Entertainment |

Our favourite Bethesda games have just landed on Xbox Game Pass

By Joshua Appadoo April 7, 2021

Something momentous in the history of gaming has occurred! Xbox has welcomed Bethesda, maker of some of the best games of recent memory, into its crew of studios, developers and gamers. What does this mean for us Game Pass fans though?

Well, it’s pretty simple – it means that the Xbox Game Pass library of games you can download and play to your heart’s content has expanded yet again, giving us even more new adventures to embark on!

I’m a huge Bethesda fanboy – they’re right up the top of my list of favourite game developers, and some of their titles are in my top ten games of all time, so you can guess I’m pretty stoked.

If we’re talking about gaming as a whole, the original DOOM can’t go bywithout mention. Dating all the way back to 1993, DOOM cemented the fundamentals of how we play FPS games today. Even thinking back now, I can remember playing the original DOOM on my family’s first PC – it was running Windows 95, with a big chunky CRT monitor – it was an incredible experience!

In case you missed it, Bethesda expanded on the DOOM franchise with the latest instalment, DOOM Eternal, delivering an insane soundtrack, fast paced gameplay and so many guns. Seriously, I recommend you go download and play all of the DOOM games today! Now, if only there was a convenient way to play them all on one console…

Bethesda has always had a strong line-up of games since it began developing them way back in 1988, from all The Elder Scrolls games to Brink (it’s an underrated gem of a game, by the way), so for me they’ve have always stood out as publishing some of the most amazing games. But in 2008 they took the world by storm yet again, with a re-invention of a classic title! Fallout was already a seminal post-apocalyptic role-playing game, but Bethesda’s Fallout 3, New Vegas and Fallout 4 brought that gritty world to a new era of gaming.

Back in my day, if you wanted to play a Fallout game with your friends, you had to have two consoles in the same room – but not anymore. Fallout 76 spins the MMO genre on its head, allowing you to build, explore, survive and make new friends in the post-nuclear wastelands of Appalachia. Just try not to make too many enemies.

Speaking of resurrecting old titles, they’ve done it again with Wolfenstein: The New Order. You may remember this game from way back when having a similar visual style to the original DOOM and also including a mecha-Hitler battle – that’s not included in the remake.

Today, it’s a beautifully written and tastefully violent adventure through an alternate history post-World War II. Trading up to some mecha war dogs and revolving around a plot of colonising the Moon with a secret military base, Wolfenstein: The New Order is an adventure in a league of its own, and boy is it a fun one!

Whichever Bethesda title you choose to start with, you’re guaranteed hours upon hours of lore, character development and enjoyment! My honourable mentions for Bethesda favourites of course go to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Prey and The Evil Within. From FPS games to sprawling RPG mammoths, they’ve got you covered.

Entertainment |

Revisit the Japanese underworld with Yakuza Remastered Collection

By Joshua Appadoo February 24, 2021

A high quality remaster of Yakuza 3, Yakuza 4 and Yakuza 5, restored in glorious HD, has landed on Xbox Game Pass. These flashy, brutal brawling games also dive deep into individual gangsters’ stories within the heart of the murky Japanese underworld.

The Yakuza series has been a timeless gaming series, spanning many main line games and tonnes of spinoff titles, which for a long time were unavailable to Xbox players. But now, thanks to the miracles of remastering, it’s now available on Xbox Game Pass – allowing an entirely new generation of players to experience the emotional and incredible world of Yakuza!

I really cannot get over how satisfying the combat is! It’s easy to pick up and hard to master; from not only getting to know and then fluidly utilising the combos and weapons strewn around the environment, to unlocking all the different fighting styles that each had new and different combos of their own, you’ll have a fun challenge ahead.

The styles do change a little bit from game to game, but you can expect to see some similarities so you won’t have to re-learn the combat system entirely as you progress through the series. The ‘Brawler’ style is a very rough array of attacks balancing out speed and power, ‘Rush’ style really hones in on the speed of your strikes, and the ‘Beast’ style is a powerful combat style to really pummel your enemies and really deal as much damage as possible! Personally, I default to the Rush style to really feel like Jason Bourne.

I very rarely see such well-written characters with such interesting backstories in games. It really shocks me that any of the Yakuza titles haven’t won a Game of the Year award yet – but I still have hope for future titles! The dialogue, while obviously silly at times to provide some contrast to the very serious life inside the yakuza, deals with betrayal around every corner, sees every member fighting for a leg up, and you fighting to protect your loved ones. The entire series of Yakuza weaves a tale of Kazuma’s struggle with his family as well as within gang politics; I promise you it’s much more riveting when you play!

This is one of those narrative driven games that I just can’t hype up enough. Grand Theft Auto might be the old school king of open-world crime games, but any of the Yakuza titles beat it in story any day of the week! The sixth entry in the franchise, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, comes to Xbox Game Pass in March, so get playing now to prepare yourself for it. If you play from now well into March and don’t sleep there’s just enough time (…I’m kidding, you need roughly 210 hours!) to catch up. Grab the popcorn and witness a game narrative unlike any other with the remastered Yakuza series, remastered for this latest generation of gaming.

Entertainment |

Immortals Fenyx Rising review: how to become a gaming god

By Joshua Appadoo December 3, 2020

It’s time to experience Greek mythology how it was supposed to be experienced! Many games in recent history have tried to bring the player back in time to travel the pathways of Olympus and battle with the gods – but few have done quite as well as Immortals Fenyx Rising.

During my time with Immortals Fenyx Rising, I found one thing that wasn’t there during gameplay – frustration! Regardless of if I was stuck on a puzzle for too long, couldn’t quite defeat a boss, or if I just had no idea what I was doing, ‘burnout’ didn’t set in. There’s a good reason for this: the fact that I could view the gorgeous emerald fields and gargantuan stone statues in the distance made it all worthwhile as I traversed the Golden Isle. It’s really hard to get angry while you’re looking at vistas as good as these!

One of the biggest highlights of the gameplay of Immortals for me was listening to Zeus and Prometheus converse in your ear as you go about your quests and tasks. Zeus is voiced by Daniel Matmor, who has lent his talents to the gaming industry in titles like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Far Cry 2, and Prometheus is voiced by Elias Toufexis in games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

It’s convincing, too; you can see straight away neither of these actors are unfamiliar with Greece’s history and mythos. Apart from their larger pieces of dialogue throughout the story – which are done beautifully – they just tickle your eardrum with little tidbits of arguments and petty squabbles between the two. It’s charming, really, and sometimes funny enough to make even Medusa crack!

I hope you love exploring, because Fenyx Rising has collectibles and secrets to spare! Once I was able to climb atop some of the towering statues and get my bearings, I could see just how much land there was to cover. From experiencing the ruins of Greek monuments, delving through vaults for upgrades to your abilities, or uncovering above ground puzzles to unlock better equipment to grow stronger, I was hard pressed to complete everything – there’s a phenomenal amount of activities on offer.

Do not let Immortals Fenyx Rising’s cartoonish nature make you think this is a game only for children, though. There really is something for everyone here and it is absolutely a title you shouldn’t let pass by! In a world of games where everything seems dark and dismal, Fenyx Rising manages to illuminate its experience with simple yet engaging gameplay and a worthwhile narrative.

Check out the Immortals Fenyx Rising website for more info on the game and how to get your hands on it. I played Immortals on my Xbox Series X.

Entertainment |

Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War review: a chilly breath of fresh air

By Joshua Appadoo November 16, 2020

Few things are certain in life: death, taxes and a new Call of Duty game every year. 2019’s Modern Warfare reboot put the game back in a positive light within the gaming community; can Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War continue the positivity?

If you were to ask any avid Call of Duty player which game in the long-running series is their favourite, the first Black Ops game is almost certainly in their top three (and Ghosts is bound to be at the bottom). The original Black Ops really made the series what it is today, improving upon so many features and feeling like a finished, polished product worth sharing with the world. I know that for me, Black Ops came at a time right smack-bang in the middle of high school – and obviously became the perfect after-school entertainment to enjoy with mates online.

Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War is the sixth instalment in the Black Ops series, and the seventeenth CoD game since 2003. Set in the ‘80s and positioned as the direct sequel to the original Black Ops game, Cold War really brings back so much nostalgia, and yet again improves upon already perfected and seamless gameplay. Whether you’re excited to see where the Black Ops narrative will take us next, or whether you really want to keep prestiging and max out the level of every weapon, Cold War is sure to keep you interested.

It also wouldn’t be a Black Ops game without zombies! The cult classic mode returns with Cold War, which means I am going to be getting a lot less work done… Except if that work is fighting zombies. Online or local splitscreen is available for all of us to get back into horde-slaying action and really push to see what round we can get to. (Seriously though, some of the round records I’ve seen for the original Black Ops are ridiculous.)

Building upon what 2019’s Modern Warfare reboot put into motion, Warzone continues its way through Black Ops: Cold War. With the new ‘Military Rank’ replacing the original ‘Enlisted Rank’ (1-55) XP will not only be shared between Black Ops: Cold War and Modern Warfare, but the new zombies mode will also contribute to your overall rank! Whichever game is your flavour you can be assured you’ll be making progress.

In my opinion Cold War is the breath of fresh air the Call of Duty franchise needs to keep on bringing year after year. It’s what 2010-era, high-school-student me always wanted, with a modern twist. With all the new maps and weapons coming to Warzone thanks to Cold War later on this year, it too is sure to keep you happy, immersed and satisfied all throughout summer.

Entertainment |

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review: beautiful, gruesome Viking history

By Joshua Appadoo November 10, 2020

Sharpen those axes, comb out your beards and grab a coat, because we’re heading to the Viking age with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

The new Assassin’s Creed is here – and now on the shiny new Xbox Series X and S – to educate us all yet again on obscure historical events; this time we’re in the Viking age. Our main character Eivor guides us through the frozen tundras of Norway and open fields of England as he finds a home for his people to settle down in.

Being a huge Assassin’s Creed fan myself, I couldn’t pull myself away from this latest entry in the series! It builds on everything I loved from the newly reinvigorated and reinvented Assassin’s Creedtrilogy arc of the series that Ubisoft started back in 2017. In Valhalla, Ubisoft has brought life to one of the most fan-requested time periods, and it was a blast to explore.

Whether I found myself scaling the cliffs of Rygjafylke or galloping through the countryside of Oxenefordscire on horseback, there’s always so much to see and explore and Valhalla does an incredible job at making you want to explore. Some games tie your character’s in-game progress to how much of the map you’ve explored – that’s thankfully not present in this game. The exploration comes both naturally and innately, which makes the story progression flow nicely – it feels like you’re the one changing history (and all from the comfort of your couch)!

The combat, too, was really refreshing! The developers have both managed to make it feel like Odysseyand Origins, earlier entries in the series, while still adding new features to distinguish it from them. Features like dual-wielding return, which I haven’t seen in Assassin’s since Origins back in 2017. The ability to wield two weapons is great on its own, but they’ve expanded it even further, allowing you to pick how you dual wield – shield in one hand and mace in the other, two axes, or even two shields?! The possibilities are endless and very fluid; the combat doesn’t feel like you’re mashing the same buttons to get the same moves, and all weapons perform differently in their own right.

One of the most interesting and enjoyable elements that I found in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was your town. As you play through the game, you’ll have to start your town anew, constructing new buildings and upgrading existing ones. But, of course, if you’re gonna build, you need supplies – and the only way you’re going to get them is through raiding towns and cities throughout England. So grab your axe and board your longship – there’s building to be done.

I really found myself staring off into the distance with this title. Valhalla has beautifully rendered the gorgeous English countryside, and equally beautiful yet gruesome Viking culture on the other side of the Channel that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Grab it today and play it on the Xbox Series X for a gaming experience that tops all others in my book!