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  • Tom Clancy Ghost Recon Wildlands Beta Thoughts

     
    After spending as much time as I could playing Tom Clancys Ghost Recon Wildlands, I am proud to say I cant wait for March 7th to get my own full copy.
    We know all the facts about the game, and if you dont here is a quick recap..
     
    There are 21 regions each with their own civilian populations 11 eco systems with different climates, plants and animals 26 bosses that you can if you want, track down and elimate Single player,  Coop 4 player online or offline with AI Set in 2019 Bolivia Out March 7th
     
    The Good-
     
    The functional ability that you have over you player in game and out is the best I have seen in a very long time. All games adapt something from other games as we progress down the timeline of game history.
    When choosing your features for your player you get to pick from options that cover a wide range and offer so many variants that it gives you a great feeling of a personalized player. It took me a half an hour to get the guy right and I wanted to make another. Good thing you have 5 presets to do that with. Joining friends and inviting, teaming up is easy and fluid. Menus are not buggy and give you a clear indication of the use and its functions are crisp and not laggy. Loading times are fairly quick and the wait screen has a set of 90 tips and tricks you can scroll thru while you are waiting. Lets hope games start to put in mini games at wait screens (the patent that was stopping that came up last year) or maybe we are at the point in time that load screens are a thing of yesterday. Does anyone remember the load time for Gran Turismo? Wow. In game I found the views from the peaks to be intoxicating and graphics fantastic. It was a thrill to travel around in the air, the ground and on a boat.  Teaming up with some friends, we finished the missions fairly quick on standard and had to bump up the difficulty. Oh man with that, you cant COD it, this is a tactical game that has to be played as such. Well you dont have to, but get use to that load screen, as you will see it allot if you try and to run and gun. Right now we know of over 40 guns, Assault Rifles, Light Machine Guns, Submachine Guns, Sniper Rifles and Shotguns. Scouring the game world for new weapons and items is a great way find these items.
    Gunsmithing will allow you to paint your weapon as over time it will get nicked up and worn down.  The best part of Gunsmithing is its selection of attachments. The game offers more than 100 attachments (scopes, magazines, stocks, barrels, and more) that you can use to equip your weapon, allowing you to make YOUR weapon. Over 10,000 combinations are possible.  
    The Bad-
    The car damage model was not accurate and feels like cars from games of 5 years ago Barrel roll for your player should be an option, your guy only barrel rolls when dropping from or falling from a height, and does it automatically.  
     
    All and All I can not wait to get my copy of Tom Clancys Ghost Recon Wildlands on March 7th.

     
     
     
     

    20 Questions with Project Manager Jaqub Ajmal

    Welcome back gamers, veterans, supporters, readers and first timers! Thanks for clicking on the link and reading this edition of 20 Questions here at Front Towards Gamer!
    This round of 20 Questions will be with Jaqub Ajmal [JA] aka @JaqubAjmal Project Manager on the Battlefield Series and Mirrors Edge.

    I'm Jaqub, a 35 year old gamer working for EA DICE as a project manager handling the QA team at EA DICE on the Battlefield series and Mirrors edge. I'm just another random white dude that enjoys music, movies and games.
    On ward with this edition of 20 Questions with the ever gracious Jaqub Ajmal.
    1) what was your first job ever?
    [JA] My first job ever was as a gardener at a cemetery. It was a summer job and it was a pretty chill experience. Laying out in the sun, trimming some bushes and watering flowers. Sometimes a few tombstones need a good scrubbing. Good times!
    2) What was the worst/most challenging job you ever had? did it change you? how?
    [JA] The most challenging job I ever had was as a salesman for a mobile company that did business to business sales. The salary was amazing, I've never made that much money in my life ever since then but it was really soul crushing and very stressful.
    What made things worse was that Massive Entertainment (Developers of The Division) had their offices just across the street and I could see straight into their offices from my window seat. I was asking myself everyday, why am I here and not there? That question became a catalyst for me in a way that I finally got the courage to quit my job and pursue a career in game development.

     
    3) What are your thoughts on video game movies? if you could make one and pick the director and 3 cast mates which and who would you pick?
    [JA] Funny you should ask that, I actually have quite a collection of video game movies. Sadly most of them are awful, but those that I think worked the best are the Resident Evil movies and the first Mortal Kombat. The director of those movies, Paul WS Anderson really understands how to adapt a game and make it into something that actually works as a movie. I wouldn't exactly call them masterpieces but they are fun enough to watch once. I also thought the Need for Speed Movie was good fun. If I could pick a director to make a movie I would go for James Cameron. For actors I would go with Christian Bale, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Ha ha that would be one bad ass movie.
    4) Do you think that game makers have a right to police users on social media?
    [JA] I believe in freedom of speech so everyone can say whatever they want. Game-makers are nothing special, just ordinary people like anyone else with various different opinions.
    5) What do you think about the HoloLens and its possibilities in video games?
    [JA] I think it´s always cool with new technologies that can create new and immersive experiences for gamers. I have had the Oculus Rift development kit 2 since release and I am pretty amazed by some games such as Elite Dangerous. It wouldn't want to play it in any other way. I think the magic really happens when a developers creates and experience that uses the technology in such a way where it becomes and advantage of using it instead of trying to shoehorn a game that wasn't designed for the technology in the first place. With the right games HoloLens can really be something special.
     
    6) What was your first and favorite Easter Egg in video games? Megladon, Phantom, Yeti, or from previous years or different game?
    [JA] My favorite Easter Egg is one I found myself as a child. If you beat Starfox on SNES (Star wing in EU) and if you leave the game running for 15 minutes after the credits have rolled by you will hear a special tune. I am pretty sure that I was one of the first people that found it because that Easter egg wasn't even on YouTube until a few years ago.
    7) What was your last game played (mode)? did you win?
    [JA] My last game was Domination in Battlefield 4, it was sadly a loss.

     
    8) Is that your favorite game mode and map? if no what is?
    [JA] My favorite game mode is Rush, I really enjoy how it sends players to the same area and gives every game a cinematic flair. I mostly play games for the experience rather than being competitive so it fits me really well. My favorite map is Damavand Peak as it has a little bit of everything and at the same time manages to be extremely cinematic and full of Battlefield moments.
    9) If you could pick the next thing to be a Easter Egg what would it be? (ie Bear,T Rex,Clown) How would we trigger it?
    [JA] Haha I would make something really complex where the entire server would have to do something to trigger it. This Easter egg would take to much time to make, but when you would trigger it I would have the Skybox of the level rip open by a gigantic monster that comes in from behind it. And the server would then suddenly turn into a Final Fantasy style battle game where you would have to fight this monster. It would be really difficult and all 64 players would have to co-op to have a chance to beat it. Haha that would be pretty nuts.
    10) Tell us about your worst testing experience in the past?
    [JA] The worst testing experience is always on those games that you work really hard on and then suddenly get canned. Sure we did get paid for the work we put in, but it´s heartbreaking when you have spent so much time and energy on something and then no one even gets the chance to play it. I have been lucky though as I haven't worked on that many games that got canned.

     
    11) With how far gaming has come in last 20 years, the next 20 will be extremely promising, imagine your a game maker in 20 years, tell me about your game.
    [JA] I think that procedural generated data will be the norm. The world, the animations, the AI everything will be created with complex code. There is a certain stiffness in games today due to various limitations. But if you look at some games like GTA5 when it comes to animation or Elite Dangerous when it comes to the game world it´s clear to me that its the future. I also think that it will be very easy to make games, as easy as it is to make music these days. But instead of technical talent it will require more design talent. I think that compared to the movie business the video games business is still in an era where we actually develop the camera for every movie we make. While making a movie today is super simple, anyone can come up with a good idea, get a decent camera for little money and get high end editing software. It´s all about the talent. I think that in the future 3d assets will be so detailed that it wont make sense to create new ones as people wont notice any difference between games and hardware will be so fast that we can just buy all of the assets from a 3d assets company and there wont be much need for optimizations. I also think that mobile devices will be the platform that we will use for our games where you simply can stream the image in real time to a big screen wireless from the phone, and connect a gamepad or mouse/keyboard to it wireless as well. At some point those devices will just become so powerful that getting more processing power for a video game might actually not make a big difference.
    12) What is your favorite video game map to play online and why?
    [JA] My favorite game to play online is Battlefield. (Surprise!) Battlefield is a great game to play with friends as it rewards team play, and at the same time it´s not to competitive as it lets you have fun as well.Pretty much no game plays out the same and the unique cinematic scenes that play out during the Battles are endless. I also really love the sound in the Battlefield games which I think no movie or game can match. It´s just truly amazing to put the game on War tapes while cranking up the volume on a 7.1 system. Besides Damavand peak that I mentioned above my other favorite map is Arica Harbor which is an amazing map with tons of variation. Playing it on Rush is really something special.

     
    13)What is your favorite old school video game map to play online? (pre COD/BF)
    [JA] I think Facing Worlds in Unreal Tournament was a brilliant map, excellent design, interesting choice of setting, good mix of indoor and outdoor battle and pretty much perfect in size. The map had something for everyone.
    14) Would you remake that map on a modern game? which one?
    [JA] Well I hope that Facing World ends up in the new Unreal Tournament game that is in development. That would be really something!
    15) Mash up map, if you could merge two BF maps which two would you merge?
    [JA] It would be a Rush map that starts out as Damavand peak, then after the tunnel bit, instead of ending up in the construction type area you would come out of the tunnel and be in the Arica Harbor desert. And then play Arica all the way to the end. Haha that would have been amazing. Maybe even have some levolution where the Arica Harbor train would start moving and crash into the harbor area.

