Video Game Review: World War Z

Cooperative zombie games seem impossible to beat. Gathering friends to take on hordes of the undead makes for a fun task while blowing away the hundreds of bodies that charge you to eat your flesh. World War Z is another in that genre, but instead of being outstanding like other titles, the game delivered is a generic shooter with a lot of elements that fall flat.

Rather than basing itself off of the excellent book by Max Brooks, the studio decided to take after the horrendous movie with Brad Pitt. Yes, the film that had the zombies run together like water to pile on any victims that get in the way. The game goes further towards a style similar to other titles like it by having special infected enemies. Think of the average chargers and hunter-like undead from Left 4 Dead, just fewer types.

The only similarity to the novel is that each campaign takes place in a different location on Earth with new protagonists. Each of the four stories has three chapters, except for Japan which will get added at a later date. A variety of tasks from defending points and escorting survivors carry through each section until the next phase, or escape occurs. The missions become repetitive, but with a few friends, it becomes a lot more enjoyable.

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The voice acting and writing for the narrative is not only useless, but it is also painful to endure. While most of the game is average, this aspect truly is atrocious. The voice acting ranges from terrible to bearable, while the writing is consistently poor. The tone does not do the narrative any justice since the drama is not compelling and the comedy is embarrassing and out of place.

Before loading into a campaign, first, each of the four players can choose a character and class. The classes seem to not make a massive difference besides their starting loadout of weapons and equipment, but leveling them up for new skills is empowering while requiring currency that is earned after each chapter. Oddly enough, when selecting a character, you can steal other people’s role chosen. If someone is picked, you can snag that character, and the game swaps the two, so you now have your friend’s chosen person.

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Combat feels bland, especially with the guns. However, shooting a massive horde of flesh-eaters never gets old, only when there are a lot of them. The explosions feel like firecrackers besides using the rocket launcher. Other than that nothing feels satisfying when shooting or blowing up.

Guns can get leveled up like classes do as each weapon gets more use. The upgrades consist of classes of each firearm. Take a basic assault rifle, with enough experience, a new variation with upgrades stats and attachments unlocks for purchase. Rather than customizing, the gun will have a preset that can be bought. While I wish for personalizing my weapons, this system is easy and rewarding.

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PVP is an option, full of the typical game types you find on any other shooter like deathmatch and king of the hill. Every mode pits two teams against one another with zombies in the mix, minus the special infected. Different classes with new loadouts can be selected that differ from the story mode. Other than some differences, this is something I dived into for a taste then went back with friends to play through any of the campaigns.

Updates will benefit the experience since private matches need to be added for parties under four players. Patching up the potholes and placing more content on top of the filled gaps. In a year, this could be much better, I am rooting for the developers to turn it around.

Saber Interactive’s World War Z is a generic option for people needing to scratch that itch for a cooperative zombie adventure that costs less than the average $60 title. While it has plenty of issues, it is easy to pick up and makes up for its flaws with its teamwork based gameplay. Turn on a harder difficulty and grab some friends to have the right amount of relaxation and strategy. If you don’t have friends to play with, then pass on this one.

Score: 5/10

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Video Game Review: Metro: Exodus

4A Games brings an anticlimactic conclusion to their Metro trilogy. Artyom’s latest adventure was something I looked forward to; instead, I am beyond disappointed in what has been delivered. While the first title had its issues, it still managed to be a thrilling experience, Last Light launched itself into the sky with its massive improvements, and Exodus plummets into the ground, smashing its face as a mediocre game.

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A glimpse at the game’s photo mode

Artyom’s dream of heading out of the Metro, out of Moscow, and into the great beyond to find a place that he, his wife Anna, and his band of misfit survivors can live in peace away from radiation, monsters, and bandits. A ride of predictable twists and moments that should have made me cry, but I found myself rolling my eyes until I could move forward into the next chapter.

The series has always had Artyom as a silent protagonist, who worked in 2010 original and reasonably well in the 2013 sequel, but in 2019, I felt his tacky silence hindered interactions with the other characters and the overall drive of the narrative. Impactful moments feel awkward when people speak to Artyom and respond like he said something snarky or insightful.

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One of the many glitches

The writing and some of the voice acting treated me like I was dumb with its reveals and twists throughout the narrative. Characters being surprised over new issues despite the apparent foreshadowing that nobody in The Order, Artyom’s gang of survivors, could see coming. Either these people are dumb, or the game thinks its players will be too moronic to understand what is happening.

Survival gets revamped in the Metro series by including a customization system that allows for guns to not only be upgraded but to change their class like pistols transforming into sniper rifles. The mechanic allowed for plenty of freedom and made me feel stronger as I progressed through the story, especially when I found the items myself when exploring.

