Dark Souls 3, MY GOTY 2016

Here it is, here is my choice for the game of the year for 2016, Dark Souls 3. I’m going to assume that there are some obvious reasons for why I would hold this game in a high enough regard to give it the honour of being my game of the year. Let me get the most obvious reason out of the way, the incredible boss fights.

If there is one thing that the Souls games are known for is the boss fights, it’s a defining feature of these games, without the bosses there is no chance that Dark Souls would be as notorious as it is for the challenge that it inflicts upon those who play it. While reaching the bosses of the various areas of Dark Souls 3 can be a challenge in itself most of the time it is simply preparing you for what you are about to endure. Working my way through Irythll of the Boreal Valley was a nightmare, when I first arrived there after having defeated Wolnir on my first try. For me it was then that Dark Souls 3 truly hit that notorious point of being difficult, soon as I stepped foot on that bridge into Irythll I was met with that rather disgusting, intimidating monster known as Sulyvahn’s beast, it was part crocodile part beast but all scary. I knew from that point that it was going to be a tough fight through the area, with it more than likely ending in a painfully difficult boss fight, painful doesn’t even begin to describe the experience of defeating Pontiff Sulyvahn, this insane tyrant was easily one of the biggest challenges for me in the entire game.

The Pontiff wasn’t my favourite boss fight, though he certainly proved to be worthy of being the mid game boss of a Souls game. No my favourite boss fight of Dark Souls 3 was The Dancer of The Boreal Valley, the way she moved was so precise, so graceful, so intimidating. There are many reasons for the Dancer being my personal favourite boss of what I consider to be one of the best games of the series, the lore behind the Dancer is intriguing it’s some of my favourite lore, it would seem as though the Dancer is a member of the old royalty through being the daughter of Gwynevere, which is supported by the miracle you can transpose her soul for. I could keep talking about the Dancer for this whole post but I have plenty of other content to cover so perhaps I will go into further detail on my fascination with the Dancer another time. As a whole I think along with BloodBorne Dark Souls 3 mostly had a solid cast of bosses with only a few posing little to no threat at all, such as the Deacons, the Curse Rotted Great Wood, and the Crystal Sage. I think it would be fair to say that if all the bosses of the Souls series were ranked together, Dark Souls 3s bosses would dominate the top half alongside BloodBorne. I think for me the hardest boss of all was the Nameless King and just like the Dancer the lore surrounding his fight helped to cement his status as being one of the best Souls bosses to date. I have to give a special mention to Sister Friede and Father Ariandel, that boss fight was a thing of beauty, unfortunately the DLC The Ashes of Ariandel was too short but the main boss fight was a first for the series with it being a 3 phase 3 different health bars fight. That’s right to defeat the DLC you have to wipe out Friedes health bar 3 times, as well as Father Ariandels health bar in the second phase.  

What else besides the bosses could this game have that has made it a clear winner in my mind, well a couple of different things, since I have already touched upon the lore of this game I think that would be the best aspect to discuss next. Lore is a big factor in Dark Souls, it always has been, many people have enjoyed sharing their thoughts and speculations over the years with each passing souls game, while I may not have publicly voiced my opinion about the lore over the years I have had my fair share of ideas and thoughts about the few facts From Software have given us and about the various things that From Soft has insinuated rather than solid fact. That’s part of what makes Dark Souls 3 incredible, yes there are facts in the lore in this game, it has confirmed and dismantled various beliefs amongst the community, however there are certain things that From Soft haven’t confirmed or denied. They have left much of the story to our imaginations for us to interpret the lore as we see fit, because you see our journey as the unkindled, as the ashen one is exactly that, it’s our journey and the open ended lore helps to cement your individual journey through the age of fire.

Finally, the atmosphere of this game is thick with death, danger and an unknowing. One the first run through of these games you don’t know what is round the corner, you don’t know how many enemies stand between you and victory. There is a strong under layer of emotion that can be felt in the atmosphere, the cathedral of the deep I find to be a sad solemn area, this is where Aldrich clearly turned the Deacons that were once part of the way of white. Or in Irythll where Pontiff Sulyvhan now rules through force destroying what was once a beautiful place.

Dark Souls 3 gripped me from the very beginning, it made me invest so much of my time into preserving the age of fire. Never have I felt so accomplished about beating a game, since I won the platinum trophy for this game I can truly say that I did it, I took on the danger of Lothric, I conquered all Lords of Cinder, I finally saw this long enduring journey come to an end.     


2016, a great year for gaming

There are so many ways in which I could start this post, do I start with the PSVR, the disaster that was No Mans Sky, or all the glorious games that graced our consoles this year! Well in my wacky mind I like to deal with bad then cheer myself up with good, so let’s kick this off with talking about the highly anticipated, underwhelming No Man’s Sky.

So No Mans Sky was in contention to be one of the biggest gaming events of the year! The hype and build up for this game was insane, every single one of us had heard of it, watched gameplay on it and listened to all the rubbish that the developers threw our way. Now I don’t want to come on here and slate No Mans Sky since it wasn’t an awful game but rather a false advertised game that altered everybody’s perception of it. We perceived it to be an open-ended universe with thousands upon thousands of planets that could be discovered by other players worldwide and we could meet said players on these discovered or even undiscovered planets. Bit awkward when the game got released and there wasn’t a single other player in sight, yeah that’s right the developers lied about how massive the multiplayer was, this was one of their key selling points yet it was all lies!

Now we’ve got the worst part out of the way let us move on to brighter things, this year saw the release of many incredible games, it’s difficult to choose just one…..but I did and I will discuss my personal favourite in detail another time. Dark Souls 3 and Uncharted 4 both spring to mind when it comes to major games this year since they are both in fact the closing chapters to their respective stories. I have been a long-time fan of the SoulsBorne series, the immersive boss fights, the eerie unnerving atmosphere that the game projects, but most of all it’s the challenge and being able to say I did it I beat this game, while the series has made others cry I have conquered all that From Software has thrown at me. Then we have Uncharted 4, again I have been an Uncharted fan since its release in 2007, the story of Nathan Drake has got to be one of the most epic, action packed incredible adventures that I have had the joy of playing. Which is why it’s sad to see the stories of the age of fire and the fortune hunter come to an end, 2016 has given us the final chapters to two amazing stories that we had all been waiting for, I think it’s fair to say that they didn’t disappoint. From Soft and Naughty Dog thanks for the memories, no doubt that whatever ventures you pursue next they will be just as fun and exhilarating as your already established franchises.

Final Fantasy XV finally hit our consoles in November after over 10 years of being in the works, sure I accept that for some true fans of the franchise it might not be the best, heck you might not even think it feels like Final Fantasy with the new combat system. However I did find it to be an enjoyable experience, the comradery of Noct, Gladio, Ignis and Prompto was endearing, it was fun to see and hear the banter displayed between the friends.

DOOM! While this might have been a long time coming, I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t really following the build up to its release, I knew what to expect though I mean its DOOM right? It was bound to be about the demons of hell, with us sending them back there with a shotgun to the face, pretty simple concept like back in the 1990s when DOOM first entered our lives. DOOM 3 took the franchise in a different direction, a more horror based direction which did in some respects slow down the gameplay that DOOM was loved for. For this reboot to succeed they needed to correct the wrongs from DOOM 3, and correct they did. This game exploded out back in May, it was fast, it was fun, it was gory, it had big guns and IT WAS CHAOS! It was DOOM! It was what we had all been dying to play for years, it was how DOOM should be played, DOOM made its comeback in 2016 in a huge way, ID mean business I look forward to seeing what direction they are taking the revitalised franchise in.

