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"}]},{"style":"Normal","type":"LinkPreview","url":"https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLli81K54NfifjydidTVm1udz9ldp_l7XJ"}],"mainMedia":null,"largeOnStream":false,"images":[{"uid":"msjhbgofuhnfuilfaahr","originalWidth":1498,"originalHeight":1080,"format":"png","width":1498,"height":1080,"id":"msjhbgofuhnfuilfaahr","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"hrji4fikhsle7b0u5wzk","originalWidth":1920,"originalHeight":1080,"format":"jpg","width":1920,"height":1080,"id":"hrji4fikhsle7b0u5wzk","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"szpakkwc1dsxqvaumvjj","originalWidth":877,"originalHeight":138,"format":"png","width":877,"height":138,"id":"szpakkwc1dsxqvaumvjj","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"iciaqa8vq7fuqaqiorsn","originalWidth":939,"originalHeight":225,"format":"png","width":939,"height":225,"id":"iciaqa8vq7fuqaqiorsn","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"kbwnkbojywe6yddu3xou","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":230,"format":"gif","width":300,"height":230,"id":"kbwnkbojywe6yddu3xou","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"c0tzkueqxi8oyrx2e232","originalWidth":997,"originalHeight":176,"format":"png","width":997,"height":176,"id":"c0tzkueqxi8oyrx2e232","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"nflpzkshzrdowhuzy7gh","originalWidth":820,"originalHeight":479,"format":"png","width":820,"height":479,"id":"nflpzkshzrdowhuzy7gh","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"rwlwmfkvpovveaem7qir","originalWidth":934,"originalHeight":168,"format":"png","width":934,"height":168,"id":"rwlwmfkvpovveaem7qir","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"cwnisjxc7pdpbqwerxnz","originalWidth":858,"originalHeight":329,"format":"png","width":858,"height":329,"id":"cwnisjxc7pdpbqwerxnz","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"s1jaq12vajmrhocr2v9z","originalWidth":919,"originalHeight":161,"format":"png","width":919,"height":161,"id":"s1jaq12vajmrhocr2v9z","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"dnd6afur4jvstin82k4w","originalWidth":873,"originalHeight":126,"format":"png","width":873,"height":126,"id":"dnd6afur4jvstin82k4w","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"eoznacoz1r3ol1tjvkqq","originalWidth":225,"originalHeight":225,"format":"png","width":225,"height":225,"id":"eoznacoz1r3ol1tjvkqq","frozenFormat":"png"}],"videos":[{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"tm6jscenfssbyt0hqpoc","format":"jpg","width":0,"height":0,"id":"tm6jscenfssbyt0hqpoc","frozenFormat":"jpg"}]}],"publishTimeMillis":1516032060985,"lastUpdateTimeMillis":1516034056621,"timezone":"America/New_York","defaultBlogId":"1634563201","parentId":null,"starterId":"1822088985","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":"destiny2","urlName":"destiny-2","displayName":"Destiny 2"},{"canonical":"tayclassic","urlName":"tayclassic","displayName":"#TAYClassic"},{"canonical":"videogames","urlName":"video-games","displayName":"Video Games"},{"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":"/destiny-2-developer-blog-post-review-a-diagram-of-a-u-1822088985","customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"msjhbgofuhnfuilfaahr","width":800,"height":576,"format":"png","frozenFormat":"png"},"adSettings":null,"template":null},"id":"1822088985","headline":"Destiny 2 Developer Blog Post Review: A Diagram Of A U-Turn","body":[{"format":"Png","width":1498,"caption":[],"id":"msjhbgofuhnfuilfaahr","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1080},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So I’ve decided to start putting out\nsome quicker, more regular much easier to produce videos and articles\n focusing on news that comes out of the games I’m interested in. I’m\nalmost finished with my Dead Cells analysis video but in the meantime\nwe have to talk about Destiny 2 again."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Destiny 2 finally put up their\nanticipated blog post explaining where they intend to take the game\nin the coming months. I debated how best to structure this before\ndeciding on just riffing on the stuff I thought particularly\nnoteworthy."}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"tm6jscenfssbyt0hqpoc","format":"jpg"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"vjctXevyadE","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"First off the blog post was, indeed,\nmore communicative than Bungie has been before. And considering most\nof the blog post is made up of vague promises with vague timelines\nabout vague fixes, that really shows just how terrible the developer\nhas been at managing their game. One blog post doesn’t make up for\nthe 3 and ½ years of failure and crisis that Destiny 1 and now 2\nhave gone through but it’s better than nothing and if playing 1500+\nhours of Destiny 1 and 2 has tought me anything is to lower my\nexpectations."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Thanks Bungie. I was a little unclear about the differences between DLC and Updates and I’d never heard of microtransactions before. Thanks for clearing that up."}],"id":"hrji4fikhsle7b0u5wzk","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1080},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"First off the team at Bungie provided\nthis helpful graphic that explains, "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"visually"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":",\n the difference between DLC, Updates and microtransactions. I don’t\nthink anybody actually needed this explained and in fact I don’t\nthink locking people out of endgame activities was even the main\nproblem. The problem was locking people out of end game activities\nTHREE MONTHS after launch and in the case of PC players only forty something days."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Destiny 2 is a much smaller game than year 3 Destiny\n1, which is why I thought a sequel was a terrible idea in the first\nplace by the way. This is a value proposition. There was an outcry not because people aren’t used to DLC locking people\nout of activities but rather because doing that only 3 months after launch ,in a game that’s\nstruggling mightily with not having enough content brought just how little there is to do in the game into painfully stark relief. On top of that it’s impossible to develop content in 3 months. It’s completely obvious the Curse Of Osiris was finished by the time D2 launched and held back to sell later. This is made\neven worse because the DLC itself was absolutely not worth $20."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The\n“campaign” was short, boring and repetitive and a large chunk of\nit is spent running through procedurally generated platforms fighting\nthe same enemies you’ve been fighting for 3 years. If Bungie wants\nto address the lack of confidence fans have and the anger they feel\nafter DLC releases they need to greatly increase the value they are\nproviding. The Curse Of Osiris felt like a free update in scope and\nsize. Instead it cost $20 and locked players out of some of the only\ninteresting content left for them to do. \n"}]},{"format":"Png","width":877,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I guess DLC won’t lock people out of stuff anymore. Truth is the entire reason for those lockouts was the Destiny DLC’s (not the actual expansions) provide almost no value. Bungie had to extort people to buy them because what they’re selling isn’t a good value."}],"id":"szpakkwc1dsxqvaumvjj","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":138},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Going\nforward Iron Banner, Trial of The Nine and end game playlists will\nnot lock out people who don’t buy the DLC. I’m thinking this means\nthat no DLC strikes can be the nightfall or in the heroic playlist\nbut we’ll see. Extorting your players to purchase DLC or have their\nalready purchased game shrink was always shitty and unnecessary. \nBunige would be better off just making DLC content that people want\nto buy rather than trying to force people to buy it or have their\noriginal purchase lose value. And speaking of value next up is the\nsection on microtransactions."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Games\nare meticulously designed. Especially a huge, polished, massively\nexpensive game like Destiny 2. Because games like D2 are carefully\ncrafted by hundreds of people with oversight from executives with\ndecades of experience in the business we can rest assured that\nnothing in these games was done by accident. Are there going to be\nproblems that slipped through development? Of course. Every game,\nno matter how polished, will have it’s share of bugs and balance\nissues. That’s to be expected. But something as important to the\nfinancial health of Bungie as the Eververse microtransaction store\nhas been meticulously and thoughtfully designed. \n"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But\nBungie has a habit of responding to harsh criticism of their design\nby saying things like “We hear you and this was never our\nintention.” This bothers me. \n"}]},{"format":"Png","width":939,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Never their intention. That’s a load of shit."}],"id":"iciaqa8vq7fuqaqiorsn","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":225},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"“We\nrecognize that the scales are tipped too far towards Tess at the\nmoment, and Eververse was never intended to be a substitute for end\ngame content and rewards. So, we’ll be making three changes for\nupcoming Seasons:\nWe\nrecognize that the scales are tipped too far towards Tess at the\nmoment, and Eververse was never intended to be a substitute for end\ngame content and rewards.”"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The\nEververse was clearly and obviously designed to be just that. It’s\nnot an accident that more than half of the loot added to the Curse of\nOsiris was not available in the game but only through the\nmicrotransaction store. That’s a design decision. And this design\ndecision hasn’t only had a negative effect on loot drops and the\nreward system. In order to have enough content to sell Bungie had to\nradically alter aspects of D2's design for the worse. Shaders were\nmade consumable for only one reason. To have more things to sell in\nthe store. Armor was made almost entirely cosmetic further diluting\nwhat little build diversity existed only to avoid having to deal with\na pay to win scandal."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This\nis exactly what Bungie intended. Know how I can say that with total\nconfidence? Because this is the game BUNIGIE CREATED. Trust is a\nfunny thing. You have it until you lose it and the only way to get\nit back isn’t just transparency it’s honesty. What I really wanted\nto see in this section was something like this:"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"“Bungie\nis a publicly traded company and while we love our players and are\ncommitted to providing a fun, engaging ongoing experience we also\nhave a duty to our investors and partners and ourselves to be as\nsuccessful a company as we can be. With the industry moving towards\nan ongoing monetization model we owed it to ourselves and our\npublisher and investors to investigate how best to balance the needs\nof our players with the needs of our business. We did a really bad\njob at that and we apologize. Many of the issues you’ve had with\nDestiny 2 are indeed the result of us doing a bad job integrating\nour MTX model and many of the changes we made in the name of revenue\nare baked into the game at core levels and will take time to fix. \nBut understand we realize we’ve gone too far to fast and plan on\nfixing it. We’re sorry and going forward we’ll do a better job\nselling you stuff you want that doesn’t break the game in other\nplaces.”"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"That’s\nnot what that says up there. What Bungie said is, “We realize you\ndon’t like the way microtransactions are handled in the game. We\ndon’t know how that happened! Somebody must have broke in at night\nand messed with our code. But don’t worry we’re going to find that\nperson and get them fired from wherever they work. In the meantime\nwe’re going to start making it less obviously odious. Thanks for the\nheads up. We might never have realized this happened lol!”"}]},{"format":"Gif","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Pictured: Bungie’s PR team."}],"id":"kbwnkbojywe6yddu3xou","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":230},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Anyway.\n The solutions on offer are...fine I guess? Not nearly enough and\nwith only vague statements. Adding ghosts, sparrows and ships to\nregular loot pools is so obvious they don’t get credit for that. \nThis isn’t a free to play game. This is a $60 game that wants to\nsell me $40 of DLC a year. Miro-transactions are EXTRA money for\nDestiny and having a huge percentage of loot in your loot game not\ndrop as loot but rather from buying shitty lootboxes is insulting and\ngame breaking and adding things back is a must. \n"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They’ve\ngot a real problem with loot not dropping in the game anymore. \nEngrams have always been a thing but in Destiny 1 actual gear often\ndropped from enemies and activities. In Destiny 2 almost everything\ncomes from vendors or tokens or engrams or loot boxes. It’s\nextremely unfun and needs to be changed. That’s not on offer\napparently. \n"}]},{"format":"Png","width":997,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Still investingating. This is the stuff that bothers me. It’s mealy mouthed weasely bullshit. Investigating? YOU impemented the system specifically to slow down engram earn rates to push sales. Admit it, fix it, move on."}],"id":"c0tzkueqxi8oyrx2e232","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":176},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It\nblows my fucking mind that 4 years into a fucking game they are still\n"},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"investigating"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"\nXP gains. This is unacceptable. \n"}]},{"format":"Png","width":820,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This guy has it right."}],"id":"nflpzkshzrdowhuzy7gh","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":479},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Finally\nthis doesn’t address one of the major core problems with Destiny 2. \nAs I’ve said before the inclusion of armor in the microtransaction\nstore all but assured that armor would be changed to be almost\nentirely cosmetic as the original Taken King Eververse armor set had\nto deal with a pay to win controversy (it really wasn’t pay to win\nbut it was still shitty). Sensitive to those issues Bungie decided\nto just make armor purely cosmetic this time further watering down\nthe game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I\ncan think of dozens of better ways to monetize armor that don’t\ninclude making the game actively less fun to play. One that players\nhave asked for forever. Transmogrification. Have the Eververse\nstore sell "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"SKINS"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"\nthat change the appearance of your armor to any other armor set in\nthe game as long as you’ve acquired one piece somewhere in the game\nitself. This allows everything to drop in the game, gives players a\nreason to actually go hunting for specific armor pieces or armor\n“blueprints” in the world, doesn’t require you to nerf armor into\nuselessness and provides the Eververse store with something of\nactual value that players would want to buy."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"You\ncan then sell the transmog skins directly for silver and have loot\nboxes that contain a random blueprint for people who actually enjoy\nthe loot box thing (I’m sure those people exist somewhere.)"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And\nnow to the important stuff. Let me just say the Masterwork weapons\nand armor aren’t even close to enough. Basically these pieces are\nlike grinding to get armor and weapons that still aren’t as good as\naverage legendaries from Destiny 1. I’ll save my thoughts on this\nfor the section where they actually belong which is the section on\nthat absolutely terrible, useless, pointless and bungled mod system\nin Destiny."}]},{"format":"Png","width":934,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Masterwork Armor and weapons=Crappier versions of Destiny 1 regular weapons and armor."}],"id":"rwlwmfkvpovveaem7qir","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Now\nwe get into the section where Bungie promises to spend the next year\nslowly turning Destiny 2 into the most faithful reskin of Destiny 1\nthat they can make it before the sequel hits."}]},{"format":"Png","width":858,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So.....basically everything then?"}],"id":"cwnisjxc7pdpbqwerxnz","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":329},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They\nwill spend time making sure the items that drop from the raid\nactually drop FROM THE RAID again. This change was so fucking stupid\nI’m just at a total loss for how even one person thought this was a\nbetter system. Nobody wants to do a mechanically complex raid,\nfinally succeed and then have to wait until the raid is over, go\nthrough two loading screens and run across the whole fucking tower to\nturn in tokens. \n"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They\nwill make raid gear actually be decent again and have mods that do\nthings in the fucking raid. Like....Destiny 1."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Strike\nscoring like Destiny 1 except with way less strikes that are mostly\nmuch less interesting and well designed than Destiny 1 strikes. I\npromise you they are. Play the D2 strike playlist for an hour. Then\nboot up Destiny 1 and play that strike playlist. They are so much\nbetter it’s depressing."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They\nwill go back to the Destiny 1 Nightfall instead of the terrible\ntimed Nightfall."}]},{"format":"Png","width":919,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I remember a game that had this. What was it.....OH YEAH! Destiny!"}],"id":"s1jaq12vajmrhocr2v9z","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":161},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It\nwill apparently take until SPRING of this year to add back\ninteresting modifiers to the Heroic strike playlist. \n"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"We’ll\nget 6v6 crucible, more than one fucking Crucible playlist, private\nmatches.... it goes on and on. This blogpost is a defacto admission\nthat a huge percentage of the Destiny 2 development was spent on\nthings that were worse in evey way than the game they already had. \nIt’s going to take almost a full year for Bungie to make Destiny 2\ninto a Destiny game. This entire list is basically a roadmap back to\nDestiny 1 which is amazing and sad and not nearly fast enough if they\nintend to keep trying to sell me DLC."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They\nsay they’ll be looking at ways to make exotic armor not suck so\nbadly. They say it’ll take several months to not have duplicate\nexotics constantly drop (btw the solution for that? The loot pool is\nway way way too fucking small for a game that is built around loot.)"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Under\nFALL OF 2018!!!"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It....goes\non to list every aspect of the game with the word improvements next\nto them. Including Weapon Slot and Archetype improvements which I\ncan only take to mean trying to get back to the Destiny 1 weapon\nsystem. But you’ll have to purchase the $40 Taken King style\nexpansion for that. So in about one year and $100 dollars from now\nyou’ll have a game almost as good but much smaller than the game it\nreplaced."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In\nmy opion the most important thing in this blog post is this."}]},{"format":"Png","width":873,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Mods. The only thing that can save this game."}],"id":"dnd6afur4jvstin82k4w","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":126},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They\nsay they are reworking mods. This will either make or break the\ngame. Bungie is lucky they have this mod system in the game because\nit’s the easiest way to finally get some interesting gameplay back\ninto D2. If they stay true to form the rework will be a %6 increase\nin mod effectiveness. But if they want to actually give people a\nreason to play? They’ll start making powerful and interesting mods. \nThings like %25 increased damage against Hive Knights and\nsignificatly increased movement speed or jump height."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" They\nneed to put 4 mod slots on each piece of gear and give players\nhundreds of mods to choose from. Everything from burn, to increased\nrange, to increased reload speed, Super and grenade cooldown\nimprovements, get creative. Don’t approach this as something that\nneeds to be tweaked to alter the way it rewards players and interacts\nwith D2's gameplay. Approach this as finally ADDING something truly\nsignificant to the way the game is PLAYED. They can actually use\nthe mod system to save this game. But only if they actually make it\nfun and give players the ability to have diverse and intersting\nbuilds. Bungies flirtation with the casual fan has failed. You\ncan’t get casual players to stick with a game for 1000 hours. Games\nshould be accessible to all of course, but even an MMO Lite needs to\nfocus on it’s core audience and not the audience who was only going\nto pop in to see what all the fuss was about."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"If\nthey are so terrified of ruining the balance in their second rate PvP\ngame then they can deactivate all mods in certain PvP modes. Mods\nare the only thing that have a chance to bring me back to this game. \nI have very little faith that will happen because frankly nowhere in\nthis document does Mr. Barrett acknowledge the main problem with\nDestiny 2 is it’s LESS FUN than Destiny 1. All the other stuff\nwouldn’t be nearly as big a problem if the game was fun. They need\nto use the mod system to take the gameplay further than Destiny 1. \nThey need to inject depth, strategy and build diversity into the\ngameplay. If they do that I might be making a video about Destiny\n2's amazing comeback. If they announce in February that they are\nmaking existing mods slightly more powerful then I think I’ve\nprobably played Destiny 2 for the last time already."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So\nam I satisfied with this? Not really. It’s just a list of things\nthat players have been complain about, some of them (like ranked\nplay and multi emotes) for years. It gives a timeline of solutions\nbut only very vague explanations of those solutions. This is being\n“reworked” that is being “rebalanced” the other thing is\nbeing “explored”. None of that really gives me any confidence. \nThey’ve been using language like that forever. And coming from a\nteam who just recently wrapped up developing this total mess of a\ngame they haven’t earned any confidence at all."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"For\ninstance there was nothing in there about fixing the terrible\nprogression tree for dummies they’ve built."}]},{"format":"Png","width":225,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Bungie grand plan to save us all."}],"id":"eoznacoz1r3ol1tjvkqq","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":225},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" I\nstill have hope that someone at Bungie will realize what can be done.\n But the main problems of the game are that there isn’t enough to do,\nthe gameplay and build diversity are too shallow and bland, the gear\nand strikes are too few and not fun enough. And none of those things\ncan be fixed by anything in this document unless I’m wrong and Bungie\nactually does what I would want them to do with the mod system."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"That\nbeing said in one way this really is an amazing document. It’s at\nleast finally a tepid admission that everything that was changed in\nD2 was a mistake. It’s not so much a roadmap for the future as it is\na diagram of a U-Turn. But it shouldn’t take one full year to pull\noff even the trickiest 3 point turn. And I shouldn’t have to pay\nthem $60 more for them to back their van off of my mailbox."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Pliny The Welder works in a field completely unrelated to games. His field deals with the real life problems of people at the very edges of society. While this work is immensely satisfying, criminally underpaid and emotionally draining he finds much of his mental capactiy being used analyzing games. He has a twitter account but no followers and, indeed, isn’t even clear on how one goes about getting followers outside of starting a religious cult and he shuttered his own religious cult after the ATF really brought the heat down on him."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Below are some links. He’d be thrilled if you watch his videos, read his articles or simply yell at him on the street. His Xbox gamertag is PlinyDaWelder his steam ID (btw he literally has ZERO steam friends...just throwing that out there) is Pliny The Welder. He doesn’t remember his PS name but that’s his single player game box anyway and it’s all the way in the bedroom and shit and who has time for a walk like that?