Playstation 5 Event Predictions & Desires

The Playstation 5 has already been revealed in peeks and scraps over the last few months, but on June 4th Sony are hosting an event which I think we can safely assume is analogous to previous console reveal events. And seeing as we’re not having an E3 this year, I figured we’ll focus our yearly predictions thread here instead. Plus, while I may have spread my focus to include PC, Switch, and to a lesser extent Xbox games (via PC Game Pass) in recent years, I was brought up on Playstations and I doubt I’ll ever be able to think of gaming history outside the context of what Playstation console was current at the time.

To give some context for future readers, here’s what we already know about the PS5:

  • It’s got a super duper SSD which loads Marvel’s Spider-Man pretty much instantly
  • The controller is called the DualSense, and it’s an aesthetic nightmare
  • It’s releasing holiday 2020
  • It has a renewed focus on backwards compatibility

And here’s what Sony has to say about their upcoming event:

There are few things as exciting as the launch of a new console. While this road to launch has been a bit…different, we are as thrilled as ever to bring you with us on this journey to redefine the future of videogames.

We’ve shared technical specifications and shown you the new DualSense wireless controller. But what is a launch without games?

This is part of our series of PS5 updates and, rest assured, after next week’s showcase, we will still have much to share with you.

So it’s focused on games, but the promo image shows a DualSense controller which looks to be an all-black version, and if that’s the case: THANK YOU. But also, one prediction on this presentation besides games: there’s no way this ends without us knowing what the damn console looks like. I’m hoping that includes the home screen, too – I love a good home screen reveal!

And now, onto the games, in order of whatever came into my mind first.


A New Ratchet and Clank

Likelihood: Decently likely? Insomniac confirmed the series has a future, and it’s been a while

What’s a Playstation without a Ratchet and Clank game? The Playstation One, that’s what, and we don’t want the Playstation One. We want the Playstation 5! We want to smash open crates and suck up little bundles of bolts and here the little tingle-clanging sound that signals instant gratification. We want to discover, upgrade and fire new absurdly powerful – and just plain absurd – weaponry at a fun array of alien and mechanical baddies. We want to slingshot across oceans of lava and acid and bottomless pits.

I would also accept the ability to play the older titles on the newer system via whatever their backwards compatibility solution is. I’m a little Ratchet and Clank starved right now.


Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Likelihood: More likely than a new Ratchet and Clank! I would not blame Insomniac for this. Plus, they used the first game to demonstrate the PS5 SSD.

Marvel’s Spider-Man convinced me to buy a PS4. (Alongside Spyro Re-Ignited.) I’ve discussed it here before, but it’s the perfect storm of a fantastic game made by some of my favourite devs in one of my favourite fictional worlds, based on one of my favourite superheroes. I’m still amazed that it exists. It feels like it was made for me! And Insomniac have not been shy in hinting at a sequel. For this one, it’s less a matter of if and more a matter of when. If we don’t see it in this presentation, I have no doubt it’ll be on the way regardless.


A New, Original Crash Bandicoot

Likelihood: There’s demand for it, but I’d be more concerned with the likelihood of it being good

Vicarious Visions developed the fantastic N.Sane trilogy remake of the original Crash Bandicoot games, and then Beenox followed it up with an absolutely superb remake of Crash Team Racing. Crash is more relevant than ever, and Activision love money. The concern is that… well, Activision love money, not Crash Bandicoot. Creating a new Crash Bandicoot game is a considerably larger undertaking than recreating an old one, and Activision is not the company to put your faith in regarding the choice between putting the time in to make a good game or rushing a cash-grab.

Also, this wouldn’t be an exclusive, but I can see them marketing it towards PS5 consumers given the series’ history!


A New, Original Spyro the Dragon

See above.


God of War: Ragnarok

Likelihood: I mean… it’s the poster boy for Sony exclusives, and for good reason. I’d be surprised if this wasn’t present

Without giving spoilers, PS4’s God of War absolutely leads into a sequel. We’re not done with that world or that story. I can say with a decent level of confidence that we’ll be seeing Dad and Boi again on PS5, possibly sooner rather than later, and as someone who has only just played the PS4 game and is now playing the PS2 originals, I say: GIVE IT TO ME.


Horizon: Zero Dawn 2

Likelihood: They recently “continued” the story in external media, so maybe not as likely as everyone thinks?

Then again, maybe it’ll be a time-skip deal; maybe the recent port to PC is a long-play to drive customers towards PS5 for a sequel. I’ve never played the original. I own it, but I try to clear my gaming schedule for a large-scale RPG like this. Either way, a sequel would please a lot of people, and the hype would probably push me towards trying the first game.


Godfall

Likelihood: Almost certain. Yay?

What is this game.

The initial trailer at the Game Awards did excite me, but on further reflection it does have the aura of a launch title that has lots of swagger and press, but is hardly talked about a few years from now. Hopefully that’s not the case though, as it looks epic.


The typical iterations.

Likelihood: Crushingly inevitable.

A new FIFA. A new Madden. The next Call of Duty. The next Need for Speed. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. I don’t know if EA are doing an event this year, but they like to double dip, so I wouldn’t put it past them to show up in the PS5 presentation.

It’s an hour long. There’s going to be a drawn out sports game segment.


Everything likely that I’m not specifically excited for

  • The Last of Us Part II
  • Gran Turismo 7 / Sport 2
  • Ghost of Tsushima
  • Days Gone 2? For some reason?
  • A new Killzone or something that we forgot existed

Everything old is new again

Hey, look at how well all of your PS4 games run on the PS5!! You never have to worry about New Console Game Draught again. It’s all already here! And enhanced! And look at Playstation Now running PS3 games on this system!! Technically it’s no different but we’re going to remind you about this service anyway!!! And hopefully details on improvements for it because it is legitimately exciting, I’ve been trialling it lately.


PSVR2

Likelihood: Confirmed to exist, but is it important enough to be a launch peripheral?

The PSVR2 is going to happen, and it’s going to make use of PS5’s hardware to be better than its predecessor. But is it slated for launch? Either way, I won’t be able to afford it. That being said, I believe they said something about PSVR1 performing better with PS5, too, so that’s exciting.


All this, and more!

Okay, not “all this”. Especially regarding that quote that warns we’ll have more news leading up to launch. This isn’t a one-and-done presentation, much like Xbox’s presentation (although I’m yet to see anything since that first one that’s turned my head). I imagine there will be a new IP or two that are impossible to predict, maybe a surprise port or remake.

Point is, I’m excited to see what they reveal on June 4th. I doubt I’ll own a PS5 within the first year of its existence, but it’s always fun to see what’s coming and where series are going. And… hell, I just love these reveal events. I know there’s a lot of cynicism regarding events like E3, but I always came out of those excited for at least a few games, so I was sad to see it die. Hopefully events like these will be a suitable replacement.

My Most Anticipated Games, Expansions and DLC of 2020

2020 is looking to be a pretty good year for gaming, and having decided to make myself a game releases calendar for the stuff I’m personally most interested in, I figured I may as well go the extra mile and make an entire blog post about it. I briefly mentioned what I was anticipating at the end of my 2019 GOTY post, but there’s more to come and more to say about each title. So, going in order of release, we have:


Warcraft III Reforged

Anticipation Level: It’s Warcraft! But it’s also RTS.

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Release Date: January 28th

I probably don’t need to do the whole song and dance about how much of my life I’ve devoted to World of Warcraft at this point, but if you’re new here, allow me to summarise:

It’s a lot.

More specifically though, I’ve always been interested in the lore behind Warcraft’s universe, and indeed one of the reasons I’m so excited about the next expansion is that it’s mostly new material, expanding the story on a cosmological scale. More relevantly to this game, though, I’ve never played any of the original RTS games. I got my dose of Warcraft III lore in the form of Youtubers like nobbel, helping me to fill in important backstory for MMO characters such as Jaina, Illidan and the Lich King.

Due to this, though, my knowledge of the Warcraft III story is limited to a sort of cliff notes version of the plot, and I’m very much considering diving in to the Reforged edition and witnessing the story firsthand with the benefit of updated graphics and renewed relevancy. That being said, as with many other games on this list of a milder anticipation level, it all depends on income and free time.


Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Anticipation Level: If I could pay off my debt to Tom Nook in hype, I’d be debt-free on day one.

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Release Date: March 20th

Did I make this entire blog post as an excuse to vent hype about the upcoming Animal Crossing game? Maybe. Your point?

My first game in the Animal Crossing series was the Wii one, and I loved it, but always lamented the lack of ease of play. This is going to come off as extremely lazy, but the requirement of motion controls (I assume? I had no Pro controller but you couldn’t play with the controller sideways) meant you needed to have at least some free space to wave your arm about, or a motion sensor that didn’t break every two months. Nevertheless, I enjoyed City Folk as much as Wild World (acquired later) and New Leaf. In all three titles I sunk many days of work collecting fruit, fish, bugs, laying down pathways, paying off debts, the works.

I criminally underused my 3DS, though, so New Leaf didn’t get quite as much love from me as it maybe should have, and I’ve subsequently not played any Animal Crossing in some time. I’m therefore bursting at the seams for New Horizons. And hey, you know how any seasoned Animal Crossing player has a favourite villager? Aurora. Aurora the goddamned penguin. She showed up in my first Wild World save as one of my original villagers, and then later showed up again in my New Leaf village. If I could get her to consider island life, then I am more than willing to resume being besties for life. Just, you know. Putting it out there.

