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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for celebrating apples, if the weather is good enough, and bumming around town with the family if not. Good games writing comes rain or shine though.

Fortnite is moving into Plunkbat territory, to the consternation of Plunkers. Fortnite fan Janine Hawkins has a different issue though: that a battle royale mode misses what makes Fortnite special.

There aren’t a lot of multiplayer games that do this for me. More competitive play has come to dominate, and even games that facilitate teamwork still often do so within a larger framework of people trying to screw each other over constantly. I play these games infrequently because they tend to affect me in the exact opposite way that Fortnite does; even if I do well, I will still probably leave feeling a bit worse than when I started. It’s a case of fight-or-flight versus tend-and-befriend, and while most games are catering to the former it’s been nice to find just a bit of the latter in Fortnite.

I missed this during the week: Square Enix released their annual report, and it sounds as if they’re going to be making more multiplayer/service games in future. Matt Kim at US Gamer has a good summary.

As a result, Square Enix will apparently “endeavor to develop games designed not to be played once after launch but that customers can enjoy more and play longer.” Square Enix didn’t really detail what these plans might look like in the future, but you can already see some of these multiplayer focused philosophies in games like Final Fantasy with FFXIV one of the company’s strongest MMORPG offerings, and FFXV with its steady stream of content DLC and planned online multiplayer mode.

Keza MacDonald is back at Kotaku UK, and this past week wrote about how parenthood makes games like Destiny 2 difficult to enjoy. Yep.

After the second in-game cutscene, my partner turned to me and asked who all of the characters were. I realized that I mostly didn’t know, and then spent 20 minutes Googling all of it, which then meant we had to bail in the middle of the next mission because naptime was over. We now skip the cutscenes, because our playtime is so limited that we don’t have time to watch five minutes of earnest sci-fi proclamations that we don’t understand properly anyway. I love that the characters on the Farm have lots to say for themselves, but usually we have to cut them off and run to the next mission before the baby wakes up. I am more tired mercenary than heroic Guardian right now: where do you need me to go, what am I supposed to be doing, and how quickly can I get it done?

While at Kotaku US, Gita Jackson reviewed your Destiny 2 fashion choices.

This chest piece is my favorite item of clothing in the game because it feels so unexpected for a game about shooting things in the head. The gold filigree is delicate, feminine even, but it still evokes a character with power because it is directly referencing biblical imagery. When you wear this it buffs the Dawnblade super ability, which is a giant flaming sword. When you wear this, you are an avenging angel with the power of a god. It rules.

And back at Kotaku UK, Rich Stanton writes that Hellblade was not what he thought it was.

Psychosis is a major theme in Hellblade, to be sure, but for me, there’s a question around how interwoven the game’s narrative themes and mechanics actually are. Is Hellblade ‘about’ mental health or specifically psychosis? The sheer amount of combat involved is hard to square with that specific interpretation. (Particularly notable in this context is that several articles about the game have confused psychosis with being psychotic.) Is it a game that uses mental health as a way of framing a story? That is sturdier ground but, even then, not that solid.

Kotaku is great these days, if you haven’t noticed.

Meanwhile at Eurogamer, Donlan on Destiny 2.

I had neglected to take into account the complex relationship with nostalgia that games like Destiny have. Shared world games – I’m just going to call them MMOs for the sake of this article – mean that we spend a long time in these virtual spaces. We spend a long time just being there. We log on to see who is about, or because we have five minutes between things and logging on is a force of habit. We build up relationships with the social areas as much as with other players. We see doors every day and start to wonder what is behind them. Bungie memorialised Destiny 1’s infamous loot cave in-game as quickly as it removed the exploit. In Rise of Iron, Tom tells me, there’s a particularly hammy scene where you revisit the game’s opening location and Nolan North tells you how happy he is to have been your Ghost all this time – even though Nolan didn’t turn up until a year into Destiny, after the patching out of Peter Dinklage.

Tom Francis released Heat Signature this week, and so naturally spend the last few weeks playing lots of XCOM 2: War of the Chosen. He wrote a typicaly Tom-ish story about one of his missions.

Rosa has the plasma crossbow. We CANNOT lose the plasma crossbow.
Asher has the snake suit. We CANNOT lose the snake suit, but that’s fine, he’s already in the zone. Asher can get out, the question is, can anyone come with him?
No, right? No-one has actions to give, no-one else has grapples or extra moves. No sensible plan works here, so all that’s left are the crazy options.

Also via Tom, a documentary by Summoning Salt on the progression of Half-Life 2 speedruns. This is fascinating.

Alex Vaughan emailed me to say that the music of the week is Gimme All Your Love by Alabama Shakes. Who am I to argue? Here they are on SNL.

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Graham Smith

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