Nintendo Switch Impressions

WHAT UP INTERNET?!

Despite my affinity for attending various Cons and the inevitable hours of waiting to do, well, anything (this includes but is not limited to: getting food, going to the restroom, playing games, shopping, etc.), whenever I’m at a convention that ISN’T SDCC, I cannot stand waiting in line. However, at PAX South 2017 there was one thing I knew I’d wait for, and even though it took over an hour (a lifetime when you’re impatient, but in actuality not that bad of a wait when you’ve got the internet and your Bros with you) I finally got some hands on time with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Nintendo Switch.

As a lifelong Legend of Zelda fan, I vehemently believe initial impressions of the title should be reserved for a separate post. Like most gamers, when Nintendo presented the Switch I raised my eyebrow doing my best impression of The Rock and the People’s Eyebrow I could muster. While everything sounded splendid in theory, by no means does that necessarily mean it would translate well in execution. While the allure of hands-on time with a new Zelda title was certainly immense, never before had I been more focused on the physical component of actually playing a game. My initial skepticism of the console-apart from the seamless switching between handheld and docked modes-was primarily concentrated on both the size of the console and the accompanying controllers. Both the large size of the tablet and seemingly-tiny controllers struck me as a recipe for discomfort waiting to happen.

My hands-on time with the Nintendo Switch began with the console in docked mode, and mere seconds after picking up the Joy-con controller combined with a grip I felt as if the controller was too small for my hands. The individual Joy-con controllers themselves felt too small, and although I wish I’d been able to play with one in each hand for the sake of this article, I can surmise they would’ve felt lost in my palm. For reference, I personally believe the Xbox One S wireless controller is the most comfortable gaming controller I’ve ever used. While I’ve no qualms with the PS4 controller (and nor do I believe I’ve exceptionally large hands), I personally prefer the ergonomic feel of the Xbox One controller. That being said, I didn’t feel as if I could get the Nintendo Switch Joy-con controller with a grip to sit comfortably in my hand-it was too easy to reach all of the buttons, if that makes sense. While this was hardly noticeable during my approximate 15 minute demo of Breath of the Wild, I could easily see this becoming annoying on longer play-throughs/Twitch streams.

That being said, Nintendo does offer a Switch Pro controller which more closely resembles a traditional Xbox One remote. Unfortunately, I was unable to get any hands on time with this particular peripheral, although all reports point to it being comfortable and efficient. However, this lauded piece of equipment is sold separately and costs a cool $70, so if you’re in the market for a more traditional controller, have big hands or simply find the Joy-con controller with grip mildly annoying (as I and the other three Bros in my part did), you’re going to be dropping a hefty chunk of change in order to pick up what appears to be a must-have item.  

While the standard Joy-con controllers left something to be desired, the graphics displayed on both the full-screen and the portable tablet of the Switch were positively stellar. The transition between docked and tablet is as seamless as was advertised-only a second or two as if switching between HDMI inputs. Additionally, there was no visible loss of framerate, nor did the appearance of the large, open world expanse my Link was exploring seem to be visibly impacted after switching to portable mode. Undoubtedly, the beautiful cel-shaded world of Breath of the Wild looks better on full-screen mode, however I’d attribute this solely to the fact it’s easier to take in the size and scope of it on a larger screen. The title looked positively marvelous on the Switch tablet screen, and I’d reckon it’s the best looking mobile gaming device screen I’ve ever seen.

One element I did not get to adequately test was the audio on the tablet. For the purposes of the demo, players were given headphones when playing the console docked, however we were only allowed to use the external speakers on mobile. Given the volume of the PAX South show floor, this made any audible sounds difficult to discern. I primarily use my 3DS whenever I’m on a plane, on a long car ride or on a bus-one of my only peeves with the console is I feel as if I can never get the game-sound to a comfortable level. I’m always playing with the noise-cancelling headphones I use every time I stream, yet it’s still difficult to hear-at least for me. I was hoping this issue (which admittedly, may only be impacting me) would be rectified with the Nintendo Switch.

As far as physically holding the Switch, the tablet itself did strike me as a little too big-as if I were holding and gaming on a small iPad (or a larger Game Gear-THROWBACK CONSOLE REFERENCE!), which I never do as I find it to be uncomfortable (and I can tell you right now, I play a ton of games on my iPhone 6s Plus). Unlike when gaming on a tablet, due to the need to hold the Joy-con controllers when gaming, the Switch cannot be set down on your lap or propped up in any way when playing. Admittedly, I found the Joy-con controllers to be much more comfortable when gaming in mobile form. Whereas they felt all-around too small when docked, given the large size of the Switch tablet, they felt incredibly comfortable while mobile.

