My E3 Wishlist 2019

It’s that wonderful time of year again, when videogames are announced, gameplay is shown, and the words “no loot boxes” are plastered across oversized displays as if it wasn’t being stated by the very same people who popularised the money-making scheme in the first place. This is the blog post I use to predict and mostly just live in hope, and if last year’s post is any indication, I’ll get about half of it right. Keep in mind that this is based largely off of what I personally want to see and not stuff that I’ve done buckets of research into, though I do follow gaming news enough to know of some things already are or are not appearing at the show.

I’m currently clicking on every gameplay video I see of Super Mario Maker 2, World of Warcraft Classic, and Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fuelled, so I’m more than happy for some new announcements to come out of the blue and give me something else to focus on while I twiddle my thumbs for those titles.

Just so we’re clear, I’m considering ‘E3’ to comprise of all gaming announcement related shows and streams taking place during this time period, such as EA Play and Nintendo Direct, although I’ve been reading that Sony won’t be doing any adjacent E3 stuff at all. They did just drop a gameplay trailer for Death Stranding though, so I’m going to go ahead and guess that we’ll see a Playstation Direct I mean uhhhhh State of Play livestream in the week before or after E3.


The Sony Playstation

Likelihood: Well, they’ve been leaking details about the Playstation 5 for a while now…

The PS5! It’s a bold prediction I’m coming out of the gates with, but the next generation of consoles looms upon us. But I don’t think it’s actually going to be called the PS5. As much as I loathe modern naming conventions that go against traditional numbering systems, the idea of a ‘Playstation 5’ might seem a little long in the tooth to some marketing-minded manager types. Not just that, but the rise of game streaming services threatens to make actual hardware obsolete. I’m not a huge fan of the idea, but it is the future. The fact that minimal hardware is required to stream cutting-edge gameplay means that making new, more powerful consoles won’t be a thing in the future, and if the timeline on game streaming is progressing as fast as developers want it to, we could see it emerge as the dominant method of gaming towards the typical end of the next console life cycle. So it might make sense to name the Playstation 5 simply the Playstation, if it does indeed transcend the necessity for a successor. Which leads me to…

The Xbox Elite

Likelihood: If Playstation 5 details are already leaking, Microsoft are going to want to get ahead in console news.

So, the Xbox One was already supposed to succeed in some of the philosophies I just pitched for the Playstation – not for streaming games, but for being an all-in-one platform that you kinda… kept. But things didn’t work out that way, and with the less-than-perfect history of the Xbox One, I can see Microsoft wanting to move away from that console. I think the Elite (they love that word so why not) will be similar to the Playstation in that it will adopt the idea of being the final, definitive version of the console. I also think there will be some more synergy with PCs and some sort of Microsoft native VR, with all the right buzzwords.

Hey, maybe the Xbox Elite will be able to play Epic Games Store games now. Har har, exclusives har.

Update: Moments after writing this Xbox announced Game Pass for PC and more Xbox games on Steam. Lol.

The Nintendo Switch Lite

Likelihood: As Thanos once said, “I am… inevitable.”

There’s already a lot of rumours going around for this one, and if you look at Nintendo’s history regarding consoles, it makes a lot of sense. Plus, with Pokemon Sword and Shield coming out this winter, a franchise which is historically a system seller, Nintendo are going to want to double down on the sales effort and make the entry point to those games more accessible for lower-income families. People speculate that the Lite would replace the modular design of the console with an all-in-one design to save on cost, with some going as far as saying that it’ll be handheld only to replace the 3DS, though I can’t see them removing every single thing about the Switch that makes it unique.

People also think a Switch Pro is coming, but all signs point to that being further down the pipeline. Maybe they’ll still announce it, but the release date will just be later. A theoretical Switch Pro would have higher specs and a higher selling price.

Nintendo Switch Online: SNES Games

Likelihood: Man, I don’t know anymore…

In some Nintendo executive’s desk drawer, there sits a machine. It’s a money printing machine, and it is labelled, “Virtual Console.” For whatever goddamn reason, that machine is remaining in that drawer. And man, does that make me sad. NSO comes with a library of NES games as an incentive for single-player gamers to subscribe to the service, with new titles being added each month. Which is nice. It’s better than nothing. And when Nintendo spoke about how they want to incentivise an NSO membership even more, a lot of us got excited about a potential SNES library. Personally, I wish it went all the way up through N64 and Gamecube, too. Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time on Switch? Y E S P L E A S E. But we got Tetris 99. Which is, you know, fun. But man. As someone who skipped the Wii U and was only introduced to Nintendo in 2004, I sure would love some Virtual Console in my life.

Animal Crossing Switch

Likelihood: I’ll probably cry if it’s not shown.

Last year, Nintendo announced Animal Crossing for the Switch shortly after a cheeky fakeout which announced Isabelle for Smash Bros. (I appreciate the reassurance, Nintendo.) Since then, nothing. And that’s, you know, fine. Take your time, polish that world, I’ll be living in it for years. But E3 this fated Nintendo Direct would be the perfect time to hear about it, and what’s nuts is that what originally seemed like it would take up most of the Direct, that being Super Mario Maker 2 and Pokemon Sword and Shield, were each moved to their own Directs. So what does that leave for the E3 Direct? ANIMAL CROSSING THAT’S WHO. And, uh, Switch Lite. They’d pair quite well, actually.

Metroid Prime Trilogy Remastered

Likelihood: Rumours, rumours.

Franchises which I’ve missed growing up: Most of Nintendo’s IPs. I’m educating myself on the Legend of Zelda. I’d like to educate myself on Metroid, too, please! I know virtually nothing about the series bar that it helped to spawn an entire subgenre of platformers. And I quite like that subgenre! Metroid Prime 4’s development got restarted a little while back, so it’d be nice for Metroid fans to have something to tide them over, too.

Super Mario 3D World on Switch

Likelihood: Literally nothing implies this will exist

Okay, now I’m just being greedy. I didn’t know how much I wanted an original 3D Mario game on Switch, until Odyssey blew me away. Then, I hungered for New Super Mario Bros U for the Switch, as I liked the DS and Wii ones – and it arrived! But what I really wanted was Super Mario Maker for the Switch. And boy it’s a-comin’! So really, I should be sated. We even got Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. But you know what? 3D World looks pretty neat! If they gave it a port – or a sequel – Nintendo can have my money. In the meantime, I could probably dust off my 3DS and play some more 3D Land, because I didn’t really touch that game…

More Legend of Zelda Ports and Remakes

Likelihood: Yeah, right.

Speaking of greed, hello, Link’s Awakening looks awesome, can I have more please? Because I never got to play, say, A Link to the Past, which I saw rumoured as a remake, or Wind Waker or Twilight Princess, which I saw rumoured as ports. I don’t really believe these rumours, but they sure would be nice.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Gameplay

Likelihood: Lowkey confirmed

I’ve yet to play a Star Wars game which has really grabbed me. I recognised the scope and authenticity of Knights of the Old Republic when I tried it, but it had already aged to a point by the time I got round to it, so I sort of bounced off of it. I’ve also never really been invested in a spin-off Star Wars story outside of the novels anyway, so Fallen Order will have to be something else to really grab my attention, but who knows, it might be cool.