     
    16) If you can pick an old school game to be re made into a modern version which would it be?
    [JA] I would love to see an open world games based on the Original Usagi Yojimbo game on the C64. It was a very revolutionary game for it´s time. For example it had a combat state and a none combat state, peaceful NPC would get scared if you went into combat mode for no reason, A karma system where if you did to many naughty things you would end up committing Harakiri, dynamic music, branching levels, boss fights and an actual ending cut scene. A truly underrated gem in my book.
    17) what comes first transporters or warp drives ?
    [JA] I would go with warp drive as it seems "simpler" of the two. Haha
    18) If you ship was sinking and you could only grab two things, what are they?
    [JA] A life jacket because I suck at swimming and a flare gun.
    19) What is your favorite movie and thoughts on interstellar? are we alone?
    [JA] I thought it was really good, Christopher Nolan is an amazing director. I also really loved the score by Hans Zimmer. Was super disappointed that it didn't win more Oscars then it did.
    20) Name the weirdest item within arms reach right now?
    [JA] Around 30 cardboard boxes. I just moves houses so my living room looks like a warehouse.

    21) Any project you wish you did not pass on or had?
    [JA] There was one project where I wish that I would have tried to get more involved in regards to the creative bits. As QA I try to avoid getting to involved with the design as I think that the game designers need to do their thing and have their vision appear intact with not to much interference from others. But on Terminator Salvation that I worked on I just wish that I would have taken over or at least helped them with the creative vision because I am really in tune with the Terminator universe and have a great understanding of how one could convert that into a good gaming experience. Of course it´s always easy to say that in hindsight because Terminator Salvation was a game that was made with very little resources and not a lot of time, but I still think that I could have made a difference for the better if given the chance.
    22) What was your first job in video games?
    [JA] My first job in the games industry was at a developer called Simbin that developed super realistic racing simulators. I worked there first as a designer doing scripting for weather effects and cameras, when I was done with my design work I also assisted with some quality assurance. They were very impressed with the work I did and pretty soon made me QA Lead. I guess I was a natural, as I didn't have any prior QA experience.
    23) What are your thoughts on violence in video games? would you let your 5 year old play GTA, Hardline or a BF?
    [JA] No I wouldn't let my 4 year old play GTA or the Battlefield games.(He is 5 this summer). I honestly don't even think that he would enjoy them as they are quite complex and difficult to play for someone that young.
    I also think that GTA5 has some themes and scenes that are just to scary for someone really young to view. For me Battlefield isn't really all that violent, and as a kid playing cowboys and Indians in real life with friends our imagination was often a lot more violent and gruesome then those games.
    Also for me personally I watched a lot of violent movies as a child and it didn't really have any negative effect on me, but I think it really depends on the person and how they react to the content. But it´s a very difficult questions and I don't really think there is a right or wrong, I think its up to each parent to decide when they think that their kids are ready to play certain violent games.
    24) If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
    [JA] Somewhere that has nice weather and where I could get a job similar to what I am doing today, So probably somewhere in the USA like Austin, Los Angeles, Redwood shores or San Francisco.
     
    It was fantastic speaking with Jaqub Ajmal for this edition of 20 Questions. What is your favorite Easter Egg in video games? Please share with us in the comments section below.

    20 Questions with BattlenonSense, Battlefield Content Creator

     
    Welcome back gamers, veterans, supporters and readers! Thanks for stopping in and reading the new 20 Questions here at Front Towards Gamer!
    This round of 20 Questions will be with Chris aka Battle(non)sense [BN] @BattleNonSense Battlefield News, Design Concepts, and Easy Explanations of complex game mechanics.
    My name is Chris, I am 35. I am happily married for the last 10 years and we have 2 kids.
    For the last 17 years I have been working full time as an electrical engineer. My area of expertise is home and facility automation, project planing and project management as well as designing solutions that fix problems that our customers need to have resolved, or improve existing work flows.
    1) What was your first video game? And online one?
    [BN] My first contact with Video games was with the C64 which still used a tape drive. The first system that I owned was the NES followed by the Amiga 500 and the Amiga 1200 before I got my first PC in 1995 which was a Intel Pentium running at amazing 133MHz. The first video game that I played was Super Mario Bros on the original NES in 1986. I am not sure about what my first online game was. We played a lot of DOOM, Quake and UT on the LAN back at school. The first online game I remember playing was Operation Flash-point in 2001

    2) Playing Rainbow 6 Three changed gaming forever for me, how did (first online video game) change you?
    [BN] Playing Operation Flashpoint online brought an entirely new scale of gaming to me. It was incredible to feel that you are part of a bigger team, And how working together decided if you would win or loose.
    3) What was that first experience on (first video game) like to you?
    [BN] Addictive
    4) If you were a Star Trek® or Star Wars® character, which one would it be?
    [BN] Easy one. Captain James Tiberius Kirk

    5) If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?
    [BN] Eagle
    6) Over the years what is the one vehicle thats your go to when its time to mob with a group online?
    [BN] Attack Helicopters
    7) Mash up map, if you could merge two BF maps which two would you merge?
    [BN] Hmm.... I can't think of any of the old Battlefield maps that I would like to merge, so I will choose two BF3 maps. Take Metro, expand the subway part with a LOT more corridors, and hidden paths so that you can actually flank properly and not have those silly choke points. On top of that you place Seine Crossing which should be make about 2 times of the current size with a lot more alternative routes that you can take + multiple entry points for the subway.
    xpray4deathx Metro and Damavand Peak, B on top of B.
    ZehGreek That’s a very cool question.. I’d say; Oasis and Final Ignition. Please DICE. Make it happen.
    dan_mitre Oh, that’s a good one. Propaganda on top with a subterranean Operation Locker.
    ThisIsactionman Tricky one – Damavand Peak from Battlefield 3, I love the jump off the edge of the cliff, a great use of the parachutes. At the bottom of the cliff I would put Valparaiso from Battlefield Bad Company 2, for an epic Rush battle.
    Unitool I’d jam Karkand (BF2 version) onto Wake Island (BF3 version) and see how that works. Or maybe Karkand and Return to Karkand, in order to create Super Karkand: Epic Edition – Now with More Karkand Than Ever Before.
    WDA_Punisher Hmm, Hard question. One that popped into my head was Strike at Karkand and Arica Harbor. Both were epic infantry maps.
    UPSLynx Hainan resort and Zavod 311, they’re my two favorite vanilla maps!
    Driezzz Valparaiso from Bad Company 2 and Suez Canal from Battlefield 2142, don’t forget those Titans!

     
    8) What has been your favorite video game Easter egg over the years?
    [BN] The elevator rave in Crysis 2
    9) What is the weirdest item I find in your refrigerator right now?
    [BN] There are no weird items in there.
    10) What do you see as the biggest drawback in BF4 was?
    [BN] Oh boy. That could result in a short novel. But if I would have to boil it down to 2 things then this would be the legacy code that is still present there, which is holding back the game and causes a lot of the issues that we see today (especially the netcode), and that the game is designed with a too strong focus on casuals and this waters down the gameplay a lot.
    11) Did you see BF4 as an improvement over BF3 or other way around and why?
    [BN] A few things BF4 is doing better, others it does worse.Overall both games are disappointing because you clearly see the lack of time and thought that has been put into these.
    12) You are going to be stranded on an island, only have a few seconds, name the three items you will bring?
    [BN] toothbrush knife cloth

    13) What do you think about the HoloLens and its possible in video games?
    [BN] A lot is possible, but I see its application to be more valuable in other industries.
    14) Robert Bowling Jason West and Vince Zampella have done fantastic jobs listening to the community and applying it to a game/system for use with its users, should other companies be studying/applying this to their projects?
    [BN] I think that DICE LA is also doing a great job these days when it comes to listening to the community. Even DICE Stockholm did a good job there back in the days of Battlefield 2. But for about 7 years they did an absolutely horrible job at communication and listening to their customers - just like EA.So I am curious to see how this will develop.
    15) What is your favorite old school video game map to play online? (pre COD/BF)
    [BN] Quake 3 The Longest Yard
    16) What are your thoughts on BF Hardline?
    [BN] Hardline has a lot of potential, but is still hold back by the baggage for the Battelfield 4 code as it sadly just copied a lot of the existing functions instead of overhauling and improving them.

    17) We have came a long way in the last 15 years, tell us something surprising about the next 15 years?
    [BN] Consoles as we know them today will cease to exist.
    18) Name the weirdest item within arms reach right now?
    [BN] Lipgloss my coworker left on my desk
    19) Best BF to date is _____
    [BN] Hands down Battlefield 2. Despite its issues it provided the best overall Battlefield game and experience so far.
    20) What changed FPS forever?
    [BN] 3d FX VooDoo which brought us 3D acceleration.
     
    Thanks for reading, It has been great chatting with Chris in this round of 20 Questions, Cant wait to see your next project! If you could be any animal what would it be? Share with us in the comments section below.

