Death Stranding review and test

Ahhhh Death Stranding. The new Kojima Production game is finally out! We have been waiting for so long, with very curious images, trailers, and information that did not help to really understand what was the game about. So how is it in the end?

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What I have found interesting with the game is that after a couple of hours you will still be wondering: what the hell is that all about? And trying to explain the game in detail also feels like trying to explain a dream just after waking up. It does not seem to make sense, you are not sure how to explain it and it has definitely less impact than when it actually happened.

But the overall story is basically that the world, or mostly the USA (no idea about the rest of the world) is in ruins. The rain is acid, people live in shelters and, well … the world of the dead and the living are merging. Which means that ghosts (called BTs) are outside and trying to bring you in their world. That is where the baby in the bottle (or BB) is important as it helps you to know where those ghosts are, and to avoid them. Bringing very tense moments where you need to sneak around ghost without them seeing you.

But more precisely, your mission is to connect the USA from East to West to a network, which basically means going from city to city, showing that you are a good guy by delivering packages, and finally connect them to that very fancy internet.

It is all about balance

That may sound easy but it is more complicated than expected.  As mentioned previously, you will get ghosts on your way, but also looter/raiders and you will have to take care when and where you walk. The interesting concept of the game is about weight, packages, and balance. The more packages you have and worst will be your balance. You can control your balance by using the trigger but that also slows you down. And if you lost your balance, you will fell and damage your packages. On the other hand, you may actually want to take a lot of packages so you do not have to do a lot of back and forth between each city. Packages also include any guns, ladder, ropes, etc. that can help you in your journey. So you will also need to balance how much equipment you want to take with you.

Graphically I have to say that the game is amazing. As much on the character design than the world itself. Rivers, mountains, snow, beaches, all look incredibly realistic. That is really impressive to see what video games are able to achieve nowadays.

Connected

Another good bit of the game is that you can build some structures. Such as bridges, power stations, shelters or even roads. And an even better part of the game is that if you are connected to internet, then you will have access to the structures that other players are making or even help them making them. So you may be able to find a bridge, or even a ladder, a rope in some area, that was put by another player and which can be really helpfull. When a player is using a structure from another player, it got a “like”. “Likes” are then some equivalent of experience.

As much as I like the concept of sharing structures with other players without seeing them. I do not really like the concept of “likes”. What happened, in the end, is players are putting signs and messages in places where you can’t avoid them (in front of a door, an exit, etc) just to be sure that you touch it and give them a “like”. Thanks but no thanks.

The bad points

As much as I have enjoyed the game, I also do have a lot of critics about it. First of all, going from one city to another city for delivery is maybe fun the first 20 hours but not so much after that as it becomes very repetitive. And you can easily count 50 hours to beat the game. The story can help to keep it entertaining but that is also where a problem start to appear: a lot of the story has some serious plothole.  What I am saying is that the game or some dialogues are literally contradicting themselves. And I am really personnaly sensitive to that.

I will not really spoil but give some details about the game. Maybe you would ask yourself the question: why are you on foot and not having a car? Ironically you are even told at the beginning of the game that some people have crossed the country with cars! The answer is basically: you will get a car when the game is allowing you to have one. Which means that, you will walk in places with dozen of cars parked and fully functional, but no, you are not ready yet to get a car. Once you get a vehicle you may also understand why you did not get one sooner: the gameplay is not really good and a tiny rock can fully immobilize your vehicle. You will spend more time to hit the X button to jump over everything than really driving it.

Another question is where is everyone? Why are you the (only) one making roads, chasing bandits, delivery packaging, connecting people and even more? The map is actually very empty, and “cities” usually look more like shelters with only a couple of people.

Those are a couple of mostly spoiler-free and there are others that may spoil the story. In a funny way, all the time I am traveling on the map to deliver packages, I am asking questions about that world … and the more I am asking questions, the less that world makes sense at all, which pulls me out of the game.

Overall experience

A strong conclusion is very hard to give. I did enjoy a lot the first 20h but then found it repetitive and the story did not help to get back the hype. The story just motivated me to finish the game and know the end. Like when you start a good movie and get in a very long part but you keep watching because you want to know how it ends. That is a bit sad because that is definitely not good as an experience and it could have been easily fixed. The story should be more error-proof and maybe a bit faster. It is fine after that to enjoy a bit more the world and help other players. Or maybe it was done in purpose and some part were supposed to be annoying, but I doubt that.

I also have to say again that it is graphically incredible and the addition of the music at some specific moment is really nice. The concept of being connected with other players and sharing structure is also nice, and the overall story (if you do not think too much about it) is good. The work of the actors and character design is amazing.  So overall it has more good than bad points .. but damn, it could have easily been better!

 

Score: 8/10 Positive points:
– New concept and interesting ideas
– Graphically impressive
– Interesting overall story
Negative points:
– Repetitive after the first 20 hours (of 50)
– Plot holes in the story

Round up of new games

I am trying a new format, a list of new games that are too small to have their own articles, or already discussed in the past! Let’s start!

Tech Corp.

I already discussed Tech Corp in a previous article, and the game is out now on Steam. I do not know if I will have the time to review it, but it does seem really good and incredibly complete. If you like Tycoon games, I bet that you will like that one too.

Dustwind

I did not know that game released last year but it got a big update today. It is described as a Real-Time Tactical RPG and it just got a new single-player campaign which is free for the people who already got the game.
Another cool thing: you can play as a dog. Yes, in the multiplayer mode, a dog is a support unit. The game really look interesting!

