Weekend Gaming Review – Delays & DLC

It’s been a little while since I’ve written about recent happenings and general news within the gaming world, but there’s been no shortage of things to follow(or try to ignore) on social media. I figured I would throw in my two cents from the luxury of my own WordPress soapbox rather than within the 280 character confines of Twitter.

Delayed Expectations

Remember how crowded the release schedule for this spring was looking, with what seemed to be highly-anticipated games getting released nearly every week? Well…the months of March and April aren’t quite as crowded as they once were.

It first started with both Animal Crossing New Horizons and Doom Eternal being delayed from a Fall 2019 releases to both games ironically announcing a March 20 2020 release date. I’m having a hard time explaining precisely why I love the thought of buying a new Animal Crossing game at the same time as a new Doom game…I dunno. The release date of mega-hyped The Last of Us Part 2 was given a release date of February 21 2020 during Sony’s State of Play presentation this past September, but only a few weeks later the game was delayed and slated for a May 29 release.

In the past couple weeks another barrage of delays were announced by Square Enix with the Final Fantasy 7 remake being delayed from March 3 to April 10 and also Marvel’s Avengers was pushed from its planned release of May 15 to September 4. The FF7 remake wasn’t much of a suprise to me, as the development of the game has been ongoing for years with speculation for a long time about whether not the project would see light of day. The Avengers game also isn’t suprising, considering how little anyone knows about the game other than the cast portraying Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and that the game has been hinted as being a living, open-world game. Coincidentally enough, the Iron Man VR game for PS4 has also been delayed from February until May 15.

And finally, another game delay that, while not as much SURPRISING as disappointing was the CD Projekt Red’s announcement that Cyberpunk 2077, their follow-up to The Witcher 3 has been delayed from its intended release of April 16 to September 17. Cyberpunk is one of the games I’m most anxious to play so I’m a little bummed to hear of a delay, but coming from CD Projekt Red, delays are never all that surprising.

I’m completely fine with the recent delays, most people have expressed a similar feeling and mentioned the words of Shigeru Miyamoto himself as he stated “A delayed game is eventually good. A bad game is bad forever”. Another common reaction to the news was that of being disappointed to hear a game is delayed, if it means the dev team isn’t put under as many crunch hours. This is where I applaude publishers and developers for agreeing to delay a release and mention nice things like employee work-life balance, but what I fear is this becoming something said solely to maintain goodwill as we’ve become more aware of the strain of crunch hours on developers and testers. The delay of Cyberpunk 2077 was quickly followed CD Projekt Red confirming that it will still be requiring extra crunch-time hours from its dev team. Maybe I’m just being too cynical? Progress has been made in bringing awareness of crunch and its effects on those creating the games we love to instantly consume, but there’s still more to be improved upon. I’ve linked an article articulating this far better than I can.

https://kotaku.com/game-delays-cause-more-crunch-1841065204

Pokemon Sword/Shield DLC Announced

Over the past few years Nintendo has been on a wildly successful streak starting with the release of the Nintendo Switch in February 2017 and continued all the way through 2019. As we entered 2020, much specualation had begun as to when Nintendo would announce another Direct presentation to announce new games, features, or even a rumored Switch Pro. Within the past couple weeks Nintendo has indeed hosted two Direct broadcasts, the first being Pokemon-related and the second announcing the fifth and final DLC fighter for the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass(more on that in a minute).

The first Nintendo Direct was held on January 9 and was specifically Pokemon-centered(…get it?). During the presentation a paid DLC bundle for Pokemon Sword & Shield was announced; each containing a brand new area to explore with new Legendary Pokemon as well as over 200 others returning from previous generations. The first pack – Isle of Armor will release in June, with the second – Crown Tundra to be released later this Fall. The announcement was met with a generally(?) positive reaction as those who already enjoy the game will be simply offered more of it, but also noticed others who still felt that Game Freak had betrayed their loyalty. Some felt add-on DLC with more Pokemon is simply a way to squeeze extra money out of gamers when CLEARLY Sword/Shield should have contained every one of the 800+ Pokemon. Those who were felt they were being railroaded into buying the same game AGAIN to “catch em’ all”. I find being upset about DLC coming to Sword/Shield a little humorous as if you REALLY want to scrutinize, you could come to the conclusion that we’ve been buying 3 versions of essentially the same game since 1998. I think adding DLC to Sword/Shield is perfectly fine and in a broader way shows Nintendo and Game Freak are slowly, but surely entering the modern era of gaming in regards to post-release content.