     

    8 Days

    As a gamer that has been playing since the Atari 2600, I really enjoy when a game comes along that tries to re-imagine an old genre or game.  I really love it when succeed in releasing a new game that captures the retro spirit, but elevates it a totally new level.  8Days is a twin stick shooter that harkens back to the days of Contra, but ups the ante.

      The world has been dominated by dark forces since the beginning of human history. Known as The Masters of Mankind by those directly under their control, these forces will use any means necessary to protect their own interests including starting wars.  In 8DAYS the mercenary company G.O.D. Inc. and the 8DAYS Magazine are two modern instruments used to control the masses. G.O.D.  ( Gold, Oil, Diamonds Inc. ) is primarily a peacekeeping force and 8DAYS ensures the bias of public opinion. Players take on the role of Lola "Wasp" or Mike "Ghost", two of G.O.D.’s expendable mercenaries.

      You start out by picking which Merc you wish to use, then you are tossed right into the action.  Sort of.  As you start your 1st mission you are captured and must fight your way out of prison.  Once you are free you must continue your mission and stop the uprising.  Unlike games of yesteryear you have a very limited supply of ammo, so you can't just spray bullets and hope for the best.  You have to be accurate with your shots or else you will be bringing a knife to a gun fight.  As you progress through the levels you will find new and more powerful weapons, each with limited ammo.  If you down an enemy that is holding the same weapon as you, you have the ability to grab a few extra clips.

      The game is designed so that each time you go through a level it can be different.  There are multiple path ways through the levels so you can pick how you want to attack the level, and which course is the easiest for you.  To add to the depth of the game there are also hidden areas that usually hold better weapons and health packs.  You can even step your game up even more by tossing on a 2nd controller and having a friend play as the other mercenary.  

      The graphics inn the game will take you back to the early days of console gaming.  Even though they're pixelated a bit, they fit well with the style of the game.  The in game music will also take you back a bit.  One of the coolest features of the game is how they pay homage to the titles that came before it.  You will see hat tips in the game design as well as some of the achievements.  Not only that, but the game flow and over the top mini bosses will remind you of some of the greatest games from the archives.
      8Days is out now on XB1, PS4 and Steam.  You can pick it up on the console of your choice for $9.99 and a few dollars less on Steam.
     


    Semispheres - First Look

    So, I posted this originally in the forums, before I knew I was supposed to post it in here (Oops, my bad ).  So here is the link to the video review I did for Vivid Helix's Semispheres.  I went the video route for two reasons
    1:  Nobody likes to read reviews of video games when they can listen to the audio
    2: Video provides a medium that allows for people to see some gameplay
    So, here is the link to my video review of Semispheres, I hope you like it. Please remember, I did this review on behalf of FTG, so I wanted to keep it professional in nature and not tarnish our community. 
     
     

    Madden Ultimate Team is Madden

    Madden Ultimate Team is Madden
    Feat. MUT10 VETS  EJnfl24, DJ Mateo, Medusa, MrNICEGUY and Proxytron.
     
               Madden Ultimate Team was first available on Jan 7th 2010 as an update to Madden 10 which came out the previous Aug. Before EA released it on Madden they first tested Ultimate Team on FIFA09  5 months after releasing FIFA similar to the Madden drop mid cycle. Reasoning behind this mid cycle drop was by then players had already started drifting away from the game, as shown by last years usage data and this would keep the game "Fresh"  as Adam Shaikh stated
     
    This update was the start of what has become the biggest hit in EAs history, and when I say hit I mean money maker. Lets be honest here EA has never seen returns from a project like this, Ever!  No game or mode has had jumps in player returns from previous years as this one has had.  Madden Ultimate Team is growing at over 90% per year. . and this last year EA profited over a billion dollars, yes a billion.
           From 1990 to 2012 EA has taken over many franchises, 36 to be exact with 20 of those since 2000(*5). EA has had some what success with these acquisitions (that can be debated at a later date) from Command and Conquer, the Sims, Sim City, Need for Speed, Bejeweled, Playfish (Mobile), Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Star Wars, Medal of Honor, the Settlers, Outlaw sports, MTV vs, Battlefield, and many others. For the most part with the exception of BF and EA sports giants like Madden, EA has seen dropoffs on player returns and very limited success on these franchises.  Thats why the future of Madden Ultimate Team is so crucial.
    Earlier I stated that last year EA made over a billion dollars, Over 380 million of that coming from Ultimate Team(*4), its fair to say what is big daddy at EA. Any good business would see this years ago and maximized its profits in future versions. While this is great for the investors and shareholders at EA, it is not so good for us the customer or gamer. To maximize profits EA has created many ways to earn money from the gamers playing MUT.  From charging to give cards away, to charging for the auction house use, to adding points (a currency to be bought only with real cash) Why do we get charged to give our already paid for cards away? Why make the game about how much money you can add for currency vs being about game play to earn currency in game?

    Is this how where you train your MUT team to get better??
    Biggest problem in my eyes is the method of making changes to player distribution in packs. Players who you could previously get in one pack are placed in new higher level packs the next year, and each and every year since. From Gold, Silver, Bronze at start to Bronze, Silver, Gold, Elite, Legendary, Ghost, Fantasy, BCA, Playoffs, and Bonus now. When MUT started in 2010 you could very easily maintain a good team simply by winning, earning coins to buy new packs. Now its almost impossible to keep a team without spending real cash on it, so much so that there are hundreds of videos if not thousands on youtube on how to make coins without spending money. (*6)  Over this holiday season we saw packs on the market place for 90$.  This is getting crazy.
    From a game that was so easy to play and fun to experience with your friends in a unique way. Building your own team up from your favorite players and playing with it. Even sharing its greatness with your friends!  To now a game where its almost required that you use real cash at some point to keep your team going. Ask any MUT vet who has played for more than a year if they have spent money on the game would yield an overwhelming 95% yes answer.
    As a MUT10Vet I held many pack parties with fellow gamers. (EJNFL24, DJ Mateo, Proxytron, MedusaMission, JohnDee, MRNICEGUY) Pack parties is one of my favorite memories of MUT10 and 11. Gaming is about a community, it always has been and always will be. I dont know what to expect from the future of MUT as they cant keep moving players up and increasing costs for the gamers, as sooner or later it will cost us more than Madden its self. Maybe it already has, I know I have spent more on MUT then the 55 I paid for Madden 15. THAT IS CRAZY.
    Maddens future is secure with the hundreds of millions of dollars MUT will generate. Lets just hope EA will realize gamers want to play the game to earn rewards NOT buy the rewards.

    Madden Ultimate Team 2010
    I took a little time to reach out to some fellow MUT vets and friends, who all have been playing MUT since the start in 2010, and can offer some various points of view. Some of these guys are heavily involved in MUT and some are just hardcore players, but all are MUT professors in my opinion.
    Thanks for taking the time to answer these DJMateo, EJNFL24, MedusaMission, ProxyTron, and MRNICEGUY!
    If you have time to check out @djmateo904 and his streams, I would!
    MEDUSA @xmedusamissionx  Former UMF/UTF MOD, Member of MUT HOF  
    PROXY  @Proxytron  #MUT 10 veteran
    EJNFL24  @EJ_NFL_24 Invitee of EA Sports 1st ever MUT Invitational
    MRNICEGUY @MrN1CEGUY1337  MUT 10 VET
    DJMATEO @djmateo904 US Marine | Official EA Sports GameChanger | MUTHead Staff
     
    Q) You have been playing since the start correct?
    MEDUSA -   Yes, MUT10, but not at the launch. I got heavily involved w/ MUT11 and that is when & where I started making my name in the MUT community. My MUT10 team stunk, I didn't have a ton of time to put into it and really anything good I had was thanks to gifts from EJNFL24 who I originally met in sports card trading on the Beckett online trading site.
    PROXY - Pretty much from the start, yes. I think I started playing within the first few days of release.
    EJNFL24 - Not from day one, but I did participate quite a bit in MUT10. I downloaded it probably a month, maybe two, after it's release.
    MRNICEGUY - Yes from the start
    DJMATEO - Yes, Jan 2010 back when it was DLC
     
