Friday, May 6, 2016

Dark Souls III: Easiest Souls Game yet?

Lets get one thing out of the way right from the start: this is NOT an article about bashing Dark Souls 3.I love the game and am paying it like a madman. It is one of the best games of 2016, even with Uncharted 4 around the corner. Now that that is out of the way, let us begin ! 

So, like any avid rabid Souls-Borne fan, I have been playing Dark Souls 3 exclusively for the past few weeks and this feeling keeps creeping up again and again that this might be the easiest Souls game yet ! I keep trying to shake it off, but it resurfaces every other hour and I can't help but feel that it is an intentional change by From Software and not because I have gotten better at playing these masterpieces over time. It is not a bad thing necessarily, as people who feel intimidated by the difficulty of these games can now try the series out without feeling.....well, intimidated !

This is the most welcoming and accessible souls game out there, for sure ! So, if you have been waiting to take a plunge, read on how this is the easiest of them all to take a plunge into....and if you still find it difficult, I list a few simple ways the game provides to make it feel even easier for your pansy pleasures ^_^ !

Wake up, O Ashen one :

See, in a souls game, however much you may level yourself up, a slight misstep causes death and failure and a large health pool and beefed up weapons do make every game easy after a while, but the push-pull battle mechanics, the perfect timing of dodges to use those invincibility frames and every move of your weapon ingrained into your muscle memory have always been a defining factor in winning every 'one-on-one' or a mob fight.Umm...... Not so much in Dark Souls III !

Somewhere in DS3, I have a feeling I am having it way easier than before. My number of deaths are minuscule, paltry, unnoticeable on a Souls scale and I am getting by being careless in exploring, not measuring every step and letting curiosity take over blatantly ! My reckless decisions are hardly ever punished get the drift : though enjoying it like hell, somewhere I am finding it EASY .....that's heresy for a souls game :^P ! 

So, I sat down with my brains in my hands and decided to note down what exactly is helping me out here and letting me be a normal gamer, rather than a sulking Dark Knight. This is by no means a definitive list of features that make it easier, but I think they cover most of the gameplay aspects making it feel that way. Feel free to add more, if I have missed some completely!

Way simpler tutorial area: 

This isn't really a complaint about difficulty, as it passes very soon, but the opening area, which sets up the tone of the game, completely lacks the mystery and dread of the previous souls games.....and, well, the difficulty too. There are no confusing pathways or hidden threats or even a general sense of mystery to this environment. Nor are there any super tough enemies to run away from ! 
Yeah, its still very pretty ! 
 Bright sun-kissed-open-cheerful landscape isn't something you expect from a "Dark" souls game -_- ! Atleast, the Firelink Shrine saves the day by appearing pretty quickly and offering some mystique and hidden paths ! But yea, compared to the "Prison cell" and "Things Betwixt" of DS 1 and 2, this is the simplest, most spoonfed opening area of a Souls game lacking all fear, dread or mystique.

Bonfires are too close to each other:

 Yup, thats true. I never thought I would say such a thing, its a relief actually, but its also a problem, you see: there is no real risk of losing your souls in DS III unless you completely (very very unlikely) miss a bonfire location ! Bonfires are very frequent in this game, almost like checkpoints in other games. The dread of wandering around with thousands of souls and a sliver of a health-bar, with no more Estus to save you...haven't really felt that much in my playtime with the game. Except for one specific time where I wandered around bat crazy, not knowing what to do or where to go, I haven't really risked losing my souls for the want of a bonfire....and even in that particular case I found a shortcut within 100 meters of the bonfire ! I was just not looking hard enough.

 Early levels of the game have a bonfire every 5 mins and even later in the game, if you get a feeling  that the last enemy you fought was a tough one, you can be sure there will be a bonfire or a shortcut right around the corner. This takes away that very quintessential dread of playing a souls game and the relief one felt upon finding a bonfire......and in the process also makes the game pretty easy ! You don't really need to worry much now, just keep moving forward. You will find a bonfire waiting for you just about the time you end up using your estus flasks or even before that happens.

Pyromancy kills the crap out of everything: 

For the 30 hours I have spent inside this World of Lothric, I haven't held a shield for even a second.....which is good, great, awesome ! Finally, I can be a deadly pyromancer lighting up the enemies with glee ! ....but that also means that if you choose the pyromancer class while creating your character, like I did, then you will have a very easy time with most of the tougher enemies of the game, including doing quite a massive amount of damage to bosses without getting near them at all !
The rule of Fire !
 In fact, if you want to have it easy on yourself , I would say just go for Pyromancy right from the start.  You can change your playstyle later once you level up enough with the help of that fire in your palm ! The damage and the range of your standard fireball is pretty high right from the start and you can rely on taking out quite a lot of enemies just by using fire. The fact that most of the early game enemies are weak to fire helps a lot and bends the odds even more in your favour !

Add to that the frequent bonfires to refill your FP, it means you almost always have fireballs at your disposal and can kite enemies from far, safe and away from their hit zones ! This made me so lazy in the beginning of the game that I didn't even bother to learn all the moves of my trusty I had a even more trusty fireball at my disposal :^)

Ember Ember everywhere: 

So lets say you are not a pyromancer and you do not have keen eyes to spot those Bonfires everywhere, worry not fellow knight, there is still this little mechanic which provides a huge help throughout the game: its called Ember !
Ember grants a longer health bar !
On the surface, Ember is pretty much what humanity was in the previous game, albeit a few differences. Consuming Ember provides one with a HUGE  health bar, like a temporary level boost, which is a complete and massive life saver. It is like having a boost of say 5 extra levels until your next death. It means more mistakes are forgiven and one can be more sure of reaching the next bonfire.
Ember grants a loooooooooong health bar ! :O
 It also entails the ability to summon other players for co op in your game to help you out. As was with Humanity, you lose your embered state when you die. All of this sounds familiar to Souls players, but there is a difference in DS3. You see Ember, unlike humanity, is not rare to fact, it is everywhere ! So much so, that it is pretty much possible to play the whole game in embered state !  
This changes everything. Once I realised that Ember wasn't rare at all, I started consuming ember each time I died just to get that super boost to my health bar and with that humongous a health bar , one doesn't feel much need to be scared, now does one !
Long health bars means selfie times even during Boss Fights :P !

....and even if you run out of embers, do not fret, cos the hand-maiden in the shrine will sell you some embers for a paltry amount of souls ! The number of embers she sells is limited but frankly, between bosses, random drops and the Handmaiden selling them, I doubt you will ever run out of embers, making the game that much easier again !

Embers light up the co op:

 ....and Ember again ! Once you have consumed ember, you can summon other players for co-op in your game and the co op turns the tide in this game. With a party of three, you can roll through areas faster than a fighter jet on nitrous ! So, if you feel you do not have the nerves of steel to go through this game alone, fret not, just summon two more people via there summon signs and have a blast, like you would in any game ! Its a ton of fun !
Knight Fight !

All this is great and super fun to do, but the fact that you have enough ember to play co op all the time can steamroll through the game all the time ! If Ember was a bit rarer, it would have been a strategic decision to use it only at the right time, but in my game I have always had a dozen to spare. So, I find myself going for co-op as much as possible....its the cheapest, easiest and most harmless way of making the game easier. There is nothing that three Ashen ones cannot handle together :^)!

Free souls for all :

Just like summoning others into your game, you can also join others' games to help them out in their world......and the game rewards you for it. The biggest fear of losing all your souls upon dying is the defining factor of all souls games, but that fear is removed for you if you help out others via co-op. So, what that means is that no matter what clumsy way you die in while helping someone,, you will always come back with all your souls intact to level yourself up !

Its basically a free levelling up tool at your disposal, a rare aspect of a souls game which has NO PENALTY at all ! So, like any normal gamer, if you still feel that this game is hard, just go for fun co-op sessions in others games, bring back souls and level up your character really high before tackling your own demons ! Voila, easy mode unlocked !

Secret of Dancer of the Boreal Valley:

Finally, there is way to get almost 50,000 souls very early in the game by defeating a very late game boss with the help of an NPC summon. It can level you up almost 11-12 times in a go granting you a huge advantage over the game. Though it is executed like a glitch, the game's lore suggests that it s not a glitch but an intentional event added into the game by From Software. The fact that they are not patching it either confirms that it is part of the many secrets inside the game.

