Overwatch is here, guys!
Check out the first part if you like what you saw.
Timmeh found himself irritated by his own voice after watching, to the point he wanted to punch himself in the face. I empathised as it seems to be pretty universal, whilst James pointed out that he isn't "that" annoying. The fact James elected not to comment at all on my voice speaks louder volumes...
Keeping things Overwatch for a little longer, you might remember that last week a Dark Souls III boss simply handed Plasma wing a win whilst having more than half health left. It no doubt felt bad after brutalising him and threw a bone his way. Now Overwatch seems to have caught the bug, awarding him the coveted "Play of the Game" for what was actually an abysmal display.
I don't even...
Rob's working on our review, so expect official verdict on Overwatch soon. Until then, you can peruse his preview for more on the game.
Still with us, Rodent? It's safe to venture out of your corner now.
Emily got her eyebrows waxed for the first time this week - don't worry, she usually uses tweezers and hasn't spent her life working on a monobrow - it apparently felt like it took skin off along with the hair...
"The things we women do to avoid looking like Groucho Marx, really, you should all be massively grateful."
It's a little generous to credit all women - believe me, many don't bother. The horrors I've beholden do at least make me grateful, so you get a thank you on behalf of all men from me.
Whilst I don't envy Emily the experience, I envy Confused Johnny and his "Back, Crack and Sack" even less. Whilst Johnny asserts (most likely correctly) that the pain caused by said procedure would eclipse the former, James frankly has the right approach:
"As a male I don't feel in any way qualified to comment on the concept of pain - not least because I know what's good for me."
This one will go far.
Anyway, let's get back to gaming. The Rumours and Speculation forum thread has naturally been full of musings as E3 further encroaches. This week, potential new Xbox consoles have been on the agenda: it's been reported that we'll see an Xbox One 40% smaller than the original console, lacking a disk drive and with 2TB of storage built-in announced at next month's expo. Confused Johnny would've opted for this model from launch as he's a totally digital consumer, but others are less interested, likely because the digital value proposition just doesn't add up yet (that's my excuse, anyway).
Bezza doesn't see it as a bad thing, stating that the last generation was way too long and a return to shorter cycles would be welcome in his eyes. He argues that Xbox One could be true to its name and function as an optionally upgradable system, removing the need for another and making it the one Xbox to persist. Whilst people seem opposed to this idea, how many buy revisions of phones every year? A console upgrade would undoubtedly cost less.
Confused Johnny and Timmeh are onboard so long as the technical specifications are right and the asking price isn't too ridiculous. As ever, I'm open to upgrading, but with the console said to be releasing in late 2017 I can't help - perhaps controversially - feeling it's being left a little late. By then I, and many others, will have already upgraded their PS4 (if the Neo rumours pan out, as they likely will) and have invested in PlayStation VR. If Microsoft are to launch their equivalent a year removed, it's going to be a much less new and exciting prospect.
Hopefully all will become clear soon, but for now we transition to the concrete. Chris shared a clip of him being a sneaky bugger in Rainbow Six: Siege on Wednesday night. Most impressive is how the opposition fail to notice him picking them off for an entire round, but to their credit they learn and don't let it happen again when Chris tries for a repeat performance.
No more taking people for behind I'm afraid, chum.
After dipping a toe into Platinum's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan - keep your eyes peeled for Rob's review - the somewhat mundane soundtrack has me yearning for the retro classics the series previously produced. Check out the evolution of the boss fight theme below.
Plasma wing has a nasty habit of stopping playing the game at hand in aid of playing another game, most often Solitaire. It's quite bizarre, frankly. It does, at least, present opportunity to mess with him a little bit, as Metalrodent has in the above screenshot.
Those two co-op summons definitely hate him now.
After such a pathetic performance, Prince Lorian felt bad for Plas and decided to just hand him the win.
Real talk, though - that's a pretty significant glitch.
SMITE added new achievements for the Norse God of Mischief, Loki this week. Rodent can't stomach facing the tricksy assassin, so his guaranteed surge in popularity came as unwelcome news. Maybe he'll be able to handle it now, as the last time I played he certainly wasn't capable of getting a penta-kill. Or nearly getting one, at least.