    Q) What has changed the most since January 7, 2010?
    MEDUSA - 2 things top my list honestly 1. I'd sadly have to say the MUT community: In short, forums are not really needed or used anymore - I miss the days of just chatting w/ fellow players and not always about the game but just life in general. I've always tried to live by 1 rule in the community and that is to just keep it real. Also, The community doesn't seem as strong as it use to be, it may be strong in numbers but not strong as in helping each other out. I really appreciated alot of the community helping me out while I was in Afghanistan and that includes none other than EA's Josh Looman. Times have changed, the community has become GREEDY as a whole, still lots of good people out there tho, community just has blown up to an unreal size. 2. Again I have to use the word sadly, cuz sadly I have to say how EA operates. By this I mean while I get that EA is a business that has to make money, EA no longer has to cater to its customers as it use to because the game, format, and community has gotten so BIG, you should NEVER stop catering to some degree to your customers, this is where America as a whole is failing. I fight for this country for a living, so this disappoints me to see where we were and where we are now, because I Love America. With that said, I partially blame EA for what people call money grubbing & I partially blame the fact that MUT got so BIG that the shear size of the community made it easy for EA to do, plus you simply can not listen to everybody.
    PROXY - What's changed the most to me has been the community, for better or worse. I think at the start of MUT, it was definitely a tight-knit community where everyone knew everyone and we all helped each other out. Today, everyone seems to only know the players who are active on Twitter or do giveaways constantly. 
    EJNFL24 - It's hard to pinpoint one thing in particular to be honest. The mode has changed a ton in just about every aspect. Packs, coin making strategies, the Auction House as a whole, etc. It's all changed. Some for the better, some for the worse. Packs, as most would agree, have gotten worse. It used to be so much fun hunting for cards in packs without having to blow crazy amounts of coins, or spending a decent amount of money. A lot of people focus on that, because it's most people's most enjoyable part of the mode. The thrill of the hunt. There are a lot of aspects that have seen marked improvement though. From adding collections, adding a trade feature (however flawed it may be), streamlining our collections, and increasing the amount of cards that we can have at any given time. Almost everything has changed in some way shape or form.
    MRNICEGUY - In a positive way their are many more solid cards to build a team with, In a negative way pack odds are damn near pathetic, you could spend $100 at any moment and if your lucky 1-2cards might be over 83ovr.
    DJMATEO - The entire premise of the game... it used to be to just buy packs and build the best team possible... Now it was turned into a task related gamed to obtain the best team possible.  I like that, because it makes the grind that much more fulfilling
    Q) Why did you start playing MUT?
    MEDUSA - I started playing MUT because I have always been a HUGE football fan, fantasy football player, and football memorabilia collector. I've played Madden since the very first one & by that I mean 22 years before MUT and before alot of the community was even born. Ever heard of Commodore 64? Yes, I'm the OLD GUY. Anyways, I was at a card shop & some guy was talking about the game mode being like fantasy football so I downloaded the MUT game add-on to see for myself & the rest is history!
    PROXY - I was actually just browsing the Xbox Live store and came across a download for MUT. Back when Madden 10 first came out, MUT wasn't even on disc, it came out at a later date. So when I came across the download and read about what the game mode was, I was intrigued by the whole idea of owning cards of my favorite players and putting together whatever team I wanted, so I gave it a shot. The rest is history.
    EJNFL24 - I started playing purely out of curiosity. I saw the DLC advertisement just about every day while playing Madden, so one day I decided to give it a shot, and the rest is history, as they say. I liked the idea of combining card collecting (I do have a collection of actual football cards I've bought/pulled over the years) along with playing my favorite game, Madden.
    MRNICEGUY - The ability to create a fantasy lineup and play online without the commitment  of sticking to a league schedule
    DJMATEO -  LOL Because it was there on my screen.  I played FUT back in 09 so i wanted to see how Madden handled it.  (and it was free DLC, unlike the first FUT)
    Q) And why do you play now?
    MEDUSA - Why stop? I love football, I love Madden and I don't care about playing H2H games. I'm a CPU guy and just like "working" to make my Ultimate Team. Nothing worth a DAMN comes easy. But you can just make your own "Ultimate Team" in Franchise Mode you say, Where's the challenge in that? I say! It is about fun for me and not about bragging or showing off, only person I need to impress is the person who matters most to me - MYSELF!
    PROXY - What keeps me playing is the collecting aspect, and the constant drive to improve my team. I've always been a big fan of the collecting aspect of the game, getting my favorite players' cards and putting them all together on the same team. This year is much more fun to me so far because it's the first year where I won't be spending any money on packs, so it's even more challenging to get the cards I want.
    EJNFL24 - I play now because I'm an admitted football junkie. I still enjoy building up my team and taking it online to test my skills against other MUT gamers. It's a shame though, since with the integration of Twitch/YouTube into Madden moreso than ever that it's having a large negative impact on the online H2H community in my opinion. Just about every game you play on the upper tiers of the H2H ladder is the same old same old. This has little to do with the mode of Madden Ultimate Team itself, but having increasing H2H rewards toward the top tiers certainly doesn't help. I'm not sure if there's anything the MUT Dev Team can do to address this, but as it stands, the H2H aspect of the mode is less enjoyable than at any point before in my opinion.
    MRNICEGUY - Its the only mode in madden  were I can use my own version of a complete squad and play online h2h
    Q) Will you play MUT next year if things stay on the current course?
    MEDUSA - I'll be as honest here as I can be. Yes! People say they will stop and it is EA's fault cuz of them being so money grubbing, well I say - look in the mirror. Could EA do some things better? Sure, but here's the honest part - EA doesn't force anyone to spend money and that's the look in the mirror part cuz the only person to blame for spending money is the person you see in that mirror. I'm more disappointed with gameplay in MUT15 honestly than the money grubbing. Life isn't always fair, you can't have everything you want. I sure as hell don't have World Peace yet, try buying that!
    PROXY -  I think I'll keep playing MUT for the foreseeable future, unless they make it necessary to put money in the game. I know a lot of people aren't a fan of how the game is now and how hard it is to put together a really dominant team, but to me, this way is necessary to add to the longevity of the game. If everyone were able to get their favorite players right off the bat, they'd play for a month then get bored and never touch the game again.
    EJNFL24 - I'm going to be honest, I'm having serious doubts for several reasons. My main issue, as stated in another answer, is with online H2H. That's where I have the most fun and where my main coin income is from. Right now the H2H is almost unplayable at the top tiers. You literally see the same 5 plays 8/10 games anymore thanks to people biting schemes off of Twitch and/or YouTube. Packs are becoming less and less fun, and more and more of a money grab. The odds are considerably worse than in any year prior, and the cost of packs is higher. It's almost impossible to enjoy ripping packs and chasing certain cards without spending a ton or getting unbelievably lucky.
    At the end of the day, a lot of my friends have quit playing already and I probably won't be too far behind if the game mode continues it's current course.
    MRNICEGUY - Maybe but I wont spend as much time and damn sure less money.. or any
    DJMATEO - Absolutely, MUT is the future of Madden, I had been trying to express that when it started, but no one took me seriously.  Now look at it.
    Q) Do you remember when we had to fight EA to give cards away?
    MEDUSA - No, really I don't. Plus, if I want to give cards away - guess what? I WILL! I've done my fair share of bitching, moaning, and venting about MUT and EA over the years as well as disagree with how some things are done but in the end those are my opinions & my rights to do so, just like it is EA's right to run their company however they do. I've also done my fair share of praising EA for stuff and things they have done for me. It's the nature of the BEAST!
    PROXY - I do remember that, and I'm not sure why it was a problem.
    EJNFL24 - I don't. I've done it in years prior and this year and haven't had issue with it.
    MrNiceGuy - They dont really know.. as long as customers dish out money and dont voice their opinion  EA  dont really care
    DJMATEO - I do, but that was at the time of no trade block.
    Q) Why do you think EA did not want us giving cards away?
    MEDUSA - No idea because I don't remember this unless it is paypalling or selling on EBay that you are referring to and that is because that is against their TOS agreement and I'll leave it at that because I have my own opinions on that matter that I'll leave at that. (And No, I do not sell or buy cards or coins for that matter - I have, however, given away alot to the community by the way of time, cards, and coins)
    PROXY - The only thing I could think of is that maybe they wanted the other players to earn their cards rather than getting them for free. Clearly it's not a problem to them anymore though, with giveaways happening constantly over Twitter.
    EJNFL24 - I'm not sure what might've caused their issue with it, as I don't remember it being an issue in the first place. There definitely shouldn't be an issue with people helping other MUT players by giving away cards.
    MRNICEGUY - Same reason, if they dont really know.. as long as customers dish out money and dont voice their opinion  EA  dont really care
     DJMATEO - Im pretty sure they didnt want us giving away cards because of the chance of them being taken by people lurking.  Thus creating a hassle for them when the users call customer support and complain. Hence the introduction of the trade block
    Q) Our pack parties were so much fun were they not?
    MEDUSA - I didn't really do a ton of pack parties, but they def were cool when I'd join XBL parties. I loved wishing ppl good luck & MOJO. I stayed away alot cuz big parties seemed difficult to sneak in talk time, but pack parties lead to ppl helping each either w/ trading & Doing collections. Pack parties need to come back & I guess they still happen via Twitch and all. So,yes - when I was in them, they were FUN. I do remember those days w/ ppl like T1P,Clutch City,&Buhfalo. Pack parties also built lasting MUT friendships & reps. Miss da good old days.
    PROXY - Those pack parties were the best! There's so many things I miss about the MUT10 days.
    EJNFL24 - They're one of the most fun things I've participated in while playing MUT. I wish pack prices were more reasonable so we could still do 'em!
    MRNICEGUY - The thing that made the awesome was the odds didnt suck .. getting great value for decent content
    DJMATEO - I was just about to mention that in the last answer.  Pack Parties were definitely the cat's pajamas. And back then it was only limited to the 8 people in the party.  But now with social media and twitch becoming SUPER popular from the days of justin.tv Giveaways have more power and community interaction.
    Q) What could you change about MUT if you had the abilty to change one thing?
    MEDUSA - I think you meant what would I change if I could. First & Foremost I'd listen to the MUT players more despite the fact that you'll NEVER be able to make everyone happy. EA has in fact listened to some of my ideas, if you read this EA, you are welcome (cough cough Pat Tillman). Anyways, like I was saying... I'd listen to the vast majority of the community which would fix simple issues like lacking gameplay, recycling of promos, multiple versions of the same player, and all the DAMN collectibles. Well, at least I'd like to think I could, some times when the shoe is on your foot it is NOT as easy as you think it is. Now, while I say that... Let's also give some credit to the changes that EA has made over the years because they have made positive strides and listened to "us". Some times with positive strides come negative ones & with negative strides come positive ones. Trust me, for every constructive criticism someone like AirWolf (MutGuru) gets, he gets a ton of hate mail, think that over for a minute. I, for one, appreciate what Josh Looman did and what AirWolf (MutGuru) is working on.
    PROXY - I've thought about this so many times, and I feel like I always come up with a different answer. If I could only change ONE thing, I would make trading multiple cards a possibility. It's an obvious feature that would fix lots of issues with scamming and just make trading as a whole easier.
    EJNFL24 - Man, that's a tough one. If it had to do with just the mode of MUT itself, and wasn't inclusive of the gameplay aspect I'd have to say pack odds/prices. Some of the most fun I've had in MUT was ripping packs in years passed. This year it's impossible to have fun ripping packs unless you have insane luck. Pack prices have become a joke as well. With the release of "Ultimate Packs" we saw a single pack that cost roughly $30! That's insane! A 3 pack bundle for $90! Even then you weren't guaranteed any cards that would make a marked improvement to either your team or your coin total. If you spent that much in years prior you could make your team better in just about every aspect.
    MRNICEGUY - More gold or higher players per base pro pack or lower the price on premium packs, certain collectibles like totw u should always get tge collected versions of players back
     DJMATEO - TBH, every year they bring something different.  And it's usually a good change from the year before.  We asked for a trade block, we got a trade block, we asked for no caps on the Auction House, and we got no caps on the AH, we asked for more collections, we got more collections.  We asked for more ease of use with the "reserves/pending/Active" and we got that...  But one thing I'd like to in future MUT's is stat tracking on cards.  If i am buying a Calvin Johnson Jr.  I'd like to know how many TD's hes had, how many yards hes gained, the date the card was pulled.  Things like that for each player.  QBs, HBs, defensive players... That would be great.  Oh yeah and also a DNF% for my opponent at the load up screen so i'll know whether to expect a quit from him.  OH!  And also BRING BACK "Continue vs.  CPU" if the opponent quits on you
     
