The Witcher 3 Gets Free Next Gen Upgrades

It was just announced that The Witcher 3 will get upgraded graphics and features to take advantage of the hardware of next-gen consoles. This will include support for ray tracing and increased load times. I’m sure they’ll also bump the resolution and max out a few of the other settings, I hope. It would be nice to have a couple graphical options, perhaps a 120 fps mode, 60 fps mode, and resolution vs dynamic resolution settings.

You have to just love CD Projekt Red and their business practices. They seem to always put the consumer first. Remember when you bought the physical copy of The Witcher 3 and it came with a map, stickers, and a thank you note from the company? That was at a time when all companies stopped putting physical items of any sort inside of their physical game cases.

After the developer, or more importantly the publisher, of Control just announced that you need to buy the “special edition” of the game to even be eligible for the next-gen upgrade patch that will come at a later time. Which is complete bullshit, why can’t someone who has the game and the DLC get a free patch? Why do you need to sell another copy of the same stuff for current-gen to be eligible for something in the next-gen?

This just got me excited to play the game again. I own it for both PS4 and PC and would love another reason to get back into that world. It’s an interesting strategy, give the consumer reasons to play your games. Make your games stay current with the hardware by supporting new features like quicker loading and ray tracing. People will notice this and be more willing to support your new releases, like Cyberpunk 2077, because they know that they’ll be taken care of and that their purchase will stay relevant in the future.

The Witcher 3 came out over 5 years ago on PS4 and it’s still getting supported.

Control came out just over a year ago and they’re already trying to nickle and dime the people that supported them most. These are the people that bought their game and DLC the earliest, they’re the ones that are being targeted to buy another copy of the game and DLC just so they can get features that were included in the PC version.

I know who’s more likely to get my next 60 dollars.

Control – Review

So right off the bat let me just say that I’m going to write up another post on the graphics of this game. Mostly because I just love the technology behind it and it’s the reason I played this game on my PC, and part of the reason why I bought an NVIDIA Turing graphics card with RT cores.

The phone is ringing

After the initial reveal of this game, I went pretty silent on the media coverage because I knew it was a game I wanted to play. The premise seemed cool, I like the developer, and I didn’t want to be spoiled on anything. Coming into the game cold, I had certain preconceptions about how it would work, and that led to a slight disappointment in one area. I thought the building of Control was going to transform in really cool ways as you played, which it doesn’t at all. This is fine I guess, but I feel like the initial media that was released portrayed a building that kept altering it’s shape as if it was alive, this building isn’t really that. The building, which is called the Oldest House, is where the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC) resides in New York City, and it has a set structure and layout. This helps in being able to navigate it’s many floors, corridors and departments. It just means that those cool bits from the trailers where the walls shift around and change shape only happen in certain areas, which when cleared, just transform back into how the room is supposed to look. That’s all, just a way to block off progress until you beat all the bad guys and then you’re free to move around.

Strange characters abound

Some Story

You play as Jesse Faden, the new director of the FBC as she learns about the building, the FBC, and the mysteries surrounding all the crazy shit happening. There are just weird things happening all over the place here, even though you just learned about Control, people see you as their boss because you hold an Object of Power in your hand, the previous boss’ service weapon. As you walk around the deserted halls and open areas of the building, members of the organization are just floating in mid air, while creepy voices whisper around you. In other parts of the building, objects with immense power are just wreaking havoc in some pretty incredible ways. Even with all that happening, the main story beat involves you looking for your missing brother and trying to find out what happened to him.

Doing back flips at work

The story and premise are really interesting and kept me going throughout the journey. I would have liked more clarity in what was/is actually happening in the story, but leaving a little of it out opens it up to the DLC and supposed sequel(s).

The game itself is a metroidvania. You have this large environment that is gated off to you. To get past these gates you need a new item or power. As you progress through the story, more of these keys are available to you, so you get to explore more of the world. It’s a great frame for the narrative of the game. You get to know the building just as Jesse does, by traveling through its halls, reading the signs pointing you to a new department. Everything is logically laid out, for the most part, and it makes you feel like a new person in this company.

Old tech is so cringe

Audio Logs…

Oh! Okay, let’s talk about audio logs and collectibles since they are there to tell a large chunk of the overall story in Control. I don’t think they are done well at all. As you go around the building, you pick up case files and recording from different people that work at the FBC, it helps fill out the story and tells you about the different things that happen in each department there. That’s all good, in a way, but it also just sucked for me. You start off strong, you read each document right when you pick it up, like a good little director trying to sleuth her way through this puzzle. You get a bit of info and then play the game for a short bit, then you pick up another crumb and repeat. There are just too many of them!

