About six months ago now, give or take, I started seeing some ads for Monster Hunter World and I thought it looked pretty exciting. Not just beautifully rendered, which it is, but that it might just finally be time to jump into the series. I also noticed that this was going to be a console exclusive for a time and I almost picked it up then. But I decided I'd rather wait for the PC release because I'd much rather have the options that come with a desktop version. Stick with me guys, this is a long one. Read more
Well 2017 sure as hell was a year. Could have certainly gone better in many ways, for lots of people. But at least there was no shortage of great art to get lost in throughout the year. These are my favorites across many mediums. And yeah, not as many games as usual this year for me. But damn do I look forward to catching up on this years backlog, gaming had a good year.
Before we dive right into my favorite things though, I do have a couple shout outs.
Paragon by Epic Games
Paragon is a game so good it could easily be within the top five on my list. But it’s in early Access. I have nothing else to say.
Sunday Rain by Foo Fighters
I would have loved nothing more than to include the entire new Foo Fighters album somewhere on this list. But unfortunately the Foo Fighters 8th full length album is too long for its own good. You would think that only barely coming in over 45 minutes would mean they trimmed all the fat off the record, but no. Yeah they’re getting up there in age, so I’m aware all the songs can only go to a certain tempo, and the arrangements can’t be as complicated as they once were, but they should still be creative. There are whole songs that could easily be cut from the album. None of them are bad, and the album as a whole is MUCH better than the god-awful ‘Sonic Highways’ from 2015.
'I, I, I am a river
I, I, I am your river
I, I, I am a river
I, I, I am your river
I, I, I am a river
I, I, I am your river'
Yup. Those are real lyrics from the last album. Repeated about 5 times on the 7 minute song...
But songs like ‘Dirty Water’ or ‘T-Shirt’ just have no business being on the same album album as something like ‘Run’ or ‘Sunday Rain’. While a lot of the records big budget production sound definitely contrasts with the band's famous Lo-fi/Garage Band sound and tone, ‘Sunday Rain’ somehow seems to make them work well together. Much in the same way some of Zeppelin’s later efforts tried to imitate their more budget sounds from the early years.
Concrete and Gold definitely isn’t an overall miss. And songs like this show the band do still have some gems tucked away. But they could have put this record off another year and put together more tracks that would stand out in the discography. So I can’t recommend the whole record yet, maybe next time. But for now, I’ll cherish what I consider a song in their top ten best arrangements. Hopefully this politically charged album (You even named it 'Concrete and Gold', come on Dave you're more creative than that) will be a step back towards better record from this band again. I would hate for Wasting Light to be their last Great album. And maybe one day they'll get a spot on the list. But as it stands this year, they get one song from the record on my honorable mentions.
Logan by James Mangold
Well the Oscar nominations haven't been announced yet, but I'll be shocked if this one doesn't get at least a couple at least as a nod. Obviously this movie is a love letter from Hugh Jackman who gives what might be his most human performance I've seen from him in a film, despite being anything but human. Though it's really Stewart in this movie who should get an acting nomination if it has to be one or the other. Call me sentimental but I really think Logan might be the last truly Great comic book film under a Marvel Banner we see for a while. Now that Disney will be calling the shots with basically every property imaginable.
That aside Logan tells a very simple but relatable able story about aging, regret, purpose, and living with who you are. There are no shortage of great films this year though, and if I owned just the script to read I would more than likely include that on my list of things. For now however, I'll stay content with being able to dive deeper on this film when I inevitably re-watch it yet another time.
Nightbringers by Black Dahlia Murder
Anticult by Decapitated
10. Wind River by Taylor Sheridan
I know I already talked about how Hugh Jackman should get an award for Logan, but if Jeremy Renner doesn’t win a Oscar for his performance here, I’m not sure he ever will. Like I said I’ve always liked Renner as an actor, but I’ve never seen him really disappear into a character before. Well not only does he disappear, he becomes this character.
But the real hero of the film's accomplishment is Taylor Sheridan. Between this film, Sicario, Hell or High Water, and of course his work on Sons of Anarchy, this man is on the right path to become the next Tarantino. I implore you all to find Wind River. However you can see it, make sure you do.
9. Room Of Shadows by Pagan Alter
This is a band I didn’t get into until this year (I'm not a big Doom-Metal fan) and was really surprised by how much of their discography I liked so far. But Room of Shadows not only takes the cake as their best by my count, it’s also my second favorite album of the year. This record comes as a very bittersweet note however, as it is the band's last record after their vocalist passed away. As if the music itself wasn’t dower enough, the vocalist was the father of the lead Guitarist. They, along with their fellow band members, had been putting this album together for over 10 years when he passed. Leaving the rest of the band to work with what vocal tracks he had left in his absence, and build the record around those.
And holy shit, I’m not sure anyone could have made a better album under those circumstances. This is a magnum opus beyond compare. Terry Jones' Vocals are on point, and his son Alan's guitar melodies have an incredibly complimentary melancholy that can only be from someone who both wanted to mourn and celebrate his father. I cannot recommend this one enough. It truly belongs on the shelf of any fan of Black Sabbath, Doom Metal, or just great music in general.
8. Battlerite by Epic Games
While it may feel unfamiliar to a few fighting game vets at first, you will soon see there’s not much difference between this and a tag team mode in a 3d or 2d fighter. Just without the tagging in and out part. With a pretty decent free to play option, there’s really no excuse to not give Battlerite a try.
