Zack Snyder’s Justice League – First Impressions

Zack Snyder’s Justice League – First Impressions

The DC Cinematic Universe has been a mixed bag since the release of Man of Steel, with one of its most controversial entries being 2017’s Justice League. The film was met with a startling amount of indifference, considering this was the first live action outing of DC’s most popular team of heroes. It received mostly negative reviews and under performed at the box office, making only $657 million, compared to Batman v Superman’s $873 million. With such an underwhelming performance, monetarily and critically, general discussion around the film faded as DC began to pivot towards smaller scale, character focused films like Joker and Shazam!. On June 19th 2020, the HBO Max YouTube channel released a 34 second teaser trailer for Zack Snyder’s Justice League, featuring never before seen footage and voice over. This reveal has left fans of the original film wondering if this project is worth caring about, hopeful it will be something to keep their eyes on.

 

A Complicated History

 

2017’s Justice League underwent a tumultuous development with several rewrites, reshoots and directorial change. This led to a film that strayed far from Zack Snyder’s original vision. The script was re-written multiple times, which is not particularly uncommon, and mostly attributed to Batman v Superman’s negative reception. Snyder and Chris Terrio’s original script contained horror elements, but Batman V Superman received such negative reviews for its dark tone, Snyder and Warner Bros. decided to lighten things up. This is the version of the script that Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be based on.

The original version was nearing the end of production when Snyder had to leave due to a family tragedy. Warner Bros. was not willing to delay the film until he was ready to return, hiring Joss Whedon to finish in his place. This induced significant re-writes and expensive re-shoots, including the infamous mustache-gate. Whedon’s take had a significantly lighter tone, adding comedy and a color grade change from Snyder’s signature greys and blacks, to a red and orange hue. This change can be seen in the first official trailer, which used footage from Snyder’s version, compared to its final trailer from Whedon’s completed film.

After release, an internet campaign began with the hashtag #releasethesnydercut. The campaign was initially spearheaded by hopeful, passionate fans and felt like a pipedream. Bigger names began to speak out in support, including Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck and, the hashtags most vocal supporter, Jason Mamoa. They rallied with fans to get the Snyder cut to see the light of day. The campaign came to a head on the 20th May 2020, when Zack Snyder held a Man of Steel watch party. Snyder invited several fans into a zoom call with Henry Cavill, revealing a poster for Zack Snyder’s Justice League, set for 2021.

 

What is the Difference?

 

Snyder has spent the last two years sharing concept art and story details that imply the film he wanted to make would have been very different to the one we saw.

Justice League was widely criticized for its villain, Steppenwolf. He was the epitome of the ‘bland, hulking, grey, CGI villain’ trope that has plagued DCEU films since Batman v Superman’s Doomsday.

Through Zack Snyder’s twitter, it was revealed that Steppenwolf was not intended to be the only villain to make an appearance. Darkseid, one of the DC Universe’s most powerful villains, was supposed to play a part in the film. Not long after this, Ray Porter revealed himself as the actor playing the ruler of Apokolips.

Considering the amount of focus placed on him in the recent teaser, it’s fair to say that there will be more than a simple cameo. Snyder has confirmed the existence of other characters that were completely removed from the theatrical release.

These include Martian Manhunter, the Atom as Ryan Choi, and even the appearance of a more well-known Green Lantern.  Nobody can say how big a role these characters would have played, but their involvement was surely intended to set up future DCEU appearances that are now back on the table.

 

Other details that are rumored to appear in the Snyder cut:  Superman in his black suit design, Lex Luthor in more than just a post-credit scene, and extended introductions for The Flash and Aquaman. Nobody can say how important these scenes will be to the overall story, but viewers will get more insight and context behind the films main characters.

 

What Form Will the Snyder Cut Take?

 

The general assumption has been that this will be an extended movie released on HBO Max. The only concrete information that has been announced is Snyder’s team receiving somewhere in the range of $20 – $30 million to finish up VFX, with no new scenes being filmed. They have been given permission to record new dialogue, which has led to speculation. One suggestion is that the project could take on the form of a TV series, in the same vein as the extended cut of Quinten Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. This would leave room for animated segments to be included for sections that were incomplete.

While they could be spliced into a film, a complete change in style would be less jarring if spread out in episodic fashion.  It is important to note that nobody can say for sure how much the Snyder cut will differ from the theatrical release, but based on everything we’ve heard, this is going to be something more than your average Director’s cut.

Zack Snyder has created masterpieces and dumpster fires. Even though I don’t trust Zack Snyder to make a 10/10 film, I do expect that Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be worth seeing as the singular vision of a director, rather than the Frankenstein-esque production that was the theatrical cut.

5 Changes I Want to See in Mass Effect Trilogy Remastered

5 Changes I Want to See in Mass Effect Trilogy Remastered

So, earlier this year, EA announced that they like money (no surprises there) and that they’re extremely interested in profiting off our nostalgia by remastering several beloved games from their back catalogue. Without missing a beat, players gleefully interpreted this little kernel of news as ‘a remastered Mass Effect Trilogy is in development!’

 

It’s easy to get swept up in this line of wishful thinking. I mean, I did. So much so that it got me daydreaming about how BioWare has the unique opportunity to ‘do a George Lucas’ and change a lot more with these games beyond a simple remaster. With that in mind, here’s my no-holds-barred wishlist on how the Mass Effect games could be zhuzhed up for a re-release.

 

Except for the Galaxy Map music. That is objectively perfect. If BioWare fiddles with it, there’ll be hell to pay.

 

1. Rethink the Mako

 Mass Effect Trilogy Remastered New Mako screenshots

 

Even the games’ most generous fans admit that only a mother could love Mass Effect’s Mako driving sections… probably because it handles like a cinder block with D20s for wheels. The obvious fix would be to outright remove the Mako, but I think that’s a bad shout. Instead, they should rework the Mako by taking a page out of Final Fantasy XV’s book and double down on the road trip vibe. 

Picture it now. Shepard and his team are kicking back in an open-top Mako, cruising around a planet’s surface. In the rear view mirror, Shepard spots Garrus cosying up to a magazine. “What’re you reading there, Garrus?” asks Shepard. Without even looking up, Garrus warmly replies, “Just reading about an Asari vineyard on Thessia that’s said to produce some of the finest wines in the galaxy. When this is all over, maybe we should celebrate with a bottle.” Mass Effect’s best moments have always been the little scenes where Shepard bonds with the crew. This overhaul would nicely facilitate more of these quirky interactions. Plus, who doesn’t want to play ‘Eye Spy’ with this crew?

 

2. Face up those faces

 

Mass Effect Trilogy Remastered new faces

 

Having just replayed the trilogy, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the writing and voice acting still hold up. What hasn’t aged quite as gracefully are the facial animations, particularly the human and Asari faces. Several emotional moments are stilted since everyone has that glassy-eyed ‘BioWare Face’ that’s incapable of conveying any emotion more complex than ‘did I leave the stove on?’ Also, is it just me, or does every human look a bit shiny? Light bounces off foreheads and cheekbones as if organic skin was replaced by the same plastic used for Buzz Lightyear’s face. BioWare needs to hire an eyebrow animation specialist, or just someone with the power to defeat the uncanny valley – Mass Effect characters deserve to look better than this.

