Montag, 22. April 2019

New Beginnings

It's hard to describe how incredible our pet monitor lizard Hugo was without coming across like I'm exaggerating or straight up lying. If it wasn't for our old videos showing an average day with him, I'd find it hard to believe, myself. If you don't feel like clicking the link or you can't stand the poor quality, it's a short clip of Claire cleaning up Hugo's tank while he's taking a drink from the spray bottle. He then hops out of his vivarium, pulls out his shoe to play with it, walks around the place for a while, then climbs on a bag of bark to watch Claire do her thing before he climbs back inside his tank. He needed a bit of a hand with that in this instance, but most of the time he managed to enter and leave the tank all by himself. On warm days we'd just leave it open all day, so he could roam about as he pleased.

Hugo was, for lack of a better word, surprisingly independent. He knew where his toys were, knew his way around the house, he entertained himself and did whatever he wanted to do. He was more or less on the level of a human toddler. Spending nearly a decade with him was nothing short of fascinating. The only lizard I ever had up to that point was a bearded dragon, and while beardies are generally very pleasant, they're also complete morons. They sit, they stare, they'll suddenly crap all over you without warning and if you put them on a chair or a table, it's only a matter of time until they fall over the edge for no apparent reason. They're complete and utter idiots. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy with our beardie, but there isn't a single cog turning in that tiny head of hers.

Hugo would free himself from his cage and walk into the bedroom to wake us up in the mornings. And no matter how vicious he would get when hunting down a box of locusts, he'd never bite the hand that fed him - the whole family hand-fed him tiny prawns at Christmas and everyone is still in possession of all their fingers. He suffered from poor eyesight as he got old, became a lot less active and spent most of his time sleeping, but he was still very friendly and somewhat social. Sometimes he'd cough, hiss and do other weird shit in his sleep, so I'd wake him up and calm him down. Monitor lizards can dream, apparently - who knew?

Oh well. He's gone now and I'll never stop missing him. And now there's this big, empty tank in the living room. I really just wanted to get rid of it, put a proper desk in its place, so Claire can have some more space for her computer. Claire, on the other hand, started looking into tegus, sailfin lizards and all sorts of monitors, who could inhabit the vivarium, now that Hugo has moved to the great outdoors. Frankly, I'm not massively keen on the idea of getting a new lizard, because it's too soon and it would be unfair towards both Hugo and the new guy, whoever they might be. I mean, first of all it'd be like we're trying to replace him. Secondly, that new lizard would always be compared to Hugo. Hugo was smarter, Hugo was more social, Hugo was bigger, whatever. Difficult for any new pet to live up to such standards and expectations. And then I spent a day at the pet shop, keeping Claire company when I had a quiet day at work.

They had a new animal in - a tiny Burmese python. Well, when I say 'tiny', I mean roughly the size of an adult royal python, which really isn't much, considering how big this snake is going to become one day. Claire asked if I wanted to handle him for a bit, so I sat down with the snake and watched him as he wrapped himself around my arm. All orange and white, because people love them when they're albinos.
I'm not a big fan of snakes. I don't dislike them or anything, it's just that they don't do anything fun. Our royal python sits in his box all day, you feed him once a week, you can take him out of there, but he just curls up into a little ball and hopes for you to put him back and that's that. Our carpet python is the size of three Claires, so it's a struggle to pick that snake up, she'll try to get away from you, so she goes back in her tank, where she looks pretty and decorative and waits for food and that's it.

Meanwhile, the tiny Burmese at the shop just sat on me and didn't bother to move much at all. Every now and then he'd try to squeeze his head between two of my fingers for some reason. I guess it's just a thing they do. It's weird, because I've never touched a snake's head before. Not properly. Our royal python absolutely hates it when you go anywhere near his head. Our carpet python is huge and scary and will utterly shit you up on a bad day, so I simply don't see any compelling reason to attempt and touch her head. But this little guy goes all, "Yeah, I'm gonna go right against your fingers and everywhere around them", so you give him a little head rub and he's cool with it. Just sits there, goes to sleep, chills with you. Never seen any other snake do this. It's one of the reasons why I don't like them very much. You can sit with a lizard, you could pet and squeeze and cuddle Hugo and he'd put up with it. Snakes try to get away from you. Wanting to handle a snake seems so pointless to me. The snake struggles to get away, you struggle to prevent the snake from doing precisely that, nobody is having a good time. This Burmese wants to squeeze his head between your fingers and go to sleep there. How weird.

I basically just sat there with him for the next four or five hours. One customer was mortified, didn't wanna go anywhere near me, but the rest of them couldn't get over how nice the snake was, asked how much they'd have to pay for him, completely lost their shit. So cute, so pretty, I can't believe you haven't already sold him, you get the idea. Meanwhile, the snake alternated between being my scarf, my bracelet and a hand rest in those rare moments where he could be bothered to wake up and move around a bit. Huh.
Snakes make me uneasy. Tense. I can't read them and I don't trust them. I've grown up with cats and I understand cats. It's usually pretty easy to tell when one is about to attack you. Heck, I let our cats claw and bite me a lot during play time, because it doesn't really hurt, I know what to expect, so it's not really scary or anything. I'd pick up Hugo even when he was grumpy and would huff and puff at me, because I knew how to handle him, I understood him, knew what to expect. But I don't really know when a snake might consider taking a bite, I don't know how much it'll hurt the day our 11 foot carpet python decides to snack on me and I don't like having them too close to my face for that exact reason. And then I sat there at the shop with a Burmese python crawling all over my face.

I don't even like Burmese pythons. The idea of ever owning one. There's a certain type of person who owns an albino Burm. Usually a middle-aged lady, possibly a bit on the heavy side, long dark hair, talking to the snake like it's her baby or something. Probably trying to come across all wiccan or some shit. Yes, I'm exaggerating and being a bit unfair and stereotypical, but look up a video showing a Burmese and there's a decent chance you'll see exactly the thing I just described. It's a middle-aged lady snake. I don't want a middle-aged lady snake. I don't want a snake.

Yeah well. I'm waiting for my next salary, then he's moving in with us. He likes to sit around on me and chill, so he can do that. I'm not really expecting much beyond that. I mean, what else is a snake supposed to do? They don't learn any tricks, they're not gonna wait for you to come home like a cat or a dog does and you can't feed them treats because of the unusual way they eat. I also don't want to be known as the weirdo who walks around with a large snake. You can do that with a monitor lizard, take him to the park, have him run around in the grass and all that, but I wouldn't walk around town with a giant snake. I mean, maybe he can sit in my backpack. I have a massive backpack I use for shopping. Can totally put him in there if I want to hang out with him and Claire at the pet shop. Backpack snake.

