Top 10 Villains I’d Like to See in a ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man’ Sequel

Incomniac’s newest game is a marvel (no pun intended).  The fact that they were able to create a Spider-Man game this good amazes me.  This game really is the best in its class.  While it isn’t perfect, it still is able to have an engaging narrative, fun characters, and a world that is fun to explore.  There were some parts of that which could be improved.  Like how you take pictures of stuff, but there is no in-game codex of what stuff is.  You have one for characters you meet, but that’s it.  I would have liked to see one for the places you see and how they connect to Spider-Man’s universe.  Another thing the game did well was having a big part of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery.  Even ones that aren’t well-known, like Screwball.  So I got to thinking – who would I like to see in a sequel?  Insomniac has said the idea for a sequel is open, but they aren’t committing to it yet.  That’s fair.  Better to not have a sequel than a half-assed one.  But assuming they do, these are the villains I want to see.  By the way, Venom and Carnage aren’t going to be on this list.  Too many games have done them, and I’d honestly like to see more of the rest of the Spider’s gallery get their due.  Let’s get started.

10. Jack O’ Lantern
This dude is definitely not a central tier villain.  He’s a gun for hire in every sense of the word.  But the original game showed that you can have those, along with a bigger bad and it works.  That was the entire third act with the Sinister Six, after all.  A former CIA agent who became a merc, this guy is all about some pretty clever weaponry.  The suit for this villain has it all, and the helmet is rigged to be imposing, but still be something approaching practical.  It’s kind of a bummer how little fanfare this dude has had, especially on his ridiculous circular hoverboard.  Not a super complicated villain, but one I’d like to see get his time in the sun.

9. Mysterio
A former stage magician turned small-time crook, a lot of the versions of this character that have been done in gaming have not done him justice in the way I think they should.  Also not cool enough to be a big bad, this guy would be a fun side-quest character.  But the real potential I see is in the boss fight.  Too many games have made battling this dude very straight-forward, when that wasn’t the kind of villain he was.  Mysterio was about performance and using trickery to get the best of the Spider.  So their fight should reflect that.  Have Spider-Man working to unravel his projections or traps or what-have-you, while having to work around the main villain himself.  A fight about subterfuge sounds like a lot of fun.

8. Kraven the Hunter
I’ve talked about this dude before.  The ultimate hunter who decided that he got tired of hunting game, and wanted to try something a little different on for size – the Spider-Man.  This would definitely be a boss that is more about the story that leads up to him than the man himself, because Kraven’s tale is a tragic one.  The original game showed that it can weave a tragic narrative, so I’d like to get to know him.  As for the fight, it would be cool if this was a battle where he is hunting you, and you are constantly having to stay on your toes.  It’s all about knowing the angles and getting around them.  One false move, and you could be dead.  I dig that.

7. Swarm
Anyone remember the battle with The Pain in Metal Gear Solid 3?  I do.  That fight wasn’t especially interesting, but it got me to thinking about one of the most unknown of Spider-Man’s villains – Swarm.  This dude was a former Nazi scientist who tried to enslave the queen of a mutated bee colony, and then subsequently had his consciousness absorbed into the hive after they devoured him.  Yeah, it’s comic book logic.  But the dude is literally a giant swarm of bees!  He has no shape, can become any shape, can control thousands of bees, and go anywhere.  This would be one crazy fight, and I kinda wanna see what Insomniac could do with the character.

6. Hydro-Man
So, we have a villain who is literally a giant swarm of bees.  Why not have one who is literally a human personification of water?  Some of this may sound like going over the same kind of fighting as Swarm, but not only does this guy have an interesting back-story in connection with Spider-Man, but this would be another interesting fight.  I think back to the fight with Clayface in Arkham City, and that’s kind of what I think of with this.  It would be kinda neat if the Spider had to think up tricks on the fly, or have the fight be more about trying to contain Hydro-Man than fighting the person him.  Of course, I can already see how the battle ends – with him being frozen and then contained – but maybe Insomniac could surprise me.  We don’t get many water-based villains in games, so I figure that a sequel could let this dude have his due.

5. Morbius
Given that the first game was very family-friendly, this may be a hard boss to include in a sequel, but I really want to.  This vampire has been haunting the Spider for a long time.  Part of me is trying to think of a way that he could be integrated into a family-friendly Spider-Man game.  Naturally, this would be one HELL of a boss to fight.  The vampire powers, along with the fact that he can go toe-to-toe with the Spider in terms of strength and speed, he really would be hard to take down.  Part of me hopes there would be some kind of daylight device.  But this boss would be more about the mystery.  I can already hear the bad jokes now when Spidey actually has to go after a real vampire and him having trouble accepting that.

