News, news, news! So much sequel news this week. There’s more Ubisoft games, Destiny
DLC 2, and Life is Strange(r than fiction). Also I talk a lot about Persona 5 but still have leftover thoughts for other posts down the road.
What was Played
As mentioned last week, I finished Persona 5 and gave some quick impressions. I’m going to go over more specific thoughts here but I’ll clearly mark where spoilers are if you haven’t bought this fantastic game yet. As of right now, NieR: Automata is my favorite game of 2017 and this is a solid second. Same goes for their OSTs.
I think the gameplay is the best in the series by a wide margin, with the standard jRPG menu-based combat simplified to button presses, and the negotiation mechanic from mainline SMT games feels right at home. All of the fusion improvements from P4G and SMT IV are here, with some added features I hardly had to touch. I only used the lockdown/training feature in NG+, and I never touched the social fusion feature. The social links are now confidants, and each one has their own gameplay mechanics tied to their progression, which further incentivises you to hang out with them. This gives the entire game a more cohesive feel that neither P3 or 4 could muster.
The visual design of this game is leagues above any of its contemporaries, with a flair and confidence that will remain fresh for years to come. If your all-out attack defeats an enemy, the party member who started the attack gets a freeze frame pose and an embellishing illustration to cement your victory. Some people might get tired of the victory results screen, but if holding triangle to fast forward isn’t fast enough for you, just remember the enthralling card picking post-battle minigames from 3 and 4.
*****Spoilers from here on*****
The main cast is very likeable, with Ann and Yusuke being my only two disappointments. I still think they’re fun characters and I enjoy their personalities, but out of the rest of the cast those two feel like they grow out of their stereotypes the least. Ann just decides to try really hard at being a model. Yusuke fares a bit better but his whole “what is the meaning/purpose/point of art” arc didn’t have the satisfying conclusion I was hoping for. Ryuji’s blind anti-authority bent is both frustrating and completely understandable. Morgana’s confidence is both debunked and explained. Futaba’s agoraphobic tendencies get background and exploration. Makoto’s narrow view of the world gets vindicated and critiqued, and Haru is a precious cinnamon bun who is too precious for this world.
The weakest cast member is Akechi, who joins your team as the OBVIOUS traitor and gets a paper thin “daddy doesn’t like me” backstory before getting unceremoniously killed off. The instant I learned there was a traitor on the team I looked at the boxart and said “Boy, I think it’s that brown haired fellow who didn’t get a ‘get to know me’ trailer on YouTube”. His pretentious attitude and the lack of any chemistry with the team is well done and fun to watch, and his English voice actor gives a very solid performance, and his metaverse design is superb, but I felt no remorse or pity for Akechi when he died.
And with that we transition into the stuff I didn’t like about the game.
Number one, the lack of free time. Outside of the stretches of time where you have a Palace to infiltrate, the game pretty much locks you out from doing anything other than watching a cutscene or two of your crew debating who to target next. This even applies to nighttime activities in your room. No playing video games, or making lockpicks, or working out, just go to sleep after going on a field trip. P3 and 4 had a more open feel, which made the downtime between deadlines feel more relaxing and natural. In P5 you just blast through the dungeons as fast as possible. Not because they’re terrible or grueling, in fact they’re the best in the series, but because you want that free time to up social links, up your social stats, study, and explore the city. You could spin this as a positive and say that P5 has so much to do and so much of it is compelling that you want to do it all, and that is certainly true. But this isn’t a “cup runneth over” situation, it’s more of a “this cup you gave me is too small to accurately sample this” situation.
The other major problem with P5 is its ending stretch. The last 10-20 hours just drag on and on and on. There are 7 main Palaces in the game, with Memento taking the role of the grinding location. After the 6th Palace the game hardlines you on a track towards the ending and that track is full of dungeon crawling. After completing the 7th Palace the game literally traps you in Mementos to grind your way to the ending. And it doesn’t help that you can see the ending coming a mile away and it does not gel with the rest of the game. Each Persona title since 3 has had you fighting some manner of god/deity-being. In 3 it was basically the grim reaper, P3 FES The Answer pitted you against mankind’s collective suicidal thoughts, P4 had you fight some pissed of lady demon who wanted to fog the whole world, and P5 ends with your crew facing mankind’s collective wish for an easy, thought free existence. P5’s ending-god fight feels more appropriate than P4’s or FES’s, but it clashes with the tone of the rest of the game. The rest of the game is about various heart-heists to solve more local problems, and then at the end you have grandiose political players involved and of course the “kill god” jRPG ending. I enjoyed the boisterous political stuff because it felt different from any Persona game or jRPG for that matter.
