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My Weekend With Splatoon 2

My first post for the folks over at Lunawolf, check it out

Lunawolf Gaming

Over this past weekend, Nintendo launched the first “Global Testfire” event for the much-anticipated sequel to Splatoon. For the uninitiated, Splatoon was one of the diamonds in the rough on Nintendo’s flop of a console known as the Wii U. Splatoon was praised for its style, and smart take on making a “family friendly” version of the team-based shooter.

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The player takes on the role of an Inkling, a child with the ability to transform into a squid. As an Inkling, you’ll compete in shootouts using paint guns in lieu of bullets. Kills aren’t your main objective in Splatoon, instead, you’ll fight to cover the map in your teams paint color, in the aptly named “Turf War” mode.

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Naturally when the Nintendo Switch was announced Splatoon 2 was a no brainer. The Wii U’s sales were proof that one of Nintendo’s most inspired new IPs in years had only reached…

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Review: Horizon Zero Dawn

Game: Horizon Zero Dawn1

Developer: Guerilla Games

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Platform(s): PlayStation 4

Release Date: February 28th, 2017

MSRP: $59.99

With the Nintendo Switch out now that this is posted I felt a particular urgency to play Horizon. It’s a game I knew I would like and one I was determined to spend as much time with as possible prior to Zelda and the Switch. Roughly three days later I’ve put over thirty hours into Guerilla Games PS4 exclusive, and I’m so glad I made time for it. 17097308_1464375290241493_8658031887260918580_o

Our protagonist is Aloy, a female outcast of the Nora tribe and a skilled hunter. Horizon is set in what I can only describe as the post-post-apocalypse. Maybe I’m just making excuses for a game I like but how far removed  ( by thousands of years) Horizon is from the end of the world makes it infinitely more interesting than your typical post-apocalyptic game. Your task is simple, win acceptance into the Nora tribe that shunned you as a “Motherless outcast” and discover the truth about your own heritage as well as the truth behind what happened to the “metal world” and the people that came before.

The world of Horizon is populated with lots of dangers including Raiders and cultists, but the biggest by far are the wild machines. The wilds of this earth are filled with rejects from Transformers Beast Wars. The smallest of the bunch are known as Watchers, they resemble raptors and are easy enough to take down. These typically appear as guardians for herds of other machines to alert them to your presence. Beyond Watchers, you’ll encounter a whole lot of cool looking animal-themed robots from the Bison looking Long Horns to the Sawtooth which is essentially a huge Sabertooth Tiger. The deeper into the game you get, the more you’ll encounter large-scale killers like the Thunderjaw a T-rex with twin missile launchers and an attitude.

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Hey big fella

 

Combat with these beasts is one of the deepest and most enjoyable gameplay aspects of Horizon. You don’t have the power to brute force these beasts so instead you’ll rely on Aloy’s Focus an ancient device that gives her a sort of eagle vision or detective mode that is all too common in open world games these days. You can use this to locate glowing weak points on enemies and pick away at them slowly in a very, Monster Hunter like fashion. Some of the larger enemies like the Thunderjaw can even have heavy weapons knocked off and used against them. If monster slaying is your game Horizon has a whole line of hunting lodge side quests to scratch that itch.

Aside from necessary large scale encounters Horizon has a large focused on stealth. Small human enemies and small robots like the Watchers can be killed with a single strike from stealth. Horizon took a page from Assassins Creed with a whistle mechanic that had me stacking bodies in the bushes pulling my enemies one at a time.

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Be very quiet

 

As you complete main story missions and side missions you’ll accumulate experience and be able to dump skill points into upgrades abilities like increased stealth or stronger melee strikes. In addition to these abilities, Aloy will gain some exceptional skills through completing side quests. Early on Aloy gets the ability to hack small machines to fight for her. Throughout the game you’ll find robot manufacturing plants called “Cauldrons” reaching the center of one of these and hacking its core will allow you to subsquently hack the machines produced there but don’t expect to do so without a fight.

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Now we wait

 

In addition to Aloys bow, you can purchase many weapons from traders on your journey including trip wires and a sort of repeater rifle. I never used much more than my trusty bow, and a weapon called the rope caster which allows you to tie down enemies temporarily. You can also buy new armor sets for Alloy which give certain benefits like damage reduction from specific elements. You can also find and craft upgrade modules to boost weapon and armor stats.

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A look at the weapon modding screen

 

The crafting system of Horizon is incredibly deep. One rule applies always be looting. Grab plants, machine scraps everything you can, you’ll always be crafting fresh ammo and health potions and most of these materials are also used in trading with merchants, however, the metal shards you loot are the primary currency in play.

