Tabletop RPG: Storytime or Playtime?

Posted by on Aug 16, 2017 in Editorial, Tabletop and Board

Tabletop RPG: Storytime or Playtime?

I (and possibly others) find that the most difficult aspect of being the GM in a tabletop RPG (henceforth know simply as RPGs in the context of this post) is letting go of the reins. On the flip side, I think many players also find it difficult to take those reins. The so called “power” of the RPG is that it’s a collaborative story which is moved forward by both the GM and the players. Does it actually work like that? In my experience, not always, and if it does, the question is: does the experience remain “a story” or does it turn into something else?

The big caveat is that RPGs don’t need to have an end. Like life, what’s got the current focus is just a point on a timeline that for all intents and purposes has no visible end. When the players have achieved their current goal, the GM can present them with another…and then another…and another. Each of these “adventures” becomes a story within a greater “campaign” set in the much wider “game world”, a construct that insinuates that there are millions of stories going on at any given time.

A story, then, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Published modules follow this, in part because there’s no real way to make a truly open ended module. Yet there are tons of gaming groups out there who will tell you without prodding that their group has been playing the same characters in the same game world for years without considering the question of “are we done yet?”

Are these adventures stories if people “play the way they are supposed to”? And by this, I mean with the players driving the direction, and the GM filling in the foundation underfoot as the party rushes ahead? Consider as an analogue a baseball game; it has rules, players have positions and purpose, and things continue until a definitive end is reached. Contrast that to kids on a playground; they don’t have a goal except for “having fun” and would keep playing forever if their parents didn’t collect them and take them home. The first offers a driven “story” that trends in a single direction, while the second is more of an aimless wandering that only ends when people agree to end it.

This isn’t to say that stories can’t exist on the playground, but from a GM perspective, it’s incredibly hard to maintain a specific narrative if the players are exercising the agency they are allotted to the full extent that they’re able. Every GM has at least one experience of how he or she set up an elaborate showdown or situation that they were intensely excited about, only to find the players turning 180 degrees away from the encounter to do something totally unrelated.  If a GM’s job is to respond to players, then the GM has no choice but to put his or her plans on the back burner and follow the players.

In this respect, the players are making their own stories, but at what cost? Standing at the foot of the mountain carved in the visage of a skull, lava pouring from the eye sockets while dragons wheel about in the air above it, the party…turns around and decides they’d rather explore the sewers of the nearest major city. If the whole point of the adventure was to infiltrate that mountain and defeat the Ancient Evil, then that story is left untold (for now). Instead, the players are exercising their ability to go anywhere and do anything…and are putting a massive stress on the GM to come up with a whole new set of encounters, purpose, and reward because of the the party’s newfound wanderlust. There’s no doubt that the players know that “the point” of their adventure was to get into that mountain (it’s the kind of meta-thinking that is actually OK in an RPG), and their agency gives them the right to do anything else, and while the GM can come up with ways to get them back on track (abandoning their role in defeating the Ancient Evil will certainly have repercussions that will invariably find the party), are the players purposefully subverting “story time” in exchange for “playtime”?

In closing, I’m not condemning the more free-form gameplay; it’s how I used to play when I was younger, having been one of those GMs/players who just kept the ball rolling week after week without a defined purpose except what we happened to come up with. I have concerns now, though, as I personally find it more difficult to be flexible in how I’m able to respond to player agency that moves away from the “goal” of the session. I’d love to be part of a freewheeling group where the session starts with “what are we all going to do today?”, regardless of whether it’s the GM or the party who asks. In light of that, I find myself reliant more on very specific details, whether it’s the helping hand of a published module or my own homebrew concepts. I figure that if the GM is going to lay down a “hook”, then the players should very strongly trend in the direction that the hook leads, even though it flies in the face of the agency that RPGs provide.

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Co-op World Building System for RPGs

Posted by on Jul 28, 2017 in Other Geeks, Tabletop and Board

I’ve been looking heavily into ruleset creation for Fantasy Grounds, the Cadillac of virtual tabletop applications. FG is an old application and relies on a lot of older conventions such as XML to define things like visual layouts. It also uses Lua which you might recognize as the scripting language of choice for many MMO add-ons.

FG is in the throes of a re-write in Unity, according to sources. I was discussing this with the Illustrious Talyn, who has translated several FG modules and is familiar with the FG team. I mentioned that even though it would be a pain in the ass for them to do, I’d like to see the Unity version support both the “classic” use of XML and Lua alongside the more up-to-date C#/Mono.

