IT

Warning: This probably contains mild-ish spoilers. Maybe it doesn’t. Either way, it’s just a discussion of my impressions of a movie. 

I went and saw the latest film version of Stephen King’s IT over the weekend.

It’s (Heh. Okay, I won’t do that again.) quite literally haunted my subconscious. Which is a pleasant surprise.

I went in with relatively mild expectations. I’m of the opinion that today’s film industry has major potential when it comes to remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, reinterpretations, and the odd sequel. That potential isn’t always delivered on, but it’s there. For example, I thought that Disney should have left their animated classics well alone, until I watched 2016’s The Jungle Book. That film was quite the shock. It left the original intact, while presenting an amazing re-imagining that can appeal to both the older generation who grew up with the original and a new generation who never knew it.

I’ve never read a King book, but I’ve watched many of the movies based on his culture-defining works. I watched the original IT movie-cum-miniseries featuring the legendary Tim Curry when I was a teen. At the time it was not only underwhelming, it was the subject of ridicule in our group. Never-mind that we watched the two-sided DVD the wrong way ’round, we thought it was utterly rubbish.

No such accusation can be levelled at 2017’s IT. My, what a film. I’m going to be bold: this is the best movie I’ve seen in theatres this year, and a strong contender for my personal MOTY (why is that not a thing? Damn your Oscars and Globe things, let’s have more MOTY lists).

For long periods of my life, I’ve avoided scary films. I had an over-active imagination as an only child, and I really didn’t need the stress, especially not as a result from an escapism activity. As an adult, having come to terms with most of my ethereal demons, I’ve started seeking out some good thrills in the form of the odd scary movie. And yet, this rendition of IT, while containing the scares you would expect, transcended a mere horror movie with tropes and jump scares. This was a complex, multi-layered story with actual character development, a compelling story, and a mixture of clear and subtle themes all centred around the menagerie of main characters.

Of course, I’m no film critic, so I won’t dive deep into the themes and such. However, I appreciated that through a mixture of stellar casting, phenomenal acting, inspired direction, fantastic writing, and astounding cinematography, IT held me firmly glued to the screen. There was a main story thread, supported by a spectacular balance and combination of secondary and tertiary narratives. They came together simultaneously without overwhelming or speaking down to the viewer.

The group of young actors, along with their supporting adults, was an ensemble that I imagine will be hard to top any time soon. The individual talent on display, and the collective effort to bring the relationships to the fore in a realistic and meaningful way, left a deep impression on me.

The movie had its share of scary moments, but I found myself only jumping once. Most of the time the pre-scare cues were fairly obvious, so you could at least steel yourself. Despite that, the tension that was built was often palpable, and would get my pulse racing. I had the odd moment where I was ripped out of my immersion by the inherent silliness in an attempt at a scare here and there, but for the most part I was held in my seat by a strong sense of impending doom.

It’s my understanding that this version of IT, the first of two parts, is so far the most faithful in capturing the spirit of the book. Even though they’ve changed the time period from the 1950s to the 1980s, and taken other creative liberties necessary when translating from one artistic medium to another. While I can’t comment yet on the faithfulness to the book, the movie has inspired me to read my first King novel. So, I’ll be able to provide feedback on that front in the future.

There was something about this film that resonated with me, and has left it hooked in my brain like a prion. Even with films like Dunkirk and Logan having released this year, IT has stayed more closely with me. While the aforementioned titles, and others, have been great, there’s something about IT. I even anticipate that with Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I won’t forget this movie any time soon.

It’s probably the fact that we got a movie that presented a near-perfect blend of incredibly grounded human characters and fantastical horror monster. The gritty humanity of this film was often the most engaging, compelling you to care about the characters and their situation. I’m awaiting part 2 while a great deal of anticipation.

It gets a solid three thumbs up from me, with a hearty high-five.

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World-Eater

Every now and then a thing comes along and entirely consumes your life for a bit. I guess that’s an obsession, even if it’s temporary or seasonal.