 

Also, on the topic of faces, we don’t ever need to see Tali’s face. Less is more.

 

3. Elevators are Obsolete

 

Mass Effect Trilogy Remastered Elevators

 

Despite the Citadel being the most advanced technological marvel in universal existence, I’d rather jettison myself out the nearest airlock than ride another one of its elevators. Previously used to mask load times, Mass Effect’s lengthy elevator rides will effectively be rendered obsolete if next-gen consoles can deliver on the promise of ultra-fast SSD loading. So scrap the old ways. Instead, I imagine a Mass Effect game where the entire Citadel is rendered as one giant, seamless environment to explore without the hassle of loading screens. Gotta travel long distances? No problem! My dream Citadel would be connected by elevators that function more like those pneumatic tubes in Futurama, swiftly ferrying people around in real time. This transportation system not only screams sci-fi, it’ll give the Citadel a new-found sense of scale and architecture, as next-gen hardware could finally give the Mass Effect games the tech needed to realise BioWare’s vision for this world.

 

The downside of this is we’d lose an excuse to listen to galactic radio or more tasty nuggets of character dialogue that filled the awkward silence of elevator rides. All the more reason to retrofit the chatter to my revamped Mako concept above.

 

4. Just… get rid of James

 

Mass Effect Trilogy Remastered james

 

The dude looks like he got lost on his way to a Gears of War audition, and now he’s past the point of admitting his mistake. Seriously, he’s the only brand new squadmate in Mass Effect 3, and he’s cracking jokes like he’s been here since the beginning. You ain’t my friend “bro”! His sole purpose in life is to sit in your Squad Selection menu, screaming “Pick me, pick me!” like he’s desperate to get drafted for Shepard’s dodgeball team. Just… end this bench warmer’s suffering and scrub him from the game. Or, better yet, turn him into a Krogan! He’s already a hunky meathead, so the swap would be seamless! Then maybe, just maybe, I’d dare to take him out on missions.

 

5. Fix the Ending, Damnit!

Mass Effect Trilogy Remastered New Ending

 

Finally, the elephant in the room. There was outcry after players discovered that none of Shepard’s choices mattered leading up to the final moments. Instead, they got to pick from a set menu of three outcomes – all of which were underwhelming. The Extended Cut DLC did some welcomed damage control, but now BioWare at long last can give die-hard fans the ending they deserve: Shepard and Garrus enjoying a bottle of wine together as Earth explodes behind them in a fiery supernova, thus annihilating the Reapers.

In all seriousness though, a cheap and easy fix for this would be if Mass Effect 3 flagged up the existence of its Citadel DLC and strongly recommended players experience it before tackling the final battle. Not only did this DLC chapter allow the writers to flex their comedic muscles, it somehow ended up providing a better sense of closure to the saga than the game’s official ending.

 

Whatever the remaster decides to fix up, it’ll no doubt be a great excuse to step back onto the Normandy and hang out with the N7 crew. The worlds and characters BioWare created here are astonishingly detailed and worthy of adoration. A decent remaster would reaffirm this series’ legacy as one of the greats and maybe even prove there’s still an appetite for these games in a post-Andromeda world.

 

Behind the Curtain – The End of Modern Cinema

Behind the Curtain – The End of Modern Cinema

How the mighty have fallen. What was once a night of silver screen magic and awe, has turned into $20 bags of popcorn and general disinterest. Mixed with Hollywood’s abandonment of American crowds for the foreign market, even if it makes them hypocrites, the traditional theater release model’s days are numbered.

The rise of the internet has left a wave of mutilation in its wake since the mid-2000s. It’s the nature of the beast, and it was only a short time before that included film and TV. Around 22% of Americans have a subscription to Netflix. That’s not even counting the other 4 sharing the account.

Your local rental store went extinct during the advent of the streaming revolution, as late fees and debauchery reigned down upon customers. They had their shot as the middle man, and as soon as a replacement stepped in, customers were more than happy to dispose of them. While a lone rental chain exists in America, Family Video, they keep themselves afloat through real estate rather than rentals. The last Blockbuster still stands in Bend, Oregon. It’s used as little more than a photo-op for those who remember the good times we had together.

Movie theaters have found themselves as the new quasi-middleman, the broker between Hollywood and the masses.

Well… they did. The times are changing

 

 Death of the Movie Theater


A sign showing comic relief during the covid-19 pandemic at the last blockbuster store in the united states.

You could make the argument that the recent CoVID-19 Pandemic is to blame. If anything, it was surely the final catalyst. The industry has been in decline in recent years, and CoVID was the last nail in the coffin. The majority of growth for the entertainment industry in the past 3 years has been from digital services (electronic sell-through, VOD, subscription streaming for movies and TV), with theatrical making a slow burn, and DVD/Blu-Ray sales dropping off the map. Trolls World Tour made nearly $100 million from digital sales alone in the past month.

Hollywood has been having an apathetic effort as of late. Remake after remake, treated as if it were a superior take over the original. Shameless lowest common denominator garbage patented, packaged and sold as if it were remarkable and worth your time, and not a fast, sleazy way to get you in the seats. Prominent studios come off as used car salesmen, incorporating clever trailer making and big names to convince you they tried. The sleight of hand doesn’t hit you ‘til the credits roll.

Now, not all of Hollywood. Plenty of diamonds in the rough are being made. It’s just that no one is going to see them, or even aware of their existence until they release on streaming platforms. Intelligent films that take risks don’t pay the bills in 2020. If they did, we wouldn’t be stuck in this giant loop where dollar signs trump creativity. American audiences don’t even go to see the Best Picture award winners, with the last film reaching blockbuster levels domestically being Return of the King in 2003.

Hollywood has treated moviegoers as cash cows, instead of a diverse group of well…. humans. Netflix has been ridiculed in recent years for churning out turd after turd, with the only pitch you need for them to make your film/series is to show up with a pulse. The proof is in the pudding, however; 50 movies to choose from at home for $12 a month beats 10 movies for $50 plus each. 50 options that have a story for every type out there. Better to have 50 terrible options cheap than an expensive individual 10.

 

 

The elephant in the room is the viability of the theater experience. As we’ve seen in recent months, a major studio film can still turn a profit through release via streaming. Not to mention, the popcorn costs 50 cents a bag, and you can enjoy it from your couch in your underwear. I’m no business expert, but the studios have to be saving money in distribution costs from this model. We know cash is the only thing in mind from their actions, so why go back?

The future of movie theaters will be that of broadway plays and musicals. Upscale theaters that offer a robust refreshment and seating style, with films old and new as the main event. The future of film may be streaming, but for theaters it’s experience. Not to say that seeing the next Marvel film in IMAX isn’t an experience, but I’m arguing First Class vs. Economy. It’s like Spotify and vinyl. They just hit differently.