LEGO Star Wars: The Ultimate Saga

Likelihood: Well, they’re making more LEGO Star Wars, but we don’t know in what form.

The LEGO Star Wars games are my favourite LEGO games of all time, and they were sort of my introduction to the Star Wars franchise when I was a kid. The idea of an Ultimate Saga game which combines Episodes I – IX into one package with ten thousand achievements is mouth watering! Out of all the rumours I’ve heard for this E3 season, I really hope that this one is true. I’m not sure it’s the kind of game which would be announced during a main stage presentation, though.

Halo Infinite

Likelihood: Decently likely? Overdue, at the very least!

This is a weird one for me, because with the announcement of the Master Chief Collection finally coming to PC, I’m suddenly wary of spoilers. Not just that, but it turns my reaction to a Halo Infinite deep dive from a “huh, neat” to an “oh man I can’t wait to play that… eventually.” Still, it’d be nice to bring Halo into mainstream relevance again, for the very least.

Prey 2

Likelihood: Well, it only makes sense.

Prey is visually stunning, narratively intriguing, and published by Bethesda. That is everything I know about that game. But I do own it! And I watched a friend stream some of it, which prompted the aforementioned purchase. It’s one of those games that I’m saving for when I really have time to give it all of my attention. So Prey 2 would be nice.

DOOM Eternal

Likelihood: Well, duh.

I recently learned that the Doom’s title isn’t supposed to be in all caps, that’s just the way it’s stylised in the logo. Ah well.

DOOM Eternal looks dope as hell, and I sit enraptured by it whenever they show new gameplay. I don’t know that they can show much more without getting too much into the meat of the game that the player will want to experience for themselves, but I doubt they’ll omit it. Maybe they’ll show off a new weapon or area, and a release date. Wait, it doesn’t have a solid release date yet?

Morrowind or Oblivion Remake

Likelihood: ednakrabappelha.gif

This is never going to happen. But damnit, I want it to! Not just a nip-and-tuck to the graphics (though you know I’d shit out coins for that too), but a decent overhaul to combat systems and graphical fidelity. Something that a separate team or studio could work on to keep fans happy while Bethesda plugs away at Elder Scrolls VI, and Starfield before it. Both of which have been confirmed not to appear at E3, by the way. Ah well.

Assassin’s Creed: Rome

Likelihood: We’ll see Assassin’s Creed. It won’t be Rome.

The favourite rumour for the next Assassin’s Creed setting is Vikings, but I would fucking love a trip to Ancient Rome. It’s perhaps one of the most famous and interesting eras of history, and it would feel like a natural bow to tie together a trilogy of ancient history Assassin’s Creed RPGs. But it’ll probably be Vikings, because Ubisoft are worried that Ancient Rome is too similar to Ancient Greece. And it’ll probably be cool as hell… whatever I guess… mutter mutter grumble grumble.

More Rayman!

Likelihood: Unlikely, but it’d be one of those reveals that has people going ohhhh yeahhh, nice!

It’s been a hot second since we thought about Rayman. The last Rayman game was Rayman Legends! So maybe another sequel in a similar vein. And you know what? I’d take a remaster trilogy of the older Raymans, too! Though the first game creeps me the hell out for reasons I can’t quite understand.

Dragon Quest Classics

Likelihood: Hey, remasters are all the rage nowadays…

I played some of the old Dragon Quests on my DS, and you know what? I’d play them some more on PC! Or Switch! Final Fantasy has been getting some remasters, remakes and ports – why not Dragon Quest? Though Dragon Quest XI is getting some love with Dragon Quest XI S.


Let’s call it there.

I’m probably forgetting something obvious, but for now that’s everything that I’m hoping to see from E3 2019! And, you know, EA Play and all of that bollocks. Shut up, companies, it’s E3.

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E3 2018: What Has Me Hyped

Firstly, I’ll mention that I missed the Sony and Square Enix conferences due to time constraints. I watched the EA Play, Microsoft, Bethesda, Ubisoft, PC Gamer and Nintendo presentations. Now, here’s what I’m hyped for in order of most to least hype. All of the following entries are what I’m hyped for, so the bottom isn’t something I hate but something I’m mildly excited for.

From the top, then:

The Elder Scrolls VI

Did you expect anything else from the top of this list?

Bethesda Game Studios rarely announce games so far ahead of time, but with the growing demand for a new Elder Scrolls game I’m thankful that they decided to give us some reassurance. The landscape shown in the teaser looks like it belongs to High Rock, native home of the Bretons who, thematically, I’ve always seen as the medieval kingdom style of civilisation. If this is the case, I think Bethesda have made a very wise choice in setting, as High Rock has many similarities to the style of Game of Thrones including the visual setting and political intrigue. I think that taking inspiration from Game of Thrones and emulating its style of fantasy would be a fantastic fit for the Elder Scrolls series, and wouldn’t come as a surprise given that each Elder Scrolls game since Morrowind has been catered towards a different style of fantasy – alien, traditional, and Nordic for Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim respectively.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

I am very far behind in the Assassin’s Creed series. The last game I finished was Assassin’s Creed Revelations, and I’ve been stubbornly refusing to skip the following games as I’m invested in the present-day story. I’ve had my eye on the modern games in the series since Syndicate, and the existence of Origins has had me willing to get back into the series for a long time. When Odyssey was revealed, however, to be in Ancient Greece, my hype levels went through the roof and I have since purchased and begun playing Origins, which luckily has no present day story at all.

If they make a game set in the decline of ancient Rome, it would complete the holy trinity of fascinating ancient eras. And I will play all of them.

DOOM Eternal

I really, really need to go back and finish DOOM (2016). It’s a fantastic game, and I only ever uninstalled it due to my then limited SSD space. That’s not barrier to me now, and the fact that a sequel is coming up – Hell on Earth, no less – has sent it rocketing back up to the top of my must-play list.

RAGE 2

I’ve never played the first RAGE. It looked like a less colourful version of Borderlands. RAGE 2 does not look like a less colourful version of Borderlands. RAGE 2 looks like it wants to PARTY HARD YEAH WOO PARTY PARTY MURDER MURDER

Andrew W.K aside, the gunplay looks as heavy and satisfying as DOOM (2016) and the abilities look very interesting. The main character sounds gruffly charismatic and you know what fuck it I’m just going to buy RAGE 1 even if it is mediocre

Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee Edition (HE RIDES ON YOUR HEAD)

“This,” Nintendo says proudly, “is Pokemon Let’s Go. It is based off of Pokemon Yellow, but is a uniquely different experience to the Core RPG series.”

“That’s not Pokemon Yellow Remastered” says the internet. “It’s different.”

“Yes,” say Nintendo. “You see, in this game-”

“I HATE IT” says the internet.

