Chris Thursten: Back to Ground Zero
I received my copy of MGS 5: The Phantom Pain in time for launch, but I’ve had absolutely no time to play it. I know that I need more than a spare hour to properly enjoy it, so I’ve saved it for the weekend. In the meantime, to hold off the cravings, I’ve returned to Ground Zeroes. I played through the basic missions a while back but never properly invested time into it, and I’m glad I corrected that. Not only do I now have a healthy roster of extracted prisoners to add to my Mother Base (thanks to Andy for his guide), but I have a much more substantial understanding of new-Metal Gear’s systems.
I’m a little late to the party, here, but these games are brilliant. It’s such a thrill to play a stealth game that properly balances lethal and nonlethal, loud and quiet approaches—and lets you transition so smoothly between them. I’ve rammed stolen trucks into anti-aircraft guns and subtly rescued seven people from the camp at once with a single unseen rescue. The challenge level is perfectly pitched—neither so harsh that you can’t be creative nor so frictionless that you can simply breeze through. The notion that there’s a whole open world of this waiting for me at home is incredibly exciting.
Tom Senior: Finding the comedy in MGS 5
In the office today we were talking about whether Metal Gear Solid 5 is more serious than the previous games. The series has always enjoyed moments of absurdity that clash delightfully with the stern militaristic vibe. I don't think these moments are gone from MGS 5, now it’s the player’s job to create them.
Earlier this week we mentioned that you can customise your chopper’s entrance music. People have been doing great things. My favourite is Andy’s use of the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme, but others might prefer John Cena’s intro music, or the old Batman theme. Make the rudest logo you possibly can, and insist on going into battle sans armour. Tranquilise ravens and pocket them. Steal bears with the Fulton extraction system. The Phantom Pain can be as silly or sober as you want it to be.
This customisable silliness indicates a wider philosophical shift away from MGS 5’s predecessors. The famously lengthy Metal Gear cutscenes and codec chats have been moved onto tapes now, to be listened to as you’re having bonkers adventures. It’s an admission that the plot matters less than the player’s fun, and the game is so much more rewarding for it.
Phil Savage: No gold for Guild Wars 2
Last weekend, ArenaNet made Guild Wars 2 core edition free. For some, it was a controversial move. I think it's probably the best thing they could have done. Guild Wars 2 is an excellent MMO, but—more than most—it lives or dies on having players wandering its zones. Most of the fun comes from its open world events, and they only work if there are people playing them. As much of its player base gets ready to explore the jungle in the Heart of Thorns expansion, it makes sense to populate the older content by removing the barrier to entry.
Is going free a middle finger to those that have previously paid? I don't see it as such. Nobody has lost anything from the move, and paying players retain certain privileges unavailable to those who've gained free entry. More people means a better game, which, whether you've paid or not, can only be a good thing.
Tom Marks: Nothing painful about it
I’m also going to gush about The Phantom Pain as my high of the week. I haven’t been this into a single-player game for a long time. It’s quickly become the only game I want to play. I’m not usually even a fan of stealth games, but there is so much to do outside of silently completing missions that as soon as something starts getting stale I can switch focus. Base building, resource management, staff management, weapon development, side missions, main missions, hidden diamonds, replaying main missions, and insane cutscenes all blend together to ensure I’m never bored of one aspect—and without ever feeling like there’s too much to keep track of.
The Phantom Pain is not without its faults, but they haven’t stopped me from wanting to play it pretty much every waking hour. It is pure entertainment, and it lets me customize that entertainment to suit exactly how I like to play. I am 13 hours in and am ready to give it a whole lot more time than that.
Chris Livingston: That's the spear-it
Most of my week has been spent with Mad Max. No review just yet: I'm 30 hours in, and it appears I've still got a ways to go (you can read my early impressions I here).
As you may have guessed, you spend a lot of time in a car, and that car has a harpoon, and that harpoon is a lot of fun. You can do a lot of things with it. You can fire it into locked gates and drag them open with your car. You can attach it to towers and pull them down. You can rip armor off trucks and wheels off cars. You can fire it into people as well, naturally. I've pulled snipers off perches, I've yanked goons out of forts, I've pulled shrieking War Boys through their windshields, dragged them behind my car, then retracted the cable and sent them pinwheeling through the air.
I have come to the conclusion that we should all have harpoons in our cars. Our real cars. You could get your food at the drive-thru without even slowing down.
Tyler Wilde: I didn’t get sick at PAX
I’m not sick! After spending all weekend shaking hands and flowing through a river of costumed germs on the PAX Prime 2015 show floor, I have somehow not contracted anything. Now I can enjoy a healthy long weekend of Rocket League and Metal Gear Solid 5. Thank goodness.
But aside from not getting sick, PAX was a lot of fun. I made some new friends—namely the wonderful couple who helps run the PC area (hi!)—and saw some very cool games. Brigador is a tough and fun isometric shooter with tank controls, Rain World’s procedural animation is really impressive, and Hob is an interesting direction for the Torchlight developers. Meanwhile, Evan saw even more good stuff—I’m especially interested in Tharsis and our overall favorite game of PAX, Vermintide.