Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Game Of The Year!

                Here I am at the last article of this year choosing the best PC video game of 2016. Dark Souls III, Inside, DOOM, Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, Titanfall 2 or Hitman are all great games competing for this title and I had a blast playing all of them.
                My choice for game of the year is a partial victory for PC gaming. Hitman returns to form after Absolution dived deep into a consolized gameplay losing much of the values that define this series.

The Most Disappointing Game

               The year 2016 was in itself one hell of a fight to reach the pinnacle of disappointment. Many of the titles that were supposed to rock the gaming foundations of this year turned out to be mediocre or riddled with problems that took away their best features. The most controversial game of the year was no doubt No Man’s Sky which promised a huge universe and delivered, but turned out to be a generic grinding game with many of its cool features being falsely advertised. This was the peak point of excitement and unrest when the internet drama went as far as death threats and DDOS attacks. But what I feel to the subject matter isn’t disappointment but rather disgust towards another attempt of taking advantage of a consumer’s society and of gamers’ dreams for interesting gaming concepts. The games that truly disappointed are those that, realistically speaking, had a much easier time to deliver on promises, following on a strong background and coming from studios that prompt higher expectations.

The Best Sound

Over the years, most AAA games and even indies have mastered the art of sound design and picked the right voice actors for the parts. Choosing a winner could be difficult in most situations, but this year is different and not because other games didn’t do well, but Mafia III did such an amazing job that, for me, it managed to overshadow every other game.

The Best Graphics

                This year’s competition of technical and artistic visuals was stained by so many problems that leave accidents like Arkham Knight far behind in the rear view mirror. Rise of the Tomb Raider, Mafia III and Dishonored 2 are just a few examples of games that required heavy patching before becoming playable. Problems aside, we have been spoiled with some sharp and detailed graphics, courtesy of today’s technology, to immerse ourselves in some of the most diverse and unique settings in years. We’ve explored the chill inducing Siberia and a devastated New York then seeked the warmth of sunny Toussaint before going to the almost sunless Mars ending in the muddy trenches of World War I with a few stops in between in cities like Paris, Sapienza, Bangkok or Prague. But even if I’m to overlook the visual power driven by advanced technology, we had the pleasure to enjoy the distinctive artistic direction of games like Unravel, Dark Souls III or Inside.
The year 2016 was quite a visual journey and choosing a winner is hard, but my choice goes to a game of over achieving technology combining graphical fidelity, physics, thrilling world design and maybe a bit of false advertisement.

The Most Promising Early Access

                I’ve created this category last year because Early Access is a trend to stay despite the problems, complaints and deceit that surrounds this controversial games launching and funding system. This year has seen successful and well made games like Layers of Fear and Killing Floor 2 leaving Early Access, while quite a few notable titles joined in.
                The year kicked off with Factorio, the base building and resource management wonder. The kickstarted Hack & Slash Umbra changed its name into Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem on its way to Steam’s Early Access and has taken inspiration from Path of Exile’s skill tree to add more depth to the progression system. The Bioshock looking game set in a drug-fuelled retrofuturistic city, We Happy Few, has brought its survival mode to Early Access. EVERSPACE is trying to take advantage of the space hysteria with the quite unique concept of roguelite with spaceships. The Chris Avellone pumped story of Divinity: Original Sin 2 shows great promise improving over its predecessor in every aspect. Stunlock Champions returns with Battlerite to right the wrongs of Bloodline Champions. SEGA has bought AMPLITUDE Studios, but Endless Space 2 looks as promising as ever. And last but not least, the voxel driven planet exploratory with base building and survival elements, Astroneer, joins Early Access to put No Man’s Sky to shame.

The Best Online - Multiplayer

                This is a though choice, the online games I played the most this year are not eligible. Rainbow Six Siege has seen great improvements over this year making me sink hundreds of hours into to its frustrating ranking matches. Battlerite is an Early Access game coming out of nowhere and stealing 100 hours of my life. Both of these games are excellent, but are not truly the product of this year.

The Best Strategy

                Grand strategies, RTS, RTT, TBS or 4X, this year had them all. Homeworld saw a planetary iteration. XCOM 2 did a lot of things right despite inheriting the story and many of the issues of its predecessor. Master of Orion was revived. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada pulled off the rules of the board game beautifully with a gameplay that resembles naval combat and a campaign against Abaddon the Despoiler, but the production value of a small studio. Paradox has taken Grand Strategy to space with Stellaris. The Warhammer universe met Total War in a streamlined strategy game with a modest narrative and epic battles which proved a great opportunity for SEGA to spam pricy DLCs. Cossacks 3 copied the original game with all its qualities but with additional problems. And at the end of the year, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun has resurrected Commandos 2 and transformed it in a battle between samurais.

The Best Shooter

                The year 2016 is a return to force of First Person Shooters with many quality titles for the wide array of styles that this genre entails.
The shooting madness started in force with the big pleasant surprise that was DOOM. A shooter returning to the roots of the series providing great entertainment value through an action packed singleplayer campaign with an extremely satisfying shooting system and the surprisingly awesome Glory Kills. DOOM sacrificed the narrative, which no one really cared about, for better gameplay mechanics and a level design powered by greatly optimized graphics by its new id Tech 6 engine. Too bad the multiplayer couldn’t capture the feeling and greatness of the singleplayer campaign, but nevertheless, DOOM is a shooter to be remembered. Homefront: The Revolution followed with a quality that was a reflection of its long and troubled history, but its lack of success was covered by Blizzards’s entry on the FPS market with the online game Overwatch. This game took the world by storm gaining a huge fanbase way before it was released with its cutsy characters and colorful graphics. Providing casual fun while still having a learning ladder to climb on, Overwatch ticked all the boxes of current trends becoming a huge success. ARMA 3’s Apex expansion hit new grounds of success for a niche game with its vast and intricate new tropical map that pushes the boundaries of sandbox gameplay even further. Shadow Warrior 2 derived from its classic formula with a Borderlands-esque gameplay and progression system that wasn’t as entertaining for all Wang’s fans out there, but made up for it with a PC support that’s worth praising. Battlefield took another direction with the weirdly name Battlefield 1 that went for a massive change with its WWI setting beautifully displayed with the immense power of Frostbite Engine. The campaign has seen some improvements, but still lacks the consistence in narrative and gameplay that other shooters have. The multiplayer remains action focused like the latest Battlefield games, but taking a step backwards with a further streamlining of its gameplay. Killing Floor 2 left Early Access with enough content to support the gameplay elements that make it such a good horde mode shooter.

