Tag Archives: RPG

Dark Souls III – Farewell to an Epic Friend

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FromSoftware’s titan of a series has finally come to an end; not with a whimper – but with a bang.

Dark Souls III arrived in April to the delight of millions of fans worldwide just itching to spew curse words at their TV’s. After an absence from Dark Souls II, FromSoftware’s main man Hidetaka Miyazaki returns to his rightful place as director of the project this time around (and it definitely shows). From the complex yet simple level design to the extremely deep combat mechanics, Miyazaki-san’s presence is most certainly felt in the latest (and final) installment.

Dark Souls III begins in the future of the Souls timeline, after Dark Souls II and well after Dark Souls. The cycle that players have been a part of since the beginning has gone askew, with different timelines and dimensions now all converging on one point. Dark Souls III’s plot can be very confusing to newcomers, especially those who have not played the previous installments and their respective DLCs, so it is definitely a good idea for those new to the series to at the very least read a plot synopsis up until this point. The story for the most part remains fairly open-ended (as the previous games have), so that the player can speculate and figure out the plot for themselves. By doing this, FromSoftware has managed to create a tight-knit community that is able to openly debate not only the mechanics of the game, but the plot as well.

The setting this time around is Lothric, which is clearly influenced by all the previous souls games, including Bloodborne and Demon Souls (two games with similar mechanics to Dark Souls but with different plots and settings). The level design is breathtaking, with plenty of gorgeous vistas that one can easily get lost in. Miyazaki’s influence is perhaps best felt in the level design, which shift away from the numerous checkpoints of Dark Souls II back to a more “shortcut” based design. Rather than having bonfires to rest at/warp to spread around everywhere, Souls III requires the player to be a bit more observant, looking for hidden paths, ladders and elevators that allow for massive skips in the level. The levels are also massive, with numerous branching paths and plenty of hidden secrets to explore.

Combat has also been changed again for DS III, taking elements from Dark Souls, DS II and even Bloodborne; creating a hybrid system which works very well. There does seem to be some balancing issues however, with magic, dark magic and miracles being slightly underpowered compared to previous installments. Pyromancy works very well and with a bunch of new spells mixed in with the classic favorites, there is definitely something for everyone. Weapons are also still a bit unbalanced, with early game strength weapons being almost useless versus the faster dexterity-based weapons. However, late-game really balances out the different weapon types, making numerous builds viable in late-game PvP.

One mechanic that still remains shrouded in mystery is the poise mechanic. In previous Souls games, poise was a measure of how many hits your character could take before you were “staggered.” In DS III however, it’s unclear exactly what poise does, as there doesn’t seem to be any difference in armor types when it comes to how fast someone is staggered. There is speculation among fans that poise somehow effects how many frames of “hyper armor” one has when doing certain moves, which makes the character temporarily unstaggerable (although it has not been confirmed or denied by FromSoftware yet). This mystery just adds to the mountain of information players are still attempting to sift through and decipher months after the initial release.

Another strong point of Dark Souls III is its multiplayer. Up to six player “phantoms” can be summoned at once, which is a mechanic originally introduced in Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, but has since been improved upon. Depending on the area, hosts can summon up to three friends for co-op with two more slots open for other players to “invade.”

The way that covenants work has also been improved, with special equipable items to signify one’s covenant, making it easier to switch on the fly between your different covenants (covenants are factions within Souls that award you special items based on your co-op or player vs. player participation). Speaking of covenants, another improvement is the addition of the Mound Makers covenant (essentially a “neutral” covenant). In previous games, it was basically the host and his co-op phantoms versus any invading red phantoms. In DS III, the host can summon or be invaded by a purple phantom, who can either co-op with the host OR kill him. Purple phantoms also receive rewards for attacking other phantoms of any color, so it’s actually beneficial for them to keep the host alive. This adds a whole new layer to the multiplayer which was not present in the previous games. However, multiplayer does still have its quirks. Although greatly improved over the other games in the series, there is still some issues with lag which can effect the outcome of player duels. There has also been an ongoing problem with hackers on the PC version, with even innocent players being banned just for accidental interaction with hackers. FromSoft is currently still working on these problems and have been slowly improving the situation, so it’s likely within the next few months they will be fixed for the most part.

