It Doesn’t Matter If Pewdiepie Didn’t Mean It

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Pewdiepie is in trouble for expressing racist sentiment. Again.

In the first half of 2017, Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg came under fire for paying a couple of men to hold a banner which said “Death to all Jews.” He claims he did this to prove just how crazy the world is, as there’s a website – which I won’t mention here because, well, fuck them – where you can pay people $5 to do pretty much anything. Why that ‘thing’ had to be something so hateful and discriminating, I don’t know. He just as easily could have asked someone on this website to smack themselves in the dick with a hammer, but nope, he went straight for Nazi rhetoric. Anyway, as a result of this – as well as other racially or religious sensitive things that appeared on his channel before – Pewdiepie lost a deal with Disney’s Maker Studios, which canceled plans for TV, apps, and merchandise to be produced under his brand. Youtube also canceled the production of Scare Pewdiepie Season 2 (for Youtube Red), and his channel was also removed from Google Preferred.

You think he would have learned his lesson… but nope, he’s doubled down on his stupidity. Well, maybe tripled, because he also did a Hitler-esque video after all this.

But more recently while streaming, Pewdiepie was caught saying:

Pewdiepie: “What a fucking n****r! Jeez, oh my God, what the fuck. Sorry, but, what the fuck. What a fucking asshole. I don’t mean that in a bad (unintelligible and laughing a little). Why would he do that? Legit, why would he do that? Fuck sake.”

Immediately after those words escaped his mouth, he knew what he had done. His words that followed made that clear. But too bad, so sad, the damage has been done. Pewdiepie, already seen by many as anti-Semitic and racist, said the worst thing possible.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Pewdiepie is neither of those things. He very well may be a nice guy that just happened to use a racial slur while venting… which is still dumb. Very, very dumb. A lot of people say stupid things not because they’re evil, but because they lack a brain-to-mouth filter. I get that. And because I’m not one of those people that care about political correctness just for the sake of appeasing people, I don’t even care what he says or does in his personal life. If he wants to spout off the n-word from the comfort of his computer chair, then fine. That’s his prerogative. However, I’m also free to think and say whatever I want, so I also reserve the right to call Pewdiepie an epic piece of shit for doing so. I do think that you can joke about ANYTHING – some people in this life seriously need to lighten up – but Pewdiepie wasn’t making a joke. He let a racial slur slip out of his mouth because he was upset. At a video game. Who does that?

A lot of people have tried to justify this by saying, “Well, it wasn’t contextually insulting. He just said it because he was mad.” So, what are those people trying to say? That saying the n-word is cool just because you’re caught off guard and pissed off by something? That’s news to me! So I guess any time I stub my toe, hit my funny-bone, hit my head, my son spits up on me, or my foot falls asleep, I should let the n-word fly?

Here’s what it all boils down to: If Pewdiepie let this slip during a live stream, especially considering the history of racial insensitivity behind him, then that means he says this regularly, or at least regularly enough. It’s something he likely says when he’s playing away from prying eyes… which is shitty. I’ve never once uttered the phrase ‘check your privilege’, because it’s become synonymous with ‘white people can’t have an opinion’… but Pewdiepie is the kind of person that saying is meant for. Or at least ONE of the kinds of people it’s meant for. The n-word isn’t some ‘say it because you’re angry’ sort of thing. Most people I know use ‘shit’ or ‘fuck’. If you’re associating anger with the n-word… well, problems, son. Problems.

Youtubers generally use alternate personas for their channels. What you see on-screen is meant to entertain you, and doesn’t necessarily represent the person behind the gamer/entertainer tag. That’s all well and good, but if you’re not professional enough an entertainer to separate those two distinct personalities (one for home, one for work), then it becomes an issue… especially if you’re an idiot like this guy.

Now Pewdiepie is, predictably, being punished by others on the development side of things.

Sean Vanaman of Campo Santo games has stated they’ll be filing DMCA takedown notices for all of Pewdiepie’s Firewatch content, as well as any future Campo Santo games. His Tweet storm is as follows:

“There is a bit of leeway you have to have with the internet when u wake up every day and make video games. There’s also a breaking point. I am sick of this child getting more and more chances to make money off of what we make. He’s worse than a closeted racist: he’s a propagator of despicable garbage that does real damage to the culture around this industry. I’d urge other developers & will be reaching out to folks much larger than us to cut him off from the content that has made him a millionaire. Furthermore, we’re complicit: I’m sure we’ve made money off of the 5.7M views that video has and that’s something for us to think about. Lastly: I love streamers. I watch them daily and we sent out over 3000 keys to professional and amateur streamers of FW.”

This introduces another wrinkle though, and one that’s not actually problematic for Pewdiepie, but Campo Santo themselves. In the ‘about’ section on firewatchgame.com, there’s some intriguing information:

Can I stream this game? Can I make money off of those streams?