7. Date Nights / Last Rights by Tom King
This story comes out Batman Vol.3: Annual #2 (I know comics are weird) and you need to track it down. Lately Tom King has been a powerhouse in the comics industry. It wasn’t enough for the man to provide Marvel with 'Vision', their first book that is really the publisher's only required reading on the same level as DC’s Watchmen. Now King has been doing an excellent run on everyone’s favorite bat-themed superhero. Most of his arcs in the proper Bat book have been good to very good. ‘Date Nights’, and the second half ‘Last Rites’, just might combine to make his best story so far.
I can really only talk about the first half of this book without ruining it, but I may do a single issue review of it at some point. This is really a story worth talking about in more detail, but it’s not like the first half ‘Date Nights’ isn’t a blast all on it’s own. We get too see the relationship between Batman and Catwoman. How her shenanigans find a way into his life, the dynamic chemistry between the two. And of course the obvious cat and mouse game that grows from it.
The art here is just simply stunning. Evoking a classic Batman style with modern sensibilities. The final page of this book will knock you off your feet. Read it, if you can find it.
6. Horizon Zero Dawn
It didn’t take long for us to start seeing big studios taking hints from The Witcher 3 did it? Between Horizon and Assassins Creed this year, CD Projekt RED’s influence over the open world genre couldn’t be more obvious. Clearly this is a good thing, and Horizon Zero Dawn benefits from the influence in ways that don’t just obviously include the care side-quests are given or the way the environments actually have detail and care put into them.
Thankfully Horizon takes it’s biggest Witcher influence in how the characters you care about actually matter, and world is reflected on your choices tied directly to those characters. I mean I don’t think I need to talk about how incredibly well written the female characters in either game were. And yeah Aloy joins Ciri as one of the greatest characters ever portrayed in a video game.
Plus I mean, robot dinosaurs! How can you not call this one of the best damn games of 2017!?
5. Ladybird by Greta Gerwig
I should hate, and I mean really hate, the editing in this movie. Most of the shots are roughly the same length, and scenes tend to be similar in length as well. This obviously results in the film moving at a very steady and relatively quick pace from start to finish. Obviously I'm generalizing here, not all shots and scenes are the exact same, but many are similar to each other. I should hate this, but I don’t. Not even a little bit. I think I love it, and I think it’s a large part of what makes this one of the best films I’ve ever seen about youth, family, and coming of age.
The style in which this film is edited makes it almost feel like a slideshow of someone’s life. Especially since a lot of scenes don’t start by leading you into them, instead opting to cast you into a deeply emotional moment within a character's life. The rare times you do get the sense of a scene slowly building toward such a moment, you know it’s going to be even more significant.
I have no doubt this film will be talked to death about in the years to come, and I seriously can’t think of another film that’s anything like it. This is a must see of the highest order, much like many of A24’s films. But while many of the small studio's works can divide audiences, I don't think I've ever met someone who wouldn't like Lady Bird.
4. Roughneck by Jeff Lemire
Sometimes you read something that doesn’t seen like it should exist as a comic. It feels more like actually events from someones very personal life story. Some parts of which I shouldn’t be looking at. Roughneck is the “story” of an ex-hockey playing superstar from a small town, now the local drunk and all around asshole. But was he ever not an asshole? Or is Derek living out the life he was meant to?
Well he tries to find out after his long gone sister returns to town. If only to escape her abusive boyfriend. But it’s her drug addiction that Derek really needs to help her past. In this story we see the two of them grow close again after years apart, while Lemire shows off what may be some of his best watercolor pieces to date. The near black and white frames use hints of color to accentuate key moments in the story. The only other scenes where the colors really pop, are scenes from the past. Further adding to the insult of what Derek's life has now become. Only able to see the beauty of life when thinking about his past nostalgia.
As Roger Ebert once said, "It's not what it's about, it's how it's about it." Lemire writes and draws this story in such a profound way you will feel exhausted after reading it. The fact the graphic novel seems so easily crafted only ads more weight to how he put this together. Lemire is pretty much the hardest working man in comics right now. So much so it wouldn’t shock me if there were two Lemires. But when his work almost always stays this consistently great across both art and story, it’s hard not to praise the man.
3. Blade Runner 2049 by Denis Villeneuve
When I first heard that Warner Brothers was committing sacrilege by making a sequel to the sci-fi film that practically invented the cult classic, I was furious. Not just because I love the original film like we all do, but because I really felt that ruining some of the mystery of Blade Runner would actually taint the story within it.
But when the director of Sicario, Prisoners, and Arrival was chosen to direct it, I saw a flicker of hope. A flicker that turned into a much brighter light when Hampton Fancher, the original film's screenwriter, would return to write the sequel. It was when Harrison Ford, after years of saying he would never do another, signed on board after seeing the script that I gained some damn high expectations.
So how is it? Well not only is it a rare sequel that retroactively improves the original by leaps and bounds, but it's also a far superior film in my eyes. The questions it asks the audience about the nature of humanity are far more important and interesting than whether or not Deckard is a replicant.
2049 also stands as a magnum opus for long time cinematographer Roger Deakins (Fargo, Shawshank Redemption, No Country For Old Men) who will most likely get his 14th nomination for his work this year. Yet a film can be beautiful and still fall flat, thankfully the screenplay never lets up. Nor do the incredibly stellar performances from really everyone.
Ford gives maybe his best acting performance in recent memory, he's actually awake for this one guys. Every actor really walks away with something they should be proud of.
