Tag Archives: Loot

Fortnite review

I’m definitely one who gets sucked into the hype, but for some reason, Fortnite passed me by until a week or so before release. I watched one trailer on YouTube and I was hooked. However, on the face of it the game seemed pretty straight forward, but when I finally got to play it I quickly learned that Fortnite has some depth to it, in fact so much depth I don’t even think I’ve scratched the surface yet.

Fortnite has so many layers to it you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t address them all. I am also finding it quite hard to define exactly what type of game Fortnite is. To give you an overview it’s an action RPG, grind fest, builder, loot fest management game. Just to give you a brief snapshot of what is actually going on, loads of storms have hit the earth and turned mankind into the walking dead. The zombies look a little like twisted versions of the ones from Plants Vs Zombies but there are different types, some bigger and some with special abilities. You play a commander whose task it is to gather resources, survivors, and weapons in order to survive the apocalypse.

The main aim of the game is to defend a point on a map from hordes of zombies, or Husks as they are called. The overall aim doesn’t change and a lot of the time it’s rinse and repeat. You start each mission with time to gather your resources. You swing a massive pick axe, hitting objects to break them down into resources that you need to build your fortress and create ammunition. Pretty much everything on each stage is destructible so you’re never really short of stuff, but it does get old quite quickly and it is very time-consuming. It’s a necessary evil, no resources then you can’t do anything but turn up and be a nuisance to your team.

Once you’ve gathered enough and found the main objective then it’s up to you and your team to defend it by building a stronghold that will prevent the husks from attacking and destroying it. Building is brilliant and extremely simple. With a touch of the B button you can quickly switch to build mode, select the item type you need, either wall, floor, stairs or roof, and away you go. You can edit each piece and quickly select a pattern to suit what type of piece you need to create your masterpiece. I love how easy the building element works, it’s straight forward and not complicated at all. On the odd occasion, you can build a radar when you find it on each map, following the pattern is easy and straight forward so bravo to Epic for making it that way, I think it could have been so much more difficult if they wanted it to be.

Once you’ve got bored of gathering (or a team mate has) and you have activated the thingymajig then the horde begins its onslaught. Zombies are spawned from within a storm and typically attack from one direction at a time, with the number of zombies increasing, and adding additional types, as the mission progresses. The combat is very nicely executed and your arsenal ranges from small arms to large machine guns and melee weapons. You can also use a special ability. I played the ninja so I was a dab hand with a sword and had an airstrike as my backup when things got busy, but the cooldown for such devastation comes at a price and can only be used once every three minutes. The third person angle provides a good point of view of what is incoming and very rarely are there any nasty surprises. Ammunition for your weapons can be made on the fly, which I think is a brilliant touch, however, that’s only if you have the resources to make it!

Throughout each mission you’re awarded medals for combat and resource gathering, this will help towards the end game loot chest that you’ll get for completing the mission. Speaking of loot, Fortnite has tonnes of the stuff! In fact, and I never thought I’d say this, I think it has too much! This is a matter of opinion, though, and I know of some folk who think there isn’t enough. As well as the end of mission reward chest loot, there are also Llamas…..don’t ask, because I have no idea why they chose Llamas. The Llamas are basically a pinata that you smash and it drops additional loot, such as new characters, experience, weapons, etc. On rare occassions, your Llama won’t break and it automatically upgrades to the next tier of Llama making the loot inside more desirable.

Of course, with Fortnite allegedly going free-to-play next year they need to make money somewhere, so you can buy coins and spend them on Llamas if you so wish. I did find that loot was plentiful but this had the opposite effect I expected. For me, it became boring getting the loot and wondering what to do with it all. You get schematics for new weapons, survivors, XP boosts, traps, followers and coins but all this does is give you the exclamation mark in each subject to let you know something new has arrived, then you spend ages getting rid of them and not really knowing what you’re supposed to do with all this stuff. If I was to slate Fortnite for something it would the fact you get far too much far too quickly and for some this could lead to frustration and a sense of being overwhelmed by what’s happening. Eventually Fortnite reveals the use of all these unlocks you’ve been collecting, but it takes hours upon hours before everything is fully explained. A nice touch to all the loot, though, is a collectors book where you place an item into a section relating to the loot type, this takes it out of your inventory and into the book. I did get a sense of nostalgia doing it and it kind of reminded me of when I collected Back to the Future stickers all those years ago. I’m determined to fill the book that’s for sure.

