Destiny: April Update – You get what you pay for

Destiny The Taken King April Update

We’re getting into April and as of the 12th that means it’s time for Destiny’s first update this year. A couple of weeks ago Bungie released a statement outlining what will be coming in this update. Not only did they not stray from that outline, that small outline was literally everything they did.

Spoilers ahead…

Light, Armor and Glow Sticks:

Your new max light level is 335. You’ll be notified of that as soon as you start the game up after the update. You’ll also, in typical Destiny fashion, have a couple of things waiting for you on the tower.

Possible contents of Sterling Treasure

First of which is the Sterling Treasure Mystery Bag – which is an absurd name for a box of stuff – but in keeping with all the other names Destiny has for things. The bag, which is a box, can contain any number of things from armor pieces and specific glowing shaders for those armor pieces. You can also come away with an assortment of helper items which can increase rewards in Prison of Elders, Crucible and Vanguard matches. The armor will be frustrating at first as it all comes in at level 3, which is annoying, but with the new leveling system it’s easy to get it up to spec. What I don’t understand yet is why this armor has no perks to it for Intelligence, Discipline or Strength. I understand they take on the traits of the gear you infuse into them first, but not fully, and that’s annoying.

Now for the shiny things the glowing shaders (chroma) for the new armor. Why is this a thing? Why not just make all armor able to apply these? That would make a lot more sense. Maybe I missed the forum where players were asking for this, but all of the people I know who play this game are confused and disappointed by this new armor type.

Kicks Dance which is similar to Elaine’s dance from Seinfeld
Rude Taunt which feels very Monty Python
Rude Taunt which feels very Monty Python

What else is new?:

There are two new Prison of Elders modes. Which are kind of exactly like the other P of E modes you’ve played before. All Bungie seems to have done is bump up the difficulty – which they should have done in TTK for all P of E modes – and added the Taken and a new boss to the mix. Having the Taken as an enemy there is really neat, but the fact that they only show up randomly, and you have to be lucky enough to get into a game that has them (then all the fights that game are Taken fights) is really annoying. I know Bungie likes its random number generators, but maybe for this they should make the Taken happen more often since they are your selling point of the game right now. It’s also very annoying that the bosses for these taken fights are the same bosses from normal PoE just with a Taken skin on them.


Other than the new boss and the taken, the only thing that will keep you playing P of E is the rewards, which finally are worthwhile again after months of waiting. Prison of Elders became a complete waste of time after The Taken King was released as it only dropped Year 1 rewards, which were useless to most of the players in the game. Why they haven’t updated the other 4 versions of P of E is still a mystery to me.

The King’s Fall raid has also had some slight changes. The recommended light for taking on the challenging end of TTK has dropped. Why are they making it easier now that the max light level has been increased? That’s actually very disappointing for players who have been building up their teams to take on the raid.

Seditious Mind is one of your "new" enemies in this April Update.
Seditious Mind is one of your “new” enemies in this April Update.

There are also a couple of new levels to the game, and “Blighted Chalice” a new strike. In true Destiny fashion there really isn’t anything new about them. They only have one new character model for the whole thing, someone you’re told is the successor to Oryx, yet he can easily be defeated, as can all of these new levels in a little over two hours of gameplay. When I did it I was only 308 light with the character I used, and all the content seemed to fly by.

If you’re wondering about Nightfall and Vanguard Playlists those also have some slight tweaks. Though the last raid has been nerfed, the weekly Nightfall has been buffed and is now a minimum 320 light. As for the Vanguard Playlists, those have a couple of new levels, and again I use the term lightly as in Destiny fashion they are old year 1 levels, now with a Taken skin. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool. But it should have been done on the TTK launch. I would wager we get all the year 1 strikes by by years end as new “refreshed” content.

Dreadfang, or that sword you now see everyone using because you get it as a quest item.
Dreadfang, or that sword you now see everyone using because you get it as a quest item almost right away into the updated content.

Year 1 Legendary and Exotics are updated. What that means is they are now available in TTK and have values matching those of the new stuff. So in the guise of a whole new bunch of things, they are re-releasing old things to work in the newer game. Which also could have been done half a year ago, and I’m sure it was, its just Bungie waited to release it now as “updated content”.

No HUD mode. The heads up display in destiny is pretty much required to play the game. But for people making videos, streaming and taking screen shots it gets in the way. This feature may not be for everyone, but it’s available to all through the games menu system.

