On September 15, 2015, Rockstar released the new Freemode Events update, and I stuck my head in to see what the fuss was about. Soon, I was competing to open my parachute at the lowest altitude, bail out of my vehicle and roll the farthest, and fly upside down for the longest. There are some 19 of these kind of simple competitions, but the best experiences were more detailed.
Out of the handful of more involved events, ranging from King of the Castle, Moving Target, and Penned In, my favorite was far and away the Hunt the Beast mode. One volunteer player is turned into teen wolf, with enhanced speed and strength, in a red varsity jacket and tasked with evading the other players while visiting ten landmarks on the map. It’s a dramatic cooperative experience, and I hope to try the Beast experience at some point. It sounds like a blast.
I threw some highlights together on my iPad, leaving no movie trailer trope unturned, for your pleasure.
Good evening, America. Gather around whilst I tell you a tale. A tale of a young man, and a dark knight. A tale of high’s and low’s, ups and downs, rights and…ok, I’ll just get on with it.
Let’s go back in time a bit, to when Batman: Arkham Knight was first announced. I can’t tell you when that was off-hand, but I do recall trailers and information for it near the beginning of last year. I remember this because a good friend of mine was still currently serving with me in the Marines, and he brought to my attention something that seemed pretty noteworthy: “Bro, it’s going to have the Batmobile.”
I was instantly hit with a feeling of…apathy, mixed with slight disappointment.
“But Jonesy!”, you scream at me, flailing your arms like a madman, “the Batmobile is totally radalicious and groovy funkadelic! (Is that what the kids are saying these days?) Why on earth would you have issues with the Batmobile?!” The answer to that is simple. When you are younger, and still delving into the idea of video games and creating experiences and memories, you are able to see the full potential of things such as the Batmobile. You let your imagination soar to new heights, wondering what could possibly unfold before you on your journey as the Caped Crusader. As a slightly more experienced player, however, the only things I could imagine was the joy of “Pursuit Missions” and “Escape Missions” and the such that is involved with automobile’s and video games. Though many people may be fond of these types of missions (hence the vast success of car games like Need for Speed and GTA), I am not too keen on them. Something about a lack of hand-eye coordination and skill at gaming. Who knows.
I would like to fast-forward to now. I have currently beaten the main storyline to Arkham Knight, and though I am glad that I took the time to play this game, I was left with a feeling of general lack of enthusiasm afterwards. Don’t get me wrong, the game was very well designed and had some great qualities to it. I am just still currently trying to decide if it was worth it. I will now do the world a favor and voice my disappointments on the Internet (I know, it’s a new concept).
(WARNING: THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD!)
To me, the greatest disappointments came in a few different forms. Of these upsets was the notable inclusion of the Joker in the game, despite the fact that the entire first few minutes of the game are him being incinerated. Now, I completely understand the fact that he was all part of Batman’s fear-induced trip (Bats was gassed by scarecrow’s toxin), and truthfully my encounters with the Clown Prince of Crime were some of the most enjoyable of the game. The writing for him was superb. I just…wish that we could have a game focusing on the other villains. In the end, I was glad he was added as a character, but my initial (and still somewhat lingering) feeling was that it would have been interesting to see a world for the Detective without his nemesis.
My other regret of the game was that I allowed myself to figure out the big plot twist of the game. The main bad guy, the Arkham Knight, is supposed to be this intense enemy of Batman due to his incredible anonymity and deep knowledge of Batman’s skills and playbook (none of which seem to matter, as you tend to trounce his armies pretty easily). SPOILERS! When the game was close to coming out I looked at one of my co-workers, as we finished reading an article during our union break, and half-joked that the Arkham Knight was most likely a prior Robin. As I went through the game and had my interactions with the Knight, I realized more and more that this had to be the case. I continued to play the game, knowing that it wasn’t Tim Drake (the current Robin) or Dick Grayson (currently Nightwing) underneath that mask. As the game series had never mentioned the existence of Damian Wayne, there seemed to be only one likely suspect: I figured it out for certain about three missions prior to the big reveal, and the scene in the game where joker is internally taunting you about Jason’s death nailed the door shut. When the big reveal came and the mask came off, I was left feeling emotionless and, frankly, not very interested. I was more emotionally stimulated by the side missions than I was with the super-duper plot twist. I enjoy being surprised by these things, and generally they get me pretty good, yet I saw this twist a mile away. To top it all off, you have a big fight, you punch the dude in the face a bunch, you let him go, and then…he comes and helps you? Batman seems to be in on the joke, but I was not amused.