The Best RPG

                Looking back, 2016 has been a pretty good year for RPGs. It kicked off with Darkest Dungeon’s full release, an example of how Early Access can succeed and produce a fantastic, brutal RPG experience. Soon after, the second part of Pillars of Eternity’s expansion, The White March, picked up the pace from the unconvicing first part through a much more engaging story and left me yearning for more Pillars, which I eventually got when I replayed the whole damn thing. We’ve also had The Banner Saga 2, which improved the original experience through much welcomed refinements in gameplay, the addition of Survival Mode and a captivating story whose cliffhanger ending makes waiting for the final part of the trilogy pure torture. Unfortunately, the expected shining star of this year, Torment: Tides of Numenera, was delayed to 2017 and we can only hope that the additional two years of development will lead to something extraordinary. Finally, 2016 saw a second release from Obsidian Entertainment with Tyranny, a narrative and C&C driven RPG set in a world where “evil had won”. Although this approach led to great reactivity and replayability, it fell short of Pillars of Eternity with its tedious combat and uninspired companions, making it my biggest disappointment of this year.

The Best Adventure

                It has been a good year for adventurers. Either if you like a narrative driven experience or you are looking for the brain teasers of puzzle solving, the genre mixed both sides well enough to satisfy everyone’s taste. Games like Firewatch, Layers of Fear, Silence and Batman – A Telltale Series had players following delightful, action packed and even twisted narratives fitting the newer trend of the current generation. But even the older gamers like myself haven’t been left out of the loop and titles like The Witness, Candle and even Unravel or Inside have been around to provide the mental challenge that today’s games need so much.

The Best Action - Stealth

                The best action doesn’t always include pure action games. The games of this genre have redefined themselves becoming a blend of action with adventure and stealth in order to target a larger audience. This year, the PC action scene has been troubled. The good expansion of Dying Light with The Following didn’t make up for what was to come. Rise of the Tomb Raider went full on graphics while putting some effort into the survival elements the reboot ignored, but all that effort was in vain as the game was leaking quality through a narrative full of holes and the obvious technical problems. Mafia III turned out to be a technical mess, launching with a 30fps lock and having the repetitive missions of an average MMO in the detriment of some quality features. Not even Dishonored 2 escaped untouched from the grasps of 2016’s bad releases, launching in a poorly optimized state despite overshadowing its top notch gameplay. And while most action games struggled with various problems, Watch Dogs 2 went quite unnoticed because the unstable foundation laid by its predecessor.

The Best and The Worst of 2016

                What a crazy year 2016 has been. The Division turned out to be just an extended Beta version. Brian Fargo forgot that PC gamers and cRPGs fans made his games’ and implicitly his studio’s existence possible. No Man’s Sky was the first indie game released with a price tag of 60$, yet had the content and polishing of an Early Access game and the false advertisement that beats anything to date. Battlefield 1 Collector’s Edition didn’t come with the game code. SEGA is set on releasing the whole range of Games Workshop’s miniatures as paid DLCs. ARK: Survival Evolved missed its target release date, but Studio Wildcard didn’t miss on the opportunity of releasing an expansion to an unfinished game. Star Citizen was delayed, again… Mafia III had a solid 30fps on launch. Activision thought that the 110$ total value of the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare wasn’t enough and added pay to win microtransactions. And when I thought that things couldn’t get any worse, Dishonored 2 launched in a deplorable technical state. So, are there any good video games in 2016 that didn’t screw the PC gamers? Let’s find out!
                As usual, because of my limited time and budget I couldn’t go through all the games of this year, but I played most of the notable titles and some (many) more.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #106: Let it snow!

                I’m in a holiday’s vibe and what game could be more suiting for this than The Division. A post-pandemic New York in a disastrous state covered in mountains of trash, it’s not exactly Christmassy, but the Snowdrop engine snow colored by Christmas lights sure is. I haven’t seen a more immersive winter landscape in a video game and since there is no trace of snow in my city I went for the digital experience.
So, on that note, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…
I can almost feel the cold!


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #105: For the Lion!

                The end of the year is closing in and one of the last games to judge before going through the annual best and worst of gaming was Space Hulk: Deathwing. As someone who loves the Warhammer 40k universe and doesn’t shy away from horde mode shooters I was looking forward for this game, but the long wait wasn’t really worth it.
                Based on the expansion to the Space Hulk board game, Deathwing has a squad of terminators from the Dark Angels Chapter fighting hordes of genestealers in the vast complex of some old Imperium ships. Following on the lore of the 30th millennium and with a level design that represents the grandeur of the Imperium’s constructions and technology, the game stays true to the fluff using both board game’s concepts and Horusy Heresy books for that. For a 40k fan this could be a dream finally coming true, playing as a terminator, eradicating xenos and following on old and lost lore that only the readers know. But stepping onto video games territory, Space Hulk: Deathwing fails to deliver on key factors like gameplay, UI and optimization, falling short to what could have been. As fun and atmospheric is to explore the vastness of Imperium ships, which are basically flying monasteries that stand as testimony to the fanaticism of the mankind, as basic and unappealing the gameplay is.
                As players take the role of a librarian leading a squad of terminators to face the tyranid threat that dwell in a Space Hulk from times long forgotten, they have to fight through hordes of genestealers or mutated humans and go toe to toe against Broodlords. This sound exciting, at first, but it gets old really fast because there are no elements to add depth to the gameplay to keep the entertainment level high enough while fighting the same enemies over and over again. The limited arsenal and psychic, the basic progression system and the annoyingly dumb friendly AI put a brake on everything that could be great about this game. It’s great that Deathwing stays true to the lore and the board game, but this isn’t an excuse for a poor melee combat implementation, the repetitive objectives or the unplayable multiplayer. Compromises should always be made to make sure the gameplay experience hold true to a video game not only its source material and such wasn’t the case here.
                For what it is, Space Hulk: Deathwing is the best represantation of a game of this nature, but a lot of potential has been wasted here and if the Emperor of Mankind could still talk, he won’t hesitate to express his disappointment along with me. As a horde mode game with a sketchy multiplayer, Deathwing could be an enjoyable experience for the starved fans of the 40k universe, but it’s sad that has been resumed to nothing more than that…
Burn the xenos?!