Visual audio logs!

Pause for a quick breakdown (courtesy of IGN wiki).

201 documents
23 audio logs
and others that don’t take up much of your time

The main story of the game is something like 10 hours, more or less. So if you see it like that, you’re basically collecting 20 documents an hour. There are a lot of them and to have to stop and read them becomes a nuisance, for me at least. It’s awesome that it’s all there, I’m down for someone making a YouTube video going over all the juicy story bits that are in them, but it just became way too much. I would have loved for a Bioshock style, where it’s audiologs of various staff members with distinct voices and personalities talking about work they were doing for the bureau. They could also just have Jesse read the files as she’s wandering through the building, perhaps adding her own insight into what she’s reading. That would work better to maintain the flow of the game.

Nod to the past

Combat

I enjoyed the combat in the game, fighting the enemy called the Hiss. Jesse is a fun and powerful character to have control over, pun intended. She could throw objects using her powers, or even pick up enemies and chuck them across the room as you watch the environment go to shit around you as tables blow through windows and desks. The destruction system really adds to the impact of combat. Your gun, while not as powerful, is fun to upgrade and shoot at enemies. To really get a handle on the enemies you need to mix up your gun and your power abilities because they are both limited and need time to recharge. That means it becomes a seesaw of going back and forth and finding the right balance. Enemy encounters can really fuck you up if you don’t have your head in the fight and just run into a room. You will die quickly if you’re not backing up, using walls as cover and managing the amount of enemies with a shot at you. The game isn’t that difficult, if you’re smart about it it wont give you much of a challenge outside a few of the optional bosses, which you should probably save until endgame when you have things leveled up anyways.

Did a little damage, destructible environments

Tidbits

One of the best little stories in this game had to do with a refrigerator. Let’s just say that someone has to watch it at all times or shit will go down. And since the building has been going through some turmoil, like a quarantine and most of the staff incapacitated or dead. Just perhaps the guard rotation didn’t go down on time. That poor guy, sitting there in front of the fridge, unable to look away…

Such a good side story

PC Gaming

The loading times for this game are pretty great actually, I played on my PC with the game installed to an NVME drive. The loading times between floors was about 5 seconds and going from one place on a floor to a place on the same floor was almost instantaneous. This made roaming around at the end of the game and completing side quests and doing a little extra exploring a lot more enjoyable. Not sure I would have liked it as much if I had to wait a minute to just check a place out. I can’t wait for the next-generation of consoles, should be nice.

Welcome, to the real world

End Game

After finishing the game, I did end up doing a few side missions but stopped before completing everything. I did do the optional bosses and a few other story quests that I felt were enjoyable. I guess it’s a good thing that the Epic store doesn’t have trophies tied to their games just yet. If this was on PS4 I’m pretty sure I would have stuck around even longer to get the platinum. I did get the game for “free” with the purchase of my graphics card, so I think I’ll support the developers when the time comes and pick up the DLC since I liked it so much and want to see where the story goes.

Back to the daily grind

Final Score – 8.9

I really appreciate the story and creativity of this game. I’d also applaud the developers for making a game with a unique and compelling narrative, it seems so rare today. The concept of objects of power and how they interact with the world, the Oldest House itself, and the way it all joins together is really interesting and makes you want to learn more. Can’t wait to jump into this world again at some point.

Metro Exodus – Review

I tried playing this series on the PS4 when the first two games came out and I literally had to stop each time. For some reason, those games would give me a headache each time I played them. No other games have really done that to me, it must be something with how frames are being rendered or perhaps the motion of the character or something like that. So I ended up just selling my disc version and kept it moving. I have not tried the PC versions but it might be hard going back to the older games after finishing up this one.

From humble beginnings…

I did, however, decide to give the series another shot on the PC with Metro Exodus. It seems like a massive upgrade in the game engine and I could throw around some ray tracing to make things look extra spicey. I’m sure I sacrificed a good deal of frames for the added graphical effects, but that’s a part of what makes me tick.

The environments are really detailed, as you can see.

This game started off a little weak and gradually got better as it went along. The wide open world(s) that you go to in the beginning were a bit hit and miss for me. I really didn’t like the first area where you can get on a boat, but then creatures from the water keep attacking you, I just didn’t see a need for all these dumb monsters to be there. I preferred the more linear areas that happened later in the game, it felt more structured and kept the game and story moving and a nice pace.

