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

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Bad PR 118: Diablo Immortal and Blizzard’s Pathetic Damage Control

How many of you remember the launch of the Xbox One?  I do.  Super Bunnyhop’s video on it was one of the funniest things I had seen in ages. All the features in the console that fans absolutely despise – the always-online DRM, the Kinect camera that you couldn’t disconnect or turn off because that doesn’t sound orwellian at all, and the inability to share used games because of corporate greed.  It made for some FANTASTIC material for Sony to absolutely destroy them with.  Their video on how you share games on the PS4 was comedy gold.  Yeah, that was a PR tire fire, and they haven’t recovered from it to this day.

Gaming companies are big to capitalize on other companies stupidity or greed.  Like when EA said that single-player gaming is dying, and you had companies coming out of the woodwork to ridicule them.  Bethesda really seized the day with that and took them to town.  Not a second goes by that some company doesn’t do something really stupid and their competitors are more than happy to make them look like asshats because of it.

Which makes me wonder what is going to happen to Blizzard now that they are in the crosshairs because of their own stupid decisions and corporate greed.  What do I mean?  I mean the damage control saga of the cinematic trailer for Diablo Immortal.  Easily the most hated game trailer on YouTube, without a single contender.  I don’t think even the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare trailer got this much hate.  Except, if you see it now, you wouldn’t know just how bad it ACTUALLY is.  There’s a reason why.

Blizzard decided that they were going to take a franchise that had always existed on PC, as a staple of the genre, and turn it into a shitty mobile game, created by an outside company, and guaranteed to be loaded up with microtransactions.  But that wasn’t the end of it.  During the reveal at Blizzcon, they actually had the people on stage attacking the audience for booing them when they said it wasn’t going have a PC version.  No joke, they said “what, do you not have phones?”  Whew.  Suddenly got flashbacks to the video where Microsoft told people who didn’t like the always-online DRM, they could just stick with the previous generation of consoles.

However, the story didn’t end there.  When the trailer for this game became a dumpster fire, as is want to happen, some of the people following this started to notice something.  Comments on the video were disappearing, en masse.  Thousands of them.  Tens of thousands.  But not only that.  Negative ratings on the video were going down.  Not the positive ones, mind you.  Just the negative ones.  But thanks to some people at Social Blade and those doing screen-caps of the video, it was shown that Blizzard was working with YouTube to remove negative feedback on their video.  Wow.

This is PR disaster in a way I haven’t seen before.  Here’s something to keep in mind when you make a product, regardless of what kind of product it is – the fans of your products are the ones who control your sales.  What does that mean?  It means that if you tell fans that you hate them, or deliberately ignore their feedback, your sales will suffer.  That’s the nature of this medium.  Remember the Xbox One rolling back ALL of the features that people didn’t like, because the sales were in the tank?  That’s just one example.  We could talk about the Ghostbusters (2016) fiasco and how Paul Feig attacking the fans of the film was a terrible decision, along with Sony trying their own hand at damage control on the trailer.  Or maybe Rian Johnson attacking Star Wars fans and how that blew up in Disney’s face.

Now we have Blizzard hoping that if they can just make the negative reaction to this video seem not as bad as it otherwise would be, that will help to sell a product that everyone hates.  EVERYONE.  The tone-deafness here is baffling.  How any company can be so blind to their audience is stunning.  You sell video games, Blizzard!  You know how you keep making money in this industry?  By selling video games that your fans want!  If you start selling things that they don’t want, watch how fast the audience dries up.  Ask Bioware how that’s going for them.  This industry has become, in large part, a matter of brand loyalty.  But people don’t seem to get that it’s a fickle creature.  Piss off the fans often or hard enough and that loyalty can be irrevocably destroyed.  And the Internet is too smart for a tactic like this to work.  Everyone saw what you did, Blizzard!  We saw it right in front of our fucking faces!  You can’t fool anyone!