Due to the large size of the tablet, I did feel as if I were craning my neck after only a few minutes-a sensation I’ve never experienced with my 3DS. I will add each of the other three members of my party reported a experiencing a similar discomfort. That being said, I’d imagine if I were sitting on a plane and not standing at the Nintendo booth, I’d be able to adjust into a much more comfortable position. Still, the large size of the tablet-while making for an absolutely gorgeous mobile gaming experience-did strike me as a bit large for a mobile gaming device. The Switch will have to be stored in a backpack/carrying case, due to both cost and size considerations. Your mileage may vary on how practical this is for a mobile-gaming console, however I personally have no apprehension with this caveat.

All in all, the Nintendo Switch was one of the most interesting physical gaming sessions I’ve experienced. The transition between docked and mobile gameplay was practically seamless, and the graphics on both methods were as crisp as one would expect of the cel-shaded look which has become a signature Nintendo aesthetic in recent years. I feel comfortable saying in my decidedly (non-) professional opinion, the Switch offers the most gorgeous mobile gaming experience in history.

While I found the standard Joy-con controller to be too small, I’d assume the Pro controller, will deliver a gaming experience of similar comfort those accustomed to the Xbox One controller would expect. Also, the Joy-con controllers were extremely comfortable on mobile, although I did experience discomfort in my neck when using the Switch in mobile while standing in the show floor. Needless to say, I’m excited for gamers to get their hands on the Switch, as I think it’s one of the most inventive consoles to ever hit the market. Until next time, Bros!

Advertisements

PAX South 2017 Indie Games, Pt. 3

WHAT UP INTERNET?!

If you haven’t scoped part 1 or part 2 of this riveting “Indie Games of PAX South 2017” series (totally taking naming suggestions for future posts, btw), feel free to scope ’em. There were many interesting and unique titles available to play, and it’d be a shame if you missed out on any. Without further ado, let’s dive in to more awesome games!

Super Galaxy Squadron Ex (PC, http://www.newblood.info/)

20170128_174740662_ios

Super Galaxy Squadron Ex is a vertical scrolling shooting game in the vein of classic titles such as 1942 or Tyrian. Players control a ship which can be upgraded via various power-ups gathered after destroying enemies and bosses. The graphics are distinctly retro with a slick coat of modern paint and the music is catchy, and probably better than the tunes contained in most of the vintage titles you’d associate Super Galaxy with.

The gameplay is crisp and immediately recognizable to anyone who has spent a fair share of time in dimly lit arcades popping quarters into a machine hoping to finally beat that last boss-not familiar with this phenomenon? Really showing my age here, you say? Well, fear not-the controls are precise and allow the player to maneuver easily around enemy fire while simultaneously laying into your adversaries with a combination of futuristic lasers and missiles. While occasionally the action on screen can feel a bit cramped and chaotic with a deluge of neon-colored death rays raining down upon the player blended with the colorful rays of their own arsenal, the gameplay is intuitive and simple: shoot and don’t get shot!

I’d assume in the later levels the difficulty becomes much more intense as the title oozes old-school mechanics. Fans of old-school gameplay mechanics as well as retro looks and music will feel right at home picking in Super Galaxy Squadron Ex, and I for one can’t wait to play that bad boy on a Twitch broadcast!

Sundown (PC, http://sundown-game.com/)

20170129_161414286_ios

Sundown reminded me of an updated and much more tactical and strategic Bomberman. In this title, players are pitted against one another with the objective to get the most kills. Considering the title is an arena-based brawler, I was immediately reminded of Bomberman (again, possibly showing my age here…). Unlike that classic title, players are only able to see their character when they fire their weapon or when crossing where a static light is present on the map. This caveat means firing your weapon can be a double-edged sword, while you may need to fire it to simply figure out your location on the map, you’re conversely giving your position away to your adversaries.

The controls are similar to any dual-stick shooter: character movement is regulated to one stick and your aim is dictated by the other. While character movement was a bit slow for my liking, I’d surmise this is due to the fact the player cannot see their character without firing their weapon. If the characters moved too fast, it’d be much more difficult to ascertain exactly where on the map your player is. The weapons fire quickly and accurately, and despite the initial hesitation I felt about moving on the map, the action is both strategic and quick. The maps are dark, constructed in a unique manner and truly contribute to the ambiance of the title.

Sundown is a tactical arena-based shooter which provides a very unique PvP experience. This is a “thinking Bro’s game” if I’ve ever seen one, and I could imagine this providing some of the most varied multiplayer experiences gamers have played in a long time. Definitely a title to keep an eye on if you’re a fan of strategic PvP.

