League of Legends….The Reality Show

Zac’s entertainment

No, you did read that correctly. Eurogamer has an article today detailing an upcoming Australian reality show, in which 40 players will compete over a series of weeks to eventually win a contract to play professionally with a top team in the Oceanic Pro League. Not the most obsurd reality show concept ever – Big Brother still exists – but surprising nonetheless.

As a lapsed League of Legends addict and, until recently, an avid follower of the game as an Esport (go Fnatic!), I must say I’m interested in this. Hopefully it’ll do decently and encourage a copycat show in the North American or Europe regions. Then, whoever wins might actually have a shot at making the semifinal at Worlds before being ruthlessly crushed by a North Korean team, as is the natural order of things.

Adventures in Clash Royale: Final Part

Clash finale

It’s been an interesting couple of months with Supercell’s Clash Royale; two months of highs and lows with a game so brilliant yet so frustrating. Since the last update, I’ve quit the game and returned to it twice; the second time in hilarious fashion, as I spent all my hard-earned gems and gold on absolute shit in a mad fury, only to reopen the app an hour later; devastated. The trophy level I’m at seems to be just so difficult to break through, especially for someone like me who is spending a long time getting the necessary cards through grinding. It’s enough to induce a rage-quit every so often, but the smooth gameplay and ease of use sucks me back in.

The level of strategy in Clash is just so; it really does satisfy that cerebral desire to out-think and out-maneuver an opponent, just like any AAA RTS, or so they may claim. It’s not all serious business though; these past few weeks, I’ve been absolutely loving the 2 vs 2 mode, which enables players to team up against another pair, seeking the best synergies and timings to win. It’s a lot of fun, and the cheeky “bad manners” King faces just add to the flavour. Nothing better than beating a taunter.

In terms of money spending, I’m still at a great big zero pounds, zero pence. However, I did actually make the definitive decision to buy a load of gold and gems when I saw they were available on special offer, but I ended up forgetting and missing the deal! Good to know that my subconscious has sanctioned real spending though. I’m fully on board and ready to dive in when the next big offer comes around.

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The deck. Trusty favourites still there,  new additions in tow.

My deck has evolved yet again to include the Miner legendary I had unpacked prior to the last update. I’m enjoying some good success by pairing it up with my beloved Goblin Barrel; drop the Miner first then the barrel straight after, and the tower targets the tough Miner, leaving the gobbos to do the damage, or at worst, suck up some of my opponents’ resources as he adapts to my plan. I can’t wait to get another Miner and get mine upgraded, it’s a great distraction card and adds some much-needed tankiness to my offering.

Clash Royale is a really great game. After two months I’m playing it more than ever, and finding myself ensuring I have some time every day to play. The combination of quick games, satisfying unlocks, clever strategy and hidden depth makes for a definite mobile app winner; give the game some time and it’ll get its claws in you, barely letting you out of its sight as you find yourself playing just one more game.

Give in to mighty overlord Supercell. You may not agree with the so-called “freemium” games market, but you’d be missing a true strategy gem if you dodged this one. It can be obtuse at first, but stick with it; let it into your mind, and you’ll soon be loving the 3-minute strategy blasts it can provide.

Join me in Clash Royale. My adventures are well and truly underway.

The Wolf Among Us 2 Is Finally Happening

Glamouring for more

After a cheeky denial, Telltale Games finally spilled the beans this past week and dropped the exciting news that they are developing season 2 of The Wolf Among Us, and it’s due in 2018 (link).

The first season is a real stand out piece from the veteran studio; given the wonderful universe of the Fables graphic novels to work with, the game shines as a dark, gritty whodunnit-style mystery story, with some great character cameos and some genuine, edge-of-the-seat thrills that keep it fresh and engaging from start to finish. Honestly, I couldn’t put it down when I played it last year; for those who haven’t yet, it can be picked up for an absolute song regularly and is more than worthy of the 8 or so hours it takes to complete it.

Also announced; season 4 of The Walking Dead, what Telltale are calling The Walking Dead: The Final Season. That this is the final game is surprising to me; despite the lacklustre third season (see my review here), it seemed there were areas the game could have further explored through creative uses of the license, and as Season 1 and 2 have shown, when Telltale are on with The Walking Dead they are fucking onIt’s exciting to think we’ll be returning to see out Clementine’s story though, especially knowing she’ll once again be the playable character. Her story is the glue that holds the series together; her parts in A New Frontier were the strongest aspects, and the game sings when it hones in on Clem and her struggles. Looking forward to seeing if this one can recapture my imagination once again.

Oh, and something about a new Batman game, but I must admit to not being overly fussed about that series. If it’s great and I need to play it, let me know!

Splatoon 2 And Its Splatfests

Team Cake is a lie

I’ve just finished a couple of hours’ play on this evenings’ Splatfest: Cake vs Ice Cream. I had an absolute blast and plan on picking up the game on the back of this very strong demo showing. I was initially put off by the motion controls, which I’m told are the best way to play the game and the only way to be competitive, but I found to be a tiresome chore. Switching (zing!) to traditional stick controls made the game click much more easily with me, however, and I thoroughly enjoyed the frantic painting and gunning gameplay. Highly recommended for those who are bored of grey and brown shooting games.

There’s a great introduction to Splatoon’s Splatfest events up on Kotaku UK right now that makes for lovely weekend reading.

Lamenting The Modern Final Fantasy I Never Played

Fancy a gambit

I hear good things about the new, updated port of Final Fantasy XII.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, as the remaster is known, has released on Playstation 4 to glowing reviews and a bucketload of positive hype. Forums, subreddits and comment threads are abuzz with nostalgia for what is, by many accounts, a very strong FF; one all JRPG fans should play.

