Sandbox Gaming: Too much of something can be a bad thing

“We made a massive map full of interesting things and cool sites to see, how will we get our player to explore?”
“Make them collect 5 of something, over and over again”

This idea was once kept to the boundaries of your typical MMO. Go out see the world and kill x of every animal or being you can find until, eventually the killing for experience stop and the grind for gear began.

Unfortunately the more sandbox games get released the more of a cross over we begin to see.

Its been quite refreshing playing Uncharted 2 over the last month, a game thats driven by story content and the occasional killing spree in an ancient temple. I managed to sink about 8 to 10 hours into the game which for me is a good amount of time. The problem I find with open world games is you never know when to stop the fucking around collecting werewolf dicks and actually put sometime in the story.

Final Fantasy 15 has an interesting approach to the sandbox vs liner gameplay. They essentially split the game up into both categories. The first part of the game sees your driving around with your j-pop boyband – killing the odd monster, collecting the occasion special weapon and upgrading your car. From what I can see none of this seems to be getting your kingdom back its just helping you prepare for the final story.

However even Final Fantasy cannot escape the MMO trope and you soon find yourself killing monsters over and over again for loot and exp, and of course lets not forget collecting things. Earlier Final Fantasies like 7 and 9 had an open world feel to them but managed to avoid the unnecessary repetitive quest approach which seems to be plaguing new sandbox games. Even FF10 which was a much more linear game felt open enough to give you a sense of freedom.

I must admit i managed to spent at least 75 hours in Skyrim and again maybe about 50 hours in fallout 4. A game that in my opinion was incredibly weak. I also managed to spend the equivalent on Witcher 3, again a game i felt was weaker than it previous games simply because it was a sandbox game.

Too much of something can be a bad thing

In all these games i mainly focused on the main story quest and any secondary quest which i can find meaning in, like a little side story. In some cases i get bored of the game long before i even complete it. Too much of something can be a bad thing and this is probably my main issue with sandbox games.

After sinking 45 hours into Final Fantasy XV i managed to make it to chapter 13. At this point i was pretty bored with the game but having read that chapter 13 was just bad, i dragged myself through. Now i’m on the final 3 bosses and to be honest i really don’t give a fuck any more.

Uncharted left me wanting more, so once i completed 2 i moved on to 4 (i’ll go back to 3), however when i complete a sandbox game… well you can’t really, you just get fed up and do the last mission so you can say you sort of finished it.

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GOTY (Games of the year), because picking 1 wouldn’t be fun.

Stand back and look in shock-horror at yet another 2015 GOTY post. Everyone and your mum has posted their top something games of the year and then gone ahead and put a number next to each one. In order to spice things up a bit i’m going to just list the 3 games I played this year, since all of them pushed the 50-100 hour mark i’m not entirely sure how I was suppose to play anything else.

So tl:dr – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Fallout 4.

(No surprise there then)


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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

With over 70 hours invested into MGS5 its easy to see why it made the pack, the game is fitting episode in the MGS franchise, but not a fitting end to it. If like me you where expecting a solid break down of what the fuck is all going on and how everything works together you will be disappointed. The game has the potential to be one of the all time best games to hit your eyes, unfortunately it falls apart towards the end.

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

For me this was my most anticipated games of 2015. The Witcher 2 is in my top games to play in your life time and its being put together by one of the best development teams currently working in the industry. I might have sounded a bit too harsh on the game when I reviewed it after my initial play through. My hatred of sandbox norms unfortunately meant that I didn’t appreciate it as much as i should have. This year I plan to replay the game with the new expansions, lets hope this will make the game live up to my expectations.

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Fallout 4

Having had trouble getting into Fallout 3, I was on the fence about Fallout 4. The game however dragged me in and I poured 50+ hours into it.. I liked the game, it kept me interested for an ample amount of time, I didn’t know what to expect so for me it was a nice time sink. For everyone else it wasn’t so good, it felt to console’affied (coined it) no longer living up to the Fallout franchise and your ability to persuade end-bosses to kill themselves – or something. Anyway didn’t work out to well.

So thats it 2015 the year sandboxes games became the norm.

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Did I make it to the end?

This is going to be a strange post – it will likely only apply to me but maybe somewhere someone else is just as confused as me about when a game actually ends. Sandbox games will likely dominate this years GOTY contenders and rightly so as games like MGS5 and Fallout 4 have made me more accepting of the never ending, free-roaming, hands off gaming experience which is sandbox. Story wise though im not sure where I stand on either one of these games, in this post I will be dropping spoilers like a boss. So if you have yet to finish any of the top titles this year please avoid below.

Lets post all the spoilers!

MGS5 is a prime example of when a game runs out of money(?), chapter 2 just felt pointless and the end of chapter 1 left me confused as to whether I had actually completed the game. After shooting the shit out of Sal (sahelanthropus) chapter 2 was unlocked with a nice little introduction highlighting what to expect. Even though I was pretty much done with MGS5, I felt rejuvenated with the intro to chapter 2. Unfortunately chapter 2 never really took off, leading me to become confused about where I was in the games story and if chapter 2 had anything to do with.. anything.

Chapter 2 is mostly a re-hash of chapter 1 missions, but with the added twist of certain constraints being injected into the missions to make them harder. Some mission just had a straight up hard mode setting where others didn’t allow you to use any equipment or require absolute stealth. I have nothing against this, but this kind of gameplay should be entirely optional. Unfortunately to move forward in the story you needed to complete these mission or do more side missions which just felt like grinding.

So was chapter 1 the end? I don’t know, what I do know is I googled all the additional ending simply because I had no idea what was going on. This seems to be a general consensus across the internet. Why cant we just have the story delivered straight up with no hidden confusion, why was the “Kill all my diamond dog bros” mission not in the core story? Chapter 2 just felt like a failure.

Fallout 4 was less of a cluster fuck when it came to story but it did throw me off a bit after I joined the institute for a while.

Watching brotherhood of steal bros head smashing the railway nerds.

After you find out that Shaun is Farther you have the choice to join the institute and essentially become another Kelloge, going around collecting run away synths which the institute accidentally made sentient. I started off helping out and picking up a few synths un-till we got the bunker hill fuck up. At this point everyone was still my bro so I essentially walked through the entire fight as a spectator watching brotherhood of steal bros head smashing the railway nerds.

Eventually you get to the synths and you have to make a decision about returning them to be re-programmed or setting them free. I opted to set them free.

Farther was a bit upset and so decided to have a heart to heart with me on top of the MIT building where he said we could no longer be besties and so sent me off in to the waste to wander around along again.

Now what, literally that was it a “Im disappointed” speech and then he teleported off. I followed up on all my leads: The railway, brotherhood, minuet men, etc and no one wanted to know that I had found the evil child catchers.

Who knows.

A few hours later Gravy told me the castle was under attack by the institute and everything kicked off for a bit. But again I had to google to find out what exactly I was suppose to be doing.

fallout-end

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Fallout over Game’s farce with the Pipboy Release

Today is the big release day for Fallout 4. Months ago I made a quick post about how my fiancé and I, like many of our friends, had pre-ordered the Pip Boy edition, exclusively sold in the UK by Game.

What we didn’t realise was that we would be entering essentially a Lucky Dip as to whether or not we would get it, and at the price we expected.

Straight away I feel like I should point out that luckily we have received our confirmation email that our copy will be delivered this afternoon, so a tiny part of me feels a little unqualified to comment on this farce that is Game’s exclusive. However, this morning I had a conversation with a very good friend of mine who had gone so far as to book a week’s holiday in order to immerse herself and enjoy the game she pre-ordered 5 months ago. She was charged by Game not for 1, but 2 copies of the game (despite not ordering that many), and today she was heartbroken to find out that despite this, and despite so many phonecalls to their ‘customer service’, she would not be receiving a copy of her game on time, and possibly not at all due to their incompetence at recording her address.

Unsurprisingly she’s pissed, and I would be too if I were in her position. And infuriatingly she isn’t alone. If you search the hashtag #pipboyedition on Twitter you’ll find complaints from upset gamers wondering why their orders got cancelled. Accusations of trickery, incompetence, downright theft – and yet amongst all of this you also see tweets and pictures of Game selling copies of the sold out Pipboy edition in store as part of the midnight release. No wonder #BoycottGameUk is also on Twitter.