Yes. We love that people stream and share their experiences in the game. You are free to monetize your videos as well. It doesn’t hurt to let us know on Twitter when you’re live. We might show up in your chat!

But when questioned about the legality of using DMCA takedowns because of a racial slur used by a streamer, Sean had this to say:

“All streaming is infringement but devs and pubs allow it because it makes us money too.”

This, of course, has created a huge can of worms. The first thing some people have said in response is, WTFU, which stands for, ‘where’s the fair use’? This is something Youtubers have clung to each time a developer has issued a takedown for one of their videos. Word quickly spreads among the Youtuber community, and they band together in order to save their collective asses. “We can do what we want because fair use” isn’t exactly true, though. It’s more of a gray area. Criticism is specifically protected under fair use, but Let’s Plays are basically the wild west of content. Some lawyers, per some of John “Totalbiscuit” Bain’s tweets, believe developers can do whatever they want with Let’s Play videos:

Totalbiscuit: “Spoke to an actual lawyer. Opinion was Campo Santo is 100% within legal rights, DMCA applies, LPs (Let’s Plays) are not fair use. Website (referencing the ‘we like streamers’ bit on Firewatchgame.com) non-binding. So those arguments are basically out the window, leaving “should they shouldn’t they” which is up to them really. What a mess.”

But the interpretation of law seems to vary attorney by attorney, and judge by judge. So while the attorney Totalbiscuit was in touch with says LP’s aren’t protected by fair use, Leonard French, a respected legal interpreter on Youtube, believes this would be DMCA abuse. His argument is that, yes, posting the ‘ok to stream’ message on the Firewatch website grants Youtubers permission, and that they had more than enough time to request Pewdiepie’s video get taken down if they had a problem with it… except they didn’t. Until now. After Pewdiepie said something racist. On a video that had nothing to do with Firewatch. The argument is basically, ‘The video was legal, for years, until they didn’t like something Pewdiepie said on his own stream of a different game?’ And not only does Campo Santo likely not have any room for legal action at this point – especially since Pewdiepie undoubtedly received one of those keys direct from the developer – but if anyone had the right to issue copyright claims, it’s Pewdiepie, as he could target anyone using his gameplay footage without some form of criticism to accompany it (as criticism is expressly permitted under fair use).

See how sticky this whole thing gets?

But it gets worse. If you’re a fan of Youtube, regardless if you’re a viewer or content creator, things have been getting hairy.

Jim Sterling has pointed out that, at this point, Pewdiepie is a liability for the entire industry of gamers and Youtubers, and he’s absolutely correct.

Pewdiepie’s flub from earlier in the year is one of the many reasons why advertisers began to pull away from Youtube. Their ads could pop up during any video, regardless of the content it contained… but that creates a huge marketing problem. Advertisers are spending good money to shill their products, and they want to have the ability to decide what content their ads are appearing in. After all, that’s how it works on television. But Youtube never did much to appease the advertisers, so they started withdrawing their money after the Pewdiepie incident.

In an attempt to bring the advertisers back, Youtube finally made some changes, by way of allowing bots to flag inappropriate content. This impacted a lot of the major Youtubers we know and love, as much of their content was flagged for one reason or another. It was awful for anyone who relied solely on the money from Youtube ad views, although some planned ahead and have Patreons up for support. Still, it’s horrifying to think that all this content was being threatened to have monetization removed, merely because some bot heard one ‘fuck’ too many. This is something that should be done by a dedicated staff, not some bargain bin AI. Context should matter, and a bot can’t distinguish between an acceptable piece of content or something that’s truly objectionable. As a result, content creators suffer as a whole. This hands off approach is, frankly, disgusting. It’s the most despicable form of censorship I’ve seen.

Well, maybe censorship is the wrong word. Youtube still allows you to post your content… you just won’t be paid for it. And they, as a company, have every right to make that call. To be fair, Youtubers should understand that they’re not as ‘free enterprise’ as they believe. They’re relying on a hosting platform for a living. Unless they get a website and pay for their own traffic, they’re at the whim of whatever Youtube decides to do.

Anyway, Pewdiepie should have been smart enough to know that couldn’t play the system forever. He’s always used controversy as a way to gain subscribers, but he never took into consideration how his actions would affect everyone. He’s not the only Youtuber saying nasty or insensitive things – in fact, he’s quite tame compared to countless others – but whether he likes it or not, Pewdiepie shoulders more responsibility for his actions than others. With over 50 million subscribers, he represents Youtube, content creators, and gamers. People who don’t even game or watch Youtube all that often know who this guy is, so there was an especially heavy burden on him to remain professional at all times. But unfortunately, he didn’t, and now everyone else is paying the price.