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Weapons have each unique qualities that shoot differently while needing some management to stay in perfect condition for the time to kill some bandits or creatures. Water, dust, and other elements in the scenery jam guns and decrease the stats. Having to clean guns only at specific workbenches adds to the survival experience. I felt worried plenty of times when trying to unjam a machine gun when enemies have swarmed me.

Exploration has plenty to offer for crafting supplies, upgrades, and diaries from strangers who had died. Each major area of the game has a dense open environment to explore for side quests and camps to raid; this is the first in the series that lets itself give the player some variety in gameplay. The freedom given in these segments feels more shallow than freeing with its lack of activity and lack of side quests. Those optional objectives are a waste of time by feeling more like an errand rather than an adventure.

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Each primary environment has unique qualities like dynamic weather, enemies, and vehicles to traverse the landscapes. Cars and boats were limited to a few but were enjoyable using rather than running everywhere like previous titles. The weather did make a significant impact on gameplay but served to make the world feel alive compared to its predecessors.

Some tacked on additions leave Exodus as an empty shell. A new resting mechanic to change the time of day and heal Artyom to full health never gets utilized. Changing the day sounds brilliant due to enemy behavior differs at night vs. day, but I never got many chances to utilize resting outside of the tutorial that introduced how it works.

The AI worked inconsistently with their strategies and intelligence. Bandits would stand still or out of nowhere become surprisingly intelligent. I never knew when the enemies would attack with a plan or with a death sentence on their mind.

Random occurrences were possible for surprise attacks or interesting interactions with various NPCs in the open sections. Like most of the game, too little was done, so these events happened rarely. The few times I did see something interesting, it was worthwhile with survivors having their own motives and goals.

Like everything in my time with the latest Metro, something was inconsistent or could have been done much better, in this case, it was the animations and graphics. Many times the forests or ruined cities looked incredible by their scale and beautiful attention to detail. Plenty of times, especially with interactions with people in this world, they appeared robotic by their poor facial features or the odd ways they would interact with the world.

Endings could differ from good or bad depending on moral decisions. Instead of impacting choices, the only option given is whether or not you killed surrendering enemies or innocent people. No interactions were allowed other than ignoring or killing them. Of course, I got the bad conclusion for being a psychopathic murderer which lead me to a satisfying ending, even if it was “bad.”

Exodus was one of my top anticipated games, and it will leave 2019 as one of the most disappointing — a dull narrative with braindead supporting characters with a silent protagonist with technical issues and flat additions. Despite the many glitches that occurred were minor, they happened too frequently that hurt my experience, especially the many failed launches and frame drops.

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If you need a survival experience, play the other Metro entries and ignore Exodus.

Score: 5/10

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All screenshots and videos taken on PC

Video Game Review: Resident Evil 2 Remake

Capcom digs in deep to recreate the classic that brought the undead franchise to life, Resident Evil 2. I was too young to play the original, which made going into this reimagining of the iconic game gave me the Resident Evil experience I have always known while providing something refreshing compared to the previous games in the series I have been able to get my hands on. A must buy for both newcomers and veterans of the ’98 release.

Split between two narratives, Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy go through Racoon City during a zombie outbreak to uncover the mystery and survive. Two separate campaigns that weave in and out of each other on a thrilling journey. Both had plenty of differences to give a fresh playthrough despite having to play the game multiple times. With the second runs and going through the game to get every goodie waiting to award players for completing various challenges, this is Resident Evil 2 at its finest with its storytelling.

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While both stories filled themselves with intensity and intriguing mysteries, some issues were present. A continuity problem occurred when zombies would die from one bullet to the head, but in gameplay, they die after many shots into their brains, it drove me insane despite being so small. The other, more significant, involved the few scenes with Leon and Claire. Awkward chemistry that felt misplaced making for some unnecessarily cringy moments.

Improved dialog and voice acting benefits both the main playthroughs and the B scenarios, however sometimes things fall flat. If you played any RE title then you know how goofy, campy, and odd it can get. Some of which works here, but not all of it with some dull line delivery and confusing dialog choices that the writers made. Most of the cast works consistently, but I found Edward Badaluta (Leon Kennedy) to give some weak lines, granted some of which were pretty painful lines.

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An engine change is not the only difference for old school players. Map layouts, voice acting, dialog, and content all bring a refreshing take while maintaining the main narrative beats and moments that fans remember fondly. While I cannot compare the two versions, but many of the alterations made for a perfect modernization that makes for one of the best remakes that have come out in this wave of recreating favorites from people’s childhoods.

Navigation remains an important facet that continues to be confusing in typical RE fashion, but a user-friendly user-interface makes for a tedious and fun experience. Along with key items displaying a checkmark to discard allows for easier inventory management while not losing the special aspect that organized people adore so much.

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Combat feels better than ever with plenty of weapons to utilize to fight off rotting zombies and mutated monsters. A balance of challenge makes the survival feel fair but gives those worrying emotions to save enough ammo to make it into the next area. Enemies, especially those shambling corpses, take plenty of hits to die, but each bullet landing does not get boring.

