Friday, 16 November 2018

Pokémon Let's Go, Eevee! (or Pikachu) - First Impressions [Gaming]

When I first saw this new Pokémon experience, I was hesitant at first. It looked nice overall, but as with many people, I was unsure just how the Go! mechanics would fit into the normal catch ‘em all style of the main games. As more footage released, I warmed to the new catching mechanics as the concept of the game seemed built around them and looked as though it worked well.

Upon first starting this new adventure through familiar ground, there was plenty I enjoyed about it. The music brings to life the old tunes with orchestral flair, with the encounter and battle themes being a delight to hear. The visuals bring to life the world of Kanto in a bright colourful way, with characters human and ‘mon alike looking like they belong in the world, and each new location you visit looking stylistically different.

The challenge in the Let’s Go games isn’t a thing for the most part. Balls for catching the critters are everywhere, rare items to sell for money are also easier to obtain, and despite no experience share in sight all members of your party earn experience through catching new ‘mon and battling. If you catch the same critter over and over, you’ll also increase your combo chain to gain experience boosts the higher that chain is. It all depends on how seriously you take the training, but you can easily boost your team a couple of levels above what they need to be.

I’ve been playing exclusively in handheld mode, and catching the critters is easy this way. Just aim with the gyroscope and press A to throw. The whole wild encounter has been streamlined down to catch or run, and it works. There’s little danger in such a system though. It almost makes one miss the cut and thrust of a real wild encounter, as there’s a whole lot more that can go wrong there. However, just because there’s no wild battling to be had doesn’t mean there’s no meaningful amount of actual battles.

The proper battles are still the same as they’ve ever been. Stats, moves, natures – all the Pokémon basics are here that all the games have. And they work the same as all those other games too. Yes, the starter Pikachu and Eevee are slightly overpowered – coming with a range of new moves they normally wouldn’t learn. But that doesn’t affect how you choose to go into the battles. Managing those stats is also easier thanks to the candies you can get, allowing you to increase a certain stat by one for each set of candies you give it [the amount increases the more you give to a ‘mon].

The idea of the main games has always been the journey you take with your team. That carries on here, but is now at the fore thanks to either Pikachu or Eevee being at your side at all times [unless you’re a heartless being who puts them in storage to forget about them]. Even if you do that, you can still have another ‘mon follow you, or even ride certain ones. The connection you make to your team has never been stronger than in Let’s Go. And accessories give a little personal touch to you and your starter.

The scaling of levels throughout the game is paced well from what I’ve seen, allowing you to easily manage everything that comes your way. The mechanics that the game has been built around work, and just because it seems a little cutesy, or foregoes the usual catching style, it shouldn’t be shunned. It feels every bit a main series title as Colosseum and Gale of Darkness do, and I would recommend the Let’s Go series to any fan of Pokémon.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Inside Xbox - X018 Special [Events]

Largest Inside Xbox ever, eh? I can get behind that. A lot of announcements for things and trailers shown – even if there wasn’t the explosion of new reveals that some hoped for.

There were a lot of Game Pass announcements. Sixteen, in fact. I’m not going to list them all, but Supermarket Shriek looked fun, and I might try out a few of the others. Thief of Thieves is already on the service, so I can certainly see myself going for it. I admittedly haven’t been as active in trying out stuff recently, owing to a lot of Forza Horizon in the past month.

And speaking of Forza Horizon, the newest expansion for the fourth game got announced as being the largest expansion created for the series yet. From the little we saw of it, Fortune Island is looking a great place to explore. I’m ready to get into it next month. There’s also more drift cars coming in the form of more additions to the Gymkana pack.

Crackdown 3. Larger than the first game while staying similar to its format, the multiplayer is the thing that got shown off. That destruction looks superb, and the mode of Wrecking Zone is simply an excuse to just go crazy in 5v5 battles – using every surface and wall to hide or ruin someone’s day. This is my next big game on Xbox, and I’ll be happy to lose myself to yet another world.

Kingdom Hearts 3 got a new trailer here, but the obvious announcement of bringing The Story So Far to the platform that hasn’t had any of the story seems to have been left on the floor yet again. I can’t complain too much, as there’s obviously going to be some form of story catch-up within the game, but it would be good for the other platforms to get the same love as Playstation.

InXile and Obsidian join Microsoft Studios, a rather cute hand-crafted trailer announced cats and pandas coming to Minecraft, Sea of Thieves gets the players more involved with The Arena, and a wacky trailer announced some Black Friday deals. Several other things were also shown off, including games featuring keyboard and mouse support on Xbox One.

It was certainly an enjoyable two hours with a good pace. The largest Inside Xbox is also the last for this year. Whenever I watch one of these, I always feel it doesn’t matter much about the announcements. It’s the atmosphere that makes it worth watching. While usually there isn’t the excitable crowd surrounding things, the informal nature of the presentation makes it worth the watch.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

November '18 Monthly Update [Network]

Forza Horizon 4 is a great game, and it’s a blast to drive around this rendition of Britain. But one thing better is the route creator. For the first time in a Forza Horizon game we can map out our own routes. The start points might be restricted to those the game already has set and there’s no prop placement, but for a feature that’s just starting out it is pretty robust and workable. I’ve already put a few out there, and so just like with the GTA Online videos, I’ll be showing off a few of them.

Now… When I posted the review of Imperial Commando: 501st, I said reviews would be put on hold for a while. I’m sticking to that. I know reviews are subjective and have different styles depending on what’s being reviewed, but they’re being put on hold to give focus to yet another new style of review. Moonlit Critbit will remain the informal style – with one of those coming this month.

However, the more formal style of review takes time to craft, and I’m much more a theorist – an idea-maker – than a critic. So while reviews in the usual sense get put on hold, I’ll still be talking first impressions about things. I probably won’t cap them under a single label, but with two games coming soon I can get things running. This month it will be Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! with next month being Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

And speaking of Smash Bros., there was the Nintendo Direct focused on the game on the first of this month, that revealed the final characters and gave us that beautiful vocal theme to go with the World of Light adventure. I didn’t cover that Direct as there’s another event coming up next week that I feel will have a larger impact. X018 is a Microsoft event celebrating the Xbox brand across a weekend, and as part of that will be the largest Inside Xbox ever. I haven’t covered one before, but I’m very interested in what this one will bring.

Crossing to the New Life continues looking at ideas for Animal Crossing, there might be another idea-generating post for a different series, and I’ll have a Star Wars Battlefront video up looking at the new elements added to the game – with the Geonosis map of Galactic Assault being a large focus of that.