After two years, I’m finally continuing this series. Candidly, what took so long was forcing myself to write it. This was really difficult for me compared to the first. Arkham City is great – it’s the best in the series – but a lot of that greatness is improvement on the solid foundation laid down by the previous game. Iteration is less exciting to talk about than revolution.
I had intended to get this up for the game’s 10th anniversary but it took much longer and became much longer than I had anticipated. I thought, since I initially didn’t have much to write about, that it would be shorter than the first video but somehow it ballooned into the longest yet for the channel.
I hope I’ve done the game some justice here. Everyone knows it’s good, but it deserves appreciation a little deeper than that.
I will be doing Arkham Origins. Originally I was only going to cover the Rocksteady games, but on replaying them all I reconsidered. Since this one took so long, I’m not going directly into production on the next one. But I definitely intend to finish the series before the 10th anniversary of Arkham Knight – and even of Origins. Since there’s a new Rocksteady game out next year and a new Bat-family game, it would probably be a good idea to get the series wrapped sooner than later. We’ll see.
I had fully intended for my next Debug Mode video to be the start of new series that I was fairly excited about. Then computer troubles struck and corrupted the footage I’d recorded for that game. That really took the wind out of my sails.
I intend to get back to that previous project, but in order to work on something completely different, I decided to do a quick video on Hitman 3, 2021’s first big release. A “quick” video soon bloomed into a month-long production. The final video is a celebration of the whole World of Assassination trilogy. If you’ve seen my best-of videos for 2016 or 2018, then you’ve heard me championing these games before. They really are pretty special but it’s a little hard to showcase them in a video like this. I think you really need to see someone play the game in realtime or try it for yourself.
I almost passed on making a year-end wrap up video since I already covered several of the year’s big games in previous videos. But I do like this format even if nobody really watches. It’s a good way to cover a lot of ground in a relatively short time.
I actually made more Debug Mode videos this year than ever before… which is still not saying all that much. YouTube isn’t my job and it’s far from my only interest. Creating videos I can feel okay about putting out into the world is hard and very time-consuming. And although I keep entertaining the notion of doing shorter, more-focused videos that are a bit easier to produce, that hasn’t really worked out so far.
From what I understand, the almighty YouTube algorithm wants me to upload a 10 minute video every day. I don’t care who you are – there’s no way you can do that and not have the content suffer or lose your mind or both. Increasingly, I feel sorry for the people who are in that position. It’s often not about making consistently good stuff – but just about making stuff consistently.
Anyway, thanks for watching if indeed you do. Let’s all hope for a happy new year.
The new Microsoft Flight Simulator is an amazing thing. It isn’t magic, but it is frequently magical. Rather than a more straightforward review or discussion of the game, I wanted to make something that was more of a general essay.
In a lot of ways, Flight Simulator transcends normal video games. It’s a way to experience a version of the real world – and realistic aviation if that’s you’re interest. Although I thought about getting a new flight stick (my ancient Logitech Wingman Attack 2 didn’t seem to be working all that well), I ended up being more interesting in touring the world than learning how to fly so the video is entirely “cinematic” – no UI or menus; no in-depth discussion of controls or options. That was a nice change of pace.
Above all, I wanted to put something out into the world that was positive, uplifting, and uniting. It’s been a rough year for just about everyone. Flight Simulator offers a bit of an escape from that while also allowing us to step back and appreciate how far technology has come to simulating and imitating the beauty of nature.
I’m still doing this Debug Mode video game show thing! In fact, I’ve been working on content for the channel a lot lately. If my plans don’t get too derailed, 2019 should be the biggest year yet (which is to stay I plan on releasing more than 2 videos – hopefully many more than that).
For now, here’s a look back at the games of 2018: the good, the disappointing, and my top 5 favorites. Happy New Year!
E3 is still going on through this afternoon, but the press conferences are over and most – if not all – announcements have been made. My E3 thoughts got long and I want to include a bunch of trailers and photos so I’m splitting this into two (maybe even three) parts.
I’m only going to be talking about what I find personally interesting or worth commenting on. Video games are broad and there are whole genres and styles I’m not down with so this won’t be a comprehensive recap. That would be crazy.
Let’s run through the first three of the six major press conferences.
As predicted, EA’s show leaned heavily into sports and celebrity. There were lots of camera shots of people playing games which is annoying when I’m tuning in to see the games themselves – not the people. Still, it was overall a better presentation that I expected from EA.
Battlefield 1 DLC
I like this game. I wish the DLC wasn’t so expensive. I would enjoy new maps, but I don’t play it enough to justify buying them. New single player stuff would have been neat, but you don’t generally get single player DLC in online-focused FPS games.
Need for Speed Payback
I haven’t cared about this series in a long time, but the gameplay demo for this looked really sharp and fun. There was a definite Burnout vibe to it which is nice because EA killed the Burnout series almost 10 years ago. I suppose they’re also aping the Fast & Furious movies. Wouldn’t exactly know since I’ve never seen one.
I doubt I’ll play this, but I’ll be curious about the reaction when it comes out. It’s on my radar now and it wasn’t before. I could see myself picking it up when it gets cheap if the car takedown stuff is really fun.
A Way Out
This is a co-op prison break game from the creators of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons which I’ve never played but heard great things about. It’s restricted to splitscreen co-op only.
Co-op is awesome in theory, but can often be frustrating in execution. I can’t tell how much A Way Out will let players off the leash to make and execute their own plans. It looks fairly scripted and linear to me. They talk about “scenes” and different ways to progress through scenes. Does the way you play affect the story or just allow you to accomplish the same goals in different ways? Donno. The concept is really cool though. I’ll be watching this one.
Star Wars Battlefront II
Right up front in the presentation, EA’s CEO acknowledged there was a fair amount of negative feedback for the first game which is a good sign. EA does indeed realize that Battlefront was thin on content and that fans (including John Boyega) want a single player story mode as well. We’re getting that, but none of it was shown. The demo focused on multiplayer – a map set on Naboo from Star Wars: Episode 1.
It looks as sharp as the first game. They’ve made a bunch more really nice looking Star Wars assets. The gameplay shown didn’t excite me all that much. There are different classes now which is a welcome change, but it looks largely the same.
What did entice me was the announcement that Battlefront II will be supported post-launch with 3 free seasons of DLC. It’ll likely just be maps, weapon, and class updates – not single player stuff, but that’s a pretty good way to win back fans who thought the first game lacked content. I’m looking forward to this one.
Microsoft needed to bring on the games at this year’s show and they delivered at least in terms of number of games. Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer declared early in the show that 42 games would be shown off and 22 of them were Xbox console exclusives.
Scorpio got an official name and price. It’s the Xbox One X which is a stupid and terrible name that’s easy to confuse with their other product, the Xbox One S. Oh well. It’s definitely not the worst name for a video game console ever. The One X is going for $499 which is $100 more than the PS4 Pro, but the One X has significantly more power and the capability to run games at 4K natively whereas the Pro uses an upscaling method.
I have a pretty nice gaming PC already so the One X does nothing to entice me, but the visuals shown off were very nice. The “exclusive” games are also coming to Windows 10 so that makes Xbox hardware completely irrelevant to me (except, maybe, as a UHD Blu-ray player).
It will be interesting to see how the market reacts to the One X. 4K TVs are still fairly rare from what I understand (I don’t have one yet either) and Microsoft went hard on 4K as a selling point.
I like the Metro series, but had kind of forgotten that the developer might be working on another. I’m up for it! Game looks really, really nice.
The portion shown was mostly above ground rather than in the titular Moscow metro system where much of the previous games have largely taken place. Metro has always had a distinct feel and ambition and I’m curious what will be emphasized in the game and what makes it different from the last two games.
State of Decay 2
We already knew this game was coming and the demo here didn’t really provide any new earth-shattering information. Still, I’ve got my eye on this one. State of Decay is a cool idea: a zombie survival game where you build up your base over time, recruit survivors, and push into new territory as you build up resources. The first game was neat, but a little unpolished. This looks better realized in every way.
They’re unifying Minecraft across consoles (sans PS4), mobile, and Windows 10. Players on different platforms will be able to play with each other. That’s neat. I have the game on Nintendo Switch, but I mainly play the “real” Minecraft – the original Java PC version that is built on a different framework. Probably none of these touted updates will reach that version so I don’t care for the most part, but it’s a neat update. Microsoft seems to mostly be doing right by Minecraft and its fanbase.
The Last Night
The trailer for this was an intriguing mixture of pixel art and modern graphics/lighting set in a Blade-Runner-but-more-colorful sort of world. Neat. Hard to tell what the actual gameplay will be, but it seemed like there will be a heavy emphasis on story. This is one of the most visually striking games announced at this year’s show.
Sea of Thieves
Rare’s much talked about new pirate co-op game was shown in an extensive demo. The demo was engaging while it lasted, but I have to say the game looks kind of boring to me. Fighting skeletons with a blunderbuss and carrying treasure chests back to your ship seems like it would get old quickly. In the words of an immortal pirate, I have to ask: to what point and purpose, young missy?
There are still a lot of unanswered questions. What do you do with the loot you bring back? Will you run into other players? Are there story missions and questlines? Probably this info is out there, but I don’t care enough to look it up right now. Since it seems to rely on you playing with several friends, Sea of Thieves probably won’t be for me anyhow.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was a complete butchery of Tolkien lore, tone, and moral conviction, but it was a pretty well-made game. I lost interest after one too many super orc captains was immune to a particular type of attack for no good reason other than it was a video game. Still, I’m kind of interested in the sequel because the systems at play seem really cool.
Shadow of War allows you to fight orc chiefs and subjugate them as part of your army rather than kill them. You can then take that army and use it to assault enemy strongholds. There will also be counterattacks to contend with. It sounds like there will be some big strategy elements in what is otherwise an action game like the first.
Original Xbox backwards compatibility
Microsoft shocked everyone when they announced backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games was coming to Xbox One. Now they’re bring original Xbox games. That’s a cool, consumer friendly move and that makes Microsoft the biggest champions of backwards compatibility at the moment. Weird. Good for them.
The new IP from storied developer BioWare was Anthem, a co-op 3rd person shooter that reminded me a lot of Destiny. I’m extremely skeptical of BioWare in recent years. They’re traditionally an RPG developer. Action games, like this appears to be, are not their forte. And even BioWare’s RPGs have been of poorer quality lately. It’s way to early to tell what in the world Anthem is except a pretty gameplay trailer.
Bethesda’s show was brief yet padded with a bunch of minor announcements and self-adulation. They really didn’t need to have a conference this year. The few major announcements (there were only two big games announced) could have slotted into Microsoft or Sony’s conferences and made just as much of a splash there.
I think Bethesda annoyed fans with this presentation as much as anything. They brought back paid mods – sort of – in a program they’re calling Creation Club. They talked VR, card games, their Elder Scrolls MMO, and Skyrim on Switch. There’s also a sequel to The Evil Within which is confusing because I didn’t think anybody liked or bought that game. Ultimately I was interested in only two items.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
Confusingly this seems to be a standalone expansion of Dishonored 2. That’s probably smart. I don’t know that Dishonored 2 sold all that well which is a shame. It was very good despite some technical problems at launch.
“Death of the Outsider” is a very provocative title for those familiar with Dishonored’s lore. I’m intrigued. This will retail for $30 which is typical for standalone expansions. That suggests there will be about half the content of a full Dishonored game which is surprising if true given how quickly after the last game this is coming out.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
This might be the craziest trailer of the entire show. Wolfenstein: The New Order and its standalone expansion The Old Blood were both crazy games. Tonally they oscillated between over-the-top action and very sincere, off-beat character moments and somehow it all kind of worked.
The New Order took place in an alternate history where the Nazis won World War II with crazy sci-fi weaponry. It took place mostly in Europe, but The New Colossus moves the action to Nazi-occupied America making this the best Man in the High Castle video game we’re likely to get.
Warning: the trailer is a little more crude and violent than some of the others. And weird. It’s extremely weird.
Back tomorrow with impressions from the rest of the press conferences.