No Man’s Sky: Time for a Revisit

The Hello Games team has been teasing No Man’s Sky’s 1.3 update patch since earlier this week. And today, it was released! On No Man’s Sky’s birthday, no less. The patch boasts over vehicles, improvements to in-game systems, and over thirty hours of new story content. The free update is great for anyone who already owns the game, like myself. It’s almost endearing to see that Hello Games is still working on it, even though the game’s release was a dumpster fire of bad PR.

Image via Steam Community.

For what it’s worth, it’s an attempt to salvage a great base game. Of course, the No Man’s Sky hype was so high that anything short of the complete redefinition of gaming as we know it would’ve disappointed many. This is due in part to Hello Games’ own marketing blunders. And equally in part to how hard we all bought into the hype. That analysis has already been done, and there’s a Reddit thread about it if you feel so inclined. For now though, update 1.3 is promising. If you’re holding off on playing it, then I’ll be back with some words about it.

If you’re interested in the full patch notes for No Man’s Sky’s Atlas Rises update, they can be found here.

Read More

No Man’s Sky: Rise Again

Or, the Foundation Update to this past summer’s smash hit. We’ve heard a lot about No Man’s Sky in the three months that it’s been out, and most of it was that it was pretty lacking. And chances are, if you’re reading this, you know exactly what was missing. Since then, Hello Games has been on a bit of a trip. Out of the office, off of social media, and even into territory some (most) would call a PR Nightmare.

ouch
Ouch. (via Polygon)

The tweet in question, albeit proven fake, was a distinct look into how much of a mess No Man’s Sky came to be. Initially, I wrote about how No Man’s Sky was a pretty relaxing game if taken at face value.

I still stand by that. No Man’s Sky can be pretty relaxing if you forget all of the hate that the Internet’s thrown at it. Some of it, like the mild distaste with the release of an objectively bad game, is justified. The threats, the call for the ASA investigation for false advertising… as a whole it definitely went too far.

That being said, I did return to No Man’s Sky after the Foundation Update was released. If you listened to our podcast this week then you’ll understand some of my feelings on it as a whole. I did say in the podcast that I hadn’t found a base yet, and that was quickly remedied after I got home and played for a total of 10 minutes. If you’re stuck on PC, press Z and build a signal booster. You’ll find a base much, much faster than just walking around aimlessly.

Disclaimer

Please note that for the rest of this article, I’ll be talking about Creative mode. I haven’t had the chance to play the Foundation update in either Survival or Normal modes. If you’d like to hear me actually process thoughts on the update, that can be found in episode 42 of our podcast (linked above).

And now, on with it.

If you’re here for a short sentence: I like it.

What the Foundation Update did for No Man’s Sky was, at first glance, make it a lot like Minecraft. This was my original gripe with the update, and that’s what the patch notes sounded like. You can build things, you can craft things, and most importantly, manage your inventory. No shame in trying to reinvent the wheel unless you’ve got bad PR to work with.

What burnt me out entirely on Minecraft, though, was that it all seemed very finite. Farming, redstone crafting, and other “advanced” techniques didn’t appeal to me and produced little gain since, surprise, I played in Creative mode 90% of the time. I didn’t want to fight and kill countless enemies to get hundreds of one item that leads to the “final boss” when thrown. Minecraft got really boring if you weren’t into both crafting and mining, and I didn’t (still don’t) have the patience to build massive structures block-by-block, even though I appreciate what people can do in the game.

What burnt me out on No Man’s Sky initially was, honestly, all the negativity surrounding it. I’m pretty easily influenced, so even though I liked the game, I didn’t want to say I was playing it. After all, it’s a bad game, and Hello Games is a bad company for publishing the game and stringing its fanbase along for the ride, right?

