Uncharted 4: Complete

It’s been a while since Uncharted 4 released, but I finally finished it off. I made a screenshot dump post a couple of months ago, when I thought I was over halfway through the game. Going by number of chapters, I was actually over halfway through the campaign, but the last few chapters felt much more stretched out, as the game begins to open up with exploratory levels and vehicle travel. This isn’t something that’s new to the series by any means, but Uncharted 4 was much more expansive than its predecessors. Or at least, it sure felt that way.

Keeping with my vow to start blowing through my backlog, after realizing that I hadn’t beaten many games at all this year, I’ve already completed two more and made progress elsewhere. At the beginning of this month, I managed to complete the new DOOM, and now Uncharted 4 can be struck from the backlog list as well. I did already add another game to my collection since the steam sale though, so this is only a minor step in the right direction, but it is progress nonetheless. Unfortunately No Man’s Sky comes out in just about 3 weeks, so my backlog is going to collect dust again rather soon as I dive into that, but this is a story for another day. Back to Uncharted.

Honestly, there are so many improvements in this title it’s hard to know where to begin. The controls are intuitive; the climbing, jumping and rolling mechanics are all very sharp. The cover system and gunplay are spot on. I never felt overly challenged, despite going straight to hard difficulty for my first playthrough. The graphics are incredible, and smooth throughout. The action sequences are absolutely ridiculous, but that’s definitely nothing new for this series. It’s just so much prettier and smoother that it feels like a huge step up for the IP. It is unfortunate that the subtitle is “A Thief’s End” and this is the last we’ll be seeing of good ol’ Nathan Drake. He keeps his sense of humor to the very end though, and that’s where this game really shines.

The writers at Naughty Dog should feel proud. Not only did they make Nathan a more mature and responsible guy, but they made him more loveable, and there were so many points in the game oozing with real emotion, and that’s not easy to do in a game with a “meathead” protagonist. No, I don’t think Nathan Drake is a meathead, but I’ve heard the argument plenty of times anyway. Overall the growth of the characters and overall charm of the narrative pulled me in deeper than I thought I could go. And of course, there’s plenty of death and destruction to go around.

My only complaint with the game? The goddamn sword fight finale. Holy shit I had to do that so many times before finally getting through. In a game that is primarily about gunplay, WHY would you make the final encounter end with a sword fight? And an annoyingly implemented QTE one at that? It really is a minor complaint, but holy fuck was I screaming at my TV before I completed the game.

Having now played through all four games, I would still rate this one the highest despite the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. 9.5/10 Here’s some screens of the latter half of the game. They might be a little spoilery, but hey, the game’s been out for two months. Enjoy.

Uncharted 4 Screenshot Dump

Just a short post today, as I wanted to get something else in before the end of the month. I’ve mentioned it several times already, but I’ve been playing Uncharted 4 quite a bit lately, mixed in with a few other larger titles. Uncharted 4 is really a great looking game, Naughty Dog have really made the PS4’s potential shine, though I’m sure they’re basically maxing out what it can do. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful game to behold. The addition of a photo mode in this sequel has given the opportunity to exploit the fact that I can take screenshots on my console as a built in feature. I’m still a little tickled by that, despite the fact that it’s been possible on PC for ages. Still, I wished for the feature on PS3, where  I typically took shitty cell phone pictures of my TV. But I digress.

I wanted to share some of the beauty that is Uncharted 4. There shouldn’t be anything too spoilery in them, but there are a few trophy unlocks and blurry action shots, just for good measure. Have to take the good with the bad, I suppose. Let’s take a look:

Beautiful, no?

Thoughts on the Uncharted 4 Beta

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There was a “stress test” this weekend for Uncharted 4 on Playstation 4’s around the country. There had been a beta test a couple of months ago where I was first able to try the game, but that was on my friend’s PS4 so my play time was rather limited. Go figure that this beta weekend would happen at a time when I had already planned an out of town trip, but thankfully I was hanging with friends who also have PS4’s so I was able to play quite a bit during the stress test.

First of all, the game is fucking gorgeous. Naughty Dog has had a reputation for making games that look a hell of a lot better than you’d expect from the hardware, and this game is no exception. I love the Uncharted series, as it is action packed, has some fun mechanics and is rather cinematic. We don’t have cinematic examples from this title just yet, as it was all multiplayer death matches all weekend, but based on the graphics I’ve seen so far, I know the single player campaign is going to look fantastic.

