The Witcher 3’s Tribute to Paul Walker

 

paul walker fast and furious gif
Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Illegal Street Racing as Geralt

I’m finally finishing up The Witcher 3, year too late I know, and just participated in an illegal street race that is a subtle nod to the late and great Paul Walker and the Fast and Furious series.

It’s well documented that there is an achievement titled “Fast and Furious” that players can earn by winning all of the horse races throughout the game, but I couldn’t find any record of this other reference to the series, and Paul Walker specifically.

witcher 3 palio paul walker race
Image Courtesy of CP Projekt Red

A Race for Cash, and Respect

The race I’m referring too takes place as part of “The Great Erasmus Vegelbud Memorial Derby” side quest. After you beat every other contestant in the derby, you are crowned champion and subsequently approached my one of Cleaver’s henchman, Cleaver is a dwarf crime boss in the city of Novigrad. Meeting with Cleaver results in him inviting you to compete in an underground and illegal street race through the city of Novigrad. There’s a vague reference here to Fast and Furious being that’s  it’s an “illegal street race” in a fantasy setting, which seems intentional, but it is also still part of the previously mentioned “Memorial” side quest and the race is known as the Palio for no discernable reason. Still pretty thin I know, I didn’t even make the connection yet, I had to replay the section after the race.

The King of Beggars isn’t exactly one of the scantily clad women that kicks off almost every race in Fast and Furious movies, but the line about respect is an obvious allusion to the scene in the original Fast and the Furious movie where Paul Walker’s character makes himself know the street racing kingpin, Dominic Toretto.

“I lose, winner takes my car, clean and clear. But if I win, I take the cash, and I take the respect… To some people that’s more important.”

The Palio is introduced as, “above all, a race of honor,” where, “the winner doesn’t  just win a reward, he earns our respect as well.” Taken altogether, this is a wonderful tribute to the late Paul Walker that seems to have been completely overlooked by most fans. Given that I’m a huge fan of the Fast and Furious and now the Witcher games, it was still pretty subtle overall.

But that’s not all! The icing on the cake is that after the races conclusion, there’s a humorous nod to the police chase following the race in the movie, except it’s a dwarf shouting, “temple guard, scatter,” rather than a street racer yelling, “we’ve got cops, cops, cops, go!” over a mic.

Someone at CD Projekt Red is obviously a fan alongside me, and that only makes me love the experience that is the Witcher 3 even more.

 

Destiny 2 on the PC Sounds Great

destiny 2 rumors for pc

The Struggles of a Controller Enthusiast and PC Shooters

Some information came out about Destiny 2, most importantly the fact that it’s likely to be released on the PC this time around. This is kind of a big deal for me. I sold my consoles and made the switch to a PC in my living room with a Xbox controller not too long ago and I’ve loved it so far. The only regret I have is in the area of first person shooters.

I love competitive first  person shooters, but my current setup locks me into playing all of my games with a Xbox 360 gamepad. Back on the 360, I was a pretty competitively skilled player in Call of Duty and the like. I can’t say the same anymore. Besides the fact that I’ve had less time to play, playing with a gamepad is technically inferior to a mouse and keyboard. I’ve tried my best with Overwatch and Black Ops 3, but you can feel that the controls are less precise than the competition. Since giving Overwatch the old college try, the idea of getting a console just for competitive shooters has been in the back of my mind. The idea just won’t go away.

Destiny raid co-op gameplay

Destiny’s Co-Op Seems Controller Friendly

Destiny 2 has given me a chance to save some cash. Destiny is known to be a finely honed shooter experience that is also, for the most part, not a competitive player vs. player experience. With this news, I’m hoping to scratch my shooter itch with some of the cooperative Destiny 2 action, with a little team death match mixed in for good measure. Unlike the majority of shooters, the focus of Destiny is the cooperative mode and not the cutthroat competitive multiplayer that my controller handicaps me at.

Controllers on PC and Steam Big Picture

It seems like the amount of players that use a controller on the PC and Steam is growing. Almost every newish game that I’m interested in has controller support, and hopefully the issue will be addressed at some time. I’ve heard rumors of games adding matchmaking that takes the type of input players are using into account and makes games from either all controllers or all mouse and keyboard, but I haven’t seen any examples of it actually happening yet.

This is such a first world problem, but I’m still hopeful that I’ll be able to use my more powerful PC and controller to play the shooters I miss so much sometime. Most specifically, I’m psyched for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, whenever they decide to start selling it outside of a bundle that is.

