m positive it’s aggresively UNFUN on the higher difficulties."}],"id":"dkxiithc6qcwz31oa8cd","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The dual wielding weapons only makes sense if the game wanted you constantly dealing damage but BJ Blazkowitz is a ridiculous glass cannon. You cannot take damage for even a short amount of time before you die. And those deaths will often be frustrating because the game does an absolutely abysmal job at communicating to the player. There’s little to no noticeable feedback that lets the player know he is nearing critical health levels. Most deaths feel sudden and frustrating because you can be taking damage without knowing it. This lack of player feedback even extends to level navigation. It’s just a core fact that the game does a pretty crappy job of giving the player the information she needs to make the gameplay flow. And it does an abysmal job telling the player how much damage they are taking."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Even this would be fine. Ok so the game wants me to play carefully and use cover. But the game doesn’t really give you the tools to do that effectively either. Only one weapon actually has any effective range at all. And the dual wielding of shotguns is screaming to players that the game wants to be played like Doom. This leaves two options for the player. Slow way down and play this game like a cover based shooter. Or turn the difficulty down (and I mean WAY down to Don’t hurt Me) and play it like Doom. This is a real problem because at the higher difficulties the game is frustrating at best and at the easier levels it offers absolutely zero challenge."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I ended up choosing the zero challenge path because ultimately the gameplay the title offered wasn’t really engaging enough to justify playing levels over and over. Doom had me playing on the highest difficulty because the challenge there felt fair and fun. The challenge here feels arbitrary and annoying. That said you’re mileage may vary. You might be one of the people who enjoys the way this game handles it’s combat. Ultimately I became convinced I was here for the characters and to a lesser extent the story and just turned the difficulty down."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This is ultimately what the game does well. The characterization, dialogue and vingettes are top notch. This would have worked as a movie"}],"id":"xxkgjrrokuvlimlpdtcy","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" This whole issue with the gameplay is also compounded by the shear amount of times you will be holding X to pick up health. Not having regenerating health is a perfectly understandable choice because the id reboots were clearly designed to feel like the shooters of the past. Doom 2016 absolutely nailed it. The Glory Kill mechanic was a perfect way to incentivize fast paced play by making killing the only way to regenerate health in combat. Frankly Wolfenstein should have just straight stolen that mechanic. It would make as much sense here as it did there and as I’ve said before. When faced with a choice between realism and fun developers should choose fun every time. Barring just implementing that mechanic going forward they at least need to make ALL health, armor and ammo pickups completely automatic and drastically increase the range on the pickups. You will spend an awful lot of time slowly hoovering over levels and corpses to either walk directly over an ammo pickup (the range is so small that you often have to go back and forth until you’ve gotten it) or holding X to pickup health and armor. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I can’t overstate just how immersion breaking this is. It slows the game to an absolute crawl and completely destroys any momentum within the levels themselves."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The core loop here is enter an area. Start making your way to a Commander by killing one to 4 guards while in stealth before being spotted by the AI from across a room when you thought you were in cover. You then scramble to kill the commander and slowly pick off enemies. After the fight you make your way all through the area holding X for 2 seconds at a time to pick up health and repeat."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The heavy weapons are fun. But they slow down an already strangely sluggish combat experience."}],"id":"koosxklxkkxm9daobb47","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" It’s not a small issue. At times it made me put the game down because the post fight scavenging is so boring and repetitive and annoying. These decisions could easily have led to me putting the game down for good and frankly I would have if not for one very surprising (at least for me) thing."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" "},{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The cut-scenes are truly great. The New Colossus’ story isn’t anything particularly interesting. It’s basically a vengeance fantasy. BJ’s vengeance for lost friends and America’s vengeance for Germany dropping a Nuclear weapon on New York (we’ll get to that story beat and what it means for the overall games message in a bit)."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But, like in any work of fiction, there is nothing new under the Sun when it comes to story and what differentiates a great work from a piece of action schlok is characters. And the New Colossus has fantastic characters. If we need a point of reference the game probably most resembles the work of Quentin Tarantino. It’s explosively over the top hyper violence, it’s loving recreation of late 1960's fashion and it’s nod to the Blaxploitation films of that era all shine through."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I won’t spend much time spoiling the characters themselves because their introduction, story beats and interactions are the best parts of this game. The cut-scenes are well paced, perfectly acted, expertly directed and spaced out almost perfectly."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In fact the only thing I’ll mention is it has the most interesting representation of a pregnant character in a game to date. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Alright. SO the gameplay is somewhere between adequate and frustrating but the characters and cut-scenes (not something I’m know to care much about in games) are top notch and riveting."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This leaves the story itself. The story mirrors the gameplay in one important way. It’s completely confused about what it wants to be."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The game, again, is extremely violent. You’ll be hacking off arms and splitting skulls. After upgrades you’ll literally be running through enemies and exploding them into bits of flying meat. The aforementioned pregnancy scene literally features raining blood. ALL games have to contextualize their violence and most of them do a very very bad job at it."