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There’s only so many of us and our tastes in games only goes so far. That isn’t to say we won’t talk about games we don’t play, but it’s somewhat difficult. When things come up for games we don’t play, we’ll try our best to talk about them but we’re a bit lost. Thankfully, we have wonderful callers who can help us in this, such as the case with the new Pokemon game and wondering about the “review bomb” issue and what was going on there.

Speaking of new games, this Star Wars game seems to have really surprised quite a lot of people. I think after a while with a complete lack of a single-player narrative Star Wars game, the expectations of the masses was set a little low. And what a reaction this has been…lots of praise all the way around, but I won’t be buying it – yet. I explain all this in the episode but it isn’t just me as Matt explains his time with the game. Biases aside, because of course he likes it, but I’m glad the game is getting universal praise.

Makes me excited for when I actually get around to playing it.

 

That time of year is upon us. I warn you around every August or so to hold off on game buying if you can because Black Friday will surely see discounts of all kinds and this year is no exception. Most of the second hour is devoted to going over the black Friday deals and how we intend to use them. There’s not much on OUR radar but for you some things might stick out. We cover most of them so we hope you find something for yourself this year. We also cover, oddly enough, home appliances, as your humble host is in need of a new fridge – we go a bit off script there.

Then there’s this whole thing again with Splinter Cell – the Tom Clancy franchise Ubisoft seems to have forgotten they had. Although I do have a theory on why we haven’t seen one in so long. And likely that we were probably close but they scrapped it and went back to the drawing board with it cause of trends and money. It’s always the money, trust me.

Speaking of money – even the boring old no frills refrigerators are absurdly pricey for Black Friday. Anyone else notice that or just me?

Just me then. Okay. Carry on.

 

Thinking back on this episode the day after we recorded it live and I’m wondering if we might have been a bit harsh on Death Stranding, especially since we haven’t even played it. And, for that matter, probably the new Star Wars game as well.

It isn’t hard for me to get sucked into hype. Except when it comes to video games. In a lot of ways I’m a glass-half-empty kind of guy when it comes to video games. I realize trailers, announcements, gameplay – it’s all marketing. We’re seeing what they want us to see so I rarely feel hype when I see a trailer for a game that is nothing but cinematics, CG, and cutscenes. Even when shown what looks like gameplay, I still keep a squinted eye view of it like an old man looking at kids across the street wondering what law they are breaking. A good example of this is BioShock Infinite.

Regardless of being too judgey or not on the issue of those two games mentioned in the beginning, they still aren’t on my menu of upcoming games I want to play. However, I am VERY interested to see the public reaction when they get their hands on it. Curious to see how the winds blow when the general public is able to play it and talk about it.

Even more curious to see if the hero/franchise worship will still abound as much as it seems to do in these early reviews.

 

We’ve been away for two weeks but our gaming habits didn’t really change in that time as we all seem to stick with one single game for each of us.

Regardless, we do spend some time talking about Ghost Recon Breakpoint and Ubisoft’s decision to delay some upcoming releases based on that game’s poor reception, both critically and financially.

I’m hoping to put in some time with Obsidian’s Outer Worlds. They’re the makers of Fallout New Vegas – a game I have been told countless times is one I should play BECAUSE of how uninterested I was with Fallout 3. And Fallout 4. And Dragon Age. And, well, a lot of games of that type. Still, it has been said to me that I must try New Vegas because it’s different and made by the Obsidian folks. So yeah, I’ll give Outer Worlds a go and see how it works for me.

It’s weird how these things work out for me sometimes. I remember way back when being told how I have to play Bastion and all these great praises for the game. I did eventually get around to it, and I don’t know if all the talk had me over-hyped for the game or what – but it was just OK for me. And being just OK isn’t bad, but it didn’t live up to the praise I was told about. Then again, it was YEARS after all of that before I ever played it, so who knows?

Come to think of it, I still haven’t played New Vegas.

 

Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age.

Yes, we talk about Blizzard and their situation with what happened this past week when the above was said in an interview by a tournament player who’d just recently won the whole thing.

Then was promptly banned for an entire year while having his prize money winnings withheld. This began a domino effect of others in the community stepping away from the tournament scene in support of the player. And while Blizzard would eventually reduce the ban to six months and turn his winnings over to him, the bell had already been rung and the statement issued was little more than a press release dripping with lies and shallow excuses.