The latest obsession I have is Destiny 2. This might be somewhat surprising if you’ve read my impressions of the beta, but I’m happy to admit that I was wrong — this time. The game has been out for a week, and I’ve already lost sleep on every single one of those days because of it. When I’m not playing Destiny 2 I’m thinking about it, reading about it, watching videos about it, talking about it, or purposefully ignoring it. You know that type of ignoring, like the kind that takes energy where you’re actually thinking about the act of ignoring the thing you’re ignoring.

Yeah, it’s gotten bad. I have briefly come up for air, and I’m happy to find the world hasn’t entirely crumbled to bits (debatable).

I finished the story, and it was excellent. Especially in light of the first game, and even standing on its own legs.

But I’ll chat about that in future posts. Last week Destiny 2 took over my life, the week before I swear I was dying of flu or something. So, I think I’m here to stay for a few days of writing.

Up next: my impressions of the Destiny 2 campaign and follow-up posts about the end-game stuff, impressions of Battlefield 1‘s DLC, In the Name of the Tsar, and various other bits surrounding my multiple obsessions.

For now: adieu.

A Sullen Sunday

The football season is barely underway, and things already feel like they’re falling apart.

Usually I have a few things to say about gaming and movies, but I’d like to express some thoughts around one of my other obsessions: Arsenal.

Today Arsenal lost to Liverpool away 4-0. It was by no means a unicorn moment, it was not an aberration, even though it was utterly abhorrent. Honestly, I was expecting a loss. I was hoping it wouldn’t be this devastating, but it was. I thought maybe it would reflect last season’s 3-4 or something. Not this.

A lot of people are baying for Wenger’s blood. “Wenger Out” is trending again.
Let’s be realistic. That’s not going to happen any time soon. I think things would have to get extremely awful for him to get fired before his brand-spanking new contract until 2019 expires. Look at how things got toward the end of last season, at the worst period in Arsenal’s recent history. The owner didn’t care then, and he won’t now.

I love Arsene Wenger. He is simply no longer the right man for the job, and the current evidence suggests that he hasn’t been for some time. He has done a lot for this club, but to be a bit trite: “you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain“. The expiry date is off, and we all know the board and owner will do nothing as things currently stand.

Today’s selection was indicative of the shitstorm to come. Once again Wenger “indulged” Ox, playing him at right wing-back, putting Bellerin and left wing-back. Lacazette and Kolasinac were both left on the bench, in a decision that will haunt my nightmares this week. Welbeck was started behind Sanchez, boggling the mind as to what was going on. The partnership of Ramsey and Xhaka continued, unabated. The only morsel of positive team selection was the inclusion of two actual, bona fide centre-backs. So much for that, right?

Let’s start at the top. Why the hell is the manager accommodating a player who has rejected the latest contract offer. Sell him, it’s okay. It’s clear now that Ox and Arsenal’s paths are splitting, and the manager needs to accept this. We can live without him, and I wish him the best wherever he goes. Why was he started? Anyone could have told you that selecting Bellerin at right wing-back and Kolasinac at left would have been preferable. Why was Sead left out? We needed our tank today.

Honestly, it feels like Wenger is sabotaging the 3 at the back formation. His selection lately has been all wrong, non-centrebacks playing in that position, right-sided players played on the left. It’s as if he’s engineering the moment he can change back to 4 at the back and say: but see, that formation wasn’t working. Of course, I think I might be slightly paranoid. And I’m not as concerned about our formation as I am by our ability to perform at the highest level anymore.

Why would a manager self-sabotage like this? The post-match fallout included the usual contrite messages from the club and player. The quotes from Wenger enraged me somewhat. He says our performance wasn’t to standard. No shit Sherlock. When your team selection is that poor, on a team already lacking form and confidence, what could you possibly expect?

I by no means want to sound like I think our problems are as easily fixable as the change of a formation and playing the right players in their correct positions, although that wouldn’t hurt.

As an Arsenal fan I’m vacillating violently between apoplectic anger and morose depression. This was one match, but it’s indicative of the deep-seated issues at Arsenal at the moment. This isn’t “more of the same”. This isn’t a cycle. This is a downward spiral.