     
    Thanks for reading folks, till next time plug in your mic and play with someone!

    Crusader Kings 2: Conclave Review


    Conclave is the much-awaited expansion for Crusader Kings 2, adding a variety of council mechanics and the dreaded coalition feature from Europa Universalis IV that attempts to curb the growth map-painting players.


    The big thing about Conclave, the ever-feared coalition changes, was… controversial, to say the least. This is understandable, as very suddenly nations large and small would unite to curb stomp the player for daring to expand. The strangest thing I discovered when testing out coalitions was finding Muslim powers uniting with Christian powers, which seems… Odd, to say the least. Considering the historical period in which CK2 takes place, to have these kinds of anachronistic partnerships irked a many players. They are currently working on altering the mechanics to forbid the possibility of cross-religion coalitions in a future patch, but one does hope that this kind of inevitable problem could be seen in advance by the testing team?

    Therein lays the usual complaint with Paradox Interactive titles and expansions; why on earth wasn’t this tested? Obviously, not everything can be tested in comparison to the tens of thousands of man hours that are played on release day, but sometimes mechanics that will so obviously be broken on release… Why aren’t they just changed?

    Complaints about coalitions and their absurd immensity notwithstanding, Conclave is an immense expansion to CK2. Previously, vassals served as a minor annoyance for your conquering; maybe they’d rebel, maybe they want some choice Dukedom that you have – it never really mattered, you could likely crush them with ease. With the Council mechanics, however, vassals actually matter. Now, your most powerful vassals will expect a seat on your council, giving them the right to vote on basically any action you want to take. I found the fact that my vassals could dictate when I could declare war incredibly irritating, but once I grew used to it I recognized how much it changed my style of play. Now, I needed to properly manage my vassal relations; I need to curry favour, ensure my friends and family members are powerful enough to back me up and, above all, stockpile cash to buy favours.



    However, the depth of these mechanics feels somewhat lacking. It is certainly very cool and interesting to have to care about your vassal’s opinions and votes but the extent to which you can control them is essentially just “buy favours”. It also feels as though the reason for the vassal AI’s choices is rather arbitrary; there are simply quite a lot of times where I find myself wondering why on earth this vassal thinks this, or why I can’t get a favour from them. Why doesn’t it explicitly say?

    It would appear that the main problem Conclave suffers from is a significant lack of depth and clarity. Lots of things happen in the game that didn’t before, but there are a lot of times when I simply don’t know why they happen, or how to stop them.  I appreciate the mechanical changes and think that they will absolutely create a whole new level of play for CK2, but more clarity and depth in future patches will be needed before I would consider it something wholly positive. I do have faith in Paradox Interactive as a company though; they can usually be counted on to amend any issues their expansions create and end up with a player-friendly result.

    Also, you can make the entire world ruled by Horses if you have the inclination, so it certainly has that going for it.

     

    Toby - The Secret Mine

    Headup Games has released a new adventure, puzzle, platformer that will have you chasing after bad guys and searching for your friends.  Toby - The Secret Mine tells the story of young Toby, one of the last remaining residents of his village.  He must venture out into the dark, unforgiving world and rescue his 26 friends.

      You set out across the bleak landscape in search of your friends trapped in cages.  Along the way you will have to solve puzzles to alter the landscape to allow you to pass and disarm deadly traps.  But not all of your friends are sitting out in the open.  You will have to poke into the darkness to try and see in the enemies have hidden any of the village residents there.
      The puzzles will make you rely on most of your senses.  Besides the typical reflexes, you will have to have a keen eye to spy triggers for deadly traps, and be listening for strange creaking noises that might mean a loose floor board that can be broken.  As you progress through the levels you will have to build on the the skills you have learned to solve more complex problems.

      Game graphics are, for the most part, dark and eerie.  They convey the sense that you are on an overwhelming quest, that you are under prepared for in trying to save the village residents.  Tihe stark palette really helps set the tone.  The 1st half of the game most of the foreground is all black, so you get very accustomed to it, but suddenly you get thrust into a snow world that is blindingly white and it takes a little bit to adjust.  The game music helps add to the spooky atmosphere.
      This game is a puzzle platformer at heart.  For the most it is not really difficult, it will just take some trial and error.  And those errors, while frustrating, will rack up a pretty impressive death count for most players.  To be honest I wandered into several traps just to watch poor Toby bite the dust.  But then again, Toby went into the beyond many times just because of my lack of skills at times.  Death has little impact on your game progress.  If you die you are transported back to the start of the last puzzle you have not completed.  This makes it easier to push through the puzzles until you finally figure them out.
      Toby - The Secret Mine is out now on XB1, PS4, Wii U and Steam for $9.99.  You can even grab it on Android or iOS.



    Pixel Heroes - Byte + Magic

    Headup Games has brought The Bit Fathers game Pixel Heroes - Byte and Magic to XB1 players.  If you haven't played before, this is a very retro inspired, RPG, with turn based combat and countless hat tips to other games that came previously in the genre.  This game transports you back to the early days of computer games, but this trip isn't for the faint of heart.

      When you first fire up the game you will notice there are three campaigns to pick from, but you must complete one before you have the ability to unlock the next one.  The game starts out on Hard difficulty, moves on to Brutal, then finally ends at Insane.  Each adventure consists of 8 dungeons, and each dungeon has 8 rooms for you to conquer.  There are 7 rooms that minecontain either chests or enemies and the final room will be home for the area boss.
      Each game starts out in the tavern, where all good adventures begin.  You must pick your team of 3 hearty adventurerers from the 6 random patrons that are hanging out.  If you are not happy with the crowd, you can re-roll everyone up to 5 times and hope to assemble your dream team.  Once your team is set and you have been given the campaign overview you venture out into town.  In town you can grab new weapons, spells, potions, and pick 1 of the 2 available quests.  More become available as you progress - if you make it that far.  As you set out to the dungeon of your choice you will have 2-3 encounters that are very dependant on RNG.  No two trips are ever the same.

       Gameplay is straight forward.  Attack the enemy and take them out before they kill you.  Once you take out the foes see if any of the loot you snagged can upgrade your party and move onto the next battle.  Each hero has 2 skills, some can heal while others have special attacks that they can use once in a while.  No matter if you use a skill or attack with a weapon, each party member must rest between uses - this prevents you from stacking great gear on 1 players and having them power through all the fights.  If you have a team member go down in battle, it is out until you are able to finish the quest , return to town and are able to have them revived.

      The graphics are a complete throw back and totally wonderful.  As I was playing I was transported back to the days of Nintendo games and some of my first PC RPG games.  Further immersing you into this blast from the past is the chip tune music.  One thing that does pull you back into the present is all that random encounters I mentioned earlier.  You are gloriously treated to references from all over geekdom.

      Pixel Heroes - Byte and Magic is not for the easily discouraged.  It will take a few games to figure out which enemies are most vulnerable to which attacks.  Even once you get this down, RNG can still come along and crush your dreams by never giving you health potions, or only dropping armor suitable for a house cat.  But have no fear, the developers have you covered.  They have added achievements for filling up the graveyard with your less than successful bands of heroes.  You will here that familiar sound after your 1st full team death, then 10, 50 and 100 teams.  
     