I miss the days of being pumped for upcoming films. I’ve endured the release of three Star Wars movies that make Jar-Jar Binks seem tolerable. I’ve seen remake after remake with creative bankruptcy, followed by lazy excuses to explain why a film failed (mostly, blame the audience.) Every new film I’ve watched and enjoyed has been stumbled upon, with no recollection of it getting a theatrical release. Quality is few and far between in our data-driven, appeal-to-all era.

Maybe it’s not that theaters and studios don’t care anymore.
I just don’t care anymore.

Desperados III – How to Find McCoy in Baton Rouge

Desperados III – How to Find McCoy in Baton Rouge

Desperados III’s Baton Rouge level (Chapter II Level II) is a tough nut to bust without Doctor McCoy, just like some of the later levels in Chapter I. However, it can be even more difficult when you have to find McCoy with little visual indicators to clue you in on where he is. Here’s how to find McCoy in Baton Rouge:

 

WHERE IS MCCOY IN BATON ROUGE?

 

When playing as Hector in the beginning of the level, Cooper and Kate can be found unconscious close by, out in the open. However, Doc McCoy isn’t so easy. He’s actually inside of the bank. Don’t be fooled by the sleeping gunman near the cattle or the ill civilian in the back of Laurie & Butch Stoves & Hardware.

 

Desperados III Sleeping Guy

Desperados III Ill Guy

 

You can find McCoy in the bank. It’s easy to spot because it’s currently under construction after a recent robbery. You can only see inside the bank if you have a character close enough to it. McCoy is knocked out in the side room where one gunman keeps a watchful eye and another gunman periodically comes in to mess with the shelves.

 

Desperados III Baton Rouge McCoy in Bank

 

HOW TO GET TO MCCOY IN THE BANK

 

As is the case with just about anything in Desperados III, you can approach this situation in many different ways. However, because of the sheer number of foes in and around the small building, you likely won’t be able to make it through without knocking a few heads together.

 

If you’re not aiming to get the achievement for completing Baton Rouge without using Kate’s disguise, then it certainly comes in handy here. Any gunman on the premises can be distracted with conversation or lured away. However, neither of the ponchos at the bank are men, so Kate’s tricks will have no effect. There’s also a gunwoman for whom the same is true.

 

Furthermore, Hector or Cooper can be used to push down a large house-shaped wooden structure on one end to crush up to two gunmen without drawing suspicion (up to three if you use Kate to lure another victim in). This will prompt an investigation, but if you wait it out, they will soon go back to their business.

 

Desperados III Bank Wooden Structure

 

One other small issue to take into account is the presence of footprints. Gunmen will investigate your footprints. However, you can still avoid being found. If ponchos see your footprints, they will not follow you, as ponchos don’t leave their posts, so you can get away with that as long as you’re hidden after leaving them. Additionally, gunmen and gunwomen won’t follow you up ladders, so if you go up a ladder after leaving footprints, you’ll be safe.

 

In no time, you’ll be sittin’ back with Doc McCoy on the boat at the docks.

Paper Mario: The Origami King – My Hopes and Fears

Paper Mario: The Origami King – My Hopes and Fears

Nintendo arbitrarily dropping a reveal trailer for a Paper Mario game, a franchise that spawned a couple of my favorite games and my favorite RPG period, surprised me in the morning, to say the least. I have previously read rumors and reports that Nintendo was working on this title behind the scenes, but enthusiasts across a plurality of forums mused on the franchise returning since the most recent and arguably most controversial entry released on the Wii U. So, like most, I tempered my expectations by dismissing these reports as a manifestation of wishful thinking from whatever inside source was sharing this information. Fortunately, my pessimistic expectations were abruptly decimated the moment I saw Nintendo embellish social media platforms with an upcoming entry for Paper Mario, subtitled The Origami King.

 

 

Given the limited knowledge that we have, I cannot accurately portray the game as a whole based on a two-and-a-half-minute trailer. That being said, consider my qualms as questions that arise from underlying concerns rooted in my deep respect for the franchise and creative efforts of the first three games. A chief concern that I have is the risk of an identity crisis causing a conflict between the narrative and creative potential the game establishes. In Mario, character design is vital to evoke a distinct emotion and aura that represents a certain world in which they inhabit. I’ll use Thousand-Year Door as the main reference throughout because I think the game flawlessly nails the identity of its world. In Rogueport, players see a diversity of races from the Mario universe, each of them wearing specific attire or possessing a specific skin color to embody their background and heritage.

 

Retro Review - Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door - Epilogue Gaming

 

The trailer looked simultaneously familiar and different. Fans welcome the reintroduction of an original adversary that puts the entire Mushroom Kingdom in jeopardy. However, fans question whether it will recover the charm the first two games established. Unfortunately, it appears Nintendo remains conservative with new character designs with The Origami King compared to the 64 and GameCube counterparts. Conversely, the world design and set pieces appear more ambitious than the franchise has ever seen. The environments possess greater detail and boast larger scenes, doing away with the hexagonal structure the 64 and GameCube classics have relied on. Additionally, the prospect of a supposed “race” war between the paper characters and origami characters has been something many fans have clamored for. As for the battle system, we sadly know little of that and only rely on mere seconds of footage.

 

Ultimately, Paper Mario: The Origami King will likely not rekindle the magic of The Thousand-Year Door due to the frequent creative liberties taken by Intelligent Systems. Fans of the franchise must admit that The Thousand-Year Door will effectively be the pinnacle, but I implore them not to ignore The Origami King simply because it doesn’t perfectly match the 2004 masterpiece. The Origami King could very well be one of the best Paper Mario games, easily surpassing Sticker Star and Color Splash. Hell, it might even rival that of the N64 original if it plays its cards right (not literally, but you know what I mean). Hindrances and shortcomings could emerge in The Origami King, whereas merits and strengths could surpass those flaws. 

 

 Sjorec on Twitter: "This video game gets better every day.… "

 

This cast of characters has a variety of agendas that further individualize the NPCs, some of which even shape the story. To me, Rogueport is a great example for how a video game should develop a world. I don’t see anything that remotely resembles that in The Origami King, based on what I saw. Some screenshots from Nintendo’s page provide additional clarification and elaboration of the world. However, I fail to see something tangibly new from the characters themselves. They’re essentially the base Mario World designs wearing some clothes. While The Thousand-Year Door used the Mario World characters, they had distinct expressions, shapes, colors, and overall appearances that gave them their own personalities.

 

Another shortcoming that could occur is an inferior battle system that plagued the two most recent Paper Mario games. While I concede that we should see a more extensive look at gameplay footage before making any judgments, I fear that the emphasis on the ring mechanic could result in a repetitively simple battle structure. Given that the battle system simultaneously requires the player to properly align the enemies and choose the most effective move or item against them, Intelligent Systems would need to design the battles in such a way where both the rings and actual battles work well with each other. If Intelligent Systems minimizes the battling mechanics in favor of the ring system, the battles would become tediously easy; just rotate the rings until you get the right alignment, then attack and gain XP. If they add nuance and complexity to both mechanics, then the challenge could overwhelm the players and encourage them to find ways to cheese through the battles.

 

Paper Mario Origami King: What is the battle system? Everything ...