Of course, there was also the aforementioned Batmobile. It was surprisingly really easy to handle and use, and was pretty fun from time to time. Unsurprisingly, it was used excessively throughout the game. I found myself taking the long way to get from place to place with gliding. This was all to be expected, though, so I won’t go into it too much.
This isn’t to say that it was a horrible game. There were some really great elements to it. The combat system felt incredibly clean, and the more complex combo’s felt accessible to a not-so-great gamer like me. The ability to tag team with NPC teammates like Nightwing or Catwoman was incredibly fun, and there were some great emotional set pieces throughout the game (the kidnap and “murder” of Barbara Gordon, the entire portion in the blimps, the reveal of Scarecrow and the twists and turns that came with it). And as mentioned before, I was eventually glad that the Joker was included so heavily in the game, despite his obvious demise. At the end of the day, however, I was not entirely sold on the idea that this game was better than its predecessor, Arkham City. Maybe the bar was set too high. Perhaps I was wearing my judgment hat more often than my fun hat. Overall, this game just didn’t live up to what I knew an Arkham game was capable of. Maybe next time, Rocksteady.
Ahhh, E3. It’s a magical time for gamers, when we get to see what entertainment lies for us on the horizon. I must admit, however, that I felt a twinge of hesitancy. After all, A lot of the big games had already been teased last year. I was worried that it would be the same big tease. Yet, there remained within a feeling of hope. Hope for surprises, but mainly hope for more in depth information on the projects I have been looking forward to. I was not let down. Thus far into the convention everyone has brought their A-games (AAA-games?), and the tech demos have been pretty rad. So, here are the opinions of the Jonesy warlock on all the stuff that has happened thus far:
Bethesda had a killer E3 showing. I personally loved the Skyrim music at the beginning of the press conference. Here is what Bethesda presented at this year’s E3:
Fallout 4- The trailer looks gorgeous, and the real Pip-boy has already sold out on websites like amazon. For me, this game is my most anticipated of the games I am currently looking forward to, and so far I have extremely high hopes for what these people will do with the next Fallout. Boston has a lot of history to play with, so that will be fun to see what they do with it. The gameplay looks incredibly fun, and the crazy amount of customization you can do looks intense. I will be spending a lot of time in post-apocalyptic Boston.
Doom- Doom had a great response as well. Although I’ve never been drawn to the series, I was impressed with what Doom 4 had to offer to the shooter genre. The gameplay is stunningly beautiful, yet the truly impressive part is how the dev team managed to create a new yet simultaneously nostalgic feel to the game. This one doesn’t look like it will let down the fans of the Doom series. I could see myself playing this one.
Dishonored 2- I’m not going to go too much into this, since I haven’t been too drawn to the Dishonored games and wasn’t crazy impressed with the trailer. Perhaps fans of the game will enjoy it, but it looks a little strange to me. Like, why does that robot have such a strange face? It kinda creeps me out.
I will be giving all my money to Ubisoft. They might as well just take my debit card and do with it as they please. Here are the games that Ubisoft presented, in no particular order:
South Park: The Fractured But Whole- Nope. Nope nope nope.
For Honor: This is an interesting concept, a Medieval setting for a multiplayer. You pick between three different groups: Vikings, Knights, and Samurai. It could be cool, but I think I might pass on this one. Unless Jonnydem talks me into it.
The Crew: Wild Run: A sequel to their cross country car game, the trailer for this made it seem pretty fun. I have a pretty deep love-hate relationship with racing games (They are so much fun, yet I’m so terrible at them). I might consider it when more in depth gameplay comes out for it, but for now it’s definitely near the bottom of my list of games to play.