One thing that is important to understand is that Fortnite is still in development, regardless of who paid what for it and the amount of money people are spending on micro transactions, the game is not finished and there are a few niggly little bits that could be ironed out. One annoying thing is a glitchy match making systems making the game freeze whenever a random joins your session. I often thought my Xbox had frozen and sometimes it took ages before it resolved itself. These things will be ironed out by the time it goes free-to-play, I’m sure of it, and by then it will be up to you to buy new characters, chests and bloody Llamas to keep the game afloat. With any game like this, there are always updates and improvements making the experience better and that’s reassuring to know.

Once the annoying stuff has been addressed and fixed Fortnite stands to be an amazing game. Fortnite’s appealing gameplay and claws that keep dragging you back for more aren’t easy to shift. Epic could have done a better job in explaining different features such as squads etc. but on the whole, if you’re not bothered by a game,s side objectives then you can pretty much jump into Fortnite and smash your way around a mission or two.

The cartoon like graphics make the game very light hearted, it wouldn’t have the same feeling if the environments were more serious and sinister with proper motion captured characters and detailed graphics. The voice acting and sound is on point and Fortnite is generally a happy and upbeat game that’s easy to look at and listen to.

Like I said right at the start Fortnite has more layers than a show piece wedding cake, to tell you them all would take ages and I’ll be honest I don’t fully understand them all yet either, I mean I haven’t even mentioned the massive skill tree’s yet have I?….I’ll leave that there for now. As gamers, we ask for games with depth and Fortnite has it. I was excited for Fortnite from one trailer and the game hasn’t disappointed me, although at times the resource gathering and management can get very old but the combat and quirkiness of the game quickly make up for it. I feel that my multiple hours though is certainly not enough to get a full grasp of what’s on offer and I’ll definitely be diving in for months to come, so feel free to join me. To check out some gameplay and this review watch the video below.

Thanks to Epic Games and Xbox for supporting TiX

Victor Vran review

Victor Vran is brought to us by Haemimont Games, and with legendary titles such as the Tropico series under their belts, then my expectations were extremely high for Victor. I do have to manage my expectations here and defend Victor a bit, a lot of people are comparing this game to triple A titles and that’s not fair, because triple A is something that Mr Vran is not. With developer behemoths such as Blizzard behind Diablo then titles like this from smaller developers already have a hard time getting noticed. It’s time to be open minded and give the small guys a go.

Victor Vran is our protagonist and he is a Demon Hunter by trade. Victor travels to Zagoravia, a dark dank city where all manners of undead foe spawn from the ground and evil wizards emerge to cast all hell onto you. The main thing that puts Victor out in front is there are no classes to speak of, it’s you, Victor, and endless enemies to battle through. You can, however, obtain outfits and these offer various perks and aesthetics but they’re definitively not classes.

You have four types of weapons to choose from: swords, guns, hammers, rapiers. These drop from enemies and can be found in loot chests scattered around the world. Like any game of this type, loot is important, and as usual the rarer the better. Each weapon has three abilities, I can’t really tell you what they are as I didn’t really take much notice but each one has its own devastating attack weather that be targeted or a simple AOE effect. Along with your weapons, you have Overdrive, as you attack this builds up its own power bar and when it’s full you can unleash your Demon Attack skill causing carnage in your wake. Demon abilities drop like weapons and also the rarer the better. Demon skills aren’t always offensive though as some give you protective and healing auras making life a little easier.

You can equip two types of weapon at any one time and eventually unlock the ability to equip two types of demon skills. Switching between one weapon type and another is simple, at the touch of the RB button you switch, meaning that you can use your harder attacks in quick succession. The controls over all are really good and simple to get to grips with. Victor Vran offers something a little different in terms of viewpoint though, whilst most crawlers give you a fixed view, Victor Vran allows you to rotate the screen meaning you can get into every nook and cranny of each area.

