Battlefield 5 (PC)

For a game that was released back in November of 2018, DICE has seemingly done little to improve it. It is, without a doubt, a pile of flaming garbage. I didn’t even have time to get around to the multiplayer, I was infuriated by every single design decision in the single player titled “War Stories”. When the CGI videos are far better than any of the content the player does in the campaign, you know you done fucked up. The game’s executive producer, Aleksander Grondal, wrote on Twitter that they would “always put fun over authentic” which is a load of bullshit. There is little to no fun to be had shooting bullet sponge enemies in the single player campaign. In fact, DICE has made a mockery of the events of World War II. I’m sure many of their ancestors are rolling over in their graves for this, lack of a better word, injustice to real events.

The game also commits the cardinal sin of thrusting you into the middle of a prologue without letting you adjust settings first. Yes, let’s overheat my PC while I wait roughly 10 minutes or so before I can adjust settings. First you should let a player come to the main menu and if they want to, let them play the prologue. Not force them into a mini-campaign they have no want to play. Clearly, whoever came up with that idea lacks the mental fortitude to think critically. I’m surprised they have a job designing. But it’s EA, they’ll throw money at anyone.

Many of the missions revolve around stealth. You’d think with the years of creating single player campaigns, that they would have the experience and technical know-how to create an immersive and fun atmosphere. Well, you’d be wrong. They are clearly a small indie company. Enemies take anywhere from 2-10 bullets to die. Shoot them in the head with a pistol takes two, even if you shoot them in the face. Flamethrower users take at least 8-12 bullets to kill, even though they have no extra armor. Same with officers, they don’t have armor and yet, take several shots to drop. Oh, I mentioned stealth, well if you shoot someone, even with a suppressed weapon, and you happen to be several hundred meters away, every enemy in the vicinity immediately becomes aware of your position, and proceeds to light you up with near perfect accuracy. Fun, right?

Each mission has a goal, and hidden collectibles within – called letters – and as well as challenges to complete. Sometimes those challenges are to complete the mission without being detected, but with the aforementioned problems, even if you reload a checkpoint when being discovered, you’ll have to restart the entire mission because it’ll still count as you being found. There’s also alarms which the enemy can activate that’ll draw in enemy reinforcements. You can get close and disable it with a command, or you can shoot it. But wait, not all guns are strong enough to do so. Shooting it with a sniper rifle doesn’t work half the time. Gotta get closer. Oh wait, what about stealth – doesn’t matter anymore, you’re being shot at by the omniscient enemies.

Oh, there’s also vehicles. Like a plane, for instance. But the mouse and keyboard default controls borderline on unusable which again leads me to think that the designer responsible lacks a brain. Bunch of monkeys mashing the keys it seems like.

Overall, even though I got it on sale for 6 bucks, I regret purchasing it. That money would have been better spent on laxatives, and I would have had more fun than the several hours I spent playing this. And judging by the beta for their newest game in the battlefield series, the last thing DICE cares about is having fun and they just want your money. It would be better if nobody ever bought their games again, and forced them to really consider making a proper game with fundamentals that aren’t broken, and you know, a proper campaign like they did once, long ago, with Bad Company 2.


Nioh 2: The Complete Edition

There’s hard games and then there’s let’s make it completely unfair to the player games, and Nioh 2 falls into the latter. I’d say maybe half the bosses were made to be hard, but fair and the other half, the developers decided to say, bluntly, ‘fuck you’ to the players. There’s no mincing words here. The developers did not make this game as a love letter to their previous game, instead they decided to take everything that was bad about Nioh 1 and improve upon those horrible mechanics. Sure, I can now have a counter to some moves with a move of my own but most of the time, you will take damage trying to do so. You are actively punished for using the game’s mechanics. Oh, and the game suffers massively from “Do as I say, but not as I do.” In order for enemies to be staggered, and yourself, your Ki has to run out. However, in tradition with the game’s mentality of “fuck you, player”, bosses don’t need to reduce your Ki to stagger you, they merely need to hit you once.