We won’t fix this in the transfer window, what there is left of it. I don’t know how we’ll fix it. I’m sure there will be some kind of upward swing. The players will rally, the manager will put another band-aid over the continental rift, and things will be fine for the 10 matches needed to finish in the top 10 at the end of the season. There are familiar elements, but this is like walking down the hallway in P.T. Things get progressively grubbier and scarier every time you walk down the hallway. When will we turn the corner and see the scary dead lady? Who knows.

As an Arsenal fan I will stick by my club, but I’m also going to wait this out. I’m going to have to accept that things are simply shit now. Maybe the next manager, when (if) he comes along in 2019, will be able to pick up the pieces and start the process of rebuilding. Hopefully we’re not too far-gone by then. I would really like to see Arsenal win the league before I turn 40. I don’t see it happening before my 30th, that’s for sure.

The facts are before us gentlemen: we are a formerly big club. We are no longer. A big club would have a new manager by now. A big club would have been decisive in the market and would have tied down their star players before the last 12 months of their contracts started. That, or sold them and replaced them as needed. One day I hope Arsenal can be a big club once again, but until then I will accept where we are. I’m not happy with it, but I do want to stay sane.

I expect we’ll all wake up tomorrow, and maybe it won’t sting as much. Maybe I will look back on this post as a strong reaction to a single game, but I don’t know anymore. How many times will be allow ourselves as fans to be burnt without learning?

One last thing: don’t see this in anyway an attempt to take away from Liverpool what was a great performance. I look at that team this season with envy. Blistering atatcks, high-octane football. Are they perfect? No, but they’re worlds better than we are.

In the end, I know this is just football. But I am a fan after all. I’m a Gooner for life.
Wow. That’s quite depressing.

Saturated Dreams

Good golly! I really am terrible at maintaining an allegedly daily blog! What am I to do about my lax attitude?
Probably not much. Prepare for more of the same, if you happen to stop by here.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, especially about Lawbreakers. I think I should give some feedback about that imminently. For now, my concerns are about the game’s longevity.

The media has become a powerful influence on public opinion. The games media is no different. And they don’t seem to be favouring Lawbreakers and its chances.
I can understand why.
It’s  saturated market for shooters. With the likes of Overwatch dominating the “hero shooter” space in the public consciousness, it’s difficult to tell people that Lawbreakers is in any way unique or worthwhile. Not because it isn’t, but because it’s difficult to change such a wide perception once it takes root. Which, of course, is a crying shame.

The game is excellent by the way. It marries the class-based concept of a hero shooter, with the classic fast-paced setting and mechanics of an arena shooter. The feedback loop is incredibly gratifying, but I’ll leave my full impressions for another post.

I anticipate that I will be more active on this blog in the next few days, purely because I intend to take a week off from gaming.

Speaking of oversaturation, my life has been dominated by Battlefield 1 since its release in October last year. Especially during the first portion of this year, acting as a coping mechanism when getting home from my previous job. Of course, I have no regrets. I adore this game. However, after almost 450 hours of playing it, attempting to play a casual league with my platoon buddies, and just not getting away from it, I need a break. I’ve already achieved a week of no Battlefield 1, so here’s to another without any games.

I finished Hellblade some time last week, in between enjoying my time with Lawbreakers and actively avoiding Battlefield. I should have a post relatively soon on my impressions on that too.

Now, enough of this show and tell section. Next week I’ll be writing and reading and watching and who knows what.

I’ll leave you with this to keep you company before my next post.

Terrific Tuesday

This weekend ended on a great note, with Arsenal beating Chelsea in the Community Shield. I could go on at length about that, but today’s post is about something else.

Continuing the theme of happiness, today is a great gaming day! Both Hellblade and Lawbreakers released today. I’ve spent a small amount of time with both, and I’m extremely happy with what’s on offer here.

First, Lawbreakers. I played the open beta, and the game impressed me. The gameplay is extremely rewarding, the skill curve is demanding and challenging while not being inaccessible. And one of my favourite features is that it has a functional netcode.

