E3 2018 Recap: Microsoft brings out the big guns, steals the spotlight at E3

The biggest video game convention of the year gave us a glimpse at a bright future for the gaming community. We saw shocking reveals, in-depth analysis on holiday games, the announcement of an upcoming console, and so much more. It might all be a bit overwhelming to process, so let me guide you down the road and break down what happened in Los Angeles for E3 2018.

Microsoft:

Entering E3 this year, Microsoft was treading water. They’d seen one of their big exclusives in Scalebound get canceled, another exclusive in Crackdown 3 get delayed for the umpteenth time, and were in danger of possible losing their fans to Sony and their treasure trove of exclusive titles. Knowing the circumstances of the situation, Microsoft brought out the big guns for their presentation.

  • Halo Infinite — TBD
    •  Microsoft got the conference rolling by showcasing arguably their most recognizable icon: Master Chief. Spartan-117 is back for his sixth iteration, and while there were no hard reveals during the teaser trailer, it showed Master Chief holding his helmet on his side, before putting it back on and loading up what appeared to be an A.I. chip on the back.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice — 2019
    • If you’re a fan of Dark Souls, this needs your undivided attention. FromSoftware presents their next project, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, which could be categorized as a ninja-Bloodborne. The trailer showed tremendous action, as you play a ninja with a prosthetic arm. Who wouldn’t want to do that?!
  • Crackdown 3 — February 2019
    • Yes, before Microsoft showed Crackdown 3 on stage, there were reports that the game had been delayed to February 2019. It’s interesting that the delay was announced before the conference, maybe as a way to get out in front of the news so people could focus on the new gameplay. Regardless, actor Terry Crews looks to be the protagonist in this over-the-top, highly explosive, run-n-gun shooter coming to Xbox. Let’s hope this is the final delay for Crackdown 3, otherwise we might have to lump it in with the likes of Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy VII Remake.
  • Metro Exodus — February 22, 2019
    • By not having much experience with the Metro series, this latest entry doesn’t make much sense to me. However, if you’re a fan of Metro then I’d bet you’ll be a fan of Metro Exodus. The trailer showed more high action gameplay that is comparable to DOOM and Wolfenstein. It’s setting up to be an amazing FPS for Microsoft.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3 (Part 1) — January 29, 2019
    • WE HAVE A RELEASE DATE! After countless delays, multiple vague reports on its status, it seems the light is finally approaching at the end of this very long tunnel. Square Enix presented a new trailer which debuted two new worlds in Frozen and Tangled. It also highlighted some of the previous announced worlds in Toy Story and Monsters Inc. The trailer ended with a mysterious woman telling Mickey that he was too late, so it looks like the Disney mouse might be in some trouble. (If you coherently know the full story of Kingdom Hearts, that’s resume-worthy in my opinion. Pat yourself on the back.)
  • Forza Horizon 4 — October 2, 2018
    • New year, new Forza. One of Microsoft’s best-selling franchises, Forza Horizon 4 is set in Britain, and will have a shared-world online for the first time in the series. In addition, Horizon 4 will have the ability to reach 60 FPS on the Xbox One X, so if you have a 4K TV combo you’re in for a treat.
  • Session — TBD
    • Not Skate 4. GOTTEM!
  • Cuphead in “The Delicious Last Course” — 2019
    • Our favorite cartoon cup is back for more ways to infuriate you. Don’t let the joyful, innocent art style fool you; this game is not for the faint of heart. Cuphead presents daunting challenges that will scare off many, but for those persistent enough to overcome them will be met with a wave of satisfaction that has never been felt before. I can only hope for the same in this expansion.
  • Jump Force — TBD
    • Did you ever wonder if Naruto could take on Goku? What about Frieza? How about Luffy from One Piece? Well let me tell ya, it’s your lucky day. Bandai Namco revealed what looks to me a massive fighting game with all of your favorite anime characters. At the end, we got a quick shot of Light Yagami and Ryuk from Death Note. I wonder if they had something to do with this mega crossover?
  • Gears 5 –TBD
    • Announcing they will be dropping the “of War”, Gears 5 is the next installment in the gory shooter. Gears 5 will star Kait Diaz, as she is struggling with nightmares that could involve the Locust and her mother.
  • Project Scarlet — TBD
    • Executive President of Gaming Phil Spencer announced that Microsoft is indeed working on the next Xbox, code named “Scarlet”. Little is known about this console, but recent reports say it will be released in 2020.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 — TBD
    • Microsoft closed out their conference with quite possibly the biggest reveal of all E3: Cyberpunk 2077. Coming from CD Projkt RED, Cyberpunk 2077 combines everything we loved from The Witcher, Blade Runner, and Mass Effect. Described as a first-person RPG, this game looks to push the boundaries on open-world adventures and truly immerse you in it. There is incredible detail throughout and I can only imagine how the rest of it is going to look. Hopefully we see this on the current generation of consoles, but a safe bet is a launch title for the next wave.

Sony:

While Microsoft needed to capture our attention and surprise us with new and exciting titles, we already knew what Sony had in store. Before their conference, they announced they had four major games to show, with a few things sprinkled in-between. For what it’s worth, Sony played it safe this E3, and even though that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I think people were still itching for “something” that they hadn’t seen before.

