TLC’s D&D 5e Homebrew: Level 20 Bard Features

I am a huge fan of RPGs. Like actual Role Playing Games, though now typically referred to as Tabletop RPGs or Pen and Paper RPGs. I haven’t been playing for too long, being introduced with the release of the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons or D&D 5e, but it has thoroughly taken over my life. Being an aspiring game developer, I can’t help but come up with my own ideas for how certain mechanics should work or new ideas on less fleshed out mechanics. Dungeons and Dragons, while having a rule set, greatly encourages this type of behavior and a community of “homebrewing” has formed.

So I’d like to share a few of my ideas:

Level 20 Bard Features:

In D&D hitting Level 20 is a big deal. It means the campaign you and your friends have been playing for YEARS is finally coming to an end. It means your character has reached their maximum potential. It means your characters are some of the most powerful things in the world. It means you should have some dope ass abilities!

Unfortunately for some classes the ability they’re granted at Level 20 is a bit… lackluster.

Superior Inspiration:

Art by Kit Buss of Critical Roll

“At 20th level, when you roll initiative and have no uses of Bardic Inspiration left, you regain one use.”

In laymen’s terms, every time you start a fight, if you’re out of “Bardic Inspiration” you gain one use of it. Bardic Inspiration is the bard’s special ability that can buff their allies. Increasing their chance to succeed at attacking or completing tasks. The bard can cast it a maximum of 5-6 times between rests. It’s a pretty powerful ability and while bards are not lacking in the power compartment, this being their ability at level 20 is butt. Don’t just take my word for it here are a few of D&D 5e’s level 20 Class features:

Signature Spells:
“When you reach 20th level, you gain mastery over two powerful spells and can cast them with little effort. Choose two 3rd-level wizard spells in your spellbook as your signature spells. You always have these spells prepared, they don’t count against the number of spells you have prepared, and you can cast each of them once at 3rd level without expending a spell slot. When you do so, you can’t do so again until you finish as short of long rest.”

Divine Intervention:
“Beginning at 10th level, you can call on your deity to intervene on your behalf when your need is great.
Imploring your deity’s aid requires you to use your action. Describe the assistance you seek, and roll percentile dice. If you roll a number equal to or lower than your cleric level, your deity intervenes…”

“At 20th level, your call for intervention succeeds automatically, no roll required.”

Like I said, when compared to those Superior Inspiration is lackluster. My idea involves solidifying the Bard’s role as the true Support class.

Mass Inspiration:

At 20th level, your Bardic Inspiration pool is doubled and with each use of the ability you can inspire up to 3 targets at once.

Image from Mad Max: Fury Road

This is no doubt more powerful than Superior Inspiration but balance is less important for TRPG’s than say your average video game as the DM knows how strong his players are and can simply make encounters more dangerous. All that really matters is how powerful your players feel. And being able to buff multiple allies at once and more often is significantly more exciting than recovering your pool slightly.

 

Archetype Based Level 20 Features:

The Paladin’s have a unique feature where their level 20 class feature is based on their class archetype. (sub-class) These are far and beyond my favorite as it makes it so you could have two paladins in your party and yet they would feel completely different from one another. So I’ve always liked to think about what archetype based level 20 class features I would make for each class. The two archetypes for bard are: College of Lore, a bard with a focus on learning and gathering information. And College of Valor, a bard with a focus on combat and celebrating heroes.

For College of Lore I would just insert Mass Inspiration as it has additional synergies with their Cutting Words and Peerless Skill features.

College of Valor: Superior Combat Inspiration
“Tactical Bard” by NIW

At your 20th Level your Combat Inspiration is improved:
– When a target uses your Inspiration on an attack roll the Inspiration Die is also added to damage dealt.
– When a target takes damage it can spend its Inspiration Die to reduce its damage by that much.
– When you kill a target you get a free Inspiration Die and a free action to cast it. Once per turn.

Wrap Up:

Remember, your job as DM is to make sure every player is engaged. Some enjoy the story telling aspects and some the gameplay. Either way I believe these variants give players more to work with.

If you ever run any games with a max level bard try it out for me and see how it feels. Or if you’re the player feel free to show this article to your GM to see how they feel about it. Either way shoot me a msg @STGHazard and let me know how it went.