Sadly, I never did get around to the original.

Sometime before the original release of FF XII, I was convinced the franchise was the greatest in all of gaming. From FF VII, right through to and X-2, by way of VI, I devoured them all; multiple times in most cases. Everything in the games appealed to teenage me: The stunning music, the stat-based gameplay, the characters, the stories, the length, the substanceFinal Fantasy was a big part of my gaming diet from the Playstation era onward; I played them over and over until my time to ascend to a Playstation 2 arrived, then I moved on to my beloved X. Great memories, all.

I remember reading a preview of FF XII circa 2004, and feeling just as hyped for it as the others. The world of Ivalice looked like just the kind of place I’d love to spend a few hundred hours; the characters looked superb and I even loved the revamp of the random battle system. I was all set to absorb every pixel of the game and continue my FF love affair for many more years.

Then; Halo 2 happened.

I’d owned an original Xbox for a little while, but having grown bored of the first Halo game it had sat, stagnant, for some time, whilst I continued to play my much-preferred PS2. However, as the hype for Halo 2 grew and grew amongst my friend group (we were avid LAN-partiers when Halo: Combat Evolved had first released), I found myself swept away; from that first time I connected to Xbox Live and played a game of Halo 2, against other people, I was utterly hooked. The next two years of my life were spent either playing H2 over Xbox Live, or having a breather with whatever else Xbox game my friends were playing at the time. Final Fantasy XII was completely forgotten, and by the time it had released and I’d heard about it, my PS2 was long gone; sold to fund my blossoming Xbox addiction. The passion had gone, and I moved on with my gaming life, having never played what may potentially have been one of my favourite games ever.

Now, the opportunity presents itself again, and my adolescent nostalgia has awoken; straining to be heard. I have designs on purchasing a PS4 in the very near future for its huge catalogue of exclusives; now there is one more exclusive to add to the list that I am determined not to let slip away again.

Final Fantasy XII. My beloved Master Chief may have stolen you from me once, but this is one fight he isn’t finishing.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The Master Trials – My Thoughts

Quite a title

I’m back! Apologies; real life has gotten severely in the way of writing these past few weeks, and this time I don’t just mean “drinking” when I say real life. Hopefully going to be able to get back into some sort of schedule from now, so expect my usual level of content production to resume hence (he says).

Anyway, I’ve been playing a lot of the first DLC pack for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, entitled The Master Trials. I have been itching for new BoTW content, and this package has come along at just the right time. I’ve finished the bulk of the content, and I’m now ready to divulge some thoughts (best taken with the usual grain of fanboy salt, you must understand).

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The main draw of the DLC pack is The Trial of the Sword, so named because completing it powers up the Master Sword, doubling its attack power, and also improves its durability (thank the heavens). The Trial of the Sword consist of three groups of trials, each ramping up in difficulty, and Link begins each cluster naked and unarmed; the objective being to carefully acquire gear and nurture it so it takes you through to the later levels. Whilst each stage features a set of enemies to defeat, the trial plays much more like a giant puzzle; you figure out attack routes, make use of sneaking opportunities, and use the environment to get ahead in any way you can. It’s both incredibly challenging and highly rewarding, in such a balance as to be expected from this development team.

The high difficulty level is clear from the beginning, and, like much of BoTW, is not scared to give you a few kidney shots as you swing wildly at it. The three sections allow you to save in between them, but if you happen to die during a section you are cast unceremoniously back to your previous save. This happened to me regularly, although the mechanics of the game are built so well that frustration quickly turned to admiration and determination to overcome. Finishing the Trial of the Sword took around 5 hours; a drop in the ocean in comparison to the main game, but a satisfying chunk nonetheless.

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The rest of the DLC consists of a number of armour pieces and masks to locate, providing a mindless distraction for an hour or two, and the much hyped Master Mode; a super-hard version of the main game, with its own save file, specifically for those after a real challenge. Master Mode ramps up the level, intelligence and aggressiveness of the enemies in the main game, to the point at which a battle against a simple Bokoblin becomes an epic struggle for survival that will leave you panting for breath and wild-eyed. This is likely to be a hugely worthwhile time investment for some, and a ridiculous addition never to be touched by others. It’s a worthwhile inclusion, however it could easily have been an option in the base game.

Finally; the Hero’s Path, which displays your journey over the world map for the previous 200 hours of gameplay, is an interesting addition, and great for showing you parts of the map yet to be discovered. I was surprised to find that there were huge areas I’d never been, despite feeling like I’d done pretty much everything. I look forward to several hours’ more adventuring, looking for more of the great content this game has to offer.

Well worth a look then for fans of the game, and a good deal too; considering that the price of the expansion pass includes this, and The Champion’s Ballad, an even meatier expansion due at the end of the year. The best Zelda just keeps getting better.

Starcraft: Remastered Out August 14th

Broodling for more

Blizzard have given the world the details on their upcoming remaster of the original Starcraft. Arriving August 14th, the game will be a modest £12.99/$14.99, a generous move from Blizzard who could have probably charged a lot more given the game’s immense nostalgia factor. Looking forward to playing this one; I love Starcraft 2 but never played the original (BLASPHEMY!). I hear very positive things, and will enjoy getting my arse kicked over and over again online, as is the true order of life.

As a side note, I’ll have a review of the new Zelda content up next week, and another episode of Adventures in Clash Royale too. Stick around, why dontchya.