  • The Last of Us Part II — TBD
    • Wow. Sony came out with their heaviest of hitters in The Last of Us Part II. We saw a long cinematic trailer that began with Ellie dancing and kissing her girlfriend, then seamlessly transitioned into actual gameplay (!) that I personally did not expect to see. Naughty Dog surely upped the ante in the violence department, as we watched Ellie brutally dispose enemies during an escape through a dark forest. My best bet is this will be a 2019 holiday game at the earliest, but man, does it look gorgeous.
  • Ghost of Tsushima — TBD
    • Set in feudal Japan, Ghost of Tsushima looks magnificent. There wasn’t much gameplay footage to go off of, but the atmosphere of the setting and graphics were breath-taking. The little amount of sword fighting we did see was flawless, and once again, I hope we see Sucker Punch’s creation earlier rather than later.
  • Control — TBD
    • Very similar look, feel, and style to Quantum Break, Control looks to be another crazy game with strange Force-like telekinetic powers and a deep narrative. Count me intrigued.
  • Resident Evil 2 Remake — January 25, 2019
    • Well, we saw a glimpse of one remake title, but it wasn’t the one I wanted. Maybe it was the one I deserved right now? Anyway, Resident Evil 2 Remake looks absolutely terrifying, so give it to me. Having never played any Resident Evil game until the seventh and latest iteration, I’m eager to finally sink my teeth into this beloved classic.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3 (Part 2) — January 29, 2019
    • WE HAVE A…wait a second…didn’t we see this already? If you were paying attention, then yes, you are correct. Appearing for the second time on stage, Square Enix graced our hearts again with the long-awaited conclusion to this series. I’m starting to think that Square Enix is trying to make up for all the delays by force-feeding us Kingdom Hearts 3 content. Not much else was shown compared to Microsoft’s stage, except Pirates of the Caribbean world was revealed. Whether you wanted it or not, you got yourself some more CGI Johnny Depp! Yo ho and a bottle of rum!
  • Death Stranding — TBD
    • Uh, what? What just happened? Norman Reedus is carrying some baby across the world and there’s invisible death demon creatures? And then a lady ate a bug? What is this game?! I never thought I could learn LESS about a title after watching a trailer, but Hideo Kojima made that possible. So hats off to you, sir. Honestly, I have no idea what to make of this new trailer or the game as a whole, so let’s just move on.
  • Nioh 2 — TBD
    • Now here’s a surprise! While many people were hoping for a sequel to Bloodborne, we instead got a sequel to Nioh. The trailer didn’t show much of what’s to be expected from the next installment, but as long as we know it’s being worked on I think that’s good enough.
  • Spider-Man — September 7, 2018
    • Insomniac exceeded expectations with Sunset Overdrive and are now poised to do the exact same with Marvel’s web-slinger. Spider-Man looks incredible, and the trailer showed a bit more at the trouble our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man finds himself in. Electro, with the help of a mysterious main villain and Mister Negative, has freed the other members of the Sinister Six (Rhino, Vulture, Scorpion) from prison. Spider-Man finds himself beaten and broken when he looks up in disbelief and mutters, “You?”. Who could this be? Harry Osborn? His father, Norman? J. Jonah Jameson?! I’m itching to find out…

Nintendo:

Welcome to year two of the Nintendo Switch! In its inaugural year, the Switch found success in Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8, and Mario Odyssey. Other than that, it was a bit hard to find things to play on the company’s hybrid console. But knowing Nintendo, they always have something smashing up their sleeve.

  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — December 7, 2018
    • After being teased at the past Nintendo Direct event, E3 was the place to fully unveil the next installment in the Super Smash franchise. Ultimate will bring every single fighter in Smash history together and feature a brand new contender in Metroid Prime’s Ridley. Nintendo’s online service launches in September, so hopefully by the time Super Smash Bros. Ultimate releases there won’t be any lagging problems with their service.
  • Super Mario Party — October 5, 2018
    • The go-to game at parties and hangouts, Super Mario Party has found its way to the Switch. Complete with all the different mini-games and excitement, the trailer also showed how you can place multiple Switch consoles together to effectively extend the game board. You can always count on Nintendo to think of unique ways to enhance our gaming experience.
  • Fie Emblem: Three Houses — Spring 2019
    • Three Houses will be the first mainstream Fire Emblem game on a console since 2007, so people may constitute this as the franchise’s Switch debut, other than the spin-off Fire Emblem: Warriors.
  • Fortnite — Now
    • Epic’s Battle Royale has made its way to the Switch. It’s time to jump off the Battle Bus, pick a landing spot (Tilted Towers you cowards), and get that Victory Royale! The download is free off Nintendo’s eShop, however it should be noted that as of now you cannot log into Fortnite with your PSN information. If you’re a Fortnite player on PS4, you will need to create a new Epic account for Switch. In addition, Switch is cross-platform with the other systems, except PS4.
  • Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion — June 13, 2018
    • I love when companies do this. Nintendo has announced that the next content for Splatoon 2 will be available starting tomorrow, June 13. I’m not a big Splatoon fan, but there are tons of people who love this franchise and I think it’s huge for Nintendo to have avid players for their niche competitive shooter.

Ubisoft:

In what was one of my favorite conferences at E3, Ubisoft did a wonderful job of giving people exactly what they wanted. They truly listened to suggestions and are poised to have a big 2018 and early 2019. Other than Microsoft, I think Ubisoft set themselves up for success and effectively won E3.

  • Beyond Good & Evil 2
    • After showing off Just Dance 2019 with a dancing panda, Ubisoft flexed its muscles with Beyond Good & Evil 2. This will be a prequel to the original title (that I didn’t play), but for those who did might recognize the girl at the end of the trailer: Jade. Other than that reveal, the trailer was mainly cinematic and didn’t show a whole lot of actual gameplay, which I think was expected. But, Ubisoft did unveil a unique partnership with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his company HitRECord. Ubisoft is calling for content creators to submit music, art work, anything that people feel should be in the game, and if your work gets chosen you will be compensated. I absolutely love this idea, and while some people might think that’s lazy for a developer to have the public “make their game for them” this is incredible exposure for people. I would love to see more of this.
  • Trials Rising — February 2019
    • I’m not entirely sure how I’ve never seen a Trials game, but this trailer was hilarious. It started off with motorists doing crazy back flips and landing all sorts of tricks, and then it all came crashing down…literally. The different crashes and accidents that the motor bikes had were hysterical to behold. There are some games you see and immediately think it’ll be perfect for something, well, this game will be perfect for the Switch.
  • The Division 2 — March 15, 2019
    • This might be my most anticipated game from E3. I played a bit of vanilla Division and had a blast. I honestly wish I would’ve stuck with it to reap the benefits of the updates, but clearly Ubisoft learned its lessons for the sequel. Set in Washington D.C., The Division 2 tasks you with saving America from impeding civil war. The big announcement during this presentation was the DLC in Year One of Division 2 will all be free, and the game is introducing eight-player raid missions. I. Can’t. Wait.
  • Mario + Rabbids Donkey Kong DLC — June 26, 2018
    • One of the strangest crossovers is set to get some new content. Donkey Kong is swinging into action in the upcoming Donkey Kong Adventure DLC. Fans of the tactics game should be in for a treat.
  • Skull & Bones — 2018
    • Where one shall fall, another shall rise. Sea of Thieves tried to be the pirate game many wanted, but fell a bit short. That’s where Skull & Bones comes in. This beautiful, stunning pirate adventure looks to be everything you ever wanted in conquering the seven seas. Ubisoft’s pirate adventure is described as a shared online world, with players operating different pirate vessels. The combat looks precise and articulate, but also rewarding. If you ever wanted to see how it feels to be Jack Sparrow, this is it.
  • Transference (VR) — Fall 2018
    • I don’t own a VR machine, but games like this make it harder and harder to resist investing in one. This narrative-driven experience follows the story of a troubled family and is described as a psychological thriller. I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of VR and this might be the game that could force me toward making the plunge.
  • Starlink — October 16, 2018
    • Star Fox is back! Kind of! Ubisoft has joined forces yet again with Nintendo and will feature Star Fox in their toy-to-game title Starlink. Another unique idea, one that I’m a bit sheepish toward, has you buying and constructing real life star ships on your controller and they will appear in-game. I’m not entirely sure who the target audience is for this title, but hopefully it finds a way to succeed.
  • For Honor: Marching Fire — October 16, 2018
    • A new expansion is coming to For Honor, and it’s being pegged as the biggest one yet. The expansion comes with a new mode called Breach, four new fighters, a new faction, and more single-player content. In addition, Ubisoft announced that For Honor will be free through UPlay this week.
  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey — October 5, 2018
    • New year, new Assassin’s Creed game. After exploring the pyramids of Ancient Egypt, Ubisoft is taking us on a tour of Ancient Greece. Odyssey is set hundreds of years being Origins, so this title acts as a pseudo-prequel to last year’s title. For the first time in this storied franchise, you’ll have the option of playing either a male or female, have dialogue options which can affect the story, and engage in romantic affairs. I think these are big steps to rejuvenate a rapidly-approaching stagnant franchise. The environments of Odyssey are gorgeous and the combat looks precise. Fans of the series are in for a treat this fall. (No, Mario and/or Cappy are NOT in this game.)

