CA! Radio’s E3 coverage finally concludes with our recap and impressions of Microsoft’s game-filled conference, where Phil Spencer and company revealed the newest addition to the Xbox family, the Xbox One X. That name is terrible.
On May 17th, Nintendo will be partnering with developer Mojang to bring a free Super Mario Bros. update to Minecraft on the Wii U. Skin packs are nothing new to Minecraft, but they usually have a cost associated with them.
Even on Xbox One, the home of Microsoft (who acquired Mojang for brazillions of dollars), users pay out of pocket to re-skin their games in the likes of Halo or Mass Effect, but Super Mario Bros is arguably the most attractive cross-over to date.
And it’s free.
The update includes plenty of Nintendo familiars to choose from, like Waluigi (everyone else is unimportant, because Waluigi), as well as new music, themes, and neat in-game features like bouncy cloud blocks.
It’s like having Mario Maker in your Minecraft. And as someone who owns Minecraft on PC, Vita, 360, Xbox One, Kindle, and PS4, I think this might be enough to warrant the purchase of the Wii U version as well. Maybe.
What’s interesting (as pointed out in the link above) is that Microsoft owns Mojang, and Mojang is partnering with Nintendo for this brilliant cross-over. So in a weird way, Nintendo and Microsoft are shaking hands and hoping to make a shitload of money in the process.
Nintendo has nothing new lined up for the Wii U for the remainder of 2016, and with NX confirmed for March next year this may be the push Nintendo needs to help drag their current-gen console along in the meantime. Then again, Minecraft coming to Vita was supposed to do the same thing.
2015 was often touted by Xbox as the “greatest games lineup” in the company’s history, but truth be told I found very little to be excited about on the exclusive front. That’s not to say I didn’t use my Xbox One, as that’s where I spent a majority of time, I just did so with cross-platform releases.
Unfortunately 2016 appears to be no different.
There’s plenty for Xbox loyalists to be excited about, like Halo Wars 2, Fable Legends, and Cuphead, but none of that really speaks to me. I’m not big in to the RTS genre, so Halo Wars 2 is a bust. I thought Fable Legends was a total snoozefest during my time with the beta, and while Cuphead looks incredible, I’m just not a fan of masochistic platformers. I’m sure it’ll be a great game, and I’m happy for fans of that sort of thing, it’s just not for me. Neither is the expected Forza release this year.
Rare’s Sea of Thieves is intriguing, but so far we’ve seen very little outside of its E3 reveal. It’s also a game I can see sliding off in to 2017, since Microsoft will be using Gears of War as their big holiday title this year. There’s no reason to push out more than consumers can buy, after all. A game that looks like a Pixar film and plays like DayZ with pirates, though? I’m curious.
2016 will no doubt see the release of interesting indie titles, like Aurora 44’s open-world survival RPG, Ashen. Featuring muted cel-shaded graphics, an open world to explore, and a bit of a silent, random co-op mode, Ashen has a Dark Souls-meets-Journey vibe going on. It was one of my favorite reveals last year, but even the developer’s website is devoid of any new information. Like Sea of Thieves, it’s been relatively quiet since its reveal at E3 last June.
Gigantic is another Xbox One exclusive that I just couldn’t be more unexcited for. MOBAs aren’t for me, and my friends that played the beta had nothing positive to say about it aside from its decent visuals. Developer Motiga has an uphill battle to climb in the MOBA market, with Smite already capturing the Xbox One fanbase with a quality product. I wish them the best of luck (of course), but I’m not very optimistic about this one.
Capy’s Super Time Force was excellent, but their upcoming roguelike RPG Below isn’t grabbing me just yet. It looks great (visually), don’t get me wrong, I just haven’t been in the mood for a roguelike in a long while. All I know is that it’s a retro styled top-down roguelike, and the idea of starting over every time I die isn’t appealing. Perhaps the reviews will sway my opinion?
During the Xbox One’s launch window, I enjoyed my time with Killer Instinct, but found the lack of single-player content disappointing. I’m not much of a competitive gamer, so that was reason enough to avoid committing to its 2nd season when Iron Galaxy took over. I understand they’ve been adding to the game ever since, which is a plus. I reinstalled it a few times to check out some of the new roster additions (while they were free trials), I just didn’t care enough to buy in to it again.
Maybe I’ll change my mind with season 3 this Spring, since they’ll be adding in cameos from Battletoads (Joanna Dark wouldn’t be out of place either), but this isn’t one I consider a must have.
I’m really not trying to take a dump on this year’s Xbox One lineup, they’re just releasing a lot of exclusives I don’t have much interest in. There’s definitely a handful of games I’m looking forward to though, so let’s jump in to that instead.
#5 – ReCore
Release date: 2nd half of 2016
Since I haven’t seen a lick of gameplay, I was hesitant to put ReCore on the list at all. Is it a platformer? An action/adventure game? Can I control robots? I really don’t know much about it, but what I do know is that it involves developers from the Metroid Prime series–which are some of my favorite games of all time–and Keiji Inafune.
I’m hoping for good things, but Inafune’s current involvement with a handful of other projects is definitely cause for concern. ReCore is Xbox One’s wild card this year, and it’s a safe bet to expect more of a reveal this year at E3.
ReCore was originally scheduled to release in the Spring, but was recently delayed until the latter half of 2016. Along with the delay, it was also confirmed that it would be heading to PC as well. It’s being published by Microsoft Studios, so don’t expect to see it on PS4, but it’s worth noting that it’s no longer exclusive to the Xbox One.
#4 – Gears of War 4
Release date: Fall 2016
Gears of War provided some of the most enjoyable co-op experiences on the Xbox 360, but my interest lies mostly in the campaign itself. I don’t do competitive multi-player, nor did I spend a lot of time in the series’ horde modes, yet I found myself mowing through baddies on multiple occasions with friends online.
Nothing in particular stands out about Gears of War 4, other than the fact that it’s Gears of War, I like Gears of War, and it’s more Gears of War.
They’re absurdly fun, violent, and great games to kill a weekend with, and I look forward to playing through it with a couple of buddies this Fall… pending the game doesn’t slip in to 2017. And with such a late release, that’s entirely possible. However, the previously announced Christmas 2016 window was recently bumped up to Fall 2016, so maybe it’s further along than I thought. My durag is ready.
#3 – Crackdown 3
Release date: Summer 2016
I’ll be honest, I’ve never played a Crackdown game. Sure, I’ve dabbled at a friend’s house, but I’ve never fully immersed myself in one. However, I do enjoy exploring worlds, blowing shit up, and mindless fun… and that’s what Crackdown 3 seems to deliver.
Whether I’m invested in the series on not, it’s hard to say no to a game that not only checks off the important bits, but ushers in a new era of cloud computed gaming online. I rarely buy games for the sole purpose of playing with other people, but with enough interest in my circle of friends, I can see us spending a lot of time toppling buildings when we’re not involved in something else.
Although the current release window is Summer 2016, I wouldn’t expect to see a concrete date until E3. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it slips in to the Fall, but I’m sure Microsoft doesn’t want to contend with a stacked Q4.
#2 – Tacoma
Release date: “2016”
I’m a fan of what the internet gaming community ignorantly refers to as walking simulators–games like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Nero, Lifeless Planet, and anything else heavily rooted in exploration and storytelling. I’m a sucker for a well written narrative, especially those that hit close to home, so I was definitely impressed by 2013’s Gone Home. Fullbright’s emotional tale of an everyday family experiencing everyday problems stuck with me long after the credits rolled, and still remains one of the most memorable gaming experiences in the last few years.
Taking place nearly 200,000 miles above Earth inside the Lunar Transfer Station Tacoma, I’m assuming you’ll explore the station while unraveling its mystery along the way. I’ve been purposefully avoiding spoilers (as I tend to do with story-heavy games), so that’s a terrible explanation that sells the game short. However, I have faith in the folks at Fullbright and I can’t wait to dive in to their upcoming sci-fi narrative on Xbox later this year.
Tacoma will also release on PC alongside the Xbox One.
#1 – Quantum Break
Release date: April 5th
Quantum Break has been in delay hell for a while now, but I’d rather Remedy and Microsoft release a polished game than make me regret a $60 purchase. Again. The more I see of Quantum Break, the more impressed I am though. It’s visually appealing, there’s no doubt about that, and I love the idea of using time as a weapon. Hiring TV actors is clearly improving the quality of the voice acting as well, but the TV show aspect doesn’t appeal to me at all–so I’m relying heavily on the game itself to provide a solid narrative.
At this point I’m definitely more interested in the story of Tacoma, but Quantum Break leads the pack since it’s the only game on the list with an actual release date. I can’t wait to see if it plays as well as it looks.
What about you folks? What Xbox One console exclusives are you most looking forward to this year? Scalebound would have been #1 for sure, had it not been delayed until 2017.
With gaming being my primary hobby, I’ve been known to bite off more than I can chew–and by that, I mean buy more than I have time to play. I’m sure most of you have this problem. This year I’m trying to be more selective about my purchases and plan to take advantage of rental options (like Red Box) for shorter games, in order to avoid adding to my seemingly never-ending backlog.
Unless some good “freebies” come out over the next few months on Xbox or Playstation, or I’m given more games to review by publishers, my plan is to tackle, or at least attempt, a laundry list of games I bought in 2015 that I never got around to.
With any luck, I’ll get around to these in 2016 (in no particular order):
- Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)
- Tales of Zesteria (PS4)
- Tales of Xillia (PS3)
- Tales of Xillia 2 (PS3)
- Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters (Vita)
- Corpse Party: Blood Drive (Vita)
- SOMA (PS4)
- Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (PS4)
- Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (Vita)
- Rise of the Tomb Raider (XB1)
- Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate (PS4)
- Fallout 4 (PS4)
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4)
- Bloodborne (PS4)
- Grim Fandango Remastered (Vita)
- Persona 4 Golden (Vita)
- Criminal Girls (Vita)
- Monster Monpiece (Vita)
- Earthbound (Wii U VC)
- BlazBlue Chronophantasma Extend (PS4)
- Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- (PS4)
- Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China (PS4)
- LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (XB1)
- The Evil Within (XB1)
- Volume (Vita)
- Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut (PS4)
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (3DS)
- Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection (PS4)
- Freedom Wars (Vita)
Sadly there’s not only more, but I also know I won’t get around to most of these. I’m a full time student, I elect to take accelerated classes during the Summer, and there’s a slew of TV, movies, and books I’d like to catch up on as well–on top of the games I’m genuinely excited about coming out this year.
How does your backlog look? Tell me I’m not the only one around here with a shelf full of games collecting dust.
Hey guys, long time no post! I’ve been pretty busy writing for What’s Your Tag? lately and haven’t had much to update about over here, but I’ve recently played through a few games in my backlog that aren’t new enough to warrant reviews over there. Continue reading “A Long Overdue Romp with a Great RPG, and Another with the Most Heartbreaking Game in the History of Gaming.”
Played On: Xbox 360
Played For: ~25 hours to finish the new content.
DLC Cost: $19.99 or 1600 MSP
Playing Dawnguard for the first time was a bittersweet experience, as I originally played (and reviewed) the Playstation 3 version of Skyrim.. and we all know how that one turned out. I invested around 200 hours in to the PS3 version and even went as far as awarding Skyrim Cheap Boss Attack’s Game of the Year for 2011. When DLC was finally announced, I couldn’t wait to sink more money in to Dawnguard, but that was going to have to wait.
Dawnguard released as a timed exclusive for the Xbox 360 with a one-month exclusivity clause. After that month was over, we Playstation 3 sewer dwellers were still left without the DLC on the Playstation Store. Months went by and still, nothing.
Bethesda ran in to some coding issues where they just couldn’t get Dawnguard to function properly (much like the PS3 version of Skyrim, for some folks) and there was no ETA on when or if we would get to enjoy it at all.
I eventually gave up on waiting and bought Skyrim for a second time on the Xbox 360, and immediately picked up Dawnguard on Xbox Live. As any well thought out plan goes, I didn’t even start playing my 360 version of Skyrim again until almost a year later. Woops?
So here we are now. It’s July of 2013 and summer is usually a dead season for gaming. What better time to finally dive in to something I couldn’t wait to purchase a year ago and never touched, right?
I did a little research online to see when the “best” time to start the Dawnguard DLC would be, and the most common response was level 10. Easy enough.
My girlfriend and I sat down and watched that familiar scene play out where your restrained character is carted off for the chopping block before all hell breaks loose. We created our male Argonian, named him Mookey and were on our way.
Four to five hours later we were level 10 and ready to jump head first in to the vampire infested world of Dawnguard. We really had no idea what was about to happen. Our body was, indeed, not ready.
A group of guards walked by our scaly Argonian and we overheard them talking about Fort Dawnguard. A new quest was immediately placed in our queue to go visit the fort and speak with a man named Isran; the head vampire hunter. Along the way we met up with another traveller heading for the Fort, but he came off as weak and easily intimidated. Even as we entered the Fort, he fumbled his words before being trained in the use of the new crossbow weapon. After a few terrible shots, he eventually became more comfortable and confident as time went on.
We had an emotional attachment to this character because we got to see him go from a weakling to a fully-armored bad ass with a crossbow over the course of the DLC, even allowing us to take him along as a companion. As simple as it sounds, I really enjoy this type of character growth as it’s something a lot of people wouldn’t even notice.
As I mentioned earlier, Dawnguard introduces crossbows to the world of Skyrim. I wasn’t the biggest Archery fan the first time I sunk 200 hours in to the game, but we wanted to try out the crossbow at least once. One head shot lead to another, and 500+ kills later we decided that the crossbow was delicious and didn’t want to use anything else. Being able to take on side quests to enhance the crossbow with exploding bolts was just icing on the cake.
The plot surrounding Dawnguard is that a group of vampires are trying to fulfill a prophecy to eliminate the sun, thus taking over Skyrim. In the opening quests you rescue Serana, a vampire who happens to be the daughter of Harkin, the Vampire Lord. She’s also carrying one of the three known Elder Scrolls that show how to stop this prophecy from occuring. That is, of course, if you’d like to stop it from occuring.
The beauty of Skyrim is the ability to choose your factions and set your own goals. Dawnguard allows you the option of choosing between joining the Dawnguard or allowing Harkin to turn you in to a vampire.
Becoming a vampire comes with a handful of new abilities and an 11-point perk tree that you can apply points to by killing enemies with your new Drain Vitality spell or biting them in melee range. Drain Vitality is a channeled spell (you have to hold the button down) that drains the health from your target and replenishes your health instead. You can also seduce the living and ressurect the dead to fight for you for a limited time, as well as using night vision.
The vampire abilities didn’t really appeal to us as much as the crossbow, so we opted to decline Harkin’s offer and stuck with Isran and Fort Dawnguard for the remainder of the DLC.
Back at the Fort, there were new characters to recruit with each opening up massive amounts of side-quests and fantastic dialogue. Florentius, for example, served as a general goods vendor but was convinced that Arkay, a god, lived inside of his mind. This lead to plenty of back and forth dialogue options where he would approve of your actions, but Arkay would not. He also seemed quite clueless as to what was going on as he couldn’t even tell you what he had for sale or what you would encounter during your quests. His dialogue reminded me a lot of Blinkin from Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
These quests typically rewarded us with unique pieces of loot that have increased effects against undead and vampires, as well as upgrades to our crossbow and its ammunition. Side-quests eventually became tiresome, repetitive affairs that always consisted of going to fetch weapon plans from Dwemer ruins or assassinating vampires posing as travellers in one of the capital cities. We did plenty of them but the main questline was so interesting that we didn’t want to stop hunting down the Elder Scrolls and stop Harkin from fulfilling their prophecy to end the sun.
Dawnguard has a few new environments to explore and DLC typically doesn’t go that extra mile to make them feel like they’ve been there all along, but not Bethesda. They did an amazing job with Oblivion‘s DLC and Skyrim is no different. New caves and tunnels seem massive and endless, with flowing streams and neon plants to light the way.
One area in particular that was really awe inspiring had this amazing mountainous trail that was full of moths that you had to attract with extract collected from the surrounding trees. Another zone was more of a “nether realm” that reminded me a lot of the Oblivion Gates, crossing over to talk with lost souls and fighting new dragons. There was plenty to see that was both new and unique during our time with Dawnguard.
There is also a huge emphasis on the Falmer this time around as you encounter the two remaining Snow Elves who happen to be at war with each other. If you aren’t familiar with Elder Scrolls lore, Snow Elves were offered sanctuary by the Dwarves during their war with the Nords, but at the cost of their sight. As generations passed, the blind Snow Elves eventually became known as Falmer; or the Betrayed.
This storyline in particular took us both by surprise as we expected to be dealing with vampires exclusively, but the DLC as a whole was very rich in lore and story.
The Verdict – A-
Overall, we spent about 25 hours with Dawnguard which includes time spent exploring the new zones, finishing up side quests and completing the story chain. For $19.99, I think the DLC was worth every penny and includes one of the best storylines in all of Skyrim.
We did encounter a few bugs here and there, but this is a Bethesda game after all. Serena, our vampire companion, bugged out during an entire quest chain and would not stop asking us what was on our mind. Her ressurected minion would also cause us to break out of stealth which was brutal considering we are playing as the sneaky archer type.
The bugs weren’t bad enough to ruin the experience, but they did become troublesome from time to time. We also felt that the side-quests went from being entertaining to repetitive and boring, eventually opting to skip them altogether to maintain the flow of the primary story quests.
Still, in the end, the story, environments and colorful cast of characters we met along the way were some of the best in the game and I couldn’t recommend Dawnguard enough if you don’t already have it.