Rebel Scum – My First Impressions of Star Wars: Battlefront (3)

Star Wars has had a reasonable game career when compared to others film-based games (looking at you superman) but besides the amazing Lego Games and RTSs there’s the Battlefront games. I grew up on these games and got endless hours of entertainment from them.

The Galactic conquest gamemode felt like you were progressing in the game and when you finally take over that last planet as the Empire it makes you feel so good knowing that every battle you had to fight. I couldn’t give you a good opinion of Online gameplay since back then I didn’t even know how to hold a controller properly let alone make a email and password to login but I can give you the immense 100 v 100 battles you could set up. Nothing could compare to the feeling of walking out of the Hoth base to see a giant battlefield in front of you covered in things you can actually interact with. My favourite thing to do was trying to rope down the AT-ATs as the rebels since it felt like you were actually helping but come my time to be the empire I flipped the tables and just aimed to get Darth Vader, Walking through the snow throwing your lightsaber every now and then and just generally feeling like a Sith Lord was an amazing power trip for me and I thought It couldn’t be achieved again.

So skip to E3 of 2015 where to my surprise, Star Wars: Battlefront is announced. Now believe when I said I was suspicious, EA out of all the companies aren’t exactly the most liked but what annoys me more was that DICE (the creators of Battlefield) were making it. I knew from that day that what I was waiting for is Star Wars: Battlefield DLC, as much as I enjoy the Battlefield games made by DICE and especially the graphics from the Frostbite Engine but knowing EA they will probably whip DICE into place and make it use the same formula so they can guarantee sales.

So I tried to get this off my mind till the sudden release of the Beta that just occurred and with me having such a radical opinion of the game I knew I had to jump in…but firstly I had a 10 GB download to do. So after playing the game till the max rank of the beta I thought I had a good enough opinion for it. Now I will give it credit for its visuals and sound, compared to Battlefront 2 potato graphics anything would of been better but its nice how much detail they put into it, even the blasters sounded real and the X-Wings flying over really added to the experience.

Although, the gameplay was nothing new, it was just Battlefield but with different gun mechanics. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Battlefield but when you take it, add a few things to make it look spacey then slap the Battlefront name on it and call it new, your crossing a line. The Battlefront franchise has a history behind it, a lifetime of good memories and experiences so nothing really hurts more to say that its a bad feature to the franchise because people have waited a long time for the game. Its the little things as well, the gun sway is exactly the same from Battlefield as well as the 3rd person cameras, sure the HUDs a bit fancy but the gameplay features are just generic Rush or capture the hard-point. Also they took out the feature of earning your killstreaks and more just running around the map and picking up powerups, this means the guy who sits at the back waiting for them to drop gets to play as Darth Vader whilst your busting your ass sniping all the guys taking out your AT-AT, it just takes no reward from doing well in the game, its a shame as well because the spaceships and Jedi were done pretty good.

Its also what they announced what wasn’t going to be in the game, like the Galactic Conquest which I have already talked about as well as no campaign being made and to be honest I really would of liked to see that. Every announcement makes me feel even less and less sympathy for DICE and more anger to EA.

Anyway, that’s one strike EA, just don’t fuck up Mirror’s Edge,

– Sam Burdis

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Rebel Scum – My First Impressions of Star Wars: Battlefront (3)

League of Legends – The State of Ranked

If you have never played / heard of League of Legends before then you are missing out on a MOBA game where players pick ‘champions’ with different roles and abilities where their team of five tries to destroy the enemy’s ‘nexus’ who in turn will be trying to get theirs. It’s basically like a massive game of tug-of-war. Now the most played gamemode in blind pick 5v5 on Summoner’s Rift (the map) in which players pick their champions in secret to the other team so the matchups are unexpected. This is what makes LoL fun, the expectancy of what your enemy will pick means you can pick whatever with no real consequence since you didn’t know it was going to be your counter (Just don’t give them kills because then you will see why League of Legends was voted the most toxic playerbase).

 

Now there’s nothing I like more than logging on with my friends and playing a good half an hour game that has ups and downs through out. It’s like a good story book adventure but you’ll probably get to a point where you think you are good enough to challenge the ranking system, can’t be different to what you normally play right? Well…

…your wrong. Lets start with Draft pick, this is a new system of picking champions instead of the blind your probably use to. In this, the randomly selected top player on each team can ban three champions of their choice that no one in the game can use, which is okay to get rip of those terribly OP champions that riot makes viable in patches but it also could just be some troll who got picked and decides to ban Taric , to be honest I see this as the best part of Draft pick since it mostly is done right and can give you some ease of mind knowing you aren’t straight away at a disadvantage.

My biggest issue is the fact that the both teams can see the others champion selections. Now in pro level play this is good, because the whole team can develop a tactic around the picks and is all very structured but in normal rank play it means if you pick first your enemy is just going to search ” <insert champion name> counters” and boom, the first link tells you with detail what to expect as a    match-up going against them. Now in a way I guess this is good right? it trains you to play against hard matchups and if you get it EVERY game surely you’ll get use to it after a while? It’s not that really, it just takes the enjoyment out the game knowing that your going to have a tough time trying to win your lane or at least make an impact on it (like destroying a turret or getting kills), even worst, when you pick second for your lane you are expected to pick their counter so you can say goodbye to that champion you have got use to and enjoyed playing and say hello to a whole new set of abilities to get into the feel for again.

So, you’ve got to pick your champions but you have been put at the bottom of the pick list, well, guess what? you are playing support, that could be good or bad depending on the player but sometimes you just want to stretch your legs and have a big impact on the game but just because a random number generator assigned you that role you are going to spend the next thirty minutes as a role you don’t want. Oh, and if a teammate on your team doesn’t stick by this rule and screams in chat for Top lane and he doesn’t get it? expect a lovely troll you have to clean up after.

So, you’ve got past the ridiculousness that is Draft Pick, you’re loading up and when you finally get in you realise that one of your players is afk or didn’t load in. This is very common in ranked and of course means everyone is at a disadvantage because someone decided to use his dial-up internet for the game. Now you can’t hate the player in this scenario, who knows? his parents might have called him for dinner but what is the most annoying is that he either gets kicked for afk or stays in spawn for the whole game, not even a bot takes control and goes to the lane. That means you are forever a player down until he reconnects. This just a lose-lose system because the team doesn’t have a player and the player gets banned for (normally) something they didn’t do. I honestly wouldn’t mind an afk so long as a bot took control and just walked to the lane and defended the turret but no, instead we get a sad player and an angry team because they’ve been demoted for something they haven’t done.

Ok, maybe you didn’t get an afk? maybe your lane wasn’t your counter pick? maybe your getting all your minion kills so you have  lots of gold for items? Well then, congratulations! you have got lucky but don’t get the party poppers out yet, your rank still lies in the hands of your team. Too many times has an argument between my team has cracked off because the support went in too deep to get a champion kill and ended up dieing, Too many times has the jungler refused to come onto my lane and help me get a kill because he doesn’t speak English. There are way too many variations of situations that affects YOUR rank, you could get an enemy on your lane who just runs up to you and dances but you could still lose because your mid laner decided he wanted to go for a swim and went afk.

My solution? only use draft pick when you get to higher ranks (like diamond, gold etc.) and use a variation of blind pick where you can ban champions so it can still be a fair game. Introduce a more lenient system for afks and bring in bots so the team doesn’t lose because of them but most importantly, don’t base the players rank off whether it was a win or a lost but more what actually happened in the game, trust me, bronze is not a nice place to be stuck in.

Thanks for reading one thousand words of me rambling,

-Sam Burdis

League of Legends – The State of Ranked

Hearthstone and You: How to please the RNGods

I been playing Hearthstone ever since I saw the release of its open beta, from that day I fell in love it with. The core game mechanics are amazingly simple yet effective using 1 mana per turn and cards cost mana makes it so the game can be fair and simple through out. It’s cool and all when you’re starting out to be playing simple cards you get given but later on when your online enemies get harder and harder you start to rely more and more on the great powers above that are RNGods.

Now what are these great powers ? they are also known as random number generators and lots of cards rely on them. Take Imp-losion for example, 4 mana meaning it ideally can’t be played till 3-4 and deals 2-4 damage, this is what we call RNG-reliant cards. It comes down to luck, there’s nothing (besides spell damage) that actually affects the amount of damage you do or what it picks, now 2-4 damage doesn’t seem that much of a damage difference but that three might be the final vital blow to kill off a big threat on the board.

As time has gone on, a lot more RNG-reliant cards have been released making the game more and more based on luck  the amount of sacrifices you have made to your RNGod today, and I don’t think I like this element have given enough praise to RNGesus today.

Ok real talk, I honestly am getting more and more annoyed the amount of times I have lost out to these cards, it’s not even one mistake equals one loss which would be better off, it’s just making the game harder and harder to win similar to torture. Sometimes it takes just one card to not go your way than bam you have lost all your minions and he has a massive creature on the board. Although, it makes for a good watch when it comes to twitch streaming, there’s nothing more satisfying as watching a chat when the streamer loses out to this mechanic, its like knowing your not alone in this world.

On the other hand, I could just be whining, maybe this was the plan for the game from the start? I mean to be fair, it means new players have a chance against bigshots they come across as they climb the ranking ladder but then it gives the effect of it being unfair for them. These people who spend hours, days even, trying to get better at the game, learning combos, when to play a certain card but when they get beaten by one silly RNG-reliant card it makes them just not want to play anymore, I know because I felt it too. Surely its enough RNG when you’re having to draw cards as well?

Hearthstone isn’t the only card game that suffers from this though. MTG does have its RNG elements but there is a lot more cards in that game a whole deck could be made to have life preservers if they win the battle, but in Hearthstone, due to its limited card pool, the effects are much more drastic with cards like Healing wave which can just drastically change the whole game plan.

But that’s not what your here to see, we want to discuss how to please the RNGods right? since they are here to stay might as well give them what they want. I normally do a quick pray as I play one of these cards but it doesn’t hurt to sacrifice a lamb or two in your spare time to really get the hopes high. I like to think sometimes their blessing moves into real life so if you ever get something lucky in real life it’s always good to drop everything and load up Hearthstone. (please don’t sacrifice lambs)

Thank you for reading and I hope the RNGods look fortunately upon you.

– Sam Burdis

Hearthstone and You: How to please the RNGods

Fallout 4 and Game Marketing

‘Hype’ or ‘The Excitement of a something’ is a key factor in game sales and with Fallout 4 we can see that their hype train has sort of derailed but instead of all the other hype trains in its path, it developed a hyper-drive and reached max speed. The game is set to be a record smasher with the amount of excitement building up to its release date in Nov 10. I mean, it has been seven long years since a much-needed update to the franchise. But how has Fallout 4 got to be this desiring treasure that gamers crave?

If we go fishing for information for Fallout 4 at the moment we just get hit by pre-orders promotions or speculations about certain components. It’s clear that the gamers are curious about the details of the game, like “What food items will there be?” and “How will crafting work?” yet the majority of people weren’t instantly interested in the nitty-gritty and to see why we need to start before the game was even announced.

In Dec 2013, Kotaku reported on a Leaked Document reveal that proved to some fans that Fallout 4 was real. In this, the document included a script of the player meeting a commonwealth minuteman called ‘Preston Garvey’ which included dialogue of the player choosing the ‘be a dick’ option with him saying something like ‘I’ll expect heavy payment’ and the kind of writing that we expect from Bethesda and looked pretty genuine. Though, the vast majority thought it was fake, especially after the ‘Survivor 2299’ fiasco which made people very untrustworthy of any information about it, this started the engines of the hype train.

Now there are lots of new leaks or developments in rumor over time but the next main event was the announcement of Bethesda having a conference at E3 in August which made people think that Fallout 4 was almost confirmed since Bethesda’s last conference was when Fallout 3 was announced. This started the conspiracy theories of what to expect and the rumors to circulate about the setting of the game, which was a big part in hyping up this game.

What Bethesda had to nail was the marketing of the game and or how to deliver it to its audience, and of course, they did it pretty good. The amount of details announced at E3 was a simple trailer montaging key events and characters we will (hopefully) see in game as well as announcing it will be in Boston. This was a rumor that had been around since the leaked script and gave them inspiration to think more. Its good that they only announced core information because later on we will see that rumors help.

Along with the Fallout 4 came Fallout Shelter announcement, a new free to play vault-tycoon

Now for Marketing they instantly got posters all over Game retailers and riding on the hype train managed to get out a good profile of the Special edition Pipboy as well as the release date which was relatively close t making it easier for the next phase.

This phase (and the current one) will by far the hardest, maintaining the hype till the release date. Many games fall at this hurdle but Bethesda has used the strategy of seeping out information of the game every now and then to keep the audience on their tippy toes and keeping the rumors spreading.

They realized that even if its false information that’s in the gamer’s head, its still Fallout 4 and they are still making the gamer think and share their opinion on Fallout 4. As the famous saying goes, Even bad publicity is good publicity.

So with this structure any solid game could accomplish a some sales if they can maintain these variables. Hopefully, we can see it more so more games will actually try to be good.

But meh, give me a Mr.Handy and I will give it a 10/10 anyways,

– Sam Burdis

Fallout 4 and Game Marketing