Monday, December 12, 2016

Book of Demons Early Access Impressions!

                Book of Demons is a quirky looking game by Thing Trunk part of a series of tributes to the old but gold games of the 90s.
                The action takes place in a paper-cut looking village and its haunted cathedral. With the support of a handful of villagers, a hero ventures into the depths of the cathedral that stands as a gateway to hell. Sounds familiar? Setting aside, everything about Book of Demons stands as a comical homage to Diablo. Right off the bat players can choose between the three classes and even if the Early Access version contains only warrior and mage, the trio will be completed with the addition of the rogue. Going past the simplistic character creation, the player arrives at the troubled village inhabited by some caricature characters including this game’s version of Deckard Cain and Adria (I guess Griswold didn’t fit in with the game mechanics). Even the cathedral’s submerging progression culminates with a silly Archdemon that’s the paper-cut embodiment of the older and terrifying Diablo.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Squad Early Access Impressions!

                Writing something more serious about Squad has been a long coming and I wasn’t going to let this article join the folder of postponed indefinitely. With the recent free weekend I rejoined the ranks to check up on the progress and I picked up this article right from where I left it shortly after the game’s Early Access release, almost one year ago.
                Kickstarter is probably the only medium where a game like Squad could receive the financial support it deserves, because Squad is for the most hardcore fans of war simulators. After a successful crowdfunding campaign and more than a year of development, the shooter powered by Unreal Engine 4 and created by the people behind Project Reality entered Steam's Early Access on December 15 2015. I used to follow the progress of  the Project Reality modes, but by the time they became popular I already put Battlefield 2 behind me and I never got into ARMA 2 (I don’t know exactly why). Yet, I played all the tactical and tactical wannabe shooters of this generation and I was intrigued by this game from the moment I spotted it on Steam's Greenlight.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #104: Dishonored 2!

                Dishonored was not a good looking game, not from a technical standpoint, but it used a pretty cyber-steampunk art style to hide that and it worked quite well. One would say that a visually improved version using the same concept would have worked the same way and that’s probably true if Dishonored 2 wasn’t an unoptimized mess. The game is built on Void Engine which is a modified version of id Tech 5, an engine designed for console games that can’t compare with its smoother and much better looking younger brother, id Tech 6 (DOOM). Like with Mafia III, I’ve been waiting for performance patches to play Dishonored 2 and as with Mafia III even after patches I can’t say this game is playable, which is quite a shame. Performance problems aside, Dishonored 2 is quite a good game.
                Starting almost the same way like its predecessor, Dishonored 2 has its two protagonists put in a situation where they have to become assassins and adapt to a situation where they aren’t at the pinnacle of society anymore, but are hunted by it. This time around players can choose between Corvo Attano and the daughter he trained, the Empress Emily Kaldwin. The two use different skills, but play the same way in a slightly different narrative that goes through the same levels and has a mirroring final objective. The story wasn’t a strong point in Dishonored and sadly it is the same case with the sequel. A hilarious and rushed intrigue, few characters to interact with and a bunch of rather predictable plots are what you’ll get playing this game. But anyone who played Dishonored knows that at the base of this game stands the gameplay.
                The gameplay follows the same mix of stealth and a much more improve combat, using a slightly smarter and more annoying AI to challenge players mostly through achievements than anything else. It’s entertaining through the variety of improved options and mechanics which work so well with a level design that at times reaches masterful quality.
                As a PC gamer I’m repulsed by what happened with this game, it feels like an Early Access that still requires heavy patching to provide a playable performance for everyone. Yet I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for Dishonored 2 which, like Arkham Knight last year, would have been a good GotY contender.
Like father, like daughter.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Silence Review!

                Daedalic Entertainment is part of the last stand against a gaming trend that has left adventure games behind. Deponia, Night of the Rabbit, Anna’s Quest, The Dark Eye and The Whispered World are some of the best point and click adventure games of this generation. But the tides are shifting and adapting to them is merely a matter of time. Silence is the latest expansion in Deadalic’s adventurous portfolio, but what kind of game is it really?
Silence is a world so beautiful that it can take your breath away, yet stands at the crossroad between life and death. Here, a boy goes into an adventure to find his little sister after the bunker they were hiding in was hit by a bomb. Noah is separated from Renie and finds himself back into this world where reality and dream converge. A world filled with hallucinogenic mushrooms, talking rocks and magic; where devilish creatures hunt the last human survivors between the ruins of older and newer civilizations. This is the setting for a bed time story about brotherly love, regained bravery, rebellion and sacrifice.
This view...

Monday, November 21, 2016

Titanfall 2 Review!

                Every time a multiplayer FPS launches with a singleplayer campaign everyone makes such a big fuss about it like there isn’t the possibility that they will spend dozens if not hundreds of hours online. Titanfall’s sin was that it was so shallow in content that it couldn’t justify its AAA price and the community splitting DLCs didn’t help one bit killing the game before its turn. To make up for this haunting mistake that’s probably going to keep a lot of people away from Titanfall 2, Respawn Entertainment has slapped on the game a singleplayer campaign. And slapped would be the right term if this was one of those generic singleplayer campaigns that have plagued shooters for years, but to my surprise it is not.
                The story follows the generically named rifleman Jack Cooper, a volunteer in the Frontier Militia who’s day dreaming of becoming a pilot. He is taken under the protective wing of Captain Lastimosa, who trains him into the art of pilotship. When the Marauder Corps are sent on a mission on the planet Typhon, the space ship that was carrying the unit is met with heavy resistance by the IMC, crashing on the planet’s surface. The emergency evacuated soldiers are scattered around the crashing site fighting the overwhelming IMC troops and the hired mercenaries of the Apex Predators organization. Jack Cooper is injured in battle and saved by Captain Lastimosa, which together with his vanguard class titan, BT-7274, make their last stand. Jack Cooper awakes to be rescued by BT’s last efforts from some indigenous animals. As Cooper walks toward BT, the hatch opens revealing a near death Captain Lastimosa which gives BT the order to link with the rifleman. The two form a neurological and friendship bond on their mission to rendezvous with Major Anderson and assist him in stopping the IMC from activating a weapon of mass destruction.
Hello BT!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #103: Visiting Silence!