Then again, a game like this emerging on a new platform could be bad for some people…

Images courtesy of Bungie

Beer Gaming Pairing: 3 Floyds Zombie Dust and Dark Souls 3

Beer Pair Dark Souls 3

Beer and Gaming Coming Together

I’ve been working on this one for a while, it’s an idea that I’m excited about. There are many reasons why I am so passionate about both beer and gaming, but one at the forefront is how well they go together. Pairing beer and food is all good and fun, but this idea is more me. It’s obvious that gaming is experiential, but drinking a great beer is an awesome experience as well.

As you know from several of my other posts, I love the Dark Souls series and Dark Souls 3 was the first of the games that I had the opportunity to play the moment of its release. Right around that time, I had also luckily acquired some of what would become one of my favorite beers that I’ve ever tasted, 3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust. The game and the beer paired together seemed like a match made in heaven, and they proved to be such.

Dark Souls 3 beer pairing zombie dust

Two Parallel Acquired Tastes

Almost everyone that follows video games knows about the punishing difficulty that has made the Souls series of games notorious. They are a grinding and sometimes stressful experience, but for certain people, they are also the most rewarding game experiences you can have. I happen to be one of those people, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the final entry in the trilogy. I have an acquired taste for the difficulty curve at this point, I’ve finished the first Dark Souls a few times and I’m in the middle of my second play through of Dark Souls 2. Even with my seasoning, sometimes you hit a wall in these games and it can be frustrating. In those situations, the Zombie Dust was a welcome complement to the game.

Much like the Dark Souls game, aggressively hoppy beers can be overwhelming and are an acquired taste among craft beer drinkers. But, just like the game, they have a habit of hooking people who embrace them. After you’re hooked, there’s nothing else like a well hopped IPA. Zombie Dust happens to be one of the most renowned hoppy beers in the country, marketed as a pale ale, but likely actually closer to an IPA. To those imbued with an unnatural appreciation for overly bitter beverages, this one is a gem.

For anyone who likes beating up their palate while they’re getting beat up in a game, this is a great beer gaming pairing. There wasn’t anything too ridiculous in the early parts of the game within which I was partaking of these fine brews, but Dark Souls games are always hard, they just aren’t always ridiculous. Whenever “You Died” appeared on screen, a hefty swig of Zombie Dust was an awesome counter-balance. The citra hops are aggressive, but the citrus notes they add make this beer nothing but refreshing to an IPA enthusiast.

Dark Souls 3 viewpoint

A Niche Appeal, Executed Perfectly

It’s interesting that both of these products most likely weren’t going for universal appeal when they were first released, speaking specifically to the original Dark Souls or even Demon’s Souls. They both set out to stand out from the crowd to a very certain type of gamer or beer drinker, but through the undeniable quality of the experience they present, each has transcended through to the mainstream. More people probably discovered a love of hops because of how fine a beer Zombie Dust is and I know gamers started to warm up to challenging games more as Dark Souls devotees raved about the quality of the experience that the Souls games offered being above any other.

Zombie Dust -4

That all sounds a bit dramatic, but I freaking love Zombie Dust and Dark Souls.

I wanted to start this idea for a series off right with something I knew I would enjoy writing about. This pairing definitely did not let me down.

Let me know what you thought of the post and the idea for the series in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Enter the Gungeon Review- It Kicks Some Serious Ass, Seriously Fast

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My New Go-To Quick Play Game

I’ve been playing way more Enter the Gungeon than I anticipated that I would when I picked it up. I’ve also been more steadily busy recently and unable to devote the kind of attention to games like I gave to Dark Souls 3. I still want to play, but I want quick sessions that give me a full experience in not too much time. Enter the Gungeon is exactly what I want right now.

An Entrie Game Experience Every time you Sit Down

Enter the Gungeon is a humorous, roguelike, bullet hell indie game from Devolver Digital and Dodge Roll Games. Sounds weird, I know. You explore dungeons slaying monsters with your trusty firearms which range from generic starter weapons to Mega-Mans blaster and a lightsaber gun. The floors are procedurally generated and contain random chests which feature guns you can unlock in the lobby with the in-game currency. Each floor ends with a boss selected from a few possibilities that allows access to the next floor through a giant, bullet elevator.

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They Love Crazy Guns as Much as Borderlands

That elevator doesn’t stand out rocketing you between levels though, just about everything in this game is gun themed. They really went with the “Gungeon” theme. Bullets with arms and legs waddle toward you shooting pistols and machine guns. Fittingly, shotgun shells are armed with shotguns that spray large amounts of shots. Further down on the second floor, you’ll find large caliber bullets armed with high damage sniper rifles. If everything stuck to these conventions, it could get a little tiresome though. Luckily, there are still some more typical dungeon dwellers, like angry, magic-wielding, spell books and huge knights to fight. The best Gungeon dwelling monsters come with creative crossovers though.

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My favorite monster I’ve run into is the Beholster. It’s a clever take on the well know D&D giant, floating eyeball monster known as a Beholder. At least I think its well know enough for people to get it, I’ve never played D&D and I’ve definitely seen this thing a few places before. In the Gungeon, instead of each of his tentacles ending with another eye, they each hold a different huge gun so he can attack in a multitude of ways. That’s not an uncommon sight in the Gungeon though. In addition to being a roguelike, this is definitely inspired by bullet hell games.

Simple Combat that’s Hard to Master

Not a far shot from the Dark Souls games I love, rolling is crucial in Enter the Gungeon. Your arsenal includes a diving combat roll. While you’re in the air, bullets don’t hurt. Its a crucial skill to be able to duck and roll while firing away at enemies almost constantly. Face your fears and dive straight into a wall of bullets, if your timing’s on point, you’ll emerge unscathed.

The deepest I’ve made it is to a boss on the third floor. I’ve heard there’s 5 floors total and I’ve only unlocked 2 of the 48 Steam Achievements, so I’ve got some work left to do. I’ve played for almost 10 hours already and I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface. I just discovered an entirely secret floor you can unlock behind a fireplace on the first floor, and I doubt that’s all the game has hidden from me.

Secrets, Depth, and Plenty of Replaybility

It’s not a huge game, but it’s got plenty to offer for the $15 price tag. It could be exactly what you were looking for, it has been for me. I’m playing on my Alienware Alpha PC with a Xbox 360 controller and the game looks and runs great. I’m loving Enter the Gungeon so far, and I’m sure I’ll be putting quite a bit more time into it, I can’t wait to try out the local co-op with some friends.

Let me know what you think of Enter the Gungeon or the review in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Photo Credits: Devolver Digital, Dodge Roll Games, and in-game Captures from Enter the Gungeon

Iterative Consoles and Playing Games on a Budget

PS$ Neo Iterative console questions Uncharted 4
Uncharted 4 might be the best looking game ever

Iterative Consoles Could be Great for Consumers on a Budget

With rumors swirling about iterative consoles from both Microsoft and Sony, many console fans are angry about the companies forcing them to upgrade. When people picked up their PS4 or Xbox One, the industry was set in long console cycles. Consumers expected, with good reason, to be up to date on hardware for around 8 years based on the industry’s history. Things seem to be changing, hopefully we’ll know officially after E3 2016, but the rumors seem to be at least somewhat true.

Console makers are looking at other electronics segments with annual updates and taking note. Criticism from gamers about consoles being years out of date when compared to a current PC have assuredly weighed on console makers as well. Leaked information puts the rumored Xbox “Scorpio” on pace with competitive PC graphics cards with benchmarks around 4 times more powerful than their current machine. Technology is advancing too fast for traditional console cycle lengths, and that works for me. It might work out for the best for you as well.

Unlike some tech enthusiasts, I don’t need have the latest and greatest that companies have to offer. My phone is great, smartphones still amazing me, but it hasn’t been top of the line since 2013 and I only bought it 6 months ago.

I love reading and keeping up on the latest tech, but like the current car industry, many electronics are plateauing right now. New versions are only marginally better than the best of last year, or even a few years ago. I look for deals and buy the best thing for the money, which is usually a year or 2 old at this point. Most things that were top of the line last year, or the year before, are still damn good today. That’s taking annual generations into account, at this point there has only been one PS4 and one Xbox One. They’re each the best version you can get, its a little different than phones, but similar enough.

Upgraded Consoles will Prime the Used Market

Each machine is already selling well and competitively priced, so if a new model of either is introduced, prices will bottom out and there will be a healthy pre-owned market from people who upgrade. It sucks if you just bought one only to find out that new versions may be on the horizon, but you probably got a pretty great deal and the console will remain relevant. I owned each of the current gen machines briefly and decided to sell them, but I still might jump on a great deal after the Neo or Scorpio come out.

With the recent release of Uncharted 4, I’ve heard a ton of members of the gaming press talk about how little we need new hardware to produce amazing looking games anyway.