2. Last Day of June by Ovosonico
****. Just, ****. You ever watch the movie ‘Up’? Love feeling like you want to die after the first ten minutes? Well step right up ************, have I got the game for you. Spreading out a similar theme throughout a couple hour long story, Last Day of June is my favorite video game of the year. With some Tim Burton-lite elements and a plot that’s sort of the first act of the book ‘The Time Machine’, this game uses story narrative structure to create a very cool puzzle game.
Without a single word of dialogue being spoken throughout the whole game, the writers evoked some really great emotionally driven elements here. I also need to wholeheartedly recommend the soundtrack for the game, even if you have no interest in ever playing it. And to think the whole concept was based on the art in a music video!!
Last Minute Honorable Mentions!!
Baby Driver by Edgar Wright
One More Light by Linkin Park
The Last Jedi by Rian Johnson
Forever by Code Orange
Cuphead by StudioMDHR
Wonder Woman by Patty Jenkins
Villains by Queens of the Stone Age
1. The Dusk in Us by Converge
Three of my Five favorite bands of all time are still working today. Two of them released an album this year. It's just unfortunate only one made the list, and the other was Concrete and Gold. Thankfully Converge’s 2017 effort, The Dusk in Us, shows the world why Converge is just as beloved today as they were twenty years ago. This band has a really great habit of releasing albums that eerily feel like Jacob Bannon, the vocalist and album artist, wrote songs about the place I am within my life. Starting back when the album ‘No Heroes’ did that for me in ‘06, Converge has continued to be on my level with each new studio release. The Dusk in Us marks the band’s 9th studio album, five years since their last one in 2012. The wait was more than worth it.
“Our Denial it speaks in tongues, there’s monsters among us.” Much like the rest of the album, the title track speaks to the capacity for evil within the human race. But also how those who can quell it help others shine a light on our own shadows. Even the more abrasive songs like ‘Reptilian’ have this similar Superman-esk aspirations for hope and trophing the better bits of humanity.
“We must lose sight of the Shore to know what courage means. We must lose sight of who we are to know what we can be.”
It's been a long time since an album I've listened to has closed out with a song as strong as this one.
In year like 2017 where so much of the world became under fear of itself, leaving many to question what the future may hold, it’s great to get art showing how there is hope for those who seek it. While still acknowledging the world’s great ability to hide it. All while creating some of the most fascinating compositions the band has ever created. Even having songs be led with what seems like a drum cadenza for the strings to follow. Especially in ‘I Can Tell You About Pain’ where Koller’s ambidextrous drumming makes itself as clear as day without really having to fill every bar with as many notes as possible.
But if you let that trick you for even a second, think again, Converge still knows what their signature sound is, and can create the catchiest grooves while tearing your face off. All of the above comes together in my mind within ‘Cannibals’, the shortest song on the record.
Opening with an extremely complex blast-beat based arrangement, letting the strings shred a rhythm melody above it while Bannon reminds you of how easy he makes the most complicated vocal noises seem. Only to lead out the song almost as soon as it began with a fun guitar riff while the bass pairs up with Ben on a killer rhythm section. Just pure joy within the darkness. Even the nature of the song title plays against your expectations within itself, “We are all just cannibals if there is nothing left to love.” A fleeting thought about what separates us from our beasts within, changes and races just as rapidly as the song's various tempos.
Every song on this record has just as much and more to dive into and get lost in. Not a single track on the album is a waste of time. Just when you’re bummed how a really great song is ending, the next one starts and you fall in love with it just as fast.
It’s for all these reasons and more that ‘The Dusk in Us’ is my favorite thing from 2017. And I’m about to go listen to it fifty more times.
With the International 2017 currently on its final day, I find myself doing what I do every year around this time. I'mplaying Dota 2. I started playing in 2013 and it has slowly become one of my all time favorite games. And when one begins to realize they enjoy a game so much, they want to share that with the world. So here we are. Yet another bad Dota player writing about why he loves this game.
Obviously if you’re already into Dota, this more than likely isn’t going to be a list for you. But if you have no interest in ever trying the game because you hate multiplayer, don’t like Mobas, or any other reason, maybe give this a read anyway and see why someone like me enjoys this incredibly complex game. Hhere are the reasons why you should start playing Dota 2:
It’s Free. Like actually Free.
Before I get into the history of Mobas and other complex gameplay mechanics, I need to sell you on how Dota is selling itself to you. Well unless you are a compulsive complesionist who needs to be able to own every single item within a game, you will never need to spend a single cent on, or in, Dota 2. Not only is the game free to download, but there is not a single hero behind a paywall. All 112 heroes in the game are free to anyone who installs Dota 2.
No Pay to Win Bull****
When I say actually free, I really do mean it. You cannot buy anything with real world money that will help you in the game. There's no experience boosts, gold boosters, Runes, or any other crap that many Mobas use to leech money out of their player base. The only items in the game you can buy with real money are skins and countless other aesthetic additions that you’ll acquire by playing the game. If they don’t interest you at all, sell what you earn on the Steam Market and save some money on your next game purchase.
No I don’t mean this reason to encourage you to drop out of school and start playing Dota 24/7. But if you enjoy watching eSport events, The International has been the biggest eSports event for many years now and continues to grow. "But Cody" You say, "I don’t care about eSports at all, why shouldn’t I just skip the explanation of this point and just read the next bullet point?" Well reader, it's because the Olympics themselves are starting to care about eSports, and what game is at the top of the addition list? Of course it’s Dota 2. You don’t have to play a game to appreciate watching the best players in the world compete in it. I don’t play Starcraft, but watching professional players play is incredibly exciting and entertaining, and I find Dota 2’s eSports scene to be best of them all.