                This week I’ve begun my adventure into the world of Silence. Unlike most of the games coming from Daedalic Entertainment, Silence isn’t a true and true old school style adventure, but a game that shares many similarities with Telltale’s titles. Silence follows the story of two brothers, Noah and Renie, as they venture into this imaginative world that stands at the border between life and death. For what is worth, this Limbo like place is more beautiful than one would expect, but it’s caught into a civil war between the few remaining rebels and the seekers, the False Queen’s monsters. Noah and Renie land into the middle of this conflict as they try to make their way back to the real world, which presumably involves the destruction of Silence.
                The gameplay is simplistic with puzzles that don’t require much effort and a pixel hunting that can be avoided through configurable hint button. There are choices and consequences based on dialogues options and actions take, but I haven’t experienced many possible outcomes and I’m not sure how they play in the greater scheme of things.
                Even if the world of Silence is plagued with more loading screens than puzzles, I’ve been enjoying my journey thus far. And as I’m closing in to the end of this story, I still don’t know what to expect.
This world wants to keep you here...


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #102: Only in Squad!

                Dishonored 2 was launched this week and like many of the AAA games released lately is a technical mess on PC, so I put it on the back burner until it’s fixed. I also can’t seem to get myself into a mood for RPGs despite my repeated attempts, so Tyranny’s release didn’t come at the greatest moment for me. So how did I spend my weekend in which I ignored the two biggest titles of the week? I played Squad.
                Squad had a free weekend short after Alpha 8 was released which was intriguing enough to bring me back. It was also a good opportunity to convince some of my gaming buddies to get into this amazing game made by an indie studio that seems to deliver on their promises. It took me one match to get hooked again and the gameplay bears the fault for that with its depth that puts to shame the last military shooter I played. Squad has come along nicely with a ton of new content including vehicles which have completely changed the tactics used on the battlefield. Even the performance has been greatly improved since the last time I played and the game runs smoothly without the fps drops which used to ruin the immersion for me. There is a lot more work to be done to this game and it's far from release, but as it stands now, Squad delivers a war experience that you can find in few other games.
                I’m glad that Squad is evolving into a fully fledged game and a real competitor for ARMA 3. Shooters have been tremendously streamlined in the latest years and it’s good to have a few games out there that aren’t afraid of complexity.
Teamwork can't beat physics!


Monday, November 7, 2016

Mafia III Review!

                I’ve never been a fan of movies, TV shows or video games about the mafia. So, despite the extreme quality and attention to details, the Mafia series never clicked with me. But I’ve played and appreciate both games as much as I could, considering the fact that they have a setting that didn’t interest me. So, when Mafia III was announced, it wasn’t such a big day for me as it was for the series’ fans, but I was intrigued to see how the extreme changes made to the story and the series will play out.
Was this really necessary?

                Lincoln Clay, a young black male, returns from Vietnam in 1968 to the fictional southern hometown of New Bordeaux to find his foster family in debt to the capo of the Italian mob, Sal Marcano. Set on helping his family get out of the mess and unwilling to stay away from trouble, Lincoln finds himself fighting the local Haitian group and robbing the national treasury. Celebrating the successful hit, Lincoln together with his partners in crime and his family are doubled crossed by the mob, leaving everyone dead and Lincoln shot in the head and unconscious. Saved by the family priest and friend, father James, Lincoln beats death and calls for John’s Donovan help, a CIA agent and his buddy from Vietnam, to tear apart the Marcano family. The two’s operation starts by obtaining the support of three influential people in New Bordeaux’s underworld, including the man himself Vito Scaletta, which is hunted by some of Marcano’s men. With the information provided by Donovan and the resources of his three underbosses, Lincoln goes in a full out war against the mob, tearing down their dominancy district by district.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #101: BT!!!

                I’m not into the action packed campaigns of this generation of first person shooters, which usually are more dramatic than they need to be just for show. And as I said numerous times before, I don’t think an online multiplayer shooter needs to justify its price with a singleplayer campaign, it just needs content (you know, that stuff that usually makes it into a Season Pass instead of the actual game). What this means is that my acquisition of Titanfall 2 was strictly for the multiplayer and the campaign is a bonus that I started playing because my curiosity was triggered by people’s excitement about it.
                I’ve always been a fan of AI companions and after I read Speaker for the Dead my fondness for this kind of characters has grown. So, having an artificial killing machine to fight alongside with and chit chat when things are peaceful was a big plus for Titanfall 2 campaign. BT-7274, the vanguard titan and now companion of Jack Cooper was given to him during the dying moments of his original pilot, the Frontier’s hero captain Lastimosa. And while BT doesn’t possess a sense of humor nor has a proper understanding of sarcasm (kind of like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory) he’s a great companion in and out of battle, providing the firepower needed to get the job done and some hilarious comments to fill the silence during the jumping puzzles (that’s right, this FPS has jumping puzzles). Titanfall 2 has a fairly clicheic story, which is usually the norm for the genre, but it’s easily saved by relationship between the two main characters and their adventures through some fantastically designed missions that are perfect for this game’s excellent gameplay.
                It turns out that you can have a good singleplayer campaign and a quality multiplayer (without Season Pass) in the same game. Some of the established franchises out there could learn something from Titanfall 2, probably just not the art of sale.
I'm coming bro!


Monday, October 31, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #100: Stand by for Titanfall!

                It may be overshadowed by the latest or future releases, but Titanfall 2 came out last week and from my experience so far I can say it’s great. I’m saving the campaign for when I’m done with my current singleplayer “project”, but the multiplayer comes as an improvement in every aspect over its predecessor.
                Titanfall was quite innovative at the time, but it died quickly due to the lack of content and the separation of the playerbase through unnecessary DLCs. Respawn Entertainment has learned from past mistakes and in addition to a singleplayer campaign, Titanfall 2 comes with more multiplayer content and a ton of improvements.
                The most important thing to say about the multiplayer is the expansion of every possible option the players have to customize their loadout. While Titanfall had a shortage of weapons and titans, Titanfall 2 offers a good amount of choices without overdoing it just for the sake of it. There are enough weapons to play with accompanied by enough customizations to adjust them to your needs. The titans also have received an overhaul for the better, now six in number, each titan comes with its own weapon and a wide array of abilities to make these powerful war machines unique. Like all these changes weren't enough, there are a ton of cosmetic unlockables that will have completists playing for months to unlock them all.
                In terms of gameplay, the game hasn’t changed much, it’s still the same fast paced shooter combining futuristic warfare with parkour in a spectacular fashion. The time-to-kill has been reduced (to my disliking) which is part due to an improved netcode (yay!) and part to a drastic reduction in the pilot’s health pool, but I’ve already adjusted to this change. The classic game modes made a return with a few new ones to add variety for those already tired of Attrition and Hardpoint. I can’t say I have many complaints about the multiplayer at this point and I’ve sunk over 6-7 hours into it, but from my experience so far I can say that the game could use a ranking system and a few more maps. While I know nothing about a possible ranking system, more maps will be added to the game in the future and this time around they will be free for everyone.
                It might be too early to say, but from all the shooters I’ve played this year, Titanfall 2 seems like my best investment. The game probably won’t keep me playing for hundreds of hours, but there is no harm in that, I favor quality over quantity every time.
My powerful friend is coming!


Monday, October 24, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #99: Into the Endless Space!

                Over the years AMPLITUDE Studios has become one of my favorite developers. Games like Endless Space and Endless Legend have a place into my heart and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the little development adventure that was Dungeon of the Endless. So, when I heard that AMPLITUDE was going to become a subsidiary of SEGA, I was quite worried. It’s not like the studio hasn’t already gone the road of multiple DLCs releases, a practice rather common for 4X and Grand Strategy, but being subsidiary of a big publisher has all kinds of strings attached. Therefore, I was anxiously waiting for that moment when Endless Space 2 Early Access was released to check out how much things have changed.
                I got my hands on Endless Space 2 a day before its release, but due to a tight schedule I couldn’t play much until recently. I dived into the unknown space at the helm of Vodyani, a new race almost drove to extinction by over-industrialization. Saved by the ancient Endless technology, the Vodyani have turned to religion becoming an overzealous race venerating the technology that saved them. Now, they move across the stars consuming worlds of life to feed their existence (cool, right?). This is a quite atypical race, providing a unique experience through a gimmicky gameplay that combines the old fashion civilization development with a nomad way of life.
                Endless Space 2 still follows the same recipe as its predecessor, combining a brilliantly designed minimalistic interface, a fascinating lore, a lovely art style, good graphics, soothing music and a strategically gameplay above all else, but does it at another level. What’s impressive is that despite using the same recipe, the game feels fresh. The addition of politics spices things quite a bit and the races play so differently that the replay value goes through the roof. It also helps that every good feature from Endless Legend was transferred here, so expect quests and minor factions that will add more depth to an already complex gameplay and expand the lore of this unique universe. Even the combat has been revamped, it’s still focused on strategy rather than tactics, but it got rid of the annoying cards system and embraced a more cinematic presentation.
                The list of new or improved features is big, so I won’t go through all of them. There are still a ton of features and mechanics missing, including four races, three victory types, two research trees and much more. But as it stands now, the Endless Space 2 Early Access is a solid base for a game that has its fair chance at strategical greatness.
My race is set on consuming this!


Friday, October 21, 2016

Things you should know about Battlefield 1!

                Battlefield 1 was officially released this morning for those who didn’t pay extra for the Early Enlister version. Many of you are really excited and can’t wait for the launch. Here are a few tips holding the necessary knowledge to help the beginners out there to jump into the game combat ready, but could also be useful for the rusty veterans.

Ranking up and unlocking new weapons

                Since the modern times of the Battlefield series, all the games had a ranking system and Battlefield 1 makes no exception to this rule. What Battlefield 1 does differently is the way weapons are unlocked. In the past ranking up your class or your character was enough to unlock the weapons in the order set by the developers. Battlefield 1 provides a bit more freedom in this matter. Each level up of your character rank awards a progressively increasing number of Warbonds, a currency that can be used to unlock weapons and gadgets which are gated behind each particular class rank. The advantage given by this new system is that players can now choose the order in which they unlock their weapons, instead of having it forced onto them. For the completists out there, Battlefield 1 will have you working as each class can be ranked up to 10 and the character can go up to 100.
The variation is real!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Review!

                Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is another RPG delivered with the help of crowdfunding, raising over 70,000 dollars through a Kickstarter campaign, a sum which proved enough for Witching Hour Studios to finish this game.
                Masquerada is set in a brand new Venetian inspired fantasy universe. The action takes place in Citte de la Ombre, a city rich in music, free of religion but with a rather dysfunctional society where the status of each individual is dictated by Mascherines. Mascherines are magical masks with enigmatic origins which give the wearer the power to bend the elements. Through events of the past, the power of the masks has lead to a split in the society. Those legitimately wearing the Mascherines are part of the Masquerada, the high society of Ombre divided in multiple guilds which are in a constant political turmoil to the detriment of the city and its people. Those who don’t wear Mascherines are known as the Contadani, the common people striving to survive in a city that isn’t so friendly to them and with a government that doesn’t serve their best interests.
This long lasting schism between the city’s population has inevitably lead to a civil war as the Contadani have been raised to battle against the oppressing power of the government and the guilds in an attempt to acquire Mascherines and equalize the score. The death of the main instigator doesn’t put an end to this war as the rebels managed to acquire Mascherines for themselves before their leader heroic death in battle.

Screenshot of the Week #98: Blazing skies!