The fact that they are working with Google or YouTube directly to remove negative feedback is especially alarming.  This means that they have corporate help to remove your opinions.  They don’t want to hear it.  They don’t want audiences to hear it.  Did you hear that?  Blizzard, a gaming company who ostensibly sells games, will trash-talk you on stage and then try and get another company to help them not hear the negative things people say.  I’m sure that this isn’t a PR nightmare waiting to happen.

Here’s today’s lesson – brand loyalty is everything.  It’s why Pizza Hut continues to make mediocre pizza, and McDonald’s keeps their doors open, even though their food is just awful.  There is loyalty that people have, and it isn’t going anywhere.  Gaming is even hard about this.  If you want to shit on your fans, you better hope that you can avoid the damage that this brings.  But I don’t think you can.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t be working so hard to damage control!

Until next time, a quote,

“Hurry now!  My muse is a fickle bitch, with a very short attention span!” – Sander Cohen, Bioshock

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Questions About Cyberpunk 2077

I know that I wrote in a post that people shouldn’t get aboard the hype train too much because that’s where insane crunch like the 100 hour work weeks at Rockstar comes from, but I can’t help it!  This game has me on the line, and every piece of news that comes out is magic to me.  I’ve watched the 48 minute gameplay demo 1000 times by now.  I hang on every detail.  I could go on about it for days.  But there are a few things that really catch my eye.  Things that I cannot get out of my head.  Now, I know that I’m some rando WordPress blogger who once aspired to legit journalism, so the chances of getting these answered if virtually nil, but I’m gonna put them out there and see what, if anything, comes back.  Here are my top 10 questions about Cyberpunk 2077.

10. How is shopping with street vendors gonna work?
I couldn’t help but notice all the vendors in this game.  There was a pizza place, a guy selling defective equipment, but there is one in-particular that caught my eye – the dude selling vinyl albums.  Can I buy from that dude?!  How about pizza dude?  How much of the vendor culture am I gonna be able to interact with?  There was a bit where a dude is trying to sell you a camera, and you had the ability to say yes.  Does that mean that all sorts of people selling all sorts of stuff is gonna be open to the player?  Oh, and speaking of the vinyl…

9. Are you gonna be able to have a playlist at home?
Assuming that you can buy some of those vinyl albums, can you make your own music setup at home?  How many kinds of music will be represented?  I wanna make my character a pretentious net-runner, so some electronic or spin on classical would be rad.  Thinking Deadmau5 would go well in this universe, or some ATTLAS for the quieter moments.  Their style seems absolutely perfect for the kind of game that this is.

8. How much of the character’s back-story are you gonna be able to make?
During the intro to the gameplay demo, you saw that there is a personal history section.  In the pen-and-paper RPG days, you could fill in the backstory.  So my question is, since you have made very clear that you are keeping it as loyal to that old-school system and mythos as you can, how much can I put in?  I mean, the options probably have to be limited, since otherwise you’d have games crashing under their own complication, but I want to know.  And while we’re on the topic of the mythos…

7. Will there be an in-game codex for the lore?
I REALLY wanna be able to learn about the history of this game.  One of my favorite things in the Mass Effect games (at least the first three good ones) was the codex.  Anytime I wanted to learn something new about the world, the aliens, the tech, I could look at the codex and study.  Hell, everyone’s favorite part of the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC was reading the random entries about all the characters.  Will I have such a thing in the game itself?  I saw that we have a computer.  Will it be there?  Oh, which is a nice segway to…

6. When will we get to see the computer?
Given the HUD and how stuff all seems to be there, I’m curious how the computer is going to be integrated into the game.  On the touch-screen gizmo on your window, you could check your messages there.  How is this going to work?  Cyberpunk email sounds kinda fun.  Not to mention, give me a place I can go and pour over the codex while listening to my music and you have me all over your game.  No joke, I will learn everything there is to know.