Goldie is cool too.


DOOM Eternal

Anticipation Level: Tweet and blog. Until it is out.

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Release Date: March 20th

Yes, I see you doing the double-take. DOOM Eternal releases on the same day as Animal Crossing. That means that there is an excellent chance that I’ll be viscerally murdering swathes of demons and stomping through angel guts on the very same day that I’m moving into my new island home, setting up the furniture and watering the lovely flowers nearby. If I do have to choose, and common financial sense dictates that I likely will, then I’m probably going for the island life. As much as I love the shit out of DOOM, I’ve still yet to beat a single game in the series. I’m like 80% of the way through, but I always get distracted by something else.

Nevertheless, DOOM Eternal looks to be advancing the spectacular reboot into enticing new locations, with new people (demons) to meet (slaughter) and new locales (apocalyptic hellscapes) to visit (conquer). Maybe I’ll send a postcard.


DOOM 64

Anticipation Level: It won’t be the first DOOM release I try this year…

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Release Date: March 20th

DOOM 64 releases on the same day as DOOM Eternal, and given that one is old and one is new I’ll likely check out Eternal first. But as someone who sought out the original DOOM a few years before the reboot was even announced and loved it, I’m always interested in more retro DOOM. I’ve still not tried DOOM 2, though, because I haven’t beaten DOOM 1. Can you see a pattern developing here?

Before we move on, now’s a good chance to mention that this exists as a sort of apology for the delay; DOOM Eternal was originally going to release back in October, on the same day as Animal Crossing: New Horizons before that got delayed to March as well. These two titles are determined to stick together. How romantic.


Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition

Anticipation Level: Duh-duh-duh-dunn!

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Release Date: March-April, we hope

As a newcomer to the franchise, I think that starting with Reach on PC was a fantastic choice, and the result of many things aligning – Reach being omitted from the Xbox collection meant that 343 could kill two birds with one stone in developing it for PC, as it’s chronologically the earliest game. Plus, it makes PC players’ first experience with Halo a more modern, polished one, as opposed to the original, which will have inevitably aged and could turn newcomers off. That being said…

I’m ready to be the Chief! Pump that shit into my veins!


Cyberpunk 2077

Anticipation Level: Mild, but pretty sure it’s a crime to not include this title.

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Release Date: April 17th

I’m only just falling in love with The Witcher 3, and I’ve bounced off both previous Witcher games, so all throughout Cyberpunk’s pre-release hype I’ve been blind to the pedigree of CD Projekt Red. Plus, while the setting interests me, I’ve never personally fallen in love with a cyberpunk world. Nevertheless, this looks like an extremely high calibre game, and I’m excited to experience it secondhand; through Youtubers and streamers and surely my mate who’s going to be buying this day one, I assume.


Minecraft Dungeons

Anticipation Level: It entirely depends on the quality of the final product.

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Release: April

I like Minecraft a fair bit. I can’t see how that translates into hype for a completely different genre as a spinoff title, but the aesthetic translates cutely enough, and it’ll be interesting to see what new avenues are explored in the world of Minecraft – new monsters, locations etc.

Best case scenario, this game is a Minecraft themed Diablo-like that’s fun to play on and off for a good twenty hours. If it’s cheap or if I re-activate Game Pass, I’ll be sure to check it out.


Sidenote – Marvel’s Avengers releases in April? We still don’t know what the hell’s going on with that game. Last I heard they did a 180 and now it’s focusing on a character who wasn’t in any of the trailers / shown story material.


The Elder Scrolls Online: Untitled Skyrim Chapter

Anticipation Level: SHOW ME WHITERUN BABYYYYYY

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Release: Likely Summer

This one’s a difficult one to talk about, because they haven’t technically announced it yet. If I was patient, I’d be making this blog post next week, which is the announcement date. But at The Game Awards they teased that their next Chapter (see: Expansion) is taking us into “the dark heart of Skyrim”, which many have speculated to mean the underground area known as Blackreach. I wouldn’t be surprised nor disappointed if that was the case, but hopefully as an Artaeum-style accompanying zone, with the main focus being on the remainder of Skyrim that’s yet to be included in game, such as the areas containing Whiterun, Falkreath, maybe even Solitude?

Oh, and a new class would be nice, too, though I’ve hardly explored outside of Sorcerer so far. New profession? Would fit the pattern, but can’t think of what. Or they could surprise everyone and include a new race, like the snow elves, though I’m not sure how they’d fit into the lore. I mean, they did dragons during the second empire, so I’m assuming anything’s on the table at this point. Dwemer, even?


Halo 2 / Halo 2: Anniversary Edition

Anticipation Level: Duh-duh-duh-DUNNN!!

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Release Date: My guess is Summer?

Given that I’m just a Reach boi right now, I can’t really formulate an idea of what this game is in comparison to Combat Evolved. All I know is that it has dual-wielding, an Elite campaign element, that turbine map, and more recently, that Halo 2’s Anniversary graphics do more for that game than I expected, they’re gorgeous.

Is it enough to be hyped about? ABSOLUTELY IT IS.


Pokémon Sword: Armour Island Expansion

Anticipation Level: Lrrroooaaaarrddd!

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Release Date: June

These were announced a few hours ago, so excuse my relatively unformed opinions. These kind of caught me off guard, but heck yeah, I’m ready for this! Both areas have an overworld that’s entirely wild area-like, which is hopefully how the full games are moving forward.

It’s a little hard to separate what belongs to which expansion given how they’ve marketed it, but it seems that the first expansion contains Venusaur and Blastoise and Gigantamax forms of each, out of which Blastoise sadly wins design-wise; looks like we’ll be chasing after a legendary fighting Pokémon themed after a panda-looking bear dude, and that it’s going to be primarily story focused. I think, of the two expansions, I’m more excited for this one’s environment, but the second one’s actual game content.


Pokémon Sword: Crown Tundra Expansion

Anticipation Level: Whatever noise Eternatus makes?

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Release: Autumn 2020

The second expansion is almost a mirror of the first when it comes to how it’s an open area, with a running story, and a legendary Pokémon to chase after (some weird biped that looks like it should be a quadraped but it has a bush for a hairdo), but this expansion also allows you to team up with friends and venture into underground Pokémon dens to capture old legendaries, which sounds fun. They’ve also given the legendary birds some awesome new forms – did I see concept art of Articuno shooting eye lazers? – and there’s some new Regis in there to boot.

Not much else to add, just pleasantly surprised they’re fleshing out Pokémon Sword and Shield in a meaningful way, especially as Sword is the most fun I’ve had in a Pokémon game since Soul Silver. I now make it my mission to finish the Pokédex before Armour Island releases (I got distracted breeding and wonder trading).


Gods and Monsters

Anticipation Level: Just don’t add towers and pointless collectables

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Release: Q3/4

Literally the only thing I know about this game is that it’s made by the developers who did Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and that they want to make a similar game, but one which focuses more on the mythology side of things.

So far, I’m sold.


Watch Dogs: Legion

Anticipation Level: A healthy curiosity, and a suspicion of secretly spry elderly people

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Release: Q3/4

I’ve never played a Watch Dogs game before because it’s Ubisoft, and GTA V exists, but from what I’ve heard the second game was pretty decent. The premise behind Legion has got my attention, though. The possibility of any NPC becoming a playable character with a fully fleshed out story and character traits, plus permadeath, in a GTA style world makes my sandbox tastebuds tingle with excitement. It’s also an incredibly difficult formula to perfect, and I have many concerns about how things will actually play out, so I’ll keep a watchful eye on the game past launch.

I’m also super intrigued by the whole post-Brexit dystopia thing they’ve got going on. Besides maybe some spy or war focused games, I can’t think of a single title which tackles modern events with such reckless abandon. And I’ve already seen a pretty huge red flag in the form of Ubisoft claiming that it’s not a political game in any way. You set it in a post-Brexit London gone wrong, how the fuck do you create the world without political connotation out the wazoo?

It’s either going to be a fantastic game, or an utter shitshow. Or a little bit of both, because nuance exists.


Halo 3 + ODST

Anticipation Level: DUH-DUH-DUH-DUNNN!!!

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Release Date: Fall, hopefully? May be getting too hopeful.

This is it, the granddaddy of all Halo, the epitome of Chiefage. Or so I know from osmosis. I remember an interview someone did in a line of Halo 3 purchasers outside of Gamestop once, where someone said that Halo 3 would be without a doubt the greatest game ever made. As a kid I kinda just believed that, but thinking about it now that speaks more to the success of Halo 2 than anything.

Anyway, what do I know about Halo 3? Well until recently I thought it introduced energy swords. I know that there’s some desert levels and, hey, didn’t they redo Blood Gulch for this one?

Look, I’m excited, what more do you want from me.


World of Warcraft: Shadowlands

Anticipation Level: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

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Release Date: “2020”, history says Autumn, reality says Holiday.

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Okay, I should probably articulate instead of screaming.

I am completely in love with everything we’ve seen regarding Shadowlands so far. Actual fantastical setting? Check. Thematic variety across zones? Check. Linear story so it has room to be something good? Check. New lore on a cosmological scale? Check. Meaningful solo content? Check (I hope). Roguelike elements to it? Check. Interesting expansionary feature? Check – emissaries.

I could keep going, but this isn’t a WoW based post so I’ll leave it there.


Godfall

Anticipation Level: WHAT IS THIS GAME

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Release Date: Holiday 2020, PS5 babyyyyy

I’m mostly just excited to learn about what the hell this game is. It is the most shounen anime looking shit and I am all about it. And people aren’t talking about it. Why the hell aren’t people talking about it?!

Oh, right. Because the gameplay could be anything.


Halo 4

Anticipation Level: Duh-duh-duh-dunn!!!!

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Release Date: Literally just guessing by this point, but before Halo Infinite? As a goal, at least.

I know this as the Episode VII of Halo. The “they tried to revive it and it was okay but not amazing. Also similar but different” game. I know it has orange guns? And modernised FPS handling, including sane sprinting. And something called the Praetorians? I might have made them up.

IT’S MORE HALO I WANT ALL THE HALO MOVING ON.


Halo Infinite

Anticipation Level: Duh-duh-duh-dunn?

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Release Date: Holiday 2020, Xbox PC babyyyy

Am… am I allowed to be excited for Halo Infinite? Narratively speaking, I’m all the way back in Reach. I don’t even know what a Halo is, besides that it’s “like a Death Star but it’s already got a big hole in it”. I haven’t even met Master Chief yet. But I’m super excited about playing Halo 1-4 (and reading up on 5 lol) so… yay? I guess?


LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

Anticipation Level: Fuck the movies, gimmie them BRICKS

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Release Date: 2020

LEGO Star Wars is my childhood. It was basically my introduction to the entire franchise. I’ve played through it so many times! And now they’re completely remaking the originals as well as making the Disney trilogy. Can you imagine how weird it would be seeing an Episode I character next to an Episode IX character?

oh right they did the Palpatine thing didn’t they

Anyway, I should mention that I’m somewhat cautious. While I loved the original PS2 games and the remaster of them, I simply cannot get into LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The entire way they handle the story is completely offputting to me. Give me a cantina! Let me walk among the characters I’ve unlocked. And please, please don’t make it a cover shooter. Also, the quality of puzzles varies wildly between LEGO games. For reference: LEGO Marvel Superheroes good, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers bad, very very bad.

I’m not fussy.

Update: When looking this up I’ve found the Steam page, and I’ve just learned that, quote, “For the first time ever in a LEGO video game, explore the galaxy your way as you fly to some of the saga’s most legendary locales. You can start your journey with Star Wars™: The Phantom Menace for some podracing on Tatooine. Or choose to launch right into Rey’s adventures in Star Wars™: The Rise of Skywalker. Players have the freedom to seamlessly travel to any planet, in any order, at any time.” Open world hub? Verrrry interesting.


Rune Factory 4 Special / 5

Anticipation Level: I like this… in theory.

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Release Dates: 2020

I’m bundling these two together, because I don’t have a lot to say about them. I own Rune Factory 4 on 3DS, but it’s the very last game I bought for that system, and I’ve subsequently spent about two hours in that game. I’m probably due time for the neglect I’ve inflicted upon my 3DS at this point.

But hey, these games interest me! Harvest Moon plus a bit of fantasy RPG. And I’ve never played a Harvest Moon game, but boy have I put time into Stardew Valley!

Okay this one might be a little tenuous.


Dwarf Fortress

Anticipation Level: just insert ascii text here it’s a funny joke

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Release Date: 2020?

My tale of experience with the original Dwarf Fortress is the same as many others: I learned of the game, got excited about the emergent narrative capabilities, booted it up and promptly shat myself when greeted by a bunch of numbers. The learning curve is steeper than a screen of n’s (did I do the ASCII humour right?), which is why I was very excited to learn that a slightly more user friendly version of the game is coming to Steam in… 2020? Maybe? Hopefully? Possibly?

I did mess around with the lore generator that comes packaged with Dwarf Fortress and was legitimately impressed, though I do question the uniqueness of a world which was started by a dragon named One. Regardless, shit hit the fan when he was killed a few hundred years later.


think that’s everything, but more games and DLC will doubtlessly be announced for 2020 as the year goes on. For instance, doesn’t Destiny 2 do a yearly expansion now? That’ll be announced around summertime if they’re following their usual pattern. And there’s probably heaps of indie games which have already been announced, and maybe even caught my eye in a Direct or something, that I’ve failed to note down here. The Survivalists, for example. Ah well. I think 3100+ words is a big enough list to be getting on with.

Very Definitely Absolutely Accurate and Correct BlizzCon 2019 Predictions

Firstly, since I haven’t addressed it here: Blizzard, your entire handling of the Blitzchung situation sucked. You stalwartly followed ambiguous rules in a context which would stifle free speech, and the statement you put out afterwards simply wasn’t enough to make amends. A lot of people want Brack to open BlizzCon with some further acknowledgement of the situation, and while I agree it would be nice, I can’t help but feel they’ll see this year’s major BlizzCon news as a method of burying the story. I hope I’m wrong with that prediction.

Still love their games though, and this year’s shaping up to be a doozy, so on with the predictions!


World of Warcraft

It’s expansion announcement year, and you know what that means!

Blizzard have announced patch 8.3, named Visions of N’Zoth. Very Old God themed. But I’m not convinced that this leads us into an Old God expansion, the way Warlords of Draenor’s Hellfire Citadel raid led us into Legion. As someone who follows the story closely and follows community speculation, I’d hazard a guess that the next expansion is going to focus on the Shadowlands and exploring the one universal force we know the least about: death. And lest we forget, Sylvanas refers to Death as in Capital D Death at the end of 8.2.5. Even if it’s not the next expansion, Blizzard are clearly building something here.

I imagine that a Shadowlands expansion will have story revolving around Bolvar Fordragon as the Lich King, whatever’s going on with Bwomsandi and Vol’jin (I’ve yet to finish levelling a Hordey), and, as some have astutely observed, Mueh’zala, the possible identity of Death itself. I think that as a secondary plot we’ll have the promised fracture in the Alliance, with Tyrande and Genn, and their respective Night Elves and Worgen, acting on their increasing distaste with the way Anduin avoided avenging Teldrassil.

Gameplay wise? Okay, so the Shadowlands leak has essentially been proven false by 8.2.5 and 8.3, but I would love for the Ancient Greece inspired zone part of it to be true. Besides that, I think it’s fairly obvious we’re getting Tinkers. Given the death theme, though, Blizzard could always surprise us with a second class with Necromancers. I’d love for the Allied Race system to continue past BFA, and seeing as Blizzard have acknowledged that it’s not always wise keep an expansion’s systems purely to its respective expansion, I’m fairly confident it will. As for the Artifact system… I simply have no idea. I hope the Heart of Azeroth is going away and that itemisation is having a big re-design, but I don’t know that I can see them moving away from a system like that after two expansions of experimenting with it.

Wild card time! I think Blizzard are going to unveil a new solo experience in this expansion. In 8.3 they’re introducing the solo-able Visions of N’Zoth instances, and typically with Blizzard you’ll see that their final patch introduces a game mechanic as a sort of precursor to what they’ll use it for in the next expansion. I can see them looking to Diablo’s Greater Rifts as inspiration, and as a mostly solo player myself, I would love to see them pull it off in… title time… Call of the Shadowlands?

Diablo 4

Almost a certainty at this point.

Everyone is calling on Blizzard to not use their modern cartoony art style for this game, but here’s what it’ll be. It’ll be dark, and gloomy, but not in a grimdark fashion; characters will have cartoonish styles and proportions with a bleak overcoat as a general aesthetic. Look at Overwatch’s Halloween skins – something like that. And I think people are going to hate that. Not sure I’d be too fussed.

It’ll be a Game as a Service, ala Path of Exile. Whereas in Diablo 3 you have five bounties per zone that you can reset by exiting your game session and starting new, Diablo 4 will tie that to a real-time refresh. Hubs like New Tristram and Caldeum will become multiplayer lobbies, similar to the Tower in Destiny 2, in order to encourage players dressing up in store-bought cosmetics to basically advertise to other players. But I’m not presenting that in a necessarily cynical fashion; I think cosmetic microtransactions in Diablo 4 are almost a certainty, but that they’ll be handled fairly responsibly. Who knows, this might see Blizzard fully adopt the battle pass strategy for the first time.

As for the story… it’s been some time since I even played Diablo 3’s story through. I remember wondering where they could possibly go from there, since Diablo’s lore doesn’t seem nearly as expansive as Warcraft’s or Overwatch’s. But then, I never played the first two games. I could see them pulling a Torchlight 2 and having Diablo 3’s nephalem turn evil and lose themselves to corruption; there was a lot of talk during Reaper of Souls about how frighteningly powerful you had become and, at least from the Wizard’s point of view, it sounded as if your character was losing hope in any kind of peaceful resolution for Sanctuary.

Also Diablo got loose again, so there’s that.

 

Overwatch 2: Electric Boogaloo

It can’t be a new PvP game, right? Overwatch, to me, always seemed like the kind of game which got update in real time rather than sequels to fix balancing issues and introduce new characters and story. So the Kotaku report about an Overwatch 2 took me – and, I assume, most others – completely by surprise. Even the title “Overwatch 2” sounds dumb. It’s like saying World of Warcraft 2. No, it’s far more likely that this will be a PvE focused game. The question is, what kind of PvE?

