After four years of anticipation and hype, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has finally been released and I wasted no time before wasting all my time on it. All things must change or die out, and Zelda is no different, so before I definitively say whether or not this game is worth the price tag, let’s take a look at what’s new in this iteration. Continue reading “Breath of the Wild – It’s finally here!”
No one wants to see their work go stale and the good folks over at Nintendo are no exception to that. The team working on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has publicly stated that the newest entry into the franchise will rethink the conventions of Zelda. As a lifelong fan of Zelda, this has me a little worried. Every major release of the series since Ocarina of Time has tried to play with the traditional formula to varying degrees of success. They add wolves or a three day timeline but the strong entries of the franchise keep the spirit of Zelda alive. Obviously there is a limit. New entries should be distinguished but fans would probably not care for a first person shooter.
Link’s Crossbow Training may be largely forgotten but at least you could shoot a Goron in the nards.
Not all of the little experiments are positive. We never went back to a 2D side scroller or to the ocean. So, beyond the familiar aesthetics of fairies and swords, what should be preserved as sacred in Hyrule? What makes the games stand out? What makes Zelda, Zelda? With a new Zelda game on the horizon, here’s what I’ve come to expect in order to keep the Zelda mystique alive:
Rich Game Worlds
When I first heard about Majora’s Mask, I was disappointed. The hype had been building for years when my friend informed me that the game would only have four dungeons. Really? That’s it? The series had just enjoyed two of its best games: A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time both with a whopping 12 dungeons but Majora’s Mask would only have 4. Even the Gameboy game had 8! But Majora’s Mask is still one of the best entries because there was so much in the world of Termina. Taking a cue from Link’s Awakening, just getting to the next dungeon took a dungeon’s level of effort and time. Beyond that, there was about a dungeon’s worth of content after you finished the dungeon in each region. This is a classic storytelling technique: to have all characters, events and environments working towards painting the overall picture. All of the strongest entries in the Zelda series do this with rich environments, unique settings and quirky characters, some of whom we really came to care about.
My first crush. Pro tip: Don’t do a Goggle Image search for Malon at a Starbucks. It’s Overwatch-level inappropriate but with less rendering power.
This is how Zelda games leave the player with a sense of wonder at Hyrule. The player needs a whole lot more than just pointing Link on autopilot to get around (Lookin’ at you, Wind Waker!) Sure, it always takes a while to get across Hyrule Field or the Ukuku Prairie but when you got there, the game is filled to its very limits with life. Sorry Stone Temple Pilots, this isn’t the Big Empty!
If you came up with that boating crap, your head should be conscious laden.
The Legend of Zelda is a legend, a story. The characters in any good story are faced with a conflict and are forced to grow. Think about any RPG you have played. Your hero gains points and levels up in a calculated, measured way. Yes, the hero grows, but this growth is told-not-shown. The sense of growth in a Zelda game is a little less Final Fantasy and a little more Megaman. While RPGs generally tell are more detailed story, the growth Link experiences is more nuanced and frankly more powerful. Link does gain health in a measured way but the real growth comes with collecting new items, often as a token for a feat of strength. In Twilight Princess, the first major item Link acquires is the boomerang. It’s nice, I guess. He can stun enemies and grab things at a distance. But later, Link gets the clawshot, which I’m told is different than the hookshot which is what it’s called in literally every other game. C’mon Nintendo! Get it together! Uh, anyway, the clawshot is a vast improvement on the boomerang. It’s more direct, faster to use and you can even hang from the walls. And to top that, your last dungeon item is a second claw so Link can swing around the walls like Spiderman. This item progression shows a steady growth of Link as a hero as we grow as players.
Dual wielding crossbows would come later. Much to the joy of a 12-year-old-me, there’s at least a hope of a Zelda-Matrix crossover.
Side note to anyone who thinks I’m picking on Wind Waker: WW does a great job in this area. There is a steady growth path from the grappling hook to the boomerang to the hookshot.
A Link Between Worlds failed in this area, to be honest. If Link can buy items, two things happen. 1: Link does not gain items through his challenges, his growth comes through cash. If I wanted to play Top 1%er, the Game I would play Sim City. 2: If you’re a power gamer like me, Link’s growth comes all at once at the start of the game and not at a steady pace.
