Pre-E3 2017 Spotlight: Sony

by Matthew Thompson

With E3 kicking off in less than a week, it is about time I run through my predictions and wishes like I usually do before the big event. I’m going to focus on Sony today, but I will have two more posts up later this week, one about Nintendo and another about Microsoft/third-parties. Well, let’s get to it Continue reading

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Five Thoughts on Uncharted 4

by Matthew Thompson

This is the game I have been waiting this whole gen for and I’m happy to say Uncharted  4 has lived up to the hype for me, delivering one of my very favorite gaming experiences of all-time. I struggle to be able to put into words my feelings about the game, but I’m going to try to (in a likely very unsuccinct manner) over the course of at least a couple of posts. I hope to talk in more detail about my favorite moments from Nathan Drake’s final adventure sometime in the future, but this first post will focus on five major thoughts that I came away from Uncharted 4 with and I will do so in a spoiler-free fashion. Here it goes Continue reading

Uncharted 4 Multiplayer Beta Impressions: Part 2

by Matthew Thompson

Earlier this week, I posted Part 1 of my look at the Uncharted 4 beta with a focus on the core mechanics and loadout system. Today I am back to break down the maps and a slew of other things from my hands-on time with the competitive multiplayer. Here it goes Continue reading

The Games of E3 2015: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

by Matthew Thompson

(Throughout the next couple of weeks, I will be posting impressions and reactions to some of the games shown off at E3 based on info I’ve gleaned from watching demos and interviews online. Enjoy!)

At the end of 2014, we got our first substantial look at Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. It focused on the core moment-to-moment gameplay and looked superb. It showed us some new features, but more than anything it depicted a much more open combat scenario, overflowing with options and avenues for the player to take, which is exactly what I want from my enemy encounters. My big takeaway from the E3 demo is how a lot of what we saw in that initial showing will likely permeate most aspects of the game Continue reading

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Eyes-On Impressions

by Matthew Thompson

My most anticipated game is always the next Naughty Dog title. So for me this weekend’s PlayStation Experience was all about getting our first real look at Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. UC4 was the first game demoed during Sony’s opening keynote and it was a very impressive way to kick off the show Continue reading

The Games of E3: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

by Matthew Thompson (Images-Sony, this game’s  site can be found here)

(I was trying to work out how to discuss E3 this year (Note: I was not there, just watched it from home) and I’ve settled on rolling out about 10-15 small blogs over the next two weeks. Each will focus on a game shown or announced at E3 that caught my eye and will be presented in alphabetical order. I will include some other impressions when appropriate as well. You can find all of these blogs archived here. Enjoy!)

Uncharted 4 1

While I was hoping for a trailer featuring some snippets of gameplay, the teaser that Naughty Dog unleashed of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End at E3 was enough to have me frothing at the mouth for more on Drake’s next big adventure. Obviously the first takeaway is just how beautiful the graphics are. From the tiny details seen on Drake’s face to the lush jungle environments, this trailer made it clear that Naughty Dog will be continuing its legacy of top-of-the-line visuals on the PlayStation 4.

It also gave us our first peek into the storyline. Between the dialogue featured in the video and the following description from the game’s website, it seems to be going in the direction I’d have wanted it to:

“Several years after his last adventure, retired fortune hunter, Nathan Drake, is forced back into the world of thieves. With the stakes much more personal, Drake embarks on a globe-trotting journey in pursuit of a historical conspiracy behind a fabled pirate treasure. His greatest adventure will test his physical limits, his resolve, and ultimately what he’s willing to sacrifice to save the ones he loves.”

I love that they aren’t ignoring the message behind Uncharted 3. There Drake learned the toll his lifestyle was taking on those around him. In Uncharted 4, we’ll see an older Drake one who left his treasure hunting days behind him for some time and had to be pulled back into things through something he seemed to be unable to ignore. Some people seem to think we are headed in a very dark direction. Certainly some of the lines and the subtitle might point in that way. I think it may be a bit darker, but I also don’t think the developers have forgotten the light-hearted charm that is such an integral part of this series.

