Mass Effect: Andromeda

Mass Effect: Andromeda

The Final Frontier

Mass Effect is undoubtedly one of the most influential series of the last generation, and for good reason. Bioware poured their heart and soul into making a truly excellent trilogy of games, and while they tripped up a little bit towards the end, Mass Effect’s legacy is one that will forever be present in the gaming industry. People got naturally excited when a 4th entry into the series was announced, although it wasn’t what people were expecting. Mass Effect: Andromeda marks the return of Mass Effect, and while it’s gotten off to a rocky start, fans and newcomers alike can enjoy what Andromeda has to offer, despite its shortcomings.

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Andromeda is a good starting point for new players, because it’s very loosely linked to the original trilogy.

The Andromeda Initiative

Andromeda’s narrative is a far cry from anything related to the original trilogy. It’s very loosely connected to the adventures of Commander Shepard and the rest of his merry crew, which makes for a very easy access point for newcomers to the series. Mass Effect: Andromeda is set in between the events of Mass Effect 2 and 3, where earth is looking for new planets to populate with new life in the Andromeda Galaxy as a part of the Andromeda Initiative. You play as one of two twins, Scott or Sara Ryder (i’ll be referencing to Ryder as a him because I chose to play as Scott), and due to unforeseen circumstances, you’re forced to take a leadership role within the Andromeda Initiative as a Pathfinder. The stakes are high as you and your crew must find new Golden Worlds to populate in order to ensure the Andromeda Initiative isn’t for nothing, and in the process, deal with a greater threat to the galaxy. Andromeda’s narrative doesn’t do a terribly good job at pulling you into its struggles and conflicts. The first half of the game feels like a few missions were thrown together with loose ties to one-another, making for an initially incoherent and slow plot. However, the more I played Andromeda, the more I got pulled into its characters, world, and plot, and by the time I reached the halfway mark, Andromeda really got going, even if it doesn’t reach the storytelling heights of the original trilogy. Overall, Andromeda’s tone is a lot more lighthearted than the previous games, which I didn’t mind, but there are certainly a few darker moments within the campaign that harken back to the previous entries in the series. I found most of the characters varied and extremely likeable, although dialogue options didn’t really feel as impactful as they have been in the past, but it still provides a sense of character development for Ryder and his buddies. It’s all tied together with a very intimidating villain, whose motives are never made clear until later on, creating an air of mystery about him that I enjoyed quite a bit. Andromeda’s narrative starts on unstable ground, but if you take the time to invest yourself in it, eventually you’ll find a plot that holds a candle to that of the original trilogy.

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Andromeda’s sense of exploration and scale is incredible.

Fight for a New Home

Mass Effect: Andromeda plays fairly similarly to Mass Effect 3, but there are some key elements that make it unique, fresh, and fun to play. Andromeda offers 4 distinct and varied planets to explore, engage in combat on, and most importantly, make viable for settlement. Each planet has their own little quirk, whether it be a radioactive atmosphere, extreme levels of cold, or extremely dangerous storms. They all felt like their own environments, and driving across Andromeda’s vast worlds was quite the spectacle, and truly a treat. As you explore, you can scan tech, wildlife, fauna, alien structures and more to gather research points that can be spent to research new weapons. Scanning is something you’ll be doing all the time in Andromeda, and you’ll either love it or hate it, but I personally never found it infringed upon my enjoyment of the game. Each world hosts a plethora of quests and loyalty missions to complete, hubs to visit, merchants to trade with and most importantly, Vaults to explore. Vaults act as the main way to increase planet viability in Andromeda, and they act almost as little dungeons within the game, and that’s not even taking into account the Sudoku like puzzles you need to solve to open them up. The first few were interesting and generally fun to complete, but by the end of it all I found myself getting a bit tired of the process. As you play Andromeda, you’ll be fostering your relationships with the people on your crew, whether that be by completing side missions for them or just having general conversation. I felt like I was getting something out of the effort I was putting in to know each character, and every one on my team had some back story or driving force behind them that I wanted to get to know. The Tempest is Andromeda’s version of the Normandy, essentially serving the same function. Through it, you can travel to different planets, research and develop weapons, exchange with the on-board shop, and interact with your crew. When on the surface of planets your main mode of transportation comes in the form of the Nomad, which is a rover designed for travelling hazardous planets. It’s fun to control, and fans of the Mako from Mass Effect will certainly enjoy its inclusion. That might seem like a lot to take in but I haven’t even gotten into the real meat of Andromeda yet, the combat. The star of Andromeda is by far its combat systems and all the elements that come into play when you enter a firefight. Ryder is equipped with a number of weapons, a range of biotic, tech, and combat abilities to choose from, and perhaps most importantly, a jump jet. With the press of a button (or two if you wanna dash in the air) Ryder can zip around the battlefield through the use of his jump jet. It seems like a simple addition, but once you get the hang of it, Andromeda’s combat turns into a fast, fluid and frenetic third person shooter that is extremely satisfying to play. Hovering in mid-air to shoot at an enemy cowering behind cover, only to land back on the ground and zip away at a moments notice is truly exhilarating and certainly never got old. The cover system also makes combat very fluid, as Ryder automatically clicks to anything he can use as cover, creating for a less sticky cover based system. Andromeda’s entertaining combat can mostly be accredited to the varied abilities and skills that you can invest in along throughout Andromeda’s plot. The three main trees from the original trilogy are back, those being tech, biotic, and combat. The main difference here, is that Ryder isn’t locked into the skills you choose from the start, which means Andromeda caters to multiple play-styles no matter the situation. Want to have a loadout where you solely focus on biotic abilities and mid-range weapons and another that focuses on tactical cloaking and sniping? Well you can, and it’s made extremely accessible through Andromeda’s favourites system, which lets you assign a loadout of skills to a shortcut you can access with the press of a button. Weapons come in various types, from assault rifles and shotguns, to snipers and pistols. There’s even an entire category for melee weapons, all of which are varied and unique. Like I mentioned earlier, you can research and develop weapons you haven’t found in the field through the use of research points and materials. It never really properly explains itself however, and it’s quite confusing at first, and collecting the necessary materials to craft one weapon can be a drag, but once you find a loadout that suits you, it feels very worth it. No matter what you craft or choose to use in Andromeda, each weapon sounds excellent and provides a satisfying amount of feedback with each shot. I played Andromeda on normal, which I never found to be overly difficult, but I did get caught out once or twice, and I had to make good use of my abilities if I wanted to get through a tough encounter. Andromeda’s enemies are fairly repetitive early on, mostly consisting of the Kett (the main evil force in the campaign), the Remnant, and wildlife found on the various planets. I did find that it opened up a bit more toward the latter half of the game, with more enemy types and factions coming into play. The final part of Andromeda’s gameplay, is its multiplayer mode. Much like Mass Effect 3, Andromeda’s multiplayer suite consist of a cooperative online wave based survival mode, where objectives must be complete in order to succeed. It gets pretty tough, and playing with friends is definitely recommended. If you enjoyed what Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer had to offer, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy it here, because it builds on everything that made it great in the first place, and it undoubtedly has a number of hours you can put into it.

