Virtual Reality, the future of video games?

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Virtual Reality has been around for a long time, the first headset being created all the way back in 1957, back than virtual reality was little more than a personal cinema. But in 2018 VR is more immersive then ever, with headsets like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift players can now be immersed in a digital world.

That is the key part of VR, making the players believe that they are in a virtual world, almost blurring the lines between reality and the game itself. I recently purchased a HTC Vive to try it out for myself, this isn’t the first headset I’ve owned though, I have a PSVR but it’s list of VR game’s is very small and can’t really compete with the Vive’s ever-growing list of games. The first games I purchased were Beat Saber and Gorn (I will talk more about these two later in a separate review) these were recommended as great games to play for first time Vive users, and I can see why.

Gorn and Beat Saber are both made specifically for VR, these aren’t ports like Skyrim or Fallout 4 which take an existing game and make it playable in VR, these are full games that a player can’t play without a VR headset. What really makes them stand out from other games such as Skyrim or Fallout is the immersion, while playing a game like Gorn (which you play a gladiator in an arena facing off against other gladiators for the amusement of a bunch of floating heads) I became completely immersed in the world I was in. I was the hero fighting these weirdly proportioned gladiators, I was no longer in my small spare bedroom flailing my arms about like a madman, but I was the champion of Gorn, smiting down my enemies one by one, that is until I accidentally punched the wall with my controller, leaving the wall with a black mark on it.

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This is the same for Beat Saber, which is a rhythm game in which a player must hit different colour boxes with (you guessed it) lightsabers, that represent the beat and lyrics of a song. Players get a different kind of immersion while playing Beat Saber, unlike Gorn in which you physically have to move around the room to fight enemies, Beat Saber requires you to stand still and hit the boxes (sometimes moving out of the way of incoming barriers) but otherwise it is straight forward, the immersive part of the game is the music, players really get into the song they are playing, especially if it is a song that they know and love, and similar to Gorn players start to forget where they are because they are concentrating solely on the game and not their surroundings.

But that is what makes VR so exciting to play, you can truly immerse yourself in virtual world. But is it the future of video games? I can see it becoming a bigger market for developers and companies to create games for. But at the moment VR is a novelty, the Vive by itself is $800 Australian dollars, so its REALLY expensive, that also isn’t counting the PC required to run it and its games. But is it worth it? I would definitely say yes just to play Beat Saber and Gorn, those two games are worth the price and hassle of setting the headset up. But if I was you, I would wait a few years, I see VR really taking off to the point where we will be getting AAA titles being made solely for the VR rather then just ports. But that may be in two years, or ten years. But in the end, VR is the future of gaming,  I just can’t wait to see what they bring out next.

 

 

Assassin’s Creed Origins- A quick review.

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The Assassin’s Creed franchise has been around for over 10 years, and out of those 10 years we have had the privilege to play 10 amazing games. Yes the franchise has had its ups and downs, but every time the games impress me. And Assassins Creed Origins is no exception, it’s still the same Assassin’s Creed we know and love, but with a few differences. It’s story takes us to the golden sands of Egypt during the time of Cleopatra. We follow Bayek, a young man who is on a quest to free Egypt from the ruling elite all the while unknowingly starting the Assassin’s order to fight the Templar’s. Yes it is the same old battle that we have fought time and time again in the older games, but here we get to see the beginning of the order we have all come to know.

Combat has had a major overhaul in Origins. Unlike older games in the series, where whenever an enemy went to attack you you would just press the counter button, essentially making you unbeatable. But in Origins however, its taken an almost Dark souls style approach to combat. You must block, counter and roll out of the way of enemies attacks until you can find a week spot. Enemies now have different levels too, so going up against level 20’s while I was still on level 10 was very difficult, almost on the verge of completely impossible because my weapons did little to no damage.

But the really interesting thing about AC Origins is the exploration, The whole of Egypt is completely open to you from the get go, so you can explore and discover new locations to your hearts content. And yes, you can climb the Pyramids, as well as explore the tombs inside them. But you had better bring a torch, because when its dark in Origins, it’s dark. You literally can’t see a foot in front of you without a torch, so it really adds to the creepiness of a tomb and caves.

All in all Origins is an amazing continuation of the Assassins Creed franchise, its a good mixture of old and new and brings new life into a series that was starting to fall under the radar. I can’t wait to see what Ubisoft comes out with next.

 

-Sean

A WAY OUT: Couch co-op is back!

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SPOILERS AHEAD

 

The other day me and my pal finished A Way Out, the newest game from Hazelight Studios, the same studio that was behind the critically acclaimed Brothers- A Tale of Two Sons. And it is safe to say that I loved every minute of it, from start to finish Hazelight studios has crafted an interesting story mixed with exciting game play that changes frequently enough that it feels fresh at the beginning of every chapter. Both protagonists, Vincent and Leo, have interesting backstories that intertwine with the main plot that keeps you and your co-op partner wondering what is going to happen next.

And that is the real kicker about A Way Out, you can’t play it by yourself, you need another player to play the other protagonist. And that’s the beauty of this game, it forces you to sit down with a friend on the same couch and play the game. Yes you can play online with your co-op partner but being able to sit right beside your friend and see their reactions to what is happening in the story and being able to make decisions throughout the game makes it an extremely unique experience. Sitting beside my friend while playing through the story took me back to the old Playstation 2 days, it was just two friends sitting down to laugh at the silly things that happen as you play and the memories you have after you finish. It all feels very nostalgic and makes me hope that other companies use A Way Out as a foundation to make great story driven multiplayer games.

The story of A Way Out is your typical one, two inmates escape from prison (very much ShawShank Redemption style) and go on a quest to get revenge on the villain for screwing them over in the past. It goes from robbing a petrol station to flying to Mexico to fight your way through an army of mobsters. The story flows really well, some of the voice acting is a bit cringe worthy at some points, but if you look past these moments and focus on the story then the game is amazing.

The ending was the part that really got me (spoilers) you manage to get your revenge on Harvey and make a daring escape from his mansion. You then fly back to America feeling like free men. Leo will go back to his family and Vincent will go back to his wife and his newborn child. A happy ending right? No. When you land the police arrive, and while you’re standing there thinking that it’s all over, you’re both going back to prison, Vincent pulls out a gun and aims it at Leo and says, “you’re under arrest”. This caught me and my friend completely by surprise, we were not expecting such a twist at what we thought was the end of the game. But it wasn’t the end yet, you’re suddenly pitted against each other in a factory sneaking between cover while taking shots at each other. And that’s the interesting thing about the ending, it can go either away. I manged to defeat my friend (I was playing Vincent) and as Leo is sitting on the ground all bloody and about to die, you grab each others hands as one last gesture of mateship. And then my friends side of the screen started to go black, and my side of the screen started to take up the whole TV. And then it was over, there was only Vincent left standing. It was such a perfect ending for the story, it was an ending that I did not see coming and I loved every minute of it.

A Way Out is an amazing co-op experience, it blends a great story with interesting gameplay. Hazelight studios have announced that they are starting on a brand new project, I’m very excited to see what amazing product they release next.

 

-Sean

FAR CRY 5: Exploring a cult filled Hope County.

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Potential Spoilers Ahead!

 

Welcome to Hope County, a place filled with brainwashed cultists, charismatic and manipulative leaders, and lots and lots of explosions.

The first time I booted up Far Cry 5 I realised how different it was from Far Cry 3 and 4, yes it has the usual villain and his followers, and yes it has the same game mechanics as the last 2 games, but it has something else to it, a randomness to the combat so that enemies and animals charge in to the middle of a battle when you were least expecting it. An explosion will set off a brush fire that will rage its way through an outpost or a forest. Even when you are standing around enjoying the scenery (trust me, this game is beautiful) there might be a random bear attack or an eagle attacks you from the sky. All of this is mixed in with a whole different range of characters who you can interact with and will even come out and help you take back Hope County.

That’s another thing that makes Far Cry 5 so great, is from the get go you can immediately go in any direction you want. Far Cry 5’s map is broken up into 3 areas: Johns area, Faiths area, or Jacobs area. These three characters all have their own backstories and personalities, and all have absolute faith in Joseph (who they call the Father). You can take these characters down in any way you want to by doing main quests or just doing side missions, there’s so much to do and explore.

Now lets talk the cult, it has its manipulative leader Joseph, who has predicted the end of American society. And has brainwashed a large majority of citizens to take up arms and prepare for the end of the world. He brainwashes them using a chemical known as “Bliss” which is produced from a certain white flower in the game. This leads to some really bizarre game play when you’re in an area that is full of the stuff. Your character starts to hallucinate which leads to you shooting at enemies that aren’t even there. This same thing goes for the cultists themselves, they are all so drugged up on the Bliss that they lose all logical thinking. They may take cover while you are in the middle of a firefight, but sooner or later they will run straight toward you out of pure rage. It goes for some thrilling action sequences where you will be running from cover to cover as bullets are hitting the ground all around you. This makes for great memorable moments that I like to recount to my friends later.

Speaking of friends, Far Cry 5 has brought back co-op, but unlike Far cry 4 you can now play the whole game together. The game just gets even more chaotic with a friend with you. But it really makes it feel like you’re playing in an open world sandbox, you can do anything, go anywhere. I played with a friend for a few hours and we went from taking down cult outposts to going fishing out on a river together. And I enjoyed every minute of it, there weren’t any other players to annoy us or crazy loading times, it was just damn good fun.

I do have one problem with the game however (no game is perfect sadly) I feel that the stealth mechanics in the game are a little bit lacklustre. Taking out outposts in Far Cry 4 was far more enjoyable (minus the tower climbing) You could go at it completely in stealth, snipe enemies on the rooftops, then try and find a way in so you could liberate it. There was far more tactical thinking in Far Cry 4. While Far Cry 5 has me taking out a few enemies with my sniper rifle then just casually walk into an outpost, I can even go in all guns blazing and still not worry about dying. This makes taking down the outposts tiresome and not interesting at all, I would much prefer to spend my time looking for Prepper stashes tucked away in random parts of the map. At least those give me a decent amount of money in the end. Another thing about money, Far Cry 5 has micro transactions (shudder) but unlike other games Far Cry doesn’t force you to buy them, you don’t have to spend another $5 to be able to buy the weapon or vehicle you want, you can just play the game and save up the money to buy it.         Far cry 5 forest

You can tell that the development team at both Ubisoft Montreal and Toronto really put love and care into crafting Hope County and make it really feel like you are standing in the middle of Montana USA. That’s another thing, if you can try and step back from all the explosions, cultists, raging bears and crazy people trying to run you over. Just find a nice quiet place away from all of that and just take a stroll through the forests of Hope County, because god damn this is a beautiful game.

 

-S

Welcome to my blog!

Well here it is, the start of something new. I’ve been thinking about starting something like this for a long time, finding my own place on the internet and try to combine two of my passions, video games and writing. So I thought why not do both? So here it is, the beginning of it all.

Some of you may be wondering who I am, my name is Sean, I live in the upside down land of Australia and I spend quite a bit of my time playing video games, I would no way call myself an expert, far from it. Just a guy that feels the need to write his opinions on games he plays. A bit more about me, I’m studying a diploma of interactive games full time in the city of Melbourne, my favourite game of all time is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt by CD Projekt (still waiting on Cyberpunk 2077) and I absolutely love Star Wars. Now these “reviews” are not going to be long, I’m not an incredible writer so I don’t want to bore anyone to death about me droning on and on about a game. Its going to be straight to the point (unless its the Witcher 3).

So there you have it, to everyone that may read this, Hello!!! I hope you enjoy my reviews and stick around for weekly updates! I’m going to be starting out by reviewing one of the games I am currently playing at the moment, Far Cry 5. So stay tuned for that in the next few days. And again, welcome to my blog!

 

-S