Not much to glean from a gameplay standpoint by the trailer, but they are certainly saying the right things in the above interview and with Bruce Straley at the helm, I have faith it will deliver on that end too. The one thing that they said that I really liked was that they would be expanding the options for how Drake can approach combat, exploration and traversal. That may seem like an obvious next step for a lot of sequels, but that doesn’t mean they always take it. So I look forward to how they are expanding Drake’s moveset and methods for handling these various components.

Uncharted 4 is still a ways off, but I can’t wait to see more on this game leading up to release and of course to play it for myself in 2015.

Six Games I Need to See More of at E3

by Matthew Thompson

With E3 fast approaching, I thought I’d take a blog or two to talk about what I’m looking forward to seeing at gaming’s big show. Today I will be talking about six already announced games I want to see more of when E3 rolls around in a bit over a week from now. Here they are Continue reading

My Most Anticipated Games

by Matthew Thompson

With my look back at games in 2013 behind me, it is time to look ahead. In this blog I will be counting down my ten most anticipated games on the horizon. My only requirement was that they be announced. So even if they don’t seem like they will release in 2014, I still included them. Well here they are (I don’t feel great about the order after the top two, but this will work!).

10. Sunset Overdrive: I’m a huge fan of Insomniac. Mostly for their work on the Ratchet & Clank series, but I enjoyed their Resistance games for the most part too. Sunset Overdrive seems like the kind of fun creative shooter that they excel at and I welcome the stylized look. I probably won’t get an Xbox One anytime soon, but when I do this will likely be one of the first games I grab.

The Order 1886

9. The Order 1886: I think Ready at Dawn is a studio poised to break into the big leagues and their first stab at their own IP, The Order 1886, might be the game to do it. A shooter isn’t exactly what I was hoping for from them for their first original effort, but Victorian setting and fantasy/sci-fi elements seem like they will at least make it a cool shooter, so I’m interested.

8. Telltale’s Game of Thrones: I’m not going to lie, I found Telltale’s The Walking Dead game a little boring. It certainly had a strong story and did a great job of capturing the essence of the comic books, but I didn’t find myself engaged by the gameplay. While I’m afraid that may be the case with this game as well, I’m hoping my love for all things Game of Thrones will help me overcome the issue.

Destiny

7. Destiny: Everything about this looks great. A big open shooter created by a talented developer like Bungie. I find the art for the characters and world to be a big step up from Halo too which is a plus. My only worry is that my falling away from online play in recent times might put a damper on this one. Hopefully with some buddies jumping into co-op with me that will be a non-issue. Maybe it is even the game that makes me fall back in love with online gaming. Who knows?

6. Gravity Rush 2: Gravity Rush remains one of my favorite Vita games. Kat was a really fun character, but it was the way you moved through the environments with her control of gravity that made the game such a joy to play. A sequel that improved some of the original’s problems (namely its combat) could be a real winner.

Infamous Second Son

5. Infamous: Second Son: I was pretty done with the Infamous series. I enjoyed all three of Sucker Punch’s games on PS3, even the ridiculous vampire title. But I thought it was a good time for them to move on to something else. And yet here I am, super excited about Second Son. It just looks great. The visuals, the new characters and powers, the fresh setting. I’m in.

4. Watch Dogs: I love this game’s new hook: the ability to control the electronics and systems of the city of Chicago. It sounds like a blast and it seems like Watch Dogs could be the next great open-world action game because of it. I hope it can deliver after the long wait.

Mario Kart 8

3. Mario Kart 8: I love Mario Kart. It is my favorite series for multiplayer particularly of the local variety and MK8 looks to deliver me and my friends our next fix. It looks like classic Mario Kart fun with a fun gravity twist. And as a nice bonus, it is the nicest looking Wii U title visually I have seen yet.

2. Mirror’s Edge: It doesn’t seem like this game is all that far along. The move to something more open-world worries me. DICE seems to have botched their last game, Battlefield 4. EA looms over the whole thing. But the original Mirror’s Edge is one of the greatest platformers of all-time! I have to believe the sequel can be great too. Don’t let me down. I need this.

