My Gaming Update: What I’ve Been Playing and TGA/PSX News

by Matthew Thompson

Hey everyone. Back on my old blog before coming to WordPress, I used to frequently post what I called “My Gaming Update.” It was a way to react to gaming news and give quick thoughts on things I had played between full reviews and larger features. With my posts slowing to a crawl over the last six months, I figured I’d try bringing it back to fill in some lulls. I may try to work up a similar TV Update to help on that side of things. Well here it goes!

Games I Finished Recently

Yoshi and Lara

Yoshi’s Woolly World: This is a damn fine exploration-based platformer. It leverages Yoshi’s unique egg-tossing, flutter-jumping gameplay better than any game since the original Yoshi’s Island. The way it constantly throws new platforming concepts at you in what seems like every new level is quite a feat. It keeps things fresh throughout and brings back fond memories of my favorite 2D platformer – Super Mario Bros. 3 – which did similar things with variety. And it is all wrapped in that adorable yarn artstyle. It is reminiscent of things like LittleBigPlanet, but feels more cohesive. Unlocking all the new Yoshis never got old though it was hard to top my early favorite Moo Moo Yoshi.

Lara Croft Go: The Shard of Life: What a pleasant surprise this was. My mind had been on Lara’s other adventure all month when all of a sudden, I see that this game is getting a free update with a whole new expansion! Also surprising? How tough it is. This is for people who have finished the main game and they throw you right in the deep end with some truly challenging puzzles. The main new twist here is enemies that come back to life and it really makes you think about how to approach these brainteasers in a new way. One had me so stumped I didn’t pick it back up for a couple of days. Throw in a couple new costumes and this is a nice reason to return to one of my favorites from this year. And you can’t argue with the lovely price of free!

Games I Started Recently

Zelda Ori Uncharted

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes: This is an interesting idea for a game. There are some great puzzle ideas and bosses built around the three-player dynamic and having to stack on top of each other. But as a singleplayer experience – which I am playing it as – switching between characters is just too cumbersome. This is especially problematic during hectic enemy encounters. I imagine it would be a total blast playing with two other friends in the same room where you could really communicate.

Ori and the Blind Forest: What a gorgeous game. I guess I knew it would be beautiful, but it is always a bit different when you are playing it for yourself. I love the main character’s design, but it is the environments and backdrops that are truly breathtaking. The gameplay is delivering so far as well. The controls are tight and I’m impressed with how challenging the platforming has been. Platforming of this quality isn’t exactly a staple of these Metroidvania type games, but I always welcome it when one can deliver on this aspect. Only played a few hours so far, but I am excited to play more.

Uncharted 4 Multiplayer Beta: This is basically like a combination of Uncharted and The Last of Us multiplayer. I have been having a lot of fun with it so far which I feel really comes down to my love of the core mechanics of Uncharted which are better than ever here. Movement is so fluid with things like quicker climbing, smoother vaulting over obstacles and the fantastic addition of the grappling hook. Shooting feels great too with improved weapon feedback. A lot of the other changes and additions I am more on the fence about at the moment. I will be making a full post of impressions on this once the beta is finished.

Gaming News: The Game Awards and PSX

Rise of the Tomb Raider Baba Yaga Header

I’m glad I hadn’t really been looking forward to these because they didn’t really deliver much in the way of interesting new announcements for me personally. I realize that isn’t their first objective. The Game Awards is about giving out awards. PSX is a convention not just a keynote. But for someone watching from home, I guess I was mostly interested in the game announcements.

The coolest thing for me was the trailer for the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider DLC called Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch. When I first saw this in a list of upcoming DLC for RotTR, I thought perhaps it was just a new tomb like what the 2013 game got. That would be fun, but this sounds much more substantial. The trailer promises hours of new gameplay and I love some of the new enemies shown in the initial footage. The supernatural baddies in both the reboot and Rise have for the most part been slightly tweaked versions of regular enemies. The ones in this trailer seem much more imaginative which I appreciate. I mean… Lara squaring off against a giant walking house? Yes please! One enemy looked like it probably required using your rope arrows too. The whole thing has more of a horror vibe which reminds me of one of the early iterations of the TR reboot. It all looks great and more content for my favorite game of the past couple years is more than welcome.

Otherwise both events reminded me just how great 2016 looks for gaming. Even just the early part of the year looks stacked for me. That Tomb Raider DLC comes in January. Far Cry Primal in February. Uncharted 4 in March. Both Ratchet & Clank and Quantum Break in April. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst in May. And perhaps some other things I am forgetting. The rest of 2016 promises plenty more awesomeness. I made up a preliminary most anticipated games list and it is quite long. Should be a great year for gaming.

That will do it for this gaming update. I’m hoping to be back with a post about some of my favorite things from Rise of the Tomb Raider, more in-depth impressions of Uncharted 4 multiplayer and maybe a full Ori review when I get around to finishing it. Thanks for reading!

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