Improvements and Additions

The update brought on a bunch of things that the game was missing. A home base, arguably something that every space explorer needs, is the most obvious addition. Finally, in this massive expanse of space, there’s a place to call home. That’s huge. Among other things, it offers access to better technology for the ship, mining laser, and exosuit, a way to fast travel to space stations, a place to trade rare materials directly from your base, and interaction with other beings. You can now hire aliens to work on new blueprints for you.

If I recall correctly, there are new elements and blueprints for crafting, though maybe I hadn’t reached that point in Survival mode, even after twelve hours in. Farming provides constant access to rare materials, provided you have enough for the plant in the first place. Upgrading ships and the multitool is far easier in Creative mode: there’s no cost associated with the trade. This goes for drop pods as well for extra suit inventory.

Control-wise, ships still sail like boats. It’s something we just have to get used to at this point.

As far as diverse environments go, I think there’s a lot more variety in how planets are generated and the flora and fauna they contain, too. Creative mode lacks combat and I think I’ll stick to it for a while, and the one thing I really want is a toggle for combat in Normal mode as well. At this point it’s the one thing keeping me from going back.

Overall…

I look forward to playing No Man’s Sky for a while to come. The first and foremost thing that the update did was demonstrate that Hello Games is actually interested in making the game better. That alone says that there’s something there, despite their obvious blunders.

I’m still pretty hesitant to say that I like No Man’s Sky without any justification, but here I am. I do like it, for the most part. Like anything, it has its flaws and it’s not perfect. But it’s better, and it’s getting better. I look forward to a time where people really overlook the flaws it has and take it at face value. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen, but hey, I can dream.

 

All screenshots of No Man’s Sky in this post were taken by Deanna Minasian.
Read More

No Man’s Sky: One Week Out

It’s been a week, give or take a few hours. And it feels like a long one, at that. No Man’s Sky has released for PC and internationally as of August 12, last Friday, and it’s been a ride. Now, I’m not here to talk about everything that Hello Games had promised that didn’t make it into the final game. It’s been well documented at this point. I am here to speak about my experience with this game in its first week. This isn’t a review, just my early impressions of the game at around 9 hours in.

Read More

2016 in Gaming: What I’m Still Excited For

Now that we’re halfway done with the year and E3 has passed, now is a great time to look around us and start thinking about what the best games of the year have been so far, what we’re still excited for, and what the biggest disappointments have been so far. It’s been a very hectic year for gaming: A new generation of Pokemon is on the way, the Wii U’s impending end when we find out more about the NX, new versions of the PS4 and X-Box One on the way, Kojima returning to the game industry, the return of Star Fox and Resident Evil, a 5th Street Fighter game, the upcoming 25th Anniversary Party of Sonic the Hedgehog, 4K gaming,  and of course the beginning of The Lifecast to name a few of the most notable events.

We’ve already had some great games come out this year: So what’s left to be excited for? E3 gave us some great titles to be excited for but most of them won’t be out until next year. There’s still plenty of games coming out this year to be excited about, however. If you’ve been wanting some good titles coming out this year to keep your eye on, let me recommend you these 10 games coming out this year  that I’m excited for (in no particular order.)

 

Zero Time Dilemma

This one comes out on the 28th of this month, so fortunately, the wait won’t be much longer! It’s going to be the third and final installment of my favorite handheld series Zero Escape, home of 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward. The Zero Escape franchise is all about puzzles, the emphasis of choices, and quantum physics. In each game, you play as someone who’s been trapped in a confined space with 8 other people who’ve all been kidnapped by a mysterious man called Zero. You try to escape while solving the mysteries of why you’re there, who Zero is, why he kidnapped you, and so on. Each game emphasizes beating the game multiple times to get through multiple endings and fully understanding the consequences of your choices. The trailers make Zero Time Dilemma out to be much more dramatic than any of the other games, not to mention more visually stunning! A caveat, however, is that these games shouldn’t be played out of order: If this game looks interesting to you, yes, you need to play 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward first. The developer’s have already stated that answering questions that have been unanswered since 999 will be addressed, so you run the risk of both not fully understanding what’s going on and its significance, and spoiling 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward.

