It seems like picking on Blizzard right now is the geek-culture bloggers equivalent of kicking a dead horse, but that horse knows what it did, and while an apology has been issued for the political controversy, it comes across has a rather hollow token, to say nothing about the mass-blocking of comments on YouTube videos from the event.
We are not here to stir the political pot, that’s not what we’re here for. I am here to pick on Blizzard for something a little less volatile, the games that were announced this year.
What? I said a little less…
Blizzard do one thing exceptionally well, and have done since the 90’s: epic cinematics. They fall firmly into the “pros” column on pre-rendered cinematic cut-scenes and trailers and whether you are for or against them, there is nothing negative to say about Blizzards cinematics in their own right. As if to prove a point, oh wow that Diablo 4 trailer was pretty. There were times when the graphics quality bordered photorealism a little too closely, and there seems to have been a positive tone shift, which I will get to shortly.
Pretty pictures aside, we also got a good look at some in-game footage, and the level of detail is delicious, especially given the genre. Moreover, Diablo 4 is darker visually, and it sounds like they’re going dark in narrative, like it should always have been. My biggest issue with 3 was all the pretty colours, in defiance of the legacy left by 1 and 2, and it easily meant that Grim Dawn made a better successor to the throne. A more “medieval” version of hell has been suggested, and the little glimpses we’ve seen suggest hints of Hieronymus Bosche, and the brightest coloured things on screen – the blood red demon “fallen” – are stringy and drawn out horrors.
But of course it wouldn’t be Blizzard without compulsory online multiplayer elements, and sure you don’t have to engage with the other players, but so help me I don’t even want them around, and I don’t like the idea that they might try and engage with me. You’ll pardon me if I remain far more interested in Crate’s ARPG than the usurper to D2.
Oh, and can I get a citation on the claim “Best in class visceral and fluid combat” please? What I’m seeing is that there is a way to play the druid, a way to play the sorceress, so on so forth, with not a great deal of variety, only an optimised route to power. I’m going to hope that this has more to do with the demo than the finalised game, but I’m going to profoundly suspect that I am wrong.
Oh… good? Whatever happened to the days when Blizzard would wait over a decade between sequels? No, I’m not going to complain about this one.
As you may have already guessed, I don’t really do online or multiplayer, so I’ll keep my critique here short. Another of Blizzard’s fortes is great character development, we’ve seen it across the Warcraft legacy, and Overwatch really shows what they’re capable of. There’s a great Extra Credits video on the idle animations of Overwatch and how they communicate a great deal about the character you’re playing. I will watch Overwatch content because the stories are pretty cool, and I like that they’ve introduced some singleplayer content.
I hope that the new game will be more than just shooting while wiggling from side to side.
More World of Warcraft
Among the early announcements, onesies! Do you hear the sound of scraping? That’s the bottom of the barrel.
The former stranglehold Warcraft held on the market is broken, and I feel like now would have been the time to go completely revolutionary, bring back Warcraft as an RTS, I’d even take a World of Starcraft, just to see something that isn’t yet more WoW. There was a lot of talk about the Overwatch sequel being massively supportive, rewarding, and compatible with players of the original game, would a Warcraft 2 be so outlandish?
The game has been updated, modernised, more and more content has been brought to the game, and the original game has been repackaged and redelivered to us in brighter and shinier colours, which I cannot and will not disparage because I bought and played the re-releases of Skyrim, Myst, and Heroes 3 among others. And after fifteen years of World of Warcraft, it has now exceeded the lifespan of the strategy game that preceded it.
Board gamers can look forward to a Smallworld of Warcraft that looks like it’s close to a release date, and it looks like that’s as close as we’re getting to a Warcraft “original” style game.
Am I going to rag on Bethesda next week for only having Elderscrolls, Fallout, and Dishonoured? Well to be fair they also have Doom and Wolfenstein and whatever Deathloop is but it looks inte- y’know what? Bad example. And to be completely fair, I should also point out that Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Starcraft exist.
I suppose I look to Blizzard as an example of a bubble that looks set to burst, and recent events make that bubble look especially fragile. The popularity of their fairly narrow range of intellectual properties is undeniable, and one must pay respect to any company that can keep players enthralled and enjoying a game for fifteen years, and then still go on to produce another market-dominating title in Overwatch.
And yet I’m watching the opening ceremonies from this year’s Blizzcon, and there’s an astonishingly similar feeling to watching the advert for a “new” apple product. It doesn’t sound like they’re changing much, it doesn’t sound like they’re innovating in any way, and yet there’s a host of fans who’ll still pour their money into the new thing and keep the bubble floating for another year.
I play Elder Scrolls Online quite a bit, so earlier this week marked a massive milestone for me. I reached CP810; or Champion Point 810. This is effectively the level cap of the game (as of the time of writing). I’ve spoken to people who’ve been playing for years and have never reached this level; and it’s not like I grinded specifically to get to this level. Nevertheless, here are my thoughts of the game now I’ve done sort of just about everything (with the exception of the absolute hardest content).
As many of you know, I’m sure, that Elder Scrolls Online announced a new expansion for the MMO. If you’re a long-time fan of The Elder Scrolls, then this might be the right time to come and join the online title. For the first time ever, we’re about to see the homeland of the Khajiit, Elsweyr – And I couldn’t be any more excited. Then, they decided to tell us a bit about the story behind Elsweyr… And they mentioned we’ll be fighting something big. Next, they released the prologue in game, which you can play right now and hoo boy, was it ever a treat? Check this out…
WARNING: If you’ve not watched the trailer yet for Elsweyr yet, then the image in today’s article may be considered spoilers. There’s nothing more than light spoilers, so thought I’d give you that warning. Cool. Read on!
