Reflecting on Bethesda Softworks’ 2017 E3 Conference; Nothing New from Bethesda Game Studios?

Bethesda’s 2017 E3 conference is over, and I must admit that I’m disappointed. They talked about some expected things I mentioned in my preview post like Quake Champions, Fallout VR, and Skyrim for Switch, but the reveals they had seemed a bit underwhelming.

Bethesda Game Studios needs something new. There had been plenty of speculation about BGS coming out with a new space-themed IP at E3 2017, but this proved not to be the case. If there wasn’t any announcement for this “Starfield” IP, I had at least expected Bethesda Game Studios to come out with something new, but the studio had nothing to offer.

On the other hand, Bethesda Softworks as a whole did reveal two new games, The Evil Within 2 and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. The Evil Within 2 looks pretty decent, and I’m sure it’ll end up being a good horror game just like The Evil Within 2… but my word, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus looks absolutely amazing. I’ve never actually played a Wolfenstein game (yes, I know, I’m a disappointment), but this game looks like a ton of fun. From the trailer, it feels a lot like the popular book and Amazon series, The Man in the High Castle, and it feeds off the American Dream of killing Nazis and restoring the Stars and Stripes to their rightful place on every flagpole in America.

Bethesda had a disappointing conference overall (we didn’t even get to see Todd Howard!), but on the bright side, E3 2018 will probably be huge.

My Thoughts on Cities: Skylines, an Innovative City-Building PC Game

As a veteran of the old SimCity games (SimCity 2000 and SimCity 3000, in particular), I admit that I did not expect any city-building game to amaze me. I thought that the genre had already seen its golden days, and any modern city-building game would just be playing off the nostalgia of the SimCity games of the past without making any innovation of its own. Still, I was willing to hop into the world of Cities with an open mind due to the raving reviews (it’s been out for awhile now) and its publisher whom I hold in the highest regards for their Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings series, Paradox Interactive.

Cities: Skylines is a spectacularly fun game filled with more intricacies and challenges than any city-building game I’ve ever seen. As advertised, the game looks absolutely gorgeous, and I’m saddened to say that my two-year old laptop cannot do it justice. The game does indeed envoke feelings of nostalgia from my days playing SimCity on a bulky old computer running Windows 98, but it also strives to be so much more than those old games. Cities: Skylines is the first city-building game in what I hope is a whole new era for city-builders and similar genres.

CSky windmill night

While I could rave about the game all day, I’d like to say a few short points about the new (to me, anyways) which stood out to me the most.

  1. The Graphics. Believe it or not, superior graphics in a city-builder really do significantly improve the gameplay experience. Sure, SimCity 2000 was a great game that I’ll always be fond of, but that game is just downright ugly when compared to Cities: Skylines. You can see cars driving the streets and pedestrians walking the sidewalks. Then you can click on the cars and the pedestrians and get a little blip about what they’re doing, where they’re going. My only complaint about the graphics is that I wish they hadn’t gotten lazy with some of the textures on larger buildings, and it’d be nice for the sky to be more vibrant at night.
  2. Dynamic Weather. Cities: Skylines brings weather to the city-building genre, something I’ve not really seen before. The alterations between rain and shine really give the feeling that you’re creating a real city, not just playing a zoning simulator.
  3. Traffic. As both a blessing and a curse, traffic seems to be the core mechanic that players go to battle with in Cities: Skylines. There are very real amounts of traffic on the roads given the city’s size, and the realistic traffic distributions give players very real problems. For example, I decided that it’d be fun to play with an island map. Unfortunately, with my starting island being short on space, I’ve been forced to place a major portion of my industrial and business districts on a different island. The ensuing traffic jam on the single highway traveling between the islands has caused a whole host of issues including business closures on the second island because businesses aren’t getting enough customers.
  4. Education. In previous city-builders,  it seemed as if education was just another thing that you had to do to complete your city, but education didn’t really have a massive impact on the economy. Now, businesses need set amounts of workers with various education levels in order to function optimally, so schools and universities must be placed with great care in order to create the correct proportions of educated citizens for the city’s needs.
  5. Free-Form Road Design. Road design in old city-builders was always done on a lame, basic grid with square tiles. Any curves added were merely for aesthetic purposes, but the square grid was always present underneath. In Cities: Skylines, the old grids have been thrown out the window. As a result, the curvatures of roads now seem extremely realistic, most notably in the interchanges between highways. You can create complex curves between highways with varying elevations for on-ramps and off-ramps which give the game an extra level of realism.

