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Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V

What a game. I came expecting an outlandish story and crazy characters based on the advertisements, and while Grand Theft Auto V is all of that, it’s also very down to earth. It’s a very well written crime drama with lots of comedy TV show in video game form. The banter is excellent and Trevor turned out more enjoyable despite an off-putting torture scene.

The city of Los Santos is very easy to get lost and immersed in. Radio blasting and cruising through the city, the street level atmosphere here is nothing short of amazing. It doesn’t hurt this is the best PC port of a AAA game I’ve ever played. The combat is so so, but the varied mission types and side activities overshadow the standard gun play. My only wish is that Grand Theft Auto V had a meaningful single player component after finishing the campaign.

Rating: 10/10

Blade and Soul

Blade and Soul

There’s some life in Blade and Soul, a short one, but I enjoyed it until I hit the endgame grind wall. Blade and Soul’s combat is its greatest strength and one of the reasons I kept playing for so long. My Force Master, think the mage class of the game, was an incredible action packed rapidly calculated button spam until the game’s current level cap of 45. The combat is fast and that’s comparing Blade and Soul to other games like Vindictus or Tera with similar combat systems. The story … there’s definitely a story, but heaven forbid I actually read horribly translated quest texts. Yeah the Skip button is a good friend to have. The in-game cinematic are pretty nifty though.

Blade and Souls visuals are a hit and a miss. Character designs are very emphasizing of female anatomy, with bust size and hip sizes of all ranges. Oh and that “body oil” slider. I’ll leave it at that. I didn’t mind, but I’m sure there are nitpickers lurking about. However, technically the game is old. Remember Blade and Soul is a 2012 game from South Korea. Even at max settings, it’s not that great. The draw distance is horribly short, the textures muddy, and the frame rate varies about during general gameplay. The only thing the game is managing to look good is your character. There’s some outstanding environmental designs scattered about, but my general opinion is that Blade and Soul technically and looks outdated.

As for my PVE experience, it’s okay. Mind you it’s a straight up grind up to level cap, though a fun one at that with my Force Master. The game does a good job of keeping quests within the same vicinity and moves you along its world on a even pace. Even with a one-month subscription the leveling experience is tuned very well. I hit level cap just as I finished the main story and surrounding side quests.

The dungeons are rudimentary and misleading. Most of them take less than five minutes to complete, the remaining dungeons fair no better as you get high-level players to plow through them for you. With no holy trinity (tank, healer, DPS) the dungeon experience is a free far all mess I’m not a real fan of. No semblance of control except I let the melee tank while I throw fire balls safely from a distance. That and Blade and Soul has a horrible tendency to make every dungeon in a cave for whatever reason. Super lazy. Blade and Soul does have a working Looking for Group system, so I was thankful for that.

As for being Free to Play. I think it’s very generous, players in the forums even complain the subscription does not offer enough. It’s literally a free game up until level cap. There’s some ugly F2P nonsense still going on though. RNG Lock boxes, weapons need to be unsealed, alternative characters are heavily discouraged with costumes and skins locked to a single character, bag space is terrible, and skins are a one-time use. The prices for everything in the in-game store aren’t very pretty either.

PVP? I didn’t do it. Not interested. I hear its 1v1 PVP is some of the best, but it’s something I don’t have to the time to invest into.

So why did I quit? The grind wall hit me in the face and it’s not so much the grind it’s just I don’t care to grind hoping the RNG gods are in my favor for the day to help me progress. Well most likely because Black Desert Online is looming ever so close in a couple of days is the real reason.

Rating: 7/10

Tales of Zestiria

Tales of Zestiria

Uninstalled. 20 hours in and Tales of Zestiria failed to keep me engaged in any meaningful way. What a shame too, as this was a legitimately good port, assuming you mod it so it runs at 60 FPS instead of its locked in 30 FPS.

From story to characters Tales of Zestiria from what I played of it is a very by the numbers good guys versus bad guys story. It doesn’t help the cast of characters are so bland and one dimensional, Zestiria ticking the boxes off of every anime character trope. The super happy / high spirits good guy main character, cute loli character, too cool for school bad boy and etc. The combat is all over the place, even with a semblance of control, it’s just a mess of flashy nonsense on screen and obnoxious skill call outs over and over again.

Rating: 5/10

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

A strong start with not so much staying power. I came into Guild Wars 2’s new expansion Heart of Thorns a relatively new player to the game. Amazing was my first thought of all the new zones introduced into the new expansion. Intricate and dense with content, the new maps hooked me through many sessions with diverse activities and with so many nook and crannies to explore. Just the sheer size of each map is impressive and intricate meta events that happen throughout can make you feel lost and confused, which is a good thing. The sense of exploration is just top-tier in Heart of Thorns, so much more so than in any other modern MMORPG. The meta event for Dragon Stand is a truly mesmerizing experience and a real highlight of the things Heart of Thorns is capable of.

That’s where things start to fall apart. Once you’re done with what each map has to offer, the other content is rather sub par and downright unfinished.

The main story is laughably elementary. The Living Story starts off strong, its story got me invested in these characters I’m not even familiar with. It’s in the middle everything falls apart as the story becomes rushed and unfocused to the point it’s hard to even care anymore. The plot diverges into needless story-lines that don’t matter and the ending is horribly rushed.

The new World vs World is fundamentally broken and untested. Admitted by the developers themselves of their mistake, I don’t think its excusable to release unfinished content for their first expansion in the way they did with their World vs World. I won’t comment on structured PVP content, I’m not really a fan.

PVP as asides, their PVE content is horribly gated and imbalanced. Dungeons have become obsolete that no one runs them anymore. Instead dungeons are replaced by Fractals (mini dungeons) because it’s not hard to see it’s easier to develop a smaller mini dungeon than a complete one. Fractals are getting a rehaul themselves because surprise surprise it’s again broken and untested content released with Heart of Thorns.

I haven’t bother with the raids nor do I plan to. I can’t put up a reliable schedule to do it anymore. I hear the raids are a highlight to the expansion, it’s just terrible it’s so inaccessible to casual players with how gearing works with Guild Wars 2.

These days I just log in for my daily reward. All the new content in the form of cosmetics, pets, and etc. are gated behind Guild Wars 2’s gem store which requires money to buy. It’s lazy development because instead of providing interesting content to get new cosmetics through quests, dungeons, and raids it’s just placed behind a pay wall. Gross. There’s nothing to aspire to for casual players. Grinding for money whether in-game or in real life to buy meaningful content is just not fun.

Rating: 7/10

StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void

StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void

It’s come and gone. 5 years later the entirety of StarCraft 2’s campaign is finally finished. This last round playing as Protoss wasn’t as interesting as the previous Terran and Zerg campaigns due a lack of mission diversity. We’ve played these mission types all too much at this point. I found myself just playing through the motions, mission after mission, utilizing the same tactic over and over with the exception of extremely boring hold and defend missions that required some tinkering with campaign only units. I beat the game on Brutal getting most of the achievements along the way to spice things up, so it’s not like I just steamed-rolled through it and complained.

The story is … very Blizzard at the moment … just average. Legacy of the Void is too expansive and without much focus. Artanis is just a Goody Two-Shoes character. He is very one-dimensional and always has that good guy front. Without Alarak around in the Spear of Adun I would have fallen over on how boring Artanis and his entire campaign was.

With that a Blizzard franchise comes to an end … kind of. Let’s see how the Esports side of Starcraft 2 holds to keep it relevant.

Rating: 7/10

Life is Strange – Episode 5 – Polarized

Life is Strange – Episode 5 – Polarized

Episode 5 Polarized is just that, a dividing last episode, though I’m more leaning on the pretty good side. Where there problems in this final release? Of course. Was it rushed as hell? Hell yeah, but as the credits rolled after what I think was the “Bad” ending, I came away pretty satisfied anyway. The story came together as good as it was going to get after a certain point, with my only complaint being a choose between two endings cop-out. As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed Life is Strange which came out of nowhere and I hope Square gives Dontnod the go ahead to make a sequel or something similar in the future.

Rating: 7/10

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