Combat is often fast and exciting, with mobs spawning around all the time and quite often in packs. This gives for a satisfying feeling when you drop a devastating melee attack and obliterate everyone on the screen. With multiplayer also being an option this adds for some exhilarating gameplay as you all bring your own unique flair to the game. Difficulty naturally increases but it’s worth trudging through with your team on the hunt for better loot. That being said, sometimes you can get lost in the carnage and things get quite confusing but that’s a small price to pay.

Victor Vran also gives players a jump ability, something that is missing from most crawlers, this allows you to jump over walls and seek out hidden treasures behind walls and fences. If you jump into a wall you get a double jump chance meaning that you’re not limited to a certain path and this allows for some exploration of areas. Typically areas are big enough to allow a fair amount of venturing off the beaten path, all in the hope of finding a find a rare spawn that will drop some phat loot.

Speaking of which Victor Vran is packed with the stuff, there is loot everywhere, some not so good but you don’t have to venture far into the game before you start picking up some decent items. Some people may be put off by that but it does come in handy early on, trust me. When you reach the ripe old level of 16 you get access to the transmutation machine, this allows you to sacrifice the trash loot and improves what you have. When it comes to loot, it’s yours and yours alone, there is no trading with other players and no swapping that legendary hammer with your friend for a quick boost.

With all the elements that most RPG/dungeon crawlers have, Victor Vran doesn’t disappoint. Sometimes it can get a bit tedious especially when it comes to the voice acting, which by the way stars Doug Cockle of Witcher fame. There is a character called the “The Voice” who randomly speaks to you and sometimes offers hints, the voice cracks the same jokes all the time, frankly it gets a bit boring. These shortfalls should in no way deter you from giving Victor Vran a go, because it’s a part of what is a fantastic dungeon crawler.

Victor Vran is not without its issues but on the whole I really enjoyed playing it and I will definitely be returning to Zagoravia for more. Graphically it’s adequate and the sounds fit perfectly, Victor Vran is a treat for dungeon crawler fans and perfect for those who want something a little different. No crawler would be complete without chickens making and appearance…yep that’s right you get a gun that shoots out chickens…what more could you want. Why not click on the video below for some gameplay and a video review of the game.

Thanks to Haemimont Games and Xbox for supporting TiX

Diablo III Review

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Diablo III is the third in a series of iconic PC cooperative dungeon crawler RPG’s. The franchise is well known and respected in PC gaming circles, it ranks up there with other RPG’s and dungeon crawlers like Neverwinter Nights and Baldur’s Gate.  It is quite literally one of the industry’s most popular franchises, a battle between Good and Evil, Heaven and Hell, and now finally it is here on Xbox 360.

I’ve been waiting a long time for this day – the chance to finally get my Blizzard fix whilst relaxing on the sofa with the comfort of an Xbox 360 controller in my hand. When I first read those port rumours a couple of years back and even saw the Blizzard recruitment posts looking a Console Producer, it still felt too good to be true. But the much anticipated game is finally here and I am ecstatic to report that it handles superbly albeit outside of its usual confines.

Like its predecessors, this iteration is a diabolically (like what I did there?) hellish, cooperative dungeon crawler that isn’t afraid to ratchet up its toughness from time to time. Diablo III, while featured completely in 3D with a 3D environment, follows closely in Diablo II’s track by using the classic isometric view, fast gameplay, and randomized content for high replayability. Some changes have been made in order to make the game more welcoming to new players, to ramp up the difficulty more smoothly, and to create a deep and engaging combat system. The Diablo III developers took inspiration from previous games in the series, as well as World of Warcraft. This latest behemoth offers a bevy of different degrees of challenge in the form of Normal, Nightmare, Hell & Inferno difficulties.

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Each difficulty level repeats the same content (with a few minor changes), while scaling up all the skills, items, monsters, experience rewards, gold drops, and everything else to maintain a challenge appropriate to the character level. The fourth difficulty level, Inferno, is a new feature in Diablo III, adding a much more challenging end game experience to the Hell difficulty that was the upper limit in Diablo II. If that sounds like it’s up your alley, then you’ll surely end up enjoying the twenty-odd hour game during your first run through, and multiple run through’s afterwards.