4. Alistair Smythe
Part of me is kind of surprised that he wasn’t in the last game, since it opens with taking down Fisk.  Smythe has been one of Fisk’s right-hand men for a long time.  When he is first in the comics, he is in a wheelchair, with his weapon being the asset that Fisk has the most use for.  However, over time he gets himself some a neat biological upgrade that turns him into a monster.  That could be an entire plotline in the sequel game.  I can already see him being part of a plot of Spider-Man trying to clean up the remaining assets of Fisk, only to realize that Smythe will go to any lengths to look after his boss’ interests, even if it means turning into a freakshow.

3. Beetle
This guy is ostensibly Iron Man, with more tools dedicated for the purpose of killing the shit out of people.  I was hoping to see him in the films with Tom Holland in them because Stark has become a father-figure to him, but the angle in the games would be more about the Spider having to overcome this guy’s tools of the trade.  However, since the Avengers exist in that universe, and Spider-Man has remarked to having knowledge of them on some level, any chance there could be an Iron Man cameo?  Perchance to dream.  Still, this would be a fun fight.  I imagine the battle with Hammerhead in the most recent DLC, but with Spider being alone, having to figure it out.

2. Lizard
Now, the thing about this character is the fact that Lizard is to Spider-Man what Two-Face is to Batman – a character that is tragic, a reminder that you can’t save everyone and that sometimes you have to accept battling friends.  I see this more as a narrative driven character than someone with a cool boss fight attached.  In the comics, Parker had a deep connection with Dr. Connors, so it would be nice to see the two facing off once-more.  It’s implied that he is incarcerated at the beginning of the first game, but since The Raft was opened and everyone was let out, I wonder where he will end up next.

And the villain I want to see most in the next game is…

1. Green Goblin
I mean, it’s almost dead certain that he will be in the next game, right?  Norman Osborn is one of the secondary antagonists, and the plotline of Harry being in the weird tank is left unresolved.  He was trying to reverse-engineer the Spider’s abilities, so I figure this is all heading to him being either the central big bad of the next game, or one of the big ones.  It is gonna be interesting to see what angle another game in this franchise would take, as they just had a big showdown with the Sinister Six.  Lots of things to consider.  So long as they don’t make him an overacting idiot like the one in the Sam Raimi film (I hated those movies.  Blame the fact that Tobey Macguire is the titular character), I’m good.

What about you?  What villains would you like to see?  Let me know down below.

Until next time, a quote,

“I learned how to disarm opponents by making bad jokes.” – Silver Sable
“Yeah, you mean good jokes.  But I know that humor’s subjective.” – Spider-Man, Marvel’s Spider-Man

Peace out,

Maverick

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Critical Examination: My Vision for the Perfect Military FPS

I’ve been replaying the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games.  It’s the last time that I think the single player in this franchise was anything approaching good.  The most narratively interesting was Modern Warfare 2.  The idea of war coming to American shores is actually kinda unique.  I can definitely dig it.  But as I was playing, there were a whole bunch of thoughts that came to me.  Namely – why is this concept not being done better?  I thought about the things that I would want to see in a military FPS game, and figured that I could go deep into this.  Here is the military FPS game that I want to see, but know that it will never be made.

A Different Kind of Narrative

Something that I noticed is that all the enemies in these games are the same.  Mostly Russians.  Part of what I like about the Modern Warfare franchise is that you have some interesting locales.  There is a Brazil, where you’re dealing with a militia.  Then there’s a munitions factory in Africa.  The chemical-doused streets of France, and a German city.  Lots of neat places, all with different kinds of potential.

But the enemies are always the same.  I think the kind of narrative that I would be looking for is one that looks at all the different kinds of warfare.  Maybe like you’re teamed up with various elements of the military and you get to go to all kinds of places for all kinds of missions.  Like going into Africa for a kind of Black Hawk Down sort of mission, then infiltrating a compound in Morocco to assassinate a high value target.  Then you have to go to a South Korean mansion to get another target.  Maybe like a Black Ops unit with a target that has no nation.  The kind of Makarov without the Russian nationalism.  I like the concept of a killer who has no rules and will do whatever it takes to make the almighty dollar.  But maybe this person is ambitious. The kind of Petr Baelish type, who wants to watch the world burn to make a better one.

I also would love to see different armed forces.  Maybe this mission is huge, and involves the British, Americans, Korean, and all kinds of other militaries from different nations.  I want to get to know the world that I live in.  See the attitudes of different nations and how they approach things.  Maybe take on the Brazilian militia aspect from the perspective of their national government as it grows and see them teaming up with some American outfit central to the plot or American intelligence to get their job done.  Perhaps I’ve been inspired by the various locales in Rainbow Six: Siege, but it is a neat concept, am I wrong?  I want to know how the rest of the world approaches war.  What is war to Brazil, South Korea, or the Kurdish fighters?  This has so much narrative potential.

The whole point of this is to inject some kind of realism into this.  Make this feel like a world I can be a part of.  That can even shut up the social justice types because now you can have all the inclusivity in the world, by seeing all kinds of places and learning about how they see the world.  It would also make the story pop because you can see the real-world effects of this villain at work, in real time.  See them using chemical weapons against a South Korean city, or bombing a Brazilian government office, or helping a coup against the Mexican President.

Something else I want to mention – nix the big, elaborate set-pieces.  I have no problem with set-pieces, but military FPS games have gone out of control with this stuff.  Keep it simple, make it semi-believable.  Don’t have characters surviving insane things that make no sense and no realistic person ever would.  I don’t mind the pomp and circumstance, but don’t go overboard.  Which ties into something else…

Believable and Likeable Characters

Another thing I’ll give Modern Warfare – you had likeable protagonists.  Characters like Soap and Price.  Sgt. Foley (voiced by the ever-fantastic Keith David),Sandman and Truck, voiced by William Fichtner and Idris Elba, respectively.  I want characters that have personality and get me wanting to see where things go.  This ties in to wanting to see the way the world at large sees warfare.  If the idea is to have an enemy who is the kind of Big Boss type, it would be cool to have the story centered around smaller characters.  Like maybe an intelligence officer or a special forces unit that is the center strike team of the story, along with the people they find along the way.

Also: don’t just have one branch of the armed service doing everything.  Something I noticed in Modern Warfare 3 is that the same people are doing everything, with a few exceptions.  The SAS and Russian secret service missions were fun.  Now perspective.  But it’s the same with the US military.  Sometimes you have things to do that only the SEALs or Delta Force or whoever can do.  Let us see the different sections and have them do different things.  The idea of an interconnected military is important.  Let us see that.

Not only that, but give us time to get to know them and the world they inhabit.  If it’s people in different branches of the US military, show us their world.  Seeing the Delta Force, Navy SEALs, SAS, or whoever else.  I want to see what kind of world these people live in.  Would this mean a lot of cutscenes?  It doesn’t have to.  Let your character explore it.  Maybe have it that during missions you can play as a certain character, but between missions we have our intelligence officer or something exploring the part of the world that they are in while they do them.  Like an SAS base while working with them for part of it, and a South Korean SWAT team base for another.  There is so much narrative potential that is not being addressed by not giving us time to get to know the people and their worlds.  Give players the chance to explore and we’ll do it.

Which brings me to another point….

More Open Level Design

Notice I didn’t say open world.  Didn’t mean that.  I don’t want some big, empty open world.  Instead, I want larger levels that can have different avenues that one can explore.  Like how you can go to X place and exploit terrain in a certain way to accomplish your mission, or Y place and take an approach to your mission that takes longer, but will minimize your risk of casualties or being detected.  Give players a choice of weapons and equipment, so they can exploit different aspects of a level.  Like hacker tools, or demolition equipment, sniper gear.  Is this sounding too much like Hitman?  I don’t mean for it to.  I don’t hate linearity on the face of it, so long as I feel like there are points that I can play with that a little.  The perfect example of this is Uncharted 4.  There is a lot of linear areas, but there are also the more open spaces that let you play around with how you want to approach things.

They found out that people really liked the level All Ghillied Up in the original Modern Warfare, because it let you do what I’m talking about.  Personally, I like the idea of having the aircraft boneyard from Modern Warfare 2 but let you have all kinds of ways to get through.  The potential for gameplay there is out of control.  Give the players choice, let us figure things out.

And for fuck’s sake, don’t hold our hand!  Stop having a button-prompt for everything.  Let us learn some things by trial and error.  That’s the sign of a developer respecting gamers’ intelligence by assuming that we can learn from our mistakes.  The worst part is when the games are yelling at you all the time about what to do.  How about you let me figure things out?  Maybe have a character in a position where they are cut off and have to figure out what to do without someone there.  Like the comms are out, and now it’s just you and your weapon, having to get through hostile territory in one piece.  There are lots of ideas here.

Don’t Make it a Love Letter to the Military

I know this is the hardest thing to ask for.  After all, America is all about making the military look good.  The military goes over stuff with the military in it for just that reason.  But war is difficult, and I wouldn’t mind if we show the real-world cost.  Have people who feel real seeing this and having to see that what they are doing is right, but that it needs to be brought to a conclusion because the stakes keep getting raised.  See the devastation and human cost of war.  You can do that without making it an insult to the military.  In the beginning of the Exodus mission in Modern Warfare 2, you have the character seeing an Army base set up while the conflict still rages, seeing tired soldiers, wounded, and hearing the desperate battle outside over the radio (though I always wonder if military lingo in these games is legit, or just made to sound cool).  That’s what I’m talking about!

The whole idea of this is to look at modern warfare as more than just badass dudes killing people.  Humanize war.  You can still do that without making it not fun.  I’m not talking about making the player feel bad about it.  There is still a villain who needs to be stopped.  What I’m talking about is making this personal.  See what this monster leaves behind, and have the characters be tested, but then push past that by their resolve being strengthened by each other.  War is ugly, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to fight it when you are pushed to that point.  Granted, in the modern world, all America does is fight wars because that keeps our economy going, so maybe this is going to romanticize the concept a little, but you can do that without making it so that the brutality is totally lost.

So what do you all think?  Is my idea totally a pie in the sky fantasy?  Probably.  Without name recognition, this concept would likely die.  But I think this is a game that a lot of people would be talking about.  I really do.  If only we had a studio that was willing to put a ton of money into something like this.  A risk, but one that is trying something totally different.  Too much to ask for in the AAA world today.  It’s depressing.

Until next time, a quote,

“The healthy human mind doesn’t wake up in the morning thinking this is its last day on Earth. But I think that’s a luxury, not a curse. To know you’re close to the end is a kind of freedom. Good time to take…inventory. Outgunned. Outnumbered. Out of our minds. On a suicide mission. But the sand and rocks here, stained with the blood of thousands of years of warfare, they will remember us, for this. Because, out of all our vast array of nightmares, this is the one we choose for ourselves. We go forward like a breath exhaled from the Earth. With vigor in our hearts and one goal in sight.” – Capt. Johnathan Price, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: The Pathless (Reveal Trailer)

When I first heard about this game, I didn’t think much of it.  But then something found me – it is being created by the same people who created ABZU, one of my favorite Indie games of all time.  After that, my curiosity peaked pretty damn fast.  That game was visual poetry, paired with some incredibly music.  The idea that a video game could be made that is nothing but a non-stop water level and it’s fun was mind-boggling.  So I’m curious to see what this stupid is up to next.  What is this new game, The Pathless?  Well, the trailer has dropped, let’s take a look.

We open up with some wonderful music, which tells me that Austin Wintory is back in action.  This trailer is really starting off on the right foot with me.  We start off with our veiled Asian-looking character landing on a beach.  Okay.  We look up to see a massive structure in the sky that is vaguely like the giant underwater inverted three-sided pyramid in ABZU.  Are these universes connected?  There’s a fun thought.  I will be watch-dogging for signs of that as I play through it.

A shot of our nameless character walking through the woods, and the perspective gives some definite size to this place.  It’s pretty intense.  There’s a foreboding atmosphere that is palpable.  We see into a ruin, and this is REALLY giving me some serious ABZU vibes!  I mean, look at the architecture!  I can’t be the only one who thinks that these universes are connected, right?  Our nameless character finds an eagle in a stone structure, and they seem to hit it off.

Then we’re racing through the woods!  This place is so gorgeous.  This animation style does so much for me.  Our character is running along, when she can draw her bow and shoot at these targets in the air.  Curious what that’s about, but she’s making good time.  The eagle is with us now.  Guess they hit it off.  There’s this bit with her running alongside a flaming monster, using her bow to shoot it.  Does this mean there are boss fights?  That’s a curious thing.  The main character jumps off a cliff and grabs onto the eagle and somehow is gliding downward.  Silly, but alright.  Then they’re flying past the inverted glowing structure in the sky.  So curious to see what that is.

We have a montage of what might be stealth gameplay, tons of creatures, some of whom look like bosses, our character using her bow, and a strange character with three eyes, then it closes on our character and the eagle having a hug.  That’s pretty cool.  Alright, game, you have my attention.  I differ from a TON of my contemporaries when I like games that are different.  Games that appeal to a more niche audience.  I love the artsy kinds of games like Journey and Flower.  It’s cool to see games that try new and different mechanics to make stories that are vague come to life in the best of ways.  Why I am in such a minority baffles me.  Color me impressed, Giant Squid Studios.  Let’s see what you got.

Initial Verdict
Let’s see what you can do

Peace out,

Maverick

Bad PR 120: EA, Battlefield V, and Not Learning From History

There’s a golden lesson to be learned in PR – don’t make the same mistakes that others in the field have done.  It’s not hard.  So many people don’t learn this lesson, and it baffles me every time.  You’d think, in the age of online connectivity, learning from the mistakes that others have made would be easy.  You can see, in real time and archived, the history of the Internet and the horrible decisions other companies have made.  Which brings me to EA, and their absolute ignorance of history and them choosing to die on a hill that we’ve seen others die on.  I speak of course of their tripling-down on the historical inaccuracies in Battlefield V and deciding to make this a big gender issue.

Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Well, in the big reveal trailer for their now-tanking latest entry in the Battlefield franchise, ostensibly set in WWII, we see a British female soldier, with a prosthetic arm.  For a franchise that touts itself as historically accurate, this caught a lot of people’s attention.  Not to mention the male soldier with a katana on his back.  That was just stupid.  When it was pointed out to EA that this is historical fiction at its worst, they didn’t take it well.

The now-former EA CEO told people that if they don’t like that, “don’t buy it.”  Guess they should have given people other advice, because the game is doing so bad that they have cut it by 50% after only two weeks of it being out.  Ouch.  The disrespect for their fans didn’t end there.  Instead of just admitting that they totally are fucking over history here, EA decided that they would double-down on this, saying that it is totally historically accurate, and those who don’t believe that are “ignorant.”

I love that video game publisher can’t do research that a bachelor’s degree journalism grad can do.  A little history – there were women assisting the military in Britain, but there were NO women on the frontlines of British forces.  None.  There were women serving in World War II, but it wasn’t in Britain.  It was in Russia.  Stalin is a horrible person, but his philosophy was on point – if they can hold a gun, they can fight.  He took total war tactics to the next level, and had every single person capable of holding a weapon fight.  The history of women in the Russian military is fascinating, believe it or not.  Given how many in the regressive left love themselves some Marx, I’m genuinely shocked that they aren’t more made about this too.  Oh, that’s right, so long as women do stuff in gaming, the SJW crowd is happy.  Even though, as we’ve SEEN, they don’t buy these games anyway.  Love it in principle?

Again, the Internet saw fit to destroy their historical ignorance, but it seems that EA just can’t stop this madness.  In a photo from a press event, they showed off the Battlefield V logo surrounded by gender comments that they drudged up, tripling-down that this is historical ignorance on the part of those who are against it.  The person in charge of development apparently was given the idea to go this female route by their little kid, who plays a girl in Fortnite, and wanted there to be one in Battlefield too.  Given how the left LOVES to make story about little “woke” children, all of which are complete bullshit, I’m reticent to believe this is true.  However, let’s take this at face value – it’s still stupid.

I know you all probably haven’t thought about this in forever, but anyone remember the marketing behind the TERRIBLE 2016 remake of Ghostbusters?  When people naturally reacted negatively to that cinematic abortion, more specifically the release trailer, Sony decided to make it all about the gender issue.  That was the cornerstone of the marketing.  Anyone remember how that all turned out?  The movie sucked and everyone hated it.  It was box office suicide.  Paul Feig, the director, harassed and ridiculed fans of the original to no end.  It was a PR disaster, to the point that no sequel has been green-lit.  I don’t feel bad about that.  That movie sucked and I’m glad it’s dead.

Making gender the center of the battleground in EA’s latest financial suicide note is strange, to me.  We can document that the social justice people that they are trying to appeal to don’t play these games.  They don’t.  So why try and make this market to them?  It won’t appeal to hardcore fans, when you spit the face of history and make that the cornerstone of your reveal.  It destroys suspension of disbelief.  Not to mention that stupid katana on a British soldier.  That doesn’t get enough coverage in the historical butt-fucking this game did to a real historical event.

I think I’ve figured out why EA and DICE did this.  See, games journalism is overrun with SJWs.  It’s just a fact.  The media is such a social justice blitzkrieg, outside of YouTube.  With all the endless coverage to one side of the fence that you see everywhere, it’s not hard to see why someone would think that these people have the pulse of the gaming crowd.  It doesn’t help that these people come after their own audience of gamers in defense of corporations now.  For the uninitiated gamer, these are their news outlets too.  So they see this kind of coverage and think they’re on to something.  Which means, after years of games media yelling about women and minorities and whatever in gaming, big companies have decided to shoe-horn in “woke” characters wherever.  EA is already hemorrhaging money after the Battlefront 2 debacle.  Their stock prices crashed.  They crashed after this too.  Investors are starting to see that the gaming crowd is not happy with EA.

Which brings us, finally, to the PR lesson.  It’s this – don’t fuck with your audience!  Learn from your mistakes and move on.  EA could easily have just let this go and taken the hit, maybe marketing the multiplayer aspect or something of Battlefield V and not bring this up.  But nope!  This is the hill they’re choosing to die on.  Just like Ghostbusters (2016) did.  And make no bones about it, they’re gonna die on this hill.  It’s only a matter of time.  The women and social justice types they’re trying to reach don’t play games like this, and the crowd who does is not impressed.  So why choose to take failure and turn it into more failure?  This is the most asinine thing I think I’ve ever seen a multi-billion dollar company do.  It literally makes no sense to me.

Don’t spit in your audience’s face and then yell at them for being mad at you.  Especially when you REALLY need to start building audience confidence, and you have another big title launching soon.  I’m talking about Anthem.  A game with a troubled story already and fears that this will be microtransaction, EA gambling nirvana.  This is a bad time for you to attack your audience.

Until next time, a quote,

“You might as well aim high.  Why shoot yourself in the foot when you can shoot yourself in the head?” – William Shatner

Peace out,

Maverick

Where’s the Appreciation for Narrative Growth? (a response to David Jaffe)

In a recent Twitch stream, the God of War developer David Jaffe had part of it where he went after modern AAA games, and how all of them play the same.  His example was the Uncharted franchise, and how the first game plays exactly the same as the last.  This was used as a launching point about how AAA gaming is dying, and they just don’t know it yet.  Gotta say, this was grinding my gears a little.  Why?  Because there is something that always gets lost in the ruckus of this – the story.  Why is there no appreciation for narrative growth in gaming?

Look, I will be the first to admit that he has a point about AAA gaming having a lot of sameness.  There are a lot of them that play just like the others, and if I had the money to play lots of different games a year, maybe this would bug me more.  But since I have been a very poor gamer for all my adult life, I only get games when I think I can afford them, and as such get the games I want as opposed to the games that are out.  However this is just to explain where I’m coming from, it’s not an argument.

Here’s why I game, David – the story.  It’s why I read books, watch movies, and to a much lesser extent TV shows.  I want a narrative that engages me.  Either it makes me think or feel or any combination of the two.  I want to get wrapped up in the world and the characters that I am with on this journey.  It’s why I am so in love with the story of Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us.  The gameplay in it isn’t especially complicated.  That’s one thing a lot of reviewers hammered it for.  Everyone loves the story, but says the gameplay is mediocre.  I disagree, but that’s not the point.  It’s all about the story I’m being told.

A YouTube personality I follow once said that the story in a video game is like the story in porn.  That sentiment REALLY bothered me.  Um, no!  Yeah, because the scene in The Last of Us where Joel is carrying Ellie out of the hospital and saying things that he said to his daughter to her was just like a porn I saw where Alex Chance was stuffing her pussy with a massive dildo, right?  Or in Journey, where our nameless character reaches the summit of the mountain and the swelling music helps this last bit of his journey that seems to be an analogue for reaching heaven.  That’s just like porn too, right?  Or when Luke makes the decision to give his life to save the world, and Tear telling him she loves him in Tales of the Abyss, pure pornography, right?!

I’ve been noticing over the last few years that there are more games being made where the narrative is the centerpiece and the rest is built around it.  The games where the gameplay elements are simplistic because it’s trying to keep you focused on the narrative, but still be engaging enough to let you feel like you’re doing something.  The Internet hates that.  I’m in a minority because I love some of them.  Not all, mind you.  Some are stupid, pretentious bullshit, but there are others that I can mesh with very well.

The point is this – let’s take a look at the Uncharted franchise.  In the first game, you see Nate as a younger, quippier, more modern Indiana Jones.  There is his mentor/father figure, Sully, who you see go from just being his pal to being the person he trusts more than anyone.  There is Elena, who goes from the reporter trying not to let her story get away, to his wife that he lied to and has to make amends.  The franchise tells a complete narrative of these characters and by the end there is a nice arc to wrap the whole thing up in a bow.  The last game even introduces a new character into the mix and he fits in nicely with them too.  The gameplay elements do remain similar, but is there nothing to at least respect about how the narrative grows?

Jaffe strikes me as someone who has the YouTuber’s perspective on this.  I have come to the realization that I am in an EXTREME minority with how I view things.  But part of me wonders how much of a minority I am in.

All that being said, I’d like to touch on what Jaffe said about AAA gaming dying.  Nah, dude.  It’s not.  The greed of some companies is definitely hurting it.  The microtransaction rage is bubbling to the surface and more and more gamers are giving companies the finger and looking elsewhere because they’re tired of being treated like they don’t exist.  There is going to come a day when the greed of some of the major companies is going to sink them, and they will only have themselves to blame.  But the industry is going to survive.  With so many companies rising with good content and the willingness to take chances, like CD Projekt Red, this industry is going to survive.  It will take a hit, and AAA gaming will be hurting for a while, but it will come back.  I’m glad of that.

So, what do you all think?  Am I the only pretentious faggot who likes a good narrative and seeing a narrative grow over a series?  Let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“Great stories happen to those who can tell them.” – Ira Glass

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Final Fantasy Classes

Or Jobs, if you prefer.  For me, it’s like in any JRPG, it’s about the classes.  The various roles of this franchise are as iconic as the franchise itself, and each one has some neat things about them.  However, over the years, we have the characters that exemplify these classes and show just why they are the most impressive among them.  Whether they go by the class name, or just show all the signs of it, these are my personal favorite classes in the franchise, to date.  Keep in mind, all of these are for completely subjective reasons.  Utility has NOTHING to do with this list.  That being said, let’s get to it.

10. White Mage
If you go into any situation in these games without a trusty White Mage at your back, you are pretty much dooming yourself right out of the gate.  Plenty of classes can heal characters, but these ones can also give status buffs and rid you of debuffs.  They can revive fallen party members.  And when you level them up enough, they can unleash one of the most powerful spells in the entire game – Holy.  They are kind of a thankless class, doing so much for so little recognition.  The most iconic of these is Aerith.  The tragic heroine of VII that made us all have the feels when the main villain took her life.

9. Summoner
Another one of those thankless classes.  They only serve one purpose in battle, but through that are able to captivate us with the most powerful being in the game.  The summons of this franchise are iconic on their own, and I did a list of my favorite of them, so naturally we have those who can call them forth.  My favorite is Yuna, from my favorite entry in the franchise, X.  She is kind, driven, and just wants to make a better world, regardless of the sacrifice.  A sweet character, in a very melancholy game.

8. Monk
These guys are unique among those on my list.  Unable to equip much armor and no weapons, these bare-knuckle brawlers are all about beating the shit out of their enemy until they don’t get up anymore.  The Suplex is an iconic move where they pick them up and smash them down to do massive damage.  There’s something about a character who will crack your skull with their bare hands that is so admirable.  When it came down to choosing my favorite, Tifa was a strong contender, but you can’t beat that Yang look.  That dude is the quintessential brawler, not fucking around at all.  You pick a fight with a Monk at your peril.

7. Black Mage
When it comes to iconic, you REALLY can’t go wrong with the Black Mages.  These guys and gals have been synonymous with the franchise from the very first entry.  Ask anyone what they think of when they say its name and one of these characters has a good chance of being on the list.  Elemental warriors who can dish out unbelievable damage at the cost of MP, not to mention learning the most powerful spell in the game – Ultima.  Picking my favorite was tricky.  Since X is my favorite game, Lulu was the obvious choice, but then I thought of who comes to mind when I think of Black Mages, and it was Vivi, from IX.  The inquisitive character with hidden face and glowing eyes.  Also iconic.

6. Samurai
What do you take when you have the Warrior class, but go even further with them, giving a Japanese aesthetic and the trademark “Bushido” abilities?  You get the Samurai!  These guys are awesome!  Sure, a lot of this is about aesthetics, but dammit, the aesthetic is so cool!  Typically wielding a giant katana with two-hands, they are all about cutting through defenses and striking your enemy down in a single blow.  Naturally, the most iconic of these is Auron from X.  This dude just oozes cool.  His laid back demeanor, determination, and how you see him seem to have a weakened arm, but when battle is joined, it ain’t so weakened then.  Another class of character you do not want to fuck with.

5. Dragoon
A class of knights that is also unique.  Wielding spears, and wearing armor that borrows from the dragon aesthetic, these knights are all about fast strikes with immense power.  Their trademark Jump ability gives them protection from damage for a turn, then bringing their spear down on their enemy in a crippling blow.  This class has been kinda forgotten by the franchise as a whole.  However, we will always have Kain, from IV.  This dude had “don’t fuck with me” practically written on his forehead.  A friend of the main character, who would do anything to protect him, even if he sometimes has to fight against him to find his own sense of justice.  Badass with a capital B.

4. Ninja
This class also goes WAY back.  With all the skills of a thief, while having the weapons of their namesake, these guys are like an improvement over the aforementioned job.  Ninjas are badass.  Being all about speed, with knives and powerful throwing weapons, they are not to be trifled with.  Thieving abilities go underappreciated in the franchise, but with bosses it is so very useful.  I keep surprising myself with some of the stuff I get from them.  Naturally, Edge is the most iconic of them.  There really is no contest.  You may never see them, but you will know they’re there when they cut you down and take your shit.

3. Gunner
A very new class in the franchise, but one that has left its mark.  These are the characters who abandon the archetypal fighting with blades, magic, and fists, and are all about the ammo.  The most versatile of these classes was in X-2, where you can level them up to have all kinds of special shots and even let-fly by button-mashing.  However, there are other iconic versions of this class.  Vincent Valentine comes to mind, with his three-barreled gun.  There is also Lightning and Leon, wielding gunblades.  However, for my favorite version of the character, I had to go with Balthier.  This dude is just so cool.  He has this suave attitude that lets you know – he may be a pirate, but he is classy as fuck.  Plus, his gun looks just perfect.  Not the strongest class, but a cool one all the same.

2. Paladin
What do you get when you combine White Mage skills, and powerful sword-fighting?  You get the Paladin.  Equipping heavy swords, the most iconic of which are Excalibur and Save the Queen, they charge into battle with the ability to use white magic, and be able to cover party members whose health is low.  Naturally, the most iconic of these is Cecil from IV.  His journey to get past his darkness and embrace the man he was meant to be is touching.  Plus, their ability to use their powers to heal is a nice counterbalance to their polar opposite class.  Speaking of…

And my favorite Final Fantasy class (or job, if you prefer) is….

1. Dark Knight
Oh yeah.  These guys got it all going on!  They will fuck up your day without a second thought.  Every single character to wield this armor has been a badass mother-fucker that I wouldn’t stand in the way of.  Wielding massive, twisted swords, using black magic that takes health away from them, having incredibly high health, defense, and offense, and an aesthetic that lets you know not to fuck with them.  There are plenty of versions of these characters who are iconic to one extent or another, but the version I love most is from X-2.  Getting this helped me turn Paine into a one-stop murder machine who would chew you up and spit you out!  Was a bit of a pain to find, but worth the trouble.  Cecil is cool and all, but there’s something about my melancholy girl in that black armor that just feels right.