Damn it, Garry, not only are you annoyingly handsome, but you stole the penta! I feel for you, Rodent.
As promised last week, James delivered the goods on an Overwatch community game night video. Featuring myself, James, Liam, Timmeh and Plas learning the ropes against the AI, they naturally didn't stand a chance.
Just ignore the bit where Plas gets awarded the best play, I reported the glitch to Blizzard and have been assured it'll be ironed out come full release.
Speaking of: release is excitingly just days away now, so be sure to head over to the PTC Nights thread and get involved with the upcoming sessions (provided you're getting the Xbox One version, that is).
DOOM is pretty great, by the way. I never thought I'd say that with the trailers painting a fairly mediocre picture. As was said in the review, I'm immensely happy to have been proven wrong.
I even enjoy creating SnapMaps. This is coming from a guy that can't get along with level editing in Halo's Forge, Little Big Planet or Project Spark. You can check out my first creation by using the code LTYPZ264. Titled "Stop it! Don't open that door!" (can you name the reference?), it's a short excursion in which you should have just enough ammo to survive. "Programming" the brief segment took around two hours, which definitely prompted great respect for developers and the work they do.
Rob and Johnbhoy have been playing and having just as much fun, maybe even more with their affinity for the multiplayer mode that I deem the weak link.
It's now time for a cautionary tale. You'd think this was self-explanatory, but kids, when boarding a helicopter be sure to sit on the inside. James lead by example, but Rob still managed to find his way onto the roof, where the rotor blades make short work of him.
A few weeks ago Lisa Miskovsky's Still Alive, main theme to Mirror's Edge, made the PTC jukebox as it's a personal favourite of mine. Now Mirror's Edge Catalyst's theme has been released. Titled "Warning Call" and performed by Scottish electronic trio CHVRCHES, it doesn't quite match up, but hey, it's still a step above most.
Spawned of a community gaming session, the above occurs when Editor, James "Decent Jam" Parry, gets a kill during a multiplayer match. Metalrodent put this mock-up together, along with the caption "Coming soon to the PTC store" - worryingly, James said he'll "look into it". This is something he actually wants out in the wild?
The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed I joined the 21st century and created a Twitter account this week. After discovering Microsoft's CaptionBot was a thing that existed, I couldn't resist having a play and posting the results.
A pair of skis. Right.
After those glorious results, how do you resist sticking your mug on for analysis?
OK, now how am I supposed to resist doing the rest of team PTC?
The software's unfortunately semi-accurate on occasion.
The Overwatch beta concluded on Tuesday, displeasing many an addicted community member. Community game nights have remained strong regardless, old favourites GTAV and Rainbow Six: Siege stepping in to fill the empty void. Your Overwatch tremors will soon be muted with release around the corner, but James is working on something of the moving picture variety to provide a fix until then - keep an eye out for it.
Johnbhoy69 dove into the fantastic Uncharted 4; agreeably he's found it to be "a vast improvement over the previous games". I've had a mixed history with the series, but the latest entry is really something special. Smooth gameplay, amazing visuals, insane levels of detail, lovable characters and compelling narrative a great game make.
It's all got John a bit excited for the possibility of a Last of Us 2, his fingers firmly crossed for an E3 reveal next month. I foresee Naughty Dog resurrecting Crash Bandicoot before we see the return of any fungal-infected Clickers - anyone that's played Uncharted 4 will know why.
Another week, another birthday celebrated in the Happy Birthday Thread. This time it was the turn of Plasma wing, who we'll spare the embarrassment of another entry into a growing library of fails as a special treat.
... Nah, who am I kidding? He died to the easy AI in SMITE!
Liam published an opinion piece on why he backed Battalion 1944 on Kickstarter, which prompted Jaime Rodriguez to retort on our Facebook page.