I’m getting ahead of myself here. A quick rerun of the game mechanics is in order. You have life and Ki (basically your stamina), and when life drops to 0, you die. Ki drops to 0, you’re winded for awhile and open to any attack. Enemies also have a life bar and a Ki bar, and when you drop their Ki to 0, they are open to any attack and will get staggered, letting you wail on them until they recover their Ki – done so by a move on their part and automatically by you. You can also perform a Ki pulse which is pressing the button at the moment the Ki meter turns from red to blue. Most of their attacks can be blocked, reducing your Ki by a massive amount in proportion to the damage they would have dealt. You can also choose to dodge but dodging is dependent on your total equipment weight. Too high, and you’ll barely be able to move out of the way. Really low or none, and you can dodge out of the way with incredible distance. Some enemy attacks are highlighted in red, these can be countered with your burst which is dependent on which guardian spirit you have equipped. There’s feral, phantom or brute and each counter is different. Then enemies have the ‘fuck you, player’ move in which they have a grab that will take most or all of your life in one go. In no universe is this remotely fair to the player, and only exists to artificially inflate the difficulty. Your only hope is to be far away, and sometimes that isn’t enough because the radius for the enemy to perform this move is massive.

Let me get this out of the way, I beat the base game and I enjoyed the base game for the most part. It’s when I started the DLC and expansions that I realized, there’s no need to play any of them because they were designed purely as a “fuck you, player.” All the bosses that I fought therein had several bullshit insta-kill moves or grabs. When I finally did beat the bosses, it wasn’t because of my hard efforts to memorize the move sets of the boss, but rather because on that 10+ death, the boss didn’t use that one particular move. In other words, I won because of sheer luck and not skill. This behavior is not native to the Nioh games for all of the souls games, Bloodborne, and Sekiro also have bullshit bosses with bullshit moves and you beating them is highly reliant on them not using a specific skill or move. It seems that the Japanese developers, as whole, have that mentality of “fuck you, player”. The best Japanese ARPG game I’ve ever played, that had the most fair mechanics ever, was not made by the Japanese but by Americans – Naughty Dog with their masterpiece, Ghost of Tsushima. That really says something about Japanese developers.

As a whole, playing a Japanese ARPG game is akin to bashing your head against a brick wall in the hopes of breaking it down to get past. In Nioh 2, that brick wall has another brick wall right behind and whenever you do hit your head against it, it seals itself back up.

As for the story, it was useless and mere filler. It used the backdrop of real characters from history to tell a prequel to Nioh 1 and then near the end, acted as a sequel. It was as barebones as a story could get. I didn’t care to play the game at all for the story but for the satisfaction of being able to say I beat it. And sure, I beat it, but at what cost? My sanity? There’s a lot to love inside the game, but the sheer frustration of many gameplay decisions is immense. It’s hard to believe a lot of the elements got past QA, and that someone thought it was a good idea to implement them. Like the grabs, or having the insta-kill moves. Or bosses that ignore the mechanics but you still have to obey them and are limited by them. The decision to make loot randomized, forcing you to grind over and over in the hopes of better gear. Having a mission based campaign, are you guys still playing on PlayStation 2? Rest of the world called, we’re on open world games now.

Overall, I do recommend the base game. It’s hard but doable, and for the most part, the bosses are hard but fair. Unless you do side quests, in which case the bosses are mostly of the “fuck you, player” design requiring you to massively farm XP to get way over-leveled in order to best them. I do not recommend any of the DLCs/expansions, they are simply unfair to the player.


Apex Legends Revisited

Last I wrote, I compared Respawn Entertainment to an owner that gives their dog all the best toys, and food, but it doesn’t matter because the dog lives in a state of absolute squalor. Absolutely nothing has changed. In fact, they’ve managed to make things much worse. They’re like an ostrich sticking their head in the sand, indifferent to any constructive feedback, but they don’t care because the idiotic masses will continue to toss bills at them as if they were a stripper.