For those you who already play Dota 2, this pseudonym is already familiar to you. But like I said, this article isn’t for you. So for you newcomers, before I tell you about Icefrog, I need to give a brief history about the Moba genre.
Long before there was Dota, or League of Legends, or any other Moba, there was Warcraft 3. Developed by Blizzard in 2002 this RTS captured the minds of gamers and modders alike. One such mod for the game was a very detailed and complex 5v5 game mode where two teams chose different heroes to protect towers and bases. These heroes would then level up and gain power over the course of an ~hour long match. If you guessed that the name of this mod was DOTA you would be correct. The author of said mod was Icefrog, and no we’ve never learned his real name.
Obviously this mod became so popular it spawned many actual games trying to recreate what Icefrog had created from the tools within Warcraft 3. For the longest time the best attempt was HON (Heroes of Newerth), until League of Legends came along and invented the term Moba. Before they came up with the very generic genre name of Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, games such as League were simply referred to as Dota clones. League omitted many mechanics and rules from Dota such as Creep Blocking, Lane Pulling, Denying, Turn Speed, casting times, and jungle stacking just to name a few. This obviously lowered the barrier for entry to get more players interested initially, but also significantly lowered the skill floor.
So where does Icefrog fit into all this now and why is he a reason to be Playing Dota 2, a Valve game? Well after League’s rise to popularity, Blizzard knew less and less people would be buying Warcraft 3 to play Dota. So they asked Icefrog if he would remake his mod in their new Starcraft engine for free. He declined and instead took an offer from Valve to be brought on as a full time employee and be completely in charge as game director of Dota 2. So not only do you have the founder of the genre at the helm of the game, he is constantly pushing his development team to new limits by creating new Heroes every year and changing the map and game mechanics ever so slightly. This keeps players on their toes, as they learn and then adapt to heroes as tweaks are applied to them. Speaking of players constantly learning...
It’s a game you can never master.
I will never be good at Dota. I’m already bad at video games as it is and Dota is by far the hardest video game I’ve ever played. There are so many mechanics and heroes to learn in Dota that even if I played 24/7 I wouldn’t be able to learn everything. Even if I could there’s no way I wouldn't make multiple mistakes in a game. And that's the best thing about Dota. In so many multiplayer games the instant you or one of your team mates does something stupid, everyone turns on them because mistakes are not allowed. In Dota, even the pro eSports players make numerous mistakes every game. (They just make fewer than me :P)
You are always going to be learning how you could have done something different or more efficiently. Heroes you would think fit into one role can do something completely different once you learn what all the items do, and you will always want to try more.
As a gamer, that’s one of my favorite things to do. I love stretching my mental and physical limits. I love bettering my ability to play the game [very slowly] over time and growing as a person because of it.
So yeah, hope to see you in the river soon.
- Thanks to Greywolfe for editing :P
Lately I've been seeing a lot articles on the good ol' interwebs about certain iconic PC titles that will be turning 20 this year. That got me thinking: I've been a gamer for a pretty long time now. What was I playing some 20 years back? What were some of the other guys from Twinstiq playing then? So I'm going to talk briefly about a couple of titles that really cemented me into the PC gamer category, And we'll hear from a few of the crew about what they had going on from that era as well. Join me in my and a few of the crew's ramblings below. Read more
Wow guys, I've been chomping at the bit to play Blood and Wine for a long time now and my goodness was it ever worth the wait. CDPRed has put a story together set in a large and beautiful world that gives us fans a pretty solid 30 hours of game play; and they call it an expansion. This, folks, is what expansions should be. An actual fully built, big addition with new content that really matters. Blood and Wine could have just as easily been sold as a stand-alone title and would have been just as satisfying to play. All the props to CDPRed. Read more
Original Posting: May 3rd
Well guys, CD Projekt Red is releasing the newest and final expansion for Witcher 3 pretty soon. It was originally stated that it would arrive in the first half of 2016. I for one am looking very forward to it and I've been holding off on playing the Hearts of Stone expansion because I want to go back to back on both stories. More information is coming on May 10th and I'll try to update this article as soon as I learn more.
This latest expansion is called Blood and Wine, and it will take Geralt and Roach to the seemingly peaceful lands of Toussaint; a place where the war has yet to reach, but hides a "bloody secret". Toussaint is said to be as big as all of the Skellige Isles combined and promises to provide us fans with an addition 20 hours of play time with new creatures and quests and even a new Gwent deck.
Blood and Wine will mark the finale of the Witcher as a whole and it looks to be as fine a way to do so as any. Speaking of series finales, this one will probably be one of the only things that gets me away from Dark Souls 3 for a while, until it's expansion content comes around later this year anyway.
It'll be released on all supported platforms at the same time, thank god, no bullshit timed exclusivity purchase that comes with a useless hat or some such nonsense. Now to wait for Cyberpunk 2077 and see if Yoda0vgs and I have speculated correctly that Ciri has some involvement there.
Update: May 10th
The official release date for Blood and Wine is confirmed to be May 31st. It's also said that this final expansion will add an extra 30 hours to the game, approximately, through the main and side quest lines. You can also expect to a new "point of interest" system and it sounds like Geralt will even get a house to live in.
Of course if you own the Witcher 3 season pass, you'll just get your copy when it's released at the end of this month. If you didn't participate in a season pass, then you can buy a digital copy separately for $19.99. Or if you prefer, you'll also be able to get ahold of a physical copy for $29.99 that will include the Northern Realms and Nilfgaard, Gwent decks along with a game guide and Gwent tokens to use while you play. The physical copy is supposedly a limited edition so grab one while you can I suppose, even though I'm fairly sure the chances of running out of boxed copies is slim.