 

I’m in full support of creative risks in video games, as it nurtures innovation in the medium I adore most. However, for a franchise that struggled to rekindle the critical success the first half of the franchise enjoyed because of failed creative risks, I remain skeptical whether trying new ground is where the series needs to go. Of course, Intelligent Systems could establish a brilliantly designed battle system that is easy to learn yet hard to master, which made the first two games such excellent RPGs. Skepticism aside, there are positive elements of this trailer that need to be amplified, chief among them is the premise. The idea that an alien origami race invades the Mushroom Kingdom and forcefully folds iconic Mario characters into zombified origami caricatures sounds pretty awesome. It may not have the grandiosity of The Thousand-Year Door, but The Thousand-Year Door is an exceptionally made game that is intrinsically difficult for subsequent entries to perfectly replicate.

 

This premise indicates the narrative will have more ambition, something the franchise hasn’t seen since Super Paper Mario, and fans should celebrate that. While Nintendo is currently marketing comedy in this game, the way in which they revealed it suggests they also want to showcase its darker nature. A folded-up Princess Peach with an indistinguishable visage and distorted voice greeting the audience doesn’t evoke the happy-go-lucky attitude Color Splash perpetually espoused. Both The Thousand-Year Door and Super Paper Mario excelled at balancing levity and gravity, and it appears The Origami King aspires to recapture that specific narrative dynamic, which makes me, as a fan, greatly enthusiastic. What are bosses going to be like? How big will these levels become? Is King Olly, the main antagonist, going to transform into some kind of origami monstrosity, akin to the Shadow Queen? There is so much potential based on a thin slice of footage we’ve seen of the game in action, and we only have less than two months until the game releases.

 

Paper Mario: The Origami King More Screenshots and Look at Partners

 

Despite my abundant skepticism for The Origami King, I still generally feel more optimistic than I do skeptical largely thanks to the promising narrative. That being said, my questions and uncertainties still stand, and I hope the answers Nintendo provides are satisfactory and strengthen my hopes for the game even further. A Paper Mario that prioritizes the adventure over comedic lines is my ideal Paper Mario game, and it appears that The Origami King will deliver on both. Fans should be excited, but I understand their skepticisms as well. Paper Mario holds a special place in my gaming heart, and I’d hate to see it get yet another average entry. However, given that Intelligent Systems has made an effort to prove that this Paper Mario will be significantly larger than the last two, fans should feel satisfied at the fact that they’re getting an epic Paper Mario adventure again, something that hasn’t been seen since 2007. All I can say to that is welcome back Paper Mario.

 

What do you think about what you saw of The Origami King? Are you just as optimistic as I am, or would you refrain from judgment until the game is playing on your Switch? Let’s talk about it in the comments below, and stay tuned for more Sick Critic feature pieces like this one!

 

The Surreal Mundanity of Disaster Report 4

The Surreal Mundanity of Disaster Report 4

Mild spoilers of the weirdness contained within Disaster Report 4 are present in this article, if you’re already sold on the franchise or weird games in general, give it a shot in advance of reading this. There’s a demo available on all digital storefronts.

On April 7th, 2020, a few weeks deep into a crisis whose impact is global and total ramifications unknown, Granzella’s Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories snuck its way onto digital storefronts. What may come off as dubious timing is more a case of dubiously bad luck. The game was outright canceled nine years prior due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and its revived release date set in stone prior to any murmurings of COVID-19. The conspicuously low budget franchise was always a bit out of time with its contemporaries and now stands as possibly the homeliest title on PSN that isn’t developed by 1Games.

 

At the intersection of Deadly Premonition’s idiosyncrasies and Death Stranding’s languid pace, Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories can only be appreciated on the merits of it being like absolutely nothing else. It’s more difficult to do so than with franchise masterwork Raw Danger, whose shifting gameplay amongst different protagonists and converging narratives stands tall over any other natural disaster navigation game. Summer Memories is a visible downgrade from Raw Danger in every capacity but graphical fidelity, yet the franchise’s unparalleled tone still rings through, compelling me to blaze through what should amount to diminishing returns in the span of a week.

 

Even compared to its set piece-inhibited predecessors, the disaster in Disaster Report 4 is mostly kept to the background. You primarily lurk the aftermaths of a lingering earthquake tearing environments apart and taking the communities with it. Besides a perfunctory landscape shake mechanic that requires you to crouch to stay balanced or else take small-scale fall damage, tension is outright missing from a majority of the game. What dominates instead is an awkward sense of unease where the line between mischievous humor and frantic melodrama blurs entirely. Dialogue choices take center stage in the willfully tangential narrative. Though it’s always a crapshoot as to whether your dialogue choice will actually affect the game, reaction choices are often so absurd that an amorphous morality system frees you to make some rash decisions.

Gameplay still of Disaster Report 4, showing the protagonist balanced on a crumbling highway staring at its other half
One of the few possible dramatic angles present in the game. Image courtesy of Steam

The narrative experience is like a uniformly sincere B-movie drama with the seams on full display, but instead of a crew of jesters commenting over it Mystery Science Theater style, you’ve been allowed full entry into the strange world Disaster Report conjures to turn the game outright farcical. Beyond the dramatic irony of being able to dress your character in a garish cowboy outfit and not have NPCs mention it at all, you are given the option to wail in ridiculous agony not once, but twice across the dialogue menus. Challenge never really manifests in the game, you wander around crumbling architecture with slight degrees of freedom stumbling upon ongoing running gags and what loosely amount to “puzzles” along the way.

 

A large subset of people will likely find the act of playing Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories boring. Design choices that are innately part of the franchise and were already polarizing (a focus on resource farming and urban exploration above all else) are scaled back to a degree that only makes sense in the context of a stop-start development cycle. The comical “Hey” button allocated to players was put to use in Raw Danger to get the attention of NPCs to solve environmental puzzles. Here it’s just… inherited from the previous games for its own sake, put to no necessary use beyond another weird trinket to play around with. The most damning portrayal of Disaster Report 4 would view it as only a bundle of weird trinkets made to confound all and satisfy no one.

 

Still, Disaster Report 4 paces itself like no other game. It’s a strangely meditative experience, like grafting a narrative onto Euro Truck Simulator 2 and allowing the elements to coexist. You spend much of the game just walking around meeting people, helping them through dialogue or an errand just strange enough to keep things enticing. The game hightails it into tedium more than once, whether having you pilot the least sturdy raft of all time or climb between apartment buildings in terribly convoluted fashion, but the margin for forgiveness is so generous that lost progress is never a factor. Journeys to find toilet paper (timely) for a man in a convenience store bathroom pretending to be the manager so he can overcharge for mineral water carry the air of inebriated little adventures that make it into stoner films, not video games.

 

Unaddressed paranormal undercurrents (a cursed jewelry store and a dark-haired woman whispering warnings at you) coexist with grounded little narrative arcs like resolving a feud between two neighboring towns by tracking down a mysterious arsonist. Substantial portions of the game are devoted to visiting decimated neighborhoods and helping the discouraged people rebuild their lifestyles the best you can.  The character drama never really lands as anything besides endearing and stumbles into some (thankfully abridged) implied abuse for the sake of drama at the end that reads as totally unnecessary, but the game’s focus on character interaction is so sturdy that its oddity makes the game.

Gameplay still of Disaster Report 4, featuring your main character taking a bathroom break as a game mechanic

Disaster Report 4 often tips its hand so far into attempts at realism that the gameplay becomes laughable. An immensely simplified survival system from games prior mostly involves you going to the toilet every few levels and stopping to eat whenever you feel like it. The survival flourishes are too minimal to be annoying but do not add substance to the game in any capacity. You’ll always be carrying a backpack with a maximum holding capacity, but I never had to worry about sacrificing goods to make space. The game is in fact too generous with handing out incrementally larger bags to carry the small bunch of supplies you’ll need. The bits of scavenging that charm the most are the collectable novelty compasses strewn across the game that prove of some use when navigating from one hub to another.

 

The flip side of the game’s reduced scale is exemplified by a sequence spent carrying an elderly woman on your shoulders to the nearest hospital. You meander through one of the more lively parts of the city as a result, scaling architectures that crumble behind you, choosing whether or not to loot vacant households. The game is fundamentally opposed to having the heightened sense of scope characterizing almost every video game on the market. The people in-game don’t have the power to instill much suffering in each other, they merely seek to get by and maybe find someone to confide in.

 

Gameplay still of Disaster Report 4 showing the inventory menu, in my inventory are multiple hats, a mask. and a school dress
I packed only the essentials

The oddly muted sense of conflict allows bizarre detours to dominate. Amidst a gameplay loop that consists primarily of running odd errands for total strangers, the game slips in plenty of tongue-in-cheek, reality-blurring incidents that stand tall over the often asinine gameplay. It’s strange enough that Disaster Report 4 is mentioned inside Disaster Report 4 (the game’s delay being attributed in-game to the present earthquake), but later on you’re given the license to change the game’s name as a reward for fulfilling an errand. And let’s not discount your character inadvertently joining an underground cult, becoming its leader, and then having to escape it in an on-foot chase as your followers turn on you.

 

Encounters with “mystic water” from the rain gutter and a homicidal chef give Disaster Report 4 a surreal quality that is only enhanced by how normal your surroundings generally are. Out of the gate, Disaster Report 4 introduces you to its delightfully incongruous balance of tones. After a brief player psychoanalysis (Silent Hill: Shattered Memories style), the opening moments of the game give you the freedom to offer an old lady your bus seat or berate her for no reason. The human drama occupying the center of the game can always be undercut for your own amusement and your protagonist is perfectly equipped to become the spoiled brat that’s never the center of survival games.

 

Disaster Report 4’s status as an anti-epic puts it in a unique spot. Alongside spiritual companion Death Stranding, Disaster Report 4 is a plea to make the world a better place. However, where Death Stranding obfuscates with dense imagery and budgetary indulgences, Disaster Report 4 is so profoundly minor that a sense of place is all that remains. It certainly doesn’t resemble real life during an earthquake, but its conversational focus and humble sense of levity makes it a very humane playing experience, where strangely optimistic vibes replace lasting conflicts. The end of Disaster Report 4 puts you at an impasse where you can either fly to implied safety, or stay put and help rebuild the town. I couldn’t wait to lend a helping hand.

Disaster Report 4 is indeed “alright”

Sony’s Lack of PS5 Marketing Shows the Power of Their Brand

Sony’s Lack of PS5 Marketing Shows the Power of Their Brand

Everyone and their mother is talking about the PS5, but Sony has been relatively silent with their marketing. The extent to which Sony has spoken about the PS5 remains in the digital realm, which is expected due to the ongoing pandemic, but Sony has communicated their next-gen announcements primarily on their social media platforms and blog posts. Those two aren’t primed to excite audiences. They’ve also uploaded a YouTube video of a GDC presentation hosted by Mark Cerny that discusses at great length the technical specifications of the PlayStation 5 and what that means for game development. That video, made specifically for developers, garnered over 14 million views. While the ratings were rather lukewarm, with a third of the like:dislike ratio being dislikes, the excitement is visible and it is massive.

 

All PS5-related Twitter posts garner hundreds of thousands of likes and easily reach the trending section. The PS5 logo alone harnessed a ton of traffic on PlayStation’s Instagram post. Virtually anything about the console will attract millions of people online without and Sony doesn’t even need to blast their horn about it. The new DualSense controller has already been subject to a myriad of fan made special editions representing different franchises or motifs. The demand for the PlayStation 5 has risen to the point that it easily dwarfs any discussion concerning Microsoft’s plans.

My local Gamestop getting ready for the PS4 - Imgur

Image courtesy of imgur.com.

Throughout the past decade Sony cultivated a global constituency unlike any other console manufacturer, with the exception of Nintendo when they are at their best. This happened through frequent releases of high-quality exclusives, aggressive global marketing infrastructure, partnerships and exclusivity deals with various third-party companies and franchises, and consistent actions to build goodwill amongst the gaming community. While PlayStation has never had a console failure save for the PSVita, the brand has also never reached this level of universalized hype in the industry. Gamers, avid or casual, are familiar and greatly anticipate the PlayStation 5 and exclusive titles from Sony’s first-party studios. Game developers and publishers cannot contain their excitement in working on the PlayStation 5, which in turn results in an Internet hypestorm over the elusive machine.

 

Sony’s general absence has more benefits to their marketing strategy than 24/7 advertising like Microsoft does. Of course, the Xbox Series X is no slouch in hardware design and could have some excellent games from Microsoft’s reinvigorated first-party division. I am not one to be super excited for Microsoft’s plans, but I do see the Series X becoming the manufacturer’s best console yet, both in functionality and in games library. I feel likewise for the PlayStation 5. However, what differentiates the two is that Sony starves gamers of information whereas Microsoft inundates gamers with news frequently. Every time Sony reveals something about their next-generation platform is treated like an event Internet-wide event. Gamers know nearly every single thing about the Xbox Series X with the exception of launch lineup, UI, launch date, and MSRP. As for the PlayStation 5, we know about the technical specifications, the controller, and some of the features. Microsoft disclosed this information through frequent online campaigning on social media platforms, whereas Sony posts isolated articles on their PlayStation Blog site. Guess which has more people talking?

A Look Back At The Insanity Of PlayStation 2's Launch Day - Ftw ...

Gamers getting ready for the PlayStation 2 launch in 2000.

This disparity reveals the intrinsic PlayStation favoritism the gaming market possesses. Since its inception, the PlayStation 5 was favored to attain the largest market share without Sony flexing their muscles. People already know about the console’s development and they already want it. While this data is more circumstantial than empirical, you don’t have to look hard to see which brand and console the general discussions prefer. This goes beyond social media metrics as third-party developers will pay attention to this data and capitalize on it. That could translate to partnerships and exclusivity deals as every developer scrambles for a piece of the PS5.