Bethesda:

Similarly to Ubisoft, Bethesda did an amazing job of showing exactly what their fans wanted to see. Other than showcasing Andrew W.K. at the beginning of their conference (the crowd did not humor him one bit), Bethesda showed a handful of highly-anticipated games that’ll have people drooling over themselves.

  • Rage 2 — Spring 2019
    • The reason why we were subjected to an awkward Andrew W.K. set piece, Rage 2 kicked off the conference for Bethesda. What seems like Mad Max, Rage 2 is set in a post-apocalyptic world (Bethesda loooooooves their post-apocalyptic worlds). The gameplay trailer showed small similarities to other Bethesda titles, like DOOM and Wolfenstein in the mechanics, such as a power slide and the overall violent FPS vibe to Rage 2.
  • DOOM Eternal — TBD
    • This will get the blood pumping. After successfully reviving the DOOM franchise in 2016, Bethesda showed a teaser to the sequel. Fans of the older games compared DOOM Eternal to DOOM 2, and predict the game will be Hell on Earth. Yeah, you can count me the hell in on that. (Sidenote: Twitter account PixelBrave set the teaser to Led Zepplin’s Immigrant Song and it’s glorious.)
  • Prey Mooncrash — Now
    • Once again, I love when companies do this. Bethesda announced new modes in Prey with a New Game+ and survival mode, both available immediately for free. In addition, paid DLC titled Mooncrash is also available. Prey was one of those games where you really wanted to play it, but it slipped past you…maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood — 2019
    • Set 19 years after Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, Youngblood will place you in the shoes of B.J. Blazkowicz’s twin daughters Jess and Soph on their journey to search for their missing father, and of course, killing Nazis. The New Colossus was my first experience with Wolfenstein, and after playing that, I know what all the fuss is about. Youngblood will take place in 1980s Paris, so I’m definitely all for killing Nazis on the Eiffel Tower.
  • Fallout 76 — November 14, 2018
    • Fallout 76 is a prequel to all the other Fallout games. Taking place in West Virginia, you’re one of the first people to emerge from the Vaults and step foot in the post-nuclear world. Said to be roughly four times the size of Fallout 4, Bethesda confirmed that this will be entirely online, but still will be able to play solo. I’m interesting to see how having friends play with you in Fallout 76 will work, but sounds like an interesting spin on the franchise.
  • Starfield — TBD
    • This seems to be a case where this game is nowhere near in being complete, but Bethesda wanted to shut some people up. The short teaser proved that this project exists and that it’ll be some kind of sci-fi game. Bethesda noted that this will be a “next-gen” title, so safe to assume this isn’t coming out for about 3-5 years.
  • The Elder Scrolls VI — TBD
    • Bethesda is two-for-two on showing games that are nowhere close to being ready! Once again, this short teaser trailer proved to the nagging fans that they are indeed working on the next installment of Elder Scrolls. Many fans have tried figuring out where exactly the mountains were in the trailer. At this point, just accept that it’s being worked on and also that you won’t play it for a good while.

EA:

Everyone knows EA from their sports games, but EA is starting to branch out a bit. One of the biggest game reveals of E3 came from EA’s stage, and the spotlight will continue to be on EA until this game releases. We expect great things with EA.

  • Battlefield V — October 2018
    • EA is shifting the Battlefield franchise back to World War II. The trailer showed tons of explosions and destructive environments, but most importantly, revealed that Battlefield V will have a battle royale mode. So, the two big FPS war games in Call of Duty Black Ops 4 and Battlefield V will both feature battle royale game modes. I was actually pretty shocked that Battlefield V was the only BR announcement.
  • Jedi: Fallen Order — Holiday 2019
    • Respawn announced their Star Wars game will be called Jedi: Fallen Order. The game will take place between Episodes 3 and 4, following the Empire and Darth Vader’s hunt for the surviving Jedi. I swear, there better be a scene where Palpatine goes “Execute Order 66” or I riot.
  • Battlefront II Clone Wars — 2018
    • Star Wars Battlefront II has had an uphill battle to say the least since it’s release. Now, EA has announced a new squad system, new heroes and maps adapted directly from the Clone Wars. These heroes include General Grievous, Obi Wan Kenobi, and Anakin Skywalker.
  • Anthem — February 2019
    • What mostly everyone was waiting for, the lid was blown off for Anthem. The extended trailer showed a team of exosuits, called Javelins, on a mission to find the source of a disturbance. The graphics and combat systems look amazing. EA made sure to state that there won’t be any loot boxes in Anthem, but there will still be customization for your mech suits. I’m interested to hear/see more about Anthem, because I feel like this could be the game that everyone wanted Destiny to be.

Square Enix:

For as respectable as Square Enix is, this was a lousy conference for them. They showed games that were seen prior on different stages, while at the same time not showing games or giving updates that many wanted (um, Final Fantasy VII Remake and Avengers anyone??). Looking back, I honestly don’t know why Square Enix had a conference, but let’s take a look at what went down.

  • Kingdom Hearts 3 (Part 3) — January 29, 2018
    • Alright, I’m at the point where I hope it gets delayed again. If you’re counting at home, this is the third time we’ve seen Kingdom Hearts on stage. And each time, I get more and more confused as to what the hell is going on in this story. I feel like Charlie from It’s Always Sunny trying to figure out where all the mail is going.
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider — September 14, 2018
    • Lara Croft is a gaming legend, so seeing her continue to go on adventures is a sight for sore eyes. Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks to lean heavily on the stealth-aspect of things, and is described as having more tombs than ever before. Based on the positive reactions of the last one, I think fans will enjoy this title very much.
  • The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit — June 26, 2018
    • Announced at the Microsoft conference, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit follows the story of a young boy who escapes from his real life struggles by using his imagination. Developers have stated that Captain Spirit is set in the same universe as Life is Strange, and will in someways connect the two titles.
  • Babylon’s Fall — 2019
    • The newest game from Platinum, virtually nothing was revealed about this title. Platinum is responsible for Bayonetta and Nier: Automata, so I’m fairly confident in whatever Babylon’s Fall ends up being.
  • The Quiet Man — TBD
    • Square Enix showed a strange trailer that started in real life, then morphed into gameplay, and ended back in real life. The trailer portrayed that you play a deaf guy who knows martial arts. It’ll be interesting to see if while playing the game, you’re literally deaf and you can’t hear sounds. That would be pretty weird, but interesting.

And with that, E3 2018 has come and gone! It was an exciting few days filled with promising reveals and overall optimism and excitement for the future. While there were certain games missing from the conferences, the things we did see blew our minds. Everyone had their own ups and downs during E3, but at the end of the day, I was blown away by Microsoft. They truly set the bar this E3 and have a plan laid out for the upcoming future to win fans back. I hope they pull through, because more games only build the industry and gives people more experiences in games.

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Ni no Kuni II Review: Heartfelt adventure that struggles to find an identity

Recently, I was properly introduced to the wonderful world of Studio Ghibli (by my dentist, go figure). Movies such as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Howl’s Moving Castle completely blew me away. Hayao Miyazaki’s films are charming, full of deep moving stories, and contain amazing character development. I wanted more from the worlds he created, I wanted to immerse myself in them. That’s when I noticed Ni no Kuni II.

Having not played the first installment, I was pleased to find out that the sequel was an adventure all of its own, but did have some small references from the original game. At first glance, Level-5’s JRPG is exactly what I was looking for: a world that resembled Studio Ghibli. Ni no Kuni II is absolutely beautiful. The colors are vibrant and the art design is gorgeous. Plenty of times during my near 40-hour play-through, I thought this was another one of Miyazaki’s creations and not a video game.  And just like a Studio Ghibli film, Ni no Kuni II presented a fairly interesting story and an extraordinary wide cast of characters that you truly care about. However, looking passed the pretty shine and the lovable characters is a game that struggles to find its identity.

Ni no Kuni II follows the story of young King Evan, or soon-to-be King Evan, as he is about to be crowned the new king of Ding Dong Dell following the sudden passing of his father. A mysterious man named Roland appears in Evan’s private chambers during the start of a coup against Evan by his late father’s adviser Otto Mausinger. Roland helps Evan escape and they journey the world together in hopes of building a new kingdom for the young king and uniting all the other kingdoms of the world together in peace and harmony.

Jumping in, I noticed that the combat controls are surprising simple, yet effective. Now, I’m a big fan of turn-based style combat when it comes to RPGs, so at first, I was a bit hesitant after discovering that Ni no Kuni II would use real-time combat. Seeing game-play footage, the fighting style reminded me a bit of Final Fantasy XV and that was a major turn off for me. Once I got my feet wet with the controls though, the combat was actually quite satisfying. The overall feel of the fighting styles and the process of equipping armor and weapons felt very Kingdom Hearts-esque, with the ability to switch characters as a tiny wrinkle. It was simple enough where you could get away with various button-mashing, but rewarded you heavily if you performed certain special moves properly.

About 70-80% of the game presented a decent challenge regarding enemy difficulty, but near the eighth chapter, Ni no Kuni II takes a spike in difficulty. I found myself battling enemies that were easily 10-15 levels higher than me. You might be thinking, “Well, did you think about grinding for experience?” Good question! The problem with that is the leveling system is a bit wonky. Defeating baddies that were considerably stronger than me did not result in my party gaining levels on a mass scale. Ni no Kuni II does present opportunities for you to fight side monsters known as “Tainted Monsters” that provide more of a challenge and can net you some quality rewards, but again, it goes back to the fact that leveling up felt more slow and tedious to me than any other RPG I’ve experienced.

Other than the real-time combat, Ni no Kuni II offers a more RTS-style combat known as Skirmish. Certain scenarios require Evan to engage in battles that don’t necessarily put you in control of the fighting, but you determine the type of soldiers to deploy. For instance, Evan can have a max of four unit armies to aid him in battle, and there are several different unit types to choose from. Each unit type is strong against certain other types, but weak against others. By controlling Evan, you can rotate which armies are in the forefront of the fight, revive reinforcements, and also perform certain special attacks. However, the cost of the special attacks and bringing reinforcements cost “Might”, and if Evan’s Might reaches zero with all his armies destroyed, you lose the Skirmish. This is an interesting addition to the traditional JRPG formula, although I found it frustrating that Skirmishes were sometimes mandatory. Being taught how to operate Skirmishes at the beginning of the game is understandable, but after that I would’ve liked to have all other possible Skirmish battles be in the form of side quests.

Another intriguing inclusion in Ni no Kuni II is the kingdom building. I mentioned earlier that the game’s plot revolves around Evan building a new kingdom, and boy, do they really mean that. Throughout the majority of the game, I tinkered around with expanding my kingdom and obtaining new citizens. It was cute, being able to assign people to certain areas that they specialize in to help my kingdom flourish. But just like the Skirmishes, I would’ve liked this feature to be more optional than a requirement. A specific point in the game requires Evan’s kingdom of Evermore to be an exact level. In order to increase Evermore’s level, you must have a set number of citizens and facilities. This was an unfortunate speed bump in my play-through that truly hindered the overall pace and progress of the game. Not once was it suggested that Evermore’s status would have any true impact on the game and the whole building mechanics simply felt like a mini-game or a gimmick of sorts.