This "secret" is best described in this video by "Naamtar", who discovered it and shared with all. It is very easy to pull off, but needs to be done very early in the game. Watch this video for a complete rundown:

With those 50k souls in your kitty, you will pretty over levelled for the next area and you can keep the momentum going from there on making the whole journey just a tad bit easier.

There you have it ! 

With the in game mechanics regarding Bonfires and Embers making it easier than before, you can make it even easier and newb-friendly by using pyromancy, getting help from co-operators and levelling up by helping others and using the Boreal secret.

These options are intentional game design choices made by From Software and the game can easily feel like the easiest Souls game, if you use them well. If you are a seasoned fan of the series, you may not like some of the changes made by From Software and for that , I say, except for the frequent bonfires, its all optional and can be avoided for a hardcore play experience.

But if you were always intrigued by the series and had never dared to take the plunge due to the percieved high difficulty these games offer, feel free to jump in now as Dark Souls 3 is the most accessible of them all and yet retains the quality, mystery, addictiveness and charm that makes a Souls-Borne game absolutely unique ! Join in and let it suck your life away :^) !

......and if you see an Orange summon sign, summon the phantom, we might just kick some ash together ! (pun intended ^_^)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Battleborn: Best pre-order offer ever !

I won't beat around the bush, just look at that image above ! look at it ! Its unbelievable, right ?!?! Yes, but its true ! You get a FREE COLLECTIBLE FIGURE with your regular copy of Battleborn for nothing extra ! All one has to do is pre-order and going by how fun the open beta was , it isn't much of a decision to make !

Its an Arena Shooter, right, and if thats not your ball game, then probably you won't like it much but for people who like Arena shooters, this one is a very very  well made game, with very unique characters, the borderlands humour and a very cool art style ! My point being that if you liked the beta then there is no point in NOT pre-ordering this game when you can get a free collectible figure which is usually reserved for high priced special editions !

I got so excited by the news that I HAD to share this with everyone, go , get outta here and pre order the damn game before the figures run out :^D !

Far Cry Primal Review: Does it Survive or go extinct !

My friend and a chronic game maniac Kevin Kain, aka U.F.O., goes hands on with the latest in the Far Cry series from Ubisoft. 
Time to hunt, time to Survive ! 
This is a review of the PC version of the game Far Cry Primal.

 "A game based on 10,000 BC... hmmm... Could be interesting..." 

......was my first thought when I saw its trailer for the first time, then about the time of its release, I was hearing many people say

" How can a Game without Guns and Sword be interesting ? " 
....and the answer is:

" Just be a Man " 
Survival of the Fittest !

Ubisoft hit the Gaming world with another Far Cry and many were doubtful about it but after playing it through I can definitely say now that it is amazing ! We're the Wenjas who are trying to survive among the Udams, the tribe of Man Eaters, and Izila, the Sun Worshipers. The story line is somewhat similar to all Far Cry games in the sense that you help your people rise from some form of oppression, but the odds being high this time..... 

This time its a fight against extinction ! 

​Lets Shoot it out:

Primal has the same charisma of previous Far Cry games in it but the "insanity" is missing, if you get the drift :^)...wink wink ! Put simply, Primal has no Bad-ass villain to fill in the shoes of Vaas, which can disappoint a lot, but then who wouldn't get excited to play a game in which you can tame a Saber tooth tiger, fangs and all at your service ...ala He-Man ! You will have to unlock two or three Skills to get there but it sure is worth it and once you soak in the new locale, the game lets you lose with your beasts at your side and you feel the vibe of man and beast roaming and conquering together ! Your humble beginnings are a contrast to this, though, and you start out helpless and with very basic weapons, trying to stay alive in a savage world. Also, nights are ruthless at the start of your adventure. Nights have their own rules in this game, with animals getting more aggressive and roaming in larger packs and attacking you without provocation ! Your first venture into the night will be scary, as you realise you are a feeble human, with no fangs or claws, out at the mercy of all those who have many ! 

