This week I put out the review for Spinnortality, a cool little management game where you run a corporation. While it didn’t have the depth needed to keep me playing for longer than I needed to for the review, I still appreciated the idea of amassing money and power by selling new products and gently nudging laws in my favour. Or, y’know, just launching an espionage mission to kill the current ruler before basically taking over the entire country and using the current government as little more than a glorified puppet for my master plans. Being evil is fun.
I also reviewed the rather bloody excellent Unruly Heroes, giving it a 4 out of 5. Words can’t describe how damn pretty that game is, but pictures can so check out the one at the top of this page.
In terms of upcoming reviews I’m going to be checking out the new Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs. Due to that cold I had blocking up my ears I’ve been avoiding VR because I’m pretty sure strapping a headset to my noggin at that point would have been a vomit-fuelled disaster. I’m getting back into it now, though, and loving it.
I’ll also be reviewing the upcoming Bannermen, a fun looking RTS.
Plans are also in place to review Metro: Exodus as well as Anthem. I’m awaiting word on review code for the Metro, and have Anthem on pre-order because EA don’t like me and refuse to speak to me. Or even look in my general direction.
I’ll also have reviews coming for the HyperX Cloud Mix headset, as well as the pricey Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless.
Of course, all this reviewing of stuff is assuming I manage to drag myself away from Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 which I’m still religiously playing. I’m favouring the Imperials at the moment and very much enjoying the fact that they just increased the point limit on 2v2 matches, so now I can field even more ships.
The Devil May Cry 5 Demo.
The new demo for Devil May Cry 5 landed this week so I downloaded it and tried to tap into the years of Devil May Cry 3 practice I put in as a much younger chap. Turns out I don’t have the reflexes of a squirrel hyped up on coffee any more so there was a bit of a learning curve as I got back into the action.
The demo is very short, but from the brief section you get to play around in I was left impressed. I was one of the few who really enjoyed the DmC reboot a few years back but it’s still great to see Nero and Dante back in action, and the fighting mechanics feel wonderful. There’s a certain spark that DmC: Devil May Cry lacked that is absolutely present in this one.
A few streets full of basic minions gave me the chance to explore the fundamentals of the combat. A couple of the moves felt perhaps a touch inconsistent to pull off in terms of controls, but otherwise everything was silky smooth and immensely satisfying.
For the demo the only playable character is Nero, which is fine by me because it let me play around with his interchangeable robot arm. I’m excited to see just how much they can alter combos and open up new styles of play.
Based on the short demo I’m feeling good about the full release in March. This looks and plays like a homage to the original Devil May Cry games with enough new twists and tricks to keep it feeling fresh. I’m excited.
EA Being Dumb Again.
I swear it’s like EA can’t make it through a month without saying something incredibly dumb. Last year they mentioned that nobody was interested in single player games any more, which was a tad funny when the very same year we got titles like God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.
Anyway, this year EA held their shareholders conference where they revealed that Battlefield V sold 7.6-million copies, a fairly respectable number. Well, not according to EA who stated that they were disappointed with that number which was around 1-million copies less than they were predicting. It says a lot about the state of the triple-A industry that 7.6-million copies sold, which includes more expensive special editions and such, is viewed as disappointing.
EA’s reasoning behind this is that they chose to focus on the game’s single player over the forthcoming battle royale mode. Now, I can at least sort of see their logic here; battle royale titles have been hugely popular and Call of Duty certainly did well by ditching its campaign and focusing on Blackout, its own version of battle royale. But while I can see their argument it remains a short-sighted and ignorant defense.
It comes across as EA essentially sticking their fingers in their ears and ignoring the actual reasons behind their apparent failure. As I briefly mentioned the focus on single player over battle royale is a poor excuse considering how strongly good single player experiences have been selling. Instead, perhaps they should have taken note of fan backlash they caused via frankly insulting comments toward consumers. Following EA and DICE showing off Battlefield V’s odd view of history that emphasized women on the front lines there were understandably a lot of people questioning the unusual route. In response EA stated, “We stand up for the cause, because I think those people who don’t understand it, well, you have two choices: either accept it or don’t buy the game.” The reason they had included women in Battlefield V so prominently was due to prior comments that they weren’t being diverse enough, but then EA got angry at the fans who had rightfully pointed out that completely changing actual history was not the way to go about it.