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Tweets by Plinythewelder "}]},{"style":"Normal","type":"LinkPreview","url":"https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLli81K54NfifjydidTVm1udz9ldp_l7XJ"}],"mainMedia":null,"largeOnStream":false,"images":[{"uid":"msjhbgofuhnfuilfaahr","originalWidth":1498,"originalHeight":1080,"format":"png","width":1498,"height":1080,"id":"msjhbgofuhnfuilfaahr","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"hrji4fikhsle7b0u5wzk","originalWidth":1920,"originalHeight":1080,"format":"jpg","width":1920,"height":1080,"id":"hrji4fikhsle7b0u5wzk","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"szpakkwc1dsxqvaumvjj","originalWidth":877,"originalHeight":138,"format":"png","width":877,"height":138,"id":"szpakkwc1dsxqvaumvjj","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"iciaqa8vq7fuqaqiorsn","originalWidth":939,"originalHeight":225,"format":"png","width":939,"height":225,"id":"iciaqa8vq7fuqaqiorsn","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"kbwnkbojywe6yddu3xou","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":230,"format":"gif","width":300,"height":230,"id":"kbwnkbojywe6yddu3xou","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"c0tzkueqxi8oyrx2e232","originalWidth":997,"originalHeight":176,"format":"png","width":997,"height":176,"id":"c0tzkueqxi8oyrx2e232","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"nflpzkshzrdowhuzy7gh","originalWidth":820,"originalHeight":479,"format":"png","width":820,"height":479,"id":"nflpzkshzrdowhuzy7gh","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"rwlwmfkvpovveaem7qir","originalWidth":934,"originalHeight":168,"format":"png","width":934,"height":168,"id":"rwlwmfkvpovveaem7qir","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"cwnisjxc7pdpbqwerxnz","originalWidth":858,"originalHeight":329,"format":"png","width":858,"height":329,"id":"cwnisjxc7pdpbqwerxnz","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"s1jaq12vajmrhocr2v9z","originalWidth":919,"originalHeight":161,"format":"png","width":919,"height":161,"id":"s1jaq12vajmrhocr2v9z","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"dnd6afur4jvstin82k4w","originalWidth":873,"originalHeight":126,"format":"png","width":873,"height":126,"id":"dnd6afur4jvstin82k4w","frozenFormat":"png"},{"uid":"eoznacoz1r3ol1tjvkqq","originalWidth":225,"originalHeight":225,"format":"png","width":225,"height":225,"id":"eoznacoz1r3ol1tjvkqq","frozenFormat":"png"}],"videos":[{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"tm6jscenfssbyt0hqpoc","format":"jpg","width":0,"height":0,"id":"tm6jscenfssbyt0hqpoc","frozenFormat":"jpg"}]}],"lastUpdateTimeMillis":1516034056621,"timezone":"America/New_York","defaultBlogId":"1634563201","parentId":null,"starterId":"1822088985","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":"destiny2","urlName":"destiny-2","displayName":"Destiny 2"},{"canonical":"tayclassic","urlName":"tayclassic","displayName":"#TAYClassic"},{"canonical":"videogames","urlName":"video-games","displayName":"Video Games"},{"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,"permalinkHost":"https://plinythewelder.kinja.com","permalinkPath":"/destiny-2-developer-blog-post-review-a-diagram-of-a-u-1822088985","publishTimeMillis":1516032060985,"customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"msjhbgofuhnfuilfaahr","width":800,"height":576,"format":"png","frozenFormat":"png"},"resolvedReviewScore":null,"customKinjaId":null,"adSettings":null,"template":null},{"originalProps":{"id":"1821915514","headline":"These Games Proved In 2017 That The Big AAA Publishers Are Full Of S**t","body":[{"format":"Jpg","width":601,"caption":[],"id":"fmwmx900ye0gf0odlof7","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":338},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Alright"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" the year is over, listicles have been compiled and forgotten, upcoming release lists have been edited to replace 7's with 8's and so many things went wrong that it’s easy to lose track of what went right. And that’s not because gamers are entitled or more prone to overreaction than other hobbyists, as AAA publishers and business analysts like to whine when they need an excuse to bump their self image back up to omnipotent demi-god from merely unimaginably wealthy business guy. No. That’s because there was a truly epic mountain of rushed releases, broken ports, obnoxiously Orwellian PR bullshit and game breaking monetization strategies to annoy us this year. "}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"b1yjcjxnt0jaddf7zpz9","format":"jpg"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"_fkP7SnbN8U","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Now I freely admit tobeing easily annoyed, it comes with age I think but even the most relaxed gamer has to admit this was a turning point year in the hobby."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"With all that said several games I played this year did more than anything else to really point out just how full of shit the biggest corporate developers are and provide important lessons that could teach those companies how to keep and please their customers but will ultimately, of course, be forgotten almost immediately."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"As always lets really quickly get a brief history of the AAA publishers failures this year before moving on to the four games and how they proved the publishers were either incompetent, full of shit, or more likely, both."}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":268,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Blizzard Should Be On Top Guys"}],"id":"n6qemquomkao6enus2du","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":188},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" Activision/Blizzard"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Activision/Blizzard. Maybe they should change the name to Blizzard Activision. That way when people whoplay games had to say it out loud it would go Blizzard!/....activision. Instead of sigh....activision/Blizzard? "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Now that’s not to say that Blizzard doesn’t need to answer for their own shitty practices like....using a team of sleazy corporate lawyers to figure out a loophole to circumvent Chinese law rather than simply tell their customers what the odds associated with their lootboxes were or....basically popularizing the microtransaction in premium game system with their very early sales of mounts in WoW. But Blizzards ability to craft unique and beloved gameplay experiences and their ability to communicate with their players without sounding like soulless corporate husks has insulated them from much of the fury that Activision engenders when they engage in the same practices. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This year Activision has dealt with crisis after crisis in Destiny 2 including a suddenly extreme and in your face microtransaction system that’s getting as much if not more content put into it than the base experience of a game that quite literally is built around getting loot. A post launch DLC controversy that is the "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"exact "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"same controversy Destiny 1 had, a controversy stemming from Destiny lying to it’s players faces by hiding how much XP was actually being earned and...honestly just Destiny 2 being a huge pile of meh."}]},{"format":"Png","width":664,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Bungie wasn’t happy either. Very upset they were caught."}],"id":"iiiqg82teel54xq0bmjk","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":716},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Outside of Destiny Activision was caught filing a patent for a grotesquely manipulative system wherebyplayers would be match-made based upon their microtransaction purchase history. Remember that? This was the one where players would be put into matches where they’d succeed after making a purchase to reinforce the behavior and put up against better players who had bought MTX’s to “encourage” purchases."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Oh yeah, they also used Normandy Beach as social hub in COD. A place it forced players to have to visit so they’d be compelled to watch other players opening loot boxes. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And double oh yeah the COD Modern Warfare remastered shit was actually going on early last year! Holyshit Activision."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" BTW I’ve become convinced that the move away from direct loot drops and to the token system In Destiny 2 was a way to subtly get players used to the idea of no longer getting gear IN the game. You can’t tell me anybody thought it was more fun to beat a raid and have to wait through 2 loading screens and a jog to get the suddenly underwhelming raid gear than to immediately get it from a boss kill. Activision’s year shows that they’ve been exploring ways to subtly manipulate players behavior and writing this it kind of suddenly makes perfect sense."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":225,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They have a fiduciary responsiblity to be turds."}],"id":"ji4dgzpdjrykuaoqw7es","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":225},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Warner Brothers"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’m not going to get into the controversies about Warner Brothers paying YouTube“Influencers” for positive reviews. Because that was last year and they had more than enough go sideways this year. Quick aside. Ireally hate the term “YouTube influencer”, It makes my skin crawl."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Not content to publish a guaranteed to be successful massive sequel to a previouslysuccessful game WB had to stuff MTX’s in there somewhere. And not content of to just sell people products they had to sell the possibility of getting digital products. Of course the odds of getting any particular product was hidden from the consumer. This system was so shitty the lead developers themselves said they wouldn’t be buying them. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" When the person sent on interviews to defend a shitty system can only say they exist for player choice but that they themselves wouldn’t buy them you know it’s a garbage system. Getting the “true” ending of the game (of this SINGLEPLAYER GAME)was, of course, proved to be a nearly endless grindy mess clearly balanced around compelling completionists and whales to dump money into a gambling system in the hopes they would get the orcs they need to finish the game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Oh yeah. They also announced that in tribute to the death of a beloved member of the team at Monolith they had made a character called Forthog the Orc Slayer who would be available for download on day 1. For $5. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Sometimes I like to envision conference rooms where dozens of people sit discussing decisions that are so amazingly bad, so obvious to be a disaster and wonder how many people looked down at their laps and thought, “Welp, this will be a shit storm”. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" And don’t tell me about how WB said they wouldn’t get any ”Profit” from these sales. I’m not sure why I’d believe them unless they’re willing to open the books. And either way it’s just ridiculously tone deaf to have a MTX “memorial” as you’re dealing with a MTX scandal in your game."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They want everyone to experience the fun TOGETHER! Before reviews."}],"id":"oxh6qulhsgqkawyequkq","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Bethesda and Take 2 Interactive"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Bethesda spent the year shooting themselves in the foot by continuing an absolutely ridiculous and self defeating policy of not allowing reviewers to get advanced copies of their games. This is not an issue with games like Fallout because they could release Fallout New Orleans tomorrow, unannounced and it’d sell a bazillion copies."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" But this year Bethesda released a game that was a completely new IP that strangely still bore the title of a game it had nothing to do with, from a studio who is known for smaller release stealth based games, that had a really terrible beta, and actually stacks it’s worst, shittiest 6 hours ofgameplay right up front."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Bethesda quite literally killed it’s own game with a policy that serves absolutely no purpose for it. What’s worse is they stuck by the corporate double speak “reason” for the policy. See Bethesda wasn’t limiting access to reviewers to try and insulate itself from mediocre reviews. No no no. Bethesda just wanted to make sure that everyone can experience the game together. It’s a total crock of shit and if you believe that I don’t know what to tell you other than to let you know that you are entitled to a huge inheritance from a long lost relative and in order to pay out you’ll have to forward me your checking account and routing numbers. It’s totally on the up and up."}]},{"format":"Png","width":902,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This time it’s called Creation Club!! It’s still just horse armor though."}],"id":"lpg2lfyidylsfynnko17","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":507},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Oh yeah and they tried the fucking paid mods thing. Again."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Take Two continued literally drowning in the money from Shark Cards, said they’d be putting MTX’s into every game possible going forward and then shu toff all mods for GTA V. They also still wont fucking let me get screen shots or game capture for any of the original BioShock games,the remaster, or for Borderlands 2."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And finally..."}]},{"format":"Png","width":292,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It’s in the DLC"}],"id":"jahizcmmaamvudzhsyjh","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":173},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Oh EA"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Listen I only have so much time before my readers have their eyes glaze over and while I normally push that as far as I possibly can, I’m discussing EA here so I have a moral duty to consider the needs of those with medical conditions that cause nausea. As such we’re going to keep this section short and sweet before moving on to the good news."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"EA. Sigh. EA was involved in the conceptualization, design, creation, testing, beta and launch of Star Wars Batllefront 2. That whole time EA didn’t see a problem. Just days before launch they didn’t see a problem. EA then sent corporate shills out into the world to explain to people just how stupid they were for being mad and not realizing that the ridiculous, terrible, RNG progression system, the endless grinding,the selling of gameplay advantages in a casual focused multi player shooter and the loot boxes weren’t there for "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"EA’s "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"benefit."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They were there for the players benefit. You know for choice, and time and accomplishment and stuff. They went on reddit to "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"slowly repeat"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" themselves and got testy when players pointed out their bullshit. Then patted themselves on the back for listening. Then said they wouldn’t change their strategy. Then they changed the strategy and gave themselves an applause for removing the boxes. Then explained they be coming back. Then said that removal somehow wouldn’t hurt the games bottom line which, incidentally completely undermines their argument for why this piece of shit system had to be in the game in the first place."}]},{"format":"Png","width":1016,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Then why the fuck did you cram them in!?"}],"id":"ozwxrjybg5litmrnkxco","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":866},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They also said that they couldn’t possibly have kept their loot boxes cosmetic because of lore and shit. This despite previous games having had cosmetic options and the Star Wars universe having a tremendous cache of lore to choose from. And then it was quickly found there were already cosmetic options in the game waiting to be turned on at a later date. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"EA also did their usual shuttering of studios, shat on it’s own obscenely expensive Star Wars license by canceling a game certain to be a hit because it“was shaping up to be a linear single player experience,” and, of course, we all know nobody wants those."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"The Publishers Laments and The GamesThat Proved Them Bullshit"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Ok this piece isn’t and never really was meant to be about any of those particular controversies. What this piece is about is showing how several of the most successful games this year demonstrated that almost everything the big publishers say about how they must do business is bullshit. Let’s keep this positive by organizing it by the games that succeeded and what they teach us."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier the anti Assassins Creed"}],"id":"etpjanv4yvknrvulixue","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Perfect (been waiting to use that pun)"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" My last piece was about Nier Automata, a fantastic game with great combat, an amazing story and some of the best music I’ve ever heard in a game. If you haven’t played it and like me were a bit skeptical about it you’re doing yourself a disservice. Nier Automata put the lie to one of the AAA publishers biggest whines. That games are so expensive to make they must be packed full of microtransactions because, how else would Ubisoft make a profit? Well in my Nier analysis I spent a good deal of time pointing out all of Niers “flaws” which were obvious ways to keep the production cost of the game low. Most NPC dialogue is text based as opposed to AC Origins where basically every NPC has voiced dialogue. Nier’s map is fairly small by modern standards as opposed to AC Origins which has just the most ridiculously,unnecessarily huge map ever, there is pop in and low resolution textures as opposed to AC Origins which features almost life like fidelity and the best rendering of water physics I have ever seen."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" But Nier shows that all those things developers like Ubisoft claim they have to do? It’s all bullshit. It was Ubisoft not players who decided they needed life like water and a map that’s so large my eyes glaze over thinking about it and NPC’s who have voice actors but nothing interesting to say."}]},{"format":"Png","width":1165,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Oh. Good. Hopefully there’s an autopilot feature for my camel. Oh? Oh, yeah there actually is an autopilot feature for my camel."}],"id":"abp1ozuzz06sxvrk7hlo","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":921},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Ubisoft and theother huge developers decided they have to have these things notbecause they make the game experience all that much better for theplayer but because they make marketing and PR easier."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Sending someone out to do interviews with a postcard telling him (yes, it’ll be a him) to stress “The largest map ever in a game, true 4k resolution, and thousands of lines of voiced dialogue” is easy. The big publishers have allowed marketing to interfere with design. Nier took the Assassins Creed open world formula and distilled it to include only the most important things that players would actually care about. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier is one of the best games of the generation made by a studio in financial trouble reportedly on a comparatively very small budget. And they showed,once again, that a great game doesn’t need to cost so much to make that it needs to cut corners on music and stability and cram it fullof gambling mechanics to make a profit."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And it sold over 2 million copies with a very modest marketing push behind it."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Oh and it had absolutely zero microtransactions at all. Not one."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Assassins Creed style AAA polish and size done right."}],"id":"eg0ieqanfe3tohoryjug","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Horizon Zero Dawn And The Death Of New Single Player Games....Again"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"AAA publishers have a habit of deciding that what they would "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"like"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" to happen (which coincidentally is precisely what would take their business from obscenely profitable to ludicrously profitable) is what has already happened. For years we’ve heard from these companies about the games as service model and how every game has to have a crammed in multi player mode or be a multi player only title because players just don’t want single player games anymore. EA and Activision aren’t forgoing interesting new ideas and pumping out Call Of Duty and Battllefield and Madden and Fifa as often as is humanly possible because those games can be developed quickly and easily be crammed full of microtransactions. No, they are doing that because they’ve listened to gamers and players just don’t want to engage with single player games anymore. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" And, listen games as service are an important and, for me, very fun area of gaming. I still play Overwatch consistently because my 11 year old daughter isa mega fan of the Overwatch universe. I played WoW from Vanilla through WoD, I spent 1500 plus hours with Destiny 1 and I’m currently in the process of trying to get my kids into Warframe because Destiny ruined itself. But the idea that good single players games are being released less often by the big studios because players don’t want them is just absurd."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I haven’t bought a Switch yet so I can’t use Mario and Zelda to make my point but I did play a game that shows EA is full of shit."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"My tastes run to pop. Even though I’m a former hardcore kid and current indie rocker I like POP indie rock. So even in video games I generally like easily accessible stuff. I’m not into JRPG’s because I don’t like turn based combat. I find adventure games and most walking simulators boring. So, in general, I am the average normal EA customer. And despite EA insisting I don’t want single player games my favorite game of the year was Horizon Zero Dawn. And apparently I’m not alone because the game is on track to sell 8 million units init’s life span. "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":600,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"One of the greatest pop albums ever made. Figured I’d toss this in."}],"id":"sl0by4h4tsvvqigsyeth","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":600},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Horizon Zero Dawn breaks no new ground. It’s a very standard open world game. It manages to be nearly perfect because it isn’t bloated and tired and it’s story and combat are refined and polished enough to be near perfect. It also has the best total package of visuals of any console game to date. Almost everyone who played this game loved it."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And you know what? It’s a single player game. It doesn’t even feature a tacked on multi player option. It’s just a perfectly balanced, wonderfully produced, fun single player game that was a huge hit and has a sequel on the way."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So how is it that a AAA single player game managed to be a critical and commercial success when we’ve spent the last 3 years hearing that these types of games are dead because no one wants them and they cost too much to be profitable?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Well it had a production budget of only 47 million with most of the development having a team of only 20 and at it’s peak 200. And on top of that it’s a new IP! The big developers spent the previous generation furiously spending tens of millions of dollars ripping each other off with crappy clones in search of a hit. This strategy obviously failed and the lesson the big publishers took from that wasn’t “Hey,we need to stop making shitty clones of other games that got there first.”"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" NO the lesson they took was “Gamers don’t want new IP’s or single player games” It must have seemed truly wonderful that the lessons of the last generation reinforced ideas that make their jobs easier and entail less risk."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Unfortunately for them they were deluding themselves. Gamers don’t want anything inparticular. They don’t want great graphics, they don’t want huge maps, they don’t want single player games, multi player games, always online games. They just want great NEW games."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Horizon Zero Dawn was one of the best games of the year at an almost bargain cost for a AAA open world game because it was a game that Guerilla wanted to make. It was a game with a vision and it made the best game it possibly could around that vision. Without all the bloat, without focus groups shaping the design, without a tacked on multi player ora baked in loot box system for sale."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Amazingly HZD DOES have lootboxes! But you just get them in the game as a fun reward! Remember when games did that?"}],"id":"dudonaphxbdrig2hjfor","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"EA shut Visceral down this year. Visceral, a studio they had basically ruined by murdering Dead Space 3 with a microtransaction progression system. EA’s stated reason for shuttering the studio and killing it’s own new Star Wars IP is that the game was shaping up to be a linear singleplayer experience and gamers no longer want games like that. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" EA claims they’ve been carefully monitoring the maketplace and the conclusion they’ve drawn is that what would be best for EA is actually what players want. I guess they missed that the vast majority of this generations best games were single player games and that Horizon Zero Dawn was a completely single player, big budget massive hit."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Crawling through fields and hiding in toilets simulator"}],"id":"y76m2y6eayxdbkqiyxqw","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Hey But A Huge Multiplayer Hit Was One Of The Biggest Stories Of 2017!!!"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But unfortunately for EA it wasn’t Star Wars Battlefront 2. EA spent a tremendous amount of money on the Star Wars license comfortable in the knowledge that it would be almost impossible to NOT make boatloads of dough off ten years of Star Wars games at a time when the film franchise has been revitalized. EA sold FOURTEEN MILLION COPIES of their first,hugely disappointing, barely half of a game, Star Wars Battlefront 1. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Fourteen Million Copies. Even if none of those were Super Vader Diamond Gold All Universe Editions (and of course a shit load of themwere) that would have been $840,000,000 dollars in revenue before one piece of overpriced garbage DLC map packs had been sold. That’s apretty good amount of money for a game that was not very good."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":606,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I might buy that edition actually."}],"id":"a1tamisn5ifjuqz3ilmc","type":"Image","alignment":"Right","height":753},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But EA said they heard the fans and promised to make SWBF2 the game that players had been expecting. With no paid DLC, a single player campaign and space battles it stood to reason that SWBF2 would be the biggest story in multiplayer gaming in 2017. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nope."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"That title goes to a game that was made on a tiny budget, by a single dude, using mods of Arma 3."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Player Unknown Battlegrounds even has a name that could literally be a case study in a first semester marketing class about how to not name your product."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But PUBG is the biggest multi player hit of the year and SWBF2 is such a disaster that EA’s doesn’t have an easy way to fix the game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Once again this comes down to the myth that games are so damn expensive to make that players need to either pay $120 for a complete game like SWBF1, or pay infinite amount for the complete game like SWBF2 or they just can’t afford to make good games."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But PUBG proves that good games don’t come purely from the profit motive. Yes,nobody would make games if they couldn’t get paid for their efforts. But games are a form of art and ALL good art comes first from the creative impulse. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"PUBG was made on a shoe string budget from existing assets. It’s graphics are pretty good on PC and adequate on console. It’s gunplay is solid if unspectacular. It’s map is good but nothing groundbreaking or special. What PUBG proves is that the way to make a hit game isn’t to make a list of what other hit games have done and meticulously check off boxes until you’ve got every one. It’s to ask what is a new and interesting and fun way to play."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Even PUBG’s gameplay isn’t as revolutionary as Bluehole’s tweets would imply. But it’s got a great hook, a low skill floor, high skill ceiling and a gameplay loop that is wonderfully refined because the game was crafted FIRST to be fun and then to be profitable. IT even leaves open the door for mountains of cosmetic MTX, hopefully some will be for direct purchase. But even if lootboxes are the only reward system the game wasn’t designed around them. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"SWBF2 had a core gameplay loop literally and obnoxiously and so very obviously crafted around the MTX system. The entire progression system isn’t run through loot boxes because that’s fun, it’s run through that system because if players had stood for it it would have been a system that finally fused gameplay and lootboxes completely."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"EA said that was totally necessary because big, persistent, games as service games are so expensive to make that their just taking a beating on every game they make unless they cram it full of every single monetization strategy they can think of. PUBG proved they were full of shit in2017."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The systems in Warframe are fairly impenetrable."}],"id":"klz7dxjilwpnbidea2fb","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Players Are Too Stupid To Understand Games And Stuff"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"You might not realize this but EA, Activision/Blizzard, Take Two, WB and all of their buddies think you’re an idiot. They think you’re too stupid to realize that you’re getting half the game you used to."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They think you’re so stupid you’ll believe that the big publishers are hemorrhaging money. They think you’ll believe that loot boxes are an absolute must and that they simply couldn’t afford to release a full game or make a few maps without them despite the fact that game after game does just that. And, worst of all, they think you’re too stupid to handle things like...oh, a decent story and a deep progression system."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"You’ll often hear the bro gamer types lamenting the “casuals” ruining gaming. But it isn’t the “casuals” ruining anything. People like what they like and they have the time they have. What’s ruining games is that big companies quite literally think that casual players are idiots who will refuse to engage with a game. They think that people who don’t play 6 hours a day will look at a progression tree and say “Holy shit what am I doing my taxes? Nah fuck that gimme my phone and I’ll play Candy Crush.”"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"No game better demonstrated the lack of respect that big developers have for their players this year than Destiny 2. A game that served as a sequel to an extremely simple RPG lite and literally removed even the very basic RPG elements because somebody decided the reason Destiny reviewed badly wasn’t because it was empty, shallow, vacuous and lacked content but because it was just too damn complex for the morons to handle."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’ll just rundown a real quick list of the changes Destiny 2 made in an effort to make the game simpler."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Removal of random gun perks."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of the swap-able gun perk system."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of a skill bush in favor of a skill shrub."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of ability to choose from multiple skills in favor of a binary choice of set A or set B."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of meaningful armor perks."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of interesting exotic armor."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal multiple currencies."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of strike scoring."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of strike modifiers. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" That’s literally just off the top of my head and I haven’t played the game in weeks now. I logged back in for Curse of Osiris, was deeply disappointed that it’s still Destiny 2 and then I logged back off for good until I hear that the game has gotten deeper and respects my intelligence enough to deliver even the minimal build diversity D1 had."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But there was another loot grind, space opera, multi player PVE focused game that continued it’s shocking rise to success this year."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Let me begin by saying I’ve only just started playing Warframe 2 weeks ago. It’s been installed on my Xbox’s and my PC for a couple of months but during that time I still had hope that Bungie would reveal that Destiny 2 had actually been an elaborate ruse designed to make people realize just how good Destiny 1 was. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Now if Warframe had the budget and smooth gameplay of Destiny it’d be a nearly perfect game. But after about 20 hours with the game I can see what it is. A very good free to play game that has defied the odds to be a success. How did a game that literally no AAA publisher wanted anything to do with end up with 36 million registered users and a peak PC player count of 121,377? By not condescending to their players and crafting a deep, highly customizable RPG shooter."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"A game that respects players intelligence. Warframe features graphics that aren’t cutting edge. It doesn’t have “the largest map ever created in the universe”, and it has microtransactions. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But Warframe has consistently and repeatedly refined and added to the game and taken player feedback to heart. Warframe has a huge variety of classes (those would be...Warframes. The classes are called Warframes? Am I a dude inside the frame? Or am I just the frame? I haven’t found that out yet), and those classes are further differentiated by weapons and mods and cosmetic customization. The game is absolutely loaded with content with more coming all the time. And as for the microtransactions? If you would like a Warframe or Mod slots or a weapon you can trade money for that item. Then you receive that item. You don’t receive a (hidden) percentage chance of getting the item. You actually get the item you want. Almost like what used to be called a transaction or purchase. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Warframe was developed with all of Digital Extremes money and self published. Then the game was given to players completely for free with consistent and often quite large content updates all being free and it’s been a huge commercial success for DE. Because DE respected their players intelligence and ability to engage with a game with depth and trusted that if they made cool shit and offered to sell it to players at a fair price that players would reward them."}]},{"format":"Png","width":581,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They risked everything to make this game and still resisted the urge to cater to the lowest common denominator."}],"id":"ri0vj2u3ima3nqg4zvfj","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":549},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’m not suggesting Destiny needs to be as impenetrable as Warframe. In fact that would be a pretty obvious mistake. But I am saying that Warframe proves that if you want players to stick around for months in a row you need to respect their intelligence. There needs to be a decently high level of complexity and customization so players feel like they are always working towards something. Destiny doesn’t need 50 classes and thousands of mod combinations to be a successful game. But it needs to respect it’s audiences intelligence enough to give them systems with enough depth to not feel like once you’ve played for 10 hours you’ve seen everyting the game does."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Warframe proves that developers were completely wrong when they decided that a rich,complex, customizable progression system just can’t be successful."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It also proves that when you hear Activision or EA or WB say that there’s no way they can be profitable without adding lootboxes to their $60-$120 game they are just full of shit."},{"type":"LineBreak"},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Or you could just google their stock prices. "}]},{"format":"Png","width":590,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They’re clearly stuggling. That’s why if we want games we’ve got to buy lootboxes."}],"id":"hqz0naekddcxudnv5reo","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":394},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"2017 The Year That Broke Gaming"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It was real easy to spend 2017 constantly vacillating between being amused at the huge publishers incompetence and self defeating practices and being furious as games that would have been hugely successful and profitable were ruined by focusing on monetization before making a fun game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Any successful company needs to focus first on making products consumers want and then worry about how best to sell it but the biggest publishers have gotten it all backwards. If EA continues releasing unfun games with odious monetization strategies, if Activision keeps condescending to it’s players, if Warner Brothers keeps meddling in the development process these companies can fail. There was a time when nobody could have imagined anyone but IBM would be the biggest computer company in the world. Then Microsoft and Apple ate their lunch by making products that consumers wanted."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"We can only hope that PUBG, Nier, Horizon Zero Dawn, Zelda, Mario, Warframe and all the other great games of the year finally show the big publishers the error of their ways. Or at least that one of the big publishers starts to take notice of what games actually succeeded and why. Because what’s good for the player is what’s good for EA not the other way around and the sooner they learn the better off we’ll all be."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Alright. It would be positively glorious if you’d watch my videos on youtube and read my other articles. . And if you watch those videos and read those articles I’d be ever so pleased if you liked, shared and subscribed. I have a twitter account too you know? And if you do all that I’d be most gratified if you were to join us in the garden for tea this afternoon. Oh it shall be mostdelightful indeed."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Pliny The Welder is relatively cranky old man who was once young. There was a time in New York as a lad when he looked at the old Itlalian men sitting in their driveways drinking coffee with fear and loathing. Now Pliny is that old Italian man. He writes and makes videos about games, records a strange blend of post hardcore and pop and has two dogs and three kids. He’s undecided on whether the kids or the dogs are the better 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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":"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"},{"canonical":"playerunknownsbattlegrounds","urlName":"player-unknowns-battlegrounds","displayName":"Player Unknown's Battlegrounds"}],"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":"/these-games-proved-in-2017-that-the-big-aaa-publishers-1821915514","customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"fmwmx900ye0gf0odlof7","width":470,"height":264,"format":"jpg","frozenFormat":"jpg"},"adSettings":null,"template":null},"id":"1821915514","headline":"These Games Proved In 2017 That The Big AAA Publishers Are Full Of S**t","body":[{"format":"Jpg","width":601,"caption":[],"id":"fmwmx900ye0gf0odlof7","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":338},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Alright"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" the year is over, listicles have been compiled and forgotten, upcoming release lists have been edited to replace 7's with 8's and so many things went wrong that it’s easy to lose track of what went right. And that’s not because gamers are entitled or more prone to overreaction than other hobbyists, as AAA publishers and business analysts like to whine when they need an excuse to bump their self image back up to omnipotent demi-god from merely unimaginably wealthy business guy. No. That’s because there was a truly epic mountain of rushed releases, broken ports, obnoxiously Orwellian PR bullshit and game breaking monetization strategies to annoy us this year. "}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"b1yjcjxnt0jaddf7zpz9","format":"jpg"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"_fkP7SnbN8U","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Now I freely admit tobeing easily annoyed, it comes with age I think but even the most relaxed gamer has to admit this was a turning point year in the hobby."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"With all that said several games I played this year did more than anything else to really point out just how full of shit the biggest corporate developers are and provide important lessons that could teach those companies how to keep and please their customers but will ultimately, of course, be forgotten almost immediately."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"As always lets really quickly get a brief history of the AAA publishers failures this year before moving on to the four games and how they proved the publishers were either incompetent, full of shit, or more likely, both."}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":268,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Blizzard Should Be On Top Guys"}],"id":"n6qemquomkao6enus2du","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":188},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" Activision/Blizzard"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Activision/Blizzard. Maybe they should change the name to Blizzard Activision. That way when people whoplay games had to say it out loud it would go Blizzard!/....activision. Instead of sigh....activision/Blizzard? "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Now that’s not to say that Blizzard doesn’t need to answer for their own shitty practices like....using a team of sleazy corporate lawyers to figure out a loophole to circumvent Chinese law rather than simply tell their customers what the odds associated with their lootboxes were or....basically popularizing the microtransaction in premium game system with their very early sales of mounts in WoW. But Blizzards ability to craft unique and beloved gameplay experiences and their ability to communicate with their players without sounding like soulless corporate husks has insulated them from much of the fury that Activision engenders when they engage in the same practices. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This year Activision has dealt with crisis after crisis in Destiny 2 including a suddenly extreme and in your face microtransaction system that’s getting as much if not more content put into it than the base experience of a game that quite literally is built around getting loot. A post launch DLC controversy that is the "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"exact "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"same controversy Destiny 1 had, a controversy stemming from Destiny lying to it’s players faces by hiding how much XP was actually being earned and...honestly just Destiny 2 being a huge pile of meh."}]},{"format":"Png","width":664,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Bungie wasn’t happy either. Very upset they were caught."}],"id":"iiiqg82teel54xq0bmjk","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":716},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Outside of Destiny Activision was caught filing a patent for a grotesquely manipulative system wherebyplayers would be match-made based upon their microtransaction purchase history. Remember that? This was the one where players would be put into matches where they’d succeed after making a purchase to reinforce the behavior and put up against better players who had bought MTX’s to “encourage” purchases."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Oh yeah, they also used Normandy Beach as social hub in COD. A place it forced players to have to visit so they’d be compelled to watch other players opening loot boxes. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And double oh yeah the COD Modern Warfare remastered shit was actually going on early last year! Holyshit Activision."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" BTW I’ve become convinced that the move away from direct loot drops and to the token system In Destiny 2 was a way to subtly get players used to the idea of no longer getting gear IN the game. You can’t tell me anybody thought it was more fun to beat a raid and have to wait through 2 loading screens and a jog to get the suddenly underwhelming raid gear than to immediately get it from a boss kill. Activision’s year shows that they’ve been exploring ways to subtly manipulate players behavior and writing this it kind of suddenly makes perfect sense."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":225,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They have a fiduciary responsiblity to be turds."}],"id":"ji4dgzpdjrykuaoqw7es","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":225},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Warner Brothers"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’m not going to get into the controversies about Warner Brothers paying YouTube“Influencers” for positive reviews. Because that was last year and they had more than enough go sideways this year. Quick aside. Ireally hate the term “YouTube influencer”, It makes my skin crawl."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Not content to publish a guaranteed to be successful massive sequel to a previouslysuccessful game WB had to stuff MTX’s in there somewhere. And not content of to just sell people products they had to sell the possibility of getting digital products. Of course the odds of getting any particular product was hidden from the consumer. This system was so shitty the lead developers themselves said they wouldn’t be buying them. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" When the person sent on interviews to defend a shitty system can only say they exist for player choice but that they themselves wouldn’t buy them you know it’s a garbage system. Getting the “true” ending of the game (of this SINGLEPLAYER GAME)was, of course, proved to be a nearly endless grindy mess clearly balanced around compelling completionists and whales to dump money into a gambling system in the hopes they would get the orcs they need to finish the game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Oh yeah. They also announced that in tribute to the death of a beloved member of the team at Monolith they had made a character called Forthog the Orc Slayer who would be available for download on day 1. For $5. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Sometimes I like to envision conference rooms where dozens of people sit discussing decisions that are so amazingly bad, so obvious to be a disaster and wonder how many people looked down at their laps and thought, “Welp, this will be a shit storm”. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" And don’t tell me about how WB said they wouldn’t get any ”Profit” from these sales. I’m not sure why I’d believe them unless they’re willing to open the books. And either way it’s just ridiculously tone deaf to have a MTX “memorial” as you’re dealing with a MTX scandal in your game."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They want everyone to experience the fun TOGETHER! Before reviews."}],"id":"oxh6qulhsgqkawyequkq","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Bethesda and Take 2 Interactive"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Bethesda spent the year shooting themselves in the foot by continuing an absolutely ridiculous and self defeating policy of not allowing reviewers to get advanced copies of their games. This is not an issue with games like Fallout because they could release Fallout New Orleans tomorrow, unannounced and it’d sell a bazillion copies."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" But this year Bethesda released a game that was a completely new IP that strangely still bore the title of a game it had nothing to do with, from a studio who is known for smaller release stealth based games, that had a really terrible beta, and actually stacks it’s worst, shittiest 6 hours ofgameplay right up front."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Bethesda quite literally killed it’s own game with a policy that serves absolutely no purpose for it. What’s worse is they stuck by the corporate double speak “reason” for the policy. See Bethesda wasn’t limiting access to reviewers to try and insulate itself from mediocre reviews. No no no. Bethesda just wanted to make sure that everyone can experience the game together. It’s a total crock of shit and if you believe that I don’t know what to tell you other than to let you know that you are entitled to a huge inheritance from a long lost relative and in order to pay out you’ll have to forward me your checking account and routing numbers. It’s totally on the up and up."}]},{"format":"Png","width":902,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This time it’s called Creation Club!! It’s still just horse armor though."}],"id":"lpg2lfyidylsfynnko17","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":507},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Oh yeah and they tried the fucking paid mods thing. Again."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Take Two continued literally drowning in the money from Shark Cards, said they’d be putting MTX’s into every game possible going forward and then shu toff all mods for GTA V. They also still wont fucking let me get screen shots or game capture for any of the original BioShock games,the remaster, or for Borderlands 2."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And finally..."}]},{"format":"Png","width":292,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It’s in the DLC"}],"id":"jahizcmmaamvudzhsyjh","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":173},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Oh EA"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Listen I only have so much time before my readers have their eyes glaze over and while I normally push that as far as I possibly can, I’m discussing EA here so I have a moral duty to consider the needs of those with medical conditions that cause nausea. As such we’re going to keep this section short and sweet before moving on to the good news."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"EA. Sigh. EA was involved in the conceptualization, design, creation, testing, beta and launch of Star Wars Batllefront 2. That whole time EA didn’t see a problem. Just days before launch they didn’t see a problem. EA then sent corporate shills out into the world to explain to people just how stupid they were for being mad and not realizing that the ridiculous, terrible, RNG progression system, the endless grinding,the selling of gameplay advantages in a casual focused multi player shooter and the loot boxes weren’t there for "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"EA’s "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"benefit."