Playing more directly off of traditional storytelling, Link’s growth also comes in the plot. Our hero often suffers a scripted loss to the final boss long before a real fight can take place. At the beginning of Oracle of Seasons, General Onyx tosses Link to the side like a rag doll but eight Essences of Nature later, Link returns to shit in Onyx’s punch bowl.
Bridging the gap between story and game mechanics, Link’s growth can come in the form of new techniques as he is taught by other characters. These teacher characters usually hold special significance in the plot and will only teach Link once he is ready. This simultaneously shows plot-driven growth and mechanic-driven growth.
Side note again to anyone who thinks I’m picking on Wind Waker: WW does a crap job in this area. Link suffers a scripted loss to Ganondorf who then takes mercy on Link out of kindness. So nothing will happen if Link loses. He and Zelda can just go home. Speaking of…
All video games have escapist appeal. For a few minutes per day, I’m not a software engineer, I’m an ace pilot or a mage or, in the case of Zelda, a hero.
For a few minutes a day, I’m Samus or Beast from X-men or Lord Humongus
In the first few Zelda games, players knew the princess/Hyrule was in danger and needed to be saved but from Ocarina of Time on, the players felt it. The urgency comes straight out of classic storytelling techniques, again. When we see Link lose to the villain early in the adventure, we understand that he can fail in his mission. Because Nintendo lets the bad guys actually be bad, we get to find out what will happen if our hero does indeed fail. We watch helplessly Majora’s Mask sending the moon crashing into Termina, we see the denizens of Hyrule fading into Twilight, we see people frozen in time in Lybranna. These are not looming threats in the shadows, these threats are directly in our face.
I’m not saying every Zelda game needs to be a dark or that we need to keep away from Toon Link. The darkness and gravity need to be balanced for the story. After all, part of the charm of Zelda is the quirky humor. Who doesn’t love Tingle? But any comedic relief should be used to let the audience relax after a tense moment so they are not desensitized to it during the next moment.
Remember this goofy bastard losing his mind even after the Millennium Falcon was safe?
Compare the humor of Ocarina of Time to the Humor of Wind Waker. In order to get the second Spiritual Stone, Link makes a deal with the Gorons who are literally being starved to death, so he enters a dark cavern to defeat a monstrous dinosaur by throwing bombs at it until it commits suicide in a pit of lava. Pretty dark stuff, really. Just a minute later when the Gorons know they are safe, we see Link run away screaming from a being hugged by his Goron pals. The humor defuses the tension and lets the player know that the Gorons are going to be alright. In Wind Waker humor is just used poorly. When the Tower of the Gods rises from the sea, we should be in awe of the magnificent structure and be mentally preparing for the ancient trial. Instead, Link is sent flying into the side of the tower. The humor here defuses the tension of a situation before it can be built.
The Zelda games are also stand out in gaming because the player can actually see the world getting better, bit by bit. This gives each act of the story a fall-and-rise arc where you can see the destruction and that you can right the wrong there.
Oracle of Ages embodies all these elements of urgency the most. You see Link tossed aside by Veran early in the game because he is not really a threat. Throughout the adventure you see people frozen in time and you see their loved ones suffering. You fail again half way through the game and your enemy comes closer to her dark goal. But, little by little, you gain small victories, like cleaning the polluted ocean or saving the Oracle. Once your enemy’s looming threat is complete, you, the hero, are ready to save Lybranna and undo the damage.
Cartoony? A little. Tense? You betcha!
I’m not trying to distill Zelda down into a formula. I’m really not. Some changes to the Zelda games have been fantastic. Look at Twilight Princess, which was bold enough to change the hero into a pawn and mount for an untrustworthy manipulator. Nintendo colored outside of the lines and painted something more beautiful. There are a lot of changes coming in Breath of the Wild and they all seem like reasons to be excited. The hunting and weapon durability systems are brand new to the series and may add to the Zelda experience. But that’s what they should do: add. I hope Nintendo keeps a link to their past open and learns from the masters: themselves.