I think the easiest Overwatch PvE spinoff Blizzard could make would be a 4 player co-op shooter in the vein on Left 4 Dead, where players run missions which reveal story and lore from both Overwatch and Talon’s perspectives. Maybe some Blackwatch stuff in there too. The game could function as a way to fill out story moments from the past and present eras in that universe, and move the narrative forwards. It sounds like a solid idea… the only problem is, I don’t know that I’d want that as a game. It’d be an awesome addition to Overwatch 1, but not necessarily a game in its own right.

The general best case scenario that I’ve heard would be a Destiny style Overwatch game, where you having sandbox locations and a campaign to complete, and general seasonal things to do. And that sounds amazing, but I just can’t see how you’d make that as an Overwatch game. Do you play as the first game’s characters? Find new Rocket Launchers for Pharah? Re-spec so that Soldier 76’s healing circle instead buffs weapon damage? Or do you play as your own character? Pick up randomised weapons? How does that even work with Overwatch’s design? What does the story in a world like that even look like?

Nope. No concrete predictions here. I’m completely flummoxed.

Of course, everyone’s taking that Kotaku report as confirmation that it’ll even be announced this BlizzCon…

 

And You Can Play It… Right… Now! And Mobile Projects

Diablo Immortal, and let’s not spend more than 3 minutes on it.

Warcraft 3 Reforged, because boy is that overdue.

By the way, Warcraft 3 Reforged and the upcoming Diablo 2 remaster will be available on mobile!

We’re making a mobile Lost Vikings game!

(These are predictions, not necessarily personal wishes.)

 

Wild Card

There’s a few unannounced panels outside of the obvious ones, and a couple of people have been murmuring about a new IP, but I don’t think they’ve had time for that. Instead…

What if they made a new Warcraft game out of the engine and partially the assets that were used in the making of Warcraft 3 Reforged? What if the reason for the delay with that game is because they spent extra development time securing a more malleable engine for future projects?

Obviously they can’t make Warcraft 4 seeing as the MMO took over the story, but what if they made a Warcraft spinoff exploring, say, the war between the Pandaren and the Mogu thousands of years ago? Or the Humans and the High Elves vs the Troll tribes in the Arathi Highlands? (Wait, was that already in a Warcraft game? I’ve never played the Warcraft games.) It could always be a mobile game… but I hope not.


And that’s about all I’ve got. Hearthstone will probably have a new year and a new expansion but I don’t really follow that. And Heroes of the Storm already announced Deathwing just the other day, which was a little weird to do outside of BlizzCon.

But… yeah. This year is shaping up to be a big one. I’ll probably write another blog post when it’s all been announced.

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.

Sparks and Embers – A World of Warcraft Story

Note: This is a World of Warcraft story based around the actions of my player characters during the recent narrative event, the Burning of Teldrassil. A basic understanding of World of Warcraft’s world is recommended when reading this, though I will leave a map of Darkshore below for others who may be interested.

Burning of Teldrassil map

Furthermore, I’d recommend reading the first volume of my World of Warcraft Character’s Lore as it features the backstories for many of the characters you’re about to see.


“Zeverys. Thank you for joining me.”

The blood elf demon hunter inclined her head before sitting down awkwardly in the chair across from the druid. He smiled amicably across the table towards her, and she relaxed a little. “Kritigri,” she greeted him.

“I believe I still owe you a drink for the Broken Shore,” he chuckled.

Zeverys was certain that the night elf could have saved himself well enough from the three hulking felguards that had cornered him that day, but she was never one to turn down a free drink. She cast her fel gaze around the Legerdemain Lounge. People of all races sat together and murmured quietly. In the weeks that had passed since the Legion’s defeat, many were still coming to grips with the newfound peace. “What do they even serve here? I admit, this isn’t one of my more frequent locales…”

“Nor mine,” Kritigri admitted, and Zeverys noticed how he was somewhat hunched over in his seat in an attempt to meet the height of the table between them. She stifled a smirk. They’d chosen this inn due to its neutral location in the centre of Dalaran. They had not considered that the place had originally been made to accommodate humans.

“How much longer do you think it’ll be possible to talk like this?” she asked.

Kritigri sighed. “Forever, if I had anything to say about it. But I’m sure some new spat will tear the factions apart once more.” He eyed her curiously. “What do you intend to do now that the Legion is defeated? Will you pledge yourself to the Horde’s efforts?”

It was a big question, but he put it to her so easily. She was caught off guard. “I… suppose I will go to my Warchief.” As if she hadn’t spent every waking moment pondering this.

“Sylvanas,” the druid huffed. He could barely keep the sneer out of his voice. The druid may not have hated the Horde as a whole, but Sylvanas… that one definitely seemed to leave a sour taste in his mouth.

“She was my Ranger General, once. In another lifetime,” Zeverys mused.

“I imagine she is much changed since those days.”

“As am I,” she retorted. Kritigri glanced at her anew, taking in her tall horns, her ruby tattoos and the eerie green that glowed behind her blindfold. He opened his mouth as if he was going to ask a question, but then averted his gaze and frowned. “What?” she prompted.

He looked at her hesitantly. “Is there really no cure to your vengeance and hatred? To live out the rest of your days as-”

“Virizard,” she said. The druid stiffened. “That’s what you were truly going to ask about, wasn’t it? Your brother?”

“How do you-”

“I have fought beside him. He is an exceptional demon hunter.”

“So it’s true.”

Kritigri’s long estranged brother Tolidar had appeared before him one night, not long after the armies of Azeroth had begun their campaign on Argus. The mage had spared no time on pleasantries, nor deigned to make note of their thousands of years of separation. All he had told Kritigri was that their brother, Virizard, long ago captured by the Legion in the War of the Ancients, was alive, was a demon hunter, and was cleaving his way through Argus. It was quite an evening.

“Where can I find him?” The question had passed the druid’s lips before he’d even had a chance to consider it.

Zeverys tilted her head sympathetically. “I do not know. After our return from Argus, he stole away, saying only that he needed time to recall who he was and if he had a place on Azeroth after all these years.” She frowned. “Rather irresponsible, if you ask me. He wasn’t exactly expendable within the Illidari.”

“Darnassus,” Kritgiri muttered. “He’ll have gone to Darnassus. To Teldrassil. He’d want to see the new bastion of night elf civilisation for himself.” He nodded to himself. “Zeverys, would you-”

At that moment a courier arrived, out of breath and wild eyed. “Archdruid,” the young night elf spluttered. She saw Zeverys and her eyes widened in alarm. “I have… sensitive information.”

Kritigri spotted the royal seal on the courier’s letter. His heart sank. “Zeverys,” he began, turning to address her. “It appears-”

But the blood elf was already marching away.


Teldrassil.

The Horde were marching on Teldrassil.

His home.

Kritigri slammed a surge of astral energy into an orc beserker and then turned to evaluate the situation on the beach. He had emerged from a portal into Darkshore, not far from the ruins of Auberdine. He had turned to the mage. “You told me I was needed to defend Ashenvale!” he had roared.

“Ashenvale has fallen! Defend the World Tree!” was the only reply he had gotten before the portal snapped shut again.

And now, it seemed that Darkshore was falling, too.

Kritigri snarled, advancing on a troll and an undead who were closing in on a wounded sentinel. The druid had only ever killed the Horde in defence, and whilst that was true of this situation also, he found himself empty of the quiet remorse he usually felt at snuffing out life. Seething, he threw his arm into the air and called down a beam of lunar magic onto his foes. The undead fell apart like a badly made toy while the troll yelped, shielding his eyes and slapping senselessly at the newly raw flesh on his arms. While he was distracted, the wounded sentinel twisted on the floor and threw her glaive at his throat, killing him instantly. By the time Kritigri reached her, she had died of her wounds.

“Why?” he hissed over her body. “Why are they attacking us now? Why, when we were so close to a lasting peace?”

He knew, obviously. He’d visited Silithus and investigated the emerging Azerite in the area. He knew what power the mysterious new material held, and that there would be opportunists who would seek to destroy the Alliance with it. But he also knew that Azeroth was dying, and that in times like these the Horde and Alliance often came together to overcome whatever existential threat was upon them. So why-

“Brother! Watch out!”

Kritigri snapped out of his reverie just in time to notice the rogue that was almost upon him. He twisted out of the blood elf’s lunge and elbowed him in the throat, dropping him to the beach. The druid pinned him there with a foot and put his hand to the squirming rogue’s head, slowly roasting it with solar energy until the squirming stopped, and the fel green eyes dimmed.

Not a very druidic move. Not one he was proud of. But not one he had time to contemplate right now.

“Brother!” the call came again, this time without the warning. Kritigri lifted his eyes to see Jerrek standing at the edge of the forest, bow in hand, his face wrought with concern and pain. He took one step towards the beach and tilted downwards, crimson spurting out from behind him and onto the grinning orc that had struck him down.

Jerrek!” Kritigri roared, and shifted into cat form to sprint towards him. The orc raised her axe, but before she could complete her kill a nightstalker leaped out of the woods and sunk its teeth into her throat, tugging aggressively left and right. Kritigri felt relief and hope blossom in his heart, and pressed himself even faster to reach his youngest brother. He shifted out of cat form as he skidded to a stop to examine the wound.

The gash was deep, and blood was pooling around his brother at an alarming rate. But the cut had not reached the bone, and while Kritigri was no priest, druids had their own ways of mending wounds. He’d never been all that adept at healing, but he forced himself to soothe, to feel the beating heart of the forest, to call upon the essence of life found within the boughs and branches around him and to channel the essence back into his brother.

It worked. Flesh knit itself together before his eyes, and his brother’s breathing became steady once more. “By Elune’s grace,” he breathed, and slumped down next to him.

His brother groaned and sat up, pale from loss of blood.  “Thank you,” he managed. He cast about him, and his nightstalker came slinking up to him with his lost bow in her bloody jaws. He scratched her affectionately behind the ears, and she dropped it into his lap. “Nala,” he said to her. “You have saved me again. Please keep watch while I recover.” Obediently, the nightstalker faded back into the trees.

“Brother,” Kritigri muttered. “I had hoped you remained in Silithus, with the rest of our misguided forces.”

Jerrek gave him a rueful look. “I was on compassionate leave.”

“Compassionate… Jerrek, what happened?” But his brother’s downcast eyes told him all he needed to know. “Wyllum… your falcon. Jerrek, I’m sorry.” He meant it. A hunter’s bond with their beast was legendary. “Was it quick?”

Jerrek gave a taut smile. “Old age. The old bird lived longer than he had any right to, anyways. But enough idle talk.” His face hardened as he glared down the beach. “We’ve Horde to kill.”


Zeverys dashed between two sentinels, cutting their throats faster than the eye could follow. Alliance blood was indistinguishable from her red garb and ruby tattoos as she darted from foe to foe, a crimson blur on the battlefield. She felled those she vaguely recognised, likely from working together to defeat the Legion mere weeks ago. But unlike some of her order, she hadn’t forgotten her roots. Yes, she was a demon hunter. But she’d been a blood elf first. And so when her warchief had called upon her to join the assault on Darkshore, she had hesitated nary a moment before diving into the fray.

She did not hate the Alliance. She didn’t even think they deserved to die in such a manner. But as her warchief said, they could not be trusted to maintain a presence on this landmass from where Azerite was burgeoning like a plague. They had to nip this arms race in the bud, before a lasting war could truly begin. As a demon hunter, Zeverys was all too used to making hard decisions, and bargaining the value of individual lives against the greater good.

This wasn’t personal. This was necessary.

And the kaldorei had exiled her people and left them for dead all those years ago. Admittedly, that made the job easier.

ZEVERYS!

This roar of outrage came as she was stepping over yet another spasming sentinel, and she might have written it off as some old ally recognising her from Argus. But something in the voice spelled a deep, rending betrayal, and so she turned.

And met Archdruid Kritigri.

In moments he had crossed the battlefield to meet her, and she stood, emotionally disarmed, all of her resolve to fight for the Horde fleeing before the betrayal in his face. “Archdruid-”

“Why?” he implored her. The rage in his face contorted into sadness, bewilderment. “I expect it of them-” he pointed to a screaming orc in the distance – “But not you! I thought the Illidari saw above these petty squabbles? Wasn’t defeating the Legion your goal? To bring peace to Azeroth?”

Zeverys found herself fumbling for words. “I… it is! Your people abandoned us!” she spat clumsily.

It took him a moment to grasp what she meant. “Thousands of years ago! You weren’t even born then, were you?”

As if that exempted her from being affected by their exile. She scowled. “That’s not the only reason…” she saw the fury on his face, and stopped. “You know what? I don’t time to explain this to you. We have our reasons, that’s all you need to know. I’ll explain later, if I can. Now step aside, you’re in my way.” She moved to shoulder past him, but he placed himself in her way. She locked eyes with him. “Move.

He shook his head. “If you were betraying me alone? Sure. But how many more sentinels are you going to kill if I let you pass? How many more of my friends will you butcher for your fallen Ranger General?”

She snarled and whirled, ready to storm away. As she turned, a vine gripped her by the ankle and slammed her to the ground. Before she could yank herself free, more sprung up and began to curl around her.

He’s attacking me. After all the battles we’ve fought together. She immediately reprimanded herself for the thought. She was hardly blameless. But still, for him to turn his rage on her…

Having maintained her grip on her warglaives, she used them to hack at the roots around her. “Is there really no cure to your vengeance and hatred?” she sneered, repeating his words back at him. In return, thorns sprouted from the roots and began digging into her, scratching agonisingly across her flesh.

He’s going to kill me.

Not if we kill him first, a voice growled back at her. Reluctantly, she gave herself to the demon within.


Kritigri continued to will the roots to tighten, the thorns to sprout sharper, ignoring the part of him that was screaming from within. For Darkshore and Darnassus, he repeated to himself, for the sentinels she has killed, for the homes she intends to claim. Tighter, tighter.

Zeverys was darkening.

Too late, Kritigri realised she was transforming. His roots fell away, scorched and withered. A hulking demon now stood before him, warglaives in hand. It was still Zeverys, but her petite blood elf form had given way to a towering, muscled beast wreathed with a smokey darkness. He watched in horror as she unfurled herself, glowered at him… and charged.

Upon later recollection of the fight, Kritigri would admit that he was dead for sure. She was faster than him, within melee range, and empowered to frightening levels by the fel energies that coursed within her veins. He’d unsheathed his staff just in time to parry her first blow, while the second cleaved it in two; this was no Scythe of Elune. The next few moments of their duel had seen the archdruid darting around, getting some weak blasts of solar, lunar or astral magic in while he spent most of his efforts evading her otherworldly agility. Eventually, though, she followed him into a building and pinned him against the side of a wall. She raised her glaive, going for the throat.

The blade stopped a millimetre from his jugular.

The demon form melted away, but her grip did not soften.

They stood there for what felt like hours, her glaive to his throat, his gaze meeting hers. Behind the blindfold, it was impossible to gauge what was going through her mind.

Eventually, she removed her glaive, and simply walked away.

He did not follow.

The sounds of war grew more and more distant, until it became apparent that the fight had overtaken him, moving towards Lor’Danel. Kritigri pushed himself from the wall, hissing at the pain from his wounds, and realised his fight with Zeverys had taken him to the ruins of Auberdine. Around him sprawled the fresh corpses of too many sentinels, and not enough Horde. Wincing, he limped out of the battered inn, and continued limping towards the sound of battle until he had reached the coast. Here, the murlocs of old had long since been driven away by roaming adventurers, leaving only a few crawlers to skitter aimlessly across the beach, oblivious to the cataclysmic events happening around them.

Kritigri continued to limp down the beach. He could no longer hear the sound of battle.

A portal appeared a ways from him and Tolidar stepped out of it, with Jerrek on his shoulder. The youngest brother had overexerted himself after taking his wound from earlier, and Tolidar had clearly decided to pull him from the fight before he became another casualty of war. The pair were arguing – Jerrek was shouting that he should be fighting until the Horde killed him, that this was desertion, that Tolidar would burn for this. The latter brother was quietly but firmly overriding his brother, telling him that he’d been put on evacuation duty, that as far as he was concerned Jerrek was just another lost soul that needed rescuing, that he wasn’t going to leave his brother for dead even if he had abandoned him all those years ago.

“My brothers.”

Jerrek looked up in surprise. Tolidar met his gaze and said grimly, “They have taken Darkshore.”

Kritigri nodded. There was no more room in his heart for horror. He put his grief to the side. “Then take me to Darnassus. I would make sure that their occupation costs as few lives as possible.” Quietly, he feared for Virizard. He had seen no sign of his long lost brother in Darkshore.

“I’m coming too,” Jerrek cut in.

Tolidar nodded sombrely, giving in to his youngest brother. “We’ll all go. I’ll-”

Whatever he was about to say was cut off by the sound of a blast. Slowly, so slowly, Kritigri turned to the source of the explosion. A trebuchet had launched a firebomb into the bough of the World Tree.

Before he could comprehend this, another blow landed, and then another. The flames took hold with frightening efficiency.

“No,” Jerrek breathed.

“They’re… attacking Teldrassil?” Tolidar asked of nobody. “But why? What strategic advantage would that earn them? Don’t they know there’s only innocents left in the tree?” His voice pitched higher. “Elune, do they not know there’s innocents left in the tree?!” He immediately turned to begin working on a new portal.

Kritigri sank to his knees.

“NO,” Jerrek shouted. Nala appeared by his side and whined softly, but nobody heeded her.

A massive branch came loose and began its slow descent to the waters below.

The flames were enrapturing.

“Virizard is in there.”

It wasn’t until Jerrek snapped his head towards Kritigri that he realised he had spoken.

“Virizard’s dead,” Jerrek squinted.

“He’s not,” Tolidar replied dismissvely. “Kritigri, what do you mean? Why is he in Teldrassil?”

“He abandoned the Illidari,” the druid said, his voice hollow, his mouth dry. “Where else would he be?”

“The Illidari?” Jerrek snapped. Neither brother replied.

“We have to do something,” Kritigri muttered, but his body would not move. Jerrek’s own body suddenly slumped down next to him.

“Brothers,” Tolidar said, “I am sorry. I cannot lose any more of you.” And then he vanished, transporting himself to Darnassus and leaving no portal in his wake.


Zeverys stood on the coast of Lor’Danel, her warglaives jutting from the sand, watching with a hollow feeling in her gut as the World Tree burned before her. She could feel its heat from here. It took an effort to stand with the aches that the druid had given her, but she felt she owed him this much. To ache and endure at least a fraction of how he must be feeling right now. If he was even still alive. For his sake, she hoped not.

She did not exactly feel ashamed by her actions. The plan had never been to burn the World Tree or to kill innocents. Indeed, she was quite concerned by the actions her warchief had taken here today, and she did regret that it had come to this. But she had come into this conflict believing that she was serving the greater good, and if she had to see this through to the end to justify her bloodshed today, then… so be it.

“Look what you’ve done to my tree.”

Zeverys whirled – nearly falling – to see a night elf demon hunter approaching her. He had sooty black hair pulled back in a braided tail, and his bare chest bore his glowing purple scars to the world. Zeverys glanced around, but she had been standing here for hours; the rest of the Horde had all left to celebrate, or flee.

“Slayer,” she greeted him. “I had not thought I would see you again.”

“Nor did I, to be honest.”

“Are you here to kill me?”

“I should, shouldn’t I?” he unsheathed a warglaive and studied it for a moment, before snorting and replacing it. “I think not. Demon hunters should not concern themselves with the affairs of squabbling children.”

“So… the deaths that have occurred here mean nothing to you?” she asked carefully.

“Not nothing,” he admitted. “I am far removed from my people, and you and I have seen worse horrors than this. But it is still daunting.” He beheld the burning tree for a moment, and shook his head. “There’s more at play here. I have my suspicions as to what motivates your warchief.” Zeverys winced as he said it. “And, truth be told, my King.”

She eyed him. “Truly?”

“Truly. Or maybe I’m just hoping for some other existential threat to justify these scars and the nagging demon inside my head.” He shrugged. “Who knows. Either way, nothing good can come of demon hunters turning their glaives on one another due to a spat between some undead whore and a chastened boy king. Personally, I’m headed to Silithus.” He grinned. “There’s some bugs to kill down there, that’s for sure. Coming?”

Zeverys felt something odd then, something she’d felt before. It was as if she had come to a crossroads in her life, and her destiny was pulling her in two different directions. She turned once more to the tree, still burning all these hours after the Horde’s onslaught. And she measured her Slayer once more, in all his disturbing amiability. He hadn’t always been like this. Not for the first time, she wondered if the Legion hadn’t driven him mad.

It wouldn’t be the first time, the voice in her head leered.

“Of course I’m with you, Slayer Virizard,” she said, inclining her head. She turned her back on the burning World Tree and followed her mentor down the coast. She did not look back.

My E3 Wishlist 2018 (Probabilities be Damned)

I’d like to mention that Volume 3 of my World of Warcraft Character’s Lore is very nearly finished. It took much longer to write for several reasons, but it’s almost done.


E3 is just around the corner, and while I won’t be able to watch it because I booked my holiday for the week before like a muppet, I will inevitably hide myself from the internet until I’ve watched the VODs of the streams I wanted to see. I’m a sucker for live reveals. Anyway, I thought it’d be fun to write a list of the things I’d love to see at E3, whether it’s likely, implausible, or downright impossible.

So, in the order of when they popped into my head:

Ratchet and Clank on PC

Likelihood: It’d be one hell of a surprise. I’d possibly explode.

There’s literally no evidence to support that this will ever become a possibility, but it’s number one on the list of things I’d lose my shit about if it ever became reality. The Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy and the Spyro Re-ignited Trilogy have me ecstatic (I don’t own a PS4), but while I played those games at a young age, it was Ratchet and Clank that really had me hooked, and I’m currently on a long overdue quest to 100% every PS3 title (HD remasters and PS3 originals) that has trophies. And sure, maybe I’ll throw in a 100% for Tools of Destruction and Quest for Booty, too. I’ve already completed Ratchet and Clank 2, my favourite in the series, and am in the middle of completing the first game, possibly my least favourite (but still fucking fun). Bring the original trilogy to Steam (originals or buggy remasters), give em some Steam achievements, and I’d be more than happy to do it all over again. I’d settle for a Switch port, but what I’m really after is an achievement run.

Spyro Re-Ignited Trilogy PC or Switch Port

Likelihood: All but officially confirmed for the Switch, at least.

I’m more excited about the Spyro Re-Ignited Trilogy than the Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy, despite preferring the latter during my actual childhood. This is because Spyro appeals to the older me, the one who’s played Ratchet and Clank and sees many of its ideas originating in Spyro’s world. Plus, having played some of both series’ PS1 originals recently, I think I just prefer Spyro’s gameplay nowadays.

Anyway, when multiple people asked Nintendo Support if Spyro would be on Switch, multiple people got the response, ‘yes’. Plus, if I recall correctly, the trilogy was actually listed on Nintendo’s website for a brief time before they took it down, so rumour has it they’re waiting to announce it at E3, possibly with a later release date. What I’m concerned about is a PC release, so I can hunt those achievements. I’m not as crazy about achievements as I used to be, but for platformers and classics like the games I’ve previously discussed here, I’m a sucker for it.

Diablo 3 on Switch

Likelihood: The Diablo Twitter account basically confirmed it before Nintendo hushed them up. Woopsie!

What matters most is whether the announcement would come from Nintendo, or Blizzard. I’m imagining Nintendo, as they’re rumoured to be the ones who were quick to step in and tell Blizzard to say that they had no news regarding Diablo on Switch after Diablo tweeted a gif of them pressing a plug switch to power a Diablo nightlight.

Look, basically this Eurogamer article keeps me living in hope.

Dragon Age 4

Likelihood: Decently likely!

Keep in mind that I haven’t done any research and that this is just a fun little wishlist, but apparently Bioware have been plugging away on something after Mass Effect: Andromeda. I quite enjoyed what I played of Inquisition (maybe half of the main story, a decent chunk of sidequests) and I’d totally be up for a new one.

I should probably go back and finish Inquisition first, though…

The Elder Scrolls 6

Likelihood: Not very likely. And I respect that.

Apparently, after the rip-roaring success of Skyrim and Fallout 4, Todd’s slice of Bethesda wanted to work on something new. They’ve also stated that Elder Scrolls 6 is a long way off because the technology isn’t there yet for what they want to do. (…ES6: Tamriel?) At first, this angered me. Damnit, there was demand to be met! But over time, I’ve softened to the idea. That being said, an Elder Scrolls 6 announcement would have me hyped to the goddamn moon. I’m not expecting one, and I’ve got plenty of ESO content to tide me over, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t on my wishlist.

Starfield!

Likelihood: I imagine it’ll be front and center for Bethesda’s conference

Remember how I said Todd’s slice of Bethesda wanted to work on something new? They’re working on something called Starfield (project name or game name, idk), and I don’t know much about it (like I said, no research), but apparently it’s a sci-fi RPG. And I’m talking outer-space sci-fi, not post-apocalyptic Boston sci-fi. I’m super excited to learn more about this, and if it was just Skyrim but in space I’d be… I’m running out of metaphors for excitement, bear with me… happier than a moon pig in spacemuck. I guess.

Ratchet and Clank 2

 Likelihood: Pretty sure Insomniac are mostly busy with Spiderman

Still, they re-imagined Ratchet and Clank for PS4 and the result was phenomenal. I don’t actually own a PS4, but I have watched a playthrough of the game, and the amount of original ideas from the first game that they reworked for the PS4 iteration was astonishing. Seeing as Ratchet and Clank 2 is my favourite game of the series, I would love to see it get the same treatment.

DOOM 2

Likelihood: I mean, the first game was received brilliantly. Sequel time!

Speaking of re-imaginings deserving of sequels, DOOM! I’ve played about half of the new one before uninstalling to make room for, well, anything else. (I’ve only recently acquired a long-overdue hard drive for my PC.) I can’t wait to reinstall the game and play it over. I’d love to see a sequel to the newest DOOM. I could see it spawning many sequels with possibilities of a rich universe of science and demons, and lots and lots of gore.

Also, Wolfenstein got its sequel. It’s only fair!

Spelunky 2

Likelihood: As likely that I’ll fall and die to spikes in my next run.

Spelunky 2 was announced last October, so we’re due for some gameplay and some more information on the sequel. I run a series named The Daily Rogue where I play roguelikes – typically Spelunky – and embarrass myself by dying over, and over, and over again. I’d like to do that in a sequel, too.

Halo: Master Chief Collection, PC Edition

Likelihood: A few months ago I’d have said unlikely. Now….

The point of a console exclusive is to lure someone into buying said console. They’ve never worked on me. But Halo has come pretty damn close. For many, many years I have wanted to play Halo, and when they announced the Master Chief collection I held my breath and dared to wish for a PC announcement by the end of the presentation. There wasn’t one. My dreams were crushed. Again.

Recently, a fanmade mod of a PC game named Halo Online – exclusive to Russia – became popular enough that Microsoft took notice, and shut it down. After the inevitable outcry, 343 Industries mentioned that they’ve taken notice of the requests for the franchise to come to PC. I’d be surprised if E3 2018 contained anything more than a “we’re working on it” style announcement ala vanilla WoW at Blizzcon, but I’d be ecstatic nonetheless.

Need for Speed Underground 2 HD

Likelihood: A man can dream…

Burnout Paradise recently received the remake treatment, and that’s not even that old of a game. Instead of announcing yet another Need for Speed that fails to meet the mark, why not revive a classic? And speaking of remastering classics rather than modern titles…

The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion Remastered

Likelihood: Probably not

Skyrim didn’t need a Special Edition. It’s a nice update to the game, but giving Oblivion a rework would have tided us over much more comfortably until the Elder Scrolls 6. As someone who started out their Elder Scrolls life in Skyrim, it’s hard to go back and appreciate Oblivion without all of the creature comforts that Skyrim offers.

Hell, just officially recognise Skyblivion and assist the development. It’s been in the works since the Merethic Era.

Pokemon Switch

Likelihood: If they can stop frothing about Smash for more than two minutes…

It’s confirmed that the next Pokemon game is coming to Switch, but in what form? The dream would be a full action-RPG style adventure across multiple continents, from Kanto to Alola, but that’s very unlikely. At this point, though, I am wondering if I’d welcome a remake of Red and Blue in whatever format Pokemon appears on the Switch than I would a new generation entirely. With every passing gen I find it harder to immerse myself in the world of Pokemon, but I always love the remakes.

Virtual Console Substitute on Switch

Likelihood: A few months ago I’d have said likely. Now…

They’ve announced that the Nintendo Online service is going to include a library of NES Games that grows over time. What they haven’t announced is whether this extends past NES, and whether these games will be sold separately at all. As someone who bought Switch partially because they envied the Wii U’s general console….

NINTENDO, PLEASE. YOU CAN HAVE MY MONEY. JUST DO IT.

Animal Crossing on Switch

Likelihood: It’s due, if you don’t count the mobile one.

Following on from my last entry, I’d be more than happy with just Animal Crossing Gamecube appearing on Switch. I’d be delighted to see a new entry in the series, however. I’ve always thought that the handheld entries were lacking something, and that the console ones suffered from lack of accessibility – especially on the Wii, where you had to break out the motion controls if you wanted to interact with your inventory at all. (Don’t judge me.) A Switch game would be a brilliant way to bridge that gap.

Mario Maker on Switch

Likelihood: Well, they’re porting everything else from the Wii U…

Mario Maker is my sole regret for not having a Wii U. Customisable Mario levels sounds like exactly my flavour of jam. I have a certain enjoyment for games where you throw yourself at nigh-impossible levels over and over again to gain the satisfaction of being in the 1% of people who actually beat it, and Mario Maker literally has a UI that tells you if you’ve accomplished this. GIMMIE.

Untitled Yoshi Game

Likelihood: It’s been in development for a while!

Do you really need me to justify this entry?

BADUNG

 

Everything on the Switch.

Likelihood: I will march down to Nintendo and make some very polite demands

Ratchet and Clank on Switch. WoW on Switch. ESO: Switch Edition. Runescape. Destiny 2. LEGO Star Wars. Jak and Daxter Fortnite GTA V Saints Row 3 Spore No Man’s Sky Borderlands Brain Training Atari Arcade Duck Hunt Club Penguin Getting Over It With Benjamin Foddy Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything Everything not call of duty though

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.

The Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo’s Recent Launch History

When the Switch was first announced, I was ecstatic. The proof-of-concept type trailer that they used to show the functionality of the Switch was a frequently watched video for the next few weeks, and the possibilities – mainly, portable Skyrim – were enticing. It’s the most excited I’ve ever been for a Nintendo home console, as somebody who only really paid attention to the company’s non-handhelds around the launch of the Wii. And for the most part, my excitement remains unchanged. But there’s one big reason (besides the price) that I’m not going to grab the console any time soon, and it’s the same reason why I’ve never been all that fussed about rushing for a brand new Nintendo console.

Launch titles. Nintendo has a history of launching their consoles with very little in the way of actual games, and the Switch is no exception. Typically, there will be one big, triple-A title, followed by a smattering of third party games that are swiftly forgotten in the following months, and a game or two which promotes the main gimmick of the console. For instance, with the launch of the DS, the US saw the release of Super Mario 64 DS – a remake of an older game – alongside Asphalt Urban GT, The Urbz: Sims in the City, Feel the Magic: XY/XX, Spider-Man 2 and Madden NFL 2005. The Wii’s launch was somewhat more respectable, with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wii Sports (their proof of concept style title), and a handful of larger titles found on other consoles. The 3DS launch was particularly barren, with not a single standout title and a smattering of potential interests depending on your niche franchise preferences. The ill-faring Wii U launched with a dramatic number of title ports that ultimately failed to pull audiences away from rival consoles which did a better job of running the games.

The Switch, then, follows this pattern to a tee. You have the large triple-A title that everyone wants to play, namely The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And you have their gimmicky demo, 1-2 Switch, which I’ve seen reported as being fun for a few hours but far from a full title. (Hello again, Wii Sports. I see they gave you a hefty price tag this time.) You have an attempt to revitalise a dead franchise (here’s to you, Bomberman) and a few niche or unique titles. In all fairness, I’ve not played them. They could be fantastic. But I’ve not heard much besides “meh”.

I was going to dedicate a portion of this blog post to what I thought was a less-than-wise decision to launch your new console with its main title being available on the previous platform. From what I’ve seen and heard, Breath of the Wild is only slightly less impressive on the Wii U – almost negligibly so. I’d just like to point out that on this front, though, I was dead wrong, as Breath of the Wild is apparently outselling Super Mario 64 as a launch title so far. I felt that was worth mentioning, considering how this blog post has criticised Nintendo’s console launches so far. I’m not a big Zelda fan myself, and even I want to get my hands on this one.

Despite all of this, I’m still pretty damn excited for the Switch. I’ve seen the list of games which are coming to the console, and I’m absolutely planning on buying titles such as Skyrim, Terraria, and Stardew Valley for a second (or third) time, as well as investing in some other indies that I’ve not gotten around to yet like Shovel Knight, The Binding of Isaac and Unbox. Plus, the 3DS gamer in me is eager to delve into the Virtual Console library again, and to own some of Nintendo’s older games that previously didn’t make it onto the 3DS shop. Plus, as somebody who skipped the Wii U as deftly as Neo from The Matrix dodges bullets, I’m looking forward to owning a Nintendo home console again and playing some larger titles.

But that’ll all come in a year or two. Because, once again, Nintendo has given us a console with hardly any decent games attached. I’m just hoping that Breath of the Wild’s success will carry the Switch past Nintendo’s recent early day console failings. The 3DS caught up, but the Wii U never did quite manage to recover from so many devs pulling their support.

I’ve also found Nintendo to focus somewhat too much on giving their consoles some crazy functionality, to the point where it can hinder gameplay. I can only assume that after the Gamecube’s failure to compete against the Xbox and the PS2, Nintendo decided to stop competing altogether and take things in a whole different direction. It worked for the DS. Theoretically speaking, it worked for the Wii, but in a manner that made it more of a family party console than the Nintendo gaming console that many people wanted. I can’t count the number of times I got sick of playing Animal Crossing because of the Wii’s motion controls. The 3DS had a dismissable gimmick, so much so that Nintendo capitalised on it and sold a non-3D variant of the console. The Wii U was a weird mess of motion control and dual screens combined into a home console with an identity crisis. The Switch, however, has functionality which actually makes it more convenient to play, like Nintendo’s handhelds, as opposed to being less convenient, such as its home-based predecessors.

So, that’s about the sum of my thoughts regarding the Switch. I’m sure they mirror many others. I’ll be excited to own it when it has a decent library a year or two from now, so that it can be the companion console to my gaming PC. As much as I frown upon Nintendo’s functionality-driven approach to consoles, it works out for them in the somewhat niche market of PC gamers looking for a console that isn’t simply a less-powerful version of what they can already accomplish. Making it semi-portable is what mostly solidified my interest in it.

Player Owned Housing

So I don’t know about you, but I personally have always been a fan of the Player Owned Housing systems typically found in MMOs and RPGs. The idea of having your own personal space which can be decorated with your heroic endeavours (or plain old furniture) has always been charming to me, and with the release of ESO’s Homestead update which adds (surprise surprise) Player Owned Housing, I thought I’d look back on some of my favourite versions of this feature in gaming.

To begin with, though, I’ll add that I’ve barely scratched the surface of ESO’s Homestead update. As a poor, lowly level 30ish character, I don’t feel the pull to immediately go home hunting, knowing in my heart that I won’t be able to afford much more than the free inn room that the opening quest awards you. I have a clip of my reaction upon entering my “House” for the first time, though:

Cosy.

Before moving on from the topic of ESO, I will add that what I have seen of the furnishing system looks very well done and fleshed out. It’s not grid or tile based; nor is it a simple options menu that allows you to select what you put in your house, but not where, as was the case in Skyrim (and Runescape, incidentally, discussed below). ESO’s furnishing system allows full free to place your furniture and collections anywhere. And, er, I mean anywhere.

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It has idle animations, too. The breathing wallhorse is a sight to behold.

So anyway, my first real housing system was in Runescape, and it comes in the form of one of its many skills, Construction. Any Runescape player that isn’t a billionaire will happily tell you how much of a bitch Construction is to train, as it’s one of the most expensive skills in the game. Obviously you have to buy your plot of land, and then each room costs money too – a pittance, really, but to a low-levelled player with little money, it’s a fair gold sink. You also have to pay to upgrade the size of your land, to allow for expansion. The real money sink, however, comes in the form of planks, which you need to build the majority of your furniture. Planks cannot be made by the player. The player must take logs to the sawmill and pay 500gp each to have them made into planks, a cost which adds up alarmingly quickly given how many planks you’ll be needing.