Ni no Kuni II does a tremendous job in many categories: voice acting, art design, character development, and the creativity of the locations in the world. It flexes its muscles when it comes to the visuals and presentation, but falls short in essentially everything else. The standard real-time combat is surprising gratifying, but I think Level-5 bit off more than they could chew with the RTS-style Skirmishes and poor man’s version of Civilization in the kingdom building. While I applaud the attempt at presenting something new and different, there were too many different features in my mind that caused Ni no Kuni II to be something it wasn’t. The game jumps between normal combat to RTS Skirmishes, all while incorporating a seemingly unimportant building element that hurt me in the end. It all probably seemed like good ideas at the time, but at the end of the day it all feels too crowded. If Ni no Kuni II was a Miyazaki film, it would be a shiny, wonderful adventure about a young cat prince trying to bring peace to the world. Alas, Level-5’s JRPG is a machine with too many malfunctioning parts that keep it from achieving its true potential.

Final Score: 7/10

Ready Player One review: Spielberg’s film hits home behind enjoyment and nostalgia

Imagine a kid in the middle of their room playing with a wide variety of action figures. They’re bashing them together, doesn’t matter what world, universe, or dimension they’re from, it’s an all-out war. Now, imagine Steven Spielberg being that kid and the action figures represent every possible pop culture property ever created. You’re ready to jump into Ready Player One.

Based on the novel by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One follows Wade Watts, an avid gamer in the virtual space known as the OASIS. The OASIS contains virtually every possible game, world, and quite literally *anything* you’re imagination could think of. Set in the year 2045, the majority of humanity spends their time in this virtual paradise. The real world is a bleak, desolate shell of what planet Earth used to be, but no solid explanation is given as to how that happened. It’s a bit unfortunate that the film did not go into more background depth about how the Earth became borderline uninhabitable, and why people spend so much of their time in a virtual space.

After the famous creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, passed away, it’s revealed that he hid the ultimate Easter egg in the virtual world. The player must obtain three keys, all hidden behind complicated puzzles that can only be unlocked as you receive each key, in order to retrieve the egg. The first person to complete each puzzle and possess all the keys will receive Halliday’s majority share of OASIS, and thus, be king of the virtual dimension.

Sounds pretty easy, right? Solve a few puzzles, then make more money than you could possibly imagine? Not so fast. The puzzles that Halliday created are very in-depth and revolve around his own personal life. Not only must you be a skilled gamer, but you must also know your knowledge about Halliday and the creation of OASIS. Ready Player One does a tremendous job of presenting these challenges in ways that make the audience question themselves until they’re actually solved. I found myself thinking that I’d figured out the puzzle, but discovered that I would never have won any of the keys.

Ready Player One has a wonderful cast that work quite well together. I felt true chemistry between Tye Sheridan (Wade Watts) and Olivia Cooke (Samantha Cook) when they were working together in the OASIS to solve the challenges, as well as when the film switches back to reality. Ben Mendelsohn played an interesting villain in Nolan Sorrento; in a movie like this, it can be very easy to have a lackluster antagonist, but Mendelsohn’s Sorrento proves to be every bit of a bad guy in his attempt to obtain all three keys. Lena Waithe (Helen), Phillip Zhao (Sho), and Win Morisaki (Daito) gave quality performances that helped round out the supporting cast and made me truly care for all of the characters.

Since this film was released, it has been showered with praise by some and shrouded in disappointment by others. It seems that the people who had more issues with the film also read the novel, and it didn’t quite meet that bar of expectation. However, if you’re like me who didn’t read the novel, or someone who just enjoys an action-packed science-fiction film with more recognizable characters on screen than you can count, Ready Player One is excellent. The plot was sound, the cast all performed brilliantly, the CGI was well-done and the puzzles weren’t a waste of time. I wish the film did a better job with the overall narrative on the dreary state of the real world, and at times the film moved a bit too fast on screen to genuinely enjoy and appreciate all the amazing cameos. Regardless, Spielberg’s film is a wonderful ride and is a must-watch for fans of virtually anything.

Final Score: 8.5/10

A Quiet Place review: John Krasinski’s directorial debut is a silent killer

Throughout the hour and a half long movie, I couldn’t help but wait for that precious moment when John Krasinski’s character would turn his gaze to the camera and give the audience a classic Jim Halpert smirk n’ shrug. Alas, it didn’t happen…

Now that we’ve gotten the obvious “The Office” joke out of the way (pretty poor one at that), let’s dive into Krasinski’s directorial debut A Quiet Place. The film takes place in a rural, farmland area that looks to have been abandoned by all civilization. Just as the movie title would entail, being silent is imperative for survival. There were moments in the theater that I seriously wondered whether or not the sound had cut out, that’s how quiet they had to be.

Floating between the two genres of thriller and horror, A Quiet Place is a sort of hybrid film that accomplishes quite a few things. For starters, the 90-minute run-time was the perfect length that ensured my full attention and kept me entertained throughout the movie. Krasinski and Emily Blunt were sensational on the big screen as the two leading big names, while the two children, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, provided extraordinary performances for this type of movie.

The narrative of the film was simple, yet effective: keep quiet or risk getting torn apart by monsters. While Krasinski’s film did an excellent job of providing suspenseful moments that at times reminded me of Jurassic Park, A Quiet Place isn’t without its flaws. The method of how the film distributed background information was a bit unorthodox. The origins of the monsters or why this is happening was never touched on, so I spent some time during and after the movie developing my own theories. Not to say that that is a bad thing, but it might’ve added more to the overall plot if we knew that the monsters were aliens or man-made. Krasinski might’ve gone against that idea, because then it could’ve altered the genre to more of a science-fiction film so I can understand that hole, but it would’ve been nice to have. Although we didn’t get a good sense of what these monsters were, the concept behind them was very original and creative.

Krasinski’s debut as a director was an interesting one. His film wasn’t perfect, but it did enough creatively and in a precise manner that he seems to have a bright future behind the camera as much as in front of it. Blunt does an amazing job as the second lead in A Quiet Place, and the overall pace was very good. While I wished that more background information behind the monsters and the seemingly world-wide crisis would’ve been given, it does leave a bit of intrigue and allows one to fill in the blanks with their own creative theories.