Again, no expectations here or anything. Snakes aren't social, they're not fun and clever like lizards. They just snake around. But hey, I might learn a new thing or two. I'm not ready for a new lizard. Snake might be fun. Whole new experience. Something I never tried before. All the snakes in our house were always Claire's and I don't really have anything to do with them. For my own, I might as well start off with one of the biggest pet snakes one can possibly have. I mean, hey, things worked out okay with one of the largest lizards. What can possibly go wrong?

Donnerstag, 18. April 2019

Star Trek Online - Not the Trek game we deserve, but...

Star Trek Online recently had its 9 year anniversary. Shocked that it's still a thing, I had another look at it. It's still awkward, a bit broken and hilariously complicated. It's also pretty fun.

Star Trek has been going through a major identity crisis for quite some time now. There are the Kelvin timeline movies, which were supposed to bring Trek to a new audience, yet underperformed with both old fans and potential new ones. There's the divisive Star Trek Discovery, which does have a certain fan base, but also puts lots of people off with its Mary Sue main character, dark and gritty setting and lots of weird-ass retconning. For better or worse, the upcoming Picard series is most likely going to be just as divisive for the same reasons.

Limitless Trek toybox
Fans wanting to experience what happens after Star Trek Nemesis in the original timeline have Star Trek Online, where they get to hang out with popular characters from ToS all the way to Discovery, usually voiced by their original tv actors. On paper, the game is any Trek nerd's dream - kit out your ship, any ship, from any film, series or timeline, whether it's Starfleet or Klingon or Romulan or even something exotic like Jem'Hadar or Ferengi. Put together a crew from just about any race and species known in the Trek universe, including liberated Borg, Gorn, holograms, Orion, androids - or create your very own alien with the character creator. I made a night elf just to fuck with people.

Created during WoW's climax to troll people, she quickly turned into my main.
There's nothing quite like it. You could set up a nice little constitution class ship with a 23rd century bridge, put ToS uniforms on everyone and have a Russian or a Vulcan as your most exotic crew member. Or you could kit out an Elachi attack cruiser and set up a crew of cat people, cyborgs and scantily-clad ferengi. You get to choose every single detail from the name of your ship to the interior design to uniforms to every single one of your 300 duty officers, because who needs a life, anyway?

I'm not gonna pretend I'm not into it. I went and got myself a Galaxy X Dreadnought cruiser, also known as the weird 3 pylon Enterprise you see in the final episode of TNG. My night elf is running a crew of absolute misfits including a giant space reptile, who chops people up with a sword to a minigun-wielding Voth doctor to a sneaky space cat, who murders people with throwing knives, because who the fuck even uses phasers anymore?

Starfleet sure has changed over the years.
Canon - sort of
It's both fantastic and a bit dumb. I seriously dig my ship, I do care about my crew and I'm super tempted by the 'buy 3d print of your ship' button, which is neatly nested right in the middle of the ship customization menu. Fuck yeah, I want a model of the USS Lionheart on my desk, just take my money already! With all that said, the whole thing isn't very Trek. Instead of uniforms, my guys wear whatever the hell they want, from heavy tech armors to weird punk getups. Also, can we get back to the point where I said my crew is armed with miniguns and throwing knives? I mean, sure, you can put neat uniforms and hand phasers on everybody, but no one's gonna stop you from going completely insane with some of the, ahem, liberties to what is and isn't Starfleet here.

Odo's storyline is probably the best in the entire game right now.

And that's just something in general with this game. It both is and isn't Star Trek. On the one hand, you have all the original ships, the insignia, the uniforms, your mushroomoid Earth spacedock. On the other hand, Starfleet is now building destroyer-class vessels. Because our directive is to boldly go fuck shit up. You get to fight alongside characters like Scotty, Worf, Seven of Nine and Odo. At the same time there's practically nothing about Picard, Janeway, Kirk, Data and so forth. It's this weird licensing thing, where many characters are present and acted out by their original RL counterparts (where still alive), yet instead of Q you get Q's son, instead of Riker there's Riker's weird transporter clone, Picard is mentioned exactly once in a bit of load screen text and never again.

Mirror universe Tilly, though, so ... yay, I guess? Maybe?
Of coure it's still great to see some familiar faces and hear some familiar voices. The DS9 quest chain with Odo, Kira and Bashir is excellent. I've particularly enjoyed a ferengi heist mission, where you raid an Iconian ship with Quark and associates. And yes, it's another one of these well-overused pisstakes on Ocean's Eleven, but it's a blast to play, it's genuinely funny and easily one of the most enjoyable missions out there.

How it feels to play 'Quark's Lucky Seven'
Side character convention
There's always this gaping hole, this weird void when you get to interact with only some of these popular characters. There's this whole Voyager mission chain, where you get to hang out with Seven, Tuvok, Paris, Kim and fucking Neelix of all things. They're doing this whole 'we're getting the band back together' thing, where nobody bothers to invite back Chakotay and Janeway. You get to travel back in time to the 23rd century, where you get to meet some ToS characters. Bones is speaking mostly in plain text or with audio clips from the tv show, Scotty's voice lines were spoken by James Doohan's son - they made the best of what they had. Things get a little awkward when these professional actors get paired up with Cryptic's own developers, because their voice acting is some of the worst in videogame history.

Then there's Spock, whose voice you get to hear when he contacts your ship, but you don't get to see his face due to 'cosmic interference' or some shit. Kirk? What Kirk? Meanwhile, in the 'present' you bump into the new Enterprise, which is captained by an Andorian for some reason, because I guess Data went on to become an Amway salesperson or something.

James T. Kirk? Sorry, never heard of him.
Naturally, immersion isn't much of a thing the moment you introduce other players to your universe, anyway. Every other player ship is named 'Enterprize' or some other variant thereof, as the game doesn't allow you to use the name spelled properly. There are thousands of Kirks, Picards and Siskos running around, some of which try and roleplay these actual characters, most others are lost sons, brothers, nephews or pet goldfish of said characters. So you get this incredible Trek toybox, where you can create any ship, any alien, any crew and character you could possibly imagine, yet most people are only creative enough to come up with something like John Luke Peecard. Also, literally everyone is a captain or an admiral. And then there's only one server, which hosts players from all over the world. If you thought League of Legends or Counter-Strike are toxic, come and watch the community of Star Trek Online have a conversation about religion or politics.
And then there's the gameplay. Hoo boy.