Thanks to there being no African servers (I honestly don’t expect any, so don’t read any bitterness there), my ping sits at a jittery 200 on a good match and 300 on a bad one. Despite this, the game isn’t unplayable, and I find myself still able to keep up with what’s happening. Judging by my average KD and objective score, I don’t think my ping affects my opponents negatively either, so that’s another relief.

The gameplay is so satisfying, that I often don’t get too hot in the face when losing or being killed. The game has an air of pure fun about it, and that’s one of the biggest pros in its favour. I’ll be playing some more, and putting more in-depth thoughts down in a week or so.

Next, Hellblade. I’ve been looking forward to this game since I first saw the trailer during E3 2015. When I briefly delved into reviewing games, I viciously fought for the right to review it (haha, oh well). This and Horizon Zero Dawn are probably my two most anticipated PS4 exclusives of this generation, and they’re both out now.

I’ve also been following Ninja Theory’s Developer Diary for Hellblade almost religiously. It’s been amazing following the transformation of this game as it has taken shape, seeing the studio’s approach to making a “AAA game on an indie budget”.

I’ve played the intro, and I’ve not gotten far at all. I wanted to go to sleep and be rested for the playthrough, so that’s also going to take place over the next few days.

However, my first impressions are quite positive. The game is gorgeous, as advertised. It’s best played with headphones, the better to hear the voices in your head with. I spent about 15 minutes playing as soon as the game unlocked after midnight, and the glorious views on offer made me spend most of my time in the photomode. Of course, I’ll be savouring the game’s story as much as the vistas.

There’s a lot to look forward to, with two excellent offerings during an otherwise quiet August. I’ll have more tomorrow.

The Triple Two

One of the major upsides of having a blog with virtually no readership (sorry if you’re the one person who reads this, I swear: you count in my eyes) is that if I forget to post for almost two weeks, nothing happens.

Anyway, I’m back. Again. Haha.

Yesterday was a big day in footballing news. Neymar was sold to PSG for €222 million. Yep. I find this scary and amazing.
While I’m a footballing fan, I’m no expert, and my opinion here means little. I do think this is ridiculous and exorbitant. I worry about world football and what this rapid inflation means for it. Player prices and salaries have skyrocketed. I have as much economical nous as a mole in a hole, but even I can see this doesn’t seem sustainable.

Frankly, €222 million (it’s over R3.5 billion, just in case any of my fellow South Africans were wondering) is more than I can fully comprehend. Yes, I understand the number 222. I understand a million. When you put 222 millions together, then my brain reckons you’ve gone ’round the bend. Come on.

This is where I make one of my unwelcome analogies between two things I love. Having caught up on gaming history over recent years, I learnt about the gaming crash of the 1980s. Keeping this in mind, I worry that football might see a similar crash. If you follow the history of football, you can see from the very beginning the amounts of money in professional football were terrifyingly high. It’s just an interesting thought, because I have no idea where this will lead. With even the prices of average players reaching ridiculous levels, how can this be maintained?

Kyle Walker for £50 million was an abomination, but it was merely indicative. We can blame the Premier League’s TV money, but I don’t think that’s the only thing to blame.

Anyway, let me venture back from things I have little right to speak about. Neymar is a good player, PSG might very well have bought him at a bargain in a relative sense, but it doesn’t change the fact that they just spent what is objectively more money than most of us will ever see in our lives.

In other news, the gaming world continues to excite and we’ll be coming off the “Summer Slump”, which was surprisingly eventful this year. Lawbreakers and Hellblade are two notable releases next week. I’m looking forward to both, so I’ll provide feedback on those when I can.

I played the Lawbreakers beta over last weekend, and the game looks promising. The skill curve is high, and I’m looking forward to the challenge of learning the classes. Class-based shooters are easily one of my favourite genres. It’s inevitable that people compare things to more popular things, so unfortunately Lawbreakers has been saddled with the Overwatch-like label. One I personally resent, because of my numerous issues with Blizzard’s over-hyped hero shooter. I think those thoughts are for another day.