Smash Bros. 5th DLC Fighter Announced

Another Nintendo Direct presentation was announced for January 16 2020 to cover the fifth and final DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. At any given time there’s a consistent swirl of rumors and speculation as to just who Mr. Sakurai will announce as the newest addition to what is already the greatest-selling fighting game in history. Being the final fighter in the Fighters Pass, there was an even bigger frenzy of guesses, wishes, or demands, so Smash fans were more than eager to see who would receive the latest invitation. Many fans wanted to see a character representing other games like Sora from Kingdom Hearts or Dante from Devil May Cry, there were even those rumors of Master Chief or the Demon Slayer from Doom. The possibilities seemed endless as the Smash community had been treated, to the point of being spoiled by some outrageously awesome additions like Joker(Persona 5), Hero(Dragon Quest), Banjo(Banjo-Kazooie), and Terry Bogard(Fatal Fury/King of Fighters). So when Sakurai announced Fire Emblem: Three Houses main protagonist Byleth as the next fighter, many fans felt disappointed and frustrated and quickly voiced their opinions via social media, as trending hashtags on Twitter indicated.

I completely understand being disappointed with the newest Smash character announcement, but when it turns into the inevitable bickering and fighting is when I’m unable to empathize. It’s only a couple months since we went through the EXACT SAME thing when Terry was announced and a large portion of the fanbase went “who’s Terry?”. Many fans look at Byleth’s inclusion to the Smash Bros gigantic roster as completely uneccessary, “There’s too many Fire Emblem characters!!” or less deserving than others ” ANOTHER anime sword-fighter??”. Fire Emblem: Three Houses was one of the best of Nintendo’s many great 2019 releases and I have no issue with Byleth being part of the already incredible roster of characters in Smash Bros. Ultimate. For those complaining about the over-representation of Fire Emblem characters(8) in SSBU; if there was a game that warranted an abuncance of FE characters it would be Smash Bros. How many of us may not have ever been inroduced to the Fire Emblem games if not for Roy and Marth’s inclusion to Smash Bros Melee back on the Gamecube. Also, how awesome does that Cuphead Mii Gunner outfit look?

Smash fans: No more sword-fighters
Also Smash fans: We want Dante!

In addition to Byleth joining the Smash roster, Sakurai announced a second Fighters Pass which contains 6 DLC fighters that will be introduced throughout the year and completing in January 2021. So for all the fun we’ve had with the first 5 fighters, we can look forward to 6 more….along with another year of the…healthy discourse within the Smash community.

I think that’s all for now, what do you think of Nintendo’s recent DLC Directs? Are you disappointed with the recent game delays? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Games of the Year 2019

In what seems obligatory for anyone with a gaming-related channel or site, I’ve finally created my list of ten favorite games of 2019. After what seemed like hours of discussion and lists, not to mention the countless hours of playing research, I was able to devise a definitive list of favorites released in 2019…until I change my mind anyway. I know of many out there that felt underwhelmed with the year’s offering of games, but I feel this year has still been a great one. No, we didn’t get near masterpieces like in 2017 with Breath of the Wild or Mario Odyssey or with God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018, but there’s still been a sizable crop of quality games. What I have found so interesting this year is the fact there hasn’t been the one game held above all the others as the unanimous choice for Game of the Year. If you were to read/watch/listen to any one of the vast sea of GOTY pieces online, you would be hard-pressed to find anything remotely close to a consensus on which game was “best”. Each and every game nominated for end of the year awards has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, which I find fascinating as some of the most memorable games may be the ones whose flaws merely add to their uniqueness and charm. Someone may favor a game like Control, while the next person found a game like The Outer Worlds to be the most engrossing experience this year; a third individual may have generated their greatest enjoyment of the year in the created chaos of Untitled Goose Game. I’d also like to point out before beginning that while lists like this are fun for the sake of discussion, they are completely subjective with no right or wrong answers. My list contains the games that have provided either a completely memorable experience, pure gameplay joy, or a mix of both. First off, I have a few games that for me fell just outside of my ten favorites, but greatly enjoyed nonetheless.