As a tangent, I wondered if it would be possible to extend a Unity version of FG with mods that do more than just add rules or content. One thing I was thinking about was the potential to have a data store other than files, which lead me to think about having an off-site database, which then led me to wonder about the feasibility of a system — not necessarily FG-based — of a shared world RPG system.

“Oh!” you say. “You mean an MMO, dumbass”. No, I don’t, for a few reasons. First, I’m talking about tabletop RPG. They removed the “RPG” from “MMORPG” many years ago so when we talk about RPGs we mean games like Dungeons & Dragons. Second, I was thinking about a system whereby many people can get into a database and define “a world” with “locations” and “monsters” and “lore”.

Consider your standard sourcebook. It defines the world/landmass/nation/region, pointing out geographical points of interest. It also talks a little bit about the land’s history. The book will then go into detail about the civilizations that you will find in these areas so that in the end, the GM/world builder can have resources at his or her disposal to make one-off adventures for a single group of players.

With the shared world system, people who connect are greeted with a living world which keeps track of the state of what everyone who connects has accomplished. Mobs can be generated by the GM and stored in the database. When the party decimates those enemies (hopefully), the location where the battle took place is recorded. Along comes another party and the GM receives a note on the area that this “looks like a significant battle took place here”. He or she could do with that as they wanted, or ignore it.

More importantly, important world figures would be significant in that any party who opts to include one in their adventure would layer that NPC with experience, and might even kill them. Once the NPC is dead, they are dead for everyone.

The idea, then, is to allow for collaboration among peers — even if those peers aren’t specifically working together — on a content system that has some level of intelligence, enough to know that 0 HP means “don’t show this NPC to anyone else unless the HP are set to something other than 0” and that once the treasure chest in the cavern has been looted, it stays looted until someone actively refills it somehow. Everything would need to be tagged with the creator, and the creator notified when the state changes significantly, so the creator can manage that item (resurrect the NPC, fill the chest, etc). So even if a gaming group moves into a corner of the map that no one ever visits, they will create their own concequences that maybe someone will find at some point in the future.

I have no idea if this is something that’s possible, even on a less powerful level — a shared set of documents that people can download, update, and re-upload to keep things kosher across the board for everyone.

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LTTP: Nintendo Switch

Posted by on Jul 10, 2017 in Consoles, Hardware

The Nintendo Switch continues to be the most elusive piece of gaming hardware on the market these days, which is why when Amazon had some available on Friday, I panicked and slammed the BUY NOW button as quickly as possible without even considering the ramifications. Like, spending $300 on a system from a company I like OK but have no overwhelming desire to concern myself with.

Thing is, when it arrived the next day (All hail Amazon), I was shocked by the quality of the thing. Not that Nintendo makes crap — I’ve had my 3DS for many, many years now without any issues — but after the relative debacle of the WiiU and the fact that Nintendo’s market strategy is “flip MS and Sony the bird, and throw themselves down the hill with reckless abandon while giggling all the way”, it’s apparent that Nin’s either pulling an Apple and eating their own dog food when designing and developing, or they are from the future and know exactly what’s coming next in terms of exciting things*. tl;dr: Nintendo’s stuff is usually either really awesome or just shy of being lukewarm.

The dock is…a piece of plastic. I know there was some disappointment in that the dock doesn’t help the output to the TV any, but I suppose that decision helps keep the price down. It has an HDMI output, a power input, and a USB jack for reasons (I’m guessing for charging something). Originally there were reports that the dock could scratch the screen of the tablet, but my dock seems OK thus far.

Also included were two peripherals. The first was a traditional controller grip that accepted the 2 wireless “joy-con” controllers, and the second was a sliver of plastic with a wrist strap that is intended to complete a single joy-con into a stand-alone controller. Why there’s only one of these slivers for 2 joy-cons is beyond me, except to provide another up-sell opportunity.

The wireless controllers are smaller than I expected and light enough that I have concerns about using them without the tablet or docked with the controller grip. As widgets that contain gyroscopes and sensors and all that, you can close your fist around each of them for games like A.R.M.S. I suppose. Sadly, I got a unit which suffers from the dreaded “left con desync” issue which means the left controller looses connection to the console if it gets too far away. I’m told that a piece of conductive foam added to the innards is Nintendo’s fix, but I have contact customer support to get a replacement sent to me (saddling me with possible downtime during the turn-around).