9 years out of date
I've counted all the abilities and skills on the hotbars I use in space and there are more than fifty. Almost all of them are temporary buffs for things such as speed, damage or resistance, lasting anywhere between five and 30 seconds, with cooldowns between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. The more of them you manage to activate and keep running at the same time, the harder you'll win in space. If you thought classic WoW or SWToR had ability bloat, then you've never seen Star Trek Online. Being successful at this game requires at least three hands - juggle 50something skills, distribute your shield facings, maneuver your ship around a large battle whilst constantly monitoring your speed, your sensors, energy levels, a constant shower of loot pop-ups ... look, if you can handle all that, then you'll automatically qualify to operate a spaceship in real life.

I love my ship, but she's difficult to handle.
There's also the fact that the game engine was never designed to handle proper space combat and exploration. There's an artificial horizon every ship aligns with, you can't rotate around the z-axis, space has an invisible floor and ceiling. The game can't display realistically-sized planets, so all the planets you encounter are tiny. Some of them are so small, you could realistically store one inside your living room. Looking at the screenshot above, I think you'll agree it looks pretty. And hey, it's playable, it's okay, it's far from great, but it isn't terrible. It's just awkward, clunky and has felt dated since launch day nearly a decade ago.

I can't stand Quark, but he's absolutely brilliant in Star Trek Online.

Meanwhile, ground combat only weighs you down with about 20 or so hotkeys, but you can get away with simply mashing your fire button unless you're playing on elite difficulty. Ground combat sucks. You get to take up to four of your crew members with you, who will heal you, build turrets or murder people, depending on their specializations. Or you team up with actual players, who may or may not be as competent as your AI buddies, as MMO pickup groups tend to be rather unpredictable by nature. Ground combat sucks, nobody enjoys it, it has always been the game's weakest aspect and nobody would miss it if it was removed in its entirety.

Yes, I'm only talking about combat when I mention gameplay. Wait, you thought this Star Trek game was about exploration, first contact and solving conflicts peacefully? Haha, you are so funny!

On the ground, shooting things, wishing I was on my starship. Whee!

Overwhelmingly complex
In 2019, Star Trek Online is probably the most complex MMO I know, apart from maybe Eve Online, which I've never touched. You get to sort out skills, specializations, ground traits, space traits, reputation traits, ship traits, bridge officer abilities, duty officer passives, fore weapons, aft weapons, deflectors, secondary deflectors, warp cores, torpedos, mines, cannons, beam weapons, tech upgrades, re-engineering, energy transfer rates, inertia, dilithium conversion - and these are just the first few things that popped into my head. It's a theorycrafter's wet dream and a casual player's absolute nightmare.

I've spend days fine-tuning every aspect of my ship, experimenting with different traits, different weapon modifiers, varying set bonuses and even things like energy presets and hangar fighter setups. This will sound like an absolute chore to normal people, but I honestly love it. Being able to tweak and configure every last aspect of my ship, coming up with something that perfectly suits my needs and play style, building something so stupidly powerful, I can just plow through elite difficulty content solo like it's nothing.

Is any of that necessary, though? Not at all.
Star Trek Online is very easy on normal difficulty. Even if you manage to get your ship blown to pieces, you'll simply respawn without any penalty. Things get considerably tougher on the elite setting, but there's very little reason to ever crank things up that way for anything other than bragging rights - or to see whether or not you can actually get through it. You can just put whatever gear you loot during missions on your ship, have no idea what the heck you're doing and you'll still finish everything without too much trouble. Obviously, you'll have an easier time of it if you optimize your stuff and have at least some idea how to do it, but at the end of the day, normal difficulty is very casual. However, if you want to top the DPS charts and dominate in pvp, the only thing more important than knowledge and research is actual money.

Omnipresent cash shop
For the casual, non-competitive player, monetization really isn't so bad. You get the game for free, play it for free, get all of the content without ever paying for anything. If you care about Star Trek enough to actually play this, chances are, you'll set eyes on that one ship you've always liked. Maybe you're a big fan of the Defiant or Voyager. Maybe you always wanted a Klingon bird of Prey, a Romulan warbird or even something as exotic as the Scimitar from Nemesis. The game's got you covered. Let's say you also want a particular style of uniform and maybe a cool-looking premium interior for your ship. The fastest way to all of these things is through the cash shop. You're likely to spend less than you would on any full-price AAA game for the privilege of experiencing all of the game's content using your dream ship with all the visual customization goodies you want. Not a terrible deal, if you ask me.

Weird new Klingon bridge officers are sold in the cash shop, as well.

However, the game will go out of its way to make you spend more. Let's say you want to own the Discovery, because there's something wrong with you. Now, since that's a very exotic ship and not exactly something Starfleet keeps in stock, you can't just buy it directly. Instead, you have to obtain it from a lootbox. Alternatively, you can buy one from another player, but generating the necessary currency to do so will inevitably lead you to the cash shop, as well. Oh and whenever somebody pulls a rare ship out of a loot box, there's a server-wide message popping up on every single player's screen. During prime time, this will happen several times per minute. Every minute.

And then there's the upgrade system, where real money makes you stronger.
There are 15 tiers of weapons and armor in this game. However, you can never loot anything better than a tier 12 'very rare' item. You can now buy tech upgrades to enhance the item, allowing you to take it all the way to tier 15 epic quality. You can try performing these upgrades via crafting, looting and making credits by selling whatever you earn ingame, but you probably won't live long enough to fully upgrade all of your gear that way. If you spend real money, however (and I'm talking hundreds), you can shorten a process, which may take months or even years of regular play down to something around a few minutes.
Mind you, none of this is strictly necessary. Normal difficulty is balanced entirely around whatever loot you obtain just by playing the game. In fact, dumping a bunch of super-powerful upgrades all over the ship absolutely trivializes most content. It also makes PvP so much more fun:

If you don't feel like sitting through the entirety of this weird and confusing pvp video, let me sum it up for you: I'm in first place with the most kills, zero deaths and literally more damage dealt than all of the four human team mates on my squad combined. Suffice to say the opposing team was utterly obliterated. And yes, that's with a ship worth stupid amounts of money in upgrades. Perfect World Entertainment were nice enough to grant me a lifetime subscriptions a few years ago, which comes with a monthly cash shop stipend. I had several years worth of cash shop currency saved up and spent every last bit of it on upgrades.

Here to stay
After 9 years, Star Trek Online still maintains a loyal player base, because there's simply nothing like it. You won't like the game if you're not into Star Trek. Heck, you might not even like the game if you are into Star Trek, simply because it's so clunky and overly complicated and the cash shop is so in your face. Basically, if you've ever tried the game in the past and didn't get on with it, there's no point in coming back now, because it's still the same thing, just with more Odo, Bashir and Captain Killy. Not all in the same scenario, mind.

And a freaking tardigrade.

And honestly, I'm okay with that. I love my ship. I love blasting the absolute crap out of everything with game-breakingly overpowered upgrades. I'm not going after any of those super rare, super exotic alien ships, I don't touch the lootboxes and I play solo or team up with Claire in those moments where she feels like putting up with the game's odd quirks and flaws.
There's a lot to dislike about this game. But at the end of the day, despite all of its many issues, the dated look and feel and the annoying zone chat full of annoying players, you get to act out a happy little Trek fantasy with your own little ship and your own little crew. And there's really nothing quite like that.

Freitag, 12. April 2019

I Just Finished All Of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice In One Go

When I saw the screenshots for Hellblade on the Nintendo eShop, I was pretty sure they were bullshitting us again, as happens so frequently on the Switch these days. The latest example for this would be Xenon Racer, which was so full of bullshots and a fakey trailer, people kept calling out the developers for their lies until they finally replaced all of that with actual, ugly screenshots and got rid of the trailer. Same thing happened with Trials Rising until called out by Kotaku. Unfortunately, blatant false advertising like this happens all the damn time. Here are two examples I captured, myself:

Ark: Survival Evolved


Surprisingly enough, they showed the Switch version of Hellblade at PAX East and it looked shockingly good. Then there was a trailer, then I saw some comparison videos a day before launch and holy shit, it looks so much like the real thing, it's difficult to tell the difference (weak-ass lighting and lower resolution aside) unless you directly compare the Switch version to other platforms side by side and take a pretty close look.
Hellblade has always been on my radar, but it never appealed quite enough. Self-published small budget game, combat not entirely unlike Dark Souls, but focusing more on puzzles, exploration and a bit of platforming, so it's not exactly the kind of thing I'd put on top of my shopping list. But you can make just about anything interesting to me, just by adding one tiny thing: "...and it's on Nintendo Switch." It works the same for me with less than awesome people the moment they add, "...and I have a vagina."

So I bitched and moaned a bit about how badly I want to play this thing on Switch, but I'm still waiting for payday, so the boss took pity on me and sent me a review key. So yeah, instead of paying to play the game I now get paid to play Hellblade, which I'm sure is tooootally not a pity-job and he didn't just see me being all whiny on Facebook or anything. I cannot stress enough how blessed I am to be working with these guys.

Half a dozen paragraphs in, still not getting to the point.
Enough about my shit. Hellblade, baby!
The game starts with protagonist Senua paddling her lover's severed head towards Helheim, which is basically the Norse version of hell. A bunch of voices whisper about how she's going to bargain with the goddess Hela for her feller's soul. There's half a dozen or so of these voices, some of which are paranoid and freaked out ("Back! Go back! You have to go back!"), one or two are always laughing and making fun as though they can't wait for Senua to fail miserably. And every now and then you may even hear one or two, who will encourage her, root for her, possibly even share some opinions or advice, most of which is best left ignored. It's all lies. You see, Senua suffers from severe psychosis, and these voices basically express her thoughts, fears and anxieties.

It's not really a problem I have in real life, but listening to them blabbing at you all the time can be unnerving, irritating, occasionally helpful - and super fucking creepy. I've been playing the game both with surround sound on the big screen and with headphones in handheld mode and the speech is recorded in a way that makes it sound like it's coming from inside your head, from behind you, like you're surrounded by these nagging furies, who laugh at you, who are convinced you're going to die any moment, who keep bugging you until you'll end up telling them to shut up to no avail. I know I did.

The Switch port of Hellblade gives Doom a run for its money.
Another part of Senua's psychosis is how she sees shapes, patterns, movement, stuff which isn't really there. This plays a big part in Hellblade's puzzles, some of which are incredibly fun and clever, while others are a bit dull and repetitive. Looking for a bunch of branches or a shadow that resembles a part of the runic alphabet isn't very fun after the first three or four times. Having huge sections of the level change around you seemingly out of nowhere, on the other hand, is utter mindfuckery and incredibly satisfying, once you begin to understand how it actually works. Some of it isn't a gameplay mechanic at all, but merely serves to freak you out. Eyes will appear all over walls and trees, ghostly undead ravens will wave at you and beckon you closer, only to turn into lifeless effigies of wood and bone. Did I really just see that thing move around or is this game making me paranoid?

Playing this game with headphones on gave me chills, mostly due to the excellent audio quality. Wind, thunder, whispers, scary druid chants, there's so much going on that will draw you right in, I can't overstate how much of this game's spooky atmosphere works simply because of its amazing sound design. So I was walking around matching up patterns, getting goosebumps from spooky noises and performing a bit of mild platforming (you tip-toe across wooden beams and the like, nothing too challenging) until my favourite part of the game happened - combat.

Resolution goes way the fuck down in most combat-heavy moments, but you'll be too busy to notice.
You get a light and heavy attack, a kick to counter annoying baddies turtling behind a shield, as well as a parry and a doge-move, i-frames and everything. The game explains absolutely nothing about it, as there are no tutorials and there's no handholding. Fine by me, as I always look up the controls in the options menu before starting new games, anyway.
So I was attacked by some shadowy figures with swords. I parried the first one like a boss, then beat the crap out of him with a massive combo. Repeated it with the second bad guy, then dodge-rolled a third, who randomly spawned directly behind me. It's during combat, where the nagging furies are actually helpful, because they will warn you when you're about to get stabbed from behind.

I kept murdering them for some time until the game decided it had enough and made them invincible. My least-favourite videogame trope - the no-win-scenario. I got slapped around a bit until I died, because I was supposed to, which is followed by a bit of onscreen-text, basically saying that Senua gets overwhelmed by darkness a little more each time you die. Die too much and all progress will be lost. This actually isn't true, as far as I am aware, but just a mean trick by the developers to put pressure on you. You can't fail, you have to try your hardest, be on your toes at all times, because failing too many times may spell game over - for good. I didn't actually put that to the test and only died four or five times before the credits rolled. I love the combat, because it's well-animated, looks cool and feels wild and visceral, but it's also super easy. There's not a lot of fighting to be had here, anyway. The whole game isn't very hard. I left difficulty on the default 'automatic' setting.