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While Andromeda does have some fairly stereotypical worlds, they all look beautiful.

A Bug-Riddled Galaxy

If there’s one thing that Andromeda has certainly been criticised for, it’s the presence of bugs that plague the game. I’m not going to sugar coat it, Mass Effect: Andromeda is a very buggy game, and Bioware need to iron it out as soon as possible. Its nothing game breaking, but bad facial animations, disturbing walking animations, inconsistent lip syncing, and visual glitches really do hinder the experience when they’re as prevalent as they are in Andromeda. It honestly made me laugh more than it did upset, but it’s still unacceptable for a triple A game to be this buggy at launch. Aside from all the technical bugs, Andromeda looked beautiful at 4K on my PS4 Pro, and for the most part ran smoothly at 30FPS. Environments are beautifully designed and alien character models look excellent. Notice I said alien character models, because humans look absolutely atrocious in Andromeda, and it honestly seems like they’ve been ripped straight out of a 360 or PS3 game. It’s disappointing to see that a series that was generally pretty good with the technical side of things have a downfall such as this.

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Andromeda’s boss fights are few and far between, but offer a challenge nonetheless.

Verdict: 7/10

Despite all of its shortcomings, Mass Effect: Andromeda is a good game, worth your time and investment once the many bugs have been ironed out. While its narrative takes a while to get going, it has excellent gameplay and worlds to explore. It’s a deep and complex RPG that you can sink hours and hours into if you get into it, and that’s without even dipping into its multiplayer component. It looks gorgeous and runs well enough, it’s just a damn shame that the game is as plagued with bugs as it is.

Positives

-Second half of the plot gets you hooked

-Strong antagonist

-Excellent sense of exploration and discovery

-Fast, frenetic, fluid combat

-Character + relationship development

-Enaging, longlasting multiplayer suite

Negatives

-Gets off to a slow, incoherent start

-Confusing and dull crafting systems

-Choices feel meaningless

-Some repetitive elements

-Numerous bugs and technical issues

-Visual glitches and human character models

Thanks for reading guys, up next is Dark Souls III: The Ringed City.

Thanks again, Harry.

NieR: Automata

NieR: Automata

A Platinum Quality Game

When it comes to hyper-stylised action games, Platinum Games seems to be the company that reigns over all, and that’s for good reason. Over the past few years, they’ve quickly grown within the gaming industry, and play a huge part in delivering unique, fast paced action games that are almost unrivalled by anything else. They’re hands down one of my favourite developers, and while they’ve had some stumbles with their recent releases, I’m still at the point where I’ll buy a game simply because it has the Platinum logo slapped on the cover. NieR: Automata was one of those games. Having never played the original, I had no idea what to expect in regards to anything excluding gameplay, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t get it. After an excellent pre-release demo, NieR: Automata instantly had me hooked and wanting more. Platinum once again willingly display their skills in an effort to show their finesse in this particular genre, and what an effort it is.

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The first NieR originally came out in 2010.

Glory to Mankind

NieR: Automata takes place in the future, where humanity has been driven from Earth by aliens, only to take refuge on the moon. Machines now roam the desolate dystopia that Earth became without its human inhabitants, and humanity seeks to fight back through the use of androids. You play as one of these androids, 2B who is a combat unit from YoRHA, the force trying to take back Earth from the machines. It’s hard to talk about anything else without spoiling anything, but it’s worth mentioning that I have not played the original NieR, so my opinion will not be influenced by the events or lore of the first game. I absolutely loved NieR: Automata’s narrative, and it’s simply one of the most emotional, thought-provoking, and interesting narratives i’ve ever experienced. 2B is incredibly well-developed over the course of the campaign, and her characterisation changes dramatically due to the events that take place throughout the story. The same goes for the supporting cast in the form of 9S, A2, Pascal and numerous other characters, who are all extremely likeable. It consistently surprised me with its dark tones and themes, and the story is told excellently with some stellar voice acting and cut scenes throughout the narrative. The world is beautifully crafted through the story, and I genuinely cared about the people and their problems that came in the form of side quests. And while a lot of NieR is quite dark, there were often moments of comedic flourish and oddity to be found. Some of the themes and ideas NieR tackles are extremely interesting, and the multiple story revelations across the different endings always had me on the edge of my seat. NieR: Automata took me about 12 hours to finish fully on my first play through, but I was pleased to find out that the game boasts multiple endings, 26 different ones in fact, making for a lot of replay value if the gameplay isn’t a good enough reason already, but trust me, that shouldn’t be the case.

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The demo for NieR: Automata was actually the start of the game. 

Machine VS Machine

On paper, NieR: Automata’s primary gameplay loop sounds like an absolute mess, but surprisingly it’s not, so bear with me while I try to explain it. NieR: Automata is an open world hack n’ slash action RPG with bullet hell like sequences found often throughout it’s combat encounters. If that seems like a mouthful to say, that’s because it is, simply due to how often NieR bends genre and changes gameplay styles, but it works. I don’t know how it works but it just does. Platinum have somehow found a way to seamlessly blend third person hack n’ slash with bullet hell sections with incredible pace and fluidity. You have to play it to understand how well it’s executed, but I feel like it’s something that only Platinum could have pulled off. Third person combat plays how you would expect it to, you have heavy and light attacks, which can be used to create combos, a dodge, a pod that shoots at enemies, and an ability that said pod can utilise. 2B can have any two weapons equipped at one time, and these range from short swords and long swords, to gauntlets and spears. All feel unique, distinguished and properly developed, and swapping between them on the fly can make for some truly lengthy and flashy combos. Chip sets act as power ups for 2B when battling enemies. As 2B levels up (more on that later) she unlocks more space for her chips which give her boosts to attack, defence, health and other things of the sort. It creates for a variety of gameplay options in combat, and being able to change them when and where you want is certainly efficient and easy to use. If that wasn’t enough as it is, NieR also takes a page from how Dark Souls handles death. Due to narrative circumstances, when 2B dies, she can recover the chip-set and a few levels of EXP that she dropped upon death. This adds an element of suspense to recovering your dead body that is likely scattered somewhere among the flock of deadly machines that just took your life 5 minutes prior. Killing machines and completing quests awards 2B with EXP, which goes towards her levelling up and increasing her own stats. Enemies are level based too, so you can generally tell when you can take on an enemy. The game is difficult as is, so try not to punch above your weight unless you’re playing on easy. NieR’s set pieces and boss battles are nothing short of spectacular, and they certainly hold up to Platinum’s previous work. They’re frenetic, fast paced, stylish, and more often than not colossal, making for some truly epic moments. It screams Platinum inside and out, and are easily one of the strongest parts of the game. It’s bullet hell sections are also very well designed, and it felt like there were just the right amount. When you aren’t decimating machines, you’ll be exploring the open world and doing side quests, most of which felt meaningful, and more than just simple fetch quests. When exploring the world, items can be found scattered around the environment, and platforming is plentiful, which is incredibly fluent and precise. All in all, NieR: Automata’s gameplay is in my opinion is its strongest asset, and it makes for a lot of replayability, much like the story does.

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If you aren’t sold on the gameplay already, you can also sand surf.

Reclaimed by Nature

I played NieR: Automata on the PS4 Pro, and it’s everything I expect from a Platinum game in terms of graphics and performance. The game ran at 1080p and a consistent 60 FPS, which is crucial considering the timing and precision that the game requires of you. It looks excellent, and runs even better. Some environments look absolutely amazing, such as the amusement park, but I couldn’t help but feel that some of the open world areas were a bit lacklustre.

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The PS4 Pro version also has motion blur.

Verdict: 9.5/10

NieR: Automata is a shining example of what Platinum Games are capable of when they’re at their best. It’s another excellent entry into the NieR series, and Platinum has truly outdone themselves yet again, with an excellent story, strong gameplay, beautiful visuals and perfect performance. NieR: Automata delivers on all fronts that a Platinum game should, even if some of its environments are a bit dull.

Positives

-Incredible story

-Likeable characters

-Interesting themes and ideas

-Fluent, fast, frenetic gameplay

-Excellent boss fights

-Meaningful side quests

-Beautiful graphics

-Strong performance

Negatives

-Some dull environments

Thanks for reading guys, next is Horizon Zero Dawn.

Thanks, Harry.

Pokémon Sun and Moon

Pokémon Sun and Moon

20 Years Strong

It goes without saying that one of the biggest video game franchises ever is Pokémon, currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. It’s captured the hearts and minds of so many gamers, both young and old, including myself from a young age. Pokémon has an incredibly special place in my heart, and it makes me so happy to know it’s as big and as better as it’s ever been. Pokémon Sun and Moon aren’t just brand new entries into the series, they’re a celebration of the past 20 years of Pokémon, with new changes causing much-needed evolution, but still nodding back to the games that came before them. Pokémon Sun and Moon are just as good as they were hyped up to be, and you have no idea how happy it makes me to say that.

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The new starts in Sun and Moon in my opinion, are fairly average, although some of the evolutions are very cool.

The Alola Region

Sun and Moon’s story is a fairly run of the mill Pokémon story line, but it is unique in terms of its characters and themes. Once again, you play as a trainer who’s recently moved to the Alola Region, a set of 4 islands surrounded by ocean. The Hawaiian theme Alola is based on is refreshing, new, and an exciting change in terms of environment for Pokémon, but more on that later. The story is fairly one-note, following your Trainer on their journey to complete the Island Challenge, which is Alola’s version of collecting Gym Badges. Without spoiling too much, you get involved with a number of characters, the Aether Foundation and Team Skull. There are some legitimately dark ideas in Sun and Moon’s plot, and I found it refreshing even though it’s all simply implied rather than directly told. Sun and Moon heavily revolves around family and community, and does an excellent job of displaying so. There’s something very unified about Alola and its people, everyone knows about the Island Challenges, and each and every trainer feels like they’re really part of the world. Sun and Moon also has some of the best characters the series has seen in my opinion. There are a few that are incredibly interesting such as Lillie, Gladion, and Lusamine, and they’re definitely characters that I always enjoyed seeing throughout my 20 hour journey. Sun and Moon doesn’t reach the heights that Black and White 2 did, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s a fun, likeable, simple storyline that has some implications that hopefully provoke further discussion within the Pokémon community. Sun and Moon feel truly unique from a narrative perspective (among many others) and Gamefreak should be commended for that. 

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Trainers can once again be fully customised, including hair, clothes and more.

The Island Challenge

Sun and Moon don’t differentiate much from other games in the series in terms of gameplay, but the overall structure of the game has been fundamentally changed. Gyms are now a thing of the past, and in their place are Island Trials. Each Island has a number of trials for trainers to attempt, and what they consist of varies from taking photos of Pokémon, to more traditionally finding and taking down Pokémon in the area. It’s very different from the established formula, but all the trials are unique and entertaining, making for a very welcome change. the turn-based battle system is still much the same as previous games, with a few minor tweaks and additions that make it easier to use and keep track of. Status buffs can now be viewed from the bottom screen, and if a Pokémon is registered in your Pokédex, you can how moves effect that particular Pokémon. Speaking of which, the new Rotomdex (yes a Rotom inside of your Pokédex) has seen some new additions making it easier to navigate and use. You can now see which island and route specific Pokémon can be found in, it also just generally looks better, and there’s a genuine satisfaction to have a page filled out in the Dex. And trust me when I say this, there are plenty of Pokémon to find and catch in Sun and Moon. Whether it be the Alolan forms of first generation Pokémon, or brand new ones, there’s plenty here to catch and find and it goes without saying that most of the designs for the new Pokémon are pretty well done albeit the odd Drampa. HMs have thankfully been done away with, and have now been replaced by the Pokémon Ride Pager, allowing trainers to instantaneously access a Charizard to fly on, or a Lapras to surf on, it’s a simple change, but a much-needed one. Alola as a region is always interesting to explore, and 30 hours in I’m still finding items and hidden areas throughout. Sun and Moon’s difficulty is nothing compared to the older games, but it’s certainly not as easy as X and Y, which was a nice change, with some of the late game battles taking some genuine thought and preparation in order to succeed. Legendaries and the brand new Ultra-Beasts can be found throughout Alola, making for some great post-game content, with more awaiting the player past the credits. I thoroughly enjoyed playing Sun and Moon, it’s the same battle system we know and love, in the most polished state it’s ever been, and the changes to structure are both new and refreshing. 

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The new Alolan forms are vastly different from their original counter parts.

Smooth Seas

Pokémon Sun and Moon, from my experience at least, excel technically albeit one or two minor hiccups. First off, the game looks incredible, one of the best on the 3DS. I played on a New 3DS XL and I was genuinely impressed by how good the game looks. Character models are detailed, environments are open and incredible to look at, and this is all while the game runs at 60 FPS all the time, except for one occasion. I experienced heavy frame drops when taking photos in-game with the Rotomdex. It didn’t hinder my experience terribly, but it is definitely worth noting. It is also worth noting that the standard 3DS has frame drops during double battles, but that won’t affect my opinion on the game, due to my experience being on the New 3DS, where this problem is non-existent.

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The version exclusive legendaries are Solgaleo and Lunala.

Verdict: 9.5/10

Pokémon Sun and Moon is worthy as both a celebration of 20 years of Pokémon, and simply as a mainline entry in general. It’s a love letter to fans of the series, while welcoming new ones, with a simple yet enjoyable story, the most polished battle system yet, a brand new structure, and strong technical production values. Sun and Moon is an excellent entry into the franchise, easily one of the best, and I cannot recommend enough to anyone who owns a Nintendo 3DS. Pokémon is back, and it’s bigger and better than ever.

Positives

-Simple, yet enjoyable story with some interesting implications

-Likeable characters

-The best battle system yet

-Small but effective changes, making the formula that much better

-New and inventive structure, making for a fresh experience

-Looks beautiful for 3DS standards, and runs smoothly most of the time

Negatives

-Rare frame drops

Thanks for reading guys, up next is Final Fantasy XV! I’m super happy with Sun and Moon, I’m definitely glad it lived up to the hype, or at least my hype. Thanks again, Harry.

Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel

Dark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel

More Souls

When Dark Souls III released earlier this year, I praised it for it’s interesting narrative, immersive world, intense combat, and strong RPG elements. I’ve invested around 110 hours into Dark Souls III since release, so naturally I was very much so looking forward to the first expansion, Ashes of Ariandel. It seemed fairly interesting, and very much so like Bloodborne, which I absolutely love. I’ve spent a good amount of time with Ashes of Ariandel, and I can say that it’s definitely worth getting if you’re craving more Souls, just don’t expect hour after hour more of playtime if you aren’t a PVP player.

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Ashes of Ariandel is accessed from The Cathedral of the Deep.

An Imperfect Painting

Ashes of Ariandel is set in the painted world of Ariandel, and much like Dark Souls, it’s quite cryptic with its narrative, and exploring the world is key in order to find out what’s going on. I found what was going on in the Painted World of Ariandel was fairly interesting, and I became genuinely invested in some of the characters I interacted with, and I’m even further interested to see where the characters go from here. I don’t want to talk about the narrative simply to avoid spoilers, but if you liked Bloodborne, you’ll like Ariandel too. Ariandel as an open world is also very interesting, it manages to have open stretches of area without it feeling sparse and under populated. It’s a snow covered, dark land, and that’s conveyed extremely well through it’s inhabitants. I thoroughly enjoyed my time exploring Ariandel, and some of the new weapons I found were extremely fun to use, and they manage to separate themselves from the weapons of Dark Souls III, and the same goes for the armour sets. Ashes of Ariandel has two brand new bosses and neither of them are let downs. Without spoiling anything, nostalgia is truly played on with the optional boss, and while it’s fairly challenging it wasn’t too difficult. The mandatory DLC boss on the other hand is one of the most unique, difficult, and fun fights I have ever had in a souls game. It surprised me not once, but twice with it’s mechanics and phases, it’s truly epic, truly challenging, and truly worthy of being called a souls boss. Most of the PVE content was fairly difficult, but there were some areas in the base game that gave me more trouble than most of Ariandel. PVP definitely wasn’t left out when Ashes of Ariandel was being designed, in fact, it was taken into consideration in a big way. Once you obtain a certain item, you can queue up for Undead Matches, which are essentially PVP fights in an arena, whether they be 1v1, 2v2, or an all out 3v3. The arena is incredibly well designed for PVP content, so it never got boring to play in. There’s so much time that can be invested into Ashes of Ariandel if you’re a PVP player, but unfortunately the same can’t be said if you aren’t. Ashes of Ariandel’s main content took me about 6 hours to finish and explore completely, which compared to the main campaign is fairly short. I feel like Ashes of Ariandel should’ve been a bit longer but there’s plenty here for PVP players. Lastly, Ashes of Ariandel’s environments are truly beautiful, with snow capped peaks, rot consumed buildings, decaying villages, and violent yet beautiful snowstorms cover the screen. There are some environments in Ashes of Ariandel that I absolutely loved, and I enjoyed exploring every bit of it.

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New spells were also added into the game, along with the weapons and armour.

Verdict: 7.0/10

Ashes of Ariandel is an okay start for Dark Souls III’s expansion packs. It’s definitely not bad, in fact it’s very much worth it if you crave more souls. Ariandel is a beautiful world, and the narrative it follows is definitely interesting, I just wish it could’ve been a bit longer for those who don’t play PVE.

Positives

-Interesting narrative

-Ariandel is unique and beautiful

-Fantastic, challenging boss fights

-Undead Matches are a solid addition

Negatives

-Lacking content for PVE players

Thanks for reading guys! That might be it for tonight, but i’ll put Batman up if I get the opportunity to. Thanks again, Harry 🙂

Destiny: Rise of Iron

Destiny: Rise of Iron

Rise Up, Guardian

It’s really hard to believe that Destiny originally came out 2 years ago on current and last generation consoles. For some, Destiny was a colossal disappointment and they quickly separated from it, never to touch it again. For others however Destiny became a game we’d regularly play, spending hour after hour grinding, trying to get better gear in order to fully max out the level of our Guardians. As time went by, expansions were released, and the game got continuously better. With the release of The Taken King, more players got started with their journey to become legend. I’ve been playing Destiny on and off since day 1, and I was incredibly pumped for Rise of Iron towards release, so I decided to come back and see what’s new. So is Rise of Iron worth it? Is the Destiny Collection worth it? Hell yes it is!

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Rise of Iron’s story follows Saladin and the Iron Lords.

Become an Iron Lord

Rise of Iron follows your guardian through a plot revolving around Lord Saladin and the other Iron Lords. A virus named SIVA has been recklessly used by the fallen, modifying and splicing their own bodies to become “Perfected”. SIVA was created during the golden age so it could be used to create anything a civilisation could need, providing you can harness it. What Saladin thought he had sealed away forever comes back from the darkness, his worst nightmare becomes a reality.It’s a fairly standard storyline by Destiny standards, but it definitely does the job better than any other in my opinion. The cutscenes are awesome, and there were legitimate moments that made me feel sad. My one gripe with the story of Rise of Iron is that it’s incredibly short and can easily be finished in an hour, but the story isn’t the only draw. The new strikes are fantastic, innovative, fast paced, and just fun in general. I never have a dull moment doing The Wretched Eye strike, and some of the revamped strikes like Summoning Pits and Sepiks Perfected are entertaining as well. The new gear is also worth the grind, exotics like the Trespasser, and Outbreak Prime feel unique and individual. The new armour sets also look incredibly awesome, with the raid gear sets being my favourites. Speaking of which Rise of Iron’s raid is utterly fantastic. Definitely my second favourite raid, and comes real close to topping Vault of Glass in terms of how much fun I have doing it. The mechanics are interesting, and well developed with new encounters, I’ll have absolutely no problem doing it every reset. The new hub area is pretty awesome as well, and the Plaguelands as a patrol area is really fun to explore. Archon’s Forge is a surefire way to get some good gear if you do it enough, and it feels like a better version of Court of Oryx. One thing Rise of Iron does extremely well is a sense of progression, no matter what I was doing, I always felt like I was progressing and further developing my guardian. Destiny is still one of the prettiest games on the PS4 right now, and with the new HDR update, new and old areas look incredibly pretty. I encountered minimal bugs and connection issues, and the game always managed to stay at 30 FPS, apart from one section in the raid which didn’t bother me that much if i’m being honest.

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The entrance to the raid is quite glorious. The entrance being a giant Servitor…..

Verdict: 9.5/10

Rise of Iron manages to successfully expand and improve Destiny’s content exponentially, with a ton of content to get through, awesome strikes, an amazing raid, solid new exotics, interesting new areas, and an enjoyable, albeit short storyline. Destiny: Rise of Iron is well worth the money, and if you consider giving it a go, I urge you to, it’s utterly fantastic and I finally feel like Bungie have done what they set out to do. If you want to get into Destiny, I have to recommend Destiny: The Collection, it’s definitely the cheapest way to get the full experience, with the base game and every expansion in the box. Don’t just shrug Destiny off, it really is awesome now!

Postives

-Enjoyable story

-Solid raid

-Awesome gear

-Interesting new areas

-Fun strikes

Negatives

-Story is a bit too short

Thanks for reading guys, sorry I took so long to get something up. I got put behind due to an issue with ReCore, but a review for that will be up soon. Next will be Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode 2: Children of Arkham, followed by the Bioshock Collection and finally ReCore. Thanks for being patient guys.

Monster Hunter Generations

Monster Hunter Generations

A Decade of Hunting

It’s been just over 12 years since the debut of the original Monster Hunter in 2004. Since then, over 20 Monster Hunter games have been released in Japan, and a few of those in the West. Monster Hunter has only recently become big in the West, and people regularly look forward to the new additions to the franchise. I jumped in on Monster Hunter originally with Monster Hunter Portable, and started really enjoying myself with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. Since then, I’ve spent countless hours hunting, farming, and capturing monsters in an effort to constantly improve my hunter throughout the various games released over the years. Naturally, I was incredibly excited for the release of Monster Hunter Generations in the west. A greatest hits collection of everything from Monster Hunter history, with new improvements that only improve and help the formula become deeper and more complex? Sign me up!

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One of the new monsters is the Gammoth. Remind you of any particular animal at all?

One Hell of an Addicting Loop

Monster had and still has a deceptively simple formula too it. If you were to explain the gist of Monster Hunter to someone who doesn’t play it, it can easily come across as repetitive and boring, but trust me, Monster Hunter is anything but boring and repetitive. Monster Hunter is primarily split into two different modes; Village and Guild. Village acts as a single player mode, which only supports one player. It consists of a fairly minimal storyline, which is interesting at best, but more often than not, it’s not very noticeable. You can do quests as you please, and as you rank up in Village, you get better gear, and you become more equipped for Guild. Guild acts as Monster Hunter’s multiplayer mode. Up to four players can jump in on the action, and hunt together. Monster revolves around a simple yet addictive process: Hunt a monster, harvest its goodies, and then create weapons and armour out of said goodies. As you progress further monsters get hard, weapons get stronger, and armour gets tougher. This leads to Monster Hunter Generations having once again, an incredibly sense of progression to it. No matter what you’re doing it always feels like it’s going towards something bigger, and that’s awesome. Some of the weapons and armour that can be crafted look awesome, and there’s a ton of options in terms of customisation for your hunter. There are 14 different and unique weapon types, ranging from bows to great swords and more. New to Monster Hunter Generations are Hunting Styles. There are 4 from hunters to choose from; Guild, Striker, Aerial, and Adept. Guild style has weapons act similarly to the way they did in previous Monster Hunter games, Aerial Style allows for use of aerial based attacks in order to topple and mount monsters, Adept Style uses last-minute dodges to counter with powerful attacks, and finally Striker Style lets hunters use 4 hunting arts as opposed to the limited amount of arts in other styles. Speaking of which, Hunting Arts are also a brand new addition to Monster Hunter Generations. Each weapon has three exclusive Hunter Arts, and which one you use comes down to your preference and play style. The addition of Hunting Styles and Hunter Arts means that you can play and customise your hunter to how you want to play. Every hunter you play with will be unique, and while some weapons are better with certain Styles, it definitely does not negate the other styles. For the most part, it’s incredibly well-balanced and a feature I really do hope is a permanent staple in future games.