Battling bosses may seem like any other game in the franchise but continue their irresistible design. Nightmarish monsters with all of the puss and veins that I remember so fondly from other entries.

Plenty of options allow anyone to play the game they want, but being passive or aggressive has their pros and cons. Either running away to leave any unwanted threats to come back later or gunning down every flesh-eater will be enjoyable, but excruciating when that plan backfires. A blend that gives some freedom in a linear game.

Puzzles manage to not over complicate things while delivering a different taste of gameplay in the middle of all the chaos. Creative obstacles that blend trickiness and being clever.

So much detail got put in to make my head spin. The way zombies get shot or stabbed makes for the juiciest and disturbing body deterioration animations I have seen. Every nook and cranny has something to find to flesh out the world or find a new item to help survive against any creature lurking in the dark. Survival horror at its best should reward a player for taking the wrong route to stare down danger in the face and discover potential caches, a staple in the franchise that never gets old.

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New survival elements have been added to give a new challenge that needs some adapting towards. Knives used can fight enemies, but better yet, can help shove away anything off of you when grabbed. The life-saving blades deplete in quality before finally breaking, so use wisely. Adding up the organization of the inventory, boarding up windows, and wisely using ammo, makes for one of the best survival-horror games I have ever played.

Two timed minigames, 4th Survivor and Tofu Survivor, give the most elite players a challenge after completing Claire and Leon’s nightmare of an adventure. 4th Survivor puts the player in the shoes of a member of Umbrella’s security team who must go through the entire map as fast as possible to escape. A strenuous test of speed, inventory management, and navigation, the perfect minigame for the hardcore players. The tofu minigame parodies the other minigame by having knife-wielding oversized tofu. Both standing as excellent additions to the already compelling narrative.

While nothing groundbreaking gets done, Resident Evil 2 makes for the perfect love letter to any type of fan of the series in this stunningly beautiful remake that was built from the ground up. With different situations, heart pumping minigames, and plenty of unlockable gear and costumes, this is the definitive experience that anyone would want out of this series.  While any mode played can be completed in minutes to a few hours, Capcom crafted a flawless way to get me coming back for more in this faithful recreation.

Score: 9/10

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Images and videos captured on a PS4 Pro

Anthem Demo Impressions: A Hit or Miss?

Bioware announced Anthem, and I immediately turned sour with my thoughts on their new project, mostly because of its relation to games like Destiny and The Division. Seeing gameplay I thought the Iron Man-like flying looked awesome and the graphics looked stunning, but still was not sold on the idea. After playing the open demo this past weekend, I can say that Anthem is a worthy purchase, but I still have my doubts despite these positive feelings.

The demo took me three missions with some talking to NPCs around the hub world, Fort Tarsis. The Fort offers a market, a storage area, and places to talk to NPCs for expeditions, the term the game uses for missions/quests. A bland area that requires a painfully slow walk to speak with a few people then get into the Javelin, the exosuit used in the core gameplay, to start off on some adventures, the real meat of Anthem.

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To give Bioware credit, Fort Tarsis as the center hub will be different in the full release. I hope they take consideration in its purpose and usefulness to players by letting other plays be apart of this experience and give some activities in the area. Also, please allow sprinting here.

A glimpse into the story was shown within these three quests, but the story felt confusing by being thrown into this world with no context. An intriguing narrative about retrieving an artifact that distorts reality. Some dialog was chosen, but those choices were pointless. Hopefully the characters, decisions, and narrative can reach the heights that these developers have achieved in the past and not another Andromeda.

Before starting a mission, a screen pops up to allow choosing an expedition, getting friends in your squad, and setting up your suit for combat. The UI needs some maintenance but is easy enough to navigate. The invite system for friends needs some attention due to some struggle my friends and I had trying to get everyone, but it was a brief struggle.

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The Javelin class everyone starts off with is the Ranger, the balanced exosuit that lends itself as the introduction to how the game works. At level 12 you get to choose one additional suit, I decided on the heavy class titled Colossus. The unlocking system might change in full release, but obtaining one every few levels seems to work well since leveling up feels fair as of now.

Customizing the loadout and Javelin has plenty of depth to explore. Javelins can be altered with their plating, style, and colors. Some of which can be bought, crafted, or found in missions, same goes for weapons and equipment. Before getting into the action, this is one of the best elements that Anthem has to offer, I hope the extension of the customization does not feel too limited on release.

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Once in a mission, a lot has to be taken in from combat to traversing the world. Initially, I hated the flying due to how clunky it felt, but after a while, I fell in love. The mechanic takes time to get used to and does need some improvement, especially when using a mouse, but a skill that can be mastered to fully enjoy it. Combat feels balanced with excellent gunplay, powerful equipment, and the right amount of challenge without feeling overwhelming.

Enemies found in the world range from alien creatures to robots. Every enemy felt unique in their looks and strategies. I hope this diversity is seen throughout my journey with Bioware’s sci-fi adventure because I am floored by the little I have seen already.

While playing this sci-fi RPG alone is an option, playing with two to three other friends makes the adventure that much better. Everyone using different Javelins and using teamwork to defeat giant enemies with smaller minions makes for epic battles that give satisfying rewards by the end.

Strongholds, Anthem‘s version of a raid, hold as a challenging, yet rewarding option outside of main story quests. Meant for end game content, the one featured here gave me a positive impression that makes me excited to go through each stronghold with my friends.

Expeditions have enough variety for a story that will not get old. From puzzles, only one was shown within the three missions, to boss battles, I found something to scratch every itch I felt for my time in this breathtaking world. Once completed, your squad earns medals for experience points and obtain any equipment or weapons found in combat that can be used or scrapped for resources to utilized for crafting.

Crafting is an in-depth, but simple system. Use resources to make different rarity levels of items from Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, and Masterwork. Each level requires more assets to create but delivers a better weapon or piece of equipment. Consumables can also be made to enhance specific attributes during a mission. An easy to use mechanic that dramatically benefits those times where finding things does not work out as well as creating.

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The economy will work on coins to buy new gear or players can use shards, the money that can be purchased as a microtransaction. Whether purchasing items with or without microtransactions will be unfair cannot be determined from the demo. In this time with the game, everything was marked 25 coins to buy. Thankfully any microtransactions sold will only contain a cosmetic item.

While many people complained about technical issues during the closed demo and some of those seeping into this weekend, I had little to no problems. Besides one crash and a few times, my frames dropped significantly, an overall smooth ride.

Bioware’s latest creation has a lot of promise and plenty of surprises up its sleeve. However, my worries still remain due to other titles similar to Anthem. Hopefully, the gameplay stays balanced enough for a challenge that does not punish players. If the loot system can continue its worthiness along with a compelling story, then this could be one of the best games of the year or one of the most disappointing. As of now, I am sold on one of the most beautiful and fun games I have played cooperatively with my friends.

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Anthem launches Feb. 22 and you can pre-order it below:

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Video Game Review: Red Dead Online

As I said in my review for Red Dead Redemption 2, I will review Red Dead Online separately and put on a grand total score for the game in its entirety.

The online worried me. While I love the singleplayer of Rockstar’s games, sometimes their multiplayer falls flat in areas, especially with GTA V. While issues remain present that GTA has along with new problems, Red Dead Online sweeps most of its flaws under the rug by how much fun the experience in this open-world Western.

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Work in progress to create my character

Right off the bat, you get to create your character. The system is what you find in most games, modify features based on set models to make the person you want to look like. However, every character looks like a hideous monster, especially the females, sadly. If you play as a man, have a big beard then you should be fine. While it is better than Rockstar’s last giant online adventure with GTA, a lot of tweaks remain needed.

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Screenshot of my character

Similar to a Fallout game, you get to assign attributes to aspects of your character. While not as in-depth as the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. mechanic, points distributed to health, stamina, and dead eye make a difference early on. Such a small part of customization, but a nice addition before getting started.

A story does take place before the events with Arthur Morgan and his dysfunctional family. The silent protagonist gets broken out of prison and gets hired by a mysterious woman. She needs a few people to avenge the death of her husband. Just like a Rockstar narrative tends to unfold, the adventure loads itself with wildly eccentric characters and plenty of violence. Unfortunately, due to the game being in beta, a conclusion remains absent until further updates.

Red Dead has a focus on moral choices for both online and offline. Main missions involve a dishonorable or honorable offer. Stranger missions have the same result. Just like with Arthur’s difficult decisions, choosing a lighter or darker path will change how people perceive you, alter bartering, and give new missions that will unlock only for players following a particular moral compass. While more needs to be done, the honorable system works wonderfully in the new multiplayer mode.

Survival mechanics transfer over; therefore you must eat and drink to recover health, wear appropriate clothing, and deal with the constant threat of other people or wildlife. Many of these aspects feel toned down, but if you mastered how to live in the Wild West as Arthur Morgan, then you should do well in this new environment.

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One of the many glitches

Camps feel less attractive as of now. Currently, you can move anywhere to fit your needs with ease, but for practicality, having a base feels pointless. Ordering items from the pamphlet, which you can buy supplies from anywhere and have no need for a store, go to a post office or your tent. While that is efficient to gather items or cook, nothing else has a purpose. Upgrading is only for looks and will burn all of your cash.

Horses dying has less impact, thankfully. To make sure players are not driven to insanity by your trusty steed getting killed, the horse eventually comes back. Much of the mechanics from singleplayer transform into a less tedious system that allows for a more fun experience, while keeping the weight of survival.