Besides these 4 awesome games that I have given a special mention to 2016 was filled to the brim with other enjoyable, exciting games. Deus Ex Mankind Divided with it’s incredible RPG elements sprung Jensen back into action in August, as ever the character development was as deep and immersive as you would expect from an RPG of this magnitude. Overwatch came out, Blizzards new baby absolutely destroyed Battleborn in their rivalry earlier this year. Now I have made a post on this, in fact I believe it was my very first post on this blog, so I won’t go into too much detail here having already covered it but I will say this, Battleborn was my personal favourite of the two which was helped by the fact that it offered a single player mode, for me personally I like to have the option to play solo or online. Other games I feel we should give a mention to are JOY for the Xbox One, Street fighter V make no mistake though I am a Mortal Kombat fangirl so even though 2016 gave us an exciting new instalment to the Street Fighter franchise it hasn’t really done as much for me as Mortal Kombat X did in 2015, with Injustice 2 coming out next year as well, I do feel that in the long run Street Fighter V won’t be as loved as it is now, I wouldn’t be doing the game justice if I didn’t say it had been a highlight for many this year. Most of the Resident Evil numbered games were remastered this year, this was a smart move by Capcom, with Resident Evil 7 set to hit our consoles in just a few weeks it has given many fans the opportunity to reminisce about the series, to replay the games that have a somewhat nostalgic effect. I have recently played through Resident Evil 5 and 6, with 4 still to go, got to save the best for last, it has been amazing to remind myself of why Resident Evil has been so successful, except for the Cerberus dogs, I hate those damn things!

There are many more games that I could talk about and who knows maybe they will get their own posts eventually but for now I think we have one more major thing about 2016 to cover. Can you guess what it is? Yes, that’s right the PlayStation VR, Virtual Reality gaming has become a reality. The feel of the VR is incredible, admittedly the price for this technology is insane, but that’s what you must pay for something this amazing. If you have ever wanted to be Batman or just to feel like Batman you finally can, as you see through the eyes of the dark knight, come on that’s reason enough to love the VR surely. If that isn’t enough for you and you happen to be a horror fan who enjoys terrifying themselves then the VR is still a must for you. In 2015 the hit horror game Until Dawn came to PS4, 2016 saw the release of spin off a game called rush of blood, made especially for the VR system. Or with the release of Resident Evil 7 coming up maybe you are ready to face the horrors of the Resident Evil universe yourself in first person, as if it is you that is being terrorised and tormented. Honestly the main reason for me wanting the VR was ready for Resident Evil 7, it’s going to scare the hell out of me, if you want to laugh at my misfortune I’ll be recording my misery especially for you guys on YouTube so keep an eye out for that.

I know there is so much more that I could talk about in regards to how good 2016 has been to us gamers, it has been a truly memorable year that won’t soon be forgotten for gamers around the world. Now is the time to look forward to 2017, to what is also set to be an incredible year of gaming, filled with many games that we have all been waiting for, I have no problem with stating that my gaming event of the year for 2017 will be Mass Effect Andromeda, nearer the time I will share with you all why my love for Mass Effect runs so deep and what I believe we can expect from Andromeda.

Since 2017 looks to be just as good if not better than 2016 I will make a post talking about what we can expect in the exciting new year. 2016 has been a blast, no doubt it has given everybody a game they love. I look forward to carrying on sharing my thoughts and experiences with you in the new year.

Welcome back Crash, our furry hero!

Since we are nearing the end of 2016 I thought now would be a good time to look forward to 2017, a year that’s set to be another extraordinary year for gamers worldwide. Of course we have resident evil 7, Nioh, For Honor, Horizon Zero Dawn and Mass Effect Andromeda all by the end of March! All of these games are reason alone to be excited for 2017 and all of them will no doubt have their own posts from me in the future.

But as the title suggests I want to talk about the lovable bandicoot that stole the hearts of many back in 1996. Crash Bandicoot helped to define a generation of gaming, he’s still one of Sonys main mascots, he was the baby of Naughty Dog until they decided to work through Sony alone without Universal Studios. A decision that has brought us Jak, Uncharted and The Last of Us all of which are hugely recognised games. 