Killing stuff ain't hard, but damn does it look cool!
For the most part, I didn't find Hellblade as scary as I found it mildly unsettling. There are these aforementioned crow effigies, which may or may not be alive, but at the end of the day, they're actually quite friendly by pointing you in the right direction. The game just makes you doubt your decisions and actions through the nagging furies. "It's a trap!" "No, he's helping you!" "He's not helping, it's all just a trick!" "It's magic!" All of them talking at once, all the time, never shutting up, making it hard to focus, to just concentrate at the task at hand while they lead you to question your every move.

Later on, there are moments where you'll be running from some unseen beast, which will come and kill you if you remain in the darkness for too long, so you're constantly looking for light-sources, lighting torches, that sort of thing. I found this about as scary as a game of Slenderman (i.e. not scary at all), but if you're naturally afraid of the dark or have frequent nightmares where some unseen monster might just chase after you and jump you, then this is probably going to be pretty stressful. I've got a legit zombie phobia and can't get myself to play RE7 in a dark room with headphones on, but Hellblade doesn't really shock me much. Mind you, this is not a complaint, but merely an observation and probably greatly varies for each player.

What did absolutely give me the feels, however, were the moments of hope, where the thunder, the darkness and the clouds would disappear, where the world was bathed in sunlight, where Senua would hear her lover's voice and remember the happy times they had together. The game goes from moments of absolute agony and despair to sequences of hope and peace - and back to utter darkness, all brought to life by remarkable motion-capturing and high-detail custcenes acted out by the stunningly beautiful and talented Milena Juergens. The transitions from Selina's photo-realistic cutscene variant to her less-detailed ingame version are a bit rough on Switch, but nothing really game-breaking.

I enjoyed the combat more than anything, so maybe I'm not the target audience.
Having gone through about two thirds of the game without a single death caused the automatic difficulty to ramp up to weird levels, where bad guys would constantly appear behind me in combat and sucker-punch me. The camera would get stuck in random pillars on a few occasions, making it impossible to see where I was going in battle. This didn't happen a lot, but enough times to be noticeable and somewhat annoying.

Dodging, parrying and hacking them to bits with joy cons, though? I'm (mostly) not ashamed to admit I threw insults at my screen, told them to come at me, parried them, hacked them up and flipped them the bird all at once. Senua will scream at the bad guys, bare her teeth at them, refusing to give up - she won't die, won't surrender. And I'm totally with her, putting the extra effort into every swing of my joy con as though my own life depended on it. I like to get fully immersed in my shit and Hellblade works nicely for that.

Come at me! I will shit you up! I'm having too much fun to ever grow up.
After about six hours I was watching the credits, feeling incredibly satisfied, very impressed with both the game itself and the quality of the port. And I'll admit the ending was nice and moving, even though I'm not really sure how much I've learned about psychosis. The game includes a nice little documentary, explaining how it was made in cooperation with mental health experts and people, who suffer from psychosis in real life. It was an interesting experience to be told a story through the eyes of a character who has to deal with this. It didn't feel awkward or tacked-on at all and, from what I've gathered in the documentary, portrays it rather well.

It's nice to see such a difficult subject handled so well in a videogame. I like to learn and experience new things, especially when they come in such a fun, beautiful package. It's probably not going to stick with me in the way Night in the Woods did, simply because the issues raised by the citizens of Possum Springs hit a lot closer to home than what I experienced in Helheim. But if there has ever been any doubt that videogames are in fact art, then Hellblade is doing an excellent job showing just how much games can do beyond simply killing a few hours of your spare time.

Senua is very broken and messed-up. But she's also an absolute badass.
I'm happy to see games like this on a device like the Nintendo Switch. The fact this runs at all, runs so well and looks so good borders on black magic. This may very well be my favourite port so far, right alongside Dark Souls (which has the much weaker audio). The much-praised Doom and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus were excellent in their own way, but Hellblade never gets quite as blurry, muddy and, frankly, ugly as these ports by Panic Button. Not saying they aren't impressive - I simply feel that they've always been just a little overrated.

Freitag, 5. April 2019

I Lost My Dog

I'm not good with people. I don't get along with them, I don't bond and I don't have any social skills. Just ask my girlfriend or my son. But I get along with our pets. Hugo was our monitor lizard. He was, for all intents and purposes, my dog.

We'd take him to the park, bring him to see the family for Christmas, he'd run around the house, chase after our cats and play tug of war with Claire's shoes. People tend to view reptiles as cold, unfeeling, maybe a bit dumb. Because they're not expressive like cats or dogs. A lizard won't bark at you or wave its tail. He'll hop on the sofa for company, though. He had his toys, his favourite food, he liked a good ear-rub - big lizards are actually pretty fucking smart and can have as much of a personality as any 'regular' pet. We simply referred to him as the dog, because that's what he was to us.

And then he got ill from one day to another. Stopped eating. Kept coughing and retching like he was gonna throw up. We checked his throat, tried to see if there was anything stuck in there, but couldn't see or feel anything. He had some salmon a few days later, looked like he was getting better. Had a bath, became a little more active. Or so we thought. Still made an appointment with the vet, just to be on the safe side. Yeah well. Looks like we can cancel that now.

Hugo was, for lack of a less sappy term, my companion. He was a lot less active as he got old, didn't run around the place as much, but I'd make time for him when he needed it, sit with him for a while, pet him, maybe take him out and watch some tv or take him down to the pet shop to meet some of the customers. Just someone who's always there. I wrote an article about pets and companions in videogames for work just the other day and probably talked more about Hugo than anything else. For nearly a decade he had been a pretty big part of our lives.

I feel like shit. We put him in a little basket, curled him up like a donut, because he's so huge, he wouldn't fit any other way. He used to sleep like that. He looks like he's just sleeping. It's a stupid situation. You have to be quick, make arrangements, find somewhere to put him, all that sort of thing. You know there's no coming back from this, this is it, way too soon, too unexpected, but there's still this faint bit of movement. Maybe it's just your imagination, wishful thinking, maybe he's gonna spring back to life at any moment. Probably not. I hate this.

Now we've got this giant empty vivarium taking up this huge chunk of our living room and I don't know what to do about it. Don't want to think about it. Death is always a pain in the ass, because you're supposed to plan, to function, to make arrangements. My pet just died, a dear any loyal friend is gone for good and I have to work out some shit with furniture. Burials. Bleh. Almost as surreal as losing a person. God, funerals are so shit. Good thing I'm nearly out of relatives by now, so not much left to worry about on that front.

Work is gonna be fun. Ever since I left behind the gaming industry it became my job to make people laugh. I'm not even joking (get it? Har!). I went on one of my endless rants on Facebook, the folks who used to pay me for videogame revies 'n shit said I should to that, instead. Rant and be funny, they'll pay me. I quite like that, actually. When you write a review, people tell you that they hope you get fired, that they can't believe a complete asshole like you would get hired in the first place, you're incompetent and worthless and they wish you didn't exist. Because they feel your review score is off by five percent. They literally say shit like that. I keep screenshots of shit like that, just to remind myself that people should all get fucked.

When you make these exact same people laugh, they thank you, say it's the best thing they ever read. That you're the best writer on that entire website and that you're the reason why they pay for their subscription. There is no nuance. Nobody says, "I respectfully disagree with the opinion stated in this article" or "yeah, that was pretty funny." You deserve to be fired or you're the greatest writer they've ever met and nothing in between. But I'm the weird one. Saved screenshots of that stuff as well. To remind me that people make absolutely no fucking sense and just post shit without really meaning any of it. It's just what they feel at that moment in time.

I like doing this. It's probably my favourite out of all the many jobs I had over the years. Just be funny. People claim they were literally in tears, beg for more, everyone acts like you're special. The pay is a lot better than any review stuff, because it's harder to make people laugh than to play a videogame and talk about why it's good or bad.

I don't feel funny right now. I don't feel funny at all. I'm not in the mood to play videogames. I can't think of stuff to make people laugh. I need to, because I'll fall behind schedule, otherwise. Won't be able to keep up with the bills. I can't stop being funny, because it's my job now. I wrote a more serious article or two since I got the new job. They were disappointed, asked me to do it again, but funny. Which is okay, it's what I get paid for, after all.

I can't think about work. I can't afford not to. Life is shit. I have to dig a hole for my dog in the morning. Ugh. This is my life now. I should be happy. I literally get paid just to be funny. And it's easy on a good day. It's a gift. And I just feel hollow. I just want a hole of my own. Stop working. Stop being funny. Just stop. Bleh.

Sonntag, 3. März 2019

Go To Hell, BioWare!

One of my most memorable moments in gaming was when I got close to the end of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. My party had one last conversation before they faced Jon Irenicus, a villain I feared and passionately hated more than any other bad guy I faced in games at the time. There was no motion-captured cutscene, no endless voiced dialogue with professional actors - it was mostly plain text. And yet, something happened back then, which I've never experienced in videogames before, at least not on this level. The game, the story and its characters moved me. The characters looked back at their journey, what they've experienced together, what they've been through and it was almost as though it had meant something. For its time, Baldur's Gate II was so exceptionally well-written, it went beyond a bit of entertainment, something you fire up for an hour or two to forget about school and family drama and turned into something that stuck with me. Till this day, nearly two decades later, people fondly remember the characters, the epic battles, the stories told by this game - with or without the shitty Beamdog "remasters".

My all-time favourite series of games will always be the Mass Effect trilogy, before there was this utter trainwreck known as Mass Effect: Andromeda.
Yes, it had its problems, from the clunky first low-budget game to the dumbed-down gameplay in the 2nd and 3rd games to the lazy-ass ending. But when Mordin Solus sacrificed himself? "I am the very model of a scientist Salarian." Fuck. That was a sucker-punch to the gut. The game didn't just kill off a fun character. It felt like I lost a friend. I turned the game off for a bit, because I couldn't just fire up another mission and carry on like nothing happened. Sure, there were boring, dumb, pointless characters (fuck you, James Vega and FUCK YOU, Jacob Taylor!), but the good ones were so well-written, so likable, so real, it was impossible not to care. They almost felt like friends. Like real people.

How the fuck did we go from this ...
... to whatever the fuck this shit is supposed to be, BioWare?
Claire and I compared our stories in Mass Effect, talked about the decisions we've made, our favourite moments and characters. To us, this game meant more than any book we've read or any movie we've watched. It was more personal, we felt involved as the players. I remember when Claire went to the bank wearing her N7 hoodie and ended up having this long, excited discussion about Mass Effect with one of the people who worked there. It's an ice breaker. Mass Effect means a lot to a lot of people.

Though I'm sure this official Fallout 76 leather jacket is a conversation starter, as well. Yuck!
Remember Dragon Age: Origins, before Mass Effect: Andromeda tried to hype players with their alien relationships as literal softcore porn? Male characters could have what's probably the most interesting, well-written romance in videogames to date with Morrigan. They didn't advertise that shit, didn't go "hurrdurr, it's ass 'n' tiddies" on social media, it didn't feel cheap and tacked-on. If, as a female character, you romance Alistair, then sacrifice yourself at the end of Origins, Alistair shows up drunk in a shitty tavern in Dragon Age II, a broken man, a mere shadow of his former self. Romances changed characters. They changed the story. They were more than just, "if I flirt with this character 3 more times I'll unlock the cutscene where they fuck."

The most interesting romance option is also a bit of a cold-hearted bitch.
What the fuck happened, BioWare?
Dragon Age: Inquisition was disappointing. Too much boring, tedious open-world filler nonsense. I'd still reccommend the game, because I enjoyed the story and many of its characters, even though I have difficulty recalling all of the game's party members. I like Sera, I think that anyone bold enough to romance the Iron Bull is rewarded with some of the funniest moments in any RPG ever. I liked Dorian's sharp wit and felt he's a really fun, fabulously gay character. But there were just as many characters, who felt dull, boring and utterly forgettable. Blackwall and Vivienne can fuck right off.

I have nothing left to say about Mass Effect: Andromeda that hasn't already been said a million times. Now Anthem. I can't believe you actually managed to release a game, which makes Andromeda look like the less awful game in comparison!

Everyone is rubber-faced and slightly cross-eyed in Anthem.
I'm not gonna start again with the lies in the trailers, your made-up volt rifle, the visual downgrades, the absolute lack of compelling loot or how every gun is wrapped in white cloth for some reason. I just want to know what the fuck happened.

