Perception

Now that Deus Ex has finally ended the summer games drought, we must brace ourselves for the flurry of new titles competing for our attention between now and Christmas.

When we’re waist deep in Calls of Duty (Call of Duties? Call of Duti?), Battlefields and Watch_Dogs, it’s easy for the low profile indie games to slip under the radar. I know this because my cleaning lady was dusting under my radar when she found Perception; an indie horror game with a blind protagonist.

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Good horror games create fear by making the player feel vulnerable. Perception does this in a unique and clever way by taking away the player’s vision. It’s not as big a handicap as you’d imagine though; you can still “see” your environment using echolocation. It’s like The Unfinished Swan but less messy.

The gameplay is described as “hide and seek”, so we can expect to spend a lot of time hiding under beds or in wardrobes, holding our breath while we wait for something unpleasant to go away. This style has worked very well for horror games such as Outlast and Alien: Isolation.

While the unique perspective goes a long way in creating a creepy atmosphere, some of that work is undone by Cassie, the chatty protagonist. Of course, we only have trailers to go by at this point, but her commentary and oddly relaxed demeanour relieve a lot of the tension from what could otherwise be an unsettling experience.

Perception is in development at The Deep End Games, an indie studio with staff who have worked on high-profile series such as Bioshock and Dead Space. It’s expected to release later this year.

Official Website: http://www.thedeependgames.com/perception/

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/perceptiongame/perception-3

 

 

 

What No Man’s Sky Really Needs

No Man’s Sky has launched with a somewhat mixed critical reception. Depending on who you ask, it’s either a “relaxing experience of discovery in the vast unknown,” or a falsely advertised “steaming dumpster pile.”

Much of the criticism is well-founded but it’s too soon to give up on No Man’s Sky. Sean Murray, the game’s adorably awkward creator, says the focus of the game may change with future updates, so new features and tweaks seem likely. Here are a few that would help No Man’s Sky reach its enormous potential.

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Get the hell off my planet!

From the beginning, Hello Games have made it clear that No Man’s Sky is a game about exploration and discovery, so why don’t I ever feel like I’m discovering anything?

It’s probably because structures and outposts built by the game’s alien races litter every planet. Some are abandoned, some have a single alien custodian for me to talk to.

It kills the sense of discovery when most of the planets I land on have more signs of intelligent life than my hometown in South East England. Sure, I’m the first human to discover this strange new world, but like Columbus before me, the natives have beaten me to the punch.

Restricting these intelligent beings to space stations and the occasional colony world would go a long way in making players feel less like tourists and more like explorers. When I touch down on an uncharted moon, I want it to feel lonelier than a Shadow Cabinet meeting.

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Moon Buggies!

Concept art spotted in the Hello Games office suggests that land vehicles are a feature that was either scrapped during development or simply wasn’t finished in time for release.

Whatever the case, a quad bike or moon buggy to roll around in would make exploration so much easier. As things stand, your ship is your only means of transportation, so the further you explore, the longer you’ll have to trudge back across ground you’ve already covered.

Being able to range further,  faster and perhaps even remotely call our ship to us using the vehicle would unchain players from their spacecraft. Besides which, who doesn’t want to go off-roading on an alien planet?

Hey, if I can fit 15 crates of plutonium in my cargo hold, I can fit a moon buggy.

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More Landscapes

One of the most common complaints players have about No Man’s Sky is that the planets quickly start to all look the same. While there’s a great deal of variety in the flora and fauna, every planet is one of hills, mountains and valleys, with the occasional cave formation.

There are trees but no forests or jungles; grass but no fields; snow but no glaciers. Minecraft  procedurally generates these kinds of environments, and so must No Man’s Sky if it wants to offer the kind of variety players expected from it.

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Many of the best games, particularly those made by small teams, focus on doing one thing but doing it really well. No Man’s Sky has the potential to do exploration better than any other game out there. By giving us the means to explore the enormous worlds we land on, and ensuring that each discovery feels new and significant, Hello Games can make No Man’s Sky into the game we always hoped it would be.