Death Squared (PC, Xbox One, PS4, http://deathsquared.com/)

20170129_165003178_ios

From the moment I saw Death Squared I was immediately reminded of the PlayStation title Intelligent Qube, and I personally view this as a spiritual successor to that game. In this co-op puzzle game which includes both two and four player support, the objective is to have your character (a colored cube) reach a designated point on the map. Working as a team is imperative, as no single player can reach their goal without the assistance from another player. The puzzles grow steadily more complex and each map requires both working in tandem and advance planning.


The animation is simplistic, yet distinct and in my (non-) professional opinion, decidedly “cute.” Occasionally, the player will control two cubes at the same time, meaning moving your left stick will move two blocks in the same direction. As you can surmise, this requires additional advance planning as well as constant communication with your compatriot(s), as you may be tasked with lining up your blocks in a manner which would be difficult to accomplish alone. The obstacles in your path grow more complex with each level, as stages containing platforms of multiple heights and a variety of switches which perform different functions littered throughout the levels.

Death Squared is one of the most inventive co-op puzzle titles I’ve ever come across. It’s a game which favors strategic planning and communication among teammates above of all else to complete the complex levels contained in the title. Although I’ve never been one for puzzle titles, Death Squared skyrocketed to the top of my “must watch” list after playing through a handful of levels with my partner in crime due to its clever level layouts and distinctively cute aesthetic. I for one cannot wait to tackle more of it!

These are just a handful of the titles I got hands on time with at PAX South 2017, yet all of them were intriguing and none disappointed. Inevitably, if you pop by one of my Twitch streams you’re bound to see me throwing down on some of these titles in the near-future. Until next time, Bros!

 

Best Fallout 4 Mods for Xbox One

WHAT UP INTERNET?!

If you’re a big fan of the Fallout series – and for the record, my first Twitch streams were nothing but Fallout 4 – you’re familiar with the concept of mods, whether you’ve opted to play with them or not. Fortunately for Xbox players, we are now able to delve into the wide and complex world of Fallout mods! That being said, there are a plethora of mods available and quite a bit to consider before loading your Commonwealth chock full of L337 HAX (hip, right?). The first thing to ponder – are mods right for you?

For most players, I’d say the answer is a resounding yes. As console players don’t have to do much else other than hit the “download” button to begin playing with mods, the barrier to entry is exceedingly low. That being said, if you’re primarily interested in the story of Fallout (and I totally understand if you are), think traveling in the in-game world is a chore and don’t enjoy exploring the surplus of random buildings you encounter during the course of your journey, mods may not be for you. Additionally, if you cannot live with a teeny bit of slowdown while playing and aren’t a big fan of trial and error (more on this below), Fallout mods may not be worth checking out for you.

The “trial and error” aspect of mods occur if you begin experiencing significant slowdown or the game crashing after installing a mod (or ten). If you do, your best bet is to begin rearranging (or if need be, deleting) mods. Below I’ve included the load order I utilize for all my mods (large, game-altering files first followed by those which add buildings/structures, then aesthetic mods), and fortunately thus far I haven’t ran into too many issues. Whenever I add a new mod (still debating if I need that fancy N7 armor…) I load it at the bottom of my list – as I’m primarily just adding small weapon/armor mods now – and go to the area immediately surrounding Diamond City. As there’s a significant amount the game needs to render in this area, I’ve found if the game will crash anywhere, odds are it’ll be there.

My Load Order:

  1. Unofficial Fallout 4 patch
  2. Natural & Atmosphere Commonwealth (New realistic weathers, storms and more) XB1
  3. [XB1] Realistic Clear Water Overhaul Textures [V 0.1]
  4. Spawn Items for XBOX ONE
  5. Crowded Commonwealth – New Locations and Lore Expansion (XB1)
  6. Plenty ‘o’ Exploration – Xbox One
  7. Expanding Boston (XB1)
  8. Stumble Upon Interiors
  9. Atomic Radio XB1
  10. Apply Legendary Effects To Guns/Melee Weapons And Armour in Fallout 4
  11. Devils Halfling’s Shadowmeat
  12. Carbon Fiber Pip-Boy V2 (pipboy)
  13. Cheat Terminal [Xbox One]
  14. [XBOX1] Modern Firearms (Tactical Edition) – v2.4 OPEN BETA
  15. Batman Beyond
  16. NCR Veteran Ranger Armor (XB1)

I’m a staunch advocate of mods, as they can add tremendously to the Fallout experience of exploring the Commonwealth. I believe you’re getting a tremendous bang for your buck by adding new buildings to enter, locales to explore and weapons to gather and modify to the already large core Fallout 4 game. Besides, who doesn’t want to look like Batman?! If you’re curious to see what these mods look like in action, feel free to scope the video below: