I wish I cared about the new Star Wars movie

I grew up like many others as a huge Star Wars Fan. My Mom loved the series as a teenager and introduced us to it pretty young. I watched the original films on VHS so many times I lost count. As a kid my favorite was Empire Strikes Back. I know people say that Star Wars for kids, but that movie always felt like something for adults. I think that’s why I liked it so much growing up.

Then the prequels came out and George Lucas had too much control with the series. There’s too much to say about them with it all being said before. The important thing is that I wasn’t sure who they were for. I don’t think any of it was really smart. Some of it was extremely childish and stupid, almost like someone took the Ewok criticism the wrong way. Then other things like boring politics and the overly emotional child murderer weren’t for kids.

I think most fans were pretty excited when Disney bought the rights to Star Wars. It felt like a fresh start from a company that’s currently doing great things with Marvel. Force Awakens felt like a fine movie that left plenty to be excited about. It was a bit like an Iron Man Movie. Then The Last Jedi came out. It felt like a really bad Thor movie and completely drained the energy out of the series.

I think the main thing is that they fell into the trap of reading the internet and trying to be smarter. The Last Jedi’s only goal was to subvert the fans’ expectations. If someone had predicted something it couldn’t happen. There were some great fan theories of where episode 8 would go. My favorite was the reversal of Rey and Kylo. I would have loved a Sith version of Rey and I guess it still could happen. If they do it now I just feel like it would be forced.

I could go very far in depth with what is wrong with this movie, but I’ll just make one point per the main character. First off Leia should have died in space. It was perfect if they would have left it that way. Luke shouldn’t have died after projecting. If they wanted him dead he should have actually been there to fight Kylo in person. Po shouldn’t of be sidelined for not blindly agreeing with superiors. Finn should have been allowed to sacrifice himself to save his friends. Rose shouldn’t exist and instead, here cousin should have survived. Snoke should have convinced Rey to join him or transform into the emperor or something other than just die. Rey should have accepted Kylo’s proposal to work together to build a new empire. Pink hair shouldn’t have broken the rules of the series by lightspeed ramming the enemy ship.

Instead, the movie decided to leave the series with nothing to be excited about. There is a group of twenty people hanging out in the Millennium Falcon while still being chased by a lesser but more emotional enemy. I’m still going to go see the next movie, but my expectations are very low.

Right now I’m holding out that the Mandalorian and the hopefully Old Republic trilogy will bring back my love and excitement for the franchise.

Every Indie game is a Roguelike

It seems like almost every Indie game lately is a Roguelike. They seem to have a unique spin or a fun gameplay loop that feels original then you die only to realize that it’s another one of these. I know they’re easier and cheaper to make than a real game, but I’m tired of them and would be happy to never play one again. It just feels lazy to leave everything to chance. The levels randomly generated, the items are randomly generated. You just make all the assets and tell the engine to do the work for you. It’s sold as something that is endlessly playable and unpredictable. I think it actually does the opposite and makes it very stale and boring.

There is an endless amount of these Indie Roguelike games. The ones I’ve played most recently have been Dead Cells, Bad North, Enter the Gungeon, Hollow Knight and Void Bastards. The games may be enjoyable and well made, but having to restart the entire game after death makes me want to never play again. I started each one of these games full of joy and excitement just to feel sad and defeated when the game gives me the exact same start over message.

What happened to the good old checkpoint system? Seriously though. Just having a checkpoint where I can keep playing from a previous point would be the best for all of these games. Even though Metroidvanias are also played out I’d take backtracking through the entire level to get upgrades or keys to progress over a Roguelike.

The problem that I have is that I genuinely enjoy playing these games and would love to finish them and see all of what they have to offer. I just can’t bring myself to play through the same thing over and over again. Restarting just sucks the life out of the game for me. Video games that I enjoy are few and far between. Please for the love of everything stop making Roguelikes.

Don’t buy an Oculus Rift S

Oculus Rift S hardware

I’m a huge fan of VR and believe it’s truly the future. I build a PC and got the HTC Vive when that released. I mounted cameras to my walls and used mods and hacks to run old games like Doom 3 and Oculus exclusives. I’ve gone back and forth between the monitor and driving rig to rebind controls just to see the menu in the headset. I’m growing tired of the constant updates and hardware problems that plague PC VR gaming.

I purchased the Oculus Rift S because Oculus has the best games. I also could get rid of the damn cameras. There was the option of getting the Quest but wanted to play the superior games on the PC. The Rift S headset is incredible when it works. It’s beyond frustrating when it doesn’t. I’ve had constant problems with it since it was released. Almost every time I use it there is some kind of update. Then some kind of problem with the display whether it just goes black or flashes static or fills the screen with colorful static snow.

