State of Decay 2

Dishonored 1, 2 and 3

Starting with Dishonored 1.

Years ago on the Xbox 360, I played this Dishonored 1 and thought it was a fantastic game. Playing the assassin of some steampunk, French nobility was a well designed and conceived game.

It is important to the overall review of the series to point out things I liked such as the atmosphere, art style, collection of parts to level up your equipment or abilities. Mostly it was the story or the mechanic using back alleys and open high rise building windows to sneak around.

The story with spoilers is you are caught up in an attempt to wrest power and must clear your name by saving the kidnapped princess.

In this setting is a mystical being called the outsider who resides in a place called the void, and he essentially triggers magical powers in the protagonist which can be used in your assassinations.

Mechanically, there is also this great morality system where if you go non-lethal, which I found harder to plan out, or going lethal which was more direct, it altered the environment such as creating more rats and altered the ending of the plotline.

Also relating to the over all three game review I need to explain one of the magical powers which allowed you to teleport over short distances. You disappeared from where you are and materialized where you wanted to be, with various upgrades allowing you to teleport further or higher.

While Dishonored 1 is an old game I highly recommend it as lot’s of fun, has interesting gameplay, a beautiful environment and an interesting story and protagonist.

Dishonored 1 from Amazon Australia

Dishonored 1 for PS4

Dishonored 1 on Xbox one

Now looking at Dishonored 2.

In this game, you get a choice. You can play as your old favourite assassin Corvo from the first game, or you get to play as a new female protagonist. The back story of the female is a natural progression from the first game and makes perfect sense right from the start.

Your Magic powers are similar but different enough to slightly alter how you plan out your moves. For instance, your magical movement if you chose the female does not teleport but rather slingshots you over the distance you seek to travel. What this means is as Corvo you would not be seen doing this, but as the female you do have a chance to be seen. I liked this slight shift between players and their abilities.

The Visuals of the game were far better than the first and given how much I loved the first game this was something I appreciated.

My only criticism was that in the second game they went overboard in its item collection and crafting. Compared to the first game where item collection was an interesting side mission to help explore the area, in this game, it became annoying and boring.

What they did was make each power cost twice as much in collected items and when you looked at the map, the map looked littered with stuff to pick up. This took longer and subtracted from the flow of the main storyline.

But both Corvo, and the new female protagonists where interesting characters to play with logical back stories.

In summary of game two I also highly recommend it.

Dishonored 2 from Amazon Australia

Dishonored 2 on PS4

Dishonored 2 on Xbox one

Dishonored 3

Sadly I can’t recommend this one as high as the first two. While I did not like this game as much it still has the “Dishonored DNA” in its gameplay. So if you treat it less like a game and more as a large DLC, thereby lowering your expectations, it is still a good game to play, but in no way is it as good or better than the first two.

Initially, the main protagonist felt forced and shoehorned in. You can clearly see that, already back when they were designing the second game they had this DLC in mind. The protagonist you play is a side character in Dishonored 2, and she says little cryptic things in the second game along the lines of she has a past and regrets it etc. Another obvious tell that they intended for her to be the main protagonist especially given our current socio-political cultural climate, was that she has a trifecta of disadvantage traits, she is a woman, tick, add a person of colour, tick and let’s add disability also, check.

It would have been really interesting to play as an assassin with a disability, but they just give her an arm right at the start and ignore her missing eye making all the physical design for this character pointless. Imagine playing an assassin who has to put down her blade to use her magic, or to open a door. Or having to rely on sound from your speakers to detect enemies on the blind side where you can’t see.

She is a character who was bad due to life’s hardships turned good and she meets another character who was in the first game a bad person who now has also mysteriously turned good. So even though there are clear lore trails from the first two games into these characters, they don’t have the same natural flow in the back story like the female protagonist you are introduced to in Dishonored 2.

The main plot outline had me really excited, this time you are going after the outsider himself. Yet the story didn’t excite in execution and game as much as I had anticipated and I think this had more to do with the fact that the main protagonist was not nearly as captivating or well written.

Further to the lack of excitement experienced in-game was that the visual assets all looked straight from the second game. I just wrote how much I loved the beauty of the second game, yet in a third game it served to make me feel like I was actually still playing the second game not a new game.

I also found some of the changes to how powers worked to be a step backwards.

I will give two examples. First the magic movement power in the first two games you squeezed the trigger to aim, then release the trigger to move. total of one complete action. In the third game, you squeeze and release the trigger to aim and again squeeze and release the trigger to move, a total of two full actions in a power you use all the time, making the gameplay feel more clunky.

Another example was the magic power cells are gone. You no longer have to worry about not having access to your magic. The magic depletion and automatic refill system feel like it was made so things wouldn’t too difficult for young players. (Please note this is not to say I recommend this game for really young kids drawing your attention to the ratings and subject matter in-game.) Now they can just continually keep using the power after a couple of seconds recharge.

PS. I have to say I loved the new face stealing power.

So would I recommend Dishonored 3?

I have to say no, if you are new to the franchise.

I would have to say no if you are an old veteran of the series and was expecting the same calibre of creativity and storytelling or character creation.

But If you are an old fan of the series who wants to revisit the world and add some more world lore, then I would recommend this game not as a stand-alone game but as a large DLC for Dishonored 2. Especially as the core gameplay DNA and mechanics are still present, doing the missions is still fun.

State of Decay 2

Let’s start with the game I have been playing a lot since it came out.

State of Decay 2, is available on Xbox One, and on the computer through the Microsoft store. (It is now available on steam but not all the cross connectivity is in the steam version)

State of Decay 2 is a zombie apocalypse, base building, survival game, which involves several stages.

Initially, you have to scavenge for materials to build up a simple base, which you very quickly discover is too small and inadequate as you start to build up the size of your community. This leads you to scavenge for more parts to get a bigger base and build that up. The initial goal is to have a base which if possible increases your resources or at the very least doesn’t diminish your resources.

The mid-game stage is to find and destroy all the plague hearts on the maps which the game story says is where all the infected zombies are coming from.

With the final stage being to complete a series of missions which will recreate society in the region.

My personal history with the game must include having played many times the original State of Decay, which I also loved.

The original game had lots of bugs, was clearly an indie game with very simple sketch images through out the menu system. The game was also highly immersive, had a rustic comic book visual appeal and was the closes thing to a sneaking around, looting, Walking Dead simulator.

It was hard and produced genuine anxiety as you played. It had a strong campaign with characters in the community you came to love. The connection the game built between you and the game characters via a system employing perma-death made the death of any of them something you emotionally hated experiencing, so you took great care to avoid that loss.

State of Decay 2, was a much anticipated return to this franchise. But it came with mixed feelings due to the changes between 1 and 2.

State of Decay 2, had much better graphics, so much so that when I went to replay the original game I just could not do it. (Dev’s if you read this please remaster the first game.)

Like the original game it came fully loaded with bugs. A lot of them have been fixed yet I still fall of ladders forcing me to change characters and abandon missions.

A recent end game mission as a sheriff required killing a rival community, yet even with the most powerful gun in the game the 50 cal, using all headshots they would not die. Yet when they got a shot off at my character, one headshot and my leader was dead.

We lost the ability to make home bases anywhere, and now have limited choices with restrictions on what you can build in base and where it can go.

At launch the game was far too easy, but that has been improved by the addition of two harder difficulty settings, which has brought back a lot of the stress into playing. This is especially so at night time when you can only see as far as your torch light reaches.

State of Decay 2 brought multi player, but again sort of limited. Yes, up to four players can join one person’s map and help them to complete missions, but I was expecting/wanting the ability to have a group of friends share a joint base. Live or die with the community in our base.

Sadly the story arc has been replaced by a series of mini missions. Probably a compromise resulting from the implementation of multi player, but it was not a good trade off. There was a separate game mode introduced which attempted to address this via a nostalgic return to the local from the original game. This was a great addition to the game but felt isolated as it could not be incorporated into the main game.

Now in my experience, the biggest loss of all was the total randomization of people in the world. Somehow this process removed that emotional connection with the characters so their death is no longer an emotionally stressful thing to be avoided. Now instead of grief at death, I just feel frustration over the loss of resources that character was bringing in.

Now I have just listed more things where State of Decay is worse than the original, and only a few areas where it’s better which might lead you to think I didn’t enjoy this game as much. But in fact, I love playing this game. While side by side the new game looks better but is missing features, I prefer State of Decay 2. The original was fantastic for it’s time, State of Decay 2 is equally fantastic for this current time.

Before I wrap up, I have to point out the positive interactions with the Dev’s. It is a credit to the people at Undead Labs, for the effort they have put into polishing the game, bug fixing, and expanding the game. They have regular live streams which involve answering questions, meeting the team, and showing what they have been working on. There are numerous give aways, some of which are quite good, and often try to work on community requests where possible.

Monetization in this era of shitty monetization practices had been fair and restrained. While I felt annoyed that the DLC I paid for was given away for free recently (though you got some in-game cosmetics) even when I paid for them they were not too bad. They have not tried introducing card packs, or crystal currency or other such crap.

If you like what I have written, and feel enticed to play the game, you can support the site by using the link below and purchase from Amazon Australia.

State of Decay 2

State of Decay 2, from Amazon Australia