      Pixel Heroes - Byte and Magic is now available on XB1, Steam, and iOS.  The console and PC version can be added to your collections for $9.99 each, while the mobile versions are a few dollars cheaper.
     

    AntiHero Charity Tournament Finals Coming

    A couple of weeks ago we announced the Versus Evil Charity Tournament HERE to our community.  The tournament included four different charities that would have streamers that support them, raising money to support their mission.  Operation Supply Drop opened up the competition with four Veterans and four 8-Bit Salute Task Force members battling it out.  Below you can see where we sit as of today with the final match coming soon to determine who is going to PAX East to represent Operation Supply Drop and our chance to win an additional $10,000 donation from Versus Evil

    Along wit the $10,000 that the charity could get from the event, our streamers have been working extra hard to get donations during the tournament.  As you can see below, the team thus far has raised $3,642.  With one more match to go, we expect to hit our $5,000 recommended donation line soon.

    Thank you to everyone who has donated so far!  We hope to see you all soon as ShinjiTV (Vet) vs Brialeigh (Civilian) battle it out to see who is attending PAX East and Operation Supply Drop.  
    As an added bonus, a reward has been added to those that donate which is the AntiHero "The Master Thief DLC"!  Quick details below:
     "Get your very own Ollie to help commemorate the inaugural Versus Evil Charity Clash! For donations at $15 and above, you will be given a special DLC code with this character, just like you see in the Charity Clash semi-finals and finals. You’ll have exclusive early access to this extra DLC Master Thief. *DLC Code will delivered at a later date*"
    To support Operation Supply Drop simply click THIS LINK or click the image below and donate at least $15 to get The Master Thief DLC when it drops.

     

    Destiny 2 Info Leaked? Will Be Called "Forge of Hope"

    A Reddit leak has popped up revealing a batch of new info on the upcoming Destiny sequel or has it? Here are some interesting highlights from the post:
    It will be called Destiny 2: Forge of Hope The story will focus on the Cabal race. They attack the city and players will need to take it back. The game will be built on a new engine that is built to handle frequent updates and faster load times. Sadly this means that players will not be able to transfer their old characters. On the plus side the sequel will offer more robust character customization options. Expected release date to be sometime between November 4th to 18th. Will be out for PS4 (Pro), Xbox One (Scorpio), and PC (finally!). Expect to see more details emerge closer to E3. 
    Do you think this leak is real and what are you hoping the new Destiny title contains?

    Rainbow Six Siege Velvet Shell available today for Season Pass Owners

    With the second season of content for the firmly established tactical shooter announced not so long ago, it seems the team over at Ubisoft Montreal have been hard at work yet again, as today marks the arrival of the latest DLC content for Rainbow Six Siege, Operation Velvet Shell.
    This is the fifth expansion to be released for the game and much like the previous expansions, Operation Velvet Shell throws two new operators from the Spanish GEO Counter Terrorism Unit, Jackal and Mira into the mix, as well as a new map, Coastline.
    Mira has proven her strength and endurance in tactical situations, but her best asset is her technical expertise. Her specialty is creating Black Mirrors, nearly indestructible horizontal one-way windows that can be punched into barricades or destructible walls. Combined with the Vector 45 ACP and ITA12L as her primary weapons, enemies can rapidly go from “spotted” to “dead.” Jackal has developed his expertise in tracking down High Value Targets and intercepting narcotics shipments with the G.E.O.s. Equipped with the C7E and PDW9 as primary weapons, Jackal can also activate his Eyenox Model III headset to track enemy footprints. The more recent the prints, the “hotter” they’ll appear in Jackal’s view, so if you see bright red bootprints, there’s likely an enemy nearby! As was the case with previous expansions, all content in Operation Velvet Shell will be free to all players, however those hoping to get their hands on the content from today will need to have bought the Year Two Season Pass to ensure the one week early access. For those without the Season 2 Season Pass, Operation Velvet Shell will be available to everyone on February 14th.
    Haven’t jumped in yet with the tactical shooter? Fear not, all previously released content is available to everyone and if you not sure whether Rainbow Six Siege is for you or not, our review should help clear things up for you. See you in the field.
     
    Original Article

    Versus Evil Kicks off their Inaugural ‘Charity Clash’ Event

    BALTIMORE, MD –  January 26th, 2017 – Versus Evil, an indie game publishing company, is hosting their first ever Versus Evil Charity Clash (#charityclash) event.  Teaming up with four different charities, Gamechanger Charity, 8-Bit Salute | Operation Supply Drop, Save the Children and St Jude's PLAY LIVE, the Versus Evil event will see several different Twitch Streamers representing each charity battling it out to win the $10,000 grand prize donation.  During this time they will also be raising money during each livestreamed heat for their specific charity.  Streamers will be competing in Antihero, Tim Conkling’s turn-based single and multiplayer strategy game about running a thieves' guild (available in First Access at https://versusevil.itch.io/antihero), and will attempt to outsmart and outmaneuver their opponents to become the top master thief in Victorian England.

    The Charity Clash livestreamed heats, which will take the form of a bracket-style tournament, will take place between now and PAX East (10-12th March), where the finalists will play each other to win the $10,000 donation. During this time, streamers will also be encouraging their fans to donate to the charity they are representing and, as an incentive, fans can also buy the Antihero charity shirt of their favorite streamer’s charity; a portion of shirt proceeds will go directly to charity.  Details will be displayed on the charity web page Antihero.tiltify.com The charity team that raises the most money will also win an Alienware Alpha PC, which will be given away to one lucky winner from their own communities.  

    “We’re hoping that this inaugural Versus Evil Charity Clash will be fun for everyone involved and that we can make this a yearly tradition,” commented founder and General Manager of Versus Evil, Steve Escalante.  “We’ve always wanted to give back to a worthwhile cause and now’s the perfect time.  We hope the gaming community will come together to support their streamers and help raise money for these important causes.”
    8-Bit Salute | Operation Supply Drop Streamers include:
    BriaLeigh 
    Echoics 
    AustenMarie 
    RivalCastMedia 
    ShinjiTV 
    Thantophobia 
    Spaito Gaming 
    OneGunSalute 
     

    Pocket Kingdom Review

    Pocket Kingdom is a charmingly retro puzzle-platformer that creates a deep and mystical world concerning sky habitats and slumbering gods, then fills that intriguing world with a variety of frustrating puzzles and lasers. Thanks a lot, slumbering Gods.
    In any retro-style game, the music is an absolute essential and needs to be considered first. It is obviously in the 8-bit, nostalgia fueled style of so many other games of its kind, but the overall tone is not one of easy-going adventure, but perhaps instead a dark, somewhat confusing journey. There are upbeat moments, crescendos that build towards relief, yet are then quickly replaced by the slightly claustrophobic tones that seem to subtly tell the player that he is trapped.
    And trapped he is; you are completely shipwrecked on a mysterious island created by a slumbering God. Others have crashed here and given up, seemingly making whatever life for themselves they can. The importance of the people other than as tutorial advice or guides is insignificant at best, but their presence helps to curtail the feeling of loneliness; without them, it’d be you, a strange Mario-man with a bunch of tools and a ubiquitous Wizard who seems to always get to a level before you.
    The puzzles are inventive; obviously, any game of this genre that wishes to stand out needs to possess this quality. However, they are a cut above other platformer puzzle games I’ve experienced. There’s the standard mechanic of using blocks to block lasers that inhibit your passage, but there’s also a surprising mechanic of using inverted gravity. In one puzzle, I had to reverse my gravity and then the gravity of one of a multitude of boxes, no less than 5 times to be able to solve the puzzle. The main character also possesses a Rocket Launcher to shove blocks and a Hookshot to… hook blocks. This allows you to manipulate the blocks and do some really interesting solutions to the puzzles. The entire experience feels this way, innovative and very interesting, but the limited application of these cool ideas starts to frustrate the player.

    That’s the key problem with Pocket Kingdom - it is incredibly frustrating. The puzzles are fun and they are engaging but, when the difficulty ramps up, it’s just too hard. I repeated one level about 40 times before I figured out the solution – there was very little satisfaction, only a crushing realization of the last hour wasted.
    Too many times I would finally discover the solution, yet be left with an incredibly disappointing feeling that the solution I found wasn’t right. It honestly felt like I had broken the game somehow; my solving the puzzle didn’t seem tied to a systematic application of learned knowledge and skills, but more a random variety of actions attempted in desperation until, finally, one of them solves the puzzle and I can get that damn key.
    The path of the game is also slightly confusing – it is clear that there is an end goal in mind, but the map that allows you to explore and go to each puzzle is quite open – it at first seems as though there are innumerable options and ways to win the game, but time and time again I kept coming up against an arbitrary barrier. “Oh, you need THIS tool to pass, check a few rooms west” or, after working my way through 3 rooms and finding a giant red demon who seems will help me, he says I need to buy him a key. He opens a portal to… the shop… that just has the key lying there. I go to buy it, turns out I need 3 coins. “Coins? What Coins? There’s currency?” I say to myself in confusion. Yup, guess I need to go to the rooms on my map that look… kind of like coins? Oh yeah, look, I did it, I get a coin! Guess I do this two more times until the red demon will open my arbitrary barrier.
    While I understand the desire to deviate from the ever-present linear puzzle path - solving one puzzle, then on to the next until finally the ending - but this somewhat pseudo-open worldness just seems half-baked.
    While Pocket Kingdom is absolutely gorgeous, sounds amazing and utilizes some really interesting mechanics, at the end of the day I am left feeling frustrated and confused.
     
