Thursday, January 11, 2018

Dark Souls 1 Remastered!

Dark Souls 1 including the incredible DLC will be remastered for all consoles and PC with up to
6-player, upscaled 4K and 60 FPS on PS4, XBox 1. On Switch docked mode, 1080p, 60fps.

I feel that if this remastered version sells well, Demon's Souls will be remastered for the PS4. Sony has the exclusive rights for Demon's Souls.

This game is my favorite and here's why. Needless to say this is a must-have.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Monday Musings 26

Why Kojima's Death Stranding Will Be A Masterpiece

Given the cache and celebrity status of Kojima amongst us gamers, there's so much hype surrounding his upcoming game, Death Stranding. Although we're only privy to vague, but brilliant cinematic trailers, we haven't seen gameplay, so how do we know this game is going to be a piece de resistance?

Despite gameplay being the most important component of a video game, I feel that Kojima's next oeuvre will not just be a masterpiece but revolutionary, perhaps in character development and story-telling. For instance, Metal Gear Solid was revolutionary in breaking the 4th wall. The section of the game when I had to switch the controller to a different port to "Psyche out" Psycho Mantis was quite startling and unexpected, not to mention the well-characterized main bosses. I can't remember any of the bosses of Metal Gear Solid 2, whereas the bosses in the first one are unforgettable.

I feel that if Guillermo Del Toro is given full reign to direct the game, this will push Death Stranding over the edge of masterpiece, just from the story telling, character development, imagery and spiritual truths that Del Toro's films express. So even if the gameplay isn't compelling, Del Toro's direction is so brilliant that gameplay becomes irrelevant. No words can express the emotional impact and truths of Del Toro's The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth, so it's best to watch the films.

I feel that Kojima will put aside his ego, and let Del Toro direct the entirety of the game. The way Konami treated Kojima, not even giving him credit in-game or access to the game engine he created, is so appalling, immature and unprofessional (and these are understatements), that I think Kojima will give full reign to Del Toro to prove himself to Konami that they made a huge mistake by treating him so unjustly. Kojima recognizes that Del Toro is not only a professional director, but a master, so the first step in making such a masterpiece is giving Del Toro full direction. Who wouldn't let a master like Del Toro direct?
Another positive sign is that roadblocks will be removed. The obstacle being removed is having a great publisher backing you, as opposed to a stingy, grasping one that is Konami. Sony mentioned in so many interviews that they're allowing Kojima to do whatever he wants. Knowing all of this, I wasn't surprised when Sony was very pleased as to the progress being made with this hyperbole! It's clear that Kojima wants to snub Konami, and this is one of the best ways possible, as publishers almost always feel that the developers are "too slow".

Another stumbling block being removed is the game engine. Instead of having to build a game engine from scratch like Metal Gear Solid V, that eats away so much development time, Kojima will be using Guerrilla Games's Decima Engine, which powered Horizon: Zero Dawn. I'm sure Kojima will continue to perfect the Decima Engine, but at least he doesn't have to build from the ground up. Guerrilla Games treated Kojima with so much respect, giving him the entire engine with no strings attached, that I think Kojima will also do right by creating a masterpiece that will further showcase the power of the Decima Engine.

Further, Kojima can use that extra development time, actually developing the game.

I know the major objection is that we haven't seen the gameplay, but there are some games where gameplay isn't so important. I feel that The Last of Us is a masterpiece, even though the gameplay wasn't even fun to me. I rushed through the gameplay as quickly as possible only because I wanted to see what would happen to Joel and Ellie since I cared so much about them.  The game has brought so many powerful emotions because of the story and character development, that these aspects lifted The Last of Us to masterpiece status. Here's one of many examples of emotional impact, spoilers below.

So I'm happy to see that Death Stranding is moving along quite nicely, and with Del Toro as a director, this will be a masterpiece.

What are your thoughts on Death Stranding

The How of Happiness review.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Monday Musings 25

Wishing you all a Happy New Year! New Year's is my favorite holiday because it's refreshing to start anew with new resolutions to make this year better, and seeing the New Year as a fresh start.

With every New Year, I make resolutions that I don't follow through, and I'm sure a lot of other people do this as well. Even though I know the reasons why I don't do what I resolve to, and have proposed solutions, the resolutions nevertheless fall apart. 

I'll use one of my resolutions as an example, which is to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Often, it'll strike midnight and I feel that this is already too late, so why not just stay up later anyway because I already broke my resolution to go to sleep at a reasonable hour.

So, even though I didn't achieve the goal of going to bed at a reasonable hour, I could come closer to the goal by turning in at midnight, instead of rationalizing, why not stay up until 3 AM or so, and indeed, end doing so. I have to teach myself to not use having stayed up past my bedtime as an excuse to stay up even later because I've already broken my resolution anyway.

Another of my usual resolutions is to exercise more regularly. I should follow the guideline that it's better to exercise later in the day, as one's muscles are warmed up, preventing injury,  but anytime I don't exercise first thing in the morning, I simply don't exercise. For me, it's best to do something that I dislike as soon as possible to get it out of the way so I can enjoy the rest of the day. So to exercise regularly, I need to do this first thing in the morning.

One thing that's helped consistently in terms of exercise is setting my goal very low. I don't go to the gym, but rather exercise at home so I don't make the excuse that it's too cold to exercise, or i'm too tired to gather belongings and drive to the gym. The easiest and most accessible exercise is to simply walk around one's domicile. You don't even have to get dressed (unless you do, for modesty's sake in re: cohabitants). I designate a spot to start, and start there; and the goal is I don't even have to DO any exercise. Make the commitment to just show up and if I just stand there, I've met your goal.

Interestingly, when I tried that, there was only a few times I just stood there and called it quits. Even so, most of the time, I exercised. I followed this easy regimen for one month, but then stopped, for reasons I don't remember now.

Another example of incorporating an easy goal is my blog. My resolution early on was to post something every week (Monday Musings). So last week, I posted, even though it was the most minimal effort. However, I'm sure there will be a Monday when I don't post, but I'm hoping I will recommit to the weekly routine.

Even though New Year's is my favorite holiday, perhaps the concept of New Year's is the issue. Often, if we want to make a healthy lifestyle change over the winter holidays, we tell ourselves to wait until it's January 1st, as the start of the New Year. When we break our resolutions, we tend to tell ourselves to wait until Sunday for a do over, since that's the start of the week. 

There's nothing special about January 1st, or any given Sunday, as the only day that we can restart your goal. Rather, see any day as the day to recommit, even today!

What were some of your resolutions, and with the ones that you achieved, how did you achieve them?

Monday, December 25, 2017

Monday, December 18, 2017

Monday Musings 23

Monster Hunter World Free Beta Access

If you missed the last free Beta access, the Monster Hunter: World demo will be available again world-wide for Playstation 4. Even better, this time around, you do NOT need a PS+ subscription. Because of this, if you don't have a subscription, you won't be able to use multi-player features, only solo. Here are the details:

Friday, December 22: 5 PM UTC (Noon EST) through
Tuesday, December 26: 4:59 PM UTC (11:59 AM EST)

Here's the UTC Time Conversion Calculator.

It's worth it to play the game solo if you don't have PS+ subscription, and in fact easier than playing with a team due to the increase in the monster's health when COOPing as explained here.

Capcom is doing a great job marketing this game, however, if they truly want to capture the Western Audience, they must make this Beta for Xbox users as well.

Amusing (Hopefully) Video Game Experiences

I was thinking of this topic when I restarted Borderlands 2, but kept dying over and over again because I didn't take cover. The issue is, due to my lack of experience with first person perspective, I couldn't tell if I'm in cover or not. Each time you're revived, you have to pay $11, so my $100 quickly went down to $45. I thought that once it goes to 0, it's game over, which I found out later isn't true, but since I didn't realize at the time, I decided to quit and sadly thought that I can't play this game.

The issue of not being able to take cover reminded me of my Uncharted experience. After playing Gears of War, Remastered on easy difficulty level, I enjoyed the game so much that I decided to play Uncharted, restarting yet again. I tried multiple times before, but it didn't click. However, since I got the remastered Uncharted series, the Nathan Drake Collection, I decided to give it a go again.

I decided to play on easy difficulty as per the internet, the enemies are bullet sponges, and because I have minimal experience with shooters, it made sense to me to try on easy, and I can always go to normal if the difficulty level is too easy.

The very first part of the game starts pretty quickly. You're attacked and the game instructs you to take cover. I was too lazy to take cover, and thinking that it's on easy, I can just stand and shoot, tanking my way through the introductory sequence. With my friend watching, I told him that I refuse to take cover, because I'm too tired, explaining that it's okay since this is on easy. However, in less than 1 minute, I died to a rain of bullets. My friend, watching, said "OMG".

Another gaming incident that is very Dark Souls is when I was COOPing with my friend in Bloodborne, and we made it to the Forbidden Woods area. I confidently told my friend since I've completed this area so many times, that I can find the shortcut for him, and he can wait by the lantern (i.e. bonfire). The shortcut that you unlock leads right back to this lantern. Further, it only takes a couple of minutes at most to unlock it, if you run past all the enemies and make a beeline to the shortcut.

Of course, with my sense of direction, I got lost. I saw the invasion screen, which being rare, you tend to forget about, and my thought was "Oh shit". My friend was panicking, "Hurry, Alice, I'm about to be invaded". I then told him that I got lost, but hopefully will find the elevator shortcut "soon", which he clearly was neither comforted nor convinced.

Since he kept telling me to hurry up in increasingly panicked tones, I got more and more anxious and flustered myself, which makes it harder to find my way through. My friend announced that the invader arrived (it takes time between the warning and the invasion). Somehow, I found my way to the elevator, and seeing the intruder about to attack my friend, I flung myself through the elevator shortcut door straight towards him. The invader, seeing me come at him like a bat from hell, then jumped off the cliff to his death. My friend and I had a good laugh about that.

Quite a few of my platforming experiences were disastrous, and there were many examples of this in the Metroid series. There were quite a few areas that I simply couldn't jump flawlessly on the platform to avoid acid, lava and other dangerous liquids, so my strategy is to kill the enemies until I get my full health back, since the enemies can leave behind healing items. With full health, I can then run through the acid, so I tanked a lot of the platforming elements in Metroid in this way. It actually worked, so that was one of my main strats for the series.

If I ever stream, I would cater to a niche audience, those who are beginning at gaming and need help in difficult areas of the game. The strats would involve leveling up, tanking, and so forth, ways that the developers did not intend a gamer to do!

I'm 100% sure that you have equally, if not more, amusing stories, so please share them here!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Monday Musings 22

The Game Awards, Best American Award Show?

This year's Game Awards is the first Game Awards I've seen, and I feel it's the best award show for its intended audience. It's been perhaps more than a decade since I've seen the other major awards such as the Emmy, the Grammy and Oscar Awards, but there's a reason why I stopped watching because they are boring, even though I enjoy music, movies and tv.

I think all awards shows should follow the programming of the Game Awards. I noticed that the show was very efficient. They immediately announce the category, the nominees, announce the winner, and speech. It seems like other award shows, this process drags on and on.

This is even more bloated by the number of ads, and this is where the Game Awards shines over the traditional awards. All of the ads are about video games, which are of interest to gamers because we want to know what games are coming out, unlike the Oscars where they might have advertisements that aren't related to movies, of which the intended audience may or may not be interested in.  Often these ads are boring such as ads about detergent. The Game Awards gets rather funny ads such as these:

This one is from Bethesda:

and another from Psyonix:

There's one special musical guest, instead of so many musical guests that the show drags on even more if that's possible. This year's Game Awards musical guest, Phoenix, was rather pleasant, and thankfully performed one song.  

Live audience of these traditional awards shows are going down, and it's probably because no one wants to sit through often bad musical entertainment, boring ads that aren't related to the subject at hand, and long drawn out speeches. They are often saved on DVR, to be fast forwarded. Or, to save even more time, read about after the shows end.

Not only is the Game Awards interesting, it was also informative as it highlights upcoming video games and is targeted toward the intended audience. If the other traditional American Awards shows can follow the concise and relevant format of The Game Awards, they might gain viewers.

Monster Hunter: World Beta Impressions
The Beta is everything I hoped for in a Monster Hunter! I completed all three missions solo on day of release. The trusted Monster Hunter sources, Arekkz Gaming and Gaijin Hunter were correct in reporting that the gameplay is very much like the old Monster Hunter series.

To enjoy the Beta more fully, definitely make use of the training room to test any weapons you're interested in.  While testing out the weapons, the screen will show basic moves and recommended combos. Further, in the options menu under "Hunter's Notes", the basic moves and combinations are listed more concisely.

Instead of targeting the breakable barrels, it's better to practice on the un-breakable pole in the middle of the training area. Sometimes you can't continue combinations if the item breaks, so to play out the full set of combinations, it's best to target the pole. Further, it's easier to see damage numbers when the combinations play out fully, so you can find out which attacks/combination of attacks are the strongest.

Once you get used to the move-set of your weapons and ready to start the mission, you need to tweak some settings. In the options menu while in-mission, change the item wheel to type 2. In type 2, you chose the item and then press R3 to use. With type 1, you point to the item then release the buttons, and the item is supposed to register, but often it doesn't.

If you don't want to use the item wheel, look at the items at the very bottom right of your screen, and cycle through them using your D-Pad right and left arrow keys. Press square to use.

If you have a PS4, I would recommend favoring resolution. Here, I'm hoping the real game improves in the resolution. I would like it to be more crisp and clear, even if it means reducing texture details. However, this is infinitely improved from the 3DS counterparts where my friend couldn't coop with me because the graphics caused eye strain and headaches.

For the third, expert mission, Anjanath, please play this solo, or at least with 3 people on your team for multiplayer. Since initially I couldn't beat it the first time, a friend coop'd with me (he beat the mission solo) and we couldn't defeat it because of its large health pool, and we must've tried 8 times.

We found out that it couldn't be defeated when my friend saw the Rathalos do 1,500 damage to Anjanath when he was almost dead (signified by limping), and yet he still didn't go down. Between the two of us, we were doing at most 100 per hit. However, after these many defeats, when I played the quest solo, I was able to defeat Anjanath.

I believe in solo mode, the mission is scripted so that you can learn the basics of hunting, because at the end of my first successful solo mission run, they made sure Anjanath was stuck in an infinite trap. Next play-throughs against Anjanath, when I became more proficient, it only took a couple of combinations to take him down, otherwise I feel that they would have Anjanath move to a trap pit.

My friend and I then coop'd with his friend, and we were able to defeat Anjanath so with three people, the mission is doable. A two-player team may not do enough damage, so please avoid this frustration.

The Beta is proof that Monster Hunter: World isn't made to be "Easy" or simplified for Western audiences. Weapon and battle mechanics are just as complex and deep as they've always been. I'm hoping that I would love World even more than my current favorite, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite.

Have you played the Beta and what are your thoughts?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Monster Hunter: World Beta Access and Hype!

Free Beta Access Starts December 9
Hold onto your hats, Monster Hunter: World is coming soon!

If you have a PS4, a Playstation Plus Subscribtion, and online access, it's a no-brainer to pre-download the FREE Monster Hunter: World Beta access (you must be online). Unfortunately, the time frame is very limited. I'm hoping that if this is successful (i.e. tons of users), they may even extend the time frame, but don't get your hopes up, we must prepare to be ready and play during the strict time limit which is as follows:

Saturday, December 9: 5 PM UTC (Noon EST) through
Tuesday, December 12: 4:59 PM UTC (11:59 AM EST)

Use this time converter for your zone.

They will present 3 quests, varying from easy, middle and difficult, and if you beat the quests and purchase the product down the road, you get rewards.

From watching all the video clips and information provided by the developer, Capcom itself, as well as prominent Monster Hunter gurus such as Arekkz Gaming and Gaijin Hunter, Monster Hunter: World will be the best of the series. I'm going to pull together the new, improved quality of life features as to why this game will not only be the best Monster Hunter yet, but even a Game of the Year contender.

Graphics and Draw Distance
I'm definitely not obsessed with Graphics, all I'm asking is for clean graphics without jaggies, and today's technology can achieve that, as seen in Gravity Rush 2, Hollow Knight, Ori and the Blind Forest and I can list so many more games. I'm certainly not saying that better graphics = better game, but if you improve the graphics so drastically within the same series, I think it does improve the game.

Monster Hunter has finally entered 1080p definition, improved from the ridiculously bad 240p (!???!) of the most recent 3DS version of Monster Hunter XX (March 18, 2017). 240p in 2017 is not what I'd call standard graphics on modern day consoles, especially when some gamers are now looking down upon 1080p due to 4K.

Playing the 3DS western version of Monster Hunter XX (Generations), the graphics were so bad that my friend, who was thinking of buying it so he can coop, took one look, got eyestrain and headache, and my hopes of ever playing this series with him was forever dashed, as I thought this will always remain on the 3DS, given the success in Japan. He actually felt bad and said he just couldn't get it because it hurt his eyes and he started getting a headache. 

I think by improving the graphics to the point where it doesn't cause eye strain and headaches pushes Monster Hunter: World ahead of past series.

You only need to look at Arekkz video of the Palico (Cat) armor and weapon set. Look at the
Palico Armor Set from Arekkz Gaming
detail of each armor and weapon set.  A picture is worth a thousand words, so I recommend clicking on the YouTube link for more armor sets! The cat goggles and backpacks are such that I would rush out to get all the materials to make those sets, looking forward to the hunts. I must admit that after awhile, if you need a particular part for your armor, it does get a bit old grinding the same Rathalos (I still have NOT gotten the Rathalos Ruby), but the incentive will be there to obtain parts for those cute goggles!

The other huge problem is the draw distance. I don't have the best vision, but from far away, I thought this blue blotch was the herb I need for the Insect Glaive (I ended up maining the trusty Switch Axe), and upon approach it was the blue Velociraptor. I don't need to explain in detail why this isn't a good feature in gaming. World will have improved draw distance.

Level Design
Monster Hunter has the trademark map with areas that are segmented, so you go from zone to zone, which halts the action as you wait for the map to load. When I saw the gameplay of Horizon Zero: Dawn, I knew I had to get the game, because it was exactly how I wanted Monster Hunter to be. Fighting monsters without having to go to multiple load screens!  I was so excited seeing that 2016 E3 trailer of Aloy, taking down a Thunderjaw, using all the techniques that you use in the Monster Hunter series but without loading. Can you imagine, as you finally dislodge his rocket launcher, he runs away, and you have to chase after him (which is okay, b/c that's very similar to hunting), but then you have to go to load screen and wait a few seconds before you can blast the launcher. Guerrilla Games, the developer of HZ:D, also stated many times that they were influenced by Monster Hunter. Indeed, if you wear all pieces of the Playstation exclusive Aloy armor, your character (regardless of gender) will look like Aloy, and your Palico, a robot machine!

I cannot go into the level design of Monster Hunter: World but it appears that the developers have made a very cohesive world, with carefully thought out ecosystem. From my understanding, they build the world around one central figure, like an enormous tree, so the location has consistent foliage. Unfortunately, I have no clue about ecology, but they have studied various biomes and traveled to different parts of the world such as Australia to create a coherent ecosystem.  

Quality of Life Issues and Features
This is such a long list, such that I need to cut and paste for these new and improved features:

Conclusion: This is the perfect opportunity to see if you'll enjoy this GOTY contender! Requirements are PS4, PS+ subscription and online access. Are you excited about playing Monster Hunter: World?

Dark Souls 1 Remastered!

Dark Souls 1 including the incredible DLC will be remastered for all consoles and PC with up to 6-player, upscaled 4K and 60 FPS on PS4,...