Finally Mourning The Loss Of Final Fantasy XV

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“Prompto, Gladio, Ignis. I leave it to you. Walk tall, my friends”.

– Noctis, Final Fantasy XV

Ten years – that’s how long fans waited for the next numbered Final Fantasy game. Boy, what a ride. What. A. Ride.

After multiple delayed launches, a name change and a complete story rework, what we got was Final Fantasy XV.

I remember driving down to my nearest GameStop to buy Final Fantasy XV Day One Edition for the PS4. The store’s midnight launch party only 12 hours before was cancelled. The winter storm died down overnight. My brother and I were surprised by the lack of attention the game got in-store.

Fresh copies of the game covered an entire shelf, waiting for its next gamer. I quickly grabbed the game and ran to the cashier. The game I waited ten years for was finally in my hands.

Final Fantasy XV – Stand Together Trailer

From beginning to end, I was enthralled by Final Fantasy XV’s characters and beautiful open world map. I was overwhelmed. I had so much to see and do. My eyes were going through a sensory overload. This is exactly how I want to feel everytime I play an open world game.

Noctis, Prompto, Ignis and Gladiolus are my favourite characters in any video game genre ever. These characters’ bromance are not only believable but enjoyable to watch. Their in-game banter is meticulously timed with every game play action and scene. These tiny, tiny details is why I still play Final Fantasy XV today.

My first few hours in FFXV took my breath away.

The next 20 hours or so, well, it wasn’t the best.

Final Fantasy XV’s main story felt rushed. To this day I still don’t understand the story. Some how daemons taking control of Eos (the game’s world) didn’t seem like such a bad thing. I loved the world but I wasn’t attached to the other characters that inhabited it. I only cared about four characters. So what if all the other characters disappeared? If my boys are alright, then so am I.

The sidequests were boring and unfulfilling. NPCs were also boring. After I finished the main game and extra dungeons, the game replay value drastically plummeted.

I was sold on the world but not the story.

First 12 minutes of Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV movie

I still love the game in spite of all the criticism. Even when Square Enix cancelled their second set of DLCs, Final Fantasy XV: The Dawn of the Future, I was still supportive. I even bought the other four DLCs and Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition for the PC. I watched the Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV movie and all five episodes of Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV anime. I also plan to buy the Final Fantasy XV: The Dawn of the Future novel. I was a mega fan from release date to the DLCs cancellation. I was loyal to the bitter end and I didn’t mourn the loss of the game until now.

Square Enix, FFVX’s game developer, are masterminds in creating video game worlds. They revolutionized the RPG video game genre. FFXV is still a good game but honestly, it isn’t their best game. I know this, other gamers also know this and video game journalists also know this.

Final Fantasy XV is a perfectly unfinished masterpiece. I’m sad the game fans were promised is gone. The original story ideas are probably sitting in a game dev’s computer right now. We’re never going to know the true potential of Final Fantasy XV’s gameplay, characters and world.

As for me, I still need more time to mourn the loss of Final Fantasy XV. After ten years of patiently waiting, I’m not sure I’m going to get over this disappointment anytime soon.

Why Are Video Game Award Shows So Cringy?

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Ah, yes, award show season. It’s a time to celebrate the achievements of gaming’s best from game development studios to game devs.

Now, I realize gamers aren’t exactly known for their extroverted demeanor but do we deserve – nay – need video game award shows? I can barely watch one all the way through. I dislike any and all video game award shows. I know they exist but not enough for me to pay attention to them .

My first and last video game award show was VGX 2013, previously known as the Spike Video Game Awards. If there were some redeeming quality it would be the video games and the video games only.

I’ll let the AngryJoeShow explain just how bad VGX 2013 was.

Here are a few reasons why video game awards shows are so cringy (in my opinion):

  1. Clueless celebrities as hosts or guest stars (as in they aren’t gamers, at all)
  2. Impersonable hosts
  3. Jokes seemed forced and don’t always match the subject matter
  4. Not-so-subtle advertising (does anyone remember Robot Razer?)
  5. Blatant video gamer stereotypes
  6. More emphasis on popular video games than good video games (no, they are not one in the same)

I also heard The Game Awards 2019 was pretty cringy. No, I am not going to watch it to find out just how cringy.

