Summer Slow Season – What to Play

Sunset Overdrive Xbox BundleWe’re halfway through the month of July, which is traditionally the slowest time of the year when it comes to new game launches. Typically we see indie titles, arcade games, or re-releases and remasters. We use the summer for E3 and conventions and playing catch-up before the deluge of games returns during the fall. So with that in mind, I thought I would offer up a couple games that I have been finding myself playing during this slow time, along with a couple remasters that we know are on the horizon that I think, depending on price, are worth picking up.

First up, the obvious picks: Destiny and Call of Duty: Black Ops III. As a long time shooter fan, there are always a couple or more FPS games in my rotation. I keep a few on hand that way no matter which shooter mood I find myself in, I have something ready to go. It used to be Halo/Call of Duty/Battlefield, while these days I’m finding myself moving away a bit from Halo and Battlefield as I wait for their next entries. Destiny instead scratches that slower, Haloesque style combat. The Crucible, while certainly not perfect, has been a lot of fun to play again. What I think really helps is that it’s very different from Call of Duty, which I load up when I really want to scratch that twitch style FPS. There’s a reason that I keep going back and talking about them here, and that’s because they’re easily my most played games currently. If you like FPS games, and aren’t playing Overwatch, I really think both Destiny and Call of Duty are worth your time.

The other style game that I always have one or two on hand of is RPG, and that’s where I’m a little behind right now. I finally went back and have been finishing up Dragon Age Inquisition, which I have been playing for a bit over a full year. It was just on sale, so if you picked it up, there’s a lot to dive into, just don’t get burned out like I did and you’ll find yourself really enjoying Thedas. I’m powering through it though because I have Witcher III on deck, which I’m really excited to finally dig into. I also recently picked my first MMO up with Elder Scrolls Online and I’m slowly starting to get a handle on it. I talked last year about the beta, and I do want to revisit it here as I keep progressing through the game. It may be an MMO, and there are definitely some portions where spending some extra money feels like it’s beneficial. That especially extends to the DLC which all look like the amount of content they add in is definitely worth investing in. I don’t like that you have to use an intermediate currency instead of just directly using dollars. There are loads of good RPGs available right now, including Fallout 4, which I still need to dive back into. Summer is a good time for RPGs in general since you need to spend a bit more time playing them than other games.

My hard drive is currently rounded out with a couple less intense games – Mega Man Legacy Collection and Minecraft. While there’s nothing new coming out, this is the perfect time to go back and play some classic games. Combine that with the backwards compatible titles that are available now and there are plenty of options if you’re feeling a little burnt out on what you’re currently playing. Don’t feel like you have to keep going down that rabbit hole, branch out, find a sale or a used disc and try something new. That’s really what the summer is about for gaming.

Advertisements

Infinite Lives Best of 2015 – Day Two

The Taken King LogoContinuing our look back at the year that was, today we’re talking DLC and post-launch content that came out this year. Now I didn’t play everything that came out this year, but of what I did play, there were some really great post-launch content that helped extend games lives.

First off, the big one for me really shouldn’t be a big surprise here – it’s The Taken King for Destiny. That was exactly what Destiny needed to stay relevant moving forward, and really what the game needed to fix a lot of the issues that we all knew the game had. Is it losing its luster a bit right now? Probably a bit for the hardcore crowd. But I still think that there’s a lot more to get out of The Taken King than we had with the initial game, and it’s a really good building point for Bungie moving into 2016. House of Wolves is also worth mentioning for kinda redefining the focus of end-game Destiny gameplay. We went from six-man raids and Iron Banner for PvP to three-man Prison of Elders and Trials of Osiris. Were there issues with both of those events – you bet, but they did a good job of bringing me back into Destiny after The Dark Below. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Bungie is going to do with Destiny in 2016, especially with the focus on timed events now.

Battlefield Hardline

I did want to mention a couple other post-launch content. Battlefield Hardline has had a really strong DLC season so far – adding in new game modes, a lot of new gear for each class, and solid maps. EA and DICE tend to do really good by the Battlefield games – hell, they’re putting new content out for Battlefield 4 out this year, and that’s a two year old game now. The other game that I think has done a good job of supporting itself post-launch has been Halo 5: Guardians. Instead of having full fledged DLC map packs, 343 has been adding in good content through title updates for the game. We’ve gotten Big Team Battle added in, as well as social playlists, new maps and a whole slew of new REQ weapons. They keep using these monthly updates to address the issues in the live game as they pop up, which helps keep the actual game fresh and playing great. After the debacle that was Master Chief Collection, this is exactly what the Halo series needed.

There are a couple other little things to mention quickly. First off, Rock Band has restarted weekly DLC offerings. I always thought that that was one thing that Harmonix always had over other rhythm games. So far they’ve had a really good mix of genres as well as grabbing some deep cuts in addition to big hits. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more next year, especially as they keep adding content to the Rock Band platform. One other thing that I saw this year was Witcher 3 do a really cool thing with offering a ton of free DLC to keep the players invested moving forward. I mentioned yesterday that while I have The Witcher 3, I haven’t played it yet – and obviously that extends to the DLC. But I do like that more developers are putting in extra content to their games for free and finding other ways to fill their development costs.

Infinite Lives Last Minute Christmas Game Gift Ideas

Panicking at the last minute about what you should pick up for the gamer on your list? Well I’ve got you covered here at Infinite Lives with a couple games that I think any game lover will enjoy.

Fallout 4 Box Art

For the RPG lover, you are looking at Witcher 3 or Fallout 4. Both games feature strong story telling, living worlds and characters that feel alive. You should pick the game that fits the world your gamer prefers. Not everyone likes that Tolkien sword and sorcery style RPG, and Fallout offers a tremendous alternative. Both games are bound to be all over Game of the Year lists soon, so you really can’t go wrong with either game. Each game has a different way they approach the traditional RPG mechanics, so you might need to figure out how your gamer likes their story and action delivered to them.

If you have an action/FPS fan on your list, you have a few more options, so it might be a little more complicated. Destiny: The Taken King, despite what the hardcore community might be saying, is absolutely worth the price of admission. With all of the extras going on in the game right now – SRL, and Iron Banner hitting next Tuesday – this is a pretty good time to get a new player into the game, or bring a friend back in. Battlefield Hardline came out way back in March, but I still think it’s probably the best option if you’re looking for a more realistic style shooter. Huge games, big maps and vehicles all over the place and a change of pace from the usual military setting make for a pretty damn fun game. You can probably find it marked down by now too, so keep that in mind. If you’re looking for something even more on the realistic side, you’ll be grabbing Rainbow 6: Siege. I haven’t played it since the beta, so I can’t give the full recommendation, but if you plan on having a group to play it with, I think it could be the best co-op/competitive option out there. Which brings us to the old question – Halo 5 or Call of Duty: Black Ops III. It’s been the dominant question in console FPS for years – at least on Xbox. Now, last year, it wasn’t a question – Master Chief Collection was too broken to recommend. But this year, I actually think it’s a lot closer. Halo 5 is a ton of fun to play – Warzone alone is I think worth checking out the game for. And Black Ops looks like it’s the strongest entry in a couple years in that franchise as well. This might be the only pick where there really isn’t a wrong answer – I think no matter what your Xbox FPS gamer likes, either game is a win.

Rock Band 4

One last game that I think might fly a little under the radar this season – Rock Band 4. The return of my favorite music game franchise has been a little rocky so far. Yes, it’s still missing some features – especially online play. But if you’ve got the instruments, I still say it’s far and away the best couch co-op/party game available. The new setlist is really good, plus they are continually adding new songs to the list, as well as the old DLC too. If there’s a music fan on your list who happens to also like playing video games, I think this is the game for you.

Weekly News Recap – Week of May 18, 2015

Relatively busy week this week – not just because of news, but we had two pretty important launches too.

Destiny House of Wolves

DESTINY’S HOUSE OF WOLVES IS UNLEASHED
On Tuesday, Bungie released the second DLC expansion for Destiny – House of Wolves. I’ve been talking about it all week long here, so I won’t dwell on it too long today. I will say that according to this weeks Bungie Weekly Update, House of Wolves has been a pretty spectacular success at launch. There were more players online Tuesday than there was on Christmas, a typically heavy day with new players. That shows just how well Bungie has done with the build going into this, and hopefully the player count will stay high moving forward.

Witcher 3 Wild Hunt

WITCHER 3: WILD HUNT RELEASES
The other big release this week was the third game in the well respected Witcher series: The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. All the early buzz around this game was that it’s an early favorite for Game of the Year. I picked it up yesterday – physical copy – so I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time with it. I will say, I’m really glad I picked the physical copy up – it comes with an actual game manual, a compendium of the universe as well as a soundtrack and map for the game world. That’s not a Special Edition either, just the normal physical copy. That’s fantastic in this day and age.

NEED FOR SPEED REBOOT COMING THIS FALL
In a somewhat surprising move to me, EA announced that Need for Speed will be rebooted in the fall. The surprising move isn’t so much that the series is getting a reboot, more so that they announced it this week. E3 is only a couple weeks away; this is a modern classic franchise that I think would have gotten a good reception had EA announced this during their press conference. That has me thinking in a whole bunch of directions – is it a weak start, so they don’t push it at E3? Or do they have a stacked E3 conference already, and needed to pull a game? Either way could be the case, and we’ll just have to wait and see.

E3 2014 – Microsoft Conference Impressions

E3 LogoWe’ve finally arrived at the magical week that gamers wait for all year long – E3. Today is the first day, which means there’s going to be a ton of information coming out all afternoon. Expect multiple posts, and definitely stay up to date on twitter.

First up today was Microsoft, who I think was going in with a lot to prove after a somewhat down year last year. They caught a lot of flak from fans for focusing on the console and kinect instead of the games. They took that to heart and this year their show was, as Phil Spector put it, “90 minutes of games.” It was exactly the show that they needed to have, and they really did nail it. I’ll do a quick rundown of the games they showed, with some first impressions, and probably will be talking E3 all month, narrowing down to specific games.

Before the show even got started, they tucked two nice announcements in the pre-stream. Titanfall is showing new content this week, including a new game mode, Titan burn cards and customization. My guess is that it will be in a game update that we see pretty soon. They also sneaked in a Gears of War announcement in the pre-show, as well as Threes coming to the Snap window on the Xbox One.

Call of Duty: Advance Warfare
They opened, as usual, with the latest Call of Duty: Advance Warfare footage. My stream got a little screwy at the beginning, but I managed to catch most of the gameplay. In general, the first thing that struck me was obviously the new graphics engine – the game looks really smooth and awesome. I also immediately liked the new HUD design, tying all the relevant info directly to the gun is a neat touch I think.

Forza
They showed a couple cool Forza things – first was the free track, the iconic track at Nürburgring, available today. Second, was showing off the first footage of Forza Horizon 2, an open world take on the Forza formula. The Forza engine has always looked incredible, and this is no different. The game launches on September 30.

Evolve Cover

Evolve
The game that has been right toward the top of my list since I first saw it showed off a new monster character, as well as a little bit of new gameplay, and announced an open beta for this fall. Really excited to see more of the new monster in action as the summer rolls on.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity
Ubisoft brought their flagship franchise out and showed a little bit more of the latest installment, set during the French Revolution. The big announcement though was that this will be the first Assassin’s Creed game to include four-player co-op tied into the actual story, showing it off on the main stage during an assassination mission. Plus the actual game looks gorgeous.

Dragon Age: Inquisition
The third installment in BioWare’s fantasy RPG got a new story trailer, showing off a little bit more than we had seen. I have a feeling that this will be one of the games that as the summer goes on, we get a lot more teases of. Plus, as is a trend with these Xbox One titles, it just looks amazing. We also got a solid release date – October 7th.

Sunset Overdrive
Insomniac’s new shooter got a really killer trailer/gameplay combo. The lead in trailer I think did a good job of setting the tone of the game, poking fun at “modern” shooters and cover mechanics. The gameplay demo did a better job of showing off the idea of velocity in combat in action though. It was a short example, but man, it looks just like pure fun. The other big announcement was that there is an 8-player co-op mode included with the game, which drops October 28th.

Dead Rising 3
In a somewhat surprising twist, Capcom showed off brand new Dead Rising 3 DLC that is available now, which basically looked like a love letter to Capcom games of past. Each previous Dead Rising character is playable, and the content itself looks like a more arcade take on Dead Rising.

Harmonix
Harmonix came out with some new info – but not for the game I was expecting. I was going in anticipating to see some new Fanstasia footage, instead, we got the announcement of the new Dance Central: Spotlight, coming this fall as a digital only release.

Fable: Legends
Despite being a big Fable fan, I had stayed pretty out of the loop with this game, so seeing the new trailer and gameplay was really nice. Four player co-op tied directly into the story I think just fits perfectly with the Fable universe. Plus the option to play as The Villain is a really neat twist that could be a lot of fun. It looks like there is a Beta planned for the Holiday, so we’ll see more by then.

Project Spark
Another game I’m not super familiar with, but know some people who are much more so. It looks like a pretty intriguing experience, and the new confirmed co-op campaign, plus mutiplayer looks kinda cool. Plus they have Conker exclusive in the game, so that’s a plus.

Ori and the Blind Forest
It was kind of hard to tell exactly what this game is gonna shape up to be, but it reminded me a lot of Dust: An Elyssian Tail, probably because I was just playing it last month. I really like the art style, so as more comes out, then I’ll make my call on it.

Halo-Logo

Halo
I went in today expecting the Halo 2 Anniversary edition to be announced, but what we got was so so much more. The Halo: The Master Chief Collection is everything that a Halo fan could want – the first four main series entries, on one disc, with a full anniversary update to Halo 2. They’ve gone all out with it, adding cross-game mission playlists, every single multiplayer map, running on the original multiplayer engines, plus 4,000 Gamerscore in achievements to get. But that’s not all – it’ll also come with Halo: Nightfall which looks like the Halo 5: The Guardians version of Forward Unto Dawn, plus entry into the Halo 5 multiplayer beta. And in typical Halo fashion, it’ll be out in November, on the 11, with the beta launching on December 27, lasting a full month. To me, this was the killer announcement of the conference. Plus they trolled the hell out of fans with the opening to the trailer.

Looking ahead
Wisely, after the major Halo announcement, Microsoft shifted focus to games that are expected to land sometime next year or even beyond. What this amounted to was a series of trailers and gameplay footage in various states of completion, plus a good section focused solely on the ID@Xbox program. Playdead announced Inside, which looked a lot like Limbo, Square showed off the first trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider, which I think is a terrible title, but should be a great game. We saw a good section of gameplay of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which got me totally on board – although I need to play the first games still. Phantom Dust, a game from the Original Xbox is getting a reboot next year. We also saw new MP footage of Tom Clancy’s The Division which looked really interesting, and I think will be a big player next year. We also got a new game from Platinum – Scalebound, which looks kinda interesting, but it’s hard to tell exactly what to expect from it. And finally, Microsoft closed with a trailer showing off the next Crackdown game, which doesn’t surprise me, but I’m gonna remain a little skeptical for now – I liked the original, but the sequel did nothing for me.

All in all, I thought Microsoft did exactly what they needed to with their conference – focused solely on games, had a lot of good footage and content, a couple surprises, nothing major and played it a little safe. I think as the actual games get a bit more play and info out this coming week, it’ll be a hell of an E3. Buckle up folks, it’s gonna be a fantastic week.