Weekend Whammy

Weekend Whammy: The Surge 2, Stardew Valley & Blizzard

Hello my dear friends, it’s time for another Weekend Whammy that ain’t actually on the weekend! If you didn’t already know the Weekend Whammy posts are where I chat about the reviews I’ve put up in the past week, what’s coming up, what I’ve been playing and more. Of course, it’s also where I want to know what you guys have been playing! Drop me a comment so we can chat games.

My biggest review of the past week was for the Nintendo Switch Lite which really impressed me. I tackled the review as someone who doesn’t own a regular Switch, so hopefully I managed to provide a slightly different take on the console.

Speaking of the Switch Lite, I’ve found that it’s pretty much the perfect device for playing Stardew Valley on. I reviewed Stardew Valley a while back and loved it, but I’ve got a newfound adoration of the game on the Lite because now I can sink into my couch and while away an hour tending to my little farm. Or when I’m out and about I can whip out the Lite, fire up the game for five minutes and still feel like I’ve made some progress.

And my final bit of Switch Lite related nonsense comes from the awesome folks over at Digital Foundry who have broken down and analysed the port of The Witcher 3. It’s some seriously impressive stuff. The fact that they managed to take The Witcher 3 and compact it into a 32GB cartridge is incredible, but that they also made it run pretty well is simply mind-blowing.

The other review I put out this week was of GRID, the new reboot of the racing series which is also the tenth game in the TOCA franchise. Somehow. Anyway, it turned out to be a genuinely fun arcade racer lacking in content and options. It’s one that I think could be worth revisiting a few months down the line to see if Codemasters have fleshed it out.

As for upcoming reviews I’m still working on The Surge 2. Yes, I know, I’m taking ages with it, but frankly it keeps kicking my ass. Still, the more I play of The Surge 2 the more I’m enjoying it’s thoughtful, challenging combat intricate level designs, even if I am constantly getting lost.

Review code for Asgard’s Wrath has also turned up. It’s a brand new VR game that looks like it could potentially be the big, triple-A style experience that VR has really been waiting for. It’s over 40-hours long, features sword and shield combat, NPCs to interact with, puzzles to solve and more. The Norse mythology and art style looks amazing, too. Check out this video from Eurogamer’s Ian for an idea of how freaking awesome Asgard’s Wrath looks.

I also noted with interest that the Oculus Quest is getting a big upgrade. Now, when it launched the Quest was a standalone VR headset with absolutely no wires, the idea being that you could experience VR anywhere you wanted with the headset itself running the game. Meanwhile the Oculus Rift S, the one I opted for, was the wired version which meant less freedom but the upshot was having a PC power the games. Now though, Oculus are talking about releasing an upgrade for the Quest which will allow it to hook up to a PC as well. This makes me feel…stupid for buying the Rift S which is now almost redundant. The Quest is the superior choice, even if the Rift S does still have slightly better specs. Had Oculus launched the Quest with the ability to hook up to the PC as well it would have been so much better.

I’ll also be chatting about the recent 4TG game convention I attended where I hung out with lots of awesome people, played some pinball and watched a bunch of kids try to be good at Fortnite whilst on stage.

I fired Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled up again this week and dove into the current Grand Prix event. I’m still pissed that Activision added microtransactions into the game, and the fact that very clearly made sure to add them after the review pisses me off even more. But still, the game itself is so much damn fun. The new tracks aren’t anything special but they’ve fleshed out an already expansive roster of circuits, and the Grand Prixs keep giving me stuff to do.

I think by the end of the year Crash Team Racing will probably be in my top ten list. I actually looked back at my 9 Best Games of the Year So Far list and it’s fun to see just how much its changed as we near the end of 2019. I’m not sure if stuff like The Divison 2 and Mordhau will still be on there considering we’ve things like Borderlands 3, Untitled Goose Game and Control.

Oh, and speaking of Control, it seems the game has been a commercial flop which makes me seriously unhappy. It didn’t even make it into the NPD charts for August. Likewise, the UK charts posted on October 14th don’t even show it in the 40 titles listed there which is just fucking depressing. Control is a masterful game, easily one of the best of the year and deserving of success, especially over some of the tat that’s coming out. Just go and read my love letter of a review, then go buy the game. Do yourself a favor.

Of course, the big news from the past week or so has been surrounding Blizzard, their Hearthstone tournament and their banning of the tournament winner after he expressed support for the current situation in Hong Kong during his post-match interview. I’m not going to recap the whole story here or offer any deep analysis because that deserves an article unto itself. I just wanted to provide some brief thoughts; the first is to play devil’s advocate by pointing out that I don’t know what the exact rules of the tournament are in regards to what you can and cannot say. Blizzard claim they are very specific and that the player in question agreed to those rules and then broke them. If that’s true then we need to take that into account properly. With that said, Blizzard’s reaction has been idiotic at best, especially given that they claim one of their values to be that everyone’s voice should be heard. The Chinese government is a terrifying regime that censors anything it doesn’t like, and to see a US company seemingly bow to China by censoring someone who quite calmly and quietly offered their support to Honk Kong is absurd.

At this point, there’s no fixing this for Blizzard. Whichever option they opt for they’ll be pissing off China or their fans.

Well, I’ve leave it there. I’m writing this late at night and I don’t think I can do complete justice to the topic here.

Take care my friends, and please do let me know what you’re playing this week.

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