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Simon J McDonnell

Creating cool stuff

The Hopefully-Good Games of 2016

2015 is dead, long live 2016!

There are a lot of games coming out this year that I am excited about. If you would like to hear me talk about said games, please continue reading. If you don’t then i never really liked you anyway (I’m joking please come back oh god I need you.)

XCOM 2
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I’m starting with the big guns. Holy shit I am excited about this game. I never pick up games on day one, but for this one I am definitely preordering.

The previous game, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, was one I really really enjoyed, but which was held back by a few flaws. XCOM 2 seems to be fixing nearly all of those flaws, as well as improving and adding a bunch more stuff.

XCOM combines a lot of things that I like in games, the main one of which is emergent story telling. I like when the game systems themselves produce stories that you relate to your friends. Think of when you tell people about something you built in Minecraft, or the shot you juuuust failed to block in Rocket League. Those kinds of small moments of triumph and failure combine in XCOM with an ongoing campaign with persistent characters whom you name and customise. Together this all forms a building narrative that’s entirely personal to your game, and is all the sweeter for it.

I also love it for it’s turn based strategy and squad building/customisation. That last one is one of the main ones, honestly. Games where you can manage a squad of customisable and upgradeable agents scratches a very particular and deep seated itch in my psyche. Unf, love it, so looking forward to this game.

World of Warcraft: Legion

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I’ve first played World of Warcraft many many years ago when I was in secondary school and it was still in Vanilla. I played it pretty solidly until about 5 years back and have been fairly intermittent since then. I have however bought and played in every single expansion the game has released at some point while it was still current. Legion will be no different. It’s strange to me, I’ve sunk so much money into this game, and I know I’ll never play it for an extended period of time again, but it occupies a special place in my heart as the first MMO I ever really played. It introduced me to such a wonderful world, and I’ve experienced some very lofty heights while playing the game. It will always be something I return to, I think.

I also really like how they’re overhauling transmogrification, making it more like Diablo 3’s system, which is excellent. Oh and I’ve wanted to play as Demon Hunter in a game ever since I played Warcraft 3, so that’s exciting. Artefact weapons are also cool, but my excitement about them varies heavily depending on which one we’re talking about.

Dishonoured 2

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The first Dishonoured was an excellent stealth/magic/assassination game with some great mechanics and an interesting art style. It also had a great setting, but it was rendered somewhat lackluster by your being imprisoned (not literally, well sometimes literally) in the drab city of Dunwall. The sequel sees you in an exotic seaside city, so that should be a very nice opportunity for the team at Arkane to get creative in terms of architecture and colour.

The best thing about Dishonoured was Blinking, everyone knows it. Blinking, for those not in the know, was a short range teleport. It was made majorly more fun in the DLC with the addition of time freezing whenever you were staying still and using it, this included being in mid air. The trailer I’ve seen for the second game makes it look like the new playable character, Emily, has a more shadow-tendriling clawing method of locomotion, so that could be interesting. Of course you can still play as turbo-blinking Corvo, so alls well!

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

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I loved the previous Deus Ex, but I also hated it. I thought it’d be a game I’d have great fun with. It was a narratively focused action game with great stealth mechanics, choices that mattered, an interesting world, and an good characters. Everything lined up perfectly! The problem, as it turned out, was me, or rather how I played the game. You see Deus Ex gives you the equivalent of experience points for doing things various ways, and the way to maximise those points was by doing each level A) Nonlethally and B) Without being spotted by anyone, ever. This sounds good, rewarding people for good play, but it was a nightmare, because you could quicksave.

What this meant for me, was that I would quicksave every few seconds, and then quickload whenever anyone saw me. This was fun in the beginning because it didn’t happen often because the levels were easier. But as the game progressed and guards became tougher and more aware it just got more stressful and hard. I broke near the end of the game and just started killing people with my sword-arms and grenade-torso, but it really affected my opinion of the game negatively. I walked away from it without being able to say I really enjoyed it.

However, I’m still very excited for the sequel, and hey, maybe I can play it without totally ruining it for myself this time!

Dark Souls 3

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Dark Souls 3! I loved the original, as you may have guessed from my previous posts and some ones that came before it, so another game in the series is exciting to me. However I still haven’t played the second one, so I’ll be tackling that before this one can ever be started. I’m weird like that, I need to finish previous entries in a series before I’ll play the next one, it’s the reason I’ll probably never play Mass Effect 3 because I can’t find my save for the second and I won’t abandon that progress.

So yeah, I picked up Dark Souls 2 in the winter steam sale, so I’ll be playing that before this, hopefully I’ll be done in time to give this a whirl while it’s still current.

Darkest Dungeon

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This is a bit of a lie, almost? Because, you see, I already own Darkest Dungeon and have played it quite a bit. That is because it came out on early access last year and has seen steady progress since. It’s full release date, however, is later this year, so I’m counting it in this years games.

I really love the concept for this game, which is that you manage a team of gothic-themed adventurers in a very dark world. Venturing into ancient crypts and monstrous places, you seek booty and to complete quests, gaining power and wealth in the process. This is all with the end goal of conquering the last, and greatest dungeon, the titular Darkest Dungeon. The problem being of course, that these places and world are so dark, that it’s not just their health that the heroes need to worry about. Their very minds start to fray as they blaze light into the darkness, and you have to take care of them in towns with libations or prayer (among other, saucier options), lest they go mad.

I played it a good chunk last year, but wanted to wait till it was done before I played it further. I’m very excited to try out the full thing.

Other Ones

The preceding games are just the ones I’m most excited about, there are plenty of other games coming out this year that look really good. I’m sure I’ll talk about whatever ones lure me their way as I play them, but for now, those above are my ones to watch.

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