One of my concerns going into multiplayer in UC4 was whether it would be more similar to to UC2, or UC3. Personally, my favorite Uncharted game to this point was number 2. I absolutely loved the multiplayer and it was probably one of my most played games on the Playstation 3. When UC3 released I thought I would love it even more, but I found that I enjoyed the story less and didn’t really care for the multiplayer as much either. The good news is that UC4’s multiplayer has managed to blend features from both predecessors, and added enough to differentiate itself from them as well.

For example, UC2 was mostly about the climbing/rolling/cover system, and though there were perks, it was mostly an afterthought. This ended up feeling pretty good though, as skill > build. In UC3, they added in systems much like most lobby shooters have these days, so there were perks and builds and some builds would end up being superior to others, etc.

Uncharted 4 has custom builds, and there are multiple ways you can set up your character, though it still feels like there’s more of an emphasis on player skill > builds. It’s the best of both worlds. Some of the added features that you can put in your loadout are pretty cool, and add some depth to the standard shooter. The addition of a grappling hook brings some different acrobatics to an already parkourish type of game, along with plenty of opportunities to make some awesome plays (one of my favorites from the weekend involved swinging from a hook while dropping a satchel charge on a group of enemies, then swinging from another tree as the charge took out three of them). There is also a new way to impact the game while you play: cash.

You earn cash from getting downs (all enemies will go down after some hits, but can be revived), KO’s (actual kills after downs), assists, and picking up treasure that randomly spawns around the map. You can use this cash at seemingly any point in time, and it can be used to summon NPC’s that will aid you, gear upgrades, or “mysticals.” The NPCs come in a few varieties, but can be pretty helpful in mowing down enemies or reviving you. Gear upgrades will affect your grenades and such, and mysticals are various “super abilities,” which make them cost the most money. Still, you should be buying multiple items per match, so there are a number of ways in which you can utilize the tools. It feels like a successful blend of previous iterations of the game, and I am really looking forward to the full release.

There was only deathmatch to play for the beta, but I assume there will be other game modes as there have been in the past. The game is set to release in May, so it’s likely there will be more beta testing before then. I’m ready for more, that’s for sure.

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2016

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The New Year is here, and now that the holiday festivities are over, we can get back to focusing on the next wave of great games that will be releasing. Over the past month the blogosphere (and Internet at large) has been listing off its favorite games, moments and stuff of 2015 but why stop now? Let’s kick off 2016 with a list of games I’m most looking forward to, and some titles that I’m hoping for more information about.

Coming This Year:

Street Fighter V (February)

I’m a Street Fighter fan boy. Always have been, always will be. The mechanics required to play the game are superior to that of any other fighting game in my opinion. I’m really looking forward to the next title in the series, as I enjoyed Street Fighter IV, but I think there are some better characters in this iteration. I also love the fact that you don’t need a bunch of friends to be able to have people to play against (like we used to back in the day), you can just hook up with people online. Many fighting games die out over time, but Street Fighter tends to have staying power in that department. I hope to get this one on release.

XCOM 2 (February)

I loved XCOM back when it was a 2-D pixellated mess, and I especially loved the reboot of the series. I played the game on both console and PC, and look forward to seeing how the battles and grand strategy will play out this time. Apparently the aliens run Earth in the sequel, so you’re in charge of reforming the XCOM program and taking back earth. It’s not a huge twist, but it should be interesting enough.

Uncharted 4 (April)

I’ve talked about Uncharted 4 a few times over the past couple of years. It was announced at E3 year before last, and was on the last two of my E3: Most Anticipated lists, but it deserves a slot here as well because it’s actually coming out. The multiplayer beta was running a couple weeks ago and I really enjoyed that as well. It took the best elements of the multiplayer from 2 and 3 and ditched some of the stuff I didn’t really care for. The addition of the grappling hook adds a new element to an already vertically-minded game. I can’t wait to see how the story shakes up as well, in what will likely be the last entry into the series. I’m also hoping that we hear what Naughty Dog has up their sleeves in the way of a new series. Or perhaps we’ll be hearing about The Last of Us 2? One can only hope.

Doom (Spring)

DOOM, as it’s being called (but was at one point referenced as “Doom 4”) is sort of a reboot of the series. It’s taken the fast-paced, hip-firing action of the originals and paired that with today’s graphical capabilities. The campaign looks to be solid, carnage-filled fun, and the multiplayer reminds me of Quake III Arena. I managed to play some of the multiplayer Alpha on PS4 and it ran beautifully. I had technical hiccups when trying to play it on my PC though, so hopefully that won’t be the case once it releases. Either way it had an old school feel that was very welcoming and I look forward to it!

