Review – World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth

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Well, it’s been a hell of a summer for Azeroth, hasn’t it? In the lead-up to World of Warcraft’s newest incarnation, we have been treated to a wild roller coaster. The 8.0 patch introduced many of the balance changes and modifications that we would be dealing with in Battle for Azeroth, but it also introduced bugs and other issues that lit the community on fire (Sorry, Night Elves). When the pre-release event (“The War of Thorns”) started, it began not with a bang, but with a whimper, as the time gated nature of the new questline meant it would be weeks until players could experience the climactic burning of the Night Elf home-tree.

While it was a bumpy ride, it’s been a huge success in engaging this MMO’s huge player base. The prologue reignited the war between the game’s two factions, and has set the stage for an epic showdown 14 years in the making.

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Review – Octopath Traveler

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Octopath Traveler is the latest Switch title from Square Enix. It is an RPG developed by the minds that brought us the celebrated Bravely Default on the 3DS. I was from the camp that thought Bravely Default was “okay.” It was a charming JRPG with a lovely art style. It also had great quality of life design decisions that made it feel very modern. However, it was also a rather by-the-books game that struggled to keep my attention as the it went on. Because of that, I never bothered to check out Bravely Second, the sequel that was released on the 3DS in 2016.

Octopath is a weird game to me, because it does share the same DNA as the Bravely series in the sense that classic JRPGs such as the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series heavily inform the design of the game. But unlike Bravely Default, Octopath feels remarkably experimental. Its structure and narrative feel quite different from the games that inspired it, but is that enough to let the game dig its own niche in the JRPG canon? Continue reading

Review – Pillars of Eternity

There are many ways for a developer to recapture nostalgia. In the Divinity: Original Sin series, it feels like the developer rebuilt the CRPG from memory, taking all the best aspects and making them shine, but leaving an experience that is unmistakably modern. Pillars of Eternitydeveloped by Obsidian and released in 2015 (I just picked it up in this summer’s Steam sale!), takes a different approach. This doesn’t feel like a modern take on the CRPG–it feels exactly like a CRPG straight out of the genre’s heyday in the late 90s and early 2000s.

That kind of approach can lead to mixed results. Just look at Yooka-Laylee, a game that aimed to recapture another genre from this same time period, only to remind us that maybe we were looking at that time with rose colored glasses. Pillars of Eternity, however, is an example of this done right. This is not an RPG you can casually dig into, but if you give it the time and dedication it deserves, you’ll find that this game is well worth your time.

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Review – Fortnite

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My first experience with Fortnite was earlier this year. I was looking for a PS4 alternative to PUBG, which I found in this game’s free battle royale mode. When you take a closer look, however, there are key differences that really make Fortnite its own thing, for better or worse. Months later, Fortnite has kind of become the newest it-game, and it has come to Nintendo Switch. How does it hold up?

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Review – Dragon Quest Builders

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I always viewed Dragon Quest Builders with skepticism. Minecraft clones are a dime a dozen, and watching a beloved publisher such as Square Enix put one out isn’t very encouraging. As more information came out about this game, and now after playing it, I was surprised to see that it is much more of a Dragon Quest game than I gave it credit for. Dragon Quest Builders delivers enough fresh ideas to differentiate itself from other games, and it’s very much a worthwhile entry into Square’s popular RPG series.

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Review – Bayonetta 2

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Well, now that was an unexpectedly amazing experience! I went straight into Bayonetta 2 without many expectations. I have never played any of the Bayonetta games, and while I know the game is pretty beloved, I didn’t really expect it to be this good.

Bayonetta 2 is an action game originally released on the Wii U a couple of years back. Like I said, I never played it due to my love-hate relationship with the console, and boy am I glad it got ported, because this game does not deserve to be stuck on the Wii U. This game keeps you in a perpetual state of sensory overload from beginning to end, constantly throwing new and creative encounters that are legitimately challenging and a blast to overcome.

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Review – Shadow of the Colossus

Oh boy, where do I start? Anyone who’s been playing video games for the past 15 years knows of Shadow of the Colossus. This is a game that is often brought up as an example of video games as a form of art, and with good reason. Back when it was originally released for the PS2 in 2005, this game was an unmatched audiovisual masterpiece, let down only by the technological limitations of that console.

I first played this game when it was ported to the PS3, and I could quickly see why this game is so beloved. There is a solemn beauty here that you can’t really find anywhere else. The desolate environments,  sweeping, melancholic soundtrack and magnificently crafted colossi all work together to craft a powerful feeling of awe. Hell, I get goosebumps just writing about it.

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