Wednesday, April 18, 2018

I am dangerously hyped.

And I didn't see it coming.

I was thrilled when God of War was revealed at E3… 2016, I wanna’ say?  The notion of Kratos on sexy new-gen hardware is automatically approved by my unconscious processes, but even so, I was apprehensive.  Distant, and a bit cold.  The last game in the series, Ascension, following the generally-excellent God of War III, really felt like the point at which the series’ premise, setting and mechanics had worn thin.  And I quote:
"This is your Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time.  This is your Tomb Raider: Underworld, your Devil May Cry 4.  This is the point at which your formula - which was excellent, once - has exhausted itself, and you need to put down the Kool-aid and step away. 

Take some time off, go out into the woods and just chill for a bit.  Reflect on what's important to you, what would actually inspire you, what you would feel genuinely passionate about.  Find something you would really get excited about - because it's not this.  Not any more.  It's time for a break.

After fighting another army of goat-man soldiers and another bunch of three-headed hellhounds who've had their color palettes tweaked a bit... I know I'm ready for one."-review-

But with all that said – as different as it seems – I only found myself passively interested in the new game.   It looked, for all the world, as stiflingly linear as the series has ever been, and that odd over-the-shoulder melee combat did not look very engaging.   News that Cory Barlog was returning to helm the game was a definite plus!  He directed God of War II, an excellent entry, and wrote the scripts for Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta on the PSP – both above-par stories, for the franchise.  But that gameplay just looked very meh, to me.

Then the games media went hands-on with it.  Then the reviews came out.  My fear that the mashy, stylish-looking combat seemed less about sweet tactics than looking really cool has been laid to rest by critics who’ve been describing a game that sounds like a brawl-centric variation on the slow-paced but tactical and hugely absorbing combat of The Last of Us.  Armed with the details of how tactical and satisfyingly crunchy that axe is, the combat now looks to be the sexy love child of God of War, God Hand and Dark Souls.  Methodical, thoughtful, challenging and satisfying.

The game that all reviewers have described sounds like the game I’ve been waiting for a Sony first-party studio to make for years.  I’ve been wanting it since Uncharted 3, in fact – I just didn’t expect it would come from Sony Santa Monica.

The staggering production values that Sony can bring to bear on titles like inFamous: Second Son, Uncharted or Horizon: Zero Dawn - the well-realized characters, the gorgeous graphics, the solid writing - always seemed, to me, ideal for a Sony Version of Zelda.  Or some sort of ambitious action-RPG. 

Honestly, I thought we were as close as we'd ever get to that imagined game with Horizon: Zero Dawn.  Very actiony, lots of RPG-ness, impeccable presentation, but the more I hear about God of War... it sounds so wonderful.  It sounds like the game I've been waiting for Sony to make for a long time - I'm just really surprised it's called God of War

The structure of the game, as described, is very Zelda-like.  And not big empty open-world Breath of the Wild Zelda - I'm talkin' Zelda in the Darksiders/Okami/Dark Souls/Ocarina of Time sense - a collection of bespoke, kinda-linear areas that reward exploration, fold back in on themselves, can be explored in any order you wish (with minor lockteasing) and are replete with optional areas you can completely ignore if you just steamroll the story path. 

Critics have loved talking up these huge, optional swaths of the game - the term "side quest" has been thrown around - and my mouth is watering at the thought of rich story beats and rewarding combat encounters, simply there to enrich the world and experience. 

The combat sounds tactical, expressive and very deep, with tons of customization and a-la-carte special moves, and everyone has been wonderful about not spoiling the story, only insisting that it legitimately reconciles modern sensibilities with the two-dimensional rage that defined Kratos for his last five adventures.  Fear that this game, with its mostly-locked perspective, would lack the definition-of-epic grandeur that put the series on the map have been allayed. 

"Can you kill something that big?"

And those reviews, dude.  Let's take a peek at Metacritic - it's currently sitting at 95, with 92 critics weighing in.  That is insane. 

And I'm hyped.  I'm so hyped.  I'm too hyped.  I've been listening to every podcast I can find that discusses the game without spoilers.  I've watched the gameplay that I ignored upon its release.  And then I watched it again.  And again.  And then I hunted down the same footage without commentary over top so I could hear all the dialogue and sound effects and music. 

Hype of this caliber has only happened to me two times that I can remember - I consumed every stream I could find for Darkest Dungeon the week prior to its release, and probably thirty hours of the opening bits of Horizon: Zero Dawn before it appeared last year. 

