Planetside 2: First Impression

I recently tried out the Planetside 2 beta on PlayStation™ 4. My first impression was surprisingly disappointing. I was visually underwhelmed, though I qualified that with the knowledge that it is still in beta and not everything is indicative of the final product. But more importantly, I was dropped into a massive new world with absolutely no idea what to do. The first instructions I receive are simple enough to follow, teaching me what each button my controller does. But after that, I’m given a jolly sendoff into battle… a battle with a location I don’t know and no clear method of transportation other than sprinting by foot, which in fact I proceeded to do. I ran and ran and ran… and ran through a sparsely populated environment filled with dirt, the occasional shrub, and rolling hills, never seeming to get any closer to what I believed to be a target beacon on my HUD. Within 20 minutes of starting I decided to close the game and play something else.

In contrast to this experience I recall the first time I played Titanfall, also in beta at the time. Not only was it a new control scheme to learn but on a rather new platform for me: PC as opposed to my preference of consoles. And yet, since Titanfall was a new IP, it approached its players with the expectation that they would need a solid understanding of how to play in order to enjoy the game. They expertly crafted a tutorial level broken up into pieces in which a control mechanic is first explained, followed by a simulated situation in which to enact it. Should you fail, you can instantly retry. By the time I completed the tutorial, I was able to get my first kill in my first online match against other players, even though I’m not a PC gamer and had never before played a game with the same movement dynamics. This stands in stark contrast to my experience with Planetside 2 where I couldn’t even find the battle.

Planetside 2 is not the only FPS in which I had this experience. Some years ago CCP Games launched Dust: 514 on the PlayStation™ 3. While I did have the benefit of being at home on my input device, I was new to the EVE universe as well as the particular way that battles play out in the game. My first time dropping into a match involved a lot of sprinting and dying. While text explanations of every single object in the game were plentiful, understanding it all was not a task that the uninitiated would find accessible. Lackluster gameplay and the prevalence of nigh-indestructible veterans inspired sporadic gameplay and eventual abandonment of that game for me and I fear that Planetside 2 will share the same fate.

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Dishonored: An Analysis of the Opening Story

Excerpt from a paper I wrote analyzing my first time playing Arkane Studios’ Dishonored™ on PlayStation™ 3

A story within a story – “Dunwall Tower: You have just returned from a journey of several months, visiting the other nations in the Empire to ask for aid in dealing with the Rat Plague. You must deliver their diplomatic response to the Empress, whom you serve as Lord Protector.” These are the first words I see upon selecting “New Game.” As of yet I have no name, yet I already have quite a clear depiction of who it is I am in the story. I am a protector, a messenger, a journeyman, a diplomat, and I live in a world of hierarchy. In addition, I have a vague understanding of the encroaching menace of plague. I am left to wonder at tales of my journey through the other nations, or even my path through birth, childhood, and adolescence; yet, I find such thoughts a distant past which quickly drift away as I face an uncertain and near future. All this begins my part in the larger story of a man’s life in a capital city called Dunwall.

Read the full paper…