This is supposed to be Geralt's last Witcher game. Maybe that means some time in the future we'll see Ciri get her own Witcher title, maybe? Or perhaps it's over forever. In any case it's been a blast and I for one have been looking forward to Blood and Wine since I first heard about it. Gonna be great I'm sure.
I love Dark Souls
Maybe it's a latent masochistic part of me who likes this sort of punishing and unforgiving game play, maybe it's the fact that nowadays games are so full of assistance and hand holding that they basically play themselves, but there's something about this series that grabs me and won't let go. Admittedly the Dark Souls 1 PC port was a travesty that was only really even playable with a fan made patch, but I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to a series. When I started hearing about Dark Souls 2 I was glued to news sites trying to learn as much as possible, and even though it had a different director I loved it. I've been anticipating Dark Souls 3 since I first learned about it, and I'll probably play it for as long as it's up and running. I've never played Demon Souls and I don't have a PS4 so I haven't played Bloodborne, but I'd love to change those things as well.
I've been playing, and dying repeatedly in Dark Souls 3 now for over 100 hours and I feel like I can finally get my thoughts down. Continue further for my review and thoughts on the series in general. Read more
Alright well we've all seen free to play ARPG's out there and most of them are too good to be true. They allow you play to a certain level then charge you money to continue playing, or they lock specific gear you need to continue behind a pay wall or some such nonsense that makes an otherwise fun, free game, much less free or fun.
But some get it right. Path of Exile, for instance created and published by Grinding Gear Games, is a great fantasy ARPG. Nothing locked behind pay walls, and donations are made for cosmetic items only if you so choose. All content is free and fully accessible and the support is excellent. It remains one of the best examples of how the free to play model can really work. But let's say you're sick of the typical dungeon crawler, D&D fantasy style isometric Diablo clone ARPG.
Enter, Marvel Heroes. It pretty much speaks for itself but here's the rundown. You'll be a super hero or villain from the Marvel Universe and follow a very graphic novel style story that takes you around the world to see places like New York and the Savage Lands while giving you home bases like Avengers Tower and Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. The story is told through missions as you play of course, but also with some very cool comic book style cut scenes.I've been playing this pretty consistently for a while now and I'm noticing that this another good example of a player friendly free to play model. So let's look at this game a bit and see why it's such a good experience. It's 100% free. You can grab Marvel Heroes on Steam if you have an account, or you can download it right from the source at the official site and soon enough you'll be confronted with a choice of what hero or villain you want to become. When you first start you'll have access to 12 heroes and after the prologue that number increases to 55 and more are still being added. Here's the current list of playable characters.
You'll be able to play every hero or villain until level 10 and then the game reminds you to remember to switch out heroes or choose to "uncap" the current one. They give you one hero for free to level all the way to 60 but want you to play as many as you can so that you can make an educated choice. I tried: War Machine, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, X-23, Juggernaut, The Thing, and Cable, to name a few (there were more) before finally deciding to continue on with Captain Marvel. The rest of the heroes and villains remain playable at any time you wish from just about anywhere in the game. So if you feel like you need a quick change just press "T" and choose a new hero; no need to log out and back in to switch. It's a pretty smooth operation.It's important to remember that every playable character is free until level 10. I reiterate that because if you grab this game on Steam you'll see some fairly pricey DLC on the list that includes heroes. Those DLC packs include cosmetic items and alternate costumes which you can purchase separately in-game. They'll also uncap that hero for you but the most useful thing they include is a character specific inventory, which would actually be pretty great because inventory and stash space is shared and storage is kind of limited if you're going to play more than one hero. It's also important to know that if you do decide to uncap more than one hero you can do that via the game store with real money, or if you're patient you can collect "eternity splinters" (items that drop off enemies) and use them to purchase your next uncap. They aren't very rare and the game will even provide you with a pack of 400 of them as a login reward and that alone is enough to buy most heroes, they range from 200 to 600 splinters each. The point here is that you only need to spend actual money if you want to.
I've chosen to purchase an alternate costume for my Captain Marvel because it's not expensive to do so in most cases (some cost more than others) and I figured I'd support the title in at least a small way. And like most free to play games Marvel Heroes has deals and sales on bundles of items and the like pretty often.Need a sidekick? Get a team-up hero. The game will provide you with at least one, but all the playable heroes and some extras (like Carnage, Agent Venom and many more) can be purchased as a team-up. They have their own items and skills and gain levels just like you do. Plus if for some reason you need to go AFK for a bit they'll hang out and protect you.
My only real complaint is that I think this game needs a lot of balancing. Now don't get me wrong I know that it makes sense to be vastly powerful what with being a super being and all, but there's almost no challenge at all. It's possible to wipe a out a group of dozens of mobs with the use of one skill. In fact the only times I've been defeated since I started playing regularly are in the "Patrol maps" where everything is stronger and bosses come at you in multiples. To be fair though there is supposed to be end-game content for level 60 heroes that provide a much better challenge, but since I'm only level 41 at the time of this writing I can't speak to that myself. Also co-op play with friends will increase the difficulty of enemies on the map. So there we have it, my recommendation to play a really good, friendly, free to play title with a great model. Marvel Heroes uses Unreal Engine 3 Engine so it runs great while looking great, and there's even a Mac port in case you use one of those things for games.
Our own Yoda0vgs introduced me to this in a sort of trial by fire live stream that we did a few days ago. You can see the video here on our Twinstiq LP channel, skip ahead to around the 11 minute mark to actually see us start playing.