On its own merit, Lawbreakers follows a familiar formula for class-based arena shooters, with class-specific abilities that rely on cool-downs. What I love about it, however, is the fact that the game throws you in the deep end. No hand-holding. It can be tough, and it will require a combination of skill, reflexes, and strategy. But let me stop gushing now, and leave that for the full release.

Until next time.

D2 Beta Final Thoughts

From my limited perspective, if I were Bungie I’d probably declare the Destiny 2 beta on PS4 a success. It served two major purposes: it was a marketing exercise, like any beta these days in a world almost post-demo. The other purpose was the technical jiggery with servers and tests and the like. I know critical reception is probably not the most favourable, just look at my initial post on it. However, I would hesitate to bash the game based solely on the beta.

So let’s look back at the 5 days of beta. I played on 4 of those days, dipping my toe into two classes, one go at the strike, and several attempts at the Crucible PvP multiplayer.

My initial thoughts weren’t the best. The game is essentially more of the same, and that’s both a good and a bad thing. The good comes for those Destiny nuts who have played over 1000 hours of the game and probably wouldn’t stop if Destiny 2 weren’t coming. It also provides a level of consistency, but I reckon that’s a bit of a weak pro. Thankfully, the hints from the beta indicate that the system and UI contain welcome refinements.

The cons of being “more of the same” come in the form of a hackneyed feeling, it’s just getting a bit old. And then, when considering any PvP activity, there are still those thousands of Destiny nuts who have 3 years of experience with virtually identical mechanics over the newcomers. Arriving late on the scene for any multiplayer shooter can be daunting, annoying, and sometimes feel inaccessible. It also raises the questions over whether or not they’ve updated the engine, because the assets seem uncomfortably familiar. Many of the developmental problems with Destiny were down to the archaic engine and development hell that Bungie put themselves through. Has this improved?

The one level of consistency I welcome, regardless, is the basic shooting mechanics. They remain tight and satisfying. Destiny carries elements of what makes any good twitch-arena shooter. When you can concentrate on shooting your opponents rather than sitting in menus trying to set everything just right, then I’m an automatic fan of the shooter. Of course, it would appear Bungie has still taken this for granted, because the menus (at least in the beta) still lacked the kinds of settings many other competitive shooters have these days. It would be great to just have the more in-depth options, you know? For example: Where is an FOV setting?
Still, Destiny 2 feels great at the basic gameplay level, and that weighs heavily in its favour.

The other major positive takeaway I had from the beta is the intriguing story. I do have an element of doubt in my mind though. The intriguing bit is that Ghaul and the Cabal come along and fiddle with the Traveler and take everyone’s light away. Phwoar! But the light thing is what the basis of the game’s mechanics, story, and gameplay were built on! Well done Bungie! You seem to have shaken things up!

But.

Light levels are still there. It’s just called Power now. You still have your ghost. Strength, Intelligence, and Discipline are still present, they only have new names. So, what kind of impact can this story really have then? If Ghaul comes along, snatches away the light, eviscerates the Traveler’s floating ball, and razes the Last City and we can walk away and still have identical gameplay and levelling systems, what did those things matter in the first place? It’s a bit of an existential question for me, and many will probably not care.

I do care, purely because if you’re going to make such a big deal about your story, and if it goes through the motions of utterly decimating the established systems and yet fails to change anything in practice, why should I then trust that this story will live up to the hype? We’ll just get our light back, or we don’t need to because we have light’s good-enough cousin called Power.

The eternal optimist in me, way in the basement of my mind, is mumbling past hist gag while he struggles against the restraints: “What if this is just a beta set up with old systems to mislead?”
Shut up Carl.

Anyway, back to the beta. I’ll reserve judgement on systems like the drop rate of exotic and legendary items for the full game. This beta’s purpose was clearly not to preview any improvements or changes in that area. There were like 20 weapons and 2 armour variants per class in the whole thing, so let’s not use that as a meaningful sample.