That's a pretty exclusive club. 

And now, I have two short days to wait.  Two sleeps!  TWO MORE SLEEPS!

I've finagled a day off on Monday, meaning I'll have three glorious late nights in a row to dive into Midgard, I have a plan that involves a great deal of terrible snacks, and I've told my brother Overwatch isn't happening this weekend. 

It's gon' be guuud.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Terrible, terrible news.

Dark Souls Remastered will launch on May 25th for PS4, Xbox One and PC.  Eagle-eyed readers among you will notice that I did not include the word "Switch." 


Bandai Namco announced today that the Switch version is still happening, and will come this summer - but can you really trust Bandai Namco?

FACT: Bandai Namco saiiid on January 11, 2018 that Dark Souls Remastered would come to Switch on May 25, 2015. 

FACT: Dark Souls Remastered will not come to Switch on May 25, 2018. 

You can't believe a word these people say.  They appear, on the outside, like a video game company, but they are in fact a gushing fountain of disgusting lies

Monday, April 16, 2018

REVIEW - Minit

Minit is a cute, sweet little riff on The Legend of Zeda.  Presented in something south of eight bits, it looks like a part-time college student's first attempt but is designed as if professionals had a hand in it – because they did.  Minit is actually the product of devs from Vlambeer (Nuclear Throne, Luftrausers) and Guerrilla Games (Horizon: Zero Dawn).  If you're feeling like a bite-sized, classic-y adventure, Minit was made for you. 

It's like one of the one-off episodes of Adventure Time where Finn (or Jake or Princess Bubblegum or BMO or Marceline) wander off on their own, discover a crazy weird civilization and have an inspired adventure in twenty minutes, and then it's over – though Minit will take you an hour or two to beat. 

Almost an appetizer of a game, it gives you the same exploration/puzzle-solving endorphin hit as any proper adventure game, and it keeps things interesting via a simple hook that the player can immediately intuit the ramifications of - you have one minute to live. 

The first thing you do in Minit is go down to the beach and obtain a cursed sword.  As soon as you've grabbed it, a countdown appears in the upper-left corner of the screen.  Once a minute's up, you fall down dead, and can restart from your house.  Anything you’ve done or accomplished in that minute remains done, but all enemies have respawned and shrubs are back like you’d never cut them down. 

So you start exploring and seeing how far you can go in only a minute.  There's more beach to the east, an area that might bear exploring to the north, a nice little bar on the beach to the west and a senior citizen who speaks very, very slowly in front of the lighthouse.

They want to tell you directions to a treasure hidden somewhere out in the ocean, but they talk so... damn... slow... and take so... damn... long that the minute will run out, and you won't hear where the treasure is before you die.  Upon respawning, you break from the house and run as fast as you can along the beach, down to the lighthouse, where - if you were quick enough! - you can find out where that treasure actually is.  Perhaps, one day, you’ll be able to strike out into that ocean and find it.

And that's it.  That's Minit's inspired addition to the classic formula, and it works.  Every life is a mini-speedrun, but it rarely actually feels like a constraint - sixty seconds feels less like a tether than a guideline for what's possible, and it keeps things simple.  Minit ends up being a bit larger than this would imply - its map is around half the size of Link to the Past's overworld – and it will take an hour or two to beat, on your first attempt.

While central to Minit’s minute plot, the cursed sword is rarely used as a weapon. There are literally only two instances when game requires you to kill something with the sword in order to progress, and it took me some time to come to terms with that.  I’ve been effectively conditioned by games to the point that when I find myself in a two-tone cave full of pixel-art snakes, I’m gonna’ hit those snakes with my sword – and Minit doesn’t suggest it’s a waste of your time.  It doesn’t remind you there’s no XP to be earned here, and no loot drops to thirst for – you just realize that you need to get where you’re goin’ post-haste, and the fastest way through a room of snakes is just to walk from one side to the other.

It’s both intuitive and almost seems to be poking fun at the Gamer Sense we’ve cultivated over so many years.  The fact that these snakes are immobile and don’t hurt you unless you step on them might come across as lazy or unfinished in any other title, but Minit is confident enough in itself and successful enough in its execution that we instead feel certain that this room exists, as it does, for very good reasons that will become clear in good time – and you feel a bit silly for all those needlessly slaughtered snakes.

It’s a teensy little game, and this makes its ten dollar (PS4) price tag a bit unseemly when compared to the volume and quality that amount can get you on any digital storefront, but Minit’s smallness and simplicity, its one-frame attack animation, its two-tone ultra-pixellated presentation, its easygoing exploration and its wonderful, chipper chiptune soundtrack burst with the concentrated flavors we crave.  Exploration, puzzle solving and weird, one-off characters – it’s like a five-dollar cupcake from a humble but artisanal little bakery.

Small and perhaps overpriced, it remains light and delicious, and while you’d have absolutely found a better value buying your cupcakes at Wal-Mart, those mass-produced confections would lack Minit’s je ne sais quoi. It’s small but thoughtful, effective and distinctly sweet.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Jotun: Valhalla Edition launches April 27 on Switch.


Well that's a day one, and doubly exciting because if Thunder Lotus is putting Jotun on Switch, that reads to me as a modicum of hope that their incredible Metroidvania Sundered may come to the handheld as well. 

Incredibles 2 has a proper full trailer.

It's not very good.

There's a little bit of new action footage that looks amazing, but this really feels... unfinished. This feels like a trailer with placeholder stuff in it. 

Oh welly.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Chamberlain & Chance 116 - It's The End Of The World As We Know It

Wiiiith Alex!  Alex thisChamberlain that podcast on iTunespodcast on Google Play!

Chamberlain and Chance - It's the end of the world as we know it

  • Alex still insists that Mass Effect Andromeda is worth playing!
  • Torbjorn is a stupid shitty joke of a hero!
  • Chamberlain cannot abide angsty teenagers who don't have time-manipulation powers. 
  • And Chamberlain and Chance take Far Cry 5 out behind the wood shed to "teach it some manners."
But you'll have to tune in to hear it!

Also, I really enjoyed this email conversation we had today. 

SUBJECT: Those God of War Numbers. 

First of all, how am I to control my hype levels for the next week?

Second, it can’t be that good.

CHAMBERLAIN: Does God of War receive the same defacto rating bonus that Nintendo titles do?

CHANCE: It does not.

CHAMBERLAIN: Well then take off your cynical pants and just enjoy the hype. In 8 days you will once again be at the helm of a Barlog directed Kratos. Older, wiser, more fatherly, but still just barely in control.

CHANCE: I hope there’s axe puns.

“I hear you’ve been axe-ing around about me.”

Axe-imum effort!”

“And axe how we get ‘er done.”

ALEX: I must AXE you something personal.


CHAMBERLAIN : I suddenly want a new Epic Rap Battle:





CHANCE: I see your ginger gist
Mad Max style feminist
Is it at all problematic
That my girl’s not in the attic
This adventure starts with her death
Refrigerator? Mos def!

CHAMBERLAIN: I ain’t no Tiny Tina, bitch
Didn’t need no genre switch
I’m new IP, fresh on the scene
Hey Ash What ya playin, it’s always been me!
Killin’ the dinosaurs with my bare hands
Metal ones, fucker, the worst in the land!
Your bald head and scrawny kid are just kind of sad
Who was his momma, a gorgon? That’s just bad!

Take your chains and rage and just go away
That ass Asmussen was a hack, so I say!

CHANCE: Ohhhhhhhhhhhh

ALEX: Orson Welles clapping.gif


Barlog’s back bitch, bet your boobs I’m the bomb
Don’t have any? Whoops! Not my type, move along!
I please all my ladies with the push of a button,
Not that one, you perv, just his X, let my smut in.
And what right do you have to pick on my boy?
You’re Mom’s a machine, made of metal, a toy!
You’re a clone of an ancient sad virgin, Alloy!
Ha ha, my words, they bring chaos! Destroy!

Zeus and Hades and Hercules, too.
All family, dead, by the tip of my boot.
I don’t need my chains to whip you, girl
Ask Helios, Beheading bitches. My world!

Okay, I’ll stop now.

CHANCE: You're actually pretty good at this.

CHAMBERLAIN: Me and Eminem, we're like this.

ALEX: Like WHAT?  I can't see your hands from here!!!

CHAMBERLAIN: Careful, I may subject you and the listeners to my flow next week.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

REVIEW - Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 is an open-world first-person shooter set in a secluded, fictional valley in modern day Montana.  A doomsday cult with vaguely Christian trappings has seized the county, cut off all communication with the outside world and turned it into a warzone, and it's up to you to kick bad guy butt and liberate the citizenry of Hope County.  The structure is largely identical to every other Far Cry game you've played - wander around a reasonably well-rendered rural landscape accepting missions, clear out enemy forts, kill everyone with a red triangle above their head, complete story and side missions, hunt wildlife with a bow or rocket launcher, depending on your mood, clear three huge swaths of real estate and their governing bosses and engage in kind-of-pointless side activities like fishing or extreme wingsuit races.

As the umpteenth entry in the Far Cry franchise, 5 retains all the familiar comforts of its predecessors.  Its AI is easy to understand, its gunplay is reasonably comfortable (though I had to crank the sensitivity up a lot on PS4), its stealth takedowns are super-satisfying and its graphics are rather lovely without really approaching gold standard open-world entries like Horizon: Zero Dawn or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.   Ever since 3 sanded down the grittier experience of 2, the Far Cry titles have offered reliable, predictably good times – and 5 is no different – but with 5 one gets the sense that we’ve arrived at the point where the formula has officially become a bit long in the tooth.  It’s just a touch less inspired than the games that preceded it.

It’s not that the moment-to-moment gameplay is bad – far from it!  This is a game that allows you to pick up a bow or a hunting shotgun or a huge light machine gun, safe in the knowledge that each offers a route to success that’ll be a lot of fun to execute in very different ways.  I have long adored games that pleasurably combine stealth and high-action gameplay (Galak-Z, The Last of Us, Horizon: Zero Dawn), and Far Cry remains a solid, enjoyable example. 

And let’s not forget, rare is the successful single-player open-world first-person action experience.   Seriously, count it out – there’s Dying Light/Dead Island from Techland, Far Cry from Ubisoft and… that’s it, we’re done counting.  Get outta’ here, Fallout and Elder Scrolls, your action is perfunctory at best! 

There’s something precious about what’s on offer here, and the combination of its easy-going systems and its aesthetic beauty – despite familiarity - remains effective.  Sneaking your way through a patch of wild grasses as you creep up on a placid, grazing deer on a mountain slope at sunset is absorbing and beautiful.  When an arrow hits home in Far Cry 5, it does so with a hugely satisfying thupp, and arcing one through a dude’s eye from 80 yards always feels terribly badass.  Tossing explosives at oncoming vehicles and mowing down small armies with a giant machine gun is still, somehow, an immersive thrill, and slapping a scope and silencer on such a vicious weapon gives one the same guilty buzz as cheating at cards.  It’s not fair, but it’s pretty damn fun. 

I’ve been sneakily sabotaging alarms and stealthily clearing Far Cry outposts for years, now, and I still get the sense of accomplishment when that last silent arrow slams home, time slows and the victory splash shows up, just like I did in 2012.  Far Cry 5 is fun. 

There's planes.  Also helicopters.  You can fly 'em!

The story of the cult leader, his lieutenants, the valley and you is rather crappy, all things considered.  Narrative has never been Far Cry’s strong suit, but 5 makes every other entry in the series look pretty rosy, by comparison.  There’s little of the crazed vitality that Vaas brought to Far Cry 3, none of the charisma of Pagan Min from 4, and I found myself pining for the gorgeous, expressive, lively in-engine cutscenes and performances of Far Cry Primal when suffering through 5’s consistent assault of boring, poorly-directed and often safely-acted verbage. 

I cannot remember the last game I skipped this many cutscenes in.  I tried to get into it.  I tried to let this lieutenant say their piece, but oh my God their hyper-hypocritical pseudo-religious stupidity is impossible to bear.  Each takes themselves completely seriously, and their exhausting monologues are entirely flat, uninteresting plods of words that seem to become more and more meaningless, empty and bereft of self-awareness as they progress.   It’s hard to engage with their ridiculous, self-serving notions of morality when you’re only subjected to their bent perspective and no one in the room turns around and suggests “you know you’re just lazily justifying torture, kidnapping, imprisonment and mass murder because you’re wackadoo crazy, right?”  I was so desperate for the voiced heroes of Far Crys past to sarcastically pin these idiots to the wall with their flaming hypocrisy that I ended up talking to my screen.  “You’re sure I’m the one with the sin of pride?  Really?  You don’t think it could maybe be the guy who’s convinced a bunch of morons that God talks only to him?  Yeah.  Yeah – nice man bun, by the way.”

This guy's a douche. 

It’s very dour.  Everything the bad guys pull in Hope County, Montana is horrifying, and one becomes a bit dulled to the sickness after a while.  Doing the side mission to score Jess Black was kind of emotionally torturous, as she goes into really, really gross detail about the guy we need to kill, and what he’s done.  You don’t need to tell me all this horrible stuff, Jess.  Bad guy, we kill, I get it – you’re honestly just depressing me, now. 

Supporting characters – your allies – are less boring than the game’s leads, but only mildly so.  They have a modicum of flavor and brash American personality to them, but one also quickly determines that no matter who you’re talking to or what they’re saying, the result is you will travel from Here to There, kill and/or collect something while There, and then possibly return to Here – which is expected, accepted and not offensive in and of itself – but they’ll take as long as humanly possible to explain their reason for it to the point that, again, I just started skipping them.   Your nine available AI companions are a different story – each is endearing in their own way, and swapping them out for each other leads to different observations and interactions – though if you put two together, you’ll have heard everything they have to say to each other within an hour.

I don’t want to get into the ending – we’ve likely already spoiled it on the podcast – but I’ll say I was profoundly disappointed with it to the point of disgust, and it kind of made me hate the game for more reasons than I already had. 

Hope County doesn't have rhinos, but seeing a moose charge a truck is pretty groovy.

Beyond the story, the reasons to hate it seem like unimportant, nitpicky things - but there's enough of 'em to warrant discussion.  It annoys me to no end that the button to loot a corpse or item is the same button you’ll use to pick up a weapon, and when there’s a weapon next to a corpse (every enemy drops their weapon when they die), the system always prefers to pick up their crappy weapon and drop my extensively customized bow or machine gun instead. 

Why?  How often do Ubisoft really think we’re going to want to give up our precious custom weapons for the vanilla items enemies drop? 

While the ambient soundtrack is seriously excellent, the radio stations are some of the poorest I’ve experienced in gaming, with one controlled by the cult and offering modern gospel or folk-rock takes on their weird songs.  The others are very mixed-bag playlists, with some all-time classics (Keep Your Hands to Yourself by the Georgia Satellites!) next to songs that you’ve probably never heard before, and haven’t been licensed by other games because they’re not good music

Why are companions unavailable for a full ten minutes if they die in combat (or more? It feels like more)?  didn’t blow up that big rig and send Cheeseburger to the great McDonald’s in the sky, but I’ll sure suffer for it! 

How come I can – in the height of ridiculous customization – slap a silencer and a scope on a LMG heavy weapon or a shotgun, but not a .44 revolver?  That seems terribly arbitrary, and dissatisfying.

The weapon selection feels a bit anemic and samey when compared to other numbered Far Cry entries – a bit of a shock following Primal, which somehow managed to make a tiny selection of clubs, spears and bows feel hugely rewarding.  Why are some classic, iconic American weapons represented here (lever-action shotgun, lever-action .45 rifle) but not others?  Far Cry: Blood Dragon understood that some weapons are real-world fantasy items that we want to play with – Jesse Ventura’s minigun from Predator (or Arnie’s from T2), for example – but Far Cry 5, while being set in the most gun-crazy country in the world, has pretty much the same assortment of weapons you remember from and 4.  A lost opportunity, there, to mine joy from the setting. 

What happened to the fantastic vehicle takedowns from 4 that let you leap from your car onto your enemy’s, rip open the door and kick them out of the cab of their truck?  Was it just too awesome to live?  ‘Cause it was awesomeand it ain’t here. 

Why on Earth does this game have a system for microtransactions?  There are around two dozen weapons and vehicles available to buy that have identical stats to vanilla versions, but they’re called “prestige” items because they have… a different paint job.  And you can buy them with a different currency that you can pay real money for! 

Ugh, Ubisoft. 

What sick world is this where common dog and noted very good boy Boomer can’t sit in the passenger seat of a car?

Ubisoft?  Ugh

Boomer and his ilk – nine AI companions that you can recruit, with up to two running around with you at any given time – are 5’s most pleasant addition to the Far Cry formula.  A riff on and refinement of the wealth of animal companions you could seduce in Primal, they are both your best in-game buds and a reflection of your combat style – your spec, if you will, beyond where you spend your perk points.  One’s got an attack chopper, another’s got a fighting seaplane.  If you’ve got eyes on a particularly rough-looking enemy fort, you can call in double aerial support to pretty spectacular effect.  If you prefer shock and awe, you can bring a dude with a rocket launcher and little common sense, and one with a flamethrower.  As a sneaky-stealthy type, I stuck almost-exclusively to Peaches the (literal) cougar and traumatized archer Jess Black – both of whom are pretty good at keeping a low profile – but no matter how you roll, you’ll find Far Cry 5 offers an AI buddy that lets you do your thing even better. 

The other major change is the complete lack of an XP bar, and the fact that your skill trees are less trees than a collection of individual shrubs you can select at almost any time. If you want to save up enough perk points to go straight for heavy weapons mastery or takedowns or faster sneaking, you’re free to.  It’s liberating, but somehow less satisfying than working your way up a skill tree towards that one all-important skill you’re dying to have. No longer bound to simply leveling up, you earn perk points by completing simple challenges (kill X enemies with Y), missions, and discovering perk point magazines in prepper stashes that are tantalizingly common across the map. 

The prepper stashes are awesome. 

Each one is a bit different from the next – a puzzle or a bit of combat or some rather intense platforming that may have you swinging gleefully beneath a bridge to reach a hidden nest of items – but each invariably ends with a pile of cash money and three precious perk point magazines.  When you get bored of missions and just want to earn that next important perk, mainlining prepper stashes is a sure path to joy.  They’re quick, satisfying and ever-so-rewarding. 

Jess Black - awesome, but depressing.  Notable quotable: "Our shit is tight."

And it’s the gameplay itself that’s rewarding and enjoyable in Far Cry 5.  It is for the most part much the same as the gameplay you loved in Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 and Blood Dragon and Primal, but a good thing is somehow still good, even after so much repetition.  Going for a hike through some woods that look so much like the woods I wandered through as a kid is seductive, beautiful and absorbing. 

It’s a shame that access to Far Cry’s lovely immersion and tactical joy is so-regularly interrupted by 5’s stifling, depressing, tone-deaf attempts at narrative – and made a bit rougher by a selection of strange design choices – but a good-looking, fun, capable open-world first-person shooter is still a rare breed.  It’s so pleasant, in fact, that after its rage-inducing ending, I actually wanted to start up a fresh game – just so I could wander through some farmland, hunting deer with a simple bow and no perks again. 

‘Cause that’s fun.  That’s a good time. 

I started the game up, and realized I couldn’t skip its long opening cutscene, so I went for a cigarette.  When I came back, the game was waiting for me to press forward on the analog stick, to slowly walk my avatar through the opening sequence (which doesn’t hold a candle to Far Cry 3’s adrenaline-fueled beginning).  I could access all that stuff I enjoyed, if only I would engage in Far Cry 5’s story for a few minutes. 

I thought about it for a second, and uninstalled it.  Once was enough. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Overwatch: Archives is now live. Also, new balance patch. Here's (almost) everything.

You're gonna' want to start updating your copy of Overwatch as soon as possible, because this update is huuuge in terms of download size.  It's like 14 gigs or more, depending on your platform, and PSN being what it is, some people are reporting download ETAs of 12+ hours.  Annnywho...

Here's every new skin in the event:

It's been confirmed - the equalizers on Lucio's legs, here, are animated.  Which is awesome.

This is definitely the sexiest Reaper.  His hair is lookin' pretty fabulous.

PajaMei is the only skin this event I'm truly hyped for.  I want Moira, Hanzo, Lucio and Sombra, but Mei is happening tonight - and I barely play Mei any more.  I don't care - I need this in my life. 

Elsewhere, we got three pretty great new highlight intros, one excellent one for Orisa, one for Doomfist and one awesome one for Zarya.  

Now, I know what'cher thinkin'...

What about Tracer?  Where's Tracer's new highlight intro that's not gummed up by a seasonal event's seasonal-ness like her (Lunar New Year) Lion Dance or (Summer Games) Hurdles?  Where's Tracer's new skin that throws her in casual or fancy dress wear?  

Nowhere to be seen, that's where!  And y'know why?  Because Tracer already has more skins and highlight intros than any hero in the game, but I don't care, it's still a kick in the bells!  A KICK IN THE BELLS, I say!

Also, finally, today's massive patch also includes a ton of balance changes, and Chris, if you're reading this, you are not gonna' like it.

Here's a link to the full patch notes.  There are a ton of little bug fixes and such in there, and there's a new "avoid as teammate" option, but it's the balance changes we're interested in, here. 
Barrier Shield
  • An option to “Toggle Barrier” has been added under Options > Controls > Brigitte
Developer Comments: None, because they're cowards. 
Chance says?  If Brigitte actually goes live in competitive mode with her Shield Bash as-is, I'm gonna' be stunned.
Micro Missiles
  • Explosive damage reduced from 6 to 4
  • Impact damage reduced from 25 to 10
Developer Comments: D.Va’s burst potential is a bit too high, so we’re reducing the damage of her Micro Missiles and Boosters impact. Prior to this change, each missile dealt 3 impact damage and 6 explosive damage. We’re reducing explosive damage from 6 to 4 but leaving the impact damage the same, the net result being 21% damage reduction.
Chance Says?  Ohhh Chris, I'm sorry.  I'm not sorry D.Vas boosting into me won't be able to wreck me quite as easy, but this is a fairly massive nerf.  In Blizzard's defense, folks have been saying for months that D.Va's ability to safely dive on a squishy, rockets and fusion cannons firing, and definitely delete them is a bit too reliable.   A lot of support mains will be happy about this. 
Endothermic Blaster
  • Now pierces through enemies
Developer Comments: This change helps Mei combat multiple targets that are clumped up and makes it easier for her to keep freezing a specific target if another enemy gets in the way. This change also helps her ultimate more consistently freeze enemy targets, especially if they are near each other. Note: While her shots now pierce enemies, they still do not pierce barriers such as Reinhardt’s shield.
Chance says?  Sexy.  Not as sexy as Mei, but sexy nonetheless.

Death Blossom
  • Reloads Hellfire Shotguns after use
Wraith Form
  • Move speed bonus increased from 25% to 50%
  • You can now cancel the ability by pressing the Shift or Primary Fire hotkey
Developer Comments: These changes help Reaper use Wraith Form more consistently as an escape, but they also open up new options, such as chasing down key targets.
Chance says?  This... might be a bit much.  This combined with the recent(ish) buff to Wraith Form that allowed it to reload Reaper's shotties, this potentially lets Reaper go without reloading for like eighteen seconds.  Dig this: eight shots, then Wraith Form, insta-cancel into another eight shots, Death Blossom, eight more shots, Wraith Form cancel into yet another eight shots.  

I don't know that Wraith needed the additional speed buff, but cancelling it seems pretty darned reasonable, to me, and makes it a far more versatile ability.  

Orb of Destruction
  • Secondary fire rate of fire reduced by 15%
Developer Comments: Zenyatta is meant to be able to deal a lot of damage, especially for a support, but his alternate fire burst damage was a bit too high. This change keeps the overall damage the same but lowers the DPS slightly and makes it harder to hit multiple shots at very long ranges.
Chance says?  (With a distinctly sarcastic tone) Thanks JJonak

The last Overwatch: Archives skin better be hot hot fire.

'Cause these latest two reveals are pretty meh, in my opinion.

Specimen 28 Winston.  Some community members say they like it - that it's Winston's "Weapon X" skin - which I get, but in-game it's gonna' read exactly like his default skin.  All the details are different - the jetpack is cool - but at-a-glance it looks very much like the first Winston skin everyone stopped using.  

Elsewhere, we have Soldier 24 Reaper (which, by the way, has turned Reyes76 'shippers on to the simple title of "100").  It seems a bit busy, to me, and I'm not sure we need the giant red gem in the middle of his chest, but it's always nice to see OG Reyes' face.  

What would be super cool (and will never happen) would be to have all his voice lines in this skin (and his Origins skin) use the OG Reyes voice that we heard in the Retribution announcement trailer.  

So yeah, neither of these are doin' much for me.  Here's hoping the final Legendary skin reveal is something amazing for Tracer!  

It won't be.  Obviously.

[update] This just leaked:

Three questions:

  • do the equalizer bars on his legs actually light up and tremble with his music?
  • will this skin change his music, like with the Jazz skin?
  • whose nuts do I need to suck to get a new Tracer skin?  Papa Jeff, please!  Please, Papa Jeff!

Monday, April 9, 2018

The new Solo: A Star Wars Story trailer makes me want to see Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Probably because this is the first trailer that actually suggests a story, here, with actual character desires and fears.  I'm still not in love with the casting choice for Han, but the bits with the Wookie are very endearing.