Firstly, I’ll mention that I missed the Sony and Square Enix conferences due to time constraints. I watched the EA Play, Microsoft, Bethesda, Ubisoft, PC Gamer and Nintendo presentations. Now, here’s what I’m hyped for in order of most to least hype. All of the following entries are what I’m hyped for, so the bottom isn’t something I hate but something I’m mildly excited for.
From the top, then:
The Elder Scrolls VI
Did you expect anything else from the top of this list?
Bethesda Game Studios rarely announce games so far ahead of time, but with the growing demand for a new Elder Scrolls game I’m thankful that they decided to give us some reassurance. The landscape shown in the teaser looks like it belongs to High Rock, native home of the Bretons who, thematically, I’ve always seen as the medieval kingdom style of civilisation. If this is the case, I think Bethesda have made a very wise choice in setting, as High Rock has many similarities to the style of Game of Thrones including the visual setting and political intrigue. I think that taking inspiration from Game of Thrones and emulating its style of fantasy would be a fantastic fit for the Elder Scrolls series, and wouldn’t come as a surprise given that each Elder Scrolls game since Morrowind has been catered towards a different style of fantasy – alien, traditional, and Nordic for Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim respectively.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
I am very far behind in the Assassin’s Creed series. The last game I finished was Assassin’s Creed Revelations, and I’ve been stubbornly refusing to skip the following games as I’m invested in the present-day story. I’ve had my eye on the modern games in the series since Syndicate, and the existence of Origins has had me willing to get back into the series for a long time. When Odyssey was revealed, however, to be in Ancient Greece, my hype levels went through the roof and I have since purchased and begun playing Origins, which luckily has no present day story at all.
If they make a game set in the decline of ancient Rome, it would complete the holy trinity of fascinating ancient eras. And I will play all of them.
I really, really need to go back and finish DOOM (2016). It’s a fantastic game, and I only ever uninstalled it due to my then limited SSD space. That’s not barrier to me now, and the fact that a sequel is coming up – Hell on Earth, no less – has sent it rocketing back up to the top of my must-play list.
I’ve never played the first RAGE. It looked like a less colourful version of Borderlands. RAGE 2 does not look like a less colourful version of Borderlands. RAGE 2 looks like it wants to PARTY HARD YEAH WOO PARTY PARTY MURDER MURDER
Andrew W.K aside, the gunplay looks as heavy and satisfying as DOOM (2016) and the abilities look very interesting. The main character sounds gruffly charismatic and you know what fuck it I’m just going to buy RAGE 1 even if it is mediocre
Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee Edition (HE RIDES ON YOUR HEAD)
“This,” Nintendo says proudly, “is Pokemon Let’s Go. It is based off of Pokemon Yellow, but is a uniquely different experience to the Core RPG series.”
“That’s not Pokemon Yellow Remastered” says the internet. “It’s different.”
“Yes,” say Nintendo. “You see, in this game-”
“I HATE IT” says the internet.
The internet is very dumb. Pokemon Let’s Go looks fantastic and I’m excited to see how their changing up the formula feels as I play through the game. The internet is too busy focusing on the fact that there’s no battling wild Pokemon to realise that trainer battles and gym battles are still a thing, as is online play. The shift has definitely changed to collecting Pokemon, something which honestly excites me. I’ve grown a little bored of the newer Pokemon games. I might be more excited about this than a potential Gen 8 game.
Forza Horizon 4
I’ve played about 20 hours of The Crew, which is basically Need for Speed turned MMO. And I really like it. I have plans to delve back into it. The Crew 2 is coming out soon, and honestly, I might have been interested in it, if I hadn’t seen Forza Horizon 4.
I’ve never played a Forza game, but this looks gorgeous. The multiplayer stuff looks similar to The Crew, and having an open world racing game that’s actually set in my country for once piques my interest as well.
I want to race through the UK, collect and customise as many cars as I can, and hang out with other players. And this looks set to deliver.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate
When the Nintendo Direct ended with Super Smash Bros, I was disappointed, but that was because they hadn’t announced Animal Crossing, Mario Maker or more details on their retro games. Also, the last Super Smash Bros I played was on 3DS, and it didn’t make much of an impression on me. But put out and disappointed as I was, I continued watching. And then I remembered how much I loved Super Smash Bros Brawl on the Wii. And then I decided that I was pretty excited for this one, too.
I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS YET BUT IT’S A SINGLE PLAYER BETHESDA RPG IN SPACE SO THAT’S COOL
I’ve always been more of an Elder Scrolls guy rather than a Fallout guy. I’ve played a couple hours of Fallout 4 and I feel like that’s the one that I could really get into, though, so seeing Fallout 76 and how it’s modelled after Fallout 4 makes it interesting by default. The fact that it’s an online multiplayer game made by Bethesda Game Studios makes it a total wildcard that I don’t quite know what to think about. I’m going to watch this from afar as it releases and wait for the dust to settle, and the inevitable game-fixing patches to roll out.
Star Control: Origins
Star Control: Origins is based off of an older game of the same name which I’m pretty sure was a major inspiration for the Spore space stage. And anything that is similar to the Spore space stage is sure to tickle my pickle.
I’m sorry. That’s gross. I shouldn’t have said that.
Star Control: Origins looks to be a game about exploring the stars, meeting new alien races, collecting resources and engaging with hostiles. The planets are charmingly simple spheres that you can fly around on, and their simplicity looks to mean that there’s plenty of them. They’re not all trying to be totally unique. They know what they are, and they’re okay with it. I’m okay with it, too. You go, little spheres. You do you.
This isn’t quite going for the scale that No Man’s Sky did. It may, however, achieve more than No Man’s Sky due to its simpler nature.
Super Mario Party
I’ve never played a Mario Party before, but this one looks fun!
The Elder Scrolls: Blades
YEAH IT’S A MOBILE GAME but it’s also coming out on PC. As long as it isn’t driven by microtransactions, I’m down for a little distraction where I can build up my keep and go on little Elder Scrolls themed roguelike dives. Plus, apparently there’s a story mode. In short: I’ll take it!
Whatever the hell Halo Infinite turns out to be
Is there anything to say about this that I haven’t said in the header? It’s coming to PC. Woo, I think.