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They were there for the players benefit. You know for choice, and time and accomplishment and stuff. They went on reddit to "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"slowly repeat"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" themselves and got testy when players pointed out their bullshit. Then patted themselves on the back for listening. Then said they wouldn’t change their strategy. Then they changed the strategy and gave themselves an applause for removing the boxes. Then explained they be coming back. Then said that removal somehow wouldn’t hurt the games bottom line which, incidentally completely undermines their argument for why this piece of shit system had to be in the game in the first place."}]},{"format":"Png","width":1016,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Then why the fuck did you cram them in!?"}],"id":"ozwxrjybg5litmrnkxco","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":866},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They also said that they couldn’t possibly have kept their loot boxes cosmetic because of lore and shit. This despite previous games having had cosmetic options and the Star Wars universe having a tremendous cache of lore to choose from. And then it was quickly found there were already cosmetic options in the game waiting to be turned on at a later date. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"EA also did their usual shuttering of studios, shat on it’s own obscenely expensive Star Wars license by canceling a game certain to be a hit because it“was shaping up to be a linear single player experience,” and, of course, we all know nobody wants those."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"The Publishers Laments and The GamesThat Proved Them Bullshit"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Ok this piece isn’t and never really was meant to be about any of those particular controversies. What this piece is about is showing how several of the most successful games this year demonstrated that almost everything the big publishers say about how they must do business is bullshit. Let’s keep this positive by organizing it by the games that succeeded and what they teach us."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier the anti Assassins Creed"}],"id":"etpjanv4yvknrvulixue","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Nier Perfect (been waiting to use that pun)"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" My last piece was about Nier Automata, a fantastic game with great combat, an amazing story and some of the best music I’ve ever heard in a game. If you haven’t played it and like me were a bit skeptical about it you’re doing yourself a disservice. Nier Automata put the lie to one of the AAA publishers biggest whines. That games are so expensive to make they must be packed full of microtransactions because, how else would Ubisoft make a profit? Well in my Nier analysis I spent a good deal of time pointing out all of Niers “flaws” which were obvious ways to keep the production cost of the game low. Most NPC dialogue is text based as opposed to AC Origins where basically every NPC has voiced dialogue. Nier’s map is fairly small by modern standards as opposed to AC Origins which has just the most ridiculously,unnecessarily huge map ever, there is pop in and low resolution textures as opposed to AC Origins which features almost life like fidelity and the best rendering of water physics I have ever seen."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" But Nier shows that all those things developers like Ubisoft claim they have to do? It’s all bullshit. It was Ubisoft not players who decided they needed life like water and a map that’s so large my eyes glaze over thinking about it and NPC’s who have voice actors but nothing interesting to say."}]},{"format":"Png","width":1165,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Oh. Good. Hopefully there’s an autopilot feature for my camel. Oh? Oh, yeah there actually is an autopilot feature for my camel."}],"id":"abp1ozuzz06sxvrk7hlo","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":921},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Ubisoft and theother huge developers decided they have to have these things notbecause they make the game experience all that much better for theplayer but because they make marketing and PR easier."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Sending someone out to do interviews with a postcard telling him (yes, it’ll be a him) to stress “The largest map ever in a game, true 4k resolution, and thousands of lines of voiced dialogue” is easy. The big publishers have allowed marketing to interfere with design. Nier took the Assassins Creed open world formula and distilled it to include only the most important things that players would actually care about. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nier is one of the best games of the generation made by a studio in financial trouble reportedly on a comparatively very small budget. And they showed,once again, that a great game doesn’t need to cost so much to make that it needs to cut corners on music and stability and cram it fullof gambling mechanics to make a profit."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And it sold over 2 million copies with a very modest marketing push behind it."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Oh and it had absolutely zero microtransactions at all. Not one."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Assassins Creed style AAA polish and size done right."}],"id":"eg0ieqanfe3tohoryjug","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Horizon Zero Dawn And The Death Of New Single Player Games....Again"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"AAA publishers have a habit of deciding that what they would "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"like"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" to happen (which coincidentally is precisely what would take their business from obscenely profitable to ludicrously profitable) is what has already happened. For years we’ve heard from these companies about the games as service model and how every game has to have a crammed in multi player mode or be a multi player only title because players just don’t want single player games anymore. EA and Activision aren’t forgoing interesting new ideas and pumping out Call Of Duty and Battllefield and Madden and Fifa as often as is humanly possible because those games can be developed quickly and easily be crammed full of microtransactions. No, they are doing that because they’ve listened to gamers and players just don’t want to engage with single player games anymore. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" And, listen games as service are an important and, for me, very fun area of gaming. I still play Overwatch consistently because my 11 year old daughter isa mega fan of the Overwatch universe. I played WoW from Vanilla through WoD, I spent 1500 plus hours with Destiny 1 and I’m currently in the process of trying to get my kids into Warframe because Destiny ruined itself. But the idea that good single players games are being released less often by the big studios because players don’t want them is just absurd."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I haven’t bought a Switch yet so I can’t use Mario and Zelda to make my point but I did play a game that shows EA is full of shit."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"My tastes run to pop. Even though I’m a former hardcore kid and current indie rocker I like POP indie rock. So even in video games I generally like easily accessible stuff. I’m not into JRPG’s because I don’t like turn based combat. I find adventure games and most walking simulators boring. So, in general, I am the average normal EA customer. And despite EA insisting I don’t want single player games my favorite game of the year was Horizon Zero Dawn. And apparently I’m not alone because the game is on track to sell 8 million units init’s life span. "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":600,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"One of the greatest pop albums ever made. Figured I’d toss this in."}],"id":"sl0by4h4tsvvqigsyeth","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":600},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Horizon Zero Dawn breaks no new ground. It’s a very standard open world game. It manages to be nearly perfect because it isn’t bloated and tired and it’s story and combat are refined and polished enough to be near perfect. It also has the best total package of visuals of any console game to date. Almost everyone who played this game loved it."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And you know what? It’s a single player game. It doesn’t even feature a tacked on multi player option. It’s just a perfectly balanced, wonderfully produced, fun single player game that was a huge hit and has a sequel on the way."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So how is it that a AAA single player game managed to be a critical and commercial success when we’ve spent the last 3 years hearing that these types of games are dead because no one wants them and they cost too much to be profitable?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Well it had a production budget of only 47 million with most of the development having a team of only 20 and at it’s peak 200. And on top of that it’s a new IP! The big developers spent the previous generation furiously spending tens of millions of dollars ripping each other off with crappy clones in search of a hit. This strategy obviously failed and the lesson the big publishers took from that wasn’t “Hey,we need to stop making shitty clones of other games that got there first.”"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" NO the lesson they took was “Gamers don’t want new IP’s or single player games” It must have seemed truly wonderful that the lessons of the last generation reinforced ideas that make their jobs easier and entail less risk."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Unfortunately for them they were deluding themselves. Gamers don’t want anything inparticular. They don’t want great graphics, they don’t want huge maps, they don’t want single player games, multi player games, always online games. They just want great NEW games."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Horizon Zero Dawn was one of the best games of the year at an almost bargain cost for a AAA open world game because it was a game that Guerilla wanted to make. It was a game with a vision and it made the best game it possibly could around that vision. Without all the bloat, without focus groups shaping the design, without a tacked on multi player ora baked in loot box system for sale."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Amazingly HZD DOES have lootboxes! But you just get them in the game as a fun reward! Remember when games did that?"}],"id":"dudonaphxbdrig2hjfor","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"EA shut Visceral down this year. Visceral, a studio they had basically ruined by murdering Dead Space 3 with a microtransaction progression system. EA’s stated reason for shuttering the studio and killing it’s own new Star Wars IP is that the game was shaping up to be a linear singleplayer experience and gamers no longer want games like that. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" EA claims they’ve been carefully monitoring the maketplace and the conclusion they’ve drawn is that what would be best for EA is actually what players want. I guess they missed that the vast majority of this generations best games were single player games and that Horizon Zero Dawn was a completely single player, big budget massive hit."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Crawling through fields and hiding in toilets simulator"}],"id":"y76m2y6eayxdbkqiyxqw","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Hey But A Huge Multiplayer Hit Was One Of The Biggest Stories Of 2017!!!"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But unfortunately for EA it wasn’t Star Wars Battlefront 2. EA spent a tremendous amount of money on the Star Wars license comfortable in the knowledge that it would be almost impossible to NOT make boatloads of dough off ten years of Star Wars games at a time when the film franchise has been revitalized. EA sold FOURTEEN MILLION COPIES of their first,hugely disappointing, barely half of a game, Star Wars Battlefront 1. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Fourteen Million Copies. Even if none of those were Super Vader Diamond Gold All Universe Editions (and of course a shit load of themwere) that would have been $840,000,000 dollars in revenue before one piece of overpriced garbage DLC map packs had been sold. That’s apretty good amount of money for a game that was not very good."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":606,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I might buy that edition actually."}],"id":"a1tamisn5ifjuqz3ilmc","type":"Image","alignment":"Right","height":753},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But EA said they heard the fans and promised to make SWBF2 the game that players had been expecting. With no paid DLC, a single player campaign and space battles it stood to reason that SWBF2 would be the biggest story in multiplayer gaming in 2017. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Nope."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"That title goes to a game that was made on a tiny budget, by a single dude, using mods of Arma 3."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Player Unknown Battlegrounds even has a name that could literally be a case study in a first semester marketing class about how to not name your product."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But PUBG is the biggest multi player hit of the year and SWBF2 is such a disaster that EA’s doesn’t have an easy way to fix the game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Once again this comes down to the myth that games are so damn expensive to make that players need to either pay $120 for a complete game like SWBF1, or pay infinite amount for the complete game like SWBF2 or they just can’t afford to make good games."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But PUBG proves that good games don’t come purely from the profit motive. Yes,nobody would make games if they couldn’t get paid for their efforts. But games are a form of art and ALL good art comes first from the creative impulse. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"PUBG was made on a shoe string budget from existing assets. It’s graphics are pretty good on PC and adequate on console. It’s gunplay is solid if unspectacular. It’s map is good but nothing groundbreaking or special. What PUBG proves is that the way to make a hit game isn’t to make a list of what other hit games have done and meticulously check off boxes until you’ve got every one. It’s to ask what is a new and interesting and fun way to play."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Even PUBG’s gameplay isn’t as revolutionary as Bluehole’s tweets would imply. But it’s got a great hook, a low skill floor, high skill ceiling and a gameplay loop that is wonderfully refined because the game was crafted FIRST to be fun and then to be profitable. IT even leaves open the door for mountains of cosmetic MTX, hopefully some will be for direct purchase. But even if lootboxes are the only reward system the game wasn’t designed around them. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"SWBF2 had a core gameplay loop literally and obnoxiously and so very obviously crafted around the MTX system. The entire progression system isn’t run through loot boxes because that’s fun, it’s run through that system because if players had stood for it it would have been a system that finally fused gameplay and lootboxes completely."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"EA said that was totally necessary because big, persistent, games as service games are so expensive to make that their just taking a beating on every game they make unless they cram it full of every single monetization strategy they can think of. PUBG proved they were full of shit in2017."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The systems in Warframe are fairly impenetrable."}],"id":"klz7dxjilwpnbidea2fb","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Players Are Too Stupid To Understand Games And Stuff"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"You might not realize this but EA, Activision/Blizzard, Take Two, WB and all of their buddies think you’re an idiot. They think you’re too stupid to realize that you’re getting half the game you used to."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They think you’re so stupid you’ll believe that the big publishers are hemorrhaging money. They think you’ll believe that loot boxes are an absolute must and that they simply couldn’t afford to release a full game or make a few maps without them despite the fact that game after game does just that. And, worst of all, they think you’re too stupid to handle things like...oh, a decent story and a deep progression system."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"You’ll often hear the bro gamer types lamenting the “casuals” ruining gaming. But it isn’t the “casuals” ruining anything. People like what they like and they have the time they have. What’s ruining games is that big companies quite literally think that casual players are idiots who will refuse to engage with a game. They think that people who don’t play 6 hours a day will look at a progression tree and say “Holy shit what am I doing my taxes? Nah fuck that gimme my phone and I’ll play Candy Crush.”"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"No game better demonstrated the lack of respect that big developers have for their players this year than Destiny 2. A game that served as a sequel to an extremely simple RPG lite and literally removed even the very basic RPG elements because somebody decided the reason Destiny reviewed badly wasn’t because it was empty, shallow, vacuous and lacked content but because it was just too damn complex for the morons to handle."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’ll just rundown a real quick list of the changes Destiny 2 made in an effort to make the game simpler."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Removal of random gun perks."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of the swap-able gun perk system."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of a skill bush in favor of a skill shrub."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of ability to choose from multiple skills in favor of a binary choice of set A or set B."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of meaningful armor perks."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of interesting exotic armor."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal multiple currencies."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of strike scoring."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Removal of strike modifiers. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" That’s literally just off the top of my head and I haven’t played the game in weeks now. I logged back in for Curse of Osiris, was deeply disappointed that it’s still Destiny 2 and then I logged back off for good until I hear that the game has gotten deeper and respects my intelligence enough to deliver even the minimal build diversity D1 had."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But there was another loot grind, space opera, multi player PVE focused game that continued it’s shocking rise to success this year."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Let me begin by saying I’ve only just started playing Warframe 2 weeks ago. It’s been installed on my Xbox’s and my PC for a couple of months but during that time I still had hope that Bungie would reveal that Destiny 2 had actually been an elaborate ruse designed to make people realize just how good Destiny 1 was. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Now if Warframe had the budget and smooth gameplay of Destiny it’d be a nearly perfect game. But after about 20 hours with the game I can see what it is. A very good free to play game that has defied the odds to be a success. How did a game that literally no AAA publisher wanted anything to do with end up with 36 million registered users and a peak PC player count of 121,377? By not condescending to their players and crafting a deep, highly customizable RPG shooter."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"A game that respects players intelligence. Warframe features graphics that aren’t cutting edge. It doesn’t have “the largest map ever created in the universe”, and it has microtransactions. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But Warframe has consistently and repeatedly refined and added to the game and taken player feedback to heart. Warframe has a huge variety of classes (those would be...Warframes. The classes are called Warframes? Am I a dude inside the frame? Or am I just the frame? I haven’t found that out yet), and those classes are further differentiated by weapons and mods and cosmetic customization. The game is absolutely loaded with content with more coming all the time. And as for the microtransactions? If you would like a Warframe or Mod slots or a weapon you can trade money for that item. Then you receive that item. You don’t receive a (hidden) percentage chance of getting the item. You actually get the item you want. Almost like what used to be called a transaction or purchase. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Warframe was developed with all of Digital Extremes money and self published. Then the game was given to players completely for free with consistent and often quite large content updates all being free and it’s been a huge commercial success for DE. Because DE respected their players intelligence and ability to engage with a game with depth and trusted that if they made cool shit and offered to sell it to players at a fair price that players would reward them."}]},{"format":"Png","width":581,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They risked everything to make this game and still resisted the urge to cater to the lowest common denominator."}],"id":"ri0vj2u3ima3nqg4zvfj","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":549},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’m not suggesting Destiny needs to be as impenetrable as Warframe. In fact that would be a pretty obvious mistake. But I am saying that Warframe proves that if you want players to stick around for months in a row you need to respect their intelligence. There needs to be a decently high level of complexity and customization so players feel like they are always working towards something. Destiny doesn’t need 50 classes and thousands of mod combinations to be a successful game. But it needs to respect it’s audiences intelligence enough to give them systems with enough depth to not feel like once you’ve played for 10 hours you’ve seen everyting the game does."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Warframe proves that developers were completely wrong when they decided that a rich,complex, customizable progression system just can’t be successful."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It also proves that when you hear Activision or EA or WB say that there’s no way they can be profitable without adding lootboxes to their $60-$120 game they are just full of shit."},{"type":"LineBreak"},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Or you could just google their stock prices. "}]},{"format":"Png","width":590,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"They’re clearly stuggling. That’s why if we want games we’ve got to buy lootboxes."}],"id":"hqz0naekddcxudnv5reo","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":394},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"2017 The Year That Broke Gaming"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It was real easy to spend 2017 constantly vacillating between being amused at the huge publishers incompetence and self defeating practices and being furious as games that would have been hugely successful and profitable were ruined by focusing on monetization before making a fun game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Any successful company needs to focus first on making products consumers want and then worry about how best to sell it but the biggest publishers have gotten it all backwards. If EA continues releasing unfun games with odious monetization strategies, if Activision keeps condescending to it’s players, if Warner Brothers keeps meddling in the development process these companies can fail. There was a time when nobody could have imagined anyone but IBM would be the biggest computer company in the world. Then Microsoft and Apple ate their lunch by making products that consumers wanted."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"We can only hope that PUBG, Nier, Horizon Zero Dawn, Zelda, Mario, Warframe and all the other great games of the year finally show the big publishers the error of their ways. Or at least that one of the big publishers starts to take notice of what games actually succeeded and why. Because what’s good for the player is what’s good for EA not the other way around and the sooner they learn the better off we’ll all be."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Alright. It would be positively glorious if you’d watch my videos on youtube and read my other articles. . And if you watch those videos and read those articles I’d be ever so pleased if you liked, shared and subscribed. I have a twitter account too you know? And if you do all that I’d be most gratified if you were to join us in the garden for tea this afternoon. Oh it shall be mostdelightful indeed."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"Pliny The Welder is relatively cranky old man who was once young. There was a time in New York as a lad when he looked at the old Itlalian men sitting in their driveways drinking coffee with fear and loathing. Now Pliny is that old Italian man. He writes and makes videos about games, records a strange blend of post hardcore and pop and has two dogs and three kids. 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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":"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"},{"canonical":"playerunknownsbattlegrounds","urlName":"player-unknowns-battlegrounds","displayName":"Player Unknown's Battlegrounds"}],"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,"permalinkHost":"https://plinythewelder.kinja.com","permalinkPath":"/these-games-proved-in-2017-that-the-big-aaa-publishers-1821915514","publishTimeMillis":1514885460514,"customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"fmwmx900ye0gf0odlof7","width":470,"height":264,"format":"jpg","frozenFormat":"jpg"},"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. 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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","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. 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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 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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","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 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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 derivative. It’s core game-play is really just a collection of things that other games have done."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So....why? Why does horizon take almost every single trope and trick that makes me yawn when playing most other AAA open world affairs and use them to create a game that I’d call a must play? Hell with Bloodborne I’d call it a console seller."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Well it’s because Horizon takes all of it’s obvious influences and implements them near flawlessly. Keeping everything good about the genre. Honing the things that need improving and ditching or severely limiting (with some exceptions...looking at you bandit camps) the things that are boring in the genre"},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"The Only Time You’ll Hear Me Talk About How Graphics Matter"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"There are a few key decisions that made Horizons gameplay so fun. And one of them, strangely, has nothing to do with the actual gameplay itself. The visuals in Horizon are so stunning, so arresting that they create level of immersion unlike almost any other game I’ve played. This includes small things like Alloy’s hair,"},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"the lighting and particle effects and the ridiculously gorgeous backdrops and world design. But the real hook lies in the animations. "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The visuals are simply stunning. Shadows and lighing perfect. Environments perfect. Enemy animations some of the best I’ve ever seen in almost 2000 years of gaming. We had nothing like this in the 20's AD."}],"id":"adkkdif92izkyoooliym","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1080},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The enemy variety on offer isn’t all that large but the design of these enemies, both their look and scale and more importantly their attack animations are so amazing that they imbue each encounter with tension and realism. Bucking bulls, leaping crocodiles, massive buffaloes, T-Rex’s and Thunderbirds and in the DLC perhaps the best animated enemy in the game the ICE and Fire Claws. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"These animations are exquisite. And small touches like a perfect amount of screen shake during fights add tremendously to the immersion and tension in the gameplay. It’s probably the first time I’ve ever thought, while playing a game that the graphical power I was experiencing did tremendously improve the quality of the game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Then there is the core combat itself. Now take a second to try and imagine this game without any time slowing ability and with enemies that only had critical damage spots on their head. That’s a much more hollow experience isn’t it?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Here’s where you can tell that seemingly small decisions like the one to have damage numbers appear after an attack were really thought about with care. The damage values floating out of enemies has been used in tons of other games as well but rarely has it felt this good. In the new Assassin’s creed game it feels immersion breaking. The numbers look like very little thought was put into WHY they needed to be included. Horizons numbers matter because each enemy has a huge variety of areas that take different damage when using different weapons. AC Origins seems to have included them because Horizon had them. The satisfaction of shooting a robot dinosaur and seeing numbers like 11 and 15 rise from the character model before finally targeting a hard to hit section and seeing 100+ numbers float up? It’s a design choice that might not seem like it’s making a difference but it is. Horizon has layers and layers of subtle and intuitive player feedback that makes each encounter with the robot enemies a constant state of probing and recalculation."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The facial animations are FAR better in the DLC. It’s a tiny glimpse into a sequel I’m looking forward to."}],"id":"eqrx2qhrkxavbtax05pc","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"After one gets comfortable with the use of time slowing by jumping and sliding it opens up gameplay possibilities that make enemy encounters feel like seat of your pants fights to the death. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Focusing on different body parts to disable enemy attacks and ultimately stun them makes the combat have a depth to it that allows for different types of gameplay. On easy mode somebody who isn’t good at games can simply shoot arrows at dinosaurs and still have a grand old time. The animations and slick controls ensure that the blandest most base experience is fun exciting and different feeling. The Far Cry style bow controls are still the best bow combat system put into a game and Horizon doesn’t reinvent the wheel here. Instead it does what Horizon does best. It iterates. It takes that Far Cry bow combat and adds layers to it. Elemental attacks aren’t just important for different enemies. Different parts of enemies themselves require different attacks. And the game generally has you tracking and fighting several dangerous enemies at once."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Then there’s the crafting system. Horizon doesn’t have you crafting arrows in a menu screen Guerrilla has taken something that bloats and infects many lesser open world action games and makes it an interesting gameplay mechanic that ends up crucial to the action. It’s obvious that care and attention was put into how many arrows Alloy can carry. Enough that the combat keeps flowing but few enough that each Robo Dino battle requires constant switching of weapons and slow motion fleeing to craft arrows on the run. Does it make sense from a realism angle that Alloy can meticulously craft 30 arrows in 4 seconds while fleeing from a robotic Tyrannosaur? Nope. But it adds to the gameplay and when developers are presented with a choice between realism and fun they’d be wise to do what Guerrilla has done and choose fun. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The robotic enemy encounters in this game are like a thousand mini boss battles. Aside from the bandit camp stuff (which I can only guess are kept in for the sake of pacing) there are very few fodder enemies in Horizon. Every single battle is an intense jumble of screen shaking, rolling, weapon switching crafting madness and it’s glorious. At it’s best he game plays almost like an open world boss rush."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The bow combat is perfect. Taking the Far Cry style bow controls and adding a time slowing ability and limited ammo and enemies who take elemental damage means each fight is hectic. Also this robot is freaking awesome. Look at the sparks!!"}],"id":"w4ymjfm5cmd6axqhajpv","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So the combat is fluid and fun and exciting. But Horizon succeeds on more fronts than that. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Wait..I Actually Liked the Open World Stuff"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Almost ALL of the cliche open world activities work. It has Ubisoft vision towers. Except they are huge hundred foot high giraffes surrounded by large groups of robot dinosaurs. The simple climbing puzzle works here because the amazing spectacle of the climbing puzzle ends up being both it’s own reward and a gorgeous way to drain the tension that built up simply fighting your way to it’s feet. And, thankfully the game doesn’t ask you to do it every six minutes. I was actually a bit bummed when I realized I’d climbed them all. Even in Assassins Creed the first 3 times I jump off a tower into hay it’s cool. The 30"},{"styles":["Superscript"],"type":"Text","value":"th"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" it’s getting old. But Horizon pays attention to not wasting your time. The map doesn’t feel like the developers pasted it to the wall and then randomly threw icons on it. Everything is spaced and paced to keep the experience fresh all the way through. Which brings us to another bane of the genre."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Collectibles, Audio Logs And The Importance of Deep Yet Easily Understood Narrative."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" It’s hard to remember that there was a time when audio logs felt fresh and necessary. Games as a medium need to tell their story without bogging down gameplay. So cut scenes need to be used only when the developer thinks they are absolutely needed. And because developers can’t really be sure that any particular audio or text log will be viewed by a player this means that critical plot information generally isn’t left to chance. You can’t explain who the villain is in a text log because a significant percentage of players might not see it. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" As a result the vast majority of open world games use text and audio logs for LORE rather than story. These collectibles have been used as a way to flesh out the game world for players who seek them out. A bit of world building as reward for exploration. While the worst examples of audio logs in games today are used more as a way to simply extend playtime or as a box that must be checked The first BioShock game used audio logs to flesh out a very simple story that just beneath the surface was also a complex examination of Objectivism and the tension between society and individual liberty. And when it comes to narrative Horizon is more Bio-Shock than Assassins Creed. In fact, Horizon’s narrative style, shares a surprising amount with Bioshock."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Both have a very similar and quite simple premise. A “chosen one” figure becomes embroiled in a conflict larger than themselves and must go on a quest to both understand their origins and role in the conflict while simultaneously solving the problem the narrative presents. This isn’t particularly surprising. It’s a tried and true narrative structure because it’s engrossing and allows for the game player to discover the secrets and backstory of the protagonist simultaneous to the character him or her self."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Because both games had significant budgets and were, ultimately, consumer products that had to make a profit they had to thread a very small needle of being engaging and understandable to a very large audience but also complex enough to allow for a deeper artistic exploration of the themes the respective developer teams were interested in exploring. And while Bio-shocks laser focus on determinism probably allowed for a much deeper dive into that philosophy, HZD’s wider focus might just allow for more independently directed examination of some topics that are no less thought provoking. "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Some of the games most pwerful emotional moments are found in the collectibles. They surpass world building and achieve crucial narrative elements."}],"id":"uq7tfnpmk4yhgopw05sq","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1080},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"HZD’s collectibles not only do “world building”, they include some of the most powerful emotional moments in the game. And these moments expand the depth of the narrative. On my replay this week I was stunned to realize that almost all of the powerful emotional moments I remembered were found in the data points and hologram collectibles. Voice acting isn’t universally great (though often it is) but it’s always good enough."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"About 2/3 though the main quest line you’re sent to a location called the “Grave Hoard”. Where you will find a series of data points and audio logs left by the soldiers and commanders who have been unwittingly convinced to fight a hopeless cause to the last human alive. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The story of Ames Guliyev is particularly moving. We first encounter Sgt. Guliyev’s corpse at the door of the level. A few of the audio logs here give us the last moments of him and his unit. It’s effective and sad and most games would have wrapped it there. Quickly show us the effects of the war on these soldiers and move on to the main story threads. But HZD doesn’t leave it there. The game has drilled down and thought about more than just the soldiers tragic death."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The suffering of a soldier fighting a battle he knows he is going to lose is easy to imagine. So Horizon then examines his relationship with his wife and then goes even deeper by examining how the government has to weigh the greater good and censor the relationship between him and his wife."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So we see his death, then hear his tormented letters to his wife. Then hear his wife’s letters to him questioning if he’s still alive, then hear the edited versions of his letters the government has been sending out. And this story is told competently enough that you don’t find yourself angry at the government. There’s no villain here. Only ordinary people in a terrible situation. Horizon does things like this again and again. Taking an obvious story beat any competent writer would include and then expanding it enough to take it from trite and obvious to compelling. If I convince you to give it a replay and you didn’t pay much attention to the data points the first time. I implore you to check them out on replay."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The holographic collectibles in the base game also add a surprising bit story depth. The holographic journal Apocalypse Tour in particular was so riveting I actually traveled the map seeking them out. The story of a middle aged man’s journey from addicted youth to successful adult and his relationship with his mother. The idea of a man taking off and recording journals in all of the most important moments of his life before the world collapses is incredibly poignant. Even the metal flowers contained interesting poetry."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Horizon Zero Dawn Examines So Many Issues You Probably Didn’t Notice A Few"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Now that we’ve examined the basic gameplay and how Horizon handles it’s open world elements lets take a second to address some of the issues HZD takes on. Horizon Zero Dawn not only handled gameplay right. It handled it’s story and it’s politics so well one can be forgiven for not even realizing there was a somewhat radical social statement being made. Horizon Zero Dawn creates a strong story in an interesting world and then uses that world to subtlety but profoundly comment on Race, Religion, gender, environmentalism and unrestrained corporatism. It’s an awful lot to take on so it needs it’s own video. And while the carefully crafted levels of Rapture were perfectly suited to examine Objectivism and Randian Libertarianism by creating an entire open world populated by several different peoples HZD is able to imagine and examine all the important issues within it’s world, which is of course, an artistic commentary on our own. While the environmental and corporatist narrative threads are obvious enough that one can’t miss them their well done enough that they are still compelling."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Horizon Zero Dawn’s world spans the Western half of the United States hundreds of years after a technological apocalypse that futurists call the “Grey Goo”. Self replicating AI nanobots consume all life on the planet leaving behind nothing. IF you haven’t played the game part 2 of the video is going to pretty much spoil everything as I can’t examine the themes without ruining much of what makes the narrative excellent. So I’m giving you about a week to turn this off and play the game. It’s well worth full price. In fact just this game and Bloodborne alone are well worth the price of a PS4. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":["Bold","Italic"],"type":"Text","value":" Up next for Old Pliny The Welder is an analysis of both gameplay and the tonal effectiveness of the extreme violence in Wolfenstein 2 and a review of the fantastic Early Access Rougue-like-like-lite Dead Cells."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold","Italic"],"type":"Text","value":" 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, cookies, and polite nods."},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Tweets by Plinythewelder "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"“>https://apis.google.com/js/platform.js”>"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"
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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 derivative. It’s core game-play is really just a collection of things that other games have done."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So....why? Why does horizon take almost every single trope and trick that makes me yawn when playing most other AAA open world affairs and use them to create a game that I’d call a must play? Hell with Bloodborne I’d call it a console seller."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Well it’s because Horizon takes all of it’s obvious influences and implements them near flawlessly. Keeping everything good about the genre. Honing the things that need improving and ditching or severely limiting (with some exceptions...looking at you bandit camps) the things that are boring in the genre"},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"The Only Time You’ll Hear Me Talk About How Graphics Matter"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"There are a few key decisions that made Horizons gameplay so fun. And one of them, strangely, has nothing to do with the actual gameplay itself. The visuals in Horizon are so stunning, so arresting that they create level of immersion unlike almost any other game I’ve played. This includes small things like Alloy’s hair,"},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"the lighting and particle effects and the ridiculously gorgeous backdrops and world design. But the real hook lies in the animations. "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The visuals are simply stunning. Shadows and lighing perfect. Environments perfect. Enemy animations some of the best I’ve ever seen in almost 2000 years of gaming. We had nothing like this in the 20's AD."}],"id":"adkkdif92izkyoooliym","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1080},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The enemy variety on offer isn’t all that large but the design of these enemies, both their look and scale and more importantly their attack animations are so amazing that they imbue each encounter with tension and realism. Bucking bulls, leaping crocodiles, massive buffaloes, T-Rex’s and Thunderbirds and in the DLC perhaps the best animated enemy in the game the ICE and Fire Claws. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"These animations are exquisite. And small touches like a perfect amount of screen shake during fights add tremendously to the immersion and tension in the gameplay. It’s probably the first time I’ve ever thought, while playing a game that the graphical power I was experiencing did tremendously improve the quality of the game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Then there is the core combat itself. Now take a second to try and imagine this game without any time slowing ability and with enemies that only had critical damage spots on their head. That’s a much more hollow experience isn’t it?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Here’s where you can tell that seemingly small decisions like the one to have damage numbers appear after an attack were really thought about with care. The damage values floating out of enemies has been used in tons of other games as well but rarely has it felt this good. In the new Assassin’s creed game it feels immersion breaking. The numbers look like very little thought was put into WHY they needed to be included. Horizons numbers matter because each enemy has a huge variety of areas that take different damage when using different weapons. AC Origins seems to have included them because Horizon had them. The satisfaction of shooting a robot dinosaur and seeing numbers like 11 and 15 rise from the character model before finally targeting a hard to hit section and seeing 100+ numbers float up? It’s a design choice that might not seem like it’s making a difference but it is. Horizon has layers and layers of subtle and intuitive player feedback that makes each encounter with the robot enemies a constant state of probing and recalculation."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The facial animations are FAR better in the DLC. It’s a tiny glimpse into a sequel I’m looking forward to."}],"id":"eqrx2qhrkxavbtax05pc","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"After one gets comfortable with the use of time slowing by jumping and sliding it opens up gameplay possibilities that make enemy encounters feel like seat of your pants fights to the death. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Focusing on different body parts to disable enemy attacks and ultimately stun them makes the combat have a depth to it that allows for different types of gameplay. On easy mode somebody who isn’t good at games can simply shoot arrows at dinosaurs and still have a grand old time. The animations and slick controls ensure that the blandest most base experience is fun exciting and different feeling. The Far Cry style bow controls are still the best bow combat system put into a game and Horizon doesn’t reinvent the wheel here. Instead it does what Horizon does best. It iterates. It takes that Far Cry bow combat and adds layers to it. Elemental attacks aren’t just important for different enemies. Different parts of enemies themselves require different attacks. And the game generally has you tracking and fighting several dangerous enemies at once."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Then there’s the crafting system. Horizon doesn’t have you crafting arrows in a menu screen Guerrilla has taken something that bloats and infects many lesser open world action games and makes it an interesting gameplay mechanic that ends up crucial to the action. It’s obvious that care and attention was put into how many arrows Alloy can carry. Enough that the combat keeps flowing but few enough that each Robo Dino battle requires constant switching of weapons and slow motion fleeing to craft arrows on the run. Does it make sense from a realism angle that Alloy can meticulously craft 30 arrows in 4 seconds while fleeing from a robotic Tyrannosaur? Nope. But it adds to the gameplay and when developers are presented with a choice between realism and fun they’d be wise to do what Guerrilla has done and choose fun. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The robotic enemy encounters in this game are like a thousand mini boss battles. Aside from the bandit camp stuff (which I can only guess are kept in for the sake of pacing) there are very few fodder enemies in Horizon. Every single battle is an intense jumble of screen shaking, rolling, weapon switching crafting madness and it’s glorious. At it’s best he game plays almost like an open world boss rush."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The bow combat is perfect. Taking the Far Cry style bow controls and adding a time slowing ability and limited ammo and enemies who take elemental damage means each fight is hectic. Also this robot is freaking awesome. Look at the sparks!!"}],"id":"w4ymjfm5cmd6axqhajpv","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So the combat is fluid and fun and exciting. But Horizon succeeds on more fronts than that. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Wait..I Actually Liked the Open World Stuff"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Almost ALL of the cliche open world activities work. It has Ubisoft vision towers. Except they are huge hundred foot high giraffes surrounded by large groups of robot dinosaurs. The simple climbing puzzle works here because the amazing spectacle of the climbing puzzle ends up being both it’s own reward and a gorgeous way to drain the tension that built up simply fighting your way to it’s feet. And, thankfully the game doesn’t ask you to do it every six minutes. I was actually a bit bummed when I realized I’d climbed them all. Even in Assassins Creed the first 3 times I jump off a tower into hay it’s cool. The 30"},{"styles":["Superscript"],"type":"Text","value":"th"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" it’s getting old. But Horizon pays attention to not wasting your time. The map doesn’t feel like the developers pasted it to the wall and then randomly threw icons on it. Everything is spaced and paced to keep the experience fresh all the way through. Which brings us to another bane of the genre."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Collectibles, Audio Logs And The Importance of Deep Yet Easily Understood Narrative."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" It’s hard to remember that there was a time when audio logs felt fresh and necessary. Games as a medium need to tell their story without bogging down gameplay. So cut scenes need to be used only when the developer thinks they are absolutely needed. And because developers can’t really be sure that any particular audio or text log will be viewed by a player this means that critical plot information generally isn’t left to chance. You can’t explain who the villain is in a text log because a significant percentage of players might not see it. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" As a result the vast majority of open world games use text and audio logs for LORE rather than story. These collectibles have been used as a way to flesh out the game world for players who seek them out. A bit of world building as reward for exploration. While the worst examples of audio logs in games today are used more as a way to simply extend playtime or as a box that must be checked The first BioShock game used audio logs to flesh out a very simple story that just beneath the surface was also a complex examination of Objectivism and the tension between society and individual liberty. And when it comes to narrative Horizon is more Bio-Shock than Assassins Creed. In fact, Horizon’s narrative style, shares a surprising amount with Bioshock."