by Matthew Thompson
Hey everyone! While I work on some more full reviews to be posted in the next couple weeks, here is an update on what I’ve been playing lately and what I’ll be getting to soon.
Final Fantasy XV
This is my first time playing a Final Fantasy game! I’ve mentioned on the site before that turned-based combat steered me away from role-playing games as a youngster. It wasn’t until recently that I started dabbling in the genre a bit. I had some expiring GameFly gift certificates for used games and was able to get FF XV for pretty cheap and thus my first journey into the series has begun. I realize this Final Fantasy doesn’t rank super high on most people’s rankings of the franchise, but the real-time combat was a much better fit for me than any of the classics would be.
I’ve put about ten hours into the game so far and I’m surprised how much I like it. The combat is really different to anything I have played before, but it is pretty cool. It took me a while to get a handle on all the mechanics. The whole party aspect is fairly new to me. It took me a bit to understand how magic casting worked. And I was for most of my time with the game so far just doing counters wrong. With all that at my disposal now, there is a lot of depth here and battles can be very fun. My friend actually convinced me to watch the Kingsglaive movie first and I was super happy the whole warp/dash move from that was in the game. Otherwise, I just generally enjoy getting to know a world and universe that is pretty foreign to me. For instance, I went on my first Chocobo ride!
There are definitely plenty of things I don’t dig. The side missions can be very repetitive. And coming from more of an action background, the biggest difference in difficulty being the level of an enemy rather than its tactics and the like isn’t super appealing to me. But I like the game. I’m going to be chipping away at this in between other new releases. Perhaps this will lead me to trying some of the older games eventually and getting over the whole turn-based barrier I have.
Splatoon 2 is a very safe sequel. The big new addition is co-op which is a great one. Otherwise it is the bare minimum incremental sequel upgrades you’d expect. New weapons, new maps, new cosmetic stuff, new specials and so on. The single-player isn’t as fresh as the first’s nor does it have that one’s brilliant final boss. But still, Splatoon 2 has more content out of the box than the original game and more importantly it is just such a blast to play. I love when shooters can add really slick movement capabilities to them and this has that. And they have really nailed the whole objective-style of play. Turf War in particular is amazing.
It should be a top-tier multiplayer game. But Nintendo just has no idea what it is doing with online gaming and it totally holds Splatoon 2 back. Everything from matchmaking to map rotation to the ease of playing with friends to the tickrate… they pretty much botched it all. I still hope to do a full review of this soon, so I’ll go into more detail then, but basically it’s a very good online multiplayer game unable to reach its full potential because of some poor decisions – some intentional, some born of ignorance I imagine – in how it handles the whole online side of things.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
I have a general rule of waiting for sales on digital games. Honestly it’s something I just decided to do along with using GameFly to try to curb my spending on games (it can get pretty expensive!). I just totally got caught up in the hype and bought Hellblade. After a couple of hours, my feelings on it are sort of mixed. The graphics and presentation are outstanding as is the narrative hook. Part of the reason I wanted to play it is that Ninja Theory has done some incredible things with characters and actor performances in the past with Heavenly Sword and Enslaved despite those games’ other shortcomings. This is certainly delivering thus far in that respect.
The gameplay can just be a bit dull at times. I hate to say it, but it looked a lot more exciting in the short clips I saw of it. That is probably my fault for not watching extended footage, but I generally try to avoid that for games anymore. I don’t dislike the gameplay by any means and I really liked the first boss fight I played, but it could definitely be better. I’m pretty early in the game though, so I’m hoping those aspects grow on me a bit. I’m really looking forward to diving into the story more. I appreciate their attempt to approach mental illness with Senua’s character. It is really interesting. I’ll have full impressions of this after I finish it.
There are quite a few new games I want to play over the course of the next month. Obviously, at the top of my list is Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. There is nothing like a new Naughty Dog game for me and Uncharted is my second favorite video game series ever. The campaign is the main appeal and it looks to be shaping up to be a great addition to the franchise, but I’ve also been sharpening my skills on the competitive side of things for the updates that are coming to 4’s multiplayer. While TLL looks to be a pretty jungle-y affair, I am hoping for a new non-jungle map to be added to the mix (there are way too many jungle maps already). Looks like they will be adding a new Arena co-op mode too which is exciting. Finally, I’m hoping the new game coming with 4’s multiplayer means a new influx of players are added to the pool.
Otherwise, I’m planning to rent a number of games. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and Destiny 2 are both games I remain a little unsure of, but would like to try. Depending on what GameFly sends me, Everybody’s Golf is something I may rent as well. Sonic Mania and Matterfall both look promising, but I plan to wait for sales like I usually try to do for digital games (though like with Hellblade, my plans to wait may or may not succeed).
That will do it for this post. I’ll be back next week with some more substantial posts. I’m hoping to do full reviews of Splatoon 2 and Hellblade soon. Possibly Rime as well. I just got The Art of Naughty Dog book and may make a post about that too. So, look out for those. Thanks for reading!