When AMC announced that it was going to be launching a “Preacher” TV series, produced and developed by Seth Rogan no less, my first reaction was disbelief mixed with a heavy HEAVY dose of skepticism. There was no way that this show, in all of it’s wacky, off the wall, batshit crazy randomness was going to be broadcast on tv. Even for a network that recently finished airing the adventures of the Sons of Anarchy and Walter White, and are currently showing the perils of Rick’s group on the Walking Dead were going to get away with the irreverence that is rife within the off=the-wall comic. I purposely avoided as much as I could any types of development news, because I was so certain that it was going to be a show that would almost immediately be warped straight into development hell and then we would just sit on the sidelines and watch as it died a slow, censored death. Yet here we are, one day after last nights premier, and man am I happy to report that I was wrong. Not only did the show get off with a damn strong first episode, but it did it while honoring the source material in a better way than any other comic series show than I have seen in awhile.
This is not going to be your normal Sunday sermon to say the least
It had it all: the extreme violence, the borderline sacrilegious humor (one VERY funny joke about a priest and an engagement ring comes to mind), the over the top characters (including the one with an asshole for a face), and the compelling storylines made for a great first hour and a half of viewing. You can tell that the creators have a true love of the source material and by-God (yes I did just put that pun in there) AMC is letting them run with it. My wife, who had absolutely no experience with the series prior to last night, told me before the show started “oh no I’m not watching this one, I saw the advertisements and that one is gonna be scary”. 90 minutes later, she was still sitting there next to me on the couch. There were a couple times that she started to get up and head upstairs, before some new craziness would happen on the screen and she would sit back down to see what would happen next. Welcome to The Preacher lady, the whole show is gonna be like this. Look, I know it is just the first episode, and a great pilot does not a good show make, BUT I will say that if this show is ever going to have a chance on network TV, this is probably going to be it’s best shot. It has true fans producing it, a network willing to let it ride, a well done cast, and a willing audience. Fingers crossed it stays around for the long haul and doesn’t just become a one-off like Constantine (and don’t get me started on that one).
War is hell. At least that’s what I’ve been told. Truth be told war is kind of boring, or at least it has been for the last couple of weeks. That was the situation I found myself in a couple of weeks ago when I signed on to find out that my corporation had had war declared on us by a couple other corporations in our sector. Why? I have no idea. I had been absent for a couple of days and by the time I was back online we were in the thick of it, and by the think of it I mean they were kicking our ass from one end of space to the other. Although I have a very high opinion of my corporation, we aren’t exactly what you would call “big” or “strong” in the traditional sense. We have a lot of heart I tell you, but when it comes to the world of EVE Online heart is about as useful as my mining barge in a gunfight.
This story plays out differently in the EVE universe, David takes that spear straight to the face and Goliath teabags his corpse.
So after having dozens of ships blasted out of the sky we were instructed to go to ground. All ships were issued a no fly order from the higher ups and we were just stuck at our station knowing that as soon as we step outside we were space dust. Thus began a very long two week span where we pretty much just sat and waited, leveling up skills and twiddling our thumbs while our captors prowled around like angry sharks.
Call of Duty this is not
There was even some political intrigue as we found out that two of the newest members to the corporation were actually spies that were sent from the corporations that would eventually decide that they were going to go to war with us. Corporate espionage at it’s finest! On top of all of this there was dissent among the ranks as people started getting upset that their EVE experience had basically become a 5 minute daily login to see if we could leave our station yet. Before long there was infighting and even desertion. So we basically had all of the drama of a standard war flick, with none of the action. It carried on like this for some time before our corporation leaders were able to reach a deal with an even bigger corporation to basically come and save our skins.
Thankfully they did, and I am certain they were paid handsomely in the process. We then loaded up as many ships and as much equipment we could carry and made our way to greener pastures, aka the home system of our savior corporation so that we could have a big brother to watch our backs as we begin to once again try to make our way through the world of EVE. So that is where I’m at today faithful readers. After being humbled and saved, we are beginning to resume our industrial operations. Now I know that this is not how it always goes, there are plenty of stories and videos out there showing that there can be massive, exciting space battles in EVE and I look forward to being a part of them in the future.
