Breath of the Wild Review (SpoilerFree)

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Rexis here!

There’s something I haven’t said in awhile. Its been four months since I’ve written anything. FOUR MONTHS! I’ve been riding this crazy train of a Trump presidency coupled with the release of “The Vampire Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis,” and more recently, “Breath of the Wild.” So to recap, I hope the rest of the world isn’t really judging all Americans based on Trump. I’ve been reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles pretty much all of my life. And this new Zelda game may be my favorite game ever.

I’m not sure where to begin when it comes to reviewing “Breath of the Wild.” Most of what needs to be said has been said and my opinion is just another nodding agreement in an ocean of praise. I haven’t been so absorbed by a Zelda title since “Ocarina of Time.” The game just refuses to let me down. From the moment I turn it on and pick a direction to travel until the moment I turn it off, I feel like I’m accomplishing something. There’s always something to do despite how massive the world is, and it is pretty massive. To keep this post from rambling for far too long, I’ll only talk about a few of my favorite aspects of the game.

My absolute favorite thing about this game has to be Princess Zelda. I know her English voice actor has been getting a lot of negative comments, but I loved her. I thought she did great! I can’t dive into Zelda’s storyline too much without getting into major spoiler territory, so I won’t, but I will say that I love, above all, how humanized she is. This is in stark contrast to “Twilight Princess” Zelda, not that I didn’t like her as well, but she was more of a royal warrior compared to BotW’s… Well… You’ll see.

I mentioned there is always something to do and that was no exaggeration. I love to explore in an open game world and BotW let’s me do just that. I find myself setting off to do some sort of side quest, but inevitably wandering off track to look at the next “shiny thing” I see in the distance. I’ve come across many hidden areas by complete chance and its only furthered my desire to explore further. I’ll admit, I’ve looked online for solutions or locations a couple of times, but only because this game does not hold your hand. There is no map marker telling you exactly where to go (looking at you “Skyrim”). You really have to rely on your wits and problem solving abilities. I applaud this. I never feel like I’m just doing fetch quests (even though some of them really are just that).

Hyrule is huge. The size of the world is unprecedented in any Zelda game. Each area on the map is unlocked by syncing with towers, much like “Assassin’s Creed.” The locations on the map feature pretty much all of the famous locations the series is known for and lots of Easter eggs. Traversing the terrain requires stamina and Link can climb pretty much any surface. you can go literally anywhere you can see and there are no load times (aside from entering a shrine or fast traveling). You’ll recall previous Zelda game blocking certain areas until you acquire certain items (like the hook shot). Those days are gone. Everything you need is given to you in the opening area/tutorial. You do not receive a new weapon/item in every dungeon. There is nothing stopping you from going to the farthest corners of the map right from the beginning (other than the terrible beasties roaming the land, of course).

I could go on and on about BotW because there is so very much to love. This game feels like a natural progression for the series and stands as a culmination of 30 years of Zelda experience.

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Fallout 4 – Beyond Good and Evil

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Rexis here!

What does it mean to be evil?

Google tells me it means “profoundly immoral and malevolent.” This is an important definition because morality is objective. What is evil to one person may not be evil to another. Why do I bring this up? Mostly because I started playing Fallout 4 again and while I think its a masterpiece of moral grey areas, others seem to have a hard time understanding the simple narrative and prefer the usual complaint of “I can’t choose to kill everyone, therefore I can’t be an evil character.” They go on to blame lazy writing, casual players ruining the franchise, and the IP being in the hands of the wrong development team (among other things, look at a YouTube comment section and you’ll see what I mean).

Could it be, though, that Bethesda is presenting you the ultimate type of story arch? The one in which the hero/villain is not clearly defined? George R. R. Martin takes this concept to soaring heights in Game of Thrones, ensuring that the heroes and villains are pretty much all grey and he is lauded for it. Bethesda does it and gets crap for it. I suppose without a karma meter it can be difficult to know if what you are doing it wrong, huh? Like murder.

Fallout 4, in my opinion, is reaching for a higher mark. Gone are the days of simply enslaving Wasteland survivors. Now we must ask a serious question, one that has far too important implications: How do I feel about artificial intelligence?

(And by extension: How human do you have to be to be considered human? Is AI life valuable? Is it even life? Do synths have rights? Do they have the right to exist at all? If they are indistinguishable from human and express all ranges of emotion, are they really just machines? If some synths do bad things, should we destroy them all? What if some are genuinely good? Should we distinguish between synths and humans at all times or just let it be? Do they deserve saving or eradication?)

This question defines your character in the game and when presented with the four factions, you must choose which prevails. (Spoilers from here on, btw.) You could choose to side with the Brotherhood of Steel who seek to destroy all synths and impose their military might and technology on the Commonwealth.  You could join the Institute and your son, who are known as the boogeymen of the Commonwealth because they kidnap people and replace them with synths, acting upon the land like an experiment, guised as an attempt to somehow aid mankind. The Railroad seems like a good choice because they free synths from a life of slavery, but the ends always justify the means and they don’t care who they hurt in the process. The Minutemen on the other hand seem a bit like the good guys, desiring a rebuilt Commonwealth and destruction of the Institute. Though they seem unconcerned about the actions of the Railroad.

All of these choices are right and wrong! That’s the beauty of this. I’ve seen so many comments about how the factions suck and there’s no good/bad. And if you fall into this camp, perhaps try talking about the game with a friend. Ask them what they would do for real, not as a video game character, but if it were a real decision they were faced with. The answer might surprise you. And if you don’t have a friend, here’s what I’d do. I would fall in line with the Minutemen because my morals align with theirs for the most part. If I wanted to pick an evil option, it would be the Institute. I can’t get past their kidnapping people in the night. I believe the Brotherhood of Steel has good intentions, but are terrible at public relations, and I don’t agree with their policy of destroying all synths. The Railroad has a good message of freedom and liberty for synths, something I can get behind, but I’m not willing to kill innocent/uninvolved people in order to get there.

Like George R. R. “I kill everyone you love” Martin, I agree that the villain of the story if only the hero for the other side. Yes, Fallout 4 is less of a sandbox than the other Fallout games, but it isn’t just a good/evil apocalypse simulator. Its calling on you to consider far more philosophical questions with no right or wrong answers.

The Legend of Zelda – All The Links

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Rexis here!

Hello internet! This being one of my favorite franchises, its easy to come up with stuff to write about Zelda. As a bonus, I get to learn new information about a series of games I adore. Information like exactly how many different Links there are. I mean, we’ve all seen the official timelines, but do you know how many games are direct sequels featuring the same character of Link? Well, I did some reading on zeldawiki.org and I have a number. So how many Links are there?Are you ready? Queue drum roll….

Eleven.

Yes. There are eleven different Links across 18 canon releases. Let’s go over them, shall we?

1

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Skyward Sword comes first chronologically with the very first Link.

2

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Minish Cap adds a second Link.

3

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Four Swords adds a third. (Four thirds? The four sword is weird.)

4

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Ocarina of Time adds the fourth and probably most notable Link because his actions divide the timeline into three different possible scenarios. The Link in Majora’s Mask is the same and follows the Child Timeline (when Link is returned to his youth and there is no conflict with Ganon.)

5

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The child timeline provides us with Link number five in Twilight Princess.

6

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Link number six once more wields the Four Sword in Four Swords Adventure (a different title than the original Four Swords) and caps off the child timeline.

7

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In the fallen hero timeline, Link dies at the end of Ocarina of Time and we see Link number seven some years later gracing A Link to the Past, Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages, and Link’s Awakening. This version is notable because he is in so many different games.

8

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In A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes, we have Link number eight.

9

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And this is where we find the NES titles, the original Legend of Zelda and Link’s Adventure feature Link number 9. But we aren’t done yet.

