Overwatch: The Comp Matchmaking System

I have a lot of strong and mixed feelings about Overwatch, most of which will come out in posts here on Robot Follow. For the moment though, lets focus on the terrible matchmaking system in the games competitive mode, and how it really screws everyone over when someone choses to rage quit the game.

This night started like any other. I decided to solo queue in Overwatch competitive, which is always stupid. No one uses mics, communicates or plays well together.  It’s a perfect storm when you actually get a team that wins. But tonight was an evening of people rage quitting like I have never seen before.

In the above clip you can see someone leaves the game just shy of 4 minutes into a match. We weren’t even losing, they just up and quit. Now I can give them the benefit of the doubt and say they were booted from the server for some reason, but they still would have been able to rejoin, which is why I think they left of their own misguided free will. Somehow though, we managed to not only hold the objective as a 5 person team of mutes, but also pushed in hard enough to win the game in the following round. This is the one positive game I could publish. The other say… 15? Those were a hot mess.

I had a game where we were winning capture points 2-0, and when we lost one match 4 people on my team quit. I’ve been in Platinum (level 2500) games where the matchmaker places me with people still unranked, and it’s always the same outcome. Weather on my team or the opposing, if they begin to lose, they quit. Leaving the team shorthanded. In most cases though it’s someone on your team unhappy with the pics of your other characters which causes them to flame on and leave the game. There are lots of reasons, but in playing tonight, I don’t think I played a single game where someone on my team or the other didn’t leave, and this is a problem.

The issue here is that Blizzard, the makers of Overwatch, don’t really do anything about it when someone throws the game like this. The losing team is still docked SR (Season Ranking) the points which determine rank, at the same level as though a fair game had been played. Tonight I dropped 150sr because of this, in another night a month ago I lost 400sr in one sitting. All due to poor sportsmanship on the part of other players. These players who quit however receive no lasting punishment. They lose SR as though they lost the match, and maybe get a ban of 8 minutes before they can play again, and ruin someone else’s day.

It’s far worse on a console where I play than on a PC, because there is no way at all to report players in any way, shape or form to Blizzard, Sony or Microsoft. I’ve spoken with all 3 companies and they have all given me statements saying it’s not possible to monitor that on a console. But, really, it is. Call of Duty and the Tom Clancy games can have players reprimanded and banned from console games. But even of we can’t have that system in place, why is the SR calculator so broken that it punishes the losing team so much for trying to play with a disadvantage? The winning team gets the same SR as though they fought 6 players, why then can the game not correct the amount for the losing team when it drops to 5, 4 or 2?

There are many fundamentals broken in Overwatch, but this is one that should take precedence over many others. Especially before they introduce more game modes, characters, and make silly changes to the game like the way a characters pants look when they emote.

Review: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon – Wildlands

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon® Wildlands - Open Beta_20170225214411I’d like to start off by pointing out how miraculous it is that since his death in 2013 former game designer and novelist Tom Clancy seems to be able to still put out a new game every year. I hope I’m that active when I pass away.

As close to Sarah Connor as the game would allow, which is actually pretty close.
As close to Sarah Connor as the game would allow, which is actually pretty close.

Right off the bat we need to make one thing clear about Ghost Recon: Wildlands, it’s pretty much The Division. At least it’s everything The Division should have been. It’s also a little GTA5 when you drive anything, and feel very Far Cry with the missions and factions, but we’ll get to that in good time.

The driving feels a lot like your in GTA, and the car physics are more cartoon and feel out of place in this game.
The driving feels a lot like your in GTA, and the car physics are more cartoon and feel out of place in this game.
This was moments before I fully flipped the vehicle, the NPC's popped out for a split second before the game noticed I had recovered, and then teleported everyone back inside. Also the vehicle took little to zero damage from this fall.
This was moments before I fully flipped the vehicle, the NPC’s popped out for a split second before the game noticed I had recovered, and then teleported everyone back inside. Also the vehicle took little to zero damage from this fall.

The character generator for the game is where you start off. It’s actually nicely dumbed down from other games Ubisoft has made recently, which is quite nice. I of course opted to make my character looks as much like Sarah Connor form Terminator 2 as possible. Looking at the options I was provided, it seems like this can only be what the developers had in mind, so I went with it. I did have the option of fancy backpacks, ghillie suits, and fancy pants, but I opted for simple all black. I was disappointed I couldn’t get the aviator glasses right away, which would have made my character look uncanny to her T2 counterpart. I think I did pretty good anyway.

The game looks and plays a lot like The Division
The game looks and plays a lot like The Division

The game engine itself looks very much like everything they rolled out for The Division, which is about 6 months old at the writing of this article. You’re in a third person viewpoint until you look down sights, and the world around looks fairly pretty. I have zero complaints about how this game looks, and surprisingly little about how it plays.

The Squad leveling menu. If you're playing solo this is a necessity, but I believe a waste of skill points if you'll be playing online with friends.
The Squad leveling menu. If you’re playing solo this is a necessity, but I believe a waste of skill points if you’ll be playing online with friends.

Moving your character is easy, targeting and aiming are the same. Which is actually a huge step up from the fumbling around in recent Ubisoft shooters. It feels somewhere between The Division and Tomb Raider, smack in between the both of those. Switching weapons is fast and easy, as is targeting enemy characters.

What I find unique in this game is the AI which follow you around and help you complete missions. They aren’t as stupid and dependent on you as previous Rainbow 6 games, they move semi fluidly with you, and if they don’t I found they just sort of appear where they need to be. It’s nice to have a mechanic in game that works as well as this does, because the game is really meant to be played online with friends or strangers. I’ve been prompted several times in games to join a “random” game or invite friends, but it’s nice to have the option to play solo.

Here's a sample of the game map, and you can see how similar it looks to previous Tom Clancy game, and even Far Cry in terms of how the missions are spread and their types.
Here’s a sample of the game map, and you can see how similar it looks to previous Tom Clancy game, and even Far Cry in terms of how the missions are spread and their types.
A first look at the factions you can align yourself with.
A first look at the factions you can align yourself with.

The gameplay on the other hand I cannot praise as much as the aesthetics and mechanics. It plays just like every other game of the genre, all of the missions kind of feel the same. There are multiple things to do at any time, multiple factions you can murder people to impress, and all kinds of small kill and fetch quests to gain XP for the inevitable character leveling. There’s just nothing that makes it stand out, it’s very formulaic, and for that it hits all the right notes, but had it hit some new ones it would be more worth the initial price tag.

Titanfall 2 Tech Test – Titan Fail

Titanfall 2 Tech Test_20160826170310

Over two weekends at the end of August Respawn Entertainment released a beta of sorts for their upcoming sequel to the Xbox exclusive Titafall. The Titanfall 2 beta, which Respawn called a “Tech Test” landed with mixed reviews from fans, we played it on the PS4 and here’s what we thought.

First of all trying to play this game multiplayer was more of a challenge than it should have been. Setting up a session with friends was quite annoying, and the selection of a network was also confusing and flawed. Once we got everyone into a team it seemed things were fine as long as the game didn’t crash (which it did), but the “Network” was a whole different story.

Too many voices, no chat monitoring, and no mute feature in sight.

Upon playing solo the following day, not having anyone in my private voice chat, all of the mics in the Network went live. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with teens and preteens the world over, cursing and racially slandering one another. Worse there was no easy way to mute this setting, and the chat carried over into the actual game with a match started. The solution seemed to be to create a private Network, just to get peace and quiet.

Like most online first person shooters these days the gameplay is much more than running and gunning. We’ll get to the Titans shortly, but for a minute lets talk about upgrades. As you progress through the game you level up your Titan, weapons and character.

Leveling up and earning currency in game.
Leveling up and earning currency in game.

As you progress in level you unlock add-ons for your Titan and weapons. You also earn in game currency to buy unlocks if you don’t want to play the game and unlock them over time. These upgrades are found on the main screen of the game under the “customize” options for your pilot, titan and armory respectively. Most of the upgrades seem pretty inconsequential to the gameplay. Fast aiming, fast reloading, extra ammo and a slightly better gun sight seem the standard fare for each weapon. The Titans have a unique modifier, but it’s nothing to write home about.

There are 5 available character classes to play currently. And those seems to have been tweaked by Respawn in weekend 2 of the tech test. You can also create a custom loadout of sorts, but it’s the same as modifying a normal class. Titanfall 2 Tech Test_20160827041223

The thing about the classes that is upsetting is there is only one class that can use the grapple hook, which was a huge feature shown in all the promo videos for Titanfall 2. Respawn’s fix for this in weekend 2 was to allow any class access to any of the weapons, which were previously class-fixed. But now that you can assign any weapon to any class, there is no purpose to any class at all. So the question is why not simple have the user create a character that can switch out his ability, appearance, and weapons? Keeping the illusion of fixed classes is silly at this point.

Titanfall 2 Tech Test_20160826180910

This game brags to be from the makers of the Call of Duty franchise, and it sure feels like it. In fact it feels a lot like it, to the point where I wondered if I should just go and play a finished CoD game instead of this. The run and gun is fine, but the gimmicks in the game need a lot of work. The wall running is sloppy. Often you get stuck on a surface, or run along the wall when you want to jump over it. The special class moves like the grapple have limited uses and timed regeneration, which becomes infuriating with the grapple. It seems it’s never there when you need it. And true of any CoD clone or the game itself, snipers are horribly over powered.

Titan is ready!
Titan is ready, and it’s about time!

What should make this game different than it’s competition are the Titans themselves. I mean the game is called Titanfall right? Only thr Titans themselves can take forever to become available in game. Their spawn timer is based on points earned through capture points and kills. However if you’re not getting kills, it takes a very long time for the Titan meter to fill. And when it does and you finally get into your Titan it feels like it’s made out of paper. For instance it can take you 5 minutes to get the thing, and then you can lose it in under 30 seconds if you’re facing an opponent who has any skill at all.

1 minute in, and there goes my Titan again.
1 minute in, and there goes my Titan again.

At first I thought it was because I was just really bad at this game, but as I got better I found that it’s not me, it’s just a horrible game mechanic. Calling the machine in paints a huge target on you, and it’s far too easy for an enemy pilot (not titan) to take you out almost as soon as you get in the giant beast. If there are two enemy pilots I wouldn’t even get into the thing. In fact, in most cases its better if you spawn the mech in the middle of the other team and just tell it to automate itself. Which works well, but then it’s no longer you in a mech, it’s just you spawning in a mobile turret. And you know that this is a known issue when one of the three game modes is pilots vs pilots, which doesn’t allow Titans at all. Because lets face it, the whole game in every mode is pretty much pilots vs pilots anyway.

Calling in my Titan right in the middle of the fight, then just letting it do its thing.
Calling in my Titan right in the middle of the fight, then just letting it do its thing.

I had high hopes for this franchise, but after playing this game for two weekends I think I’ve had my fill. Here’s to hoping that Respawn takes every bit of feedback the internet has given them and implements it into the final game. The developer blamed huge player fall off in Titanfall one on a lot of different things, but I would guess this new game doesn’t come close to the initial sales number of it’s predecessor. Titanfall 2 has the potential to be great, but it needs a lot of work before relase to make that happen. A story campaign alone will not save it. I fear instead we will all be waving goodbye to the franchise that could have been.



X16 – Everything Xbox


Today was the Xobox X16 event in Toronto, at the fermenting cellar in the distillery district. Here Mircosoft showed off everything from the Xbox One S and new custom controllers to all the new games to hit the console in the next year. The nice thing was that they weren’t only showcasing Xbox exclusives, but third party games as well.

Custom Xbox controllers.
Using the website to create a custom controller.

One of the non-game related areas of the show was the section on creating your own Xbox One personalized controller. By visiting the Xbox Design Lab website you can choose a custom colour scheme for your next Xbox One controller. The cost of having your very own personalized controller is a hefty $100USD. It’s undoubtedly a very cool idea, but will people actually shell out an extra $30 to have a controller has yet to be seen.

Nothing at this show about the new super secret console Project Scorpio but I did get a sneak peak at the new custom console coming out this fall and an in real life look at the Xbox One S.



What I find confusing about this new Gears of War 4 custom console is that it’s the original Xbox One design and not the “S”. Since the S not only has a bigger hard drive, and over-clocked GPU, it seems a little strange that the Gears exclusive is going back to basics. In the humble onpoin of this writer, if you want to buy Gears of War 4 and you don’t have a console yet it makes much more sense to get the “One S” and the game on it’s own and forget the bundle.


There was a lot more at X16 than just controllers and consoles. I had a chance to play a lot of pre-release games, and talk to a handful of developers. For more on all of that check back in the coming days as I cover Gears of War 4, Halo Wars 2 and We Happy Few just to name a few.


Stranger Things


If you haven’t heard the buzz then you’ve been living under a rock this weekend. Stranger Things is the new Netflix series by the Duffer brothers and it has me absolutely hooked. This review is spoiler free, because who would want to ruin something this good?

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 1.57.33 AM

The show is a cross between Twin Peaks, The Dark Tower, and Silent Hill, with hints of Poltergeist, Evil Dead and just about every great paranormal or horror movie thrown in for good measure. The show itself is set in small town in the mid 80’s and is centred around a mysterious government facility, a child with supernatural powers, and the disappearance of a small boy. All of that in your average small American town where nothing much happens. If that wasn’t enough to peak your interest in the show then I’m not sure what will.

Just a late night game of D&D, what could go wrong?
Just a late night game of D&D, what could go wrong?

Stranger Things also features a stunning cast. Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers plays an amazingly engaging character as the mother of the missing child. Her emotional range, and level of performance in this series is astounding. David Harbour as the town Police Chief Jim Hopper does a fantastic job of taking the cliché role of the sherif that you have seen a dozen times before, and giving it a life all his own. The whole cast need to be commended on their work on this series, and their roles are fueled by some of the most excellent writing I have seen in a television series (if you can call Netflix shows that) in a very long time. The story is as well written and told as if Stephen King (It, The Stand, The Shining), John Carpenter (The Thing, Halloween, They Live) and Clive Barker (Hellraiser, Night Breed, Candy Man) all had a party one night and wrote the script.

Listening to The Clash on the Hi Fi
Listening to The Clash on the Hi Fi

You can’t talk about this show without also talking about the special effects, sets and sound design. All of which are spot on for what this series needs to be. The filming is crisp and clean, and a level we expect with todays flurry of HD shows, but the treatment of the footage, combined with the excellent set design and propping make it feel like we’re watching a period series. From the posters on the walls, to the toys in the basement and the way the kids play D&D and how that is incorporated into the story, nothing seems over the top or out of place. Even the special effects, though seemingly digital overall, look like they are the 80’s practical effects that made movies from that period awesome. The sound design is also out of this world. Beyond the mix of popular music from the time from bands like The Clash, and modern covers like Perter Gabriel’s version of Heroes (originally by David Bowie) the inclusion of the synthesizer track as the main them for the show is brilliant.

This show has something for everyone, mystery, suspense, drama, action and horror.

If you haven’t seen it yet, then what are you waiting for?

I played Until Dawn, until dawn.

Until Dawn™_20160618001955

Last weekend was pretty technologically rough for me, and being without the Internet I did what anyone in my position would do, I went down to my local video game store and bought a copy of the 2015 horror video game Until Dawn. Then played it until I was done, which worked out to be dawn the following morning.

Until Dawn™_20160618001941

Until Dawn is brought to us by Supermassive Games. Creators of such memorable content as Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock, Killzone (The HD remaster), and Little Big Planet 2 (the PS Vita port only). So… you know, it’s those guys. If you haven’t heard of any of those games, don’t feel bad no one else has either. And they don’t matter, because we’re here to talk about Until Dawn!

Until Dawn™_20160618002001

The premise of the game is simple, a group of teens go into a cabin in the woods, and things go wrong. They return a year later on the anniversary for the last year’s horrific events, and more horror ensues. This may seem like a story you’ve heard before, even the characters themselves may seem familiar. The jock, the bitch, the geek, the innocent girl and so on. But let me assure you that there is little about them you have seen before. The game uses all of the classic horror tropes to lull you into thinking one thing, and then violently shifts you into another direction. And it does a wonderful job of it.

Until Dawn™_20160618002015

The game is based around a choice system, meaning what you do at certain points will directly effect the game later on. Though the story is linear, it could pan out in any number of ways as it has dozens of branching paths. The game equates this to the butterfly effect; a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world, and a hurricane hits somewhere else instead of sun shine. At it’s simplest definition that is how the game works. However I get the strong impression that the developers watched a scene from Jurassic Park to get their full definition of how the Butter fly Effect actually works. Wherever the source, the game engine works pretty well. Most game changing events are obvious as they are about to happen, but the trick is you don’t know what they will effect nor do you know when that effect will happen.

This game mechanic is very similar to the 2010 Quantic Dream game Heavy Rain. In fact some gamers think that the same team made Until Dawn because elements of the games seems pretty close to one another. It’s the execution and pacing of Until Dawn that sets it far apart from its predecessor.

Until Dawn™_20160618033437

It’s a very cool game, and very well designed. The cast of real actors like Hayden Panettiere and Peter Stormare make the game feel all the more like you’re watching an actual high-end horror movie, and not just playing a linear video game. For a console the graphic rendering is also far above what I would have expected, and the sets, atmosphere and sound really make this someone that should be experienced in a home theatre setting or with a nice pair of headphones.

I had a great time playing through the game, and would recommend it to anyone who would like a solid 10 hours of being entertained, and maybe a little spooked along the way.



Resident Evil 7 Demo: PT and we love it!


Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour_20160617183652I have been a huge fan Capcom’s Resident Evil series from the very first game. I still remember when it came out when I was in high school, borrowing the game from my friend and not giving it back for months. The series has come a long way since defining the genre of survival horror games. Long gone are the days of fixed camera angles, and from what I understand even the zombies are gone from the series now… though they have been missing for some time if you think about it.

Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour_20160617184140

Much like the PT demo for the now defunct Konami game Silent Hills (Silent Hill 5) you find yourself in first person, in a creepy house, trying to both figure out who you are and why you’re there, all while trying to escape with your life. The gameplay and atmosphere seem very similar to PT, but they also hold true to what we’ve seen in Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6. Silent Hill and Resident Evil borrow from each other so much it’s really hard to say who did what first anyway. Though the atmosphere is similar to PT, it’s without the same level or terror and jump scares. You feel much safer playing this game alone in the dark.

The RE7 demo also has it’s own series of secrets, some still without answers. You can finish the demo fairly easily, but move too fast and you’ll miss things like the lock pick, the axe and the headphones. All but one of this games secrets seem to have been solved, but 24 hours after it’s release the one challenge that still has the internet on edge is the mannequin finger. To date no one seems to know what its purpose is, and it’s the only item without one in your inventory. Further there are rumours that Capcom themselves have said they it has a very specific purpose in the demo. Some theories say that the finger will be of use in the final game, but that seems unlikely as everything contained in the demo lives in a world outside of the final game, and none of it’s contents will exist beyond this demo. Much the same way PT was a stand-alone mini game.

Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour_20160617183835Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour_20160617184235The finger aside, the inventory system itself is another thing which makes use feel we are at home in an RE game. You can see the number of slots available and assign items to places on the D-Pad. It can be assumed that as the actual game progressed you will find a fanny pack of sorts to allow you to carry more items as has been the case in all the other RE games to date.

Resident Evil 7 Teaser: Beginning Hour_20160617184033

It’s a great demo, and if the final game is anything like it then it will be an awesome finished product. I can’t wait for this game to be released, and as a bonus it is also going to be one of the first titles on the PS VR. I can’t wait to have the craps scared out of me in virtual reality in Spring of 2017.

Josh... Josh! (like that one time in Blair Witch...).
Josh… Josh! (like that one time in Blair Witch…).

Overwatch: Really good quality plagiarism

Overwatch Beta

Overwatch is a very unique game from Blizzard in that it was popular before it was even released. With the closed beta building such a buzz about it, and the open beta having more people take part in in than any beta before. But the real question is, is Overwatch worth all the hype?

Overwatch: Beta_20160510013407

Let me start off by saying this, I liked the game. It was fun, and very pretty to look at. You can tell Blizzard took its time polishing all of the levels and characters before releasing anything to the public. There are currently 21 playable characters in the game, separated into 4 classes (Offence, Defense, Tank, and Support). The issue I take with this is that not only have we seen this class system before, but that there are certain characters in each class that also seem very familiar. It seems like a lot of this game takes “inspiration” from the Valve game Team Fortress 2. And I use the term inspiration lightly as it borders strongly on straight copy and paste. From the art direction, and level design, to the classes and characters themselves.

The Heavy
The Heavy
The Medic
The Medic


The Scout
The Scout

For instance, the main charactes of TF2 are Soldier, Pyro, Heavy, Spy, Scout, Engineer and Medic. Now in TF2 the character and the class are one and the same, whereas in Overwatch you have multiple character types in each class. But the thing is, there is one character in each class that feels like a direct copy of a TF2 character, and the others are all watered down versions of the original. Take the Overwatch character Soldier 76. He is very clearly the Soldier from TF2 in both name and class. Torbjorn from Overwatch is very similar to the Engineer from TF2, maybe not in looks and name, but he is a support character who builds turrets and machines to help the team. Bastion, the “heavy” robot in Overwatch who can turn into a gatling turret is pretty much the Heavy from TF2 who walks around with a gatling gun. And Mercy, the winged healer of Overwatch is literally a copy of the Medic from TF2 in almost every way. It’s hard to deny that they directly copied major parts of Team Fortress 2 and pasted them into their game model. How Valve has let this happen I am not sure, but someone should be called out over it, that’s for sure.

Gameplay screen shot.
Gameplay screen shot.

The gameplay is solid, even though it only has 3 game modes; assault, escort and control. Which also feel exactly like their TF2 counterparts, but enough about that. The game modes are solid, and the game itself is just fun to play. The character animations are smooth, and the voice acting is very well done. My only complaint would be the speed of the characters is slow in comparison to other FPS games of this generation. Even Tracer who is one of the fastest characters in the game feels like she is dragging along as you move through the levels. I found this really annoying since a lot of what you do is run into a battle, shoot for a while and die, only to re-spawn and have to slowly trudge back to where you were. In the escort maps this is most infuriating. However all the characters are slow over all, so it’s not as if you’re being overtaken by someone else. In my opinion the overall game speed just needs a boost. It’s like playing Street Fighter II Turbo, and then going back to normal Street Fighter II… I want my turbo!

End of game loot box.
End of game loot box.
The amazing cosmetic loot inside the box!
The amazing cosmetic loot inside the box!

At the end of every match you rank up and earn Loot Boxes. Aside from the joy of killing all your friends in strange and creative ways, these are your motivation to play the game. They are filled with rewards like voice clips, sprays, and end poses. All of which can be equipped to your characters to customize them and make them a little more personal. In the end it’s cosmetic and doesn’t change the game at all. The nice thing about them, for now anyway, is that the loot boxes are free. In this case it’s unlike TF2 where the loot crates drop for free, but you can only open them with keys you buy at the in game store. But on the other hand TF2 is free to play, so you’re only paying for cosmetic upgrades if you want them.

Overwatch: Beta_20160510023612

Price is a good thing to mention as well. On a console you’re going to spend about $80CAD for this game, but on a PC it only costs $40-50. That seems a little unfair to the console market. For PC, it’s $40 for the base game, and $50 for the Origins Edition, which comes with extra skins and other Blizzard PC only goodies. When you buy the console edition you are buying the “Origins Edition”, but you don’t get any of the extras because they are all for PC games not released on console.

My horrible stats from the first hour of playing...
My horrible stats from the first hour of playing…

That seems like a pretty huge price jump for less content. And considering most games are now digitally downloaded on console, that means there is no extra cost to Blizzard for discs, packaging and distribution. The other issue is the whole game is competitive PvP, which is fine. But Battleborn, the 2K Games mashup of TF2 and Boarderlands, is almost identical to Overwatch in every way including price, but comes with a story (albeit an awful one).

Overwatch: Beta_20160510011410

My final thoughts are this. If you don’t have a Mac or a PC then it’s totally worth getting Overwatch now, otherwise you should wait for a price drop. If you do have those, then just get Team Fortress 2, because that game is amazing, fun and never gets old. If you have a console, then you can’t play TF2, but I would wait on buying this game. As awesome as it is, since Blizzard themselves say it’s really only worth $40, you shouldn’t be paying more than that for the game. Wait it out, in a couple of months the price will drop.

DC – The Pepsi of Comic Brands

DC Comics LogoDetective Comics announced this week that they will once again be changing their logo. They are timing the launch of the new brand with the release of their Rebirth story line which will once again retcon and reset the DC universe. In that regard it’s kind of fitting. Only they already have the brand up and running on all their digital media, so it’s not really being launched with anything except the start of an arbitrary week.

DC's first logo from 1940.
DC’s first logo from 1940.

The logo design throws back to the earlier days of the comic company without being an exact copy of their first actual logo. It’s much closer to the 1972 block logo than any of the original 1940’s branding in actual fact.

DC Block Logo 1972
DC Block Logo 1972
DC Bullet 1976
DC Bullet 1976

If you have been reading DC comics for any significant length of time you’ll likely know the 1976 “The DC Bullet” logo more than anything else. You may also know it as the one that kind of looks like Captain America’s shield (*cough*). That’s the one the company help from ’76 all the way to 2005 when they gave the company the 2000’s look with “The DC Spin”.

DC Spin 2005
DC Spin 2005

The problem is that this is the 7th major overhaul of the branding. Changing a brand isn’t a bad thing. But doing so in an industry where you’re constantly trying to maintain the old consumers while attracting new ones, it can hurt you if your target audience can’t recognize your brand. A good comparison is Pepsi Cola. For better or worse Pepsi has also had 7 major brand overhauls. As you read this I dare you to try and remember off hand exactly what their current branding is. What colour is the word “Pepsi” written in? Now if I asked you the same thing about Coca Cola, you would know right away. That’s the point right there.

DC 2011
DC 2011

The logo DC had before this week was sleek, clever and modern. For their motion brands like DC Entertainment it was even more so as the ”D” often peeled back to reveal a nod to the animation or movie you had just watched. It was a major departure from the Bullet of 76’-05’ but it also is very much in keeping with the times. The senior VP of marketing and global franchise management says “DC is home to the greatest Super Heroes and Super-Villains, and the new logo has the character and strength to stand proudly alongside DC’s iconic symbols…”. Sure it will stand along side of them, but it’s not as strong as they are, it’s not embracing the change in the company and readers the other iconic symbols are, and it’s not even a full on throw back to the logo we know and love. It’s something they will change again and throw away in the very near future.

Doom Multiplayer Beta – First Impressions

Doom Multiplayer Beta

It’s Quake. It’s not Doom. Can we just get that out of the way? The story mode may be Doom, and the property may be Doom because they killed off Quake, but for all intents and purposes this beta is an updated Quake 3 Arena. I have also heard a lot of the Internet saying it plays very much like a Call of Duty clone, but I don’t agree with that. I guess that’s a sign of my age, and I’m not supposed to be able to put that together, but Quake is clearly what’s going on here.

Having said that, Quake 3 Arena was a great game, and this new Doom version of it too has that same feeling to it. So much so that it feels like I’m playing a game from a decade ago.

The beta itself has a couple of PvP game modes, which are essentially a team death match and capturing a point. There’s not much more to it, and there doesn’t need to be. This game type has always been about getting together with friends and blowing them up. It doesn’t need the same back-story of a Halo or Destiny.

DOOM Beta_20160415164221You also have some options to make your space marine your very own. You can change his outfit to a limited number of other generic space marine outfits. You can also customize your colour scheme, with the same generic colours as every other space marine. And if you want a very special and unique snowflake of a murdering space jockey you can add levels of grime and scratches to your totally not generic space monkey.

DOOM Beta_20160415164203The gun load outs are similar to the outfit choices. There’s the launcher (from Quake 3), the rifle and the shotgun that everyone will use because they are quick and deadly. And a few other fancy weapons like the lightning gun, which no one will use because it’s silly and you have to follow your opponent hitting them constantly with it to get a kill.

DOOM Beta_20160415164147Then there are the Hack Modules. These are items you win randomly at the end of a match. You can hold a certain number of them, and when you die you can activate them for a temporary advantage. So you could die and come back with bonus armor, or be able to see the person who killed you on the map and get revenge. Most of them are borderline useless because you’ll die before you get the benefit of using them, it’s the advice of this writer that you stick with the ones that get you more XP, because that will unlock things for you faster.

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The game looks good. Not great, just good. It plays very fast, which is likely why they didn’t go for the mind blowing, server crashing graphics of other games in the same genre. It doesn’t look like a next gen game though, not even close considering it’s coming out 2 years into the reason of PS4 and Xbox One.

It plays a little sluggish as well. The turn speed – both vertical and horizontal – can be adjusted in the menu, but even so it never feels like your character is moving and turning at the pace you want. If you’re used to playing Halo or Destiny you’re going to feel a little slowed down for sure. There is a speed boost item you can find in the level, but maybe that should be replaced with a short term sprint that each character has natively.

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The damage system also leaves a little to be desired. Your health starts at 100%, armor [without a modifier] starts at 0. Every weapon deals damage based on distance and impact. What I don’t understand is how I can stand next to someone and hit them point black with 4 rockets and they don’t die?! How is that a thing? And it’s always the case. There is also way too much health and armor everywhere, which re-spawns far too quickly. You may as well just hold the fire and move buttons down and not look at the screen, you’ll be just as effective as everyone else.

The Daemon Runes are the game changer, literally. If you get one, you change into a monster for a minute (or until you die). In the beta it’s the skeleton fellow from the poster of the game known as The Revenant. Every hit from him is a 1 hit kill, and he can fly. His health is also 300HP. Pretty much the team with him the most is going to win. And that has been the case every time I play, no matter if it’s a team death match or the capture point round. Maybe they will either nerf his power or increase the weapon damage, but something has to change before launch.

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Having said all that, the game is still fun to play. The biggest issue I have with it is on day 2 of the open beta I’m struggling to find people playing the game. Last night at it’s midnight launch I could start a match almost instantly. Now I find myself waiting sometimes over 10 minutes for it to find the minimum player count to start the game. Not a good sign on only day two of the beta release.

For a free beta I say download it and play, but for an $80 game with some undefined season pass already available for purchase I think this game is a pass. I don’t think the novelty of the Doom franchise is enough to get anyone to buy this game, and that seems to be what Bethesda and ID are banking on.