Overall, having played for the duration of the beta, my conclusions have fleshed out a bit. I’ve decided that I’m more likely to pick this game up on release, purely out of a morbid curiosity. I enjoyed some aspects of it, and it’s possible that I like some of the refinements in this second iteration of the game a lot more than the first. However, those refinements are small enough that they could have merely been quality of life updates in the original. Visually, I will reserve judgement until the full release. The new social space, The Farm, was visibly incomplete in certain aspects, and other parts of the game have an all-too-familiar air about them. The strike on Nessus could have been any one of the Vex’s instalments in the solar system. Hopefully the full release will have better visual distinction.

I have a better overall impression of Destiny 2 after the beta, and yet I’ve come away being able to better articulate my doubts. Those doubts are firmly established in my mind, and I already have a sneaking suspicion that they’ll be saving me considerable disappointment with the full release.

The Valerian Verdict

I went to see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. I had been relatively excited and optimistic. I like Luc Besson’s work. Léon: The Professional is a phenomenal movie. The Family is one of the most underrated movies I’ve ever seen. The Fifth Element speaks for itself as a pop culture icon. The one blot on this record is Lucy. A film has never made me that angry before. It was a pile of utter rubbish.

Despite Lucy, I found myself optimistic for Valerian. If any of you have seen the trailers, you’ll know this was sold as a visual masterpiece with an intriguing sci-fi premise. I can’t say I was as disappointed as I was embarrassed.

No, the movie wasn’t so bad that it was embarrassing, rather I felt a vicarious embarrassment throughout the film during many of the on-screen interactions. This was the only thing on my mind when I walked out of the cinema.

The two leads did not work together. In fact, I found little fault with Cara Delevingne (I do not claim to be objective, she’s gorgeous). Dane DeHaan (who I have nothing against, other than his appearance in Amazing Spiderman 2) gave me the figurative collywobbles every time he came on. Any scene where he had dialogue could not end soon enough. With him being the lead, this did not bode well for the movie. There were some action scenes where he wasn’t bad, especially when he was engaging in physical acting rather than speaking.

Beside the on-screen cringe-chemistry (cringistry?), I found much of the movie to be a bit haphazard in terms of the narrative thread. At times I sat wandering what the scene in front of me had to do with anything, at other times I sat there wishing it would end. There were even some jarring moments where there seemed to be some completely out of place slap-stick kind of humour attempts. The entire “romance” thread, which intruded onto the stage from the very outset, was so out of place it distracted me throughout. Not to mention the complete lack of romantic chemistry between the leads.

Overall, I’m disappointed that this is the turn the film took. Let’s make it clear: I didn’t hate it. I don’t think it’s a bad movie. No. Those make me rant and rage. Like that abomination Lucy did.

I saw it with my dad and he seemed to enjoy it. He sat through a 2 hour 17 minute movie with nary a fidget nor a sigh of “when will this be over?”, which in itself is a ringing endorsement from him.

Personally, I just couldn’t get away from the intense cringe-worthiness of the entire thing. There was even a portion of the film where I just had to look away and shut it out, squirming like an 11 year old boy forced to watch his parents kiss at the anniversary dinner.

Overall, I rate this film just above a thumbs-down, with a palm-down wobble and a “meh”.

Booky Book

As someone who has been paid to write and edit, I’ve got a startling admission to make: I haven’t finished a single book this year. I’ve started 5, and finished none of them. I’m in a weird reading mood. I occasionally have a pang of desire to read, but other things distract me instead.

I mean, it’s getting a bit desperate now. My Goodreads challenge this year to is to read 12 new books. I’m currently 6 behind schedule. Ugh.

I therefore commit to actually catching up and finishing my challenge by the end of the year, here in this public place. Well, public-ish.

What is it with so many things in this life taking us away from the activities we love? Sometimes twisting them, sometimes sapping the desire for them from our very core. I remember when 24 hours in a day was unfathomably long. Now even a single week feels like a blink.

