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Tag Archives: the witcher 3

As a poor man, I don’t play as many games as I’d like. Nowhere near in fact. Yet in spite of that I’ve still managed, on average, a new game a month so yay for me. With 2016 mercifully almost at an end, I thought I’d have a look back over what I’ve played and select some winners in some arbitrary categories I’ve come up with on the spot. Because bollocks to preparation.

Surprise of the Year
Contenders: Doom, Final Fantasy XV
Winner: Doom

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Image from BagoGames

As much as Final Fantasy XV is a return to form, it has to be Doom. After some not unsubstantial concern before release, with an unimpressive multiplayer beta and slow looking gameplay previews, Doom turned out to be a masterpiece. Eschewing the approach of many modern FPS’s, Doom prioritised it’s single player campaign and was all the better for it. It wasn’t just a warm-up for the multiplayer a’la Call of Duty and Battlefield, but an honest-to-God story, one with plot and everything. The no-nonsense Doom Guy also had a surprising amount of depth, treating demons and allies alike (as well as robots, computer screens and machinery) with a disdain normally reserved for dog mess on the bottom of your shoe. Doom 2016 was everything that Doom 3 wasn’t. Well crafted, well balanced, engaging and above all a ton of fun.

DLC of the Year
Contenders: Destiny Rise of Iron, The Witcher 3 Blood and Wine, SWTOR Knights of the Eternal Throne
Winner: The Witcher 3 Blood and Wine
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If this had been a standalone game it would probably be up there in many writers Game of the Year lists. As a coda to what I would say is the best game of the generation so far, Blood and Wine is as perfect a conclusion as one could wish for. Moving away from the war-torn, grim locales of the main game and Heart of Stone makes it almost feel like a whole new game, so drastic is the change in tone and atmosphere. Throw in vampires, court intrigue and Geralt’s continued befuddlement at the behaviour of the locals and you’re onto a winner. Combine that with a great story, achingly pretty new locations and it’s a wonderful send off for our rugged Withcer. You couldn’t ask for more.

Most Anticipated of 2017
On paper, 2017 is already shaping up to be a stronger year than 2016. Not to say 2016 was bad, just that a lot of the stuff that achieved critical acclaim didn’t appeal to me (I’m looking at you, Overwatch and Dark Souls 3). 2017 sees Rockstar returning to the Wild West in Red Dead Redemption 2, more piss-taking shenanigans in South Park: The Fractured But Whole and Link’s return to the home console scene with Breath of the Wild.

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Image from BagoGames

But for my money the one game I can’t wait to get my hands on is Mass Effect Andromeda. I’m super excited to see where Bioware take the Mass Effect franchise. The early footage looks promising, with lots of lessons learnt from Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age Inquisition. Replacing Commander Shepard will be one hell of a task, but one I trust Bioware to pull off.

Disappointment of the Year
Contenders: No Man’s Sky, Uncharted 4, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
Winner: Uncharted 4

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Image from BagoGames

Right, now bear with me. I loved the first three Uncharted games. Even the third one which for some reason nobody seems to like anymore. When it came to the fourth entry, it just fell flat for me. The middle third is a meandering mess. Doing repetitive nonsense in Madagascar was bad enough, but following that up with a God-awful island hopping adventure that makes the jet ski sections in the first game look good was the final straw. It may not be the headline grabbing failure that No Man’s Sky was, but as an exercise in falling short of expectation I don’t think you can look much farther.

Game of the Year
Contenders: Doom, Rise of the Tomb Raider (PC), Final Fantasy XV
Winner: Rise of the Tomb Raider

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Image from BagoGames

It came out on PC at the start of the year, it counts. In short, it has all the strengths of Uncharted 4, but with good pacing, less tedious set pieces and a more enjoyable story. If Tomb Raider 2013 was the perfect 8/10 game, this took it to the next level. Giving Lara more agency in the game helped to harken back to the classic Tomb Raider games, but without losing the sense of who this version of Lara was. She was still the same character we saw trapped on a cloudy island in the reboot, but with more knowledge and more of an edge. It suddenly didn’t seem so odd to see her gunning down mercenaries left, right and centre without batting a TressFX rendered eyelash.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that going into the third instalment of a trilogy without engaging with the previous two parts is a bad idea. Yet here I am, playing both The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Dragon Age Inquisition after only brief encounters with their predecessors.

I’d managed to complete Dragon Age Origins and did about a quarter of The Witcher, whilst I skipped both franchises second games completely. I can’t say either experience left me inclined to trying their sequels. However, with the slow start to this console cycle and their rave reviews, I decided to give them a chance. Understandably this has left me playing catch up with the lore. What’s surprised me most is that in spite of having played less of The Witcher series, it’s the one in which I’ve had the most success in getting to grips with.

Normally, the move to appeal to more of a mass market would be seen as jumping the shark, a phrase which itself did a Fonz about 10 years ago. CD Project Red have managed to avoid that pitfall. It still feels like Lord of the Rings meets Game of Thrones, but in a version in which you could skip the rubbish bits like The Two Towers or Game of Thrones season two and not feel utterly lost. I don’t feel as though I’ve missed out. The world is still vibrant, but in an approachable way. A way in which I’m not overloaded with information and left to fend for myself. In contrast, Dragon Age Inquisition is like trying to eat a pack of Ryvita. It’s dry and fairly bland, in need of something to liven it up and give it some flavour. Had I enjoyed Origins and played Dragon Age 2, perhaps that would have come from there.

This isn’t to say Inquisition is a bad game. It’s achingly pretty and the interaction with your team mates is as good as you’d expect from a Bioware game. Where it really shines is in the metagame. Making the Inquisition a force to be reckoned with is reminiscent of building your forces in Mass Effect 3. It feels like you can affect the world in a very real way, more so than Geralt can on his own in Wild Hunt.

But where The Witcher 3 succeeds is it not only draws you in, it also feels like much more of a next-gen game. Sure, Inquisition looks pretty, but like Origins it can still feel like something Bioware did on their day off. The combat is laborious, the quests uninspired, mediocre characters and an unremarkable plot. These aren’t points which I feel apply to The Witcher 3. Take, for instance, The Bloody Baron. By all accounts an utter bastard, yet by the end of his quest chain I was pitying him more than any other character in a video game in years.

My hope is that Dragon Age will realise its potential the more I play it. It certainly has the capacity to be brilliant. Just building up the inquisition and consolidating your power is enough of a hook to ensure I continue. Yet so far, it’s The Witcher that’s the apple of my eye.