Overall, Dark Souls III is an amazing experience, both for fans of the series and newcomers. From the gorgeous levels to the extremely in-depth combat mechanics, there is something for any hardcore RPG player. Those craving a challenge will also love Dark Souls III. It pulls no punches in its difficulty level, harkening back to the days of the NES and games like the original Castlevania. With DLC currently in development, tons of replayabilty and awesome endgame content, Dark Souls III will certainly keep fans playing for quite a long time.

Warframe (PC) Review

Warframe is a cooperative free-to-play third person shooter/RPG with the feel of an old-school dungeon crawler.

The game takes place in the far future where the Solar System is overrun with several different races vying for power. You play as a Tenno, essentially the last remnants of humanity that use different armors (aptly named warframes) to do battle with the warlike Grineer – the technologically advanced Corpus, and the biological Infestation. After being awakened by a woman known as Lotus from a cryogenic sleep, you find yourself struggling to regain your lost power while trying to survive the war-torn solar system.

The main objective of Warframe is to get loot (a lot of it) and level it up. Missions are designed with maximum re-playability in mind, with no two levels being exactly the same. Warframe uses a procedure generated level design based on various tile sets, much like the dungeons of Diablo or Path of Exile. This is good because you will be playing the same levels a lot.  Certain rare resources are best acquired by fighting specific bosses, leading to many replays of specific boss battles in order to farm said resources. While it is possible to buy new weapons, Warframes, keys and other items for real money, it’s not required. Pretty much everything in the game can be unlocked by grinding, save for cosmetic upgrades and more inventory slots.

Coop multiplayer is really where the fun is at in Warframe. Up to four players can fight together in a variety of different mission types from straight-up exterminations to spy missions that require some twitch-based puzzle skills. Players can also form clans and build “dojos”, which are essentially giant space stations for clan members to meet. In the dojo, clan members can duel, trade items, research various items and weapons, or just hang out. Other than dueling, players can also enter PVP areas and fight in teams against other clans.

Movement in Warframe is perhaps one of the best aspects of the game. Your Tenno can run, jump, climb up walls, slide, and perform various other ninja maneuvers. The wall running and jumping isn’t just for show, as many levels require some platforming to advance. The combat is also extremely fluid; switching from ranged to melee is very streamlined, and there are many different weapons to choose from. Each weapon (as well as your warframe) can be leveled up and modded to make them more powerful. Mods can also be combined in different ways to make weapons even more devastating than normal.

In addition to its gameplay, Warframe has a rich lore and aesthetic that is unlike any other game out today. The concept of space-traveling ninjas in the far future is a very odd combination, but it works great. As you progress through the game, you learn more of the back story of each warframe, but also of each enemy type you encounter. The fact that it takes place in our own solar system (albeit well after humanity has largely gone extinct) makes for a new take on the whole post-apocalyptic/scifi genre. This isn’t a world where humanity is barely getting by in a barren wasteland. The Tenno are more of a shadow organization, barely a blip on the radar in this future where aliens rule the solar system, fighting each other for power. You are not here to “reclaim Earth” or help restart the human race in any way, but merely to survive in the chaos our solar system has fallen into.

While there are many great aspects of Warframe, it does have a few downfalls. It is still being actively developed, and so there are some crazy (often hilarious) glitches that happen occasionally. It is also extremely grindy. You can spend hours trying to get one resource without finding any. Having said that, developer Digital Extremes have really gone above and beyond to improve the game from what it once was, adding new maps, enemies, events, and greatly improving the user interface. While not perfect, it is certainly much more polished than it was a year ago, and new content (free content that is) is constantly being implemented.

Overall, while not the greatest game out today, Warframe is certainly very fun. It can get a bit tedious after a while, but if you can find some friends to play with, that definitely helps cut down the boredom caused by grinding for resources. If you are looking to play a game similar to Destiny but only have a PC, than look no further than Warframe. In many ways, Warframe does right the things that Destiny failed on, and while it may not be quite as vast as Destiny, Warframe certainly offers hours of enjoyment to any RPG/dungeon crawler fan.