The crash games are easily one of the most recognisable franchises of all time spanning across an insane amount of not just main instalments but other instalments such as Crash Bash and Crash Boom Bang both of which are classed as party games. Crash also boasts a trilogy of fun racing games, that were exciting for the time of their releases. You know what though the Crash were not just great because of the main protagonist but they were great because of a vast array of characters including the primary antagonist Dr Neo Cortex, then there was the introduction of his sister Coco in Crash 2 Cortex strikes back and the introduction of his brother crunch in The Wrath of Cortex. The bosses such as Tiny and Dingodile were also fun and intriguing, then Pura an Polar Coco and Crashs pets respectively were just simply adorable, in fact one of my favourite levels of all time involves Coco riding Pura across the Great Wall of China! 2017 is set to be an incredible year for fans of this fury hero as they will see his original trilogy make a come back to the PS4 having been fully remastered, we can even see Crashs fur thanks to today’s graphics! The games levels themselves have had a complete overhaul keeping them the same as they were when we first played them but giving them the prettier look of today’s games.

Crash Bandicoot was the very first game I played when I got my first PlayStation and I fell in love straight away, Crash and co certainly have a special place in my heart. The level designs were great with it never feeling too repetitive due to the different environments the levels took place in and it was a fun platformer with every gamer that owned a PlayStation playing it. Crash was relevant back in 1996, he was fresh and he was new, ultimately springing him to iconic video game status. But there is key question that has been asked since the remastered trilogy was announced, will Crash still be relevant in 2017? While this is in my mind a fair question I also believe in my mind that the answer is simple, yes he will remain relevant. Crash the N sanity trilogy brings with it a huge nostalgic effect for millions of gamers and for the younger generation of gamers they are finally going to get to play the video game phenomenon that defined a generation of gaming. I don’t think that games like Crash Bandicoot can ever really become dated, just like the remastered version of Resident Evil. Resident evil helped to define the same generation of gaming that Crash did and people went crazy to play through that horrifying mansion all over again.

Unfortunately there is no set release date yet but we do know that 2017 is definitely the year of crashs comeback, if I had to have a guess I’d say that we will be guiding Crash through those 3 islands by the summer if not some time during spring. But one thing is for sure, when Crash does hit the shelves for the PS4 I will be there and I will be eating all the wumpa fruit whilst avoiding falling to my death down a never ending hole. Crash Bandicoot is just one reason to be excited for 2017, there are plenty of other games set to hit the shelves next year as I mentioned earlier.

With the release of the remastered Crash trilogy it paves the way for other potential remastered games such as the Spyro trilogy should Crash captivate audiences like he did 20 years ago.

Final Fantasy XV new combat system 

Wow, I had no idea what to expect from the new Final Fantasy and in a way I still don’t as I wait for the installation process to complete. however I have been able to experience the new combat system as I wait through playing the open combat mode.

So traditionally Final Fantasy games have used turn based combat, never free flowing. Well all that’s changed for Final Fantasy XV, for me it’s a breath of fresh air, I have never been been a huge fan of turn based combat which is is a shame as I love the story of Final Fantasy with Final Fantasy VII being my personal favourite. see its because of a combat system I don’t get on with that I’ve not played all the Final Fantasy games. 

Combat is a key factor in any action game and ultimately it is a huge indicator into whether or not you are going to enjoy that game, while some people enjoy both turn based strategic combat and fast paced free flowing combat, others prefer one or the other meaning they won’t play just any game.

After 20 minutes of killing hords of goblins I can safely say that I am going to love the new combat system, it flows so well with a smooth feel to it. I understand how die hard fans of the game may not be too thrilled at the prospect of changing a long running combat system but I implore those fans to still give Final Fantasy XV a chance.

Who knows, this new combat system could be better than any of us was expecting.