 

The same is true for larger publishers and potentially more ambitious indie projects on Sony’s camp. I expect Sony’s marriage with Activision to continue after their lucrative Call of Duty partnership. I expect more third-party exclusives to emerge from higher profile studios. As much as Sony fans like myself, lament the absence of Sony’s embrace of indie projects like in the early PS4 days, I see Shuhei Yoshida and Greg Rice’s efforts bearing fruit in the coming months. I can easily imagine an ID@Xbox-esque outlet emerging from Sony, bolstering their diversity in the exclusive lineup. We also haven’t considered that developers seem quite happy with the PS5 from a hardware perspective and some studios could opt for an exclusivity agreement based on the console’s special attributes.

COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance ...

The only thing that could negatively impact the PlayStation 5’s success is completely out of Sony’s control: the COVID-19 pandemic. Bloomberg reported that Sony might not be able to produce a sufficient amount of units for store shelves come the holiday season, causing a shortage that could last for several months. However, consumer demand exceeding supply is usually a good sign for a console’s success. Remember the multiple PS2 famines and the ongoing Switch drought? Unless Sony pulls another PS3 (which is looking more and more unlikely), the PS5 is poised for another historic launch and Sony doesn’t even need to try. As long as the console is priced fairly and has a competent game library ahead of it, I can safely expect the PS5 to be yet another 100 million seller.

 

What do you think of Sony’s currently absent marketing strategy? Do you think it speaks volumes to the PlayStation brand’s durability or does it show arrogance from Sony’s part? Let us know in the comments below and stay tuned for more feature pieces from Sick Critic!

Developer Dialogue: John Staats’ Journey as a WoW Level Designer

Developer Dialogue: John Staats’ Journey as a WoW Level Designer

If you made your way into Blizzard’s offices in the early 2000s, you might think you’d accidentally stumbled into a DnD enthusiast’s Mom’s basement. Faded posters on the walls, food packaging scattered about, and the dim, electronic light only emitted by a computer monitor. This is the picture John Staats paints in the intro to his book, The WoW Diary, at least.

I got the chance to speak with John Staats about his experience within these office walls, his work on World of Warcraft, and the writing of his book.

John Staats was the first 3D level designer Blizzard recruited for the development team of WoW. This put him in a unique position in numerous ways: he was one of the earliest members of WoW’s dev team, he had the responsibility of recruiting more 3D level designers, and last, but not least, he had the chance to document WoW’s development.

It’s this documentation that eventually led to the release of The WoW Diary in 2018. It comprehensively reports on the goings-on of WoW’s development right up until its release in November 2004.

 

Image depicting the inside of Blizzards Irvine office. Shows computers running World of Warcraft near a very clean reception desk.
Blizzard’s Irvine office. Much cleaner nowadays than in the late ’90s.

 

The first thing I had to ask John Staats was what surprised him about working in the industry. After all, it’s rarely the glamorous lifestyle that the media makes it out to be. Staats told me his biggest struggle was with recruiting talented people. Numerous hires ended up not being up to the job, and that was if they could find someone to come on board to begin with. One of Staats’ first jobs was to hire other level designers. When talking about sending out interview offers, he said, “I would send a dozen every week for six months, and there is just no one. If they were good at level design, they were already on a project and they wanted to finish that project.” So it seems that being a game developer back then was a far cry from the glamorous “game god” lifestyle depicted on the flashy covers of ‘90s gaming magazines. It’s kind of sad how many people put themselves through college dreaming of making games, only to be told they’re not up to the challenge or to burn out in the midst of their first project – something Staats and I discuss plenty later on.

Another thing that surprised Staats was the sheer scope and complexity of code. Most of his games industry experience came from those bizarre ‘90s tv shows about games, so for that reason, he’d “never seen code before.”

It’s this expectation vs reality that motivated Staats to document the process in the first place and led to the eventual publication of The Wow Diary years down the line. “I think that the imputes of my book was that I wanted to find out how everyone was working.”

 

 

After discussing Staats’ first experiences at Blizzard, we then went on to talk a little bit about crunch and how it affected his life in the office. A big part of The WoW Diary is the sheer scope of what they were making; the team knew that WoW was to be one of the biggest games ever created, and with that, there inevitably comes a human cost of long hours and many, many takeaway pizzas. I wanted to ask Staats about crunch in particular because of his relatively unique position. Having moved to Orange County to work on WoW, he “basically had no life anyway” and was more than happy to work the “long hours” associated with a massive project such as this. He’d left a cushy marketing job behind in New York, but after spending many hours modding levels into FPS games like Quake, he knew this was what he wanted to do. When Blizzard came a-knocking with a lower-paying job in a far corner of the U.S, to quote Staats’ book, he “took the job in a heartbeat.”

This isn’t to say Staats isn’t critical of crunch, but for him “it was more of a mission because [he] left so much in New York…” Publishers just aren’t going to be as eager if they have to pay for larger development teams in order to mitigate crunch. If that happens “it is a fact that there will be fewer games, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.” 

Despite long hours of crunching from the WoW team, they still managed to come up with new ideas and stay motivated. Staats widely attributes this to Blizzard self-publishing the game. Team members would constantly be sharing ideas with other design departments and taking inspiration from one another. Self-publishing gives developers “the freedom to fix mistakes.” When it comes to newcomers, “getting people to be honest is one of the challenges” because most workers in the industry are used to working with a publisher, where “employees don’t actually voice their opinions because they know it’s not going to change.”

 

Fewer games may be a reality in the near future as more organizations promote Unions.

 

The WoW Diary doesn’t really feature much about John Staats’ work as a level designer on WoW, so I asked him a little bit about what kind of things he “ninja’d” into the game. For those who don’t know, “ninjaing” is when a developer quickly adds something to a game at their own behest, usually in their own free time and with the consent of a few other team members. Staats was known for going the extra mile and is responsible for many of WoW’s additions, so I asked him about his favorite, and he told me about when he made some new wood textures for the volcanic area Searing Gorge. “We didn’t have anybody available to paint textures, so they were using the docks of Booty Bay to build these scaffoldings. The Booty Bay textures, it’s a pirate, yellow baked sun, very tropical. It’s the nicest texture set. So all this wood in the Searing Gorge, none of it was charred, and this was going to ship this way. I was able to just make a bunch of assets and say, ‘hey, what about this? Do you guys wanna switch for something that’s a little bit more appropriate for the zone?’, and they were like, ‘oh that’s so much better, thanks,’ so you can’t just directly ninja something into a zone. You have to get people behind you.”

You might be shocked to hear that many of WoW’s zones were based on real-life places. One such example is the Night Elf starting area, Teldrassil. Teldrassil happens to be Staats’ favorite zone aesthetically, so it felt appropriate to ask him about its origins: “In Irvine California, there’s a row of trees near the [University of California] campus that have purple leaves. The leaves die, and they cover the road in these purple leaves.” Another example is Westfall, which takes inspiration from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl – a massive dust storm caused by severe dry conditions in the 1930s.

 

image taken from world of warcraft. Depicts the area of Teldrassil. It features large, colourful trees and a wooden house

 

When discussing the game’s dungeons, Staats recalled what feedback was like during the open beta. “There was just a lack of any commentary whatsoever on what any of the dungeons looked like. When there was discussion about dungeons, it was always about what drops.” This was a bit of a double-edged sword, though, as it also meant players were “complaining about drops” rather than the interior design.