The “console” itself is actually larger than expected, at least lengthwise. And lighter. And snappier. Also, shinier, which makes using it outside next to impossible (I tried!). Actually, I guess I had some pretty low expectations for the Switch, but the overall package is better than the sum of its parts. I hadn’t bought a game when I made the purchase of the console (No time! Must beat the rush!) so we stopped at Target on Saturday to pick up Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Having really only played tablet-focused games on tablet-sized devices which tend to be on the underpowered side, the game was visually stunning. It ran perfectly, and even holding the thing with the 2 controllers docked on either side was comfortable for the most part (the tablet did slip from my grasp a few times when reaching for certain occasional buttons).

I am pleased with the Switch thus far. LoZ is the only game I have, and I’m content with that. I can’t really use it with the TV right now due to the desync issue, but I had always anticipated that most of its use would be in portable mode anyway, sitting in the living room while my wife watches TV. I now have to immerse myself in the Nintendo ecosystem, because aside from LoZ and Mario Kart 8, I have no real idea what the Switch offers or what’s forthcoming for the system.

 

*Some might discount the “from the future” notion by saying that if they were, then they would have known the WiiU would bomb, to which I say of course! But if they were wildly successful all the time, people would get suspicious and want a closer investigation into how Nintendo can be so damn effective while constantly producing products that go against the grain of what the games industry is always telling us is the most important: horsepower, speed, graphics, online, etc. By stumbling on occasion, Nintendo can shrug it off once in a while and keep their time-traveling shenanigans a secret.

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Steam Sale: Morning After Edition

Posted by on Jul 5, 2017 in Featured, Games, Steam Sales

Today marks the end of the 2017 Steam Summer Sale, and I did am not emerging unscathed.

During recent sales, I hadn’t actually bought much if anything at all. I was either in a “let’s slow down on the gaming” phase, or an “I’m playing an MMO and don’t really have an interest in any of these other games” phase. That’s why I opted to use some of my saved money and load up the Steam Wallet this time around. I’m not going to say how much I put in there, but I will say that as of the writing of this post, I have $2.17 left.

I’ve already listed a few titles in a previous post, but there’s a few more to add to the list.

Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! is another game in the Holy Potatoes! series which might be something you’ve never heard of, and also something you’ve never expected to hear of. Basically, everyone in the game is a potato. Not in the Internet sense of potato being a sluggish PC or crappy camera, but a real sentient spud. In this edition, the tubers are — wait for it — in space. WiS?! borrows heavily from games like FTL in many ways, except…with potatoes. I cannot stress that enough. Sentient. Potatoes.

The Little Acre was an impulse buy because the art and animations looked great. It’s apparently a classic point-and-click adventure game which is a genre that has become very difficult for me in my dotage because I don’t have the patience. But the game is rumored to be short, I think, which might help my attention span.

Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville got a lot of good press in our Combat Wombat Discord channel, with one member having lost account of six hours of her life before she realized she’d been playing it for that long. Really, this looks like it would be a…nevermind. You are tasked with growing your zombie-free-zone by reclaiming buildings, scavenging for resources, and fighting off said undead. 

Last but not least is 911 Operator. I had seen this in my discovery queue but kind skimmed past it until I was lying in bed trying to sleep while my wife was watching TV. A commercial came on that talked about emergency services (I think) and it reminded me of this game, so I bought it. It’s difficult, which isn’t to say that I expected the role of a 911 dispatcher to be easy, but jebus crisp. I found that I had to decide which events were and which were not critical because I only had so many cops, EMTs, and firefighters to distribute. The most interesting thing, though, is that the game will detect where you live (by pinging your ISP-provided IP) and will offer you a local city map. Yes, you can play the game in your hometown, which is both cool and disturbing when you have dispatch cops to your own neighborhood.

In semi-unrelated news, I picked up Topple VR, Darknet, and Super Stardust Ultra VR for the PS4 because when Steam has a seasonal sale, everyone has a seasonal sale.

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Secret World Legends; Steam Summer Sale 2017

Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 in Secret World Legends, Steam Sales, The Secret World

Secret World Legends; Steam Summer Sale 2017

Secret World Legends

Kelly “Keliel” Olivar found her way over to SWL.

Secret World Legends is (almost literally) an answer to a question nobody asked: what if instead of fixing issues in a standing game, the developers copied and pasted that game, changed a bunch of stuff (but left other stuff alone) and released it as a whole new game? The existing game — the one people have been playing for years and have a history with, but which wasn’t doing as well as it undoubtedly should have — would be placed in “maintenance mode”, meaning no more new features and only updates when critical. Add to that the fact that no previous progress would carry over, so everyone — everyone — starts fresh, both people new to the franchise and those who have played since launch.

Does that sound like a good idea to you? On the surface, no. No, it does not. Yet this is what Funcom decided that The Secret World needed in order to survive and move forward. The reasons are unfortunately their own, buried behind the typical marketing platitudes we get from game companies that are coy about their strategies. Even so, the anticipation for the head start for SWL was high in my timelines. People had been waiting all of last week for notification that they could download the new client, create and migrate some of their TSW progress to the new game, and log in ahead of this week’s release. On Friday, the head start began and went pretty OK as far as I could tell. On Saturday, things were also humming along quite nicely. Sunday, however, the bill came due: there was an exploit which allowed players to generate millions of units of what SWL uses for cash-bought currency. Funcom kept the game offline for most of the day in order to fix it, which raised hackles; on one hand, fuck those who used the exploit and ruined it for the rest of us, but on the other hand, the fact that people were anxious to log in a play was a Good Sign.

I’m not going to enumerate all of the changes SWL introduces to TSW because I’m not entirely aware of all of them myself. Some of the most notable ones are that the free-form character builds are still present, but much harder to get at. This is good because my first TSW character was messed up early on because I didn’t know how to use the build system. Likewise, missions in SWL now follow a more structured path, with some leading into others, others having their pickup locations moved, some have been changed into “mission-on-zone-entry” grants, and others have been done away with entirely. They’ve also added levels to the game and made the game much easier to solo. I think that all of these changes are a result of the realization that while TSW was a game that attempted to break the MMO mold, a lot of what it did to that end was simply for the sake of being different. The game never put enough emphasis on being approachable in a genre that had been trending towards making things easier to understand for new and elder players alike.

New character sheet and weapon upgrade screens.

The question of why create a parallel game instead of just fixing what was in place might be answered in this light: TSW had tried many things and as a result garnered itself much baggage as far as the MMO community was concerned. I think the majority of people love the investigation missions. Others love the horror-themed atmosphere. Some even loved the EVE Online-like manner in which we could build custom characters so that not everyone was just following a class-based trajectory. But the game had many issues that Funcom struggled with over the years which cost them players and forced them from a sub to a free to play model. Along the way, they tried to update the game to repair problems or address shortcomings, but it never seemed to be enough. That’s why I can understand that SWL isn’t a reboot or even a reset, but a total cleansing of (hopefully) what plagued TSW for so long. Funcom (hopefully) took all of the feedback they received over the years and decided that there was just so much work that needed to be done — and done all at once — that it made more sense to copy the game, modify in parallel, and release as a new product with a beta phase and everything. Had they tried to make these changes to the live TSW, they would only be able to eek out changes in spurts through patches, and only to the public test center which is available for current players — and who knows the percentage of current players who opt to get into the PTR for any game, let alone a game that many believe has been on life support long before SWL was announced.

Despite having a lifetime sub to the game, I never made it off of Solomon Island in TSW so the idea of starting over doesn’t phase me. SWL is a game I want to succeed because it is unique, in setting, presentation, and content. I am liking a lot of the changes I’m seeing in SWL, although some are coming into conflict which what I expect from my days playing TSW and that causes me some confusion. I hope Funcom does well by SWL. They get a lot of shit for their games, some rightfully so, but also way more than they deserve. It’d be nice for them to catch a break with SWL because I’d sad to see it’s demise used as proof that there’s no room for non-high-fantasy, non-sci-fi MMOs.

Everyone deserves a second chance.

 

Steam Sale 2017

It’s in full swing this week, so here’s the current body count from my perspective.

Avorion: This is another in a string of Minecraft meets [insert other genre here] games. In this one, you get to harvest materials and build space ships and space stations. It looked good to me because while the graphics are OK if you play on public servers there’s open PvP in a massive universe which could be fun — if you’re into that. There’s supposedly also a story in single player mode. The ship building uses real physics, which speaks to my inner The Expanse fan…so yes, I will be trying to build a Rocinente when I am able.

The Curious Expedition: I have it installed but haven’t played it because I think this might be a good one to stream in succession. It’s a pixellated adventure story about a group of explorers who head to the Arctic and…something.

Oxenfree: I had put this on my wishlist at one point, but never jumped on it. However, friends claim that it’s a Really Good Game, Guys! so I bought it.

What Remains of Edith Finch: Now, I never played The Unfinished Swan, but it got high marks for presentation. Edith Finch has been getting some stellar reviews, and a lot of the Steam comments say that it’s a seriously moving game. I am eager to give this a try, but it sounds like the timing has to be right for the full impact to take effect. I just don’t know when that will be.

Hidden Folks: My wife plays a lot of hidden object games that she downloads from those junk game aggregator sites. I, on the other hand, am not a fan. Usually. Hidden Folks came up in conversation several times over the weekend and is cheaper during the sale than anything you could buy at Starbucks, so why the hell not. I was immediately laughing because this game’s appeal is only partly to do with it being a hidden object game. The whole thing was hand-drawn (which is impressive when you see some of the levels), and all of the sound effects are what I assume to be the developer making noises in a microphone. There are no canned sound effects here, except whatever comes out of this guy’s mouth and that can be hilarious at times. It doesn’t look to be a very long game, but it’s relaxing, small, has a low operational footprint, making it a great game to play when you’re waiting for other games to download or patch.

Waldo is for amateurs

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Ubisoft and Sony: Sorry For The Rideshare

Posted by on Jun 13, 2017 in Consoles, Editorial, Featured

I want to apologize for cramming Ubi and Sony into one post, but I wanted to strike while the iron was hot and not drag these thoughts out before I forget what I’m talking about (too late!)

Ubisoft

I actually missed a good portion of Ubi’s presentation because they started during my commute home, and no offense to the good work that the company does, but my getting the hell out of the office takes precedence over pretty much anything. I’ll catch up on the highlights later, but it looks like I missed out on the Nintendo/Rabbids crossover that many people are comparing to the recent treatments of XCom. I do not consider that to be a bad thing.

They also talked about — what else? — Assassin’s Creed. After yesterday’s dismissal of the franchise en toto I was linked a video by the Unstoppable PapaSnark regarding several new or revised features in the franchise assumed from the AC trailer. If the examination was correct, even in part, then I think several of my gripes about the series might be addressed. As stated, I’ve moved this game from a “hell no” to a “we’ll see”.

I came into the presentation during The Crew 2, which is about driving cars, boats, and planes.

Then stuff got weird. There was some Elijah Wood presentation for a VR title called Transference, but the video was too artsy to provide any real substance.

In keeping with the theme of E3 2017, there was a pirate-themed game called Skull & Bones. At first, it looked like a really cool PRPG (pirate aarrgh Pee Gee) but quickly devolved into a 5v5 PvP battle over booty. As stated on Twitter, it reminded me of a high-seas version of the spaceship battle game Dreadnaught, which is available now for those who can’t wait.

From the “no one saw that coming” department, Starlink: Battle for Atlas gave off a serious No Man’s Sky vibe, but with a twist: the trailer showed people playing the game with plastic spaceships attached awkwardly to their gamepads. These toys required them to swap out components like guns, missiles, or engines to have the change reflected within the game itself. Some people called it No Man’s Skylanders, while others attempted to smack Ubi in the head to let them know that unless you’re Nintendo, the era of toys-in-games is grinding to a halt.

And then there was FarCry 5. I have played a few FC games and I like ’em OK. There’s always something to do, but for me, having too much to do is a curse because I have trouble focusing on anything. In the wake of The Division and even Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and in the hopes that Assassin’s Creed Origins changes up its own game, I’d like to see some deviations from the traditional FC formula here. The trailer looked good.

Finally, Ubi surprised everyone by presenting a trailer for the long-awaited sequel to cult favorite Beyond Good & Evil that was teased several E3 ago. I have never completed the original because the controls are so gawdawful that I wanted to throw my PC across the room, but I’ve always enjoyed the unique world of BG&E in which humans and genetically engineered and sentient animals travel freely between the stars. It has a certain cyberpunk vibe but without the contrived magickal overhead of the equally off-kilter world of Shadowrun.

Sony

E3 always comes down to Microsoft versus Sony in a good natured “who won” discussion on the Internet, and while you might think that presenting second would give Sony time to one-up Microsoft’s event…well…They spent a lot of time talking up their own 4K abilities, which after the XBX announcement sounded like someone at the back of the crowd talking really loud in an effort to remind everyone that they were still present.

