Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'destiny'.



More search options

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Categories

  • Extra Life News
    • Extra Life Updates
    • Best Practices
    • Community Content
    • Why I Extra Life
    • Fundraising
    • Contests
  • Gaming News
  • Features
  • Podcast

Discussions

  • Extra Life Discussions
    • General Extra Life Discussion
    • Local Extra Lifers
    • Fundraising Ideas
    • Live Streaming Tips & Tricks
    • Official Extra Life Stream Team Discussion
    • Extra Life JSON Code Discussion & Sharing
    • Extra Life United
    • Extra Life Q & A
  • Articles & Extra Life Announcements
    • Announcements
  • Official Extra Life Guilds
    • Guild information and Discussion
    • Canada
    • Northeastern US
    • Southeastern US
    • Central US
    • Western US
  • Gaming Discussions
    • General Gaming Discussion
  • Other Stuff

Calendars

  • Extra Life Community Calendar
  • Extra Life Stream Team
  • Akron Guild
  • Albany Guild
  • Albuquerque Guild
  • Anchorage Guild
  • Atlanta Guild
  • Austin Guild
  • Bakersfield Guild
  • Baltimore Guild
  • Birmingham Guild
  • Boston Guild
  • Burlington Guild
  • Buffalo Guild
  • Calgary, AB Guild
  • Morgantown Guild
  • Charlottesville Guild
  • Chicago Guild
  • Cincinnati Guild
  • Cleveland Guild
  • Columbia, MO Guild
  • Columbus, OH Guild
  • Dallas Guild
  • Dayton Guild
  • Denver Guild
  • Des Moines Guild
  • Detroit Guild
  • Edmonton, AB Guild
  • Fargo-Valley City Guild
  • Fresno Guild
  • Ft. Worth Guild
  • Gainesville-Tallahassee Guild
  • Grand Rapids Guild
  • Halifax, NS Guild
  • Hamilton, ON Guild
  • Hartford Guild
  • Hershey Guild
  • Hudson Valley Guild
  • Houston Guild
  • Indianapolis Guild
  • Jacksonville Guild
  • Kansas City Guild
  • Knoxville Guild
  • Lansing Guild
  • London, ON Guild
  • Los Angeles Guild
  • Milwaukee / Madison Guild
  • Minneapolis / Twin Cities Guild
  • Montreal / Quebec City Guild
  • Nashville Guild
  • Newark Guild
  • NYC & Long Island Guild
  • Oakland / San Francisco Guild
  • Omaha Guild
  • Orange County Guild
  • Orlando Guild
  • Ottawa, ON Guild
  • Philadelphia Guild
  • Phoenix Guild
  • Pittsburgh Guild
  • Portland, OR Guild
  • Portland, ME Guild
  • Raleigh-Durham Guild
  • Richmond Guild
  • Sacramento Guild
  • Salt Lake City Guild
  • San Antonio Guild
  • San Diego Guild
  • San Juan, PR Guild
  • Saskatchewan Guild
  • Seattle Guild
  • Spokane Guild
  • Springfield-Champaign, IL Guild
  • Springfield, MA Guild
  • St. Louis Guild
  • Tampa / St. Petersburg Guild
  • Toronto, ON Guild
  • Vancouver, BC Guild
  • Washington DC Guild
  • Winnipeg, MB Guild

Categories

  • Broadcasting Toolkit
  • Multimedia Kit
  • Extra Life Guild Tool Kit

Group


Hospital


Location


Why I "Extra Life"


Interests


Twitter


Instagram


Twitch


Mixer


Discord


Blizzard Battletag


Nintendo ID


PSN ID


Steam


Origin


Xbox Gamertag

Found 30 results

  1. After Bungie concluded their work on Halo: Reach, they turned their eyes toward a game that a small segment of the company had been fleshing out for years. That game would eventually become Destiny after overcoming numerous development challenges. Destiny's devs had to contend with a malicious engine that required obscene amounts of time to load changes, stratospheric expectations, a rough split with its long-time composer, and the decision to scrap the entire story with less than a year left of development time. The stakes were high. But when Destiny released to the public, Bungie thought they had a winner on their hands - Destiny was, after all, the most pre-ordered game in history! Unfortunately, the critical reception was mixed. Despite this, Destiny certainly accrued a huge following over the years, which led to Jason Pfitzer from Northern Heart Games, this week's guest, to nominate Bungie's FPS MMO hybrid. Looking at Destiny several years after its launch and subsequent revisions - is it one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Destiny 'Hope Rising' by Jillian Aversa and zircon (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03002) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can follow Jason on Twitter, @JasonPfitzer, and be sure to check out the game he has been working on at Northern Heart Games! Pinbrawl is a competitive, four-player pinball melee. Having played it at multiple stages in its development, I can confirm that it's very fun. If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  2. After Bungie concluded their work on Halo: Reach, they turned their eyes toward a game that a small segment of the company had been fleshing out for years. That game would eventually become Destiny after overcoming numerous development challenges. Destiny's devs had to contend with a malicious engine that required obscene amounts of time to load changes, stratospheric expectations, a rough split with its long-time composer, and the decision to scrap the entire story with less than a year left of development time. The stakes were high. But when Destiny released to the public, Bungie thought they had a winner on their hands - Destiny was, after all, the most pre-ordered game in history! Unfortunately, the critical reception was mixed. Despite this, Destiny certainly accrued a huge following over the years, which led to Jason Pfitzer from Northern Heart Games, this week's guest, to nominate Bungie's FPS MMO hybrid. Looking at Destiny several years after its launch and subsequent revisions - is it one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. Outro music: Destiny 'Hope Rising' by Jillian Aversa and zircon (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03002) You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is (sometimes) available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can follow Jason on Twitter, @JasonPfitzer, and be sure to check out the game he has been working on at Northern Heart Games! Pinbrawl is a competitive, four-player pinball melee. Having played it at multiple stages in its development, I can confirm that it's very fun. If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  3. Destiny 2 is just over two months away, arriving Sept. 6. Bungie is in the process of preparing existing Destiny players for the big move over by gradually winding things down in the original, starting by ending services for crucible events. A recent post on Bungie’s blog revealed that Destiny’s Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris are coming to a close in the coming months. The modes are entering “hibernation before reemerging to spread their beautiful wings in unexpected ways in Destiny 2,” the post reads. Fans should mark Aug. 1 as the date for the final Iron Banner. The last Trials of Osiris event will take place Aug. 11. Bungie also explained how Destiny accomplishments will be reflected in the upcoming sequel. Namely, dedicated Guardians will be awarded memorialization emblems for completing specific events during Destiny's lifetime. Some of these can only be earned by those who were present from the game’s launch or at the start of Year 2, but others are currently still achievable. If you’re looking to earn those emblems, Bungie states players have until Aug. 1 to do so before the data is frozen in preparation for Destiny 2. Bungie's full post goes into greater detail about the types of memorialization emblems players can earn as well as details on how to earn an Age of Triumph t-shirt. You can check it out here. For more on Destiny 2, check out the title's E3 2017 trailer, a comprehensive rundown of its features and Jack Gardner's take on the game's shift in tone. View full article
  4. Destiny 2 is just over two months away, arriving Sept. 6. Bungie is in the process of preparing existing Destiny players for the big move over by gradually winding things down in the original, starting by ending services for crucible events. A recent post on Bungie’s blog revealed that Destiny’s Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris are coming to a close in the coming months. The modes are entering “hibernation before reemerging to spread their beautiful wings in unexpected ways in Destiny 2,” the post reads. Fans should mark Aug. 1 as the date for the final Iron Banner. The last Trials of Osiris event will take place Aug. 11. Bungie also explained how Destiny accomplishments will be reflected in the upcoming sequel. Namely, dedicated Guardians will be awarded memorialization emblems for completing specific events during Destiny's lifetime. Some of these can only be earned by those who were present from the game’s launch or at the start of Year 2, but others are currently still achievable. If you’re looking to earn those emblems, Bungie states players have until Aug. 1 to do so before the data is frozen in preparation for Destiny 2. Bungie's full post goes into greater detail about the types of memorialization emblems players can earn as well as details on how to earn an Age of Triumph t-shirt. You can check it out here. For more on Destiny 2, check out the title's E3 2017 trailer, a comprehensive rundown of its features and Jack Gardner's take on the game's shift in tone.
  5. First Destiny DLC Coming in December

    Destiny fans, mark December 9 on your calendars. Titled "The Dark Below," the expansion adds several story missions, an additional strike, and a new raid. The story missions and strike revolve around the Hive's god, Crota. That name might be familiar to Destiny players from the mission where players wield the Sword of Crota (notable for being the only mission in the game where players do something other than shoot everything). This new content will be accessible by talking with a new NPC in Tower named Eris. PlayStation owners will have access to an exclusive, limited time strike called "The Unyielding Mind," though no word yet on exactly when that will release. Beyond new missions, Bungie is adding some quality of life adjustments. The level cap will be raised from 30 to 32 and five more bounty slots will be opened up. New weapons and gear are also on their way. The standalone price of the expansion is $19.99, while the season pass for Destiny's DLC is $34.99.
  6. From September 26 - 28, owners of PlayStation systems will be able to experience multiplayer without the typically required PS Plus membership. That means the weekend will be a good time to play numerous recent multiplayer titles like Diablo III, Destiny, or FIFA 15. Access will open on September 26 at 12:01am PT and close on September 28 at 11:59pm PT.
  7. I don’t think it is an understatement to say that Destiny’s story is bad. A number of videos and articles have popped up criticizing the loose and hollow plot in the week since its release. Having reviewed Destiny myself and being similarly frustrated by its abysmal narrative, I was prompted to revisit Fire Emblem: Awakening, a game that successfully accomplishes the type of storytelling that Destiny so spectacularly lacks. Destiny is a sci-fi first-person shooter with RPG and MMO elements for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Fire Emblem: Awakening is a turn-based strategy title for the 3DS. Destiny strives for the most impressive graphical qualities possible, while Fire Emblem: Awakening contents itself with strangely styled 3D graphics and an anime aesthetic. Clearly, Fire Emblem and Destiny have very little to do with one another in terms of visual style or gameplay or… much else, really. However, both are games that make an attempt to have a narrative and that is where I’m most interested in comparing the two to illustrate how a great game can successfully tell a story that resonates with its players. It should tell you something that this is a fairly good approximation of Destiny’s plot. One of the important things to keep in mind when talking about video game narratives is that writing a video game is completely different than writing a screenplay or a book or an internet article. The main difference stems from player agency, the choices players make as they play. This throws off the traditional format of linear narratives that we’ve grown accustomed to experiencing in movies, songs, and literature. While all of that might seem obvious, the fact of the matter is that there aren’t many places that can properly teach how to write a video game outside of the traditional ideas about story structure. It can be tempting to say, “Just write better,” when you see a game that isn’t very compelling. It turns out that “just write better” isn’t terribly helpful. I’m not going to pretend that I know the ins and outs of how to write a video game, but what has become clear to me over the last few years of writing about video games is that the ones that are loudly praised tend to be games that effectively fuse their gameplay with their narratives. Crafting a game where a player feels like their actions in the moment-to-moment gameplay matter to both the immediate experience and to the larger narrative, imbues everything with additional tension and sense of purpose. Successfully pulling that off makes the game better than the sum of its parts. Destiny doesn’t ever do this. Its gameplay and story are completely separate. And you know what? That’s fine! Many great games have terrible stories and solid gameplay to fall back on. Look no farther than every Mario Bros. game ever or many of the recent Call of Duty titles. However, would it be fair to assume that games with great gameplay as well as a meaningful narrative are preferable to games with just enjoyable gameplay? I think most of us would answer in the affirmative. Fire Emblem: Awakening does just that. The Fire Emblem series has been around for almost 25 years. In that time, there have been eleven main entries (thirteen if you count remakes) in the series, though North America has seen less than half of those. The turn-based gameplay takes place on a variety of different maps with varied terrain and enemy placement. As players progress through these maps they’ll have opportunities to recruit new characters with different abilities and skills to their army. If this sounds familiar, that’s because there are a number of game series that offer similar core experiences like Advanced Wars or Final Fantasy Tactics. Secretly, Fire Emblem: Awakening isn’t about the turn-based battles at all. Sure, they make up the core experience of the game, but the battles are a complex and entertaining front for the support conversations between characters. It has been a longstanding tradition in Fire Emblem games that the units players recruit into their armies all have names, motivations, backstories, and freely interact with one another as they spend time together in combat. Support conversations are windows into those character interactions. In addition to unlocking entertaining dialogues, characters that have become friends gain stat bonuses for fighting near one another. This relationship mechanic has been a part of the Fire Emblem experience for a long time, so why did I specifically call out Fire Emblem: Awakening for making support conversations the core of the game? From the prologue mission and through the opening tutorial missions, Fire Emblem: Awakening makes it clear that fighting together is important to both the gameplay and the narrative. The game tacitly encourages players to seek out support conversations by rewarding with meaningful stat gains in the tactical segments. Whereas previous entries in the series included support conversations as a side activity, Awakening goes out of its way to explicitly point out their importance. As players progress through missions of increasing complexity and difficulty, the relationships between characters mature, but the specter of death is never far away. Fire Emblem has had permadeath ingrained into its code since the very beginning. Once a character falls on the battlefield they are either permanently maimed (if they figured prominently into the narrative) or they die. Though Awakening does give players the option between a permadeath-free mode and classic mode, classic is the way it was intended to be played. I say this not as some elitist snob who thinks that only “real” gamers play with permadeath, but as someone who thinks that the narrative stakes get much higher when you know that any mistake you make could cost you the life of a beloved character. It is the same principle that Jake Solomon, lead designer of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, is encouraging when he suggests that players name their soldiers after friends and family. Furthermore, Fire Emblem: Awakening asks the player to insert themselves into the game by creating an avatar. The avatar is unique in that it can have support conversations with every recruitable character, meaning that the player is virtually guaranteed to have some investment into the characters he or she find interesting. None of this would work if the support conversations weren’t well written and nuanced, which they are. It is easy to dismiss many of the characters at first glance because they seem to fit rather simple molds, like the cocky warrior Vaike or the clumsy and shy Sumia. However, through their interactions with other characters we get a chance to dig deeper into their characters and perhaps catch a glimpse of why they are the way they are (other than because someone wrote them to be that way). We learn throughout the hours spent on Fire Emblem: Awakening that our army is the opposite of the faceless entities we see in many other games that deal with sweeping conflicts. If we dig into the actual story of Awakening, we find a work of genre fantasy. Players are meant to be hooked from one battle to the next on an increasingly urgent quest to avoid war and prevent global catastrophe. It isn’t complex and it isn’t something that avid fantasy readers/movie-watchers won’t have seen multiple times before. However, the support conversations flesh out the less interesting elements of the story and make it feel new in a way many of us haven’t experienced before. If the story is the skeleton, the support conversations are the tendons and muscles. *Spoiler Warning* It could be said that I am drastically inflating the importance of support conversations in Fire Emblem: Awakening. However, what I think really seals the deal is that the support conversations are inexorably tied to the ending of Awakening. After defeating hordes of foes and learning the intimate details of your comrades, the avatar is revealed to be the vessel of an evil bent on the destruction of the world. The only thing that keeps the avatar from following through on that motivation is the thought of destroying his or her friends. The relationships formed through the support conversations are what ultimately save the world because those connections have become concrete things as opposed to abstract concepts. *End Spoiler* Let’s recap: Awakening’s main plot is a fantasy storyline that would feel right at home in a genre novel page-turner, but it is elevated by the designed focus on the support conversations between the numerous characters who join the player’s army. These relationships are encouraged by tangible gains like stat boosts. Tension and emotional attachment exists due to the ever-present threat of permanent death aimed toward the members of the player’s army. The avatar the player creates helps to invest the player into the relationships they find interesting, further increasing the connection to said characters. Ultimately, the relationships formed throughout Awakening are brought into the story with everything riding on the line. From the beginning of Awakening until its final moments, players are both tangibly and emotionally involved in the story because the gameplay and narrative are so closely bonded together. It results in a more resonant game than previous Fire Emblems, which is why I’d argue many regard it as the finest entry in the series to date. I compare the storytelling and characterization of Awakening to what I saw in Destiny and I can’t help but think that my time was better spent laughing, smiling, and tearing up on my 3DS. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a third playthrough of Fire Emblem: Awakening to complete. View full article