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Yes… you can play as a cat.

Hunt, Carve, Craft

It’s the simple addictive hook that keeps you playing Monster Hunter, and it’s definitely the same case in Generations. Over the 50 or so hours i’ve played, I’ve enjoyed every single moment, and always feel like I’m progressing towards something. Questing with multiple players is incredibly enjoyable, and some of the sheer size of these monsters can be absolutely incredible, old and new. Generations acts flawlessly as a greatest hits collection for Monster Hunter, with areas, monsters and weapons pulled from past games, along with brand new ones being added in. You can also play as a Palico now, which is honestly pretty enjoyable and very viable in terms of using it for hunts. They’re way stronger than you’d think they’d be and you don’t have to stress over items and healing while playing as them. The one issue I have with Monster Hunter  Generations is the menu functionality. The menus in Generations are almost identical to those of past titles, they feel aged, cluttered, and unorganised, making for a hard to navigate menu which can definitely be daunting for those new to the franchise.

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Monster Hunter does a few spin-offs with popular Nintendo franchises.

A Beautiful Hunt

For what it is, Monster Hunter Generations does a surprisingly good job at looking good and running even better. While definitely not the best game looking game on the system, Monster Hunter Generations does a fine job of being a treat to look at. Environments are varied, bright colours pop out and monsters look incredibly detailed sometimes. The game always runs at a smooth 30fps on a New 3DS for me, which was a delightful surprise considering the potential for slow down in a game like this.

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The Mizutsune, much like the Gammoth, is part of the Fated Four.

Verdict: 9.5/10

Monster Hunter Generations is fantastic,worthy homage to Monster Hunter as a series. It takes what made all of the past games brilliant, improves on those things, and add new things that further deepen and extend the gameplay of Monster Hunter. Although dated, clunky menus hold it back from being perfect, Monster Hunter Generations is a definitive Monster Hunter experience. If you’re a Monster Hunter fan, go out and buy this if you haven’t already. If you’re looking to get started with the series, Generations is brilliant place to start.

Positives

-Addictive loop

-Awesome monsters

-Hunter Arts

-Hunting Styles

-Solid performance

Negatives

-Clunky menus

Thanks for reading guys, up next is No Man’s Sky!

Harry.

Fire Emblem Fates

Fire Emblem Fates

The Choice is Yours

Sticking to the roots of its series, Fire Emblem Fates makes a conscious effort to push the franchise in a new direction. Fates magically caters towards Fire Emblem veterans, newbies and those who got into the franchise with 2012’s fantastic Fire Emblem Awakening. Fates consists of three full length games; Birthright, Conquest, and Revelation (Even though Revelation is considered a DLC). I’ll be splitting up specific components of the review into three parts, in order to give my opinion on that specific component for the respective version.

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Xander is the Crown Prince of Nohr and one of the siblings the protagonist grows up with.

Hoshido, Nohr or Neither?

Fates is set in a land that is ruled by two rivalled kingdoms; Hoshido and Nohr. Hoshido works towards peace, and is generally a lot more happier and alive than Nohr is. Nohr is much darker, and are extremely violent in nature, especially towards Hoshidans. The first 6 chapters of Fire Emblem Fates are the same no matter what version you own. The story of Fates follows Corrin (or the name you prefer), a child of Nohr royalty. Corrin grew up in Nohr with his/her (i’ll be saying his because my Corrin was male) Nohrian siblings, and their father, King Garon. Garon sends Corrin on missions to prove Corrin’s strength and loyalty for Nohr, but after a mission goes awry, Corrin is taken hostage by Hoshido, who are the enemy of Nohr in the war that’s currently taking place. Corrin is told that he is actually Hoshidan royalty, and that he was kidnapped by Nohrian forces as a young child, meaning that King Garon and his children aren’t Corrin’s real family. Corrin meets a mysterious girl named Azura, who unveils to Corrin that she was Nohr royalty, but was kidnapped by Hoshido. After a string of events (that I don’t want to spoil) Corrin is forced to choose a side. Siding with Hoshido is the Birthright path, siding with Nohr is the Conquest path, and choosing neither is the Revelation path. All paths are extremely unique and different, each path with its own ending and plot. Fates as a complete package has a fantastic storyline, and here’s why!

Birthright

The Birthright pathway follows Corrin and his siblings as they try to win the war for Hoshido, deal with King Garon, and usher in an era of peace between the rival kingdoms. Birthright’s cast of characters is definitely the weakest of the three paths. Birthright only has one real standout character, Takumi. All the rest feel underdeveloped and very basic, and there were even a few I completely forgot were there due to minimal input in the story. All deaths in the storyline were impactful, and one in particular resulted in me shedding a tear or two, which definitely isn’t a bad thing in a Fire Emblem game. Birthright’s ending is definitely satisfying, and it’s by no means a bad storyline, in fact, it’s far from it, but in my opinion it’s definitely the weakest of the three pathways.