Rubbing salt in the wound
Rubbing salt in the wound

So is this Game’s first attempt at a massive UK exclusive and it just happens to have gone wrong? Sadly no – its not even as if they have a good history of these kind of releases and this is just the first one to fail this year. Just a few months ago there was the colossal cock-up with people that pre-ordered copies of Mario Maker getting double-charged. Further back in 2012 with the release of ME 3, there was the blunder of Game not sorting out their stock ready for the release day – resulting in them being unable to fulfil orders that were made months in advance (Reference: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-02-29-game-not-stocking-mass-effect-3-or-ea-games-past-ssx)

Game Rage

So what can people do if they’ve been shafted? Going back to the story of my friend, she was gutted to realise she wouldn’t be receiving her game. She had tried getting into contact with them to sort things out but felt like she was going nowhere. I suggested she contacted the ombudsman to get it resolved, and she had never heard about them so I felt like it was something I should share with you guys.

So what is an ombudsman? Here is the definition taken from Ombudsman Services:

“Ombudsman Services is here to give independent and impartial decisions on complaints. Our service is free for consumers to use. We operate under appropriate legislation and with the approval of regulatory authorities and trade bodies. We are not a watchdog or a regulator – our job is to resolve complaints, not punish the companies we resolve complaints about. We are independent so we do not take sides.” 

Essentially – if you have made a complaint to the company and you are not happy with their attempt to resolve it, the ombudsman is there to provide an impartial ruling for both sides. They investigate your case and find out whether or not you are due additional compensation, or if there is anything that can be done to resolve your problem another way.

Below is the link for the Consumer Ombudsman. I highly recommend contacting them if you have been on the receiving end of this epic screw-up, and feel like Game are not taking your complaint seriously. You will need to make a formal complaint to Game first, so I suggest writing a letter and making sure you keep copies of any communications you send/receive.

http://www.consumer-ombudsman.org/

People are also setting up petitions to stop Game getting exclusives on game content, creating essentially a monopoly. If you feel strongly about this I recommend finding and signing one of these petitions. Search on places like change.org. If you want to voice your frustrations but don’t wish to sign petitions, use social media! Hashtags such as the ones I’ve already mentioned are in full use – join in with your experiences!

Let us stop retailers having sole exclusives on major game releases, because it’s becoming clear that they are just not up to the job.

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Geek Chic

So last week I became the proud owner of my very first gaming fashion item after purchasing one of these bad boys.

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Jealous much?

Last year gaming Christmas jumpers became the must-have clothing item for geeks everywhere when Sonic and Streets Fighter released their first knitted apparel. My mother tried buying one for her almost son-in-law (I love finding new ways to say that I’m getting married – can you tell?) as he loves all things Sonic, but she had to buy the shitty printed versions that were hastily shipped after everyone and their friend bought the genuine-knitted article. It was a shame, but it was the thought that counts!

My other half has owned gamer clothing the entire time I’ve known him – Sonic/playstation beanies, t-shirts, hoodie…pretty standard stuff. But I’ve not jumped onto the bandwagon until now, and I have to say I’m pretty impressed. It’s a really thick, warm jumper. And best of all? I don’t have to wear the largest size they sell! You have no idea how good a feeling that is for a fatty like me.

I wanted to buy another one, but having a look there isn’t anything else that has caught my eye. It’s all FPS, or classic fighter games…or Sonic. Why is there no Final Fantasy Christmas jumper? I’d buy that shit straight away.

Another thing I’ve often noticed when trying to buy ‘geeky’ or ‘gamer’ clothing, is that unless you are *at most* a size 16, you will not find a wide variety of female clothing – be it t-shirts, skirts, dresses etc. I love tank tops, strappy tops, dresses – as long as there is a flattering cut around my boobs and it’s not suffocatingly tight for a top, and goes with leggings as a dress/skirt I’m a happy camper. But can I get any interesting designs in those styles and my size? No – I have to buy a male t-shirt and either suck it up or cut it up. Shoes? Again, as a size 9 as long as I’m happy buying men’s shoes I can get a geeky pair. That’s quite disheartening, and makes shopping at conventions a much less fun experience. Obviously if I could sew it would make life a whole lot easier, but what about us lazy larger ladies? Am I just shopping at all the wrong places?

skinny gamer
ONE SIZE FITS ALL

What I like best however is when people get creative and make their own – I once had a half hour drunken chat in a nightclub with a woman who made her very own Pokémon corset. Now that is that I call

In summary I love geeky clothing, the more original the better – I only wish I could wear more of it.

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