Waypointhttps://waypoint.vice.com/en_usRSS feed for https://waypoint.vice.comenFri, 07 Dec 2018 23:56:38 +0000<![CDATA[The Game Awards Were Much More Entertaining Than Expected]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/mby5dp/the-game-awards-were-much-more-entertaining-than-expectedFri, 07 Dec 2018 23:56:38 +0000On Monday we made our predictions: At this year's Game Awards, we'd finally see the new Avengers game, we'd get a 15-30 second trailer for a new Dragon Age game with Solas voice over, and we'd probably be more bored than entertained by the proceedings. Were we right? Well... Not exactly, yup, and, shockingly, not at all, in that order.

Austin, Natalie, Rob, and Patrick talk through the highlights of the show (the Sonicfox, Dead Cells, and Celeste wins; a new Obsidian RPG; Persona 5's Joker joining Smash Ultimate) and the occasional missteps (skipping through some key awards, the failure of the "big 3" to announce anything collaborative despite being on stage together). Plus, Austin offers up some early Ashen impressions, the crew debates the likely outcome of 2Milly's lawsuit against Epic Games, and, uh, Natalie has some thoughts about the Dread Wolf.

Discussed: Fortnite, Epic Games Store, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Far Cry New Dawn, Hades, The Outer Worlds, Ashen, Dragon Age, That Egg Fuck Solas, The Pathless, Psychonauts 2, Smash Bros. Ultimate, SonicFox, Celeste

You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. If you're using something else, this RSS link should let you add the podcast to whatever platform you'd like. If you'd like to directly download the podcast, click here. Please take a moment and review the podcast, especially on iTunes. It really helps.

Interaction with you is a big part of this podcast, so make sure to send any questions you have for us to gaming@vice.com with the header "Questions." (Without the quotes!) We can't guarantee we'll answer all of your questions, but rest assured, we'll be taking a look at them.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoint’s forums to share them!

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mby5dpAustin WalkerPatrick KlepekPodcastListenCelesteSmash BrosDragon AgeWaypoint RadioObsidianFortnitegame awardsthe outer worlds
<![CDATA['Hitman 2' Makes You The Catastrophe Everyone Is Dreading]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/4397e3/hitman-2-makes-you-the-catastrophe-everyone-is-dreadingFri, 07 Dec 2018 23:00:13 +0000Postscript is Cameron Kunzelman's weekly column about endings, apocalypses, deaths, bosses, and all sorts of other finalities.

Spoilers ahead for Hitman 2's final level.

The final mission in Hitman 2 is about the end of the world. It isn’t pitched that way, of course. It’s given to us as an assassination mission with a little bit of complication: Agent 47 needs to kill two sisters during a gala event in which the projects of a shadowy organization are being pitched to the members of that organization. Think of it as a kind of Illuminati open house.

What they don’t tell you up front is that this Illuminati open house is all about the apocalypse. These people, the aristocracy and the oil magnates and the hidden movers and shakers behind the curtains of existence, are concerned about climate change. They’re looking at a way of surviving the absolute limit point to the planet. The characters who run the open house, the Washington sisters, are of this class of future-oriented power players. The sisters want this world of archvillains to modernize, to green their practices, and to help stave off the climate crisis. They are making a bid for making the world more stable, more predictable. But the majority of the people here don’t think that’s possible. They’re looking for an out. Antarctic bunkers. Brain archives. Spaceward escapes. Above all, they’re looking to dodge the coming catastrophe.

What they don’t know is that the catastrophe is walking among them. I don’t mean this ironically, and I’m not saying it with the sly smile of the marketing team member who has figured out the to sell Agent 47’s violence in just the right way. In fact, I mean “catastrophe” in a fairly limited sense: the way that singularity theory conceives of the moment in which a system that appears stable and predictable swings wildly into a new arrangement.

