The Nintendo Switch is coming, but is it what we want?

So the Nintendo Switch has finally been completely unveiled. It’s coming out March 3rd, which is much sooner than we anticipated, but it’s also going to cost £280, which is much more than we wanted, especially considering that’s with zero games. Only five games are confirmed for launch, a figure we’re not expecting to change over the next month, so we’ve pre-ordered the console and Zelda. That’s it. We’re going to have a brand new Nintendo Console with no multiplayer games. We can’t afford a second pair of Joy-Con controllers because they’re £75. Thankfully Zelda is only £40 on Amazon, but the RRP is £60.

There were plenty of cool little features we didn’t know about, like the IR camera that can detect gestures and distances, or the high-definition rumble that helps to make the joycons feel like different objects (apparently mostly glasses full of ice). While these are interesting and we’re definitely hoping Nintendo can do something cool and make some really different experiences, we can’t help but feel these cool features will only get used in 1,2 Switch and then never again, but are responsible for pumping the price of those controllers up.

The online offering appears to be mostly terrible. Voice chat is possible but you have to do it via an app on your phone. I’m not sure if you’ll be getting game audio through your phone too, but it makes no sense to not be able to plug a controller into your headset. What if you want to do other things with your phone, or if your phone runs out of battery? It seems like an unnecessary complication for a system that already exists in a much better form on consoles from three generations ago. Not only is this voice chat awkward but you’re paying for the privilege, with the ridiculously slight incentive of getting a free NES or SNES game each month (with added online functionality) that you don’t get to keep past the month it’s available.

Of course the greatest problem with what Nintendo have shown so far is with the software lineup. Even looking past the disappointing games we get to pick from for launch, there was nothing to surprise or excite anybody. Bomberman that looks like it did on the N64, re-releases of Mario Kart and Skyrim, a barely changed Splatoon they’ve stuck a ‘2’ on to, identikit ports for Just Dance and Skylanders. There’s nothing that screams innovation beyond the minigame collection 1,2 Switch. Even that looks like it will struggle to justify a RRP of £40, as everyone is saying – it should have come with the console.

All these signs point to a Nintendo that is increasingly out of touch not just with core gamers, but with the market as a whole. Perhaps the screenless 1,2,Switch could capture people who would usually play board games but that’s a tiny market. Casual gamers won’t be tempted away from their iPads and phones, hardcore games won’t leave their consoles and PCs. Instead this feels like a meagre offering towards Nintendo die-hards like me who’ll buy any old garbage they put out. I’m sure we’ll get a Switch, and I’m sure we’ll enjoy Zelda and perhaps a handful of others games this year, but the hype level has plummeted to subterranean levels and Nintendo’s poor decision making is entirely to blame. I’d like to say maybe next time Nintendo, but unless they do something very impressive this year, I’m not so sure there will be a next time for Nintendo home consoles.

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Why We’re Excited About Conan Exiles

It’s no secret that we’ve been playing a huge amount of Ark lately. There’s something addictive about building up a base with your friends and always having goals that you can log on to work towards. Of course there’s the (very real) risk that someone will come and destroy everything you’ve done, but the risk makes what you have all the more valuable.

In a couple of weeks Funcom are bringing out Conan Exiles, which is a very similar kind of game, but set in the Conan world. Of course that piques our interest, but why not just carry on playing Ark? Well here’s some reasons.

  1. Funcom

Funcom are a developer that gets very little attention despite having a pretty consistent record for excellent  and innovative games. The Secret World is probably our second favourite MMO running, tackling a huge range of different environments, with different gameplay styles, huge amounts of content and an interesting levelling system that doesn’t tie you down to a single class. Age of Conan (the MMO that this game is definitely using some ideas from) was also trying plenty of new things and had much more exciting melee combat than the usual fare. Even Hide and Shriek, a tiny multiplayer horror game where you’re both invisible, is a ton of fun. So when Funcom are ready to try their hand at a new genre, I’m always interested in seeing what they’ve come up with.

2. Conan

While I might not be a big fan of the Conan books, films, or comics, there’s definitely an appeal to the universe. It’s a throwback to the pulp stories of the past where overly dramatic adventures could take place, without the emotional turmoil that seems to be a necessary tick box for modern game stories. You’re a giant muscley man or woman who’s going to go out into a horrible environment and kill things. Sometimes that’s all you need. There are gods, monsters, slaves (but they’re just NPCs so it’s probably ok) and giant sandstorms. This is the sort of universe where you can build an 80ft statue of yourself and no-one thinks it’s weird.