Leveling up has light RPG elements. With enough experience, the right level, and enough money will grant a perk. Perks can be used for damage, dead eye, and much more. Ranking up has a new meaning which makes for a more meaningful experience.

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The meat of any online game will always be playing with friends. Form a posse to see each other and easily play various activities together. While a few kinks need fixing, playing in a gang makes up for many issues along the way.

Events randomly come up in the free roam. Earn money and experience points from winning the activity. A range for all player can be found from taking a horse to one location or getting the most kills with a revolver. For competitive players, this is a load of fun to pump up your adrenaline.

Big and small matches are available to play in the competitive modes of online. Capturing bases, killing with certain weapons for points, classic deathmatches, and races provide a wide variety of competition. While each mode will find its way for any type of gamer, the matchmaking makes zero sense. Each game type has a playlist that generates random games to play. If you love playing “wanted,” then you will have to pray that it pops up and wait through being forced to play through something that might not be your cup of tea.

No private servers are available. Which makes it difficult to play with friends without the interruption of other players. While many aspects are user-friendly, many are not.

Money has two forms. Earning regular cash through missions and activities then gold. Microtransactions like GTA Online have taken the form of gold in Red Dead. Gold can buy certain items if you do not have enough of your funds. Days ago an update occurred to lower prices and give greater payouts. Hopefully, Rockstar stays on top of a fair economy and does not turn have another GTA. 

Red Dead shines above Rockstar’s last grand title with its improved economy and satisfying activities from hunting to competition. Playing with friends has never been more entertaining. However, glitches occur often. Problems with animations, invisible players, and getting booted off servers constantly interrupt an otherwise great multiplayer. With polish and future content, greatness will arrive.

Thankfully for patches and the excellent singleplayer, Red Dead Online does not hinder the product as a whole.

Score for Red Dead Online: 6/10

Grand total score for Red Dead Redemption 2: 8/10

Video Game Review: Fallout 76

To no surprise, the online-only game with the game as a service model has a disastrous launch. While I knew Fallout 76 would be rough with glitches and needing additional content, I did not realize how boring and lonely this open-world title would feel.

Set in the earliest time period in the Fallout series, you wake up in Vault 76 to see an empty vault where the overseer has left. You follow her pointless guidance into the dangerous outside world of West Virginia.

Once launching the game, it is time to create a vault dweller. The character customization is precisely the same from Fallout 4. Despite its lack of innovation on the mechanic, there are plenty of options to make an interesting looking person, for better or for worse.

The main difference that sets this game apart is the online portion. A server holds up to 24 players. The experience feels lonely since there are no interactable NPCs except for vendors, some quest giving robots, and enemies to kill. My experience was spent seeing other players run past me as they go on their adventure.

PVP happened only a few times but was fun every time. The game’s balancing system works quite well. If someone is higher than you, you can still kill them. The combat is dependent on skill, teamwork (if you are playing with anyone), and what weapons you are using. The other balancing mechanic is that if someone attacks you, little damage is done. If you fight back, then the full damage is enabled. Killing a nonconsenting player will mark you as “wanted” which notifies everyone in the server about the player with a price on their head. The only consequence of dying, by player or NPC, is losing your junk. You can pick it up, but any other player can pick it up for themselves. The scraps will be used to craft, customize, and repair items and camps. Out of the many dull mechanics, PVP almost makes 76 worth playing.

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Playing with friends makes the game complete. I would play with friends and have a blast, despite crashing, glitches, and other technical issues. However, similar to Elder Scrolls Online, playing with friends does not carry much weight. Combat becomes easier with a party, but I never felt I was in a team. The teaming up system is only meant to see your friends from far away and to fast travel for free to their locations. If a friend completes an objective in a quest, then you will not get credit unless you do your part separately. Completing quests feels like playing a single player game and looking to your buddy’s screen to see where they are in their progress.

Playing alone is a grueling and punishing experience. The game’s difficulty does not allow people to be alone. Since I cannot socialize with NPCs, the lonely feelings mix with boredom to make for an atrocious time in the wasteland.

Survival in the wasteland of West Virginia consistently feels tedious, brutal, and rarely fun. Players must eat and drink to survive. The meter for hunger or thirst running too low will drop AP (action points, the bar for VATS and stamina) and diminish health. Foods and drinks have a variety of stats such as how much the hunger/thirst will increase or how much radiation is in the product. Getting a disease is another factor, creatures or food/drinks can give the player a disease. Diseases and radiation poisoning have a variety of positive and negative attributes. The lottery of the conditions on the health of the character can have some creative and fun effects.

Base building returns with features for a more user-friendly system. Now a lot of the map allows for base building instead of designated areas. Once anything is built, making a blueprint for convenience in case any equipment gets destroyed or if the owner gets the urge to move to a new location. While the system will not be for everyone (we all remember the polarizing feelings fans had during Fallout 4, right?) but for the constructive survivors of the nuclear holocaust, this is perfect for you.

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Crafting for weapons, food, armor, and other items are tasking, but not overly burdensome. Scrap items to get materials to repair, upgrade, and build what you want. Going around the world to scavenge is the most fun I had, especially when grouped up with friends. Learning what to craft comes from scrapping gear or finding plans or recipes. The main problem is someone else crafting on a workbench; one player can work at a time. If someone works for a long time, you might have to wait quite a while. I understand due to the animation of crafting takes up space so only one person can create their items, but the efficiency is atrocious for a multiplayer title.

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Stashing your gear and junk is easy. Stash boxes can be found or crafted at the camp to store anything. If you deposit a gun in your stash at a gas station then go to your base, the weapon will be in the container. The universal system transfers your gear where ever you are located. As of writing, the limit of weight the trunk holds makes for a frustrating experience. With how much junk, armor, and weapons you will need to store, the system breaks entirely by how little you can stock up.

Combat remains satisfying, but the new system for VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) feels inconsistent. Now the targeting system does not stop or slow down time; it goes in real time. Trying to shoot in VATS feels weird at first, but you might get used to it. The hardest aspect is your weapon does not track the target. If the ghoul you are shooting at moves in a particular direction, and you mistime pulling the trigger, you will miss your shot. Also, you can only target body parts with a perk. Without the right perk, you will shoot at the enemy as a whole. While I like the system in some ways, with some necessary tweaking then combat with the aiming system will feel more user-friendly.

Quest distribution comes from either holotapes, robots, and discovering locations or items. A feeling of constant apathy comes from the lack of interesting stories or characters to drive the narrative. With the population full of actual players and the only storytelling comes from notes or recordings, I feel a lot less invested in what is happening.

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Caps have a new purpose in the world. While they are still used to trade with vendors, both players, and robots, the currency is used to fast travel. You can travel to any location you have discovered for a fee. The fee differs depending on how far away you are. Getting to your camp, friends, or Vault 76 is free. Since I did not barter much, the travel system worked quite well.

The massive world has plenty of interesting places to explore, but not much to do. Outside of crafting, killing, scavenging, and quests, there are not many activities available. Events are always happening around the map for bonus rewards, but mark they are generic waves of enemies or mundane missions like escorting a robot to one location. The most fun comes out of walking around to look for new items and to kill things, not much game of the year material right here.

Leveling up for the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system is a brilliant innovation to keep a core mechanic fresh. When you level up, you can distribute one point to any of the following attributes: strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, and luck. Once you put your mark in, a series of cards appear. Each card has a unique ability with several tiers that can be leveled up to improve the perk. Every five levels give a card pack to build up your collection. At any point cards can be swapped out for a difference perk, allowing for free customization for any situation. Smart players can utilize this to adapt to different challenges for combat, exploration, and more.

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I have never seen a game so inconsistent with graphics. At times 76 looks beautiful, and most of the time quite ugly. The world is full of poorly rendered textures, pop-ins, and some of the worst dynamic weather in recent years. The weather lacks any variety. When rain happens, nothing looks wet and enhances how unattractive everything seems.

Photo mode as a feature in any game is usually awesome due to how beautiful graphics have become. In the appalling Fallout 76, not so much. Talented photographers can bring out the beauty, but many players, like myself, might struggle to take a nice picture. Due to the constant threat of players or enemy NPCs, then you may feel discouraged to stop to take a selfie in case of getting mauled by a deathclaw.

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The dreaded microtransaction that plague the industry have made their way into Fallout. Before anyone brings out torches and pitchforks, the way Bethesda handles the despised monetization system works quite well. Everything bought is cosmetic for power armors, Pip-Boys, and more. Avoiding spending your hard earned money is easy. Gaining automatic points by completing challenges like killing X amount of enemies or collecting items makes for an easy way to earn cosmetics without paying real money.

The amount of small and big issues that fester inside of Bethesda’s online survival adventure bring down what could be a great title. With updates, 76 could be fantastic. However, due to moronic AI, crashes, and other bugs, the experience is tainted as of now. Long loading screens are a staple in Bethesda games which add insult to injury once the game crashes and you must sit through the process of the never-ending screens. Somehow they messed up so bad that there is no border option. Therefore a part of my screen has been cut off during my entire time so far. Silly mistakes from a AAA title like these are not acceptable. Along with how dull it is to play makes for one of the year’s biggest disappointments. Keep an eye out for the future because this trainwreck could reach greatness, but buying right now would be foolish.

Score: 3/10

All images and videos captured on a PS4 Pro

Want the game? Buy it below:

Buy now: Fallout 76 – PlayStation 4

Buy now: Fallout 76 – Xbox One

 

Video Game Review: Red Dead Redemption 2

The Wild West was a crazy time in the history of the U.S., especially when witnessing a deer rundown some poor lady or a group of the KKK trying to light a cross on fire, but setting themselves on fire instead. Rockstar Games delivers a Western, unlike anything that has in the genre. The most anticipated game of the year is finally here after a long break from its predecessor. Now the developer has unleashed its first current generation title and as always, they manage to push technology and the industry forward by this ambitious title.

Taking place before the events of the first RDR, players dive into the shoes of Arthur Morgan, a member of the infamous Van der Linde Gang. Yes, that is the gang John Marston was a part of in the previous game, and you get to see a younger Marston grow through the eyes of Arthur. A slow-burning narrative that takes its time to develop characters that players of the first title will know with plenty of fresh faces. The exciting journey takes through a harsh adventure as the dysfunctional family of criminals tries to follow their leader Dutch to find a way to flourish in such difficult times.

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Rockstar has always been top dog in the industry by not creating great games but making the narratives have the same quality as the gameplay. The character development is through the roof, unlike anything the company has done. Full of bombastic random characters that come up in the open world. Charismatic characters like Dutch help drive the story. Arthur is the best protagonist the company has ever brought into the world. He is a conflicted man trying to survive and do what he thinks is right despite his unethical occupation. The personalities in the game are not just characters, they feel like real people with motivations, flaws, quirks, and interests. With excellent writing and voice acting, these people come to life magically.

The open world is a massive landscape full of activities and surprises around every corner. Interactable people pop up all over the area to give Arthur a unique experience. Everything presented allows for a choice. See a man with a snake bite? Suck the venom out, provide him with medicine, or blast his head off with a shotgun to loot his corpse. Every opportunity feels real, and the outcomes are in the hands of Arthur by the way he speaks or acts.

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With such a vast map, transportation is vital. Horseback riding is a ton of fun but can be tedious when riding across the country. Fast travel maps, stagecoaches, and trains help to get from point A to point B much quicker. A price must be paid to travel, but that does not become a problem once enough money to acquired. I only fast traveled once, every other time I took my sweet time with my beautiful companion across gorgeous landscapes. The introduction of swimming, a mechanic, missing from the first game, is a nice gesture that is useless due to boats and how Arthur swims painfully slow.

Choices have rewards and consequences. If Arthur mugs someone, then honor goes down. Help an old lady get to her home then honor rises. The differences in the experience will not vary too much, which is a disappointment. The differences I have seen will not ruin the game by wanting to take a different moral path. Some people will treat you differently like store owners giving you a discount for being the good guy.

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The number of details will make heads start spinning. The way snow seeps into the ground after a horse takes a step, mud getting on clothing, and how every area has unique properties based on the climate. Arthur gets to explore places from developing cities, lush forests, wide-open grasslands, or snowy mountains. The weather mechanic puts every other game to shame by the variety and quality delivered. Freezing blizzards, pouring down rain, and high winds that pick up dirt into your eyes, the world feels real with its highly dynamic ecosystem. Depending on the weather, the clothing Arthur wears will affect his stats. Make sure you bring a jacket, the game acts like your mother to make sure you do not catch a cold. The vegetation, wildlife, and people will change based on where you decide to take Arthur.

Fully rendered holsters, bags, and over materials throughout the world enhance the immersion. When holstering a revolver, the gun does not clip through. Instead, you see Arthur put a weapon into its proper holster. Opening bags to store goods feel like something is inside, compared to most games where the illusion is always there. The rendered equipment gives that small detail to create for a more realistic experience.

Laid back activities are available to take a break from murdering and stealing from innocent people. Various games from poker and blackjack make a return. Fishing is a new way to gain food for your camp and to relax around beautiful lakes and rivers.

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More exciting choices are available. Rob a store, loan shark, or hunt one of the 200 different species. Hunting strategies change based on each animal. For a more immersive wildlife experience, the ecosystem runs with or without any player being present. Prey feed on plants, predators feed on the prey, and scavengers will pick off the rest. Plenty of games have animals, but nothing has gone to this level of creating a real ecosystem. Using bates and the right weapon will give Arthur the best quality pelts and meats to use for new items and nutritious food for himself or his gang.

A new eagle eye system that every video game now has to implement enters Rockstar’s latest title. The vision allows to see animal tracks when hunting or see clues when investigating areas. An unoriginal idea that works perfectly well with the game mechanics.

The Van der Linde Gang is a family more than just a gang. People have wonderful chemistry and will change throughout the game. Arthur and everyone else must put in work to make everything run smoothly. Bringing in stolen goods, money, and food will help the camp thrive. Once enough donated money and supplies circulate into the settlement, plenty of options become available to customize the settlement to look less like a slum and more like a prosperous community.

