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No Man’s Sky–First Impressions

I spent about an hour and a half with Hellos Games’ No Man’s Sky last night, and the experience has been kicking around my brain since I put the controller down. In some ways it’s the game I hoped it would be, and in others it’s something entirely different. But it’s absolutely fascinating, and I can already tell I will be losing days of my life to this game over the next several months, at least.

No Man’s Sky throws you right into the deep end to begin with–you awaken after having crash landed on a random planet, and you must find resources to repair your ship and keep yourself alive. And that’s the first thing that kind of surprised me about the game–there’s a really big survival element to it. The resource management (which you have to do for your suit and your ship) was interesting, and I had to make a few difficult decisions fairly early on as far as what to keep and what to discard.

NMS New Ship

In addition to managing your resources, there are robotic enemies that you encounter early on, and it’s the one part of the game I didn’t enjoy at all. These Sentinel bots roam around the planet, and if you draw their attention, they attack. Fight back, and your wanted level goes up (like GTA and Saints Row), and then things get ugly. So, I found myself regularly on the run from them, and I died to them about five minutes into the game. I finally figured out that mining a lot of resources in a particular area can draw them to you, so I was more careful, but for me it added a layer of tension that I was not looking for.

NMS Landscape

The interface is very reminiscent to the one in Destiny, which actually helped me acclimate to it without much of a problem. I did have to increase the look sensitivity right away, as I felt very sluggish on the default setting. There isn’t a lot of hand-holding being done by the game either, and you can pretty much completely go it alone if you decline an early offer for guidance. That’s what I did, and while I got confused at times, I’m glad I just sort of went with it.

Because exploring in No Man’s Sky is amazing.

The scope of this game is mind-boggling. The planet that I’m on has enough resources, outposts, crashed ships and other secrets that I could probably spend a dozen hours in just this one place. It’s huge. To think that there are an almost infinite number of them out there that I could do the same with is just crazy. I actually jumped into an underground cavern at one point to avoid a Sentinel, and wandered around for a solid 25 minutes before I found the surface again. I honestly thought at one point I was trapped. And when I did come out, I stumbled upon an outpost and met a trader where I was able to upgrade my Multi-Tool and trade a bunch of the resources I collected.

NMS Trader

I also found a distress signal for a crashed ship that I was able to track down and then claim as my own.  And now that I have a ship and it’s repaired, I can explore the rest of this planet before I head out into open space.

So far, No Man’s Sky feels pretty epic. You can expect plenty of gameplay videos on both the Co-Op Critics and Let’s Play Quietly YouTube pages over the next several weeks.

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Co-Op Critics Podcast–Overwatch

In the latest episode of the Co-Op Critics podcast, Brian and Nick discuss our game of the month, Overwatch, look at some of August’s releases, and talk about what else they’re playing for the rest of the summer.

You can listen to the episode right here in the player above, or check us out on iTunes and Spreaker. You can also listen to back episodes on our podcast page. We’ll be catching up on a bunch of games over the remainder of the summer, so check out the YouTube page for all kids of videos and discussion.

The Zen of Fishing in Minecraft

Fishing is pretty much my favorite thing to do in Minecraft, nowadays.

One of the things that makes Minecraft such an enduring game is the fact that you can focus on any one aspect of it, and that can become a game in and of itself. If you just want to build stuff, you can. If you want it to be an RPG, adventure-style game, it can be that. And if you just want a fishing simulator, well, Minecraft has you covered there, too.READ MORE

Let’s Play SOMA – Ep. 8 (Theta Labs/Maintenance)

My game of the year was SOMA (you can read why here), and I’ve been playing through it for a let’s play series over the past couple months. This particular episode takes place toward the latter third of the game, as the main character Simon is trying to find a way out of Theta Site so he can get to Omicrom and find a dive suit that will withstand the ocean depths he will have to travel to in order to retrieve the ARK.

If you enjoy this series, please leave a LIKE or comment on the video. you can watch the entire series on our YouTube page–Don’t forget to subscribe!

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#PS2PS4: What Games Do You Want?

And we thought backward compatibility wouldn’t be a thing this generation.

For a while the WiiU was the only console this generation that was backward compatible. Both Sony and Microsoft seemed to imply that backward compatibility wasn’t something that was really all that important to gamers, and there were no plans for either the PS4 or the Xbox One to be backward compatible.READ MORE

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Bethesda Games Give Me Wanderlust

I prefer to play games alone.

At first blush, that may not be the best opening line for a post on a site with co-op in its title. But while Co-Op Critics is a place where we celebrate games together, that doesn’t mean we have to always play them together. It’s my need to discuss my gaming experiences with others that drove me to create this site, and one of the reasons for that is many of the games I play are single player experiences. Games that I enjoy playing alone, but then need to process with others.READ MORE

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Why the PS4 Has Become My Go-To Console

Even though I have no time to play them all, for the past two generations I’ve purchased all three major consoles. And like many others, last generation I was primarily an Xbox 360 gamer (though I loved my PS3). But as we are about to enter year three of this generation (four if you count the year lead the WiiU had), there is one console that I spend the majority of my time with–the PlayStation 4.

There are a few reasons for the PS4 becoming my console of choice. There are exclusives like Until Dawn, The Order: 1886 and Bloodborne, and console exclusives like SOMA and the upcoming No Man’s Sky. And there’s the PlayStation Plus service, which has consistently given me hundreds of dollars of games a year for the price of one game.

But the biggest reason I’ve become more of a PlayStation gamer this generation is because of this:

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The ‘Share’ button.

But it’s not just the button, it’s what it represents. Sony had a clear vision when they designed this console, and it’s one they’ve stuck to throughout it’s life so far. Sharing the gaming experience in a variety of ways has been something Sony touted from the get go, and they continue to deliver.

I like to keep things simple. While Nick and I both have capture cards (and Nick uses his for most of his videos), I was psyched when both Microsoft and Sony announced that the new consoles would have built-in streaming capabilities. And in fact, both do have the ability to stream, but in my experience, PlayStation 4 is superior in terms of its flexibility and the user experience.

I can forgive the fact that the Xbox One and it’s ‘snapping’ of the Twitch app is a clunky process. But there are three things that make the PlayStation 4 experience better, in my opinion.

k2-_76254b32-aef9-44f4-abc0-42aa0e92511c.v11. External Mics–If I want to use and external mic to stream with the PS4, I just plug it into the usb slot on the console. That’s it. My Snowball mic works perfectly for the Minecraft series my son and I do. Xbox One still doesn’t have support for external mics, forcing us to use the mic on the Kinect for couch co-op streaming. As you might imagine, the audio quality is less than desired.

2. Party Chat Streaming–On PS4, Sony added the ability to stream party chat a year ago, while we are still waiting for this feature on XBox One.  Destiny allows you to enable the feature in its audio settings, but most games do not. On Xbox One, we’ve been forced to use Skype to record party chat and then edit it into videos later.

3. YouTube Streaming–The latest PS4 firmware update added direct streaming to YouTube to the existing sharing options. This is potentially huge for Co-Op Critics, both because most of our audience is on YouTube instead of Twitch, and because of the newly launched YouTube Gaming app.

Now, I am well aware that using a capture card with either console offers a great deal more customization options, and can provide better quality on the output side. But as I said, I’m a fan of keeping things simple. And the PS4 has made streaming and sharing very simple, just like they said they would when the PS4 was announced.

More, flexibility, more options, and a smoother user experience. For those reasons, the PS4 has become my console of choice so far this generation.