System Requirements for Marvel Heroes are as follows
- OS: Windows Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64, Windows 8 32/64, Windows 10 32-bit
- Processor: Core 2 DUO 2.1 GHz / AMD Athlon X2 2.1 GHZ or better
- Memory: 3GB
- Hard Disk Space: 30GB*
- Video Card: Shader Model 3.0 Compatible with 512MB VRAM (Nvidia 8800 Series, ATI HD3800 Series, Intel HD 3000)
- *30GB is required for installation. After installation, Marvel Heroes will require 15GB of storage.
- OS: Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 8 64-bit, Windows 10 64-bit
- Processor: Current Generation Quad Core (Intel Core i7, Core i5 or AMD FX Series)
- Memory: 8GB
- Hard Disk Space: 30GB*
- Video Card:Discrete video card with 2GB of VRAM (Nvidia GTX 600 or 700 Series, AMD R9 or HD7900 Series)
- *30GB is required for installation. After installation, Marvel Heroes will require 15GB of storage.
- OS: OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo
- Memory: 4GB
- Hard Disk Space: 30GB*
- Video Card: Discrete or Onboard GPU with 512MB VRAM (Nvidia 9600m GT, Intel HD 4000)
- *30GB is required for installation. After installation, Marvel Heroes will require 15GB of storage.
- OS: OSX 10.10 Yosemite
- Processor: Current Generation Quad Core (Intel Core i7, Core i5, Xeon)
- Memory: 8GB
- Hard Disk Space: 30GB*
- Video Card: Discrete GPU with 2GB of VRAM (Nvidia GTX Series, AMD FirePro Series)
- *30GB is required for installation. After installation, Marvel Heroes will require 15GB of storage.
So guys, the time is here. Ive been playing Divinity: Original Sin, Enhanced Edition pretty religiously since it's release in October, and after around 100 hours of play time, I'm sad to say it's done. Below you will find my review of this beautifully crafted turn based RPG and I'll admit straight off that I'm a bit biased because this game is in my opinion one of, if not the best, RPG of it's type out there now. So without further ado....Those of you who know about Divinity: Original Sin, already know that folks who own the game got a free copy of the enhanced edition. Original Sin is a really great game with a beautifully lit, well crafted world containing excellent dialogue that tells a very good, if a bit predictable, story. When it was released the enhanced edition brought to the table something like 1300 changes and additions. Some of the most immediately noticeable of these are the now fully voice acted cast, the 360 degree camera controls, Direct X 11 support and greatly reduced load screen times. Many, many more changes become evident as you play, even some extra content and the free inclusion of the DLC from Original Sin.
So here's the rundown: When you start a new game you'll have the choice of playing in single player mode where you can either play by yourself or with a friend in split screen. Or you can choose multiplayer, where you'll begin a game online and can then invite your friends to join your game and play cooperatively. The single player and multiplayer options do use different save files though, so there's no playing your online characters in offline mode. Luckily you'll have the availability of creating multiple profiles so you can have an online game with friends on one profile while playing your single player game on another. Either way you'll be creating and playing two characters that are referred to as Source Hunters.
"Source" is the game's name for magic and was tainted eons ago by an ancient evil. As a result it's not looked upon happily by most people and the Source Hunters are there to find "Sourcerers" and judge them. Not all Source is bad however, as the game tells you early on, but the lines are very vague and you'll be seeing and using many different types throughout your time playing so it's mostly a story item. Soon, you two Source Hunters are pulled away from what's to be your first assignment and drawn in to a world changing event. Thus begins your quest to be all that you can be and save the world.Pretty typical plot line, but where Divinity differs is that as your characters will constantly change their opinions about things. This is handled by you as the player, both through dialogue options with NPCs and your individual party members. You might even draw different conclusions between your two main characters resulting in an argument that is to be solved with a mini-game. Dialogues can and often will change your characters traits and those traits have a direct effect on how other NPC's and even your own party members treat you. Just remember that the things you say in dialogues have consequences. Even though these changes won't directly affect the story itself, they do help the story to be told in a way that feels so much deeper and a lot less linear than the typical "Chosen one saves the world" path.
To get started you'll be put into a tutorial area that will run you through movement, party selection, inventory and character screens, camera controls etc. and very soon you'll be in the action. Rivellon itself, this is the world where Divinity: Original Sin takes place, is utterly beautiful. The maps are richly colored and well lit, the layouts are sensible, and the locales are pretty nice to look at. There are times when you might be traveling through an area and there will be a break in the trees opening up to a far off view and this kind of thing is really eye-catching to me. Texture resolution isn't crazy high but it's by no means blotchy or ugly. The lava and magma textures in particular are pretty superb. There is a depth of field option in the menu if you hate that blur in the background that's out of focus. Overall though this game is as beautiful to look at as it is to play.
As always, click on images to see them full size
Exploration is totally free except for a few locked doors early on that the local guards won't open until you're considered strong enough, but feel free to run around and talk to everybody. NPCs are useful, mostly. Some of them have canned dialogue but lots of them actually have something to say, and quite a few of them have side quests to pick up and perform. Even some animals have quests for you, pick up the "pet friend" skill and you'll see for yourself. And folks, I really suggest trying to do every quest and side quest that is available to do. Rewards are usually good, but really what you're looking for with questing (aside from story progression) is experience. Monsters don't respawn, so you can't just go grind a level to catch up if you chose not to deliver that note in your pack.
Quests in Divinity are not level based. That is to say the log doesn't suggest what level you should be to take something on, and some quests will last you through several areas in the game with many ways to progress. It's up to you to decide if and when you're ready to take something on. Some quests require the solving of puzzles, which can be quite a challenge. If you get stuck, just stop and think, and take a look around, they're very solvable. Remember that pet friend skill? Maybe try talking to a passing rat, they can help with hints in tough situations. Speaking of puzzles: One place I never finished fully was a point later in the game that required the placement of characters on pressure plates to open doors in specific areas that require teleporting and just too much sequencing for me to want to finish. Luckily enough for me that area only had one necessary line of progression and the rest was optional so it was fine, but I would have had to check a walk-through to make it through there with total completion.Save your game often and use multiple save points. Combat can be very challenging, which is wonderful in a world of games that give you a "win button". If you find yourself getting your posterior served to you on a shiny plate, try reloading your game and coming at the fight from a different angle; and remember, ambushes happen pretty often so it's easy to be caught off guard. A suggestion from me is that every fight you win, make sure you heal your party up to full and wait for your cooldowns to refresh. The downtime is minimal and it'll save you some frustration in case you move three steps and start another fight when you're not at 100%. Battles are handled very well, balance is pretty even until you're much stronger when you'll be outnumbered... a lot. Winning a fight that has had you pulling your hair out is really satisfying especially when you hit the alt key and see all that precious loot on the ground. And what's great is that if you find yourself just stuck regardless, you can often just go back to town and buy some scrolls or upgrade your gear to give yourself a bit of an upper hand. The game gives you everything you need to make your play time successful.I can't talk about combat without going into systems a bit. So, when you're just moving about the world it's a click and move ARPG type system. However when you start combat this initiates turn based mode. Your characters will stand in formation and the game will begin to determine your place in battle by your stat numbers. Characters with higher initiative will have a place in battle earlier than those with lower initiative, I.E. Rangers, Rogues etc. Higher strength will allow the use of heavier gear and affect the damage output of melee characters. I.E. knights, fighters, etc. One character at a time will have their turn in battle and will be using their Action Points to perform actions and move across the battlefield. These action points and skill costs in battle are also affected by your character's stats.Don't worry though this is not nearly as complicated as it sounds. The game does a great job at making things clear to you. Explanations are available with a little mouse hovering and the information is clear and easy to understand. Not to mention you have all the time you want to make a decision, there's no timer on a character's turn. Have a party member with the "Lore Master" skill? Right click on an enemy and examine them to see their strengths and vulnerabilities. Have a party member who's skills would be best applied after the battle is a bit further in? Just delay their turn until the end of the set. Character skills and spells will work with and against each other though their own effects and the environment. So if your in combat and are suddenly lit on fire by a flaming archer, one of your party might cast the "Rain" spell and stop the burning while at the same time weakening the flaming archer. This rain will make the ground wet though so make sure your air caster doesn't use a lightning spell or you might stun your whole party for a few turns. You'll learn quickly how the environment can change and effect the way a battle plays out.
Gearing your party up is pretty simple. Vendors have a lot of goods varying from basic food items, to crafting and skill based ingredients, to the standard fare of arms and armor. As a vendor gets to know you more and more their attitude towards your individual party members will change and that affects the prices for buying and selling as well as repairs and identification of new magical items. You're also going to find a great number of items via combat you can either use right away or keep on hand to sell for funding your shopping sprees. Also on a related side note your party's inventory is as big as it needs to be. Your characters are only limited by the weight they can carry, which is a lot. I never ran into a problem with carry limits.
Both versions of Original Sin also have a crafting system. This means you can make a lot of items to help you along the way as long you have the skill and the ingredients. Everything from food, to magical arrow types, to weapons and armor can be created by you. You'll need the skill and the equipment required to make this happen of course. For instance the basic "crafting" skill will allow you to dye your armors different colors and provide the ability to create thrown items, like grenades that can have effects ranging from damaging enemies to healing your own party members, as long you have the raw ingredients. Likewise cooking is handled with the crafting skill and will allow you to make food that has various effects on your party members, you'll need a cooking pot, but they're easy to come by. "Blacksmithing", allows the creation of weapons and armor and lets you improve items you already have as long as you're near a forge or whetstone. It'll also let you repair your own gear for free from anywhere as long you have a repair hammer or tongs in your inventory.
I personally didn't use the crafting skills much beyond the ability to repair my own items and dye my gear new colors. However, I know of people who spend a lot of time crafting in this game and there are special recipes to be found that can create some pretty spectacular items that can then be improved throughout your time playing. I think during my next play through I'll spend some time making gear and seeing what's out there.
You'll of course want to gear your party members toward their skills and stats. For instance my two main characters are a Knight and a Cleric. I wanted to gear the cleric toward strength and intelligence. Easy enough but it meant I had to sacrifice some constitution or I'd end up with a fairly squishy healer. So I decided to make her a sword and board type and went with a one handed weapon specialty, and shield specialty. The block chance that the shield gave was enough to compensate for the lost constitution and a lot of stat points were made up for by the higher level gear I found as the game went on. This of course meant that I was looking for one handed weapons and shields primarily, and with enough strength she was also able to wear heavier armors without taking as much of a penalty for movement and actions in combat.This brings me to one of the best and most comprehensive features of this game. Character creation and development. Yeah I know it seems like this should have been much further up in the review but you'll understand why I waited in a moment. As mentioned at the beginning of the article you're creating two main characters when you start a new game. You'll decide the sex of the two and the way they look and also their starting class. Therein is the key *starting* class. You'll choose from quite a few presets and are given points to distribute to get you started, but as you play you're in no way locked in to playing that class. Let's say you started a Rogue, and as you're playing you're deciding you're not really into the class skills or the way the character is playing in general. Well you can decide as you level up to train in different skills, change the way your stat points are being placed and pretty soon you've got pretty decent fighter that can dual wield, or a really stealthy mage class that can also back-stab the crap out of baddies. You can really play however you want to. And at one point ---this is a very minor spoiler so skip to the next paragraph if you just can't handle it--- you'll even gain access to an NPC who can completely refund your points so you can respec your character. The fee for this is great however and I recommend thinking about that choice at length before committing to it. At least give yourself a backup save beforehand.
I chose to more or less stay with the preset classes that I made because I had the idea of what my party should consist of and that really never faltered. I played the game with two Knights, a Cleric and a Ranger. Everyone could take a hit and deal damage, and two of those classes could heal and remove bad status and afflictions. It made for a very well balanced party for me. The problem with the character development being what it is in Divinity Enhanced, is that if you put the game down for a couple of weeks you might forget how you were building your party. That could potentially hamper your progression in a pretty bad way. But if you're like me, you won't be able to stop once you pick it up.--MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD-- Before I get to the conclusion I'm going to include one major spoiler. So here's your chance to skip to the next paragraph if you don't want to read about it. And the only reason I'm doing this is because it can cause so much frustration I think some people might just quit the game. It's the only item in this game, either Original Sin or the Enhanced Edition, that I would consider a truly poorly designed element. So the thing is, early on you'll have an opportunity to gain a party member named Bairdotr. She's got a great voice casting and is a very good member to have in your party. If you decide differently then this may mean nothing to you. So Bairdotr's goal in the game is to find a friend of hers who's gone missing. You'll find this out very early in the game, less than 10 hours in. You'll have her in your party investing time and effort and perhaps like in my case, making her a pretty key member. Then around 60 hours in you'll come to discover her friend that she's been trying to find, just through exploration. As you approach this person a dialogue will begin automatically between he and Bairdotr. Now, if you have been staying consistent in your dialogues throughout your play time you'll be gaining traits for your characters. If you've gained the trait "Obedient" by this time, Bairdotr will leave your party and turn against you. There are no indications throughout your dialogues with Bairdotr at any point during your time playing that anything untoward is taking place, and there's nothing you can say or do to change her decision to leave when it happens. I was left mouth agape and fuming. Here I was with a party member that I'd spent the better part of 50-ish hours developing, and just like that, with zero warning, she's an enemy. What the actual fuck is that?! However if your dialogue choices have managed to gain you the "Independent" trait beforehand instead, this is the opposite of the "Obedient" trait, Bairdotr stays with you and all that time you spent building a powerful character won't go to waste. Again though, there is no indication that her attitude toward you has changed until your party is in range of Bairdotr's friend and the dialogue between them starts. I was lucky enough to be able to load a game a couple of hours back and enter dialogues with a couple of other story NPCs that gave me the proper trait and thereby allowed me to keep Bairdotr in my party. You can also cheat the quest by carefully approaching Bairdotr's friend in question with her being kept out of range to engage in dialogue, and just attack and kill the guy without talking to him at all. This will avoid Bairdotr leaving; but the quest is never resolved that way. This was an extremely frustrating obstacle to run across in a title as well polished and put together as this one. My opinion on the subject is that the dialogue should have been handled through the same mini-game that handles arguments with the winning result being "Independent" and the losing result being "Obedient". This would at least give you the chance to keep Bairdotr without dozens of hours of pre-planning; and if you lost, well at least you lost fairly. So in conclusion, Divinity: Original Sin, Enhanced Edition is a really well made, beautiful and challenging turn based RPG with a great story. One of the best of it's kind in my unwavering opinion, and I'll be playing it through again before too long I'm sure. So would I recommend this title? Does and old Mazda rotary engine require 2-stroke mix oil in the gas? The answer is hell yes it does, and hell yes I would recommend this title! If you like a good RPG, with great mechanics, play this. If you already have Original Sin but haven't picked up and started playing the Enhanced Edition, play this. Is it worth starting over from scratch from the previous version? Probably not, depends on how far you're in already, but you're gonna want to play again at some point and in that case, play this. The changes and additions the Enhanced Edition brings make it basically a new game. It's worth it people! You're going to love it, and if you don't... then you're not my friend anymore.
System Requirements for Divinity: Original Sin, Enhanced Edition are as follows:
OS: Windows 7 SP1 64-bit or Windows 8.1 64-bit or Windows 10 64-bit
Processor: Intel Core2 Duo E6600 or equivalent
Memory: 2048 MB RAM
Graphics: DirectX 11 Compatible GPU
DirectX: Version 11
Hard Drive: 10000 MB available space
OS: Windows 7 SP1 64-bit or Windows 8.1 64-bit or Windows 10 64-bit
Processor: Intel i5 2400 or higher
Memory: 4096 MB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 550 or ATI™ Radeon™ HD 6XXX or higher
DirectX: Version 11
Hard Drive: 10000 MB available space
It's that time of year again. Time to write off that $120+ and God only knows how many hours you spent on last year's Call of Duty game and DLC. It's time to pop that disc out of your console and fling it frisbee style straight into the trash can (please don't actually do this). It's time to upgrade to this year's installment. Call of Duty: Black Ops III is arriving this Friday.
Also out this week, the next entry in the Need for Speed series (titled, you guessed it, "Need for Speed"), and an interesting-looking triple cross buy action RPG called Dragon Fin Soup. Mistakes were made. Proceed further to see more of this week's new releases.