My 5 Runners-up

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Super Mario Maker 2

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

My Friend Pedro

Blazing Chrome

And now my 10 favorite games of 2019….

10. Tetris 99

9. Ape Out

8. The Outer Worlds

7. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

6. Control

5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

4. Luigi’s Mansion 3

3. Fire Emblem: Three Houses

2. Resident Evil 2

1. Death Stranding

And there we have it, my 10 favorite games of 2019. What are your favorites from 2019? Let me know in the comments or provide feedback as to how my list could have been better. We’re in the final few days of what was a pretty productive year and I still have just a little bit more to accomplish blog-wise before celebrating the new year. I plan on following up my games of the year post with another collection of some of my gaming memories from the past year as well as all the games I played for the first time throughout 2019. Thanks for reading!

Random Gaming Music Post

As I seem to have hit a bit of a rut over the past week in terms of writing on my blog site, I decided to take a bit of a detour from my regularly scheduled content(and I use the term “content” loosely…). I’ve also spent the last couple days not feeling entirely down about anything, but don’t feel necessarily…engaged or inspired. So, for today’s post I decided to share some music from various video games that I’ve been listening to lately or just whenever I feel like reverting to something less melancholic. I’ve arranged the music in order from more somber to lighter and more upbeat as you would envision the sunrise breaking over the dark horizon…

Keep Your Rifle By Your Side – Far Cry 5

The soundtrack from Far Cry 5 has become one of my favorite video game soundtracks, with several different arrangements of the “cult songs” you hear in-game. The song Keep Your Rifle By Your Side by the band Hammock who recorded an album of alternate arrangements of the original songs featured in the game starts slow and maintains a spa-like ambience that sounds as spacious as the Montana rockies.

Legend of the Eagle Bearer – Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Another track that begins slowly and then keeps a steady relaxed pace, Legend of the Eagle Bearer is the main title music and over-arching theme for Alexios or Kassandra’s epic journey through ancient Greece in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. I love the loose, slightly buzzy timber of the strings to conjure the Mediterranean vibe of the theme.

Fodlan Winds – Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fodlan Winds is used as the main battle theme during Fire Emblem: Three Houses with an “airy” lightness in the string section that uplifts the (mostly)sober feel of the game. The entire soundtrack of Three Houses is wonderful and is one of many aspects that contribute to what may be my favorite game of 2019.

Press Play – Firewatch

I’ve always loved 80’s sounding synth-pop, so I naturally loved the song Press Play featured in the wonderful indie title Firewatch. The song is performed by fictitious 80’s band Cheap Talk and is featured early on in the game which is set in 1989. The song sounds eerily reminiscent to early Madonna – before the Pepsi Ads and Like A Prayer…

Pop Virus – Death Stranding

Hideo Kojima’s newest(and weirdest) game Death Stranding released this previous Friday and was one of the game I spent the weekend consuming. The game itself has proven quite divisive in terms of “fun” or “what the hell is it?”, but the game features some wonderful music, both licensed and original score. The catchy J-pop jam – Pop Virus by Gen Hoshino is a bit of sunshine in the gorgeous, yet desolate Death Stranding and has been one of my favorite songs to while I “play” as Norman Reedus relaxing and chugging Monster energy drinks in one of the Private Rooms.

That’s all for now, I always like seeing and hearing the pieces of music that others enjoy in their favorite games. What are some of your favorites on your “gaming playlist”? Let me know. Thanks for reading!