CSky hill street

If you’re a city-builder fan or just a strategy game lover in general, I’d recommend purchasing Cities: Skylines. I think the game could also be used to get new gamers into the strategy genre. The game has a fairly easy learning curve, and it’s able to lend its beauty to anyone who wants to make their city great.

A link to the game on Steam can be found here.

Looking forward to E3 2017: Early Expectations for Bethesda Softworks

It’s almost that time of the year again. E3 2017 is coming soon, taking place this year from June 13th to June 15th.

Like normal, I think I’m most excited to see what Bethesda Softworks has to offer at this E3. I personally own Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4, and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, so I’ve been a fan of Bethesda Game Studios’ work for quite awhile now. I admittedly haven’t been playing as much video games as of late, but I think there’s nothing better than E3 to get me back in the groove again.

The popular Fallout-centric Youtuber MrMattyPlays (you should check him out if you’ve never heard of him; I’ve been following his channel for two or three years now and it’s top-notch) posted this video analyzing the E3 invites sent out by Bethesda Softworks. The invitation is notable for showing imagery of every game franchise published by Bethesda Softworks as well as two zones which are “under construction” in the picture.

Here’s what I’m expecting from Bethesda at E3:

  • information about TES Skyrim coming out for Nintendo Switch
  • Quake Champions
  • some more Prey release hype
  • DOOM DLC?
  • Elder Scrolls in some form: either TES VI or an ESO expansion or maybe even a new mobile game
  • Fallout will certainly make an appearance somehow. Fallout VR might come back out, but other than that I’m not sure. A new game wouldn’t be out of the question, but it seems unlikely
  • this “Starfield” project which has been in the works for some time. With no mention of a new full Fallout or Elder Scrolls game coming out of Bethesda Game Studios, I’m expecting there to be a game reveal at E3 for an entirely new franchise

Whatever happens at E3, I’m sure Bethesda will deliver a good show and keep their fans happy. They seem to be the one video game company which is never upsetting customers very often. Cheers to Bethesda for that. I’ll be making some more posts like this in the future, either as E3 approaches or as a retrospective look after E3 ends.

Chess.com’s iOS App: A Review

First off: sorry for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been a bit busy, and so I’ve not really been able to generate many new ideas for the past couple of weeks. Secondly, I’d like to clarify that this post is only in the ‘Video Games’ category because it’s a game that is on an electronic platform since it’s not really much of a video hame in the truest sense of the word. 

Now for the app: all I can really think to say is that it’s fantastic! The app has lessons to help you get better (most of which are paid, but there are also daily puzzled which test your board vision skills) and the ability to play games against either a computer or human opponent. You can play your friends, too. This can happen either on the same device (just go to the play computer screen and make both players human) or online in either a daily or timed format. There are also always lots of other players online to play head-to-head, and your ELO rating is calculated and readjusted after each ranked match’s conclusion. 

Now admittedly, I suck at chess. I really do. My ELO rating right now is in the high 800s… but hey, I’ll get better! As I keep learning, maybe I’ll make some posts about chess tactics and such, but I’ll probably post those under ‘Culture’ in the future. 

I Am Bread is the Most Infuriating Video Game of All Time

I Am Bread is a game developed and published by Bossa Studios, the same devs who brought us Surgeon Simulator.In essence, the title says it all: you are bread. The game is played from the perspective of a piece of bread. The objective is to turn yourself into toast in a timely manner without compromising your own edibility.

I bought the game about a year ago thinking that it sounded so stupid, it must surely be fun. At this point, I’m beginning to rethink that previous notion. The game isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s almost idiotic to the point of not being any fun. Once you get past the hilarity of being a piece of bread, you quickly realize how absurdly the difficult the game actually is. The controls are terrible. Bread is not mobile in any way, and the game developers made sure to make the most realistic bread physics possible.

The bread flops around. The bread flips over wildly. The bread loses grip right next to the edge of a shelf and tumbles sadly to the dirty floor below. Admittedly, I have been playing on a keyboard, and the game recommends a console controller, but I see no way in which a controller would actually grant you better control over the bread. I also learned after some months of owning this game that you can change the camera settings so they don’t whip around in the wrong direction. Maybe I’m missing some other tricks about controlling the bread?

I’d recommend buying this game if it’s on sale (as it was when I purchased it), you thoroughly enjoy stupid games, and you don’t mind getting extremely angry at a piece of virtual bread. As for me, all I can say is… next time I want toast, I’m just gonna use the toaster.

How to Play Team Fortress 2 with a Crappy Framerate

Now I’m not saying that I’m amazing at TF2 (far from it), but I’m starting to get a pretty good idea of how to play with my abysmal framerate. I’m not exactly sure as to what my framerate may be, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s abysmally low. At the very least, I’ve learned that playing scout, sniper, or soldier is utterly hopeless. Also, scouts seem to teleport across the screen when they’ll double/triple jumping in front of me.

So what does that leave to play in TF2 if I can’t play a third of the classes? While I’ve found that demoman is also playable with a poor framerate, it’s not as easy to hit grenades properly when the other players appear to be teleporting or moving erratically.Also, I’m not very good at spy or engineer, but I’d imagine they’re pretty decent to play with no matter what your framerate happens to be. That leaves pyro, medic, and heavy.

I’m a pyro main for two reasons: fire seems to be fun, and my framerate doesn’t allow me to play half the other classes. As pyro, the w+m1 strategy can prove highly effective during periods of low framerates, and as long as you are also airblasting, no one seems to care much, even in competitive mode. Now ideally as a pyro you want to be able to use your flare gun as well, but that’s generally not a possibility while having a poor framerate unless you’re shooting at stationary snipers or slow-moving heavies.

Medic is also simple to play. Just hold down the heal button and you’ll be able to ride out the peiod of low framerate. I understand that’s not particularly fun for most people, but if you want to play TF2 with friends and you have a terrible framerate, then medic is one of the easier options. Just get one of your friends to play a power class, and pocket heal them (sidenote: refrain from doing this if you’re the only medic and other people need healing).

And with heavy, you just need to watch out for scouts. I’ve tried playing heavy while my framerate has been particularly poor, and one of two things happens: you play a fairly standard heavy game, or soldiers and scouts rip you to pieces. It’s generally difficult enough while playing heavy normally in TF2 since they’re so slow, but when the game punishes your computer with low framerates, playing heavy can be a nightmare. I say it’s an option since it’s still more-or-less normal heavy gameplay, but you need to be aware of the composition of the other team. If they have 4+ scouts/heavies, I’d refrain from playing heavy.

Anyways, I hope this helps! Stop playing the other classes with your crappy framerate! Get a better computer!

 

Open RA is the Active, Evolving Game for Fans of Westwood Studios’ Old Red Alert Franchise

Open RA is the current home of the Red Alert community, a real-time strategy (RTS) video game franchise which was originally produced by Westwood Studios (Red Alert and Red Alert 2) and later by Electronic Arts’ EA Los Angeles studio (Red Alert 3). I’ve played all three games, so it saddens me that EA hasn’t graced us with another installment since Red Alert 3 was released in 2008. However, Open RA brings back the old-school feel of the first Red Alert game and has an active community with multiplayer support.

I’ll admit, I’ve not played all that much Open RA, but I think what the community is doing to develop the game and keep the dream alive is really cool. With the mods for Red Alert, Tiberian Dawn, and Dune 2000, Open RA has recaptured the essence of three classic Westwood Studios games. According the their website, the devlopers of Open RA are now working to recreate the second generation of Command and Conquer games, starting with Tiberian Sun. Even if EA drops the ball and never makes another Command and Conquer game or a Red Alert 4, Open RA will strive to make sure the franchise won’t die off entirely.

open-ra-setup

Open RA’s Red Alert mod, which is the only one I’ve played, offers the regular Soviet and Allied factions as well as a variety of maps, many of which are designed by the Open RA community. The Open RA community also hosts competitve multiplayer seasons and torunaments. Hopefully as more people become aware of the existance of Open RA, the multiplayer base will continue to grow alongside the community as a whole.

There’s not really much more to say since I’m sure most people reading this already know how the game works; if not, download it and try it out! Here’s the link to the download page for Open RA. The game is completely free, but make sure to voice your appreciation for the devlopers by spreading the good word if you enjoy the game! There is also a subreddit for the game as well as an active forum.

I’ll probably make some more posts about Open RA in the future, especially since I saw today they have a Dune 2000 mod (I’ve been reading Dune for a couple weeks now and it’s a fantastic book).

Edit: I just realized I typed the entire post with a space between Open and RA instead of typing OpenRA. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anyways, cheers!