10

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The Adult TimeLine involves the future of Hyrule in Ocarina of Time, after Ganon is sealed in the sacred realm and Link is returned to his youth, except now we see what happens to Hyrule with no Link. I’ll skip some exposition here because this isn’t a history lesson, but the world is flooded and we have Windwaker and Phantom Hourglass giving us Link number ten.

11

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Finally, Link number 11 is in Spirit Tracks. He’s a descendent to the Link from Windwaker to some extent as opposed to a direct sequel.

?

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Number 12? I don’t know. All we know about Link from Breath of the Wild is that he wakes up in a resurrection chamber. I have some ideas about this, but that’s a post for another day….

Rex’s Top Five Zelda Games of All Time

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Rexis here!

How sick am I of social media outlets pushing this topic on me and asking me to vote for my favorite Zelda game?! Sick enough to clarify it on my own blog, that is! Seriously, how many deciding votes do me need to finally declare OoT and/or ALttP the overall winner? These are always the two that come out on top and I think it has a lot to do with the years they were released. More on that later perhaps. For now, let’s jump right into this.

5 Ocarina of Time

That’s right! Sitting at the number five spot on my list is the game that brought link into the 3D world for the first time. I vividly remember buying the gold edition of this game the day it released and saying goodbye to what little social life I had when I was 14. I was lost in a massive (for its time) Hyrule full of new dangers and puzzles. I was a Zelda fan already, but I was blown away by this game. This is the game that solidified my love for the franchise. (A love built on entry 1 – you’ll see. Don’t skip ahead.)

4  A Link Between Worlds

I feel like this game may have slipped under a lot of people’s radars and its really a shame. I enjoyed the ever loving crap out of this one. It broke from Zelda tradition by incorporating an item/weapon rental system and allowed you to complete the dungeons in any order, harkening back to the first Zelda title on NES. This would prove to be a test for the upcoming Breath of the Wild. People don’t want linearity in their adventure games, and while I’ve had no problem with it in the past, this title proves Zelda can be versatile.

3 Windwaker

If you know anything about me at all, and I would think some of my regular readers do, I love me some pirates. Anything and everything pirate related (looking at you Black Flag <3) so Windwaker immediately gets points for having them. When it first came out, I picked it up as I do with most Zelda games, but I wasn’t fond of the cell shading. As the years have gone by I have fallen in love with the style. Not to mention I always find something new in this one whenever I play through it because I’ve never reached 100% on a single play through.

2 Twilight Princess

This game was a sleeper hit for me. I know I’ve played it before, but I picked it up on HD for the Wolf Link Amiibo. How could I not? If I can get a wolf pet in Breath of the Wild, shut up and take my money. Playing through it now, I realize how much I LOVE this game. It is my absolute favorite of the console titles and 3D titles for good reason. Not to mention Zelda is so awesome in this game. If you haven’t played this one, for whatever reason, do it!

1 Link’s Awakening

You read that right. This little gem originally released for Game Boy is my all-time, hand down, no regrets, favorite Zelda game. And it doesn’t even have Zelda in it! I used to play a lot of Game Boy. A lot. So much. And it was usually this game. I know it like the back of my hand. Then they released it in color and it got better. Currently, I play it on my 3DS from time to time. Its the only Zelda title I can just sit and play through without feeling like it repetitive. I never get tired of it.

So that’s it. My top five Zelda games. Now shut up social media sites. I will not vote again!

Nintendo Switch – Called it!

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Rexis here!

The news is in! Have you seen the Nintendo Switch reveal yet? Take a look here.

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And its funny Kotaku should ask this question because… YES! This is exactly what I expected! As a matter of fact, on Feburary 6, 2015 I said “this would be the last generation of strictly handheld systems like the 3DS and Vita.” And look at what has happened! The 3DS has received some adjustments, but nothing new has been slated for a handheld system from Nintendo. All the patents we’ve seen regarding a new handheld were actually for the controller for the new Nintendo Switch. The Console Fusion Era is upon us! Nintendo is merging its console and handheld lines with this new Switch machine hybrid!

