Star Wars Battlefront Beta – My Two Pence

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The Star Wars Battlefront Beta was released today (PC) and after a couple of hours of playing it, I’m surprised with it.  It’s pretty fun.

Numerous sites/people have been very sceptical about SWB, and with good cause.  No server browser, a developer with a less than stellar release reputation, an obvious leaning towards consoles and just the Battlefront name alone incites critique.  In brief, not a single one of these things really impact the game, but I’ll go in to detail about them later.

I think once SWB is deconstructed down to what it is, and what it isn’t, it’s easier to be fair to the game, so here we go…

SWB isn’t CS, Battlefield or Quake in the Star Wars universe.. regardless of whether it was trying to be that highly skilled (I don’t think it is), it has a clear objective of being fun and approachable to anybody rather than a hardcore FPS (not surprising, given SW is a license with no specific age demographic).  It allows the game to be a bit wider in scope for an average player when things aren’t as demanding or punishing.. ideal for SW and its plethora of vehicles, weapons and set pieces.  That’s not to say good play isn’t rewarded.. but it’s more of a drive towards completing objectives than it is about any singular players performance.  I don’t think it’s trying to be like Battlefield with SW vehicles either, which would have been the suspected route DICE took.

As with most FPS games, you can get a sense of what the developer is aiming for overall by the gun play.  SWB’s gun play is VERY simplistic for the most part, which to me backs up the point of a clear desire to be approachable to any player.  See a player, aim down sights (or don’t), keep shooting/tracking until they die.. there’s not much more to it that that in terms of straight up gun play, and I’d go as far as to say it’s a notch under CoD in that department.  Weapons for the most part don’t have ammo (they overheat/need to cool), and health is an out of combat regeneration affair.  See where all this is going?

I honestly think SWB shares more similarities with CoD than it does Battlefield.. its gun play is similar, its regen is similar and its accessibility is similar.  Imagine a slightly less demanding CoD (don’t laugh) with a larger scope and objective focus.

When expectations are set correctly, in that SWB isn’t a hardcore experience and more something to fire up here and there, play some great scenarios in the SW license and have some fun, the game is actually very solid.  To take some of the negative issues raised earlier;

Lack of server browser:  A non-issue.. with no chance of a clan scene (imo), and no mods really needed (there’s a lot of modes on release, and no doubt tons of planned DLC maps/equipment eventually), community run servers aren’t really needed.. I’ve also had zero ping issues with their dedicated servers so far.  There’s a lot of games that don’t have server browsers than really injure the game as a result.. I think it’s entirely on the person if this is a deal breaker in SWB’s case.

The developer:  DICE have a piss poor track record at this point.  They may have learnt something, or just took extra care due to the SW license, because the game’s been rock solid for me, in both fps and ping.  Despite obviously being developed for consoles in the gameplay department, the PC version has all the required stuff such as FOV sliders and proper mouse/resolution settings.  I can’t see anything to fault currently.

Consolification:  This however, is a very legit point.  As mentioned, there’s no question SWB was made to be a console FPS.. thankfully, it hasn’t impacted the PC port in stability or settings, but has obviously impacted how the game plays.  It’s quite simplistic in its gun play, and for a PC FPS veteran, there won’t be much to strive for in the practice/training department.  It’s very CoDian in most aspects, and if you don’t like that, you won’t like SWB.  Attempting to complete objectives consistently while causing as many deaths as possible (probably double digit) will be the primary distinction between the higher and lower ends of skill.

The Battlefront name:  I never really played the previous Battlefront titles, so I can’t speak much about whether it upholds the name.  Being honest, I must have heard the name maybe once or twice during the past decade.. one of those times was in reference to this game.

Clearly, I do enjoy the game, but don’t take that as some blind support for it.  It’s a fun game that feels like a great rendition of the SW universe for sure, but in it’s desire to appeal to everyone, it will directly repel some players away from it.  It SHOULD repel me, having an obvious preference for old school arena shooters.. but as I’ve said numerous times, I just enjoy the FPS genre in general, and not every multiplayer one needs to have a high skill ceiling.  SWB gets the same treatment from me that CoD has gotten.. I fire it up, shoot some shit, have some fun and put it down again for another time.  Like a movie, the only thing I ask is to entertain me for the duration of play.. and that’s what it does.

Star Wars Battlefront comes out on November 17th.  It may be the droids you were looking for.

Edit:  I forgot to mention the price.. 50 quid is too steep imo, especially when CoD has down priced to £40 on Steam (£30 with coupons via Green Man Gaming/etc).  If SWB was priced at £30-35, I’d not even raise the issue.  However, if you enjoy the game, you’ll get yer monies worth I suspect.  Only retail can really prove that though.


Vermintide Beta – My Two Pence

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Played through (not playthroughed!) the 3 maps of the Vermintide beta, and other than a tear shed for the poor Skaven, thoroughly enjoyed the shit outta the game.

It’s a rare time when not just one, but two games (see Rivals of Aether) are incredibly influenced by a game and then display a competence and understanding of the genre that ends up surpassing the progenitor.

