You don’t know me!

Yea, I talk about Overwatch a lot. And, I’m going to again today.

I was thinking about the new hero announced, Orsia. Another robot added to the roster, for those of you who don’t play – the majority of the human’s were involved in a war against cybernetic beings called “The Omnic”. That’s all the backstory I’m going into (frankly, there isn’t much more). But they’ve done something, that I don’t quite know how to put my finger on it.

They engedered the robot. This is what she looks like:

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Now, I don’t particularly care one way or another whether the voice is masculine or feminine sounding, but I find it particularly odd that they chose to give this bovine machine a gender.

Mostly because the contrasting robot is this:

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And all it’s capable is beeps and boops and wooos.

I’ll say this: I have nothing but the utmost respect for Blizzard and their goal for equalising the male/female character ratio and their dedication to diversity. In fact, it’s one of my favourite things about the characters. It’s not just a selection of stereotypical videogame character tropes. I mean, of course there is a bit of that, but I feel like it’s more of a subtle nod or satirical punchline rather than sticking to the “norm”.

But is the ideology so locked in that even the robots have to fall within those lines? Is gender politics too entrenched in the minds of the developers. The fear that someone would consider Bastion to be “male” and, by that action, tip the scales in a way that may offend? My concern is that because art is a liberal medium (generally) that it tends to be too apologetic, too concerned with political correctness that things have to be a certain way or else there will be a falling out with a certain demographic.

And gender in gaming has been a hot button topic for some time know. I’ve seen petitions and criticism over games like GTA not including female protagonists. I do agree that there needs to be better representation of gender/ethnicity/etc in gaming. Especially in the area of not making all females sex objects. That being said – I wonder when I see things like this because I feel like people are taking that too far.

Of course, as I stated at the beginning – I think Overwatch has done a wonderful job in terms of representation – and I think the culture of developers is moving in that direction. Games like Mass Effect allowing the end user to decide sexual proclivity of their characters is fantastic. So I hope that when making decisions in terms of building a character, that the concern isn’t to meet standards or expectations. However, to make the best possible character in terms of the vision.

In this case – it almost would have been cooler/more fitting to have the robot be a little more animalistic – and given Blizzard’s experience with WoW – something closer to a Tauren is exactly what I’m picturing. Especially since the canon has a brilliant African 11 year old as the creator of Orisa. I think that part of the story fits the game perfectly.

Then again, in some ways I prefer the fact that the robot has some personality. Even if it feels a bit shoehorned in. Mostly because the idea of another robot that just makes a bunch of beeping and whirring sounds would probably make me want to pound my head against the wall. So, maybe this is a good thing. I would take a gendered robot over a Bastion clone any day of the week. Nothing more annoying than his sounds.

Maybe I’m just reading into this too much. Maybe they really just didn’t want another bland character who is incapable of actual speech. Who knows? I’m just another gamer with too much time on his hands. Let me know what you think in the comments below, or you can tweet to me or post on the Facebook group.

– The Ego

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My name is The Ego…

And yes, I have a problem. And yes, I know I’ve said it before. But this time, I’m doing something about it!

This has come up in my blog time and time again – backlog issues. What’s the issue? Well, I buy too many games apparently. At least this is one of those problems I can kind of track back to it’s source. When I used to work retail, I was really good at my job. And being good at my job led to me getting a lot of gift cards/free things. So I bought pretty much anything I had any inclination towards playing for about a year, and on top of that, I also picked up anything that looked even remotely interesting when it was on clearance, so I got it dirt cheap.

Oh, and fixating on one game for long periods of time. Like Overwatch and my incessant need to get those holiday event legendary skins. Takes up a lot.

Now, factor that in to a healthy attitude towards buying the good/must have releases of any given year, and you end up with nearly 30 games that have barely/have not seen the light of day yet.

So with that in mind, I’m (for the first time) making a reasonable plan to combat the issue. One of the first “adult” decisions regarding my gaming: I’m just not buying anything new until I can clear out my backlog. Or…you know, find something that is a must play day one game.