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Both have a very similar and quite simple premise. A “chosen one” figure becomes embroiled in a conflict larger than themselves and must go on a quest to both understand their origins and role in the conflict while simultaneously solving the problem the narrative presents. This isn’t particularly surprising. It’s a tried and true narrative structure because it’s engrossing and allows for the game player to discover the secrets and backstory of the protagonist simultaneous to the character him or her self."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Because both games had significant budgets and were, ultimately, consumer products that had to make a profit they had to thread a very small needle of being engaging and understandable to a very large audience but also complex enough to allow for a deeper artistic exploration of the themes the respective developer teams were interested in exploring. And while Bio-shocks laser focus on determinism probably allowed for a much deeper dive into that philosophy, HZD’s wider focus might just allow for more independently directed examination of some topics that are no less thought provoking. "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Some of the games most pwerful emotional moments are found in the collectibles. They surpass world building and achieve crucial narrative elements."}],"id":"uq7tfnpmk4yhgopw05sq","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1080},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"HZD’s collectibles not only do “world building”, they include some of the most powerful emotional moments in the game. And these moments expand the depth of the narrative. On my replay this week I was stunned to realize that almost all of the powerful emotional moments I remembered were found in the data points and hologram collectibles. Voice acting isn’t universally great (though often it is) but it’s always good enough."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"About 2/3 though the main quest line you’re sent to a location called the “Grave Hoard”. Where you will find a series of data points and audio logs left by the soldiers and commanders who have been unwittingly convinced to fight a hopeless cause to the last human alive. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The story of Ames Guliyev is particularly moving. We first encounter Sgt. Guliyev’s corpse at the door of the level. A few of the audio logs here give us the last moments of him and his unit. It’s effective and sad and most games would have wrapped it there. Quickly show us the effects of the war on these soldiers and move on to the main story threads. But HZD doesn’t leave it there. The game has drilled down and thought about more than just the soldiers tragic death."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The suffering of a soldier fighting a battle he knows he is going to lose is easy to imagine. So Horizon then examines his relationship with his wife and then goes even deeper by examining how the government has to weigh the greater good and censor the relationship between him and his wife."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So we see his death, then hear his tormented letters to his wife. Then hear his wife’s letters to him questioning if he’s still alive, then hear the edited versions of his letters the government has been sending out. And this story is told competently enough that you don’t find yourself angry at the government. There’s no villain here. Only ordinary people in a terrible situation. Horizon does things like this again and again. Taking an obvious story beat any competent writer would include and then expanding it enough to take it from trite and obvious to compelling. If I convince you to give it a replay and you didn’t pay much attention to the data points the first time. I implore you to check them out on replay."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The holographic collectibles in the base game also add a surprising bit story depth. The holographic journal Apocalypse Tour in particular was so riveting I actually traveled the map seeking them out. The story of a middle aged man’s journey from addicted youth to successful adult and his relationship with his mother. The idea of a man taking off and recording journals in all of the most important moments of his life before the world collapses is incredibly poignant. Even the metal flowers contained interesting poetry."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Horizon Zero Dawn Examines So Many Issues You Probably Didn’t Notice A Few"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Now that we’ve examined the basic gameplay and how Horizon handles it’s open world elements lets take a second to address some of the issues HZD takes on. Horizon Zero Dawn not only handled gameplay right. It handled it’s story and it’s politics so well one can be forgiven for not even realizing there was a somewhat radical social statement being made. Horizon Zero Dawn creates a strong story in an interesting world and then uses that world to subtlety but profoundly comment on Race, Religion, gender, environmentalism and unrestrained corporatism. It’s an awful lot to take on so it needs it’s own video. And while the carefully crafted levels of Rapture were perfectly suited to examine Objectivism and Randian Libertarianism by creating an entire open world populated by several different peoples HZD is able to imagine and examine all the important issues within it’s world, which is of course, an artistic commentary on our own. While the environmental and corporatist narrative threads are obvious enough that one can’t miss them their well done enough that they are still compelling."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Horizon Zero Dawn’s world spans the Western half of the United States hundreds of years after a technological apocalypse that futurists call the “Grey Goo”. Self replicating AI nanobots consume all life on the planet leaving behind nothing. IF you haven’t played the game part 2 of the video is going to pretty much spoil everything as I can’t examine the themes without ruining much of what makes the narrative excellent. So I’m giving you about a week to turn this off and play the game. It’s well worth full price. In fact just this game and Bloodborne alone are well worth the price of a PS4. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":["Bold","Italic"],"type":"Text","value":" Up next for Old Pliny The Welder is an analysis of both gameplay and the tonal effectiveness of the extreme violence in Wolfenstein 2 and a review of the fantastic Early Access Rougue-like-like-lite Dead Cells."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold","Italic"],"type":"Text","value":" 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, cookies, and polite nods."},{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Tweets by Plinythewelder "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"“>https://apis.google.com/js/platform.js”>"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"
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In the last couple of years alone I’ve bought and enjoyed Far Harbor, Nuka World, Blood and Wine,Hearts of Stone, The Frozen Wilds, Ashes of Ariendel, The Ringed City, The Old Hunters, all of Destiny’s DLC and more. I bought a couple of mounts in World of Warcraft back in the dawn of the microtransaction movement. Shit I’ve even bought Overwatch loot boxes twice, though I immediately regretted it and, looking back, that was about the time that I became frustrated with the drop rates and stopped playing."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"A litany of games have made small and steady progress towards the games as service model in which the initial purchase price is just a starting point and companies are getting increasing amounts of revenue from stripping out content that would have been included in the base game a few years ago."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":440,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I Would Happily Pay $100 A Year If From Software Agreed to Sell me A New Level Every 3 Months."}],"id":"mgo6fxpuyawiwnjau1vj","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":248},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This has caused controversy from Casandras howling in the abyss. One of the best is "},{"reference":"http://www.thejimquisition.com/star-wars-battlefront-ii-gamblefront-jimpressions/","type":"Link","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"JimSterling"}]},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" whose has been pointing out the insidious nature of micro transactions in full priced releases for ages. While his anti-corporatism is more idealistic than mine (I’m older now and have less energy for outrage) his reporting has been on the money. So why is the latest EA controversy surrounding Battlefront 2 so much bigger than what came before?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"EA was able to sell 14 million copies of Star Wars Battlefront (half a game that had less features than the original 10 year old game) then sell the other half to consumers in the form of map packs to only mild grumbling and discontent. But outrage over Battlefront 2 has caused a furor that has even spilled into the mainstream press forcing, for I think the first time, a publisher to backtrack and (at least temporarily) turn off their micro-transaction system at launch."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"See children, back in my day you gave a company money and they gave you a game. An ENTIRE game. It was known as a purchase."}],"id":"gwqi1udgtjafi8yve6v6","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1080},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So why? Why has Battlefront 2 caused such a firestorm when for years companies have been able to sell us skins and mounts and DLC missions and map packs and even cosmetic loot boxes with only some complaining but no appreciable effect onsales."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Unraveling this requires a brief overview of the last Star Wars Battlefront game and Battlefront 2's progression system just in case you’re recently returning from a tour at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica and have no idea what’s going on."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In 2013 Disney, after purchasing the rights to the Star Wars license shuttered Lucas Games and looked to sell the exclusive rights to make Star Wars games. A property this massive was only realistically open to the largest of publishers and EA quickly scooped up 10 years of exclusive rights. They started by giving the rights for a single player title to Visceral Games beloved for their first two Dead Space games who then tabbed Amy Henning formerly of Uncharted fame to direct and produce. We all know how that turned out."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Luckily there’s almost no way to fuck up a Star Wars Battlefront game. The series was already well established and in the years since Lucas released those games the appetite for multiplayer titles has only increased. Realistically all EA and Dice had to do was reskin the original releases with current generation graphics and they’d have been huge hits and game of the year contenders."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But that’s not what EA did. Instead they stripped features that were available in the first game out, made the gameplay shallower by removing classes and decided to release the thing with only 4 large mode maps. FOUR! But not toworry. EA was ready to sell you the rest of those maps over the next two years at the cost of almost another base game. There were no space battles and while the production value was high, player counts dropped quickly and only further fragmented as DLC package after DLC package continued to split the player base."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Fans grumbled about feeling like they’d been sold half a game and EA said they heard fan complaints and would address them all in the sequel."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Which brings us to Battlefront 2. Early previews looked extremely promising. There was single player campaign, and more maps and modes at launch including space battles. And, to everyone’s surprise EA announced there would be no map packs. All future maps added would be updates and not paid DLC."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Then people got their hands on the game and while most said the gameplay was solid if not particularly exciting, the new classes felt underwhelming to play and the same lack of depth was present. This was disappointing but overall the production values were sky high, the modes seemed fun and the attention to detail in the environments and character designs were top notch, demonstrating what big publishers can accomplish when they decide to ramp production values up to the nth degree."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The graphics are fantastic, the settings lovingly crafted"}],"id":"eud1it0vdjqdw5luyobb","type":"Image","alignment":"Right","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"There was one problem though. Players saw that Star Cards were back and that they’d be given out in loot crates that could be bought with real world money. These weren’t insignificant cosmetic items. They were powerful stat boosts that would give the player who spent money on loot crates up to a %30 advantage on one who only paid for the game itself. This caused outrage. But I intend to argue that as terrible as this system is (and boy, it’s fucking terrible) it’s NOT what this is really all about."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The reason people hate this system more than any other monetization system tried in any other full price AAA game is because it destroys the illusion of the relationship between game maker and game player and brings into painfully sharp focus that the relationship is actually between Developer and Customer."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Previous efforts at continuing monetization in AAA games have always strived to be completely incidental to the gameplay itself. Warcraft Micro-transaction mounts didn’t effect gameplay because by that time Warcraft mounts no longer had different speeds. You were only paying for a cool LOOKING mount. Ditto Overwatch. While I would argue that cosmetic items and different skins had previously been part of the content you bought with the base game and a big reason players would grind, game developers could at least say that the ability to buy cosmetic items with real world money did not in any way effect the way the game was created, tuned, balanced or enjoyed. And to be fair that’sabsolutely true. My experience PLAYING Overwatch is the same whether I buy loot boxes and get the skin I want or if I don’t buy boxes and have bad luck and never get Officer Diva ."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Blizzard wants your money but they’ll hustle for it. They make shit you want. The’re pretty good at that. "}],"id":"fa0pfsf4kv7g0hrc11r1","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"You might ENJOY your gaming experience more after nabbing that skin. But the moment to moment experience, the core gameplay loop is completely unaffected. This has been the law of the gaming land for years outside of the free to play space where consumers were willing to tolerate intrusive monetization models because the base experience was completely free."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Not any more though. What makes StarWars Battlefront 2 a new and terrible change is that the monetization system was clearly baked directly in. Video game progression systems have been tuned and adjusted for decades before arriving at a general consensus. Players unlock more skills, weapons and powers the more they play. Each match gets you closer to something you had your eye on. You’re working towards a goal and have a clear path to getting to that goal. Games have been carefully balanced to make that grind just long enough to feel like you’ve accomplished something without feeling like the developer is wasting your time."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Progression systems have basically been perfected. That’s why most people play games until they’ve finished leveling before dropping out of the end game at various stages depending upon how satisfying that end game is or what their tolerance or enjoyment of repetitive grinding is. I happen to enjoy grinding but to each his own."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"See that sweet ass armor? I spent approximately a bajillion hours getting it. That includes 3,000 gloves and one helmet.....video games man."}],"id":"qdafcinw5vd37u4cglrw","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Star Wars Battlefront 2 completely does away with a traditional leveling system in favor of ALL progression being made through random drops from Loot Boxes. Interested in trying a different rifle in your load-out? Well you’ll have to hope it drops from a random number generator. Want to try a different grenade or cool-down skill? Random number generator."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This completely breaks the core gameplay loop of playing matches, accumulating XP and spending that XP on items or abilities you want before trying them out and using them to unlock more and different abilities. It’s utterly impossible to believe that this system was deemed more fun. Which means that this system was instituted for only one reason. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Monetization."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"What this means is that countless hours of development time and intellectual effort was expended not on making that progression system as fun and compelling as possible but rather to maximize ongoing revenue streams without ruining the experience. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"There’s a big difference between balancing a system to be fun and balancing a system to be less obnoxious. It says to the player that their fun, their enjoyment of the moment to moment gameplay was less important to the developers than hitting a certain leveling threshold that would spur the most loot box purchases."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This changes everything. It drops all pretense in this relationship, it removes the veil that we were all happy to have up and makes the actual game maker to game player interaction explicit and transparent."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It’s not game maker to game player. It’s game monetization developer to ongoing customer. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In a normal progression system the consumer can be completely confident that the only consideration that was made in development was how to make that system as fun and engaging to the most players for the longest possible time. Great care has always gone into game economies to make that experience smooth and fun and make progress feel consistent and earned."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In this progression system, however, you have zero agency. "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"You "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"don’t unlock anything through play. You earn the right to have a chance of getting something you might or might not want to use. And because it’s now clear to everybody that maximizing their enjoyment was not the goal at the heart of the progression system it’s obvious to all what the goal actually was. The goal was to frustrate "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"juuuust"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" enough to spur extra lootbox sales without frustrating so much that people simply put the game down and don’t come back."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"That’s supposed to be an invisible consideration to the consumer. We shouldn’t see these decisions. Profit maximization is a business and publisher goal not a game MAKER’S goal. The goal of a game maker has traditionally been to simply make a great game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And so what you’re left with is players realizing they aren’t players. They’re marks to be fleeced. This system is not designed for your fun. It’s designed to be less fun so that you pay more in the hope that the game"},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":" becomes"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" fun."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The monetization scheme is built into the gameplay in a way that’s obtrusive, obnoxious and aggressively not fun."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I find it amusing that EA and Dice seemed caught off guard by the scale of this controversy. The only thing amazing about this is that EA and Dice didn’t realize it was coming. The fact that play testers didn’t go crazy over this shows the limits of making decisions off of the reactions of people in a highly controlled environment. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The controversy was always going tohappen. Because EA and Dice forgot that players expect the games they paid for to be developed first and foremost with their enjoyment in mind. The proper development cycle is to make a game that people want to play and THEN decide how best to get as much money as possible from it. That’s entirely reasonable and defensible. I might not like it but I understand it and realize it’s a necessity. But balancing actual core gameplay around a monetization strategy is a recipe for disaster. Because what’s most fun and what’s mostprofitable aren’t always correlated. They often have nothing to do with each other in fact. And trying to tie those two considerations together rips the caul from consumers eyes and leaves them bitter and feeling like nothing more than wallets with legs."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"No matter how much we disliked DLC or micro-transactions or cosmetic loot boxes we could at least be certain that the developers made the core gameplay as fun as they could. That they operated with a singular focus. Make the game as much fun as we can with the resources available."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"EA/Dice tried to bypass that and go directly to how to make as much money as possible. And it seems like that’s finally a bridge to far. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’d love you to check out my Youtube channel. "}]},{"style":"Normal","type":"LinkPreview","url":"https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVjceGxgfPs2ohneN3uk6wA"}],"mainMedia":null,"largeOnStream":false,"images":[{"uid":"sw4rl8nsgvqknjgrsvrn","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"sw4rl8nsgvqknjgrsvrn","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"mgo6fxpuyawiwnjau1vj","originalWidth":440,"originalHeight":248,"format":"jpg","width":440,"height":248,"id":"mgo6fxpuyawiwnjau1vj","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"gwqi1udgtjafi8yve6v6","originalWidth":1920,"originalHeight":1080,"format":"jpg","width":1920,"height":1080,"id":"gwqi1udgtjafi8yve6v6","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"eud1it0vdjqdw5luyobb","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"eud1it0vdjqdw5luyobb","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"fa0pfsf4kv7g0hrc11r1","originalWidth":1280,"originalHeight":720,"format":"jpg","width":1280,"height":720,"id":"fa0pfsf4kv7g0hrc11r1","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"qdafcinw5vd37u4cglrw","originalWidth":1280,"originalHeight":720,"format":"jpg","width":1280,"height":720,"id":"qdafcinw5vd37u4cglrw","frozenFormat":"jpg"}],"videos":[{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"bs37imxgzhzra6vdey8h","format":"jpg","width":0,"height":0,"id":"bs37imxgzhzra6vdey8h","frozenFormat":"jpg"}]}],"publishTimeMillis":1511301360856,"lastUpdateTimeMillis":1511484459077,"timezone":"America/New_York","defaultBlogId":"1634563201","parentId":null,"starterId":"1820656856","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":"tay-classic","displayName":"TAY Classic"},{"canonical":"starwars","urlName":"star-wars","displayName":"Star Wars"},{"canonical":"videogames","urlName":"video-games","displayName":"Video Games"},{"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":"/loot-wars-battlecrate-2-what-made-people-finally-say-1820656856","customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"sw4rl8nsgvqknjgrsvrn","width":300,"height":168,"format":"jpg","frozenFormat":"jpg"},"adSettings":null,"template":null},"id":"1820656856","headline":"Loot Wars BattleCrate 2: What Made People Finally Say No?","body":[{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Looks Like Star Wars Alright"}],"id":"sw4rl8nsgvqknjgrsvrn","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":168},{"thumbnail":{"id":"bs37imxgzhzra6vdey8h","format":"jpg"},"start":0,"caption":[],"id":"l-_DvWAAlPY","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"We’ve reached a point in game monetization where customers like Old Pliny here will happily plunk down dollar after dollar for DLC. In the last couple of years alone I’ve bought and enjoyed Far Harbor, Nuka World, Blood and Wine,Hearts of Stone, The Frozen Wilds, Ashes of Ariendel, The Ringed City, The Old Hunters, all of Destiny’s DLC and more. I bought a couple of mounts in World of Warcraft back in the dawn of the microtransaction movement. Shit I’ve even bought Overwatch loot boxes twice, though I immediately regretted it and, looking back, that was about the time that I became frustrated with the drop rates and stopped playing."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"A litany of games have made small and steady progress towards the games as service model in which the initial purchase price is just a starting point and companies are getting increasing amounts of revenue from stripping out content that would have been included in the base game a few years ago."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":440,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I Would Happily Pay $100 A Year If From Software Agreed to Sell me A New Level Every 3 Months."