Black Rock Depths was Staats’ favorite dungeon to work on, with his least favorite being the insect-infested Ahn’Qiraj, commonly referred to as AQ40. “That was a good example of a dungeon where the ideas really didn’t resonate to make an organic tunnel interesting.” Unsurprisingly, this meant Staats avoided AQ40 during his many hours with WoW after its release.

 

Image taken from WoW. Depicts a map of a dungeon with a tunnel like layout
The windy layout is another thing Staats wasn’t happy with when it came to AQ40.

 

Once Blizzard had published World of Warcraft, they were no longer “counting the pennies,” as Staats would put it, and they were able to splurge on things like new conference tables and more members of the team.

Sadly, it wasn’t the end of the hard work. Because of things like fan feedback, bugs, and the upcoming expansion, “The year before was honestly easier than the year after.” This led to a lot of burnout, with many people on the team wanting a break from working on an MMO. “People were tired of working on WoW. Half the team left.”

After working on WoW, Staats went on to work on Blizzard’s canceled project Titan. Titan was the main reason Staats departed Blizzard. ”The problem with Titan is that there was no proof of concept.” After he’d worked on it for a year, he was confident that it just wasn’t a project he wanted to be on anymore. Titan is often credited with being the prototype that became Overwatch, and while none of Staats’ work was put into Overwatch, he still has a little bit of insider knowledge about what did: “The only thing that I see similar are the player models. They used some of the character designs, but everything else was different. Yeah, I guess both were shooters, but they’re completely different games.”

 

Promotional art for the game Overwatch. Depicts character tracer facing the camera and jumping through the air
Reportedly, Tracer’s design was heavily inspired by one of the skins for the “Jumper” class in Project Titan.

 

Before I wrapped up the interview, I asked Staats a little bit about the feedback he got after publishing The WoW Diary and some of the difficulties he faced when writing it. “It’s not a Blizzard product, and I kinda didn’t want it to be a Blizzard product. They love it. It’s given me a good excuse to reconnect with old co-workers.” The biggest challenge he faced was using game development terminology. He didn’t want to bog down the book with tons of jargon, but he also wanted to go in-depth when it came to the ins and outs of development.

It was lovely to sit down with John Staats and discuss the industry, his book, and his life as a whole. He was kind enough to send me a copy of The WoW Diary for this interview – a great read which I’d heartily recommend to any game enthusiast. Staats doesn’t work as a game developer now. Unfortunately, he developed a condition in his hands which makes him unable to operate a PC for long stretches of time. His journey in the Games Industry is far from over, however, he’s still enjoying his passion for games through tabletop podcasting, writing and even working on his own board game. Staats told me a little bit about the book he’s working on at the minute. It’s part of a relatively new genre known as litRPG, which is a novel that’s set inside a Video Game. Staats explains it much better on his website whenitsready.com, so if you want to follow his future work, head on over!

 

Best Video Games to Self-Isolate With

Best Video Games to Self-Isolate With

Bad news, the Coronavirus situation is rapidly getting worse with each passing day, and many are recommended to self-isolate. Good news, there’s never been a better excuse to hole up indoors and catch up on some gaming.

Be it through hundreds of hours of gameplay or the soothing quality of a game’s pace, our writers have come together to offer their picks for the games best suited for long periods of solitary confinement. If you’ve played any of these games before, isn’t it high time you gave them another go?

 

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

 

Uncharted Nathan Drake Collection Self isolation

 

“If you sat me down and asked me to name a great game to play while you’re locked up inside for a number of days, I’d probably name some sort of longform RPG like Final Fantasy VII or Trails of Cold Steel. But I’m not gonna do that.

“It just so happens I’ve been pretty sick myself recently, and my sinuses’ impromptu best friends have been pure Chinese black tea and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection on PS4. I’ve been planning on venturing through Naughty Dog’s hit series again, what with the release of their latest title just on the horizon, and this was the perfect time to do it. Nathan Drake, Sully, Elena, etc. have all acted as my replacement friends during the time I’ve been unable to see the few I have in real life – and listening to them seamlessness bounce off each other with sarcastic remarks as I watch Drake climb, fall, shoot, and blow shit up has been a pretty big source of joy.

“I would tell you more about why these games are great to play during isolation, but I’m off to play Uncharted 4. See ya.” – Lewis Mackin

 

Stardew Valley

 

Stardew Valley Self isolation

 

“If you don’t have Stardew Valley yet, get it. Right now. This is the investment you’re going to need to get you through social distancing. First off, it’ll last you a long while. There are already tons of content in the game, the creator is constantly working to add more, and if you’re on PC, then there’s no short supply of mods to work with. More importantly, though, it’s relaxing. Soothing. Even the most hardcore of introverts might start to feel a bit wired locked up at home, but Stardew‘s low pressure, satisfying progression, love-filled dialogue, handcrafted music, colorful world, and basic gameplay loop work perfectly to ensure a calm experience for all players. Best of all, though? As of last year, Stardew is multiplayer. If you’re missing your friends because school was called out or you’re not able to see each other, everyone can get together on a farm and play together. In vanilla, up to four people can be on a farm, but there are mods that raise the limit or remove it entirely. Pour yourself a nice cup of tea, curl up under a blanket, and get farming.” – 

 

Lisa: The Painful RPG

 

Lisa The Painful RPG Self isolation

 

“While Lisa: The Painful RPG is a fairly short game, it is very easy to get immersed into the post-apocalyptic environment and story of the game. This story-driven RPG will keep you invested with its extremely dark humor and provide you with a high-quality, yet emotionally painful, experience as you follow Brad on his journey to find his adopted daughter in a world where almost all women have gone extinct and sexually depraved men are desperate for a woman. You will definitely need a few days to recuperate emotionally and play the sequel, Lisa: The Joyful, after you play this game. And what better time to go on this journey than while we are all stuck at home being quarantined.” – Emma

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

 

Breath of the Wild Self isolation

 

“When you’re cooped up indoors, what’s the one thing you’re going to miss most? Being able to stretch your legs? Walking around open spaces? The smell of fresh air? If you can’t live without these things, then The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has got your back. Stepping out onto Hyrule Field is like opening a window into another world. It invites you to walk alongside the windswept grass and fill your lungs with its sun-kissed air. The hours melt away as you pick which mountains to scale and what unchartered territory you want to discover next. Be it on foot, horseback, or through the air, Breath of the Wild celebrates our primal urge to explore at a pace dictated entirely by you. It’s such an absorbing and relaxing experience, you’ll think twice about sending that angry Tweet concerning the planet’s toilet paper shortage.” – Theo Durrant

 

No More Heroes

 

No More Heroes Self isolation

 

“For an unlucky few, “self-isolation” is a new concept. Your imminent social plans are now swept out from under you by the Corona lurking in the air. Your spring break is left without direction. You haven’t seen the outdoors in days. You are left to your own devices in ways no social creature should sustain. But for 13 years going strong, Travis Touchdown has been a professional at self-isolation. Even as he bounces between motel room and residential trailer, Travis Touchdown leaves room for the essentials. Retro consoles of questionable origin, adult films, and your cat Jeane. Travis is mutually equipped to play with Jeane or play with himself until purpose calls.

“On top of all that, the city he is left to roam may be more desolate than your own neighborhood. As Travis rides his Schpeltiger modified scooter in pursuit of cash and opportunity, you will be surprised at how few civilians are walking around. With this in mind, the core gameplay loop of accepting odd jobs on your way to respective assassinations is fairly insular. You are only meant to purge this earth of human contact, not engage in it. Through fear of disease or technical limitation, isolation can manifest suddenly and unexpectedly. When such conditions arise, learn how to grapple with them from a champ.”

Zach Kauz

 

Honorable Mention: Animal Crossing: New Horizons

 

Animal Crossing New Horizons Self Isolation

 

“With only a couple dozen hours left until its launch, Animal Crossing: New Horizons inadvertently chose the optimal time to release. Boasting literally years worth of content, you’ll have no shortage of activities to engage with as you settle into a daily routine of digging up fossils, weeding the gardens and doing a spot of fishing. Even if you’re forced to barricade yourself inside during the quarantine, the latest Animal Crossing installment is guaranteed to keep your social life thriving… even if your only neighbors are a sporty elk and a ninja chicken.” – Theo Durrant

 

In all seriousness, stay safe out there. The Coronavirus outbreak is going to get worse before it gets better. The best thing you can do for yourself and others is to be considerate about your social distancing. Catch up on your gaming backlog and keep a level head. We’re all in this together until it blows over.

 

The Radar Room: March Game Releases to Look For

The Radar Room: March Game Releases to Look For

Welcome back to the Radar Room, where we cover the biggest upcoming releases in gaming! March is looking to kick 2020 into high gear with multiple highly anticipated sequels to beloved franchises fans have been clamoring for, such as Doom Eternal and Animal Crossings: New Horizons. Let’s take a closer look at the biggest games coming out this March!

 

March 6: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX

Image result for pokemon mystery dungeon

 

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is a remake of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team and Red Rescue Team. The remake brings some quality-of-life improvements such as an updated art style, auto-saving, and an auto-mode for battles. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX releases exclusively on the Nintendo Switch for $59.99.

 

 

March 11: Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Image result for ori and the will of the wisps

 

The wait is almost over, the sequel to one of the best Metroidvanias of all time, Ori and the Blind Forest, finally releases this March. While retaining the beautiful art style of its predecessor, Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks to offer the same intense platforming goodness Blind Forest blessed us with back in 2015, as well as introduce a new upgrade system more akin to the beloved Hollow Knight. Ori and the Will of the Wisps releases tomorrow for $29.99 on the Xbox One and Microsoft Windows.

 

 

March 13: My Hero One’s Justice 2

Image result for my hero one's justice 2

 

The sequel to My Hero One’s Justice, a 3D arena fighter based on hit anime My Hero Academia is set for a release on the 13th. With over 40 playable fighters, including fan favorites such as Deku and All Might, fans of the series should be excited for this fighter when it releases on Xbox One, PS4, Switch and PC for $59.99.

 

 

March 13: Nioh 2

Image result for nioh 2

 

Nioh 2, the highly anticipated follow-up to the 2017 hit Nioh, is an action RPG from the well-respected Team Ninja. The prequel looks to improve on the original by allowing players more freedom, as this time around you get to create your own character, as well as the ability to transform into different yokai, which are unique enemies in the series. Nioh 2 is looking as promising as ever. We can’t wait until it hits the PS4 on March 13 for $59.99.

 

 

March 17: MLB: The Show 20

Image result for mlb the show 20

 

Sony’s flagship baseball series receives its latest yearly entry this month. The most exciting and enticing reason to pick up this year’s update is the addition of Minor League roster support, a first for the series. While previous entries allowed you to play as Minor League teams in some modes, MLB The Show 20 allows for complete roster support which should excite some die-hard baseball fans. MLB The Show 20 releases as a PS4 exclusive for $59.99.

 

 

March 2o: Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Image result for animal crossing new horizons

 

Finally, the day you have been waiting for. Let’s start with the latest entry in one of the most beloved franchises in gaming: Animal Crossing. The fifth main entry in the series, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, much like its predecessors, is a non-linear life simulation that focuses on the player’s own creativity. With new features like a much needed auto-save system, as well as more clothing options, a larger inventory, and much more, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is shaping up to be another massive hit for Nintendo. Get ready to start your new (and much better) life when Animal Crossing: New Horizons releases on the Nintendo Switch for $59.99.

 

 

March 20: Doom Eternal

 

Oh boy, does this month keep getting better and better ladies and gents? The most anticipated sequel in a month that is jam-packed with follow-ups: Doom EternalI mean what can we say about this one? With a shotgun that has a grappling hook, a flamethrower on your shoulder, and the return of the chainsaw, this is gonna be one chaotic bloodbath, and honestly, the best way for us to sum it up is to drop the latest chaotic trailer above for you to check it out for yourself. Doom Eternal jumps onto the Xbox One, PS4 and PC this month for $59.99, with a Switch release hopefully in the near future.

 

 

March 23: Half-Life Alyx

Image result for half life alyx

 

Well, here we are: the next Half-Lifeand we are definitely here for it. What Valve has called their “flagship” VR title, Half-Life Alyx has been a long time in the making. Set before Half-Life 2: Episode 2, players control Alyx Vance as she fights the alien combine. Similar to other entries in the series, Half-Life Alyx is a first-person shooter with puzzle elements, but this time around, the gameplay was designed around VR for a much more immersive experience. Half-Life Alyx will launch for $59.99 on Windows. It requires a VR headset to play.

 

 

March 24: Bleeding Edge

Image result for bleeding edge

 

The latest game from Ninja Theory is quite an interesting one. It’s an online arena brawler with a focus on heroes. Bleeding Edge has twelve different heroes to choose from and three different classes, damage, support and tank, which forces players to focus on creating the best team by mixing and matching the heroes. While most characters are melee-based, there are a few with ranged attacks amounting to a very unique title. Make sure to keep your eyes on this one. Bleeding Edge launches on the Xbox One and Windows for $29.99.

 

 

March 31: Persona 5 Royal 

Image result for persona 5 royal

 

While we usually do not discuss expansions, Persona 5 Royal offers a lot of new content for fans of the RPG. New features include a grappling hook mechanic that allows players to reach previously inaccessible areas in P5‘s palaces, a new phantom thieve, another semester, a new palace, a new area to explore, which is the largest city area in the game, and much, much more. Persona 5 Royal is worth checking out whether you have spent hundreds of hours with the Phantom Thieves or have been on the fence about picking up one of the greatest RPGs of all time. Persona 5 Royal launches on the PS4 for $59.99.

 

 

Well, there you have it. The biggest titles coming out this month. Make sure to stay up to date on the latest from all of these exciting titles by checking back daily here at Sick Critic!