 

Lessons Publishers Should Learn from Rainbow Six: Siege’s Success

Ubisoft recently boasted that the number of people playing Rainbow Six: Siege has almost doubled since launch. That becomes even more impressive when you compare it to The Division; a more recent Ubisoft offering which took less than three months to lose 93% of its players.

With that in mind, here are the lessons that publishers can learn from Siege on how to create a multiplayer-only game that won’t wither and die in a matter of weeks.

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Don’t Segregate Your Players

Multiplayer shooters often release with 10-15 maps, with more added later as paid DLC. The problem with this model is that it splits the community into haves and have-nots, and the haves can only play their shiny new maps with other haves.

This creates a cycle of longer matchmaking queue times, leading to players getting bored and moving on to other games, leading to longer queue times, and so on. Few games ever recover once they go into this tailspin.

Take EA’s Titanfall for example. Much like The Division, Titanfall lost most of its players very quickly. When the first batch of new maps released as paid DLC, it divided an already diminished player base.

Ubisoft’s approach with Siege has been to release one new map and two new characters for free at three-month intervals. Every time one of these free updates has dropped, the player count has spiked as players who got bored with the game have been lured back with free content.

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Don’t Cut Corners

If you’re making an online multiplayer shooter, particularly one where players can shoot each other through walls, don’t skimp on the anti-cheat system.

You wouldn’t know it if you started playing now, but Rainbow Six: Siege’s PC version was a wild west of aimbots and wallhackers until very recently.

After months of outcry from players wanting a solution, Ubisoft finally implemented the “BattlEye” system as part of the “Skull Rain” update in early August. Since then, over 3800 players have been permanently banned from the servers!

It’s no coincidence that this update saw the biggest spike in player numbers since the game’s release. Many people who gave up on the game out of frustration with the rampant cheating problem have come back into the fold.

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Use Microtransactions Responsibly

“Releasing free content and implementing a competent anti-cheat is all very well,” says a hypothetical publisher, “but those things cost money. What’s in it for us?”

I’m glad you asked, Hypothetical Publisher; this is where responsible and unintrusive use of microtransactions comes in. Microtransactions have never made a game better, but Ubisoft has shown that when used with restraint, they needn’t make a game worse.

In Siege, the items you can buy with real money are purely cosmetic (custom headgear, weapon skins etc.). No player can gain an advantage by lightening their wallet, but it means Ubisoft can continue to make money from the game post-release without having to charge for new maps and characters.

The more players, the more profitable this approach becomes. It’s in the publisher’s interest to spend money on making sure the game retains its player base, rather than focusing solely on selling as many copies as possible and then moving straight on to the sequel.

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Rainbow Six: Siege’s road to success hasn’t been the smoothest, but Ubisoft are now reaping the rewards for their commitment to the game’s long-term health. This consumer-friendly approach is why Siege has survived and thrived where many bigger budget games have run out of steam.

 

Halo 5: Guardians

2012’s Halo 4 was the product of a series in transition; Developer 343 Industries’ début  was a tightly designed and serviceable entry to the series, but by clumsily parroting more modernized shooters, they alienated long-time fans as well as failed to win new ones.

With Halo 5: Guardians, the franchise has emerged triumphant from its awkward transitional phase; embracing the qualities of modern first-person shooters without losing its identity.
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After a mission takes an unexpected turn, the Master Chief and his team of Spartans go AWOL, prompting the UNSC to send Spartan Locke and his own fireteam, ‘Osiris’, to hunt the Chief down. It’s hard to say much more without giving away spoilers, so suffice to say the story soon grows beyond this simple premise.

Halo’s story has never been very accessible to newcomers and Halo 5 is no exception. Even as someone who’s played every game in the series, I still felt in the dark at times, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the journey that ‘Guardians’ takes you on.

That’s thanks in no small part to new protagonist Jameson Locke. Don’t be fooled by the marketing, which sold Chief and Locke as joint protagonists. You only play as the Chief for 3 of 15 missions; Locke is very much the main man.

He’s not exactly a fountain of charisma, but he gets more dialogue in one game than Master Chief has had in all of his put together. Add to that the playful banter and camaraderie between Locke and the other members of Fireteam Osiris, and you have a reasonably engaging group of characters to spend the 8 hour campaign with.

The ever-likeable Nathan Fillion deserves special mention. His performance as the wise-cracking Edward Buck fills the void left by Sergeant Johnson; bringing some welcome comic relief.

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Previous Halo games were designed for single player, but provided the option of up to 4-player co-op. In Halo 5, it’s immediately clear that the campaign has been designed for co-op. If you don’t bring a full complement of four human players, any remaining slots are filled by AI-piloted Spartans.

You can give a few simple orders to these AI companions with a single button-press. You’ll never be able to coordinate any kind of strategy with them, but beyond the available commands of “go here”, “pick up that weapon”, “get in that vehicle”, “shoot that enemy”, I never really needed them to do anything.

The level design reflects this change in focus. Missions are still linear, point-to-point affairs, but there are plenty of open spaces and opportunities for flanking to encourage team tactics. It’s by no means a sandbox, but it’s considerably more expansive than your average ‘corridor’ shooter.

The way you get around these levels has changed as well. Players have been given a host of new movement-focused abilities. Sprinting and climbing make traversing the environment satisfying. Abilities like the ‘Spartan Charge’ and ‘Ground Pound’ are great for quickly closing the distance between you and your enemy, and the new thruster packs allows for short, rapid dodge movements.

While you won’t be as agile as you would be in Titanfall or Call of Duty, this new-found mobility goes a long way in updating Halo to feel like it belongs alongside these games, as does the ability to aim down the sights of the weapons. Importantly, it also makes the Spartans look and feel like the super-soldiers they’re supposed to be.

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The selection of enemies you’ll fight is largely unchanged from Halo 4, but it’s worth noting that those annoying, flying enemies are now far less common, making fights against Forerunner foes feel less like banging your head against a wall until it falls down.

Headlining Guardians’ multiplayer is the new ‘Warzone’ mode. Two teams of 12 compete to either be the first to reach 1000 points or destroy the other team’s base. You earn points by getting kills, capturing and holding key parts of the map, or killing the AI boss enemies that occasionally drop in.

The maps are much bigger than anything seen in previous Halos. They have to be to accommodate the large numbers of players and vehicles. It seems 343 wanted to put their own spin on Battlefield‘s popular ‘Conquest’ mode, especially when you realize that Warzone’s variant, ‘Warzone Assault’, is very similar to ‘Rush’, another popular Battlefield gametype.

What makes Warzone so different from traditional Halo multiplayer is the REQ (requisition) system. Players earn REQ points over the course of a match, which can be spent on powerful weapons and vehicles.

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It’s a system that takes some getting used to, but it’s worth it for the added layer of tactics it creates through resource-management dilemmas. Do I spend these 7 points on two powerful weapons, or one tank? Do I spend them all now, or save some for later?

Warzone is great fun, and offers something new and different to classic Halo multiplayer. It’s a shame that, at release, there are only 3 maps for it, even if they are 3 very big maps.

Those who want a more traditional multiplayer experience will feel right at home in Halo 5’s Arena mode. New gametypes like the single-life elimination mode ‘Breakout’ and the new map-control mode ‘Strongholds’ are available alongside classics like Team Slayer and Capture The Flag. Sadly, fan-favorite Oddball is conspicuous in its absence.

This is arguably the best Halo’s multiplayer has ever been. 343 have managed to balance the weapons brilliantly, making sure that every one is useful in its own way. The maps aren’t particularly varied in design, but the new movement system makes them easy to get around, creating fast-paced matches where positioning is now just as important as good aim and quick reaction times.

It’s clear that 343 had eSports in mind when designing Arena mode. Most of the maps are either mostly or completely symmetrical, and the matchmaking system finds players at your skill level based on a league system. All this, along with the superb weapon balance, combines to create the purest, most competitive multiplayer I’ve seen in any game for years.

Like previous Halos, you can create custom gametypes to play with your friends, but the ‘Forge’ map creator isn’t available until sometime in December. Thankfully, Halo 5 has more than enough content to keep you occupied until then.

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Halo 5: Guardians is an outstanding return to form. While the story is hard to follow at times, the gameplay is superb, and a major step up from Halo 4. Warzone is a fun and accessible addition to Halo’s multiplayer suite, and the Arena is a finely-tuned, competitive experience that gets the adrenaline flowing and the heart pumping like no other multiplayer can. The fact that all this plays at 1080p and 60 frames-per-second, is the icing on the cake.