Growing up as a kid in the 00’s, one of the most popular games was Runescape. It knew how to draw in a crowd, it was a relatively early example of a subscription model (which was cheap enough to make it worthwhile) and it was, all in all, a game which set standards for MMOs in the years to come. Whilst it’s a bit of a dated game, Old School Runescape exists – And it’s still hugely active. Recently however, Jagex dipped their toes into taking Old School Runescape to our smartphones. So join me for a look at what makes Runescape different on our phones, than it does on our browsers and PCs.
Through Azeroth, to Paragon City, I’ve played a number of MMORPGs in my life. All of them adhere to vaguely similar rules; create a character, run through a huge open world and do some quests. Get coins, do a few professions – If you’re a fan of MMORPGs, you’d know the drill. I’ve played so many, that I was trying to look for one that could potentially replace the massive void that World of Warcraft left in my heart. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before I picked up Elder Scolls Online – But what did I make of the world of Tamriel? Read on to find out more, along with a screenshot gallery of my journey.
When I think ‘free trial’, I used to suspect that I’ll be able to get through some of the introduction levels, before it comes up with a big splash screen saying “Buy the game now!” Fortunately, Final Fantasy XIV(FFXIV): A Realm Reborn’s trial is incredibly fair – Allowing you to level up to 35 with no time restrictions. As I’m an avid MMO fan, who thoroughly enjoyed World of Warcraft, Aura Kingdom, City of Heroes, Dark Ages of Camelot and more, I took a dive into the world… of Hydaelyn.
Ever feel like you’re living in a video game? Well Lord Momonga certainly does; a powerful lich who has been trapped in a virtual world, with no-one around except for NPCs who have come to life; He just wants to get to the bottom of why he’s stuck in this world. From level differences and HUD interface features, along with dungeons & dragons dynamics, Overlord is a wonderful telling of the trapped-in video game subgenre of anime. Does this series have a life of its own, or does it fall flat next to more established anime of its kind?
The name Runescape is synonymous with early 00’s gaming; with a really large number of gamers from all over the world, with many servers. Created by Jagex, a company formed in Cambridge, here in the United Kingdom, this MMO was an experience that encapsulated many gamers. It was an MMO before World of Warcraft was around, it also ran in a browser, as it was programmed in Java. These days, RuneScape has been officially recognised as the worlds largest free MMORPG made, with over 200 million accounts. As well as this, it holds the title for the most updated game ever – So with all of this said, I recently decided to play some ‘Old School Runescape’, so I could get a taste of my past. What I got… Wasn’t what I expected.
Turn and tile based MMORPG Wakfu is this weeks’ video game review, with fun emoticons, adorable sprites and lovely music and sounds. But does the game only have its aesthetics going for it, or is this a serious competitor for the turn-based, style-based MMORPG genre? Read on to find out more about the exciting world of Wakfu.
The basic premise of Wakfu is a follow-up from Dofus. In Dofus, there was simply an Ogre called Ogrest who was in love with someone. To please her, Ogrest gathered all 6 of the Dofus eggs. She was eager to get her hands on the Dofus eggs, but didn’t really care for Ogrest, which angered him. Enraged, Ogrest killed her for not caring about him. It wasn’t until he collected himself that he realised that he committed such a vile act, so he climbed atop Mount Zinit and supposedly cried for 1,000 years…
… And now we have to defeat him! Alright!!
How smooth an MMORPG feels is one thing, as you need to have a fluid, simple experience. One thing I realised is I might regret skipping the tutorial, but I can always do the tutorial level with a new character. However, I did quickly come to grips with the game, learning how simple it is to get into. The only thing that shocked me is right next to the newbies area was an area full of level 20’s and up. A bit weird, but there we go, that I guess was my introduction to Wakfu.
It’s really easy to understand as you go along, but this doesn’t mean that you should just skip through everything. There’s a lot of story to be read and played out, but I implore you to take a friend on your journeys with you. A friend can make all of the difference in this game, or at least to make a friend in game. When I started to play this, I was playing with a friend who helped to make the experience far better for me.
Visuals and Audio
I’ve already mentioned how cute this game is, so rather than just telling you how cute and how lovely it is, here’s a gallery of screenshots I took through my time in the wonderfully vibrant world of Wakfu. Taking on an incredibly pleasing ‘anime-esque’ style, it is easy to look at and is good at pointing out what you need to be doing and where you need to be going. I’m digging the unique feel of this game.
The music is really simple, along with the sounds. It’s simple in a nice way, as it’s nothing that’ll blow you out of the water, but it’s just nice enough to give you some ambience whilst playing it. Still, I can’t praise the music that much, as it is pretty simple.
Lovely experience in a rich and luxurious world. Joel and I often talk about Krosmaster and the joys that game has brought us, going so far as to play a group cosplay one day, eh Joel? But alas, this can only go so far without having played the games that made Krosmaster what it is… And now that I have, I certainly can understand the thoughts behind a Scram. I can also appreciate that Ecaflips are the most fun little trickster classes you can play as.
Whilst the combat is simple overall, it makes for a fun experience by simply providing something a little bit unique and a lot easier to digest than some of the larger RPG experiences out there. With the ability to build your classes in whatever way you’d want to, I can imagine there’s a tonne of builds and lots of ways to combat the monsters of the world, as well as different ways to combat the players. It’s time for me to get my Wakfu on and invest more time in this wonderful little MMORPG. Oh, I forgot to mention that this game is free and it is on Steam, as well as having a separate client for Windows, Mac and Linux.
Have you played Wakfu? Let us know in the comments below what you think about it – Also what do you think of the visual style? As always, you can also get involved with these GeekOut posts by commenting over on Facebook or Twitter.