The fall is always a pinnacle moment for annual gaming. Developers code furiously all summer while marketing teams polish advertisements in the hope masses of gamers will buy their offering as the weather turns to crap and society moves their lives indoors. This particular fall there are a number of interesting games which loom on the horizon — so many, in fact, the gaming community will be hard pressed to select where to place their money, time, and energy. I face that question with the following (listed by release date) titles:
August 12 // No Man’s Sky (PC for me)
Billed as a create-your-own adventure with a heavy exploration theme, No Man’s Sky looks both interesting and well, not interesting. From the interesting angle, I’ve always enjoyed the Wing Commander trade-for-upgrade kinda space sims. They are typically engaging and moderately addictive as long as content remains focused. With the now famous planet-creation algorithm promising almost unlimited variety, there appears to be plenty of content but the lack of multiplayer and a strong story is disarming. Additionally, the game leak which allowed a player to “reach the center of the universe” (the game’s overarching goal) within 35 hours is also alarming. I’m unsure if I can give credence to a singular report from a less than reputable source but $59.99 for 35 hours of gaming seems like a poor ROI (if those reports are to be believed). Back to the positive, I recently bumped into this YouTube video review entitled, “6 Reasons to Play No Man’s Sky” which dropped some fascinating “buy it you dork!” temptation on me. Hrmmm, Minecraft in space?! Ah, what the hell, this seems like something I may enjoy. Pre-purchase accomplished. Let’s take this hype for a spin, shall we?!
September 20 // Destiny: Rise of Iron (Xbox One for me)
Woah, is that a dog whistle?! Nope, it just happens to be the (likely) final expansion for Bungie’s Destiny named, Rise of Iron. Bungie has a mostly positive history of paid-for expansions and I feel confident Rise of Iron will be yet another success in one of the best entertainment experiences in my gaming career. What makes Rise of Iron especially interesting is the inclusion of a new raid to explore and conquer — after all, raid events are arguably the pinnacle gaming experience in Destiny. The Guardian Down Squad (GDSQ, our lovable group of gaming nerds) spent months chipping away at the King’s Fall raid and only recently lay claim to having beaten the raid on both normal and hard settings — something not easily done. But just look at the ROI for a game like that. Likely a hundred plus hours of entertainment for $60, not too shabby. I can only hope Rise of Iron checks a similar box and provides hours of gaming entertainment for my GDSQ brethren. By the way, could I get a rez?!
September 27 // FIFA17 (Xbox One for me)
Oh yes, the crown prince of gaming — at least in my world. The one title which I repeatedly turn to during times of darkness on the gaming landscape. FIFA normally recycles the same gameplay mechanic and adds a postscript (i.e., FIFA 15, 16, etc.) but FIFA 17 promises to be something completely (kinda) different. Built on the “Frostbite” graphics engine, this is the first time in the last several years the graphics have changed — and what a change it promises to be. With more visual clarity, vibrance, and tools for developers to harness, the Frostbite engine is only the tip of the offering. The entire game has been rebuilt from the grass up including skills, finishing, set-pieces, corners, and penalties. Truth be told, with such massive changes, there promises to be moments of brilliance and frustration but, as luck would have it, I’ve been invited to play in the closed BETA for FIFA 17. I’m quite fascinated by the opportunity and, should I make the final cut, look forward to contributing to the greater good.
October 21 // Battlefield 1 (PC for me)
The final and perhaps most traditional gaming experience lurking on the horizon has to be EA’s Battlefield 1. What happens when 64-players split into two teams, are heavily armed, and are told to destroy the other side? Mayhem with an extremely high body count. There’s nothing quite like getting on the Internet, meeting a total stranger and finding a way to kill them in a video game — after all, isn’t that what modern PVP gaming is all about? Irrespective, the multiplayer experience in the Battlefield has been nothing short of stunning. With a wide variety of weapons, classes, and tanks (yes!), the massive maps yield nothing but thrills and chaos. Truth be told, BF1 is the least interesting option of all the games I’ve played simply because I’ve played the shit outta Battlefield 3 and 4 and thus the game is a known quantity for me. Rank up, unlock weapons and perks, take those new abilities to the map and annihilate the enemy. Solid formula but a tad overdone. If I’m honest, I played “the shit outta” Battlefield 3 but found BF4 to be a lukewarm experience at best. Why? Repetition. Once you’ve played a game enough, the thrill disappears like hotdogs on the Fourth of July. Let’s put this in the “we shall see” category.
Well, that’s about it. As mentioned, there is only so much time on my personal pie-chart. I feel like FIFA and Destiny will continue to capture the bulk of my fall and winter leisure time but perhaps that No Man’s Sky indie title will force a tectonic shift in my anticipated gaming paradigm.