Whilst I understand his reasoning, sometimes the personal lure of a project is too much to resist and supporting it is thus worth the risk. That's what happened for me earlier this year, at least. I popped my funding cherry by giving $81 to Gun Media's Friday the 13th: The Game project and haven't yet lived to regret it.
Keeping things Kickstarter, there's a project that aims to see classic Commodore Amiga game, Turrican II, receive an orchestral remix of its brilliant soundtrack in celebration of the 25th anniversary.
Listen to the intro theme below for an idea of what to expect (just give it a moment to kick-in).
I am a terrible gamer, by my own admission. This can in fact be clarified by several of our community members, not least of all Metalrodent, who was the victim of my erratic shooting in Halo 3 many a time. I apologise, Rodent, for shooting you in the backside so many times. It wasn't intentional, honest. My general ineptitude isn't just limited to shooters, though – my inability to properly control anything at speed renders me pretty much useless at platformers, as well. With this in mind, when I was offered the chance to play Shantae and the Pirate's Curse on PS4 following Sam’s review of the Xbox One version, it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I accepted.
Shantae isn't the first to try it this gen, of course – I quite enjoyed my foray into the world of Shovel Knight last year, as well – but it serves to prove that despite the old school visuals and the often repetitive nature of the genre, there’s still a special place in our hearts for something that takes us back to when games didn't set out to be visual masterpieces; they just wanted to entertain.
...playing Shantae and the Pirate's Curse on the PlayStation 4, I could quite easily be ten years old again, sat on my parents’ front room floor, cross-legged with a bowl of Lucky Charms...
As anyone who’s played Shantae and the Pirate's Curse will know, it’s an absolute gem of a game. Suffice to say, as much as I've enjoyed playing it, there would be no point in me talking about it all over again, because Sam already covered that ground rather fabulously with his review back in March. However, it serves as a great platform for the question – why do we love retro style games so much, when we have machines capable of running games that look like more like films?
There’s no definitive answer to that, naturally – everyone is going to have different reasons and they’d all be equally as valid as the next, but I think it’s about nostalgia, and simplicity. When you’re playing a game like Shantae, aside from the chance of losing your patience when you've tried to make that jump ten times and you’re still dying, you have very little actual thinking to do. There are no complex systems to master, and you don’t need a strategy guide or wiki the size of a small country to get the most out of it; you just play it.
The simplicity is evident in the entirety of the game, yet it doesn't feel lacking because of it – the control scheme is easy to master, you don’t need to learn any eight-button combos that you've then forgotten when you go back to the game a week later. It follows, then, that with less intricate work devoted to programming controls and rendering life-like visuals, game developers can get away with putting more into being genuinely creative in other areas – Shantae is a veritable plethora of bright colours and environments, and the animations are just awesome.
Then, of course, games like Shantae and the Pirate's Curse are so easy to pick up and sink a few minutes at a time into, that sometimes they’re just more appealing than the likes of an immersive RPG or MMO. Reminiscent of mobile and handheld gaming (which is where Shantae’s roots lie, of course), they’re perfectly more suited to shorter bursts of play than other genres, making them instantly more accessible.
For all their simplicity, fun and addictiveness, though, it really all boils down to one thing for me, and that's, again - nostalgia. As I'm playing Shantae and the Pirate's Curse on the PlayStation 4, I could quite easily be ten years old again, sat on my parents’ front room floor, cross-legged with a bowl of Lucky Charms (because they weren't something you had to buy imported at £7 a box then…) next to me. And as much as I love sinking entire weekends into The Elder Scrolls Online, sometimes, nothing quite beats feeling like a kid again.
We talk to Ghost Town Games about their cuisine-based title Overcooked, augmented reality, local multiplayer master-classes and the glorious Sega Dreamcast - enjoy.
What inspired you and your team during the development stage?
We've been inspired by all sorts of things. We've always loved local multiplayer games, we used to plays lots of games like Gang Beasts, Towerfall, Mario Kart, Wrecked, Goldeneye etc. etc. and we knew we wanted to make a game which people could play together.
We also played a game called Storage Inc. which was an indie game for Xbox 360 and is another co-operative game which really inspired us.