I’m not going to lie, there was a time while we were locked down that I thought about giving up on my EVE experiment as I have so many times in the past. I had given it my best shot this time around, played for longer than a month, progressed past my give up points in the past and I was essentially paying a monthly subscription to log on for a few minutes and be stuck in a space station. Luckily I did stick it out and it looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel as things have returned back to some kind of normal and I am still enjoying playing for the most part. So that’s where we are right now, still progressing slowly but surely and looking forward to a bright future in a new system. Stay tuned to see what happens next!
Two of our Dark Souls noobs wanted to see what all the hype for Dark Souls 3 was about, but were worried it was going to be too hard to play. So we decided to turn it into a drinking game to ease some of the tension. Below is part 1 of the result, it wasn’t pretty. Part 2 to follow soon!
Rules were as follows:
Use an Estus Flask- Take a Drink
You Died Screen- Take a Shot
Sit at a Bonfire- Take a Drink
Beat a Boss- Take a shot (Cory Takes 2 Shots due to being a Dark Souls Veteran)
Fall to Your Death- Shotgun a Beer
Here is the link to the video, hope you enjoy!
Praise the sun! Dark Souls is back in all of it’s ass-kicking, hope stomping fury. It released last night at midnight and since then thousands of players have already fallen before the games brutal onslaught of beasts and baddies. This is (supposedly) the final game in the series for developer From Software and from the looks of things they are going out on with a bang. The game has been out for less than 24 hours stateside and I have only been able to play for about 9 of them, so I am not too far into the game as of yet, but here is the GeekGoneRogue first impressions of Dark Souls 3!
This time around, our unnamed undead hero is traversing the land of Lothric, a once beautiful kingdom that is a shadow of it’s former self. Monsters and demons stalk the lands and this once-powerful nation is on the brink of disaster. Sound familiar? When it comes to story, players know what they’re gonna get before you ever even get past the title screen. This familiarity is exactly what you are looking for. The bonfires, the undead cities, the huge beautiful stop-and-stare castles. If it were any other franchise, people would be bitching about how the developer was just throwing out the same old game with a new skin every 3 or 4 years in order to just rake in another round of cash. Basically the ole Call of Duty formula. That’s one of the ways that From Software has been able to set itself apart from so many other developers over the years. On the surface the game is the same, but once you start digging you start to see the differences. All of the Souls games have done it, but in my opinion Dark Souls 3 by far and away does it the best. In almost every scene and setting, DS3 has brought back memories of playing the previous games in the series (I am including Bloodborne in this, I know it’s not a souls game but it might as well be). As soon as I was walking along a raised walkway and saw a giant dragon come crashing onto a building in front of me, I knew what was going to happen next. I quickly reversed and ducked around a corner and watched as the dragon torched the bridge, killing the 8 or so enemies that had been previously walking upon it and rewarding me with a quick 300 souls. I didn’t have to learn this lesson the hard way, because I had been here before. I have already learned it. It is in this way that I feel like DS3 rewards you for having played the previous games in the series. Sure, there are new lessons to be leared, but not as many as if I was a new player. I have earned my scars. By playing my way through all of the other games in the series I have prepared myself for this moment. Same goes for the Blue Eye/Red Eye soldies (demon souls), the Giant Underground Sewer Rat (Dark Souls), the midway-point-feral-monster-phase-shift for bosses (Bloodborne).
Hello dragon my old friend. You’ve come to burn my ass again.
Now, none of this is to say that there isn’t anything new to see in DS3, because there certainly is. In just my first few hours I have encountered new items, new equipment, new movesets, and of course new enemies. Believe me when I say that the From Software team has really outdone themselves with some of the new creatures that are going to be coming after you throughout your journey. The motherfucking corpse filled cage monsters scared the SHIT out of me the first time I encountered them. On top of that you have some new character classes to add a little more strategy into the mix with their magics and weapon arts. Speaking of, the new magic/weapon art system is awesome. It improved upon the one area that in my opinion Dark Souls had been lagging for the last couple of games, which was the unimaginative magic resource system. Having set spell uses was inconvenient, but didn’t really add much to the level of strategy, instead acting as more of a timer between when you left one bonfire and got to another. With the new ability to sacrifice the number of life preserving estus flasks you are carrying with you in order to be able to use more spells, DS3 has added another level of complexity into their already stellar combat systems. Same thing goes for the weapon arts, the ability to use another resource in order to do special movesets allows not only for creative combat, but it is pushing me to try out new weapon combinations instead of sticking with my tried and true big ass sword for hours on end.
Probably sticking with the big ass sword for this guy though
All in all, this is just a brief overview of my experience through the first few areas of DS3. There is plenty left to discover over the next few weeks as I grind my way through the evil hordes of Lothric, but I can say without a doubt, From Software has once again reated a unique and engrossing experience that is going to be worth every frustrating moment. For now it’s time to go die again.
Keep an eye out for our Let’s Play videos that will be popping up this week, as well as our full review here in a few days!
Alright, here we are. Week 2. I am no longer a poor lonely fool, flying around in the cosmos. I am now a mostly poor, not as lonely fool flying around in the cosmos. After my last entry, I got somewhat tired of my same mining, processing, repeat cycle so I decided to mix things up by starting to run some distribution and security missions. That’s what you are seeing in my above screenshot, my giant flying cylinder in the sky the Nereus. It’s not much to look at, but it has a big cargo hold and therefor I am able to fill it full of all the random shit that mission givers need taken from point A to point B. That’s really about all there is to it. Unfortunately it doesn’t pay as well as my mining did, however at this point I just had to stop shooting mining lasers at various asteroids for a bit or I was worried I was going to lose my will to keep playing.
That is also what led me to starting to run the security missions. What had prevented me from running them earlier was just the relative squishiness of my few vessels, however I spent the last part of the week skilling up to fly a cruiser and that has opened up a WHOLE new world of possibilities.
Yup, that goofy looking thing is my one and only certified ass-kicker. It’s essentially flying a beehive that at the first sign of danger turns on the shields and launches the drones and just lets them go to work. It’s pretty much the most user-friendly combat I have encountered so far in the game. Now, to be clear, I am still pretty much playing with the kids-gloves on and staying in the .5 or .4 security areas, so I’m not exactly going up against real juggernauts here but still, it makes me feel good. I’m sure at some point I will get tired of watching my angry little hobgoblin drones swarm all over an enemy ship and blast them until they vanish into a cloud of space-dust, but not today! I did get brave enough to travel out into a .3 security zone to attempt to mine some higher valued ore, and that is when I learned my hardest EVE lesson so far, if you are going to mine in low-sec areas, you better bring backup or insure your ship. If not you are setting yourself up for a world of hurt. So somebody queue up Silver Taps ladies and gentleman, because it is time to mourn the loss of my one and only Procurer.
Goodnight sweet prince, we barely knew ye
So if you have been following this Odyssey since the beginning, you know that last week I was pretty hyped up over getting this guy. It was about a week’s worth of skill training, took pretty much all of the money I had up until that time, and was the crown jewel of my paltry little fleet. When it came to the 2 raiders who grabbed me, disabled my warp drive, and proceeded to pummel me into complete and utter submission (and by submission I mean completely destroy my ship and leave me scurrying back to the closest space station in just my escape pod). It was embarrassing, it was infuriating, and most of all it was a very important lesson. Overconfidence is stupid, and you will pay, DEARLY. This probably sounds hilarious to veteran players who have been on the giving and receiving side of this many times but let me tell you in my case, the first time was the hardest. Luckily, one of my fellow Corporation members took pity on me and my situation and gave me enough money that I was able to purchase a new one after about 4 hours of mining. Once again, I must say the single reason I have not been crushed by the learning curve of the game is due to the generosity of my corporation. So that’s pretty much where I’m at now friends. Still learning the ropes, grinding out that ISK, and gradually getting brave enough to move into some lower sec zones. I am not entirely sure what this upcoming week holds for me, but I will be sure to update with anything relevant/interesting in the coming days. Until then, fly safe!
For PT1 of the journey, click here.
For PT2 of the journey, click here.
If you are a fan of the Song of Ice and Fire Series or it’s WILDLY popular HBO show Game of Thrones (and let’s admit it, if you’re following this blog you probably are) you have heard the news that the newest book The Winds of Winter has been indefinitely delayed. George R R Martin just can’t seem to finish the damn thing, and it’s beginning to cause some problems.
Since I am a long time fan of the book series this is something I’m extremely familiar with. I’ve been in this relationship for almost 10 years, I know what a harsh mistress SOIF can be. It starts with sweet words that the next book will be released in a realistic timeframe, followed by anticipation, hoping that this time will be different, and then the sad, soul-crushing realization that things have not actually changed and you are going to stuck waiting for at least 4 years between new book releases. It sucks. I mean really it sucks.
I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire when I was in high school back in the early 2000’s. I was one of a very, VERY small group of people who knew about these books and who loved them dearly. I had never read anything like them. The fact that the third book A Storm of Swords left multiple characters on straight up “holy shit what’s gonna happen” cliffhangers meant I was pretty crushed when it took over 6 years to get to the next book in the story. Not only that but the 4th book A Feast for Crows was only part of the story, because half of the characters just straight up weren’t in it. Pretty much all of my favorite characters. George, you wicked tease.
However, at the time I was like, “Hey, the book will be worth the wait. The story is getting very big, both in content and in scale, and therefore let’s cut George some slack.” Then it happened again. And again.
An author that skillfully dangles hopes/dreams/truths before his desperate characters probably isn’t losing sleep over withholding the next volume from desperate fans. Following the advice of a favorite character I tried to turn that into a shield. Life’s not fair. I moved on. I am certainly still going to buy the book whenever it is released, but I am no longer waiting on baited breath to find out what is going to happen next, which brings us to today.
When I first saw the headline that The Winds of Winter is going to be delayed once again it didn’t really resonate with me that much. But then the next line of the article was like a bitch slap straight to my SOIF fandom. The new season of A Game of Thrones the TV series is going to pass the new book! That’s some bullshit right there. That is the part about all of this that really turns me off to the whole series. It is a poke in the eye to those of us that were reading, following and supporting GRRM before he became an HBO celebrity. The fact that there is going to be almost no way to avoid spoilers, the fact that I am going to get the HBO’d up Hollywood version of the story I have been content to wait for for more than half of my life. He even admitted that there was undoubtedly going to be plot twists and reveals that are going to come out during the show that are in the books. So yeah, that got me pretty fired up. However, I was more mad at the situation than anything, everyone kind of figured this was a risk when they started making the show because that is just how television works, things move faster. (They sure as shit move faster than this author writes at least.)
As I continued to read through the article, I was looking for something, I’m not really sure what though. I mean the guy apologized, said that he knows there are no excuses bla bla bla – ironically the exact same sayings and the exact same phrasings that he had thrown out the last dozen or so times I have read one of these letters so it wasn’t anything new… until I came to this quote right here: “For years my readers have been ahead of the viewers. This year, for some things, the reverse will be true. How you want to handle that… hey, that’s up to you.” This was it. This was the moment that George R R Martin lost me. This is the moment that, in my opinion, he sold out the minority who helped get him where he is. He straight up doesn’t care. He is no longer writing these books for the readers who used word of mouth to get people on board with his series. The readers who sang his praises when no one knew who GRRM was. Before the series vernacular was Game of Thrones, there were those of us who called it A Song of Ice and Fire (You know, the real title of the series). I read someone comment on it today saying “hey guys, this author doesn’t owe us anything”. To that I say, kinda. You are right, he as a person does not owe me a damn thing because I have done nothing for him as a person. But he does owe me something as an author, the way that all authors owe something to those that promoted and bought into their work before they hit the big time.
He doesn’t owe me a book, he doesn’t owe me the end of the story, but he does owe me some respect. Respect enough to say, “Hey, to those of you who may have to story ruined by the TV show I’m sorry. You deserve to at least get to continue this journey the way you have from the beginning.”
That would have meant a lot.
Obviously I am a little bitter about this whole thing, but I am sure there are others with opinions out there, lets here em in the comments.
Here is the link for George R R Martin’s full letter.