Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition First Impressions


I know I’m late to the party, but I finally convinced myself to get Monolith Soft’s remake of its titular classic, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. This Nintendo Switch title is essentially a remaster of the original Xenoblade Chronicles released for the Nintendo Wii back in 2010.

Featuring updated graphics and character models, this Definitive Edition feels right at home on Switch, and honestly, it’s hard to believe a game this epic and on a scale like this was released on the Wii so long ago. After seeing images and a few videos of the game, I was initially reticent to pick it up. I’m in an ongoing second play-through of its sequel, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and for whatever reason I think the look of the interface in the sequel looks more professional and polished compared to DE (Definitive Edition). In hindsight, I’m starting to feel as though the polish of its menus and the battle palette in the sequel, came at the expense of complexity and the confusing mess that is Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I’ll compare the two more later, for now let’s dig into the meat of the game.

Xenoblade Chronicles:DE begins with you in a flashback as Dunban, one of the series’ heroes locked in a battle with the Mechon, a race of machines bent on destroying the Homs, or humankind. The two have been locked in an eternal fight ever since the gods, the Bionis and the Mechonis perished eons ago as they were locked in battle. The two gods fell into a stalemate and both died where they stood. The two gods are so large that their bodies essentially formed continents; Homs and organic life flourished on the Bionis and mechanical life spawned on the Mechonis. Eventually the two races began to attack each other and wage war and that’s where we start.

Dunban happens to wield the Monado, an enchanted sword that is also one of the few weapons that can actually harm the Mechons. Its power takes a toll on his body paralyzing him as he is carried away from battle, still alive. Back in town, one year later, you play as Shulk, a young villager who studies technology. From one happening to another, Shulk who studies the Monado eventually is offered the chance to use it and to everyone’s surprise, Shulk not only is unharmed by it, but gains visions of the future when he wields it. This results in him seeing premonitions when an ally is about to die, which he is sometimes able to change.

From a story standpoint, DE’s premise is far more digestible and organic than its sequels. Humans hate machines, they’ve been locked in eternal war, now we’re going to kill all those damned machines. Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s problem is it tries to do too many things at once. The story starts off slow and boring about a salvager who salvages treasures in a “sea of clouds” that is somehow also like an ocean which he needs a suit for. Shortly after he is killed, reborn and must save the world with the help of Blades, human and anthropomorphic animal-like beings that serve as weapons and low-key slaves to their Drivers. In comparison, it really is a convoluted mess.

The DE has some of the core elements of its sequel, but without Blades you fight enemies directly, you don’t need Blades to attack. The world is vast with large plains, mountains, streams, rivers, plateaus and more all with large swaths of creatures that roam around just like they would in an MMORPG or a modern open-world RPG game (think Borderlands or The Division without shooting). Towns are full of life with residents going about their day and many able to offer conversation, trade items with you or give an almost endless amount of quests. There’s a lot to do here and sometimes it seems overwhelming, but it’s a focused overwhelming, compared to this game’s sequel.

I find myself more easily enjoying my time with this game, even at the beginning, which I can’t say wasn’t true of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but I spent much more time in that game feeling lost, feeling like I could never finish everything the sequel was asking me to do. I guess I will find out as I delve deeper into this role-playing gem.

[Throwback:] Milk & Bone – Natalie


The end of Life is Strange 2’s third episode.

Today’s throwback is a calming alternative tune by the name of “Natalie” by Milk & Bone. While going through my music library today and reorganizing it, cleaning my house, generally bustling about, as soon as this song came on, I froze in place, sat down, and just began to feel.

“Natalie” was used as the ending theme in Square Enix’s choice-based adventure game Life is Strange 2. Without spoiling too much, it’s usage in the game comes right after one of its most chaotic scenes, save for the ending. The Life is Strange (LiS) series has always been well known for it’s soundtrack, often using songs that heavily correlate or allude to in game occurrences. Both games are coming of age tales of young teens just trying to survive in today’s modern world, both also featuring strange weird supernatural events that play into the story lines. The series has won several awards for it’s story telling, voice acting and music.

The first entry in the series, set at a hip art school in Oregon showcased a lot of soft alternative indie rock, perfect for the mood it was trying to set. The second game in the series was a little less pronounced with its musical choices but was still solid, mixing songs like this one with “On Melancholy Hill” by the Gorillaz.

“On Melacholy Hill” by the Gorillaz was used as the intro for Episode 2 of LiS2.

If you like video games and are a fan of good stories, I highly suggest checking out the original Life is Strange or Life is Strange 2. Both are available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC and both let you play the first tale of their episodic journeys for free.

Lane 8 – Bear Hug


[Progressive:] Bear Hug – Lane 8

Check out Lane 8’s newly released single, “Bear Hug” a deep progressive track that builds minimalist synths and haunting chords up to its quite groovy drops.

Follow Lane 8:

Website: http://www.lane8music.com
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Spotify: http://po.st/sLane8
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SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/lane8music

Malaa – OCB


[Bass/House:] OCB – MALAA

The god of bass himself, Malaa is back at it with another banger. The Confession label legend of dirty bass and g-house does what he does best on “OCB” creating a dirty little number meant to reinvigorate dance floors.

Malaa

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Follow → https://www.twitter.com/Malaamusic
Listen → https://soundcloud.com/malaamusic
Instagram → https://www.instagram.com/malaamusic

CONFESSION
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Visit → http://www.confessionlabel.com/

After a Month of COD: Warzone the game is still refreshingly fun


It’s been almost one month since Activision released it’s entry into the Battle Royale genre, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare “Warzone.” The new game mode joins the many others before it, but most notably the current titans of BRs (battle royales), Fortnite and Apex Legends. I’ve been having a great time with the game, and in the span of a month it’s been updated at least two, if not three times showing the developers want it to flourish and stay popular for a long time.

It’s paid off. Warzone was the most downloaded and most played game after it’s release and currently still is. I’ve found myself switching back occasionally to Apex, as that game has basically consumed my gaming life for the past year, but Warzone is incredibly refreshing and in some ways more satisfying in certain aspects compared to Apex.

Wiping an enemy squad while playing with my brother. Without self-revive I would’ve died.

Warzone is incredibly refreshing and in many ways more satisfying in several aspects compared to Apex Legends.

For one, the whole concept of Warzone is more realistic. Scenes, settings and graphics in line with the Modern Warfare series already make you feel like you’re in an actual warzone, excuse the pun. Apex feels arcade-y after playing rounds of Warzone. Some of the pitfalls of the genre can’t be avoided, such as players leaving as soon as they are killed, or even knocked down, but for whatever reason (maybe because the game is new) I’ve experienced it less often in Warzone than in Apex.

The gun play feels fresh and snappy. It’s what you’d expect from a Call of Duty game, albeit a bit slower paced than the regular multiplayer experience. Armor plates (Warzone’s version of shields) ensure you won’t often kill a player in 2 seconds flat, unless they run right in front of you and you destroy them with a string of head-shots, but otherwise this forces you to think of the long-haul. Immediately after injuring a player, do you hunker down on the floor of the building you’re in? Do you jump out the window and run through the entrance of said building to catch your would-be attackers? Do you and your squad rush them? Do you flee the scene entirely? The sheer amount of options that are completely up to you are what captivated me about battle royales in the first place. Comparing to my other favorite, Apex, Warzone feels like it gives you a greater variety of options to choose from and more time to think about what to do.

Warzone feels like it gives you a greater variety of options to choose from in a firefight, and more time to think about what to do.

Verdansk is a freakin’ huge map. Sometimes I don’t feel like it really is, but to fit 150-160 players on one world where most of the time, you won’t even encounter half the other players is a feat unto itself. City areas feel realistic with thirteen-story skyscrapers complete with roofs you can snipe from (after tediously running up thirteen flights of stairs). The Stadium area is one of my favorites, offering decent amounts of loot, and while you can’t enter the actual stadium, it offers long hallway like areas by each of its closed off entrances that are great for close combat fire-fights. If the fact you can’t get inside it really kills you, areas like Superstore and TV Station feel like what Stadium’s inside would probably be like.

One month in, I still feel a rush when I come out on top wiping a squad firing on my team. Or cleaning up stragglers running in from the gas (think Apex’s “ring” or Fortnite’s “storm”). Travelling the map in vehicles with my squad is fun and stores littered around the map called buy stations offer a nice new option by having in-game items you can purchase with money. These let you gain an upper hand in any situation by buying helpful aids ranging from UAVs and gas-masks, to airstrikes and loadout drops, which give you and your squad your own custom guns usually better than any gun you could find on the ground.

One month in, I still feel a rush when I come out on top wiping a squad firing on my team.

COD: Warzone doesn’t really do anything completely new for the genre, to be frank. But it’s twists and novel variants it brings does. Being able to equip a gas mask and actually spend time outside the safe zone offers more potential in attacking and defending or simply re-positioning. It feels weird having a radar in a battle royale, but Warzone makes it work. It isn’t something you can completely rely on and UAVs only highlight your immediate area. If you and your squadmates activate 3 UAVs, the advanced UAV activates letting you see the exact position of everyone on the map, however like the UAV itself, the effect probably lasts around 15 seconds. This keeps the radar as something that helps you and not a crutch you can always count on.

Fans of the Call of Duty series, or fans of first-person shooters in general will likely find something they like in Warzone. It certainly helps it’s taken the current market approach by making the game completely free to play, and also supports cross-play enabled matchmaking letting you play with friends or strangers on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.

If you haven’t given it a whirl, be sure to check out Warzone, and if you haven’t played it in awhile the game has received substantial updates since launch, and as of today features Squads mode with teams of four players instead of three.