I bought my PS4 just for Bloodborne, but there are a few other PS4 games that won’t be making the jump to PC that could make a “last-gen” PS4 a tempting deal. Even better is the fact that Sony is taking care that all games still perform well on the original PS4 even if they’re being mainly developed for the new version.

Original Consoles will Maintain Support

I love gaming, but I do it on a budget and I’m not alone. New hardware will definitely make some consumers happy. I’ll be with the group who is excited to take their outdated, current-gen console off their hands. Some people may be mad, but there’s really no essential reason to sweat upgrading either console right now. Maybe we’ll see a mind blowing demo at E3, but it’s pretty unlikely that any news will change how inessential the new versions are. Sony has already sold 40 million consoles to their faithful fans and will not stop supporting them. The Neo will just give hardcore fans a better way to play without alienating anyone with the original console. No harm in that, and there will be plenty of used consoles in great condition to pick up for crazy deals.

So, with that in mind, what do you think of shorter console cycles? There will be a more powerful option for people who want to shell out for one. Everyone sticking with the console they already own should remain about the same, and there will be pre-owned and older model deals for people to pick up cheaper. It seems like it might not be worth it for Sony and Microsoft, but more choices should serve more consumers. Let me know what you think in the comments below and thanks for reading!

Microsoft is Going All Out on New Xbox, Partnering with Oculus Rift

Xbox Scorpio Oculus

New Microsoft Xbox “Scorpio” Rumors to Compete with “Neo”

As you have probably heard by now, details have leaked about Microsoft’s plans to iterate on the Xbox One by not only releasing a slimmer version of the box, but also by releasing a more beefy, PS4K-esque, Xbox next year. Kotaku reported that multiple sources have leaked information to them about plans for the new-ish consoles, saying that Microsoft is “moving toward an iterative approach for their consoles, not unlike Apple.” Polygon also corroborated this discovery from sources of their own, adding that Microsoft aims to make their new xbox significantly more powerful than the PS4 “Neo” that Giant Bomb leaked details about a bit ago.

Microsoft xbox scorpio performance chart
Awesome chart courtesy of Polygon

Microsoft Going All In on Xbox Performance

The story of this generation has been all about Sony’s consistent messaging and the PS4’s slight graphical edge that have made it a better buy in many consumers’ minds. Performance benchmarks of the original PS4 and Xbox One put them at 1.84 and 1.32 teraflops respectively, where reputable sources have put the PS4 Neo at 4.14 teraflops. According to Polygon’s sources, the next Xbox evolution, code-named “Scorpio,” will clock in at 6 teraflops.

That’s more than 4 times more powerful than the current Xbox. If true, this should give it a significant performance edge over the competition, assuming the Nintendo NX isn’t even more powerful with it’s industry leading chips. Combined with Phil Spencer’s much more consistent messaging around the console, the promise of the Windows Universal Platform, and a growing backwards compatibility library, this new version could give Microsoft the edge in consumers’ eyes that Sony has been enjoying so far. Will it be enough to convert a large amount of the over 40 million people who currently own the PS4 though?

Xbox One Destined to Support Oculus Rift?

Microsoft might have one more surprise in the future though. As hinted by their partnership with Oculus to bundle Xbox One controllers with the headset, the significant performance upgrades in the new console might be in order to bring it in line with the requirements of the Oculus Rift. The PSVR is definitely on its way, but Facebook’s Oculus is still the biggest name in VR. They could give Microsoft the competitive advantage that they’ve been looking for.

Keep in mind, all of this information is currently leaked rumors with no official word on the accuracy of them. The console game definitely seems to be changing though. We’ll know for sure when these plans from Sony and Microsoft are officially confirmed, but they seem like solid rumors. What do you think about the evolving landscape of game consoles as they move to shorter cycles in a more phone like production model?

 

Images and references courtesy of Oculus, Microsoft,

Kotaku, Giant Bomb, and Polygon.

I Bought, Then Sold, Both Next-Gen Game Consoles. Here’s Why

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I decided to get back into video games a little over a year ago. I had an Xbox 360 and had enjoyed it for years, but it had become almost a dedicated Netflix box over time. I had invested in the Microsoft ecosystem, but it seemed like a a ton of people had and now were going with the PS4. I had over a year of Xbox Live support built up at that point so I decided that my end game would be to get a Xbox One and capitalize on Xbox Live Games with Gold. The only thing getting in the way of that was the fact that I’m obsessed with Souls games and Bloodborne was only on the Playstation 4…

So, I thought I could go on Craig’s List to pick up and PS4 to play Bloodborne, and then sell it to go toward a Xbox One. I make a game out of buying and selling electronics on Craig’s List to get the best deal anyway, so this idea was nothing new for me. I got excited and bought a PS4 potentially too quickly, but I got a decent deal on it. I picked up a used copy of Bloodborne and I thought that I actually might stick with it rather than going for a Xbox One. Here’s why I didn’t.