And that obvious one that I probably missed
Yeah, the one. Not that totally big and cool release that everyone’s talking about, but that little indie one that showed up for 5 seconds on the PC Gamer show and then left my memory. Oh, like Two Point Hospital! And Satisfactory! Okay, those are added to the list. I don’t have much to say about them, though? They cool.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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
Firstly, thank you everyone for the wonderful feedback on Volume 1! Such positive comments! Feedback of any kind is what motivates me to write more, so without further ado, here is Volume 2. And I promise, I’m all out of Night Elves.
Sisters of Light and Shadow
In the verdant plains of Nagrand in a village named Telaar, two young draenei sisters played among the fields. The eldest was named Aeonaar, and she was often seen scurrying after her mischievous younger sister, Dionaar. They were too young to know of Argus or of the army of demons hunting their people, but they would learn soon enough.
The sisters were often schooled on the ways of the Light in Telaar, and soon enough the sisters had grown from children into studious young women. Dionaar grew out of her mischievous ways, and despite being the younger of the two sisters, she became the more promising pupil of the Light. She was awestruck by the benevolence and healing properties of the Light, and whilst Aeonaar was no novice, it was Dionaar who advanced through their class in leaps and strides whilst her elder sister struggled to keep up.
As the sisters grew, so too did orcish aggression against their people. The orcs had been corrupted by the Legion in one of their many attempts to break into Azeroth, and as a side effect, the draenei were being hunted in alarmingly high numbers. The sisters quickly found themselves becoming wartime medics, using the Light to heal their injured friends as they stood their ground against the orcs. During these times, Aeonaar found herself motivated by her younger sister’s talent and sheer determination to right the wrongs of the world.
Eventually, an orc by the name of Ner’Zhul would bring catacylsmic destruction to Draenor after ripping the fabric of the world apart too often with his portals. The world buckled, and parts of Nagrand exploded into the sky as the apocalypse wrought its toll on the ancient land. The draenei sisters held each other close as they waited for the end, but after many days and nights, the rumbling stopped. Cautiously, they emerged from their broken village to find that the world as they knew it was gone. The sky had been replaced with the chaotic energies of the Twisting Nether; the seas had fallen away into the abyss; the mountains remained stationary in the air, defying gravity. Draenor was dead. This new land would come to be known as Outland.
Aeonaar despaired, but Dionaar told her that it was a miracle of the Light that life still persisted on this broken shelf. Talbuk still roamed, and Elekk still thundered through the grassy plains. Nevertheless, what remained of Telaar was not safe. Dionaar had received a vision urging them to journey to a region that would come to be known as Zangarmarsh, where Prophet Velen was amassing their people. The sisters rallied as many of the surviving villagers as they could, and began the long journey. They would join with his band and journey with him for many years thereafter. During this time they would make the journey to Shattrath city, and discover the naaru that awaited them there, a being of pure Light which had come to them from the cosmos. Aeonaar was enamoured with the benevolence of this being, and she felt her connection to the Light grow stronger after spending time in its presence. As for Dionaar, she had met a handsome draenei leatherworker named Dalren in Shattrath, and despite her best interests to refrain from becoming distracted from her holy mission, fell completely in love with him.
Eventually, a plan was formed to venture to the Netherstorm and take control of an interdimensional craft named the Exodar, so that they might journey to Azeroth. Aeonaar, Dionaar and Dalren all volunteered to join the expedition, and they reached the Exodar with little opposition. As they assaulted Tempest Keep in order to seize control of the Exodar, however, they met resistence from the blood elves, and a stray arrow struck Dalren in the throat, and felled him.
Aeonaar had never heard her sister scream in such a way. Not even during the destruction of Draenor.
As they boarded the Exodar, the sisters dragged Dalren with them, begging the Light to heal his wounds, to undo the hole in his throat and restore his ability to breathe. As benevolent as the Light was, however, there were limits to its powers, and Dalren had already passed beyond the mortal veil. Aeonaar knew that their attempts were hopeless, but would not give up, for the sake of her sister. Eventually, however, it appeared that there were blood elves on board the Exodar, and that they had sabotaged the ship; Aeonaar’s attention was demanded elsewhere. Dionaar refused to leave Dalren’s side, even as the Exodar shuddered and began hurtling out of control towards Azeroth through the Twisting Nether. Before they crashed, Dionaar’s eyes found the stars, and she found herself fixating on the darkness between them.
When at last they crashed on Azuremyst Isle and began making an account of the survivors, Dionaar was nowhere to be found.
Aeonaar, Lightforged Draenei Holy Priest
Aeonaar was deeply disturbed by the disappearance of her sister. She wished to search the island, and indeed search parties were sent out to look for her and others. But her expertise with the Light was needed here, to save as many of the injured as she could. It was agonising for her to refrain from joining the search for Dionaar, but she believed in the sanctity of life above all else. She couldn’t allow those around her to perish due to her own selfish needs.
She would never find her sister in those coming months and years. Her grief ran deep, but she never felt that she had erred in her decision to serve the holy Light and heal as many survivors as she could that day. Instead, she dedicated herself to the needs of her people and the peoples of the Alliance, who had provided her people with aid when they needed it most. Over the next decade she followed armies back into Outland to slay the traitor Illidan; she journeyed with them to Northrend to end the threat of the Lich King; she travelled the world as a healer after an all-too familiar cataclysm wrought tragedy across the world; she healed the casualties of the Alliance and, secretly, the Horde during their conflicts in Pandaria. She kept herself busy, all the while keeping an ear to the ground regarding the whereabouts of her sister. After the siege of Orgrimmar, Aeonaar decided to take some time and scour the globe in search of her sister, in an attempt to put her mind at ease once and for all.
She found nothing. If Dionaar was out there, she did not wish to be found.
Aeonaar might have had time to despair, had her people’s hunters not chosen that moment to finally break into Azeroth and launch an all-out invasion. She found herself called back into the line of duty, and as events unfolded she was given the opportunity to march upon Argus, her ancestral homeland, to bring an end to the Legion once and for all.
Many draenei, upon setting hoof on Argus for the first time in their lives or in millennia, found themselves overcome with sorrow. What had once been a jewel of a civilisation had crumbled to ash, to fel rock and hatred. Instead, Aeonaar found hope. The very fact that they were able to land here and take the fight to the Legion was a testament to the determination of the mortal races and their desire to bring peace to the world. Furthermore, they met with the Army of the Light, largely composed of a sect of Lightforged Draenei who were even more attuned to the Light than she and her fellow priests were. And it was with the power of this Light that they were able to fight and to keep their allies fighting, until they finally assaulted the Burning Throne and removed the Legion’s threat once and for all.