AtlantanKnight

I Suck at The Binding of Isaac: An Expository

The title says it all, really: I suck at The Binding of Isaac. I’m abysmal. Steam says I’ve played the game for 14 hours, but it feels like a lifetime. I just die over and over and over again. I’ve never beaten Mom. I’ve played for 14 hours and I’ve never beaten Mom. In fact, I only recall even getting to Mom once. I’m seriously that bad.

Now I confess, I’m not quite as bad as the screenshots I brought to this post for emphasis, but I really don’t know how to win this game. Some of my friends just say, “but AtlantanKnight, you’re bad at every game!” to which I reply, “Yes. Yes, I am. But I am especially bad at The Binding of Isaac.”

My failure to win at The Binding of Isaac mostly just stems from the jumping x things. I don’t know their proper name, but I’m sure any of you who’ve played the game know exactly what I’m talking about. The jumping x’s… they murder me. Then the burning jumping x’s come and murder me all over again. At the end of the day, it’s as if it’s my Steam profile writing, “Dear Diary, Today I Died” instead of Isaac. It’s pathetic.

I just wanted to get my woeful story of my gameplay off of my chest. I was told the Binding of Isaac community is a bit elitist, so I’m sure anyone who finds this will get a kick out of my failures. I’ll make sure to post updates on my progress if I ever get some good games in and beat Mom someday.

Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @ATLknight7 if you think this game is actually difficult or if I just suck. Cheers, and thanks for reading!

i-suck-at-the-binding-of-isaac-1-2

My 2017 New Year’s Return to TF2: Bot Replacement and The W+M1 Experiment

Up until this week, I’d not played Team Fortress 2 for some three months. I was inspired to play a match a few days ago, and I must admit that I am pleasantly surprised by the new bot replacement mechanic for players that leave competitive matches. Some of my thoughts expressed in this and the previous update seem somewhat irrelevant now with the bot replacement and continuation of matches after an abandon. Still, the bot I had in my one match that got abandoned was atrocious, so it’s not exactly a perfect fix.

Two days ago, one of my friends asked me to play TF2, so I went ahead and hopped on. Sadly, my framerate was pathetic (a woefully common occurrence), my internet connection was spotty, and I was trying to multitask and play Madden 17 at the same time. The only solution? I must play only pyro. I must w+m1. For those unaware, w+m1 just means that you use only the flamethrower and hold down the attack button while running around. For this experiment, we were admittedly playing in Casual Mode, but like I said, I was playing Madden at the same time. It wasn’t as easy as you might think.

Ultimately, we played a couple King of the Hill matches on Suijin. I made a rule where I had to begin holding down the attack button as soon as I exited spawn. I also couldn’t use any other weapons unless I ran out of ammo, and I didn’t allow myself to airblast (apologies to my teammates). I finished second on the team in both points and damage.

Experiment successful.

Euro Truck Simulator 2: Initial Thoughts (and the 2017 Winter Steam Sale)

I meant for this to be a post about Euro Truck Simulator 2 (which I will henceforth refer to as “ETS2”), but I’ll take a moment here to address the entire 2016-17 Winter Steam Sale as well. I spent about $20 during the sale. I bought ETS2, Saints Row: The Third, and DLC for Europa Universalis IV. All-in-all, I don’t have much of a problem with the sale, but I wish there had been more specials where games would go 90% off for a few hours or something of that nature instead of just being a flat 50% off all sale, as most games were. I also enjoyed the Steam awards… although Europa Universalis IV 100% should have won the “just five more minutes” award.

As for ETS2… well, where to begin? It’s fantastic! Or at least it seems to be thus far. Nothing in particular really stands out. The graphics are average. The cities aren’t very filled-out (not compared to what I’ve seen from the newer American Truck Simulator). The AI drivers can be idiotic sometimes. But for all those minor shortcomings, the game still does some magic.

All you can really do in the game is drive the truck. While the idea may seem boring, it’s really quite fun. ETS2 isn’t exactly the most exhilarating game in the world, but it may be one of the most relaxing ones. I think to enjoy ETS 2, you only need two basic things: a love (or at least not a hate) for the open road, and a fair amount of free times (say a half hour chunk or so). I discovered the game mainly through its impressively high rating on Steam and YouTube videos, and it’s really starting to grow on me. It’s one thing to watch someone drive around telling jokes on their YouTube let’s play; it’s quite another to drive around bouncing off guardrails on a rainy Scottish night for yourself. I’ll  be sure to post more about ETS2 in the future.

My initial rating for ETS2: 8.75/10