Trials fusion: awesome level max- Ummmm…
The Division: I have been looking forward to some real gameplay for this game for some time now. Although the cheesy dialogue nearly ruins the gameplay (“let’s do some teamwork”?), I ignore it and focus instead on how awesome this game looks. It’s beautiful, and looks like a lot of fun. The fact that your people can betray you looks intense. I hope that the execution of it is as great as the build up.
Anno 2205: This interesting game for PC is a strategy farming game of sorts, where the end goal is to get to…the Moon? Some people might get a kick out of it.
Just Dance 2016: Not much to say about this, as its just another installment of the known series. I’m sure it will be fun for those who like to bust a move.
Rainbow Six Siege: I’m definitely more excited about this game than I was. It looks like a lot of fun, and the Terrohunt gameplay looks cool.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: I’m a HUGE fan of the Assassin’s creed series, but Unity left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Fortunately, this game has renewed my love for the franchise, and I look forward to playing this game when it comes out.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands: HOLY CRAP. This game better happen. I would love to see some in game Co-op on this. Fortunately, Jonnydem loves the GR series as well so I anticipate several hours of killing bad guys and arguing about which approach is better.
Microsoft had a great showing at this E3. There was a lot of bombshells, and we finally got to see more about Halo 5 than the infamous poncho. Here was the showing for Microsoft and the XBOX 1:
Halo 5: Guardians: I’ll play this game simply because it has Nathan Fillion. In all seriousness, this game looks as beautiful as ever. I’m sure the storyline will be fun, and the multiplayer Warzone looks pretty chaotic and fun. It’ll be a great experience for the new system.
Recore: This game looks…interesting. I’m on the fence about it, and will give it more thought when I see actual gameplay.
Fallout 4- They talked briefly about this game, but the coolest thing they talked about was how people can transfer mods from the PC to the XBox for free. We’ll see how that goes.
Plants vs. Zombies 2: Garden Warfare 2: I’m sure fans of the series will enjoy it, I will take a pass.
Forza Motorsports 6: I really need to get back into racing games. The Forza series has been a big name in racing games for years and this one looks beyond gorgeous.
The Division/Rainbow 6: They covered the same basics that was covered in the Ubisoft conference, only this time they announced that Rainbow 6 Vegas & Vegas 2 would come free with Siege, so that is cool.
Gigantic: Another game in the MOAB gamestyle. This and the strange artistic style made me want to take a hard pass.
ID@XBOX: A program giving indie game developers a platform to showcase their games. Some look great, some look rough, but the concept of giving these games a chance is pretty amazing. It was pretty awesome that they covered DayZ, hopefully that will transfer well to XBox.
Rise of the Tomb Raider: This game looks really fun. I haven’t played the series since the old days of the Playstation, and I didn’t play the newest one. Maybe I’ll look up reviews for the last one. The over the top action looks fun. I will have to look more into it.
Rare Replay: Remastered older games like Conkers bad fur day and banjo-kazooie? Sounds pretty awesome to me.
Gears of War: First, they announced a fully remastered Gears of War, which sounds fun. Then they announced Gears of War 4. I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the Gears games, though they are pretty cool. I’m curious as to what the story will be.
Of course, Microsoft is not just known for games. They had some interesting tech announcements as well:
Backwards compatibility: The crowds lost their minds, and with good reason. This is pretty cool, especially for those who are still catching up on past games (like myself).
XBox 1 elite controller: This thing looks pretty savvy. The hair pin trigger and ability to swap buttons is awesome, but I’m sold on the audio port. Playing with headphones is my thing.
Holo-Lens: The demo for this was incredible, as they demo’ed it with Minecraft. The technology potential is wild. Obviously, it will be awhile before this technology is truly ready for standard gaming, but it will be great when that day is here.
EA started off with a bang, teasing Mass Effect Andromeda. Too bad it won’t be ready until Holiday 2016. Until then, we have plenty of great games to keep us busy. Here are the highlights from EA:
Need for Speed: This game is up there on the list of racing games with Forza, and one of the games that I’d love to get back into. This one is as good as any to get back into.
Star Wars: The Old Republic: The new expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire, promises a storyline where your choices matter and determine your story. How they’ll pull that off in an MMORPG, I’m not quite sure. We shall see.
Unravel: A new IP that falls in with the Indie crowd, This Puzzle adventure holds a lot of promise. The preview looked hilarious, especially the part with the squirrel. Go watch the trailer, its fun.
Plants vs. Zombies: I’m glad I can fast-forward the internet.
Sports games: If you’ve been living in a hole for the past 20 years, EA puts out sports games every year. This year is no different.
Mirror’s Edge: This was high on my list of most anticipated games of E3, and it did not disappoint. The game looks gorgeous, and it looks like it will play as well as the last, if not better. This game will be incredible, even though it is unfortunately a prequel.
Star Wars Battlefront: I was on the fence about this game prior to E3, after hearing about how much stuff wasn’t going to be in the game. I wondered if this game would deliver anything other than a re-skinned Battlefield. The gameplay looked incredible, though I’m still under the impression that it’s definitely going to be one-sided for the empire. We’ll see. I’m looking forward to logging in some game time.
Sony had a great press conference that revealed a lot of amazing showcases. Though Playstation isn’t quite my cup of tea, I could still get into many of the reveals. Ere are the following Sony topics:
The Last Guardian: It looks like an interesting concept, and most of the art is impressive, but I think the anime-esque rendering of the kid is too strange for me. The design of the DogBird is pretty awesome, though. This one is definitely not my style, but it has potential.
Horizon: Zero Dawn: This incredible concept looks unique and wild. It is an interesting play on the man and machine balance story, and it involves hunting robot animals for…fuel cells? It could be legit.
Hitman: All we got was a trailer, which is pretty cool but doesn’t really show what to expect from the gameplay or story aside from agent 47 being back in business.
Street Fighter 5: Fighting games are my least favorite of the genres. Aside from a select few games, I just can’t get into them. Combine that with the fact that all they showed was a fast paced clip, I found I could not care less.
No Man’s Sky: FINALLY! I’ve been looking forward to some real gameplay for a long time, and it looks AWESOME. I don’t know how They are going to pull off this insane level of detail and depth. This game has skyrocketed on my list of anticipated games for the year to come. Now to get a playstation…
Dream Molecule: I think I just did a ton of peyote…
Firewatch: An interesting suspense story where the hero is a regular joe, doing a job. I see a lot of potential in it, hopefully it isn’t too much of a guided story.
Destiny: The Taken King: It could be a cool game, but I doubt it will get me into Destiny.
World of Final Fantasy: This is a strange thing, it’s a final fantasy story where everyone is tiny and…has big heads? Strange.
Final Fantasy 7: It’s getting a re-master, which is actually pretty crazy cool. We only got a trailer, no gameplay, but I’m sure Final Fantasy fans are going nuts.
Shenmue 3: I have never played the Shenmue games before, so I have no idea what this is about. Pimping out Kickstarter is always fun, though.
Arkham Knight: It looks like Playstation gamers get some exclusive content. Lucky jerks.
Call of Duty Black Ops 3: The game looks cool, but then again, they always do. I’m sure it’ll be successful, and it takes some interesting cues from Titanfall. It does look pretty fun. I’m guessing its exclusive to Playstation now? That seems strange.
Disney Infinity 3.0: Now involving Star Wars stuff.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End: I guess it should be called The search for the working playstation. The demo seemed to freeze at the beginning. That must have been embarrassing. Or perhaps it should be titled Uncharted 4: Bulletproof Shirt. I know most games require you to suspend belief and accept that your character has Wolverine’s healing powers, but that shootout was rough. It does look like a really fun game though.
And that is that, Jonesy’s opinions on the major E3 press conferences. There is still so much content to discuss and voice my opinions about, but for now I’ll just say good night everybody!