So, what are the books I have yet to complete (and some of them start)? I have a heap just waiting for me, so I have no excuses. I’ll read these next, probably not in this order.

Skippy Dies, Paul Murray
American Gods, Neil Gaiman *
Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby
Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harai *
The Mixer, Michael Cox
Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman *
The Long War, Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter *
Seven Sins, Karen Runge *

Those are just the books I actually own and have selected to read. Not including the ones I have on a wishlist, my shelf, or in a cupboard.

All the asterisks are the ones I’ve started, but since neglected. Neglecting a book is by far one of the worst guilt trips I can think of. There’s a part of my mind, somewhere at the back, that is utterly appalled and intellectually indignant that I would dare to abandon a book without finishing it. Yes, I know, Me; I ought to finish what I started. How dare I, a self-proclaimed lover of books, neglect to finish my reading. Shame on me, shame!

Hey, on the bright side, I might even pop a short review of each on here. Writing material to keep me engaged in this little project of mine.

Finally, if there is a random person who happens upon this blog, I wouldn’t turn down some book recommendations. Until next time.

Shootery Lootery

I’ve spent a little more time with the Destiny 2 beta. It’s amazing what I’ll do to get a shooter fix when Battlefield 1 servers are empty after the update.

My opinion on buying this game on day one is still swinging wildly from side to side, like a pendulum powered by indecision and gamer’s addiction angst. There’s this thing that many gamers will be able to relate with: the strong desire to get a new game on launch. I know not everyone is like that, and many of us have to wait for price drops and budget increases, but the desire is still there. It’s my theory that it’s this pent-up desire that makes so many of us lose control on the ridiculous sales.

Anyway, back to Destiny Vol. 2. It’s not bad. I reckon I’ve said that before. It’s more of the same, it’s ever so slightly prettier, it’s got a bit more story intrigue, and probably the most noticeable change is the ever-present “2” in the marketing.  We get it, it’s a different game *avuncularly conspiratorial wink*.

Seriously though, this feels a lot more like a polished expansion than a new game. Destiny: The Snuffing of the Light. This is the biggest source of my instant nausea when thinking of buying this game. However, there are some counter points that are attractive. The foremost of these is the new story and antagonist. Ghaul is pretty darn cool, menacing and calmly casual while ripping the light from the Guardians. The way the story mission in the beta ends motivates me to play this story. Coupled with the presence of NPCs during combat and play (at least in the first mission), this is a far more attractive story campaign than the first.

And yet, there’s a large element that still puts me off. Destiny is a looter shooter. I like me some shooter goodness. I do not like RNG-based looters. This is a more recent discovery, after having something bothering me when playing both The Division and Destiny over the previous year and a bit. In fact, it’s growing to be antipathy. In a shooter, RNG does not belong anywhere near elements that affect gameplay. Create a random loot system for anything purely aesthetic, cool. When you have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting a certain gun, that’s when it loses appeal. In the shooters I enjoy, like Battlefield and Call of Duty (judge me, it’s cool), you work toward certain guns. You unlock them by completing tasks and assignments, rather than them maybe possibly sometimes dropping in your lap after a million hours of disappointment and dashed hopes.

Of course, it’s possible to ignore that aspect of Destiny. Just play the campaign, enjoy the story, move on. The problem with that is the first game had a disjointed narrative campaign that only appealed due to the shooting mechanics and because I was playing with friends. A game has to specifically be built around the mechanics, like 2016’s Doom, for me to not care about the story. And that’s not even a good example, because Doom‘s story was worlds better than the first Destiny. Which is a crying shame, due to Destiny having such amazing lore.

So, what is it? Yea or nay? I don’t know yet. I’ll probably decide long after the beta. And if I have enough cash at the time, I’ll probably just buy it on launch anyway. I have enough friends who play it to have potential good times on the horizon. Yet, there is too much vying for my attention. Lawbreakers is out shortly, I still play the crap out of Battlefield 1COD WWII will have to be played, and Battlefront II is going to be a future time sink. So, does my destiny lie with 2. Probably not, but let’s not rule it out entirely.