I Loved Bloodborne on the PS4, But…

I loved Bloodborne, and I definitely would still be playing it to this day if I had stuck with the PS4, but I had some issues with my PS4. Most notably, I was having a ton of issues with my HDMI connection when I first turned on the system. I looked online and found this was a common issue with a simple fix, bend a pin in the system back in place. The issue with mine was that the pin wasn’t bent out of place, all of the connections looked great physically. I noticed from there that it looked like the system end of the HDMI cable couldn’t fully plug in to the PS4. It wobbled noticeably while plugged in and I needed to fumble with it nearly every time I turned on the system. I tried several cables to no avail, and then found online that this was an issue with some of the early systems, the connection was poorly engineered and could develop issues with use. This is when I started questioning my excitement with next gen systems.

My Xbox 360 had been bombproof in every way since I bought it. I had an earlier model, but had never had any issues with the RROD, I had no issues with connections or the interface, and it had more games and apps than I could ever use. I had sold my Xbox 360 after I bought the PS4 unfortunately. Why were people so wild about Sony’s new system when a ton of people had such fundamental problems with it? Why had I turned my back on Microsoft when they had never let me down? I listed my PS4 and my games on Craig’s List, both as a bundle and separately, and began my search for my Xbox One.

Financially I made out, I paid $330 for my large PS4 bundle and then $30 for Bloodborne. I sold Bloodborne for what I paid and then 2 of the other games that I never played for another $40. I found a guy selling a large Xbox One Kinect bundle with some games I already wanted for $400, but I needed to unload the PS4 first to cover the cost. I listed my remaining bundle for $400 and sold it for $380 in a few days. Not a great deal considering the bundles offered now, but I had bought a PS4 and the only game I wanted to play and made money doing it.

I then contacted the person with the Xbox One bundle that I wanted on Craigs’ List. Turns out, he had just bought a PS4 and wanted to sell his Xbox quickly since he had already replaced it, but he was firm on his $400 price. I wasn’t crazy about that price, then I compared some email signatures and it turned out he had just bought MY PS4! I asked him to confirm it and we agreed on the same deal I had given him to just make it a trade, so I got it for $380. My opinion, I got a way better deal on the trade than him. Now, let me tell you about the Xbox One…

Then the Xbox One Let Me Down Too…

You know how games still come on discs most of the time? Digital games purchasing is growing and that’s great, but all of the games I got with my used bundle were physical and I was excited to play them. The only issue, the disc drive on the Xbox One I bought was shit. I had to eject and load game discs several times, waiting to see if it would actually load each time, and hope that I could play a game. This was even more of an issue when I had a friend over for a quick game and couldn’t get my new Next-Gen system to read a disc. I dealt with it for a few weeks, but I couldn’t get over it. I had bought it used so I didn’t get a warranty because it had expired. Do it yourself solutions were asinine, ranging from playing tug of war with the disc drive in the Xbox to just hitting it a bunch to hopefully make it work.

There was also one throwback solution, blow in the drive in between games. That’s right, do the same thing I did to an original N.E.S. to my new Xbox One to hopefully get it to work. How could the next-gen hardware be so sub-par in such basic ways that are crucial to their function? I played a bit of the Witcher 3 while never removing the disc from the drive and then settled on selling the Xbox.

Stepping Back to the 360 I Know and Love

I had more issues finding a buyer for the Xbox than I had for the PS4 until I decided I would just go back to the last gen and get an Xbox 360 again. I offered the Xbox One to several people who were selling their Xbox 360s to upgrade and found a buyer who would give me his 360 collection and $300 for the Xbone. It was a nice Xbox 360 Slim too, which I had never had.

I abandoned the “Next-Gen” systems and went full circle back to a 360 for Netflix and HBO, and a solid disc drive and HDMI port. I was pretty down gaming for a bit. I assume all of these issues have been fixed in hardware revisions, but it left a bad taste in my mouth in regard to next gen hardware. Maybe I’ll look into a Wii U still, I know I’ll love a handful of games there. But in the meantime, I found the machine I have now and am discovering an entirely new side of gaming that has completely reinvigorated my love of the medium. More on that soon…