The easiest way to describe Vermintide would be “Left4Dead with a Warhammer paint job.”, and at the core, it is.. but to stop at that is entirely unfair, as it surpasses L4D in many ways.

Longevity wise, I see Vermintide lasting longer than L4D ever did with most players.  The game can be difficult on normal, and has at least 2 difficulties higher than that.. keeping people challenged keeps them engaged.  Throwing in some loot drops to change up what weapons each class uses also helps.

Speaking of the classes, they’re another good idea.  Rather than 4 characters whose only difference is the one liners from time to time, the classes allow a slightly different way of approaching and playing the game, especially when mixed up with different weapons/abilities.  Pretty DLC friendly if priced correctly as well, as nobody is gonna turn down more classes, and Warhammer isn’t short on ideas for them.

The maps, which even from a limited slice (3 in beta, out of 13 on release) are varied and intricately constructed.  Well designed maps are combined with equally fitting sound design/music as well.

As with L4D2, Vermintide is melee centric, but does have ranged combat as well (bows, blunderbusses, magic, etc).  Both are handled well, with all the ranged weapons bar the Bright Wizard (who can overheat and die if not managed correctly) requiring careful conservation of ammo.  Melee feels satisfying and needs more than just holding forward and mashing mouse 1 if you want to stay alive, even on normal difficulty.  I appreciate melee weapons actually stopping on impact as well, giving feedback to the player that’s vastly superior to the usual “am I stabbing the air?” effect.  They’ve handled/balanced pushing back enemies/blocking better as well.

There’s plenty of other things as well, but for now, I’ll leave it at calling Vermintide quite possibly the best Warhammer fantasy game ever, being massively fun, well crafted and doing a great service to the Warhammer license.  Fatshark’s done an excellent job.

As you can tell, I’m quite fond of Vermintide already and am awaiting release on October 23rd.  Cya in the end times.


Reduced Stream Delay.. Hurray!

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When did they add that?!

I remember when the Justin/Twitch streams had a 0s delay, and it was awesome!  When they switched to a 20s (roughly) delay, it was slightly jarring but most folk got used to it pretty quickly.  I can’t even remember the reason Twitch decided to do it, though I’m sure there must have been one.

Either way I’m glad to see the option for 0s delay again, as it makes talking with folk on stream WAY better and also comes in handy for asking questions mid game and not needing to wait 20s for a response.

Apparently it may cause some people on weaker connections to buffer more often (apologies in advance if that’s the case for you).. maybe that was why the delay was added originally?

Twitch is already solid by me, and they have a lot of stuff incoming over the next year to improve it further it seems.


● Happy 20th Birthday @ PS1

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Holy shit, I remember kids in school with hype for the PS1 release that I only ever saw rivalled by Tamagotchis.

I’d already joined the PC master race 2 years prior, so my hype was kept in check by knowing there was ZERO chance my Dad would finance my insatiable PC games/software/hardware habit and a brand new console as well. That didn’t stop my great desire for one, but at least I knew I’d have plenty of access to my friends’ ones.

Outside of playing at friends’ houses, I consoled myself (smirk) by playing games that the PS1 would still take years to catch up with, and in some cases such as FPS/RTS games, never would (plus it was missing 90% of the PC adventure games). I was mad jealous over the fighting games and especially Resident Evil though. I’d stand in GAME (a games retailer in the UK), watching the demo reels of RE1 for countless minutes and countless occasions, wondering when it’d be my time to ‘enter the world of survival horror’. That’s where my love of that line comes from. Thankfully they released a (slightly wonky) PC version some time later.

A couple of years later I eventually picked up a PS1, and enjoyed the shit outta it with RE 1/2/3, Tekken 3, Silent Hill, SOTN, Suikoden 1/2, SF Alpha 3, FF7, Gran Turismo, Viewpoint, though sadly no MGS, sorry! Ever since I got a PC, it’s always been and always will be my primary platform, but I’ve never restricted myself just to the PC. As I’ve said many a time, I’ll go where the games are.. the platform is irrelevant, though on the PC is always preferred.

Either way, happy birthday to the PS1, one of Sony’s greatest triumphs that only happened due to Nintendo’s fuck up.


● Sadder than before…

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Silent Hills was already looking on form between Kojima, Toro and Norman Reedus.. it also turns out Junji Ito, a master horror craftsman was working on it as well.

Explains why it wasn’t just the direction that was looking great, but the style as well.

My theory is; Konami knew we would throw money at them for it, so dropped all that tedious ‘gaming stuff’ and cut to the chase with a Silent Hill pachinko machine instead. Either that or an onset of cashphobia (spell check informs me cashphobia isn’t a word, psh).

The true horror of all this though, is that we’ll never play what was shaping up to be an incredible game in the genre.

That slug is Silent Hills being rejected/cancelled by Konami btw.. poor Silent Hills slug.. it’s also a panel from one of Junji Ito’s works (minus the artisan like editing) called Uzumaki, check it out!