The Candy Shell now shows up in the menu preview.

The update is not without it’s share of bugs however:

  • Year 1 Universal Remote can to be decrypted at the Cryptarch
  • Ghosts are being given as Nightfall rewards
  • Cryptarch reward packages may contain Year 1 items
  • Page numbers not showing up in a players Vault


Having spent hours playing through the update, the mission content, Prison of Elders and Crucible and with all the hype around what Destiny was going to do this year, I’m a little disappointed with this update. More so since this is all gamers get from Bungie until the Fall update. And with the recent news that Destiny will be ending next year and a new Destiny 2 game taking it’s place, it doesn’t seem like they are going out with a bang, or delivering on the gaming experience Bungie lead us to believe was coming. This update is just a lot of the same, rehashed levels, weapons and characters. The flying to and from the Reef seems, more so in this update than any other, like busy work to remind players there is a Reef to go to.

Read This Week: Star Wars: Poe Dameron Issue #1

I feel like Poe Dameron is going to be the Boba Fett of this generation of Star Wars movies. Admittedly, the ace Resistance pilot as already spoken more lines in The Force Awakens than the armoured bounty hunter did across both his original trilogy and prequel appearances, but I feel like they fill a similar niche. They’re the inexplicably cool supporting character that brings excitement whenever they’re on screen, and leaves fans wanting more.

That being said, I was justifiably excited when I saw that Poe would be the first new trilogy character to get his own series in the new Marvel Star Wars comics universe. So far, we’ve seen these mini series for some of the key original trilogy characters like Lando, Chewbacca and Leia, as well as currently being in the middle of a series featuring Obi Wan and Anakin taking place somewhere between Episodes One and Two.


These books, along with the three monthly Star Wars titles – Star Wars, Darth Vader and Kanan – are filling in parts of the “new Star Wars” canon, and tell the stories that took place before and between the movies. Much like the sprawling “expanded universe” that was retconned into the Star Wars Legends universe shortly after Disney purchased Lucasfilm, these stores serve to flesh out the individual characters and, in some cases, provide context for stuff that happens in the movies.

As you might expect, the first issue of Poe’s comic does just this. Sparing specific spoilers, the comic is clearly going to be laying out the mission that led Poe to Jakku at the start of Episode VII. It also seems as if we will learn a bit more about the other pilots that make up Dameron’s “Black Squadron” that we saw in The Force Awakens.

The comic itself is a good, middle of the road book. As I’ve found with all the other Star Wars comics I’ve read so far, there isn’t anything revolutionary going on here – these are solid, fan service pieces, appealing to Star Wars fans who want more than just what the movies have to offer. The book does get bonus points for giving almost as much attention to Poe’s now-beloved droid BB-8 as it does to Dameron himself, including the awesome variant cover I picked up.


While the story itself is fairly standard Star Wars fare – Poe goes on mission, complications happen, will no doubt be resolved in future issues – the book stands out for a fairly innocuous passage that I think all Star Wars fans will appreciate.

I’m going to try to do this as spoiler-free as possible, so here we go. Midway through the first issue, there’s an exchange between Leia and Poe that really helps give context to what has happened in the galaxy in the 30 years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, specifically in relation to the Empire, the First Order and the Resistance. It’s not much, but it gave me a greater sense of where this new universe is at, in terms of the Resistance and the threat of the First Order.


In short, this is the kind of stuff that makes me glad the comics are around. I’ve always loved that Star Wars is this big, sprawling universe full of intrigue and adventure, and I’ve never been happy with just the bits we see condensed in to the two hour constraints of the movies.

If you’re a fan of Star Wars, and especially if you liked Poe, BB-8 and The Force Awakens, this book is definitely worth giving a read.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – And how it didn’t suck.

Batman v Superman Poster

Last weekend I went to see Batman V Superman. This was a week after it was released and I had heard, read, and watched countless negative reviews of the film at the time. In spite of all of that I figured being the huge comic book nerd that I am I would give it a watch and judge for myself. I went in expecting the worst, and when it was all said and done, I thought it was a pretty good. I certainly wouldn’t call it bad, and let me explain why. This article is going to have spoilers, so be forewarned before you read on.