What do you think about video game award shows? Do you look forward to them every year? Let me know in the comment section below.

In-Game Glossary: What Is The ESRB Anyway?

It’s a truism in the game industry that a well-designed game should be playable immediately, with no instruction whatsoever.

― Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

When I was in high school, my friends and I visited video game specialty shops like GameStop and EB Games during the weekend. The video games were categorized by video game consoles, like Playstation and Xbox. Shelves packed with the latest and greatest in gaming. Balloons of anime and video game characters decorated the bland ceiling. Dim lighting hid dirt spots on the once light-gray carpet. I picked up a game I completed playing and surveyed its front cover, a rated M for mature ESRB label affixed squarely on the bottom right corner.

I was eighteen at the time and the oldest in my friend group. The rest of my friends were shy a few months to legal adulthood. My guy friend placed the game on the cashier counter. The cashier looked up and glared at my guy friend. My friend was 5’6, roughly 150 pounds and looked like he could’ve been in college, but the cashier didn’t buy it.

“Do you have an ID?” the cashier asked.

Of course not.

My friend nervously laughed. He pretended to dig through his jean pockets to grab his “ID.” We walked away and vowed to try to rebuy the game if the cashier was “cool enough” to sell it to us.

I’ve been playing rated M for mature games since I was a kid. In my experience, some rated T for teen games needed an M rating instead. What does the ESRB ratings stand for anyway? What is ESRB for and for who? 

Entertainment Software Rating Board is a non-profit, self-regulatory board, rating video games and apps to help consumers differentiate age-appropriate content to, well, not age-appropriate content. The rating guide was specially made for parents, to help them discern age-appropriate video game and app content for their kids.

You’ve probably seen the ESRB rating before, a black box with an off-kilter capital letter in the middle. The ESRB categories and descriptions are as follows:

EC – Early Childhood 
Content for children ages three and up. Not a single drop of inappropriate content here.

E – Everyone
As the ESRB ratings say, the video game or app content is for everyone. There may be minimal cartoon and fantasy violence. In this case, think every Super Mario game you’ve ever played.

E10+ – Everyone 10 and older
Content for ages ten and up. There may be mild cartoon and fantasy elements. There may also be mild use of violence.

T – Teen 
Content for ages 13 and up. This rating is for video games with the following “violence, suggestive themes, crude humour, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language,” according to IGN. So, think the Final Fantasy series.

M – Mature 
Content for ages 17 and up. This rating includes all of the above but more intense plus sexual content. For this rating, think Red Dead Redemption and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

AO – Adult Only 
Content for ages 17 and up. This rating includes all of the above, but the content tends to lean more towards suggestive adult themes. I have never seen a game with this rating before. Apparently, it’s similar to receiving a scarlet letter.

RP – Rating Pending 
No official ESRB rating assigned to the video game or app yet.

ESRB ratings come in three phases: categories (as I’ve detailed above), content descriptors (also mentioned above) and the type of interactive elements.

Did you know about the different ESRB ratings and categories? Let me know in the comment section below.

The Witcher Season 1 Soundtrack And Other Witcher Content To Tide You Over

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Jaskier:
Toss a coin to your witcher
O Valley of Plenty
O Valley of Plenty, oh-oh-oh
Toss a coin to your witcher
A friend of humanity

From The Witcher – Season 1 Episode 2: ‘Four Marks’ (1×02) | Produced by Netflix

It’s been over a month since Netflix’s The Witcher Season 1 and the hype just keeps getting more hype.

Netflix’s The Witcher Season 1 Spotify Playlist

For anyone that is still singing Toss a Coin to Your Witcher, you can finally sing it on-the-go through your Spotify account. The Witcher season 1 soundtrack is finally here! It is a truly great Friday, indeed.