  8. I don’t think it is an understatement to say that Destiny’s story is bad. A number of videos and articles have popped up criticizing the loose and hollow plot in the week since its release. Having reviewed Destiny myself and being similarly frustrated by its abysmal narrative, I was prompted to revisit Fire Emblem: Awakening, a game that successfully accomplishes the type of storytelling that Destiny so spectacularly lacks. Destiny is a sci-fi first-person shooter with RPG and MMO elements for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Fire Emblem: Awakening is a turn-based strategy title for the 3DS. Destiny strives for the most impressive graphical qualities possible, while Fire Emblem: Awakening contents itself with strangely styled 3D graphics and an anime aesthetic. Clearly, Fire Emblem and Destiny have very little to do with one another in terms of visual style or gameplay or… much else, really. However, both are games that make an attempt to have a narrative and that is where I’m most interested in comparing the two to illustrate how a great game can successfully tell a story that resonates with its players. It should tell you something that this is a fairly good approximation of Destiny’s plot. One of the important things to keep in mind when talking about video game narratives is that writing a video game is completely different than writing a screenplay or a book or an internet article. The main difference stems from player agency, the choices players make as they play. This throws off the traditional format of linear narratives that we’ve grown accustomed to experiencing in movies, songs, and literature. While all of that might seem obvious, the fact of the matter is that there aren’t many places that can properly teach how to write a video game outside of the traditional ideas about story structure. It can be tempting to say, “Just write better,” when you see a game that isn’t very compelling. It turns out that “just write better” isn’t terribly helpful. I’m not going to pretend that I know the ins and outs of how to write a video game, but what has become clear to me over the last few years of writing about video games is that the ones that are loudly praised tend to be games that effectively fuse their gameplay with their narratives. Crafting a game where a player feels like their actions in the moment-to-moment gameplay matter to both the immediate experience and to the larger narrative, imbues everything with additional tension and sense of purpose. Successfully pulling that off makes the game better than the sum of its parts. Destiny doesn’t ever do this. Its gameplay and story are completely separate. And you know what? That’s fine! Many great games have terrible stories and solid gameplay to fall back on. Look no farther than every Mario Bros. game ever or many of the recent Call of Duty titles. However, would it be fair to assume that games with great gameplay as well as a meaningful narrative are preferable to games with just enjoyable gameplay? I think most of us would answer in the affirmative. Fire Emblem: Awakening does just that. The Fire Emblem series has been around for almost 25 years. In that time, there have been eleven main entries (thirteen if you count remakes) in the series, though North America has seen less than half of those. The turn-based gameplay takes place on a variety of different maps with varied terrain and enemy placement. As players progress through these maps they’ll have opportunities to recruit new characters with different abilities and skills to their army. If this sounds familiar, that’s because there are a number of game series that offer similar core experiences like Advanced Wars or Final Fantasy Tactics. Secretly, Fire Emblem: Awakening isn’t about the turn-based battles at all. Sure, they make up the core experience of the game, but the battles are a complex and entertaining front for the support conversations between characters. It has been a longstanding tradition in Fire Emblem games that the units players recruit into their armies all have names, motivations, backstories, and freely interact with one another as they spend time together in combat. Support conversations are windows into those character interactions. In addition to unlocking entertaining dialogues, characters that have become friends gain stat bonuses for fighting near one another. This relationship mechanic has been a part of the Fire Emblem experience for a long time, so why did I specifically call out Fire Emblem: Awakening for making support conversations the core of the game? From the prologue mission and through the opening tutorial missions, Fire Emblem: Awakening makes it clear that fighting together is important to both the gameplay and the narrative. The game tacitly encourages players to seek out support conversations by rewarding with meaningful stat gains in the tactical segments. Whereas previous entries in the series included support conversations as a side activity, Awakening goes out of its way to explicitly point out their importance. As players progress through missions of increasing complexity and difficulty, the relationships between characters mature, but the specter of death is never far away. Fire Emblem has had permadeath ingrained into its code since the very beginning. Once a character falls on the battlefield they are either permanently maimed (if they figured prominently into the narrative) or they die. Though Awakening does give players the option between a permadeath-free mode and classic mode, classic is the way it was intended to be played. I say this not as some elitist snob who thinks that only “real” gamers play with permadeath, but as someone who thinks that the narrative stakes get much higher when you know that any mistake you make could cost you the life of a beloved character. It is the same principle that Jake Solomon, lead designer of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, is encouraging when he suggests that players name their soldiers after friends and family. Furthermore, Fire Emblem: Awakening asks the player to insert themselves into the game by creating an avatar. The avatar is unique in that it can have support conversations with every recruitable character, meaning that the player is virtually guaranteed to have some investment into the characters he or she find interesting. None of this would work if the support conversations weren’t well written and nuanced, which they are. It is easy to dismiss many of the characters at first glance because they seem to fit rather simple molds, like the cocky warrior Vaike or the clumsy and shy Sumia. However, through their interactions with other characters we get a chance to dig deeper into their characters and perhaps catch a glimpse of why they are the way they are (other than because someone wrote them to be that way). We learn throughout the hours spent on Fire Emblem: Awakening that our army is the opposite of the faceless entities we see in many other games that deal with sweeping conflicts. If we dig into the actual story of Awakening, we find a work of genre fantasy. Players are meant to be hooked from one battle to the next on an increasingly urgent quest to avoid war and prevent global catastrophe. It isn’t complex and it isn’t something that avid fantasy readers/movie-watchers won’t have seen multiple times before. However, the support conversations flesh out the less interesting elements of the story and make it feel new in a way many of us haven’t experienced before. If the story is the skeleton, the support conversations are the tendons and muscles. *Spoiler Warning* It could be said that I am drastically inflating the importance of support conversations in Fire Emblem: Awakening. However, what I think really seals the deal is that the support conversations are inexorably tied to the ending of Awakening. After defeating hordes of foes and learning the intimate details of your comrades, the avatar is revealed to be the vessel of an evil bent on the destruction of the world. The only thing that keeps the avatar from following through on that motivation is the thought of destroying his or her friends. The relationships formed through the support conversations are what ultimately save the world because those connections have become concrete things as opposed to abstract concepts. *End Spoiler* Let’s recap: Awakening’s main plot is a fantasy storyline that would feel right at home in a genre novel page-turner, but it is elevated by the designed focus on the support conversations between the numerous characters who join the player’s army. These relationships are encouraged by tangible gains like stat boosts. Tension and emotional attachment exists due to the ever-present threat of permanent death aimed toward the members of the player’s army. The avatar the player creates helps to invest the player into the relationships they find interesting, further increasing the connection to said characters. Ultimately, the relationships formed throughout Awakening are brought into the story with everything riding on the line. From the beginning of Awakening until its final moments, players are both tangibly and emotionally involved in the story because the gameplay and narrative are so closely bonded together. It results in a more resonant game than previous Fire Emblems, which is why I’d argue many regard it as the finest entry in the series to date. I compare the storytelling and characterization of Awakening to what I saw in Destiny and I can’t help but think that my time was better spent laughing, smiling, and tearing up on my 3DS. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a third playthrough of Fire Emblem: Awakening to complete.
  9. Review: Destiny

    Bungie’s newest game, the most pre-ordered new IP in history, is entertaining. The gameplay is tight, the environments are gorgeous, and the character designs ooze cool. In fact, it seems like many of the design choices in Destiny revolve around a rule of cool, as if Bungie was constantly asking, “Will this be cool? If not, scrap it.” The result is a game that looks superb set in an inviting universe populated by interesting and diverse enemies. If that’s the case, why then does Destiny feel so hollow? Note: As of the writing of this review, end-game content such as raids have not been unlocked. The review will be updated when raids unlock next week. Playing Destiny just feels good. Players are given a kit of abilities and weapons and tasked with eliminating groups of enemies that all behave in different ways. Do you want to save your rocket launcher ammo for the boss or is the large group of clustered enemies rushing toward you worth the shot? Take the time to reload your auto rifle or go in for the melee attack? Use your super move or attempt a headshot with your throwing knife? These are questions you’ll be asking yourself constantly, often with only a split second to come to a decision. All of these choices come together and feel fluid in-game. The same feeling of fluidity carries over into competitive multiplayer. Initially, there will only be one game type to choose from, but others will unlock as players level up. Control is similar to many capture point-style modes found in other games, while Clash is traditional team deathmatch under a different name. Rumble is a standard free-for-all brawl. The Skirmish mode is interesting. It pits two teams of three against each other, emphasizing the importance of team work. Finally, Salvage tasks teams of three to battle over possession of relics. With a decent number of well-balanced maps, multiplayer is sure to be a draw for a number of people. It does have a few problems, though. Notably, despite the tag of “Level Advantages Disabled” it seems like there is still a noticeable power difference between well-geared or leveled people and players who are just starting out. Hopefully a patch can balance the competitive multiplayer a bit better. There are also a great deal of weapons that can insta-kill: shotguns, fusion rifles, headshots with the hand cannon, sniper rifle, and each playable class’ super move which has the capacity to instantly kill multiple enemy players. Not to mention the vehicles which, though nerfed since the beta, still empower people to a frustrating degree. These instant death situations are plentiful and they lead to a lot of deaths that feel cheap. Though players can team up on story missions or wander the large maps in Patrol mode, Strikes are the highlight of Destiny’s cooperative multiplayer. They require a degree of teamwork to claim victory and can’t be pulled off alone. They tend to culminate in large boss battles against enemies with ludicrous amounts of health. They are long, feature tons of bad guys, and test the limits of player skill. In other words, they’re one of the best parts about Destiny. Destiny truly shines when it comes to the visuals. I would love to see a feature in an upcoming patch that allows players to completely disable the HUD. The vistas are so gorgeous that it seems a shame to have some of them hidden behind objective markers, a radar, and ammo counter. It is refreshing to see that, even though Destiny has aspirations to be a serious shooter, it isn’t cut from the same washed-out cloth as many other FPS games. Destiny isn’t afraid to access a rich and vibrant color palate. Each area feels different, distinguished in part by variances in architecture, color schemes, and terrain. The pitted grey surface of the moon feels totally distinct from the rainy and tropical climes of Venus. Similarly, the human buildings on Earth feel at odds with the alien fortresses on Mars. Every change in scenery is accompanied by a new enemy entering the mix. There are four alien races so far: the Fallen, Hive, Vex, and Cabal. Each race has their own unique enemy types and tactics. The enemies are distinct from each other to a pleasing degree. It is easy to recognize the difference between the lumbering forms of the Cabal from the wiry, mechanical forms of the Vex. I got the sense that each of these races has a history, a reason for why they are in the Sol system and utterly hostile toward the human race. But I only got an impression, never any moving story sequences or moments to illustrate why I should care about them, other than the fact that they look cool. As players progress, they will unlock portions of lore in Destiny’s Grimoire. However, the Grimoire is inaccessible through any in-game means. You are forced to either go to Bungie’s website or download the free Destiny app to a mobile device. To me, locking off the background information to separate devices seems like a bizarre design decision. There is so much to like about Destiny. When it comes together, it feels sublime and there are glimpses of greatness. However, more often than not, it comes up short on its potential. A major contributor to this is the narrative, which feels like it was treated as a secondary or maybe even tertiary concern when balanced against the gameplay and visual design. Whenever someone might want Destiny to be more than functional, it can’t seem to rise to meet that desire. That’s a shame because there is so much potential in the Destiny universe, so many events alluded to that would be interesting to explore (at one point the Peter Dinklage-voiced robot casually tosses out that at one point the entire planet of Mercury was transformed into an evil machine!). **Spoiler Warning** Here is a brief synopsis of approximately half of the story present in Destiny: A sentient mechanical eyeball voiced by Peter Dinklage resurrects the protagonist to help defend the last city on Earth from the coming Darkness. The two then go off on a series of excursions that put them in contact with an old AI named Rasputin that somehow is connected with the Moon. While on the Moon, the duo crosses paths with a mysterious person (with no connection to Rasputin) who indicates they should check out Venus, because there is an even worse evil there than the aliens that live underneath the surface of the Moon and have been invading Earth. This is indicative of where Destiny’s story goes wrong. It doesn’t bother to create coherent events that run together or make sense. Instead, it opts to go for just a series of events that happen. The Rasputin AI is used to get players from Earth to the Moon and is never mentioned again until one of the last missions in the game (which happens to be a side mission, not one of the core story missions). There is this concept known as economical storytelling which just means that every element of your story should be essential. Nothing is gained by including Rasputin into the narrative of Destiny, other than getting the player to the Moon. Furthermore, Bungie associates a lot of important language with the AI. Destiny refers to the AI as a Warmind and tells the player that it has the potential to save mankind from extinction by reactivating old defenses, but we never see any of that happen, aside from a giant communications array rising from the ground. The tell-don’t-show approach spills over into other parts of Destiny as well. The most obvious example of this is the stakes into which players are continually asked to invest themselves. The old “aliens want to destroy the world” cliché just doesn’t hold up as well when you are trying to tell a compelling narrative in video games these days. Why should we care about the last city on Earth? For all the player knows, everyone in the city is already dead since we never see any of them. Guardians all seem to live in Tower, the central hub of Destiny. You can see a few non-guardians wandering around or running shops, but other than that, there are large stretches of buildings far below. Those buildings are as close as players ever get to having a reason to care about the human race (other than the fact that the people holding the controller and playing Destiny are, presumably, human themselves). Then there are the other issues with the narrative like the constant use of ambiguity. At times it feels like players are fighting against concepts instead of factions of aliens with their own goals and agendas. The clearest example of this is the often mentioned “Darkness” that is coming. What is it? I’ve finished the story and I have no idea. The game just tells you it is bad and that it almost destroyed all human life. I guess it is hard to see the threat posed by the Darkness when Earth is already overrun with several different alien races that want to destroy the remaining humans and the nearest planets house aliens that also want to kill everything. Why even mention the Darkness at all if it has nothing to do with the central plot? Clearly it is a set up for future expansions, but it serves no purpose in the narrative of Destiny as it stands currently and is bafflingly present in many of the dialogue exchanges throughout the game. This is the opposite of economical storytelling. I understand that video games contain different story structures than more traditional forms of media, but the fact remains that Destiny wastes a lot of its narrative time on inconsequential elements of its universe. I think that is where Destiny’s story went wrong. It took the building of a giant universe as its story’s central mission instead of building the world as a part of the narrative. We are meant to envision a large, rich game universe as Destiny throws around terms like Warmind and concepts like the Darkness. It is an attempt at world building that largely succeeds, at the cost of a coherent narrative that players will be able to enjoy. Now, this could all simply be attributed to lazy writing, but it seems to me that a project as big as Destiny would have to be a bit more self-aware. I have a suspicion that the narrative is intentionally structured this way. Destiny is rated T by the ESRB, which means it can be sold to younger gamers under the age of 17. While Destiny’s plot might not make much sense on paper, in practice it moves at a breakneck pace through vastly different scenery and enemies. Propelling players forward as fast as possible through the story is much easier when you don’t worry about things like character development, stakes, drama, etc. Many younger players, ages 12-16, could very well be utterly beguiled by the stylish combat, gorgeous scenery, and downright cool vibe Destiny throws out. The big sounding words and concepts impart a sense of scale that will leave the upcoming generation of gamers feeling like Destiny is one of the coolest games they’ve ever played, though they will struggle to articulate exactly why that is and what makes it so great. Though Destiny slips up and falls completely flat from a dramatic standpoint, it is still blast to play, which is why I can’t find it within myself to feel angry toward what it does or fails to do, just a bit of realistic disappointment. The opening mission holds such promise. Resurrected from the dead by a Ghost, it is a mad dash away from oncoming Fallen forces through rusting cars and timeworn corridors. Things seem so large and big as Ghost rattles off crucial details of the situation. Then you acquire weapons and armor and learn how to use them in your first real encounter. The fighting is fast, flashy, and leaves you feeling great as you take off in your newly acquired spacecraft. It feels so reminiscent of Star Wars that it kindles a bit of hope that the experience of Destiny might be something utterly unique and magical. What else could the game have in store? As you spend hours and hours making your way through the various missions and game worlds, it becomes clear that there isn’t much more to Destiny’s gameplay than what you experienced in the first mission. In fact, I can only think of one mission where I was required to do something other than shoot bad guys until the game allowed me to continue and that was a mission where I got a sword to slice up bad guys until the game allowed me to continue. The potential of the first mission is never realized. In fact, as Destiny continues there are more and more opportunities for interesting scenarios and interactions, but nothing ever comes of them. By the end of the campaign it felt like all that had been accomplished over the course of several days was the creation of a blank slate universe to which Bungie can add content as they wish. Conclusion: It is hard for me to conjure any animosity toward Destiny. It plays well and looks great, but the story is deeply flawed on numerous levels. It has nothing to say about which I feel offended other than way it undermines its own narrative, which just makes me feel kinda sad. The multiplayer is fun, though frustrating at times, and teaming up with friends to blast away at digital aliens in a Strike is good fun. Destiny is a worthy first-person shooter if all you are looking for is a shooter with neat visuals and tight gameplay. If you are looking for a story that will stick with you for years to come, Destiny is not that game. Perhaps the expansions will contain a story worth your time and attention, but until then enjoy the fun. Time will tell for certain, but I think the lesson to be learned from Destiny in five to ten years is that while a fun experience is pleasurable, it is also ephemeral. High quality stories are pleasuarable, too, but they also last. Destiny is currently available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. This review will be updated when raids are released next week. Update: Having experienced Destiny's raids, they do not significantly alter my opinions regarding Destiny's end game content. The lack of matchmaking for raids will prove to be a considerable barrier for players with less than the five highly levelled friends required to participate.
  10. Anyone with an early copy of the upcoming sci-fi shooter should be able to play it before the official launch. The servers have been up since 6AM CST this morning to allow members of the press and anyone fortunate enough to get their hands on a full-release copy a head start on Destiny's content. Expect to see social media going bananas over the next twelve hours as we close in on the official launch of Bungie's next first-person shooter. According to Activision, Destiny's launch has taken on historic proportions by becoming the most pre-ordered new video game IP ever. This isn't terribly surprising since over 4.6 million players participated in the Destiny beta, setting a high bar for future betas this generation. "Destiny is the game we've always wanted to make," said Bungie's president, Harold Ryan. "We've dreamt of this universe for years, so we couldn't be more thrilled to swing open the doors and let fans shape this experience as they tell their unique stories in the game. For us, the next generation of games is all about allowing players to collide and interact with each other as they take on epic, action-packed adventures all their own." Destiny releases September 9 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
  11. Destiny's Planet View Holds Some Secrets

    In the ramp up to Destiny's release next week, Bungie has partnered with Google to create interactive maps of the planets players can visit in-game. Enterprising players who take the time to explore those planets can unlock a neat reward. Players who take the time to find every viewable in Planet View will be receive a unique emblem to show off in-game. In addition to the flashy piece of loot, Planet View gives a lot of narrated background on the different environments and enemies that players will encounter. As someone who takes a particular interest in lore and world building in video games, more information about the denizens of Destiny's universe is always welcome. Destiny releases next week on September 9.
  12. Preview: Bungie's Destiny Is Going to Be Big

    Over the past few days I had the opportunity to take a break from reviewing the incredibly long PC RPG Divinity: Original Sin (68 hours in with the end still not in sight!) by suiting up as one of humanity’s last Guardians. After three focused days with the beta, I can say with confidence that Bungie has put what it learned from years developing Halo and successfully read the gaming landscape to create an FPS title that will stand the test of time. The Destiny beta was previewed on PlayStation 4. How does one describe Destiny? Destiny seems like a hodgepodge of various elements copped from other famous science-fiction games, movies, and books that were then rolled up into one package, streamlined, and then given some of the characteristics of an MMO (I thought about putting in the dictionary definition of destiny here instead, but decided that would be too obvious). The physics of the movement is very Halo-esque, giving the player a sensation of great power and fluidity, while eschewing the frantic pacing of titles like Call of Duty or Titanfall. Meanwhile the gunplay is heavily influenced by Borderlands. The aesthetics and setting have Star Wars influences written all over along them (imagine that the Deathstar was sentient, good, and didn’t blow up planets and you basically have the premise for Destiny). Finally, the story is a mix of Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood’s End both of which were written by Arthur C. Clarke. And here is the thing: All of those disparate elements come together feeling new and fresh, which is a real achievement! I walked away from my weekend with Destiny having enjoyed myself and feeling optimistic about the game’s future. However, I don’t think it is enough to tell you that I had this positive reaction to Destiny, instead I’m going to attempt to explain why. One of the main attractions of Destiny is how it empowers players. It goes about this in a variety of ways, but first and foremost, it conveys power through movement and terrain traversal. As usual for an FPS, players can toggle between normal running and sprinting, the pace of which is not frenetically fast, but instead instils a feeling of accuracy and control. It is a small touch, but it works. Jumping represents a major contributor to the empowerment of movement in Destiny. At first it seems like a more toned-down version of Halo’s high, floaty jumps, but upon reaching level three or four, players unlock the double jump and it changes everything. In my mind, Titanfall was the first FPS that truly embraced the notion of verticality and freedom of movement. I played Titanfall and felt like I was seeing what the new trend in multiplayer would be; Bungie, much like Respawn, realized that it needed to get away from the landlocked mentality of last-gen’s shooters. I won’t say that Bungie looked at Titanfall and tried to emulate it; Destiny has clearly been in development for years, too long to make such a fundamental change to its entire structure and gameplay dynamics. Destiny and Titanfall both happened to hit on the idea that giving players more options in how they move makes the game a great deal more fun and allows for a more flowing feel to the entire affair. Oh, and the speeder bikes that you can summon almost anywhere control very well and lend the maps a sense of scope while finally allowing you to see what it would be like to ride one of the speeders from Return of the Jedi. Those are pretty sweet. Beyond movement, Destiny takes a running leap (har har) right out of the gate in regards to progression. Completing missions and killing enemies grants experience that adds up over time to level characters. Over the course of the first few missions players level up frequently, about a level per story mission, and find new equipment everywhere. Each level rewards players with a new ability, a variation of one of their existing abilities, an upgrade for core power, or a boost to base stats. New equipment comes in the familiar rarity color coding made omnipresent by Diablo (now go ahead and tell me that Diablo wasn’t the first game to start this sort of color scheme, Diablo was the first I could recall), though the best equipment typically drops in the form of schematics that must be decoded. Uncommon or rare weapons also gain experience the more they are used and can be upgraded once they’ve been used enough in battle. All of this comes together to give players a real sense of escalating power. Now, I can’t speak as to how this will continue on in the full version of Destiny, since the beta caps progress at level 8, but I’d imagine that, similar to other MMOs, the pace of power growth will slow dramatically during the mid to late game compared to the early sections. And make no mistake, Destiny is an MMO despite the marketing of it as being a “shared world.” Destiny takes many design decisions found in a typical MMO and applies them to a first-person shooter in a remarkably deft manner. The elements are there, from random events, to raids (called Strikes), to sidequests that branch off from the main story missions, to seeing the numbers indicating damage dealt pop up with ever successful shot to an enemy. At any given time I could see three or four other Guardians pursuing side missions or participating in random events, but social interaction never felt forced on me or like it took me out of the experience. The strange part is that this all comes together very well. I have my gripes with the Borderlands series, but being able to team up with friends and shoot your way through a campaign was undeniably fun. Destiny captures the essence of that co-op experience and applies it on a wider scale. In fact, the gameplay really does remind me of Borderlands, albeit with more mobility, except that Destiny manages to both make the gameplay its own and appropriately tone the entire affair. That tone is what will make Destiny such a success. Undoubtedly many kids under the age of 17 got their hands on the M rated Borderlands and Borderlands 2, but think of how many more copies Borderlands would have been able to sell with a T rating from the ESRB. On June 26 the ESRB announced that Destiny will be rated T, which widens the audience quite a bit. Combine that with the Star Wars vibe that the title exudes, the sweeping scope, the gameplay which can be enjoyed with friends, and the lack of a subscription fee (ignoring, for a second, PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live), and to me that seems like something that will be astronomically big. It will be innocuous enough to get by most parents while still appealing to the youth demographic and it will be interesting and edgy enough to pull in the older crowds. Now, from all those glowing statements about what Destiny does right, you might be thinking that this is the most perfect game to have ever existed or that I am a goon paid for by Bungie. Neither of those assumptions are correct for there are a number of areas in Destiny that fell short. Many people have pointed to Peter Dinklage’s voice acting performance as something that detracts significantly from their experience. I would never presume to try and invalidate the feelings that other people have, because gut reactions to things can never be “wrong” in any quantitative sense. However, I do think that this is a case of people signaling out a surface-level, lackluster element and pinning their frustrations on it. While Peter Dinklage at times certainly gives a phoned-in performance* (which could very well detract from some players in-game experience, it just didn’t significantly alter my own), the main problem with Destiny isn’t that the performances aren’t as nuanced and deep as they could be; the main problem is that Destiny’s narrative doesn’t know how to begin its story. I don’t want to be overly critical here because Destiny is still months from release and could very well have some of the beginning story elements locked away. However, the product on display in the beta is clunky. It is never sure of how much or when it should dole out information. My character awakens to the line, “you’ve been dead for a long time,” and immediately, without any questions asked, the game placed me into the action. Now, this is a good way to grab a player’s attention, but it comes with a number of questions that demand answers after that action is concluded. Those answers never came. I was whisked away to the last human city, Tower, where I was given general background information about the state of the world and my character’s place in it, but those don’t satisfactorily answer why or how my character was brought back from the dead. There are lots of logic things that can be overlooked in the name of drama, but it was really irritating to me to hear my character speak and somehow fail to ask how he was brought back from the dead. That’s kind of a big deal. If technology is advanced enough to bring people back from the dead after “a long time” how is humanity in bad shape? This serves as a great example of one of my biggest complaints regarding Destiny, because there are numerous times when important details about the world seemed to go unexplained or ignored. Players are simply told to accept the quirks of the various races and events in Destiny’s story without enough context to make sense of it all. The previous paragraph was a minor complaint. That might seem odd, but the story of Destiny is such a secondary (possibly tertiary) concern that it won’t be something that affects most players experience with the game, because the refinement of Destiny’s gameplay trumps most of the minor quibbles it has, story or otherwise. One of those nitpicks goes to the AI, which seem to encounter invisible walls from time to time that can be used to pick off enemies or manipulate them into doing stupid things like running out of cover for no reason. Melee enemies in particular seem to be hit on the head with dumb. Jumping to a high elevation causes them to mill around helplessly like lost puppies. If I had to pick one more smallish complaint, it would be that the sidequests scattered throughout the exploration mode are largely uninteresting and seem to exist mostly out of obligation. Despite the annoyances and the narrative concerns, the heart of the matter is that Destiny is fun. The diversity of inspirations works to make the journey through a devastated Earth and beyond seem new instead of rehashed. It is visually exciting and delivers moments of tense action, comradery, and a sense of adventure. All other concerns aside, the bottom line is that Destiny is such an enjoyable experience that trumps almost any other criticism you could level at it. Destiny releases September 9 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. * Regarding Peter Dinklage: Here’s the thing, folks, Peter Dinklage is a very talented actor. He has a real flair for the dramatic and is capable of turning an audience to putty in his hands through his tone of voice. While it is true that the end result of his voice acting in Destiny sounds less than stellar, we don’t know why he sounds that way. Making a video game is a highly collaborative process. It could be that he found the lines too ridiculous to say seriously; it could be that he just didn’t care; it could be that Dinklage acts best when physically present on a set (to my knowledge, he has only ever done voice work for one other property and that was for Ice Age: Continental Drift in 2012); but it could also be that the people directing him didn’t know how to get what they wanted or they made the call that what they recorded was an acceptable final product. It is important to remember that Peter Dinklage doesn’t have the final say on what goes into Destiny and that others are making the call that those lines were read appropriately. Finally, in Destiny, Dinklage voices a robot and, to me, he sounds very robot-like and detached in-game, which could contribute to why some of his lines sound so lifeless. He’s undeniably a great actor, capable of compelling work (Here is a brilliant scene from Game of Thrones Season 4, spoiler warning and all that), but for that talent to shine it require people in a number of other capacities to recognize what the game needs and bring it out of Dinklage.
  13. Just a friendly reminder that the Destiny beta hits on July 17 at 10 AM Pacific for PlayStation owners and July 23, also at 10 AM Pacific, for Xbox. Also, there is a new Destiny trailer. Oh, and a couple spiffy, expensive collector's editions. It is important to remember that people who pre-order Destiny are guaranteed a spot in the beta and that PlayStation Plus will be required for certain features on PlayStation systems and Xbox Live required to function on the 360 and One. The Beta will be offline for scheduled maintenance on July 21 - July 22 and open back up to pre-order participants across all platforms until 11:59pm PDT on July 27. "Wait," you might be asking yourself, "What about those different versions of the game you mentioned earlier, Mr. Writerperson?" Activision and Bungie also revealed today three different collector's editions of the game as well as how much they are going to hurt your wallet. The Destiny Ghost Edition and the Destiny Limited Edition both include a SteelBook case with physical disc; a Guardian Folio containing Postcards from the Golden Age, Antique Star Chart, and an Arms & Armament Field Guide; a digital content pack consisting of a unique ghost casing, player emblem, and ship variant; and the Destiny Expansion Pass which grants access to two of the post-launch Destiny expansions. The first expansion, titled The Dark Below, will take players beneath the surface of the Moon to battle an alien god that leads an evil army of Hive forces against Earth. The second expansion has no details as of yet beyond its name: House of Wolves (Editor's Note: I originally typed this Hose of Wolves, which I imagine would be a game about wolf fire fighters). PlayStation platforms will also include additional exclusive content for The Dark Below and House of Wolves that will remain exclusive until at least Fall of 2015. And that is only what the two editions have in common. Continuing on.... Destiny Ghost Edition comes with a replica of Ghost, complete with motion-activated lights and sounds voiced by Peter Dinklage; a letter of introduction; Golden Age Relics which include a photo, patch, sticker, and two chrome slides of the Traveler. Digital pre-orderers will be receiving the Digital Guardian Edition of Destiny which includes a digital download copy of the game, the Destiny Expansion Pass, and the Collector's Edition Digital Content Pack. All pre-orders will include access to the Vangaurd Armory that includes early access to weapons, gear and exclusive player emblem. That's a lot of cool stuff. Now for the bad news: Ghost Edition will retail at $149.99; the Limited Edition will cost $99.99; the Digital Guardian Edition will bite at $89.99. Destiny's Expansion Pass alone will be $34.99 and the expansions individually will cost $19.99 apiece. All of these editions are available now. I suppose it is nice that we seem to have ourselves quite a few options. Destiny fully releases for all platforms on September 9.
  14. E3 2014 - Sony's Press Conference