Just looking out at the old train yard.

A big part of this game are the enemies, and this is another area that I had some issues with. I didn’t like the bug creatures, which there are a few varieties of, they just weren’t that fun. The sand human things that blend in with the environment and pop out if you get near were pretty neat and I did like that. The combat just felt better when I was going up against the human enemies. I did end up killing a lot of them, even though I think there are ways to take a more passive approach to combat. I’m sure a killed a few more people than was necessary. This is an issue I have with most first person shooters that go into bug enemies, they usually aren’t fun to shoot since they’re running around on the ground and you have to aim down to hit them.

And this seemed so promising…

The weapons of the game are all fantastic to shoot and feel nice. It took me a while to actually realize that when I got to certain work benches that I can swap out my weapons, that made me feel like an idiot. I enjoyed the trad-off of having to pump your BB rifle gun with it’s cheap ammo and it was especially satisfying at the end of the game when you got the final upgrade for that weapon. The rifles and shotgun all felt good to light enemies up with. The guns in the game were one of the main reasons I kept wanting to get back in and continuing on with my adventure. I wish I had more opportunities to spend with the sniper rifle, but I ended up only using it for a small section.

Change of environment anyone? What could go wrong?

The story really started to grow on me as the game went on. Once you got out of the wide open areas and started really making your push forward, the pace of the storytelling started to ramp up and pulled me along with it. I became attached to characters that I first thought were assholes (not sure if I made that up in my head Colonel). Your little family of travelers slowly grow larger as the story progresses, along with the personal events happening to the main protagonist, Artyom. The one big issue that I noticed right away, which is one of the biggest pet peeves that I have, is the silent protagonist. I just don’t get why they chose to go this route. It’s such a dumb concept and they need to just stop this. If Artyom talked throughout his journey and perhaps had a radio friend with him when he’s alone, or just chatted with himself it would have made the atmosphere a lot richer. What’s idiotic about this is that they have a voice actor for Artyom! He does little narrations on the loading screens, so it makes no sense.

Part of the glitchyness, spotted them from afar and shot at them, they simply jumped through the gate and killed me…

I played this on my new PC, which did just fine with ray tracing on, along with everything else running on my ultra-wide monitor. The issue wasn’t with that, it was with how buggy this game is, don’t get it twisted, I never crashed a game as much as this one. Certain parts would just crash over and over at the same moment, and you’d just have to try to walk around differently and hope it wouldn’t crash the next time, which I had to do. It wasn’t just crashing the game either, I couldn’t even get to the task manager to kill the application on some occasions, I had to actually log out and back in to get it to stop. There are little bugs as you play also, like bodies in T poses and weird audio and visual things. I had this one bug where I’d shoot an enemy and they’d light up their environment like a Christmas tree around them. I think that one was because of the ray tracing, the characters were sending out rays of light that where flickering all around them in a really obvious and low quality way.

Is that a “God Damn”?

The graphics are a large draw for this game. Some of the vistas in this game are just stunning. I made heavy use of screen captures as I explored this burned out Russia. The diffuse ray traced lighting was something that I didn’t expect to notice that much, but it really does stand out. It makes areas of dark fade together with other objects around them, which is what it should do. The thing is, is that as a gamer you’re not used to it, so it forces you to use your flashlight and night vision goggles to see objects on shelves and things like that. You’re used to the shitty rasterized lighting that we’ve all become accustomed to, where items on shelves just stand out because of the cheap ambient occlusion map applied to the screen. Honestly, it kind of annoyed me at first but I learned to love it because of the realism it brought to the game world.

What you’re fighting for.

The best part of this game were some of the gun fights I got into, where I was just nailing my headshots and taking guys out one after another, it really made you feel like a badass when that happened. That feeling of combat and the last couple hours of the game are what really drove home the whole story for me. I wont spoil the ending but I kind of wish they spent a little more time with it, only because I liked the characters and wanted to see their story play out some more. It was emotional and hit the right notes, just glad I got the “happy” ending.

Sacrifice

A solid first-person shooter that harkens back to the story driven shooters of the past. I’d recommend that if you start playing and the opening areas aren’t your thing, to skip the side stuff there and push through the story, it’s well worth the play through. Just hope they do some serious patching to the PC version to fix the crashing.