3. Slaves

Not to sound like I’m obsessed with the slavery thing, but as a mechanic it could be genius. Much like Ark has its dinosaur taming, Exiles lets you knock out NPCs, tie them up, drag them across the desert, then break their will on a giant ‘wheel of pain’ before you set them to work for you. Normal ‘thralls’ might be set to guard a gate or wall, or to gather a simple material, more skilled ones might be useful to put at a crafting station to make the most of their skills. This will lead to you searching out for particular people who you want working for you, then mounting a giant kidnapping mission to get them back. Sounds like fun.

4. It’s new

While Rust and Ark and DayZ are all still in Early Access, they’ve been mastered. You can go on wiki sites and find out everything about the game instantly. It’s all been worked out, it’s all been solved. With a new game, there’s a sense of mystery. We don’t know how everything will work, or what the best layout will be, or what secrets are hidden on the map. By getting into the Early Access straight away you can get ahead on a server and be one of the pioneers. Thanks to internet wikis, most MMOs and exploration-based games have lost a lot of their wonder for the sake of efficiency, and while that might be inevitable, it’s exciting to be able to avoid it, even if it’s just for a little while.

So we’ll be streaming the Early Access build of Conan Exiles as soon as the doors open, and if you want to join our tribe just let us know through our Discord (look to the left) or leave a comment below. The more the merrier!

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Mass Effect Andromeda Launch Date Confirmed

We finally know that Mass Effect Andromeda is definitely coming out March 21st, 2017.

This is surprisingly soon (at least to us) and we can’t wait to get stuck in after our self-inflicted media blackout of the game. We haven’t watched the trailers or read any impressions and we’re hoping to keep it that way until the game comes out.

Rest assured we’ll be there on Day One streaming and exploring a whole new galaxy with you all.

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What We Want from the Nintendo Switch

On 13th January we’re going to find out much more about the Switch. We’ll know which games are coming for launch, the release date, and possibly even the price. I always love to speculate here on TPReview so without any further ado, here are my predictions and hopes for the Switch.

Price: £249.99

The Switch is in an interesting position. It’s a brand new console that’s significantly less powerful than the other home consoles. On the other hand it’s a brand new handheld that’s significantly more powerful than other handhelds. That makes us think they’ll price it as a premium handheld but bundle in a game and a pro controller. For £250 that’s pretty good value in our eyes and we’d be more than happy with that.

Launch Titles

What we expect:

  • Nintendoland 2 – I’m hoping that won’t be the title, but I fully expect there to be something that shows off the new features of the device, just like Wii Sports did for the Wii and Nintendoland did for the Wii U. A collection of smaller games that show off what it can do with the various controllers and modes.
  • Splatoon – We know this is coming, possibly as an alternative launch box (With purple and orange controllers) and I fully expect it to be almost identical to the Wii U version, just with a new season of maps and weapons. It’d be nice if there were some online improvements like clans or voice chat but I’m not too hopeful.
  • Mario Kart 8 Plus – Mario Kart 8 was fantastic and they just need to add a new set of tracks and a few new characters to make this a worthy purchase. I think Nintendo will be generous and there’ll be a whole new set of tracks, so 16, as well as the base set and all of the DLC to date.
  • Smash Bros Switch – This will be a similar deal to Mario Kart, although perhaps a little less generous. I’m assuming the Splatoon characters will make an appearance and possibly a character from Team Skull from Pokemon Sun/Moon?
  • Wave Race Switch – Nintendo need to try and prove what this console can do, justl ike they did with Luigi’s Mansion on the Gamecube or Wave Race 64 on the N64. I think it might be time for a new Wave Race game with some fancy water physics and strong online multiplayer modes
  • Ubisoft Games – How close we are to launch means we can probably rule out a proper Rabbids game, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Steep, Watch Dogs 2, and a new Rabbids game coming to the Switch.  Ubisoft also brought us the surprisingly awesome Zombi-U last time, so maybe we’ll see a wildcard from them too.