Those final few missions as you prepare to return to the Heart of Rage, that final battle, the story and cutscenes around that - this shit is great! And it makes me so fucking angry! Where was that stuff for the rest of the game?
Why are you forcing me to have a dozen conversations with some complete asshole, who petitions to have the fountain cleaned and stray cables moved out of the way? Yes, I get it, the world is ending, people crave normality, they want to find their place, they all need a purpose. You don't have to hammer the point home with countless ever-repeating, boring, tedious filler conversations. Who wrote this shit - and why?

Also - fucking chimeras! Your stupid dialogue mentions chimeras again and again and again. Well, guess what - THERE ARE NO FUCKING CHIMERAS IN YOUR FUCKING GAME! Wouldn't it be great if the damn game was consistent with the stupid dialogue? I have no doubt that at some point in the future, possibly even within your ridiculous 90 days roadmap, you'll add some new critter and name it a chimera. But leaving references to it in the dialogue, without actually having it in the full game feels shoddy, lazy and like we're not getting the full, promised package. Which, if we're being honest, is exactly true, isn't it? I mean, you allegedly spent six years working on this abortion and we've got a whopping 4 javelins, boring-ass repetitive filler missions galore and an 'endgame', which offers absolutely nothing except countless hours of repeating the exact same shit we've done during the 15 or so hours of story content.

The Warframe beta released in 2013 for free and had more playable warframes, more variety in landscapes and more content overall, yet was utterly trashed by critics for not offering enough stuff.
I was fortunate enough to be part of the game industry for a little while. It's never fun to put countless hours into something, work really hard, do the best you can to create something amazing, only to have people shit all over it. But for fuck's sake - you're not some shitty, broke-ass indie studio with 5 employees. You're fucking BioWare. You have a fucking legacy. What the hell are you doing?

I know it's easy for me to talk. I installed Anthem because I knew it's garbage. I did it for the sole reason of writing a stupid comedy article about how much it sucks. It's how I pay my bills. It doesn't make me a very nice person. But I looked up to your damn writers. Creating a character like Garrus or Morrigan, writing for one of your amazing games, bringing a fictional character to life, that's fucking bucket list material right there. You used to tell stories like nobody else could. You made us care. You worked some real magic. Now I'm looking at some 90 day roadmap, where you promise to fix something as basic and essential as the damn loot in your fucking loot shooter. I'm gone. And I'm not coming back, though I'm sure I'll write an equally angry article once you release the next Dragon Age. Go to hell, BioWare!

Dienstag, 12. Februar 2019

Boobs, Nazis & The Champions League

Let's kick this off with a bang!

So I have this awesome new job where I basically get paid for writing whatever I want, for as long as it's funny. The only problem is that I don't really understand funny - I seem to get the most positive reactions and comments to jokes I personally find pretty weaksauce, yet nobody reacts to things which I thought were genius. It's why I like this blog. I can test-run shit on here before I publish it to an actual audience. No offense to you 3 or so regular readers. Aaaaand I'm drifting way off topic in the very first paragraph. C'mon, focus, ya bastard! Hnnng!

This new job thing is important, because it's well-paid. I'm also working with awesome people, who treat me with respect and kindness and like some sort of human being. I'm getting "when would you like to hand in your article" as opposed to the usual "I need this by tomorrow". I'm happy, so that makes for a nice change. But the really important part here is money. Happiness and respect don't buy me new Switch games - money does! So I went out shopping over the weekend. And by that, I mean I stayed in bed all day, fired up the eShop and downloaded a few things whilst waiting for pizza.
So the first thing I got is Blaze Blue ... that doesn't look right. Blaz Blue? BlazBlue. Fictionsomething. Hang on, let me google this shit. BLAZBLUE CENTRALFICTION Special Edition is what my Switch menu calls it. There. It's a prime example for why I was never massively into anime and can't take it or its creepy fandom seriously.

Exhibit A.
Now before you throw your body pillows at me, I really dig the gameplay and just skip all of the terrible story sequences, much like any sane person would with a 3D Sonic game. Underneath all the cringeworthy text, cheesy Japanese voice acting and tons upon tons of underboob and panty shots, there's an adorable little weeb-whacker, which I find super fun to play. Normal difficulty is piss-easy, so I just leave it there and feel awesome about myself.

I don't know any of the characters, so I just picked them following two important guidelines:

- I need to be a cat
- I need to be berserking at all times

I started with a character called Jubei, who, as far as I can tell, is a literal cat wielding two katanas, rocking a silly little hood and an eyepatch and sports not one, but two tails. Just edgy enough for me! It looked a little something like this:

It took all of ten minutes for the game to ruin Jubei for me. That's how long it takes to get through Arcade mode, where it turns out that Jubei is the master, husband or father of just about every female character in all of BlazBlue. I don't know how any of that works, maybe Jubei used to be human and was turned into a cat or something, but his daughters all seem to look perfectly human, apart from the occasional tail or some pointy ears. I bet some fans of the series would be frothing at their mouths at my description if this blog had any reach or relevance whatsoever.
So I opted for some crazy cat lady named Taokaka (fucking why, man?) and found her immediately relatable, because her goal in life is basically just to eat and have naps. One of her attacks is named 'I'm gonna beat the crap out of you'. Also, her special attacks couldn't possibly get any more Japanese:

Here's a fun fact - somebody offered me a ton of money just the other day if I agreed to write a dirty fan-fic about his favourite Blazblue characters. I don't normally refuse work, but ... haha, fuck no! Anyhow, the game's out on Switch, it features dozens of characters, it's a lot less expensive than any AAA-game or one of Nintendo's own WiiU-ports and it has a killer soundtrack. Also, it contains a finishing move involving a giant fish and a hot air balloon and ... I dunno. Japan.

Next up, fucking Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Bought the game months ago, then work went crazy and I never had the chance to get into it. Started it up over the weekend and finished it in one sitting. Before I get into the details, allow me to rant a little bit.

See, this is what the game looks like on Switch:

This is what RL looks like to me when I don't put glasses on.
Let's be honest here for a minute - would you even recognize that villain if it wasn't for his little signature idiot mustache? The game is blurry as fuck. The dynamic resolution dips into areas where it's literally impossible to tell the difference between enemies and random people-sized objects unless they're in touching distance. Now, I still love the game, on Switch you choose portability and motion controls over high resolution visuals, yada, yada, yada. BUT. Look up any review, any YouTube video, and people won't stop gushing over how awesome this port is and how PanicButton should be in charge of every Switch Port and it's oh so masterful and the best thing ever and a technical marvel and all that jazz.