The smarter choice would have been to go down the alternate history route or do something like Bad Company 2 where it was more obvious that while the story was based on real life events it was very much an exaggeration. Or perhaps they could have depicted the Soviets where women actually did serve on the front line and as pilots. They could have portrayed the story of Natalya Kovshova, for example. There are so many fascinating real-life accounts of women in the war that would have been amazing to see. Instead, they chose to do strange things like have a mission to Norway to stop the Germans getting heavy water feature a 16-year-old looking girl being the protagonist, ignoring the Norwegian resistance fighters who actually performed the mission.
However, I don’t think including women and more representation was the actual problem. No, it was more how EA chose to handle it, deriding their own fans and customers for having doubts. Rather than properly explaining their choices and having a discourse with gamers they chose the route that so many big companies and ignorant people do; insult people. They declared that if people didn’t like it, they shouldn’t buy it and now seem shocked that people took that to heart.
As for the game itself, EA just seem to ignore the reviews and consumer reactions that pointed out the weak maps and the lack of chaos that made prior games feel like a proper war. Battlefield V felt a lot more like Call of Duty. AngryJoe’s review above goes through everything wrong with the game.
Perhaps most bafflingly is that EA also blamed their marketing tactics for Battlefield V’s failure. Er, what about the fact that you clearly build your games around acquiring money first and foremost, and that players can feel that? In other words, maybe you should focus on trying to make good games.
Ultimately, though, the problem with Battlefield V wasn’t the controversy – deserved or not – surrounding women being in the front lines or even the issues people had with maps and the general design. No, the real issue is EA’s insane expectations. 7.6-million copies is absolutely a success, yet EA continue to want more and more.
Of course, that isn’t even mentioning EA’s tactics surrounding loot boxes and their outright refusal to comply with Belgium’s law changes which had made said loot boxes illegal. They, and the rest of the industry, continue to shove loot boxes into games, very often with clear consequences in the form of arduous grinds.
According to EA they’ve had a tough financial year, plus one the day of their conference call they suffered their biggest drop of their stock prices in years. Yet, they seem intent on blindly blaming stupid things rather than looking at the actual causes. Sadly, though, since people are still supporting EA and their business practices it seems that the company won’t be changing any time soon.
Meanwhile, Disney stated that they are happen to leave the valuable Star Wars license in the hands of EA, which I find a tad insane. Although I found some fun playing Star Wars: Battlefront 2 there’s no denying that the game’s handling of microtransactions and severe lack of content hurt sales. In all the time of having the license EA has only managed to put out two Star Wars titles, and both suffered from controversies and lackluster receptions.
BUT THERE IS SOME GOOD NEWS! This week so the sudden launch of Apex Legends from Respawn, the same people who brought us the Titanfall games. Apex Legends is yet another free-to-play battle royale game, but so far the consensus seems to be that it’s really, really good. Importantly, Respawn were adamant that there would be no advertising campaign for the game because they knew that since it wasn’t Titanfall 3, was a battle royale game, was free-to-play and was being published by EA that the potential for a PR disaster was high. Instead, they smartly pushed EA to just let them release the game and let Apex Legends speak for itself. Great call, Respawn, because so far the reception has been fantastic. While I worry about
With Apex Legends set in the Titanfall universe it also provides some hope that Titanfall 3 will happen, which it absolutely should because that game shifted around 5-6 million copies. Hell, that’s nearly Battlefield V numbers. With that said, if Apex Legends does continue to do well then Respawn’s future may be focused purely on it.
Re-Visiting Harry Potter
On the brighter side, my 10-year-old niece is currently watching the Harry Potter movies and reading the books. It’s been fun seeing her experience a cultural phenomonen that I grew up with, although I just realised that she can’t watch all the movies just yet since things get increasingly darker in each sequel. At the moment she’s on Prisoner of Azkaban (arguably the best of the series) and the inclusions of Dementors, a werewolf and the darker tone in general are getting to her a little. I reckon she’ll be fine with Goblet of Fire, but we might have to stop after that. Plus, if nothing else from Half-Blood Prince onwards things may become a bit boring for her anyway.
For me, it has been pretty damn awesome revisiting the Harry Potter franchise. I still make a habit of watching them at least once a year, as befits such an integral and awesome part of my own childhood.
EDIT: Codemasters have officially announced that Oculus Rift support will be coming to DiRT 2.0 in Summer.
Finally, I’ll close out this Weekend Whammy with this video by GamerMuscleVideos who sum up all my feelings about DiRT Rally 2.0 not having any VR support. Just why, Codemasters? Why would you hurt me like this?
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So what have you been playing?
Categories: Weekend Whammy