What we don’t expect:

  • Zelda: Breath of the Wild – This will be near launch, but I’m guessing April. It’s always good to space your games out a bit and this is a big one. I think it will come out at the same time as the Wii U release on a shiny gold cartridge.
  • Pokemon Star – We know there is a third Pokemon game coming out this generation for the Switch, but I don’t expect it to be a launch title. Again, they’ll save this for a few months after launch, perhaps in the Summer hoping everyone goes crazy for Pokemon Go again.
  • Mario Switch – We know very little about this and that doesn’t seem right for a Mario Game. I think this might be held off until nearer Christmas alongside some  kind of Mario Party Game.

What we’re hoping for:

  • Warioware Switch – I love the Warioware games and this being a combined portable/home console makes it seem like a perfect fit. It’s also not graphically intensive so could remind people why the specs aren’t everything when it’s a Nintendo Console.
  • Animal Crossing Switch – It’s been a while since there was a proper Animal Cross game but Nintendo have continued to keep with franchise in focus with loads of amiibos and a couple of spinoff games. A fully-fledged online Animal Crossing game could be awesome, as long as it’s more than just a rehash of previous entries.
  • A Nintendo MMO – I’ve been wanting this for years but maybe one day it will come true. Imagine an MMO where you can do what you want in the Nintendo Universe. Want to race? Go find a karting track. Want to explore? Head to Hyrule. Want to fight? Go catch some Pokemon. It could lead to some amazing crossovers and be the ‘wow’ game that would be a system seller.
  • Nintendo Maker – Mario Maker was easily the most innovative and exciting thing I’ve played outside of VR this gen, and I want more. I want to be able to make Zelda dungeons or Metroid environments. Give us the same set of tools but with a wider variety of games. Please.

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Starting again in Ark: Survival Evolved

I’m back here again. Gathering stone for hours praying that the walls we build will keep the raiders at bay. Babysitting sleeping dinosaurs and quietly drugging them until they wake up and think we’re their masters. Being mortally terrified of the swamp.

Naimgear and me did all of this before on the Xbox One. We had a large base with a huge warehouse for flying dinosaurs and a giant pen for our Sarcosaurs (giant crocodiles). We had enough gear to comfortably travel anywhere south of the snow biomes without worry. We were friends with the huge tribe on our server that casually marched around the island on t-rexes and controlled the central valleys. Then we lost it all.

In Ark, when you log off your character simply falls asleep wherever they stand. We were playing on a PvP server so anything is fair game. In the middle of the night a group broke into our base using explosives. They killed all of our dinosaurs, destroyed most of our buildings and stole everything we owned. When we logged on there was nothing. All of those hours we’d spent amassing that dinosaur collection were gone. We stopped playing.

But now for some reason we’re back. Arrow, Naimgear, and me have all started a new tribe on a new PvP server on the PC. We’ve gone for an unofficial server this time with five times the gathering speed and ten times the taming speed. This means a dinosaur (like a Pteradon) that used to take an hour to tame now only takes six minutes, when you hit a rock you get 5 pieces of stone instead of one, everything is sped up.

We’ve got a nice new base on the edge of a cliff, we’ve tamed a few useful dinosaurs, we’ve started building a big new pen to keep it in. Of course the first night we logged off Arrow woke up to find us all in cages with all our stuff stolen, but he broke the cages and dragged us back inside so it’s probably fine.

There’s something undeniably addictive about Ark. There’s always something to do, some way to progress. Right now I’m looking for a giant armadillo so I can harvest stone quicker to build up our buildings. Naimgear wants to surround our base with spikes to keep would-be-thieves at bay (as long as they don’t fly), Arrow wants a frog. Whenever I log on, I’ll be able to do something. There’s always the chance we’ll lose everything again, but then there’s also the chance we won’t, that we’ll be able to defend, that we’ll survive long enough to explore the frozen north or the murky depths of the ocean. If we manage to do that, there’s a whole expansion available to take us into the desert.

Ark might be Early Access, and it might seem incredibly unfair, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and definitely worth your money.

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Games of 2016

While 2016 might have been a terrible year for politics, celebrity deaths, the environment, migrant populations and Suicide Squad adaptations, it was good in one respect: Games.

From the start of the year we’ve had a succession of incredibly good games this year, many of which might have been overlooked because they were sequels or reboots. We couldn’t possibly list every game we’ve loved this year but we’ve highlighted the two games that have really stood out to us for being excellent, alongside one that stood out for various other reasons.

As always leave your comments below and let us know what your games of 2016 were!