*****Spoilers end here*****
I know my negatives seemed to outweigh the positives, but it’s difficult to explain the positives, good characters, great OST, great art, good pacing, without spoiling absolutely everything. Persona 5 was a great ride, and I’m now splitting my time between that NG+ and Shadows of Valentia, which I’ll have more on next week.
The Crew 2 Announced
Ubisoft has had a lot of sequel leaks but I don’t think anyone was expecting a sequel to The Crew. I really enjoyed the first Forza Horizon game, so the general open-world car game idea appeals to me, but The Crew was so buggy and unpolished that it just wasn’t fun. Hopefully Ubi can get this one right. No other details, not even a release date, are out at the moment.
Ghost Recon Best Selling Game of 2017 (so far)
Ghost Recon Wildlands is apparently the best selling video game of 2017 as of May 16th. I hadn’t really heard that much buzz around this game among the videogame enthusiast crowd, but I suppose that the casual market would be drawn to GR Wildlands more than a jaded guy like me would think.
Farcry 5 Officially Announced
No other details other than the fact that it exists. We’ll definitely be seeing this one at E3.
Netflix The Witcher Series Is In The Works
Netflix is producing an English adaptation of Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher novels. The studio that made the pre-rendered cinematics in the Witcher games, but there’s no confirmation if the show is entirely CG or live-action. The Witcher games have some of the best writing in games despite not being incredibly faithful to the books, so it’ll be interesting to see if the show fares better with Sapkowski’s influence.
Platinum Games Teases A New IP
The producer of Bayonetta has hinted at a “formless, shapeless IP” coming together at Platinum Games. He also commented that he is not sure if Platinum can keep up their 1 game a year output, but that they’re still creative and energized. My speculation is that this new IP might be built on the back of the unfinished Scalebound despite Microsoft renewing the trademark. Whatever it is, Platinum tends to knock it out of the park with their own IPs, so I am eager to see what this is.
Destiny 2 Gameplay Reveal
Destiny 2 had its gameplay reveal and boy does it look like a large expansion. I’m aware that MMO type games put out large expansions, but Destiny tried to walk the line between FPS and MMO and as such it is difficult to judge its sequel. Since it looks like more of the same people who disliked Destiny will shun it and those who liked Destiny are happy. I’m gonna pass on this one, I was in the camp of extremely disappointed people with Destiny and I have tried to go back to it and each time I got bored. Maybe Destiny 2 will change it up, but it doesn’t look like it. Godspeed to those who are excited, though.
Destiny 2 On PC Exclusively On Battle.net
Destiny 2 will also be on PC via Battle.net. This is an unexpected, but understandable move. Considering how popular Destiny is and the outcry of a PC version it was expected that Destiny 2 would be on PC, but having it exclusively on Blizzard’s launcher is a power play by Activision. This could be Activision’s big push to have their own PC client. I won’t be surprised if Call of Duty WWII is on Battle.net now.
Life Keeps Getting Strange
Dontnod has confirmed the existence of a new Life is Strange game. The idea seems to be that the Life is Strange title will become more of an young adult supernatural fiction series, especially considering how the first game wraps up. When LiS came out I was still riding high on TellTale’s output, but looking back LiS is far better than most of TellTale’s games. I ended up enjoying Life is Strange overall, but it was definitely uneven in some places so I’m looking forward to what a sequel could do.
VA-11 HALL-A Update
VA-11 HALL-A still isn’t out for the Vita.
What’s on the Plate
I’m really liking the “new” Fire Emblem game on the 3DS: Shadows of Valentia. It’s a remake of an FE game that never got officially released over here in North America and after the Awakening and Fates games this is a breath of fresh air. More on that next week, sorry for the late post, and thanks for reading!
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