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The New Colossus has, seemingly, the easiest enemy in the world to use as cannon fodder. Nazi’s."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"We’ve gotten so far away from the events of WWII that Nazi brutality is actually under appreciated (I recommend reading the Rise and Fall of The Third Reich if you haven’t)."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So it might surprise you that I feel that the level of violence here works against the message of hope that id was clearly going for. The game is set in a fictionalized universe where Nazi Germany won WWII. They’ve taken over the US and much of the populace is now, defacto collaborators. If you’re going to tackle something like this you’ve got to make sure you examine the theme of responsibility."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The art direction of the levels is absolutely amazing. The level design varies from adequate to frustrating. "}],"id":"avvehyo7rmecsexino9t","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Even in WWII we’ve never come to grips with what the responsibility of the average, conscripted German soldier is for the atrocities of his government. The sheer amount of soldiers you’re killing brutally means that inevitably some of them are just dudes. You’re operating in the United States where millions of people have capitulated. And in many instances they’ve capitulated because of their inherent racism and biases."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"A setting like this demands that NAZI brutality be shown. It demands that you acknowledge and examine American responses to the ideology. Especially in the current political climate it requires examining the people who collaborate."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The New Orleans level needed to show citizens living under NAZI rule."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But more than that the game needs to examine its own seeming statement that hatred can be defeated by lopping off arms."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The game wants to handle serious issues like this but without taking the time to dwell on them. It would be really really great if you could shoot racism to death or hack off it’s arms with a machete. The world would be excellent if you could end tyranny and manipulation with a shotgun. Because humans are truly excellent at directing violence at other humans."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But we don’t live in that world. Wars and racism and tyranny are complex issues with complex causes and effects. I don’t want to kill the game for this but I think it’s important to note because all throughout the game something was nagging at me. I kept dwelling on the violence in a way here that I did not with Doom 2016. It took weeks to finally come into focus. And what did it was replaying the New York Level."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The New York level suffers from all the gameplay problems mentioned. It’s difficult and confusing to navigate and traverse. Visibility is bad. Stealth options are limited and run and gun doesn’t work because enemies are all around you and you often die without even realizing you’re being damaged."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And when it comes to story? We’ve got a serious problem. The bombing of New York with a nuclear weapon is rightly presented as an unforgivable tragedy. Nazi Germany is responsible for killing millions of non combatant civilians to force the surrender of the government. Sadly citizens even in western democracies have very little say on foreign policy and basically zero say on the conduct of wars done in their names. Any government that would do something like this is unforgivably evil and any and all of it’s agents deserve every one of those hacked off limbs and split skulls you’re going to give them right?"}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":620,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This is something that you’ve got to be really careful using as a narrative device. Especially if you’re going to use it as an excuse for unrestrained violence."}],"id":"eermxoib1g4rbvv7hrxe","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":465},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But only one nation in history has done that. They did it twice in fact. And it was US who did it. And it wasn’t unforgivably evil. It was a ridiculously complex decision informed by all sorts of factors. Those bombs were dropped on completely civilian targets. And the suffering of the people was unimaginable. This strangely goes basically unexamined. Are ALL the Nazi soldiers you brutalize within that level responsible? Just the commanders? None of them?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"13 million Germans served in the Army alone in WW2 with almost all of them serving by conscription. And many of them were probably viciously anti-Semitic and/or racist. Most probably fell for the propaganda that the Nazi party was so expert at creating. But after the defeat of Germany almost all of those people went home. They went back to work. And over time their biases lessened enough to build one of the most progressive nations on Earth and one that makes hate speech a criminal offense."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So while killing those soldiers in war time was a necessity reveling in hacking off their limbs feels off somehow. And using a nuclear blast zone as a morality tale about the evils of prejudice feels particularly off. I’m not saying every FPS needs to be a complex examination of real world politics."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But Wolfenstein 2's cut-scenes are fantastic, the characters feel real. Their banter and environment feel authentic. It also is clearly trying to present very heavy themes on racism, tyranny, antisemitism and hope in the face of terror. It makes a very real effort to examine the “one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter” principle by having the enemies refer to BJ as Terror Billy. It even, if very briefly, gives us the occasional text log making a token effort at fleshing out it’s nameless soon to be piles of giblets enemies."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"If you’re going to deal with things like this. It’s best if you dig deep and deal with them. The game doesn’t offend. But it doesn’t enlighten and ultimately it’s narrative is ancillary to it’s characters. Which ends of working but it also ends up feeling like it’s leaving the hard work undone."}],"id":"pgh8tgkhwafevjm6z8vz","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"What it doesn’t examine in any meaningful way is HOW to combat racism. It clearly shows that many American’s have accepted Nazi rule and adopted the racial ideology but it doesn’t really make any kind of statement about that beyond just noting it’s existence. It doesn’t even try to conceptualize why Nazi ideology worked in America and perhaps most importantly what the effect of this amount of extreme and intimate violence does to BJ himself. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So in total we’re left with a game with confused and uneven gameplay riddled with lots of small annoyances, a story that leaves at least me, feeling somewhere between slightly uneasy and disturbed and music, characters and cut-scenes so good I kept going to get to the next one."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I haven’t played a game that left me so unsure of how I felt about it and so confused by the almost universal praise it received. If I had to give it a score I’d say it ends up being much more than the sum of it’s parts. A solidly above average 6.5 out of 10 that with some gameplay tweaks (simply making pickups automatic would have added a point for me) could have been an 8. But it’s confused politics and ethics mean it can’t approach the levels of some of the generations best games. Doom proves that a story isn’t needed. Horizon Zero Dawn proves that story depth can add a ton to a game and Wolfenstein 2 proves that if you’re going to take on some of the most important ethical questions we face you’ve got to do everything you can to make sure it’s not as shallow and confused as this."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold","Italic"],"type":"Text","value":" See you soon and Old Pliny greatly appreciates people who watch his videos and follow him on twitter. For those he can convince to watch his videos (visual aids make these very long analyses so much more pleasant) he very much enjoys subscriptions, likes, comments, Pastrami sandwiches, and low fives. High fives are played out bro."},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Original doom footage acquired from: "}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"lbswc0eocpgvkdxz4y7g","format":"jpg"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"yr-lQZzevwA","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Hirosima picture downloaded from:"}]},{"style":"Normal","type":"LinkPreview","url":"http://www.theglobepost.com/2017/08/06/hiroshima-nuclear-atomic-nagasaki/"}],"mainMedia":null,"largeOnStream":false,"images":[{"uid":"pezz0mjehjhbmxlj6h5m","originalWidth":1280,"originalHeight":720,"format":"jpg","width":1280,"height":720,"id":"pezz0mjehjhbmxlj6h5m","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"ojv7niqfplvhqsrl0fzs","originalWidth":953,"originalHeight":886,"format":"png","width":953,"height":886,"id":"ojv7niqfplvhqsrl0fzs","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"agmhfgpgzjwfwpt3ccgu","originalWidth":878,"originalHeight":917,"format":"png","width":878,"height":917,"id":"agmhfgpgzjwfwpt3ccgu","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"dkxiithc6qcwz31oa8cd","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"dkxiithc6qcwz31oa8cd","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"xxkgjrrokuvlimlpdtcy","originalWidth":1280,"originalHeight":720,"format":"jpg","width":1280,"height":720,"id":"xxkgjrrokuvlimlpdtcy","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"koosxklxkkxm9daobb47","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"koosxklxkkxm9daobb47","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"avvehyo7rmecsexino9t","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"avvehyo7rmecsexino9t","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"eermxoib1g4rbvv7hrxe","originalWidth":620,"originalHeight":465,"format":"jpg","width":620,"height":465,"id":"eermxoib1g4rbvv7hrxe","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"pgh8tgkhwafevjm6z8vz","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"pgh8tgkhwafevjm6z8vz","frozenFormat":"jpg"}],"videos":[{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"Thumbnail_Not_Found_p0odsy","format":"png","width":0,"height":0,"id":"Thumbnail_Not_Found_p0odsy","frozenFormat":"png"}]},{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"lbswc0eocpgvkdxz4y7g","format":"jpg","width":0,"height":0,"id":"lbswc0eocpgvkdxz4y7g","frozenFormat":"jpg"}]}],"publishTimeMillis":1512010080439,"lastUpdateTimeMillis":1512104943743,"timezone":"America/New_York","defaultBlogId":"1634563201","parentId":null,"starterId":"1820864439","parentAuthorId":null,"salesAvatar":null,"sponsored":false,"sharedUrl":null,"status":"PUBLISHED","authorId":"5876237249235617220","authorIds":["5876237249235617220"],"ownerId":null,"byline":{"byline":"","show":true},"properties":"{\"dropCapEnabled\":false}","allowReplies":true,"showAuthorBio":false,"approved":true,"author":null,"authors":[{"id":"5876237249235617220","screenName":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","status":"enabled","isSuperuser":false,"isSales":false,"avatar":{"id":"zxsj7lof8rm9cjyfqgfj","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"token":null,"membership":[],"remotes":{},"authName":null,"isGmgMember":false,"isEditStaff":false}],"tags":[{"canonical":"tayclassic","urlName":"tayclassic","displayName":"#TAYClassic"},{"canonical":"videogames","urlName":"video-games","displayName":"Video Games"},{"canonical":"wolfenstein2","urlName":"wolfenstein-2","displayName":"Wolfenstein 2"},{"canonical":"analysis","urlName":"analysis","displayName":"Analysis"},{"canonical":"kotaku","urlName":"kotaku","displayName":"Kotaku"}],"defaultBlog":{"id":"1634563201","name":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","canonicalHost":"plinythewelder.kinja.com","hosts":[],"status":"ENABLED","timezone":"America/New_York","timezoneOffset":-18000000,"createTimeMillis":1428094514748,"ownerId":"5876237249235617220","description":null,"properties":{},"avatar":{"id":"o1cviek0sodh7bfuq7m5","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"logo":{"id":"apgdn7mbb3mwguvzikdh","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"}},"storyTypeId":null,"storyType":null,"parent":null,"isRoundup":false,"isFeatured":false,"isVideo":false,"featuredMedia":null,"qaParticipants":null,"qaMembers":null,"relatedModule":null,"relatedPosts":[],"category":null,"categoryData":null,"subcategory":null,"subcategoryData":null,"permalinkRedirect":null,"permalinkHost":"https://plinythewelder.kinja.com","permalinkPath":"/wolfenstein-2-muddy-ethics-confused-gameplay-great-c-1820864439","plaintext":"It’s been a busy month for gaming. We’ve had the Loot Wars Battlecrate controversy, we had the DLC for one of the best games of the generation, we had a refreshed (though not nearly enough in my opinion) Assassins Creed game, Call Of Duty, Sonic, Nioh releasing a PC port. The list is long.","customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"pezz0mjehjhbmxlj6h5m","width":800,"height":450,"format":"jpg","frozenFormat":"jpg"},"adSettings":null,"template":null},"id":"1820864439","headline":"Wolfenstein 2: Muddy Ethics, Confused Gameplay, Great Characters","body":[{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[],"id":"pezz0mjehjhbmxlj6h5m","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It’s been a busy month for gaming. We’ve had the "},{"reference":"https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=l-_DvWAAlPY","type":"Link","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Loot Wars Battlecrate controversy,"}]},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" we had the DLC for one of the best games of the generation, we had a refreshed (though not nearly enough in my opinion) Assassins Creed game, Call Of Duty, Sonic, Nioh releasing a PC port. The list is long."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"What we also had was a sequel to one of the last generations biggest surprise hits. And while the overall game was enjoyable, effective and worth the purchase. A deeper analysis shows it’s also got some serious problems with it’s gameplay, design and particularly with it’s political/ethical message. We’re going to examine each of those issues in that order but first lets quickly get the history out of the way."}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"Thumbnail_Not_Found_p0odsy","format":"png"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"C6E4QLphUow","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In 2009 Bethesda did what Bethesda do. After amazing success buying and rebooting the beloved Fallout series Bethesda went hunting for other famous but dormant IP’s. They eventually reached a deal to acquire gaming royalty in id software. This immediately gave Zenimax/Bethesda Doom, Wolfenstein and Quake."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"All 3 games were relics of the past. Fast paced old school shooters that had little or no narrative and instead were famous for pioneering an entire genre. Still that genre,once known as “Doom Clones” (today we call them FPS titles) had changed "},{"styles":["Italic","Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"a lot "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"in the intervening years and those 3 titles had been on a steady and consistent downward trend."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" In fact in 2009 Activision/Blizzard published it’s own id developed reboot of Wolfenstein. It was not a success. "}]},{"format":"Png","width":953,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"2009's reboot didn’t go well. It needed a"},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" Re"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"-reboot."}],"id":"ojv7niqfplvhqsrl0fzs","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":886},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Fast forward 5 years and Bethesda releases the first of 3 highly acclaimed games from the developer. To say the critical and commercial success of Wolfenstein: The New Order was a surprise would be an understatement. And much of that praise arose from the sense of surprise at what Wolfenstein did well."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Last years absolutely wonderful Doom reboot succeeded because it did exactly what fans hoped. It took old school stripped down mechanics and tweaked them a tiny bit while still keeping the feel of Doom but with modern graphics. It didn’t try to force a complex narrative into a game that is ultimately about cutting demons in half with a chainsaw. It kept light narrative elements and instead focused on honing and updating Doom to make it feel like a true combination of old school shooter speed with modern bells and whistles."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" This is ...not what Wolfenstein the New Order did. I commend id for allowing Machine Games to take chances with Wolfenstein. They should be applauded for resisting the urge to make all 3 of their IP’s clones of each other. It would have been very easy for them to have re-positioned themselves as the “Old School Shooter” developer and done with Wolfenstein what they ended up doing with Doom."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Instead they continued their efforts at giving Wolfenstein a compelling narrative core. Still, we have to acknowledge that id’s previous efforts at this were absurd failures. The simple fact remains that a game about shooting Nazis in a series of boxy corridors leaves only so much room for story. The story was, and to be fair remains: Nazis are extremely bad and they require shooting and dismemberment."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So with the new Wolfenstein it seems that id recognized the limited space for interesting narrative elements and instead leaned hard into the other part of story telling. Strong characters. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" If you go back and read reviews of the New Order you’ll notice one thing that was written over and over. Reviewers almost all commented on the games “surprisingly effective story.”"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" People were neither looking for nor expecting a strong story in that game. But they got it."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This brings us to to the sequel, which this month released to very strong critical reception with an 87 Metacritic score."},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":" [I got it on release on PC and was unable to play past the first few minutes because of an Nvidia driver issue. Once again I was forced to play an inferior version of a game because a PC port was sold to me at full price and did not work. I played on the XBox One S mainly because my PS4 hard drive was full.]"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" "}]},{"format":"Png","width":878,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Thats more like it. Though I’m not sure the game earns this."}],"id":"agmhfgpgzjwfwpt3ccgu","type":"Image","alignment":"Right","height":917},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Wolfenstein 2"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" keeps the majority of the mechanics used in the first game and also doesn’t significantly improve on it’s visual presentation. Character models outside of cut-scenes are still a bit dated, textures and environments are adequate. As far as graphics go they don’t get in the way but also don’t particularly add anything to the experience. On the gameplay side it’s still got fun though marginally effective dual wielding, it’s got the light stealth elements in the level commanders and it doesn’t have regenerating health."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" On a basic level it’s a perfectly adequate shooter but Doom 2016 and Titanfall 2 raised the bar considerably for what I expect in a great single player shooter campaign and while I enjoyed Wolfenstein 2 the gameplay always felt confused. The early Wolfenstein’s were stealth games, then shooters. Then an rpg. Then a relatively ham fisted narrative shooter. And this trend of genre confusion shows up within the new game itself. Like id/Machine didn’t quite know what they wanted this game to play like and this confusion bleeds all through the gameplay and even into the level design itself."}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Lets start with two of the most noteworthy mechanics of the game because the level Commanders and dual wielding are mechanics that seem to want completely different things from the player. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The New Colossus brings back the light stealth elements of the first game. Many levels have Commanders that must be killed to stop them calling in reinforcements. The game also features a cover mechanic with a leaning ability to peak out and scout the area. The problem with this is that I’m sure many players are like me. If there is a stealth aspect to the game they’re going to want to have a chance to ghost the level without being seen. Wolfenstein doesn’t craft levels that work for the stealth it seems to want players to engage in. There’s no feedback to know if you can be seen or not. There’s no attention meter as in most modern stealth games there aren’t any clever ways to navigate the levels. They are basically Doom like corridors and rooms with some boxes and cover scattered about."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" That could be fine, if the game wanted you to only stay in stealth for a few easy kills before devolving into a run and gun type experience. But the game doesn’t seem to want that either because you die VERY FAST in Wolfenstein 2. Enemies are very spongy and shoot hyper accurate hit-scan weapons and once you are spotted you’re movement speed and options don’t allow you to play this game like you would doom."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This game is not Doom 2016. I realize that. And it’s fine. I’m just not convinced the strange run and gun fps and stealth mix is particularly fun to actually play. And I’m positive it’s aggresively UNFUN on the higher difficulties."}],"id":"dkxiithc6qcwz31oa8cd","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The dual wielding weapons only makes sense if the game wanted you constantly dealing damage but BJ Blazkowitz is a ridiculous glass cannon. You cannot take damage for even a short amount of time before you die. And those deaths will often be frustrating because the game does an absolutely abysmal job at communicating to the player. There’s little to no noticeable feedback that lets the player know he is nearing critical health levels. Most deaths feel sudden and frustrating because you can be taking damage without knowing it. This lack of player feedback even extends to level navigation. It’s just a core fact that the game does a pretty crappy job of giving the player the information she needs to make the gameplay flow. And it does an abysmal job telling the player how much damage they are taking."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Even this would be fine. Ok so the game wants me to play carefully and use cover. But the game doesn’t really give you the tools to do that effectively either. Only one weapon actually has any effective range at all. And the dual wielding of shotguns is screaming to players that the game wants to be played like Doom. This leaves two options for the player. Slow way down and play this game like a cover based shooter. Or turn the difficulty down (and I mean WAY down to Don’t hurt Me) and play it like Doom. This is a real problem because at the higher difficulties the game is frustrating at best and at the easier levels it offers absolutely zero challenge."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I ended up choosing the zero challenge path because ultimately the gameplay the title offered wasn’t really engaging enough to justify playing levels over and over. Doom had me playing on the highest difficulty because the challenge there felt fair and fun. The challenge here feels arbitrary and annoying. That said you’re mileage may vary. You might be one of the people who enjoys the way this game handles it’s combat. Ultimately I became convinced I was here for the characters and to a lesser extent the story and just turned the difficulty down."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This is ultimately what the game does well. The characterization, dialogue and vingettes are top notch. This would have worked as a movie"}],"id":"xxkgjrrokuvlimlpdtcy","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" This whole issue with the gameplay is also compounded by the shear amount of times you will be holding X to pick up health. Not having regenerating health is a perfectly understandable choice because the id reboots were clearly designed to feel like the shooters of the past. Doom 2016 absolutely nailed it. The Glory Kill mechanic was a perfect way to incentivize fast paced play by making killing the only way to regenerate health in combat. Frankly Wolfenstein should have just straight stolen that mechanic. It would make as much sense here as it did there and as I’ve said before. When faced with a choice between realism and fun developers should choose fun every time. Barring just implementing that mechanic going forward they at least need to make ALL health, armor and ammo pickups completely automatic and drastically increase the range on the pickups. You will spend an awful lot of time slowly hoovering over levels and corpses to either walk directly over an ammo pickup (the range is so small that you often have to go back and forth until you’ve gotten it) or holding X to pickup health and armor. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I can’t overstate just how immersion breaking this is. It slows the game to an absolute crawl and completely destroys any momentum within the levels themselves."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" The core loop here is enter an area. Start making your way to a Commander by killing one to 4 guards while in stealth before being spotted by the AI from across a room when you thought you were in cover. You then scramble to kill the commander and slowly pick off enemies. After the fight you make your way all through the area holding X for 2 seconds at a time to pick up health and repeat."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The heavy weapons are fun. But they slow down an already strangely sluggish combat experience."}],"id":"koosxklxkkxm9daobb47","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" It’s not a small issue. At times it made me put the game down because the post fight scavenging is so boring and repetitive and annoying. These decisions could easily have led to me putting the game down for good and frankly I would have if not for one very surprising (at least for me) thing."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" "},{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The cut-scenes are truly great. The New Colossus’ story isn’t anything particularly interesting. It’s basically a vengeance fantasy. BJ’s vengeance for lost friends and America’s vengeance for Germany dropping a Nuclear weapon on New York (we’ll get to that story beat and what it means for the overall games message in a bit)."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But, like in any work of fiction, there is nothing new under the Sun when it comes to story and what differentiates a great work from a piece of action schlok is characters. And the New Colossus has fantastic characters. If we need a point of reference the game probably most resembles the work of Quentin Tarantino. It’s explosively over the top hyper violence, it’s loving recreation of late 1960's fashion and it’s nod to the Blaxploitation films of that era all shine through."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I won’t spend much time spoiling the characters themselves because their introduction, story beats and interactions are the best parts of this game. The cut-scenes are well paced, perfectly acted, expertly directed and spaced out almost perfectly."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In fact the only thing I’ll mention is it has the most interesting representation of a pregnant character in a game to date. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Alright. SO the gameplay is somewhere between adequate and frustrating but the characters and cut-scenes (not something I’m know to care much about in games) are top notch and riveting."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This leaves the story itself. The story mirrors the gameplay in one important way. It’s completely confused about what it wants to be."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The game, again, is extremely violent. You’ll be hacking off arms and splitting skulls. After upgrades you’ll literally be running through enemies and exploding them into bits of flying meat. The aforementioned pregnancy scene literally features raining blood. ALL games have to contextualize their violence and most of them do a very very bad job at it."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The New Colossus has, seemingly, the easiest enemy in the world to use as cannon fodder. Nazi’s."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"We’ve gotten so far away from the events of WWII that Nazi brutality is actually under appreciated (I recommend reading the Rise and Fall of The Third Reich if you haven’t)."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So it might surprise you that I feel that the level of violence here works against the message of hope that id was clearly going for. The game is set in a fictionalized universe where Nazi Germany won WWII. They’ve taken over the US and much of the populace is now, defacto collaborators. If you’re going to tackle something like this you’ve got to make sure you examine the theme of responsibility."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The art direction of the levels is absolutely amazing. The level design varies from adequate to frustrating. "}],"id":"avvehyo7rmecsexino9t","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Even in WWII we’ve never come to grips with what the responsibility of the average, conscripted German soldier is for the atrocities of his government. The sheer amount of soldiers you’re killing brutally means that inevitably some of them are just dudes. You’re operating in the United States where millions of people have capitulated. And in many instances they’ve capitulated because of their inherent racism and biases."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"A setting like this demands that NAZI brutality be shown. It demands that you acknowledge and examine American responses to the ideology. Especially in the current political climate it requires examining the people who collaborate."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The New Orleans level needed to show citizens living under NAZI rule."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But more than that the game needs to examine its own seeming statement that hatred can be defeated by lopping off arms."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The game wants to handle serious issues like this but without taking the time to dwell on them. It would be really really great if you could shoot racism to death or hack off it’s arms with a machete. The world would be excellent if you could end tyranny and manipulation with a shotgun. Because humans are truly excellent at directing violence at other humans."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But we don’t live in that world. Wars and racism and tyranny are complex issues with complex causes and effects. I don’t want to kill the game for this but I think it’s important to note because all throughout the game something was nagging at me. I kept dwelling on the violence in a way here that I did not with Doom 2016. It took weeks to finally come into focus. And what did it was replaying the New York Level."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The New York level suffers from all the gameplay problems mentioned. It’s difficult and confusing to navigate and traverse. Visibility is bad. Stealth options are limited and run and gun doesn’t work because enemies are all around you and you often die without even realizing you’re being damaged."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And when it comes to story? We’ve got a serious problem. The bombing of New York with a nuclear weapon is rightly presented as an unforgivable tragedy. Nazi Germany is responsible for killing millions of non combatant civilians to force the surrender of the government. Sadly citizens even in western democracies have very little say on foreign policy and basically zero say on the conduct of wars done in their names. Any government that would do something like this is unforgivably evil and any and all of it’s agents deserve every one of those hacked off limbs and split skulls you’re going to give them right?"}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":620,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This is something that you’ve got to be really careful using as a narrative device. Especially if you’re going to use it as an excuse for unrestrained violence."}],"id":"eermxoib1g4rbvv7hrxe","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":465},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But only one nation in history has done that. They did it twice in fact. And it was US who did it. And it wasn’t unforgivably evil. It was a ridiculously complex decision informed by all sorts of factors. Those bombs were dropped on completely civilian targets. And the suffering of the people was unimaginable. This strangely goes basically unexamined. Are ALL the Nazi soldiers you brutalize within that level responsible? Just the commanders? None of them?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"13 million Germans served in the Army alone in WW2 with almost all of them serving by conscription. And many of them were probably viciously anti-Semitic and/or racist. Most probably fell for the propaganda that the Nazi party was so expert at creating. But after the defeat of Germany almost all of those people went home. They went back to work. And over time their biases lessened enough to build one of the most progressive nations on Earth and one that makes hate speech a criminal offense."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So while killing those soldiers in war time was a necessity reveling in hacking off their limbs feels off somehow. And using a nuclear blast zone as a morality tale about the evils of prejudice feels particularly off. I’m not saying every FPS needs to be a complex examination of real world politics."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But Wolfenstein 2's cut-scenes are fantastic, the characters feel real. Their banter and environment feel authentic. It also is clearly trying to present very heavy themes on racism, tyranny, antisemitism and hope in the face of terror. It makes a very real effort to examine the “one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter” principle by having the enemies refer to BJ as Terror Billy. It even, if very briefly, gives us the occasional text log making a token effort at fleshing out it’s nameless soon to be piles of giblets enemies."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":3840,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"If you’re going to deal with things like this. It’s best if you dig deep and deal with them. The game doesn’t offend. But it doesn’t enlighten and ultimately it’s narrative is ancillary to it’s characters. Which ends of working but it also ends up feeling like it’s leaving the hard work undone."}],"id":"pgh8tgkhwafevjm6z8vz","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":2160},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"What it doesn’t examine in any meaningful way is HOW to combat racism. It clearly shows that many American’s have accepted Nazi rule and adopted the racial ideology but it doesn’t really make any kind of statement about that beyond just noting it’s existence. It doesn’t even try to conceptualize why Nazi ideology worked in America and perhaps most importantly what the effect of this amount of extreme and intimate violence does to BJ himself. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So in total we’re left with a game with confused and uneven gameplay riddled with lots of small annoyances, a story that leaves at least me, feeling somewhere between slightly uneasy and disturbed and music, characters and cut-scenes so good I kept going to get to the next one."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I haven’t played a game that left me so unsure of how I felt about it and so confused by the almost universal praise it received. If I had to give it a score I’d say it ends up being much more than the sum of it’s parts. A solidly above average 6.5 out of 10 that with some gameplay tweaks (simply making pickups automatic would have added a point for me) could have been an 8. But it’s confused politics and ethics mean it can’t approach the levels of some of the generations best games. Doom proves that a story isn’t needed. Horizon Zero Dawn proves that story depth can add a ton to a game and Wolfenstein 2 proves that if you’re going to take on some of the most important ethical questions we face you’ve got to do everything you can to make sure it’s not as shallow and confused as this."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold","Italic"],"type":"Text","value":" See you soon and Old Pliny greatly appreciates people who watch his videos and follow him on twitter. For those he can convince to watch his videos (visual aids make these very long analyses so much more pleasant) he very much enjoys subscriptions, likes, comments, Pastrami sandwiches, and low fives. High fives are played out bro."},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Original doom footage acquired from: "}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"lbswc0eocpgvkdxz4y7g","format":"jpg"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"yr-lQZzevwA","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Hirosima picture downloaded from:"}]},{"style":"Normal","type":"LinkPreview","url":"http://www.theglobepost.com/2017/08/06/hiroshima-nuclear-atomic-nagasaki/"}],"mainMedia":null,"largeOnStream":false,"images":[{"uid":"pezz0mjehjhbmxlj6h5m","originalWidth":1280,"originalHeight":720,"format":"jpg","width":1280,"height":720,"id":"pezz0mjehjhbmxlj6h5m","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"ojv7niqfplvhqsrl0fzs","originalWidth":953,"originalHeight":886,"format":"png","width":953,"height":886,"id":"ojv7niqfplvhqsrl0fzs","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"agmhfgpgzjwfwpt3ccgu","originalWidth":878,"originalHeight":917,"format":"png","width":878,"height":917,"id":"agmhfgpgzjwfwpt3ccgu","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"dkxiithc6qcwz31oa8cd","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"dkxiithc6qcwz31oa8cd","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"xxkgjrrokuvlimlpdtcy","originalWidth":1280,"originalHeight":720,"format":"jpg","width":1280,"height":720,"id":"xxkgjrrokuvlimlpdtcy","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"koosxklxkkxm9daobb47","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"koosxklxkkxm9daobb47","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"avvehyo7rmecsexino9t","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"avvehyo7rmecsexino9t","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"eermxoib1g4rbvv7hrxe","originalWidth":620,"originalHeight":465,"format":"jpg","width":620,"height":465,"id":"eermxoib1g4rbvv7hrxe","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"pgh8tgkhwafevjm6z8vz","originalWidth":3840,"originalHeight":2160,"format":"jpg","width":3840,"height":2160,"id":"pgh8tgkhwafevjm6z8vz","frozenFormat":"jpg"}],"videos":[{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"Thumbnail_Not_Found_p0odsy","format":"png","width":0,"height":0,"id":"Thumbnail_Not_Found_p0odsy","frozenFormat":"png"}]},{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"lbswc0eocpgvkdxz4y7g","format":"jpg","width":0,"height":0,"id":"lbswc0eocpgvkdxz4y7g","frozenFormat":"jpg"}]}],"lastUpdateTimeMillis":1512104943743,"timezone":"America/New_York","defaultBlogId":"1634563201","parentId":null,"starterId":"1820864439","parentAuthorId":null,"salesAvatar":null,"sponsored":false,"editorial":false,"sharedUrl":null,"status":"PUBLISHED","authorId":"5876237249235617220","authorIds":["5876237249235617220"],"ownerId":null,"bylineProperties":{"byline":"","show":true},"properties":"{\"dropCapEnabled\":false}","allowReplies":true,"showAuthorBio":false,"approved":true,"author":null,"authors":[{"id":"5876237249235617220","screenName":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","status":"enabled","isSuperuser":false,"isSales":false,"avatar":{"id":"zxsj7lof8rm9cjyfqgfj","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"token":null,"membership":[],"remotes":{},"authName":null,"isGmgMember":false,"isEditStaff":false}],"tags":[{"canonical":"tayclassic","urlName":"tayclassic","displayName":"#TAYClassic"},{"canonical":"videogames","urlName":"video-games","displayName":"Video Games"},{"canonical":"wolfenstein2","urlName":"wolfenstein-2","displayName":"Wolfenstein 2"},{"canonical":"analysis","urlName":"analysis","displayName":"Analysis"},{"canonical":"kotaku","urlName":"kotaku","displayName":"Kotaku"}],"defaultBlog":{"id":"1634563201","name":"plinythewelder","displayName":"Pliny The Welder","canonicalHost":"plinythewelder.kinja.com","hosts":[],"status":"ENABLED","timezone":"America/New_York","timezoneOffset":-18000000,"createTimeMillis":1428094514748,"ownerId":"5876237249235617220","description":null,"properties":{},"avatar":{"id":"o1cviek0sodh7bfuq7m5","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"},"logo":{"id":"apgdn7mbb3mwguvzikdh","format":"jpg","isAnimated":false,"frozenFormat":"jpg"}},"storyTypeId":null,"storyType":null,"parent":null,"isRoundup":false,"isFeatured":false,"isVideo":false,"featuredMedia":null,"qaParticipants":[],"qaMembers":[],"staffIncluded":false,"relatedModule":null,"relatedPosts":[],"category":null,"categoryData":null,"subcategory":null,"subcategoryData":null,"permalinkRedirect":null,"plaintext":"It’s been a busy month for gaming. We’ve had the Loot Wars Battlecrate controversy, we had the DLC for one of the best games of the generation, we had a refreshed (though not nearly enough in my opinion) Assassins Creed game, Call Of Duty, Sonic, Nioh releasing a PC port. The list is long.","permalinkHost":"https://plinythewelder.kinja.com","permalinkPath":"/wolfenstein-2-muddy-ethics-confused-gameplay-great-c-1820864439","publishTimeMillis":1512010080439,"customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"pezz0mjehjhbmxlj6h5m","width":800,"height":450,"format":"jpg","frozenFormat":"jpg"},"resolvedReviewScore":null,"customKinjaId":null,"adSettings":null,"template":null},{"originalProps":{"id":"1820749673","headline":"Horizon Zero Dawn Frozen Wilds DLC Release: Derivative, Uninventive And Nearly Perfect","body":[{"format":"Jpg","width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"That’s Guerilla games version of a vision tower."}],"id":"tlpz6adto9hxegd5loec","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1080},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Horizon Zero Dawn (or as I call it Screen Shot: The Game) released it’s Frozen Wilds DLC this month which gives me an opportunity to very quickly review the DLC but also, more importantly, analyze the base game itself."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So first of all, how is the DLC?"}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"Thumbnail_Not_Found_p0odsy","format":"png"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"-YJdKNhLj0U","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Well.....it’s more of the same, which is to say it’s excellent. In fact in strictly game-play terms I think it’s superior. The Frozen Wilds has you fighting almost no humans"},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"which were the weakest parts of the base game. And destroying massive robot dinosaurs with a bow and arrow is as fun in November as it was last February"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The facial animations in the DLC are significantly improved after frequent patching and the detail in the DLC environments are impressive. The DLC takes snow print rendering technology to exciting new heights and the new enemy type features perhaps the most impressive animations in the entire game. It’s well worth the price of admission and a welcome chance to play the game again just in time to remind everyone why it was a game of the year contender in the first place. "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The game is absurdly...no LUDICROUSLY beautiful. Ludicrous."}],"id":"glejomwgkkiwepvi4oko","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1080},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Playing the DLC crystallized a few things enough for me go back and re play the base game. First of all, on replay the thing that jumps out even more than it did at the time of it’s launch is that Horizon Zero Dawn is a very standard open world game that manages to be fantastic not because it does anything particularly new or interesting but rather because it takes all of these ideas that have become tiresome in other releases and polishes them to a mirror sheen. The game never feels bloated despite including all the usual trappings that have begun to plague the genre. And while Horizon’s story works on a very basic level (a chosen one figure must save the world)"},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"just beneath the surface it manages to make some very heavy philosophical, religious, gender and race statements without being explicitly about any of those things. It’s story and world are meticulously crafted and thought out. In a time when AAA video game narratives are becoming increasingly trite it’s important that we recognize pop narrative done well."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In early reveals Horizon Zero Dawn looked promising but also like something to remain a bit skeptical about."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It’s name "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"seemed"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" terrible and early footage showed what appeared to be stunning graphics and smooth game-play but also the possibility of suffering from openworlditis. "},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" [Openworlditis: Def: The compulsive need of developers to cram in mountains of formulaic meaningless content so they can have PR people tell IGN their game is the largest and densest blah blah blah etc] "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Meaning a long checklist of open world game conventions had to be crammed in, vision towers, audio logs, text logs, bandit camps, mini maps resource gathering, simple crafting and every single other thing that has become standard in open world action games."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It even has a Ubisoft style map positively over flowing with icons."},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1107,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The difference is almost all of those icons signify fighting huge robotic animals. (image downloaded from:"},{"reference":"http://www.accelerated-ideas.com/horizonzerodawn/complete-world-map-machine-sites-campfires-merchants.aspx","type":"Link","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"http://www.accelerated-ideas.com/horizonzerodawn/complete-world-map-machine-sites-campfires-merchants.aspx"}]}],"id":"otnlctywwaxvewk6fphm","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":594},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So one can be forgiven for thinking this game would be just another open world game. I though that myself. Then surprisingly. I absolutely loved it. Loved it enough to consider it on a very short list for game of the year despite the fact that Horizon Zero Dawn is quite derivat