I’m a big fan of browsing user reviews pretty much anywhere I can find them. I love the idea of finding people with review-brains like mine that just want to critique, ramble, and gossip about every media possible. Steam User Reviews have proven a great source of entertainment for me, bringing me much joy and frustration reading the reviews of both the talented and the first-time writers. But Steam User Reviews work around a lot of algorithms to try and give people the best idea of whether a game is worth buying or not. Or that was the idea anyways. I’ve recently found a great example of how the Steam User Review system is currently broken in the store page for the game Dead Effect 2 VR, and I will explain how I believe Steam can go about solving these issues to make a more efficient store experience.Continue reading
‘Forza Street’ is a new spinoff for iOS and Android, from a series known for immersive driving, detailed car simulating, and excellent world design. Forza Street is completely ridiculous because it super simplifies all of that and loads it onto an on-rails racing game for mobile devices. Then you add in extortionate lootbox style slot machine mechanics and there is definitely potential to Forza Street. Unfortunately, that potential seems more aimed in the direction to harm its players than give them a quality experience.
I’ve loved covering Apple Arcade games since the beginning of 2020 when I first reviewed Lego Builder’s Journey. I’m quite proud of the reviews and editorials I’ve been doing this year, and I’m proud of the work Apple Arcade has been doing with their platform – but I think we both have room for improvement. I’ve already talked about how developers and Apple need to be working together more on hyping up their games to the press and the public, so now I would like to talk specifically about game library functionality.
Assassins’s Creed Origins is the latest entry in the huge series of historical scifi games from Ubisoft studios. Since the game’s release this past October, press have praised the game for its portrayal of Egypt, improved combat and exploration mechanics, and its quest design. I agree with all of this, and think Origins is an above-average game, even for a company as large as Ubisoft. What really makes the game great however, is that its main character Bayek has a social life.
Almost all of the Assassin’s Creed games tell the story of the faction warfare existing between the good (assassins) and the bad (templars.) So of course Origins, a game set before the point in the lore when everyone was at each other’s throats, would rely less on tropes about the main characters being brainwashed by those who came before them. To oversimplify things, before Bayek was a master assassin he was similar to a sheriff in Old Western movies, keeping the peace in and around his village as a guard appointed by the pharoah.
As we play the game, we learn that Bayek has friends and acquaintances scattered all throughout Egypt. Every old acquaintance is introduced differently, anywhere from a hearty “Hey ol’ buddy” to a respectful “Oh man… Not this guy again.” At one point we meet one of Bayek’s old rivals from his childhood, a man who tried to win over Bayek’s love before they were together. The reason this feels special in Origins, is when in comparison to previous AC games where we always got the impression that their protagonists lives before assassinating didn’t matter. By seeing the impact Bayek’s previous and current actions leave on Egypt, we really get a sense that Assassins Creed Origins is a world people lived in
One of my favorite things about Elder Scrolls Online as an MMORPG is the richness of its universe. The developers managed to take this huge existing setting from the previous Elder Scrolls games and give us this powerful connection to it, all through a combination of dialog with random non-player characters, excerpts of books we read in-game, and of course via the many quests. One of my favorite details of the game is epitomized in the new zone added in the game’s latest DLC, regarding Vivec City and the giant rocks floating directly above it.
Much of the lore maintains this element of the unknown, especially to its mythology. Most people in its world don’t actually know what is true and what is just a rumor, especially when it comes to things outside their daily lives. This theme of people spreading rumors and trying to understand this bizarre world they live in is an aspect that feels really striking in Elder Scrolls Online. As we explore Vivec City and its surrounding areas, we find a number of books and people who theorize why Vivec, the glowing mayor of his own city, chose to begin construction underneath Baar Dau, a mysterious meteor suspended in the air above the city.
My favorite interaction in Vvardenfell regarding Baar Dau was actually reading an ingame thesis paper written by some scholar attempting to discern meaning in Vivec’s intentional recklessness with the location of his new city. The writer briefly described a rumor that Baar Dau was a bigass rock thrown by Sheogorath, a Daedric Prince that represents madness and “mental weakness” to the native dark elves. The scholar then went on to describe how the meteor was a physical representation of their peoples’ faith in Vivec and his fellow Tribunal members. The paper’s author even made an assumption that if the people of Morrowind were to cease their devotion to the Warrior Poet, he would simply allow Baar Dau to crush them all.
There are plenty of other instances of the writers of Elder Scrolls playing with the citizens of Tamriel having multiple versions of mythologies. As in real life, the further back we go into history, the more obscure or diverse myths become. It’s a world building technique that does an excellent job giving each of the many cultures in Tamriel their own little personalities.