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Red Dead Redemption 2: The NO BULL Review

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Should you buy Red Dead Redemption 2?

“There’s a little bit of cowboy & cowgirl in nearly everyone.”

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a Western-themed action-adventure game developed and published by Rockstar Games. It is a prequel to the 2010 game Red Dead Redemption, and the third entry in the Red Dead series.

So, buying this game and actually playing it after finishing a two-week marathon trying to 100% AC Odyssey was seeming to be pretty difficult for me when the game had to compete with Alexios/Kassandra’s wicked and crazy journey in Ancient Greece. I was thinking, is all this hype just a super marketing stunt, with global gaming ambassadors just trying to push sales? Well, little did I know…?

Got it Monday morning, left from work early, got home, pushed my bro off the PS4 while he was playing Overwatch (I mean, who still plays Overwatch?) and started the long and tedious 100gb download. This was done by utilising the first disc, I mean, which PS4 game ever used 2 discs? Also, aren’t we done with using discs? @elonmuskofficial do your stuff and make something more 2018 please. Even then, I was thinking, this game better be TOP STUFF. Started the game, and off I went… and literally haven’t stopped till then.

After the first part of the game, which is the mandatory ‘training/non-open-world’ section where you get to meet your gang; peeps like Arthur Morgan (the guy you play as), Dutch, John Marston (the guy you play as in Red Dead Redemption 1) Bill, Javier and so on you start Chapter 2. This chapter opens you to the expertly created, wonderful world of Red Dead Redemption 2.

The World – 

CAUTION: I literally got repetitive strain injury on my thumb from horse sprinting (repetitively pressing the X button) since there is no bloody fast travelling in Red Dead 2, or at least proper fast travelling apart from trains, stagecoaches and the very expensive one-way map from the camp/homestead. I later then found out that there is a way to NOT repetitively press X to keep the horse sprinting, but that was obviously after my injury. Silly me.

Unlike most open-world RPGs, the whole game is open for you to explore from the get-go apart from a ‘few sections’ which cannot be mentioned due to SPOILERS. The map is huge, around 4 times the size of the original Red Dead and the biggest Rockstar map ever created, with some of the map still needing to be unlocked, at a future stage of course.

My opinion on the matter though, don’t just start exploring straight off, it is best you reach Chapter 4, when you’ve gotten most ‘equipment’ needed to deal with certain challenges/activities you face when you’re trailing across different regions.

The sheer difference in environment, and eco-textures is profoundly jaw-dropping. From travelling to cold and snowy altitudes like Amberino, to hotter Arizona type environments like Austin, to Swampy/Louisiana type surroundings like Saint Denis, the game keeps you on your feet, especially when you need to decide on which clothes fit the right places you go to. Each region also has its own endemic flora and fauna, some of which can be pre-historic remnants of these beasts as well.

The Characters – 

My first thoughts on Arthur Morgan, one of the main characters within the Van der Linde gang is that this guy is a total gun-slinging western cowpoke, a basic late 19th century American outlaw stereotype, but I found he was so much more than that.

As most modern RPGs, the game lets you decide what kind of person you choose the character to be. When facing certain challenges, be it choices within: main missions, side-missions or even the random guy on the side of the trail who got bit by a snake. Your actions have consequences, so always be aware and try anticipate what the best approach to the scenario can be. I personally, made my cowboy into a sensible crook who cared more about the people around him than the weight of his coin pouch – this made the actions and repercussions throughout the game better for my play style.

Apart from Arthur, the characters within the game end up being very helpful, likable/unlikable and immerse you within the Red Dead world. The sheer detail given to not only the main characters (gang members/antagonists) but the characters within the side missions, their quirkiness and emotional value they bring to scenes within the game really made me feel like I was living in the Wild West. Something which I never experienced is how alive this game actually is. It seemed like the NPCs are some sort of AI, living their best, and in some cases, worst lives by themselves. This can be due to the huge and broad dialogue options the NPCs can say to the player and to each other with regard to their situation in the game.

The Conclusion

While this game is unlike many other games in the wider genre, which explores fast-paced action and immediate control and gratification like AC Odyssey, which in my opinion is still one of the best games this year, RDR2 will surely be one of the most memorable. Red Dead Redemption 2, in my opinion, will act as a benchmark for most games in the future. In a weird way, the game can be described as a western world simulator. A game which sometimes can be slow, and boring when traversing between missions, but if you’re up for exploring off the beaten track and finding new animals, landmarks or trying to find a good spot for an in-game selfie then you’ll absolutely fall in love with this well-deserved hyped up game and in my opinion – the best game of 2018.

Favourite Pastime:

  • Fishing at sunrise.