    + Beautiful sound design and retro feel.
    + Innovative and interesting game mechanics designed to challenge the player.
    - Too much frustration, rather than real challenge.
    - The non-linear world feels forced and confusing.

    Hunter's Legacy

      Lienzo has released a new game in the adventure, platformer, Metrovania genre.  Hunter's Legacy is the story of Ikki, the greatest huntress  of Un'amak.  Her village lives in peace and harmony with nature until one day when and evil warlock steals the Fang of Alliance.  This sets your world into turmoil and you must retrieve it.  Armed with your dual swords and bow you must journey through the land in search of your treasure.

      Ikki must battle to find the warlock in hopes of bringing balance back to your world.  As you search for your foe, you will have to fight mini bosses, collect new attacks, upgrade your weapons and health.  Each new attack will allow you to open up new areas to further your adventure.  Power up to destroy once impenaturable obstacles, and jump to new heights.  

      The game follows the basic formula of many adventure games.  Chase the big bad, he escapes and you have to scour the land, battle smaller bosses so you can gather the tools to continue your original chase.  Gameplay is also very typical - even though you are the Worlds Greatest Huntress, you are very unequipped for your battle.  Unfortunately the quest to power up is underwhelming.

      Even though you travel through multiple areas, most feel very similar.  You will encounter the same enemies across several areas.  One of the most interesting areas is the Snowy Volcano.  Here you will encounter ice that you will slide on, and will freeze you if you spend to long on it.  You will not freeze to the point of not beinig able to move, but you will start taking environmental damage.  Not far away you will encounter hot zones that will raise your temp until you start taking heat damage.  You must make sure that you have enough health to traverse these areas and take care of the enemies you encounter.

      Most parts of the game are not that difficult, but these environmental hazards ratchet up the difficulty.  The mini bosses also drastically up the ante, but this isn't because of their attack or health, it's because of game design.  The first mini boss you encounter will briefly hang from the ceiling and you must shoot it's support with your bow.  Once it falls you can temporarily damage it.  The first few attacks are easy because you have a tower to climb that gets you close to the enemy.  Once they are destroyed you must shoot from ground level and this is where things get dicey.  You have to be at the precise angle in order to hit your target, but to do that the enemy is almost entirely off screen.  This makes for an extended battle that really shouldn't be that hard.

      The graphics in the game bring back memories of older adventure games in the genre.  Enemies are well designed and look sharp across the game.  The soundtrack contains whimsical tracks of pan flute music to accompany you on your journey.  There are a few tracks that include a rhymic clicking that made me try and figure out why my clock was so loud.

      Hunter's Legacy is out now for XB1, and can be added to your collection for $6.99.  If you pine for old school MetroidVania games, this is a good title to keep you busy for a few hours.

    Super Run 2017 with "Pop the Classroom"

     
    Thanks for checking out another Team Phoenix event!
    On January 14th Pop the Classroom held its annual charity Super Run. Dressing up as Super Heros and Villains and doing a fun run around Kiwanis Lake.
    What is Pop the Classroom?
    Pop Goes the Classroom develops and shares curricular resources related to pop culture arts integration as a tool for education.
    What is Super Run?
    The Super Run is a national series of 5k running events that partners with non-profit organizations to put on superhero themed events to help raise funds and awareness for their cause. The Super Run is here to save your day!

    Operation Supply Drop Team Phoenix joined forces with AZ Deadpool Corps to cheer on everyone and hang out for some fantastic fun and excitement.

     
    The local tv station CW6 had a green screen set on site and was taking pictures with everyone. Here is a few of our deadpools in one of them.

     
    As we waited for the start of the race we bumped into the 501st Dune Sea Garrison. This was a great time to rock out to some tunes! Well of course get some pictures with them too, its the 501st! 

    As the race was about to start we got lined up to give out some high fives and support!

    The count down.. 3... 2... 1..  Go..   Then it was high fives for days..

    So many high fives we had to take turns.  Even got some 501st high fives, yes he did the whole run in that outfit!

     
    Teaming up with our local community has been a great experience. This allows our team members to get out and be active, while having fun!
    Thanks for reading, as always we here in Team Phoenix look forward to sharing our experiences with all of you! if you would like to help Operation Supply Drop and its Teams please check out the Link for more info.
     
     
     
     
     

    Path of Exile coming to XB1

    We learned today that Path of Exile is coming to XBOX one in 2017.  This has to be great news to fans of the series. In a release today, Grinding Gear Games announced the following:
    "Grinding Gear Games announced today that their hit online ARPG, Path of Exile, will be coming exclusively to Xbox One in 2017. The Xbox One version of Path of Exile will contain all five previous expansions and the new content that will be launching for the PC version this year in the upcoming giant 3.0.0 expansion, including the long-awaited Act V. Here is a nice trailer for you as well below!"
    About Path of Exile
    Path of Exile is an online Action RPG set in the dark fantasy world of Wraeclast. It is designed around a strong online item economy, deep character customization, and unlimited replayability. Path of Exile is completely free and does not sell items or consumables that provide competitive advantage over other players. Since release in 2013, it has received five large expansions.
    Path of Exile Key Features Include:
    Download and play for free, but never pay-to-win A dark and deep action RPG Unlimited character combinations with the game’s gigantic skill tree Combine skill gems to create unique combat strategies Explore a dark and gritty world rendered from a fixed 3D perspective Explore randomly generated levels for nearly infinite replayability Craft weapons, magic items, and even end-game maps to become more powerful Cooperate or compete with thousands of other Exiles in a persistent online world Ascend online ladders in every game mode

    Resident Evil 7 Details Released

    Capcom has confirmed the details of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard’s season pass, along with all the other content it will include.
    The title has seen its fair share of leaks lately.  From those leaks, it appears the developer has shuffled around the order of some of the upcoming DLC's.  The full list of content according to the game's Steam listed is shown below:
    Banned Footage Vol. 1
    Nightmare Bedroom Ethan Must Die Banned Footage Vol. 2
    21 Daughters Jack’s 55th Birthday Additional Story Episode
    Resident Evil 7’s season pass will retail on its own for $29.99 on PC, with a deluxe bundle containing both the base game and the pass costing $89.98.
    The title is scheduled to release on January 24th on Xbox One, PS4 (with PSVR support) and PC.

    Siegecraft Commander Review (PC)

     
    Siegecraft Commander is a casual fantasy real-time/turn-based strategy game built on the Unity engine. In Siegecraft Commander you take control of either the human knight Freemoi or the shamanistic lizard men of the Hurtrad Tribe and seek to dominate the land and vanquish your foes. Siegecraft Commander uses a cartoon like art style that is bright, colorful, and easy on the eyes. Also Siegecraft Commander has somewhat comical story elements that can give you a small chuckle sometimes.

    Gameplay:

    Structures are connected and follow a hierarchy connection where if you destroy a structure higher in the chain it will destroy everything built after it. This is an interesting mechanic that makes things easier and more challenging because you must protect everything you build efficiently or risk losing  everything. You build structures by shooting them out of other structures which is interesting but makes precision much more difficult and can lead to many of over shot structures and cutting yourself off by mistake. Other then these features it follows the basic RTS style of build things destroy enemy with less reliance on resources even though some structures require crystals which can be harvested by simple throwing an outpost on top of them. Multiplayer also has a nice choice between turn based gameplay and real time gameplay which can appeal to people that would rather take their time to think out a move than have to proceed on the fly throwing caution to the wind.
    Techtrees:

     
    You have a choice of 4 different commanders that have their own unique techtrees that vary from increasing damage of certain units to lowering cooldown timers on defensive structures. The techtrees aren't too complicated and tell you exactly what they do and cut out the requirement of having to pay close attention to make sure you go the right route.
    Pros:
    + Isn't over complicated like a lot of RTS and you can pick up and play fairly easily.
    + Visuals are smooth and colorful.
    + Mechanics are solid and easy to understand.
    Cons:
    - Won't appeal to the more hardcore RTS players.
    - Mechanics for building structures can be wonky sometimes, shooting structures the wrong direction all together at times.
    - Single player is fairly short with only eight levels on both sides.
    All in all this game is solid and easy to get into and will run on most modern systems with out any issues. The gameplay is fun, the visuals are nice, and the mechanics are solid all be it wonky sometimes. If you are looking for a casual RTS to relax and enjoy Siegecraft Commander is a good choice and I would recommend it as such.
     



    Siegecraft Commander (XB1)

       Blowfish Studios has released a new real time strategy game that will throw you right into the thick of intense battles.  SiegeCraft Commander places you in the middle of a war between the honorable Knights of Freemoi and the wild Tribal Lizards.  Pick your side and conquer your enemy before they over run your forces.
    The game offers an interesting play style.  After you choose your side, your Keep is placed on the map, which appears to be on a gaming table.  Your Keep is your main base of operations, but in order to win, you have to expand.  To build your base you must fire something a kin to a cannon ball with yournext building.
     
     
    Once that ball lands it will build your new building and a wall connected to your previous building.  This means that you have to be aware of how you are building your base.  Walls cannot be built across trees, water, and of course other walls.  The side you pick to fight for will determine what types of buildings you have at your disposal.  Outposts, garrisons, barracks, libraries, war camps, totems and hatcheries are just a few of the parts you can add to your base.  But you have to be careful because when a buildinig is destroyed - all other buildings that extend from it suffer the same fate.
     

    Each building has a specific purpose - the garrison leads to the barracks which will supply you with ground troops.  The armory will give you access to siege weapons.  If you are attached to a gold source, you can build even more powerful units such as airships that can soar over your enemies defenses.

      I have been playing the game on Xbox One, and the controls can be a bit tricky.  Even though the controls are straight forward, they take a bit of finesse to master.  You use the left stick to both aim and select the power used to shoot your new building.  Even with an Elite Controller, getting the exact angle you want, and the right power level can be a bit tricky.  Since the controls don't lock into all the possible positions, there is a lot of twitching involved.  Trying to get mid power shots consistently can be a bit difficult.  The stick also controls the movement of the board, and which of your assets is selected - the center item is the one that you have control over.  If you are rushing in battle you can easily choose the wrong tower.
      The game sports a single player campaign in which you can pick either side and play through.  Each side has a different story to play through and will keep you engaged for a fair amount of time.  What really drives this title is the multiplayer game.  You can play with up to 3 other players in either local or online multiplayer.  This in where you will spent most of your time, and will have a chance to sharpen your skills beyond basic tactics.
      Graphics in SiegeCraft are very nicely done.  It is really fun to watch a dragon swoop down and snatch a cow, or seeing a mad cow explode against a tower.  The tower designs are nice, and vary well between the 2 factions.  The game also features a beautiful sweeping soundtrack to accompany you on your quest.
      Siegecraft - Commander will be out on Xbox One 17 January.  If you are a fan of real time strategy games I would recommend picking up this title.  Just be prepared to tame the finicky controls.
     


    Phil Spencer likes Crackdown 3

    Looks as if we have some good news coming in regards to Crackdown 3 in the coming months.  For those that have not played the first two, you are missing out.
    His latest tweet today:
    What are you looking forward to the most in regards to the game?

    Nintendo Switch is coming are you pre-ordering?

     
    We learned alot about the platform during the official reveal of the Nintendo Switch.  We have included all the facts below for your consumption.  
    Release Date:  March 3, 2017
    Cost:  $300
    Games we expect: Splatoon 2, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Fire Emblemgame, a second Xenoblade Chronicles, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and so many more it would seem.  Not all out during the launch but suspect more details will come quickly of new titles.
    Below are some videos from the reveal.  Are you getting a Nintendo Switch anytime soon?
     

    Xmas Party with VMFA 211 Avengers

     
    On Thursday December 1st Operation Supply Drop Team Phoenix teamed up with the Arizona Deadpool Corps to bring some support to the VMFA 211 Avengers Squadron. VMFA-211 is a United States Marine Corps fighter attack squadron, currently consisting of F-35B Lightning II stealth STOVL strike fighter jets. Known as the "Wake Island Avengers" and the "Bastion Defenders", the squadron is based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. 


     After arrival in Yuma we checked our ride to make sure everything was ok. The flight crew gave it the once over and said we are good to go! Parked and hanger closed we moved on to setting up for the event. Well most did, some of us could not stay away from the bubble wrap. Who can?

     
    With our tables and photo area set up we started to get flooded with people. Everyone enjoyed the Santapools we had along for the ride.


    We have many more photos if you would like to see them. Link
    After eating some of the wonderful food that everyone brought to share, we started the raffle. Lets just say folks got a little excited for it!


    This was a awesome event at Yuma MCAS with the AZ Deadpool Corps supporting VMFA 211 Avengers. Thanks again for reading about the trip to Yuma MCAS and as always we look forward to sharing more of our fantastic experiences with all of you! if you would like to help Operation Supply Drop and its Teams please check out the Link for more info.

    Luke AFB New Community Center with OSD Game Room!

     
    A short time ago Operation Supply Drop was asked to help outfit a new community commons game room for our troops and families to enjoy. This was a "of course, how can we help" answer. On Tue Oct 25th Luke AFB opened its new Community Commons. We had the pleasure of being invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony and joining in on the celebration. 

     
    We got a tour of the new building and all of its great ways to bring entertainment to our troops and their families. In the building it has an OSD outfitted game room, pool tables, air hockey, ping pong, cycling room, Dart room, weight room, health rooms, a Subway restaurant, Barber shop, Food lounge, and much much more. 

     
    After the ribbon cutting we hung out with the Arizona Cardinals and some of the Luke AFB personal. Big Red is no joke at ping pong. He beat 3 of us in a row! His skills at ping pong and rock scissors paper is no joke. Watch out!

     
    After getting beat down like that we moved on to some pool with the Arizona Cardinals and cheerleaders. Teaming up to play doubles was a blast and a once in a lifetime experience!

     
    This was a fantastic fun time!  After playing games with the Arizona Cardinals and the cheerleaders we all posed for some pictures. This facility is filled with ways for someone to enjoy time, have fun, and relax!

     
    We also made the Arizona Cardinals homepage!! GO #OSDfam

     
     
    Thanks again for reading and as always we look forward to sharing more of our fantastic experiences with all of you! if you would like to help Operation Supply Drop and its Teams please check out the Link for more info.

    Europa Universalis IV - Rights of Man Review

    Europa Universalis IV (EU4) is a game that I endlessly come back to – I broke the 4 digit club (1000+ hours) over a year ago, but I still keep coming back to it. Paradox’s continuous release of expansions, patches and DLCs means that there is always something fresh for me to return to. This is both a good and bad thing. On the one hand, I get to experience a game I love and enjoy somewhat new each time, enjoying new features and changed mechanics. On the other, it feeds an addiction that sees me going to bed at 1 in the morning, despite previous obligations.
    Paradox Interactive, one might say, is the most friendly Swedish drug dealer I know.
    Europa Universalis IV’s most recent expansion, ‘Rights of Man’, focuses on increasing the control you have over both your subjects and your leaders. Paradox love to alter the game mechanics of their games quite drastically with new expansions and ‘Rights of Man’ is no different.
    To start, numerous nations have updated government forms, as well as increasingly interesting Dynamic Historical Events, particularly focusing on Prussia and Ethiopia. There’s a lot of really interesting changes to Prussia’s government, for example, that makes them more of an Army with a State, rather than a State with an Army. If that makes sense.

    The meat and bones of this expansion however is the addition of Traits. Now, both leaders and rulers can gain traits that affect their stats that they bring to the table, as well as how they govern. Maybe your ruler is greedy and gets more tax revenue; he could also be Loose Lipped, so you can expect that he’ll spill the beans to other nations about his plans to attack that tasty neighbouring minor nation. These traits are gained over time and really help to build a sense of identity and character for each of your leaders.
    The most significant change I experience in the game is the change to technology. Previously, all nations existed within technology groups – these groups dictated the cost of going up a technology level, thus providing access to better buildings, different army types and a myriad of other benefits. You existed within those technology groups based on where your nation started – it makes sense as after all, a Native American nation is clearly not going to progress at the same rate technologically as a European nation, right?
    Now however, all nations start on the same footing – they progress and purchase new technologies at the same base cost. However, we now have a lovely new feature called Institutions. These essentially represent an idealism, a way of thinking or great change in the manner in which life is lived. Most nations start with Feudalism already in existence (not all nations, though! Tribal nations understandably do not!). The Renaissance is next, followed by the outbreak of colonialism. These Institutions spread across the world through provinces, getting more and more accepted each month – a nation can pay to have it accepted nation wide, with a diminishing gold cost associated with the amount of provinces that have been ‘converted’ to that Institution. Alongside cheaper tech, you also get access to a few mild benefits – for example, having Feudalism means you can enjoy an extra Military leader on your staff.
    This is all really interesting, but it comes with a few problems. Firstly, Institutions appear in a random province when they do appear. Basically giving that nation those benefits for free straight away. Nations that don’t have that Institution receive a yearly 1% tech penalty, up to 50%! Problem is, even if you’re playing Prussia in Northern Germany, you might have to wait about 50 years to get the Institution to take effect in your nation, essentially giving you a massive malus to your technology in comparison to some other nation that was lucky enough to get it first. It just takes waaaaay too long for it to spread.

    Another problem it brings is the dependence on gold – because you can pay gold (dependant on the amount of your provinces so far converted) to convert your whole nation, gold becomes even more insanely important to a game of EU4. Countries with the most cash can now essentially buy cheaper tech in comparison to others. So, money improvement is now fantastically the most important aspect to EU4. I’ve actually declared a pretty major war in Europe, simply so that I can nick some of that other nation’s cash to pay for the institution, so as to get a tech lead on those around me.
    While it adds a really nice layer of strategic depth, the irritation of needing to manage technology maluses to a far worse extent than previously, coupled with an excessive focus on gold generation, means that ‘Rights of Man’ is less about Thomas Paine’s treatise on the innate rights of his fellow man, and more about living in a rich man’s world.

     
    You can see Aldrahill’s YouTube channel right here, where he’s currently playing Ethiopia in EU4, doing some achievement hunting.
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