...but the adventure and the thrill of night hunts doesn't last long as you soon realise that there is no real need to be out at the night, given its so many dangers. The game offers nothing , nothing at all for taking on the dangers of the night and one soon realises that it is just simply better to sleep it off until dawn than risk being mauled by wolves at night ! The developers missed a big opportunity here, the nights could have been a defining feature of this outing of the franchise ! The woods are lovely, dark and deep at night but there is no incentive to venture out at night and one might as well just never face the night's beauty or dangers !  ...which is a shame ...

Whats new:

Primal shares most of its gameplay mechanics with Far Cry 4 but a few mechanics are new: like an owl which you can control to tag enemies,drop Bee Bombs on them and even kill one for you, with a cool down timer of 60 seconds, of course ( ...its an owl for god's sake, what do u want it to do ! :-P). Its an evolution of the Camera of the previous games, basically, but can be used more freely now, even lethally. Another huge addition are the tamable beasts ! Bears, Tigers, black panthers, Wolfs, you see it, you can eventually tame and ride it into battle !  The different animals also form perfect partners to your playstyle with the Brute-force beasts helping you in all out assault while the panthers bringing their specialty into the silent agile stealth play style ! I am sure every gamer would have his own favourite beast depending on how he/she plays the game but be warned here ..... stealth adventures might not go as planned as the beasts mostly get spotted and spoil the fun of a pure stealth option. Which is, another shame.... -_- !

Weapons, as well the way to acquire them, are different too. Going with the setting, the weapons are mostly melee in nature with your trusty bow, the spear and a sling being the only exceptions. You have to craft your weapons and arrows and the game offers no form of currency or trading system at all.  The Weaponry includes Bows, clubs, shards, spears, slings, traps,and then we we the Bee Bomb which unleashes a Hive of bees on the enemy, the Fire Bomb, which is self explanatory, and Berserk Bomb which drives your enemies crazy and they start to attack each other , something we saw earlier in the fantastic Assassins Creed Black Flag too. All in all there is enough primal weaponry on offer here that you'll not be missing Guns or Swords in this Far Cry.

If one has to single out one most fascinating aspect of the game , then that would be the animations of the animals ! They are so realistic that watching animals fight it out almost feels like watching a Nat Geo Documentary. I once saw a saber tooth on a rhino's back trying to grab its neck, it was so hyper-realistic that Ijust stopped and stared at this play of nature for a while. At another point in the game I used my human power of fire to shoot a saber tooth with a fire arrow and to my suprise it started to roll on the grass  trying to put the fire out !  Such moments make you stop and marvel at the game and , fortunately, such moments are many !

Primal Lands:

The game is visually very pleasing, the God rays everywhere combined with the brownish tone in the morning and dark the blue night is just beautiful. It really does have a prehistoric look  to it with all the varied wildlife all around you and the sounds of nature, interspersed with some pumping Drums, set the mood for adventure just right !

 Ubisoft also created whole new prehistoric languages to make it feel like how its supposed to be. Whether that immerses you or irritates you is subjective, but the effort clearly sets it apart in its sincerity. Ideally, you will not miss the lack of English (or your local dubbing) anywhere.

One little blemish in the pie:

One of the greatest draw backs of the game is that there is no currency in the game, which is understandable given the time period and the setting of the game but there could have been some sort of a barter system between people or tribes. Some way to put to use all the resources that you gather on your way which find no use once you have crafted the weapons/items they are meant for. Being an open world game, it really lacks an economy system to reward your efforts outside of what the story demands. All your efforts feel wasted near the end game as all items become trash by that point. Any thing you find or collect is of no use ! Its literally immersion breaking and its as if the devs never want you to spend too much time in the game or simply forgot to cater to players who like their game !
As for another complaint out there, that the overall map of this game in the game is similar to Far Cry 4 , I would say the developers have altered it so much that its very difficult to spot or point similarities in the terrain when inside the game. SO, even if the overall map might be similar to FC4, I bet you would never notice that while playing at all !
( Fun fact: your footprint leaves a track behind i don't know whats that for, it a mystery! Are we the Yeti to be found by modern man ! lol! )

Final Thoughts:

  • A pet Saber Tooth :P
  • Amazing animal animations
  • Drone Owl :P
  • Wilderness Unleashed
  • Innovative Weapons
  • No Iconic Villian
  • Similar Far Cry Setup
  • No Currency or Batter System for end-game fun.