I even took it one further. Any of the games that I had coming out with an actual release date that I had pre-ordered at a discount – cancelled. Yes, I have given up on new games and good deals (though, cancelling the new Ghost Recon game came as a sigh of relief after I played the open beta…)And for anyone who knows me, this is huge. I’ve even written about the desire to buy games that might be interesting just because it’s a good deal. But I’ve given it some serious thought. Even if I manage to snag some new release at a “steal of a price” which often means at least half off, if I don’t get around to playing it till a year later, or longer in some cases, then – was it really a deal? I mean, good chance is it went cheaper at some point, so I didn’t win there, and I didn’t play it right away, so I lose there too.

So step 1 accomplished. Nothing new coming in.

(As an aside, I picked a devastating time to do that too, as Horizon: Zero Dawn, my most anticipated game of some time, is due out tomorrow)

On to step 2: Clear it out!

I will say that I am working diligently to hack my way through the library like so many vines in the jungle. So far, so good. Over the last week and a half I managed to finish Farcry 4 and Littlebigplanet 3. And I got a number of the trophies as well. So there’s that. But what I don’t is just brazenly dispense with the games in some consumerist driven frenzy. I still want to play and enjoy them, so I am.

How fast will I finish the other 28+ games? Who knows. Hopefully in time for some of the bigger releases of this year to still make their way to me within a reasonable time frame.

All that being said: I feel good about my decision. Liberated even. Frankly, aside from just picking out games I don’t foresee myself playing in a relative time frame, and just unloading them online, etc – this is really the only option. And, as a gamer, it’s nice to finally get to all of the things that had my interest – fleeting or not.

I don’t know how other people manage this. Life and gaming. Especially to the level with which I’ve become accustomed. But, I’m striving for balance. Let me know if you have any tips.

– The Ego

I’ve been watching

Yea, I have. Watching videos, and more importantly – watching the people I play with. One of the videos I see pop up a lot on YouTube a lot is “10 things gamers hate”, and various versions regarding specific games. Today, I think I’ll take a swing at something that has been on my mind for a while.

I think the thing that gets my guff the most when I’m playing a game (especially multiplayer) is when other people can’t seem to grasp the core mechanics of a game. Now, let me preface the rant that’s about to take place by saying:

I accept that there are different people of varying skill levels playing every game. And by no means do I expect them all to be at the same level as me – frankly unless they’re devoting the same amount of time I am, there’s a good chance that’s not even possible. And I’m sure most will agree – amount of time spent playing does not equal skill level. I will also say I don’t have any expectations that people spend as much time watching strategy/developer videos either.

With that said: I really can’t understand it. I’m going to use Overwatch as my prevailing example because I do play a lot of Overwatch.

Now, I get that CoD and BF are the biggest online games and have been for some time. I get that the majority of online FPS players have or do play one of those two regularly. But here’s the thing: Games like Overwatch do not operate on the same principles! This is really where my frustration sets in.

Overwatch, for those of you who don’t play it, is primarily a team, objective focused online FPS. Yes, you need to be good at the FPS part to be good at Overwatch. Being able to put the opposing team down is key. But understanding that going lone-gunner in a 6v6 match-up where the objective is to move a payload from point A to point C will not achieve that objective is the crucial element that seems to be overlooked. It’s so ridiculous that a page on Facebook called Overmeme exists, and is constantly posting stuff like this:

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Of course, from my games, it doesn’t seem like anyone made that their resolution.

But deep down, I think what bothers me the most is people’s inability to understand the team mechanic. Even without the use of verbal communication, I think that the concept of playing together is totally possible. If everyone understands that there is a goal, and that the only way to achieve that goal is through co-operative play – then victory is usually assured. I mean, the game breaks down to three simple facts:

  1. There is a goal to be met
  2. Teamwork is imperative
  3. Everyone has a role, and everyone needs to understand their role

Making sure that these three things are met is all the game really asks. And, considering the majority of players are in the competitive games – one would expect this to go without saying. In fact – if you’re going to play competitive, I would hope people would familiarise themselves with things like competitive metas, good team composition, etc. But, failing those two things, the core basics should go without saying. But it is often not the case. People don’t protect support characters, healers focus on healing their friends rather than crucial roles like the tank and the biggest one is the people who only play for themselves. The latter being the most common. Overwatch is not a death match. There is no death match mode. Everything requires that those three principles be met. If not – you can basically guarantee a loss.

Now, some of you are probably thinking that I’m taking the game too seriously. And, maybe that’s true. But like anything you invest time into, you want the people you do it with to put in the same level of effort that you do. Videogames are no different.

Till next week fans.

– The Ego

Christmas Wish-list

With a ton of great games already slated for 2017 – games like Horizon: New Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2 and of course the Nintendo Switch – and with that being said this list is not about that.

What I want to get into today is to talk about the things I would love to see (at least announced) in the next year.

1)  Resident Evil 7 to be a solid game: I played the demo and I admit I’m impressed. The game looks great and it plays in such a different way than the last few that I played. I can only hope that this is a return to the glory that Capcom once was known for.

2) A new Darksiders game: This series has been something that I have loved for a long time. I bought Darksiders for Xbox 360, then again for PS3 and of course the collector’s edition of Darksiders 2 and both remasters on PS4…With Nordic games taking over the franchise – and then subsequently re-branding themselves as THQ Nordic – one can only hope that their re-masters are just a first step towards furthering the IP. I know everyone else who loves this series is waiting for the same thing – a four player co-op with the last two Horsemen.

3) A story expansion to Overwatch: Arguably the games only real failing is the lack of a some kind of campaign mode. The game is amazing and Blizzard is doing a great job at supporting it. And yes, we have gotten some insight from the character videos, but nothing on the level of really showing us what is going. Blizzard has shown the ability to create some PvE content – so if we can get Junkenstein’s Revenge and the Mei Snowball Fight – then we can get some classic battles from the early days of Overwatch. Let’s see the Omnic Crisis, etc. If Injustice can do it – surely the Game of the Year from Blizzard can accomplish something better.

4) A release date for Kingdom Hearts 3: Final Fantasy XV is finally out. And the team who had been working on that project are now free. So how about letting us know when to expect KH3 Square Enix? I know that 2.8 is due out very soon after the new year, so hopefully that means an announcement is likely to follow soon thereafter. But I’ve had this game pre-ordered since 2013 – so I’m eagerly anticipating this game coming out.

5) More Marvel: So we’re getting an Insomniac Spider-Man. That’s a huge step for the Marvel Universe. It’s the first (hopefully) of many towards having a series that’s equivalent to the Rocksteady Batman games. But now we need to expand it. Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Daredevil – there are a ton of great characters to choose from who would adapt themselves well to video games. And there are a ton of great developers who could make them: Insomniac is a great start. How about Sucker Punch, Bethesda or Gearbox? Sucker Punch already showed they have the chops with the amazing Infamous: Second Son. And, while we’re at it…

6) How about another Infamous game: Second Son was so amazing. And frankly – it has been one of the flagship titles of the PS4. They proved with Second Son that they could put in a completely new protagonist, take it out of the game world already created (to an extent) and placed it in the real world (again, to an extent) and still produced a successful game in every way. So, with that in mind – where are we at?

7) World of Warcraft for consoles: I know this one is a huge stretch. But a lot less than it ever would have been. Blizzard has taken IPs like Diablo 3 from the purely PC world and put them on consoles. And no one ever thought it would work, but it did. Some would even argue that it’s better on console.

Well that’s my list. Tell me yours in the comments or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook. Till next week my faithful readers.

– The Ego

Best and/or Brightest

The new. It’s something I, and I assume others, struggle with. Always wanting that new thing. The latest and greatest. This mantra seems to apply pretty evenly across a bunch of aspects of the industry. From the latest consoles – which even seems to apply several times across a generation now, to new fads like Virtual Reality and even to updates in games like new characters. And that’s where I want to start.

I exist inside of paradox where I both understand and am baffled by people’s desire for the new. So let’s start with the small stuff.

As I’ve said a lot lately – I’ve been playing Overwatch again. And, in Overwatch, Blizzard has recently release a new character: Sombra. Now, I get that everyone, to an extent, is always going to want the new characters and everyone is going to want to play that character. But come on guys. Like everything – there is a time and a place. This is one of those paradoxes I was talking about. I understand wanting to play as a new character after a year of playing with the same 20. But at the same time, playing it in competitive mode where ranks are decided and team composition is important, is not the time to learn how to play the new character.

VR. That’s a big one for this generation. The proverbial toe in the water. VR is fancy, and it’s new. And, as such, carries a price tag that matches its status. But is it really that exciting? Or, I guess the real question to be asked is: Is it worth 700$ plus the applicable taxes to find out? It’s an interesting foray into an undiscovered medium – I’ll grant it that. And I think in time it will prove to be the next major leap that games take: Total immersion. I mean, we’ve seen it in science fiction in books like Neuromancer and TV shows like Star Trek’s Holodeck. It’s the logical progression.

Lastly – consoles. Now, in the past – and we don’t have to go back that far to see it, the PS3/360 generation had it – we’ve had multiple versions of consoles be delivered throughout the life cycle. PS3 started fat, with a small hard drive and it was backwards compatible. Then we go the slim, which offered a significant improvement on design, HDD size, over all size of the console and better functionality (i.e. less burnout). And the 360 saw several iterations of the same concept. But they were all effectively the same system. More or less, anyway. But this generation is funny. We’re being “treated” to several versions of the console, some with “vast” improvements.

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Now, how vast that improvement is is definitely based off of what kind of tech you have supporting the console. If you’ve got a 4K TV and you’re fully set up with the next rung of Blu-Ray discs, then consoles like the Xbox One: Scorpio are definitely what you should be aspiring to. Now, that’s to say, if you don’t already have a console from this generation. Because, if you do, and you have all of those supporting pieces of tech, the reviews are pretty underwhelming. Anyone with a good 4K TV will tell you, the upscaling that the TV does, regardless of whether or not you’re running the PS4 Pro, Xbox One: S or (granted this is an impression at this point) the Xbox One: Scorpio, is going to provide a significant improvement in graphical quality. Of course, the rest of the tech specs and in the case of Microsoft, the added 4K Blu-Ray player is something to consider I suppose. At least until things are developed in native 4K.

But I leave you with the question – is newer always better? Does it have to be the latest and greatest to keep you happy, or are you good with what you’ve got?

Sound off below or hit me up on one of the social media platforms that I’ve linked below.

Twitter. Facebook. YouTube.

– The Ego

Gamer/Collector

Is there ever a point where you think you’ll stop gaming? I have delved into the deepest pits, and fought treacherous odds to find someone to predict the future for me. And when I got there, and asked “Will I? Will I ever stop gaming?”, and shook the round, black prognosticator – it said “It doesn’t seem likely”.

I ask this question on the heels of a (small) decision I made recently. Now, I made the addendum – small – because in the scheme of things it was a rather small decision. Now, for me, it was footprints on the moon. Prepare yourselves, you may want to sit if you aren’t:

I opted out of buying a collector’s edition for a game I truly love…

Feel free to take a moment to catch your breath before you keep reading. You’re okay? Well, let’s continue:

Now I fancy myself a pretty hardcore gamer (despite time constraints) and more than that – I’m a collector. I have Funko Pop! figure, Marvel action figures and a bunch of random gaming memorabilia that I’ve accumulated from dozens of collector’s editions. I also don’t trade in my games to EB, or whomever. You can see how I feel about that here. So on top of all of the collectibles, I have my games.

But do we get to a point where we just end up buying games to put on the shelf? I know that I don’t have anywhere near the time I used to, but I still continue to buy games. To my credit, I have reigned in how many games I buy and when I buy them. Rather than just grabbing them all at release – a lot of them get put on the back burner till things slow down.

Does there come a point where we lose the distinction of being a gamer, and become consumers? I mean, we’re always consumers. But there is definitely a difference between buying to have them, and buying to play them. If they’re all just going to end up on a shelf, at some point, this is you:

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And, while the thought of owning all of those games is somewhat appealing, it’s just unrealistic.

Having moved across the country recently, I was able to purge a bunch of my old gaming stuff that I had stored in the basement. So I won’t end up in this situation any time soon.

The other reason I ask this question is: once upon a time we used to get a couple of big releases a year. Now, especially at this time of year, we get 3-4 AAA releases per month for at least 3-4 months. And, the industry has really started upping it’s game release wise. The release landscape has significantly changed in the last few years. I remember, having worked on the development side of things, that September to April was a dead time of year. Now, major releases are springing up in March (2017 will see the Switch and probably a Mario or Mario Kart game to go with it) and last May we had Overwatch to name a few.

So if we all buy the way I have for a long time, there must come a point where we have more games than we can feasibly play. Unless, of course, you’re all living my dream where someone pays you to actually play video games (which is what people thought I did for a living when I was a tester…and trust me, that’s not the case).

So do you consider yourself a gamer still? Do you still buy all of the collector’s editions with all of their fantastic plastic crap? Sounds off in the comments, tweet me, whatever. I’m curious to know. You con contact me here, here or send an e-mail here: theegogames@gmail.com. Please follow and subscribe.

As always, if there is a topic you want me to cover, shoot me a message, tweet me, leave a comment below and I will happily write it up.

– The Ego

We built this city

No, not on rock and roll, but on a mountain of backlogged games. No, I’m not going to drone on for 600 words about how I’m backlogged to all Hell and how life is busy, etc. No, today I think I’m going to talk about what I am playing. I’d like to know what other people are playing. Are you staying current? I know I’m not. And frankly, till someone starts paying me to do this, I don’t foresee myself catching up. So here’s where I’m at:

Overwatch: Yup, I’m still playing this. I had taken some time off of it after the first competitive season – which kind of broke me. I just don’t understand why people who are terrible play competitive. Well, I do. There’s an exclusive item involved. Part of the problem with Blizzard games is that they’re grindy. You see a guy with a crazy high level and your normal reaction is to think “phew, someone who knows how to play” but really all you’re seeing (with exceptions, of course) is someone who dumped (likely) hundreds of hours into the game – win or lose.

Rant aside – it’s still a really fun game. I like putting myself to the test in games like that. And I like that there are over 20 characters for me to choose from. And I’ve taken to the most unlikely character too – Zarya. She’s a challenge to play well. Ever since I read the article about the Korean girl who ended the career of two pros, the character intrigued me. I even picked up this awesome print from Johnni Kok at a comic con:

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If you like that, you can find his page here.

All in all, it’s one of Blizzards best games. Definitely crushed poor Gearbox’s Battleborn. Like Blue Rodeo said – just bad timing I guess.

GTA V Online – I played a bit of this when the game first came out. Played more when I upgraded to the PS4 version. But since they released the Bikers update – I’ve been all over this game. Like many, I’m a huge Sons of Anarchy fan. And I’ve always had a soft spot for bikes. Runs in the family and I’m just waiting for the day I can buy my own and ride it across the country. I liked the Heists update. They are REALLY fun – at least the actual final missions anyway. The lead-ups are pretty tedious. Well, most anyway. But the Bikers expansion finally let me dress and ride like I have been trying to for the length time I’ve been playing this game in the first place. Plus the buying and running of the illicit businesses hearkens back to the good old days of Vice City. Now, they businesses aren’t as clandestine, or as “fun”, because you just straight up own a weed farm or coke lock-up, but it’s a fun addition nonetheless.

Lastly, I’ll drop a demo in here:

World of Final Fantasy: Played through the whole demo, and I spent some time just running around Grimoire trying to check out all of the monsters. At first – I didn’t get it. The whole stacking thing threw me off. But in the end – I loved it. It’s one new game that I’ll push my backlog back for. I’m a sucker for a good Final Fantasy game. Admittedly, it’s a bit too cutesy for me. But the core game and the mechanics are solid. I watched the IGN “review” just for giggles. I don’t disagree with everything – but their reviews are generally pretty bad. At least with the video version, I didn’t have to suffer through the typos…

Now – if only Amazon had the foresight to, I don’t know, ship my game ahead of time instead of making me wait till the end of the week. If I had it in hand, I’d be writing a review of it, instead of the demo. So, I guess once I sink a few hours into it, I’ll give you something more in-depth.

– The Ego