5. How will relationships work in this game?
I saw in the trailer that V wakes up with a rando dude.  Way too much facial hair for my liking, but whatever floats her boat.  I notice that you didn’t seem to set up taking the dude to bed?  Since I am probably gonna have a bi character (true to myself), am I gonna have some sort of way of interacting when I want them to come over for a booty call?  Not to mention, is the game gonna choose for me as this seemed to when that happens, and with whom?  You’ve said that interactions with the people are gonna be broad, but in terms of this, I am looking for some specifics.

4. For those who wanna play quiet, what will the options be?
As previously stated, I wanna be a net-runner, and would prefer to have a play style where I can talk my way out.  Don’t get me wrong, violence is fun, and getting to have crazy weapons to do so sounds great.  In another play-through, I probably will have a character who is all about shooting everything until it’s dead.  But starting out, I wanna be able to play the clever character with tech being my first line of defense.  With that in mind, I am curious to see what the play styles will be and what kinds of upgrades I can do in order to play that way.

3. Is there gonna be some kind of system to keep track of the player’s relationship to the various factions?
You’ve talked about how what you do is going to leave a mark in the various factions of the game.  That’s great!  I loves it.  Get me some Fallout: New Vegas action going on in manipulating allegiances.  But I am curious to know if there will be a system of some kind to keep track of where I stand with various elements of the city, if at all.  Like those creepy Maelstrom gangers and the Corpo pieces of shit that I will be undercutting.  My net-running is gonna be used against them in a big way.  I love the idea that what I do will change the way the world interacts with me, but it would be nice to have some sort of way of knowing where I stand with X group before I have a mission where I have to interact with them.

2. How is the katana gonna work?!
I couldn’t help but notice that when you go into the armory in the game, one of the slots that is available is for a goddamn katana!  Wants!  But that got me to thinking – since this is a first-person game, how is it going to work with that?  Genuinely curious.  First-person blade weapons has been a HUGE area of hit-or-miss throughout the years.  I’m more than a little curious what your take is going to be.  Not to mention, can we upgrade the blade?  Make it all electric like Raiden’s from Metal Gear Rising?  Since I wanna be a net-runner, with a focus on being quiet and stealthy, big guns don’t do much for me.  But this caught my eye.

1. When am I gonna be able to download that song by Johnny Silverhand?!
Please, for the love of Groj, tell me that some of the music in this game is coming to iTunes.  It would genuinely disappoint me if it wasn’t.  That song featured in the trailer is part of the reason I am hooked.  I wanna let my inner punk go nuts to that!  I get the feeling that Johnny Silverhand might be my “Personal Hero” character, though Blackhand is in the running.  I know who those characters represented are.  I’ve been doing my research on the source material.  So yeah, when can I get my hands on that song?!

So yeah, those are my questions.  Gonna send these over to CD Projekt RED and Cyberpunk 2077‘s Twitter pages and see if I can get a response.  Not holding my breath, but you never know.  I got Focus Home Interactive to respond to me with my First Take on their new game, A Plague Tale: Innocence.  So maybe I can with these guys too.  I’m a firm believer in the rumor that the game is coming out in 2019, with all they’ve said about making sure it’s optimized with current consoles, it would have to.  2020 is gonna be the beginning of a new generation.  What are your questions?  Let me know in the comments.  If I can get a response from them, I will definitely keep you posted.

Until next time, a quote,

“Got the chrome in the bloodstream
Got a hot red metal soul,
I’m out looking for action,
Guess I’m on a roll.” – Johnny Silverhand, Cyberpunk 2077

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Unpopular Opinion: Gaming Culture Needs to Change, for the Devs’ Sake

I’m sure you all read the stories that came out about how Rockstar has been working their staff to verifiably insane degrees.  100 hour work weeks is ridiculous.  A 60 hour work week is already bananas, but now add another full work week to that.  No rational person can handle that.  But the worst part is that this is nothing new.  Horror stories coming out of EA are old news by this point.  Same with Ubisoft.  In fact, it is a known fact within the gaming industry that there are very few companies that don’t engage in this sort of behavior.  It’s a tragedy, really.  And it’s because of this that I think there needs to be some changes

