Spellbreak gets its first major update, with “Prologue” releasing today to all major platforms.
Spellbreak Prologue: The Gathering Storm
Spellbreak, the wizard based battle royale is getting its first major update, “Prologue” which will introduce the long awaited 9v9 Clash Mode. The new mode with be an arena style team deathmatch mode of sorts, perfect for players who wish to escape the battle royale format and be guaranteed time to engage in battle without fear of death from more experienced players.
The update also introduces new skins, new potions and new talents to the talent tree, as well as a host of tweaks and fixes. You can read the full patch notes here. Chapters will bring about “missions” for players, which can be completed for bonus experience points.
The update is now live on all platforms.
Spellbreak is a free-to-play battle royale game featuring arcane wizardry for all major video game consoles. Spellbreak supports cross-play, cross-party and cross-progression.
Apex Legends introduces its newest LTM, Flashpoint, as well as the beta for cross-play functionality.
Apex Legends introduced its latest event, Aftermarket, on October 6th. This brought with it, several gameplay changes and buffs, a new Limited-Time Mode (LTM), new skins and long awaited cross-play functionality for the popular Battle Royale.
The new LTM, Flashpoint, is pretty enjoyable. Flashpoint changes up the game formula by removing healing items and shields, in favor of areas where health regeneration takes place. Due to data miners the LTM isn’t a complete surprise, that’s OK though, Flashpoint is fun and delivers precious new content Apex players have been deprived of since the start of Season 6.
Apex introduces the newest LTM, Flashpoint featuring healing zones
The flashpoint zones introduce an interesting dynamic as they are the only places you can heal, yet they also become hotspots because the same is true for your enemies. The final ring is visible while still on the dropship and the ring itself closes at the slowest rate we’ve ever seen it close. This allows for plenty of looting of death boxes and skirmishes on the edges of the ring. This new method of health restoration works well and (to me anyway) recalls memories of Call of Duty or Halo. Once inside a flashpoint zone, you heal as long as you’re not actively taking damage.
Crossplay is here to stay.
Respawn also introduced the cross-play beta to Apex Legends with the latest update and so far, aside from some server congestion, it has largely worked well. Apex Legends players on Playstation 4 and Xbox One will queue into the same lobbies. PC players are still separated unless they have a console player on their team. Pending Apex Legends’ release on Nintendo Switch and Steam, those platforms will be able to play with all other platforms, as well.
As celebrated as it is, and as much excitement as I felt loading into my first match and seeing Playstation 4 players, there’s not much else to say about it. Cross-play is one of those things that feels like every game should have it, but in 2020, it is still quite rare. One bright spot, it can’t be said that cross play has made a game more unsuccessful, so it’s nice to have and hopefully more games will soon follow suit.
Microsoft and Sony brethren, tonight we fight as one!
The second match I played in the update, I said something along the lines of “my XBOX and Playstation brethren unite!!” over the mic. A woman playing Octane briefly rejoiced after asking which console I was on “XBOX,” I stated. “Ooh, I’m on Playstation,” she chimed in. She then proceeded to tell me about how she had texted her nephew, who is on XBOX, to get online and add her as they could finally play together.
Who’s cutting onions? While, I don’t have heart-warming stories about cross-play to add yet, the mere fact situations like family and friends finally being able to play together are occurring puts a smile on my face. Even if you don’t have friends on other platforms to play with, cross-play in theory should reduce queue times for all players (except sadly, PC) and should put more even skill distribution into every match.
I can’t say I’ve noticed a huge difference, but my pubs (public) matches have seemed less sweaty. I see less Champion squads with Wraiths with 24,000 kills, and almost every game I get paired with at least one PS4 player of comparable skill. Ranked mode seems about the same, although I’ve been getting into matches much faster than usual.
These are all good signs of the much needed shake up Apex Legends needs as it heads into its final month before Season 7 releases this November.
Spellbreak is a magical take on the battle royale genre.
It’s time for a new kind of battle royale.
The battle-royale wave some argue has been rode to death. The genre is ever popular without many signs of slowing down, and the titans of battle royales (BRs) continue to dominate. New entries to the field have been hit or miss. Games such as Hyperscape have proven to be…mostly hype, while more games are simply incorporating BR elements, like Vigor, a survival looter-shooter somewhat recently released on Nintendo Switch, and the massively popular Fall Guys.
The lines between what is, and what makes a battle royale are beginning to blur, but this is for the better, as we get standouts like this month’s Spellbreak from Proletariat. Distributed by Epic Games, Spellbreak fits somewhere between a lite BR and largescale arena combat. The result is fresh, fast and fun gameplay with visuals that don’t take themselves too seriously.
“You launch spells at your foes from elements like fire, ice, and wind…it’s certainly got some Avatar: The Last Airbender like vibes.“
Fatigue of first-person shooters is understandable these days, especially when it comes to BRs, but Spellbreak livens up the playing field by encouraging wizards around the globe, on several different platforms to do battle. Dropping from the skies onto an island, battle commences in manageable yet hectic 42-player matches. You’ll launch spells at your foes from elements including fire, ice, wind, stone, lightning and poison. It’s certainly got some Avatar: The Last Airbender like vibes.
What is most enjoyable about Spellbreak is the fluid combat. Levitation is one of the fundamentals of movement when you’re not running on the ground. This adds an interesting dynamic of play, as during the most heated battles you not only have to try to hit often aerial targets, but you also must take care not to lose track of them.
Fight like a wizard, think like a wizard.
Escaping a firefight… err, spell-fight is often just as viable as winning one. In addition to your array of spells, runes located throughout the map can enhance your movement allowing teleportation, Superman-style flight, frog-like double jumping or invisibility. Spells can be combined as pickups, known as gauntlets, allow you to use an additional element in combination with an element you initially choose. Want to turn your tempest tornado into a firenado? You can. Want to set ablaze a cloud of toxic poison gas? You can do that, too. There are several “builds” and strategies you can utilize and your creativity is rewarded.
The whole formula is a refreshing change of pace from more grounded titles like Call of Duty: Warzone and Apex Legends, and is slightly reminiscent of Fortnite (without the building mechanics). Graphically, the game resembles Fortnite or a higher quality World of Warcraft, adding to its charm through vibrant cel shaded visuals and color tones. This also allows it to be one of the select BRs that the Nintendo Switch can actually handle. So far, I’ve tried it on both Xbox One and the Switch, and while it certainly handles better on the Xbox One, nothing says convenience like being able to play a BR comfortably in bed, with The Office or Rick & Morty in the background on my TV. If playing on the Switch, be prepared for longer load times and dips in framerate.
Spellbreak’s environments are a tad bland. Aside from combat, Spellbreak isn’t really doing anything new.
Spellbreak’s environments are a tad bland. There are castles and fields, some desert and swamp areas an abundance of dilapidated coliseums, but there aren’t really hot POIs. The locales of the game aren’t really going to stand out in your mind and one edge of the island is almost indistinguishable from its opposite end on the other edge of the world. Right now, however, it works. The environments aren’t meant to be awe-inspiring, they’re meant for you to pick up some quick loot before you go to battle, or quickly dispatch a stray mage or squad of mages looting just like you.
As far as BRs go, aside from the mage combat, Spellbreak isn’t really doing anything new. You loot health potions and armor potions (shields) like many other games in the genre, and worse still, these items are actually pretty scarce, especially near the final rounds. Third partying (rushing in to clean up combatants already engaged, or weary from battle) is easy to do. If you don’t run into an enemy player while flying around like Superman, you’ll likely see them from afar when they detonate a bomb of lightning or hurl a tornado at someone.
Often, this is how you will engage in battle, as well. A core tenet of most BRs is to listen for enemy footsteps or gunshots to gauge how close would-be attackers are to your character. In Spellbreak, you can use audio cues to your advantage, but often I’ve found I’ll realize I’m about to be in combat because I’ll hear spells when I am casting none, then realize as my health is depleting, “Oh, someone is attacking me.”
It can be rather confusing when playing with teammates because sometimes they may randomly cast spells for fun or in-between combat. Was that whoosh of wind you just heard your teammate leaning too heavy on the trigger button, or is another player on top of those ruins pelting you with mini-tornadoes?
In any case, once your health is depleted you become “disrupted” in team modes turning into a golden orb of light, if playing solo, you simply die. A disrupted player can still move at a snail’s pace, your only chance of survival being through restoration by a fellow teammate.
Should an enemy player get to your little glow ball of a body first, they can “exile” you resulting in your permanent death, and no, you cannot be respawned (unlike several other BRs). The one upside, though, the exiling process takes several seconds while your executioner stands perfectly still, an ideal opportunity for a teammate or a third party to destroy someone mid-exile. The reverse is also true, while killing someone or restoring a teammate, you must be acutely aware as you also leave yourself in a highly vulnerable state.
Spellbreak still claims to be in an early release “phase”, but it certainly looks promising.
The game released earlier this month, and limited pre-release builds were being worked on and in alpha (being play tested) as early as last year. I certainly did not even notice the game until it was featured on Nintendo Switch’s new release news board and the game still says it’s an early game preview, but it certainly looks promising. Proletariat’s roadmap for the game seeks to include more arena style matches, 9v9s, team deathmatch, and eventually new elements and loot. Players can dive in solo, duos or in three-person squads and the game supports cross-play as well as cross-progression.
Spellbreak is free-to-play on Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch.
You can catch footage and my live streams of Spellbreak and many other games on Twitch and Youtube.
Fans of Apex Legends theorized the release of cross-play today, unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
Many Apex Legends enthusiasts expected a new update to be released today, hopefully enabling cross-platform compatibility, or even a Nintendo Switch release. Unfortunately, neither came to being today.
Apex Legends is currently hosting it’s September Soiree, an event similar to the Christmas themed Grand Soiree early this year, an event that saw the game hosting a new and different LTM (limited-time mode) every day during two weeks of January. Some notable modes released were the Winter Express, which saw combatants trying to dominate a Christmas train with preset weapon loadouts and unlimited lives. Third-person mode was also quite unique allowing players to play the entire game in a third-person mode similar to Gears of War.
This year’s September Soiree brings back several of the modes from last winter, including Kings Canyon After Dark and Armed and Dangerous. Other modes are expected to come to the battle royale for the rest of the month, and at some point this fall, Apex Legends will enjoy cross-platform functionality as well as a release on Nintendo Switch. We’ll be watching for any new updates.
My first impressions of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition are largely positive, it’s a fresh RPG brimming with character.
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 gigantic beings, 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 factions 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 very 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. 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.
Today’s throwback comes to us from the soundtrack of Life is Strange 2, Milk & Bone’s “Natalie”.
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.
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.
A month into Call of Duty’s Battle Royale “Warzone” and I’m still enjoying the hell out of it.
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.
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.