Game of the Month: God of War

The original God of Wars video games never appealed to me because they seemed to be somewhat over the top. So when another game in the series was released for PlayStation 4 I was hesitant to try it even though it received a lot of good reviews. But my friend Yash forced my hands šŸ˜‰ when he gave me the game as a present for my birthday a few month ago.

God of War is a third person hack and slash adventure. It tells the story of Kratos, now living in ancient Norway, and his son Atreus. After the death of Katros’s second wife, Atreus’s mother, the two of them embark on a journey to fulfil her last wish: scattering her ashes from the highest peak in all the nine realms. During their perilous journey they find Midgard, the realm of mortals, in turmoil. They have to fight hordes of undead, monsters and a mysterious stranger who is trying to kill Kratos.

The main strength of God of War is its story telling which transform it into an interactive movie. An interesting plot, well written and superbly voiced dialogs all set in a beautiful landscape create a very immersive experience. That the game completely avoids any form of loading screens while the player traverses the world is the icing on the cake. The core game mechanics of exploring, combat, looting, puzzle solving and levelling are well implemented and complete this excellent fantasy game.

I was gripped by God of War from the beginning. The atmosphere and the interactions between Kratos and Atreus immediately got me invested in the story. I also enjoyed the game play because the hack and slash combat system mostly avoided the hectic button mashing that is required for a lot of games in this genre. You could instead observe the attacks of your opponents, learn how to counter them and use a large arsenal of moves and Atreus’s special attacks to prevail. The one exception was the final boss fight which threw all of this out of the window and was in my opinion outright unfair. But that is only a small downside to an overall brilliant game.

As much as I enjoy (some) life service games like Warframe I wish more game studios would produce and publish interactive stories like this one.

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Commander Lilith & the Fight for Sanctuary

In September Borderlands 3 the long awaited sequel of the video game hit Borderlands 2 will finally be released. What is amazing in this case is the marketing campaign: instead of flooding Youtube with trailers Gearbox Software released a free DLC for the predecessor Borderlands 2 called Commander Lilith & the Fight for Sanctuary. This DLC comes with everything that you would expect from a paid for content release:

  • a campaign whose plot sets the stage for Borderlands 3
  • side missions
  • new locations, enemies and NPCs
  • new loot
  • a Raid boss fight

As a big fan of Borderlands 2 I greatly appreciate this welcome surprise.

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Game of the Month: Warframe

A few month ago a few friends and I were looking for a new cooperative multiplayer game that we could play together. Nick suggested to try out Warframe. Warframe was first released over five years ago. But asĀ Digital Extremes, the company behind Warframe, keeps evolving and expanding the game it still has a large active fan base. The game is free to play so I decided to finally give it a try after having heard about it on multiple occasions before.

Warframe is a Science Fiction third person shooter. It takes place in the fully colonised solar system after the Orokin empire, which drove the expansion, has collapsed. The player takes the role of a Tenno who uses humanoid constructs called Warframes as elite strike force units. The Tenno fight various factions who try to gain control of the Solar system and destroy the remaining human colonies in the process. The goal of the game is to unlock access to all planets, collect powerful gear (mostly Warframes, weapons and updates for both of these) andĀ unravel the secret behind the Tennos existence.

To progress players need to complete missions, alone or in a team of up to four players. Each mission requires the completion of specific objectives like exterminating the enemy, defending a computer console or breaking into enemy vaults. Successfully completed missions grant experience points, crafting resources and a variety of other rewards like Warframe or weapon components. The enemy faction and design of the levels vary between planets. Unlocking a new planet requires unlocking a path to the junction which connects it to the next location and fulfilling multiple requirements, for example defeating the boss enemy on the particular planet. The further the player progresses through the solar system the tougher the enemies on each new planet will become. But access to new Warframes, weapons und upgrades (called mods) will help to compensate for the increased difficulty.

Warframe is very well made looter shooter game. The basic game play is a lot of fun thanks to the variety of powerful weapons, the over the top Warframe abilities and the spectacular character movement. Warframe definitely delivers on its promise to make the player feel like a Space Ninja. But the game mechanics behind this space combat are actually quite complex. The game itself doesn’t do a particular good job of explaining these but the Warframe Wiki is a big help here. If a player is willing to invest a bit of time to learn creating a good build the game will reward her or him greatly. The same weapon can be very disappointing in its vanilla state and an absolute monster with the right mods installed. Story telling takes a little bit of a back seat most of the time. But when the player finally unlocks the cinematic quests they are rewarded with astonishing revelations about the lore of the Warframe universe.

Warframe is often compared to Destiny and Destiny 2. And while there are differences there are also a lot of similarities. Warframe often delivers what Destiny only promised like a long term game experience in an ever expanding world or really good loot that the player can grind for.Ā  Digital Extremes also made the wise decision to completely separate the PvE (player vs. enemy) and PvP (player vs. player) side of the game. Most players completely ignore the PvP aspect and enjoy only the PvE whose game design is not constrained by the requirement to have a balanced PvP game play. This is something that always plagued Destiny and ruined Destiny 2.

I personally enjoy playing Warframe a lot and have invested some money in the game to support the developers. The shooter game play provides the Space Super Hero experience that I enjoyed in games like Mass Effect 3 or Destiny. And with over two dozen Warframes, hundreds of weapons and so many mods there is always a new build, a new way to play the game to discover. The social aspect of the game is also very well developed. You can not only run missions with your friends, you can also share some of the loot with them or trade with other players. The latter is something which I often missed in other multiplayer games. The game is however designed around grinding. I actually enjoy that (most of the time) but it is not everybody’s cup of tea.

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