Lo, we are still here! After a few weeks of real life (and games, of course) taking priority, we’re back with another Our Week in Games. These past few weeks have been dominated by the fall from grace of Activision, but more specifically their CEO Bobby Kotick. It’s a fiasco which is eerily reminiscent of Succession, the prestige drama from HBO that parodies the likes of FOX and other media conglomerates, where the board and other senior leaders are massively out of touch with the real world, and either ignorant or culpable for the culture within their organisations.
If you want some serious analysis of this situation, check out this piece over on GI.biz. Once you’ve perused that, hit the break for the lowdown on Our Week in Games.
This week has been highlighted by one classic FPS making a long awaited return, and another falling slightly on its face. On the one hand I am of course talking about the free-to-play online component of Halo: Infinite that “surprise” (it wasn’t really a surprise, was it?) dropped on Monday during the big Xbox anniversary celebrations. On the other I have Battlefield 2042, which sees EA and DICE leve the World War settings of the last two titles behind, and embrace the near-future. Only…they don’t really leave the 20th century wars behind when you take a look at the Portal mode.
I’ll tackle 2042 first, a game that I previewed when the open beta was available. After a variety of different release schedules from 10-hour previews to full access a week ahead of the street date, I booted the game up on launch day…and immediately headed to the Portal. This is where you can relive classic Battlefield experiences from 1942, Bad Company 2 and 3. It’s a mode which highlights the lack of consistency with the naming conventions in this series, and one which already makes me wish EA and DICE had embraced this fully. I dove into the new take on 1942 which is sadly limited to two maps at El Alamein and the Battle of the Bulge. I’d be disappointed if more maps aren’t incoming, as the absence of Wake Island strikes me as a missed opportunity to bring a legendary map back to life. I enjoyed my brief time with these two maps, with the stripped back nature of the 1942 ruleset a welcome change of pace from the frenetic ‘All Out Warfare’ of the main game. It also struck me that EA and DICE could have remade 1942 entirely instead of releasing Battlefield V. There is a lot on offer with Battlefield 2042, from the ‘All Out Warfare’ of the 128-player action, to Hazard Zone and then the open world that is the Portal. Will the playerbase sustain this fractured tangle of modes? I don’t know, especially when the next game is also out in the public realm.
I am of course talking about Halo: Infinite. I can’t claim to be a Halo expert, having only played the original when it eventually made its way to PC in 2003 and only lightly dabbling with the subsequent entries. But after a short blast with it, I’m already having a better time than I did with Battlefield. As with any Microsoft product being played on the PC, I had some technical problems, primarily sound related. I don’t know what it is, but anything Microsoft related that I play on my laptop messes up the quality of the audio output through my headset. I’ve experienced this with Forza Horizon 4, the latest Horizon and now with Halo: Infinite. My headset is connected via Bluetooth, and normally works a charm, but when I play a Microsoft game the audio output sounds like I’m under water. It made my first couple of matches (played on keyboard and mouse I might add) a nightmare, likely not helped by trying to run at 4K.
Switching things up and using my dongle to connect my headset to my laptop, grabbing my DualSense pad and running the game on my 1080p laptop screen, and things were so much better. The action is slick, with that shoot, grenade and melee trifecta already settling easily into muscle memory. The game looks stunning, and I had a riot of a time running up some positive kill:death ratios. I’ve no doubt that as the playerbase becomes more experienced with the game that I’ll struggle more, but when the core mechanics are so easy to get to grips with, I can see myself returning pretty regularly to have a few rounds of Slayer. Progression through the battlepass might need some refinement, but I’m not usually one for customising my characters that much in mulitplayer games, so it might not be something I worry about too much.
Don’t necessarily expect a full blown Verdict on either of these titles, but you never know….
It’s been a while hasn’t it? The combining factors of work and personal life have conspired to prevent any meaningful time spent gaming. What little time i have had has been eaten-up by various technical and game-related bugs surrounding my ‘part time’ streaming.
That said, the fates are slowly starting to turn and I’m planning to get a little flurry of content out before the giant Red-Man-Themed festivemass once again devours us all.
So what have I been playing then? Door Kickers on IOS has been taking up a surprising amount of my time. It’s nuanced, fun and has ALL OF THE TACTICS. The transfer from PC to ios has been handled very well and a few little annoyances aside, it’s a very competent game. Hard too. Not alone the difficulty from the enemies and building layouts, but from the urge, no, need to get the perfect rating on each level. It’s glorious.
Less glorious is a review I’ve got in the works for ‘Too Many Humans’, a zombie-horde controlling ‘strategy’ game by RealityZ. It’s like a reverse tower defence game and it is, utterly, incredibly awful. Like, wow levels of bad. I’m still fighting through the review (which is painful), so you’ll have to wait to read the specifics, but you know…. Pray for mojo.
It’s rare that my wife and I game together. Due to schedule conflicts we often only meet for a few hours each day, for some of which we’re asleep. It’s also quite rare that we find a game that we both enjoy, so this week I’ve let her take the reins and pick something to play. As a result, we’ve ended up playing Heroes of Might And Magic III, a baffling and mysterious strategy game released in 1999.
Baffling and mysterious to me, that is. She seems to understand it completely. She easily distinguishes the array of weird and wonderful mythical creatures your forces encounter. She seems to have no difficulty in navigating the utterly unfathomable strategic map of weird and wonderful structures.
I on the other hand have absolutely no idea what’s going on. My forces wander the land aimlessly, collecting unusual artefacts, stumbling into bizarre situations and accidentally starting fights like a group of bachelors hitting Vegas on a stag do. I half expect to start my turn recovering consciousness in the corner cuddled up to a traffic cone with a pair of underpants on my head.
But even so, it’s great to be experiencing the hobby I love alongside my wife, even if she is so much better at it than I am.
Last month I bought a console for the first time since the Xbox 360. I know, that’s kinda mad, isn’t it? But PC gaming has satisfied all my needs and consoles are just so expensive! Then of course Nintendo revealed the existence of a brand-new Metroid game – Dread – that was headed to their portable Switch. So, for my birthday, I treated myself to the new OLED Nintendo Switch, which I’ve really fallen in love with.
Dread aside, my time spent with the Switch has been playing around with the recently released (and rather extortionate) Nintendo 64 titles. I’d never played Mario 64 before, at least for longer than five minutes, so gross price-tag aside, I jumped in.
It was…good? Really good! Honest. I didn’t fall in love with the franchise or anything, but it’s not hard to see why Mario 64 was such an incredible critical and commercial success. One thing that impressed me was the wealth of creativity. There’s a lot that it’s doing, from movement to platforming to puzzles to bosses…it’s always trying to do something new, and even if it’s not always doing it well (dreadful camera, some of the worlds have a somewhat loose aesthetic), it’s consistently trying to be innovative. The experience, if not always smooth, was a delight.
So delightful, in fact, I bought the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection to check out Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy. I’m pretty excited.