November is absolutely packed with games leaving me with my hands full as I try to find time to play and review them, I was intending to post a lengthy article about a subject or two but honestly its probably best if I spend that time on the reviews. So instead here are some quick snips of things I wanted to say to the gaming community.

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Microtransactions: They aren’t all evil, no hear me out on this, we need to focus our collective power on companies making them better, not trying to annihilate them completely. Because the reality of the matter is, games haven’t increased in cost in over a decade, but inflation and the cost to create them has. Some form of monetization is going to exist, whether it’s in DLC, cosmetic’s, loot boxes or other things. Otherwise, we’re looking at a straight-up cost increase of all AAA games by 20$ or more, which the gaming community has firmly rejected more than once.

Any type of microtransaction that gives a player a power advantage over another in a multiplayer game is evil and should be burned at the stake. Likewise, a single player game whose design is based on selling microtransaction to reduce the grind should be taken behind the shed and put down. The DLC model is mostly okay for single player games as long the content is quality and nothing was cut from the main game. The DLC model is HORRIBLE for multiplayer when it splits the player base.

As harsh as I’ve been on Fallout 76 during its beta, I think their model is probably the most player friendly for a multiplayer game. All microtransaction’s that can be bought with real currency are purely cosmetic, and you can earn the premium currency through in-game challenges. Bethesda will also supposedly support 76 with additional free updates going forward, but we will have to see how well that claim is held up. In any case, this model does not split the player base and does not grant players power over one another by spending real cash. Even if you are against any microtransactions at all, its the lesser of many possible evils.

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Ark Extinction: The third expansion for ark survival evolved has released and I have far more to say about the survival sandbox genre than I have time for right now. So take my advice on this, Ark is a fun but buggy game and always has been. I personally think the expansions are worth it, but if I were to review them, they wouldn’t score particularly high due to some technical and design flaws. Really they are my guilty pleasure more than anything.

However, I do not recommend playing Ark or any survival sandbox game on an official server without a metric ton of friends with you. They are toxic, brutal and have no qualms about erasing days of your in-game life while you are asleep and at work in REAL life. Its a core design flaw with the entire genre. Instead, play on an unofficial server with structure, or consider hosting or renting your own, that way you can tweak the settings to your liking. Ark has a lot of fun to be had in its world, creatures, and systems. But do so at your own leisure because you’re unlikely to see half of it on an official server unless you are bringing an army with you. And if you have that many friends, by all mean go forth and conquer.

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Middle Earth Shadow of War: I mentioned microtransactions earlier and Shadow of War was one of the games up for debate. Some believed the game was designed around them and that the grind was insane without them. Some didn’t. I sort of fell into the latter, I didn’t like the way they were implemented but I never felt I actually needed to purchase them. However a few months ago. Monolith took out all microtransactions in the game and redesigned parts of it to accommodate that fact, so perhaps I was wrong.

In any case, with the microtransaction’s completely gone and the fact monolith added additional difficulties, there never has been a better time to actually play it. From a gameplay standpoint, it is one of my favorite games. You have a lot of freedom in your approaches, the combat is excellent (if you loved the Arkham games you will love this) and the nemesis system is a game changer. I enjoyed the story, but it does break a lot of the original lore, so that could bother some people.

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XO18: I was neither super impressed nor disappointed. PlayStation has been knocking it out of the park with exclusives so I do wish we would see a bit more from Microsoft. I’m excited for whatever challenge Undead Labs is planning on implementing in State of Decay 2 as it desperately needs some difficulty settings, and I’m cautiously looking forward to Sea of Thieves arena. However, other players are the sole product of tension in Sea of Thieves, treasure hunting is exhilarating due to the fact that you can be attacked by other players at any time. This new instant action arena mode may leave the core of Sea of Thieves somewhat lifeless if all the pirate hunting players move to it.

I Cringed hard through the Minecraft cats and pandas presentation…..moving on.

The 16 games coming to Xbox games pass were hit or miss to me, however, I am excited for mutant year zero and I highly recommend watching the trailer for Void Bastards if you haven’t already. The prospect of a strategy shooter has my attention. Also right now, as I am writing this. Xbox Games pass is on sale for 1$, if you have an Xbox One stop reading this and go get it now. Games pass is one of the most valuable types of subscriptions I’ve seen in years and you can try it now for one buck and cancel it if you don’t like it. Seriously, go now…..I’ll wait.

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Game Awards: Thegameawards.com recently revealed the nominees for game of the year which are

– Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
– Celeste
– God of War
– Marvel’s Spider-Man
– Monster Hunter World
– Red Dead Redemption II

I’m pretty happy about a couple of things on this list. The first is the fact that Celeste is on it, an indie game. I’ve seen a lot of unfounded toxicity toward indie games. To be frank, if you really believe all indies are bad or that they aren’t real games, put your gamer card through a paper shredder and take up stamp collecting. Some of the best games I’ve ever played were indies, some are bad yes, so are many games made by big-name companies. But a game isn’t automatically bad because of its indie, and honestly, if you avoid them for that reason you are depriving yourself more than anything.

Second, I’ve been a fan of the monster hunter series forever, nope, even longer than you are currently thinking. Before the 3DS games, before the PSP games. All the way back to its very first game in the franchise on the PlayStation 2. Back then, the West gave approximately zero shits about the game and it got relatively bad reviews. But I was a weirdo and back then, it was my absolute favorite game bar none. To see it come that many years later and sit among five other games for the title of game of the year is huge to me. Whether or not it wins, or deserves to win. The journey it made is incredibly rare and I’m happy to see it. I’m no longer the weird kid trying to get everyone to play this strange Japanese game with huge swords and dinosaurs.

Its a great game in its own right even though as a veteran I’m not overly happy with some of the changes it made and…..that…that..make’s me a hipster doesn’t it? A weirdo hipster about how the old strange Japanese game with big swords and…..ugh.

That’s it for today, back to my reviews….

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