It bugs me when I see in the comments on these articles that devs shouldn’t complain.  After all, they make big money, right?  So what if they are a little inconvenienced?  The rationale of people who have never had that level of crunch before.  I used to work retail.  At Target.  The management there was shit, so at the end of EVERY SINGLE DAY, we were out late.  Why?  Because we would have to work overtime in order to get all the shit that needed to be finished done.  All because management didn’t know how to handle people.  It sucked the life out of us when each and every night we are getting out almost an hour late.  It’s long about midnight when we are heading home.  Now I imagine that feeling, seven days a week, where you work 16 hour days.  No sane person can live that way.

But why does gaming culture need to change?  What did we do?  I mean, isn’t this a thing where the people involved need to unionize or the government needs to have stricter regulations?  Sure, those things do need to happen.  However, there is a deeper cause that people aren’t seeming to see.  It is a problem that goes beyond the gamers who are part of it.  There is a corporate problem.  So don’t think I’m pointing the fingers at gamers specifically.  The entire industry needs a shift, and soon.

This problem comes from the hype cycle.  The yearly release cycle.  Gamers get so rabid for new released.  I’m guilty of this as well.  I have been hanging on every piece of news that comes out about Cyberpunk 2077.  I am one of the people who believes the theory going around that the game is going to be released in 2019.  Especially since the devs say they have worked overtime to optimize the game to current consoles.  They have made very clear that as amazing as that gameplay trailer looked, it did so on tech that current consoles can handle.  It was a huge news story where they said they aren’t shooting for a next-gen release.  That and some of the bits about leaked info, I am reasonably certain.

That being said, if Cyberpunk 2077 did come out in 2020, as much as that would be a bit of a bummer for me, I’d be okay with it.  If it means that the devs could have a working life that doesn’t push them to these extremes, I would be perfectly fine with it.  In fact, when I get news that a game I want is being pushed back, that generally makes me happy, because it means the devs are doing their best to make sure everything is done well and it is the best it can be.

A sentiment that cannot be seen among the rest of gaming culture.  For example, if Rockstar had come out and said that Red Dead Redemption II had to be delayed for months or even longer in order to not have to crunch like this, what do you think the reaction would be?  It would be outrage.  Fan rage would be everywhere.  Shit-posts left and right.  People saying that the devs shouldn’t complain so much.  You know I’m right.

When I started this, I said that gamers aren’t the only ones to blame for this, and I wasn’t lying.  The truth is that the publishers are too.  Not only do huge corporations set hard deadlines that push people, but they also make the hype culture go out of control.  A lot of people blame Bioware for the end of Mass Effect 3 being as bad as it is, but the reality is that that had less to do with them and more to do with EA setting a hard deadline to when the game had to be released.  So they just cut corners and used the first draft of the ending written by some rando dude.  This story isn’t new.

There is something to be said for how Bethesda does thing. Typically, they don’t even announce games until they are almost ready, and when they are reasonably certain that this is when they will be ready.  It’s a good strategy.  Instead of dragging the hype cycle out, they can concentrate it into something that is damn-near orgasmic.  It’s impressive, to say the least.  Even if I don’t like all their game, their strategy of giving devs time to work without taxing them, waiting until they know it’s gonna be ready in time, that’s the right approach.

But these companies also like to get the hype train rolling too. They want to get gamers salivating and putting in those pre-orders.  That’s how the money gets made.  It works.  It really does.  I have been guilty of buying into it myself.  I like to think that I’m more stable about this stuff now, but like I said, I hang on all the news that comes out about Cyberpunk 2077.  It’s addicting.  Especially when I know that the developer has a pedigree for quality that I can tell they aren’t shying away from now.

All of this being said, there does need to be a change.  Gaming culture is becoming unsustainable.  We need to start treating these developers like human beings and having human expectations for them.  I guarantee, it would see the industry be better for it, even if games took longer to make.  We can afford for them to take the time.

Until next time, a quote,

“Got the chrome in the bloodstream
Got a hot red metal soul,
I’m out looking for action,
Guess I’m on a roll.” – Johnny Silverhand, Cyberpunk 2077

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: The Stupid Reaction to Black Cat in ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man’ DLC

Some of you may have noticed I don’t go after the SJW community all that much anymore.  There’s a reason for that.  For starters, I don’t have anything new to say.  It’s all kind of the same, at this point.  Doesn’t matter, anyway.  Nobody listens.  Anybody who disagrees with the social justice community is just ruled out as “alt-right” or some other buzzword that hasn’t been used to the point that it means nothing anymore.  But there is another side to it.  It’s because I don’t have a very high opinion of the anti-SJW community anymore.  They are just as bad as the social justice feminists that they deride.

It’s funny, but I remember when all of these groups came together during #GamerGate, and then subsequently went apart after it became clear that there was nothing to be gained from further cooperation.  I said this would happen during a live-stream I used to be a part of, back in the day.  My compatriots didn’t believe me then.  Wonder what they think now.

You all may be wondering – what does this have to do with the title of this post?  I’ll tell you.  See, a fair amount of comic book fans are all up in arms.  Why?  Because the new design for Black Cat in Sony’s exclusive Marvel’s Spider-Man doesn’t have her boobs on display!  That’s right, her cleavage isn’t hanging out of the outfit, so naturally they are all conspiracy theorizing that it is a big SJW conspiracy.  Saying that the character was written by the chick who said the tea-bag mod in GTA Online was “virtual rape.”  It is so frustrating to see this shit everywhere.

For starters, where are they getting that this character isn’t the same as she has always been?  I mean, did you play the game?  She is flirty as fuck with Parker.  Every audio-log you get on her quest in the main game has her talking in that sultry way where you know she is trying to goad Spider on.  It also hints of their past and how it was pretty complicated.

Next, have you seen her outfit?  Yeah, the outfit that is skin-tight, black, hugging every curve, that is not meant to be sultry at all.  Nope!  Not a little!  Morons.  Yeah, her boobs aren’t hanging out.  So that means…SJW?  I swear, these people can’t keep their bullshit straight.

Finally, did nobody pay attention to how this game is structured?  It’s definitely friendly for younger people.  Hell, the first outfit you have is pretty beat-for-beat similar to the one from The Animated Series.  Wanna know something interesting about that, for those who didn’t grow up in the 90’s?  In it, Black Cat didn’t have her boobs hanging out!  This game definitely breathes a vibe that it is modeled after the old animated series.  It wants to be played by kids.  Sure, the rating is T for teens, but how much foul language do you see in that game?  Not much.  It’s pretty marketable to the crowd it was intended.  You know what that means?  It means that you won’t have a character in it who has her tits hanging out!  Because that isn’t marketable to kids!  Did nobody pay attention?

In The Animated Series, Black Cat and Spider’s flirtatious relationship is all in subtext.  There’s a reason for that.  Because the series was made for kids, but there are teenagers in the audience who think that she is hot with that skin-tight black outfit.  It’s the same here!  I’m sorry that all the comic book nerds don’t get to cum in their pants over her.  I’m sure it must be so hard for you.

Grow the fuck up.

Until next time, a quote,

“Oh, poor Spider.  I know I disappointed you when I couldn’t go straight, but why mess with perfection?” – Black Cat, Marvel’s Spider-Man

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Cyberpunk 2077 Gameplay Reveal

Here’s a game that I’ve been keeping a cursory eye on, but haven’t really gone into too much because I didn’t know exactly how I felt about it.  I was not the biggest fan of CD Projekt Red’s last game, The Witcher 3.  Not because I thought it was bad.  Far from it.  I just didn’t have much engagement because it’s connected to a franchise with a TON of lore and story baggage that I had no connection with.  So while it objectively was fantastic, I was bored stiff because of that.  However, here we have a new game with a connection to a franchise that has more to do with pen-and-paper RPG games than anything else.  So it’s basically a blank slate, and CD Projekt Red has promised the lore will be flushed out.