Things I Hated:

  • Brushing up by an NPC while trotting, NOT GALLOPING, with my horse and ending up being wanted with multiple sheriffs/police shooting at me which was totally uncalled for. Happened a lot with me. Sadness.

Pro-active Tips:

  • Don’t be coarse with your horse.

Always keep a horse reviver on you, while going on an adventure with your horse you might find your trusty steed isn’t as indestructible as you may think. Smashing into a tree (happened roughly every 10 minutes in the game for me) or falling over a cliff face can seriously hurt your horse, or even kill it.

P.S when buying/catching a horse in the wild always make sure their health and stamina is over 50 to 60% – more important than their speed in my opinion.

  • Bounty hunters are infuriating.

In the first few chapters of the game try not to be too trigger friendly, as the bounty right off chapter 2 can be quite hefty. Finding that amount of money to pay off your bounty so early in the game can be pretty hard and plus, you really don’t want a bunch of bounty hunters after you, they can be pretty annoying. If you want to be one of those gun slinging desperados like you see in the movies, just try not to get caught doing so.

  • Always keep a good weapon load-out on your person. 

The amount of times I was left fighting 50+ O’Driscolls with just my pistol, and grabbing random guns I find from my victims since I wasn’t pro-active in loading the right weapons from my horse was drastic. Keep yourself ready for any scenario the game might throw at you. Have fun, and try to find your perfect load-out to suit your play style.

  • Make sure to be equipped with fists rather than a weapon when speaking to NPCs.

Something which annoyed me, but I got use to was that the aiming and speech button were the same thing. So sometimes I’d get off my horse to help this man who’s been bitten by a snake but I end up aiming my Mauser Pistol to his forehead, which will mean this NPC will suddenly heal from his ailment, whip out his Worn Cattleman Revolver and start shouting; “WHAT IN TARNATION DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?”. This ends up being a mild misunderstanding, with a bullet ultimately penetrating the NPC’s oesophagus.

Pros:

  • Best Game Story of 2018.
  • Sexy landscapes.
  • Ultra great shooting mechanics.
  • Amazing detail in-game.
  • Barely any load times between scenes.

Cons:

  • FPS can sometimes slow down when there’s too much happening on screen.

Reviewed on PS4 Pro, you know it! 

Fallout 76: The NO BULL Review

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Should you buy Fallout 76?

“Pure Melancholy & Nuclear Despair”

Fallout 76 is the online prequel where every surviving human is a real person, with the ability to work together – or not – to survive. Under the threat of nuclear annihilation, players will experience the largest world ever created in the legendary Fallout universe. Reclamation Day, 2102. 25 years after the bombs fall, Vault Dwellers – chosen from the USA’s best and brightest – emerge into post-nuclear America. Multiplayer finally comes to the Fallout world. Creating characters with the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system and forging your own path in a new and untamed wasteland with hundreds of locations. Use the all-new Construction and Assembly Mobile Platform (C.A.M.P.) to build and craft anywhere in the world. The player’s C.A.M.P. will provide much-needed shelter, supplies and safety. As a fan of the Fallout series.

Now, as Fallout fans here at Monsoon Gaming, we all played Fallout 3 a couple of years ago and loved it. Sadly, in my opinion, I really thought Fallout 4 was going to be a good game, or at least AS GOOD as Fallout 3 – it wasn’t. I don’t really blame Fallout 4 or Bethesda for my experience, I had just finished Witcher 3 when I started Fallout 4, and obviously comparing almost any game to Witcher 3 back then was surely no competition. Nonetheless, I enjoyed playing Fallout 4 and gave it a solid 7/10 within my personal ratings. But with Fallout 76, Bethesda seemed like it wanted to follow the trend of games nowadays but sadly at the cost of losing the plot of what the game actually meant for its fans.

The Game – 

Traditionally, Fallout has always been a single-player, narrative-focused RPG sandbox, which puts a lot of emphasis on what the player does during his/her time playing the game by means of his/her choices and actions. Sadly, due to this multiplayer factor, this RPG system has been lost. The game has a story, don’t get me wrong, but due to this other human player element in the world, I feel as if it gets lost. Now I understand what Bethesda were thinking, new and more interesting single player RPGs are coming out that are taking its market share – so they wanted to do something different to gain that market share back/gain some new loyal fans of the Fallout series, sadly it seems this was at a cost.

A Lonely, Barren & Nuclear Wasteland

You would think, with more human players in the game this would make the player feel more comfortable and happy, but for some reason, this is not the case. This can be due to multiple factors, like the the size of the map – as POTUS 2018 would say, it’s HUGE. It’s not all bad, if you’re an explorer, there are some wicked and peculiar places set in Fallout 76’s West Virginia that you can travel to, now to do it alone or not that’s your choice.

Another reason why it might seem lonely is due to the limited number of human players in the game. Due to Bethesda putting a cap on the number of human players in the world you can sometimes spend hours not meeting a single human player – and if you do, they’ll probably start shooting at you or start trying to abuse of you in some weird, and trashy way.

Regarding graphics and game mechanics, Bethesda hasn’t really changed much from Fallout 4, crafting is the same – scrapping items and weapons at the crafting table can help create some awesome stuff. You’ll start out with some machetes and basic weapons, and later you’ll be able to craft some super cool lasers and the famous mini-nukes everyone loves that can cause some serious damage.

Missions at the start are fun, later becoming repetitive and slightly boring, similar to something you’d experience playing Destiny (yawn). After playing for a couple of hours you’ll start noticing the limitations of this game. For example, in a mission where I’d need to kill a Wendigo, I’d find myself in a situation where the Wendigo would already be dead at the end of the mission, or there would be a bug where the Wendigo just wouldn’t appear. In this scenario, I would just be jumping from server to server until I find one where the Wendigo is still alive to complete my quest – this can be very annoying.

These missions can be done by yourself, which can be a tough fight but it is best if you have a clan or some other human players with you that you meet along the way that can aid you in these missions – creating a challenge, and somewhat of a strategic alliance. From what I’ve experienced, the only fun part of this game is the carnage and power you experience when you fight as a team to finish some missions. Together, you would easily burn through the wasteland and venture into territories that when flying solo would be too difficult for you to explore.

Ride Together – Die Together, especially when fighting a Level 45 Albino Deathclaw two hours into the game.

Focusing on strategy to complete missions also made me finally take advantage of Fallout 76’s reworked SPECIAL levelling-up system. Before starting the game, it lets you add a point to one of your SPECIAL (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, Luck) stats. Off the bat, these do the same thing as Fallout 4, putting points into strength increases how much you can carry, for example. What makes it interesting is the new and awesome card stacking system.

The World of Fallout 76 – 

As I journeyed through West Virginia, I sometimes felt the responsibility of making the world a better place by rebuilding and wiping out the creatures that have plagued these lands. While traversing across towns to find items to scrap I found another player in need of some help as he was being attacked by Super Mutants. As the righteous player I am, I ran to him to help him wipe out the super mutants. As we both killed the last of the gargantuan super mutants I found that this player then decided to go hostile and try attack me. That’s when I realised – F**K THIS SH*T, strolled off, put down my controller and went back to playing RDR2.

Apart from this weird experience, the world of Fallout 76 has plenty of story and fiction intertwined within it and one has the ability to be part of that story. This is a world where you and a bunch of other dudes across the real world start at the same level – a vault dweller (yawn), individually given a certain level of responsibility and ‘power’ to save this world. This gave me a goal as a vault dweller, that was until you notice that everyone else in the game is given the same responsibility with the same ‘weapon of unimaginable power.’ Seems like some scam if you ask me. The story doesn’t hold.

Imagine a world with no human NPCs – as most of you know, NPCs are an important thing in any RPG (or any video game, for that matter) but Fallout 76 has robot NPCs giving you quests. Nonetheless, most storytelling is through holotapes and terminals across the world. Now I know those human NPCs in the game are basically code and pre-taped recordings, but at least when playing the game it gives you the illusion that you’re not alone, and not everything out there wants to kill you. I felt very lonely at points, especially since it’s not that easy to find other human players out there – especially if no-one wants to buy this game.

The Conclusion

This game should have come out as a multiplayer DLC exactly after Fallout 4. The game is dated, and you feel that is so. I feel a sense of melancholy when playing this game. This game is also super buggy, sometimes limiting me from completing missions. Fallout 76 is described as having a PVE elements, also stating this as its Unique Selling Point (USP). You feel that game is trying to push for this but I feel that nowadays everyone wants to troll and take the mickey out of everything. Believe me, I love to have a laugh, but sometimes you just want to play the game. Apart from this, the low volume of human players is also an issue, which will probably get worse over time.

Favourite Pass-time:

Exploring West Virginia with my team, and killing huge creatures and conquering territories together.

Things I Hated:

Almost everything else, apart from the SPECIAL levelling system.

Pro-active Tips:

  • Don’t buy this game unless you know a bunch of your mates will buy this game too and play together.

Pros:

  • Huge map to explore
  • Fun if you have a clan
  • Quests can sometimes be fun

Cons:

  • Lonely when playing by yourself
  • Graphics haven’t changed, probably got worse in my opinion
  • Not very challenging
  • Not enough human players
  • Many bugs

Reviewed on PS4 Pro, you know it!