Final Score: 7.5/10

Black Panther review: Wakanda forever

The final film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before the mad titan Thanos descends on Earth might be one of the best we’ve seen. Throughout the entire development process, the hype surrounding Black Panther grew to astronomical heights. Not only was this movie going to sport a predominately African cast, but also shine light on certain political issues.

Directed by Ryan Coogler, also known for his award-winning film Fruitvale Station, Black Panther’s list of cast members is one to behold. Chadwick Boseman delivered another amazing performance in his second appearance as T’Challa, Lupita Nyong’o was brilliant as Nakia, and Danai Gurira (known more commonly for her role as Michonne in The Walking Dead) played the fierce role of Wakanda’s top general Okoye. But the two shining stars in Black Panther were Michael B. Jordan as the villainous Erik Killmonger and Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s little sister Shuri.

While the Marvel films have become the staple for the superhero genre, they’ve had a recurring problem regarding their villains. Other than Loki, many of the Marvel villains are easily forgotten and lacked any true depth or scope. That’s not the case with Jordan’s Killmonger. Some might’ve been skeptical about Jordan being in another superhero movie given his inclusion in the Fantastic Four reboot, but just as Chris Evans resurrected his Marvel standing with Captain America so does Jordan with Killmonger. Coogler developed an intriguing backstory to the Wakandan villain that will make you think twice about whether Killmonger’s motives are actually evil or if he’s slightly misunderstood. His reasons for what he does in the film are somewhat sound, given how he was brought up in Oakland and what’s happening around the world. The concept of how there are impoverished people around the world and how countries don’t use resources to help them when it’s clearly possible is a main theme throughout Black Panther. Coogler does an excellent job of highlighting these complex issues without forcing the audience toward a conclusion.

Wright’s Shuri steals the spotlight in nearly every scene she’s in. The younger sister of T’Challa, Shuri is the head of the Wakanda science and technology division, and is arguably the smartest character in the MCU (sorry, Tony Stark). She’s responsible for developing the invaluable Vibranium into various weapons and defense systems, while also providing new enhancements for T’Challa’s Black Panther suit. It was also revealed in the Avengers Infinity War Prelude comic #1 that Shuri is the one who cures Bucky Barnes of his brainwash problems that have plagued him since Captain America: Winter Soldier. Given her technological intellect, it would be fascinating to see her and Stark together onscreen.

Black Panther is a tremendous film for Marvel, and has the potential to have an affect on real-world issues. Even if Black Panther and its characters are fictitious, seeing young black people, such as Shuri, have an impact on the world can be inspiring. Many films depict black people as hoodlums, gangsters, drug dealers, slaves or simply uneducated. These depictions tend to generalize how black people are viewed in society by other people, but also how black people generalize themselves. Coogler’s film provides empowerment and a sense of pride for black people. His vision characterizes black people as a demographic that has the ability to blaze their own path and create their own narrative. Black Panther displays an image of self-confidence that not many films have conveyed in the past, and not only do I hope more films follow share Coogler’s vision in the future, but that black people around the world truly embrace his ideals moving forward.

Final Score: 9.5/10

Dragon Ball FighterZ Review: Kaaaa-meeee-haaaa…..

As a kid, I’ve always wanted to perform a Kamehameha. I know, it’s impossible (*whispers* still holding out hope). One year, I even dressed up as Goku for Halloween. If you haven’t caught at what I’m getting at, it’s that Dragon Ball has had quite an impact on my growing up. Once I got into video games and tried The Legacy of Goku games on the Game Boy Advance, I knew nothing would come close to that enjoyment…until I picked up DragonBall FighterZ.

Having skipped out on most of the well-regarded Budokai series and only dipped my toes in Xenoverse 2, the anticipation to jump into FighterZ was over 9,000. Taking many elements from the Marvel vs. Capcom series, Dragon Ball FighterZ (pronounced as “Fighterz”, not “Fighter-Z”) offers 3-on-3 team-based combat. The roster contains plenty of the iconic Dragon Ball characters: Super Saiyan Goku, Super Saiyan Vegeta, adult Gohan, teen Gohan, Gotenks, Krillin, Yamcha, Piccolo, Trunks, Cell, Frieza, Majin Buu, Kid Buu, Tien, Nappa, Captain Ginyu, Beerus, Hit, Goku Black, Android 16, Android 18, and Android 21. In addition to these characters, the Super Saiyan Blue versions of Goku and Vegeta are also available through either paid-DLC, earning enough Zeni (in-game currency), or by completing certain Arcade modes on Hard difficulty.

The plot of FighterZ is split into three distinct, but roughly similar, story arcs: Super Warrior Arc, Enemy Warrior Arc, and Android 21 Arc. The “main” arc, Super Warrior, features Goku as the main character as he and the Z fighters battle a new enemy in Android 21. FighterZ does a creative job in explaining how the player controls each of the fighters by stating certain waves around the Earth have suppressed everyone’s power and only you are able to fully unlock it. The Enemy Warrior Arc puts you in the driver’s seat of Frieza, and the Android 21 Arc has you primarily in control of Android 18. Each arc revolves around the general story-line of fighting Android 21 in some capacity, but taken from different perspectives. The timeline of FighterZ in relation to the anime places the game sometime after the Resurrection F movie.

In order to appeal to a mass audience, developer Arc System Works crafted FighterZ to be very kind to novice players. The mechanics present the standard light, medium, and heavy attacks, while also incorporating special abilities and the use of assists by your idle teammates. Just like any fighting game, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of button-mashing, but learning how to properly string together attacks is quite satisfying. An added bonus in stringing together long combos is being able to secure the Dragon Balls. You must land seven individual combos of 10-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and 70+ to have the ability to summon Shenron. While it doesn’t necessarily matter what order the Dragon Balls are collected or who even collects them (the Dragon Balls are shared in a pool between you and your opponent) the player who has the max seven power bars filled will be able to summon the dragon. Once Shenron is summoned, the dragon will grant one of four wishes: heal your current fighter to full health, revive a fallen teammate with 50 percent health, automatically boost your Ki gauge (power bars) back to max, or restore five percent of your health and grant you a second Sparking Blast icon. The icon can only be used once in a match and it grants you a temporary raise in power. This mechanic is extremely important to master, because it can easily turn the tide in battle.