After the celebrations, Aeonaar received a summons from High Exarch Turalyon of the Army of the Light. He was looking for new recruits, strong in the ways of the Light, to join his golden army. He explained that the Legion was not the only threat to Azeroth, or to the other worlds of the Great Dark Beyond. The greatest threat was that of the Void, a direct antithesis to the Light that would devour everything in its path until darkness enveloped reality. To fight it, he would need all the help he could get.
During the trial to become Lightforged, a draenei was confronted with their darkest, most personal fears and regrets. In Aeonaar’s trial, Dionaar appeared, blaming her for the death of Dalren and scorning her for not searching the island for her sister before it was too late. Aeonaar nearly withered before her sister’s accusations… but eventually, her rational side won out. She reaffirmed her faith in the Light and its cause, and emerged from her trial changed. Her attunement to the Light was stronger than ever before. She had become Lightforged.
Dionaar, Draenei Shadow Priest
When the Exodar crashed, Dionaar came to her senses before many others. As she got up, she heard a moaning coming from the far side of the room. Stumbling towards the murmuring, she found a dying engineer. Shaking off her dizziness, Dionaar knelt and did what came naturally to her: she called upon the holy Light to help her heal this injured soul.
The Light did not answer her.
Dalren’s dying face flashed in her mind, and she froze. She’d been unable to save him. Did that mean that the Light had now forsaken her? But that was cruel. She had tried her best. It wasn’t her fault.
Shaken, Dionaar tried once more to heal the dying draenei, pleading the Light to help her, begging it to. But it refused to answer her call. The Light was content to let this innocent person die because it no longer believed in her as a worthy conduit.
Years of learning from the Light, of putting faith in it and revelling in its benevolence, died then and there. Dionaar would never wield the Light again. She stormed from the Exodar and did not return.
What she did not know, would never know, was that the Light knew her faith had been shaken when her lover had died in her arms. It had denied her call in order to test her, to see if she would do anything to help the dying draenei on her own. When she did not, the Light decided she was lost, and roused another nearby priest so that they may help instead.
Dionaar fled to the edge of Azuremyst Isle and found an abandoned rowboat which she used to reach Darkshore. Knowing nothing of Azeroth, Dionaar was frightened to be alone in this alien land, but knew that she couldn’t face her sister or her people again, not after the Light had forsaken her. She forged a crude dagger and hunted herself a rabbit for food. She slept beneath the stars that night, plagued by memories of Dalren dying in her arms, waking up intermittently. Once, she awoke to the clear sky and found herself gazing into the void between stars, finding beauty for the first time in the darkness. She remembered the energies of the Twisting Nether in the skies back home, how they’d frightened her. It seemed foolish now. There was a beauty in that chaos. She’d simply been too afraid of a life without the Light to dare think it.
The next morning, she awoke to an ambush. Two figures, tall and with long ears and pale blue skin, assaulted her with blasts of holy Light. Alarmed, Dionaar swept up her hunting dagger, dodged the blasts of Light and threw it in desperation. It found the throat of one of the creatures. The other wailed, and fled into the early morning mists.
Dionaar had been assaulted by a pair of night elf priests who knew nothing of the draenei as a race, but had fought the demonic eredar in the third war, the draenei of Argus that had become demons. Dionaar knew nothing of this. She just knew that she’d been assaulted by a pair of native creatures wielding the holy Light against her. For the first time, it crossed her mind that the Light may not be entirely benevolent after all, if it was sending people to assassinate her. Flinching at the sight of the dagger in the night elf’s throat – her first kill – she retrieved her makeshift weapon and dried it off, before turning and heading south.
Eventually, Dionaar came across a roaming band of people of many races. They wore purple robes and introduced themselves as the Twilight’s Hammer, a group of people who wanted to make the world a better place using forbidden magics. A week ago, Dionaar would have turned her nose up at them, but since crash landing on Azeroth, her view of the Light had been changed somewhat. The prospect of wielding forbidden powers – perhaps more powerful than the Light – to do good was a path that seemed fitting for her. After some reluctance and much thought, she agreed to be tutored in the ways of shadow magic.
Over the next few years, Dionaar would slowly be converted into a willing participant of the Twilight’s Hammer cult. After years of a subtle warping of her mind, she grew to believe that the Hour of Twilight would indeed be a desirable outcome. No more life, no more love, no more grief. The Twilight’s Hammer took hold of her grief and expanded it, exaggerated it, turning Dalren from a lover into her sole reason to be, something the Light had wrenched from her. She would have continued down this dark path had she not run into her sister.
Aeonaar was in Loch Modan, seeing to the wounds of some warriors who had just clashed with Twilight’s Hammer cultists. Dionaar’s orders were to destroy this retreating band of fighters, and at this point, she had no objection – after all, before long all life was going to be eradicated. She didn’t know her sister was amongst them. But as she crested the ridge, she saw Aeonaar gazing down at the soldier she was healing. A look of intense care was on her face, a benevolence shattered when she looked up in alarm. Surveying the fighters, Aeonaar stared right at Dionaar.
Due to Dionaar’s Twilight robes and concealing hood, her sister didn’t even recognise her.
In that moment it was like a spell had broken in Dionaar’s mind. In a literal sense, the Twilight’s Hammer had been magically altering her perceptions and her way of thinking, and this had now been undone by the surge of love Dionaar felt for her sister. In another sense, Dionaar herself now realised that she’d been a fool. She immediately turned on her band and asphyxiated them with shadow magic. Taken unawares, they couldn’t do anything but struggle feebly as they suffocated.
When Dionaar had dealt with the cultists, she turned to her sister, only to find that she had fled. Dionaar didn’t think it wise to follow.
Over the next few years, Dionaar would travel alone and help the Alliance from the shadows, saving lives with her forbidden magic in a much less direct way than she used to, when she could wield the Light. Perhaps she could never make amends for what she’d done, but she could at least bring some good into the world before she would inevitably be captured and executed for her past crimes. She felt like this was a fate she deserved, and resolved not to fight against her captors were it to ever happen.
When events on Argus reached their peak and Alleria Windrunner embraced void magic, however, those who used forbidden magics came to be seen as antiheroes more than criminals. After some consideration, a lonely Dionaar gingerly crept into the capital of Stormwind and sought out the new void elves of the Alliance. With them, she found a place in which she could control her powers and be accepted for who she truly was. It was the first time she’d felt at peace with herself since leaving Outland.
Author’s notes: The story of Aeonaar and Dionaar is a little more fleshed out and extensive than most of my other characters, so I felt the need to do something a little different for their story. This is why their story begins not as a focus on one character or the other, but as their journey as sisters.
Firstly, I’d like to apologise for the lack of blog posts from me lately! I’ve been concentrating my creative energies elsewhere. I can’t promise that this is going to change anytime soon, but in the meantime I do have quite a hefty creative post for you part one of many, and whether you enjoy World of Warcraft or not, I’m hoping it’ll be interesting to you.
I don’t RP much in World of Warcraft (although I’d like to), but I do like to give my characters a bit of backstory to motivate them through the game’s questing. All of this stuff is typically in my head though, except for a couple of times where I’ve tried to write short stories from their perspective. Turns out, writing inside someone else’s world is more difficult than creating your own. Anyway, without further ado:
The Night Elf Brothers
Kritigri, Night Elf Balance Druid
Born shortly before the War of the Ancients, Kritigri had the unfortunate experience of watching the horrors of the war unfold during his adolescent years, ending with the Sundering of the world. Experiencing such devastation was not easy on Kritigri, and he spent many years after meditating in the wilds to try to come to terms with the amount of death and destruction that had torn apart his homeland. During the war, his younger brother Virizard had been captured by demons, and dragged back through one of their portals, never to be seen again – this had also taken its toll on Kritigri’s mental wellbeing. But after many years communing with nature and observing the regrowth of the wilds, Kritigri became inspired by the resilience of nature and pledged himself to the path of druidism. He sought out a mentor and spent many years learning to become a druid, and then worked with them for centuries in the Emerald Dream.
Shortly after the fall of the Lich King, the Emerald Nightmare grew alarmingly in strength, trapping the druids within it until they were freed by Tyrande. Kritigri awoke to a changed Azeroth. The Night Elves had formed a new civilisation named Darnassus in the boughs of a new world tree, Teldrassil, and had entered into an Alliance with a collection of younger races. Kritigri knew some of this from what his druidic peers had told him as they had entered and left the Emerald Dream, but this was the first time he had personally emerged from the dream in centuries. Oftentimes, he found it easier to work in the dream than to walk the imperfect waking world, but he could afford to dream no longer. A cataclysm was coming, one that would shatter the world anew and remind Kritigri afresh of the horrors he’d witnessed during his youth. During this troublesome time, he would vow to himself to never turn his back on the troubles of Azeroth again – as he had during the third war – and would, in time, become a venerated hero of the Alliance.
Writer’s notes: Kritigri is my main character in World of Warcraft, and therefore I’ve always considered his story to match that of the general player character quite closely. He’d save Mount Hyjal, stop Deathwing, fight the Horde on the beaches of Pandaria, etc. But writing this backstory up gave me an opportunity to give him a more unique personality to carry through those Blizzard-crafted storylines.
Tolidar, Night Elf Arcane Mage
A mere child during the Sundering of the world, Tolidar’s early life saw much upheaval. His family were grieving over the loss of his older brother, Virizard, and his eldest brother Kritigri was growing more aloof by the day, wandering the forests of the newly broken world whenever he had the opportunity. Kritigri’s love for nature soured Tolidar’s own opinion of the wild lands, and almost spitefully he opted to remain indoors, spending most of his reclusive adolescent-hood in the family library. It was here that he discovered books relating the arcane magics and how to wield them, and before long he was experimenting with them, conjuring food for mealtimes, and generally showing off to his brothers.
It was around this time that Malfurion Stormrage outlawed the use of arcane magic.
A furious argument broke out between Tolidar and Kritigri. Tolidar argued that his use of the arcane was harmless, and that Kritigri’s amateur druidic powers were no different to his arcane ones. Kritigri tried to convince Tolidar to stop his errant ways, now punishable by death, as it was that kind of thinking that had drawn the Legion to Azeroth. In Tolidar’s eyes, however, Kritigri had become too much of a druid to see what this new law was doing to his younger brother – that it was taking away the only thing that gave him reason to be – and the argument ended with Tolidar storming from the household and going to live in recluse, where he would practice his arcane arts in private. He briefly considered joining the Highborne in Eldre’Thalas, but the betrayal of Queen Azshara was too abhorrent in his mind to be associated with even this other sect of Highborne. He had not forgotten the Legion’s assault of Azeroth, or the kidnapping of his brother.
Thousands of years later, Tolidar’s life changed wildly once again. The Cataclysm had erupted into Azeroth, and Malfurion had awoken from the Emerald Dream – along with Tolidar’s eldest brother, no less – and declared that the Highborne mages deserved another chance. For a time, Tolidar rebelled against this notion, but thousands of years in recluse had made him quite lonely, and after ages of trying to hide what he truly was, the prospect of being a part of something was too good to resist. Gingerly, Tolidar approached the mages and asked if he could join them in their sorcerous ways, but after a swift examination they declared that his magic was nowhere near refined enough, and that to temper his magic he must make better use of it. Years of stifling his arcane abilities had rendered them weak and rough, and should he wish to join them, he should help the Alliance in ridding the world of the cataclysmic threats and prove to them that the Highborne deserved this second chance, all the while honing his arcane talents. Reluctantly, he agreed. Over the coming years, he would find that he had a place among the races of the Alliance more than he ever had within his own people. Rather than returning to the Highborne, Tolidar opted to take up residence in Dalaran.
Writer’s notes: Tolidar required a bit more explanation as he’s a Night Elf Mage, but not a Highborne. Originally, he had no characteristics at all, and was simply a character I’d made to use my Warlords of Draenor pre-order boost on. But after making a Night Elf Mage named Tolidar on an RP realm who was struggling to enter an academy of magic, I realised that a similar story could be applied to my regular mage. This is my first time reconciling that RP character’s story with my boosted mage’s.
Jerrek, Night Elf Beastmaster Hunter
The youngest child of four and born after the War of the Ancients, Jerrek did not suffer as his older siblings did. He did not witness the Sundering of the world and did not meet Virizard, the second eldest of his siblings who was abducted by the Burning Legion. Growing up in the aftermath of events he had never witnessed, he often felt like he didn’t have a part to play in shaping the world, like he didn’t fit in. As a result he was a quiet child, and while Kritigri was meditative and Tolidar was reclusive, both were at least talkatative when they were together, or argumentative later on. Jerrek simply observed.