Can you tell us about your team at Ghost Town Games?
We started Ghost Town Games about 12 months ago. Oli De-Vine and I (Phil Duncan) used to work for Frontier Developments (Lostwinds, Kinectimals, Elite etc.)
I was a Designer there for 7 years and we left basically because we wanted to start making the kind of game that we wanted to play. Oli handles all the code, I handle the Art and the Design, we're a really small setup which means we can afford to take more risks and we can be much more agile with the way we develop, there aren't any day-long meetings to discuss minor features, we can very quickly make decisions and act on them.
How difficult is it for indie developers in this current market? Can you take artistic risks and still make a profit?
It's difficult obviously, there are a lot more independent studios out there creating games now than there have been in the past, but I think if you look at some of the recent successful indie games they are all trying something new and trying to push games in a new and exciting direction.
I think that's the beauty of independent development, you have smaller studios with less mouths to feed that don't need to see millions in profits to stay sustainable and so they can in some ways afford to take more risks.
What advice would you give to someone looking to work in the video gaming industry?
Obviously people have vastly different routes into the industry and it depends what experience you're looking for. I will always recommend to people trying to get work with an established studio first, largely because you get to experience making games without the extra work that comes with being independent (admin, PR, marketing, finances etc.) not to mention getting to work with developers who are at the top of their game.
In terms of getting into the industry I think the starting point should always be a passion for games and a good amount of knowledge/experience in the field that you're trying to break into, that and talking to as many people as you can; going to tradeshows, meetups, game-jams, anything you can do to get your name out there.
What game(s) have had the biggest affect on your life, and why?
Oof. That's a really tough question.
Rather than games I've played I think I'll instead answer with a game I worked on: LostWinds 2: Winter of Melodias was one of the first games I worked on at Frontier Development and for me it epitomised everything I now love about games and games development.
It was a smallish team (around 30 at its peak) we were tucked away in a different building and were given something like 6 months to bring out the game. Steve Burgess, who was the Lead Designer on the series was an absolute inspiration (and a good friend) and it was just such a magical time working on a project that everyone was just so passionate about.
Everyone was working really hard on the game, and not because there was some pressure from above, but because everyone genuinely wanted the game to be as good as it could possibly be. Add that to the fact that it was a metroidvania puzzle platformer with some truly innovate mechanics (absolute dream for me as a designer) and yeah it was just an absolute blast to work on.
Where do you think the industry is heading - is VR the future in your opinion?
I honestly can't weigh in on VR much at the moment. I've been blown away by the various demos I've tried and I'm excited to see how much it catches on as a medium. I think when VR games start to encourage more social interaction, that's when I'll get really excited.
I also really like the promise of Augmented Reality, I like the idea of playing a game in my living room with friends, where the game is projected into the space in front of us, maybe we're all looking down into a miniature kitchen and we're playing Overcooked together, that could be really exciting :D.
What does the future hold for Overcooked and Ghost Town Games?
We're working on the console ports of Overcooked at the moment (it’s coming out on PC, Xbox One and PS4), and we're hoping to release the game some time in the next few months.
We have some really exciting news which I can't quite share with you yet but we'll hopefully be announcing that soon too.
In terms of the future for Ghost Town Games we want to keep making exciting and innovative new games. We have some great ideas for follow up projects which I think are going to blow people away so we just hope we get the chance to make those a reality really. : )
If you were on a desert island (it has power) and could only take one console, what would you take, and why?
Yikes! Again, a tough one... my initial reaction was Dreamcast, because I just have so many favourites from that era: Chu Chu rocket, Crazy Taxi, Power Stone, Jet Set Radio.
In fact, yeah, that's what I'm going to go with because just reading back through that short list aren't those just such diverse and such innovative games?
Then there's Shenmue and Skies of Arcadia and and and... so good!
Thanks to Phil & Oli at Ghost Town Games. Want to know what we thought of Overcooked? Check out our report from this year's rezzed, and leave your comments on the forum.