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The survival elements will either feel unnecessarily tedious or make players feel like Bear Grylls. The survival mechanics are lightly done to give tension, but not waste time. Wearing the wrong clothing for the weather will slightly drain stats, health, dead eye, and stamina while making recuperating harder. Arthur must eat, sleep, and drink to keep his stats in excellent condition along as his horse. To do all of the above is not necessary. Just using the right items refills each core to maximum capacity then Arthur and his horse are off on the next adventure. Weapons must also be clean for efficient use. Using them too often or going in the water will degrade their condition, making gun oil a precious resource.

Just like the people, the horse is a real character. Not brushing or feeding will lead to a weak bond between man and animal. As the relationship between Arthur and his trusty steed rises, so will the horse’s health and stamina. Buying the right equipment like better saddles and bags will benefit your horses use. The best part, you can name your horse. I called my two horses Mystery (yes, from Spongebob) and Drogon (Game of Thrones is the best).

Combat has had a complete rehaul. The shooting feels better than any other game in 2018. Each gun has a special feel and purpose. Simply cocking and reloading weapons feels satisfying and never gets old. Customization options can be available for all weapons to give a unique look along with upgrades to create a more precise killing machine. The variety of options for upgrades feels too limited. I wish there were more range to improve my weapons.

Deadeye makes a return that gets better as it levels up from use. Time can slow down, highlight enemy weak points and more to make an easy kill during a tense moment. The mechanic feels fresh and remains just as good as the previous game.

Melee combat is significantly improved. Grand Theft Auto V had an atrocious hand to hand fighting with or without weapons. This time enemies take longer to be taken down. Fights feel more realistic and dynamic.

Stealth is much improved. Unlike previous attempts. The NPCs react accordingly with some satisfying takedowns as you make your kill. The addition of a bow and arrow makes for the distant killing of enemies or animals a lot of fun.

The GTA V first-person update was a nice touch, and now we get an improved version of the viewpoint. Since the mode here was developed from the ground up, the feeling is smoother. Traversal and gunplay feel just as good in third or first person.

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Law enforcement interactions have changed dramatically. Hiding from the police works instead of the law automatically finding you after a crime. Now people need to investigate areas as you try to escape. If a bounty is left unattended, then hunters will come after Arthur looking to get his head for a reward. Crimes can never be found out if Arthur eliminates any witnesses or evidence. Witnesses can be threatened or killed into silence. Most of the time the enhanced witness system works, but at the time I have been found out by lawmen even when there were no witnesses for miles or that I was wearing a disguise.

Customization has been enhanced significantly to make Arthur look the way you want. Shopping anywhere is done by a book or going up to a shelf to look at an item. Each item is fully rendered, so looking at a piece of cheese feels real. Arthur’s choice of clothing, whether he bathes, and gets a haircut will change people’s perception of him. Being covered in blood will cause a major reaction. Dressing up nicely and being clean will make interactions more positive. The range of clothing and how to grow out hair can suit anyone on how they want Arthur to look. Growing hair does take time, thus throwing out the idea of choosing styles by a menu. If Arthur is clean shaving then you cannot give him a full beard with the press of a button, you must wait.

Obtaining items can be done legally from the shops, but looting bodies and homes can be done too. Looting is fun, rewarding, but sluggish. After a while, I got used to the mechanic but felt Arthur needed to pick up the pace. Almost everywhere has rewards that will satisfy any venture. Many buildings can be entered, but not all. That can become unclear when some homes can be viewed from a window with a seemingly open door. Plenty of times I left a property disappointed that I could not rob them.

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Every issue found can be easily corrected or ignored. I feel I will get nitpicky with the game’s slight flaws. Bumping your horse into anything becomes a pain quite quickly. The horse and Arthur go flying in the air and hitting the ground hard. Hitting civilians will cause a panic which gets the police involved unnecessarily. The cinematic camera is inconsistent with some unflattering views. My problem with enterable buildings still stands. Missions force Arthur to use certain weapons. I feel disappointed by this because I want to use my pimped out guns; instead, I am forced to use a weaker rifle. The main issue comes from the controls. Most of the time everything runs smoothly until things turn for the worse. So much is trying to be done which creates problems with some objectives in the story. Press one button then hold another can be overly complicated or not work as well as it should.

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Rockstar has not just made a game; they created something that shows how far technology has come. While some holes in its animations can be seen alongside glitches that can be found in every gigantic open world game, the positives overcome those blemishes. Arguably the most beautiful video game ever made to date with some of the most immersive gameplay to date can be breathtaking. While its methodical, tedious pacing and gameplay will not be for everyone, but patient people who can enjoy an array of activities from the adrenaline pumping action to the chill card games, those are the people who will fall in love here. While technology has a way to go before getting to complete immersion, the developers have taken leaps that will push gaming to new levels in the future.

Due to Red Dead Redemption 2 not having the online available at launch, I do have to review the game as incomplete. The score listed does not reflect the final product, a separate review will come whenever multiplayer is released. You can buy the game and see the current score below:

Score: 9/10

All images captured on a PS4 Pro