Cover Image: “Thinkin Bout Kisses” by DaveRapoza

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TLC’s D&D 5e Homebrew: Alchemy and Alcohol

I am a huge fan of RPGs. Like actual Role Playing Games, though now typically referred to as Tabletop RPGs or Pen and Paper RPGs. I haven’t been playing for too long, being introduced with the release of D&D 5e, but it has thoroughly taken over my life. Being an aspiring game developer, I can’t help but come up with my own ideas for how certain mechanics should work or new ideas on less fleshed out mechanics. Dungeons and Dragons, while having a rule set, greatly encourages this type of behavior and a community of “homebrewing” has formed.

So I’d like to share a few of my ideas:

Alchemy and Alcohol:

In the Player Handbook (PHB) the only thing we really get about potions is how much they heal and that they’re expensive as hell. So I’d like to try and make potions a bit more interesting. I can hardly take credit for this one as it is entirely based on The Witcher lore combined with alchemic terminology. The idea is we have all potion made of an alcohol base, an alchemic base of 4 varying levels, with the combination of various plants or monster blood or whatever you can think of.

From dungeonmaster.com

Flavor:

Flavor is a RPG term referring to the narrative or cinematic explanation or interpretation of game mechanics. So how do making potions alcoholic have any effect on the world? That’s for you to decided but I can help.

Narrative:

As alcohol is usually a big part of dwarven and halfling culture alchemy could be largely based in dwarven or halfling civilizations. Or perhaps the Elves are primarily those who see the practical use of alcohol and look down on those who would use it for such a childish reason.

Maybe alchemy is fairly new in the world and there’s a younger dwarven female scientist researching the potential uses of alcohol as she’s patronized for her strange use of it.

Perhaps a large religion bans the use of alcohol as they find its potential downsides revolting. Since they are usually able to heal themselves through divine magicks they have less of a need for alcohol’s alchemic uses.

Really its whatever you can come up with. But hopefully this gets your creative juices flowing.

Alchemic Bases:

There are 4 known alchemic bases (feel free to add a legendary one) and there are many more types of potions than just healing so determine which base goes to which potion based on rarity. Also feel free to just refer to them as “Common Base” or “Rare Base.”

Nigredo: Common Base, black tinted solution
Albedo: Uncommon Base, white tinted solution
Citrinitas: Rare Base, yellow tinted solution
Rubedo: Very Rare, red tinted solution. Alas classic health potion

Mechanics:

– The drinking of potions would now come with a Constitution Saving Throw after each bottle varying based on the strength of the potion.
– The DC would increase by 2 for every potion you ingest within a short rest.
– To counteract the downsides these downsides I suggest lowering the prices or increasing their potency. I lean toward the latter.

The PHB doesn’t really mention the prices of stronger potions but don’t stress too much about prices. Although if your party is missing a cleric or druid you might wanna try and make them more readily available especially if your players are newer or if you yourself don’t have a good grasp on balancing combat for your players. Remember if you players get too many potions you can just throw more monster their way and vice versa.

Potion List:

Potion of Healing:
– Heals for 3d4+3
– Difficulty Check: (DC) 4
– Components: beer + nigredo + common plant roots/leaves
– Crafting Info: DC: 12, 4 hour crafting period
– Cost: 25-50 GP

Potion of Greater Healing:
– Heals for 5d4+5
– DC: 6
– Components: wine + albedo + uncommon leaves/roots or beast blood
– Crafting Info: DC: 14, 8 hour crafting period
– Cost: 50-250 GP

Potion of Superior Healing:
– Heals for 10d4+10
– DC: 8
– Components: liquor + citrinitas + rare plant leaves/roots or monster blood
– Crafting Info: DC: 16, 24 hour crafting period
– Cost: 250-1000 GP
Potion of Supreme Healing:
– Heals for 12d4+25
– DC: 10
– Components: Ancient Dwarven Liquor or Ancient Elven Wine + rubedo + leaves from the Feywild or dragon blood
– Crafting Info: DC: 18: 48 hour crafting period
– Cost: 1000-3000 GP

DC + 2 per potion ingested. DC resets after a short or long rest.
Feel free to reduce crafting periods if they rolls exceptionally higher or a NAT20.

Failure:

When a character fails the constitution save, it should be considered poison. This way Dwarves and Stout Halfling would have advantage on the save which fits the races on a narrative fashion and would make those racial traits much more useful in most campaigns.

As for the effect I see it being either one of two things: the PC gets the “Poisoned” condition or they take one level of exhaustion. I prefer the latter personally as the poisoned status seems a bit too strong for the first failure and it has a prebuilt tiers for continuous failure.

From DreadGazebo.net

Wrap-up:

I’ve tried to just wing it before and I end up letting the players have too many potions while randomly coming up with requirements and names for plants and junk Hopefully this provides some kind of structure to the potion system.

Lemme know what you think. I’m suspecting the DC’s might be a bit too high I’m gonna try it when my group meets back together in a few months.

Cover Image from PHB

 

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Why Linearity Trumps Open Worlds

E3, the advertising juggernaut, has concluded but not without announcing a whole lotta’ interesting titles. One such title I’m interested in is Nintendo’s attempt at an open world, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. (henceforth BotW) The series as a whole has used both linearity and open world designs but the 3d games tend to stick to the more linear style. There are a lot of smart dudes working at Nintendo so if anyone can figure out how to do one well, its them. I, like most people raised as gamers, have been a fan of the Zelda franchise for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories are of my older brothers pulling out the almighty gold N64 cartridge containing Ocarina of Time.

Just imagine the Master Sword is the N64 Cartridge.

One thing that has me worried is that Aonuma Eiji stated that BotW’s Map will be about the size of Kyoto. Then some lovely and more intelligent people than I did some mathematics and noted that if true, BotW’s map would be about 10x the size of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s map.

WHAT?!

That’s absolutely bonkers. And the only part that’s more ridiculous than that statement is that people are actually excited about that. Now now, don’t get me wrong, if done correctly having a map 10x bigger than an already pretty empty map() would be a pretty amazing feat for all of gaming. Only problem is that filling a map that large with interesting interactions is ACTUALLY impossible. And this is my friends is my issue with “Open World” games. Developers endlessly pursue larger maps and more mechanics instead of fleshed out worlds with quality level design and game mechanics with depth. So in this article I’ma talk about open world games and discuss Dark Souls.

Because all roads lead back to Lordran.

 

Linearity vs Open World

Soo… vast!
Value Proposition and DPH:

Lots of the praise open world games receive is thanks to the nearly worthless “value proposition.” The “bang for your buck” or “getting your money’s worth.” While nothing is wrong with trying to be smart with your money, there are many who equate hours of “unique” content to quality. Which is absolute garbage. Quality = Quality.

I played Undertale, my favorite game last year, for only 15 hours. And those 15 hours were significantly better spent than 15 hours I spent walking to all the various caves throughout my 100+ hours of Skyrim. Maybe I’m gettin’ too old, but if a game could pace itself nicely wrap it up in around 10-20 hours that’d be great. Instead of measuring hours spent we should measure Dopeness Per Hour or DPH. For example, Undertale had significantly higher DPH than TES: Skyrim.

Open World Design Problems:

Since open worlds are- so open, they need to do a LOT more stuff to be perceived as genuinely good. It’s not Bethesda or Bioware’s fault, it’s a “problem” inherent with the design of Open World. And while there is certainly value is in trying to create the illusion of player agency, I feel even that task is better suited to a more linear experience.

For example, In the Elder Scrolls series I really love playing the Dark Brotherhood quest lines. So first thing Lil’ Greg does when he buys Skyrim is find the Brotherhood and continue the quest line to completion. SPOILERS. You end up killing the EMPEROR. Now me saying spoilers was a just a formality because killing the EMPEROR does not matter. It doesn’t change a damn thing. Killing the Emperor should be a huge deal. But it ain’t. Wanna know why? Cause they had to make cave #129.

The size of the map makes it so all of the Dopeness developed has gotta’ get spread around. The freedom the player is granted means they have to spread out the Dopeness evenly as to lessen the chance of the player taking the “lame path” or Moments of Low Dopeness.(MoLD) This makes games like Skyrim or Oblivion feel like a huge blur to me. Because they had so much to do they couldn’t even make the pay off on one of the -major quest lines- worthwhile.

And Skyrim is considered one of the best examples of an open world done well. You don’t need me to tell you about all the bad ones out there.