Conquest

Choosing to side with Nohr results in the Conquest pathway. Conquest follows Corrin’s decision to stay loyal to Nohr, and fight for them in the war alongside the false siblings you grew up with. Corrin attempts to overthrow Hoshido with his own, more merciful methods than Nohr’s current ones. I’d love to share more, but I won’t in order to avoid any potential spoilers. I found Conquest’s cast of characters to be much more lovable and likeable. I eventually cared for each and every character in Conquest and the deaths effected me quite a bit too, however, one death did feel a bit too forced. I was extremely satisfied with Conquest’s characters, plot, and ending after finishing Birthright, and it’s definitely the stronger story out of the two.

Revelation

Revelation is the third and final path of Fates. I say final because it’s highly recommended that you play Birthright and Conquest before taking on Revelation, and I couldn’t agree with that recommendation more. Revelation is the path Corrin takes if he decides to side with neither Kingdom. Revelation follows Corrin’s attempt to unite the two kingdoms in order to bring peace. The plot gets a lot thicker than that, but I really don’t want to spoil anything. Revelation melds characters from Birthright and Conquest to create the cast. Siblings from Hoshido and Nohr are prominent in this pathway of the game, which is fantastic because it takes the best from both sides. Characters like Camilla, Elise, Takumi and Azura are what make Revelation’s story the best of the three, with an incredibly satisfying, complete ending. Revelation also has impactful deaths, and a plot twist you won’t see coming.

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Corrin (Male and Female) and Azura

A Conquest of Turn Based Strategy

Fire Emblem is well known for its difficulty as a turn based strategy RPG, and Fates is no exception. Birthright is considered the easiest, then Revelation, with Conquest being the hardest of the three. Fates’s gameplay isn’t terribly different from Awakening’s, and that is very much a good thing. The combat works off of the Weapon Triangle, which is now colour coded, making it easier to remember which is which. This of course influences which units you use and where you use them. Fates is filled with jump for joy, luck based moments, and they feel as good as ever here. While not in combat, you can build and improve your very own castle. You can build and upgrade structures, such as armouries, an arena, and a prison. You also get the opportunity to improve your castle defences against streetpass invaders, and you can attempt to seize castles too. Amiibo support is present, and it’s honestly really cool. The first time you tap any Amiibo, they show up at your castle and give you an item. The second time, they give you an accessory based on the Amiibo. The third time allows you to battle them and claim them as a unit for your army. Fates manages to improve on the gameplay of Awakening, even when it seemed perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s flawless.

Birthright

Birthright might be the easiest of the three, but don’t consider it a push over. Some of the later chapters proved to be quite difficult, with multiple attempts required to complete. However the difficulty is never unfair, and that goes for all three pathways. The one problem I have with Birthright’s gameplay, is that mission objectives aren’t all that varied. There are a few that stand out, but for the most part it’s rout the enemy or kill the boss.

Conquest

Conquest is no doubt the hardest pathway in Fates. Gold and experience is extremely limited, unlike Birthright. Conquest caters more towards those looking for a core Fire Emblem experience, much like the older games. People are going to have trouble finishing Conquest, much like I did, but it’s definitely well worth it. Conquest is a lot more varied with its objectives opposed to Birthright. It constantly changes between rout the enemy, seize, hold the zone for X amount of turns, and more. It’s refreshing, and always varied.

Revelation

In my opinion, Revelation’s difficulty was perfect, and this is coming from someone who got into Fire Emblem through Awakening. Revelation somehow finds a perfect middle ground, with the difficulty similar to the last and early stages of Birthright and Conquest respectively. Much like Conquest, Revelation varies in objectives, such as seize, rout the enemy, find and kill the boss, and more. Revelations has 1 or 2 objectives less than Conquest, but definitely more than Birthright, making it the strongest path for Fates in my opinion. However, I cannot stress to you enough, that you really should complete Birthright or Conquest if not both, simply to avoid spoilers, and to better understand and appreciate the story.

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This is the Before Awakening DLC. It’s currently free on the Eshop, and is definitely worth a download if you’re curious about what happened before the events of Awakening.

A Technical Revelation

Fire Emblem Fates has a charm that no other 3DS game does (apart from awakening). Maps are varied, unit sprites are cute, unique and identifiable and this is all while it looks very pretty. Much like Awakening, Fates has fully animated cutscenes, and while they are few and far between, they’re a treat to experience. Much unlike Awakening, is that Fates is always running at 60 FPS, making for a smooth experience for the whole journey.

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This is what Fates’s cutscenes look like. Impressive huh?!

Verdict: 9.5/10

Fire Emblem Fates is an amazing tactical RPG, and it’s a fantastic entry point into the series, even if Awakening is a little better. There’s a lot to love about Fates, and I can definitely see myself playing it in the future, and it’s definitely one of the best in the series. Fire Emblem Fates is a must have for any 3DS owner, even if you don’t like tactical RPGs, it’s worth a try.

Positives

-Fantastic story

-Tons of content

-Fun and addictive strategy gameplay

-Perfect difficulties

-Strong technical performance

Negatives

-Birthright doesn’t have enough varied objectives

Thanks for reading guys, just so you know, that final verdict is for Fates as a whole package. Up next is Overwatch which will be up tonight or tomorrow, then Mirror’s Edge Catalyst! -Harry