The Week’s End Level Grind

It’s been a busy/crazy week this week so I haven’t had a lot of time to post but I’m back today to cover this week’s biggest gaming news stories. Interestingly, I feel like some of these announcements were in direct response to some of the news I covered last week (It most likely wasn’t deliberate but the timing is uncanny). We also got some unexpected news that came out Sony’s investor meeting earlier this week so we’ll start with that:

  1. Sony Sets Expectation for Playstation 5: Wall Street Journalist, Takashi Mochizuki, tweeted a statement from Playstation head, Tsuyoshi “John” Kodera, that the next Playstation console is three years out. Receiving a timeline so far out from an official product unveiling is rather unorthodox but it at least does help fans manage their expectations. Sony has been very up front recently in what to expect with their hardware and first party lineup. They’ve already gone on record to announce all of the first party titles that will be shown at E3 this year and confirmed that no new hardware will be revealed. This doesn’t mean we won’t see any surprises during their keynote but they would likely take the form of third party titles which is still okay with me. I have some predictions but I will share them in future post. Sony also offered reassurance that they will continue supporting PS4 and PSVR (Playstation Virtual Reality) as well as continuing to improve their live TV streaming service, Playstation Vue, despite hardships created by competing services.
  2. The SCUF Vantage Controller Announced for PS4: Last week we saw Xbox announce a new controller centered around accessability for handicapped gamers. While Sony has not yet created anything for accessability, they are working with Scuf Gaming to produce an officially licensed Playstation controller for competitive gaming that mostly seems to be an answer to Xbox’s “Elite” controller. The Vantage takes the established design language from the official Dualshock 4 controller but adds side mounted buttons, back mounted paddles, customizable buttons, and interchangeable face plates. It will be available in wired-only and wireless options priced at $169.99 and $199.99, respectively, and will launch later this summer. For full details, you can view their official announcement.
    vantageImage via official Playstation Blog
  3. Battlefield V Trailer Reveal: Last week we saw some gameplay from Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 along with announcements of new game modes. This week we were shown a cinematic trailer for Battlefield V (five), developed by EA DICE, along with some details regarding its setting and game modes. Battlefield V will be set in World War 2 but will not take place in the settings traditionally found in other WW2 shooters, instead featuring conflict sites in Norway, Africa and inland France. While there’s always the possibility (or rather likelihood) of a Battle Royale mode, it was not featured in this announcement. Multiplayer modes that were announced were Combined Arms, Tides of War, and Grand Operations. There will also be a single-player campaign mode, unlike Black Ops 4. The latest trailer can be watched here. This trailer has been met with a lot of negative feedback from fans and to be honest I’m not so sure I’m a fan of it either. It is extremely chaotic, over the top, and does not give any information on the plot of this particular installment of the series other than there is a war going on. On a positive note, EA has announced there will be no loot boxes in this game, which isn’t a surprises after the fallout behind EA DICE’s: Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box fiasco, but there will be content that can be purchased outright with real world currency, though it will be limited to cosmetic-only items this time around.
  4. H1Z1 Open Beta Released on PS4: Battle Royale type games are all the rage right now and H1Z1 was one of the first to do it but this is the first time it’s been available on the extremely popular PS4 console. Although Fortnite is the reigning champion of the Battle Royale, that didn’t stop H1Z1 from amassing 1.5 million players in one day on PS4! It’s off to a very impressive start even though it’s still only in beta for the time being. It will be interesting to see how this relatively new genre will evolve as more developers try to cash on the hottest craze in gaming. I’m curious to see if these “battle royale” game modes have real staying power or if it’s just a passing fad.

Aside from these stories, a top highlight for me this week was the release of Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon which is a prequel Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night set to release later this year. I will cover this game in more detail in an upcoming post but will just say it’s an absolute delight. Also as a follow up to last week, it appears that Best Buy has, in fact, removed the option to purchase new subscriptions to its Gamer’s Club Unlocked program. I look forward to sharing more exciting news as the weeks ahead are bound to be filled with pre-E3 headlines. Until next time, let’s keep grinding those levels!

Walking in a Wizard Wonderland

For today’s topic I wanted to talk about some of the games I’ve been playing this past week. After completing God of War a couple of weekends ago, I’ve gone back to playing Splatoon 2, quite a bit of it actually, but this week has had a bit of an unintentional theme. That theme, as you may have guessed from the post title, is all about wizardry! Two very different games that bring out your inner wizard.

Wizard of Legend

Created by Contingent99, Wizard of Legend is pretty fun despite its terrible name. I’ve been playing on my Nintendo Switch but it’s also available on Steam and PS4. Wizard of Legend is a rogue-like game meaning you play, die, and start over. The object is to progress through three randomized dungeons containing two floors and a boss, each themed with the elements of fire, water, and earth, and then finish by completing the final boss.

Wizard of Legend is a difficult game but as you play you can spend currency obtained in each run to unlock new spells, relics, and armors all with varied effects which can be used to customize your characters abilities and traits. Failing is part of the game and will happen often but this should not discourage you as it’s a new opportunity to purchase new gear and change your play style for the next run.

The gameplay is solid and, although it’s challenging, I never felt that it was cheap or unfair. When I fail in a run I usually understand why I lost and it gives me ideas of how I should customize myself for the next attempt. My biggest complaint is how the game has nearly 150 relics to unlock which are categorized as either attack, defense or misc however you can only equip one relic before beginning a run regardless of the category. I haven’t unlocked nearly all of them but so far it seems like there could have been an opportunity to equip one from each category without becoming too overpowered and ruining the balance of the game. There is a local multiplayer mode but I have not had a chance to try it out yet.

Aesthetically, Wizard of Legend uses a retro pixel art style which is just okay. The spells are well crafted and animated but the character and level designs are a bit lacking.

I have definitely enjoyed my time playing Wizard of Legend so far and look forward to continuing the play, die, repeat loop in hopes of becoming the ultimate wizard.

Nine Parchments

Our next wizarding game is Nine Parchments, created by Frozenbyte. I’m playing this on Switch too but is also available on PS4, Xbox One and Steam. This game has a set progression of levels and story rather than randomized dungeons and short gameplay loop. This game, rather than being fast paced, close quarters action like Wizard of Legend, is more of a twin-stick shoot-em-up requiring distance, dodging, and precision. When you begin you have three starting spells (determined by the character you choose at the start) and as you beat each boss you choose one of three randomly selected spells to add to your repertoire. You also gain levels which allow you to put points into passive skills such as extra damage or faster spell regeneration times to add some additional customization.

You start with two wizards to choose from and can unlock six others throughout the course of the game. Each wizard then has three additional variations which can be unlocked, giving you access to new starting spell lineups and new skill trees to spend your points in. There are also collectible staves that can increase your abilities, feathers which unlock additional staves after collecting a certain amount, and hats which seem to be purely cosmetic. My biggest complaint is not having a chapter select option to go back and collect items or complete a quest I missed to unlock one of the other characters. Instead, the game must be replayed up to that point to find the item or complete the quest. Or if you want to try out a newly unlocked character you must start from the beginning although this can be done in a new save file and doesn’t require you abandon your currently play through.

I’ve been playing on Normal mode and have found that it provides enough of a challenge without being too punishing. There are also Easy, Hard and Hardcore modes letting you choose how difficult you want the game to be and unless you play on Hardcore, dying allows you to replay from the last checkpoint. There is an online or local multiplayer option which I have not played but I think would make the game much more enjoyable albeit extremely chaotic (especially with friendly fire being a default setting).

Nine Parchments is also very aesthetically pleasing. The environments can be a bit confined at times but are vibrant and varied. The game also runs very smooth despite the chaos of screens being filled with enemies and spells being slung.

These two games are both very fun and let you have all sorts of wizarding fun in very unique ways. You can even pick them both up for less than the cost of a larger AAA game, giving you great gameplay and replayability for a great value.

The Week’s End Level Grind

I was going to focus tonight’s post on the games I am currently playing but with some pretty significant news and leaks this week I thought it best to detail that information now and get to the games I’m playing in another post. Without further ado let’s Level Grind with some news!

  1. Best Buy Cancels Gamer’s Club Unlocked: This news is a shock to me as I’ve been using this service for over two years now. I first saw this news while browsing Reddit and came across this post by user JudgeOfTheDivine who included a convincing photo and was also discussed on Resetera message boards. This is sad news as the service provided those who purchased the $30 for two-year subscription with some nice incentives, the most notable being a 20% discount on new games. Best Buy has not updated their site with the news so this should be taken with a grain of salt for now but it appears, if true, anyone who has signed up for the service will be grandfathered in for the remainder of their existing subscription.
  2. Call of Duty Black Ops 4 Details Announced: I fell off the Call of Duty bandwagon after Black Ops 2 but that hasn’t stopped the series from being an annual top-seller and this year should be no different. They took a major sidestep by announcing there would be no single player campaign, however, it has not been the main selling point of the series in recent installments despite the on-boarding of star talent like Kevin Spacey and Kit Harrington. The multiplayer experience has been the go-to game mode and Treyarch has doubled down on that by including the usual competitive modes and zombie mode but also by adding the newest, hottest genre: Battle Royale or in this case “Blackout”. They will be following in the footsteps of games like Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Fornite Battle Royale but claim to have a very distinct Call of Duty flavor that will stand apart from the rest. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 releases October 12, 2018.
  3. Nintendo is Leaking: With E3 right around the corner we are beginning to see a lot of first looks and early reveals of games. Some intentional, others not so much. Nintendo falls into the latter category in this case. The normally tight-lipped company might be coming apart at the seams this time around. We knew Pokemon was on the way to Nintendo Switch but some online tipsters (Pixelpar and Nibel) have shared information that point to a “Pokemon: Yellow” remake/spinoff titled “Pokemon: Let’s Go! Pikachu” and “Pokemon: Let’s Go! Eevee” that will have you begin your adventure with the Pokemon of the corresponding title rather than choosing one of three presented starters. Also making its way through the rumor mill is a new Star Fox game developed by Retro Studios under the name “Star Fox: Grand Prix.” This game will supposedly be a mix of classic Star Fox shooting, racing and hub world exploration. I really hope this turns out to be true. Mostly because it’s such a bizarre mash-up of genres and Retro’s pedigree of stellar games, it’s just crazy enough to work!
  4. Xbox Unveils New Adaptive Controller: Xbox displays yet another gamer first approach as they show their new adaptive controller. Taking an excerpt from Xbox’s official statement which can be found here:

By taking an inclusive design approach and considerations of gamers who might not be able to reach all the bumpers and triggers or hold a controller for an extended period of time, for example, we were able to design a controller that provides a way for more fans to enjoy gaming. On our journey of inclusive design, we have taken a wider view of our fans and a more inclusive approach to designing for them.

For gamers with limited mobility, finding controller solutions to fit their individual needs has been challenging. The solutions that exist today are often expensive, hard to find, or require significant technical skill to create. A number of individuals and organizations are creating custom solutions, but it has been often difficult for them to scale when most rigs need to be so personalized.

Xbox will be releasing the adaptive controller later this year for $99.99 and will have more information during E3.

These, I think, were some of the biggest stories of the week and the potential shuttering of Best Buy’s GCU program was a complete shock. Some other notable happenings this week were the announcements of Rage 2 (after Wal-Mart Canada leaked the title on their site) and Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (prequel to the upcoming game: “Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night” created by long time Castlevania contributor, Koji Igarashi) on May 24th.

Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll highlight some of the games I’ve been playing this week.

 

Meet the Team: Stephen

Hello, I’m Stephen, the wizard of this merry band of unprofessional experts. I play games. I’ve played them for over 30 years. If I’m not playing, I’m watching sci-fi movies and TV shows. And if I’m not doing any of those things, I’m applying my wizardly abilities to understanding the secrets and curiosities of the universe, literally.

We’re here for games, mostly. I play them with my kids, my wife (sometimes), my brother, my best friends, and even by myself. I play video games on consoles and PC, I play a certain table-top role-playing game that starts with Dungeons and ends with Dragons, board and family games, and games with your heart.

Here at Level Grind, I’ll be your resident Dungeon Master, so expect lore, hooks, and so much more for your own games. This among the standard blathering on about video games I’m playing or anticipating.

If you’d like to know more, follow me on

Twitter and Instagram: @beardlykingsdot

PS4: LordlyKingSDot

Steam: sdot1983

Origin and Battle.net: KingSDot

Welcome to Level Grind Entertainment.

About Level Grind

Thank you for taking the time to stop in and visit here at Level Grind Entertainment. I’m creating this blog as an outlet to talk about all manner of topics but with a focus on gaming and the hope of achieving a writing/editing career. I’ve been playing games since I can remember – literally my earliest memories are playing games on NES and Atari. Fast forward about thirty years later and I now am married, have a child, a house, and a full-time job. The one thing that hasn’t changed after all these years is my enjoyment of playing video games so I thought it was time to create a medium that lets me talk about my excitement and opinions with others. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences as I continue figuring out married life, being a new father, owning a house all while sharing my opinions on the hottest gaming news.

Grinding levels in video games is often a lonely process but that, ideally, won’t be the case here. Level Grind is not meant to be a solo production and if my persuasion skill is high enough I’ll be recruiting my friends to help create content to share their perspective on the games they are playing and maybe get a lesson in astrophysics (for real!).

Now that the introduction is done I expect to have my first real content coming shortly with the games I’ve been playing and my thoughts on these games.

We’ve also got E3 (!!) right around the corner so you can bet I’ll be getting in on the hype, making predictions, and recapping all the conferences and big news coming out of the expo!

-Adam