Funny thing is this is all stems from Skyrim’s. Skyrim serving the open world niche got hyped to all hell and sold amazingly. The mindless suits and their focus tests are incapable of studying or understanding what makes Skyrim fantastic. So suddenly every game’s overworld starts getting bigger and bigger, with marketing talking about how much larger they are than their predecessors.

The Perfect Example: Dragon Age: Inquisition

The Elder Scrolls’ open world serves a purpose. The designers at Bethesda use the open world to try and create a world that feels alive. The NPCs seem to have schedules and goals outside of you. You can use the mechanics presented to set goals for yourself and aim towards them. And while Bethesda games are notorious for having immersion breaking moments..

Hmm..

The use of a first person perspective and large beautiful landscapes helps to invoke that all too important feeling of immersion. Many games think that just randomly including open world game mechanics just- because. Case and point, another game I enjoy, Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Inquisition is filled with large landscapes filled with simplistic MMORPG-inspired side quests and resources to gather. Problem is, the character you play as is known as the “Inquisitor.” You are the leader of a great military might known as the Inquisition! Why is the boss doing the grunt work? We should be slaying dragons and saving the world! We could’ve had an interesting and immersive simulation forcing the player to take the role of a military leader in a troubled time. But we stray from the potential thematic cohesion, and for what?

Okay, so it doesn’t work narratively. What about mechanically? Well. The game somehow manages to be both linear and open at the same time. The solid story is bisected by the long periods of mindless gameplay as you gather a special currency that unlocks the next plot mission. There are huge lulls in the storytelling, the combat is a simplistic grind, and traversal takes forever. It takes all the problems that come with being open world and gets NONE of the benefits. 

So why’d they do it? I dunno’.

Some suit was probably like. “Hey hey hey, we have a fantasy genre game under our belt right? So why don’t we try to make one of them Skyrims I’ve heard so much about?”

The Beauty of Linearity:Lordran_large.0

Alright so we’ve discussed a lot of the problems, what’s the solution? Linearity! My dear undead!

With a linear experience the designer has full control of the dopeness and can choose where and when to sprinkle the high moments. This doesn’t need to completely remove player agency as the designers can use a light hand in guiding the player towards the “correct” path. Perfect example of this comes from Dark Souls. After completing the tutorial you’re transported to Lordran, the main area of the game. You’re presented with three paths, one guarded by powerful enemies, one guarded by enemies you are unable to hit and the other with weak ones you’ve seen before.

Chances are, if its your first time, you’re gonna read the obvious sign and head down the easier path. But..

If you wanted to, you could try and persevere past the powerful enemies and be rewarded with powerful items. And on subsequent playthroughs many players do.

Also, linear experiences are less demanding technically. Its cost way too much rendering the large open landscapes required to create that sense of scale that open worlds require. It takes way too much manpower to fill that hard to render area with engaging meaningful interactions. With all those leftover resources the developers can sculpt more interesting and engaging worlds. They have the resources and time to develop more engaging gameplay.

Dark Souls managed to create a world more engaging and filled with more agency than the vast majority open world games despite being pretty linear. This beautiful piece to the left was an artists’ interpretation of the world of Lordran. A world that is almost entirely connected. The masterful level design and environmental storytelling makes the world come alive. Every corpse, every crack meticulously placed to get a certain point across. And it’s effectiveness shows, this is a piece from a fan of the game made to celebrate the LEVEL design of a video game.

If that ain’t praise, I dunno’ what is.

Cover Image by Judson Cowen. Prints available here.

Image Sources:(in order of appearance)

 

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Eon Altar: Cooperation Innovation

Eon Altar is a cooperative turn based RPG where the players use their phones as controllers. You might be thinking. “Eh? What the point of that?” And what a great question that is you beautiful bastard. The addition of the smart phone into your standard co-op RPG is that every player has their own screen in which to do handle all their business. All the inventory management, all the leveling up can be handled without interrupting your fellow players. Now you’re probably thinkin’, “Oy, we’ve had games that’ve done that ‘afore!” And you would be right, you paragon of justice.

What makes Eon Altar especially interesting is how it uses this second screen for narrative purposes.

Dialogue:

During cut scenes all the characters are fully voice acted outside of the player characters. Instead the game expects you to voice your own characters. It’s not technically required but your fellow players will be missing out on lots of the world building if you just kinda skip over the dialogue. But it’s best when you have friends who don’t mind getting into character. It ends up feeling like a light tabletop RPG experience.