No Man’s Sky (June)

Provided this game goes off without a hitch, and is as grand as the vision I have of it, this will likely be my GOTY for 2016. I’ve spoken about it many times on the podcast and on this blog (it too made the last 2 of my E3 Most Anticipated lists), but it’s supposed to be out this summer. Originally I was under the impression that it was a Playstation exclusive, but it appears to be launching on PS4 and PC simultaneously. Either way it still looks fantastic and I can’t wait to go exploring. I’m torn as to which platform I should buy it on, because I’m hoping to have a PS4 with my tax return this year. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what the multiplayer situation is going to look like. I have far more friends on Steam than on Playstation Network.

Mass Effect Andromeda (Q4)

This is slated for a quarter 4 launch but it’s a possibility that the game gets delayed. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. That doesn’t stop me from being very intrigued. I loved the Mass Effect games, though I still need to get ahold of the first title, as it wasn’t ported until much later (originally an Xbox exclusive). I’m sure Bioware is going to have a whole new world with familiar ideas prepared for us, and I can’t wait to dive into another worthy Sci-Fi RPG.

Divinity Original Sin 2 (December)

I’ve honestly not played enough of the Original game, but I know that I rather enjoyed what I did play of it. Since this isn’t launching until December, I have the year to beat the original and be prepared for the sequel. I’m sure that it will be just as good. I’m a bit of a fan of the isometric RPGs of old, so I might be biased. Here’s hoping it doesn’t suck.

Final Fantasy IX PC (TBA)

Final Fantasy IX released back in 2000 on the original Playstation. One of three main-series Final Fantasy games to debut on the system, for some reason this one isn’t available on PC yet, despite pretty much every other title being on Steam already. Besides VII, this is my favorite in the series but I never got to finish it because my Playstation was stolen when my apartment got broken into. I’ve though about buying the downloadable classic version on my PS3 a few times, but now that it’s coming to PC I’ll likely just pick it up via Steam. I’m starting to toy with the idea of playing through them all, but I’d have to start collecting them from the beginning, as I currently only own Final Fantasy Tactics, and that’s it.

Dark Souls III (TBA)

Another fantastic game series that I’m too far behind on. I played through and completed Demon’s Souls, the first of the Souls games to come out as a Playstation exclusive on PS3. Dark Souls soon followed, and I own that one on PC, but haven’t beaten it just yet. I have Dark Souls II on my Steam wish list, and Bloodborne is a title I can’t wait to pick up once I grab my PS4. Dark Souls III will likely be a PC purchase just to keep that series all on one platform. As this one is still “to be announced” it’s possible it won’t release this year, but I think it will pop up. I’ll just have to dig into the older titles or it’ll end up in the backlog.

Allison Road (TBA)

This is one of those under-the-radar titles. Remember PT, the Silent Hills demo-thing? That whole deal got nixed when Konami and Kojima parted ways, but apparently the PT demo got some fan attention. Enough so, that a fan-created full-fledged game is coming, and it’s called Allison Road. Honestly, it looks equal amounts of creepy and awesome, and definitely has the same feeling to it that PT had. I just hope that they manage to keep things compelling. It’s supposed to release this year, but we’ll see.

Overkill’s The Walking Dead (TBA)

I didn’t hear about this game at all somehow. I’m a huge Walking Dead fan, including the show and the comics, but the only game that’s really hit the mark when it comes to that IP was TellTale’s two seasons that were mostly based on the comics. There have been other titles, but they were pretty meh. This one is also supposed to be based on the comics and looks more like The Last of Us, in that it’s a mixture of survival horror and gunplay. If I hadn’t been doing research for this article I wouldn’t have heard of this game at all (yet) so I’m glad I stumbled upon it.

Want More Information:

Final Fantasy VII Remake

This is the second trailer to have come out since E3 last summer, and it shows more in-game footage, but we still don’t have a total picture for the game. I feel like it’s going to be fantastic, but I’m not sure that it will make it out this year. As my favorite of the series, I can’t wait to see this in action and I hope that it holds true to the nostalgia while eliminating some of the dated annoyances coming from old-school mechanics.

Resident Evil 2 Remake

Another great classic title that is being remade. Capcom has gone pretty crazy with Resident Evil remakes lately, as many of the older titles have received HD upgrades. The original had a remake from top to bottom though, and it looks a hell of a lot better than it did back in ’95. This looks to be something of the same, where it’s not just an HD (resolution) upgrade, it’s supposed to be reworked from the ground up. If they preserve the storyline but give it a new coat of paint it should be pretty good. Time will tell, but it’s likely we won’t see this one release in 2016.

Crowfall

The game that still remains my MMO of the future, the next MMO I plan to play, the only MMO I’m looking forward to. Crowfall. There has already been some pre-alpha testing, and it’s likely they’ll be into either deep alpha or early beta testing by the end of the year. This latest video from the devs focuses on new systems added to the game, crows and vessels, which is a brand new concept in an MMO world, and looks to tackle some of the issues present in the current crop of titles on the market. Honestly I’ve been hating on MMOs for a long time, but I still love them. I just don’t love what’s on offer (even if I dip my toes in them once in a while). Crowfall is the only game I’ve ever backed on Kickstarter, and there’s a good reason for that. They are trying new things and sound like they’re going to hit the nail on the head. I can’t wait to see what further developments occur and I hope that it meets expectations.

Indivisible

Finally, a game that came out of left field for me. I happened to get Skullgirls packed in with a Humble Bundle, and as a result caught word of that developer’s next project, called Indivisible. The Kickstarter page had a downloadable alpha demo that was surprisingly fun and unique. The game combines platforming and turn based RPG mechanics with some elements from 2-D fighting games like Street Fighter. It’s hard to describe, but cool to play with. They were successfully funded but the game isn’t due until 2018, so I’m just hoping for more information before year’s end.

So there you have it. What games are you looking forward to the most in 2016?

#E32015: Most Anticipated

Somewhere along the lines I got my dates mixed up. I was under the impression that E3 didn’t start until Tuesday or Wednesday, and it actually started on Sunday, briefly. That was Bethesda’s day to throw out information and a myriad of titles. Today, it was all about Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony. Tomorrow is Nintendo, SquareEnix and the PC gala. Tomorrow there should be some information coming out of the PC show that will interest me, but the bulk of the games I was excited to learn more about have already come and gone, so I feel like I can already make this list without hesitation. I made a list just like this last year, and despite highly anticipating those titles, there’s only a portion of them I’ve actually played to this point, there’s some that aren’t out yet, and a couple will be repeated on today’s list. We talked about a number of games we were psyched about on a recent episode of Couch Podtatoes, and now there’s more information packed into these trailers that answered a lot of my questions from the show. I’m not going to rehash that same list because not all of those games were talked about at the Expo just yet, and because these are the games that I’m extremely excited for, right now. With the introduction out of the way, here’s my most anticipated games from #E32015 (in no particular order):

Doom 4

Why I’m excited: We’ve known about Doom 4 for a bit now. The fact that the game would be revealed at E3 this year was no secret, but seeing the game in action was more than I was expecting. Not only does it seem to have steered away from the survival horror of it’s most recent (recent? It’s been ten years!) predecessor, but it picked up the pace, replicating the action sequences I knew and loved as a kid. It’s gory too, but that’s something you’d come to expect from a game famous for chainsawing demons in half and utilizing “big fucking guns.” Now I need to go back and actually finish Doom 3. Like soon.

Fallout 4

Why I’m excited: I was hesitant about Fallout 4. Fallout 3 and Borderlands were the first two games I bought for my PS3 when I picked it up back in 2009. Fallout 3 was already on it’s collectors edition, and man I loved the look of it. I loved the interactive character creation that lead you through your early life into adulthood. I loved the atmosphere. I loved blowing up the town at the beginning of the game, setting off the nuke it was built over and watching from afar, cackling to myself maniacally. I didn’t enjoy the use of the VATS system though, and that feature alone made it to where I didn’t play the game very far. I remember being frustrated that when I chose not to use that system, and went at combat in a purely FPS fashion, it felt like I was just wasting bullets. Slowing down the game to target things just didn’t feel right. Watching this trailer eased some of my worry. You’ll see the player being able to quickly and flawlessly switch between the two modes, and both seem equally effective. I can see where VATS would be useful, but I can see where I wouldn’t want to use it all of the time. However, this does make me feel like I may have been too hard on the 3rd installment, and that I might also want to give New Vegas a whirl. Perhaps I’ll get that in before the release of #4. Time will tell.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Why I’m excited: This is a carry-over entry from last year’s list, but with good reason. My love for the Uncharted series hasn’t waned whatsoever in the past year, and with the announcement that the “Nathan Drake Collection” is coming for PS4 as well, you can get all of the Uncharted goodness in one place, and all up to current-gen standards. Also, there’s actual gameplay footage this time around, and despite the fact that it’s still the same old Uncharted, it looks fucking phenomenal. The only question it didn’t answer is “how is the multiplayer?” but that’s okay, as I’m sure that information is coming. I cannot wait for this title, it’s a console seller.

No Man’s Sky

Why I’m excited: Another carry-over from last year is No Man’s Sky. I was absolutely psyched to see the extra gameplay we were able to see this time around. It’s clear that the universe that has been procedurally generated by Hello Games’ ridiculous engine is by far the most ambitious video game feat I’ve ever seen. I think Eri hit the nail on the head when she said that this engine alone is going to make the company a shitload of money. We also get to see some space battling, more planetary exploration along with how the worlds are fully destructible. I’m impressed that they managed to cram voxel technology into their game as well. This is probably my most anticipated game out of them all, and it was said that the release date will be announced “soon.” I absolutely need to get a PS4 ASAP.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Why I’m excited: Yet another Playstation exclusive (til it’s eventually ported) that I can’t wait to see more of. This particular trailer didn’t give us anything except for a feel for the world and a taste of what Cloud and Barrett will look like. I’d really like to see what the combat and other in-game aspects will look like, but we’ll have to wait a bit to find out more. I do have to say that I will mirror Talarian’s sentiment, in that I’d prefer that the music, locations, characters and overall story stay in tact, but that they can take the old-school JRPG combat and shove it. I loved the Materia system, but the endless random battles to level up and the “mostly just holding down the Confirm button and letting your party auto-attack its way to victory” needs to go. Spice it up a little. The whole world wants this remake, let it be amazing. FFVII got me into the series as a whole, and will forever be my favorite, despite some of it’s archaic ways.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Why I’m excited: This one came out of left field. The developers for Kill Zone have created a whole new IP. When the trailer starts, I was thinking to myself that it looked like a Turok: Dinosaur Hunter remake, but this was not the case. The backstory is interesting enough, and the gameplay was fast, beautiful, and deadly. Huge Dinosaur robots? Yeah, I need this game in my life.

Star Wars: Battlefront

Why I’m excited: We’ve known about the new Battlefront game for a while now. It’s been on the Origin Launcher for some time, but seeing it in action makes me want it that much more. I’m not super big on Battlefield, and since DICE is making this game, you know there will be some similarities. However, it’s Star Wars and there’s so much awesome packed into this trailer there’s no way a fan of the IP couldn’t be excited for this. I probably won’t buy it day one, because of the shitty launch to Battlefield 4, but I’ll definitely get it at some point.

Street Fighter V

Why I’m excited: Street Fighter V was announced a while back as well, but seeing some more of it in action is never a bad thing. They are doing some stupid shit with “console exclusive characters” but it’s not the first time something like this has happened in a fighting game, and those characters tend to become DLC for other platforms eventually. The characters they showed as being exclusive to PS4 were Birdie and Cammie, two fighters I never really cared for anyway. One way or the other, as a huge fan of the Street Fighter series, I’m definitely looking forward to this one.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III

Why I’m excited: Yeah, I’m as surprised as you are that I’m including this game in this list. But, as I’ve alluded to a couple of times prior to this, I’ve been a fan of Treyarch’s versions of Call of Duty since the first Black Ops, and this one feels like a huge jump for the series. My boycott may have officially ended, as I see multiple features that speak to me. First, in this trailer you’ll see that they finally added co-op to the campaign mode, and removed some of the on-rails aspects, allowing you to customize your kit before heading into battle. Secondly, they added in some of the features that Titanfall has, in that the acrobatics you can perform are very similar now. Third, there’s fucking Zombies mode, and that’s my shit right there. I’m actually really looking forward to this one.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Why I’m excited: Me and Eri pondered if there would be some sort of Mass Effect announcement, but we figured that it wouldn’t have anything to do with Sheppard. From what I can gather in this trailer, which really isn’t much except for a teaser, we were correct in believing that this game is part of that universe, but will be a completely different storyline. Or maybe it’s just a big mashup of their multiplayer from ME3? We won’t know until more information is released, but for now, I think it’s safe to say a new Mass effect is on it’s way, and that’s exciting.

The Walking Dead: Michonne

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Why I’m excited: No trailer here, but this mini-series from Telltale has been announced. It’s a three part game, which will require at least the first episode of The Walking Dead season two, meaning it’s more expansion than full game (think 400 Days from season 1). It’s supposed to cover Michonne’s activity where she goes missing during a story arc from the comics, and since I’m no where near that far along in reading them, I don’t really know what that means exactly. However, Telltale has been good about presenting you the needed information up to that point in the game, so I don’t think it will be an issue. Either way, I love Telltale games and The Walking Dead, so I’m looking forward to this one.

#E32015 #gaming #gametrailers