The first two presentations were for Knack II, a sequel to a game that I’ve only ever heard about from one person who has played it, and for — get this — a second screen initiative called PlayLink. The idea is that one person gets the gamepad and other people in the room get a smartphone/tablet app that allows them to interact with the game in a non-direct control scenario. The interesting game they demoed was called Hidden Agenda which looked like a story-based game where PlayLink users could “vote” on key decisions on behalf of the player. I blame the “Twitch Plays X” for this crowd-control focus. Other games showed that use this tech were more in the traditional “party game” vein because those games are traditional cash-cows, right? The second screen concept never really took off, so it’s kind of a head-scratcher as to why Sony decided to take this route. Still, it’s inconsequential, and doesn’t require any new hardware, so what’s the harm?

Speaking of buying new hardware, Sony devoted some time to VR games, and I can’t say that I’m overly excited. The big reveal for me was Skyrim VR. Bethesda announced a Doom and Fallout 4 VR, but didn’t say anything about Skyrim which seemed like an obvious oversight, but had apparently ceded that info to Sony. Do I want to play Skyrim all over again? Well… Do I want to play Skyrim VR? HELL YES I DO. Superhot made an appearance during this segment, but it’s already VR-enabled on the PC so it’s nice to see it coming to PS4. Final Fantasy XV made an appearance but as a…wait…what? A fishing game? Then came the head-tilted-sideways-with-eye-squint titles. Bravo Team is a military shooter (which I might write about on its own), Starchild is a platformer, and a cute game called Moss is about a small mouse with a magical gauntlet that can turn into a sword who makes her way through a diminutive world in search of something. Sadly, it looks like Sony is already sawing at the ropes that secures the VR bridge over the peripheral graveyard.

The good news is that Sony still had a lot of big-ticket Sony games to show.

First, Uncharted: The Last Legacy featuring the incendiary duo of Chloe and Nadine from previous Uncharted games. This was not a surprise, but since it’s dropping this year it made sense for Sony to include it in the face of so many 2018 titles.

Destiny 2 got it’s Sony-money’s worth by being featured, complete with a rundown of what exclusives you get if you buy and play on PS4. I have it pre-ordered on PC, lag time be damned.

We got to see more on that zombie game Days Gone. Previously we’d been treated to technical showcases in which hundreds of procedurally generated undead canvassed a small farm while the protagonist raced across rooftops. This time we learn that humanity has formed enclaves (of course) and ventures forth amidst the zombie hoards for supplies and such. Not all enclaves are trying to bring humanity back; some are, of course, despotic and filled with assholes, and this demo saw the protagonist, Jeanjacket McMotorcycleStubble, using the environment (read: zombies) to overrun an enemy camp to rescue one of his friends. The game looked great and could be a really cool adventure style game. Except, zombies.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is getting DLC, and water is wet. I’m not ragging on this, only saying that they could have just said “Horizon: Zero Dawn!” on stage and people would have thrown money. I suppose I should get back to that and finish the game.

Skimming a few other things: Monster Hunter World is a thing that people like, and now they can like it on PS4. I know nothing of this franchise, except that you hunt monsters. Large, large monsters. Shadow of the Colossus is getting a remaster, Marvel vs Capcom is also a thing people like, and surprise! Call of Duty: World War II.

Now, what caught my eye: There’s a new God of War game which, as seems to be the Sony trend this year, looks to include some really great cinematic story and is not just room-to-room hack and slash. I might make this my first GoW game because it looked great. One of the wildcards from last year’s E3 (or maybe it was in between) was a game called Detroit: Become Human. This is from the people who made the games Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, which are both narrative heavy, action light decision tree games. This one is set in a future Detroit where androids are created to do the dirty work, but then some “awaken” and get minds of their own. You are one of those androids and have to make moral decisions regarding the relationship between humans and your kind.

Finally, there was Spider-Man. Now, I am not a Spider-Man fan, really. I like the character the way I like yogurt; I would never seek it out, but if it’s around and I’m hungry, it’ll do…but barely. Visually, this game was amazing. The animations were mind-blowing, and the effects (especially the webbing) were top-shelf. In the heat of the moment, I mentioned that I could get behind this game because it seemed like there was just so much Spidering to do! In retrospect, while the visuals were great, the gameplay seemed to be less open-world and more QTE interrupted by occasional brawling action. Now, like all E3 presentations, this is really just a controlled event that we understand doesn’t necessarily represent the entire experience, but whereas a Spider-Man game might have immediately caused me amnesia upon announcement, I might keep an eye on this for more information.

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