One day, after a particularly explosive argument between Kritigri and Tolidar regarding the use of arcane magics, Tolidar stormed out of the house, claiming that he would never return. After some time, Kritigri left to meditate in the wilds, and Jerrek spoke up, asking if he could tag along. Seeing the opportunity to share his love for the wilds with his brother, Kritigri accepted. But while Kritigri rambled on and on about the types of plants and their roles within the ecosystem, Jerrek’s mind kept wandering. He enjoyed the atmosphere of the wilds, but didn’t find himself feeling any particular affinity with the flora around him. They were just… plants. What he did pay attention to, however, were the beasts that stalked the wilds around them. Jerrek had always had a way with animals, perhaps due to his quiet nature. Eventually, he began making his own expeditions into the wilds, where he would befriend the wildlife he found there.
Eventually Kritigri departed to learn the ways of druidism, and Tolidar didn’t seem to be returning either. Feeling isolated and a little abandoned, Jerrek turned to the Night Elven military to try and fill the gap his family had left in his life, hoping that as part of an army he might rise through the ranks and eventually make his mark on the world. Jerrek proved to have an innate talent for the bow, perhaps honed from his days hunting down food after Tolidar had departed. He also brought his prize falcon Wyllum with him to track and blind enemies in the field. Over the years, he would befriend many more animal companions that he could call upon in the field of battle.
Writer’s notes: Jerrek’s name in-game is actually Kritimal, a play on my username to include the word ‘animal’. This, of course, would not make sense in the lore, so I had to invent a new name for him. I believe Jerrek fits the bill. He is also my original PvP focused character, so I decided to include a military background for him.
Virizard, Night Elf Havoc Demon Hunter
During the War of the Ancients, Virizard and his brothers came across a village that was beset by demons. Kritigri and Tolidar wanted to flee, run to the nearest band of Kaldorei troops and tell them that the villagers were being attacked. Virizard stood frozen, watching a young Night Elf child being eaten by a Felstalker while she was still alive. Her arms clawed feebly at the ground. No Night Elf regiment would be fast enough to save her, or her sister, who was frozen in horror some steps away.
Virizard told his brothers to run and get help, before turning to dash towards the village. He had no weapons or combat training. He didn’t know what he was going to do. He just had to try and help in any way that he could. On his way to save the frightened girl, however, a looming Felguard appeared, grinning down at him. It struck him over the back of the head, rendering him unconscious, before dragging him back to one of the Legion’s many conquered worlds through a dark green portal. It was the last his brothers ever saw of him.
Unfortunately, his story did not end there.
Virizard awoke in a cage barely large enough to contain him. When his eyes regained their focus and he cast his eyes around him, he initially feared that the fel-scarred world he was looking at was Azeroth. His fears were assuaged – and then replaced with larger ones – when he looked to the sky, only to see the Twisting Nether’s raging energies in place of Azeroth’s skies. The Legion had captured him, and many other elves, in order to fuel their soul machines. An eyeless Inquisitor gleefully informed them that they were being held on reserve until they were needed.
After some time, the attitude of the demons changed. They had lost the War of the Ancients, and failed to break through to Azeroth. They turned their rage on the prisoners, killing many, and torturing others. Virizard himself was tortured for many miserable years. Eventually his mind broke, and he became a gibbering mess along with many of the other Kaldorei prisoners. Finding no fun in torturing mindless husks, the demons turned their attentions elsewhere.
When a raid led by the Army of the Light appeared and emancipated Virizard and the other prisoners from their chains, Virizard’s broken mind believed it to be a trick. He fought against the Lightforged Draenei, who appeared to be a new breed of Eredar demon trying to abduct him. The Draenei subdued most of the prisoners, but Virizard managed to evade them, fleeing into the demonic wastes. He soon found a series of demon portals through which he hopped, from world to world, slowly regathering his senses until he regained his a portion of his sanity. How he evaded demonic discovery or capture during that time must be put down to pure chance.
There was no telling how much time had passed since he had been captured, nor how many years he spent hopping between worlds. When Virizard eventually realised what he’d done in fleeing the Army of the Light, he almost lost himself to madness once more. Instead, he turned to his dread into rage, and vowed to hunt the demons to extermination. Just how he’d do this remained to be seen. For now, he continued travelling between broken worlds, forging weapons out of whatever materials he could find, occasionally slaying some lesser demons or disrupting their forces.
Eventually, Virizard happened across a portal leading to Outland, and immediately he stopped. Throughout the years, he’d travelled across many scorched, dead lands. This one still had some life left in it, despite the fact that it existed in the Twisting Nether. For the first time in what may have been centuries, Virizard was able to feed himself on the meat of a living creature, as opposed to whatever fungal or lichen growth he could find left clinging to a fel-scarred rock. Furthermore, this realm harboured civilisations of people who weren’t demons. This was incredible.
Eventually, Virizard heard word of Illidan Stormrage, and his army of Demon Hunters at the Black Temple. Enamoured by the prospect of seeing his own people again – of seeing people who hunted demons with the same vengeance as he – Virizard made his way to Shadowmoon Valley, confronting the army and demanding to be given a chance of joining. The Demon Hunters accepted his request, but with a warning – each of them had a demon inside of them, and the process killed more than it transformed. Virizard wasn’t phased. He’d seen more than his fair share of torment in his life. This would be no worse.
He was wrong.
When at last he emerged from his agonising transformation, he accepted his warglaives with pride. Never again would he be helpless against the Legion’s cruelties. It mattered not to him that he would never lead a normal life on Azeroth again. After millennia of torture, he’d even forgotten his coward brothers’ names…
Writer’s note: Out of all my characters, this might be the one that feels the most like edgy fanfiction. But I feel like that’s all in the spirit of what a Demon Hunter is. Edgy felves coming to angst you up.
Stalward, Night Elf Frost Death Knight
The druid Kritigri didn’t come out of the Emerald Dream until the encroachment of the Nightmare forced him to. These are the way events took place in our timeline. But in another, he was convinced to exit the dream to defend Mount Hyjal against Archimonde’s attacks, and from then onwards he remained outside the dream. Some years after defeating Archimonde and joining with the Alliance, Kritigri joined a Stormwind expedition into Northrend to end the Lich King’s necromantic horrors forever. Kritigri saw undeath as a plague upon nature, and stood side by side with other champions as they invaded Northrend.
Kritigri died on the shores of Borean Tundra.
Some time later, Kritigri felt himself stirring. Ice coursed through his veins, and he awoke in the belly of Acherus, one of the Lich King’s floating necropolis fortresses. The Lich King’s voice echoed in his mind, telling him to make himself useful, to grab a weapon and join the other Death Knights in an assault on the Scarlet Enclave. Eager to obey, Kritigri tested his attunement to nature, and found that he was no longer able to call upon the wilds as he once had. Some deep part of him stirred in unease, but he shrugged it off and instead picked up a pair of swords. These would work just as well.
Kritigri descended upon the Scarlet Enclave, slaughtering villagers and delivering the Lich King’s will to the fools who tried to wield the light against him. He rode alongside Darion Mograine as they assaulted Light’s Hope Chapel, and fought against the light-crazed forces inside. He slew…. he slew…
The Lich King’s will abandoned him and all at once, he felt stained by the blood on his hands.
Mograine declared that they would stand against the Lich King as Knights of the Ebon Blade, and Kritigri knew that this was the only way he could possibly begin to make amends for what he had done. But still, the call of nature eluded him. Still, he wielded his swords with a deathly, necromantic power. These were the powers with which he had to fight, and now when he touched a leaf, it withered before his eyes.
So be it. He was Kritigri no longer. Kritigri had died on the shores of Borean Tundra. He was a new entity, forever changed by his raising into undeath. Kritigri took on the name Stalward, and made sure to always wear heavy armour in public so as to never be recognised by his brothers. They would surely be devastated were they to ever learn what had become of him.
Writer’s note: I was originally going to try and find a way to bring Stalward into the main timeline using the Infinite Dragonflight or the Bronze Dragonflight or something, but found that I couldn’t do this without taking liberties with the lore and turning from roleplay into outright fanfiction, which isn’t something I wish to do. Therefore, the world Stalward exists in remains the same as the regular one except the druid Kritigri does not exist. I chose to make Stalward my druid’s alternate self because I couldn’t pass up the cool factor of having a what-if Death Knight version of my main. Also, the Alliance expedition into Northrend is not the one that takes place at the beginning of WOTLK (as the Ebon Blade plot had already happened by then) but is one that takes place beforehand.
Coming next: Sisters of Light and Shadow, and Miscellaneous Heroes of the Alliance
Welcome to this years list of the top 510 games I played throughout the year! I’m adding 5 more onto the list this year because, well, I guess I played more games. Which is odd, considering I had less time to do so. As with last year, the games on this list were not necessarily released this year, they’re simply what I played. I do my list this way because I don’t often find myself playing the newest releases, so there wouldn’t be much of a list if I did! But before starting, I’d like to include a game that didn’t make it.
If you go into Chivalry expecting a sensible experience with knightly knights fighting knavely knaves, you’re going to be in for a surprise. Chivalry adopts the more Game of Thrones style approach to fantasy, with screams and mud and gore. But all of this is combined with a Monty Python-esque silliness. The war cries and death screams are sufferingly long and drawn out; the taunts wouldn’t sound out of place in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
I picked this game up via Yogscast’s Jingle Jam 2017 bundle, and while I’ve known of the game for some time, it’s never been a particularly important acquisition for me. When I booted it up for the first time only last night, however, I found myself laughing and shouting at my screen for a good few hours before pulling myself away. The combat is chaotic and mangled, but it feels fair. The flash decision to wait and parry or go in for a slash makes duels intense, with moves such as feinting, blocking and dodging making close-quarters combat and tight and exciting experience.
The different choices of class and weapon loadouts ensure that you have a variety of opponents to face, and I myself favour the archer. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as hitting a lethal shot on an enemy swinging his sword directly towards a retreating teammate. Drawing your bow takes a decent amount of time and you can’t keep your arrow notched for too long, so making sure you hit your target feels all the more important. That being said, if you’re being charged you can always fall back on your trusty secondary weapon – saber for me – and try to outplay your likely stronger opponent.
The reason I added this as an honorable mention is because I can see myself playing a damn lot of this game, but with 5 hours of playtime I simply can’t weigh this up against the other games on this list. It’s an absolute blast, and I can’t wait to continue playing it, but I couldn’t quite bear to go without mentioning it simply due to the timing of my picking it up.
#10 – Dragon Age: Inquisition (23hrs)
And thus begins the theme of this year’s list: Games which should have been higher up in the list, but weren’t due to me bouncing off of the game and playing something else. For Dragon Age: Inquistion, this was because I hit a certain point where I’d amassed a large amount of side quests, and after leaving my save file for a week and returning I felt overwhelmed and lost, like I had to re-learn the game and the plot. (This, to be fair, is a common RPG problem.)
I did play a sizeable portion of the main questline, though, unlocking Skyhold and filling out the roster of characters you can add to your party. I played this game way back at the start of the year, so you’ll have to excuse me for not going into detail, but I remember very much enjoying the story, the plot and mostly the environments. Despite eventually abandoning the game due to growing sidequests and subplots, I did appreciate the sheer quantity of quality content to be found in the lands of Ferelden and Orlais. During my time of play, I was fully immersed in the narrative and continued through my journeys not just because the game was fun, but because I wanted to progress the story and see how things played out. There were plenty of ‘oh shit’ moments and I don’t doubt that sometime next year I’ll reinstall and reacquaint myself with this expansive RPG.
#9 – Tower Unite (22hrs)
For many years, I’ve been on the lookout for games which let you simply play minigames and make a sweet little virtual life for yourself. Of course, there have been many, with varying levels of success, but none of them really grabbed me like the idea of Playstation Home. Playstation Home, as it turned out, was complete garbage, but a GMod gamemode by the name of GMod Tower popped up with many similar features and eventually, the developers decided to build this world from the ground up as their own standalone game. This was the birth of Tower Unite, and I’ve written more extensively about it here.
#8 – Minecraft: Switch Edition (15+ hrs)
Yes yes, I can see you rolling your eyes. Let me explain.
I wouldn’t usually consider a console’s own edition of a game to be viewed as a separate game in its own right. I don’t consider Minecraft: Switch Edition to be separate to other editions. The reason I’ve put this here is because I consider this edition of Minecraft to be the perfect example of everything the Switch does right as a console.
Minecraft was my third purchase on Switch – my previous two being #6 and #5 on this list. I picked it up because I wanted something sandbox-y to mess around in while I waited for other releases, and I honestly didn’t expect much out of it. What I found instead was that all my worlds felt like little pocket dens, but without the restrictive touch controls and processing power of the actual Pocket Edition. The world I ended up settling on and playing the most was a survival-friendly flatmap with ores and caves. I set myself up in a village and have resolved myself to rebuild and expand it, alongside linking it to neighbouring villages via a nifty (but expensive) train system. This little project hooked me on survival Minecraft in a way that hasn’t happened in years, and the Switch’s portability and accessibility was key to bringing new life to a game I’ve already played to death.
Knowing that my own personal world is just a few seconds away at any given moment – and in any given place – is oddly comforting, and while my initial tunnel-vision focus on the game has passed, I often find myself picking it up to complete little projects to make life better for me and my villagers.
Animal Crossing can’t come soon enough for the Switch.
#7 – Destiny 2 (40+ hrs at a guess)
Oh boy, do I have a lot to say about Destiny 2.
So, as someone who got to level 7 in Destiny 1 on PS3, you can safely assume that my experience with this franchise is minimal. And when the sequel was announced to be coming to PC, I was excited. After monitoring the console release, the PC beta and the general direction of the game, I made a tentative preorder a few days before launch…
And I don’t regret it. Playing through the campaign was an absolute blast and I enjoyed it all – the gunplay, the cinematics, the story, and especially the level design. Not only did three of the four locations look gorgeous (sorry Titan), but the combat and the enemies were reminiscent of a series I’d always wanted to play but never got the chance to: Halo. And the endgame, while admittedly low on incentive to complete replayable content, was full enough for me to come back to for a good few weeks. I do not regret purchasing Destiny 2.
I regret purchasing the DLC.
Curse of Osiris had a campaign that lasted merely a few hours. The story had you returning to the recently damaged Mercury – no, not the damaged side of Mercury, don’t be silly and don’t bring it up – to fight the Vex and try to save longtime mysterious character Osiris and, ostensibly, save the universe. The evil robots are doing evil robot things, such as running multitudes of probabilities in a dimension called the Infinite Forest to predict all possible outcomes in a war against, well, everyone, I guess. Naturally, they can predict all of our movements and it looks like they’re going to win, except they didn’t predict us because we’re the Guardian and we’re special. Yep. Moving on.
Gameplay wise, Curse of Osiris is even more sparse than it appears. You’ll expect me to complain about the amount of repurposed content in the DLC; for instance, every other mission in the campaign sees you returning to one of Destiny 2’s vanilla worlds to rerun an old section of content. (The enemies are different. That’s about it.) But I’m also going to bring up the fact that the game puts you through the Infinite Forest multiple times, a randomised, procedurally generated set of combat sections which removes one of the key things Bungie does well in Destiny – top-tier, hand-crafted level design.
I won’t whinge for as long as I could though, as this isn’t a full review. Suffice to say that I greatly enjoyed Destiny 2, and the DLC probably disappointed me as much as it did because I was looking for reasons to continue playing the game, and was instead convinced to just uninstall it and wait until they’ve fixed things up later down the line. This game was originally in the #2 spot, but given the questionable design decisions that have marred this game’s progress since release, I’m comfortable placing it down in #7.
#6 – Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (5+ hrs)
My first Mario Kart game was DS, and up until Mario Kart 8 Deluxe it was my favourite. Sure, Mario Kart Wii and 7 may have had better handling, more characters, better tracks etc, but DS was the one I was most familiar with. In Mario Kart, you’ll be at your best when you know all the tracks and their turns, shortcuts and efficient power-sliding routes.
That being said, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looks so good, has so much more content, and has such a good quality of said content that it even overtakes the familiarity of Mario Kart DS to claim the top spot in the franchise, for me. I’ve not really played enough of it yet to get fully stuck in, but I’ve played enough to know most of the tracks and to hold my own online – though I’ve always had a strange affinity with Mario Kart’s controls to rank decently against most people. My only real gripe with the game is that they didn’t choose some of my personal favourite tracks for the retro courses, but you can’t please everyone!
There’s not much more that can be said about Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Yeah, it’s Mario Kart. It’s been too long since I played a new one. If you don’t play as Yoshi at any given opportunity, you’re dead to me.
#5 – Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (10+ hrs)
Okay, so remember when I said that I hadn’t played enough of some of the games on this list to place them higher up? Breath of the Wild is the absolute epitome of this problem. It’s most people’s Game of the Year, and I don’t doubt it could be mine if I’d played more of it. Unfortunately, my attention span sucks, and as an example, I’d owned Skyrim for years and started many playthroughs before I finally forced myself to tunnel-vision it until I’d really latched on. From that point, I enjoyed it so much it took the top spot on last year’s list.
For the 10 hours I did play, though, I enjoyed it immensely. The influence of games like Skyrim on Breath of the Wild seem influential, which gives a fuzzy feeling inside given that games like Skyrim and the entire RPG genre originally took notes from prior Zelda games. That being said, it wouldn’t be Nintendo unless they took the idea in new directions, including weapon degradation, puzzle shrines and more, all wrapped up in a traditional Legend of Zelda type story we all know and love. (At least it seems that way from 10 hours in.)
So yes, I’m doing this game a disservice by placing it at #5 – but I’m also being honest with myself. This is a list of games I’ve personally played, not a list of games based on their objective merits as a whole. I’m sure I’ll get back to Breath of the Wild and fully focus on it in time. For now, here’s four more games that held my attention more than this one.
#4 – Quake Champions (29 hrs)
I grew up on Unreal Tournament, but unfortunately the new game isn’t doing so well. Development seems to have all but halted while the devs are focusing on other games, and the lack of any kind of progression system (last I checked) and the limitations of the game being unfinished (lack of maps etc) have caused me to turn to alternatives.
So hey, Quake Champions is a thing.
And like certain other items on my list (see #3), it’s a little controversial. Some people, like me, are fine with the implementation of the champions and enjoy the game’s evolution as a service, with new maps and champions being added over time. Others do not. Others detest the notion of game-changing abilities and unlockable cosmetics. And that’s fine, because Quake Live is still a thing. So they can go back in that direction while we all have fun with what we’re enjoying.