Final Score – 8.3

Home sweet home.

Borderlands 3 Review (including Mad Moxxi’s Heist for the Handsome Jackpot)

The last time I built a computer, the main game I remember playing on it was Borderlands 2. I believe this was in 2013 or so. I loved that game and was able to get to max level while playing solo. I tried out the game and it’s sequel on the PS4 a few years ago, played co-op with my brother a bit, but felt like the series needed a refresh to compete with other, more modern, titles. I’m happy to say that that’s exactly what Borderlands 3 is. So If you really liked the Borderlands games before, you’ll love this game too. 

Let’s start out with the story, and by that I mean let’s just skip right over the whole thing. I stopped paying attention to anything people said in this game, except for a few instances where my curiosity got the best of me, but that’s already forgotten. Just put on a podcast, run through the missions, collect new guns and shoot the enemies. It’s a nice little cycle that gets repeated over and over and it works well. 

I enjoyed the variety in the worlds on display here. I have completed the first DLC, Mad Moxxi’s Heist for the Handsome Jackpot, along with acquiring the bonuses from the Broken Hearts Day quest. In that time I also reached max level and upped my mayhem mode level a few clicks. The only real goals I have left are a slew of side quests and maxing out the upgrade on my storage, which will just take some grinding for cash. The level environments, for the most part are all excellent, I just had an issue with the swamp/forest world which I felt went on for way too long and was quite drab compared to the rest. 

The new sanctuary.

The best part of this game is the improvements to movement along with the feel of the weapons. Everything just feels modern and enjoyable to use. The variety in weapon firing modes along with the grenades and skills are all well implemented and suit the combat well.  

You do get to interact with characters from previous games, but since the story was so uningaging I didn’t really care outside of the nostalgia that came from seeing them in this new game. 

Lord of the Rings perhaps?

I played as FL4K since I was planning on going solo the whole way through. Having a pet that can agro enemies or potentially kill an enemy while in Fight For Your Life mode was a boon. The annoying part was my dumb pet would get in the way of picking up an item or get in-between my character and an NPC that was trying to talk to me, making it seem like the damn thing was always in the way. FL4K ended up being a really good character for me and I don’t feel a need to play through the game with another character or anything. Although, having bought the full edition that includes all the DLC from the Epic game store, it makes me wonder if/when they’ll add new playable characters and who they might be. 

Nice view on an ultrawide monitor.

What’s interesting to me is that I have a rather large backlog of games that I’ve been itching to get through, and yet I keep picking these massive games to play. I had a lot of good memories of playing the last Borderlands game, so I felt a desire to return to this world and see if it lived up to what I had remembered. I was a little worried after hearing some initial reviews of the game, certain people focused too much on the story, but Borderlands was never about that to me. It’s about leveling your character, choosing your loadout and perks, and getting in there and shooting shit. I think this game does succeed at that. It feels a little strange that this is all the review for this game ended up being since I’ve been playing so much of it. I think my review turned out this way because of the long tail that this game had with me. It just dragged on a bit since I stayed in after finishing the story and jumped right into the DLC. Others definitely wont mind this at all, there is a lot do to and places to explore in this world which is awesome.

Final Score – 9.3

A great game that’s a blast to play, just don’t expect anything from the story. Also, can’t wait to jump back in at the next event or DLC drop.

Ugh…What to Play?!

Just trying to figure out what game to play next. Trying to get through a lot of the DLC type crap I bought a while ago, so might continue on that journey. I just finished up all the remaining trophies for AC Origins and the DLC. I have AC Odyssey going in the background also, but not I’m trying to figure out where to go next.

So I was looking at playing South Park: The Stick of Truth next. I thought that it’d be an easy platinum trophy and wouldn’t take forever. That lasted up to the point I started seeing what’s needed to get the platinum, which isn’t that hard, the issue is the spreadsheet of information needed to get all the trophies in one playthrough. You have to create saves after every change in the story just in case you have to reload to get a trophy. The collectables aren’t that bad since they have guides for that and I could just follow along. I’m just not sure that I actually want to micro manage my gameplay for the coveted platinum. Does anybody have a step-by-step guide or spreadsheet that just breaks everything down and tells you when to get each trophy?

That made me think of just playing the game for fun (funny right?) and not worrying about all the trophies. Which I might actually do.