The Kickstarter campaign to fund development for Battalion 1944 was a huge success, tripling the initial target of £100,000 (which was met just three days after the campaign started) to reach a grand total just shy of £320,000.
I’d played plenty of WW2 shooters when they dominated the FPS market in the early 2000’s, but I realised I've only really gone hands on with one in an online multi-player format. The game in question was Call of Duty: World at War, and that was almost eight years ago.
Of the games in my collection featuring PvP that I dip into on a semi-regular basis - Battlefield 4, Halo 5, Star Wars Battlefront, Rainbow Six Siege to name but a few - they are either set in the modern day or in the future, and to be honest a bit of variety would be most welcome (I know Battlefront technically takes place a long, long time ago, but it’s got blasters and space ships so I’m counting it in the same bracket as the others).
Games are never going to be completely accurate or realistic, and really, why should they be? As platforms for entertainment first and foremost that’s not the main point of them...
Even though pretty much every MP shooter on consoles has since dropped the WW2 era in favour of other, more modern aesthetics, I liked how the limited capabilities of the weapons meant you had to approach combat in a different way to games featuring more up to date tech.
World at War’s bolt action rifles with small magazines meant every shot had to be accurate, while vintage SMG’s would bounce around all over the place and were pretty much useless at long range - and this is what I’m hoping to see from Battalion 1944. It also looks like it’ll be rectifying the one mistake I thought World at War made by keeping any weapon customisation purely cosmetic and in keeping with the setting of the game.
By including unnecessary weapon attachments, it was almost as if Treyarch were apologising for making a WW2 game so soon after Infinity Ward had taken the series to the present day with Call of Duty 4, the worst of these being the glass aperture sight which felt like it had been shoe-horned into the game to placate Modern Warfare players who were now used to red dot sights and ACOG scopes.
Games are never going to be completely accurate or realistic, and really, why should they be? As platforms for entertainment first and foremost that’s not the main point of them; but in a game set in the 1940’s iron sights and barebones tech are part of what appeals to many and should be a selling point, not something to remedy with added gimmicks.
There was still a little caution when I first considered backing Battalion 1944, not only because the Second World War as a setting has been explored so many times before, but because I can see reason in the argument that basing a game for our entertainment on one of the bloodiest wars in human history can perhaps seem a little distasteful, a bit jarring, something I noticed at times when writing this piece.
But to dismiss Battalion 1944 because it’s loosely based around real world events would be a little harsh as its existence isn’t going to diminish or disrespect the memories and experiences of those whose lives were directly affected by WW2, but looks to be just some harmless MP fun set in a time that many find interesting.
While there are other eras that have been less explored in games, from looking at the comments on Battalion 1944’s Kickstarter page it’s clear a lot of people are happy to see WW2 shooters getting a small revival, so it wasn’t a surprise to see the campaign succeed to such an extent.
Bulkhead Interactive’s aim to take competitive multiplayer back to a more streamlined affair in Battalion 1944 by doing away with perks, weapon attachments and killstreaks is commendable. With a market currently feeling a little overly saturated with shooters overflowing with said extras, it should offer up a decent alternative on the MP front, and it’s why I’m glad I backed the game and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact the bundle I purchased gets my name into the Battalion 1944 credits…nothing whatsoever.
"Ooh what pretty radioactive death" Metalrodent captioned his screenshot. Maybe it's the chems talking, but I have to agree, psychopathic or not.
So close, yet so far.
Being the nice guy that I am, I said I'd also share a clip of him doing something awesome to balance things out - yin and yang.
Or not. Sorry Plas.
A lot of folk have been getting stuck into Dark Souls 3, and whilst Sam was first to the finish, he's had some trouble holding onto his Souls. It all started a couple of weeks ago with the loss of 66,000, but things have only escalated from there.
I have to echo MrkDhn10, but sympathies aren't enough to counter what came next.
Fortunately for him, crippyd - Solver of Problems - has the answer:
I think you need to spend some time at Firelink!
Maybe the big writing will help him remember? "87K just went bye-bye." Nope, I give up.
The Call of Duty reveal was sure to spark some debate. Whilst Rodent and Liam were more interested in Modern Warfare Remastered, Johbhoy69 chose to focus on Infinite Warfare itself. Besides thinking the trailer looks "meh", he laments what looks like the same old formula being reused in yet another CoD game.
"Useless squad mates that get in the way of your shots, having to follow characters and stay low as they tell us when to move, and basically being treated like we've never played a FPS before."
That does sound awfully familiar.
In the other corner is Battlefield 5. Rodent's hoping it goes "back in time" and he's not alone - Confused Johnny remarked: "I honestly thought I wanted a return to WWII, but when rumours circulated weeks back that BF may go even further back, to WWI, I got pretty excited."
If you're thinking about getting Battleborn, you might want to pop into this thread, as Sam's looking for a co-op partner to provide excuse to buy it. Timmeh's the closest he's gotten to someone taking him up on the offer: "I'm tempted but not sure really, played the beta briefly and though it was good, although I had no idea what I was doing. might wait for the reviews and see what they say." Surely the promise of some co-op action should be enough to swing his vote? Come on, I'm trying to do Sam a solid here.
Speaking of co-op, Rob and James shared some thoughts on Fortified and its unique take on tower defence.
If it looks like your kinda thing, keep an eye out for Rob's full written review.
There's no 'i' in team, but there is an 'i' in Liam, who threw all ideas of co-operation away this week, shamelessly stealing a teammate's kill in Halo 5.
After seeing their response, I'm sure we all feel he got what he deserved.
The Overwatch open beta started this week, and runs until 9 May. Rob was lucky enough to go hands-on at an event recently and shared his opinions on the upcoming shooter.
Those of us with early access to the beta jumped into a few games on Wednesday. Whilst we held our own for the most part, the highlight of the night had to be Plasma wing uncharacteristically proving to be an asset to the team.
No videos or pictures exist of this unbelievable feat, so you'll have to take my word for it.
The Indefinite E3 Thread is starting to heat up as we draw closer to next month's event. Bezza unfortunately isn't feeling it this year, only being able to muster enthusiasm for Deus Ex and Mass Effect Andromeda. TippiestRook's in agreement, opining, "I'm feeling the same. There are games I'm excited for, Mass Effect Andromeda and Halo Wars 2, but I don't really feel like this year has that much on the horizon." Confused Johnny only has a couple on his most anticipated list as well, though they're the somewhat less conventional Friday the 13th and Farming Simulator 2017 (?!).
Personally, I'm quite excited for Crackdown 3, and luckily Sam, Timmeh and MrkDhn were a bit more enthusiastic about the games (and hardware) to come.
Over in The Procrastination Page, Hetty showed off her and her sister's matching tattoos that further escalate her rabid Harry Potter fandom.
She also gave her verdict on gaming themed loot boxes.
Sometimes the stuff is amazing and other times it looks like tat you can pick up in Poundland. Also, Paul now has a wardrobe filled with more t shirts than any one person could ever feasibly wear."
MrkDhn10 shared some good news with us: "Small world - have been invited to an interview on Monday at the same bank which ended my contract end of April! Totally different department but somewhat uncanny."
We wish you the best of luck, make sure to pop in and tell us how it went!
I'll leave you all with this classic from Tony Hawk's Underground.
343 Industries have done an excellent job at keeping Halo 5: Guardians’ multiplayer feeling fresh and relevant, with the numerous free expansion packs adding new maps, weapons and armour. Warzone Firefight looks to continue this trend, and marks the return of Halo’s own take on a Horde mode made famous in ODST and Reach.
More Map Variety
The beta was only ever intended to include one playable map, so this isn’t where my complaint lies. My worry is that Warzone maps may be too big. There were times during matches on Escape from ARC where the action became a little spread out, and it was often too easy to end up separated from other players and the objective.
Warzone maps are specifically designed for large lobbies and for players to be able to use their vehicle REQs, and so need to be vast enough to incorporate Scorpion tanks and Banshees, but it would be nice to see some smaller maps where the action is more focussed.