Okay. Okay. Enough gloating, I guess. But you can’t blame me for being excited about making an accurate prediction about the future of gaming, can you?

This new and innovative idea looks really cool for your gamer on the go and the system looks like it will be powerful enough to run Skyrim at the very least (isn’t that a five year old game?). So it would seem Nintendo isn’t really embracing a new powerful console, but once again relying on innovation to sell the product. Its worked for them before, but personally, I won’t be buying one.

I have my XBOX One and PC at this point, and I’ve no interest in going further with consoles myself. I’ve said all this before. Of course, I also have a 3DS I never play. So it wouldn’t make sense for me to get something like this. I can certainly understand the appeal, but its not for me. And I have some serious doubts about the scenarios presented in the video. I doubt anyone is having a rooftop party with friends and bringing their Switch to the mix. (I know they are just showcasing the capabilities, but honestly, I just need to see a guy sitting in his game room to relate. Because that’s all I do.)

Other concerns I have involve the battery life (my Wii U gets about 4 hours so its not lasting on any flights) and the comfort of those tiny “joy-cons”. If you’ve recently picked up an NES controller or GBA Micro, you’ll understand. How are you supposed to play first person games with one joystick anyway? (I’m talking about multiplayer here. You wouldn’t be able to tilt the camera or turn in some situation.) A lot remains to be seen in this regard and since full specs haven’t been released yet, people will speculate for the time being.

This leaves me with one other question. What does the console part do? We’ve seen that the system can function fine without it, so what is the purpose of slotting it into the console other than broadcasting it to the TV? This remains to be seen as well. If its only function is to send the video to the TV or upgrade graphics to 4K maybe, then would Nintendo consider selling the Switch sans console?

Seems all eyes are going to be on Nintendo, at least until Microsoft opens up about Project Scorpio a bit more. Like I said, I’m not buying one, but I will certainly be following its story. Nintendo has a history of either blowing people away or letting them down completely, so this console could be a make or break deal for them.

More over, did you see the obvious comparison between The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Skyrim? I’ve read articles comparing the two, but I found it interesting that they chose those two games as the demo for the hardware. If this Zelda title was inspired by Skyrim, this could be the best Zelda game yet. Luckily, I’ll have my Wii U to experience it on.

So what do you think? Is this thing going to take off or is it just a glorified tablet with controls attached? Is Zelda going to be amazing or too much of a break from tradition? I’d love to discuss it in the comments.

Nerds are Cool

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Rexis here!

I’ve been absent for awhile. You may or may not have noticed. Sorry about that. Its not that I haven’t had time to write, I just don’t have anything to say lately. At least, nothing that hasn’t already been said. I’ve been spending time watching new TV shows and playing video games of course. In short, the Marvel shows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage were amazing and I can’t wait for Iron Fist, The Defenders, and Punisher. As for gaming, my time is divided by my three current favorites: Grand Theft Auto Online, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, and of course Minecraft.

See? I have nothing to say about these things except that they are all awesome. As is everything on the horizon. Dr. Strange, Rogue Squadron, Logan, The Walking Dead, Fantastic Beasts and Game of Thrones are all coming soon. What an age we live in! There is so much to see and do in the world of entertainment, its hard to keep up with it all. I refuse to even watch the DC shows. I don’t have the time. I think we’ve hit a peak in regards to the nerd culture that permeates our society now. Its become almost… overwhelming.

Don’t get me wrong. Its great that we have this mass acceptance of what was once fringe culture. Gone are the days of the stereotypical basement dwelling nerd with his mint comic book collection. No longer do gamers hide their favorite pastimes. I even have a friend on Facebook asking about the pros/cons of LARP’ing in a graveyard with no fear of retribution. I can’t imagine how this would have gone ten or twelve years ago in my high school. Just kidding. I totally can because I lived it. As a gamer and player of CCG’s, I know exactly the kind of taunting and bullying that comes with the territory.

So what happened? How did we get from there to where we are now? How did the zeitgeist change so drastically? I’d wager it has something to do with the internet and social media, but what do I know? I’m just some anonymous blogger on the internet that can barely find the motivation to write.

What I do know is that we live in an era where fantasy worlds and fantastic beasts reign supreme.

And that is cool.

Why I Blog

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Yup. Its one of “those” posts.

 

Rexis here!

Peeps, I’m at this horrible crossroads of a dilemma I’ve faced for so many years now. I’ve had this dream for so long of being published. I’ve written countless words, countless chapters of lives existing in their own worlds, entire personalities cultivated over years of practice. I’ve spent hours spilling thoughts onto so many different keyboards, beating the letters clean off the keys. And through it all, one trend has emerged, one undeniable, dream destroying trend.

I hate all of it.

My most recent endeavor that I’ve mentioned here in the past was a novel that ran to 35,000 words. (is that even a novel?) It was a work of negativity that viewed the world through a nihilistic, very broken man obsessed with suicide. It also touched on the subject of the duality of man. It was short and my biggest problem was the introduction of an antagonist that was not really required. Long story short: its fallen under the same umbrella as the rest of the stories I’ve written. I hate it now.

I don’t know why I’ve come to hate all of my work, but the one thing I’ve noticed is that this blog is apart from that. I love Ability Points. I wouldn’t change a word of it. I know I’ve been kind of inactive recently, but its been a real soul searching time for me. It tends to feel that way a lot, lately. I’m trying to force myself to come to terms with the idea that I won’t be a published novelist because its not what I really want. Its a dream, akin to wanting super powers. Its something I wish I could do, but I just, obviously, don’t have it in me. Couple that with my attempt to change jobs irl and I’ve got a full plate of considerations at the moment.

So I started thinking about what it is that draws me to blogging over writing novels, and I think I may have figured it out. Just like the video games I love, (the very reason I started blogging in the first place) I’m able to be myself in the blog. In games like Minecraft and Skyrim I’m able to play the way I want to, and be the character I most want to be. It doesn’t fall on me to create the entire universe, only to operate within it. And I enjoy that.

I’ve also found that I have a general lack of attention when it comes to big projects. To refer to Skyrim once more, I tend to restart before I hit level 40 all too often. (I mention these two games particularly because they are easily among my favorites.) Its possible that I’ve adapted my thinking to this new age we live in, one of instant gratification, and that has affected my writing. For example: I hate videos and articles that take too long to get to the point sometimes (unless I like the writer). A big pet peeve is a YouTube video with 45 seconds of title cards before we get to the good stuff. I also used to be a big fan of documentaries on TV, but watching them now is painful. “Forty-five minutes?! This could have been done on YouTube in ten!” I scream often, and to no one in particular.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that writing, for me, is an outlet. Its a calming exercise and a gateway to the inner recesses of my mind, but if I spend too long on it, I tend to lose interest. Writing a book, to me, takes far more patience than I can muster. I don’t even like the idea of participating in those months where you blog once a day (Blaugust?). Its a hard won realization, but an important one.

So that’s where I stand in my personal life at the moment. We are all on this awesome quest of discovery, constantly questioning who we are, what our purpose is, and where we are going to eat for lunch tomorrow. That is the message I wanted to convey in that book. Well, not so much the part about lunch, but you get the idea. There’s a interesting lyric in the song Kitchen Sink by Twenty One Pilots:

Are you searching for purpose?
Then write something, yeah it might be worthless
Then paint something, and it might be wordless
Pointless curses, nonsense verses
You’ll see purpose start to surface

Yeah, my writing is worthless. No one is going to pay me for my ranting and ravings, but I find my own purpose in it. There is something in every character I’ve ever written that came from within me. There’s more to my machinations than meets the eye. And for that, for all the disgust I have with previous works, I see the purpose in them. I see reflections of myself in ways I wouldn’t be able to see them otherwise. And here, on Ability Points, where I’m not hiding behind a character, I get to know myself better with every word I type.