                I subscribed to Origin Access and got to play the Battlefield 1 paid demo (I think this is the best way to describe it) to test the improvements made over the Open Beta Test and the design of the maps because Sinai Desert wasn’t all that impressive.
                I got to play on all the available maps in the 10 hours trial version and while all look cool and are enjoyable, only The St. Quentin Scar stuck with me. This map depicts perfectly the image of WWI battles with a long line of muddy trenches filled with used howitzer shells and torn apart by craters next to a village which has not been destroyed, yet. A gruesome battlefield that’s offering a better WWI combat experience in one of the most splendid environments I got to see in an online game.
                Not much has changed in terms of gameplay, Battlefield 1 is still a fast paced shooter with a focus on action and a slight disregard for tactics. On the bright side, the game has been balanced based on the OBT feedback. Tanks have been nerfed and the medic is useful again. Thanks to some bugs fixing cavalry can’t kill passengers inside heavily armored vehicles anymore and there are less annoying problems to worry about.
                On the technical part things are as they always have been with these games since Battlefield 3. The netcode still feels skimpy, I’ve seen a few teleporting players and a lot of spongy enemies which is a mix of netcode problems and low damage weapons (I’ve seen LMG chest shots dealing 8 damage). The sound design, which was already awesome, has been improved with new additional sound effects to horses, elite classes and many more. The graphics don’t disappoint either, all the maps look amazing and there is a great attention to graphical details which I really loved (weapons getting muddy, that’s the headline!). The optimization is on point with the game running smoothly on the highest settings no matter the map which says a lot considering some of the maps are full of details.
                Overall, the Battlefield 1 feels and plays a lot better, but if you weren’t impressed in the Open Beta, don’t expect any miracles. The content variety does help to get rid of that grindy feeling and there is a lot more to experience now, but at its core it’s still the same game it was two months ago.
I died watching this crash.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Battlerite Molten Warhound Giveaway!

                With the help of Stunlock Studios I’m glad to present the Game Slasher’s first giveaway. We are going to give away one Molten Warhound mount, which is a limited edition mount that can only be obtain through giveaways from streamers and specialized websites.
You can sign up for the giveaway here and earn multiple entries by following The Game Slashers on Twitter, retweeting Battlerite Early Access Impressions and visiting The Game Slashers.

Good luck,

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #97: Swimming lessons!

                I wanted to write something about Endless Space 2 since its Early Access release was quite a big deal for me because I’ve been enjoying this series from the beginning, but this week’s highlight goes to Mafia III.
                I can’t say that I’m a Mafia fan, I played the previous games and I think they were great, but stories about the Mob are not really my coup of tea. But as a sucker for 3rd person shooters I gave Mafia III a shot and I’m enjoying it. I’m not that far into the game, but I got to experience what the gameplay has to offer and I’m very content with the shooting mechanics and the stealth sections. Despite people being worried about it, the story seems pretty good and it’s backed by one of the most amazing voice acting. There is also the 60s setting which is quite a rare sight in video games and with it comes all kind of music that I like. But suddenly, the list of good things stops here.
                Like Arkham Knight before, Mafia III is another example of a game with potential ruined by technical issues. To be more precise, Mafia III is a technical mess. It all started with a 30fps lock which kept me away from the game until it got patched, but that’s just the sharp tip of the iceberg. The graphics are blurry and visibly outdated with a ton of glitches and laughable problems. For a game that looks outdated the optimization is a mess. The AI is questionable, sometimes the NPCs act surprisingly well, other times they are total idiots. The list of problems is huge and filled with both frustrating and amusing bugs. I think soon there will be more funny videos about this game than actual gameplay ones and that’s a bit sad. Not because Mafia III doesn’t deserve to be shamed, but because behind all these problems hides a game that probably needed just a few more months of development and QA…
Hardcore training for the Olympics!

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Battlerite Early Access Impressions!

                I tried Bloodline Champions a few years back and I liked it, but at the time I was otherwise engaged with the worldwide phenomenon League of Legends to have eyes for other arena based games. Those who extensively played Bloodline Champions will find Battlerite extremely familiar. Some would even say that it’s just a reskinned version of the Stunlock’s Studios older game, but even as someone who isn’t so experienced with the previous title I have to firmly disagree.
                Battlerite is as a game built on the concepts brought forth by its older brother, but has grown to stand on its own as an attractive alternative to an overcrowded yet stale market. A proof for the desperate need of innovation is the success the game has since its Early Access release. I’ve always been a fan of games that do things differently and not just for the sake of being different, but as away to explore new gameplay mechanics - to innovate and Stunlock Studios have done just that (to a certain degree). Learning from past mistakes the developers are shaping misused good concepts into a game that has the potential to successfully join the eSports scene.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #96: Masquerada

                Do not get confused by the title, I’m not talking about Vampire the Masquerade, we are still waiting for Paradox to confirm that Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky are working on a new title set in the World of Darkness. This article is about Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, a game created by Witching Hour Studios with inspiration drawn from games like Dragon Age: Origins and Transistor. 
                I have some mixed feelings about this game. The story is extremely intriguing and I’m quite captivated by it despite being linear and having no dialogue choices. Somehow it managed to get me sucked into this complicated universe filled of intrigue, mystery and weird Italian names that I struggle to remember. The voice acting is also worth praising bringing to life this game’s loveable characters. The artistic direction isn’t bad either, but the graphics are underwhelming even by indie’s standards Masquerada does wrong at the one thing that makes games like this noticeable in the new era of gaming, the combat.
                The game has a real time combat system with pause, similar to many of the old DND RPGs, but with an action speed and mechanics more suitable for a Hack & Slash. The dynamic leaves little room for tactics and the limited skill system doesn’t help one bit. The pause serves mostly as a way to switch targets and cast spells without losing precious time or taking unnecessary hits. The tactics available usually rely on desperate kiting while trying to resurrect downed party members and little else is possible due to the frenetic speed of the action. It’s quite a shame, because a good combat system could have provided the depth this game needs to stand out.
                I’m not putting a negative verdict on Masquerada, it’s just a shame that a game with such a captivating story isn’t accompanied by the strong gameplay it deserves.
The beginning...

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Things you should know about Battlerite Early Access!

                Battlerite Early Access is barely a week old and I’ve already spent so much time in it to learn a bunch of tricks. As usual, I would like to share my knowledge in the game and I hope it will come in handy to you.
                Battlerite is not your day to day MoBA (technically it is an Arena Brawler) and while lacking in the complexity given by builds made around itemization, there are a ton of mechanics and tricks to be known. Here are a few of the things I found helpful:

Know your champion’s battlerites

In Battlerite there isn’t any leveling system or item progression during matches like in regular MoBAs, but this doesn’t mean you can’t have your personal builds. Each new round you can pick from three different passive skills called battlerites which enhance some of your champion’s abilities with the 5th (last) round having only two options to enhance the ultimate. There might not be many options, but in many cases the bonuses are equally interesting and provide enough variety to make actual builds that change the way the champions should be played.
He's way too awesome!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #95: Battles done right...

               Battlerite is a game I knew nothing about until a week ago and now, after more than 15 hours spent playing, I’m almost in love with it. Battlerite is an arena brawler built on the backbone of Bloodline Champions. The game has similar gameplay mechanics as its predecessors but with cooler looking graphics and art style, a better business model, all kind of improvements and more importantly (for those who know a little history) without Funcom getting the fans mad.
As an arena brawler without any progression system affecting the game, Battlerite is all about teamwork and skill. Every ability in the game is a skillshot which makes the combat more engagingly entertaining and challenging at the same time. Put this combat system in a 2v2 or 3v3 scenario and the combo possibilities and teamwork required to pull them off is something that goes past the learning curve of probably most of the arena brawlers out there. Don’t get scared though, understanding the game’s basics is fairly easy and intuitive, especially for those who played some MMOs arenas, but mastering the game is another story entirely. Reaching the level of confidence and knowledge that makes you really good at this game is a long and perilous journey filled with frustration and moments of sublime satisfaction, but a journey I’m up for.
                Innovation and challenge is something I look forward in any game and Battlerite has both in spades. As an Early Access release, there is still much to be done, but the foundation has been laid and it is solid. I’m looking forward to see what Stunlock Studios is going to do with this game from this point until the full free to play release in Q1 2017.
Two birds with one shot!

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For Honor Alpha Test Impressions!

                I’ve been craving for a video game with medieval combat ever since Dark Souls 3’s non-magic combat got me riled up, but this craving is bound to go unsatisfied, at least for a while. Looking at the bright side of things, the close future might be holding what I’m looking for with the upcoming releases of Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord (I’m holding my hyping inner demon in check!), For Honor, Of Kings and Men and even Mirage: Arcane Warfare.
On that note, last week’s For Honor Alpha test was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss and since there was no NDA I’m going to share some of my thoughts about the game’s multiplayer aspects.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #94: Deadly space!

                We are in mid-September and it’s already getting quite crowded with new releases and that’s even without Children of Morta and Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, which apparently were supposed to come out this week, but didn’t. Divinity: Original Sin 2 and EVERSPACE made it into Early Access, I’ll skip the former for a while as I don’t want to get spoiled, but I did give EVERSPACE a try. This week there were also two games available for testing: For Honor, in its current Alpha state, and Battlerite, which is also coming through Early Access on September 20. And these are just the games I got to play aside of my routine, I have to skip on many interesting titles because time just doesn’t allow me to go through all of them.
                Getting back to EVERSPACE, developed by ROCKFISH Games on Unreal Engine 4 and with the help of a Kickstarter campaign in which they raised more than 400,000$, the game is something we rarely get to see (if ever), a true roguelike in space. Yes, that’s exactly as it sounds, a roguelike game with everything that entails, which is basically dying a lot and restarting from the beginning. There is a permanent progression system which gives an incentive to continue and makes restarting over and over feel less painful, but even without that, the fans of roguelikes will find this game quite entertaining and challenging.
                In its current state EVERSPACE will probably keep the stubborn players busy for several hours (not to mention some gorgeous visuals), but even with the replayability that comes with the rogulike genre, the game clearly lacks variety in many aspects. It could also use some tweaking as it can get painfully annoying at times because of some artificial increase in difficulty which doesn’t scale so well with the player’s progress.
                EVERSPACE is a promising game, a more arcade alternative for space enthusiasts (and we know there are many out there), but with a different style and purpose than what titles like Elite Dangerous or Star Citizen are aiming for.
In the future, the game will feature a story mode as well as more ships and probably more content in general. Some of these will be added until Q1 2017 when the game is bound to receive a price increase, but until then I think it has enough to offer. But what do I know, I couldn’t get past the 3rd Sector.
Playing possum!

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Things you should know about EVERSPACE Early Access!

                EVERSPACE, the space roguelike funded through a Kickstarter campaign and powered by Unreal Engine 4 has launched into Early Access this week. The game is pretty interesting and quite challenging. So, to save you from some of the trouble I went through, here are some tips and tricks that you might find helpful:

Know what you are getting into

Before buying and playing EVERSPACE you should know what kind of game this is, because at the first glimpse it can be misleading.
EVERSPACE is a roguelike space shooter with a fast paced 6DOF control system and a bunch of arcade elements. This is a game where you die and start over a lot in an attempt to progress as far as possible, not a simulator with an in-depth economy, meaningful space trading, piracy and a realistic flight model. If you are expecting an alternative to Elite Dangerous or Star Citizen, you are barking up the wrong tree. That being said, EVERSPACE can be a pretty entertaining game for any space aficionado out there if you have the patience for a roguelike.
Welcome to EVERSPACE!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #93: The Atlas!

                Today is one of those screenshots that doesn’t look very interesting but has a lot of meaning. Path of Exile Atlas of Worlds expansion was released last week and naturally I returned to the game that I have on my PC since early 2013.
                The new expansion adds a substantial amount of content, but it doesn’t expand on the main story with an additional act, instead changes the progression through end game content by adding another labyrinthine progression UI for the game’s maps. The new progression system makes the end game much more challenging forcing players on a path of increasingly harder maps. In tone with the new progression, the game has received a bunch of new maps as well as a large number of new bosses to test each player’s build. Items, skills and various other things have been added to complement the expanded end game. But the biggest highlight is the performance improvement which everyone has been anxiously waiting for years. The game runs smooth now and the freezes that made me go crazy each time the experience stakes were high are gone or, in my case, have been replaced by some severe lag.
                I’ve been playing Path of Exile since its Closed Beta phase and GGG keeps surprising me each time with their devotion to make interesting content. The game is not devoid of problems and probably it will never be, but each new content update makes it so much better. I can’t even imagine what the developers have in store next, but I’m sure it’s going to be something worth trying.
The devs sure like to make everything look complicated!

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Battlefield 1 Open Beta Impressions!

                It's hard for me to watch a trailer that features the Seven Nation Army song and not to get at least a little bit hyped, it even happened for G.I. Joe Retaliation and we all know how that movie turned out. But somehow, this hype building song didn't do the job on the Battlefield 1 reveal trailer. Maybe because the game is advertised to be chronologically first and it seems disrespectful to the grandfather 1942 or maybe after Battlefield 4 I grew cold towards a series I used to love. Either way, the nice thing about EA DICE's increasingly pricy FPS games is that we have the opportunity to try them before buying through Open Beta Tests which might as well be called Multiplayer demos. So, I put my skepticism aside and gave Battlefield 1 a chance to see if and how the series has progressed.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #92: Giddy-up!

                Battlefield 1 Open Beta Test kicked in this weekend and respecting the tradition I create for myself I jumped in to play it despite the fact that I’m not digging the new changes so much. What I found was a game that feels more like Battlefront in an inaccurate WW1 setting, rather than a Battlefield game that should have followed in the footsteps of the legendary Battlefield 1942. I’m not entirely sure how the current Battlefield players are seeing this change, but as an old school player of the series, I’m not so thrill with the result.
                Battlefield is leaning now towards fast paced running and gunning and as a trade off the series is losing part of its tactical values with each new release. I’ve always picked my mainstream online shooters following two factors: teamwork and strategic gameplay and the Battlefield games have always provided these (more or less) through the conquest mode, now not so much. I’m afraid the series is going through an identity crisis and it’s hard to predict how it will be like when it passes.
                On the bright side of things, the new setting is welcomed even if is more of a marketing scheme than anything else. It’s a little refreshing to get away from ACOG scopes and the customary M4 and fight with bayonets, inaccurate guns and technologically crippled vehicles. But the hit of this Open Beta has to be the cavalry class. Riding horses into battle feels great, charging enemies with the sword or trampling them to death adds a level of satisfaction that, for me, only skilled bolt action kills can match.
                There are a lot of gameplay adjustments and quite a few additions that make Battlefield 1 stand as a game of its own and not just a reskin, but I’ll let you discover those by playing the Beta or in my upcoming article.
The doesn't stand a chance!

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Screenshot of the Week #91: Breaking Bad!

                The “vacation” is over and I’m returning in full force with two articles already posted and many more on the way (which might include a new interview!).
                The drought season of gaming is ending with the release of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided which will be followed shortly by many more quality titles, both AAA and indie. As a gamer that played and liked the entire series (yes, that includes Invisible War), there was no debate about not playing Mankind Divided, this was one of the most anticipated games by me this year. I dived in the game with a mixed feeling of hope and fear as the pre-release reviews I’ve read got me worried. I find Mankind Divided to be a slightly improved version of its predecessor, with a visual facelift and a new narrative that follows Adam Jensen in his crusade against terrorism and conspiracy. There are aspects where this game comes on top of the series, but writing is not one of them and for those looking for a more RPG oriented experience, the game might be just disappointing. Where Mankind Divided does stand out is the artistic direction which complements an impressive level design built to give players the freedom of gameplay they desire. The game has problems, most of which stem from questionable porting decisions and the ever present optimization issue, but more about that in my detailed review about the game.
That's the wrong kind of bath...

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Things you should know about Deus Ex: Mankind Divided!

                Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the current hot topic in video gaming, opening up the season for AAA games. Considering its above the average complexity level, there are a lot of things to know about Mankind Divided, even for the diehard fans of the series. Here are a few tips and tricks that should make your gameplay experience smoother and richer:

Pick your skills carefully

                While the tutorial area gives a taste of some of Adam’s Jensen cool powers, through story progression the players are given the choice of what skills to acquire to fit their style. Choose wisely because the first skills define the starting experience in the game by expanding or limiting the exploration opportunities and the way how each mission and area can be approached. Mainly, skills should be picked based on the play style, guns blazing or stealth, but keep in mind that more content can be accessed with the right skills. Hacking Capture and Hacking Stealth can make you a great burglar.  Rebreather comes in handy while exploring the sewers. Cybernetic Leg Prosthesis will open up all kinds of exploration opportunities on the rooftops of Prague and Cybernetic Arms Prosthesis will turn Adam into Hulk allowing him to lift heavy objects and break through cracked walls. For those who want a more streamlined navigation, Icarus Landing is a must, as Adam can’t withstand much fall damage. Smart Vision synergizes extremely well with the above mentioned skills as it’s not only highlighting enemies through walls but also shows vents, consoles and other things that come in handy when exploring.
With this combination, you are set to explore the beauty of Prague and even be quite competent at sneaking around. Gun blazing style is another problem.
Staying away from the sun!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege Review!

                When talking about either singleplayer or multiplayer, the mainstream side of the FPS genre has been in the unimaginative dumpster for quite a while. Stuck in the modern warfare era, forced to circle around the same unlocks and following the same game mechanics every one or two years. If a shooter could properly change at least one of these things for the better, it would bring the hope of salvation from this looping feeling and this is where Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege jumps in.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Vacation time...

                There hasn’t been much activity lately on the blog because there has been a lot of stuff going on and whenever I tried to get some work done I couldn’t focus. So I came to the realization that I need some time off from writing and most of the things that sometimes take too much time and energy from me. Hopefully I will return with my batteries fully charged, that way I can respect the self imposed schedule and publish more articles as I kept doing before things went crazy.
                So, until the next week, the game slashers are on vacation dealing with their own lives and problems that don’t have to do with video gaming.

See you in a week!