Most importantly for me, Horizon fixes a lot of the problems I have with open world games. For starters it has towers to help reveal the map in the roaming Long Necks but only four in the entire game. You mean I don’t have to climb 400 watch towers? Thanks Guerilla. The map also doesn’t feel too populated, you have plenty of side activities, but they don’t feel overwhelming. You can also buy maps to reveal more icons if you like horrible messes. Combat doesn’t feel repetitive like it often does in games like Farcry and Assassins Creed fighting behemoths that are far stronger than you keeps you on your toes.

It seems funny to say that one of Horizons biggest strengths is that it delivers on story. I have no doubt we will see a Horizon trilogy, despite this Guerilla left no real dangling threads. Horizon answers all of the big questions it answers. A sequel is basically a sure thing, but it may be something very diffrent.

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View from the top

 

Horizon Zero Dawn is a really special game. It blends an enticing story with likable characters and gorgeous environments. It has challenging and rewarding combat that makes you want to challenge robotic death machine for hours on end. Horizon Zero Dawn is a perfect open world game and Sonys new IP to watch.

Score: 10 out of 10

 

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Review: Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas

Game: Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas

Developer: Comfox & Bros

Publisher: FDG Entertainment

Platform(s): ios, Android, PC( reviewed), PS4, PS Vita(unreleased) Xbox One, Nintendo Switch(unreleased)

Release Date(s): November 14th, 2013 (ios), March 17th, 2015(Windows PC), September 7th, 2016 (Xbox One/PS4), December 15th, 2016 (Android), 2017 (Nintendo Switch), TBA (Vita)

MSRP: $5.99(mobile devices) $14.99(PC and console)

With a short lull in between all the big Resident Evils and other big titles on the horizon, I found time to give due attention to a little game that has been crowding my Steam library for over a year. Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas was described upon its original release on ios back in 2013 as a beautiful mobile tribute to Zelda. I am not the biggest fan of mobile gaming; I’ll play on PC or console over my phone in a heartbeat. So it’s no surprise I hadn’t heard a damn thing about this game before it came to PC and even then it took me some time to finally get around to it I can at least say I’m happy I did, and you should too.

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Just be cool, nobody thinks you’re a Zora

 

Oceanhorn is most easily explained by its likeness to Zelda, specifically its similarities to A Link to the Past and Windwaker. In usual Zelda fashion, you’ll explore dungeons and fight enemies using your trusty Sword and Shield, bombs, and bow and arrow. Through a brief look at the environment and simplicity in the many islands, you’ll explore it’s obvious that this game was built on a phone, however, the addition of gamepad support has you feeling like you’re on a real Hyrule adventure in no time.

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Maybe the Zelda homage is too on the nose

 

Oceanhorn follows a young boy on a journey to find his father and defeat the legendary Oceanhorn, the last of the living fortresses. You’ll travel from island to island in search of three medallions you can use to call forth Oceanhorn. Traversing diffrent dungeons and puzzles.

Oceanhorns biggest weaknesses are in its camera perspective. The isometric viewpoints can make puzzles frustrating at times and bring progression to a frustrating slog. In addition to a camera built for phones, Oceanhorn’s likeness to Zelda can be as bad as it is good. It wears its influences on its sleeve sometimes it just feels like a plain rip off. Heat containers are just called heart containers, save for having no control over it everything about the boat design just screams Windwaker. Oceanhorn even uses the typical structure of a Zelda title, three dungeons to obtain three stones or medallions of legendary power. One of the races called the Gilfolk are very clearly the equivalent of Zoras from the Zelda series.oceanhorn-steam-screenshot-6

Oceanhorn does have a few key differences from Zelda, for one it has a leveling system. You’ll gain experience as you defeat enemies and finish goals outlined in your journal such as breaking a certain number of pots or knocking an enemy into the water to defeat them. As you level up you’ll be able to carry more ammo for weapons like the bow and arrow and unlock some new equipment like the pumpkin seed gun, a projectile weapon used to defend yourself from your boat.

Oceanhorn might be something of a lower quality Zelda clone, but it’s something charming in its own right. For the low asking price of fifteen dollars(as I wouldn’t recommend playing on mobile) its a short little adventure to tide you over until Breath of the Wild launches and best of all can be played on almost any device you already own. Oceanhorn has a sequel in the works, and I hope with a bigger budget, the team at Comfox & Bros make an excellent second outing.

Score:7 out of 10

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I Am Setsuna Moved Up To Switch Launch

Of all the criticisms surrounding Nintendo’s  latest console its launch line up of only five games was probably the most founded. Well, it would appear we can now bump up that launch number to six.

Square Enix has confirmed that I Am Setsuna will be available day and date with the Switch Console, March 3rd, 2017.

So for those of you not up to date the Switch lineup is now as follows.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • 1-2 Switch
  • Super Bomberman R
  • Skylanders Imaginators
  • Just Dance 2017
  • I Am Setsuna

So we have a pretty great old school RPG up for Switch day one. If you’re unfamiliar with the title, you can check out my review of the PS4 version here.

 

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Mass Effect Andromeda’s New Trailer Looks Great

It’s been unclear when we would hear more news on BioWare’s long-awaited Mass Effect Andromeda. Well, wait no longer a new trailer dropped this morning, and it looks awesome. BioWare says everything in the trailer is running in real-time.

The trailer shows new threats to our twin heroes, including some robotic looking enemies reminiscent of the Reapers, as well as new more humanoid alien species.

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I’m Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite blog on the Citadel!

 

We still don’t know a whole lot about Andromeda, but Bioware says it’s coming sometime in spring of next year. Until then check out the trailer and wait anxiously. To tide you over until then Mass Effect 2 and 3 are out for Xbox One backwards compatibility today.

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20th Anniversary Patch Remakes Diablo In Diablo 3

At BlizzCon today, Blizzard announced that Diablo 3’s upcoming 20th-anniversary patch would contain a full remake of the original game.diablo-iii

It will include a 16 level Cathedral and the four bosses from the original game. It will also include filters to make it look more pixely and grainy if you want that old school feel.

The new area named The Darkening of Tristam will be available in Diablo 3’s public test realm next week. Also note it’s a free update for Reaper of Souls, so if you don’t have the expansion you can’t play.

Now all we need is for Diablo 2 to be added as well. Are you excited to play the classic Diablo in Diablo 3? diablo_coverart

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Top 5: Games for the Wii U

So The Wii U is just about at the end of its life. It’s a bittersweet moment. It’s sad to see a console pass so quickly; Nintendo made some mistakes in design and support of 3rd parties, and all we can hope is that the NX will rectify those errors. There are more than a few people who would tell you the Wii U was a waste with no good games to speak of, I disagree. So, with Nintendo’s NX looming over the horizon, I thought I’d put together my list of the top 5 games for the Wii U.

5. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

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You got your Shin Megami Tensei in my Fire Emblem; you got your Fire Emblem in my Shin Megami Tensei. It’s the crossover game you never knew you wanted! Tokyo Mirage Sessions combines the demon-battling teenage drama of the Shin Megami Tensei series with the tactical battles of Fire Emblem. You play as a group of high school aged students trying to become pop stars who quickly discover their world is filled with demons; each character combines with an entity from another world for battle( that’s where the Fire Emblem characters come in.) As long as you don’t mind a bit of cheesy humor, this is a fantastic choice for any JRPG fan.

4. Captain Toad Treasure Tracker

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One of my favorite Wii U games spawned from the bonus stages of Super Mario 3D world, a game that didn’t make my list. As much as I did love Super Mario 3D world, I loved those stages, in particular, the most. So naturally Captain Toad Treasure Tracker made for hours of fun for me. You play as Captain Toad and Toadette navigating through puzzles to uncover gold stars at the end of the stage. For anyone looking for a relaxing puzzle game Captain Toad has your fix.

3. Splatoon

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The Wii U exclusive shooter is my number 3 pick. Splatoon is not your average competitive shooter. You play as Inklings, kids with the ability to transform into squid-like forms, battling with paint guns to see who can cover most of the map with their respective teams paint color. You’ll take damage and move slowly while standing in enemy paint but can travel at break neck speeds while traversing your own team’s paint in squid form. For anyone that likes their shooters oozing with personality or paint and squids, check out Splatoon for sure.

2. Super Smash Bros. Wii U

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I don’t have to tell anyone that the latest installment in the Super Smash series is a reason to buy the Wii U. This series is always a fan favorite, but this installment, in particular, is my favorite since Melee. Some great new character additions include Little Mac, Greninja, and even Cloud Strife and Ryu via DLC. The combat feels fluid, and the new eight-man brawls brought a lot of fun game nights with friends. Super Smash Bros. Wii U is number two.

1. Super Mario Maker

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So here we are, the god damn crown jewel of the Wii U. Mario Maker is more than a game to me, it’s like Nintendo read my freakin mind. Who’s the weirdo for drawing out Mario levels on graph paper now? With an insane amount of tools from the first Super Mario Bros., Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U you’ve got plenty of content to work with. I still fire up Mario Maker up from time to time just to check in on any new levels. It remains my biggest time sink on the Wii U to date. Hopefully, the 3DS version coming this December can hold me over until the inevitable NX sequel. Super Mario Maker is number one.

What are some of your favorite Wii U titles that didn’t make my list? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading.

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