}],"id":"mgo6fxpuyawiwnjau1vj","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":248},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This has caused controversy from Casandras howling in the abyss. One of the best is "},{"reference":"http://www.thejimquisition.com/star-wars-battlefront-ii-gamblefront-jimpressions/","type":"Link","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"JimSterling"}]},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" whose has been pointing out the insidious nature of micro transactions in full priced releases for ages. While his anti-corporatism is more idealistic than mine (I’m older now and have less energy for outrage) his reporting has been on the money. So why is the latest EA controversy surrounding Battlefront 2 so much bigger than what came before?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"EA was able to sell 14 million copies of Star Wars Battlefront (half a game that had less features than the original 10 year old game) then sell the other half to consumers in the form of map packs to only mild grumbling and discontent. But outrage over Battlefront 2 has caused a furor that has even spilled into the mainstream press forcing, for I think the first time, a publisher to backtrack and (at least temporarily) turn off their micro-transaction system at launch."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1920,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"See children, back in my day you gave a company money and they gave you a game. An ENTIRE game. It was known as a purchase."}],"id":"gwqi1udgtjafi8yve6v6","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":1080},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So why? Why has Battlefront 2 caused such a firestorm when for years companies have been able to sell us skins and mounts and DLC missions and map packs and even cosmetic loot boxes with only some complaining but no appreciable effect onsales."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Unraveling this requires a brief overview of the last Star Wars Battlefront game and Battlefront 2's progression system just in case you’re recently returning from a tour at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica and have no idea what’s going on."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In 2013 Disney, after purchasing the rights to the Star Wars license shuttered Lucas Games and looked to sell the exclusive rights to make Star Wars games. A property this massive was only realistically open to the largest of publishers and EA quickly scooped up 10 years of exclusive rights. They started by giving the rights for a single player title to Visceral Games beloved for their first two Dead Space games who then tabbed Amy Henning formerly of Uncharted fame to direct and produce. We all know how that turned out."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Luckily there’s almost no way to fuck up a Star Wars Battlefront game. The series was already well established and in the years since Lucas released those games the appetite for multiplayer titles has only increased. Realistically all EA and Dice had to do was reskin the original releases with current generation graphics and they’d have been huge hits and game of the year contenders."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But that’s not what EA did. Instead they stripped features that were available in the first game out, made the gameplay shallower by removing classes and decided to release the thing with only 4 large mode maps. FOUR! But not toworry. EA was ready to sell you the rest of those maps over the next two years at the cost of almost another base game. There were no space battles and while the production value was high, player counts dropped quickly and only further fragmented as DLC package after DLC package continued to split the player base."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Fans grumbled about feeling like they’d been sold half a game and EA said they heard fan complaints and would address them all in the sequel."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Which brings us to Battlefront 2. Early previews looked extremely promising. There was single player campaign, and more maps and modes at launch including space battles. And, to everyone’s surprise EA announced there would be no map packs. All future maps added would be updates and not paid DLC."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Then people got their hands on the game and while most said the gameplay was solid if not particularly exciting, the new classes felt underwhelming to play and the same lack of depth was present. This was disappointing but overall the production values were sky high, the modes seemed fun and the attention to detail in the environments and character designs were top notch, demonstrating what big publishers can accomplish when they decide to ramp production values up to the nth degree."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The graphics are fantastic, the settings lovingly crafted"}],"id":"eud1it0vdjqdw5luyobb","type":"Image","alignment":"Right","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"There was one problem though. Players saw that Star Cards were back and that they’d be given out in loot crates that could be bought with real world money. These weren’t insignificant cosmetic items. They were powerful stat boosts that would give the player who spent money on loot crates up to a %30 advantage on one who only paid for the game itself. This caused outrage. But I intend to argue that as terrible as this system is (and boy, it’s fucking terrible) it’s NOT what this is really all about."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The reason people hate this system more than any other monetization system tried in any other full price AAA game is because it destroys the illusion of the relationship between game maker and game player and brings into painfully sharp focus that the relationship is actually between Developer and Customer."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Previous efforts at continuing monetization in AAA games have always strived to be completely incidental to the gameplay itself. Warcraft Micro-transaction mounts didn’t effect gameplay because by that time Warcraft mounts no longer had different speeds. You were only paying for a cool LOOKING mount. Ditto Overwatch. While I would argue that cosmetic items and different skins had previously been part of the content you bought with the base game and a big reason players would grind, game developers could at least say that the ability to buy cosmetic items with real world money did not in any way effect the way the game was created, tuned, balanced or enjoyed. And to be fair that’sabsolutely true. My experience PLAYING Overwatch is the same whether I buy loot boxes and get the skin I want or if I don’t buy boxes and have bad luck and never get Officer Diva ."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Blizzard wants your money but they’ll hustle for it. They make shit you want. The’re pretty good at that. "}],"id":"fa0pfsf4kv7g0hrc11r1","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"You might ENJOY your gaming experience more after nabbing that skin. But the moment to moment experience, the core gameplay loop is completely unaffected. This has been the law of the gaming land for years outside of the free to play space where consumers were willing to tolerate intrusive monetization models because the base experience was completely free."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Not any more though. What makes StarWars Battlefront 2 a new and terrible change is that the monetization system was clearly baked directly in. Video game progression systems have been tuned and adjusted for decades before arriving at a general consensus. Players unlock more skills, weapons and powers the more they play. Each match gets you closer to something you had your eye on. You’re working towards a goal and have a clear path to getting to that goal. Games have been carefully balanced to make that grind just long enough to feel like you’ve accomplished something without feeling like the developer is wasting your time."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Progression systems have basically been perfected. That’s why most people play games until they’ve finished leveling before dropping out of the end game at various stages depending upon how satisfying that end game is or what their tolerance or enjoyment of repetitive grinding is. I happen to enjoy grinding but to each his own."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":1280,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"See that sweet ass armor? I spent approximately a bajillion hours getting it. That includes 3,000 gloves and one helmet.....video games man."}],"id":"qdafcinw5vd37u4cglrw","type":"Image","alignment":"Bleed","height":720},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Star Wars Battlefront 2 completely does away with a traditional leveling system in favor of ALL progression being made through random drops from Loot Boxes. Interested in trying a different rifle in your load-out? Well you’ll have to hope it drops from a random number generator. Want to try a different grenade or cool-down skill? Random number generator."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This completely breaks the core gameplay loop of playing matches, accumulating XP and spending that XP on items or abilities you want before trying them out and using them to unlock more and different abilities. It’s utterly impossible to believe that this system was deemed more fun. Which means that this system was instituted for only one reason. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":"Monetization."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"What this means is that countless hours of development time and intellectual effort was expended not on making that progression system as fun and compelling as possible but rather to maximize ongoing revenue streams without ruining the experience. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"There’s a big difference between balancing a system to be fun and balancing a system to be less obnoxious. It says to the player that their fun, their enjoyment of the moment to moment gameplay was less important to the developers than hitting a certain leveling threshold that would spur the most loot box purchases."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This changes everything. It drops all pretense in this relationship, it removes the veil that we were all happy to have up and makes the actual game maker to game player interaction explicit and transparent."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It’s not game maker to game player. It’s game monetization developer to ongoing customer. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In a normal progression system the consumer can be completely confident that the only consideration that was made in development was how to make that system as fun and engaging to the most players for the longest possible time. Great care has always gone into game economies to make that experience smooth and fun and make progress feel consistent and earned."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"In this progression system, however, you have zero agency. "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"You "},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"don’t unlock anything through play. You earn the right to have a chance of getting something you might or might not want to use. And because it’s now clear to everybody that maximizing their enjoyment was not the goal at the heart of the progression system it’s obvious to all what the goal actually was. The goal was to frustrate "},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":"juuuust"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" enough to spur extra lootbox sales without frustrating so much that people simply put the game down and don’t come back."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"That’s supposed to be an invisible consideration to the consumer. We shouldn’t see these decisions. Profit maximization is a business and publisher goal not a game MAKER’S goal. The goal of a game maker has traditionally been to simply make a great game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And so what you’re left with is players realizing they aren’t players. They’re marks to be fleeced. This system is not designed for your fun. It’s designed to be less fun so that you pay more in the hope that the game"},{"styles":["Italic"],"type":"Text","value":" becomes"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" fun."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The monetization scheme is built into the gameplay in a way that’s obtrusive, obnoxious and aggressively not fun."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I find it amusing that EA and Dice seemed caught off guard by the scale of this controversy. The only thing amazing about this is that EA and Dice didn’t realize it was coming. The fact that play testers didn’t go crazy over this shows the limits of making decisions off of the reactions of people in a highly controlled environment. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The controversy was always going tohappen. Because EA and Dice forgot that players expect the games they paid for to be developed first and foremost with their enjoyment in mind. The proper development cycle is to make a game that people want to play and THEN decide how best to get as much money as possible from it. That’s entirely reasonable and defensible. I might not like it but I understand it and realize it’s a necessity. But balancing actual core gameplay around a monetization strategy is a recipe for disaster. Because what’s most fun and what’s mostprofitable aren’t always correlated. They often have nothing to do with each other in fact. And trying to tie those two considerations together rips the caul from consumers eyes and leaves them bitter and feeling like nothing more than wallets with legs."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"No matter how much we disliked DLC or micro-transactions or cosmetic loot boxes we could at least be certain that the developers made the core gameplay as fun as they could. That they operated with a singular focus. Make the game as much fun as we can with the resources available."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"EA/Dice tried to bypass that and go directly to how to make as much money as possible. And it seems like that’s finally a bridge to far. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’d love you to check out my Youtube channel. "}]},{"style":"Normal","type":"LinkPreview","url":"https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVjceGxgfPs2ohneN3uk6wA"}],"mainMedia":null,"largeOnStream":false,"images":[{"uid":"sw4rl8nsgvqknjgrsvrn","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"sw4rl8nsgvqknjgrsvrn","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"mgo6fxpuyawiwnjau1vj","originalWidth":440,"originalHeight":248,"format":"jpg","width":440,"height":248,"id":"mgo6fxpuyawiwnjau1vj","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"gwqi1udgtjafi8yve6v6","originalWidth":1920,"originalHeight":1080,"format":"jpg","width":1920,"height":1080,"id":"gwqi1udgtjafi8yve6v6","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"eud1it0vdjqdw5luyobb","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"eud1it0vdjqdw5luyobb","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"fa0pfsf4kv7g0hrc11r1","originalWidth":1280,"originalHeight":720,"format":"jpg","width":1280,"height":720,"id":"fa0pfsf4kv7g0hrc11r1","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"qdafcinw5vd37u4cglrw","originalWidth":1280,"originalHeight":720,"format":"jpg","width":1280,"height":720,"id":"qdafcinw5vd37u4cglrw","frozenFormat":"jpg"}],"videos":[{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"bs37imxgzhzra6vdey8h","format":"jpg","width":0,"height":0,"id":"bs37imxgzhzra6vdey8h","frozenFormat":"jpg"}]}],"lastUpdateTimeMillis":1511484459077,"timezone":"America/New_York","defaultBlogId":"1634563201","parentId":null,"starterId":"1820656856","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":"tay-classic","displayName":"TAY Classic"},{"canonical":"starwars","urlName":"star-wars","displayName":"Star Wars"},{"canonical":"videogames","urlName":"video-games","displayName":"Video Games"},{"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,"permalinkHost":"https://plinythewelder.kinja.com","permalinkPath":"/loot-wars-battlecrate-2-what-made-people-finally-say-1820656856","publishTimeMillis":1511301360856,"customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"sw4rl8nsgvqknjgrsvrn","width":300,"height":168,"format":"jpg","frozenFormat":"jpg"},"resolvedReviewScore":null,"customKinjaId":null,"adSettings":null,"template":null},{"originalProps":{"id":"1820160508","headline":"Cuphead And Difficulty As Gameplay Mechanic","body":[{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Cup-head, the new side scrolling platform shooter from MDHR has finally released after years of anticipation to positively glowing reviews. And after playing it these past few weeks I can describe my experience with the following sentence:"},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Cup-head is a beautiful game with lots of fun parts that becomes less and less fun until, through repetition it’s so tedious it’s more like math homework than a game”"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"How’s that for a hot take?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"When Cup-head first started generating buzz it was almost always because of the games unique art style."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"We’ve gotten to a point where even low budget, free to play games can achieve graphics that are gorgeous. As such graphical fidelity is no longer an effective selling point."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Games need more than resolution to stand out and art direction is king. And here Cup-head absolutely delivers on all of it’s promise. Cup-head features a truly unique look. It’s backgrounds and boss designs are like nothing ever tried before. "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Boss Design is Stunning. It needs to be because you’ll be seeing them over and over and over."}],"id":"zx3gmojlax3d3fpfgogj","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It’s a joy to look at, finally achieving the dream of every 1980's kid by allowing you to actually play a cartoon. It’s 1930's style animation and upbeat jazz score make it a game that appeals visually to everyone from kids to adults who grew up when these cartoons were still in syndication and being shown on Saturday mornings."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So what’s the game play like? "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Well, it’s Contra. A brutally difficult bullet hell sidescroller broken up between gorgeously animated boss battles and side scrolling Mega man style shooting platform sections called “Run and Gun”."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Both of these modes are great fun... AT FIRST but to go any further we have to get into the defining mechanic on display in Cup head. Difficulty."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":290,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"1980's Run and Gun."}],"id":"lhvrvgjzoyrqn98fpnot","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":174},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" Difficulty as a mechanic."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Early video games used difficulty as a way to drive revenue. Because you played until you died the only way for a developer to get another quarter was to kill you more often. And this ethos stayed in games long into the home gaming era."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It was only in the last decade or so that difficulty was ratched back enough, through, among other ways, generous check pointing, regenerating health and unlimited lives, to actually allow for narrative elements to become a central focus in games."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And with that change games undoubtedly lost something. The single player experience became a place to get a story more than a place to overcome a challenge and those seeking real difficulty found that in the multi player titles that increased in popularity at the exact moment single player games were becoming less and less interactive."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But with the success of games like Dark Souls and the legion of permadeath indie games from Spelunky to Isaac to Hyper light drifter developers have realized that consumers were actually still interested in games that challenged them."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"That’s been great. Those games are some of my very favorites. I’ve got a truly depressing amount of hours in Soulsbourne and Issac alone. But, in my opinion, Cup-head’s difficulty doesn’t work nearly as well for a variety of reasons."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":299,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The Run And Gun sectioins are a throwback to the difficult side scrolling shooters of the 1980s and 90s."}],"id":"oyc2gujhrax87xejabgw","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Gameplay and Art Are Two Sides of The Same Coin"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Superficially the very look of the game is tonally inconsistent with the level of difficulty on offer here."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dark Souls and Binding of Isaac have a dark aesthetic that mirror their mechanics."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Cup-heads vibrant visual style, so appealing to kids that my 7 year old son loves watching the game, doesn’t match it’s crushing difficulty. I’m a very very stubborn man and so I’ve gotten A’s and B’s on most of the levels through sheer obsitnance but the length of these boss fights and the pattern recognition and twitch skills required make them like a mix of a marathon Dark Souls boss and a fast flailing Blood-borne boss rolled into one."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Most of these boss fights have 3 or 4 unique phases,and they can be up to 4+ minutes long while the game caps you at 3 hit points. Yes I know you can equip a charm to get 4 but the dash that gives you I frames is almost mandatory on the vast majority of bosses for the vast majority of players."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So the average encounter goes like this. Start boss fight. Die. Spend another two lives figuring out the pattern and get to phase 2. Die. Spend two or 3 more attempts getting killed in phase 2 EACH time having to repeat phase one. Figure out phase 2 and get to phase 3. die. And repeat."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This means that beating each boss is tedious and tiring gauntlet of replaying the same phases over and over and over until you either A) get a run where the boss randomly uses his less annoying attack patterns or B) you finally have memorized the entire move set."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The visuals are always both beautiful and surprising enough to keep you playing to see what the animators still have up their sleeves."}],"id":"cvdabxauff7c6nfsqqsp","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. That accurately describes what it takes to defeat some of the most difficult Souls-bone bosses the first time you see them. But this game doesn’t leave me pumping my fist after ultimately succeeding. It leaves me deeply sighing at the time I’ve wasted. And while it’s true that this could be just my opinion on how much I enjoy the core game play here, the problem comes from the fact that there is very very little interesting or new mechanically in Cup-head There’s no different strategies to really try because the boss attacks are random for the most part. There isn’t any kind of build depth. Even the shooting requires only that you continually shoot. It really is Contra."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"A Hollow Knight like healing mechanic would have added so much here. Allowing the player to heal but requiring skill or strategy to pull it off. Something as simple and obvious as allowing the player to choose to make parry slaps heal a hit point instead of charge their super would have made the game slightly more interesting mechanically, eased back on the amount of frustration on offer while retaining the moment to moment difficulty that was apparently so important to this dev team. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Simply giving the player 3 hits of health and having them play a pretty standard 1980s style platform shooter with updated graphics inst enough. In fact Cup-head does ONLY two things. It faithfully recreates the frustrating minute to minute difficulty of the genre without any of the last 30 years of changes that have improved these games and it has the art style. And that’s just not enough for me to spend 30+ minutes learning a boss."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Cup-head leaves me asking myself WHY I’m pressing on. Dark Souls, Isaac, even Enter the Gungeon and Nuclear Throne never had me doing that because the moment to moment game play in each of those games is fun and interesting and new enough to not feel like I’ve played it before. Each of those games makes “gitting gud” worth it. But I’ve played this game before. Hell 3/4's of the games I played as a kid offered this."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This guy killed me and uncountable number of times before I defeated him but it never got boring."}],"id":"qysq1bxzkdr1sofmee9j","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But my critique of the difficulty goes far beyond me thinking the game play is only pretty good."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" It’s just that this cartoon game that appeals so much to kids is an impossible task for a 7 year old or, hell, anyone who isn’t pretty damn good at games."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This brings us to how Cup-head handles the difficulty slider. And I can confidently say it handles it in basically the worst possible way a developer can."}]},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Accessibility Is Always A Good Thing."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Most games adjust difficulty by either increasing the players health and or damage, decreasing the AI health and or damage, or a combination of both."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Even Souls borne notorious for NOT having a difficulty setting does this. The leveling system increases your damage and health and decreases the enemy damage by increasing your resistance. As such my 7 year old son can beat Dark Souls. Dark Souls also brilliantly allows you, the player, to set difficulty by giving you a myriad of ways to exploit the AI or use ranged attacks. As such anybody can play and beat Dark Souls. People who love difficulty can do Soul Level one, no rolling, no magic, broken sword hilt runs . Players who want to experience the amazing world and level design can over level themselves. Or play as magic users, or cheese enemy AI with arrows or lead enemies to their patching reset point or.... you get the picture."