Then there was Horizon: Zero Dawn. It released on the last day of February, so I only played it for a few days before moving over all of my time to Zelda. What's a bummer is that I don't know if I'll ever go back to it. Personally it didn't really grab me, which seems to go against the grain.
Finally, we have Mass Effect: Andromeda. This game causes me to get upset just thinking about it. It has so many issues, but somehow I can't seem to pull myself away from it. Perhaps my love for the original trilogy is clouding my judgement?
There's a lot to talk about, so let's get right into it. It's game time.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Nintendo is a company that is famous for rehashing a lot of its ideas. While that has brought them a lot of success in the past I feel that myself and many others have been craving something new. I got my first taste of new Nintendo goodness with Splatoon and now they have followed it up with Breath of the Wild. Initially I was skeptical that Nintendo would be able to pull off a compelling open world, but somehow they nailed it.
|See that mountain? YOU CAN TOTALLY GO THERE!|
I feel like I say this all the time, but Ocarina of Time is the game I can point to as the one that got me to continue playing video games. The sense of adventure I felt while traversing that world is something that has stuck with me. Now they have replicated that with Breath of the Wild. You can go literally anywhere in the game with some effort. If you can see a place, then you can definitely go there. Link can climb up almost any surface, and stamina is essentially his only limitation. The world is vast, and filled with areas that are exciting to explore. While there certainly is a lot of empty space, there are also many hidden villages and treasures to be found.
In terms of combat and plot, Breath of the Wild isn't spectacular. At first the weapon durability annoyed me, but in the end I grew fond of it. Since every weapon is breakable it encourages you to use a ton of different kinds. It's functional, but exploring the world was the main draw for me. If you want to hear me babble on for close to an hour about the game and all of its systems I recorded a podcast, which you can listen to here.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Have you every felt left out, because you don't love something that everyone else loves? That's how I feel with Horizon. Initially I was super excited to see Guerilla games making something new. The reviews hit a bit early for the game as well, and they were all glowing. I still hear people talking about Horizon with a reverence that I don't know if I'll ever be able to understand. I would have chalked it up to being tired of open world games, but then Zelda came out and I absolutely loved that. I feel like I'm missing out on something and its very frustrating.
Horizon centers on a girl named Aloy who is born as an outcast. At a young age she finds a device called a focus, which is essentially a Bluetooth earpiece that shoots AR things around that explain the world to her. The world of Horizon takes place after the apocalypse where machines have taken over and humans have gone back to a much more tribal state. Things like the focus that Aloy found are considered forbidden relics from the metal age of humans past. The people of the world seem to believe that humans in the past ruined the world. I find all of this to be interesting, but in what I played it never really took off.
|I hope you like shooting robots with a bow.|
The gameplay takes place in third person and focuses around a bow. You can get different kinds of arrows, which will affect the machines in different ways. You gain other tools as well, but the bow seems to be the number one way to take down your foes. The combat seems to be the thing that most people praise above all else, but I personally find it to be tedious. Where I am right now the bow does too little damage, so I find myself running up to enemies and using a melee attack until they die. Eventually I'll get back to this game, because I honestly feel like there has to be something I'm missing. Hopefully the plot picks up in a way that I can get behind.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
I love the original Mass Effect trilogy. I'd be willing to go so far as to say that Mass Effect 2 is one of my favorite games of all time. As a huge fan of Star Wars it was awesome to see Bioware essentially create a new Star Wars RPG without the Star Wars license. I immediately found myself enamored with the universe and its characters. Yes, the ending of Mass Effect 3 is awful, but it was not enough to taint the journey I had along the way.
Now we come to the 4th entry in the franchise, Mass Effect: Andromeda. If you've never played the original trilogy then the conceit of Andromeda might not make sense to you. Without spoiling the whole plot, let's just say that things in the Milky Way went sideways, and a few of the races decided to try and settle a new galaxy, Andromeda. A little bit of me feels for Andromeda while it's being railed on by almost everyone. When you're making the 4th thing in a franchise beloved by many, it's automatically going to be hard for it to succeed. Even if the work stands on its own it will always be held up against the original trilogy. Despite that, Andromeda feels like a straight to DVD sequel that no one really wanted.
|All the familiar elements are here, but it just doesn't feel right.|
If Andromeda felt new, I would feel a little more hesitant to criticize it. The main issue I have is that every character and many of the locales are trying to be things from the original trilogy. For example, the Citadel was a space station in the Milky Way where many alien races gathered. It was a central hub where you got to experience all kinds of interesting scenarios. In Andromeda it's the Nexus, which is almost the EXACT same thing as the Citadel! The characters are the same, they each fit into an archetype of characters from games past. So far I've had fun talking to them, but no one seems particularly interesting. Hell, even the plot is about finding ancient alien tech again.
The one praise I'll give the game is that the combat is fun. It's essentially the same third person shooting of the original trilogy, but it adds a lot of mobility through the jet pack. You can jump and dash, which adds an additional layer to combat scenarios. It's fine, but that might be the only place that the game is "fine." I feel bad saying this, but Andromeda is the buggiest AAA game I've ever played. Yes, some of the animations are bad. I don't think that's a bug though. I've had issues ranging from not being able to talk to someone because their prompt won't show up to not being able to interact with literally anything in the game. It's crazy. Most of it is the kind of stuff that would never get through QA. I had the game literally become unplayable, how is that okay? Even with the bugs aside, the underlying game seems uninspired. I'm going to see it through to the end, but that's really only because of my love for the franchise.
My level of excitement if through the roof today! Persona 5 comes out in four days! I have been waiting for this game for years. Usually games I wait this long for don't live up to my expectations, but I knew from the very first trailer that Persona 5 was going to offer everything I wanted from it. I have been craving a JRPG with a compelling plot for a while now and now it's finally here.
There's a slight chance that I'll talk about something other than Persona 5 next month, but like I said it's a very slim chance. The estimated time to beat is currently hovering around 150 hours so I don't know that I'll have much time to do anything else. Find out what happens next month!