Since day one, people have requested en masse, to upgrade to a better server to handle the load. Since day two, people have demanded a fix to the numerous bugs. It’s a simple request. Fix. The. Bugs. Now you may have read that as “fix the bugs” but Respawn read it as “more shiny cosmetics”. Why bother with talented software developers and programming when we can hire an infamous incompetent dev only to fire them later? Yes, Daniel Z. Klein I speak of.

Old man screams at cloud. That’s what bothering to write anything about Apex Legends feels like. Remember the ancient days, when peasants would storm the despot’s castle and throw their entire family to the streets as a reminder of “maybe you should try being a good human being”? Yea, that’s never going to happen. The old times are gone. Now you’re a slave to corporate greed.

The problem I have is I love the game but every decision made since season one has been questionable. Their latest hero, Seer is absolutely broken and breaks the game. Casual players won’t find problems but higher up, having free wall hack, plus an interrupt plus knowledge of HP/Shields, no point in bothering to play. Just quit the game.


The Ascent (PC – Xbox Game Pass)

A cyberpunk arcade like action RPG with both solo and co-op? Intriguing, go on. Oh, it’s a twin stick shooter? Ok, that means isometric view. Not bad. Let’s try it out. Oh, what do you know? That wasn’t a half bad experience. There’s a lot to unpack here, but the gist is that it’s pretty generic gameplay, with a pointless story, covered up by fantastic graphics! The level of detail in each area, each zone! Simply blown away. However, I’ve long since learned that no matter how sparkly you make your game, if the core gameplay loop isn’t fun enough, you’re gonna have problems. Thankfully, there was just enough here to keep me entertained for the length of the game.

Bladerunner vibes.
My cosplay DoomGuy

It took me 15 hours to complete the main story and every side mission that I could do provided it wasn’t bugged out (three didn’t work for me). The story is that the corporation which rules the planet, Veles, has collapsed and the sharks are coming to take the pieces. Rival corporations start swooping up members of this previous corporation, the Ascent group. You, an indentured servant, an indent, rise to the challenge to save what’s left. Basically by being treated as a subhuman waste of space by all your bosses and superiors, and any good actions you do are praised or likened as above average for your species. Yes, there’s alien races. Eventually you learn the point of this whole story and then, just when there’s FINALLY something of substance, it ends. The great bit of storytelling is an after credits type of scene. But this isn’t a game played for the story.

The core loop is to shoot enemies with your weapons, gain experience to level up and earn skill points, spend said points on a skill tree, acquire loot from said defeated enemies. Then use money to buy gear, or, like I did, save it all for fast travel use only because every single weapon or gear can be found/dropped by enemies. I ended with half a million creds. Another loot is parts which are used to upgrade a weapon’s stats up to mk.10. Weapons alternate between ballistic, energy, explosive or other. You can only equip two at once, plus a tactical which ranges from grenades to turrets. Then you have augmentations to find, unlock, or buy. They augment you passively, and actively. Two slots are for the passives such as to boost your health or give you more health on pick up. Two slots are for the actives which are powers that change gameplay to suit your style. I used the same two the entire time, one of which I acquired quite early. This was an ability which recorded my health levels and then after a certain period of time, returned my health back to that number. It was so hard to die.

The skills that you invest your skill points in have the most impact on the game. They cover 4 possible categories which reflect your character’s base attributes. I can’t recall the exact names, but they’re basically cybernetics, body, mind, agility. The best skill to max asap is weapon handling. It increased reload speed to be near instant on most machine guns. By level 8, about one hour in, I had it. The game was much easier since because I had a near constant stream of bullets. Other factors that decrease difficulty is that each combat is randomly procedurally generated. So some fights might be a walk in the park, and others just squash you like a bug. It’s why some players might finish the game quickly, and others will take awhile.

Just another day in Cluster 13

Honestly, for the size of the team behind this game, I am impressed by the graphics. They definitely look like they took time and care to fill in all the details. The random garbage bags, a littered can. The glow of the neon lights. Everything draws you into the world. The shooting can only hold your attention for so long because there’s a limited diversity in enemies. What kept me going forwards was to see more of the world. If anything, this is a twenty dollar game disguising itself as a 40 dollar one. I’m grateful to have experienced it for free with Xbox Game Pass. Overall, it’s a fun game. It has bugs, it has its issues, but it keeps you entertained long enough for a weekend and that’s okay in my books. I recommend it if it’s on sale or through game pass.


Control (Revisited)

This game still remains my favorite third person action adventure game in the last decade. There is not one aspect that I would change after having replayed it for free courtesy of Epic Games, and paying for the season pass. Those two expansions were beautiful additions, that helped answer some questions and as always, give more. The world of Control is a place steeped in mystery, and with that comes the fear of the unknown. Are there monsters in the shadows? Of course there are! But thanks to the hard work and effort of the Federal Bureau of Control, the world remains a relatively safe place. As the newly appointed janitorial assistant, Jesse Faden, you – the player, must help eradicate the parasites that have infested the ever-shifting building.

You eventually arm yourself with the so called service weapon, a sentient entity that provides you with an array of different forms of weaponry. You can craft these possibilities at the safe points, designated “control points”, with materials gained from the enemies you defeat – former humans corrupted by the antagonistic force and otherworldly entities. You can eventually acquire paranormal abilities to aid you in your duties. The strongest by far being telekinesis – in fact, this second playthrough was remarkably easy thanks to that ability being the first one I apply all the skill points I can to. These points are gained from completing quests (main or side) and finding hidden areas.

Combat is crisp, quick, and unforgiving. Know your enemy and the game is easy. Coming into it blind, it is a terrifying experience. Wary, and full of tension, you get startled at every twist and corner. The fear of the unknown keeps your wits sharp. Coming into it a second time, it is an action game where I’m the terror come to cleanse these wicked things. To quote a familiar franchise, “Rip and Tear” which is exactly what happens every time enemies appear. Decimate their ranks to ash as fast as possible to get back to the juicy parts – to exploring the map and finding out more secrets and knowledge behind what makes the world of Control what it is. To help unmask some of the mystery.

On and on the Foundation goes.

There are two expansions added to the game, one taking place after the game ends titled the Foundation and the other linking the game, Alan Wake, more tightly and intrinsically into the world of Control which can be accessed after completion of a certain main quest mission. Both of these are tiny little masterpieces in their own rights, each telling a compelling story while adding more to the world and simultaneously deepening the want to know more. I am infinitely more excited to future works by Remedy Entertainment.

Another astonishing experience that I gained this time around was that I played on a PC capable of RTX. The graphics were stunning, and I was kept fully immersed into the simulation – sorry, game. The Bureau’s glass offices reflecting everything else around them, I had no choice but to forcibly slam Jesse through each so I could stop running into areas that I thought had treasure but were merely reflections. One time, in the expansion, I was scared in the dark, and I kept running into a wall because I thought there was a chest inside. When I returned to safety, I thoroughly disintegrated that wall of glass with my essentially rocket launcher mode. Point is, graphics merely supplement the already phenomenal story and gameplay. They don’t distract. You don’t go “wow, that was a pretty game, but the graphics was the only thing good about it. Why didn’t they spend more time with story or gameplay?” Control is an equal package of perfection.

If you haven’t played this game yet, I definitely recommend that you get around to it. It’s a harsh world, but the secrets contained within are worth the effort. And if you’re a fan of Poets of the Fall, you get to experience the wonders of their music within Control. Curious newcomers should check them out if interested.