I play a lot of Scalebearer and DOOM Slayer (forever plastered into my brain as Doomguy). Personally I find the gunplay very satisfying and while the net code was an issue up until recently, a recent patch has greatly improved issues on that front. The abilities feel balanced, for the most part, and knowing how to deal with them adds an interesting dynamic to the traditional arena shooter gameplay.
I just wish the majority of people didn’t vote for Blood Covenant every single goddamn time it came up. I get it, it’s a classic map, the Deck 16 or Facing Worlds of Quake. But sometimes I wanna play Burial Chamber or Ruins of Sarnath. C’mon, folks. I’m good at those maps.
#3 – No Man’s Sky 1.3 (42 hrs)
No, I’m not mad, and no, I’m not trying to be controversial. The reason I put the game version in the title of this is because No Man’s Sky quite famously launched as a ridiculously overpromised and underdelivering game, and there’s no denying that this was a shitty move on the developer’s part. However, as someone who both loved the space stage of Spore and has a soft spot for bad games being patched until they’re good, I decided to give the game a try after hearing some good things from a friend.
No Man’s Sky is one of those few games that I found myself having to tear myself away from to go to bed, only to immediately play it the following day the moment I had some free time. The game is still plagued with a myriad of flaws and imperfections, but since 1.3 the content that’s available is well worth a look. The game has a main questline now with a decently written plot that gives depth to its strange universe; there are sidequests and motivations to push you forwards, and while the limited world generation does eventually become rote and stale, it still provides decent exploration incentive for a decent amount of time.
I’ve written more about the game here, but for now I’ll say this – the game’s desolate themes, found within its soundtrack, scope and story, is something which makes the wide emptiness of space something to be immersed in, and not driven away from. I had a good 42 hour stint back when I bought the game, and I now find myself looking to reinstall it and fire up my trusty Arrowhead to delve into the abyss once more.
#2 – Super Mario Odyssey (15+ hrs)
I was as sceptical as anyone else when this patchwork quilt of a game was unveiled earlier this year. New York in the same world as the Mushroom Kingdom? Talking hats? Possession of sentient creatures? I basically wrote it off for a good few months. But then I reflected on some of the previous 3D Mario games I’d missed, and began to reconsider. And boy, am I glad I did.
Super Mario Odyssey is perhaps the most fun I’ve had in a 3D platformer since the Ratchet and Clank series. I’ve been yearning for a good 3D platforming collectathon for a while now, and have found that the older games aren’t as fun as I remember and the newer ones don’t live up to the past. I was actually thinking that this genre was maybe not for me after all, until I played this game.
Odyssey is as thematically spontaneous as the trailers suggested, and this has led not to a loss of unity of effect, but instead a brilliantly successful tour of the many wonders of, well, whatever Mario’s planet is called. Each level has a set of diverse and unique enemies, some returning from older games and some new. There’s usually one standout enemy that has a unique ability you can use once you possess them, from swimming in lava to lengthening your body across long gaps, and what’s amazing is that the game touches on each new mechanic for only a brief period of time before launching you into something completely different. It’s an Odyssey in every sense of the word.
What’s also impressive is the amount of content available to you after completing the main game. I won’t spoil anything, but there’s an absolute plethora of activities to keep you occupied after you confront Bowser and reach the end credits. I imagine that there’s probably more to do post-game than during the story!
#1 – Overwatch (128 hrs)
When Blizzard announced that they were developing a competitive, hero-based first-person shooter, I was very excited. My laptop couldn’t really run the game though, so I put it out of my mind until April of this year when I took the plunge and bought it. And I don’t think I’ve stopped plunging since. The longest period of time I’ve been absent from the game was for about two or three weeks, and that felt weird. I’m always playing a game or two, usually with my friend Reece. It’s so easy to pick up and play. So, where to begin?
I’m a level 177 all-rounder (thanks Mystery Heroes), though my most-played hero is Roadhog. Seeing the game from outside I always thought I’d main Reaper thanks to his dual-shotguns and his abilities simply appealing to me. After seeing my friend play Roadhog, however, I gave him a try, and pretty much mained him until his damage was nerfed and he could no longer one-shot most heroes after a hook. That being said, he’s still one of my more consistently played heroes to this day, followed by Ana (who I suppose I mained a bit after the nerf), Hanzo (who I admittedly suck as), Pharah (who’s fun depending on who you’re up against), Junkrat (who I seem to consistently get many kills with) and McCree (who scratches the same itch Unreal Tournament’s instagib mutator did, providing I get the headshots).
Overwatch doesn’t have a campaign, but it does a phenomenal job of characterising the heroes through a combination of voice lines and interactions in the spawn room, emotes, skins, and outside media. It has the most diverse roster of original characters I’ve ever seen, and the world they inhabit is as fascinating as it is familiar. The maps are thematically diverse in the best sense; one match you could be pushing a payload down a narrow London street, while the next, you could be trying to attack the point in a space base on the moon. The cartoonish style of the heroes and environments separates Overwatch from many other competitive shooters on the market, giving it a distinct style that makes it immediately recognisable, while not looking childish or naff.
As a longtime WoW and Diablo 3 player I’m already a big fan of what Blizzard create, and Overwatch is no exception. I don’t think I’ll ever quite get into Hearthstone or Heroes of the Storm (much as I like their aesthetic and cosmetics, respectively), but in Overwatch, Blizzard have cemented their place as my favourite and perhaps most trusted games developer so far. Their design philosophies, from “don’t ship it til it’s ready”, to their general release model for updates and patches has earned my consistent attention, and while they often make some questionable decisions (like dismissing the notion that their loot boxes should be included in the ongoing controversy), I always have faith that they’ll find the right path.
Last year I did a personal top 5 games that I had played during 2016 – whether they’d been released during that year or any year prior. Putting the list together and writing out the rationale was quite a fun experience, so I suppose I’m announcing 2017’s Top 5 list. Except I bought a Switch this year so I’d better bump it up to a Top 10.
The list is already written, with the order to be finalised and the entire thing being held back in case anything drops into my lap to grip me during the last month of the year. I’m not including any games from the previous year’s list (so no WoW or Skyrim, although they were played plenty more) and despite my psuedo-promise at the end of last year’s list, I regret to say that Kingdoms of Amalur will not be making it for 2017 either. Maybe 2018, eh?
Oh who am I kidding, I’ll be too busy playing WoW…
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.