But to be perfectly honest, this, sadly, doesn’t surprise me. Not when you look at Activision/Blizzard as a whole. Not when you look at just how far the NBA went to win favor back from the Chinese government.

I can only hope more and more of the tournament community come together and take a stand against this. Pull out of tournaments and stop supporting Blizzard. And that it extends to the other communities where corporations have asked their players to remain silent on this with the threat of being banned as well. Gaming communities have shown in the past they can pull together and do some amazing things, but this would be on a scale previously unseen before and I really hope like hell it can happen.

 

The short summer vacation is over.

I’m back on the hamster wheel that is Destiny 2.

I was going to leave it at that and make this short so I could actually get back to the grind in D2, but the more I looked at it the more it sounded like I was annoyed by actually doing that, and I’m not.

At all.

It feels good to be back, honestly.

On with the show.

 

I actually don’t like buying video games. Which…is kinda hard to tell when I talk of my backlog and Steam library and what not. I’m drowning in video games. Tons of them. I try at least not to pay full price when I do pick up a game.

Renting games was a big part of my life growing up. By the time the rental places closed up there was already Redbox and GameFly. I had ways of playing the games I wanted to while paying a minimum to do so. Then there was the Best Buy “hack”. The Gamers Club promotion they had where I could buy a game at a certain percentage off the price, play it, and if I didn’t wait too long, I could trade it in with a bonus credit and pick up the next thing I wanted to play paying only the difference of a few dollars. Of course, that required the games to hold value and for me to play them as fast as I could to get the most on my trade.

I’ve long since canceled my GameFly subscription and haven’t been to a RedBox in years. I still buy games, of course. You throw in a steelbook or a statue with a game I want to play and I’m pretty much there day one.

The trend I see now is that sort of Netflix model. Pay some amount of money per month and have access to a pretty good library of games. I do that now with Xbox Game Pass and I have tons to play. A lot of brand new titles as well. EA has something like this and so does Ubisoft. I like it, yes, but just like with the TV apps, it’s beginning to get out of hand. Everyone wants a piece of the pie. So just like TV where studios and networks are branching off with their own apps and fees, so are the game publishing companies. It’ll invite competition, sure, but you don’t really have to compete when you’re the ONLY place someone can play a certain game without going out and buying it.

There’s really no solution to this, that I can see. On either side be it gaming or TV. I’d say the market would sort itself out, but I honestly feel there’s enough people to support all these different subscription services.

I’m just not one of them.

 

Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. But it’s very hard to deny the beauty I’ve been seeing while playing God Of War.

Understand first that when I originally bought God Of War, I was playing on a PS4 Pro, but with a HD TV. It was just 1080p. That was it. Same when I bought Horizon Zero Dawn. Same for when I bought Spider-Man and played Red Dead Redemption 2 on my Xbox One X. I had all the capabilities to play and watch in 4K, but I was missing that one critical component – a 4K TV.

Even when November came and I actually got a 4K TV, I didn’t jump right into gaming. I’m not exactly sure why. I went to my movies first and they looked outstanding but for gaming I just went back to my PC and played Destiny 2. For 5 more months or so.

When I had downtime in Destiny 2 (not often, mainly in the late end of an expansion where I’d finished things up and had a week or two before the new one came out), I finally got back to Spider-Man and finished that up. I could see the dramatic difference playing in 4K with HDR. It was beautiful. But nothing prepared me for the beauty of God Of War. All other minor complaints I have about that game aside, the beauty of this thing in 4K has yet to be matched. Then again, I have yet to go diving into my 4K gaming library to really see what’s out there. And I’m really looking forward to it.

If you’ve got the right console for 4K gaming and the TV too, then you already know what I’m talking about. If you only got half of that, a TV without the right console or vice versa, then look into those upcoming Black Friday deals. Consoles will likely see a small drop in price or at least a bundle that gives you around $100 extra value, be it a game or gift cards. And TV’s will be reduced as well (plus you can’t throw a rock in an electronics section without hitting a 4K TV, it’s pretty standard now). Take the plunge if you can. 4K gaming…well, 4K anything is an amazing experience.

