The Quest Log: May 2, 2017

Hey Gamers! Welcome back to the Quest Log. A lot’s happened since we last checked in, so take a look at the news highlights below.

Switch Consoles Shipped by Plane to Meet Demand

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Nintendo paid for premium shipping this past March in order to meet the higher-than-expected demand for their Switch console. While most imported electronics (i.e., virtually ALL electronics) are carried via literal ships, Nintendo cut into their profits in order to put an undisclosed number of units on planes and get the units stateside as quickly as possible. In the article, Ace Research Institute analyst Hideki Yasuda explains that airfreight could easily cost “an additional ¥5,000 per unit,” or roughly $45 USD. Considering the cost of the Switch, that’s a lot of money for Nintendo to pony up, but Yasuda goes on to explain just how vital it was to Nintendo that they moved as many units in its first month as possible.

Details Revealed for Breath of the Wild’s First DLC Pack

Nintendo have finally revealed the details of their first planned expansion pack for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Earlier this year, they broke with tradition when they announced a season pass for the then upcoming open-world adventure game and ambiguously teased only a handful of details about their two planned expansions packs. The first of these is set to launch this summer and will add a Hard Mode, in which enemies are generally higher-leveled and gradually regenerate health, a special Travel Medallion, a combat challenge mode, and a number of new, nostalgic armor sets. Did anyone feel that BOTW was sorely lacking a certain flamboyant man-elf? This one’s for you.

Check out the link below for the specifics.

Darksiders 3 Announced

The first Darksiders game following the late THQ’s closure introduces players to Fury, the third Horseman of the apocalypse (at least in the game’s pseudo-Biblical canon) and sister two the last two series protagonists. While we know relatively little about the game at this point, it’s nice to see that THQ Nordic haven’t allowed the Zelda-inspired action-adventure series to fall by the wayside. According to the trailer, we’ll see Darksiders 3 sometime next year.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

I will never forget the first time that I watched the official reveal for a new Zelda project during E3 2014, when we saw Link soar through the air after leaping from his horse and launching an arrow at what we would later find out to be a “Guardian”. Although it was only a brief glimpse into what the future held for the franchise, it seemed as though Nintendo had something slightly different in mind for the forthcoming installment. While I knew that the franchise was in desperate need of a refresh, with a steady decline of fan reception, I was cautious on expecting any stellar changes since this was, after all, Nintendo we are talking about here. Hell or high water, they walk to the beat of their own drum as the rest of the world refuses to slow down. After multiple delays that seemed to indicate the likelihood of a title that could ever possibly live up to the hype seem to slowly slip away, to say I was anxious to get my hands on the title was a severe understatement. After more than 60+ hours into the experience, I can safely report that not only did Nintendo somehow deliver a game that actually lived up to the incredible hype and expectation, they actually managed to give us a game that will be discussed and praised for years to come. 

…but instead hands over the reigns to the user and says, “go ahead, give it a try…”

While Zelda: Breath of the Wild still has its flaws, when you begin looking at the gameplay mechanics and the way that they mesh together, there is no denying the levels of greatness this game hits in several moments of the game. From magnet abilities, to bombs, and to the glorious attribute of climbing nearly every surface, Link no longer finds himself being held back by the usual tropes and barriers that have silently outlined what we have come to expect in a Zelda game- but instead hands over the reigns to the user and says, “go ahead, give it a try”. With every insane idea that I had, or combination that I was sure was going to “break” the game, I was instead rewarded in a way that I have never experienced before in a video game. The result? An experience that has literally challenged the way I think about gameplay mechanics in a sandbox that only wants to provide you with the tools to succeed the way that you want. 

From the moment you begin your journey, you find yourself in the all-too-familiar scenario in which you are woken from a deep sleep and off you go. However, this is where the familiarity ends. Following the exit of your sleeping chamber, paired with your newfound ability to climb nearly any surface, you stand atop a cliff that overlooks the vast landscape of a Hyrule without any invisible barriers and more challenges than you could imagine. This is where you begin shaping your adventure, while you get a sense for a general flow that you could follow, the fact is that you can run in the opposite direction for hours avoiding any sense of true responsibility until you are ready. This kind of freedom ensures that no two players will experience the same adventure, but can instead swap stories of how they beat the game.

…none have empowered the player to explore, bend, and twist the mechanics of the world to this degree…

Anyone that has played a previous entry in the franchise will understand the usual flow of the game: you spend some time in the first areas available to you trying to acquire some bombs, which then allows you to move a rock, and thus gives you the ability to access a water temple at some later point down the road. Essentially, while it may seem like you are given an open world, you are still guided by invisible hands that ensure you check the boxes in the order that they want. Breath of the Wild crushes this expectation, and hands you all of the tools that you will need to complete literally every aspect of the game within the first hour or two. With all of your abilities in hand, you are thrust into an open world that screams to be explored, with no area that you can’t immediately get to. While there have been games before it that offer a vast open world in which you can explore such as the Fallout or Witcher series, none have empowered the player to explore, bend, and twist the mechanics of the world to this degree, and all the while maintaining the same level of polish that you learn to expect as you scavenge every nook and cranny. BOTW does this so well, that there is no doubt in my mind that this will be game developers and analysts alike who study just how they mastered this level of gameplay experience.

Now there are a couple of small additions to the system that can and will cause some frustration: the introduction of breakable weapons and of course the stamina system. While neither are a first time for the genre, previously executed in some of the other franchises I named earlier, I can definitely understand the feeling of defeat when you lose that sword you were so excited about after a short time. There was more than one instance that I found myself cursing the makers of the game as to why I needed to lose a bow after one boss battle. However, as with everything else in the game, you learn to adapt and later understand this system is implemented to force us to try new things instead of hoarding the same 4 weapons from beginning to end. As for the stamina bar? While it will impede the distance you run or the heights you can climb, again you learn to adapt by finding higher areas to glide from, as well as the ledges you can scale to. Throughout your journey, you will have several opportunities to expand your stamina meter, not to mention the use of food ingredients you can consume that will give you a temporary buff. 

If by now you haven’t guessed, I enjoyed this game thoroughly. From the shrines and trials that you wished never ended, to the peaceful music and sound of the breeze as you ride your horse across the countryside in search of another easter egg, this game is a masterpiece in nearly every aspect and must be played. It is a game that will continue to dominate water cooler conversations, and pop up in casual conversations of the greatest of all time. This game has earned every praise and acknowledgment that it has received, and will continue to dominate the background noise of my mind. Simply put, I can’t get enough of this game — and I cannot wait to see what is next for Link and Princess Zelda. 

The Quest Log: March 14, 2017

Happy Pi day, everyone, and welcome back to The Quest Log, where we cover the top highlights in gaming news.

Nintendo Releases Three-part Making of Zelda: BOTW Video Series

Today on their official YouTube channel, Nintendo released a three-part video series that takes viewers behind the scenes of the creation of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The videos include interviews, concept art, and a glimpse at features and locales that got left on the cutting-room floor.

For the First Time Ever, D&D Players are Getting an Official Digital Companion

Wizards of the Coast–the publisher of the quintessential tabletop RPG, Dungeons and Dragons–unveiled early this week their upcoming official companion app to the game, the first in its history. D&D Beyond will give users access to official content, allow them to create and manage “homebrew” content, and track character builds and progress. Interested tabletop fans can sign up for the beta test via the following:

Co-founder Leaves Kinda Funny

Colin Moriarty, co-founder of popular YouTube channel Kinda Funny, announced on Facebook page his immediate departure from the group. Moriarty, who previously worked for IGN, says he has other opportunities in the pipeline and that, “you haven’t seen or heard the last of me.” The move comes following an offensive Tweet Moriarty made on International Women’s Day.

The Quest Log: March 10, 2017

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Breaks a Metacritic Record

It’s no mystery that the latest, seminal entry in the series is getting rave reviews, but it’s difficult to quantify just how well it’s being received. To that end, the game’s already surpassed one major milestone as it now holds more 100 (i.e., perfect) review scores on review aggregator Metacritic than any other released title in history. Breath of the Wild takes the mantle from one of Nintendo’s own, Super Mario Galaxy 2, as well as GTA IV. The latest Zelda title currently holds an average critical score of 98.

Steam User Review Scores Will No Longer Include Non-paying Gamers

In their official community blog, Steam announced today that they will no longer include user reviews of gamers who did not directly purchase a given title in the game’s customer review score in the store, which means that players who received game codes by other means (e.g., developer giveaway, bundle, etc.) will no longer be able to affect the game’s average. This restriction is an expansion of one put in place just last September as a continued effort to “improve the relevance of the score by better reflecting the sentiment expressed by invested, paying customers.”

Project Scorpio Will See Improved Performance for All Xbox One Titles Right Out of the Box

While official details on Microsoft’s Project Scorpio are few and far between, Windows Central revealed new details about the upcoming console in an exclusive detail. They report that not only will Scorpio enable 4k gaming for supported titles, it will also improve the performance of existing 1080p (or less) Xbox One games right out of the box. This revelation comes hot on the heels of Sony’s recently released “boost mode” for the PS4 Pro.