What are your favorite classes?  Let me know in the comments

Until next time, a quote,

“Is there a password for this?”
“Yeah.  Kick. Its. Ass.” – Paine, Final Fantasy X-2

Peace out,

Maverick

Bad PR 119: Blizzard, Mobile Gaming, and Making Things Worse

You know what I love?  A good dumpster fire.  Not literally, of course.  Those smell bad and aren’t nice to look at, but just watching something beautiful burn in their own hubris is so fucking beautiful to watch.  We’ve seen it happen over and over.  There was the fire every step of the way during the development of Mighty No. 9.  There was the Yooka-Laylee voice acting fiasco.  Don’t even get me started on the beautiful destruction of games journalism during #GamerGate.  Now, we have the saga of Blizzard and their mobile gaming.

For those who didn’t know, all of this started a week or so ago at Blizzcon when they announced a new Diablo game.  Now, this is an event for PC gamers, because that is their core audience.  They hinted at a new Diablo game announcement before this event, but tried to walk that back because some part of them must have realized this could blow up in their face.  If only they had that foresight when they ended the big press conference event by showing off that the new Diablo game was for mobile platforms.  The way the room suddenly went silent was deafening.  Even the announcer could feel it, and you can tell that he was sweating pinballs.

Things got worse at a Q&A panel where one person asked if this whole thing was a “late April Fools Joke” and when asked if there was any way any of this was coming to PC, they got booed when they said no and then subsequently attacking their audience.  But it didn’t stop there!  The company who makes this has already made games that are basically Diablo knock-offs, and people were noticing how this new game looked like a reskin of the old one.  To which Blizzard doubled down on it not only being a good idea and the future of gaming, but not a reskin.

Following this, Activision’s stocks took a nose-dive.  They lost billions in stock value in a day.  Which leads me to today.  Seeming seeing the writing on the wall, and not wanting to lose more money, Blizzard decided to triple-down on mobile gaming being the future by saying that not only are they going mobile with Diablo, but they are going that way with ALL of their IPs.  Everything is gonna be mobile now.  They said that because of this, they have more projects going than ever before and they are going to make a huge profit.  This kind of speak sound kinda funny to you?  Like it isn’t gamers they are talking to?  Yeah, sounded that way for me too.

Because it isn’t gamers they are talking to.  It’s investors.  Activision Blizzard saw the massive decline in their stock and have run to assure investors that everything is great and that this backlash is nothing to be concerned about.  In doing this, they showed that not only are they focusing all their IPs on mobile titles, but they are putting their best talent to work doing this.  Needless to say, the backlash has been deafening.

How a company can be this out of touch with their audience just blows my fucking mind.  It really does.  Any corporate venture knows that investors are great, but if there is no demand for your product, their stocks are worth just as little.  But then, perhaps there is some logic to this.  After all, they are probably right that these products are going to make a shit-ton of money.  Mobile gaming is big, especially over in Asia.  China has become not only a mecca for Hollywood to make money, but also mobile gaming companies, as people will sink hundreds of millions into microtransactions.  This market has mass appeal in Asia.  Which makes the setting for this announcement for more fitting.

So perhaps Blizzard isn’t out of touch with their audience.  They have just written off that if they ignore western audience and focus on eastern, they lose nothing.  Perhaps there was financial calculus being done by the company at how much they could destroy with this dumpster fire and still coming out clean on the other side.  These games will make a fuck-ton of money.  They know that before they even do it.  It will be microtransaction heaven, which will make even more.  In these countries, people will pay.  So what does Blizzard stand to lose?

Still, it is nice to see Blizzard do more of a scorched-earth response to audience backlash than Konami.  I mean wow.  It’s more than a little impressive.  To give your PC audience the finger not once, not twice, but three times!  They could have come out and made a video to assuage their PC gaming community who was made them big.  At a time when they are making new characters for Overwatch while the game is filled with bugs that need fixing desperately, they continually show more and more tone-deafness to their core audience.  It blows my mind.

The PR lesson is this – if you are going to take this kind of tactic with your audience, the consumers who buy your products, you better know for certain that you are going to get a return for your investment in the long run, because not only is customer loyalty a huge part of corporate success, but so is brand recognition.  If people know your company as one thing, and you are selling that thing up the river to be a different thing to pander to a different community, you better know that this is going to work before you get started.  Otherwise, it will be event after event where games journalism (the bane of all gaming) will kiss your ass, while the audience dries up more and more.

Good luck, Blizzard,

Until next time, a quote,

“Forgive me, I don’t know the local custom, but where I come from, when you hear a prayer, you say ‘Amen.’  Because that’s what you just heard – a prayer.” – Lawrence Garfield, Other People’s Money

Peace out,

Maverick