Verdict: Far Cry Primal is very promising and beautiful and filled with a whole lot of crazy stuff to do. If you want some thing different from the run of the mill shooters, Far Cry Primal is the game you are looking for, but the people bored with the Far Cry Setup might feel jaded by the similarity to previous Far Cry games.

Friday, April 22, 2016

MAFIA III: A smashing trailer gets the hype train rolling !

Woot Woot ! 2K has finally announced the release date of Mafia III with a "Oh so wow!" trailer to get you all back in the saddle for this crime drama ! I must say this one looks very different from the first 2 games, which I loved by the way, but this trailer sure has piqued my interest !

The new setting looks good, (though it is missing shadows in the distance :P) and with this trailer out now, I have become interested in the characters too now. Have a look at the new protagonist:

Going by how hand crafted and polished Mafia II's missions were, if the devs can pull of the same polish in this next gen of shiny games, we might just a have a sleeper hit here ! The cars sure do look shiny here :^) and I have heard they have very cool chase sequences in there too!

The trailer has got me pumped and my shotgun is loaded and ready ! Dear 2K , please rteat me to some true blue uncut gameplay so that we can get this ball rolling now  :^D ! 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Ratchet and Clank: The wonderland of stunning beauty and fun !

Been playing Ratchet and clank since launch cannot, for the love of god, stop playing this beautiful beautiful game ! I couldn't help but take screens here , there and everywhere I went in this pretty pretty world ! 

Here are some to satiate your curiosity, but do play the game to see how deep the Rabbit-hole goes  ! 


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Battleborn Beta: Rath's Katana Rampage gameplay !

Dual Red Katanas and a Vampire's panache ! Presenting our first gameplay as Rath, the Ninja Vampire, from Battleborn. Rath's dance of death stands apart in the field and we cannot have enough of his whirlwind attack ! Frenetic, classy and Unrelenting : thats Rath's playstyle in Battleborn. Love this katana weilding Vampire 

grin emoticon ! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Battleborn Open Beta is loaded to explode!

After the fantastic Uncharted 4 open beta that literally had us glued to our Dualshock 4s like Jedis hold on to their Light Sabers, its time for another romp of fun, frantic fights and colourful characters on the PSN soon ! The full cast of 25 weird-unique psychos, that Gearbox calls Badasses, are about to land for free on your PS4 on the 8th of April and you can enjoy the madness that ensues till the 18th !

That's 11 full days of free BattleBorn with all 25 heroes thats absolutely impossible to ignore :^) !

Personally, out of all the new IPs being released, I am most intrigued by Battleborn and cannot wait for the beta to start. Ratchet and Clank releasing on the 12th will be a huge distraction and a real test of mettle of Battleborn's gameplay ! Lets see if Battleborn can keep me from lpaying RnC till the 18th !

Hell yeah for the excitement crackling through my veins right now because its not like some measly demo that other games masquerade as a beta, its full of bloody content to check out the real meat of the game while being guinea pigs for the developers !

Check out the amount of things you can do in the beta:

  • You can play co op with 5 people in two missions that I know of: The Algorithm and Void’s Edge.
  • Play PvP against other players in : Incursion and Meltdown. Incursion sounds like a standard MOBA setup about capturing enemy base/tower/turret while Meltdown sounds like a hectic Horde mode with a PvP twist with a "first-to-the-finish-line" competitiveness to the whole setup!

And I thnk the biggest draw, apart from the gorgeous visuals, is that you can also play the game in split-screen with another friend right in your home ! Thats a kind of fun 99% of the games miss out on this gen ! Call over your best pal to your home and have a blast pushing each other out of the map :P !

Oh and weighing at just 8.5GBs, there is no excuse to not download this beta ! See ya on the Battlefield, felllow Badass  :^D !

Official link: