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gamer_152

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@bybeach: Thank you. Yeah, as I see it Jesse is never entirely free from being affected by these outside forces, but the arc of the game is generally one where Jesse goes from being totally powerless against unconscious elements to having understanding and mastery over them. She enters the bureau with relatively little knowledge of what it is, and no real weaponry, but by the end, she has all these new powers and has removed The Hiss from The Astral Plane. It kind of suggests that the same would be possible for any of us.

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Disappointment is stored in the Dragon Balls.

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@sparky_buzzsaw: I'd not played a Yakuza before, so this was all new to me. I find Majima a more relatable character both in the more dramatic and wilder moments of the game, but I loved most of what I played with Kiryu too. I'm a sucker for slice-of-life elements in games and it's a way to do open-world crime that isn't just chasing the GTA formula.

With Paratopic, it's certainly easier to decipher than Virginia; it's shorter and it has actual dialogue, but it is the kind of game where you need more than one playthrough to begin to see a picture forming of the plot. I really like that process of decoding.

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Nicely done.

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@nateandrews: Thank you very much. I'm glad we can appreciate what each other are saying, even if we don't agree. It's very clear to me that America is that one step removed from not just WWI, but also WWII in this way that's always been a little uncomfortable for me. Not that American culture doesn't acknowledge the terrors of the wars in some way, but in comparison to Europe, it always seemed like it has been more willing to view it as an event in which America are the sole heroes and it was a purely glorious thing, rather than it being a highly collective effort which involved some of the worst things a human being could experience.

I didn't talk much about the multiplayer in this article because I felt that my thoughts would be treading very familiar ground in criticising the sensitivity of an action game to real-world violence, but maybe I wasn't plugged in enough to how people generally read it. I read Hamilton's piece and I see some of what he experienced in the multiplayer. I think the mode is very good at creating the sense of such chaos in front of you that it feels hard to push forwards and engendering the feeling of only being able to control a tiny portion of the front at a time. In fact, the most interesting thing about it is that it can sometimes feel like your efforts aren't worth all that much because your success is reliant on the performance of so many players way beyond your control.

However, Hamilton also references Heather Alexandra's piece on the multiplayer mode in that same article, and my feelings are much more in line with hers. The multiplayer lacks consequence because you can see all the maps reset as soon as one side has won them, and anyone who dies respawns seconds later. Hamilton says he believes he is jumping into the body of a different soldier every time he respawns, and that's a perfectly valid feeling, but the game doesn't convey the impression that that's what's happening. Each soldier is indistinguishable from any other. Sure, it's loud and gory, but Bulletstorm or Doom are loud and gory. In its mechanics and characterisation, very little seperates it from any other empowerment shooter multiplayers like CoD or Quake.

People get shot and trenches fill up with mustard gas, but in almost no way does the multiplayer actually model the emotional effects of that or treat the soldiers as human beings. They're just pieces on a chess board and what the play values is not human wellbeing but points that you get from headshots and point captures and so on. I also don't feel Hamilton's uncertainty in the face of war because I know what I'm doing more or less. I've played a lot of multiplayer shooters, and I'm aiming, firing, maybe throwing a grenade or healing now and then, and if I get a bullet through the heart, it's a minor inconvenience. And I think that's why the game can appeal to screaming YouTubers in a way that something like Valiant Hearts just doesn't. For me, its depiction of the horrors of the war is skin deep.

@aperebus: Thank you for the compliment and the historical materials. I think I'll dive into that Hardcore History series sometime. If you've read this much about the game and are still interested, it's definitely worth getting for cheap.

@wickedcobra03: Thank you very much. If anything, I think it's that approach to appeal to all parties that damages a game like this. AAA wants to make the maximum amount back on every game possible, but by playing all sides simultaneously, you usually end up diluting any individual personality your game had for the sake of the bank balance.

@notnert427: Thank you very much. As I said to Nate further up, I'm glad we can appreciate what each other are saying, even when we disagree. I want to be clear that I wasn't going into Battlefield 1 unwilling to give it a shot. I was trying to be as open-minded about it as a person can be, and at the end, I felt that there were a few things in the package that worked well (again, Storm of Steel is fantastic), and a lot of things that didn't do the war justice. I'm not suggesting that the worst faith reactions to the game are part of the game. In fact, I was trying to defend the game from criticism there, and show it doing something positive even in the face of a lot of negative attention. I also don't believe the marketing materials should be read as part of the game, but I mention the reactions and the marketing for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I think that traditionally we've isolated games off in their own boxes and read them as works entirely independent from the world around them, but audience's reception of media has always been influenced by related media and other elements of the real-world. With the internet the way it is, it's increasingly the case that's what is said about a game has affected the audience perception of it. Anthem, Death Stranding, and No Man's Sky being notable recent examples. Secondly, and I think more relevant to what I wrote here, I wasn't just attempting to talk about Battlefield 1 as a lone phenomenon in this article, I wanted to place it in the context of the video game industry's contributions to the centenary. A trailer for Battlefield 1 or an E3 speech about the game may not be Battlefield 1 itself, but they're still the industry commenting on, depicting, and unfortunately, frequently exploiting the war.

As for Battlefield 1 itself, I mostly feel like it doesn't fulfil that goal of honouring the war, for various reasons mentioned above. You're a one man army in the campaign, you have infinite respawns and are often made very aware of that fact. The story sometimes deviates into the cartoonish or just forgets the human element. From a design perspective, the whole thing is very close to any other empowerment action game, and you're right that it moves slower than most other AAA shooters, but there are many slow games that are still ultimately building towards the goal of self-empowerment. Many stealth games, for example. You're right that the game contains a lot of ruins and vehicle husks, but then, so does something like Gears of War and that's positively campy in its depiction of warfare. And Battlefield 1 also includes a lot of bright blue skies, polished explosions, and breathtaking golden deserts. You use the terms fun, beautiful, and Bruckheimer-esque to describe the game, and I'm right there with you in that asssessment, but WWI wasn't fun, beautiful, or like polished action films, and that Battlfield 1 treats The Great War that way is what I mean when I say it fetishises it.

Through Mud and Blood does end with an act of sacrifice, but that's a description of the plot, not a desctiption of the game's treatment of that plot. The story beat has potential and moved me at least a little, but the game's insistence on immediately spinning away into a more positive scene means it didn't have a huge effect on me. Friends in High Places does acknowledge that it's being fantastical, but at that point, the game is telling you that it's putting spectacle over tonally appropriate depiction of the conflict. And for me, when I put the contents of the game together with the marketing, it shows a larger pattern of EA and DICE's media putting action before empathy which is part of a larger pattern of video games trivialising real-world violence. It's possible for us to look at that and say "It's just a video game", but that implies either video games can't turn away from spectacle towards humanisation, in which case, the exercise of a WWI game is moot. Or, and this is the one I believe, there are video games out there right now that are being serious about their subject matter and are seeing success in modelling human experiences beyond violent conflict or being more nuanced in how they depict that violence. It's just the games doing that are mostly not in the AAA space.

@shindig: I hadn't heard of Verdun. I'll take a look at it. Thanks.

@thepanzini: I think I feel differently because I think that just going for the biggest explosions and the loudest screams is looking for spectacle over humanisation. It's chaotic, but a lot of empowerment fantasy games are chaotic. There's very little exploration of human lives or reactions in that multiplayer.

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@wollywoo: Thank you. There are some great picks in there. I also love Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Eight Days a Week, Back in the USSR, With a Little Help from My Friends, Come Together, and Here Comes the Sun. I can't say I understand their money problems in depth, but you do see a lot of media companies that have incredibly popular products that are still turning out a loss due to the mismanagement of their finances.

Pre-Apple Corps, Lennon had said that The Beatles would never start their own label because it would be too much trouble. Harrison has also said that early on Epstein let interested parties purchase the rights to The Beatles' tracks for very cheap and we know their short-lived record store had to close its doors after losing a huge amount of money. By McCartney's own admission, the band would frequently give away store stock and collectively they didn't seem to have much interest in being profiteers, so it's not that surprising to me that they might have run their business in a way that eventually risked bankrupting it. Not that I would have wanted The Beatles to be ruthless businesspeople anyway.

@manburger: Thank you very much.

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@snaketelegraph: Thank you very much. If you're interested in the divides between game and film, I did write a little more about how games and film use cameras differently over here. As for the rest of Cage's games, I'll do Beyond at some point. I don't have any plans to do Detroit yet, but if I still feel like there's enough left to be said, I'll start writing about it.

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@pezen: Thank you, and I really appreciate someone engaging with what I wrote to this degree. I agree that a Hearthstone competition and a job aren't quite the same thing, but in both cases, we have professionals who don't have much opportunity to perform their professional skill at the highest level outside of venues where the conditions are dictated by huge game companies. It might be a little different if there were more major independent Hearthstone tournaments, but that's not the case. For similar reasons, you also can't compare Blitzchung's situation to that of many forum users.

I know here at Giant Bomb, we've told people that the moderation is not a democracy before, but we've also never used that mindset to limit real-world efforts at political liberation. I think it's important to remember that everyone in a position to set rules about how a video game community runs has some responsibility to make sure they're not facilitating oppression, abuse, or hate speech. However, even if they are, there are a hundred other video game websites you can go where the rules are different, and it doesn't take much effort to sign up to a new one. Don't like how Giant Bomb is modded? Cool; there are a lot of other major video game websites which do it very differently. Don't like how the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament is moderated or how AAA game companies approach crunch? You don't have nearly as much wiggle room to change your personal circumstances.

I think a lot of us are appropriately alert to restrictions of freedoms implemented by governments, but sometimes such restrictions don't come from individual authorities as much as they do whole cultures or systems. Sometimes, this can be more insidious because as undefeatable as the Chinese government may feel or as stringent as their laws may be, at least when they do something wrong, it's easy to tell where to allocate the blame. Plus, if that organisation fell, the whole problem would go away. When the tech industry implements crunch or aids the Chinese government, there's no one group that holds the responsibility for that. You can't speak to the tech industry's manager, and while we might allow the actions of any one company in a vacuum, the cumulative actions of all major companies can sometimes cause as much problems as the singular actions of unhelpful official authorities.

As for Epic, I also doubt that they'd do the same thing in Blizzard's position, but I also believe that if Tencent were puppeting any company they had stock in, there's no way Epic would have taken a jab at a publisher making a pro-China statement. It's not that I don't believe that Activision-Blizzard's actions couldn't have been, at least, in part, to please a Chinese company, but I do believe that those actions were taken by Activision-Blizzard and not by some external entity. And I agree that we're looking for the least bad companies right now, at least in terms of the bigger players. There are smaller companies that I have no qualms with. Also, it's important to spread your purchases out where possible so that we don't end up with monopolies.

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