 

It’s interesting how discussions change over time. We’ve been interviewing people who work on video games for a good many years now and I’ve personally spoke to many of them during my trips to conventions and what not. Typically you have a standard list of questions for them about their game. How long is it? When will it be released? That sort of thing. Over time, due to the nature of gaming and the nature of the gaming community, other questions are added to the list. Will it have exclusivity on the pc/consoles? Online or couch co-op? Plans for DLC (and now, apparently, micro-transactions)?

Now I find myself asking another question to developers. Either why they are exclusive to the Epic Games Store or would they take an offer from them for exclusivity. It’s just the nature of change really and the topic of conversation as of late. The answer I usually get, both on the air and at conventions is EXACTLY the same as we got from Bohdon Sayre.

Bohdon is our guest this week as he calls in to talk to us about his latest game from Flight School Studios – Creature In The Well (out now on Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox – free with Xbox/PC Game Pass).

I’m not sure what the next question will become over time, but given the way things seem to be going, it’s leaning a lot towards games having some type of cross save or cross play aspect. Which, honestly, is way more important to me than which storefront a game will be sold on. I’m not any sort of loyalist in that regard, in case it wasn’t clear.

 

Two hours of programming and we never finished talking about everything seen at PAX. Well, let me be honest – two hours of programming and I never finished talking about PAX.

I’ve been going to forms of this convention now for over 10 years and every one of them is different in how I experience it. Sometimes it’s a lot of appointments and sometimes it can be hardly any. Sometimes I’ll discover something on the show floor that I never had an appointment for and sometimes it’ll all just be a big ol’ bust.

Well, it’s actually never a bust. That’s because of the Indie MegaBooth. That and the offerings on the 6th floor. Both of these spaces house the alternative developers. By that I mean those who are very small teams working with very small budgets but making extraordinary gaming experiences. Be it in storytelling or game play mechanics. Rarely will you ever see the most mind-blowing visuals (though some of them have that), but you will find the hidden gems and the games more people want to talk about than whatever is being shown by the big studios downstairs on the main show floor. Honestly, they should take the cramped MegaBooth (don’t let the name fool you, the space is small, cramped, and packed) and make it the whole 6th floor with all the other indie games up there. But, that’s the point, you’re down there on the main floor getting the most traffic cause everyone’s there to see the big guns and you MIGHT get a little notice to more people – but it’s still annoying.

I’m hoping over the next few months we’ll be able to bring you interviews from some of these smaller developers. Whenever I see games like this, I have an overwhelming urge to tell everyone I can about them and make sure they’re on your radar to play. They might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re guaranteed to be different and you might just discover something amazing that you love.

 

No show next week. Well, there is, but it’s a replay if you happen to catch it live. I’ll be at PAX next week and if any of you reading this will be attending as well, by all means let me know! Would love to meet up and say hello!

Gamescom has come and gone and we were surprised to see Sony opening up a little bit when it comes to sharing. PUBG is getting cross play in a few weeks and Sony put a title on the PC. They also spoke a bit about how they’re going to be doing more of that in the future. Or at least be more open to doing it. Whatever…it’s small steps in the right direction.

I’ve spoken about this before, but every console generation has its battles. Moving into the world of HD was the battlefield with the 360 and PS3, both could do it and that was a selling point to open up with at the time (pricing as well with that og PS3 going for $600-$800). Seems like the Xbox One and PS4 had a multitude of battlefields including the price tag along with how we’d be getting and sharing our games.

There’s other aspects to all of these releases and pro/con type of things to go with them. Whatever is coming next will have its share as well, but I’m betting the openness of the platform will be a new one. Both within the system structure and outside of it. Backwards compatibility, and cross-play/buy. We’ve been down the road on the former and we’re seemingly cutting the path for paving on the latter. It’s likely a topic of contention that should hang around during the next round of consoles from both companies.

Side note: I’m not forgetting Nintendo, but they don’t play in the world of MS/Sony. They’ve long since abandoned that route and went their own way and are doing just fine.

 

In the week since our last episode, I’ve put all of thirty whole minutes into Destiny 2. It’s been a long time since that game hasn’t consumed my week and while I was looking at the down time giving me a chance to explore some other games on my backlog, all I’ve actually done is avoid gaming altogether.