 

Fantasy Strike

New fighting game available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC. The target is both hardcore gamers and newcomers. The game actually does have tutorials, a traditional Arcade Mode with beautifully-illustrated story sequences, four Survival Modes, Daily Challenges, and a substantial Boss Rush mode where players build a deck of powerups against increasingly powerful AI bosses.

There is also an online multiplayer mode, with rank mode, tournament, and team battle. It really seems complete and somehow original.

Smoots Summer Games

It is available now on PS4, and Nintendo Switch, the Xbox version has been delayed until August 8th. The game is a 1-4 multiplayer game. Not really my style but why not.

FIA European Truck Racing Championship Review

FIA European Truck Racing Championship is like some of those sweet pleasures. Like those movies that you like, but you can’t really explain why because if you look at closely, you can see that it has a number of issues.

FIA European Truck Racing Championship?

Yes, the game is based on the real FIA Championship of Truck Racing, and we can actually find (some of) the real trucks and racetracks. However, that championship usually uses only 8 racetrack, which is somehow limited. That is why a fictional World Championship has also been created with more tracks, and that is honestly a good move from BigBen. Without this, the lifetime of the game would have been really really low.

The game also got a tutorial (hooray!), looking as a Driving License test. Which is great because it helps to learn how to train those big truck. However, most of those tests are really fast and relatively easy.

It is a bit sad however that there is not the License for all the official bits of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship. For example, the Hungarian GP has been replaced by another fictional Hungarian racetrack. It is not a big issue by itself but I am mostly curious to know what happened there.

Gameplay

The gameplay is .. interesting. Because the physic is there, you can feel that you drive a massive truck and that it has a different response than a car, but the game is relatively Arcade at the same time. You can break really late and usually get away with it. The turbo is well reproduced too. When you accelerate there is a bit of lag and once the Turbo kick you better get your wheels straight or you may lose the control of the truck. There is also that water tank used to cool down the break, like in real, which add an extra strategy part to the game.

In terms of AI and difficulty, well first there are only 3 difficulty levels, and even in the higher one (Professional), I beat every driver by 2 seconds per lap. The second thing is that similar to MotoGP 19, the penalties system is a bit broken. It is actually very clear in FIA European Truck Racing Championship, you hit 3 cones and you got a penalty. And it does, but only for you, not for the AI. If you are driving on the back of the pack, you will see that the other drivers are destroying almost every single cone of the racetrack but never get a single penalty, which can be a bit frustrating.

Another thing is that it looks like some details have been missing. For example, if you change the length of the race from 100 to 50%, your team will tell you in the final lap that you have done half of the race. The water tank also does not adjust to that change. So if you do 100%, you will have to take care of your water tank, but if you lower it then it is not a problem anymore.

Graphics

I have seen a lot of people criticizing the graphics but I think that the trucks are very well done. The racetracks are also fine. It does not have anything new or special but it is not bad either.

 

As a conclusion, well, I do enjoy the game. And I am happy that I got it. However, the lifetime is still somehow limited (even with the addition of the World Championship). Getting a higher difficulty level would probably help to make it more interesting. Having the FIA European Truck Racing Championship in a game is really nice but maybe not enough in terms of content in the end.

GRID Career Mode details

Despite being delayed to October 21st, Codemasters shared GRID Career Mode details today.

It announces 104 events at launch, spread across six disciplines: Touring, Stock, Tuner, GT, FA Racing, and Invitational. The first five disciplines offer 13 different events to complete, while the last one got 26. All of those disciplines will end with a Showdown event. Mmmh .. ok. Why not doing simple championships?

I am a bit afraid with the next statement which is: “Each event includes an objective you must complete to unlock more events in that discipline, and the objective won’t always be to win the race”. I do hope that the objective will still be a specific position and not something strange to do during the race.

“Each Showdown is a two-on-two race, pitting you and your teammate against the top team from each discipline, so use your racing prowess and tactical skill to win these challenging events.” Not sure I understand if that is a relay meaning that you do half of the race and your teammate do the other half?

You’ll need to win four of the six Showdown events to progress to the final chapter of Career mode. That means you don’t have to complete every discipline if you don’t want to.

I am honestly more scared than thrilled by that first of the news. The second part is however more interesting.

First, you learn that you can create your own Team, with name and livery. You will also need to purchase cars with what you earn during your races. And you can also hire and fire a teammate. This means that the game will put you as a team manager, which is definitely cool.

They also announced the addition of events which will almost double at some point. However no mention on if that will be for free or through paid DLC.

So, in the end, I am half happy and half afraid by that GRID Career Mode…

Dauntless “Fortune & Glory”

We already talked about the success of Dauntless in a previous article.

Today they revealed the first expansion of the free-to-play RPG game. It is named “Fortune & Glory”  and arrive today on Playstation 4, Xbox One and the Epic Games Store. It brings challenging Trials experience, a new Hunt Pass and some cosmetic rewards.

The Trials experience is a new gameplay offer by enigmatic figures. It will allow players to fight dangerous and modified Behemoths.
Trials are split in two difficulty levers: Normal and Dauntless.  Completing “Normal” difficulty Trials nets Slayers with Steel Marks, used to purchase unique rewards such as weapon mods and alternate special attacks while completing “Dauntless” difficulty Trials rewards Slayers with Gilded Marks: currency used to purchase exclusive cosmetic rewards that showcase more advanced accomplishments.

Players can also see how they perform by looking at the Wall of Champions, displaying the top performers for solo and groups on a weekly basis.

Dauntless “Fortune & Glory”  also marks the beginning of the “High Skies” season in Dauntless., which will continue later this summer.