Runner Up

We play a lot of First Person Shooters and this year has been amazing for them. Call of Duty is surprisingly great with an enjoyable (if cheesy) campaign and an admittedly familiar but very addictive multiplayer, Overwatch proved that Blizzard could stretch out into entirely unfamiliar genres and beat the current champs (I’m looking at your Team Fortress) at their own game, Battlefield somehow made World War One fun, which we’re hoping is a good thing, Titanfall 2 added a fantastic campaign while improving everything about the original’s fantastic multiplayer.

But despite all of those phenomenal games, there was one that stood out for us, and surprised us. Doom

Doom is a reboot of the original game and it manages to get the feel of the originals right while completely updating them for the modern gamer. It looks gorgeous, it flows incredibly well (and ran well on all platforms), it’s a decent length, it’s incredibly punishing on higher difficulties, and the soundtrack was amazing. OK so the multiplayer wasn’t so great (although is far more fun than some would have you believe) but they need something to work on improving for Doom II right?

Winner: Doom

Best Game of 2016

Despite how much we loved Doom, something much closer to my heart finally came out this year, and complete blew me away. It was Roller Coaster Tycoon World, and it was a disaster. Never has a game so completely underwhelmed me at every turn, and I’m the sort of person that downloaded the RCT mobile version while standing at the gate in an airport about to board a plane the second it went live. Rollercoaster Tycoon World was ugly, ran terribly, had barely any realistic rides and made it impossible to make an interesting park.

Thank god for Planet Coaster. If it wasn’t for PC I genuinely think the theme park sim genre would have been killed off, but with the also-excellent-but-not-quite-finished Parkitect around at the same time, we can just forget about RCTW and move on.

Planet Coaster is nearly everything I have ever wanted in a Theme Park Sim and more. You can build terrain up around a coaster easily, there’s nearly every major manufacturer represented (albeit with fake names), there’s fastpass queues and employee management, the guests actually behave a little bit like real people, they’re updating it constantly, and there’s an incredibly active Steam Workshop section where people are making everything so I don’t have to mess it up. It’s a simply incredible game, it looks gorgeous and the devs have already shown how committed they are to free updates with the fantastic Winter Update a few weeks ago.

If you ever had fun with Rollercoaster Tycoon, get the true sequel that was actually made by the same people, get Planet Coaster.

Winner: Planet Coaster

Most Controversial Game

It would be wrong for us to sum up anything about this year without mentioning the game that clearly brought us the biggest audience. We managed to get an early copy of No Man’s Sky from Simply Games and from streaming this we attracted an audience like we’d never seen before. Those first few days (where I was streaming around twenty hours a day) were incredible and I genuinely loved the game all the way through to our final push to the centre of the galaxy, fighting through getting banned from Youtube and Twitch temporarily until we managed to get the stream working on Dingit and made what I believe was the very first video of the end of the game.

Then the game came out, and the first patch it. This had two weird effects. First of all, it changed everything about the game quite dramatically, so our first experience was very different from everyone else’s. Secondly, it started building a snowball of hate once people started pushing the boundaries of the game and realising you didn’t have to push too far to see the old guy behind the curtain.

So (as we said from the very start) mutliplayer wasn’t in the game. Every NPC interaction was completely static and cookie-cutter, the worlds all ended up looking fairly similar, space combat was extremely limited, there was no real ending, crafting was extremely limited. It was a surprisingly shallow game built on some incredible tech. For all the hatred aimed at No Man’s Sky, it’s hard to deny that some of the blame needs to be aimed at Sean Murray for over-promising and refusing to admit what the game really was, but the majority lies at Sony’s feet. They marketed (and priced) No Man’s Sky as an AAA game, rather than an amazing indie title made by 14 people in Guildford. As an indie game, it is an amazing accomplishment, as an AAA game, it’s fairly disappointing.

Hello Games have returned from their long silence and started updating the game and it’s already much better than it was in the Summer. There’s now an incredibly punishing but exciting survival mode. You can buy huge freighters. Space combat is improving. There’s more variety in the types of planets you can see. You can build bases like in Subnautica. The game is genuinely worth the money now and a lot of fun can be had it in.

Whatever you thought of No Man’s Sky over the Summer, it’s definitely caused a great deal of controversy and will likely always be remembered for that. For us it was the start of something new with our Youtube channel and streams and one of the mose exciting weekends we’ve ever had with the site. We met so many awesome people and had a huge amount of fun exploring the galaxy with all of you.

Winner: No Man’s Sky

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Games reviews and opinions from real people with limited time and limited money