On another note, the third installment of The Witcher video game series, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, has more than 100k gamers on Steam playing the game simultaneously, four years after its release date. It’s not unnatural for an online video game to have a high number of gamers playing at once, but it is unprecedented for a single-player RPG game.

CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher video game series

If you still can’t get enough of the White Wolf, there are five video games under The Witcher IP including The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt DLCs, Blood and Wine and Hearts of Stone. Here’s a link to the entire The Witcher video game franchise available on Steam. It will take you several months to get through one video game, trust me.

Now, after you’ve played The Witcher video games, you’ll learn about the in-game card game, Gwent. If you suck at math, you’ll suck at Gwent. If you’re decent at math, and have an abundance of patience, then give Gwent a try. Here’s a link to Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. By the way, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game isn’t on Steam, so you’ll have to download it separately.

Official The Witcher swag

Gamers are also avid video game nicknack collectors. CD Projekt Red, the video game developer for The Witcher video game series, has some pretty amazing swag on their website. If I had the money for a Geralt Ronin Figure, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Here’s a link to CD Projekt Red Store for The Witcher.

The Witcher also has FunKo POP! vinyl dolls. The dolls are definitely much more affordable than the Geralt Ronin Figure.

The Witcher book series and comics

And, of course, we can’t forget about Andrzej Sapkowski, the man who wrote The Witcher book series the Netflix series and video games are inspired by.

Sapkowski’s first book for The Witcher series, The Last Wish, is a collection of six short stories, mostly flashbacks of Geralt of Rivia’s travels. Does this sound familiar?

If you’re interested in reading the book series, you can check out Barnes&Noble’s how-to guide to get started. There are also The Witcher book series how-to guides on PCGamer.com and Reddit. I bet YouTube has a few great book series guides as well.

Eisner Award winner, Paul Tobin, wrote The Witcher comic books based on the video game series. The comic book series have five issues, starting with The Witcher: House of Glass. Upon reading the summary for each issue, it seems like the comic books are a collection of the monster hunter’s travels. Getting himself in trouble again it seems. Check out Dark Horse Comics’ website to get your copy.

Witcher Wiki Fandom

Can you even call yourself a fan you if haven’t gone out of your way to read The Witcher Wiki Fandom? Yes, you can, but learning more about Geralt’s ugly, horrifying, and yet, beautiful world is worth getting lost in an entry about strigas.

The Witcher Wiki Fandom has entries about the books and the video games but remember, the books are the only canon The Witcher source material. Everything that exists outside of the literary IP are inspired by the books and are not canon the entire storyline.

How are you keeping yourself distracted before Netflix’s The Witcher Season 2? Let me know on the comment section below.

In-Game Glossary: What Is A Triple-A Game?

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“Nobody in this industry knows what they’re doing, we just have a gut assumption.”

Cliff Bleszinski

Gamer or not, you may have heard of the term AAA (also written as Triple-A) floating around the internet. Any game called AAA assumes outstanding quality, graphics and storytelling. Well, unfortunately, that’s not true.

AAA is used to categorize video games with high development budgets. Like most Triple-A titles, the masses expect these video games to be graphically beautiful, complete and entertaining. For example, Grand Theft Auto V (2013) had a development and marketing budget of $265 million. At the time, Grand Thief Auto V was the most expensive video game to develop. Triple-A video game budgets are neck-to-neck with Hollywood movie budgets. Also, Grand Thief Auto V is a great game, in my opinion. 

A significant video game development and marketing budget can’t foretell if a video game is bad or not. You’ll have to play the game yourself and see if you like it or not.

Video game enthusiasts use this term to differentiate good games from bad games. What is a good or bad game depends on the person. Triple-A is more of an inside joke or slang term as opposed to more formal rating boards like Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB Ratings).

III (also written as Triple-I) is a lesser-known term for high budget indie video games. These games have less manpower than larger video game developers. On the plus side, indie game devs have more freedom to create games their way.

Did you already know what what AAA or III games were? Are there other video game terms? Let me know in the comment section below.

5 Reasons To Watch Netflix’s The Witcher

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“Nonsense,” said the witcher. “And what’s more, it doesn’t rhyme. All decent predictions rhyme.”

― Andrzej Sapkowski, The Last Wish

Yes, I have watched Netflix’s The Witcher – twice. Yes, it is as amazing as the fans say. No, you should not take the critics’, well, critique of the show to heart. If you haven’t watched the series yet, here are five reasons why you need to watch The Witcher season one. Now.

1. Netflix hired seasoned, talented actors to bring Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher to life. Aside from being physically capable to move like a Witcher, Henry Cavill is a The Witcher mega fan himself. Cavill read the books and played all of The Witcher video games. Cavill doesn’t just ooze Geralt of Rivia – he is Geralt of Rivia. Anya Chalotra, who plays Yennefer of Vengerberg in The Witcher Netflix series, got her acting start in theatre. Chalotra starred in West End theatre productions and eventually moved onto television. Freya Allan, who portrayed Princess Cirilla, had her share of acting roles as well but none quite as big as her role in The Witcher series.

2. If you haven’t seen the memes, remixes and mashups of Joey Batey’s (who plays Jaskier in the show) Toss A Coin To Your Witcher – you are missing out. I wish they had this song in the Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. I can only imagine.

I recommend you watch the show, so the memes finally start making sense.

3. The Witcher season one follows the stories of the main characters, Geralt, Yennefer and Cirilla or Ciri for short. We are not only watching three different stories but three different timelines, each happening simultaneously. The character’s timelines skip backwards and forwards through time, obviously confusing a lot of fans. This is why I think Netflix’s The Witcher has such high rewatch value. After you see the show once, you have an idea of how the timelines work. The second watch through is so much more enjoyable. Not only that, you start to pick up on small details you haven’t noticed the first time around.

4. The Netflix series welcomes all fans from all avenues. Like most fans to The Witcher series, I started my journey through Andrzej Sapkowski’s mystical whirlwind through the Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt by video game developer, CD Projekt Red. You could have started with The Witcher book series or the video games or even the 2001 Polish movie adaptation The Hexer – it doesn’t matter. Although, I must say, first-timers to The Witcher series may be confused – at least in the beginning. The series has plenty of lore, too much if you aren’t used to high fantasy but there are wonderful resources online that can help you make sense of it all.

5. The Witcher series showrunner, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, knows what she’s doing. Hissrich wrote and produced a number of highly acclaimed shows, including Marvel’s Daredevil (2016) and Umbrella Academy (2019). Need I say more?

Bonus reason: Netflix and Hissrich even got the author of The Witcher book series, Andrzej Sapkowski, in on the action.

Ugh, this video warms the cockles of my heart.

Lastly, no, The Witcher is not the Game of Thrones – this is something completely different. I am going to leave it at that.

China Introduces Gaming Curfew For Minors – Is This The Right Move?

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The worst thing a kid can say about homework is that it is too hard. The worst thing a kid can say about a game is it’s too easy.”

Henry Jenkins

On November 5th, the Chinese government introduced its gaming curfew for minors. Chinese children are only allowed 90 minutes of game time on weekdays and 3 hours on weekends.

With so many ways to play video games, is China’s video game ban going to work?

The government seems to think so. The new rule is a preventative measure, ensuring young kids do not become addicted to video games. You know what they say start ’em early.

But the new curfew is only for online gaming networks, not all types of video games. In this case, I think the Chinese government is concerned about games like Fortnite and League of Legends, two games that show the worst of online gaming culture.

The online gaming culture is, for lack of a better term, toxic. Many online gamers become highly engrossed in the game and invest hundreds of dollars in loot boxes. It’s easy to become carried away when you can pay to win.

Online gamers can become rude and irritable if they don’t get their way. I suppose that can be for anyone, but missing a “wombo combo” isn’t worth losing your mind.

It’s still too early to say if the curfew will be effective in preventing video game addiction. I think this starts a conversation about parents roles in their child’s online gaming consumption. Parents and guardians should learn about the effects of online gaming addiction, and not leave them without blame.

Digging up your deep-seeded gaming memories.