By the way - here is what Ark: Survival Evolved looks like on Switch:

Can you see where this is going?
Funnily enough, when you look up videos and reviews for Ark on Switch, people literally refer to it as the 'worst Switch game, ever', endlessly moan and bitch about the game's visuals and use titles like 'Why does this exist?'

Yes, it's ugly. As are Doom and Wolfenstein. Yet everyone agrees that these shooters are borderline perfect on Switch, whereas Ark is absolute horseshit. It's almost as if people's opinions are ever so slightly biased when comparing a game, which is generally loved and appreciated across all platforms as opposed to one, which was mostly known for having a rough early-acces stage, some questionable DLC politics and technical issues. Funny thing is, just like Doom and Wolfenstein, Ark is 100% identical with the versions on bigger platforms, all content and features (sans DLC) are present and, funnily enough, our camp with 100+ dinos is a lot more playable and stable than anything of a comparable size on PS4. It's almost as if people didn't bother put any research or effort into their shit, because it's quicker (and rewarded with more positive reactions), if you help provide people with confirmation bias.

New Colossus does get the boobie-bonus, though.
Now that that's out of the way, let me just say that I enjoyed Wolfenstein 2's singleplayer campaign even more than Doom's, because I got to shoot nazis instead of a bunch of weird, abstract demons and hellbeasts. Also, Wolfenstein doesn't have any of that platforming bullshit they forced into Doom. One thing, which amused me about reviews for this game is how people across the board seem to praise this game for it's deep and compelling storyline. You know, like when there's 3 or 4 cutscenes, where it turns out that the main character's father was a complete asshole, a conflict, which is finally resolved by the player burying an axe in the father's throat in a confrontation, which took all of twenty seconds. And then there's that incredibly well-written part, where the main character gets his head cut off in a public execution, so they take the head and mount it on a new body in order to revive the hero. Top-notch storytelling right there!
Look, the game has some brilliantly voice-acted cutscenes and there's more dialogue going on than you'd expect from a shooter, but let's not lose our shit here. You literally dress up as the actor who signs up to play the main character and fly to Hitler's secret base on Venus, where you watch the guy piss and puke on the carpet. And then there's your pregnant girlfriend, who mows down a whole nazi battalion in a shower of blood and gore. With her tits out. Oh my god, I can't believe all the brilliant writing and storytelling in this game!

Last and most certainly least is Fifa 19, which was 50% off on the eShop. And yes, it's literally Fifa 18 with an updated roster. I love how certain websites out there praise Fifa 19's vast graphical improvements over Fifa 18 and ... actually, let me show you:

And people don't take games journalism seriously!
For what it's worth, it's still the most decent way can play Fifa on the go. And I know, because the last Fifa game I played was on the Megadrive and I watch football every 2 years during the big events.

My favourite feature about Fifa 19 on Nintendo Switch is the absolutely stunning goalkeeper AI. There was this amazing moment, where Manuel Neuer had an existential crisis, felt completely suffocated by the burden of his responsibilities. No longer capable to cope with the lack of effort on his own team, he finally hulked out, picked up one of his team mates and threw him away for some personal space, resulting in the most beautiful own-goal I've ever witnessed:

I've only played this game for three or four hours and I've already experienced more spectacular AI breakdowns than you can fit inside an average fail compilation. Here's Bernd Leno dying to a headshot:

And have you ever had one of those days, where you feel that everyone's watching you, so you get really self-conscious and forget how your feet work? You are not alone:

Fifa 19 is dumb, but in a good way. I genuinely laugh out loud several times in every match, because stupid shit like this keeps happening. But it's super nice to fire it up, watch even the shittest local teams like Notts County (no hard feelings), see their most recent scores and where they stand in the league, get up to date real-life rosters and team colours and what have you. Granted, I'd appreciate it even more, if Fifa games didn't come with a 1 year expiration date, where you're basically forced to buy the newer version or accept that your game is now frozen in time, due to lack of updates. I'd rather pay 10 Quid or so for an annual roster update than fork out full price for the exact same game every year, which is exactly why I only grabbed this one in a sale.

Stupidity aside, I'm making my own fun. I put Notts County in the champions league and so far I've beaten Inter Milan and FC Barcelona. I've got sore thumbs now and can't even play with my Switch, because I've been overdoing it over the weekend and it fucking hurts. But I feel Notts might just win the Champion's league after a little rest and recuperation.

In other news, I was asked to play Atlas for work. If you're one of those people who hate Ark: Survival Evolved, you'll probably pop a vein just looking at Atlas. I'll be honest, though - I personally couldn't hate Atlas any more than I do, even if it came to my house and ate my cat. It's genuinely terrible. Maybe I'll blog about it sometime. Or, if you're one of my German readers, you can check the plus section on if you're one of those fancy premium people. The first article oughta be out later this week unless they find something terribly wrong with it. I can never tell how rude and sweary I can get before I start crossing a line.

Donnerstag, 31. Januar 2019

My Xbox One is now a capture card!

Several years ago I got an Xbox One through work, reviewed about 2.5 games for it, then unplugged the damn thing and let the cat sleep on it. Not that there's anything wrong with the console, but there just aren't that many interesting exclusives on there and most of the other games look nicer on PC and tend to be cheaper on Steam. The only console I need in my life is my Nintendo Switch.

If I have one gripe about the Switch, it's how its built-in  video capture feature only records heavily-compressed low-res footage in 30 FPS. And there are fewer and fewer games, which support ingame-capture in the first place. The most obvious solution would be a capture card, but I don't have 150 Quid sitting around for me to shell out on  an Elgato. And I don't have to, because I've got an Xbox One!

Turns out you can connect a Switch to the Xbox via the HDMI port, then display the Switch footage via the Xbox One's tv app, which is really just meant to let you watch whatever is running through your digibox, but heyho. Now why in the fuck would I want to run my Switch through the Xbox One, you might ask? Because I can now stream everything that happens on my Xbox to my computer using the Windows 10 Xbox app. And once I have that footage displayed on my PC, I can simply record or even stream it. Behold!

It's awkward and a bit pointless, but also really cool. I can't believe this actually works! Quality is decent enough, too. Who needs a capture card when you're inventive?