That’s not a bad thing when going on the tear that I did with D2. It’s been relaxing and, oddly enough, not as stressful in the chase for getting to that stopping point. However, now that I’ve had that break and caught up on some of my shows, I’m looking to jump back in and I’d like to start with God Of War.

It isn’t my most recent memory of a game I was playing outside of D2, but it is the one holding my biggest interest and curiosity right now. Assassin’s Creed is there as well, but it’s rather large with a TON of things to do in it. Spider-Man is complete, but I’m working on the DLC – currently stopped at a very annoying side quest. The game being complete is likely why the drive isn’t there. Horizon Zero Dawn runs a close second to God Of War, but it also contains a lot of side quests and my stopping point there wasn’t the best of auto saves. Same goes for Red Dead 2.

God Of War tempts me with a pretty direct line of gameplay. It lacks the distractions of side quests, has absolutely no DLC to speak of, and still gives me the drive to complete it.

The thing is, I’m kind of looking for something exactly like that given what I’ve been doing the past year now.

 

We go as long as we can to stay off the topic of gaming and gun violence. It’s not that we don’t feel we should be talking about it, but we’re pretty much preaching to the choir when it comes to our audience. We don’t think anyone who comes to listen or watch a show about video games is going to expect us to agree with that whole games-cause-violence rhetoric. We’ve also covered it many times before.

I already hate that I have to write what I just did. The fact it even needs to be said again. The fact it is being said at all. This discussion would take longer than the 2 hours we have on this show. And even then we’d come to the same result. No one who calls in or comments could ever change our minds on the subject. And that isn’t because we aren’t willing to be open to someone’s opinion, but we have so much evidence to the contrary that we just will not ignore it.

You’d be wrong to fight us on this. You’d have every right to, I suppose, but you’d be wrong.

Look elsewhere if you want to find a method to the madness, because it isn’t video games.

It never was.

 

It’s funny when I hear people talk about other jobs. We all know the difficulty involved with being a public servant. And that includes all forms of occupations where you are there to serve, protect, or help the public. So those are the jobs I’m NOT going to be talking about.

I’ve heard people look at talk shows like ours and others and think it’s easy. And I get where they are coming from, but when you put them behind a mic and tell them to talk on one single subject for the next 2 or 3 hours or more…well, that can be tough. Then tell them to do that for either 5 days or even once a week. Again, tough gig.

Which is why I smile a bit when we get news stories about video game streamers and folks on YouTube making tons of money and I hear people say they want to do that. That it’s easy or they are missing out on an easy million bucks from this streaming thing. But streaming is just like any other job when you look at it from the outside. Observably easy, but realistically daunting.

It’s the exact same thing when we tell people radio isn’t as easy as you think. And you might brush it off on both counts (radio and streaming), but putting your feet to the fire and you’ll see just how easy neither of those things are.

I’ll leave streaming to those who are good at it and have both the emotional and mental fortitude it takes to be good enough at that to live off it.

 

I can remember there being times when I was in a slump with gaming. It wasn’t that I didn’t have time to play or anything to play at all, but just a slump of not wanting to play. And that time may return, I don’t know, but it’s nowhere near happening at the moment. Granted, however, I am seemingly stuck in a time loop with Destiny 2, or maybe it’s a loot loop.

Actually, it’s a goal loop. The loot right now is meaningless for me. With the exception of a few items, I’m at the top of my game insofar as the gear is concerned. That’s part of what you play Destiny 2 for is the gear – the weapons and armor. But, Destiny, like most games, have achievements in the form of triumphs. These are little specific goals that don’t always involve loot. Those goals are now the reason I play. And I’m nearly done with them for my own satisfaction. Finishing all of them? Not by a long shot, but finishing the ones I want to, yeah…I’m nearly there.

The problem (of the best part) is that they’ll keep adding more. Some I’ll want to do and some I’ll not care at all to do, but that’s fine. What’s there is enough to keep me playing. Keeps the drive alive, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I know some people have a problem with me ONLY ever coming on the show to say I’ve been playing Destiny, but it’s currently the game I have the desire to play.

And that, for me, is better than not playing anything at all.