I said when they announced the 2 headsets that there should only be the Quest and it should work if you plug it into the PC. They just announced that it will now work if you plug it into a PC. Also, it seems to be the main platform for the company moving forward with all the best features and support. I feel a bit betrayed by Facebook. I feel like with this timeline there was no way they weren’t working on the Oculus Link before release. They should have never sold the Rift S and instead just held on to the original Rift for a few more months.

I know I’m not alone in feeling screwed by Facebook by purchasing a Rift S. I would love to be more excited for the Oculus Link as I think a stand-alone headset that works like a Rift when plugged in is exactly what VR should be right now. I just would like to warn others not to get the S. Get the Quest or wait for whatever headsets Sony or Xbox announce next year.

-Brooks

Gears of War 5 isn’t fun but could be

Gears of War 5 on Xbox One

I’ve been a casual fan of the Gears of War series since the original. It’s always seemed cool, but not much fun. I could never get into it like I could with a more traditional shooter. With the release of the new Gears 5 I’ve been doing some thinking of what could selfishly make Gears of War better for me.

The Gears series has always presented itself as over the top and ultra-violent, but in reality, it’s pretty mellow and tame. The game feels sluggish and the character feels weak. The brutal parts of the game are slow and there are better alternative options. Revving up the chainsaw takes too long and can be stopped if shot. Executing a downed enemy takes time and leaves you vulnerable when you could just shoot or punch them once. The only good feeling part is the shotgun like it’s always been.

I think the main problem with the series is the reliance on cover. I feel like the cover shooter is outdated and boring. Standing up to shoot at enemies or then get cover for you to then do the same when they shoot at you over and over again. The game did try to answer this a bit with the robot perks that stun enemies or buff your character, but it seems lazy and it doesn’t work well at all in Co-op.

Co-op is a welcome feature of the game but implemented poorly. For one it should be four player and not three. Also, the third player shouldn’t have to ever play as a robot assistant. Modern games feel the need to have a lore reason for multiplayer when they could just duplicate the character like the original Halo and not mention it ever. Or just use the robots that you kill in the tutorial for the player model.

I was very excited about the idea of the escape mode. Having a series of linear levels to battle through with friends sounded like a great time. In reality, they start everyone with no weapons or ammo and everyone has to scavenge for ridiculously limited resources. This would be fine, but there is an impossible amount of enemies that surround you from every direction. This mode should be about killing as many enemies as fast and brutally as possible. Holding a position or pushing an objective to then move to the next one. It seems like this mode currently just wants everyone to run through a maze to find the exit while getting shot at and taking turns running back to revive each other.

Now with the complaints out of the way the game looks amazing and feels polished for what it is. I also know that there is a loyal fan base however big or small that will die if anything is changed about the new games. With that said here are my ideas on how to make the game fun to me without completely changing the premise of the series.

This series needs to take notes from Doom 2016 about how to speed up the game and make the player feel powerful. Accept and embrace that this is a game and it should be fun. Gears needs to encourage and reward players for getting up close and personal with the enemy. First thing is to get rid of regenerating health and move to health pickups and possibly armor. The game will never get rid of the fields of knee-high cover since it’s the series that popularized cover shooters, but they could use the cover more offensively. Possible ideas for that are picking up cover and charging with it or throwing the cover or shooting it with an explosive that sends debris into the hiding enemy behind it.

The sliding to cover move should work against enemies as well as cover. Sliding into a shoulder check that leaves a bloody mist of body parts and ammo. The slide should also boost to side to side at any point to dodge attacks. It’s a little stupid to slide and smash into all the cover like a pinball to traverse the map, but it’s fun and the game should design more around it. That’s how multiplayer is played anyway. It could be fun to add something like bumpers that push you quickly through the map if slammed into. The sprint needs to control like a person with the aim on the right stick and not like a car with the aim on the left. It’s confusing and feels terrible to go back and forth between the two.

Melee kills and executions should be quick and the animations should be over the top violent. Ammo should instantly be picked up by getting close to it or killing an enemy with the same type. The chainsaw, blades or lasers should be built into the characters suits for instantly sawing an enemy in half. Jumping over cover into an enemy should go straight into a quick execution.

I would really like to be a bigger fan of the Gears of War games. I feel like the developers could drastically improve the gameplay if they were allowed to break away from repeatedly making the exact same game. Even with the generally positive success and reviews of the most recent game I still come away from it feeling like I could care less for the next one.

-Brooks