Games I’m Looking Forward To: November 2015

I got all ready to make a monster post about the games of November this month, but guess what? The usual glut of games that makes November the busiest month of releases just isn’t there this year. With a bunch of games getting delayed into 2016, and publishers spreading releases out a bit more evenly through the year, November just isn’t the parade of releases it used to be.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t big releases to speak of this month. in fact, the one thing you can still count on is that November is where the biggest games are usually released. So without further ado, here are the games I’m excited about this month:



Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One, PC, PS4)–November 6

I played a bit of the beta for Black Ops 3, and while it felt bit more like Titanfall than Call of Duty to me, the super tight gameplay that is the backbone of CoD was as good as ever. CoD is a game all of my friends play, and while my interest in the campaign has waned over the years, the multiplayer is something I’ll always jump into.



Fallout 4 (Xbox One. PC, PS4)–November 10

If I could only get one game this month, Fallout 4 would be it. I am a huge RPG fan, and like many others, spent well over 100 hours with Fallout 3. I also live in Massachusetts, so the Boston setting is just one more reason I’m interested in the game. I will probably buy this one digitally, as I expect it to live on my console for the rest of the generation.



Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One, Xbox 360)–November 10

I came late to 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot, but when I did finally play it, I absolutely love it. Not only was Lara’s new origin story a great adventure, but mechanically, the game was fantastic. As a 40-year old gamer, I’ve been playing Tomb Raider games since 1996, when I played the first one on PlayStation. I’m really excited to see how Crystal Dynamics is building on the 2013 game, which completely revitalized the franchise.



Star Wars: Battlefront (Xbox One, PC, PS4)–November 17

I did not get a chance to play the beta for Battlefront, but I don’t need to. I’m a big Battlefield fan (Hardline was great), and from everything I’ve seen, it looks like DICE got the aesthetic right. Not to mention, every single one of my friends that plays shooters will be getting this game. I expect this to be our go-to shooter for the next year. I’m just hoping the core game has enough content, as I’m not a big fan of season passes, which Battlefront is going to have.

As always, there are several more games coming out in November, and these are just my personal picks, so please sound off in the comments and let us know what games you’re excited to see this month!

Final Thoughts–Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (PS4)

The last time I wrote about Tomb Raider was back in July 2013, when I had picked the game up on the Steam Summer Sale. At the time, the quick-time events in the beginning of the game were such a turn-off for me that I actually stopped playing it.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and a flash sale that happened on PSN after Thanksgiving. I grabbed Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (PS4) for $18.00. And while the quick-time events are still the weak point of the game in my opinion, they’re just about the only weak point. Tomb Raider is an absolutely fantastic game, and I am so glad I gave it another chance.

Like many, I’m a Tomb Raider fan from back in the day. Playing the original on the first PlayStation is one of those experiences I’ll remember forever.

I was excited about the idea of the Tomb Raider reboot, and Lara becoming more of a fleshed-out character. And as fantastic as the new Tomb Raider looks and plays, I think the reinvention of Lara as a character is the game’s biggest achievement. Experiencing the evolution of Lara as a survivor and an explorer is easily the most enjoyable journey I’ve taken with Lara in the history of the franchise.

But let’s not gloss over the gameplay, because it’s pretty fantastic overall. The bow combat in particular is just super fun. And the one place I didn’t mind the quick-time events was in the finishing moves that add another layer to the combat system. by the end of the game, I had gone from long-range sniper to looking for opportunities to get up close and personal with enemies just so i could finish them with a flourish. The traversal mechanics are also excellent, and for me a huge leap ahead of anything I’ve encountered in the Assassin’s Creed series. I started dabbling in AC: Unity while playing through Tomb Raider, and it still amazes me how clunky traversal can be sometimes–but that’s another post for another day.

So, to recap–I loved the story and loved the gameplay in Tomb Raider. I am stoked for the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider on XBox One, and in the meantime I’ll be revisiting this game to complete the tombs that I still have to explore after finishing the main story.


Tomb Raider’s Opening Features the Best and Worst of Quick-Time Events

Recently I wrote about how much the opening of The Last of Us grabbed me and got me invested in the world and story of the game.

I picked up Tomb Raider during the Steam Summer Sale and started playing it the other night. Turns out, that game has a pretty great opening as well. But where The Last of Us did a great job of keeping you in the moment during its opening, Tomb Raider constantly pulled me out of its opening.

From a story standpoint, Tomb Raider’s opening is immediately interesting. Through a series of quick-cut scenes, you see a young Lara Croft become shipwrecked on a mysterious island, where her life in put in peril immediately. As you take control of Lara, you’re tasked with trying to find a way out of a series of underground caverns, as things are collapsing around you and you run into some of the dangerous inhabitants of the island. It’s actually a great tutorial, as you learn the basic controls while navigating your way out.

But the quick-time events, man.

I’m not anti-QTEs at all–I grew up on Dragon’s Lair for crying out loud. When used well, quick-time events can be very effective. I enjoyed how the Mass Effect series had character moments (Paragon and Renegade) that could be activated by a trigger press at certain times. I enjoyed the hacking minigame in the first Mass Effect. In Gears of War, the idea of a timed button press to reload your gun faster and get a damage bonus is great. Telltale’s The Walking Dead also had some interesting implementations, particularly when fighting off a zombie that had grappled you.

In general, the QTEs that I hate have two components: (1) To fail is to die instantly, and (2) There is little to no margin for error.

Such is the case with many of the QTEs in Tomb Raider. There are a handful of points during Lara’s escape where the QTEs require exact timing. Worse, rather than a button press, they resort to wiggling the analog stick back and forth. A second too early or too late, and Lara gets killed in a horribly grisly manner.

So, as I played through the opening that featured an interesting story, there were places where I continued to die gruesomely several times, pulling me right out of the story before the title credits had even appeared. I had already lost some of my investment in the game by then.

Now, I did say in the title of this post that the game also featured the “best” of what QTEs can be used for, and there is one particularly good implementation in the opening Tomb Raider. At one point, Lara is scrambling from an underground cavern toward daylight, and you are actually using the right and left triggers to help her claw her way up a muddy, slippery slope. It reminded me of the scene in the original Modern Warfare when your chopper goes down and the soldier you control is crawling hand over hand amidst the wreckage. That kind of implementation really connects you to the moment.

When QTEs are used well, they add to the experience. The opening of Tomb Raider could have kept the QTEs,but made them much less punishing (at least during the intro of the game), and the effect would have been much more dramatic and rewarding.

You can watch the opening chapter of the game below, if you don’t mind the spoilers.