For me, the defining point of any Horde mode is to pick your spot and defend it. A perfect example of this is ODST’s Alpha Site map.
The small map had a particularly defendable position where the enemy could only attack from the front, and my brother and I could spend hours playing co-op Firefight on this map, with wave after wave of covenant breaking against us, and it was bloody good fun.
It would be great to see more maps like this included in Halo 5’s Firefight and not just Warzone variants, either as classic maps returning to the game mode, such as Alpha Site, or even some specially designed ones with heavily defendable positions. Something as simple as a fortified room with a REQ station and only one way in or out would make for some excellent Firefight action.
Choose Your Enemy
Halo certainly has a vast array of enemies to pick from, and I’m sure everyone has their likes and dislikes when it comes to series’ baddies. Personally I enjoy fighting the Covenant, whose Elite’s, Jackals, Grunts and Hunters create the perfect mix of cannon fodder and deadly foes, and are a defining feature of the franchise.
However, I am not so fond of Prometheans, and as such would welcome the option to omit them from Firefight matches. This may be a hard sell seeing as they are very much 343’s baby with the developer keen to push them as Halo’s main enemy.
There are some aspects about them I do appreciate, such as the teamwork required to take down the hulking Knights and popping the heads of Crawlers with well-placed shots, but teleporting Soldiers and shield giving Watchers are just irritating. Combine them all together and it can become a bit of a gruelling experience.
This can be easily resolved. Give players the option to pick who they want to fight, whether it’s only Covenant, Prometheans or, as was the case with the beta, a grab bag of both. This way everyone’s tastes are well catered for and players won’t have to sit through waves of enemies they don’t enjoy fighting.
Firefight could even give 343 the chance to bring back some of Halo’s more forgotten species such as Brutes, Engineers, Drones (remember them?) and even the Flood. Or, if 343 really wanted to go left-field, they could even send us up against UNSC forces. We already go toe-to-toe with Spartans in Arena and Warzone, why not Firefight too? Being able to mix it up when it comes to enemies would go a long way in keeping Firefight feeling fresh.
More Match Types
The Warzone Firefight beta featured five rounds in which players had to complete a variety of objectives against a ticking clock. This is all well and good, but it didn’t truly feel like a Horde mode.
As I mentioned above, my idea of a Horde mode is to survive as long as possible in one spot against wave after wave of enemies until your overrun, and it’s a mode I would like to see included in Warzone Firefight, alongside a few other variations.
Rather than just completing a series of objectives in five minute windows, give us the option to decide how long each round will last for, or to do away with the timer altogether in favour of limited lives and score attack modes.
343 could even look to Reach’s Firefight mode for inspiration, where players could take on waves of Grunts in Gruntpocalypse and also included the brilliant RocketFight, which allowed players to go crazy with infinite ammo Rocket Launchers in a Firefight setting. The return of this mode or one similar would be most welcome, and could be even better with REQ variants adding new twists to Rocket Launchers like extended magazines and rockets that explode in all directions after impact.
Choosing Firefight’s difficulty would also be nice to see. The difficulty during the beta seemed to fluctuate between incredibly easy and frustratingly hard depending on the objective location and which type of enemy you were facing. One example being Hunters holed up in a building and defended by Covenant troops, who were very tough to break through.
Allowing people to choose how arduous they want their Firefight experience from the classic Halo options of Easy, Normal, Heroic and Legendary would appeal to players of all abilities, from those looking for some casual Covenant slaughter to others who want to face off against Legendary AI.
Those were just a few of my thoughts on how 343 could improve the Warzone Firefight experience upon full release. Do you agree with my ideas, or was there something I missed? What would you like to see included in Firefight when it returns?
Let us know your thoughts over in the forums.
A few weeks ago I boarded an unusually sparse train from Brighton to the beige capital of the world: London, on my way to Leicester Square for a preview of Blizzard’s upcoming six-on-six squad-based shooter, Overwatch. I was expecting a fun game, but certainly nothing take-notice-special - I was about to be proved wrong on a few counts (the complimentary sandwiches were also exquisite).
So into the flesh and liquid of the day; playing the actual game! I played the Xbox One build, and am very pleased to announce that the game not only looked beautiful, but ran as smooth as Galaxy chocolate (other brands are available). I revelled in the particularly responsive controls - something that is often a concern for more PC-centric games on console. It was evident from the first match that Blizzard really are stamping their mark on the genre here, and the way in which they’re developing and supporting the game across both Xbox One, PS4 and PC simultaneously is commendable.
For those of you in the dark, Overwatch’s characters are boxed into four different classes; offence, defence, support and tank. Each class handles very differently to the other, and getting the balance right within your team will go a long way to ensuring victory (the character selection menu alerts you if your team has too many snipers, or defensive units for instance - a lovely touch that helps you build your strategy) - although the folks at Blizzard did tell us that your whole team can happily play as the same character, if you really want to!
I’m happy to report that every character moved, jumped and fired differently, something I was immensely impressed by.
We've heard developers talk about how individual characters feel unique to control many, many times, but rarely ever is that evident in the actual game. I’m happy to report that every character moved, jumped and fired differently, something I was immensely impressed by. The characters Reaper & McCree both form part of the fast moving offence class, but both felt hugely different to control. Reaper stomps across the terrain wielding two beefy shotguns that are a (pun intended) blast to use. McCree on the other hand skipped across the turf - firing his six-shooter made me feel like a cartoon Clint Eastwood. The difference in feel across characters of the same class was present throughout, as I tried every single one of them during my play session.
Another huge plus for the game is the ability to change characters at any given time, a real perk when the tactical situation of the game changes. During a game of assault (two teams battle over key areas of the map, one team attacking, the other defending) I used the brawn and shield of tank character Reinhardt to protect my team-mates from the onrushing forces of the enemy. Unfortunately we were all wiped out, so respawning as a fast moving character like Tracer proved invaluable, as I could race back to the action asap, to (hopefully) protect the capture points.
The diversity of the characters and settings was another lovely touch, as almost every character hails from a specific part of the future-world. “Bloody hell, guvnor” Tracer is crumpets-and-tea London through and through, with a red phone box strewn King’s Row being her equivalent map. To create so many characters, from so many different locations is a really smart move by Blizzard. Everybody I spoke to at the event had soft spots for certain characters (Junkrat’s constant giggling and Aussie accent, and McCree’s Wild West drawl were my favourites). To actually get personality into characters in this type of game is great work - I particularly loved the silly one liners after every kill, or respawn.
I did have some apprehensive first-impressions from my brief play through though, chiefly the amount of modes on offer. Team-based games obviously aren’t going to offer deathmatches and other individual game modes, but I felt the few on offer at this time were a bit thin. Standard capture games and escort missions were great fun, I’m just concerned that they won’t hold the attention of a huge base of players for a long time. The folks at Blizzard assured me that the game will receive a lot of love post-launch though, with new maps, modes and characters on offer, and the majority of it for no extra cost. Fingers and toes crossed that they come up with some interesting new game modes, as it would be a shame to have a game with so much personality fall short in this regard.
I had one other slight concern; that the game would benefit people playing with friends as opposed to with strangers online, but the folks at Blizzard assured me that this will not be the case. Players who enjoy dropping in for a quick session with people across the world should get just as much enjoyment from the game as pre-existing gaming teams and friends. Something I should note though is the fact that none of my team used their headsets to communicate during the two hour session, and we duly lost every game. Now this may be partly due to the other team having had prior experience with the game (and my shoddy playing), but I couldn’t shake the feeling that Overwatch will be more rewarding with the much maligned headset.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting a hands-on with Overwatch; a smart, funny, beautiful looking game with marvellous performance. Whether I was firing my primary weapon, using my special Overwatch ability, or just staring at the alluring cherry blossom trees, I savoured every minute. Here’s hoping that Blizzard chuck in a few extra modes to go with this bountiful base - if they do, we’re in for a real treat.