Young Bruce Wayne

Now before I get into all the good things, it does have its flaws. Choosing to treat the audience as equals, and setting that bar low in the form of a viewer who needs to be retold the origin of Batman again for the 10th time I would say is pointless. We all know Bruce Wayne’s parents get shot during a robbery when he is a child. He has some trauma involving bats (though these days it has drifted far from it’s origins), and takes up the persona of Batman to fight the forces of evil in Gotham city. So it’s a little patronizing to have that visually explained to us, in slow motion, several times in the film. Here’s the thing about that though; it fits with the story. If it seems out of place in the whole of the narrative it should have been cut, but thematically it fits in there. They maybe don’t need to drill it as much as they did, but that’s not the same as saying it should have been cut all together.

Superman Saves

One of the biggest complaints I have heard about the film is how dark it is. How the characters brood for the entire film, and it doesn’t ever have uplifting moments, or comedic banter between the characters. It’s just a dark movie in tone from start to finish. So many fans have criticized this that DC and Warner are now doing $10 million dollars worth of reshoots to the upcoming Suicide Squad movie to make it less dark and add in some comedy. Thing is, there’s nothing wrong with Batman v Superman being a dark movie, at all. Look at the source material it’s pulling from like Frank Miller’s The Dark Night Returns. You don’t hear anyone complaining about how somber a tale that is. In fact that story is what got Batman back to his roots as an ass kicking violent crime fighter.

Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns
Batman takes on Superman in Frank Miller’s The Dark Night Returns

And yes, this movie Batman is much darker a character than you’ve seen before, and yes he fatally injures criminals and kills a few. For those of you saying “that’s wrong, it goes against his whole code”, you’re right. The film even acknowledges this a few times. One of which is the speech Alfred gives at the beginning of the film “That’s how it starts. The fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men… cruel”. He’s talking about Bruce, and Bruce knows it. What you have to remember is this isn’t Batman in his early days, he’s been fighting crime for 20-30 years by the time we see him in this film. The events of Man of Steel have changed him for sure, but we also see the broken costume of Jason Todd. Something has clearly happened to this Batman to bring him to this point, and his character has to deal with the realization of who he has become and what he can do to right his wrongs at the end of the film.

The film is dark, and the characters are brooding, as they should be. This is not a light-hearted Marvel movie, and I think that’s the main problem right there. Marvel Studios has established a clear set of rules for how to make a Marvel movie, and DC isn’t following them here, and they are right not to. If you walk into the theatre expecting to see that same formula you’ve seen in Avengers, Iron Man, and Captain America then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Not all comic characters are created equal.


The acting isn’t bad either. I mean, no one is going to win an Oscar for his or her performance in this film, but you don’t go into a comic book movie expecting to see award winning acting in the first place. Ben Affleck does a good job of playing Bruce Wayne, especially this older more worn down version of him. He even does a great job as the chin of Batman. Yes you don’t see him as batman for a lot of the film, but you don’t need to. Batman is there when he needs to be, and Bruce Wayne is there to move the plot forward to its not just Batman smashing things. I think we’re all glad that Batman isn’t doing the grumbly voice thing anymore, lets just be thankful for that.


In same vein, Henry Cavill is still doing a very good Superman and a reasonable Clarke Kent. I do like that at the end of the movie it’s revealed that he is Superman however, because both of Cavill’s characters looked pretty much identical. Also since in this Universe Kent is dating Lois Lane, it would start to be very fishy that Superman was always there to save Kent’s girlfriend. Both Cavill and Affleck have a good chemistry on screen as well, it’s quirky when then meet at Luthor’s party, it’s tense when they meet as heroes, I really don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Lex Luthor

Speaking of fuss, Jesse Eisenberg. MANY people hate his performance as Lex Luthor. When I say many, I mean most of the reviews I have read slam him for his performance. Comparing it to his over the top character acting in The Social Network. I realize this is an unpopular opinion, but I think he was fantastic. I like how his character of the evil genius is played out and written. He has the darkness inside of the Kevin Spacey Luthor from Superman Returns, the eccentricity of Gene Hackman from the original 1978 film, and something unique on top of it all. I really think Eisenberg owned his character in this movie. To the eccentric and over the top way he plays the character, I think that’s totally valid for depicting the character from the comics. What you have to remember is Lex doesn’t just hate Superman, he hates the power and respect he has, and in the end wants all of that for himself. Luthor is an evil genius with emphasis on both words, and Eisenberg plays him beautifully showing us that his Luthor is so brilliant, and has such a lust for power and to be right, that it drives him near mad.


Gal Gadot on the other hand I take slight issue with. I think the character she played is great and the direction she was given was correct. Wonder Woman, or Diana Prince (her alias) is supposed to have been someone who left her people to explore the world of man. For the little we see her in this film she ticks off all the character boxes. She is called Diana Prince, has her stolen gauntlets, and lasso (and in keeping with the comics she has a sword) and for whatever reason she has a shield. In true fashion of her people, the Amazons, she has a lust for conflict which is seen in the fight with Doomsday. There really isn’t too much more to say about her and that’s my issue with Gadot’s portrayal of her. Wonder Woman in this film seems very one dimensional, as if Gadot were simply taking stage direction and has no idea what this character is about.

Ray Fisher and Jason Momoa I have literally nothing to say about as both Cyborg and Aqua Man respectively. They were in the movie for all of 2 minutes. Which, to be critical of one thing, maybe we could have seen 20 seconds less of Aqua Man just floating around doing nothing at all staring at the camera.

Not The Flash
Ezra Miller as the worst cast Flash ever.

Ezra Miller as The Flash on the other hand… What the fuck was that?! Alright Brian Singer, I understand you want to cast someone new as the flash and not use the actor from the TV series. Fine. And alright, you for some reason want him to be non-canon and not have blond hair, sure. But the guy you cast looks like he woke up late the morning of the shoot, and he was out the night before at the hippy commune you found him at. Would it have killed you to give him a haircut and a shave before he played the iconic character in two different scenes? Maybe at least given him a hat or hide his curly man bun? I don’t know who this Flash is, but he’s not Jay Garrick, Barry Allen or Wally West. Ezra Miller is such a poor choice for this role it honesty looks like he showed up for the wrong audition, no one was paying attention that day, and Singer gave him the part by accident and for whatever reason refuses to admit it was a mistake. Maybe Miller has a “no take-backsies” clause in his contract? I don’t have any issue with the two scenes he’s in; I even think the look into the possible future akin to Flashpoint from the comics was well done. Just… why does he have long hair and a goatee?! Fuck.


Let me finish with Doomsday and final thoughts. A lot of views think this movie is too long, and the Doomsday storyline could have happened in another film making this movie just about Batman and Superman. It could have happened that way, but what you have to keep in mind is the lost time DC and Warner are trying to make up for in this film. In the 2.5 hours that the movie takes to watch, they successfully get you ready for the next few DC movies to come. Adding Doomsday at the end sets us up for the next Superman film. And they did a pretty good job of incorporating Doomsday into the movie. Have the people who complained about him being at the end read the comic in which he was introduced? Issue after issue where they don’t tell you who he is and he makes his way to meet Superman and the long drawn out fight to the death they have? I like how condensed they made it, and I thought it brought a very solid conclusion to the film. Yes, it’s weird that the fight starts with that moment when Sups and Batman realize their mother had the same name. That whoever wrote that dialog should be fired. Yes, it’s weird Batman drew Doomsday all the way back to Gotham just to get the kryptonite spear instead of just going and getting it himself. But the fight itself was cool, and that’s the point. It hit all the key parts of the story and looked awesome. And for all you haters that said, “it looked just like they were fighting The Hulk”, yes, yes it did. That’s because Doomsday is pretty much the same character in terms of design and smashing things.


This was a good film, and it ticked all the boxes. It was true to the comics as best it can be. It set us up for a decent looking DC long running cinematic universe. It has some great special effects and fight scenes, and it had a story which sets us up for the next few films. In the same vein that Marvel has been building up to Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet, all in one film this movie set up DC for what will be a pretty awesome battle with Darkseid and this War World. Which is kind of funny to me because I always kind of thought Darkseid and Thanos looked really similar and kind of act like the same character in the comics. This movie was good. What it was was not a Marvel movie, it’s a new departure into a serious cinematic universe. If you really hated the film, maybe it’s because you went into it with all the wrong expectations.



Detective Comics – The Road to Rebirth

DC Rebirth

I’ve been a comic book fan for decades. More than fan even, if you ask my friends or family comics have become a sort of obsession for me over the years. And it’s with this otherwise useless knowledge of the history of comics that I will now write about the absurdly poor state DC comics has found themselves in, and how they are going to try and solve it all with what they are calling Rebirth.

If you’re new to DC, or comics in general then I feel sorry for you. This is a poor time to be picking up the hobby, especially if you are interested in the popular DC side of things like Batman, Superman or any of their mainstays really. Before we talk about the deformity that is the current DC universe lets look back a little at how they got where they are.


From the 1930’s to 40’s Detective Comics had some real hits under their belt. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash to name a few. Post WWII they thought it would be a good idea to try and reinvent some of those characters, under the supervision of Editor Julius Schwartz in 1950 they started a new comic called DC Showcase. A place to try out new ideas, if they didn’t like them they could just scrap them all together. The first thing they did was introduce Barry Allen as The Flash with a more modern origin for his powers and dropped the previous version of the character (Jay Garrick). They did the same with Green Lantern’s Allen Scott who was more magic, with Hal Jordan who’s character was more sci-fi based. This confused a lot of people as DC literally introduced the new versions of the characters and stopped printing anything with the old ones. To explain what happened to Garrick and Scott they introduced readers to the “multiverse” in a miniseries titled “The Flash of Two Worlds (1961)” in which Barry Allen meets Jay Garrick. This is very important, because this concept of the multiverse, for the next six decades, becomes the cause of all the reboots in the companies history.

Jay Garrick and Barry Allen meet and the multiverse is born.
Jay Garrick and Barry Allen meet and the multiverse is born.

In 1984 DC had created so many different universes and variations of the characters that it was not only difficult to follow story lines, but hard for new readers to find a way in to reading any one comic series. It was decided to scrap the whole idea of a multiverse, this is done through the storyline “Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985)”.

1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths
1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths

To sum it up; two god like characters fight, the monitor and anti-monitor, major characters are removed completely from the landscape, and all of the multiverse is condensed. So that should fix everything right? It would have if they had planned it all the way through. There were still major discrepancies in some of the remaining characters. Kept because of readership and sales numbers, their very existence in some cases made no sense with the new continuity. Supergirl for example was now dead, but Power Girl was alive and well (the earth 2 super girl), but she shouldn’t exist if Superman was now supposed to be the only survivor of Krypton, and Supergirl dies in Crisis… See what I mean? Worse was that the Justice Society, the original heroes from the silver age of comics and predecessors of the Justice league (normally from Earth 2) were now supposed to be from the same universe, just a time before Superman and Batman et all. But if that were true, why did the Justice Society some times look on par or younger than Justice League members? Rather than answer these questions once again we REBOOT!

In mid 1994 DC runs a story arc involving the Hal Jordan Green Lantern called “Zero Hour: Crisis in Time”. The issues count down, ending in issue zero.

Hal under his new name Parallax defeats Superman and is the villain in this storyline.
Hal under his new name Parallax defeats Superman and is the villain in this storyline.

In short something terrible happens, Hal kills everyone, absorbs all the Lantern Corps energy, and he reboots the universe in a timeline we call “Post Zero Hour”. This reboot was so confusing to even DC that it had to publish a guide of what was and wasn’t in the universe anymore, In the zero issue of the series there are a series of charts explaining was has now happened to all of the major characters and teams post Crisis. This again left fans very confused, so rather than trying to fix things… you guessed it REBOOT!

This one is not as involved as all the others, it’s more of a soft reboot and takes place in the story line called “Infinite Crisis”.


The story concludes with the multiverse returning for a little while as we saw it before Crisis on Infinite Earths, but then it goes away again, and everything is very close to Post Zero Hour with a few exceptions that fix some plot holes, and retcon some weird choices DC had made. For example Jason Todd (Robin), previously killed by the Joker, was now very much not dead, was only thought to be dead, comes back as a villain, but ends up a hero, and that’s a whole story in itself. This version of the DC landscape was actually working out pretty well in this writers opinion, but some executive thought otherwise and… REBOOT.

Now well into the 2000’s DC starts it’s yearlong 52 event leading to “Final Crisis”.


The way it’s written, it seems like this was to be the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis concluding in Final Crisis. However, aside from the epic scale battles, and resurgence of some of the villains from the 1985 plotline the story is kind of a mess and makes far more problems than it solves. In sum, everyone fights Darkseid, someone called Mandrak, and at the end of it all Superman uses a magic wish-granting machine to reboot the universe to sort of where it was, kind of. Characters were now aware the multiverse existed. This now made the DC worlds able to cross over with one another, and with that DC was free to re-write any characters story they felt didn’t work at this point.

Cover of Flashpoint #1
Cover of Flashpoint Number 1

Then Flashpoint happened in 2011. Flashpoint was a great story centred around the new origin of The Flash, and what would happen if he went back in time to change one thing in his own past. I won’t spoil it because you should really read it it for yourself. In it we see a great alternate future which conflicts in a fantastic way to what was the current DC core universe. However, the aftermath of it is the New 52, which pretty much merges all things into one thing. It kills most of the multiverse all-together, DC re-launches all its main titles with new origins for the characters, all to make it easier for new readers to get into the stories and start fresh. So everything is rebooted… Except Batman, Green Lantern and Superman. Batman we are told all of his pre-52 stories happened, just within a 5 year time period before New 52 starts, and similar things are said for Green Lantern and Superman.

The first rebooted heroes of New 52 (left to right) Aqua Man, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, The Flash, Cyborg
The first rebooted heroes of New 52 (left to right) Aqua Man, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, The Flash, Cyborg

This was done, of course, because those were the best selling titles, and they wouldn’t dare try to tell fans all of their favorite stories for those characters never happened, or try telling them again. This reinventing of characters, changing of origins, and condensing of timelines went about as well as you would imagine. Some of the stories were amazing, but in the context of the past and future of the characters they made no sense. They shouldn’t have existed in the main continuity. Maybe DC should have gone back to the DC Showcase and released them as one shots, but keeping these new tales in the context of the main universe really broke it apart. New readers who thought they knew a character were now being told otherwise. And fans who had been long time readers were now being introduced to weird new parts of characters back stories, or changes to the fundamentals of the landscape of that character.

For me the downward spiral started with the Batman storyline Death of The Family.

The face of the Joker from Batman Death of The Family
The face of the Joker from Batman Death of The Family

The series starts with The Joker cutting his own face off. And at one point just being in the bat cave. This is explained, as he always has known where the bat cave was and who Batman is. WHAT?! And then they kill Joker. But not really because they bring him back in the next story arc, but only to kill him and Batman, they go on to explain the Joker can’t be killed, because he’s magic (that’s my summation of events), and in Bruce Waynes absence(because he’s dead, but again, not really…) Commissioner Gordon becomes Batman in a robot-Batman-suit. It was at this point I checked out as a reader and haven’t gone back to anything DC.

Oh, and then they did something called Convergence, which literally restores every iteration of the multiverse and every character that has ever existed. But I stopped reading at that point.

The DC universe is a mess. It’s been that way since early 2012, and I have been joking with all of my comic reading friends since Flashpoint that they were just going to scrap things and reboot the whole bloody thing. Well at Wonder Con this year, DC announced just that With “Rebirth”. The best part is how they say, and I’m paraphrasing here “Marvel did it with Sercret Wars, so why not?”. The Marvel comics universes is not something you should use as a shining example of a working, self sustaining model.

There are no details about Rebirth really, just that’s it’s official and it’s coming soon. I just hope they make a proper map of where they want to go with this reboot for at least the next decade. Plan ahead a little maybe. But who knows, in 2017 I’m sure we’ll get “Infinite Rebirth”, then “Rebirth of The Worlds”, and “Final Rebirth”. I can’t wait.


If you’re interested in a visual guide to the DC multiverse as it stands as of the publication of this article, Gotham City Memes has a great post about it on Facebook.

The Outer Rim – Star Wars Battlefront – For those without a Season Pass


STAR WARS™ Battlefront™_20160331182409

From everyone here at Robot Follow, we’d like to welcome you all to our first review. And for us there is no better way to kick things off than to talk about one of our favourite properties, Star Wars. Specifically the new EA and Dice property, Star Wars Battlefront.

I know, we’re a little late to the game here (literally) for a review since it’s been out for months now, but we’ll be focusing specifically on the recently released DLC, The Outer Rim.

I took part in the beta for Battlefront before it was released. I was really excited for it and was blown away by some things, and really let down by others. The graphics were amazing and the gameplay was fast, but therein lie the problems. The graphics were so detailed that you inevitably got stuck on the smallest piece of scenery while playing, and usually ended up dead as a result. It had other failings as well, but the game has sold more than 12 million units to date so clearly the issues are small enough that most gamers can overlook them. When the cost of the game on PSN dropped from $90CAD to $40 over the holiday (only a short time after it’s initial release) I bought the game and was hooked in a very short time.

On March 22, 2016, EA released The Outer Rim expansion. Very shortly after I stopped playing the game altogether and here’s why: Though they did adjust some things in a good way, like the navigation on the main menu, it still leaves a lot to be desired.

For example, instead of having all the game modes thrown at you on one screen you have the option of the massive multiplayer modes that accommodate up to 40 players, the smaller group modes that take up to12 players, or the hero modes. That seems like a good idea, right? Except I keep finding myself going all the way to the right and selecting “List All Modes.” When I’m playing alone or with friends, we don’t want to look at these limited sections of what we can play, we want all the options in front of us. Think of it like being at a restaurant and having a menu for entrées, a separate menu book for starters, and a third other book for desserts. No one does that, and for good reason: it’s bloody annoying! Meanwhile, when you click “List All Modes” you are brought to a nice redesigned grid layout of all the game types, which is all they needed to do in the first place. Further, when I’m done playing a game and go back to my home screen it sure would be nice to not have to click through all the game screens again to get back to “List All Modes.”

STAR WARS™ Battlefront™_20160331182459 STAR WARS™ Battlefront™_20160331182507

Why can't we just have this as our start screen?
Why can’t we just have this as out start screen?

Next we have the Hutt Contracts. It wouldn’t be The Outer Rim without that king of the underworld, Jabba the Hutt. The Hutt bounties allow you to complete in-game tasks, like the quests or bounties in Destiny, to gain access to weapons that are only available upon completing the contracts. Again, that’s cool and I can see how that adds replay to the game. In Destiny, I’ve been guilty of spending far too much time trying to complete the meaningless bounties, so I can see myself liking this feature. What makes it frustrating in The Outer Rim is finding the Hutt Contracts. Once again, the navigation in the game seems to have been designed by someone who has never played a game console before or is new to PC.

STAR WARS™ Battlefront™_20160331185012

From the home screen you have to move to “collect,” then click into the menu to “unlock.” That opens another screen where you see a picture of Jabba at the middle-bottom of the screen. Clicking on it brings you to the Hutt Contracts. That is far too many clicks, especially for a new feature being added into the game. And the best part about it is I randomly discovered it while wading through the mess that is the menu system to try and find a new gun, and then I randomly discovered Jabba down there. Why didn’t the game tell me about this new feature? Does it expect me to just know about it because I read all the forums online about the new DLC? Yes, yes it does.

But let’s get into the real reason I am so very annoyed with this DLC and the new weapons packages. The new characters and levels are only available through the Season Pass, which is fine. I don’t really want them right now and I didn’t think they would change my core game experience. EA says you can keep playing the game without them and no one needs to buy the Season Pass to play the game. But is that true? When I started up the game after the DLC became available, I found myself dying a lot more than I used to. Now I’m not an MLG gamer by any means, but I’m pretty good at an FPS, and moderately alright at Star Wars Battlefront. Not that weekend however, and the reason is the new Scout Pistol card which Season Pass owners have access to, or it can be bought as part of the new Scout upgrade pack.

You can see in the attached graph from Symthic Game Science that this gun does 250% more damage than the SE-14C gun everyone has access to. Because I don’t want to spend another $70 on a season pass, or $6 to get this gun and a few more accessories, I’m stuck playing a game where I can’t even get a shot off before I get put down by the 4-6 players on the other team who all seem to be favouring this weapon. And that right there makes me not want to turn the game on and play it at all.

$5 per upgrade pack or $20 for all of them seems like EA is trying to make the $70 price tag of the Season Pass look like it actually has value.
$5 per upgrade pack or $20 for all of them seems like EA is trying to make the $70 price tag of the Season Pass look like it actually has value.

I would hope that in some near future update EA and Dice nerf the gun down to a reasonable amount of damage, but for now it really makes the game unbalanced and draws a firm line in the sand between those who do and do not have the Season Pass for Battlefront.

Though this DLC content does add reply and extra content to the existing game, it really alienates some core members of its gaming community. To anyone thinking of buying the game, my advice would be to hold off until there is some kind of Game of the Year edition which comes with the core game and all of its expansions, because right now it’s not worth your time and money, even for the most die-hard of Star Wars fans.

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