The internet is very dumb. Pokemon Let’s Go looks fantastic and I’m excited to see how their changing up the formula feels as I play through the game. The internet is too busy focusing on the fact that there’s no battling wild Pokemon to realise that trainer battles and gym battles are still a thing, as is online play. The shift has definitely changed to collecting Pokemon, something which honestly excites me. I’ve grown a little bored of the newer Pokemon games. I might be more excited about this than a potential Gen 8 game.

Forza Horizon 4

I’ve played about 20 hours of The Crew, which is basically Need for Speed turned MMO. And I really like it. I have plans to delve back into it. The Crew 2 is coming out soon, and honestly, I might have been interested in it, if I hadn’t seen Forza Horizon 4.

I’ve never played a Forza game, but this looks gorgeous. The multiplayer stuff looks similar to The Crew, and having an open world racing game that’s actually set in my country for once piques my interest as well.

I want to race through the UK, collect and customise as many cars as I can, and hang out with other players. And this looks set to deliver.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate

When the Nintendo Direct ended with Super Smash Bros, I was disappointed, but that was because they hadn’t announced Animal Crossing, Mario Maker or more details on their retro games. Also, the last Super Smash Bros I played was on 3DS, and it didn’t make much of an impression on me. But put out and disappointed as I was, I continued watching. And then I remembered how much I loved Super Smash Bros Brawl on the Wii. And then I decided that I was pretty excited for this one, too.

Starfield

I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS YET BUT IT’S A SINGLE PLAYER BETHESDA RPG IN SPACE SO THAT’S COOL

Fallout 76

I’ve always been more of an Elder Scrolls guy rather than a Fallout guy. I’ve played a couple hours of Fallout 4 and I feel like that’s the one that I could really get into, though, so seeing Fallout 76 and how it’s modelled after Fallout 4 makes it interesting by default. The fact that it’s an online multiplayer game made by Bethesda Game Studios makes it a total wildcard that I don’t quite know what to think about. I’m going to watch this from afar as it releases and wait for the dust to settle, and the inevitable game-fixing patches to roll out.

Star Control: Origins

Star Control: Origins is based off of an older game of the same name which I’m pretty sure was a major inspiration for the Spore space stage. And anything that is similar to the Spore space stage is sure to tickle my pickle.

I’m sorry. That’s gross. I shouldn’t have said that.

Star Control: Origins looks to be a game about exploring the stars, meeting new alien races, collecting resources and engaging with hostiles. The planets are charmingly simple spheres that you can fly around on, and their simplicity looks to mean that there’s plenty of them. They’re not all trying to be totally unique. They know what they are, and they’re okay with it. I’m okay with it, too. You go, little spheres. You do you.

This isn’t quite going for the scale that No Man’s Sky did. It may, however, achieve more than No Man’s Sky due to its simpler nature.

Super Mario Party

I’ve never played a Mario Party before, but this one looks fun!

The Elder Scrolls: Blades

YEAH IT’S A MOBILE GAME but it’s also coming out on PC. As long as it isn’t driven by microtransactions, I’m down for a little distraction where I can build up my keep and go on little Elder Scrolls themed roguelike dives. Plus, apparently there’s a story mode. In short: I’ll take it!

Whatever the hell Halo Infinite turns out to be

Is there anything to say about this that I haven’t said in the header? It’s coming to PC. Woo, I think.

And that obvious one that I probably missed

Yeah, the one. Not that totally big and cool release that everyone’s talking about, but that little indie one that showed up for 5 seconds on the PC Gamer show and then left my memory. Oh, like Two Point Hospital! And Satisfactory! Okay, those are added to the list. I don’t have much to say about them, though? They cool.

what do you people want from me

World of Warcraft as a Single Player Game

BlizzCon is fast approaching, and it seems highly likely that Blizzard are about to announce the eighth expansion to their almost thirteen year old MMO. The game is old enough that it’s possible for couples to have met in Azeroth and had a child by now who could raid the Tomb of Sargeras with them. And yet, with Legion being the most popular expansion since Wrath of the Lich King, development shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. But all good things must come to an end, and WoW’s end – be it a year or a decade from now – is as inevitable as the sun blinking out forever someday.

The end of WoW is a possibility that’s surely never far from player’s minds, especially those who live and breathe for their Azerothian alter egos. I know people who have max level characters across every class, who throw themselves into raids every week and have sunk tens of thousands of hours into the game. And I’m no part-timer myself. So the prospect of interest in the game dwindling enough to lead to servers closing down is cause for worry and speculation, especially as the game shows more and more signs of aging. Sure, they continue to graphically update the game and introduce new mechanics, but some things can’t be fixed in an expansion. World of Warcraft will always be limited to the foundations the game was built on, which in itself is a bastardisation of the Warcraft 3 game engine, as far as I understand it.

The way I see it, though, it’s no cause for worry. As the MMO as a genre grows older its interesting to see the various ways in which some of the games stay alive after their discontinuation. Many close down for good. Some, like Everquest and Guild Wars, move onto sequels whilst keeping the original game alive with a smaller development team for those dedicated few. In Runescape’s case, Jagex came to realised that the game had transformed so much that they needed to bring back an older edition as a separate game to keep a portion of their audience happy. But some games, like Wurm Online and The Secret World, have opted to modify the game to become available for offline play.

Now, Wurm Online is still going, but the developers opted to create an edition called Wurm Unlimited that’s purchasable on Steam for players who want to run their own servers or play by themselves with customisable rulesets, such as changing the amount of time it takes to harvest a resource. And while I haven’t played it myself, PC Gamer’s Secret World: Legends review portrays the game’s move to single-player as being a slightly awkward but somewhat successful shift, concluding that “The more that you want to play it as an MMO, the more you’re likely to chafe at this reboot’s restrictions, especially in terms of loot. For more solo or narrative-focused players, however, it’s a great second chance to see what it has to offer, as well as the Secret World’s best chance in years to expand its reach and continue telling its story.”

MMO’s aren’t, as a rule, built to be played offline. World of Warcraft especially stands out as an MMO that has enjoyed iteration upon iteration within its lifetime, and most recently has gained functions in the world that encourages and requires player co-operation, such as particular world quest bosses and rare mobs. This, I think, would be the biggest issue in turning World of Warcraft into a single-player experience. As for dungeons and raids… well, just because the game isn’t an MMO doesn’t mean it has to be single-player entirely. I can’t picture Blizzard being comfortable with handing the reigns of server administration and hosting over to players such as with Wurm Unlimited. However, I can see them dedicating some server space for hosting online parties to go dungeon delving or raiding, though I can’t guess as to how much demand there’d be for raiding in a static world.

As for the gameplay side of things, I don’t think WoW would prosper as a single-player game if it were transformed in the state it’s in today. The entire world’s questing and story was overhauled back in Cataclysm, but the time period between the Cataclysm overhaul and now is greater than between the original game and Cataclysm. Blizzard recently reviewed the 1-40 levelling experience and re-balanced the amount of damage it takes to kill enemies, as low level players were wiping the floor with bosses without so much as a second thought. There’s still a lot of work to be done though, and with each patch and expansion the cohesion of the overall game slips more and more in favour of the last ten levels being the sole focus of enjoyable content. You typically won’t find any challenging or gripping content gameplay-wise until you’re playing through the most recent expansion, and that’s hundreds of hours of dedication which most players aren’t going to be willing to dedicate.

