Last updateWed, 22 Nov 2017 8am


To Preorder, or Not to Preorder: Part II

Preorder Not PreorderSometimes it seems like all the good games are right around the corner, but often upon release they turn out more hype than anything else. Last semester, I ran a feature on video game preorders, within which I gave advice on which games to preorder. I advised caution towards Star Wars: Battlefront, and recommended both No Man’s Sky and Fallout 4. Since that time Fallout 4 and Star Wars: Battlefront have been released, and their reception has been mostly in line with what I predicted. In this feature, I plan to describe several upcoming, noteworthy games that I have played pre-release.

Black Desert Online releases on March 3 of this year, and if you like action-based MMORPGs, this one is a must-try. Black Desert has been out in South Korea since 2014, and public demand for it has finally brought it to North America. I’ve only put a modest 20 hours into the beta and am already quite impressed; I wouldn’t be surprised if it became the most popular action MMORPG after its release.

Black Desert’s combat is a step up from that offered in TERA Online, which had been the genre leader. The graphics are frequently compared to those from The Witcher 3, and while I believe The Witcher’s graphics are better, the fact that this is even a discussion reflects positively on Black Desert; MMORPGs are notorious for having poor graphics, and The Witcher 3 is debatably the best looking game of all time. In any case, both environments and characters look beautiful in Black Desert. There is a wide array of graphical options; this allows high-end computers to make the game look better and older models to make it run more efficiently.

Black Desert also features a housing system, which allows one to own and edit houses/bases in-game. It seems like a number of recent MMOs have been passing this feature by, so it’s exciting to see one that’s giving it a try. There are a number of other noteworthy systems, such as horse breeding, a dynamic economy, PVP (player versus player) battles for territory, and crafting. Suffice to say, Black Desert is a very promising upcoming release, and fans of the genre should definitely take notice.

Ark: Survival Evolved is releasing a little farther out in June of this year. That said, I’ve played its beta extensively, and it feels very much like a finished game to me. Ark is a first-person survival type game, similar to Minecraft, or the less well known Rust. What sets Ark apart from these titles is a prominent gameplay feature: dinosaurs. At the start of Ark, you’re dropped off on an island with the goal of building a fortified shelter. There are a number of threats making this difficult, such as weather, hostile dinosaurs, competition for resources, and potentially other players.

As to what one does in Ark, your short-term goal is to get a feel for in-game mechanics and level up, which gives you access to new technologies. After playing for a day or so, you’ll then want to find an area, claim it, and start building a base. Make sure you take neighbors into account; if you build in what someone else considers their territory they may destroy your stuff, or make you move it if they’re friendly. Early on, you’ll want to make your base more secure, replacing thatch walls with wood, then stone, and finally metal; hostiles will have much more difficulty destroying better walls. Automated defenses in the form of turrets are also a must, as your base persists even when you aren’t playing, and someone might attack it while you’re offline. You’ll also want to build a large pen for the various prehistoric creatures which you can tame and ride/make use of in-game.

In Ark, you’ll find that your ability to work with other players is just as important for survival as any skill you possess; honestly it’s probably much more valuable. The social elements of this game, such as alliances and partnerships, are fascinating and immersive; I fully expect to write a paper on them at some point. Ark excels at allowing its players to make their own fun; as far as indie games go, I see it as second only to Minecraft.

Finally, we get to a game many have probably heard of, Star Citizen. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Star Citizen is by an enormous margin the most successful crowd funded project ever, having raised over $108 million in contributions at the time of this review. Its current release date is late 2016, although considering its history of delays, I don’t expect in to meet this deadline. Star Citizen is a space simulation (space-sim) in the style of an MMORPG; it is also by far the most ambitious game I have ever seen. There is a list of features this game promises several times longer than this article in length. It includes player housing, a player-driven economy, the ability to land on planets, in-depth customization of space-ships, mining asteroids, harvesting gasses from stars, gigantic battles between fleets, and the ability to board ships and engage in first-person shooter combat. It’s less like they’re trying to construct a video game, more like they’re trying to create a fictional world that will never grow old. For fans of sci-fi television, this game could very well be the perfect video game.

In the past year, Star Citizen’s developers (Roberts Space Industry, or RSI) have started to release pieces of the game. I was presented with an opportunity to try it out for free, which I took advantage of and was quite impressed. Only the very foundation of the game is there as of now, but it’s all quite solid. The graphics and sounds are top-tier, the gameplay is a step up from Elite Dangerous, which many consider the face of the genre (I myself reviewed it positively last year). The games single-player campaign features big name actors, like Mark Hamil and Gary Oldman.

I’m very intrigued by Star Citizen, and I look forward to playing the finished product. That said, it’s not a game I can unconditionally recommend. RSI have made so many promises that I personally feel it is impossible to deliver. Still, I believe the final game will be excellent, even if it falls short of what was promised. If Star Citizen sounds at all intriguing, I highly recommend you check it out and come to your own conclusion; it’s certainly interesting enough to justify a look.


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