Sunday evening is kind of a strange time for an E3 press event. The season finale of Game of Thrones as well as game 5 of the NBA finals were going on at the same time. But that’s when Bethesda was scheduled to do their press event. At this point, a few mins after the press conference has ended, I really don’t care if the Super Bowl was on the same night. Yes, it was that good. The following are some quick reactions to what I saw and heard during the press event.
I played the original DOOM on the Super NES many years ago. It is one of the first games I ever owned. It’s a special game to me. I haven’t played a DOOM game that I didn’t like, including DOOM 3. This DOOM game looks like not only the best DOOM game but one of the best first person shooters in recent memory.
-Classic door opening sound gives me chills
-Love the electronic music soundtrack
-The demons are super varied and scary
-Multi-player has depth and a map maker mode called Snapmap (look out Halo Forge)
I have no interest in this game
looks like Team Fortress
Seems like a logical sequel to a game I have not played and probably never will
ELDER SCROLLS LEGENDS
Elder Scrolls virtual card game? Didn’t know I wanted this until now.
A REAL FUCKING PIP BOY!?!?! Take my money. Take all my money.
Did you hear me? A real fucking Pip Boy comes with the special edition of this game.
NPCs can speak your character’s name. This is awesome. They recorded a bunch of common names so they may not be able to speak your real name.
They made a mobile game for apple devices. Why just apple devices? I don’t fucking know but it pisses me off! Apple sucks!
You remember all that useless crap you can pick up in Fallout 3 and New Vegas that just sits in your inventory until you finally decide to drop it. Well, in Fallout 4 you can build a settlement with all that stuff! That’s right, you can build a settlement from the ground up. So if you like a little Minecraft in your Fallout this game is for you.
So much weapons. So much modification.
You can also modify your power suit. Oh, and you can get a jet pack and fly a Vertibird.
Fallout 4 looks fucking beautiful and it’s launching 11/10/2015. This launch will be unparalleled. People might die.
Also, how can the rest of E3 compete with this press event?
It’s true. I have not seen any of the Fast and Furious movies. I have absolutely no desire to see them.
Why, you ask?
Because we have already been there and done that. It feels way too familiar. Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers, The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, all of these movies are the same. Maybe I am becoming an old grumpy curmudgeon but I am sick of this shit.
I absolutely can not stand being treated like all of us are the same. These movies are shaping us into a faceless money making collective. These movies don’t challenge us. They do not improve us as a whole.
What hurts is the intellectual properties that I am looking forward to seeing on the big screen are starting to feel a little gross too. Marvel has done great things with their movies as of late but they have to make them for everyone. What if they made those movies for the 25 to 34 age group? Just saying, things could be different.
…things could be different.
The month of May is only a few days away which means… COMICPALOOZA, Houston’s premier comic and nerd convention going down May 22nd through the 25th. Here at Warlocks we love conventions! Sometimes we go all the way to Wisconsin to experience them (looking at you Guys Games and Beer). Last year we attended Comicpalooza, however, we had a booth and didn’t get to experience Comicpalooza like everyone else. We were working hard to get awareness buzzing about Warlocks. This year is different.
This year Warlocks Games and Beer has been chosen to be an official podcast of Comicpalooza! Which means that we will be giving away tickets on our podcast (Follow us on twitter and stay tuned, @warlocksbrew), podcasting at Comicpalooza, and we get to interview anyone we want. OK, that last part wasn’t true. You were jealous there for a second weren’t you? We will be working hard to get interviews leading up to and during the show. We can’t promise anything at the moment except that we will try. We are stupid excited about this opportunity though.
Like last year, we will be working with Space City Nerd (our podcasting spouse that we have an open relationship with) in some capacity. I hate to be cryptic but details will be coming out soon.
I know I said this but I can’t stress this enough. You will want to follow us on Twitter: @warlocksbrew. Keep an eye for this hashtag too: #HoustonNerdsUnite
You can get tickets for Comicpalooza HERE. Be sure to use the coupon code: HoustonNerdsUnite2015
We are very excited to meet some of our favorite celebrities, artists, actors, and writers. This is just a small sample of the great guests Comicpalooza has coming to the event this year: