Are Video Games getting easier? Also Microtransactions Update!

Git Gud for £3.99

There has been a long-standing argument that video games are getting easier to appeal to younger players. You often hear older players complain that they didn’t have it as easy when they were growing up. And with the recent release of Crash Bandicoot: The N’sane Trilogy, social media has been talking about the level of difficulty that game and games even before it. So the question remains, are video games getting easier?

What’s changed?

Mechanically, games function a lot better for the most part. I recently re played Banjo Kazooie and the swimming mechanic made me nearly launch my controller at the wall. Games run a lot smoother which can create the illusion that a game is easier to play. Look at any Ubisoft open world game. Despite what you make of them as games, they do run quite smooth mechanically (usually anyway, Assassin’s Creed Unity and floors with more holes than Swiss Cheese withstanding). Now I loved games like Crash Bandicoot and Banjo Kazooie, but the 3D technology was fairly new at the time, so there were going be some issues.

Are the players just getting better?

With the rise in online gaming and E-Sports over the past decade, its safe to say the skill level in video games has risen exponentially. With the help of YouTube tutorials, walkthroughs and game guides, every average player can learn to get better at a game. This compared to the PS2, SNES and NES era, where you could buy strategy guides and the average player was only the champion among your friend groups.

And Finally…

Are Games getting easier?

No, games are getting better mechanically along with a higher skill levelled player base. This creates the illusion of an easier game. In some cases, they are actually becoming harder (Demon/Dark Souls started this trend and it can royally go fuck it self). Explaining why some people find Crash Bandicoot so difficult is simple, your reactions are slower than when you first played it and the mechanics are ever so slightly outdated.

Now an update on Microtransactions and how EA has managed to make me look like a complete tool.

As all 5 of you know, I’ve been singing the praises of Star Wars Battlefront 2’s DLC system since its announcement. However in a interview with Gamespot  Design Director Niklas Fegraeus said:

When you want to progress and get stuff, you can either play the game and when you play you earn the in-game currency, and with that you can spend towards whatever you want. If you want to accelerate that, if you can’t play for a week, you can purchase that.’

Essentially, you can accelerate progress and get better stuff by paying for it. This is, bluntly put, fucking stupid. The system will no doubt be exploited by people, and kinda makes the game pay to win. This is not the way to do microtansactions and I hope EA changes their minds about this.

Edit: Turns out EA has been using this accelerator type thing in the Battlefield franchise for some time, so I guess long term it’s not an issue.

 

The Call of Duty Conundrum

COD’s not dead

Ah, Call of Duty, that totally non-divisive franchise that everyone loves and agrees on how it should progress as the games go on. Activision’s smash hit series, which is one of the biggest selling franchises of all time has had troubled times as of late. Or, at least troubled times for one of the biggest game series of all time. With Activision having to ship Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered with latest game Infinite Warfare to even persuade players to buy the game, its clear that there are problems that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Here are some of the problems I think the series has and how I think they can be fixed.

The first problem with Call of Duty has been temporarily solved at least, and that’s the setting. While not seeming that big of a deal to an outsider looking in, the recent time period settings for the past few games have been a serious issue for the community. Most fans seem to think that the future setting has been a step away from what made the game great in the first place and I’m inclined to agree (although my issues go a little deeper).

Solution: Well, with the next one being set in WW2, this isn’t as big a problem as it was. However, modern or previous combat settings for the foreseeable future please.

Classic maps will forever be remembered by long time fans. Whether it is Crash, Terminal, Nuketown, Firing Range or even Dome, there’s a reason these maps get remastered every few years. And if I’m honest, none of the maps on the last few games have been anywhere near as memorable as these ones. Activision is pushing that the next game goes back to the roots of what made COD great, so having maps that are both classic in feel and function is vital for the series going forward.

Solution: Look at what made those maps fundamentally great and place that in your chosen setting. Also, the COD community has to simmer its expectations, every COD has awful maps (Stonehaven we’re looking at you). You could just cheat and re-skin the classic maps, the community would complain but at least the maps would be good.

Gunplay is vital to the success any Call of Duty. If the guns don’t feel satisfying to use and have some impact, then payers tend to be less interested in the game. Then there’s the issue of weapon balance, and it usually goes one of two ways. They either patch or hotfix too often, or not at all. Every COD game has a weapon that’s overused to death, and when that’s patched another one comes along.

Solution: Developers need to find a middle ground to keep the game interesting, and preferably make other guns better instead of making the better guns worse, as the game doesn’t lose any of its fun factor.

Micro-transactions are a funny one, because they’re awful, anti-consumerist nonsense that we as a community seem to be letting Activision get away with. But, on the other hand, they make Activision incredible amounts of money, so they’d be stupid not to continually put them in each release. After all, games might be a medium of entertainment for us, but it’s also a business for Activision.

Solution: EA are approaching DLC in AAA shooter, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, in the way I feel is going to be the best compromise for both players and publishers. While the game will contain micro-transactions, all extra Maps, guns, vehicles etc. will be free. Also, the paid map pack method splits and fractures the player base. So, I think as a goodwill gesture to customers more than anything, Activision should copy EA’s method. In an ideal world, both games wouldn’t have micro-transactions but they are unfortunately here to stay.

YouTube is a wonderful thing. It has united communities in a way nobody thought to be possible. The COD community is no exception, even having its own Sub-communities. However, the feeling of finding that new gun and telling your mates about was part of the fun back in the day. Admittedly, this is an entirely personal gripe, but a gripe nonetheless. So, guys, cool it with the best class setups in the game videos please? (I am aware I can avoid these videos and this problem is solved, but I’m privileged and have an obligation to complain about stuff that is entirely avoidable).

Solution: Stop watching these videos.

Play styles are a big thing in COD, and while I can’t tell you how to play. If you get your kicks out of finding a dark corner and not moving, power to you. But, I will call you obscene names you probably aren’t in the heat of the moment and discuss imaginary encounters with your mother.

Solution: Camping will always be in COD, it always has, it’s about making the game in the favour of more mobile players. Campers already have an advantage and at its core, Call of Duty is an arcade shooter, so start moving you fools!

Considering everything, Call of Duty isn’t in a terrible state, but things could be a lot better and if changes aren’t made soon, the series could follow Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater to the Activision graveyard.

 

 

 

Thoughts On Sony’s 2017 E3 Press Conference

Year of Dreams 2.5

Sony has been dominating both the console market and E3 press events since the launch of the PS4 back in 2013. This year, with the bar set a decent, but beatable height, can Sony dominate yet again?

In what seemingly has become tradition at these press events, Sony let the games ‘sell themselves’ by having very little developer or publisher discussion on stage and just focusing on gameplay or trailers. Beginning with Naughty Dog’s Uncharted The Lost Legacy, a standalone adventure game which focuses on series characters Nadine and Chloe. A trailer showed more detail of the widely anticipated story at this point. The game will release on August 22nd on PS4 exclusively.

My Thoughts: I missed the original Uncharted Series, so this doesn’t really peak my interest, but fans of the beloved franchise will love it and based on the reputation of Naughty Dog, I expect it to be good.

While on the subject of DLC, Sony gave us a first look at smash hit, Horizon: Zero Dawn’s DLC, The Frozen Wilds. Aloy returns in search of more answers and it appears to focus on a mountain that appears to be crumbling. The DLC will launch later this year at some point.

My Thoughts: More Horizon is good.

We got another extended look at Days Gone, this time showing off the stealth elements within the game and a tiny peak into the narrative. No release date was confirmed but it is suspected to be out sometime this year.

My Thoughts: Zombie games generally don’t interest me, but this one has me intrigued. I don’t want to see anymore gameplay however, after two E3s with extended looks, Sony have shown enough. With Regards to the release date, my best guess would be late November or early December 2017.

We then got a couple of unexpected surprises in the form of Monster Hunter and a Shadow of the Colossus HD remake. Both games are set to launch in 2018 at some point. Also, Marvel vs. Capcom infinite got a brand new trailer and release date of September 19th, with a playable demo launching immediately.

My Thoughts: Monster Hunter looked cool and Shadow of the Colossus is perhaps a bigger deal than people are making out. And Marvel vs. Capcom looks interesting, if you are into fighting games.

Call Of Duty made its annual appearance this year (I’ll write about Call Of Duty as a series in another post) and revealed the multiplayer for this years iteration, which is going back in time to World War Two, a smart move if nothing else for Activision to make.

My Thoughts: Looks good, but it looks good every year so I’m not getting my hopes up (You won’t get me this time Activision). It’s a nice move for fans to go back after the future setting went down like raw chicken at a dinner party. No doubt it’ll have microtransactions though.

PS VR got a big mention at this years show, with several games announced, including Skyrim, a game that simply won’t die; Star Child, a sci-fi sidescroller; The Inpatient, a prequel to Until Dawn set in an asylum; Monster of the Deep, a Final Fantasy 15 fishing VR experience; Bravo Team, a co-op shooter by the developers of Until Dawn and Moss, a puzzle adventure game akin to Zelda.

My Thoughts: Seems VR is slowly becoming a valid gaming platform and not just a tech gimmick for people who wear trousers a little too tight for their own good. Skyrim, The Inpatient, Bravo Team and Moss all look great and really show VR’s strengths.

Announced earlier in the year by Bungie, some exclusive Destiny 2 content was show. This included a strike called Lake of Shadows, a PvP map called Retribution, exclusive armour and an exclusive exotic Sniper called the Borealis.

My Thoughts: It seems these are only timed exclusives, so this isn’t that big of a deal, so fans can rest easier knowing that they’ll get this content eventually.

We ended the show with three games that were previously announced, starting with God of War. Another trailer was shown, as we see Kratos, dad and worlds angriest Bowie tribute act take his son to a new location to fight more gods it would seem. God of War launches in early 2018 on the PS4. Then, a trailer was shown for Detroit: Become Human. Showing off more of the varied choices system within the game and more story information. Closing the show was Insomniac’s Spiderman game, which we saw extended gameplay of, and a look at one of the villains in-game. Spiderman will release sometime in 2018.

My Thoughts: All three games looked incredible, and I’d say because of pure intrigue, Detroit takes my game of the conference award (a prestigious one I know) but all three of these games are must buy in my honest opinion.

Overall, Sony definitely had the strongest conference of E3 so far, but definitely not as strong as previous years.