    Following Microsoft’s press conference earlier today, Sony had to be on its game. Microsoft showed a fair number of titles with first access DLC for Xbox owners and a couple highly polished an interesting exclusives (here’s lookin’ at you, Sunset Overdrive and Scalebound). Sony seems to have given a suitably escalated response. Sony began by showing a story-teasing, action packed trailer (narrated by Peter Dinklage!) and announcing that PS4 owners would have access to a special first-look alpha of the game beginning this Thursday and continuing through Sunday. It was also revealed that PlayStation owners would receive an exclusive strike mission (the Destiny equivalent of dungeon raids) for Destiny. July 17 marks when Destiny enters open beta. Furthermore, when Destiny releases on September 9, there will also be a bundle with a white PlayStation 4. The Order: 1886 also made an obligatory appearance with a brief segment showing off some atmospheric gameplay. It is worth noting that the trailer below was edited together and, while made up of the gameplay that I saw live, doesn’t quite capture the same intensity or urgency that the gameplay segment demonstrated. After The Order, Sony decided to introduce Entwined. Players control a bird and a fish that fall in love and over try to guide them through several lifetimes to be together. Yes, the concept is weird. On the other hand, the game is a joy to look at and the music relaxing and beautiful. Each creature is assigned a different joystick, meaning that you control both of them simultaneously. The best part about this announcement (I mean, besides that it exists) is that it is available today on PSN for a reasonable $9.99. If you thought that Sucker Punch and Sony had abandoned Second Son, think again! Entwined lead into the reveal of Second Son DLC titled First Light. Players take on the role of fan favorite character Fetch Walker as she deals with the demons of her past. First Light is slated for release sometime in August 2014. LittleBigPlanet 3 debuted with a live gameplay demonstration and trailer. The game introduces new characters as well as co-op gameplay. Sackboy is joined by the dog-like Oddsock who has the ability to wall jump; Toggle a blobby character who can grow and shrink at will; and Swoop who can fly around at will. LittleBigPlanet 3 is coming to PS4 this November. Additionally, you’ll be able to go online and play any level made in LittleBigPlanet 3. Sony had pulled out the big guns with the reveal of LittleBigPlanet 3, and like a comical scene in a sweeping action film they continued to pull out more big guns. It turns out those images and five second video clips that have been popping up and been attributed to a From Software game under the working title of Project Beast were genuine. Bloodborne appears to be a grim action game that makes use of Dark Souls imagery while making use of a slightly different premise. Count me in as excited for this PlayStation exclusive coming 2015. This might get a bit lengthy if I go too in-depth with what happened during the conference, so I am going to shotgun a number of highlights at you: Far Cry 4 was demonstrated live (and has co-op). Dead Island 2 is coming out and one of the characters is voiced by Jack Black. There will be a Last of Us Remastered/Diablo 3 crossover mission that involves taking out infected zombies in Diablo 3. Battlefield Hardline had a trailer (plus the beta, which is available right now for PS4 players). Paradox Interactive has all of its development studios working on exclusive PlayStation titles; the first of which is Magicka 2. With a great live-action trailer and a tagline like “Learn to spell… again” how can you not smile and feel a twinge of anticipation? Double Fine is partnering with Sony to remaster the beloved adventure game Grim Fandango. *JOY SPASMS* Devolver Digital, the publisher behind Hotline Miami, is bringing a load of games to PlayStation consoles first, before they make their way elsewhere. This includes Broforce, Titan Souls, Not A Hero, Hotline Miami Wrong Number, and The Talos Principle. Sound like a lot or never heard of the before? Check out this neat little trailer thing that does your research for you! Then we arrived at the point during the conference where Sony uttered the words Suda 51. The ever unpredictable designer is in the process of crafting a game titled Let It Die, which received a trailer that is probably too graphic to embed directly into this post. Check it out here if you are interested. Suffice it to say that Suda 51 is either a genius or insane. I’m leaning more towards insane, but possibly in a good way? Regardless, Let It Die comes out in 2015. Remember how great Journey was? If you don’t it was fan-flippin’-tastic. One of the artists on that thatgamecompany’s last title spun off his own studio, dubbed it Giant Squid and began working on a mysterious new title called Abzû. Much like Journey, Abzû’s soundtrack has been composed by Austin Wintory. Unlike Journey, Abzû appears to take place completely under water with a diver exploring the unknown depths and interacting with the various denizens of the watery deep. Immediately following Abzû was a trailer that showcased the progress of the highly anticipated No Man’s Sky. I can’t really put into words how excited I am to one day get my hands on No Man’s Sky, but… ugh. It really seems to be doing something different and doing that different thing WELL. Also, I think I just salivated at the thought of playing this game with a VR headset. Sony decided that we needed a bit of a break from new announcements and spent a few minutes reassuring everyone that their virtual reality peripheral Project Morpheus is still a thing and it will have demos n’ stuff. An integrated YouTube app will be making its way to PS4 later this year. This will facilitate the watching of cat videos as well as uploading shared gameplay videos online with friends, family, and strangers. The game streaming service PlayStation Now will enter open beta on July 31 for PlayStation 4 and shortly after available for PS3 and PSVita. As an almost casual aside, it was mentioned that PlayStation Now will also be available on select Sony televisions. All you need is a DualShock 4 controller to play on qualifying television sets. PlayStation TV will be coming to North America. The PlayStation TV is essentially a streaming box that allows the PlayStation 4 to be played on other televisions in the house, can stream PlayStation Vita games to be played on your TV, and allows anyone to access PlayStation Now without the hefty investment costs of a fully-fledged console. PlayStation TV will retail at $100 for the base box and at $139 for a bundle that includes the box, a controller, 8GB of memory, and a digital voucher for a copy of The Lego Movie Game. Oh, and it can stream other services like Netflix, too. In a new push to create more PlayStation exclusives, Sony announced that there will be an PlayStation original series, the first of which is a two run series based on the graphic novel, Powers. The first episode will be available for free. All PlayStation Plus subscribers will be able to view the entire Powers series free of charge. Not being super familiar with the graphic novel, for how it was described made it sound like a police procedural, if those police lived in a world where super-powers existed and there was a specialized police department for super-powered murder cases. That sounds pretty dang cool to me. Then Sony revealed that there is a Ratchet and Clank movie in the works for next year. Sony followed the Ratchet and Clank movie announcement with a drastic tonal shift to The Last of Us Remastered. Now, I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t really tell the difference between the trailer they showed for the enhanced PS4 version over PS3 version, but maybe that’s because my eyes aren’t discerning enough. However, as base and classless as my eyes may be, they couldn’t help getting excited for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. A new trailer was shown that was edited together by Kojima himself. In it we watch Big Boss mourn with urns, grow a ponytail, and be a bit more hardcore than the Solid Snake we’re all accustomed to seeing. I’m relishing the prospect of jumping into whatever craziness Kojima has concocted for The Phantom Pain, because good or bad, it is going to be a ride. Grand Theft Auto V was announced to be coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox one, and PC this fall (though at the press conference they conveniently left out the part about releasing on Xbox One and PC). Players looking to upgrade to a different version will be granted data transfers from whatever system they chose previously to the newer one of their choosing. Sony then revealed a new gameplay segment from Batman: Arkham Knight and, this is coming from someone who hasn’t played previous Arkham games and who is a professional critic, it looks amaze-tastical. I gotta hand it to Sony, they ended this conference incredibly strong. After so many great games debuted or showed impeccable polish, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End tipped the scales in Sony’s favor. Overall I was really impressed by what Sony brought to the table this E3. Maybe that’s partly because I was going in not expecting much besides a victory lap for The Last of Us, a few indies, and a possible Uncharted announcement. What Sony gave was so much more. They announced indie title after indie title, big game that people care about after big game that people care about, and while they kept non-gaming talk low, they hit all the bullet points they needed to and then got back on track with more game reveals and teases. What did you think of the conference? Good? Adequate? Meh?
  15. Join three intrepid players as they venture into The Devils' Lair in the gameplay preview of Destiny's Strike mode. When Destiny launches this September, it will come with a variety of game modes for players to dig into and experience. Out of those numerous modes, only three have been announced: Patrol, Strike, and Competitive. Of those three, we only know a bit about Patrol and Strike. Patrol is what amounts to an exploration mode, allowing players to wander large sections of interior and exterior spaces. In those areas players will find side quests, numerous enemies, and new gear. Like the game Journey, there will also be a degree of online interactivity while making your way in Patrol. Other players will wander into and out of a game pursuing their own goals and missions. However, players also have the option to team up and tackle dynamic challenges that require teamwork. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Strike. Strike seems to be Destiny's version of a dungeon, players of certain types work together to clear a certain area with a definite beginning, middle, and end. That end often involves a tense encounter with a powerful boss with a large reward for emerging victorious. These areas are designed to be played repeatedly, making Strike ideal for players looking to reliably obtain better gear. Check out the video below to get an idea of what to expect. Additionally, Polygon reported today that a Bungie representative has stated that game saves will transfer between console generations. "We're interested in making sure that last gen character can move to next gen," said Bungie's investment lead Tyson Green. "A lot of people are going to buy Destiny on PS3 or Xbox 360 and then get a PS4 for Christmas. Don't tell me I wasted those last 100 hours there. So we're really interested in supporting that." However, while Green did say that transferring data from PS3 to Xbox One wasn't out of the question, he also clarified that it was unlikely due to Sony and Microsoft's restrictions. As for future console plans or how those console transfers would work, details were not forthcoming. As we draw closer to E3 and Destiny's September 9 release date answers should be more readily available. Destiny will be available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Wii U.
  16. Bungie's next project doesn't come out until early 2014, but fans can get early access to the beta by pre-ordering the title from participating retailers. To check which sellers are participating in the per-order beta giveaways, check www.destinythegame.com/wheretobuy. Entry codes will be printed on receipts, flyers distributed at the time of purchase, or sent via email through a retail rewards program. Fans that pre-ordered before October 1 and qualify for this offer are automatically entered into the beta and will receive their entry code from their retailer via email. Use the code on bungie.net/beta and follow the instructions to access the first glimpse of Destiny. The beta will begin next year on all systems that Destiny will release on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360. Additionally, Bungie released a new gameplay trailer called "The Moon" which highlights the enemy race known as the Hive.
  17. http://www.twitch.tv/kickole <-- Support an Extra-Life San Antonio Guildie by pointing a tab of your browsers to her twitch channel today! She'll be streaming the new Destiny Expansion: The Taken King all day! Sans 4pm-8pm. o/
  18. If you are looking for some new things to put on your walls to impress friends, family, or that special person in your life, Bungie has released the first part of their Destiny concept art collection through the online art dealer Cook & Becker. Used during Destiny's development process, the collection includes work by Bungie concept artists Jesse van Dijk, Jaime Jones, Dorje Bellbrook, Ryan deMita, Kekai Kotaki and Joseph Cross. The first part of the released work consists of twelve different pieces. The second half of the collection will release sometime later this year. The giclee art prints are severely limited, meaning some of the pieces have already sold out. They can be quite pricey, retailing anywhere from $100 to $300 for the base image and upwards of $600 for framing and preservative treatments. Check out the first half of Bungie's gallery for yourself. View full article
  19. If you are looking for some new things to put on your walls to impress friends, family, or that special person in your life, Bungie has released the first part of their Destiny concept art collection through the online art dealer Cook & Becker. Used during Destiny's development process, the collection includes work by Bungie concept artists Jesse van Dijk, Jaime Jones, Dorje Bellbrook, Ryan deMita, Kekai Kotaki and Joseph Cross. The first part of the released work consists of twelve different pieces. The second half of the collection will release sometime later this year. The giclee art prints are severely limited, meaning some of the pieces have already sold out. They can be quite pricey, retailing anywhere from $100 to $300 for the base image and upwards of $600 for framing and preservative treatments. Check out the first half of Bungie's gallery for yourself.
  20. Destiny fans, mark December 9 on your calendars. Titled "The Dark Below," the expansion adds several story missions, an additional strike, and a new raid. The story missions and strike revolve around the Hive's god, Crota. That name might be familiar to Destiny players from the mission where players wield the Sword of Crota (notable for being the only mission in the game where players do something other than shoot everything). This new content will be accessible by talking with a new NPC in Tower named Eris. PlayStation owners will have access to an exclusive, limited time strike called "The Unyielding Mind," though no word yet on exactly when that will release. Beyond new missions, Bungie is adding some quality of life adjustments. The level cap will be raised from 30 to 32 and five more bounty slots will be opened up. New weapons and gear are also on their way. The standalone price of the expansion is $19.99, while the season pass for Destiny's DLC is $34.99. View full article
  21. From September 26 - 28, owners of PlayStation systems will be able to experience multiplayer without the typically required PS Plus membership. That means the weekend will be a good time to play numerous recent multiplayer titles like Diablo III, Destiny, or FIFA 15. Access will open on September 26 at 12:01am PT and close on September 28 at 11:59pm PT. View full article
  22. Feature: Review: Destiny

    Bungie’s newest game, the most pre-ordered new IP in history, is entertaining. The gameplay is tight, the environments are gorgeous, and the character designs ooze cool. In fact, it seems like many of the design choices in Destiny revolve around a rule of cool, as if Bungie was constantly asking, “Will this be cool? If not, scrap it.” The result is a game that looks superb set in an inviting universe populated by interesting and diverse enemies. If that’s the case, why then does Destiny feel so hollow? Note: As of the writing of this review, end-game content such as raids have not been unlocked. The review will be updated when raids unlock next week. Playing Destiny just feels good. Players are given a kit of abilities and weapons and tasked with eliminating groups of enemies that all behave in different ways. Do you want to save your rocket launcher ammo for the boss or is the large group of clustered enemies rushing toward you worth the shot? Take the time to reload your auto rifle or go in for the melee attack? Use your super move or attempt a headshot with your throwing knife? These are questions you’ll be asking yourself constantly, often with only a split second to come to a decision. All of these choices come together and feel fluid in-game. The same feeling of fluidity carries over into competitive multiplayer. Initially, there will only be one game type to choose from, but others will unlock as players level up. Control is similar to many capture point-style modes found in other games, while Clash is traditional team deathmatch under a different name. Rumble is a standard free-for-all brawl. The Skirmish mode is interesting. It pits two teams of three against each other, emphasizing the importance of team work. Finally, Salvage tasks teams of three to battle over possession of relics. With a decent number of well-balanced maps, multiplayer is sure to be a draw for a number of people. It does have a few problems, though. Notably, despite the tag of “Level Advantages Disabled” it seems like there is still a noticeable power difference between well-geared or leveled people and players who are just starting out. Hopefully a patch can balance the competitive multiplayer a bit better. There are also a great deal of weapons that can insta-kill: shotguns, fusion rifles, headshots with the hand cannon, sniper rifle, and each playable class’ super move which has the capacity to instantly kill multiple enemy players. Not to mention the vehicles which, though nerfed since the beta, still empower people to a frustrating degree. These instant death situations are plentiful and they lead to a lot of deaths that feel cheap. Though players can team up on story missions or wander the large maps in Patrol mode, Strikes are the highlight of Destiny’s cooperative multiplayer. They require a degree of teamwork to claim victory and can’t be pulled off alone. They tend to culminate in large boss battles against enemies with ludicrous amounts of health. They are long, feature tons of bad guys, and test the limits of player skill. In other words, they’re one of the best parts about Destiny. Destiny truly shines when it comes to the visuals. I would love to see a feature in an upcoming patch that allows players to completely disable the HUD. The vistas are so gorgeous that it seems a shame to have some of them hidden behind objective markers, a radar, and ammo counter. It is refreshing to see that, even though Destiny has aspirations to be a serious shooter, it isn’t cut from the same washed-out cloth as many other FPS games. Destiny isn’t afraid to access a rich and vibrant color palate. Each area feels different, distinguished in part by variances in architecture, color schemes, and terrain. The pitted grey surface of the moon feels totally distinct from the rainy and tropical climes of Venus. Similarly, the human buildings on Earth feel at odds with the alien fortresses on Mars. Every change in scenery is accompanied by a new enemy entering the mix. There are four alien races so far: the Fallen, Hive, Vex, and Cabal. Each race has their own unique enemy types and tactics. The enemies are distinct from each other to a pleasing degree. It is easy to recognize the difference between the lumbering forms of the Cabal from the wiry, mechanical forms of the Vex. I got the sense that each of these races has a history, a reason for why they are in the Sol system and utterly hostile toward the human race. But I only got an impression, never any moving story sequences or moments to illustrate why I should care about them, other than the fact that they look cool. As players progress, they will unlock portions of lore in Destiny’s Grimoire. However, the Grimoire is inaccessible through any in-game means. You are forced to either go to Bungie’s website or download the free Destiny app to a mobile device. To me, locking off the background information to separate devices seems like a bizarre design decision. There is so much to like about Destiny. When it comes together, it feels sublime and there are glimpses of greatness. However, more often than not, it comes up short on its potential. A major contributor to this is the narrative, which feels like it was treated as a secondary or maybe even tertiary concern when balanced against the gameplay and visual design. Whenever someone might want Destiny to be more than functional, it can’t seem to rise to meet that desire. That’s a shame because there is so much potential in the Destiny universe, so many events alluded to that would be interesting to explore (at one point the Peter Dinklage-voiced robot casually tosses out that at one point the entire planet of Mercury was transformed into an evil machine!). **Spoiler Warning** Here is a brief synopsis of approximately half of the story present in Destiny: A sentient mechanical eyeball voiced by Peter Dinklage resurrects the protagonist to help defend the last city on Earth from the coming Darkness. The two then go off on a series of excursions that put them in contact with an old AI named Rasputin that somehow is connected with the Moon. While on the Moon, the duo crosses paths with a mysterious person (with no connection to Rasputin) who indicates they should check out Venus, because there is an even worse evil there than the aliens that live underneath the surface of the Moon and have been invading Earth. This is indicative of where Destiny’s story goes wrong. It doesn’t bother to create coherent events that run together or make sense. Instead, it opts to go for just a series of events that happen. The Rasputin AI is used to get players from Earth to the Moon and is never mentioned again until one of the last missions in the game (which happens to be a side mission, not one of the core story missions). There is this concept known as economical storytelling which just means that every element of your story should be essential. Nothing is gained by including Rasputin into the narrative of Destiny, other than getting the player to the Moon. Furthermore, Bungie associates a lot of important language with the AI. Destiny refers to the AI as a Warmind and tells the player that it has the potential to save mankind from extinction by reactivating old defenses, but we never see any of that happen, aside from a giant communications array rising from the ground. The tell-don’t-show approach spills over into other parts of Destiny as well. The most obvious example of this is the stakes into which players are continually asked to invest themselves. The old “aliens want to destroy the world” cliché just doesn’t hold up as well when you are trying to tell a compelling narrative in video games these days. Why should we care about the last city on Earth? For all the player knows, everyone in the city is already dead since we never see any of them. Guardians all seem to live in Tower, the central hub of Destiny. You can see a few non-guardians wandering around or running shops, but other than that, there are large stretches of buildings far below. Those buildings are as close as players ever get to having a reason to care about the human race (other than the fact that the people holding the controller and playing Destiny are, presumably, human themselves). Then there are the other issues with the narrative like the constant use of ambiguity. At times it feels like players are fighting against concepts instead of factions of aliens with their own goals and agendas. The clearest example of this is the often mentioned “Darkness” that is coming. What is it? I’ve finished the story and I have no idea. The game just tells you it is bad and that it almost destroyed all human life. I guess it is hard to see the threat posed by the Darkness when Earth is already overrun with several different alien races that want to destroy the remaining humans and the nearest planets house aliens that also want to kill everything. Why even mention the Darkness at all if it has nothing to do with the central plot? Clearly it is a set up for future expansions, but it serves no purpose in the narrative of Destiny as it stands currently and is bafflingly present in many of the dialogue exchanges throughout the game. This is the opposite of economical storytelling. I understand that video games contain different story structures than more traditional forms of media, but the fact remains that Destiny wastes a lot of its narrative time on inconsequential elements of its universe. I think that is where Destiny’s story went wrong. It took the building of a giant universe as its story’s central mission instead of building the world as a part of the narrative. We are meant to envision a large, rich game universe as Destiny throws around terms like Warmind and concepts like the Darkness. It is an attempt at world building that largely succeeds, at the cost of a coherent narrative that players will be able to enjoy. Now, this could all simply be attributed to lazy writing, but it seems to me that a project as big as Destiny would have to be a bit more self-aware. I have a suspicion that the narrative is intentionally structured this way. Destiny is rated T by the ESRB, which means it can be sold to younger gamers under the age of 17. While Destiny’s plot might not make much sense on paper, in practice it moves at a breakneck pace through vastly different scenery and enemies. Propelling players forward as fast as possible through the story is much easier when you don’t worry about things like character development, stakes, drama, etc. Many younger players, ages 12-16, could very well be utterly beguiled by the stylish combat, gorgeous scenery, and downright cool vibe Destiny throws out. The big sounding words and concepts impart a sense of scale that will leave the upcoming generation of gamers feeling like Destiny is one of the coolest games they’ve ever played, though they will struggle to articulate exactly why that is and what makes it so great. Though Destiny slips up and falls completely flat from a dramatic standpoint, it is still blast to play, which is why I can’t find it within myself to feel angry toward what it does or fails to do, just a bit of realistic disappointment. The opening mission holds such promise. Resurrected from the dead by a Ghost, it is a mad dash away from oncoming Fallen forces through rusting cars and timeworn corridors. Things seem so large and big as Ghost rattles off crucial details of the situation. Then you acquire weapons and armor and learn how to use them in your first real encounter. The fighting is fast, flashy, and leaves you feeling great as you take off in your newly acquired spacecraft. It feels so reminiscent of Star Wars that it kindles a bit of hope that the experience of Destiny might be something utterly unique and magical. What else could the game have in store? As you spend hours and hours making your way through the various missions and game worlds, it becomes clear that there isn’t much more to Destiny’s gameplay than what you experienced in the first mission. In fact, I can only think of one mission where I was required to do something other than shoot bad guys until the game allowed me to continue and that was a mission where I got a sword to slice up bad guys until the game allowed me to continue. The potential of the first mission is never realized. In fact, as Destiny continues there are more and more opportunities for interesting scenarios and interactions, but nothing ever comes of them. By the end of the campaign it felt like all that had been accomplished over the course of several days was the creation of a blank slate universe to which Bungie can add content as they wish. Conclusion: It is hard for me to conjure any animosity toward Destiny. It plays well and looks great, but the story is deeply flawed on numerous levels. It has nothing to say about which I feel offended other than way it undermines its own narrative, which just makes me feel kinda sad. The multiplayer is fun, though frustrating at times, and teaming up with friends to blast away at digital aliens in a Strike is good fun. Destiny is a worthy first-person shooter if all you are looking for is a shooter with neat visuals and tight gameplay. If you are looking for a story that will stick with you for years to come, Destiny is not that game. Perhaps the expansions will contain a story worth your time and attention, but until then enjoy the fun. Time will tell for certain, but I think the lesson to be learned from Destiny in five to ten years is that while a fun experience is pleasurable, it is also ephemeral. High quality stories are pleasuarable, too, but they also last. Destiny is currently available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. This review will be updated when raids are released next week. Update: Having experienced Destiny's raids, they do not significantly alter my opinions regarding Destiny's end game content. The lack of matchmaking for raids will prove to be a considerable barrier for players with less than the five highly levelled friends required to participate. View full article
  23. Anyone with an early copy of the upcoming sci-fi shooter should be able to play it before the official launch. The servers have been up since 6AM CST this morning to allow members of the press and anyone fortunate enough to get their hands on a full-release copy a head start on Destiny's content. Expect to see social media going bananas over the next twelve hours as we close in on the official launch of Bungie's next first-person shooter. According to Activision, Destiny's launch has taken on historic proportions by becoming the most pre-ordered new video game IP ever. This isn't terribly surprising since over 4.6 million players participated in the Destiny beta, setting a high bar for future betas this generation. "Destiny is the game we've always wanted to make," said Bungie's president, Harold Ryan. "We've dreamt of this universe for years, so we couldn't be more thrilled to swing open the doors and let fans shape this experience as they tell their unique stories in the game. For us, the next generation of games is all about allowing players to collide and interact with each other as they take on epic, action-packed adventures all their own." Destiny releases September 9 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. View full article
  24. In the ramp up to Destiny's release next week, Bungie has partnered with Google to create interactive maps of the planets players can visit in-game. Enterprising players who take the time to explore those planets can unlock a neat reward. Players who take the time to find every viewable in Planet View will be receive a unique emblem to show off in-game. In addition to the flashy piece of loot, Planet View gives a lot of narrated background on the different environments and enemies that players will encounter. As someone who takes a particular interest in lore and world building in video games, more information about the denizens of Destiny's universe is always welcome. Destiny releases next week on September 9. View full article