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So how does Cup-head handle it’s “easy” mode? Well first of all in the Run and Gun sections, the ONLY sections you can earn credits to use to buy character upgrades in it.... doesn’t. There is no way to alter the difficulty of these sections at all. playing co-op counter intuitively makes the game harder because the screen is so loaded with enemies and projectiles and environmental hazards and the player characters themselves are so relatively large that it’s almost impossible to keep track of in Co-Op."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"“OK but, that isn’t he meat of the game anyway. The Boss Fights are what the developers originally intended. Hell the run and gun sections were later additions,” you say?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Right. Well the Boss difficulty setting is so absurd, so ridiculous and insulting it’s frankly the worst implementation of a difficulty setting I’ve ever seen."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Cup-head changes the difficulty of the Boss sections not by giving you more health, not by making the enemies do less damage, not by lowering the amount of projectiles on the screen. No. Cup-head chooses to actually remove the content you paid for and that the developers so clearly worked tirelessly on."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It supposedly lowers the bosses HP a bit (I don’t know how much because Boss health is never displayed in game) and then just removes one of the phases of the fight. I went back and played some of the fights on “simple” and frankly it seems like the developers randomly picked which phase to remove. None of the bosses have phases that are objectively more difficult than another phase. Each discrete phase is about the right level of difficulty and most of them are about equally difficulty. It’s the stringing together of multiple phases with only being able to take damage 3 times that makes them difficult. And so the seemingly laziest and most insulting way to slightly alter the difficulty is to just remove some phases."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Really think about that for a second. Lets imagine a 55 year old gamer who now has Parkinson or MS (I happen to know one such gamer). This person grew up crushing Contra and Mario but now has degraded reflexes. Still he loves difficult platformers and wants to play this beautiful game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The obvious way to let him enjoy this game is just to give him more room for error."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Have a difficulty slider that just adds a hit point for every notch you move it. Simple mode would give you 10 hit points. Hard mode would give you one. The game already allows for this with it’s wonderful letter grade system. An F is failing to finish the level. A D+ is finishing the level taking more than 5 hits all the way up to A+ finishing the level without being hit."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Now we’re all playing the same game, exactly the same, experiencing everything the same but everyone can play and get better. My 7 year old son can play the game with 10 or 15 HP and beat each level and gt a D-. This letter grade feedback drives him to want to do better. So he steadily improves. More importantly it GREATLY reduces that repetitiveness of making one re fight boss phases they have mastered over and over and over just to get to the final phase they Haven’t yet mastered. You’d at least get a look at each phase before dying."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And that leads me to WHY I believe Cup-head didn’t use a difficulty system that almost all other games use."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Because Cup-head is using difficulty as a mechanic but MORE importantly as a way to extend play time."}]},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Cuphead Is Like an 80s Game in DIfficulty AND Length"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This is a small game. It’s a perfectly acceptable value because it’s not a full priced release. But if people were to have turned the game on, set their HP to 10 and played they’d beat the game very quickly and realize there just isn’t all that much content here. Which is perfectly fine. There are nearly 20 amazingly animated wonderfully complex boss fights and a handful of pretty fun platform sections."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But capping HP at 3 basically assures that, even playing on easy, it will take the average gamer 5-10 tries to beat a boss. Someone who is below average is looking a 10-20 and somebody who is 7 years old or has MS? Well they just won’t beat it at all. They’ll give up because the game says Fuck you to them."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And that’s a real shame because there is literally no argument for why a game that could so wonderfully be fun for anybody and a great way to improve at games needs to tell people fuck you."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Hopefully someone comes up with a mod that adds HP soon because I’d love my son to be able to play this game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"As for me? What did I think of the game? It’s Contra and Mega man with 1930s animation as graphics. Lets all admit that if this game had 8 bit graphics or different art direction we probably wouldn’t even be discussing it. It’d be just another retro title on steam."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Still....It’s a perfectly fun old school side scroller. I enjoyed it. It was worth the purchase. But it’s not a game I’d consider as a game of the year contender. I’m unlikely going to come back to it . It’s no Hollow Knight or Pyre. It isn’t Issac, or Streets of Rogue. It’s not Dark Souls. Hell, it isn’t Titanfall 2."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It’s a game I played and enjoyed. It was worth the money. It was a 6.5. Solidly above average."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But as a cautionary lesson on how developers handle difficulty and accessibility? It’s a 10 out of 10. Something so stupid I’ll never forget it."}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’d love you to check out my new YouTube Channel Pliny The Welder."},{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I have a cuphead video up and am working on two videos currently. A review/anlaysis/love letter to Dead Cells, an Early Access mix of Spelunky and Bloodborne (seriously!) and an anlaysis of Wolfenstein 2's gameplay and politics and how they fit into the cultural history of the last 40 years."}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"kgtuuopaqcpt8ysl112d","format":"jpg"},"start":168,"caption":[],"id":"s64COo21xP0","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"}],"mainMedia":null,"largeOnStream":false,"images":[{"uid":"zx3gmojlax3d3fpfgogj","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"zx3gmojlax3d3fpfgogj","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"lhvrvgjzoyrqn98fpnot","originalWidth":290,"originalHeight":174,"format":"jpg","width":290,"height":174,"id":"lhvrvgjzoyrqn98fpnot","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"oyc2gujhrax87xejabgw","originalWidth":299,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":299,"height":168,"id":"oyc2gujhrax87xejabgw","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"cvdabxauff7c6nfsqqsp","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"cvdabxauff7c6nfsqqsp","frozenFormat":"jpg"},{"uid":"qysq1bxzkdr1sofmee9j","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":300,"height":168,"id":"qysq1bxzkdr1sofmee9j","frozenFormat":"jpg"}],"videos":[{"id":null,"type":"youtube","embedCode":null,"height":null,"width":null,"thumbnails":[{"uid":"kgtuuopaqcpt8ysl112d","format":"jpg","width":0,"height":0,"id":"kgtuuopaqcpt8ysl112d","frozenFormat":"jpg"}]}],"publishTimeMillis":1509910260508,"lastUpdateTimeMillis":1510550387721,"timezone":"America/New_York","defaultBlogId":"1634563201","parentId":null,"starterId":"1820160508","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":"videogames","urlName":"video-games","displayName":"Video games"},{"canonical":"bloodborne","urlName":"bloodborne","displayName":"Bloodborne"},{"canonical":"kotaku","urlName":"kotaku","displayName":"Kotaku"},{"canonical":"tayclassic","urlName":"tayclassic","displayName":"Tayclassic"}],"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":"/cuphead-and-difficulty-as-gameplay-mechanic-1820160508","customSharingMainImage":{"src":"UNUSED","isAnimated":false,"id":"zx3gmojlax3d3fpfgogj","width":300,"height":168,"format":"jpg","frozenFormat":"jpg"},"adSettings":null,"template":null},"id":"1820160508","headline":"Cuphead And Difficulty As Gameplay Mechanic","body":[{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Cup-head, the new side scrolling platform shooter from MDHR has finally released after years of anticipation to positively glowing reviews. And after playing it these past few weeks I can describe my experience with the following sentence:"},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Cup-head is a beautiful game with lots of fun parts that becomes less and less fun until, through repetition it’s so tedious it’s more like math homework than a game”"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"How’s that for a hot take?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"When Cup-head first started generating buzz it was almost always because of the games unique art style."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"We’ve gotten to a point where even low budget, free to play games can achieve graphics that are gorgeous. As such graphical fidelity is no longer an effective selling point."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Games need more than resolution to stand out and art direction is king. And here Cup-head absolutely delivers on all of it’s promise. Cup-head features a truly unique look. It’s backgrounds and boss designs are like nothing ever tried before. "}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Boss Design is Stunning. It needs to be because you’ll be seeing them over and over and over."}],"id":"zx3gmojlax3d3fpfgogj","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It’s a joy to look at, finally achieving the dream of every 1980's kid by allowing you to actually play a cartoon. It’s 1930's style animation and upbeat jazz score make it a game that appeals visually to everyone from kids to adults who grew up when these cartoons were still in syndication and being shown on Saturday mornings."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So what’s the game play like? "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Well, it’s Contra. A brutally difficult bullet hell sidescroller broken up between gorgeously animated boss battles and side scrolling Mega man style shooting platform sections called “Run and Gun”."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Both of these modes are great fun... AT FIRST but to go any further we have to get into the defining mechanic on display in Cup head. Difficulty."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":290,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"1980's Run and Gun."}],"id":"lhvrvgjzoyrqn98fpnot","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":174},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":["Bold"],"type":"Text","value":" Difficulty as a mechanic."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Early video games used difficulty as a way to drive revenue. Because you played until you died the only way for a developer to get another quarter was to kill you more often. And this ethos stayed in games long into the home gaming era."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It was only in the last decade or so that difficulty was ratched back enough, through, among other ways, generous check pointing, regenerating health and unlimited lives, to actually allow for narrative elements to become a central focus in games."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And with that change games undoubtedly lost something. The single player experience became a place to get a story more than a place to overcome a challenge and those seeking real difficulty found that in the multi player titles that increased in popularity at the exact moment single player games were becoming less and less interactive."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But with the success of games like Dark Souls and the legion of permadeath indie games from Spelunky to Isaac to Hyper light drifter developers have realized that consumers were actually still interested in games that challenged them."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"That’s been great. Those games are some of my very favorites. I’ve got a truly depressing amount of hours in Soulsbourne and Issac alone. But, in my opinion, Cup-head’s difficulty doesn’t work nearly as well for a variety of reasons."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":299,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The Run And Gun sectioins are a throwback to the difficult side scrolling shooters of the 1980s and 90s."}],"id":"oyc2gujhrax87xejabgw","type":"Image","alignment":"Left","height":168},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Gameplay and Art Are Two Sides of The Same Coin"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Superficially the very look of the game is tonally inconsistent with the level of difficulty on offer here."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Dark Souls and Binding of Isaac have a dark aesthetic that mirror their mechanics."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Cup-heads vibrant visual style, so appealing to kids that my 7 year old son loves watching the game, doesn’t match it’s crushing difficulty. I’m a very very stubborn man and so I’ve gotten A’s and B’s on most of the levels through sheer obsitnance but the length of these boss fights and the pattern recognition and twitch skills required make them like a mix of a marathon Dark Souls boss and a fast flailing Blood-borne boss rolled into one."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Most of these boss fights have 3 or 4 unique phases,and they can be up to 4+ minutes long while the game caps you at 3 hit points. Yes I know you can equip a charm to get 4 but the dash that gives you I frames is almost mandatory on the vast majority of bosses for the vast majority of players."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So the average encounter goes like this. Start boss fight. Die. Spend another two lives figuring out the pattern and get to phase 2. Die. Spend two or 3 more attempts getting killed in phase 2 EACH time having to repeat phase one. Figure out phase 2 and get to phase 3. die. And repeat."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This means that beating each boss is tedious and tiring gauntlet of replaying the same phases over and over and over until you either A) get a run where the boss randomly uses his less annoying attack patterns or B) you finally have memorized the entire move set."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The visuals are always both beautiful and surprising enough to keep you playing to see what the animators still have up their sleeves."}],"id":"cvdabxauff7c6nfsqqsp","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. That accurately describes what it takes to defeat some of the most difficult Souls-bone bosses the first time you see them. But this game doesn’t leave me pumping my fist after ultimately succeeding. It leaves me deeply sighing at the time I’ve wasted. And while it’s true that this could be just my opinion on how much I enjoy the core game play here, the problem comes from the fact that there is very very little interesting or new mechanically in Cup-head There’s no different strategies to really try because the boss attacks are random for the most part. There isn’t any kind of build depth. Even the shooting requires only that you continually shoot. It really is Contra."},{"type":"LineBreak"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"A Hollow Knight like healing mechanic would have added so much here. Allowing the player to heal but requiring skill or strategy to pull it off. Something as simple and obvious as allowing the player to choose to make parry slaps heal a hit point instead of charge their super would have made the game slightly more interesting mechanically, eased back on the amount of frustration on offer while retaining the moment to moment difficulty that was apparently so important to this dev team. "}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Simply giving the player 3 hits of health and having them play a pretty standard 1980s style platform shooter with updated graphics inst enough. In fact Cup-head does ONLY two things. It faithfully recreates the frustrating minute to minute difficulty of the genre without any of the last 30 years of changes that have improved these games and it has the art style. And that’s just not enough for me to spend 30+ minutes learning a boss."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" Cup-head leaves me asking myself WHY I’m pressing on. Dark Souls, Isaac, even Enter the Gungeon and Nuclear Throne never had me doing that because the moment to moment game play in each of those games is fun and interesting and new enough to not feel like I’ve played it before. Each of those games makes “gitting gud” worth it. But I’ve played this game before. Hell 3/4's of the games I played as a kid offered this."}]},{"format":"Jpg","width":300,"caption":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This guy killed me and uncountable number of times before I defeated him but it never got boring."}],"id":"qysq1bxzkdr1sofmee9j","type":"Image","alignment":"Center","height":168},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But my critique of the difficulty goes far beyond me thinking the game play is only pretty good."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":" It’s just that this cartoon game that appeals so much to kids is an impossible task for a 7 year old or, hell, anyone who isn’t pretty damn good at games."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This brings us to how Cup-head handles the difficulty slider. And I can confidently say it handles it in basically the worst possible way a developer can."}]},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Accessibility Is Always A Good Thing."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Most games adjust difficulty by either increasing the players health and or damage, decreasing the AI health and or damage, or a combination of both."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Even Souls borne notorious for NOT having a difficulty setting does this. The leveling system increases your damage and health and decreases the enemy damage by increasing your resistance. As such my 7 year old son can beat Dark Souls. Dark Souls also brilliantly allows you, the player, to set difficulty by giving you a myriad of ways to exploit the AI or use ranged attacks. As such anybody can play and beat Dark Souls. People who love difficulty can do Soul Level one, no rolling, no magic, broken sword hilt runs . Players who want to experience the amazing world and level design can over level themselves. Or play as magic users, or cheese enemy AI with arrows or lead enemies to their patching reset point or.... you get the picture."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"So how does Cup-head handle it’s “easy” mode? Well first of all in the Run and Gun sections, the ONLY sections you can earn credits to use to buy character upgrades in it.... doesn’t. There is no way to alter the difficulty of these sections at all. playing co-op counter intuitively makes the game harder because the screen is so loaded with enemies and projectiles and environmental hazards and the player characters themselves are so relatively large that it’s almost impossible to keep track of in Co-Op."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"“OK but, that isn’t he meat of the game anyway. The Boss Fights are what the developers originally intended. Hell the run and gun sections were later additions,” you say?"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Right. Well the Boss difficulty setting is so absurd, so ridiculous and insulting it’s frankly the worst implementation of a difficulty setting I’ve ever seen."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Cup-head changes the difficulty of the Boss sections not by giving you more health, not by making the enemies do less damage, not by lowering the amount of projectiles on the screen. No. Cup-head chooses to actually remove the content you paid for and that the developers so clearly worked tirelessly on."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It supposedly lowers the bosses HP a bit (I don’t know how much because Boss health is never displayed in game) and then just removes one of the phases of the fight. I went back and played some of the fights on “simple” and frankly it seems like the developers randomly picked which phase to remove. None of the bosses have phases that are objectively more difficult than another phase. Each discrete phase is about the right level of difficulty and most of them are about equally difficulty. It’s the stringing together of multiple phases with only being able to take damage 3 times that makes them difficult. And so the seemingly laziest and most insulting way to slightly alter the difficulty is to just remove some phases."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Really think about that for a second. Lets imagine a 55 year old gamer who now has Parkinson or MS (I happen to know one such gamer). This person grew up crushing Contra and Mario but now has degraded reflexes. Still he loves difficult platformers and wants to play this beautiful game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"The obvious way to let him enjoy this game is just to give him more room for error."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Have a difficulty slider that just adds a hit point for every notch you move it. Simple mode would give you 10 hit points. Hard mode would give you one. The game already allows for this with it’s wonderful letter grade system. An F is failing to finish the level. A D+ is finishing the level taking more than 5 hits all the way up to A+ finishing the level without being hit."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Now we’re all playing the same game, exactly the same, experiencing everything the same but everyone can play and get better. My 7 year old son can play the game with 10 or 15 HP and beat each level and gt a D-. This letter grade feedback drives him to want to do better. So he steadily improves. More importantly it GREATLY reduces that repetitiveness of making one re fight boss phases they have mastered over and over and over just to get to the final phase they Haven’t yet mastered. You’d at least get a look at each phase before dying."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And that leads me to WHY I believe Cup-head didn’t use a difficulty system that almost all other games use."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Because Cup-head is using difficulty as a mechanic but MORE importantly as a way to extend play time."}]},{"level":2,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Cuphead Is Like an 80s Game in DIfficulty AND Length"}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"This is a small game. It’s a perfectly acceptable value because it’s not a full priced release. But if people were to have turned the game on, set their HP to 10 and played they’d beat the game very quickly and realize there just isn’t all that much content here. Which is perfectly fine. There are nearly 20 amazingly animated wonderfully complex boss fights and a handful of pretty fun platform sections."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But capping HP at 3 basically assures that, even playing on easy, it will take the average gamer 5-10 tries to beat a boss. Someone who is below average is looking a 10-20 and somebody who is 7 years old or has MS? Well they just won’t beat it at all. They’ll give up because the game says Fuck you to them."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"And that’s a real shame because there is literally no argument for why a game that could so wonderfully be fun for anybody and a great way to improve at games needs to tell people fuck you."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Hopefully someone comes up with a mod that adds HP soon because I’d love my son to be able to play this game."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"As for me? What did I think of the game? It’s Contra and Mega man with 1930s animation as graphics. Lets all admit that if this game had 8 bit graphics or different art direction we probably wouldn’t even be discussing it. It’d be just another retro title on steam."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"Still....It’s a perfectly fun old school side scroller. I enjoyed it. It was worth the purchase. But it’s not a game I’d consider as a game of the year contender. I’m unlikely going to come back to it . It’s no Hollow Knight or Pyre. It isn’t Issac, or Streets of Rogue. It’s not Dark Souls. Hell, it isn’t Titanfall 2."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"It’s a game I played and enjoyed. It was worth the money. It was a 6.5. Solidly above average."}]},{"containers":[],"type":"Paragraph","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"But as a cautionary lesson on how developers handle difficulty and accessibility? It’s a 10 out of 10. Something so stupid I’ll never forget it."}]},{"level":3,"containers":[],"type":"Header","alignment":"Left","value":[{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I’d love you to check out my new YouTube Channel Pliny The Welder."},{"type":"LineBreak"},{"styles":[],"type":"Text","value":"I have a cuphead video up and am working on two videos currently. A review/anlaysis/love letter to Dead Cells, an Early Access mix of Spelunky and Bloodborne (seriously!) and an anlaysis of Wolfenstein 2's gameplay and politics and how they fit into the cultural history of the last 40 years."}]},{"thumbnail":{"id":"kgtuuopaqcpt8ysl112d","format":"jpg"},"start":168,"caption":[],"id":"s64COo21xP0","type":"YoutubeVideo","alignment":"Bleed"}],"mainMedia":null,"largeOnStream":false,"images":[{"uid":"zx3gmojlax3d3fpfgogj","originalWidth":300,"originalHeight":168,"format":"jpg","width":