That’s the worst part, honestly. Because of Pewdiepie’s decision to use shock value as a way to gain subscribers, content creators are sitting at the edge of their seats and biting their nails, wondering if DMCA takedowns will be abused more than ever and upheld by law. Even if Pewdiepie wins, it’s not exactly a positive for content creators, and Google/Youtube are most certainly looking at ways to better monitor and/or restrict content.

Good luck to all of the content creators out there…

 

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Destiny 2 – The Grind (Pay To Win Sucks)


There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Destiny 2 and its inclusion of ‘pay to win’ microtransactions, as well as how the way shaders are sold and used have changed for the worst.
For those unfamiliar with what’s going on, shaders allow you to re-color your gear. In the original game, shaders were applied to all of your armor, and you could switch freely between them. In Destiny 2, however, shaders are now single-use consumables. No matter how you look at it, this isn’t good news. This franchise encourages you to continually upgrade your armor. This happens quite often as you level up, so the shader you just applied could be wasted on something you’ll barely get a chance to use. Want to re-color your next piece of armor? Better get grinding.

Or pull out your wallet.

That’s the largest problem with this whole ‘single-use’ thing in regards to shaders. If you don’t want to grind for them, you can spend real world money in order to obtain them. As a result, it’s reasonable to assume that the very reason this system ever changed in the first place, is so Bungie and Activision could make more money to sell you cosmetic nonsense.

Their response?

“Shaders are earned through gameplay: leveling, chests, engrams, vendors.” “We expect you’ll be flush w shaders as you continue to play. When you reach Level 20, shaders will drop more often: vendor rewards, destination play, and endgame activities.

“Shaders are now an ongoing reward for playing. Customization will inspire gameplay. Each planet has unique armor and shader rewards. With D2, we want statements like, ‘I want to run the Raid, Trials, or go back to Titan to get more of its Shader’ to be possible.”

So, basically, they’re reiterating what they’ve been saying since the first game: They want everything you collect in these games to have a story behind them, to be memorable. Single-use shaders are a way to keep you playing so you have more great tales to tell.

Anyone with two brain cells to rub together isn’t buying this excuse. This change has been implemented for financial reasons, pure and simple. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, you know? But that’s a motto rarely spoken in the business world. Instead, they ask, “How can we make more money out of this?”

You might say, “I don’t care. As long as it’s only cosmetic stuff. They’re entirely optional and don’t affect the game.”

Except they do. They really, really do.

I will take a 5-8 hour game as opposed to something that offers 30, but with 15 hours dedicated to grinding. The latter is done so much these days, ‘grinding’ has become synonymous with ‘content’… but why? Why do developers always bloat their games like this? It’s because they’re trying to strike a balance. They want to make a game’s mechanics fun enough to keep you playing, but the actual content juuuuust boring enough to incentivize you to spend money on stupid shit… like shaders. 

And that’s not OK. Leave that ‘grind or pay’ mechanic to crappy mobile games and leave it out of $60 AAA products. Maybe it’s just me, but quality trumps quantity every day of the week. There’s something to be said about games that don’t overstay their welcome. Namely, they won’t unnecessarily drag your gameplay out just to make a little money.

Bright engrams are also an issue, and specifically what’s introduced the whole ‘pay to win’ argument. Bright engrams are essentially loot boxes, and these include mods for armor and weapons. These mods give you additional abilities, such as an increased recharge rate of things you need to perform in combat, faster mobility, quick reloads, better weapon handling, and more. These can all be earned in game, but players also have the option of purchasing bright engrams… meaning they don’t have to earn these abilities, but can buy them instead.

Apologists insist that charging for bright engrams is OK because they don’t have to be bought with real-world money… that you can just earn them in game. That’s missing the point, though. In order to obtain everything you need, it could potentially take you hundreds of in-game hours. Even if it didn’t, someone is paying for a gameplay advantage that you’re still chugging along on to earn. That is the very definition of ‘pay to win’… spending money to get access to stuff sooner so you have an advantage over people.

What’s terrible about all this is that the gaming community can’t even agree whether this practice is OK or not. Some are justifying it, some are condemning it. Either way this game is going to make Activision and Bungie a lot of money, though, and as long as this continues to happen, studios will continue to take advantage of us. 

Not to mention lie to us. 

Bungie had made it pretty clear that there would never be pay to win items in Destiny. Does that just flit out the window now because this is the sequel? And why do gamers constantly rationalize this nonsense?

I am not entirely opposed to trying Destiny 2 for myself, so I can remain educated on how far the game has progressed since the original launched… but I am a massochist, so I don’t advise it. I also have too many games to play so I don’t foresee it happening. News like ‘pay to win’ is probably the largest ‘Destiny’ repellant I could have come across. 

Yes, This Is About Dean Takahashi Playing Cuphead

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I’ve never felt compelled to comment on the ‘video game journalists should be good at video games’ debate, because most of the time, I see a bunch of internet trolls doing what they do best (er, worst): lampooning a person who’s alright at games, just not one of the elite. You don’t have to write like Mozart to be a composer, you don’t need to make films like Spielberg to be a filmmaker, nor do you need to be the best gamer in the world to write about video games. That said, if you ARE writing about games, you should, at the very least, be a gamer.

But Dean Takahashi, a journalist with VentureBeat, doesn’t seem like one. His time with the Cuphead demo at Gamescom 2017 is the most cringe-inducing thing I’ve seen all year.

No, seriously. Cuphead is already notorious for being difficult, but Dean wasn’t playing some mid-game thumb-buster of a level. No, he was playing the tutorial. Badly. The first minute alone made me wonder if this guy had ever played a platformer before. The game walks you through some basics, such as jumping and the ability to jump and dash at the same time. It took Dean over two minutes to grasp this concept. He was supposed to reach a ledge too high off the ground, and he’d accomplish this, obviously, by jumping on the short platform behind him and then executing the ‘jump and dash’ move. He stayed on the ground though, jumping against a wall time and time again. Common sense should have dictated, “Hey, this isn’t working out for me. What am I doing wrong? That ledge is obviously too high from where I’m standing, so what can I do to gain some ground?” My 7 year old would crush this – you know, because he has common sense – but Dean, for some reason, just couldn’t figure it out. His justification for this?

Twitter: “It didn’t say, “Stand on rock, which is farther away, because dash will take you higher and farther than you can jump.””

If I didn’t know better, I’d say we were in The Twilight Zone… but this is reality. A very, very sad one, at that.

I don’t ask much from people who provide game footage to the masses, but Dean’s job is to write about video games. If he can’t pull off basic moves using mechanics which have been around since the Nintendo Entertainment System… I’m sorry, but that absolutely means his credibility deserves to be flushed down the toilet. His footage gives the impression that his experience with games is minimal at best, and if that’s true, nearly everything he writes is meaningless. While it isn’t important as a member of the gaming press to be a great gamer, what a writer in this industry absolutely MUST be is a SEASONED gamer. You know, someone who’s seen and played a wide range of titles and can, at the very least, understand and perform the basics. Dean, however, comes off looking like he’s never played a game before. I usually never advocate for someone in this industry to lose their job over their level of skill, but this seems like a fireable offense.

You could argue that because this footage was taken at Gamescom, Dean was probably distracted and also a little nervous because the devs were undoubtedly watching his every move. In return, I’d merely say you probably haven’t watched the video. Please do so. All of it. I’ve only talked about the first minute thus far, but in the rest he’s constantly running straight into enemies, leaping to his death, and even has trouble with aiming the spray gun (think Contra) the main character’s using.

You know what? Did I say this video was cringe-worthy? Let me rescind that. It’s the most hilarious unintentionally funny video of the year.

And the Twitter hilarity doesn’t end there, by the way. Dean Takahashi is also challenging people who are criticizing him to do better:

“spoken by someone who hasn’t played yet. Do me a favor and capture your first honest 26 minutes.”

I’ll tell you what, Dean. When I get my Xbox One X later this year, I’ll do just that. I’ll stream my first 26 minutes and I guarantee I’ll take way less time to beat the tutorial than you did.

But hold on gamers, I’m not done yet. I have to point the finger at you a moment.

While Dean has basically exposed himself to be full of crap with every key he strikes, one thing his video does not prove is that video game press as a whole is terrible at games. Unfortunately, a lot of gamers are condemning video game journalism as a whole due to this guy’s inability to leap on a platform and press two buttons. That’s like saying every director in Hollywood is a talentless hack just because you didn’t like Michael Bay.

One user on Twitter writes:

“Game journalists are incredibly bad at video games. It’s painful to watch this. How do they think they’re qualified to write about games?”

How can this be a serious question? Where does this idea come from, that all game journalists are incredibly bad at video games? The gaming community can, and should, do better than this. Say whatever you want about Dean Takahashi or that yahoo from Polygon that couldn’t play Doom that well, but jumping to extreme of labeling every journalist as ‘bad at games’ is a stretch that instantly illegitimates your comments. If you want your voice to be heard, throwing the ‘general’ blanket over everything isn’t going to get it done.

Bethesda’s ‘Not Pay Mods’

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These days, Bethesda has quite the reputation. They’ve delivered countless hours of exploratory joy with The Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises, and have published a number of successful games besides (such as Doom, Dishonored, The Evil Within, Prey, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and more). When it comes to making games that sell, they’re on top of the world… and they know it. That’s why they’ve recently launched the ‘Creation Club’.

The Creation Club is a way for Bethesda and third-party creators to make new content for games and submit them for internal review. This quality control ensures that whatever you acquire is actually going to work, unlike other mods which have the potential to make your game unstable. Because this takes time and resources for Bethesda to stay on top of, there are fees involved.

And it boils my blood. Not because of the money, but because of how Bethesda are positioning this.

The Creation Club idea may sound innocent enough, but Bethesda, in conjunction with Valve, revealed a non-curated approach to paid mods back in 2015, and the internet, rightfully so, had exploded in anger. You don’t start to sell something that’s been free since the dawn of (gaming) time. Just because Microsoft and Sony have added paywalls to online access, doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all out there.

PC gamers love that particular platform because it gives them endless possibilities which consoles aren’t capable of. Mods have ranged from skins to full blown gameplay expansions, and best of all, it was free. Every bit of it. It’s content that’s been created by and for fans because they’re passionate enough to do so, not because they want to make a quick buck. Some of the more well-known modders have Patreons if you’d like to donate some money out of sheer appreciation, but their content remains free.

But hey, leave it to Bethesda to monetize something that’s free. Because, you know… Bethesda.

Fortunately, the outrage was enough to cause the publisher to cancel their plans a week after announcing them.

And now here comes the Creation Club, a thinly veiled attempt at reintroducing paid mods. And I say thinly veiled because Bethesda are position this as… actually, let me rephrase this. They’ve flat out denied that the Creation Club is a paid mods platform:

“Is Creation Club paid mods?”

No. Mods will remain a free and open system where anyone can create and share what they’d like. Also, we won’t allow any existing mods to be retrofitted into Creation Club, it must all be original content. Most of the Creation Club content is created internally, some with external partners who have worked on our games, and some by external Creators. All the content is approved, curated, and taken through the full internal dev cycle; including localization, polishing, and testing. This also guarantees that all content work together. We’ve looked at many ways to do “paid mods”, and the problems outweigh the benefits. We’ve encountered many of those issues before. But, there’s a constant demand from our fans to add more official high quality content to our games, and while we are able to create a lot of it, we think many in our community have the talent to work directly with us and create some amazing new things.”

Yeah, that all sounds well and good, but it stinks. It stinks because it doesn’t make any damn sense. In the Creation Club, you have to buy virtual currency with real world money, and then use that digital currency to purchase mods.

Sounds an awful lot like paid mods, doesn’t it? I mean, you’re giving them money, and you’re getting mods in return, right? Yeah. That’s because they’re paid mods.

As mentioned earlier, Bethesda tried to pull this nonsense a couple of years ago. Valve asked Bethesda if they’d be open to a paid mods thing, Bethesda said ‘you’re damn right we are’, and fans shut them down. Instead of taking the hint that gamers want nothing to do with paid mods, they shelved the idea for a couple of years so they could come up with a fancy name and some bullshit PR babble, hoping people wouldn’t notice that the paid mods idea didn’t actually go away, but was just retooled.

Lying to fans and customers is about the most despicable thing a company can do. It tells us they have the bravado to say whatever, and do whatever they want because they think we’re too stupid to read between the lines. But we aren’t, and video game journalists haven’t been either. Most headlines in regards to the Creation Club are some iteration of, ‘Bethesda Introduces Paid Mods!’ Say what you will about gaming journalists, but at least they call a spade a spade when crap like this comes up.

Fortunately, Bethesda has made it clear that free mods will still be allowed, but considering how backhanded they’re being with the announcement of their Creation Club, but again, they’re full of crap. They have absolutely screwed over the whole ‘free mods’ thing.

The Creation Club update is mandatory, and when it went live, it changed at least one game’s .exe file, causing F4SE (a script extender which is essential for many mods) to stop working. Script extenders pretty much need to be updated each time the game updates, but assuming the Creation Club files will be updated on a regular basis, that’s going to turn into a full time job for community modders, which may only incentivize them to quit.

And by the way, when I say the Creation Club update is mandatory, that includes all the content available through it. Yep, you’re going to have a lot of useless crap on your hard drive, and there’s not much you can do about it. Some have theorized that Bethesda are doing this to get around Sony’s rules about 3rd party content by wrapping it all into the game itself, but that’s hardly a good solution. In fact, it’s fucking terrible. Why would this affect PC and Xbox One users, then? A 2.1 GB update shouldn’t be forced down anyone’s throat if it’s not vital to run the game.

Furthermore, the Creation Club is breaking people’s free mods… mods which worked perfectly fine before the update. This is because mod load order – which is essential for ensuring everything loads properly and plays nicely with each other – is being affected. Mods are now forced to load in alphabetical order, meaning your free mods aren’t going to work. I’ll assume this is a bug, but you never know.

Last but certainly not least, it seems Pipboy skins refuse to work with any other free mod installed. Once other free mods are removed, the Pipboy skins will work.

I normally don’t condone piracy unless it’s firmly authorized by the devs, but you know what? Go for it. You can use all this new content for free because it’s easily crackable. Unpack the Creation Club .BSA, rename it, and then run the game. Tada! You have all the Creation Club content for free!

Except it’s all boring as piss, and all the free stuff is better.

Another way around this is to, if you haven’t updated through Steam yet, to use F4SE.exe to open the game exclusively, and tell Steam to not update the game unless you launch it (directly from Steam). That way you’ll never have to worry about updating the game when you don’t want to.

I won’t get into the whole ‘slippery slope’ discussion, because I know that’s an anecdotal part of the conversation at best. Still, there is precedence for other companies to follow suit when an idea bears fruit (money) for someone else… and that’ll be the worst if it happens. Just the absolute fucking worst.

After all is said and done, Bethesda probably would have garnered more respect and less outrage if they had just announced this program like this:

“Hello! We’re introducing the Creation Club, a place where you can buy first and third party created mods. These paid mods will mostly come from you, and you can submit them to us for internal review, and as long they pass our qualitative standards, they’ve be available from the Creation Club shop and you can earn a bit of money, too!” That still doesn’t make the whole thing about breaking free mods any better though, especially since they said free mods were still OK.

Telling the truth is groundbreaking shit, I know. But, no, we got two lies here for the price of one. They ARE paid mods and free mods ARE being affected.  Period. Here’s to hoping the backlash online causes Bethesda to once again rethink their position on paid DLC, because this isn’t going to end well for them.

E3 Impressions – Monday, Forward

OK, so as promised, I’m back to talk about Monday’s conferences at E3 2017. But be warned, I wasn’t thrilled with what I saw.

I didn’t bother with the PC conference. Every year there’s pretty much nothing I’m interested in. At all. And based on what I was reading last night, I didn’t really miss anything.

A little later there was the Ubisoft conference. For a little while, I really thought they were trying to change. This company has been in danger of being run by Vivendi for some time now, and in my opinion, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ it happens, but a matter of ‘when’… and yet, they’re still going against the grain, churning out stuff their fans have been growing frustrated with for some time now.

Alright, so at first glance, Mario & Rabbids looks gorgeous and definitely had the potential to be a fun title. Unfortunately, it’s this strategy game where you’re essentially playing chess on a battlefield. I can’t see this game selling that well, unless it’s by people who own a Switch that are desperate for new games.

Next up was Assassin’s Creed: Origins. They didn’t show any gameplay here, just cinematics of the setting. I LOVE the setting by the way, and it’s made this installment in the franchise a must own for me, but let’s just get this out of the way, since it’s prevalent over Ubi’s entire show: Gamers don’t want cinematic trailers. They want gameplay. Stop this nonsense. We want real looks at these games.

The Crew 2: The sequel literally nobody had asked for. Ever. The original was basically a driving game that somehow managed to wedge Ubi’s usual mechanics into it (climbing towers to see more of the map, that kind of thing)… and the game wasn’t very well received. That didn’t stop Ubi from making a sequel though. Why this game exists, I’ll never know.

South Park The Fractured But-Whole is something I’ve been really excited to play. I was skeptical of The Stick of Truth when it came out, but I’m glad I purchased it, because it was an amazing little RPG. The only thing that concerns me is that they’re revealing a release date in October, when I thought it had been delayed beyond that. Oh, they showed off a South Park mobile game too.  Ubisoft, keep your mobile trash out of my E3.

They had a trailer for a VR game that really didn’t let us know what we were in for. They had Elijah Wood and others basically explaining the concept and… well, that was it. I wish I had these minutes of my life back.

Skull and Bones… well, let’s just call this what it is: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’s naval combat system copy and pasted, but with a single player aspect stripped out, and online only. They had the nerve to say this is what people have been wanting. No, you dumb idiots, people have wanted an actual pirate game, not a multiplayer naval battle title that had very little effort behind it. I mean, the NERVE to just steal the same mechanics from Black Flag and then show it off as a new game. By the way, a lot of the games that are being mentioned by Ubisoft have this ‘always online’ component to it, which means they’re not letting go of that idea… and probably never will. Gamers complain about this constantly, and yet they wonder why some of their sales have been dipping? I love Assassin’s Creed and all, but everything this company does basically says, “Our ears our shut and/or we don’t care.” It’s since been said that the game may actually have a single player campaign, but I’d wager it’s lazily tacked on, such as it was with For Honor.

Just Dance 2018’s reveal was… well, lame. There was some weird dance routine live on-stage, which gamers don’t care about. They want to see games, not theatrics. And then, to endorse the game, they bring out a pretty music ‘star’… and by ‘star’, I mean that nobody has ever heard of this girl before. Why even bother?

Starlink: Yeah, let me strap a toy to my controller and go to town playing games with it. Pass.

Steep: Oh boy, Olympics gaming. Pass.

Far Cry 5: I loved Far Cry 3, Far Cry 4 was also good but just more of the same, and this one… I don’t really care for what I’m seeing. Bringing it to such a typical location instead of somewhere exotic sort of defeats the ‘escape’ that made the others so great to begin with.

Beyond Good and Evil 2: It’s cool when sequels to games from generations ago come along, but what the hell did we just see? This is supposed to look enticing? Insta-pass.

What a waste of a conference.

Sony, on the other hand, was much better… although still a disappointment. When you open your show with a couple of DLC releases, you know there might be a problem…

Apparently, Knack 2 wasn’t cool enough to be shown off during their actual conference. A trailer was shown before, and the game is out in just a few months. Way to back your game, Sony. Don’t wonder why this one doesn’t sell well… it’s because you aren’t backing your horse in the race. Too bad, because I’ll get it day 1 because I loved the first.

Anyway, yeah, that DLC was Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds. Uncharted looks pretty darn good but it’ll be a turn-off if it’s as cinematic heavy as Uncharted 4. Horizon… I haven’t played enough of the base game to really comment on this and how I feel about this DLC.

Days Gone is interesting. It looks to have top notch production, it could perhaps have a great story, and the acting is certainly great. That said, I didn’t really care for the gameplay I saw. It was like The Last of Us and Uncharted had a baby, and while those are both great games, that makes Days Gone just look way too iterative. I can pass on this.

Monster Hunter World: Never played a Monster Hunter game before, but this looked cool.

Shadow of the Colossus remake: I never played the original, though I always wanted to. Now is my time. I’ll be getting this immediately.

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite: Ha. Hahaha. AHHHHHH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! This. Looks. Terrible.

Call of Duty WW2: See, when I think Call of Duty, this is the kind of game I want. I’ll be playing this one for sure.

A bunch of PSVR games: Snore. The most hilarious reveal was what basically amounted to Final Fantasy XV, the ‘fishing’ edition. I could have peed my pants from laughter.

God of War: The approach to this game looks great. I like the older Kratos that’s basically living with his past, and somehow has to straddle the line between becoming that bad guy once again to destroy all these enemies, or refrain a bit as to teach his son not to follow in his old footsteps. And as usual for God of War, looks like we’ve got some pretty epic stuff in store. Day 1.

Detroit: Love the concept but it’s not a game I have any interest in playing.

Destiny 2: Sure looks to be a far cry from the original Destiny. But I was burned so bad by the first one that I’m not really interested in this. Maybe my mind changes after I see a significant amount of gameplay on Twitch, but I somehow doubt it.

Spider-Man: Insomniac is a great team, and everyone expected this Spidey game to be AMAZING… and while the production value is certainly there, all we saw was a bunch of cinematics that were interrupted frequently by quick time events. Pretty much lost my interest for this one last night.

Nintendo had their usual ‘online only’ presentation, and it lasted roughly 25 minutes. I actually liked most of what they had shown.

First was Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It look like it’s a lot of fun, but something about the presentation doesn’t really seem as nice as what we previously had in the Wii game. The character designs leave a bit to be desired as well, and while that may sound petty, I think it’s a really important issue when a franchise like this demands so much of your time.

Kirby is also coming to the Switch, and you know what? Forget all the haters. I really, really, really like those platform Kirby games. My only issue with what I’m seeing is that I saw literally nothing which distinguishes it from OTHER Kirby titles.

Nintendo don’t seem to have too much coming out, first party wise at least, in the next year or so. They have some major titles, some being system sellers for sure, but they’re lacking on upcoming games… so they revealed a couple of big things that fans have been dying for.

First, a proper Pokemon RPG for the Switch. FINALLY a Pokemon RPG for a home console. I’m not big on Pokemon myself, but this will excite a lot of people.

There’s also Metroid Prime 4 is super early development, and later this year we’ll be seeing a nice remake of Metroid II for the 3DS.

Yoshi’s coming to the Switch as well… and I love Yoshi games, I do. But this one seems like it really may be a little too plain, and for a much younger audience than Yoshi titles are typically for. We’ll have to see as we get closer to launch, though.

They also showed off a bit of the Zelda DLC coming but, that’s the last thing on my mind. With my schedule, I doubt I’ll be able to even finish the core game.

Rocket League is going to be a nice addition for Nintendo fans. It’s coming to the Switch, and while I won’t be buying it for this platform (I own it on PS4 and PC), anyone who doesn’t already own this game should jump on it.

Super Mario Odyssey just looks absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

So, overall, I think Nintendo did alright but their showing was rather anemic. We had a good 5 minutes of DLC, and some reveals which we didn’t even catch a glimpse of production art for. For a 25 minute presentation, it leaves a bit to be desired.

So, now that all my E3 impressions are up, I’m going to go back into hiding for a bit. This was just too big a week to let slip by without talking about the most important gaming event of the year.

E3 – First Weekend Impressions

The first days of E3 were rather bland, at least for me. To be fair though, I’m rather jaded at this point. A lot of the games I’m seeing being announced and released are mostly iterative of each other, minus the smaller, indepdendent games. Sure, there’s an exception here and there, and I mostly find that exception to be ‘Nintendo’, who has shown with Zelda: Breath of the Wild, that they can still deliver fantastic games. 

This year alone, Nintendo will be churning out Splatoon 2 and Mario Odyssey… this, in addition to Skyrim (which I’m likely not going to purchase since the updgraded PC version was so good), and some notable other titles. I’m good on the Nintendo Switch. It’s already provided some of the most fun I’ve had in years, between Zelda and Mario Kart.

 EA provided me with a little interest. Battlefront II is a game I’m most definitely going to get on day 1. The last game is what I’ve probably spent the most time on over the last year and a half. I can still pick it up and have a total blast playing it, so that’s a no-brainer. Anthem looks alright, but I have to see more before I even begin to get excited for it. A Way Out has an interesting premise, but I’m not sure I’m sold on the idea of a co-op prison break game… I prefer single player experiences most of the time. Need For Speed Payback needs to be a bajillion percent stellar in order to make me interested, as that franchise hasn’t really delivered in a while. Don’t care much about Madden, but it’s been a few years since I picked one up, so this might be the year. The other sports games I couldn’t care less about.

 Microsoft focused on games above all else, and I’m glad they finally figured that out. Unfortunately, most of the titles they had shown weren’t exclusives, and the titles that were, had only been ‘launch exclusive’ titles, meaning they’ll be available elsewhere shortly thereafter. Why is Microsoft spending so much money on fake exclusivity deals? They really need to invest in some other exclusives, otherwise people are going to look elsewhere, as they have been throughout this entire generation. The $500 price point for the Xbox One X is also a facepalm sort of moment. 500 smackaroos is largely what pushed people away from the Xbox One and firmly onboard the PS4… yet, here they are again releasing another machine at a similar price point. At least it’s a powerful machine this time around, but still, it seems like too little, too late. What does interest me, are the Minecraft announcements, Cuphead, Ori, and Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. What looks decent but hasn’t sold me is The Last Night, Black Desert, Code Vein, and Ashen. Sea of Thieves actually now holds my interest. The footage of that game is the first I’ve seen that actually lets me know what the potential of this game is, and it looks like a ton of fun. Still, I’m not sure how long I could get lost in that game before growing bored of it. I didn’t really care about what I saw in the Crackdown 3 trailer. Shadow of War seems… alright? I’m not really that interested in playing it at the moment. I’m also wicked down for Assassin’s Creed: Origins, because that Egypt setting looks like an amazing playground to stomp around in, and I’ve always been a sucker for this franchise anyway. All in all, their conference was decent on its own, but in the grand scheme of things, announcing a $500 console and a bunch of ‘not really exclusive’ titles isn’t really that smart. Oh, and original Xbox support? That’s pretty cool, and I may actually pick up a couple of games to play as a result, but I’m not sure it’s going to entice TOO many people. Oh, and that cutesy 3D platforming game they showed off? I love games with a retro vibe, but what worries me about that game is that it doesn’t appear to have anything in the way of difficulty. Too bad.

 Bethesda was pretty much a borefest. Doom and Fallout 4 in VR, big whoop. The Creation Club is going to bring paid mods to Bethesda games, and that’s lame since mods on the PC are pretty much always free. I never got into Dishonored, nor The Evil Within. Quake: Champions doesn’t really thrill me much, either. However, Bethesda did announce the one game I’m most excited for thus far, at least between the Saturday and Sunday reveals: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. It’s going to be amazing.

 And that’s pretty much it. After all is said and done, the only games I really REALLY want are Assassin’s Creed, Life is Strange, and Wolfenstein II. I don’t expect many others to come down the pike during announcements on Monday, which saddens me.

 Hopefully this E3 treats the rest of you well, but at this point, I kind of don’t care. I’ve spent most of this year going back and forth between Battlefront, Counter-Strike: Source, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Zelda, Mario Kart, and Minecraft. I really don’t need much more than that.

I’ll be back after Monday’s conferences.