E-sports.. are they really a good thing?

source: http://maxmallory.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/staples-center.jpg
Staples Center filled to the brim

Becoming quite the phenomenon in the past few years we have seen E-Sports rise in popularity to heights that were never imagined possible and I don’t think any of us had seen this coming. Sure local competitions were always fun to partake in or go watch, personally I have been an avid watcher of EVO tournaments for years, though never thought that this type of thing would peak like it has as of late. While I don’t think E-sports are inherently a bad thing, I think it is somewhat ridiculous to compare these guys to Football or Hockey players, an unpopular opinion I know. Either way I think that those who can make it into the major leagues of gaming deserve to be there and deserve to get all the admiration that they get because they do work really bloody hard. There are two ways in which I take issue with the E-sports world however; the rabid followers emulating the pros and the companies that churn out garbage trying to capture that essence.

Now for anyone who has played Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch, or anything else with a popular E-sports scene you will know exactly what I am trying to say. There is always those players who attempt to copy and paste the play styles of pro players, suck terribly at it only to end up being the most cancerous people you have had the displeasure of playing with; this is something that is the worst in Overwatch lately. This inflates the ego of already toxic individuals who just take every opportunity to try to steal a bit of that glory that the pros experience with none of the skill to back it up. There is also the issue of these pro players influencing the community enforced meta (in some games like League) which is rather stale and unimaginative if you ask me because never should you get insulted for trying something different. Now there is something to be said for the  replicating of useful strategies or builds, which is completely understandable, but we all know that there are some who think it makes them the next pro Team SoloMid player. Naturally it is probably more true that popular E-sports tend to invigorate the game that is being played, but it isn’t the average player who has the most impact on your games; it is that dick who got mad at you for not playing to the meta or  failing to exceed their oh so lofty expectations.

Oh boy now the fun part, talking about the company shills who attempt to do whatever to create that next big E-sport. This ends up with perfectly good ideas or games being turned to mindless repetitive garbage that could have been good if they tried to build the game on its own merit. The biggest example that hits closest to home for me is Warhammer 40K Dawn of War III; the latest in an otherwise really enjoyable game series that falls quite short. The single player campaign is fine and there is never an issue with playing missions for all the different available factions as it builds a congruent story (usually) and gives you an opportunity to try different things. Now the issue with DoW III is that the game-play is so stale, boring and repetitive that it isn’t that much fun to play. It has that Starcraft II syndrome where it feels like every unit has an ability and focuses on spamming said abilities than actual strategy or match-ups. Not to mention the game-play focuses on these Elite units that you really need to actually get anything done, which are also for ability spam both active and passive. I can’t neglect to mention the fact that the only way to get resources is to capture limited resource points on the map which feels like it is forced just so there is always something to watch, and it just doesn’t feel right to me.  So it feels like instead of making a good Warhammer 40K game based on it’s own merit they just wanted to make something fun to watch without it actually being fun to play. What happened to the days when sequels were actually sequels that improved upon the predecessor? Regardless DoW III just has corporate decisions stamped all over it and as a fan of the series it is rather saddening.

source: https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/DoW3-3-800x450.jpg
Wow look at all those abilities you can use! So entertaining!

What I am trying to say in all of this wordy ranting is that E-sports have helped to bring video games up to the mainstream for better or for (mostly) worse, and at the risk of sounding like some kind of hipster, the mainstream has helped to create some not-so-good games because of these big companies. Yes E-sports have helped people enjoy their games at new levels and made it so some people can make legitimate careers out of their passions, but all in all it is a mixed bag that has influenced the gaming market in some depressing ways. Funny that a lot of the popular E-sports weren’t made to be popular like that, looking at you League of Legends and Starcraft, turns out they are actually enjoyable games.

TLDR; E-sports have had mixed influences on the gaming community, leading to some bad games by companies trying to capture their essence and some toxic meatheads that try to emulate the pros, but while it leads to those things it does have its good merits. Warhammer 40K Dawn of War III is the perfect example of a great game series ruined by a company trying to make the next big E-sport.

 

Happy New Years!

Just wanted to take the chance to say Happy New Years to anyone who may or may not see this blog here. Have great hopes for 2018, as 2017 was a great year for games, video and tabletop both.

Excited to see the codex supplements that are going to continue coming out for the 8th edition of Warhammer 40K. Hopefully going to see some new Dark Eldar stuff come out as they could use a breath of fresh air as they decided to section off their units into the three different keywords.

Monster Hunter World is coming out this month which I couldn’t be more excited for as all those games are awesome and the demo that went on last month. I call it a demo because that is what all the ‘beta’ tests are nowadays are just marketing ploys as that was literally the purpose of demos. Either way without getting into a rant about it, the Monster Hunter World ‘open beta’ was awesome as expected. The game play of the 3DS on the far superior control scheme and power on the PS4 was all I wanted it to be.

As we enter the New Year I am very excited for 2018 and am excited to see where it leads us.

Why things like Battlefront 2 (EAfront 2) are helping to damage the Star Wars universe.

To start, two words; Loot Boxes.

There that should almost be enough explanation right there, to see such a great IP be whore’d out to such a degree and to be reduced to cash-ins as it has. Don’t get me wrong EAfront 2 is a massive improvement over the first one game play wise and actually has content in it, but to literally have a pay to win aspect built in there? Shameful. Now I know that being able to use real money has been temporarily disabled, but there is still this massive grind and degree of luck to get the upgrades that someone needs. For a franchise that has seen so many quality games it really is a shame to see it reduced to a shallow experience (again leagues better than the first.) Like the fact that there is some degree of split screen play is smart as it plays to one of the few advantages a console has over a PC, but certain game play elements are still lacking. I legitimately had lots of fun as the flame trooper burning those dirty resistance troops, and the special classes are cool. Though in what universe does a head shot with a sniper rifle weapon not instantly kill who you shoot it with? In a shooter? Ludicrous. It only rewards the grind, skill has been taken to a backseat in favor of having the right star cards. Let’s not forget how the developers attempted to paint themselves as the heroes recently since they said that they wanted to avoid cosmetics to preserve the canon. Well I mean having Yoda and Rey fight Boba Fett totally preserves that, good job guys. Not to mention skins are a thing which last I checked are cosmetics. In a universe where cosmetic micro-transactions are somewhat acceptable and you could play it in a way that allows for different races or something, pay to win cards were the complete wrong way to go.

 

Why does this bother me so much? Well besides being the picture perfect example of how big money is ruining video games and good licenses, Star Wars has a special place in my heart. Star Wars Dark Forces was the first game I played on a PC right there with Red Alert 2 and Baldur’s Gate, so it was something I grew up with. Not to mention the awesome toys like the light saber toys you could wail on your friends with, hell we used to wait for night time then have fully fledged light saber fights. Awesome movies, toys, games, books, comics and shows made it almost impossible to not fall in love with it; a sentiment that many would agree with. As of late however it has been painful to watch it commercialized the insane heights with those bloody annoying car commercials and the expanded universe being tossed aside just so they could basically take some of the ideas. Having great characters like Mara Jade Skywalker and Kyle Katarn be thrown to the wind just for one-dimensional characters like Rey is painful. Not to mention they claim the entire Empire was defeated at Jakku, that massive space-faring empire with the biggest fleet to exist, just basically gone… What?. Not that they talk about any of this in The Force Awakens probably because it had enough bad ideas on its own. I am not going to say The Force Awakens was a bad movie, I enjoyed it, but on the level of Star Wars movies it was just mediocre to me. The music was lacking, the main character was not compelling, there was no real danger as Rey was just so good at everything and the fake Death Star didn’t need to exist since they were going to go there to save Rey anyway. Now again I did enjoy the movie, Finn’s characterizing of a Storm trooper was awesome, Ren and Phasma were interesting villains (who need more done with them in the future,) the first order looks awesome (though their origin is crap,) Carrie Fisher was great as usual (R.I.P.) and they laid some great foundations for the future. The only worry though is that they won’t do what they can to make the best Star Wars film and will just take the safe generic plot that they did with The Force Awakens. Would be pretty sweet to see Rey fall to the dark side (power comes too easy and she is undisciplined) and see a redemption story for Kylo as he comes to terms with his own insecurities. Something like that, that feels more at home in one of the greatest licenses to exist. Rogue One was awesome as it went more in-depth with the Rebellion and characters who were more than just “good” or “bad,” those grey areas making things more interesting. I could go on and on about the newer Star Wars stuff like having Thrawn be reduced to just being in a children’s show and while those shows are decent, feels like a waste of a great villain who could have done so much more. Don’t get me started on what those idiots at WB are doing to Lord of the Rings.

 

As an end note this is my first blog post so I figured I went get into the meat of things instead of doing an introduction and all that, because there is an “about me” section if people actually wanted to know that stuff. Regardless of whether or not you agree with what I have to say here I appreciate people taking the time to read my ramblings. Also didn’t intend this to be so long, but guess I can really rant about Star Wars.

 

TLDR; EAfront 2 is just the latest in the series of weak attempts for companies to utilize popular licenses for quick easy money. Need to be more critical of things that come out of beloved series and buying a game that has loot boxes, but saying that you don’t need them so their existence is fine is just akin to ignorance. If you buy a game with loot boxes and shady practices, you are still supporting it. Don’t let bad companies get away with damaging our great franchise and licenses. Things like Star Wars need the loyal fans to actually be critical of the things we don’t like and not just accept everything because it is Star Wars, otherwise it loses what makes it great.

P.S. If you need some great Star Wars things to keep you busy until The Last Jedi? Here are some recommendations:
Star Wars Fan Favorites 1
Battlefront 1 & 2, with Republic Commandos? Those are the best shooters of the franchise and it doesn’t get any better.

Star Wars The Old Republic
Despire there being an EA logo slapped on the bloody cover, it is a really good game made by the once great company BioWare. Lets you have your own take on many classic archetypes in the The Old Republic era.

Star Wars Battle Front II : Inferno Squad 
Now I hate doing this, but this is actually a pretty good book and if you are someone who liked the campaign in EAfront 2 give this a read.

Star Wars: X-Wing Miniature Game
Alright this is a really sweet and fun miniatures game with many options to play. Based in the Galactic Civil War, there are three factions to play around with all with their own unit options. Big perk? No need to paint or glue. Sad thing? Probably the only place one can consider Kyle Katarn to be canon.

Let me know if there is anything anyone wants to see/hear about next week.