All hope is not lost, though. Talk among the WoW playerbase seems to be mostly unanimous on the front of the old levelling experience needing a new touch of paint, and with the new level-scaling system and world questing system, there’s a decent chance that Azeroth is going to get the modernisation it needs to bring it up to speed with the modern day expansions. Blizzard themselves have acknowledged the need for this in Q&A’s, so I’m definitely interested to see what’s in store as BlizzCon approaches. But while I hope that this update would lay the groundwork for a single-player World of Warcraft, I hope even more that the day when it’s needed is still far in the future. And besides, I’m sure that when Blizzard does finally call it a day for WoW or releases a sequel, they’ll keep the servers for the original game up for many years afterwards.

Clicker / Idle Games

A fairly recent phenomenon in the gaming world is the emergence of clicker games, notorious for playing on people’s sense of reward to create a game with as little gameplay as possible, as a platform off of which to launch their microtransactional enterprise. But I, for one, like them. Not the microtransactions part; those who balance their game around them can quite happily go back to their mobile gaming caves for all I’m concerned. I enjoy them as a mere simplification and minimalisation of the tycoon management genre of old.

It all started on April 14th last year. I was taking a gander at the most popular new games section and found a nifty little capitalism simulator named AdVenture Capitalist. Reviews told me that it was similar to Cookie Clicker (amidst well-humoured remarks of ‘stay away’ and ‘your soul will never recover’), but all I saw was easy achievements. I am, as previously mentioned, a bit of an achievement hunter. And so I plunged myself in, and over a year later I’m still playing, with over forty hours logged (in a predominantly idle game) and a long way to go.

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Consider this proof that the Mega Planet Boost (aka Platinum) can be achieved without a single real penny spent.

AdVenture Capitalist isn’t a saint when it comes to the microtransaction balancing thing I mentioned earlier. They always had a gold shop, but over time they placed more emphasis on it, and even added more enterprises and harder achievements, demotivating many, including myself. However, having returned to the game a few months ago, it’s good to see that they’ve rebalanced the game to allow for limited gold gain and other, more permanent means of upgrading your business in a traditional microtransactional way without spending your hard earned Real Life Dosh ™. There’s still some complaints about the impossibility of the end of the game (which I believe I’m beginning to run into) without either microtransactions or a large amount of dedication, but the developers have recently put out an update announcing a future patch to fix this isssue. All in all, it’s a gratifying game which I’m pleased to have so much progress in, and look forward to completing.

Here’s the thing: I think these types of games appeal to those who enjoy the meta-game of Steam achievements and badges, and the like. And I’m unashamedly one of those people, not for bragging rights, but for the personal enjoyment of buffing up my Steam profile.

The other clicker that I’ve been playing, which I picked up only the other day on sale, is Plantera. Plantera is a very cheap clicker that’s got more going on with it than many other clickers. It’s less of a UI-based game (like AdVenture Capitalist, which is all buttons) and more of a little farm simulator… wait, scrap that, we cannot utter those two words together without lightning rending the skies, no, it’s more of a plantation, er, manager. And it’s adorable. And, most notably, it’s not free-to-play, and has no microtransactions, so you can feel guaranteed that the game’s pace is tailored to everyone. It’s a much shorter game than AdVenture Capitalist, for I’m only 2 hours in and already have 17/29 achievements (though the difficulty may ramp up from here), but it also gives you far more to do. AdVenture Capitalist is guilty of having no gameplay at all besides micromanagement, whereas in Plantera you’re encouraged to help collect the fruits of your little blue friends’ labour and scare off unwanted nuisances. The whole thing can be automated, of course, but lend a helping hand and the money gains will flow much faster.

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Leave the game idle for a while and you may find yourself coming back to a somewhat messy environment.

I’ve seen many other Clicker games advertised on Steam, and besides giving Clicker Heroes a shot and immediately becoming bored, I’ve not tried them. I suspect that many of them are shameless cash grabs built upon the success of AdVenture Capitalist, and so I haven’t bothered. I’d say “feel free to let me know if any of them are good”, but between AdVenture Capitalist, Plantera and Tiny Tower, I think my quota for idle games is pretty much set until Fallout Shelter releases on PC.

And yes the fact that they capitalise the V in AdVenture Capitalist aggravates me as much as you might expect.

Kritigri’s Bumper Behemoth Blog Post of E3 Commentary

So for those of you who aren’t aware, or have forgotten to take your VR headset off and experience the outside world for the last few weeks, E3 has occurred. Well… it’s technically still occurring, but day 1 is out of the way and that’s mostly what we were all here for. Come on, developers, show us what games you’ve made so we can get hyped or piss all over them, respectively.

Let’s start with EA’s conference.

EA

For a while back there, EA used to be the epitome of everything that was wrong with gaming. They have since mellowed out a bit and handed that torch over to Ubisoft, though, and it’s amusing to see them try and convince everybody that they’re the good guys now, as was evident when they announced that their indie devs get to keep 100% of the profit from their games. That being said, they have to make money somehow, and there’s already been a few theories about how EA are making money out of this… but, giving credit where it’s due, it still seems to be a pretty sweet deal for the indie devs. So that’s nice.

Once more they flashed Mass Effect: Andromeda across the screen in the form of a fancy-pants new trailer, and once more we learned almost nothing about it apart from the emphasis on a female protagonist. And don’t get me wrong, that’s pretty cool. It would just have been nice to see some more from a game which is already beginning to suffer from the modern curse of announcing games years before they’re ready.

I can’t really speak for Titanfall 2! I’ve never played / watched anyone play Titanfall 1, so I’m not going to pretend to know anything about it. (You’ll see me make comments like this a few times over the course of this blog post, for the sake of honesty.) Titanfall as a series has never really interested me, but I’ve never been a big mech combat kind of a guy.

Sports. They brought out a football manager (I really know nothing about sports) to talk about how great FIFA was, and he couldn’t have looked less bemused to be there. I’ll admit that their new approach to FIFA in regards to having an actual protagonist is interesting, and a little variation within the series is probably sorely needed. They’ve also started using their apparently all-purpose Frostbite engine for the game, so it’ll be interesting to see how that works out. As for MADDEN… I’m sorry, but do you really want me to comment on a videogame I’m not interested in about a sport of which I have no idea even works? Let’s move on.

So this was around the time that EA marched their innocent little indie dev out onto the stage and let him live his dream. It was adorable. It was also very reminiscent of last year’s Unravel reveal. Perhaps this is to become an annual event for EA? Whatever the case, Fe looks like a gorgeous game that appeals to PS2 era gamers. The soundtrack sounds beautiful, and I look forward to flying a gravity-defying, neon purple stingray over violet forests sometime in the future.

Hello, Star Wars fans! Star Wars Star Wars Star Wars? Star Wars Star Wars, Star Wars Star Wars Star Wars! We heard you like Star Wars, so we teamed up with Star Wars to bring you Star Wars, Star Wars, and Star Wars! Please give us your money while we show you all of these Star Wars developers and no games at all! Star Wars. Also more Battlefront.

And then we leave promises of a galaxy far, far away to witness angry people shooting each other long, long ago. Battlefield 1 promises to take us back to the era of World War 1 for some wacky horse-riding gun-toting blimp-busting hi-jinks. Maybe I’m just ill-informed, but I do not remember WW1 being such a playground of absurdity from my studies in secondary school… though from what I’ve heard on the internet it’s fairly accurate. Mostly. It seems that DICE are putting many automatic weapons in the game, despite their presence in WW1 being rare, late, and prototypical at best. But I suppose they’re there for gameplay reasons.

This was probably the flattest presentation given in the entirety of E3, in my opinion.

Bethesda

Remember Quake? We knew you did! And we’ve listened to our players and assessed what they love most about the game, and have therefore tampered with the core experience and turned the game into a hero-based shooter! Announcing Quake: Champions, to the bemusement of Quake fans everywhere. Though personally, I think it could be a good game, just… different. And to be fair, that’s how I feel about Unreal Tournament 3, and that thing is the disgraced sibling of the Unreal Tournament family. This announcement was also, “This is a thing! Glad you came to E3, now go to Quakecon instead.”

They announced more information on The Elder Scrolls: Legends card game. As I’d personally predicted after the success of Hearthstone, it would seem that every franchise is suddenly jumping on the card game train, and since it’s a genre I don’t have much interest in, I don’t have much to contribute to the matter. It does look very different to Hearthstone, though, so there’s that.

They’re making more DLC for Fallout 4, and most of it seems to be based around one particular gimmick per DLC. I don’t play the game, but if I did, I’d probably be more interested in gameplay based DLC rather than updates to crafting and building systems. They’re also porting the Fallout: Shelter mobile game to PC, which is historically a controversial practice, but one which I’m not too opposed with, so long as they state that it was originally a mobile game on the store page. And whilst this probably doesn’t apply to Fallout: Shelter, so long as they also make the game playable outside of the removed microtransactional gates through which they originally built the game around.

Skyrim: Special Edition. As someone who has put 137 hours into the PC version, I’m not sure whether I should be excited for this. I think that porting it to PS4 and Xbox One is a brilliant idea, but as far as the PC goes, there’s a plethora of graphics mods which increase the game’s sexiness to the Special Edition’s levels and beyond. They’ve not revealed too much as to any other enhancements to the game, and whilst Legendary Edition Steam users get the update for free, I’m not sure it’ll be worth me updating to, myself, as I’ve not got the most powerful PC. I’d much rather have seen a remastered Oblivion.

I’m afraid I don’t know much about Prey. It looks like an interesting story. Be thankful for this respite in the word count.

They also announced some multiplayer DOOM DLC, along with some free updates. I don’t have much to comment there, either, other than the fact that I’d rather they concentrated on some single-player DLC for when I finally get around to playing the game.

The Elder Scrolls Online! I don’t really have much to say regarding what they revealed here, as I’m still like level 20 in-game. I will say that the ‘One Tamriel’ system sounds good for gameplay (and for people who want to enter the world and do what they want without restriction like in other Elder Scrolls games), but I have no idea how they’re going to make the work with the storyline, which is, from my experience, very linear. One thing I would like to mention about ESO is how disheartening it is to hear every Youtube personality I enjoy slander the game for simply not being another single-player Elder Scrolls title. Give it a rest, guys. It’s a good game in its own right. From my experience so far, anyway.

Dishonored 2 is another one of those franchises that has passed me by. Every Steam sale I linger over the page for Dishonored 1, and every Steam sale I just barely decide not to bother buying it. Maybe it’s time for a reconsideration.

Bethesda’s decision to incorporate VR into their existing triple-A titles is interesting, because it’s not the kind of thing I’ve pegged VR for being good at. I don’t feel that playing Fallout 4 in VR would be an optimal experience, but this is coming from someone who’s never used VR, so maybe – hopefully – I’m wrong.

Microsoft

I missed the beginning of this one, so I didn’t even know they’d announced the Xbox One S until the end. They discussed Gears of War 4, Killer Instinct, Forza Horizon 3, and Recore, none of which interest me or which I’d probably have anything to comment on anyway. When I joined the stream, they were talking about some DLC for The Divison and they then showed Battlefield 1’s trailer again, before talking about some new Xbox Live features that don’t apply to >this guy<, so I didn’t pay too much attention. I know, I know, I’m professional.

Inside was… well… a trailer of someone sitting in a room. That’s about it. It’s really not my fault that I don’t have anything to say this time!

We Happy Few looks like an absolutely fantastic narrative experience. It’s the first (I hesitate to say only) game in the conference that really gripped me, made me sit up in my seat and pay attention. Throughout the entire trailer I was intrigued as to the nature of this world, the story that was being told, and at the end… well, see the trailer for yourself.

Here’s my experience with The Witcher series:

The Witcher

Woops. This is one of those games that I really liked what I played of, but realised I had to dedicate some exclusive time to it in order to get to grips with the gameplay and the story. And I don’t want to skip to another game later in the series, as I’m a sucker for chronology when it’s available. So, I’ve never played The Witcher 3, and I’ve never experienced Gwent, and so to me it looks like just another card game. But everyone seems ecstatic about it, and I’m happy for them.

Hey look everybody, it’s Street Fighter x Tekken! Wait… wait no it’s not, it’s just Tekken 7 with a trailer that prominently features a Street Fighter character. Don’t worry, we knew that wouldn’t be confusing. Anyway look forward to that!

As someone who is familiar with neither franchise (are we seeing a non-Xbox gamer theme here?), I wasn’t sure as to whether this trailer was for a Dead Rising game or a new Lollipop Chainsaw. It happened to be the former, and while I love fictional gratuitous violence as much as the next guy, you’ve got to admit that zombies are getting stale. Really, really stale.

Scalebound! I know nothing about this. It looks like a bigger Monster Hunter but with a really, really annoying voice actor.

Sea of Thieves looks like a really cool concept and I’m a big fan of the graphical aesthetic. It’s somewhat reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. The fact that they used a Let’s Play to showcase the game was somewhat mollifying.

Forget everything I said about zombie games a few paragraphs ago, State of Decay 2 is exciting. Kinda? I’ve never… actually… played State of Decay. I own it! I’m going to play it! The concept of getting your character killed forever and playing as one of their friends from that point onwards sounds excellent to me, and I can only hope that they continue this trend in a bigger way with SoD 2… but they really need a new acronym.

Halo Wars 2. Winston’s seen some hard times, man.

Okay, let’s talk about this. Project Scorpio. Hey, you remember that new Xbox we talked about at the start of the conference? Here’s your reason not to buy it or the existing Xbox One! We’re removing the generational gap between consoles and making it so you can still play Xbox One games on the Scorpio, and vice verca! That totally isn’t going to cause a myriad of problems and remove one of the biggest factors that console gaming has going for it – simplicity. I’ve bought a game, it’s going to run as intended. Easy. Not any more. “Hey, will this new game run well on the Xbox One or should I wait until I can buy whatever the hell the Scorpio is going to be called?” Not cool. I didn’t like it when Nintendo pulled this shit with the New 3DS, and I don’t like it now. But on the upside, it does look like a very powerful and impressive console in its own right.

They were also banging on a bit about how Xbox games would be playable on Windows 10. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I may actually be able to play some Xbox exclusives sometime in the future, when I have a better PC and am forced to accept Windows 10. On the other, Steam is the only platform I want my games to be on. It has all of my achievements, my gametime, my games, my friends, and it’s just my preferred choice of interface. The more games split into places like Origin, UPlay and now simply Windows 10, the less likely I am to buy them.

PC Gaming

I er… I missed this one altogether. Didn’t even know it was happening. And given that I do most of my gaming on PC, I certainly didn’t miss it on purpose. But I gave a flick through the games which were announced and all that, and I don’t really have much to say. And besides, this blog post is long enough as it is!

Ubisoft

Ubisoft. What a mixed bag of weirdness, the odd decent game, and just getting it wrong. I’m one of the few people who seems to enjoy Aisha Tyler as a host, but that intro was downright discombobulating. But hey, at least they got Just Dance out of the way.

I’ve heard Ghost Recon: Wildlands described as ‘the gameplay the GTA V’s heists sorely needed’, and I can understand that. This game looks good. It doesn’t look particularly groundbreaking or original, but it looks good. If you have a good few friends to play this with and co-ordinate with, you could see yourself having a very good time. The gameplay commentary they chose for this trailer was not the cringeworthy attempt at realism that was last year’s The Divison gameplay trailer, and it wasn’t Sea of Thieves’ unapologetically Let’s Play style either. They chose, instead, to go with an immersive commentary which you certainly won’t be hearing from your friends, which certainly wasn’t realistic, but certainly made the trailer an actual enjoyable experience. So, yeah. Looks ‘ite.

That being said, Ubisoft have a history of rigging their E3 gameplay demos and severely under-delivering in the final product, so take everything with a pinch – or a fistful – of salt. I cannot express how much of a shitty marketing practice this is, and I can only hope that time tells they’ve changed their approach this year.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole. South Park always feels like a massive change of pace whenever they arrive on stage at E3, but as somebody who’s never played The Stick of Truth, perhaps that’s just my brain yelling, “But this is TV!” My interest in the first game has been very slowly rising with each appearance that Trey Parker and Matt Stone make, and it’s to the point now where I think I’m finally going to invest in it in the next Steam sale. The gameplay shown for the sequel had me laughing on multiple occasions, and I think it’s fair to say that this was one of the highlights of Ubisoft’s conference.

They then showed The Division’s DLC, a game which has apparently lost 93% of its players since launch due to neglect from the developers. Due to this, I was mostly chuckling to myself throughout the entire trailer. They cleverly worded that “over 10 million players have experienced The Division since launch” (paraphrasing, but something very much like that) in order to avoid this statistic. Oh, Ubisoft.

Ubisoft then went on to showcase some of their VR games. I personally thought that Eagle Flight could be a very interesting and fun game, but I’ve heard plenty of skepticism since, so perhaps I’m in the minority there. And sure, they all looked very silly waving their heads around, but when has anyone ever not looked dumb in VR? They also showed Star Trek: Bridge Crew, and… well… ‘showed’ is a very generous term there. Around 85% of that clip was Star Trek actors talking about how amazing it was, interlaced with very quick snippets of gameplay. I’m dubious.

I was very interested in the story of For Honor, and I thought the single-player gameplay they unveiled looked pretty cool too, but I’ve heard criticisms. I think it’s because people have spent a long time looking at For Honor as a purely multiplayer game, and as I’m more of a single-player gamer myself, I’m perhaps more open-minded (see: naive) on the matter. As long as there’s more story and gameplay to what we saw instead of just repeating similar scenarios over and over, I think we’ll be okay.

I’ve played a little of Grow Home and watched a lot more of it, and I’m delighted that it’s getting a sequel. Grow Up looks like it introduces some interesting new mechanics and expands the game world. Here’s hoping it’ll be as theraputic as the original. My one complaint is that I won’t be able to talk about the game without sounding like I’m criticising the person I’m talking to about it. “Oh yeah, you should play Grow Up.”

And then it got weird again. Like, really weird. Uncomfortably weird. Trials of the Blood Dragon is an attempt at making Trials as wacky as Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was, and perhaps I’m just grumpy and boring, but having seen the trailer, I feel like I’d prefer just another good, normal, Trials game. I’m still heartbroken that my PC refuses to run Trials Fusion.

“Hey, maybe the Assassin’s Creed movie will finally be the movie that breaks the videogame movie curse!” No, that was Warcraft, you plebs. It does look good, though.

Hahaha, Watch Dogs 2. Hahaha. Oh boy. Okay, right, no, so the actual game footage didn’t look too bad, although I was like put out when the stealthy hacky master started gunning down security guards like he was trained in the military… again. And he’s a parkour master now, too? Ubisoft, just make that GTA clone you’re trying to convince yourself you don’t want to make. And the trailer held all the telltale signs of dynamic events being specifically timed and scripted for the E3 demo, just like the initial Watch Dogs did. But all in all, the gameplay doesn’t look awful. It just looks like it addresses none of the problems of the previous game.

And then the CEO came waltzing out and called the first Watch Dogs a ‘huge success’.

I’m sorry. WHAT?!

The inability to recognise the faults of your previous title does not indicate to me that this man is fit to run a business. The point blank denial to admit, and possibly even to believe that the first game was fundamentally flawed explains many of Ubisoft’s awful decisions in recent years to me. Game companies are allowed to admit they fucked up. In fact, it’s welcomed. Zenimax did it, with Elder Scrolls Online. They won people’s trust back by doing so, and by fixing the game. This denial achieves nothing. And the introduction of the final game of the presentation just emphasises how possibly out of touch Ubisoft’s CEO might be. Get ready for the next big thing. Get ready for a whole new genre. It’s… it’s…

It’s SSX Online.

It’s called Steep, and all that I really got out of it was the potential of the first person perspective. But they gave no indication of VR support, so that’s a bit of a wet fart anyway. They want this to be connected online, as a big open world, with a grand total of what looked like four peaks to start from. Sorry… four? Realistic, sure, but that’s going to get boring after a while, is it not? That’s the problem I have with SSX, too. Maybe I’m not the right person to criticise this game. Maybe it’s even a good game. But the intro given by the CEO of Ubisoft legitimately worries me, and really does explain a lot.

Sony

Sony’s magnificent conference – I feel like I should say performance – was a welcome retreat from Ubisoft’s, erm, less than eventful event. Sony launched into their orchestral presentation with Dad of War God of War. And as somebody who has never played any of the previous games, I was enraptured. And yes, I know, the gameplay is different to its predecessors, but it’s given me reason to go back and look at them nonetheless. This looks amazing.