Still, it was something of a distant look until I FINALLY got around to watching their REALLY long game-play reveal.  I’m going to be putting the video here so you can follow along, but it’s 48 minutes long.  If you don’t have the time, I understand.  Instead of going through bit by bit, I’m going to talk about the things that really stick out to me.  Let’s get down to it.

We start off with this really cool narrator telling us that we get to customize our character.  I am all about this!  But looking at the character select screen, can we ditch the pixelization over the fun bits, when it is so obvious they are wearing underwear?  I am nine kinds of in love with the aesthetic of this game.  It lives up to its namesake.  The menus all have that retro-futuristic appearance, and that just tickles me pink.  As an hardcore fan of Blade Runner, this warms the cockles of my heart.

It’s also pretty great that we get to set up a ton of stuff in respect to our backstory, and the narrator says that all of this stuff plays a role in how our game plays.  For once, I am almost positive this is on the level.  After all, it’s CD Projekt Red we’re talking about here.  Definitely hoping the customization options are deep.  I want to turn my character into someone wholly unique.  I also love me some scars and some ink, so hopefully I get a ton of those to play with as well.  Kinda hoping we can add more ink as the narrative goes along.  Looking at the stats, I am definitely gonna be a tech person, with a focus on infiltrator stuff rather than combat.  The narrator says there are no pre-selected class systems, so you can choose how you play.  I dig it.

We see our first mission, and get to rescue a woman who is butt-naked from a bathtub filled with ice.  Again, CD Projekt Red, and they have a pedigree of not shying away from the swanky stuff.  They are European, after all.  I say that all devs should be European and Asian.  Americans are too pussy to go the distance like this.  After the first mission, I see our girl waking up with our comrade.  The narrator says that relationships are something you get to make on your own, and I’m glad about that.  Don’t get me wrong, Jackie is a badass bro.  I could do missions and shit with him all day.  But not sure he’s fuckable material.  Also don’t know if he is that guy for male and female character.  Makes me wonder what the differences will be between them in terms of options for relationships.  Is sexuality a set in stone thing, or is that open to character choice?  Lots of things to think about.

This apartment makes my inner cyberpunk nerd squeee a little.  So much yes!  Suddenly wanna hit up Deckard and see if we can find some replicants.  I couldn’t help but notice in the armory in her place that there is a slot for a fucking katana!  I want my katana!  Wanna hack some people up.  Or, because I am really favoring the subtle infiltration style, I wanna be able to silently kill people with it.  Customize the blade a la Metal Gear Rising.

Heading out of the place, the city looks unbelievable.  Some definite inspiration from Dredd, but that is just fine by me too.  The inhalers thing clearly came from that as well.  So many people tagged.  Was really hoping we’d to get see inside the weapon’s shop.  Seemed that dude has a quest to offer us too.  Getting off at the elevator, I see there are a ton of vendors.  Here’s my question – how many of these people can I visit?  There is a guy selling music, and that definitely appeals to me.  Vinyl records.  Love it.  Had a person in my life who has vinyl, as well as a player.  It’s pretty good stuff.  Makes some kinds of music sound more real.  Everything is so processed now.  The narrator talks about how believable the city is, making the team sound very “humble” in the process.  Whatevs.  With how beautiful this game looks, they’ve earned some bragging rights.  Street cred, as the game has it.

As we meet with the provider of our next mission – Dexter DeShawn, I’m seeing that the game has a broad array of groups that we get to interact with.  There are the corporate people, the criminal elite, the smuggling types who are involved with this mission, and since there is a crime scene we walk past, potentially the cops?  One of my favorite parts of Fallout: New Vegas was how many different groups there were that you could get involved with.  All of which changed how the ending played out.  Makes me want to play with the politics of this game and see where that takes me.

We get our job from Dex and go to our ripperdoc to get some cybernetics.  Here is where I am so stoked.  The trailers for this game have had things like a woman who removed her entire jaw while doing her makeup.  How far can I go with this?  I saw a post saying that if you over-cyborg yourself, it does affect you over the course of the game.  Still, eager to find that fine line.  Or at least see what kinda crazy shit I can get.  The narrator says we can get illegal cybernetics that let me do all sorts of bananas shit.  Hell yeah!

The driving in this game can go from third to first-person.  I would probably do third-person, if for no other reason than to take in the gorgeous landscape of this game.  Really itching to see the night cycle.  Narrator said the day and night cycle are dynamic.  Oh how a man can dream.  When we’re negotiating with the corpo bitch, I can’t help but notice that the language in this game is so foul.  Kinda love it.  After all, the word “Punk” is in the name.  Foul language goes with that territory.  Just watch any of the great films in that class.  Not the cyberpunk class, but punk.  Lots of foul-mouthed assholes.

Player gets their job, which results in them heading over to the Maelstrom hide-out.  The first thing to notice about this guys is all the tech integration.  It’s freaky.  The narrator tells you that you can choose how you go about missions.  I am all about that.  I want to be an infiltrator, of sorts, but wouldn’t mind taking the approach of being able to talk my way out of a bad situation.  Though, not sure it’s worth it with the creepy borg people who have all the glowing eyes and shit.  The head dude looks like he ripped out the front of his face to replace it all with tech.  That’s creepy with a capitol C.

We get some stuff showing off cool combat abilities, but that’s just window dressing for me.  Especially since this person isn’t into the whole tech angle the way I want to be.  They are into the engineer side.  Neat, I guess.  After blasting your way through, you get out, only to be met by corpo bitch.  She tells you that this is how it is, and you head over to Dexter DeShawn’s club to make the drop-off of the creepy spider-drone.  Why did we not have the drone assisting us in combat?  That’s so weird.  We took the time to get it up and moving, but not explore how it can help me out?  So weird.

All things considered, this looks awesome.  For a long time, I’ve wanted to feel like I live in the world of Blade Runner, and now I get the opportunity.  We’ll see what happens next.

Initial Verdict
Jack in my brain, ripperdoc!

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONL: Death Stranding is Gonna Explode

The Tokyo Game Show just happened, and we got to see a new trailer for Kojima’s latest project, Death Stranding.  While morons are going to say that they don’t understand (seriously, I saw a trailer where someone outright said they watched the trailer three times and still didn’t understand it.  What was so fucking complicated?!) what this is, I couldn’t be more stoked.  In this age where everyone wants to have all their questions spoon-fed to them with all the creative mystery of a ham sandwich, Kojima is keeping all his cards close.  And praise that man for it!  The mystery has my anticipation so fucking high.

Sony has been on such a massive winning streak lately with their exclusives.  This year has had three, and all three were massively successful.  And good.  God of War was an engaging narrative and a beautiful story of a father and son.  Detroit: Become Human was David Cage doing his thing, and while it isn’t for everyone, for those who can appreciate his craft, it was pretty awesome.  Finally, we got Marvel’s Spider-Man.  Easily the best game in its genre, and with three pieces of DLC that the devs have promised are not just busy work but substantive story expansions, it isn’t done yet.

Last year, we had two major exclusives from Sony, both of which were so good that I had the hardest time ever picking which was my favorite.  My favorite and second-favorite games of last year, they were – Persona 5 and Horizon: Zero Dawn.  It seems that Sony is really banking on great exclusives now, and hot shit!  There is some of the best quality material I have seen in YEARS coming from them.  And more is coming.  This year at E3, we got to see three major gameplay demos from three of their biggest upcoming projects – Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us: Part 2, and Kojima’s latest project, Death Stranding.

I have no reason to believe that the first two listed are not going to be amazing.  This tactic of showing demos specifically to get people to see what the quality they can expect is brilliant, in my book.  Sure, fast-paced trailers with big, bombastic set-pieces are fun and all, but that’s not my jam.  I like a trailer that feels like I am diving in and seeing what I am getting for my money.  Already I can hear people typing, asking why I am taking Kojima’s shtick of giving very little substantive info in his trailers.  Well, that’s a different kind of charm.

Here’s the thing to know – anyone who knows videos games knows that Hideo Kojima is something of an insane perfectionist.  If a game doesn’t come out to the exact quality he wants, he won’t release it.  The only reason MGSV released half-finished was because of the fallout with Konami.  So his continual teasing, making the urge for nerdgasm so strong just titillates me so much. And with the most recent trailer, there is no doubt in my mind – this game is going to be unbelievable!  It will be a hallmark game that will define this latest console generation, along with the new direction Sony is taking.  While Microsoft scrounges in the dirt for exclusives, and Nintendo keeps remaking the same games, over and over again with the fewest tertiary changes, Sony is giving massive budgets to developers who want to do amazing things.  And it’s working!  It’s paying massive dividends.

At the beginning of the year, God of War smashed sales records.  Just recently, Marvel’s Spider-Man did as well.  Perhaps gamers are figuring out that Sony’s new direction of amazing exclusives is churning out some of the best games in generations?  A thought.  Meanwhile, in the case of Death Stranding, I am certain beyond any doubt that this game is going to explode.  Just explode.  The new trailer shows so much.  For starters, Troy Baker is back!  Anything with him in it, at his A-game, I immediately know is going to be amazing.  He is easily my favorite male voice actor right now.  He can pretty-much do no wrong.  But as the YouTuber YongYea figured out, Stefanie Joosten, of Quiet fame from MGSV is back as well!  The cast for this game couldn’t possibly be anymore set.  On name recognition alone, this game is going to sell.  We have Norman Reedus, who will appeal to Boondock Saints fans, and The Walking Dead fans.  We have Guillermo Del Toro who is only donating his likeness to the game, but that will appeal to fans of his films.  We have Lea Seydoux, who will appeal to fans of French films.  She’s a crazy talented actress.  We have Mads Mikkelsen, who will appeal to Casino Royale fans.  Lastly, we have Kojima himself as the creator, who will appeal to Metal Gear Solid fans.  With this much weight behind it, this game is almost certain to set some sales records.  It will premiere to massive numbers.

This couldn’t have me more excited.  Knowing that Troy Baker is back, as a villain who has a kind of asshole charm to him, this game is bringing so much to the table.  And the mysteries keep piling up.  So, what is this weird fluidic substance, and it’s connection to the other world?  How can certain people control it?  What are these monsters that wander the landscape, some of whom can be seen, and other can’t?  What is Mad Mikkelsen’s connection to it all?  The panel said that he is the main villain of the story.  All the questions I could ask for.

But the real beauty of it all is that the wait won’t be much longer!  Kojima has said that there has been no delay in the game.  Some time ago, he said that his game was going to be finished before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.  At first I wondered if that was a reference to something I figured he might, but wrote that off.  But at the end of the panel, he confirmed my suspicion.  He said that the game is going to be finished to correlate with the date that the legendary anime film Akira was set.  Know what that means?  2019 confirmed!  I couldn’t be more excited.  I can feel it, the next trailer is going to have a release date.  This will be the one.  I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Until next time, a quote,

“Well shit, I had a special surprise prepped and everything, but it looks to me like your hands are full.  It’s no biggie.  We can always tweak the rules a bit.” – The Man With the Golden Mask, Death Stranding

Peace out,

Maverick