Games We’re Excited About: September 2016

September is weird this year.

Usually we anticipate September as the beginning of the big games release season. But September 2016 will be known more for hardware news than game releases, as we expect concrete news on both the PlayStation Neo and the Nintendo NX. On the game release front, there are more remasters we’re looking forward to than new releases, but one collection in particular is more than enough to carry us through to October. Here’s what we’re excited about:



BioShock: The Collection (Xbox One, PS4, PC)–September 13th

The Bioshock series is easily one of the greatest trilogies of all time, and I can’t wait to jump into this remastered collection. And it’s great to see Bioshock 2 included, because it’s a fantastic game, even if it wasn’t developed by Irrational. In some ways, I think it’s even better than its predecessor. Now I’m just waiting on Dead Space to get the same treatment and our desert island game collection will be complete.



Dead Rising Triple Pack (Xbox one, PS4, PC)–September 13th/September 27th

As much as I tried to get into the Dead Rising games in the past, it was their clunky control schemes that put me off. But this bundle with Dead Rising, Dead Rising 2 and DR2: Off the Record has me wanting to give the series another go. As a huge Romero fan, the mall setting of the first one is a real draw for me.



ReCore (Xbox one, PC)–September 13th

An adventure game made by the creators behind the Metroid Prime and Mega Man? Yes, please. ReCore centers around Joule, a girl who wakes up from cryosleep to find the Earth is a wasteland.



Adr1ft (Xbox one)–September 16th

In this game you take on the role of an astronaut marooned in space after the destruction of a space station. You have to try and repair an escape ship while finding clues about what happened to the station, as you have no memory of what occurred. This game feels like it could have a SOMA vibe to it, and that alone makes it worth checking out for me.



Destiny: Rise of Iron (Xbox one, PS4)–September 20th

To be honest, I fell out of love with Destiny a while ago. Once my friends had gotten many levels ahead of me, the game became a lot less fun, and the gameplay loop had long since lost its luster for me. But I had a lot of fun with Destiny originally, and anytime new content is released, it’s something I’m going to check out.


So, that’s our list of September releases we’re looking forward to. What’s on your list? Let us know in the comments.


Co-Op Critics Podcast: Destiny

The latest episode of the Co-Op Critics podcast is available for your listening pleasure!

For those that are not familiar with the show, each episode we take a game or series and have a long-form group discussion about it. This month’s game is Destiny, and I was joined by Nick Merritt and Jeff Rodgers to discuss everything from pre-launch expectations to what we’d like to see in the future from Destiny.

You can listen to the episode right here in the player above, or you can watch us play Destiny while listening to the podcast in the YouTube video below. Each month we’ll be releasing gameplay videos along with the podcast, so for those who like to watch as well as listen, we’ve got you covered.

You can check out all of our back episodes in the sidebar here on the blog, or over on our SoundCloud page, where we’ve put a playlist of all the episodes together.

We’ll be back next month with a new podcast, in which we’ll be talking all about Dying Light. Until then, expect more videos and game discussion here on the blog and on our YouTube page, where new videos are going up several times a week.


The Co-Op Crop Report: 1/18-1/25/15

We’ve come out of the box strong so far in 2015, and the evolution of Co-Op Critics is well underway. This is the first installment of a weekly update series here on the blog that will recap the new content we’ve produced between our Twitch channel, the YouTube page and right here on Co-OpCritics.com.

Last Sunday, we posted a Co-Op Plays video of Nick, Jeff and I taking on Destiny’s Weekly Heroic Strike, the “Devil’s Lair.”

On Monday, I posted some thoughts on the multiplayer mode of Dragon Age: Inquisition, featuring a Co-Op Plays video of Nick and I hacking and slashing with some randoms.

On Tuesday I posted some thoughts on Nintendo’s announcement that Club Nintendo would be winding down at the end of June 2015.

On Wednesday, I gushed over the news that Elder Scrolls Online would be dropping its subscription fee and arriving on Xbox One and PS4 in June.

Friday night featured a three-hour livestream of Jeff, Nick and I playing Destiny (Strikes, Crucible matches and Story Missions).

And today saw the launch of Co-Op Craft: Family Edition–a new series where my son Parker and I play Minecraft together. I’ll be posting more about that tomorrow.

So, it was a pretty full week here at Co-Op Critics, and we are just getting started. You’ve seen our new logo popping up here and there, and the facelift for the site will continue in the coming weeks. We’ll be back this week with a new episode of the Co-Op Critics audio podcast, and we’ll also be posting the episode on YouTube with some accompanying gameplay video.


Destiny–A Look at the Stats Through Level 20

After another week and a total of 18 hours played, I’ve reached level 20 in Destiny. I’ve heard that the game “really begins” at level 20, and while time will tell if that’s true, I’ve had a great deal of fun getting to this point. So let’s look at some of my stats so far.

As I talked about in my last post, I’ve spent the majority of my time in the Crucible, the competitive multiplayer component of Destiny. Of my 18 hours so far, I’ve spent 8 in the crucible, just under 5 in the Story mode, and most of the remainder on Patrol missions in the various locations.

I really enjoy the way the Destiny app and Bungie.net keep track of all my stats. I’ve never been big into stat tracking, but there’s a surprising amount of depth to the stats Bungie is keeping. For example, I’ve played a total of 61 games (sessions) so far, and 39 of them have been Control (Domination) in the Crucible (Competitive Multiplayer). In those 39 matches, I’ve killed 303 enemies and died 419 times, for a K/D ratio of 0.72. That’s pretty great for me, since in most shooters I average about 0.40, and I haven’t approached 1.0 since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare back in 2007. My single best match of Control was on the First Light map, and I had 18 kills versus 4 deaths, and came in second on my team in scoring.

Looking at my stats confirms what I already knew–kills are not where I score my points. I get a lot of assists (153 so far) and I capture a lot of control points (185 so far). I also get a decent amount of defensive kills (47 so far), because I tend to linger around a point I’ve captured and try to defend it if there’s an enemy in the immediate area.

My overall strategy for control point-oriented games has been the same since the original Modern Warfare, and it works for me. Most of my levelling in Destiny has come through these matches, and through the completion of Bounties (challenges) that are tied into multiplayer.

Now that I’ve hit level 20, experience points are taking a back seat to Light–a special property of armor components that allows you to earn levels beyond 20. I’ll be diving into some of the high-level raids and strike missions that are now open to me, as well as joining up with one of the factions that I’m now eligible for. I suspect I’ll be diving back into Story mode as well.


Why Destiny’s Competitive Multiplayer Stands Out for Me

According to Bungie.net, I’ve now spent almost eight hours playing Destiny.

This game has definitely got its hooks into me. What’s most surprising to me though, is that it’s the competitive multiplayer that I’m becoming addicted to, rather than the story campaign so far.

I’ve played through all of the Halo games, and it was always the campaign that I spent the most time with. I played mostly solo, although from time to time I’d have friends jump in and co-op with me. I suspect it will be the same for Destiny, if the first few hours are any indication. I played through three story missions with friends, and it was a lot more fun than playing through alone. I’ll talk about that more in my next post, though. Let’s talk multiplayer now.

I have always been pretty terrible at the competitive multiplayer modes in the Halo games, but that doesn’t change the fact that they were extremely well designed. And Destiny’s multiplayer modes share a lot of DNA with Halo, but there are some huge differences that so far have made my experience a lot more fun than frustrating.

I think the biggest difference between Destiny and Halo (and most other shooters) is the Abilities and Super Abilities that you can use in addition to your weapons. Some of the abilities function like grenades, which isn’t that big of a deal, but they have different properties by class, which adds variety. It’s the Super Abilities that really change the game, though. Each class a Super that charges over time and with certain actions. It’s usually a devastating attack that if used correctly, can take out multiple enemies at once. And if you wait until the right moment to use your Super, you can change the tide of a battle.

Another thing I really enjoy about the multiplayer in Destiny is the Bounty system. You can take on certain challenges that reward you with experience points upgrades and even weapons based on the type of bounty they are. So, if take on a few Crucible (multiplayer) Bounties, there are additional challenges I’m trying to complete while I’m playing through matches.

Finally, after each multiplayer match, there are gear rewards given out to random participants. So every match could end up netting you a new weapon or piece or armor.

All of these systems work together to make Destiny’s competitive multiplayer feel more dynamic to me than most other games. They give me a reason to keep coming back, even though I’m average at best and usually get owned by more skilled players. If this was a Halo game, I’d have already checked out of multiplayer to focus on the campaign by now. It’s the tweaks that Bungie has made to the formula that have kept me engaged so far.


Destiny–Quick Impressions From the First Hour (Xbox One)

Like pretty much everyone else, I picked up my copy of Destiny yesterday. Unlike a lot of others though, I hadn’t really followed a lot of the coverage leading up to the game, and I didn’t play the beta at all. I kind of wanted to go in as unspoiled as possible. As someone who enjoyed the Halo games, I was excited to see what Bungie would do with their next big project.

I’m sure I’ll be writing quite a bit about Destiny in the weeks and months to come, but I just wanted to get some quick impressions down after playing through the opening mission and getting to the Tower.

I chose a Warlock class to begin with, and while the customization options were pretty sparse, I’m guessing (hoping) that you’ll be able to unlock more options in the future, like the ability to create your own markings, or at least cobble together new ones from existing assets like you can with emblems and callsigns in the Call of Duty series.

One of the first aspects of Destiny I immediately fell in love with was the score and sound design. The sweeping orchestral music in Destiny is amazing so far, and I’m less than an hour in. The music lends to feeling that this is the beginning of an epic tale, that the setting has a long history and that you play an important role in what’s to come. I loved Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori’s work on the Halo series, and it’s top-notch here (it’s a bummer O’Donnell is no longer with Bungie). The legendary Paul McCarney also lent his talents to the Destiny score, so there’s even more reason to love it. The overall sound design is pretty great so far as well, especially as you’re making your way through the cramped metal environment of the opening mission in Old Russia. From the weapons to the Warlock’s Vortex Grenade, it all sounds great.

Unsurprisingly, the mechanics are smooth as butter. The Halo series was always a joy to play from a mechanical standpoint (at least for me), and none of that has changed with Destiny. I’m still getting used to the button layout, but I can always change it if I want. Aiming, shooting, sprinting, jumping–all of it feels great.

To be honest though, the opening mission feels very Halo-y. The way the enemies move, the way the areas are laid out, and the overall encounter design feels very much like Halo. Now, I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, and I actually think it’s by design. It feels like Bungie is easing Halo players into this new game, and that’s okay. I fully expect things to open up, especially when I get into the cooperative multiplayer aspects of the game.

When I got to the tower, I immediately had visions of the Citadel from Mass Effect and the player hubs in DC Universe Online (which is one of the few MMOs that I play). It definitely feels like an MMO hub, so no surprises there. I walked around a bit, and picked up some armor, which it looks like I can’t customize (although I’ve since read you unlock that ability at some point).

So, my first impressions of Destiny are that it’s very pretty, and it sounds and feels great. The game is very curated so far, and the early design feels a lot like Halo, with MMO elements. I look forward to diving in deeper, and I’m sure I’ll have much more to write about. I’ll also be doing some streaming, which I’ll post highlights of here on the blog.

Why the DESTINY “alpha” might be my Game of the Year (so far)

The short version of my feelings on the upcoming Bungie game DESTINY after spending a weekend playing the “alpha” on PS4: it surpassed my expectations in almost every way.

The long version requires some preliminary explanation. First of all, let’s talk about MMO’s, because while Bungie may dance around the term all they want, DESTINY fits most of the criteria for an MMO. One could probably quibble with how “massive” the player count truly is, so perhaps we can properly call it a Moderately Multiplayer Online game? At any rate, for years I’ve been intrigued by the gameplay and social elements of MMO’s but never spent much time with them because I’ve never really been a PC gamer (blame my lifelong allegiance to the Mac, I suppose) and consequently don’t truly feel comfortable with mouse and keyboard controls for games. Even when I’ve tried an MMO on a console, like DCUO, it’s been a lackluster experience primarily because the gamepad controls feel awkward and unsatisfying.

So an MMO whose action is the very familiar “left trigger, then right trigger” mechanic I’ve learned through years of console shooters seems tailor-made for me. That brings us to the second element that appealed to me: loot. Like most gamers, I cannot deny being ready to hit that lever for my pellet of food when it comes to well-designed loot systems. A great deal of my enjoyment of both BORDERLANDS and DIABLO is due to the cycle of equip-kill-drop-evaluate-equip they employ, especially when done in an attractive and compelling art style.

The third aspect of DESTINY that hooked me? Grouping for co-operative play requires only 3 people. Now, I recognize that this fact actually is a negative for some, but as a 41-year old dadgamer who’s watched his circle of gaming friends dwindle over the years as life has gotten in the way, I’m thrilled to know that if I can just find 2 other people I can meet the game’s challenges on equal terms. And while there is a competitive mode available in DESTINY with a more robust 6v6 population, it’s the co-operative play that holds the most allure for me.

Finally, and most importantly: I’m a huge sci-fi nerd. If nothing else, Bungie has a proven track record of creating a rich and deep science fiction setting for its games. Heck, the mythology and universe of the HALO games kept me much more invested in that franchise than the gameplay ever did. So the story elements in DESTINY that have been released so far, the design of the characters, weapons, & vehicles, and the environments I’ve seen and those I’ve only glimpsed in trailers all line up perfectly with my taste and interest.

Now, all of those factors raised my expectations (and, to be honest, probably had me ready to overlook plenty of flaws) before I started playing. So when the alpha kicked off, I created a Hunter class character, jumped in, and… LOVED the gameplay. The shooting felt great. The melee attacks were SO satisfying. My character moved well, and hopping on a hover bike to get around the outdoor environment was actually fun. Early enemies were dispatched easily enough to build my confidence, and then boss fights were challenging enough to make me appreciate their defeat. I was, frankly, thrilled to find exactly what I was looking for in DESTINY. I eagerly await the beta in July, and the full release of the game in September. I no longer am disappointed by the games that have moved into 2015, because my gaming time in the last 5 months of 2014 is spoken for.

I realize I haven’t even talked about how gorgeous it is, or how good it sounds, or the sheer nerd glee I felt when Lance Reddick’s voice kicked in at one point. (I even liked Peter Dinklage’s work as your AI companion, although I can certainly see why some folks feel he’s been a bit too flat.) Take a look at a trailer for the game. Look at some screenshots. And then give me a shout in September, and we’ll take on the universe together.