As with all titles similar, players are given the opportunity to pick and name their character, choose its gender and class from several different archetypes, some of which will be familiar to role-playing fanatics. First up is the typical hulking muscle ripped Barbarian, a close combat specialist. Next is the speedy monk with strong Eastern martial arts influences, then the nature-wielding, necromancy practicing and alchemy expert Witch Doctor. The final two classes are the ranged Demon Hunter who specializes in crossbows and trap laying and finally the expected Wizard, pure spell caster who focuses the arcane and elemental energies and transforms them into destructive offensive spells.

Being someone who daily wishes they had spells and magical powers at their disposal, I picked the Wizard and stuck with him from start through to completion. I’ve yet to load up the next difficulty, but don’t worry, I will. I aim to finish this game on all FOUR difficulties.

The thing about Diablo games, and especially III, is that they are action-packed right from the get go. Diablo III ups the ante on most if not all of its peers. It doesn’t matter where you happen to be standing, the likelihood is there are enemies in extremely close proximity to you and your party. Enemies are monstrous in their design and range from the grotesque to demonic, mutated and downright vile. This is a game about good trying to overcome evil and these enemies are everything you’ve had nightmares about from childhood to adult life. Because of the sheer number of them make sure you are always fully stocked on health potions. Playing Solo (offline or without a local 2nd, 3rd and 4th player) you’ll probably die quite a bit, especially near the beginning. During the early quests I was continually swarmed by hordes of foes who killed me with relative ease – the bastards!

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In terms of the story line, unless you’ve played the prior two titles, it will intrigue you but won’t come across as the best or most unique script every written. For those of you familiar with Diablo lore, you’ll enjoy what is on offer as new and interesting details are revealed. The basic premise is an old man and his niece discover an ancient text, a text that speaks about an upcoming demonic invasion. As happens in all these scenarios, just as the two learn the meaning of the texts, all Hell (quite literally) breaks loose and hordes of demons break through into the realm of the living. By doing so the demons have broken a truce, choosing to invade the land of Sanctuary and take it for their own. Now demons are bad enough but someone else has come to town to play, the Lord of Terror himself, Diablo the Prime Evil. There is additional detail to the story to be found in diaries and journals scattered around the game world. These aren’t essential reading but do add further depth to those wishing to dig deeper into the story and lore.

If you hadn’t have heard about Diablo prior to this game, one of the biggest achievements for Blizzard has to be the fact that whilst playing Diablo III you’d be forgiven for thinking it had been designed for console from the outset. For a PC to console port, this is shining example of what taking extra time and care can achieve. They have haven’t released a console title since The Lost Vikings in 1997 (SNES, Saturn & PS1), yet there is no rust to be found here. Everything has been well thought out from the way abilities are mapped to controller face and shoulder buttons, and the ease at which players can escape combat through rolls. If you prefer joysticks and buttons over clicking a mouse and tapping keys, then you’ll feel right at home here, and won’t have any issues adjusting to what is a thoroughly impressive and fully acceptable input system. I can say that after being both a dedicated PC MMO player with multiple keyboard binds and macros as well as being a console fanatic.

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Graphically you have to remember that Diablo III was originally designed for PC and Mac. Therefore when run on the highest settings, the game will always look better on those platforms than a console. That said, the Xbox 360 is far from slacking in this department. The visual design is captivation and more than pleasing to the eye. You’ll understandably encounter some minor screen tearing, and a tiny bit of slowdown here and there, but they’re more hiccups than problems and don’t detract from the overall experience in the slightest. The frame rate fluctuates during big battles on screen where there were tons and tons of hideous monstrosities on the screen. There is a slight big of lag during online multiplayer and occasionally your comrades can become stuck in a building wall when they jump across the screen.

If like me you have been waiting this title ever since the announcement it was definitely going ahead for console, then don’t delay, get out there and buy it. It’s a fantastic port and is one of the finest dungeon crawlers I have played in a long, long time. It is action packed, it’s a loot lover’s dream and single player is rewarding and fun whist there is great online and/or local cooperative action. If you’ve never played a Diablo title before and are looking for something new to try with friends, then again this should most definitely be on your radar. From me to you Blizzard, job well done.

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