Personal Objectives:

The thing that initially drew me to this game on the PAX floor was the concept that your character’s can have a personal objective separate from the party’s main goal. So at some point there could be conflict within the party as one’s personal objective clashes with the party’s. I haven’t put enough time into the game to see how the mechanic works when fully fleshed out but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t insanely interested in finding out.

Narrative Choices:

Last but not least is the concept of player choice. While certainly not a new idea by any means, seeing it in a cooperative game is very interesting. You might make a decision that heads towards your personal objective, or you do something evil for more a greater reward. I can only imagine the fights that might erupt because of that.

On the topic of fighting. This game forces the players to sort out all the loot drops. And there are even opportunities where a player might notice some treasure another one does not.
I’m not sure how these mechanics will hold up for multiple playthoughs but the first seems like it’ll be a crazy ride. Expect a full review somewhere down the road. My first impressions of about 2 hours say this has the potential be a contender for GOTY 2016.

Battle Mage
Both photos from Flying Helmet Games’ social media.

If this seems like somethin’ you’d be interested, in Eon Altar: Episode 1 is available on Steam fresh outta early access for $5.59 USD until June 29. $6.99 USD normally, or you can pick up the Season pass for $14.99 USD.

Bravely Second Review: Go for the Gravy!

Bravely Default surprised fans and critics alike as this handheld experience was the best example of a quality JRPG in years. It prompted Square Enix to reevaluate their design philosophy and upcoming releases. So how does this Bravely Second stack up? Find out next week!

As this is my first review I’d like to explain how I analyse games. I primarily look at games from three major perspectives: Narrative, Gameplay and Aesthetic. Narrative representing the greater story told as well as the ways the story itself is presented. Gameplay representing the interactive elements the player takes part in.  And Aesthetic representing the visuals, art style, sound design and soundtrack.

Story:

Your four heroes.

The story of Bravely Second follows Yew Geneolgia, heir to an influential religious family and his quest to live up to his family name. On the brink of a peace treaty between the Duchy of Eternia and the Crystal Orthodoxy an anarchist by the name Kaiser Oblivion kidnaps Agnes Oblige, the leader of the Orthodoxy. On his quest to save her, scared and alone Yew meets: Edea, daughter of the Leader of Eternia. Magnolia Arch, Ba’al Buster from the Moon. And Tiz Arrior, farm boy turned legendary hero after the events of the prior game in the series. Together Agnes’ Ba’al Busting Avengers face giant monsters known as Ba’al and the Kaiser Oblivion’s fearsome allies.

An adventure that will take them to the ends of Luxendarc! And Beyond!

Sounds pretty generic right?

The saving grace of this game’s narrative are the characters and how the game really doesn’t take itself all that serious even if when you think about it, some really awful things happen during the course of its 40 to 50 hour run. I wouldn’t say the characters are particularly well written, Magnolia constantly flops between complete badass super-spy, saucy seductress and naive teenager all throughout the story. But, at the end of the day the characters are written so earnestly that you can’t help but crack a smile and some of their antics. Their official group name is “Agnes’ Ba’al Busting Avengers” for Pete’s sake. A name they and many others refer to them as in earnest.

The best example is this silliness is in the line “Coup de Gravy.” Magnolia being from the Moon, speaks French. (Obviously) And when Yew hears this he combines the phrase “Coup de grace” with his love of food, notably gravy, into a term that would be repeated at even the most dire and serious of moments. “Coup de gravy.”

Speaking of food, the characters in this game talk about food alot. Like an insane amount, I’d say one-fourth of the game’s total dialogue is about food. And that has to be the best part of the writing in this game. Nothing humanizes a character better than knowing what they like to eat. Not only do they flesh out characters with these campfire chats they world build as well. The characters will comment about the local food or combining dishes of different regions.

It’s brilliant.

The precedent was set for strange meta story telling in the prequel and Bravely Second does not disappoint in that regard. I won’t go into too much detail, butitssick.

Overall if you can handle some of your standard anime cheese, like “MY FRIENDS ARE MY STRENGTH!” and “YOUR HUMANS AND YOUR LOVE MEANS NOTHING TO ME FUFU!” Then there is absolutely no reason to skip out on this one.

Gameplay:

Bravely Second’s gameplay is easily its strongest aspect with combat so engaging you won’t even mind grinding. Bravely Second is your standard turn based, 4 person party JRPG with a few unique twists, namely the Brave/Default system. First, whenever you take an action you can spend something known as a Brave Point(BP) to do that same or another combination of actions up to 4 times in a single turn. This is known as the “Brave” action. Secondly, instead of your defend or block action you have the “Default” action. This grants your player additional defense for that turn and grants you additional BP. If you start your turn with negative BP that turn is skipped and you gain 1 BP per turn until you are positive. So as the player you must manage knowing when to Brave and when to default. While seeming somewhat straightforward this is a very complex system that will probably take you a good amount of your time with the game to truly wrap your head around. But when you do you will discover that Bravely Second has the most well crafted and engaging combat system in JRPG history.

That’s right! I said it!

To help with the learning process here are a few examples of optimal use of the Brave/Default system:
– During exploration your may want all your units to Brave for the full amount to clear the battle quickly as there will be no consequence to having negative BP.
– Oh shit! Healer’s down and not only do  you need to make sure he/shes’s both back up but you also need him/her to be able to survive the monsters next attack! So, you Brave and throw both a phoenix down and a hi-potion their way.
– You’re party is low and you’ve examined the boss and you see he’s at low health as well! You make your healer cast some spells to stabilize everyone to the point when you feel confident you won’t get wiped! You have your tank protect the healer while this is taking place cause if they go down your screwed! You have your two other units default so your healer doesn’t have to spend additional BP reviving them and so that they can potentially fully brave two turns in a row finishing off the boss. Woo! Get it?!

Next is the Class System. As you journey through Bravely Second you will unlock classes and these are not specific to any character so you’re free to mix and match as you please. As you gain levels within that class you gain new passive and active abilities. You can then equips two class sets of actives and you can equip passives from any class. Seems pretty straightforward but what makes this such an excellent system is the ludicrous amounts of synergy between the classes.

Each time you gain a new class you gain potential for new strategies and synergies!

For example lets look at the wizard class. The wizard’s specialty is known as “Spellcraft.” Spellcraft allows you to manipulate ANY spell in special ways such as: casting it at the start of a turn, casting that spell as an AOE, casting that spell to proc at the end of turns for several turns, and much more. Combine all that together and you get one of the most satisfying progression systems in any RPG.

Here’s what a pretty basic character build might look like.

Magnolia:
Main Class: Knight – Throws themself in front of enemies attacks with large defensive statistics.
Sub Class: Swordmaster – Abilities that increase aggro and retaliates after being hit.

Passives:
Counter:(Swordmaster Passive) Chance to retaliate when hit by a physical attack.
Stand Ground:(Freelancer Passive) Chance to live with 1 HP when dropped below 0.
Counter Amp:(Swordmaster Passive) Increase counter damage.

This build fits neatly into the “Tank” archetype having high defenses, actively defending allies, and benefiting from doing so. And on the off chance you do fall you’re using someone from a third class, Freelancer, to help you as well.

Here’s what the Core Gameplay Loop looks like:
– Plot directing you to a dungeon
– Traverse landscape to arrive at dungeon
– Solve Dungeon’s puzzles whilst handling the new combat encounters within.
– Encounter Boss which unlocks a new class
– Explore potential synergies between new classes and old.
– Reach new town and buy new gear.

Aesthetic:

Bravely Second sports nearly identical visuals and art style to its predecessor. In other words its one of the best looking games on the 3ds. The game combines chibi character models and beautiful backgrounds that resemble water color paintings. This perfectly represents the world of Luxendarc which is both charming and beautiful.

But forget all that ’cause this game’s soundtrack is fuckin’ bonkers.

This is the general boss theme. What? Who? Why is it so intense? Who is this for? Why does this cute ass game where we say shit like Coup De Gravy has such an intense boss theme? I don’t know and I don’t care, because I love this song.
The soundtrack isn’t all heavy guitar as the comment sections say, there does exist some variety. While I do agree with alot of the sentiment that the variety of instruments in the Default’s OST was preferable, all that matter in the end is, “Are these tracks fuckin’ tight?”

And the answer is a resounding yes.

But there is a serious amount of guitar, and depending on who you ask may or may not be the best thing ever.

The only problem with this soundtrack is sadly a lack of variety. While I love that first theme I linked you do end up fighting ALOT of bosses and there is such a thing as “Too much of a good thing.” If that boss theme was for one of the bosses I wouldn’t hesitate to call it one of my top 10 favorite tracks of all time. But the more bosses I fought the more it faded into the background and the more the magic slipped away. And this is true for a few of the themes. Especially since there are some tracks that are from the PREQUEL!

Conclusion:


In conclusion, Bravely Second is a fantastic game and one of the best on 3DS, particularly if you have no experience with its predecessor. But as a huge fan of the first game there are a lot of issues I cannot ignore. This game relies far too heavily on things established in Bravely Default. In Bravely Second you are exploring the same overworld, with a good 80% of the dungeons in the game being reused, and two members of your party are from the prior game in the series. Even a good chunk of the boss fights in the game are ripped straight out of the prequel. But at the end of the day I’m happy that I picked this one up, and I think you will too.

Now for my recommendations.

  • If you were a huge fan of Bravely Default, get this game
  • If you’ve never played Bravely Default and are a fan of RPG’s, get this game.
  • If you’re a fan turn based RPG’s in particular this is definitely worth checking out if only for it’s combat and progression systems.
  • If you were lukewarm or just liked Bravely Default, while this is a better game overall I’d say skip this one.

Call of Duty: Why “Boots on the Ground” Should Stay in the Ground

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s reveal trailer is now officially one of the most disliked video on YouTube, second only to Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” There are four major reasons for this.

One: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered is being “sold” as a pre-order bonus for Infinite Warfare. Now that’s a total scumbag move, probably the worst example of pre-order bs and all but, that’s not what we’re here to talk about!

Two: people are upset about the direction the series is headed wanting a more traditional “boots on the ground” shooter experience from Call of Duty.

Three: people just despise Call of Duty. There’s been this long running thing where Call of Duty is the face of all that’s wrong with gaming. Even though there are PLENTY of games with a worse record than Call of Duty and before this new Modern Warfare Remastered pre-order business their record was relatively clean.

Aaand four: The trailer was just kinda bad.

Today however! We’re here to discuss that second category and why I think the future is the best place for Call of Duty to head from both a design and thematic standpoint.

1. Design:

Call of Duty is a “twitch-based first-person-shooter” this means it’s all about testing how fast a player can understand the situation in front of them and whether or not they can execute what’s needed to succeed. Now in earlier Call of Duty’s since the games were set in a modern setting you would only really fight on flat stages where you primarily just shifted your sights from left to right to fire, only adjusted upwards to aim for the head or to hit someone at a slightly higher elevation.

Notice most combatants will just approach you on the same Z-Axis.

In recent iterations of the franchise they’ve recently started upgrading the amount of mobility the players have. With jet-packs and sliding maneuvers added players are now required to adjust their sights more dynamically in order to properly engage enemies. This adds some much needed depth to the series and depth is always good especially when it’s simple to understand. The added mobility adds much needed “outplay” potential for both players in a fire fight and such depth just isn’t possible in a “boots on the ground” experience without becoming Counter Strike.

Notice the combatant flying through the air and another about to pounce standing on the tank.

2. Thematics

Call of Duty is dumb. I mean this in the best of ways. Call of Duty is a simple game about seeing who can shoot each other in the face before the other. Call of Duty is a dumb action movie with player interaction so the stories and settings should reflect this. A futuristic story lends itself to all the absurdity Call of Duty deserves. In Call of Duty’s most recent iteration Black Ops 3 the developers are seemingly starting to understand that. This game sports a roster of characters all pulled straight out of action films. Men, women and robots with dumb special abilities and dumb taunts. It’s fantastic.

Look at um’ LOOK AT ‘UM!

A “boots on the ground” experience, while still fantasy, holds more weight to it as it is based on real experiences that real brave men and women have. In other words you gotta show it some respect. Let Call of Duty be dumb please.

If you are still looking for that “boots on the ground” experience luckily for you within the same week as the Infinite Warfare trailer a Battlefield 1 came out sporting a World War I inspired setting. If that’s not a message from the gods then I don’t know what is.