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Games We’re Excited About: July 2017

July is upon us, and we’ve finally hit the “slim pickins” month of 2017. On the bright side, the Switch is getting another fantastic game to add to its already great lineup. We’ve also got an old-school and new-school RPG and a fun summer platformer as well. Here’s what we’re excited about for July:

 

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Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS4) – July 11
While most of the world is preoccupied with the snail’s pace progress of the Final Fantasy VII remake, we’re getting a remake in July only a year after its announcement (The Zodiac Age was announced at Last year’s E3). Improvements to game balance, the job system and a quicker play option will accompany the remastered visuals for a package the FF fans should really appreciate.

 

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Splatoon 2 (Switch) – July 21
The biggest release of the month is the sequel to the best new IP to come out for the WiiU. Splatoon was universally acclaimed for its take on the competitive shooter genre. From the neon color cheme to the fantastic chracter design, to the emphasis on paint splattering as opposed to kills, Nintendo proved once again they can provide an original take on a genre. And now that ARMS arrived last month, the Switch has two solid new franchises to go with Zelda and Mario.

 

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Pyre (PS4, PC) – July 25

The latest game from the makers of Bastion and Transistor arrives this month. It’s an action RPG with arena-style combat, and the story involves traveling through Purgatory to cleanse your soul through combat.

 

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Hey Pikmin (3DS) – July 28

If this month wasn’t so barren int terms of releases, this game might not have made the list. But the Pikmin franchise is a fun one, and it’s awesome that we’re still getting solid 3DS releases even as the Switch is taking off.

So, those are the games we’re excited about for July. What’s on your list? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on twitter.com/coopcritics!

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Please Don’t Go, Mass Effect

Sigh.

As you’ve probably seen across various gaming news sites by now, it seems that the Mass Effect franchise is going to be hiatus for a bit (you can read the USGamer story here and the Kotaku story here).

In some ways, this is not terribly surprising. Andromeda’s Metacritic scores current sit at 70 (PS4), 73 (PC) and 77 (Xbox One). Surely that’s not what EA was anticipating when they forced the game to be shipped before it was ready (EA’s fiscal year ended March 31). And it’s really inarguable that the game wasn’t ready. It’s received multiple post-release patches to address a variety of issues, from facial animations to bugs to stability issues and more.

But I can’t help feeling like the decision to put the franchise on hold was driven by the absolute savaging the game has received on social media. Spending any time in the Twitterverse in the first few weeks after release, you would have thought that Mass effect Andromeda was not only the worst game of all time, but that it had destroyed the ability of the people who played it to ever enjoy a video game again.

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The reaction was ridiculous, and it became more so, as the piling-on continued until there was essentially nothing Bioware could do to escape the narrative that Andromeda was an awful game that was a total failure.

It’s really sad, because the Mass Effect universe is one I have invested hundreds of hours in, through the games, comics, novels and more. I spent a good deal of time covering and discussing the original trilogy on Co-Op Critics, my own blog and for Comic Book Resources as well. And I was so excited for a whole new series of games set in the ME universe. My first dozen-plus hours with ME: Andromeda have been great overall. Sure, I see the lack of polish, but as the first game in a new series, I feel like the criticism of it has been completely overblown. I can only imagine if the Twitterverse had been at full force when the original Mass Effect came out. The issues with AI, the glitches, the Mako–I mean can you imagine? But at the time, reason prevailed, and despite its flaws, Mass Effect was given credit where credit was due. I don’t feel like that’s been the case with Andromeda at all.

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Instead, the vitriol directed at the developers and the tidal wave of negativity on social media has helped put the series on ice. I’m just hoping that once the fervor dies down, EA and Bioware will regroup and come up with a plan for moving the series forward. Because there is so much potential for storytelling in the Mass Effect universe, and it would be a shame if this is the end of it.

In case you want to take a trip in the wayback machine, here’s some of my previous stuff on the Mass Effect series:

2008 Interview with Mass Effect Lead Writer Drew Karpyshyn

Interview with Mass Effect 2 Lead Writer Mac Walters and artist Omar Francia about Mass Effect: Redemption comic*

Interview with comic writer John Jackson Miller and artist Omar Francia about Mass Effect Redemption comic*

Blog: My Mass Effect Experience–Part 1

Blog: My Mass Effect Experience–Part 2

Co-Op Critics Podcast: Mass Effect 1-2

Co-Op Critics Podcast: Mass Effect 3

*Due to the way CBR now archives old posts, a lot of the images are no longer embedded, but the content of the interviews is still there.

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Co-Op Critics Podcast–The Division

In the latest episode of the Co-Op Critics podcast, Brian and Nick discuss our game of the month, The Division, look at some of May’s releases, and and talk about Nick’s new gaming PC.

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.

NOTE: The game of the month for May on Co-Op Critics will be Dark Souls III. We’ll be featuring videos all month and a podcast at the end of May to discuss our thoughts on the game.

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The Sad Demise of Fable Legends–A Victim of Circumstance?

Fable_LegendsOn Monday Microsoft announced that the long in development Fable Legends was being canceled, and they were looking to close Lionhead Studios. In the press release, General Manager of Microsoft Studios Europe Hanno Lemke said:

“These changes are taking effect as Microsoft Studios continues to focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play.”

That’s kind of kicking a developer while they’re down, don’t you think? Let’s unpack that a little.READ MORE

Co-Op Plays Fallout 4 (Joining the Minutemen)

Fallout 4 is our game of January 2016, and in this first video of our series, Brian joins up with the Minutemen faction after completing some quests.

We’ll be posting videos all month over on the Co-Op Critics YouTube Page, so head on over and check them out. At the end of the month, we’ll be wrapping up our Fallout 4 coverage with an episode of the Co-Op Critics podcast. Stay tuned!

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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

Bloodborne Diaries: New Ways to Learn from Death

Two weeks ago today, Bloodborne was released. And while the last couple weeks have been busy for me outside of gaming, I’ve managed to beat the first two bosses and die a whole heck of a lot. In short, I am having a blast.

And for the first time with the Souls series, I’m streaming and recording a good deal of my gameplay, which has been a really interesting experience as well. Like a baseball player watching videos of his at-bats, I’ve been able to go back and learn from some of my encounters, particularly with the bosses.

This has made Bloodborne a bit of a different experience for me, as I have previously relied quite a bit on guides and let’s play videos to navigate parts of the Souls games that I was struggling with. My previous strategy was to keep chipping away at a particular part of the game until I wasn’t progressing at all, and then seek out a guide or video to give me another perspective.

With Bloodborne so far, I’ve been revisiting my own gameplay videos to see where my strategy is breaking down, particularly with the bosses. Many times I’m just confirming where I thought I went wrong, but a few times I’ve seen things that I was able to go back and do differently the next time around.

Make no mistake, I’ll still be visiting my favorite wikis and let’s players during the course of my playthrough, and I have the hardcover Bloodborne guide on its way to me (if Amazon ever decides to ship it). But, being able to watch pieces of my own playthrough is a new tool that I’m really getting a lot out of. And since learning from death is a core theme with the Souls games, having another way to learn just adds to the fun.