Besides this, however, the housing system is great… though on second thoughts, I may be looking at it through rose-tinted glasses, seeing as room furnishing layouts are unchangeable, you can simply construct different tiers of furniture within the highlighted spaces. Regardless, it’s still a satisfying feeling to upgrade your wonky, uncomfortable parlour chairs into cushioned seats, and to add more functionality to your kitchen as you go along. My favourite part about Runescape’s housing system was always the player-run house parties you could attend back in the day. I don’t know if anyone still bothers with them, but last time I checked, the house party world was devoid of, erm, parties. That being said, they may have all moved to Prifdinnas, a high level area I’m yet to unlock.

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Here’s my attempt at capturing the entire downstairs of my house. Yes, it’s wonky shaped. Can’t be helped!
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And here’s the upstairs. Bit less filled out, working on it!

Another one of my favourite housing systems belongs in Skyrim, though there are two types of houses in that game. The first one that shipped with the vanilla game consists of you unlocking the ability to buy a house, buying the house, and then buying each room from the steward to become fully furnished. Quite basic, but functional, and homely enough to enjoy living in. Plus, the cost was well-tailored to make it obtainable, whilst maintaining the satisfaction of making a hefty purchase to secure your own home.

The second version launched with the Hearthfire DLC, and allows you to build a house from scratch, adding from a choice of different wings as your house expanded. Much like Runescape though, you didn’t choose your furniture so much as unlock it. This is perhaps a little more forgiveable given that it’s a single player RPG, and players are therefore unlikely to think of making their home unique a priority. It’s a good place to store the wife and kids, anyway. And speaking of storage, houses in Skyrim acted as a sort of bank, in that they contained safe chests for you to store all your dragon bones and cheesewheels in.

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I always liked this screenshot of my house.

Player Owned Housing is a system that has been requested in World of Warcraft for many years now. In fact, one gate at the end of the Stormwind Canals had an inaccessible instance portal which the devs later admitted was going to lead into player housing. However, they said they’d only ever add it to the game if it had a function other than the novelty of owning a house. Player owned housing is still an often requested feature, but what many players don’t realise is that the Garrisons of Warlords of Draenor was a take on that concept. Players were given their own garrison which only they could enter, and it provided many in-game purposes regarding quest lines, professions, and conveniences such as accessing your bank and various vendors. Garrisons are retrospectively viewed as one of the worst ideas in the WoW, as they removed the multiplayer aspect by giving players too much accessibility in their private garrisons, and the mobile type gameplay of the mission tables one used to govern their garrison followers ensured that the player didn’t even have to complete dungeon or raiding content to get the best gear.

What players don’t realise – or seem to have forgotten – was the initial success of the Garrisons system, before it became apparent that they were going to lead into the death of gameplay. For the first time in Warcraft history, players had their own space in-game that they could customise (albeit to a very limited degree) and make their own. I remember reddit flooding with positive feedback about the system for a good month, and I myself was delighted with having my own base of operations. This, of course, didn’t last, and I soon despise my garrison as much as everyone else. Now we’re in Legion, however, I’ll admit that it’s not so bad when revisiting Warlords of Draenor’s content, although the lack of any cosmetic customisability is disappointing.

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Disregard the fact that my spellbook is open. This is totally not a salvaged screenshot of the only picture I have of my garrison on my hard drive. LOOK I’M NOT SUBSCRIBED RIGHT NOW OKAY

There were, of course, plenty of other games that allowed you the ownership and customisation of your own house. An old web game I used to play called Gaia Online is still around:

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I’m surprised this is still around.

I remember trying out Everquest 2 specifically for the player housing:

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Picture taken on my old, dying laptop, hence the horrible graphics quality.

And of course, the most cutting edge player housing of them all:

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Club Penguin, home of accidental intimidation.

All in all, there are plenty of games which give you your own house to dick around in, and I’m always drawn to the objective of owning my own place. Maybe it’s what drew me to Minecraft and Animal Crossing. Well, in the meantime, here’s another goofy EQ2 screenshot:

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Welcome to Jackass.

The Death of Club Penguin

Bloody hell, remember Club Penguin? I decided to revisit it with a friend just last week after being thoroughly surprised to find it still going. To my surprise, the game was very recognisable and largely unchanged since I’d last logged in sometime around 2008…ish. Well, anyway, apparently the servers are shutting down at the end of March so that Disney can focus on pushing their new mobile version for the iPhone kiddies of today, which is sure to be riddled with more microtransactions than you can shake a flipper at. So I’ve decided to reboot this gaming blog after it’s unplanned month’s hiatus (sorry about that) to take a trip down memory… berg?

Ugh. That was terrible.

My original penguin was called KrazyK3000, and as that name is currently available for registration and I couldn’t log into it, I’m willing to bet it’s been deleted. I’ll never know for sure, seeing as the password recovery email was sent to my Dad’s old AOL email account… god knows that’s lost to the ages. I did, however, use my own email account to write in ideas for the game, and I still have access to that one. Here’s one of the two ideas I sent:

Hi. This isn’t exactly a BIG enquiry – if anything, a suggestion – but there’s no other place to ask.

I was a member for a month, and I can’t be one anymore. It’s really frustrating not being able to uby any clothes so I was wondering – maybe make the clearence sales available to all players? Or make a section for all players?

Think of it this way – the players of club penguin would wear these clothes, and think – hang on, I want the modern clothes/normal clothes. I’m becoming a member!

I’m not going to ask for furniture in igloo’s – that’s too much to ask.

Please take my idea into thought 🙂

Club Penguin had – and as far as I’m aware still has – a membership feature, allowing players to buy clothes and igloo (player owned housing) decorations with in-game coins. Free to play penguins had to suffer a life of nudity and empty igloos no matter how many coins they made, and as such membership was highly coveted by those without it. They sent me back a very polite no:

Hello,

You certainly sent your suggestion to the right place!  We will consider your idea but I cannot promise that free penguins will be able to purchase clearance items.  If you can think of any other ways that we can improve Club Penguin be sure to let us know.

Don\’t forget to collect the pin because the next one will be hidden on January 30th!

Have a great day,

Club Penguin Support

That was fine though, because the real fun to be had in Club Penguin was in the minigames. My favourite memory of the game is playing the Gone Fishing minigame until 1am as my father had fallen asleep on the sofa and failed to order me to bed. I was also a big fan of the pizza making game, and knew a secret that let you change the game so that you made chocolate pizzas instead of normal ones. I also vaguely remember the launch of an in-game dojo, and some sort of card minigame that went with it. You could beat other players and earn different coloured belts to show your prestige.

My favourite place to hang out in-game was the Coffee Shop, despite the fact that there really wasn’t much to do there. I remember particularly enjoying the soundtrack:

It reminds me oddly of Spyro the Dragon, retrospectively. At the time I thought the music was peaceful, though now I’d say it’s oddly funky. And the mere usage of that word makes me sound too old to be reminiscing about Club Penguin.

After what I somehow interpreted as a positive response to my first suggestion, I went on to send a much more enthusiastic email to the Club Penguin Support Team regarding one of my wilder and more original ideas:

Here’s another idea for you =] (Amn’t I great?)

Rockhopper Back – With ORANGE puffles!
“Yeah, yeah, another puffle, so what?”
-Available to all players (even if they already have 2) hwile they’re on sale on the migrator.
-Only available to members in the pet shop afterwards.
-Special trick – Burns an orange doorway in the air, and emerges through another orange doorway on the other side of the igloo.
-Special trick on full stomach – burns an orange doorway in the air just above the ground, and appears out of one higher up, falling repeatidly.
-Eating food: Opens mouth wide open, eats the bowl whole with the food, an orange doorway appears, the bowl slides out.
-Taking a bath: I dunno, sorry.

Or you can think up your own cool tricks, at least go with the orange puffle?

Idea colours for future puffles:

– Light green
– Dark Blue (not purple)
– Rainbow/Colour shifter
– White (Maybe turns invisible?)

Please take my ideas into consideration 😛

If anyone is lost, a “puffle” is a kind of furball which can be bought as a pet in Club Penguin. Free players could buy a red and a blue one, whereas members had a few extra options to choose from. The odd thing is, I was never a huge fan of them, and I’m pretty sure that I submitted this idea more as an attempt to influence the shape of the game than being legitimately excited for them.

Anyway, here’s the pacifying response:

Hi there,

Thank you for your fantastic idea.  It\’s so great to see how creative penguins can be.

It is always so exciting when Captain Rockhopper returns with surprises for all his penguin friends and orange Puffles would be quite a find out at sea! You have clearly put a great deal of thought into what orange Puffles would be like, and I especially like the part where they could burn orange doorways in mid air and then use them to transport around. Your truly an inspiring penguin and although I can not promise we will be able to use your suggestions, I will definitely share them with the rest of the team at our next meeting!

Keep sending in your terrific thoughts and have a great day!

Waddle and imagine on,

Club Penguin Support

Very professional and complimentary, and I can only guess as to whether this was actually brought up in any meeting, but as yellow puffles were introduced a short time later I think it’s only fair to say that I belong in the credits as a Lead Designer with the Most Original Idea Ever in the History of Anything.

All joking aside, it’s a shame to hear that they’re shutting the game down, and I’m sure I’ll log on during the Great Penguin Doomsday soon to come. As childish and memefied as the game is, it provided legitimate hours of fun for young Kristian, and I’ll miss being able to revisit it during bouts of nostalgia.