Too Long; Didn’t Read

  • Characters with some semblance of personality.
  • Expansive levels
  • Greater focus on mobility
  • Warzone is new, different, and fun
  • REQ system adds depth
  • New gametypes compliment the classics well
  • Perfect weapon balance
  • Fast, exciting gameplay
  • 1080p/60fps
  • Nathan Fillion
  • Story is inaccessible and difficult to follow
  • Only 3 Warzone maps
  • No Forge… yet

Review Score 9

FIFA 16

FIFA 16 is a rare and disappointing step backwards for the world’s most popular football series.

Such a misstep was bound to happen eventually; every year we hear the same complaints that not enough has changed, leaving EA under constant pressure to find ways to keep the formula fresh. Inevitably, that pressure has led them to try to fix things that were never broken.

You see, while the many tweaks to the on-the-pitch experience help FIFA resemble real football more than ever, they ruin the responsive gameplay that made FIFA 15 such a good time.

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Beginning with the positives, the defensive AI has received a welcome upgrade. Defenders are now better at playing their way out of trouble, so last year’s tactic of pressing really high up the pitch and trying to force a defensive error won’t work.

Things will be more difficult for your midfielders too. Expect the AI to close you down and cut off your passing lanes more effectively than last year. The midfield battle is now just as scrappy as it should be.

It’s clear that plenty of work has gone into upgrading the animations as well. Players change direction much more naturally, making dribbling and turning on the ball look remarkably realistic. It’s one of the few steps towards creating a realistic football sim that hasn’t come at the cost of fun gameplay.

One of the most noticeable new features is the trainer. This is a kind of on-the-fly tutorial that gradually teaches you the controls via on-screen prompts and seems like it would a great way for complete newcomers to learn the basics.

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The women’s teams are a welcome, if not fully fledged addition to the series. There are only 12 national teams to choose from, and they’re limited to friendlies and a single offline tournament.

The women’s side of the game feels different to the men’s side. There’s more freedom in attack and physicality plays less of a role. Tactics and techniques that work with women’s teams won’t necessarily work with the men’s sides, making the women’s game more fun for players who want to play expressive, attacking football.

The rest of the changes on the pitch only serve to spoil the perfect balance that EA managed to achieve in FIFA 15.

The match day presentation is still as good as it’s ever been, even if it’s still not on the levels of Madden. Having said that, there’s very little in the way of new commentary, and players’ faces somehow look less life-like. At least they’ve finally realized that Toni Kroos isn’t ginger.

Every FIFA seems to come with a new dribbling feature. This year it’s the much-touted ‘no-touch dribbling’ system, giving players the ability to use body feints to wrong-foot defenders, the way small, agile players like Messi and Isco do.

For a headline feature, it’s surprisingly redundant, and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to when it works and when it doesn’t.

FIFA now has so many ways for you to beat defenders, but there are really only one or two that are consistently effective; making the others, like the no-touch dribbling, good for little more than showboating.

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What really holds FIFA 16 back is the pace of its gameplay. Passes feel like they’ve been slowed down, possibly to compensate for the new ‘driven ground pass’ feature. Players also feel less responsive and agile than they did last year.

These two changes combine to make the game feel slow and lethargic compared to its predecessor. You can’t deny it’s more realistic, but more importantly, it’s not as fun.

You can offset some of these problems by adjusting the games sliders to tweak things like pass speed, but these changes won’t apply to online games against human opponents.

What’s less forgivable is what hasn’t been changed. The small frustrations present in FIFA 15, while few, haven’t been addressed.

Slide tackles are still worse than useless. Players don’t lock on to the ball when attempting a slide tackle, so you’ll miss both the man (or woman) and the ball way too often. This is even more common against the AI, which is so good at dodging slide tackles, you’ll swear it knows when you’re going to do one before you do.

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The ineffectiveness of slide tackles isn’t helped by the referee AI. Whether a challenge is deemed a foul or not, and what kind of punishment it receives, is so inconsistent it comes across as random at times.

Perfect tackles can be punished with yellow cards and even the occasional red. I’ve also seen the referee wave play on for tackles that got nowhere near the ball. I think all football fans will agree that referee incompetence is a touch of realism we could do without.

Even the AI seems to know that slide tackling is a bad idea. It doesn’t go to ground very often, and when it does, it usually gives away a foul.

The longest running problem has been EA’s lazy approach to difficulty settings. Turning the difficulty up seems to boost the opposition players’ stats and lower your own, essentially handicapping you, not improving the AI’s decision-making.

Boosting the opposition’s technical stats would make sense; every team is entitled to an outstanding game now and then. But the game makes them physically better too, and when you see that Sergio Busquets is suddenly as fast as Gareth Bale, you feel cheated, not outplayed.

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There’s been some successful work done off the pitch. Career mode now has a training feature, giving you the option to both practise certain skills and level up your players through a series of drills.

I found it especially useful for addressing players’ weaknesses, like improving the stamina of a player I was sick of having to substitute every game.

Ultimate Team has a new ‘Draft Mode’ in which you pick a team from a semi-random selection of players and compete in a short series of matches using that team. It’s a refreshing change of pace from regular UT, particularly as you get to use players that would otherwise be too pricey.

The catch is that it costs 15,000 coins (about 6-8 hours of play time) for every time you want to play this mode. It’s the same problem that the rest of Ultimate Team has; you earn coins at such a slow rate that you’re forced to use the microtransactions if you want to make reasonable progress.

Ultimate Team, and its new Draft Mode are great fun if you have plenty of time or disposable income. If you have neither, you’ll find it way too much of a grind.

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FIFA 16 is a brilliantly presented and very accessible football sim, but it’s slow, scrappy gameplay makes it an exercise in frustration for fans of FIFA 15’s exciting, end-to-end goal-fests. If you’re new to football games, you may still find plenty to love, but for long-time FIFA veterans, it might be time to take a stroll out of your comfort zone and give PES 2016 a try.

Too Long; Didn’t Read

  • Defenders are smarter.
  • Midfield battle is now just that.
  • Slower gameplay can be offset using sliders (offline only)
  • Career mode training feature useful for levelling up players.
  • Game now matches the pace of real football matches.
  • Great presentation.
  • Women’s teams offer a different and fun style of play.
  • Gameplay feels slow and lethargic, as do the players.
  • FUT Draft Mode just another EA microtransaction scheme.
  • Slide tackling still useless.
  • Referee decisions appear random at times.
  • New passing and dribbling features not very useful.
  • Cheap and lazy approach to difficulty settings.
  • Not nearly enough women’s teams.

Review Score 6

Reviewed on PlayStation 4

Door Kickers

Door Kickers is the thinking man’s Rainbow Six. There are plenty of first-person shooters about breaking down doors and storming into rooms while someone shouts “GO! GO! GO!”, but Door Kickers approaches CQC (Close-Quarters Combat) from a very different angle; a top-down one in fact.

This time, you’re not the guy pulling the trigger, you’re the man with the plan. Every mission is presented to you as a top-down, 2D floor plan, and your job is to micro-manage your SWAT team by using the mouse to draw out what paths you want each trooper to take through the level, much like drawing a route through a maze, if the maze had terrorists, hostages and bombs dotted around it.

It’s a beautifully simple system that makes the game extremely accessible to new players, with only a couple of minutes needed to learn the basics.

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But the tactics go deeper than just telling people where to go; when you draw a path through a door, you’ll be given options as to how your trooper will enter the room.

You can keep things quick and simple by having him/her simply kick it down, or you could be smart and use a flashbang grenade or breaching charge to briefly stun any hostiles inside, allowing your troopers to charge in and clear the room before the enemies have a chance to return fire.

The amount of tactical freedom you’re given means plans can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be, and being able to pause the game at any time means you can stop and adapt your plan as the action unfolds, so you always feel in control of the situation.

The downside of Door Kickers fixation on micro-management is that the game’s difficulty depends largely on how much time you spend perfecting your plans.

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Sloppy planning leads to unchecked corners and blind spots, which will swiftly turn into dead or injured troopers. Creating a thoroughly watertight strategy isn’t unreasonably difficult, just unreasonably time-consuming, and after a while, you’ll start to yearn for a way to combine multiple instructions into one command.

Missions are over very quickly, with the longest being around 3 minutes and a couple can be done in as little as 6 seconds, but the ratio of time spent planning to real-time gameplay is around 10:1, so if you want to do enough micro-managing to create that perfect plan, you may find yourself spending upwards of 30 minutes planning a mission that takes just 2 or 3 minutes to play out.

Thankfully, replays of all your missions are saved, and you can jump in at any point in the replay and pick up from that point, so you won’t have to spend another half hour clearing that embassy just cos you messed up the last room.

This makes Door Kickers feel much more like a puzzle game than an action game. You can give your troopers orders in real time, but the speed at which the missions unfold means you’ll always feel several steps behind the action.

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The game may give the impression of being a fast-paced real-time strategy in its trailers, but constantly pausing to plan your next move means Door Kickers plays more like a game of chess than a game of StarCraft.

But if the slow pace doesn’t turn you off, you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied. The game’s 100+ levels are nicely detailed, so combat takes place in a variety of locations such as offices, garages, houses and supermarkets rather than just different configurations of empty, featureless rooms. There aren’t any multi-story buildings, but it took me a long time to even notice that.

There’s no story here whatsoever, just a collection of individual missions with no narrative connecting them, but the types of missions you’re given are reasonably varied. Some simply ask you to eliminate all hostiles, while others challenge you to rescue hostages or VIPs, or defuse a timed bomb.

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Your troopers themselves however, do stay consistent. You can name each member of your 10-man squad, assign them to 1 of 5 classes and customize their gear to your liking. You can upgrade your squads abilities and unlock new gear, but it’s a very shallow system and feels like an afterthought. Even what’s there won’t alter your play style in any way, as most of the upgrades only improve your troopers accuracy.

Even if you manage to master every mission, Door Kickers has a random mission generator and a built-in level editor for you to create your own maps. You can even download missions that other players have created, giving Door Kickers unlimited replay value.

Too Long; Didn’t Read: If you’re into CQC, but first-person shooters haven’t been scratching that itch, then you’ll wonder where Door Kickers has been all your life. It’s supremely easy to learn, but time-consuming to master, and although your troopers utter dependence on you can frustrate at times, at least when your plan does come together, you’ll know it was all your own work.

Don't Panic

The Console War: Is it Good or Bad for Gamers?

Depending on how long it’s been since you shot out of your father’s Jap’s Eye like a circus performer out of a cannon, you consider the console war to be either the pointless squabbling of pre-pubescent fucklets or the most important conflict in human history.

When people ask me which side of the battle line I fall on, I say, “I don’t really care, I just want someone* to win.” This is partly because I’m sick of the whole concept and partly because I belong to the glorious PC gaming master race so, to me, the winner is entirely academic.

The problem is that most people only have enough money or enough of their parents’ love to get one console. Back when the PS4 and Xbox One weren’t yet released and Microsoft and Sony were still trying to psych each other out like two boxers at a weigh-in, I asked all my friends which console they were planning to get and they both chose the PS4.

Console War E3

So since the PS4 was the more powerful option, as well as the one that would leave me wealthier and slightly less lonely, the decision was fairly easy, even with a future Halo game attempting to seduce me with its eyes from behind a Japanese hand fan.

But for people with social circles large enough to fit around more than just a small coffee table, choosing which console to get has this bizarre school playground element of choosing which group of friends you’d least hate to play with.

You see, I have a dream. I dream of a world where such labels as ‘PC gamer’ and ‘console gamer’ don’t exist; a world where all gamers are united under one banner; yes! even Nintendo fans! (or ‘children’ I think is the politically correct term); a world in which there are no exclusives and no fucking motion controls.**

Good Times Spent With FriendsBut like any idealist vision, in practice, a one console industry wouldn’t work as well as it would in theory. The phrase that the console kerfuffle most embodies is “competition breeds excellence,” or more accurately, “competition breeds two largely identical pieces of outdated technology.”

Many centuries ago, a famous bard named Edwin Starr sang, “War! What is it good for!? Absolutely nothin’!” He was poetic, but also hopelessly wrong. Nothing gives technology a bigger shunt forward than war. Many of the most significant advances in science and technology have been by-products of our eternal search for the most effective and efficient ways of making people dead, and the console war is no different.

The rivalry between Xbox and PlayStation is no different to the one between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, or Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. Each one pushes the other to be better, to produce better consoles, to score more goals, to buy a bigger slingshot from ACME etc.

Sony would have no motivation to push their console to its limits without the giant green monster of Microsoft constantly breathing down their necks and might’ve been caught if Microsoft could stop tripping over their shoelaces for long enough to get some momentum going.

Console War 2What we have to ask ourselves is: Is it better for us to be divided between two outstanding consoles, or united by a single, inevitably mediocre one?

Looking at the issue, alone, from atop my ivory tower, it’s an easy question to answer, but for you socially competent types, it’s not so simple.

*When I say I want someone to win, I of course mean someone who isn’t Nintendo. Not that they could ever win but if they did, my utopia would become a nightmarish land of wholesome family fun, where we all play the same 3 soul-destroyingly twee games for all eternity and no one ever dies, swears or fucks.

**I know motion controls don’t really have anything to do with the console war, I just want them to go away.

PC Gaming Master Race

Why Games Are Proof That People Are Pricks

Gaming may be my greatest passion in life but, much like the people who play them, it has its faults. This is truer with games than most forms of entertainment as it’s the people who play them that are its greatest fault.

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Maybe it’s my bitterness talking but I find there are very few games on the market that are improved by the addition of other people. I can play FIFA 14 against the AI and choose a difficulty that gives me a fun and fairly satisfying challenge, or I can play an online head to head match and play against people who are far too good or far too bad to be playing against me, with the bonus gift of an abusive message afterwards.

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I remember many centuries ago in 2012, before I gave up playing head-to-head games online, when my Xbox LIVE inbox would be chock-full of messages from fine specimens who couldn’t help but tell me how much of a cheater I was or how I should accept the shame of losing a game of FIFA and immediately commit seppuku.

The security of being anonymous to the person or people you’re pissing off means that people feel brave enough to lose the inhibitions that, in everyday life, hold them back from fulfilling their potential of being award-winning dipshits. Ironically this means that we see more of who people truly are than they ever show to their friends and family.

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This kind of behavior doesn’t always come in the form of communication though. I came up with the idea for this article whilst playing Battlefield 4 and finding myself manning a chopper’s minigun. The pilot presumably grew weary of his new-found responsibility and bailed out, leaving the chopper to plummet to the ground with me still sitting on the minigun with a look of considerable confusion on my face as I tried to work out why we were suddenly losing altitude at a rate that I was less than entirely happy about.

Games like GTA: Online and Day Z are good examples of what I’m talking about. When you run into another player in these games, the most sensible course of action is to immediately reach for your boomstick of choice. Any attempt at a friendly greeting or suggestion of an alliance will, more often than not, be the prologue to your violent murder.

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This creates a culture of distrust, where it’s safer to assume that the other person is hostile and strike pre-emptively. After customizing a sports car in GTA: Online, I pulled up next to a player driving the same vehicle. I honked my horn in what was meant to be a non-verbal gesture of appreciation for our mutual taste in cars, to which he responded with a non-verbal gesture of automatic gunfire.

It was at this point that I joined the ever-growing culture of shoot first and keep shooting.

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I went through a phase of only playing co-op games, thinking that an environment where everyone is working towards a common goal would prove more friendly. In my first and only co-op game of Left 4 Dead, I was pounced on by a zombie whilst bringing up the rear of the group. One of my teammates obviously heard my character’s cries for help, turned around, stood watching motionless for a few moments as I was mauled to death, before turning around again and continuing on his merry way.

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I’m worried that some readers might take from this, the message that most gamers are selfish, antisocial shitheads who should be avoided if at all possible. That’s far from what I’m trying to say. The message I’m trying to convey is that most human beings are selfish, antisocial shitheads who should be avoided if at all possible, and that gaming just gives them an outlet where they can take off the mask of hypocrisy and insincerity that they wear in their day-to-day lives, throw caution to the wind and just ruin things for the rest of us.

As a wise man once said, some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

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