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On the castle island, with its sales gala for apocalyptic technologies, there are two kinds of catastrophe. One is Agent 47 and the other is the oncoming climate disaster. Both erupt out of the placid conditions of things happening, unwelcome, uncalled for. When Agent 47 comes for these cartoon characters of real-world figures who might survive the real-world conditions that are going to put strains on global supply chains and the viability of our current system of human and resource organization, we can imagine a small moment of comeuppance.

With more than a little irony, Agent 47’s assassination of the Washington sisters prevents them from their project to abandon fossil fuels and to help save the world. Score one for the good guys who just want to live after the end of the world.

Yet the other catastrophe is still latent in the system. Temperatures rise, trade passages open, new oil wells are dug, vacation spots become viable, farmland appears in more northern climes, and we can see the great serpent of history stretching backward and forward as far as the eye can see. A system that craves stability, and yet contains the conditions of its own destruction. The catastrophe, prepared for, yet unseen until the last possible instance.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoint's forums to share them!

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4397e3Cameron KunzelmanAustin WalkerCAPITALISMGLOBAL WARMINGhitmancolumnHitman 2Postscript
<![CDATA[So, I Ran an Elementary School Protection Racket]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/59vk3a/so-i-ran-an-elementary-school-protection-racketThu, 06 Dec 2018 23:44:40 +0000"I think this needs to be my Waypoint," says Austin Walker. "It's a podcast about the Constitution. It's called More Perfect and for its third season they made a music album about the Amendments. We have to talk about it." But first you have to listen to it and hours later you're wondering, "Is Austin pranking me right now?" Then you look at a clock and realize it's not hours later, you're only about 12 minutes into the first episode but it feels like the sun has left the sky and you can hardly hear the podcast anymore because the blood is roaring in your ears. Are they... are they making a sentence diagram of the 2nd Amendment?

On a slightly out-of-control episode of Waypoints, Rob has been watching Ordeal by Innocence and enjoying a fresh take on a classic mystery genre: Which posh asshole is murdering other rich dirtbags on an English country estate? Meanwhile, Patrick is working through his feelings about a new parenting trend: Parents who eat lunch at school with their kids. We also learn something strange about Rob. And finally, Austin has everyone listen to the latest season of More Perfect, a Radiolab podcast about the US Constitution. Dismay gives way to anger as we discuss the understanding of law, politics, and power that informs the podcast, and why it feels like such a poor answer to this moment in American political life.

Resources

You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. If you're using something else, this RSS link should let you add the podcast to whatever platform you'd like. If you'd like to directly download the podcast, click here. Please take a moment and review the podcast, especially on iTunes. It really helps.

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<![CDATA['Smash Ultimate' Gave Me More Than a Sequel, It Brought Me Home]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/kzvpz3/smash-ultimate-gave-me-more-than-a-sequel-it-brought-me-home-reviewThu, 06 Dec 2018 21:28:47 +0000Watch Waypoint's Austin Walker, Natalie Watson, and Ricardo Contreras play Smash Ultimate above!

Nintendo's long running Smash Bros. "platform fighter" series means different things to different people, which means that the developers need to serve a lot of different audiences when a new title launches. For some, it's a goofy good time with friends. For others, it's a gateway to explore some Nintendo nostalgia or a toy to mess around with in your spare time. For many, it's a nail-biting competitive play. (And hey, if you're curious, or even skeptical, about competitive Smash, give East Point Pictures' outstanding documentary series on the subject a watch). And I'd wager a guess that for most people, what Smash "is" has changed over time.

I’ve been playing Smash Bros. off and on since I was ten, when the first game in the series launched in 1999. With three siblings, its four player versus mode was the perfect setup for my family. I'd sit around the TV with my sisters and brother, having a silly, goofy time together, and I wound up winning a lot because I was the oldest, which meant I could always lay claim to the working controller.

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All of this essentially amounts to a series of fun, quirky fights that have me actually considering my loadout and which spirits to level when. There's an unexpected depth of mechanics that adds a longevity that was missing from the single player content in past Smash games. It’s continually surprising me with what characters they’ve included and just how the fights are going to emulate their abilities or personalities.

An early fight that does this particularly well is the fight against Celeste from Animal Crossing. She’s an Owl that you often find asleep in the AC franchise, so the fight is against a Jigglypuff that favors using the Rest move—which puts her to sleep, but does incredible damage and knockback to anyone unfortunate enough to be too close to her. This would be funny enough on its own, but then the AI in this game has also been stepped up a notch: This Jigglypuff is out to win, and the fight turns in an instant from funny to harrowing for the middling Smash player like me.

Ultimate has hit on something really special in World of Light, offering solo players the kind of breadth of experience you can already get from the multiplayer. Nintendo’s deep well of characters and worlds enriches this experience not just through its sizable roster, but also through the multitude of stages and music you have access to. The library is deep, and they’re pulling from everywhere they can, and with the polish and care you expect from Nintendo. Being able to play within this nostalgia, not just for Nintendo as a whole, but for Smash itself, is a big draw of this game for me.

It can be easy to take for granted the various stages as simply a series of platforms—the game even gives you the option of turning any stage into a “Final Destination” variant of itself. But there was a moment where one of these levels instantly transported me back to my childhood, playing at home with my family. It was during a Spirit fight against Zelda and Young Link, in order to unlock Zelda’s spirit. Neither of these fighters were in the original game, but the fight took place on the Nintendo 64 version of Hyrule Castle. The large polygonal level was such a part of my childhood that despite everything new in Ultimate, I felt like I did back when I was 10, seeing something so familiar to me—Hyrule Castle—transformed into a multiplayer battleground.

Smash Ultimate leans into this blending of old and new. The Spirits system is unique and surprising, but it draws on knowledge of past games I sometimes forgot I even had. The jukebox like "Sounds" mode makes me bop my head not only to classic game tracks, but to exciting new remixes. Even "echo fighters," which offer new variations on other playable characters, blend the old and the new in smart new ways. It's impossible to know if Smash Ultimate could ever serve everyone. But with this strategic mix of nostalgia and experimentation, it was able to do something I didn't expect: Bring me home.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoint's forums to share them!

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kzvpz3Ricardo ContrerasAustin WalkerSwitchsmashReviewsuper smash brossmash ultimate
<![CDATA['BattleTech Flashpoint' Turns Up the Difficulty and the Drama]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/439q9b/battletech-flashpoint-turns-up-the-difficulty-and-the-dramaWed, 05 Dec 2018 21:56:27 +0000 In its original form, BattleTech always gave you and your giant mech mercenary company a safety net. Yes, the need to pay the bills and fix your equipment lent the game a nice structure and additional stakes to every mission, but it was always undercut by a narrative campaign that was designed to let you get regular infusions of cash and equipment that made you feel a bit more like a trust-funder than a scrappy underdog. You might have left bits and pieces of Mech-and-Warrior scattered all over the deserts of Smithon but in the end you got a fat paycheck and fresh gear that went a long way to replacing your losses and improving on what you had.

With Flashpoint, mercenary management has literally become a game unto itself. More importantly, it’s become a great game that has enriched a mech tactics game that I already loved. What’s funny is that Flashpoint itself only gets about half the credit for that. The other half is thanks to a lot of smart design revisions and seemingly improved map rotation that Harebrained Schemes made since the original launch of the game. Flashpoint is more of a cherry on top of a game that grew and improved in the months after it debuted than a major improvement and expansion in its own right. It’s also a $20 cherry, which has understandably rubbed some players the wrong way, though I think I can make the case that it punches above its weight class despite being underwhelming at first-glance.

You’re able to play Flashpoint with either your endgame mercenaries from the original campaign, or as a new company in the “Career” mode, which challenges you to be the most successful merc you can be in 1200 in-game days of action (complete with a high score at the end). While there are still random events onboard your ship and the occasional “flashpoint” short story sequence (more on those later), you’ll be playing a version of BattleTech that doesn’t give you the cushion of narrative missions and their hefty rewards.. And it turns out that is a much, much harder game.

A group of combat BattleMechs do battle atop a beautiful tropical mountain ridge overlooking an overcast ocean at sunset.,

The new mechs provide about as much variety as you’d expect—though the Hatchetman is a bit of a disappointment. It’s a gimmicky medium mech with a giant melee axe welded onto its right arm that allows it do extra melee damage, but honestly not enough that you wouldn’t be better off running something else. (Fun fact: the only memorable sequence with a Hatchetman in the Battletech fiction involves a pilot using the axe exactly once, noting that it is surprisingly effective… and then self-destructing it because it was more useful as an IED than a BattleMech. I sympathize with this position.)

Which I think typifies what is going to be one of the more divisive aspects of Flashpoint: It’s big bullet-point, headline changes aren’t really that game-changing. It’s not like you are going to buy Flashpoint and immediately get a whole stack of new missions and new things to do. Rather, it’s an expansion that embeds itself within the fabric of the open-ended merc management game and widens the possibilities for what can and will happen. You might play 20 hours of BattleTech with the Flashpoint expansion and only do a handful of actual Flashpoints. You’ll encounter the new mechs at random points during missions (only some of which will take place in the new jungles). You’ll also find a new mission type, target acquisition, that you’ll learn to fear because of how epically sideways it can go. But what you won’t get is a concentrated dose of new things to do and see. All of it is interwoven with the same old BattleTech that’s been quietly patched, revised, and expanded for months.

If you’re tired of that game and its routines, I suspect Flashpoint will disappoint. It’s quite literally more of the same, with more variation. But I love that game, I love the ways it challenges and frustrates, and with Flashpoint I find I have new dreams to chase and new chances to be surprised. There is not too much more that I want from this game. At least until the next great campaign.

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439q9bRob ZacnyAustin WalkerBattleTechHarebrained SchemesMechWarrior 2giant robotsflashpointtactics games
<![CDATA[Uh, Is Soulja Boy Selling Cheap Emulation Boxes? A Waypoint Investigation]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/kzvnvz/uh-is-soulja-boy-selling-cheap-emulation-boxes-a-waypoint-investigationWed, 05 Dec 2018 18:19:15 +0000Souja Boy, a rapper perhaps best known for making sure you tell ‘em, crank that (soulja boy), and celebrating the heroism of Superman, has returned to his love of video games. This time, though, he’s apparently selling emulation machines loaded with ROMs?

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It’s unclear how long these devices will stay one sale, though Anbernic’s creations have survived on Amazon for a while, it seems. In order to keep tabs on history, however, Waypoint has purchased both the SouljaGame Console and SouljaGame Handheld. If Soulja Boy keeps his promise to deliver these before Christmas, we’ll have impressions for you shortly.

Follow Patrick on Twitter. If you have a tip or a story idea, drop him an email: patrick.klepek@vice.com.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoint's forums to share them!

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kzvnvzPatrick KlepekAustin WalkerTechnologypiracySoulja BoyEmulation
<![CDATA[What 'Darksiders 3' Teaches Us About Gaming's Weirdest Company, THQ Nordic]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/yw75bb/what-darksiders-3-teaches-us-about-gamings-weirdest-company-thq-nordicTue, 04 Dec 2018 19:38:31 +0000There are a few constants in life. Every day, the sun will rise, there will be a Trump tweet, and THQ Nordic will buy a new game franchise, to the complete bewilderment of yours truly. That includes yesterday, naturally. THQ Nordic now owns Carmageddon, calling the purchase “the start of a new chapter in the story of one of the world’s most anarchic game brands.” It remains unclear what THQ Nordic will do with Carmageddon. Unimportant! They own it.

Darksiders 3, THQ Nordic’s signature release since it went on its escalating buying spree, arrived last week. It’s the culmination of THQ Nordic’s big pitch: They buy your favorite but ignored franchise and bring it back to life. To date, though, that’s mostly involved cleaned up digital re-releases—de Blob, Titan Quest, etc.—and not full-fledged sequels. It’s all tied up in the same idea, but Darksiders 3 is a different beast entirely, and the promise is much bigger.

Is THQ Nordic the gaming equivalent of Ikea, selling surprisingly good stuff at a reasonable price, undercutting the notion spending more means getting better? A way to make riskier AAA games, in a world where companies are getting conservative due to rising budgets? Is THQ Nordic masquerading as Big Lots, a valuable “YO, we’ve got everything and it’s cheap as hell,” store, but one that works because it’s honest about what it’s selling? Or is THQ Nordic a flea market, full of cheap knockoffs and hand-me-downs in questionable condition?

(I love Big Lots and flea markets, but when I go to ether, I know what I’m in for.)

Think of a few companies, and tell me what comes to mind about them. Bungie? Games with unbelievably good shooting feel. Nintendo? A relentless focus on fun. Companies tend to cultivate an identity over time, even if they deviate from it. Now try THQ, the bankrupt publisher from 2012. THQ published a lot of cool games—hello, Saints Row—but it ultimately never stood for much of anything. It might have been better known for Nickelodeon and WWE games, if we’re being honest. Which made it all the stranger when the previously unknown Nordic Games acquired a bunch of THQ properties during bankruptcy, in essence turning the company into THQ 2.0. They made it official in 2016, becoming THQ Nordic.

“One could say the most defining moment for our company happened in 2013, grabbing headlines like; ‘Who the FUCK is Nordic Games?’” reads a THQ Nordic press release from 2016. (Though I tried, I could not find evidence of any news stories published with that headline.)

In 2013, THQ Nordic, then Nordic Games, acquired Darksiders, a series that initially gained attention as a “mature, violent take on Zelda” but the 90s comic aesthetic was misleading; under the hood, Darksiders was a tremendously creative adventure game taking the right cues from Nintendo’s franchise, and a huge reason it hit was because Nintendo wasn’t making especially great Zelda games at the time—Twilight Princess in 2006, Skyward Sword in 2011. It was a Zelda game by Zelda fans, and it also happened to have a fun, goofy story about heaven and hell that concluded with one of the greatest video game endings of all-time.

A few hours into Darksiders 3, a sloppy and unambitious mess of a sequel for a franchise dormant since 2012 and deserving of better, I struggled to come up with a way to describe what I was playing. It hit me: a Darksiders fan project. We’ve all seen something like this: Some diehards cobble enough for a 60 second video teasing a sequel the market won’t deliver, and while it doesn’t look great, it’s amazing for a bunch of fans in their spare time. But I expected more from the surprise reemergence of a personal favorite, even if that favoritism is increasingly connected to a single game from 2010, which feels like a million years ago.

Maybe we should have seen this coming. Look at this quote from from 2013:

“THQ spent $50m making Darksiders 2,” said THQ Nordic founder Lars Wingefors. “We can produce a product of the same quality but for a lower cost. $50m is ridiculous, I can't afford that. Many of our IPs will only generate $50k a year, but it's still money. Sure, it's amounts that EA and the big guys wouldn't care about, but now we have hundreds of IPs, and in a few years we'll have a few hundred more. It will add up to something much bigger.”

It’s possible THQ overspent on Darksiders 2—I have no idea. The company died due to “death by a million spider bites,” according to a former executive. Nowhere in Polygon’s extensive feature on THQ’s death does the game Darksiders 2 come up. But the notion game companies could find more efficient ways to spend their money seems plausible.

But that quote explains the Darksiders game I’ve nearly finished, one that looks and feels cheap, despite the $60 price tag. It’s not just the main character, Fury, clipping through objects in the world; textures popping in and out at will; most environments taking place in tight, bland corridors on a major city in Earth that has no personality whatsoever, down to a subway sign merely pointing the way towards the “stadium,” rather than anywhere in particular; combat that wants to be Dark Souls but buddy, you’re not Dark Souls; a story with characters but no credible motivations.

Around the time I wrote this paragraph, I also took this screenshot:

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The floating box reminded me of a metaphor. Darksiders 3 is like—oh, to hell with it. It’s a glitch, in a game is full of them, to the point where you’re eventually just happy when you can make it through an entire fight without the frame rate tanking while trying to time a dodge, or the game pausing for an impressively long five seconds to load a new section mid-combo, without any indication a load is coming.

For a while, I wondered if THQ Nordic was the Blumhouse of video games. Blumhouse is the production company behind movies you’ve heard of, like Get Out, The Purge, and Halloween. They’re also behind dozens of movies you haven’t heard of, like Incarnate, Curve, Like.Share.Follow, Delirium, Family Blood, Viral—it’s a really long list. Blumhouse’s business model is simple: eggs in many baskets, not one. They don’t spend much money on any one film, which lets them make a ton, spreading risk. If one film takes off—like, say the way Get Out did—and the rest bomb, it’s fine. Get Out picks up the slack. It convinces top-tier talent to write, direct, and star because of what’s called “points on the back end,” where you share in the movie’s profits. It’s gambling if the movie’s going to be a hit, but also likely more money.

Blumhouse’s movies are made cheaply, but don’t feel cheap because they’re conceived within the scope of their available budget. They also have more misses than hits, but that’s baked into the company’s DNA—it’s constantly taking risks. Darksiders 3 feels like the opposite, buckling and breaking under the history of legacy, failing to make anyone happy.

If THQ Nordic’s goal is to make the kinds of games THQ was spending $50 million on, without radically changing what those games are in the process, without being more honest with the audience in the process, this won’t last. For example, Darksiders has always been about exploring a big, open world—open in terms of raw area, not colliding systems, ala Far Cry—and by comparison, Darksiders 3 takes place in a crawlspace.

One of the primary ways you moved around in previous Darksiders games was riding a horse, but in Darksiders 3, Fury’s horse is killed off. The game plays this off as incitement, the emotional driver of Fury’s mission, but the game spends no time building a relationship between Fury and her horse. The horse is unceremoniously killed off because there’d be no room to ride the horse. In reality, the death of Fury's horse is the cutting of Darksider 3's budget.

We should celebrate alternative ways of funding and publishing video games, especially when it provides opportunities to new voices. How cool would it be if THQ Nordic kept buying up these old, weird properties with niche fanbases, and paired them with risk-taking studios looking for a shot on minimal funding? Something like Carmageddon has a loose enough premise that I’d love to see someone else come in and try something weird and subversive.

I’d have been far more interested in a weird take on Darksiders, rather than...well, this.

I find myself coming back to this quote from Wingefors: “Many of our IPs will only generate $50k a year, but it's still money. Sure, it's amounts that EA and the big guys wouldn't care about, but now we have hundreds of IPs, and in a few years we'll have a few hundred more.”

On one hand, there have been meaningful positives. Games like de Blob, Titan Quest, and Lock’s Quest have been rescued from the void, and live on via Steam, etc. Those games deserve sequels, too, but simply keeping them alive is worthwhile. Our industry is awful at managing history, and if THQ Nordic makes a few bucks along the way, more power to ‘em.

If the goal of THQ Nordic is to eat up dormant franchises from studios not doing much with them (see: Carmageddon, TimeSplitters, Alone in the Dark) or companies with money problems, and patiently wait for the accompanying digital sales to make the cheap investments worth it, then maybe Darksiders 3 it just a weird experiment along the way. Maybe it’s an aberration, a crummy first impression, as the company finds its footing. Or maybe anyone who’s a fan of the franchises it’s picking up—like, say, the Kingdoms of Amalur fans who lost their minds earlier this year when THQ Nordic plucked it from obscurity—should exercise some caution.

And who knows about its most recent major acquisition, Koch Media, aka the company that owns Deep Silver, aka the company publishing Metro: Exodus next year? Don't mess with Metro, please.

It won’t be long until we see the company’s next attempt, either. THQ Nordic will release Jagged Alliance: Rage!, a reboot of the beloved strategy series it acquired from bankrupt German publisher bitComposer Entertainment, on December 6.

Follow Patrick on Twitter. If you have a tip or a story idea, drop him an email: patrick.klepek@vice.com.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoint's forums to share them!

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yw75bbPatrick KlepekAustin WalkermoneyBusinessDarksidersDeep Silverthq nordicdarksiders 3Koch Media
<![CDATA[Ah, Screw It, Let's Rumor Monger About This Week's Game Awards]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/xwj4qq/waypoint-radio-game-awards-just-cause-4-darksidersMon, 03 Dec 2018 23:46:49 +0000As the days pass on and the weather gets colder (then warmer, then colder again), we're finally leaving beyond the rush of big AAA fall games. Sure, we still found time to chat about new releases like Just Cause 4, BattleTech: Flashpoint, and (more) Darksiders 3, but under this bright December sun, our focus has shifted: Today, we talk about video game industry news and rumors.

Will we see Dragon Age at the Game Awards? What does Sony's absence from E3 mean for their third party partners? How would you make your dream Avengers game? And hey, what the hell is Obsidian Studios working on? Click below to listen!

Discussed: Just Cause 4, Darksiders 3, THQ Nordic, Carmegeddon, Get in the Car Loser, BattleTech: Flashpoint, Broken Reality, Dropsy, Hypnospace Outlaw, Hitman 2, The Avengers, Dragon Age, Immersive Sims.

You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. If you're using something else, this RSS link should let you add the podcast to whatever platform you'd like. If you'd like to directly download the podcast, click here. Please take a moment and review the podcast, especially on iTunes. It really helps.

Interaction with you is a big part of this podcast, so make sure to send any questions you have for us to gaming@vice.com with the header "Questions." (Without the quotes!) We can't guarantee we'll answer all of your questions, but rest assured, we'll be taking a look at them.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoint’s forums to share them!

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xwj4qqAustin WalkerAustin WalkerPodcastsListenBattleTechHitman 2Waypoint RadioBROKEN REALITYjust cause 4darksiders 3
<![CDATA[The Emotionless Death Throes of 'Battlefield V']]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/wj3zzm/battlefield-vs-weird-death-animationFri, 30 Nov 2018 20:08:01 +0000 Postscript is Cameron Kunzelman's weekly column about endings, apocalypses, deaths, bosses, and all sorts of other finalities.

I’ve been playing Battlefield V regularly over the past few weeks. While I’m underwhelmed in a general sense, I can’t get a little element out of my head. When you’re downed, you have the opportunity to be revived by a teammate. A death timer starts, and you can either accept your fate and accelerate through your end or you can hold out and beg for somebody, anybody, to come for you. Your arms reach out, quivering, with hands that are grasping for someone to take them. You beg for your life. I’ve been thinking a lot about this.

Video games have this odd effect on video game fans. The mechanical transformation of something truly horrible in the real world (the headshot, the ten car pileup, the razing of a city) into a gameplay mechanic renders it inert. When something is transformed into a game, the entirety of gameplay culture is quick to assert that it means nothing. It’s just a game. They’re right, of course, or at least they’re right up to the point that representations of reality through different media do different things.

And I’m interested in what those quivering hands do. Because they make me feel, as Waypoint Editor In Chief Austin Walker might say, a way. You can develop a resurrection mechanic in a video game in a thousand different ways, and yet these chose the plaintive screams of the dying as the keystone of keeping the action going in the game.

We’ll roll it back a little, though, before we get there. Every time I get downed in Battlefield V and see that arm, I think about Vin Diesel. Or, rather, I think of Vin Diesel playing Private Caparzo in Saving Private Ryan and the kind of domino effect that his death starts spilling out into the film.

In the scene, which is a fairly famous one that is known far more for its sniper battle than Vin Diesel’s performance, Caparzo is shot while standing in the street. The scene plays out in a typical Spielberg way, with characters simply stewing and panicking slowly as our calm friendly sniper hunts down the dastardly enemy who has shot Caparzo. Meanwhile, Caparzo is reckoning with his own death, retrieving a letter from a pocket and holding it out to his companions who are hiding behind cover.

That wavering arm, trying to give them the letter, is a visual route directly to the hiding soldiers. The enemy sniper follows the line of empathy, or sympathy, or sheer sadness at the reality of death. In that moment, thankfully, our religious friendly sniper takes him out. They rush Caparzo. He dies. The scene ends.

The effects of Saving Private Ryan across video game culture are, at this point, probably incalculable. And in these small death animations where someone is holding out for someone, anyone, to come and save them, I think about Caparzo’s arm stretched out at the people in hiding.

I don’t think that’s a mechanic in Battlefield V, but I’m also not stopping to look. When a teammate is downed, the icon covers most of their body, and I am either rushing to their side or completely ignoring them because they’re still directly in the line of fire of the enemy who killed them to begin with. Similarly, when I down an enemy, I am not looking to see if they’re whipping around to plead with someone who could save them. I’m keeping my eyes trained on the writhing body so that I can take a life off any fool who is ignorant enough to step out to try to help them.

A first person screenshot from Battlefield V in which a character looks up at the sky on a snowy mountainside, hand out stretched, while a prompt at the bottom asks if the player wishes to bleed out or wait for a revival.

We get the visuals of death, the screams of death, and all of the things that are meant to communicate tragedy and sadness, and yet none of those things can land. Battlefield V borrows the language of cinematic death, but its very existence as a video game means that it can’t sell us on that language. We experience the tragedy, we witness the tragedy, and yet it is immediately buried in more gameplay.

The reaching arm and the grasping hand are hollow gestures. They’re the trappings of cinematic war sadness without anything to justify them. They’re reskins of a basic gameplay mechanic that fundamentally misunderstands what that kind of emotional moment is supposed to do, how it works, and so it sticks out like a sore thumb. I keep thinking about it because it accomplishes nothing, and within that realization, I think that Battlefield 1’s magical resurrection with a syringe is somehow more honest. The miracle is the same in both cases; at least Battlefield 1 had the honesty to acknowledge the absurdity of it.

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wj3zzmCameron KunzelmanRobert ZacnyDiceGame DesignPostscriptshooterssaving private ryanBattlefield V
<![CDATA[An Evolving Understanding of 'Sexy' Video Game Ladies]]>https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/8xpmav/an-evolving-understanding-of-sexy-video-game-ladiesFri, 30 Nov 2018 16:25:41 +0000When you look at Soulcalibur's Ivy Valentine, plenty of things may come to mind. She's a tall, dominating (in many senses) fighting game character with an exaggerated pin-up figure and a whip, and she's the subject of Kotaku editor Maddy Myers evolving feelings in a recent piece entitled The Inexplicable Sexiness Of Ivy Valentine. In this episode of Waypoint Radio, Danielle, Patrick and Rob gather to talk about the piece, sexualized ladies in games, depictions of desirable bodies in games and movies, and what it means to reclaim a character for your own, whether they were intended for your demographic or not.

Then we take a dip into the question bucket and ponder the need to "go back!" to previous iconic locations in games.

Discussed: Soulcalibur series, Dishonored, Say Anything, Blade Runner

Content warning: discussion of bodies (especially women's bodies) and ideal beauty, and references to stalking and sexual assault in 80s movies.
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8xpmavDanielle RiendeauAustin WalkerPodcastsListenWaypoint Radiowomen in video gamesSoul Calibur VIpodacsts