Now, you know what the gaming world needs? THAT’S RIGHT MORE ZOMBIE SHOOTERS! I can almost understand pre-existing franchises like Dead Rising and State of Decay making sequels to their games, or games like Sunset Overdrive doing something new with the genre, but even though it looks good, Days Gone looks like a generic zombie shooter. Jumping ahead to the gameplay they showed at the end of the conference, I didn’t see anything in particular which screamed original gameplay, and though it was pretty and they had many enemies on the screen at once – and it was tense – I fail to see the point behind this game.

I don’t know what The Last Guardian is, but it got a massive cheer, so I’m assuming that’s good. Unless they were paid to cheer… haha what am I saying, this isn’t Ubisoft.

Horizon: Zero Dawn’s nonsensical title can be forgiven for it’s gorgeous and enticing gameplay. Welcome to the land of robot monsters. You’re, uh, a slightly teched-up tribal woman with a bow and arrow (as is the current craze). But she kicks ass. And she looks like Ygritte. And fallen civilisation stories of decades or centuries after the fall always interest me, which is what I’m assuming has happened here. So I’ll be keeping my eye on this one. All this being said… it is yet another survival crafting game, and I’m more sick of those than of zombie shooters.

Detroit: Become Human is an interesting new take on the player-driven narrative genre. You are some sort of Android cop, and in the demo you’re trying to talk another Android down from jumping off a roof with a little girl. The demo does a very good job of showing the multitudes of different ways this can play out, and given that it’s not one long narrative with lots of decisions leading up to a conclusion (as far as has been shown), I have faith that this really will let you feel like you’re affecting the world. I only hope that there’s plenty of different situations throughout the game, rather than them putting all the work into only a few with lots of different outcomes.

Resident Evil 7. I don’t do horror games. Too dreary, too miserable. Too scary. And now it’s in VR! I’m going to continue to avoid these until somebody forces me to stop being such a baby. Shout-out to the guy who went, “Noooo! I hate Kitchen! I hate it!” as the trailer started. No idea if that has any significance to the franchise.

They showed off a whole bunch of PSVR titles like Farpoint, Batman Arkham VR and ‘a Star Wars Battlefront VR X-Wing mission‘. Looks pretty cool. I’d still probably go for a Vive, though.

Final Fantasy is yet another popular videogame franchise that I’ve not touched, so look forward to this review: The characters all sounded very enthusiastic when they were doing the magical anime things they were doing, something something VR too. (Look, all I know is that the Sephiroth soundtrack is amazing.)

I didn’t know that I was watching a Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare trailer until they got out of the spaceships and started shooting people. And honestly, I was very impressed. It looked like a movie. I’m not the biggest fan of Call of Duty games (I’ve played a fair amount of Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer + zombies, that’s it), and I’m not frothing at the mouth for this one, but it’s cool that they’re taking this series in a new direction.

Oh right and speaking of new directions they’re re-releasing Modern Warfare 1 woo yay whatever-

CRASH

GODDAMN

BANDICOOT

is going to be ‘remastered and built from the ground up’ for PS4. The way I see that working is that they’re not going to be changing anything to do with the actual layout of the game, but it is obviously going to be running on a new engine, new graphics etc. It’s not the ‘re-imagining’ that was Ratchet and Clank and it’s not the ‘remaster’ that is most HD collections. In all honesty they should have called it a ‘faithful recreation’. And yes, I laughed at the complete lack of applause when they said ‘But for now, here’s Crash Bandicoot in Skylanders.’

Now I’d do the ‘LEGO GODDAMN STAR WARS‘ bit but I just did that with Crash Bandicoot and I’d had to go stale after 4,200 words. (You’re still reading? That’s impressive. I never meant for this to go on for so long, I’m so sorry.) LEGO Star Wars was one of my favourite games as a kid, and I still enjoy modern LEGO franchise games, so I’m looking forward to this one. That being said, the trailer didn’t reveal much that we already knew or expected, and the fact that this is one of those games where they rip audio from the movie instead of having it be originally voice acted is saddening but understandable.

Hideo Kojima fucked up the light bridge walk and I’ll never forgive him for it. He also showed us some random-ass trailer about a dude on a beach with a fetus and dead fish and people in the sky so I don’t have much to say other than ‘wut’. This was just a fancy way of saying ‘we’re working on something’, I think. T’was Death Stranding.

SPIDER-MAN! INSOMNIAC! Good god it’s my dream combination, though not one I ever thought I’d see, or even think about. A modern-day Spider-Man game that isn’t tied to a movie and is being developed by Insomniac has just made me the happiest Spidey / Insomniac fan and was a more than welcome surprise to see towards the end of the show. Here’s hoping they get the web-swinging right.

Oh right yes, they then showed that Days Gone gameplay I’ve already talked about. And that was that. No new console, but I think they still beat Microsoft this conference. I really need to get a PS4.

Square Enix

The Square Enix conference either hasn’t happened yet or I’ve missed it, but we’re at 4,500 words and I think it’s about time we wrapped this behemoth of a blog post up. If you read all of it – or any of it – then I humbly thank you for reading my opinions in a sea of others. If Square Enix have an interesting show at all I might put out a bonus blog post tomorrow or some-

I FORGOT NINTENDO

Nintendo

Well to be fair, they were pretty forgettable. They’ve essentially neglected E3 for the last few years because they’re special snowflakes and shutup I’m not still bitter about the New 3DS at all. But I’ll start with the smaller of their two focuses:

Pokemon Sun and Moon had very little new information revealed about it. They spent much of the conference making absurd statements like ‘We designed the starters to be cute’ and lots of other tiny details. They ‘revealed’ a trailer which we’d already seen, too. It felt like it was thrown together last-minute and that the game really wasn’t ready to show off. Still, I suppose it was nice to see what we did – 3 new Pokemon and the second 10 or so minutes of the game. But Pokemon was never going to be Nintendo’s highlight this E3.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD deserves capital letters because it’s essentially the only thing Nintendo care about this year. And I was miffed at that for a good few weeks until they actually unveiled the damn trailer, and boy howdy, that game looks good enough to make me say boy howdy for the first time in my life. If the game world is half as huge as Nintendo make it out to be, we’re going to be in for a real treat. That being said… bring more than one game to E3 next year, Nintendo.

The Case For Vanilla WoW Servers

It’s just been announced that Blizzard is suing Nostalrius, a vanilla World of Warcraft private server that enabled people to experience what the game was like almost a decade ago, before the first expansion was released.

So from a legal standpoint, yes of course they have every right to do that, as those who play the private server (Nostalrius) are essentially playing a subscription-based game for free, hosted illegally. I am not angry that they are doing this. There’s also the possibility that the current WoW devs themselves have nothing to do with Nostalrius being sued. Developers and lawyers are not the same people, and whilst I honestly have no idea what the developers’ stance is on vanilla private servers, it might not be aligned with this all-out aggressive attack that we’ve just seen on Nostalrius.

What they do need to do is take a lesson away from this. When asked at their convention a few years ago whether they’d ever open up “servers for previous expansions”, they replied with, “No. And by the way, you don’t want to do that, either.” And I get where they’re coming from. As developers, their job is to continue improving World of Warcraft, and they do this by constant re-iterations of class abilities, UI, graphics overhauls and endless amounts of quality-of-life changes. So after over a decade of continuous improvement to the game, players who ask to be given availability to the original version of the game will surely be met with cynicism, likely viewed as players wearing rose-tinted glasses wanting to live out the glory days of vanilla WoW, not realising that they’re associating their golden memories with gameplay which is, in reality, far from perfect.

You know what would prove them wrong, Blizzard? Opening a trial run of a couple of vanilla realms.

The fact that Nostalrius would peak at 15,000 players online at once and had almost 1,000,000 registered users is a fact that cannot be ignored. Whilst many players undoubtedly are looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses, there’s also a large faction of players who aren’t and do legitimately enjoy vanilla gameplay. This number could even grow if Blizzard added vanilla servers into the game, and would give existing players a reason to stay subscribed throughout the always-present content droughts between expansions. I, for one, would be very interested in playing vanilla WoW (as somebody who played a few months of Burning Crusade when I was 13 or so, and picked up the game properly towards the end of Mists of Pandaria), and have even been tempted by servers like Nostalrius before reminding myself that I’d rather play the game in a legal environment.

Blizzard need look no further than Runescape for an example of a successful reintroduction of an older iteration of the game. A few years ago, Jagex Studios dug through their archives and found the oldest version of the game they could, and brought it back, playable as a alternate character for their existing subscribers. Old School Runescape has since flourished into its own game, with a driven (if not slightly poisonous) community, a democratic voting system for updates that they may or may not want added to the game (starting with quality-of-life updates, before evolving into unique OSRS content), and with a team of dedicated developers to touch up the old game and take it in the direction that players who preferred the 2007 experience would like it to take. I’m not saying that vanilla WoW servers should have updates or tweaks, as Runescape has changed its fundamental core far more than WoW ever did. I’m just saying that this project was undoubtedly a success on Jagex’s part, and has likely been a great tool in squashing the need for private servers in the first place.

There are, of course, some legitimate concerns regarding the reintroduction of an older iteration of the game. Splitting the community would be a problem, with many players abandoning their guilds for the vanilla servers. But to that I feel the need to raise the point that players are already abandoning their guilds for vanilla private servers, or more often for different games entirely. This is what happens during a content drought, and it would actually be to Blizzard’s advantage to introduce vanilla servers during a content drought (such as presently) to keep players subscribed to their game. Furthermore, after playing vanilla for a while, some players might realise that they have taken for granted much of WoW’s current level of quality, and find new motivation to continue playing the current game. And, of course, when an expansion drops, you can bet that anyone with a current WoW subscription is more than likely to put their vanilla romping on pause to go and explore the new content for a few months at the very least; those that would return to vanilla WoW after only a few months would also likely be the ones who would have simply unsubscribed in the past, reinforcing once again that it would be a financial benefit for Blizzard to open these vanilla servers.

In fact, I can’t really see any way in which Blizzard wouldn’t benefit from such a venture. Sure, it may be difficult on the technical side, I can’t speak for that, although I’m sure that if private servers can host the vanilla game, then Blizzard should be able to find a way, too. Not only would it be a financially viable investment of resources, but after it was up and running, Blizzard probably wouldn’t even have to bother with it apart from the occasional maintenance work. It’d stop players from constantly whinging that vanilla was better, give new players the chance to appreciate quality-of-life improvements, and win the hearts of the players… well, at least, the hearts of players who don’t complain about every single thing that Blizzard does. I’d recommend that Blizzard put a small, dedicated team on getting vanilla servers up and running, even if it was just as an experiment, and then everybody could see how the situation would pan out, once and for all.

Nintendo Badge Arcade

A little while back, Nintendo released Nintendo Badge Arcade for the 3DS. And goodness. It was the biggest money-grabbing scheme I’d ever seen from Nintendo. For only 90p, they’d allow you 5 turns at their virtual claw machine in an attempt to gain badges to put on your 3DS start menu! They promised the odd free play for whenever they made any large update, but other than that it was a completely microtransaction-driven enterprise, all for the sake of putting a picture – because let’s be honest Nintendo, it’s not a badge, it’s just a little icon – on your start menu.

It saddened me. It was the biggest, most obvious money-grab I’d ever seen Nintendo make.

Now, where do you draw the line? Because even before the Badge Arcade existed, Nintendo were selling themes for the 3DS. And I understand that a little more, because other consoles have been doing that for way longer, and the themes are pretty cheap and pretty snazzy. But even then, I don’t have to pay money to change the background on my PC, so why should I have to for my 3DS? In the end, I decided that I’d probably only buy a theme if I had some spare money from topping up my wallet and after buying a game.

Now, whenever you open Nintendo Badge Arcade you’ll be greeted by this overly-talkative, overly-cheerful pink goddamn bunny rabbit. He says quirky things and asks you questions (probably information for Nintendo to collect and survey for themselves), and is the most unshakable goddamn anthropomorphic rabbit I’ve ever met. He’s built to be a likeable character who’s just happy to help whether you’re buying plays or not, and reminds me of every shady dealer stereotype to ever exist. You want to buy some plays? Excellent, he can help you out with that? You don’t? Well, that’s fine! He’ll just be over here if you change your mind! Oh hey, by the way, there’s this great deal on, but nah, don’t worry about it, it’s cool, he understands and he’s on your side. (And when I say he talks too much, I’m not exaggerating. You can’t press left and right in the menu sometimes without him popping up with 10, maybe more lines of dialogue, most of it fluff.)

In the spirit of honesty, I’ll admit that I bought plays from the Badge Arcade once. I’d just bought Pokemon Blue and Yellow, and had some money leftover in my wallet which I was going to use on a theme. The arcade at the time was running a promotion that gave you an exclusive Animal Crossing theme if you bought 10 plays (which was essentially the same price as a theme anyway), so I did it for the theme. And it felt dirty…

Nintendo Badge Arcade recently got an update that allows you to earn real plays from the practice machine (playable once a day), and since then my stance on the Badge Arcade has changed. Now it legitimately does feel like a free-to-play venture, as I think that you earn at least one free play if you don’t earn the super bonus (from what I’ve seen so far). So that’s 1 free play a day, and as the machines are physics based, it’s easily possible to get more than one badge per play if you play your cards right. (And just as easy to get none.) Once you talk your way past that damn rabbit you’re good to go, and my badge collection has been steadily growing over the last week. (Today I got four!) Funnily enough, this has also given the badges less worth in my subconscious, so I’ve often forgotten to use my daily play anyway.

My feedback to Nintendo now would be to assign a rarity to each badge, so as to indicate how infrequently they’re available for grabs. Maybe even make some one-time-only badges based on anniversaries and such. Make the rarer ones harder to get to entice people to buy more plays, and you’ll probably be good to go. And maybe calm that damn rabbit down a bit…