Uncharted

1. Uncharted: Naughty Dog is my favorite developer and their next game is always my most anticipated game and that is no different this year. Despite how much I’ve enjoyed the Uncharted series so far, I do hope they shake things up a little with this next entry and you know what… I think they will. The move to the PS4 and the longer development cycle should allow for some new fresh ideas and I can’t wait to see what ND has in store with Uncharted’s debut on the PS4.

Honorable Mention: The Last of Us: Left Behind: I didn’t want to include DLC in my list, but I am really looking forward to checking out Left Behind. Everyone knows how I feel about The Last of Us and I am really curious how they handle what looks to be a much less action-driven story. It is also Naughty Dog’s first venture into singleplayer DLC which is always a tricky endeavor. Given how much content they packed into the core game, I don’t think Left Behind will disappoint.

Other Games I Considered: Hyrule Warriors, N++, Quantum Break, Ryme, Yoshi’s New Island

Well that will do it. To be honest, I don’t love the look of the upcoming year for games so far and it doesn’t help that my top two choices might very well be 2015 games (almost certainly in Mirror’s Edge’s case). So I do hope there are some big announcements to join these on my list. I might make that into another blog… we’ll see. So which games are you looking forward to most? Which games did I miss here? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Dear Developers #1

by Matthew Thompson

(In this hopefully recurring feature, I talk to developers who clearly all read my blog and help them get on the right track)

Dear Developers,

I know you love Uncharted. Hey I do too. There is a lot to like. But I think you need to stop aping its platforming mechanics in your new game. They kind of work in Uncharted as a way to add verticality to the game’s combat, but on its own pushing the analog stick in a direction and pressing X just doesn’t cut it.

Dear Developer Platforming 1

Left: Eh… no; Right: YES!!!

It’s a shame too. Over ten years ago, platforming fans were blessed with the next big thing: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. It had everything. A deep move set. Fantastic imaginative level design. It managed to include sections that tested your skills with the controller (the game’s trap hallways) but also ones that tested your brain. Finding how to get from Point A to Point B was your major obstacle adding a puzzle element to the game’s traversal. It wasn’t the first game to really try this out. Games like Ico and Tomb Raider had certainly done it before, but Sands of Time looked to be the one to revolutionize the genre. We saw some greats certainly spring up afterwards. Much like Tomb Raider inspired the Ubisoft developed PoP games, it in turn inspired a new wave of Tomb Raider games, the best of which Anniversary melded the original game’s design with some of the Prince’s more modern sensibilities. This past generation’s best platformer, Mirror’s Edge, also probably saw some of its roots in the Prince’s adventure in Azad. Heck at least something like God of War had its heart in the right place even if it was lacking in execution.

Somewhere along the way things went in a more simplified direction. The cause could be any number of things. Maybe Uncharted’s popularity has little to do with it. Maybe it’s the larger move towards cinematic experiences. Maybe it’s a new generation who doesn’t want challenge in that area of gameplay. Maybe it’s you (the developers) fear of challenging that subset of gamers whether they exist or not. Whatever the reason, things have gotten bad. If Uncharted inspired it, others took it to the next level. Remember Me, a game I think fondly of, has the same automated traversal but uses an arrow to tell you where to jump to. Enslaved is probably the worst of the whole bunch, with flashes telling you where to jump and on top of that it doesn’t let you go in the wrong direction taking any ability to make a mistake away. Even those series I praised (PoP and TR) saw reboots that dumbed down their previously deep mechanics.

Dear Developer Platforming 2

Left: HELL NO; Right: Yes please!

I guess what I’m asking you guys is to start going back in the right direction. Look to games like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. There is this great subset of games with what I call “realistic platforming.” And while you may need to make games more action-oriented to sell to the masses, there is no reason why we can’t spend the time you do give us to clamber around the game world doing something a bit more substantive. Hell you may even surprise some gamers by giving them something they didn’t know they wanted.

Sincerely,

Matthew Thompson, Desperately Looking for the Next Great Realistic Platformer