Aside from the standard fighting mechanics, each individual fighter has their own pros and cons. For example, Cell is able to perform an aerial Ki blast that lays waste to roughly half of the ground on the map, but the android has a grab move that can sometimes mess up a combo if you aren’t close enough to your enemy. Fans have already begun constructing lists online with various team builds that suit a wide-range of players.

Developing a video game is hard enough, but based on a franchise as popular as Dragon Ball can be daunting. Arc System Works and Bandai Namco went above and beyond the level of expectation in FighterZ. While certain parts of the plot are a bit weak, the voice acting and dialogue between the characters rival the anime itself. The bickering between Goku and Vegeta about who will fight first, and the extreme narcissistic attitude of Cell transform FighterZ beyond a standard fighting experience. Coupling the precise voice acting is the beautiful art work. Even though FighterZ is primarily a 2-D fighting game, the special attack animations make the game look three-dimensional and present a smooth, dramatic flow like the anime. The vibrant colors make the art pop out, and each set-piece is as beautiful to look at as nostalgic. Whether or not FighterZ becomes the next big thing in the fighting community, it will absolutely rank high on your own Dragon Ball gaming experience.

Final Score: 9/10

Best of 2017: A year to remember

We’ve made it. Another year gone, another chapter in our lives finished. Looking back on the year that was can be either sentimental, regretful, or really any type of feeling depending on what you may or may not have accomplished in the last 365 days. There was a lot of good, but also a lot of bad that happened throughout 2017: our country divided, possibility of war, questionable political decisions to say the least, natural disasters ravaging people’s lives, and much more. But, let us not dwell on the bad, for plenty of good arose from 2017. Let’s take a walk down old memory lane and reminiscent on the best games, movies, and television shows that brought us so much joy and entertainment.

Games:

Persona 5

My personal Game of the Year, Persona 5 was a welcoming return to the world of turn-based JRPGs. I’ve never played a Persona game before, so the sheer scope of it was overwhelming. However, once I got past that, it was a wonderful game. The art design blew me away and the character development was superb. Atlus did a perfect job crafting a well-told story, presenting intense situations and memorable characters. Hopefully the next major entry doesn’t take nearly a decade like the gap between Persona 4 and 5, because I believe many more people, myself included, are anxious to experience more of what Atlus has to offer.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Sony has a treasure trove of iconic figures: Nathan Drake, Crash Bandicoot, Kratos, Jak and Daxter, and Ratchet and Clank. Now, we can add another one to the list in Horizon Zero Dawn‘s Aloy. The young orphaned warrior conquered the tremendous odds stacked against her to help save not only her tribe, but her entire world from utter destruction. The idea of a post-apocalyptic world has been thrown through the grinder many times before, but Guerrilla Games took it one step forward and added their own unique twist to it: robotic dinosaurs. Just imagine if Jurassic Park and Terminator had a baby, well Horizon Zero Dawn would be that offspring. Guerrilla’s presented a gorgeous world and the story was riveting full of twists and turns. Sony has ruled supreme when it comes to exclusives and Horizon Zero Dawn was no different.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

If there’s one company that might not want 2017 to end it’s Nintendo. What seemed like forever of playing third fiddle behind Sony and Microsoft, the fabled company erupted out of the gates with their brand new console the Nintendo Switch. Initially clouded with skepticism, the Switch quickly broke sales records and became a staple in consumers homes. Something that might’ve helped the Switch hit the ground running was the latest entry in Link’s never-ending battle against evil, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The first open-world Zelda game in the franchise, Breath of the Wild added new dimensions and evolved the franchise in the best way possible. Having the freedom to go and explore any part of Hyrule you’d like at any given time was a type of flexibility that’s never been seen in a Zelda game. The art design was incredible and the story felt a bit more mature. Moving forward, it might be time for Nintendo to give Link a voice perhaps?

Super Mario Odyssey

If we had to pick a developer that won 2017 it would be Nintendo hands down. Starting the year with the Switch and Breath of the Wild to only cap off 2017 with Super Mario Odyssey might be one of the best 1-2 punches out there. Mario’s latest adventure was one of his best, as he battled the King Koopa Bowser to rescue Princess Peach. Odyssey overflows with charm, and the various kingdoms are wonderful to experience. Introducing the ability to literally take over other beings and objects by the use of Cappy was a fresh new take on Mario. Also, the final scene of the Metro Kingdom in New Donk City was arguably the best moment in games this year.

Cuphead

Microsoft didn’t have the greatest of years in 2017, but lucky for us they gave the world Cuphead. Studio MDHR’s indie platformer garnered much attention due to the colorful art design reminiscent of the old 1930s cartoons. Although the art style looks quite welcoming, the actual play-through of the game was very difficult. That gratifying feeling when you finally vanquish a boss after countless deaths was one of the best feelings I’ve experienced all year.

Fortnite

The end of 2017 was pretty major for me as I was properly introduced to PC gaming. My friend helped me build a quality gaming PC and the first game I downloaded was Fortnite. After watching a few of my favorite Twitch streamers play it (CDNthe3rd, Ninja, and Summit1g), it instantly hooked me. What separates Fortnite with other battle royale games such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and H1Z1 is the bright, colorful art style and the exclusion of vehicles but the inclusion of building mechanics. Epic Games has done a tremendous job of listening to what players want in the game, and seem hellbent on supporting the Fortnite community well into the future.

Movies:

Get Out

Known for his comedic role on Key & Peele, Jordan Peele made his directorial debut with the thriller Get Out. While the movie took a surprising turn near the end, Peele was able to encapsulate the idea of what it feels like being black in a white world. The many obstacles that must be hurdled along the way is highlighted perfectly in his movie. Lead actor Daniel Kaluuya was tremendous, and hopefully he continues to find himself on the big screen.

Wonder Woman

Warner Bros.’s idea of a connected D.C. cinematic universe to rival that of Marvel’s hadn’t gotten off to the start that many had hoped. Man of Steel was adequate, Batman vs. Superman was laughable, and Suicide Squad wasn’t a true representation of what its trailers presented. So, in an 0-3 hole, Warner Bros. turned to the Princess of Themyscira to save them. Wonder Woman righted the ship, for now, and showed audiences that we can have a quality D.C. superhero film. Gal Gadot was absolutely brilliant in the film and I hope remains a staple in the future D.C. movie plans. Although the rest of the cinematic universe seems to be crumbling down (i.e. Justice League), at least there’s been one constant joy and that’s Diana Prince.