I also started thinking about playing The Frozen Wilds DLC for Horizon Zero Dawn. The kick to the nuts happened when I saw that they added a new game + trophy and one for playing it on the hardest difficulty. Why couldn’t it just be simple and I could bang everything out with the new content?! I suppose I haven’t played the game since it came out and have been looking forward to going back to it since I loved the story so much. I could just start a new game + on the hardest difficulty, blow through the game and load up my other save with my level 50 character and bang out the DLC that way. That would allow me to catch up on the story once again.

Other than that, it’d have to be CoD Infinite Warfare, Wolfenstein 2, or some other PS+ game or something sitting on my shelf that I completely forgot all about. Man, I could have sworn South Park was going to be an easy one.

And for all of you wondering, yes, this is some OCD shit that I go through. It’s hard to help sometimes. There are certain games that I really love and I feel like I need to get the platinum in it, so that I can say I did everything, and if they add extra trophies to make sure the bar is completely filled in. Sometimes I wonder if Nintendo is actually doing things right by leaving trophies out of their ecosystem. I do have a few Switch games to play but I need to get my left joycon fixed since they used shitty parts.

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Right off the bat my first impression of this game was that Peter Parker looks like a shitty character. I didn’t like the design of him at all. That kind of grows on you, meaning that you stop trying to think about how dumb he looks and just focus on the man in the spidey costume.

Let me also state that I beat this gamel (with platinum trophy) a few months ago, took a break from video games and then just recently finished up the DLC and got all the extra trophies above for the DLC and beating the game on New Game +.

…a spider, perched atop a light, looks for a restroom.

There’s not much more to say about a game that’s sold this well. Just about everyone who wanted to play Spider-Man has. It’s a very solid game. Just saying that is a little surprising to me. Not because it’s a superhero game, or a Spider-Man game, but because of the developers. Listening to podcasts (mainly Marty Sliva from IGN(long time ago)) always going about how great Sunset Overdrive was made it one of the first games I played on my XBox One, and that game was not that fun. It was just the same shit over and over, really boring and forgettable in my opinion, way overrated. So I was a bit skeptical when that team was given a Marvel IP to work with. The game is great however, so no worries.

Damn fine character detail work on display here.

The story was good, I enjoyed the Dr. Octavius plotline and how it all ramped up, kind of wish they didn’t go the established route with him and instead tried to subvert our expectations. We all knew where the story was going. I enjoyed Miles, his relationship, and most of the plot beats in the game. Mr. Negative was a bit forgettable but that’s okay too.

The game engine is pretty great, minus the part I clipped through a building and ended up inside the geometry unable to get out. It didn’t bother me, just made me laugh and have to reload the game.

Yes, I’m inside a building… you got a problem with that?

The amount of costumes you unlock was a really smart idea. It kept the game feeling fresh and made me want to jump into photo mode a lot more often than I normally would.

The combat felt really fun for a beat-em-up type game. Towards the end I just dropped the difficulty level down because some of the fights would go on for a long time. I kind of just got tired of repeating the same types of fights over and over.

A really striking shot.

That leads into the side quests and how monotonous they get. This will only matter to you if you’re a completionist or trying to get the platinum trophy. You have to just do the same thing over and over, it’s a bit of a drag honestly. The best thing is that they don’t make you do it as often as some other games…so that’s a thing. What does suck is that the DLC actually adds more of these mission, a new set for each episode of DLC, of which there are 3. Damn developers, you couldn’t have thought of other fun stuff for us to do? I guess it’s better to save those ideas up for the sequel.

DLC

The DLC was enjoyable and I actually enjoyed the story arc of Yuri Watanabe, the cop you’ve been working with throughout the entire game. It was an unexpected twist for sure. I also liked how Black Cat played on their relationship to manipulate Peter.

Pause For a Second

Oooooh, she naughty!

Wrapping It Up

Can we just openly talk about Black Cat. How the fuck did Marvel get away with this shit? That’s just a straight ripoff of Cat Woman from DC’s Batman. She’s a thief…a woman that runs around the city in a black cat outfit stealing shit… Stan Lee just straight up jacked that shit.

More like Copy Cat! Am I Right?

Just to put a bow on it. The game is a big ball of fun. Great story, the locomotion of swinging around a city is done with skill, and really nice graphics that pull you into the world. I can’t wait for the inevitable sequel on PS5.

Ol’ man Stan

Score – 9.0

I’d give it a straight 9. It’s a beautiful, well made game with a good story. Just wish the combat and side quests didn’t get so repetitive.

A section of the New York playground offered.