 

Tokyo Mirage Sessions:

This one comes out on the 24th of this month for Wii U. Like Zero Time Dilemma, the wait won’t be much longer. I like Fire Emblem. I like Persona. So I should probably like a game that’s basically Persona with Fire Emblem characters, right? Although I never got the chance to actually play it, I did watch other people play the demo at PAX East this year. It doesn’t look great, but it does look like something that I would try playing if I only had a Wii U.

 

Yiik

This game was the biggest hidden gem of PAX East: It’s an Earthbound-inspired post-modern RPG set in a hipster’s paradise in the 90’s and in case you haven’t heard: I absolutely love Earthbound. Gameplay is turn based and like Earthbound, uses real-world objects and even instruments–many of which need specific button-pressing to use, and it’s quite fun. The graphics are very stylized and charming, the developers seem to really understand the kind of world they want the game to be set in, and the story seems intriguing: You and your friends are looking for a girl who got sucked up by something otherworldly and disappeared. To quote the game’s website, “This is a story about what happens when you look for someone who can’t be found “ The game’s site also states that the game will have a 25 hour story, 6 unique dungeons, and an expansive soundtrack featuring songs by Toby Fox, Andrew Allanson, Hiroki Kikuta, and Calum Bowen amongst others. This game is supposed to be out sometime this summer, though there’s no confirmed date nor month. Once it’s out, it’ll be on Steam, PS4, PSVita, and Wii U.

 

No Man’s Sky

A gorgeous, Isaac Asimov-inspired adventure game set to come out August 9th for Steam and PS4, No Man’s Sky has done an incredible job generating hype. The game’s site calls it a “truly open universe” and emphasizes that this is a game about exploring a beautiful, well-built universe with more than 18 quintillion planets to explore. Needless to say, if this game lives up to these claims, this could be the biggest exploration game (second to Minecraft, if you want to get technical) to date.

 

Pokemon Sun & Moon

Duh

 

We Happy Few

I probably shouldn’t want this game after PAX East: I waited 90 minutes in their line to play the demo, finally got to the front, where I was only able to play for less than 5 minutes: They bragged about it being a rogue-like game, and that for the purposes of the demo, after you die it should give you the option to continue. I died, but was never taken to the continue screen and was kicked off because they had to keep the line moving. Needless to say, I was pretty bitter. I still am, although I did comment about it on their facebook page where one of the devs did apologize. That said, it’s really hard for me to talk about the gameplay because, well, I didn’t play it for hardly 5 minutes. What I can tell you is this, though: What got me the most interested in this game is the fact that the devs are saying it’s very Bioshock-inspired and Bioshock is my favorite game of all time. Mix that with some beautiful graphics, a very intriguing plot about drug addictions, and a very well-built world and you have a recipe for getting my attention. There are two things keeping me very hesitant, however: First of all, Compulsion Game’s track record.

(via CompulsionGames.com)

The only other game they’ve made is a platformer called Contrast and in theory, it sounded like a great, game, too! Bioshock inspired, beautiful graphics, intriguing story, and platforming where you use your shadow! That sounds awesome, right? I thought so and bought it on a Steam sale, but a very short duration, a story that never really got much more fleshed out than its description, and an overwhelming abundance of bugs and glitches ruined this game. Had it only been longer, had its story fully-realized, and had been well-patched, Contrast could’ve been a fantastic game. Needless to say, there’s nothing indicating We Happy Few won’t be the same way—but there’s also nothing indicating that it will be. Regardless, the bottom line is, I’m worried We Happy Few could fall into the same situation as Contrast.

Secondly, We Happy Few doesn’t seem to know what kind of a game it wants to be. The developers told me it was a Bioshock-inspired rogue-like survival game with first-person shooter, mystery, survival, and puzzle elements—that seems like an awful lot to be going on at once if you ask me. It’s possible it could pull it off, but the sheer amount of genres it seems to be trying to pull off makes me worried that they’ll try to do too much in too little time.

Despite all this, the trailer looks interesting and I haven’t heard bad things about the demo and from the 5 minutes I played of it, it seemed okay. I do love Bioshock, and so do these developers—so perhaps I’ll find solace in the Bioshock-inspired elements of the game. I guess I’ll find out when I’m finally able to play it—it’s supposed to come out for Steam and X-Box One sometime this year, and early access starts July 26th.

 

Mighty No. 9

(via MightyNo9.com)

Perhaps I shouldn’t say I’m as excited about this game as much as I am just curious. I’m sure by now most, if not all, of us are at least familiar with the story of Might No. 9, but just in case, let me briefly summarize: This game is meant to be a spiritual successor to the Megaman games and is being developed by Keiji Inafune—the man who made Megaman—with no involvement from Capcom whatsoever. It had overwhelming success on Kickstarter and everyone was super excited about this game. Originally, it was supposed to come out April 2015, but needless to say, that didn’t happen. Delay after delay, secretive development process, slipshod graphics, and arguably the most cringy trailer in gaming history killed most of the hype that this game had generated.

Its latest release date is June 21st –tomorrow. Needless to say, it’s a little too late to delay it now, so I think this release date is finally the one. I guess we’ll finally find out if it will live up to its initial hype or if everyone was right to stop caring about this game.

 

Final Fantasy XV

Like Mighty No. 9, perhaps “excited” isn’t as good a word to describe how I feel about it as much as “curious.” This game’s legendary 10-year development has fans wondering if it will have been worth the wait, and frankly, I’m not entirely sure. First of all, there’s the matter of the story. Originally this game was supposed to be Final Fantasy Versus XIII—a spinoff game for Final Fantasy XIII. Two sequels that somehow managed to be worse than Final Fantasy XIII later, however, I guess Square Enix started to realize how unnecessary another Final Fanasy XIII game would be. It makes me very curious about how they handled this change and if we’ll still see elements of XIII in the game. The combat demo we saw didn’t look particularly exciting, nor did it remind me much of a Final Fantasy game, to be honest. I really wish they’d return to the turn-based system from Final Fantasy X, but I realize that’s a very specific thing to nitpick at. It does look like a very expansive game though, and of course, I’m really curious to see how they’ll incorporate VR. This definitely won’t be a game that I preorder nor get on day 1, but it’s definitely a game I’ll be keeping a close eye on. It comes out September 30th on PS4 and X-Box One.

 

Star Ocean 5

I’ll be honest: I’ve never played a Star Ocean game. I’ve been interested in the Star Ocean series for a while now however, and after watching the demo at PAX East, I’m even more interested in it. Beautiful graphics, fun combat, and of course knowing that Square Enix is behind it, all make his game look very promising. This one will be out later this month on the 28th for PS4.

 

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice

There’s not a large difference between how much I love Ace Attorney versus my love of Zero Escape. Ace Attorney is a hilarious, fun, and incredibly clever series following defense attorney, Pheonix Wright, who always knows that his clients are innocent and will do anything to unveil the truth! I’ve been a huge fan of the Ace Attorney series since the release of Apollo Justice, so I’m more than welcoming for a new game in the franchise. There are 2 things that make this game really stand out from other titles that have fans the most excited. First of all, the setting:

We’re no longer in America/Japan (depending on what language you get the game in)—we’re in a remote, very traditional Japanese island with no formal court system. Instead, they rely on spirits revealing the truth. How is this going to play into the plot? What new gameplay mechanics will this give us? And of course, most importantly…

(via usgamer.net)

Pheonix’s beloved sidekick Maya Fey is finally back after a long absence that was never explained nor addressed until now. Not only are fans happy to see she’s back, but we’re also excited to find out what she’s been doing and why it hasn’t been talked about until now.

Spirit of Justice will be a digital-only release for the 3DS in September.