Blade Runner 2049

The long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 film, Blade Runner 2049 is a spectacle to behold if anything else. The visuals and cinematography throughout Dennis Villeneuve’s entire film is breathtaking and makes the near three hour run-time feel like nothing. Blade Runner 2049 presented a strong cast which featured Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Robin Wright, and the return of Harrison Ford. The end of the film left it open for a continued story, so let’s hope the next entry doesn’t take another 25 years.

IT

It was only a matter of time until someone remade the 1990 IT film, but thankfully, this iteration was something special. The children of Derry battled back against the forces of evil and, for the time being, vanquished their clown foe. Bill Skarsgård’s rendition as Pennywise was excruciatingly terrifying. Unlike the 1990 version where it transitioned back and forth between the past and present, this film was set strictly in the past. The next film will be part two and feature the children as adults.

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Many Star Wars fans thought the previous film, The Force Awakens, was a bit too safe and essentially a carbon copy of the fourth film, A New Hope. Lucky for those fans, director Rian Johnson took this eighth film and ran with it in the opposite direction. No Star Wars film has had this much scrutiny and discussion surrounding it since the prequels and Jar-Jar Binks. Whether it be Finn’s character arc to Mark Hamill’s return as Luke Skywalker, there’s many, many things that this film introduced that will have people talking until the final entry in this trilogy. The Last Jedi and Johnson blazed their own path, and in an age where people tend to avoid risks, it’s refreshing to see someone take a plunge like he did. It’ll be very interesting to see how J.J. Abrams concludes Rey’s story as she continues to walk down the path of the Jedi. However, if there’s one thing that Johnson did perfectly in The Last Jedi, it’s that he crafted Kylo Ren into one of the best Star Wars villains.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Baby Groot. That’s all.

TV Shows:

Game of Thrones

Truthfully, I hadn’t gotten aboard the Game of Thrones train until this year. Previously, I had watched the show through the infamous Red Wedding, but stopped shortly after that right before Joffrey’s demise. I persevered though, and thankfully I did, because stuff really hit the fan in Season 7. Finally, after years of waiting, Daenerys Targaryen made landfall on Westeros and her claim for the Iron Throne truly began. Seeing her dragons wage war against the Lannisters was a spectacle to behold, but what was truly terrifying to witness was the rise of the White Walkers. Game of Thrones is known for having epic season finales and this season was no different. The Night King, with a zombified-dragon in tow, had begun his march down south, and oh, Jon Snow and Daenerys were having sex while Bran’s voice over revealed them to be aunt and nephew. Go figure.

Stranger Things 2

Netflix has taken audiences by storm with the quality of their original content, and they easily hit a gold mine in Stranger Things. The second season picked up where we left off with Will Byers trying to get accustomed back to society after being trapped in the Upside Down. The creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, did a phenomenal job of expanding the cast just enough to introduce compelling characters, while also spending quality time building on already established characters. Discovering that there are other people out there with unique abilities like Eleven opens up this world to new possibilities, even when this story of Stranger Things ends. Hopefully Season 3 either offers a firm resolution to Eleven’s story and the Upside Down, because it does feel to be on the verge of redundancy. Oh, and also Steve Harrington better not die or we’ll riot.

Master of None

After I finished watching Season 2 of Master of None, I confidently proclaimed it to have been one of the best seasons of television I’ve ever watched. Looking back on it, I’d say the exact same thing. Aziz Ansari’s Netflix-original is a thoughtful, slightly comedic, deep look into people’s lives. He examines the everyday issues people go through like finding a job, making friends, dealing with unexpected situations, love and heartbreak. One of the best episodes is when Aziz is hardly even in it. In the episode “New York, I Love You”, it shows how the lives of random people in New York intersect together. It’s a wonderful, charming episode that encapsulates the idea of America being a melting pot of culture and perfectly showcases the notion of “walking in someone else’s shoes”.

Mindhunter

Why does someone decide to murder another person? Why do they decide to do it multiple times? Netflix’s Mindhunter tells the story of FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench studying how the minds of sequence killers (soon to be serial killers) work. Based on the true crime book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit written by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker, Ford and Tench expand upon the simplicity of how people view crimes. They cross-examine real murderers and find that sometimes there’s extreme thought that goes into the process, and some reasons for killing people are due to actual mental problems that they’ve suffered in the past. For a person who’s not super into the history of serial killers, this was a amazing story that does a great job conveying the information in an interesting way.

Rick and Morty

Just like Game of Thrones, I hadn’t fully gotten introduced to Rick and Morty until this year. In my mind, better late than never. The cleverness and thought that goes into this show is literally out of this world. One of the most well-talked about moments in entertainment this year, regardless if you watch the show or not, was Pickle Rick. The first two seasons were pretty lighthearted up until Rick turned himself in to the Galactic Federation, but Season 3 is really when things start to take a dark turn. There never really seemed to be an overlaying plot in this show, but during the third season it’s revealed that an evil Morty has effectively taken over the Council of Ricks, setting Season 4 up to be quite a dozy.

The Punisher

Jon Bernthal’s iteration of Marvel’s Punisher burst onto the scene in Daredevil Season 2. Listening to him and Matt Murdock battle psychologically with their ideals of how crime-fighting should happen was quite interesting and eye-opening. Sometimes heroes that perform well in a supporting role might tend to take a step backwards on their own, but that’s nowhere near the case with Frank Castle. The pseudo-origin story of Castle is a wonder to behold in that Castle has suffered things that no man should ever have to suffer, and he continues to fight everyday. Bernthal himself continues to make himself a household name, bringing a truly gut-wrenching performance in a good way. I’m still holding out hope that we somehow see the Netflix Marvel heroes on the big screen, because the idea of Castle interacting with Captain America, or I guess whoever remains after Infinity War, would be fantastic.

Wrap-up

As you can see, this year produced a tremendous amount of good, and this was only a small sample of it. I’m sure there were plenty of other games, movies, and shows that captivated your attention as you got through 2017, and I hope you found just as much joy in it as I did. No year will ever be perfect, we will always have to overcome obstacles and bad days; but remember, no matter how bad it gets, we will get through it. I’ve grown a lot over 2017 and my eyes have opened up to many things. Keep growing and know that when things seem rough you’re not alone. I thank everyone that has helped me this year and can’t wait for what 2018 has in store. I’ll see everyone next year!

Happy New Year’s!