It's been a little over a month since Blizzard's newest title, an FPS called "Overwatch" (you may have heard of it) has released and it has been a hit here at the LAN center. Blizzard stated shortly after Overwatch's incredibly successful launch that new content was incoming, and yesterday we got our first bit of the new scheduled stuff! After spending about a week in Blizzard's PTR, or Public Test Realm, Blizzard has launched the long awaited "Competitive" mode to the live servers on PC.




Essentially a Ranked ladder, Competitive Mode finally allows players to test their meddle and see how they match up against their fellow Overwatch players, earning rewards and bragging rights along the way. If you are familiar with Overwatch, Competitive mode has a few changes but nothing too insane, I'll give you guys a rundown!

Firstly, in order to play Competitive Mode, you must be at least Level 25. I honestly wouldn't mind if this level requirement was even higher, but 25 isn't bad! Next up, all 12 maps you have been playing the last few months are all present in Overwatch's competitive mode but with some changes.

Escort/Hybrid Maps: Dorado, Watchpoint Gibraltar, Route 66, Numbani Hollywood and King's Row

So, the earliest look we got at competitive Overwatch was a few small tournaments (including ESL's) that had players playing this game mode just like in Quick Play, however, performance was judged by how long it took the team to complete the escort. In the new competitive mode, a team is judged by how many checkpoints they were able to capture in the allotted time. After teams play both Attack and Defend, the winner is decided. In the event of a tie, players are put into a sudden death scenario (explained below).

Assault Maps: Hanamura, Temple of Anubis, Volskaya Industiries 
Personally, Assault is probably my favorite game mode. However, Competitive Assault is a little strange. Each team takes a turn at attacking and defending the control points with 10 minutes on the clock, once on offense and once on defense. If your team is able to capture both points, and defend at least one, congratulations, your team has won. However, in the event of both teams capturing the same amount of control points, the game continues. Both teams must attack and defend the points again, however this time their allotted time is equal to the remaining time left on the clock of their last attack round. For example: Your team captures both control points of Temple of Anubis in 7 minutes. The second time around your team is only allowed 3 minutes. The same rules apply to the enemy team. If the game STILL results in a tie, it's off to sudden death, which is explained below. This system allows for longer matches and less sudden deaths, which is a good thing, however the system can be a little confusing for people who have yet to experience it.


Control - Ilios, Nepal, Lijang Tower

Dubbed "King of the Hill" by the community, Control is basically the same as it is in Quickplay, however instead of matches being played in a Best of 3 format, matches are best of 5. After each round the map changes to one of the three points, allowing for interesting strategies and counter strategies in replayed maps. Due to being a best of 5, this game mode is also immune to ties, which is always nice! 


SUDDEN DEATH

Sudden death is a problem with competitive play currently, causing a bit of an uproar in the community. In the event of a tie, a coin is flipped, and one team is assigned to attack a point while the other defend, with only 2 minutes on the clock. Despite the community's complaints, game director Jeff Kaplan has addressed these issues and stated this format is here to stay for the duration of Season 1 (2 months). Kaplan did state that the issues will be looked into and addressed for Season 2. Personally I have yet to experience a sudden death so I don't have any personal input but I imagine it is pretty difficult for the offensive team. 


When you first begin to play competitive mode, you must play 10 placement matches, very similar to League of Legends. These placement matches will determine what rank you get plopped into to kick off your Season 1 of play. Rankings are judged on a scale from 1-100, with the lowest ranking players residing lower on the scale, with the best of the best residing on the high part of the scale. Once you have been placed, each victory or loss will adjust your progress towards earning your next rank or being demoted. I'm currently 4 matches in on my placement matches, with a 3/1 record after Duoing with my man Scarskull. Hopefully I'll be able to finish my placement matches soon! The good news is, if I get placed in number 1, at least I'm number 1, right?!

Ranked play wouldn't be ranked play nowadays without some kind of reward, and Overwatch has it covered! Just for completing your 10 placement matches you will be rewarded with a Season 1 specific spray.


For every competitive match of Overwatch you win, you are awarded a new currency, Ranked Points. Despite the feeble name, Ranked Points can be spent to acquire cosmetic golden weapon skins for any character in the game. Each of these weapon skins will cost you 300 Ranked Points, which equals out to 300 wins. That's a whole lot of grinding, but having a virtual golden cyber katana is worth it, right? (rhetorical question, of course it is.)

Reaching the top 500 players in a server will unlock a special icon under your hero portrait in game, and if you manage to end Season 1 in the top 500 you will net yourself the very first animated spray in the game. Overall, I like the rewards set in place for Overwatch's first season of Competitive play. Even "bad" players are capable of grinding out a golden weapon for themselves, and that's a pleasant surprise.

Before you head out and start earning some Season 1 rewards, I'd like to share a small list of things I think is incredibly important to note for competitive play. If you've read any of Slooze's blogs about ranked League of Legends this should all sound familiar -

Rules For Success! -

1) Play what your team needs, even if it's something you don't particularly like. If you want to win matches and climb the ladder play to the needs of your team, just like any other game. Only playing 3-4 characters is pretty detrimental, and you should probably spend some more time grinding out quick play to learn the game before you find yourself demoted.

2) Communication is probably the most overpowered thing in Overwatch. I'm not saying you have to communicate via mic with a bunch of random players (but if you're comfortable with that, go for it!) but simply using the in-game social tools to communicate the status of your ult, or take the time to type out a game plan is extremely valuable. Simply pressing "z" (the default key for your ultimate charge status) can be enough for your team to identify an opening and make a play. Your team won't always listen, but at least you can say you did your part. Which brings me to point 3!

3) You will have to deal with baby men. There will always be those players with poor attitudes and even poorer social skills. and you need to be able to either ignore their rage, try to reason with them (LIKE AN ADULT) or simply mute them. Don't let their bad attitude effect your game play or your own attitude. Sometimes things are out of our control, and you will lose games where you have every gold medal. Feelsbadman.

4) Don't try to get Play of the Game with every ultimate you earn. Use ultimates to counter other ultimates or to simply remove a troublesome opponent. Don't float around as Pharah all game and look for that 5-man ultimate, when you could've cleared the point and charged up again. I cannot stress this enough with Mercy's Resurrection. Resurrecting only your offensive all-star or your beefy tank can be enough for your team to swing things in your favor.

5) Don't forget that the payload heals you for a small amount. This is one of those things that I see a lot of players forget, when they could have survived! You can crouch and keep the payload between you and the enemy team, and you'll be full health in no time!

6) Don't shoot Zarya bubbles. Unless you're confident in your god like ability to shred her bubble and then her life (about 600 damage in 2 seconds), just focus a different target for a few seconds. A Zarya with 0 energy is essentially useless. A Zarya with full energy can wipe your team.

7) HAVE. FUN.

I'll be around the shop playing Overwatch a lot for the next few weeks. I'm down to play with anyone with a good attitude! My entire life's motivation has come down to acquiring golden ninja swords. It's fine.





This year Nintendo took a much different approach to the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Nintendo chose to put almost their entire focus on one title, scattering their smaller announcements throughout the days following Nintendo's prime time. I personally hated this format and found it incredibly difficult to see everything Nintendo "prepared". I missed a majority of their showcases due to having no idea when they would be shown, and I just think that's a really bad idea. On the other hand, focusing almost all of their media attention on one title does show a level of confidence in their quality and I respect that. Not only did Nintendo spend a majority of their conference showcasing one game, they built what many journalists are calling "the absolute best booth I have ever seen at any convention" all focusing around their newest Zelda title, "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild."


Breath of the Wild is looking like an incredible game. Best compared to the original NES Zelda title, "BOTW" is an opened ended adventure game in a world "12 times bigger" than Twilight Princess'. There's a ton going on in BOTW, and despite watching Nintendo showcase the game for around 7 hours, I could still watch more. Not only is BOTW a free roaming Zelda game set in a massive world to explore, but there are a lot of new mechanics at link's disposable. Players will have to keep an eye on Link's temperature gauge, which is directly affected by the weather in the area and the clothes Link is wearing. Not only do the clothes you wear keep you warm/make you too warm, they also have statistical advantages. That's right! Zelda is taking another step deeper into RPG mechanics, which I think is pretty cool. Not only can you equip different clothes but there is a very interesting weapon system this time around. From what Nintendo showcased, it seems weapons are constantly changing and breaking. Axes, swords, clubs and the like are looted from fallen enemies for your use but don't last very long. This is a huge change for LoZ, but once again, personally I accept the changes with open arms. Plus, it will be pretty cool to see the legendary hero showing off what he's made of with a completely different kind of arsenal. I'm not saying the master sword isn't obtainable but we didn't get to see it this week. There's also an incredibly interesting new system set in place to work well with the new environment and traversing it. Players will now have a stamina meter to keep an eye on as they adventure around Hyrule. For example, players can climb almost any wall in game, with their only inhibitor being "Can I climb this wall with the amount of stamina I have?". One of my favorite features Nintendo showed us is the new ability to collect the flora and the fauna and cooking them together to create better food items. Not only do the food items heal, they give other benefits such as cold resistance. Breath of the Wild is looking incredible, and to anyone that is on the fence due to the massive changes to the series, I implore them to embrace these changes. Despite changing basically every system from the previous games, BOTW is taking a chance and changing it up, and I respect that a lot. I really look forward to playing BOTW in 2017.

Nintendo had some small announcements strewn about the Treehouse conferences, including some small presentation about the latest 3DS titles. Pokemon Sun & Moon, Yo-Kai Watch 2 and even a new Mario Party. Bossman stated maybe the conference was so aimed at Zelda due to Nintendo being in a transition period between WiiU and the recently announced NX, but either way their E3 coverage this year was a little lacking, especially from a LAN Center standpoint. In a buisness where games is our main focus, they just didn't really give us anything to look forward to all of 2016 and that's hard to swallow. I believe in Nintendo's ability to deliver good games, but sometimes it feels like they don't believe in themselves and that's a little scary. 









An old piece of wisdom that I try to live my life by is this: do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life.  I'm lucky enough to work an amazing day job as a systems engineer.  It pays well and allows a tremendous amount of creativity and room to learn and grow.  I'm very fortunate to be in the position I am.  However when I take a moment out of any busy given day and shut my office door to sit in the quiet and ask myself if I'm doing what I love, the answer is always no.  This doesn't mean I don't enjoy the work or the hustle, it just means my heart is elsewhere.  The passions that really drive me as a person are all manifested in LAN Mob, and not a day goes by where I wish I couldn't be devoting more of my time to it.

We're all on different paths in life, and some people might discover their calling at a young age, and have the brainpower/finances/drive/support to reach their potential.  Many others don't know their true calling, or have other commitments more important to them - family, loved ones - that causes them to remain rooted.  Others will live their whole lives without ever really finding or matching that passion with their work.

The most important thing to know is that our passions can change throughout our lives as we learn more about ourselves and the world around us.  A high school graduate set to become a doctor can muddle through 8 years of medical school and suddenly realize in their mid-twenties - six months into their first job and several hundred thousand in student loan debt - that they're miserable and have made a terrible decision.  Likewise a person who doesn't appear to be on any discernible path could just be working through life in their own way and suddenly come online later in life.  As long as we're always thinking about what impact we want to leave on this world, and making adjustments along the way to get there, the path we take to get there matters not.

LAN Mob in its current state is a tiny prototype LAN center - a proof of concept that I hope will lead to larger LAN Centers regionally.  But what purpose those centers will have is still a bit murky, even to me.  In a world of increasing automation I see gaming taking a more meaningful role in the leisure time we'll all have, but that is five or more years off, and there is career explosion happening today around video gaming.  I'll detail a few of those later in this post, but first wanted to address a sensitive point for me personally.

Every time I see somebody roll their eyes or shake their heads at the thought of serious careers spawning from video gaming, I cringe.  This is a multi-billion dollar behemoth, with careers in everything from journalism to programming to education, and a now (rightfully) recognized form of art.  This is a pioneer with endless possibilities that needs exploring, and people need to start respecting those that choose to pursue this path.  Just because it's new and doesn't have a degree or even course offered yet at your college doesn't make it any less worthy of a pursuit.  The first manned mission to Mars is expected in 2035, and it's likely one of those astronauts is today a kid standing in their living room playing around with an HTC Vive Space simulator, getting inspired.

With that out of the way: here are a list of careers that have spawned from the booming video game industry.  It's definitely possible that LAN Mob could grow to become a part of some or all of these, and just as likely that LAN Mob employees end up leveraging the experience and knowledge they've gained at the shop into future careers in the space.

Journalism - Numerous tech blogs, magazines & podcasts are dedicated to the genre.
E-sports - Organizers, leagues, competitors, fantasy.
Broadcasting - Twitch.tv has made it easy for anyone to start.
Education - From early childhood to adult learners.  VR has cracked this field wide open.
Music - Soundtracks inspired by video game genres which are on par with cinema.
Programming - Behind every game is a team of hackers plugging away.
Voice Acting - Characters are brought to life and given depth.
Character Acting - Real-life actors movements digitized and transported into virtual worlds.
Art Direction - From concept art to 3D rendering.
Storytelling - A great story often makes a great game.

To close - one of my favorite closing scenes from Portal 2 that brings together all of the aspects of game design - from storytelling to music to art - in a beautiful way.






Yesterday right between Microsoft's and Sony's massive conferences was AAA developer Ubisoft's presentation. Ubisoft is a french multi-national game developer company that's incredibly well known for several critically acclaimed game franchises including Prince of Persia, Far Cry, Rainbow Six, Assassin's Creed and so many more. To be honest, for the most part, Ubisoft is one of my least favorite game developers. It might be due to the bombardment of Assassin's Creed titles year after year and that abandonment of some of their best franchises, BUT I obviously have a ton of respect for any major development company due to how difficult the field is.This year Ubisoft didn't really shock me or leave me particularly awed, but there are a few titles I am completely sold on and I was happy to see some more variety this year.

To start off the show Ubisoft had a giant dance party to the song "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen to celebrate the release of their popular franchise's next addition, "Just Dance". There were some giraffes, clowns and pandas parading around the stage for around 3 minutes followed by the announcement that Just Dance 2017 will release next October for all consoles including Nintendo's NX. The announcement was followed by a short description of Ubisoft as a company by Aisha Tyler (as per usual) then into the next trailer, which didn't surprise me at all, but the title looks good.

Revealed at Ubi's E3 conference in 2015, Ghost Recon: Wildlands is a open world shooter emphasizing tactics and stealth. The Wildlands demo was pretty long and the game looks solid. Graphically, the game is gorgeous (well...as gorgeous as a desert can be) and the ability to deal with threats and infiltration the way you see fit is always welcome. Ubi revealed the game's plot will be centered around disrupting the Mexican drug cartel...in Bolivia. Ubisoft states "this is the first military shooter you can play entirely solo or in teams of 4", which is promising. I spent an incredible amount of time with Ubi's 2007's entry in the Ghost Recon franchise; Advanced Warfighter. I don't think Wildlands is a groundbreaking gamechanging shooter, but I do believe the game will have an incredible amount of content and a surprising amount of strategy. I can imagine getting a 4 player game going right in the shop, and that sounds awesome. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands launches March 7th 2017. I would like to note, I thought the title has a really cool box art!



After the Wildlands showcase was over, the stage went black and I kinda figured Watch_Dogs 2 was next but I was pleasantly surprised to see the newest South Park game's new trailer. South Park: Fractured But Whole (oh god), is a successor to 2014's critically acclaimed game "Stick of Truth". South Park's own creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone took the stage to talk a bit about their next game which was completely hilarious and surprisingly tame, considering, Unlike the pseudo fantasy setting of Stick of Truth, Fractured But Whole shifts the game to a superhero setting right in South Park. This time it seems the youth of South park are wrapped up in a superhero civil war (kinda like a recent blockbuster film...). I was pleasantly surprised to learn the player character is the same boy from Stick of Truth (dubbed "douchebag"). Designed exactly like the television show, Fractured But Whole looks incredible on all fronts. Combat is incredibly similar to Stick of Truth, with a good amount of depth and action the story is simply a South Park experience that you get to play and control yourself, which is perfect. South Park: Fractured But Whole releases December 6th 2016!

Tom Clancy's The Division is actually a pretty big game at LAN Mob and Ubisoft rolled out a whole plethora of DLC incoming. The next pack is titled "Underground" and releases June 28th. Boasting "endless replay-ability" The Division: Underground will have randomly produced areas to work your way through, They also announced that if you are a member of Ubisoft's community reward program "Club Ubi" when Underground releases, you will be rewarded with Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon gear in The Division. I love programs like this! I figured that'd be it for The Division but Ubisoft surprised everyone with one more trailer for an upcoming expansion pack called "Survival". It did not get a confirmed release date but it got a pretty sweet teaser, check it out below.



Ubisoft shifted their presentation to virtual reality titles next, which didn't surprise me, but I'm glad they did. Ubisoft tends to make errors when it comes to development, but recognizing and challenging virtual reality is a great choice, in my opinion. First up they demoed a cute little game called "Eagle Flight". Eagle Flight is essentially a fast paced capture the flag competitive title where you control an eagle...in VR! They represented the demo with EIGHT people playing. A virtual reality competitive game supporting up to 8 players is pretty insane, and while the game is simple, the experience is probably wild. The graphics are incredibly polygonal and the premise is simple but controls look responsive, and experiencing flight in VR looks incredibly promising. Eagle Flight didn't get a concrete release date, just sometime 2016, and will release on Oculus Rift, PSVR and HTC Vive.

Up next Aisha Tyler came back on stage and invited a "special guest" on stage to preview their next VR title. Levar Burton from the television show "Star Trek: The Next Generation" entered the stage and helped reveal "Star Trek: Bridge Crew", followed by a video of Star Trek alumni playing the game. I'm not a big Star Trek fan. despite my brother's absolute love of the legendary sci-fi series, but the game looks pretty awesome. The title is also multiplayer, and allows you to control a Star Trek ship as a member of the bridge crew with your friends. I imagine Star Trek fans would kill for an experience like this, so good for Ubisoft for developing it!


So, as I've made clear, Ubisoft is a company I pay attention to, but if I was to name my top 25 games of all time, they wouldn't make my list as a developer. However at the 2015's E3, Ubisoft revealed a title called "For Honor" which I immediately fell in love with. Not only did Ubisoft bring the game to their 2016 E3 stage, they blew it out of the water. "For Honor" is best described as a historical hack and slash set during an alternative medieval war time. The title utilizes an incredibly unique hand-to-hand combat system called "The Art of War", which has players blocking in one of three directions to parry blows, and reacting accordingly. In the past a lot of the For Honor gameplay shown to the public was very multiplayer based, however at this conference, Ubisoft showcased an incredible single player experience. Single player For Honor has a lot of focus on how massive these battles would have been, and how small a single combatant would feel. Unlike other games that deal with massive mob combat (like Dynasty Warriors) For Honor has an awesome sense of flow and grittiness that would accompany actual medieval war. For Honor releases February 14th in 2017 and I'm completely ecstatic. The game's realistic exploration of Viking, Samurai and Knights and their style of combat in a multiplayer setting sounds like a complete blast, and I'm happy to see the game will have a solid campaign experience as well.




The next 2 reveals were on completely different sides of the spectrum and put on a pretty good show for the people watching the conference. First up was a reveal trailer for a sequel to last years' adventure platformer, "Grow Home". "Grow Up" was revealed with an adorable trailer portraying the game's hero BUD barreling through space on a quest to find MOM, his parental spaceship. The original title, "Grow Home" had a very special charm about it, and BUD's acrobatic antics are something I'm excited to revisit. After everyone was ooing and aweing at little BUD, the show kind of took a 180 and got really...neon and intense. The creative director of Blood Dragon entered the stage to a wrestling theme overture and then the Red Lynx dev came up and everything became an 80's acid trip Miami Vice style. I assumed it was another entry in the Far Cry Blood Dragon realm, but was pleasantly surprised to see the reveal for Trials of the Blood Dragon. A perfect blend of Blood Dragon insanity and Trials addicting runs, the title scratches an itch I didn't even know I had. Check it out in all of it's...glory...below!




After some stuff about the upcoming Assassin's Creed film, Ubisoft finally got into the title everyone expected, "Watch_Dogs 2". Now, to be frank, I disliked the original title a lot. I thought Ubisoft was on to something but completely hit the mark. The preview started with a pretty cool trailer that reminded me of  "Mr. Robot", the television series that aired on USA last year (it's good, go watch it). The plot follows Marcus Holloway in the city of San Francisco as he hacks every electronic device in the city to create a better tomorrow. Just kidding. I believe the term used is "hacktivist", like an activist that hacks, get it? Watch_Dogs 2 looks incredibly gorgeous, as the city of San Francisco really comes to life, which is inexplicably important in these free roam "GTA-like" style games. Marcus has access to a buttload of firearms and weapons, as well as being able to hack into the world around him to accomplish what needs to be done, and that's always cool. Ubisoft also confirmed it is possible to do entirely non-lethal runs of Watch_Dogs 2 which is also incredibly neat. I have my concerns, all due to the original title's shaky release, but I am hopeful that Ubisoft learned from the mistakes of the past and allow Watch_Dogs 2 to be the game it can be. Watch_Dogs 2 releases this November for PS4, Xbox and PC.





Lastly Ubisoft presented their new IP, an extreme winter sports game titled "Steep." Okay, story time. SSX is a game series, that for some reason, completely captivated me growing up. I didn't just play every entry in the series, I absolutely played every entry in the series to the ground. I don't personally snowboard or ski or even snowshoe, but something about the SSX series really struck a chord with me. The last entry in the SSX series was in 2012 and it's felt like a life time. I've revisited 2012's SSX a few times over the last 4 years but seeing Steep's reveal made the itch come back. Steep is being described as "an open world alpine sports game" and is utilizing all sorts of new technology to make a pretty unique experience. First of all, Steep takes place on one mountain. Not just for you but for the multiplayer aspect. All runs take place on the same mountain and the game will track, record and all you to share you personal runs. Steep lets you play around with all sorts of camera angles, including a first person view, which sounds awesome. Ubisoft Annecy stated Steep is more or less a passion project for them, and they hope this alpine wonderland will pull in all sorts of players for a new kind of adventure. Ubi also stated many fans immediately felt Steep qualified for a virtual reality treatment, and Steep's creative director Igor Manceau stated the concept is not off the table for the development team. Despite Steep not being this hugely insane surprise or blowing anyone's mind, I think Ubisoft is taking a step in the right direction. For a company that tends to run their franchises into the ground. ot's really refreshing to see something so fresh and new for the company. I look forward to getting a copy of Steep this December.




Ubisoft didn't do poorly this year, in my opinion. I was happy to see Ubisoft's main attraction NOT be an Assassin's Creed title, and to be honest, I'm happy to not have not even seen one at all. Ubisoft is creating some new stories and IPs and I think that is incredibly important nowadays. These titles all have their place in gaming and somebody has to develop them! Personally Steep and For Honor are games I'm going to pick up on release day, and from a LAN Center standpoint almost all these games have a good spot in a LAN environment. I'd love to see competitive matches of For Honor and challenging runs set by our community in Steep. I'm also incredibly happy to see Ubisoft recognizing VR and making moves on those platforms. E3 2016 was a good example of why Ubisoft is sort of a "golden standard" in independent publishing and what makes them stay that way. Stay tuned to our blog for more information about E3 2016! 
By the time I'm writing this, you may have already been on some sort of social media and heard the phrase "sony wins E3". Now, E3 isn't particularly a competition, but if it was I'd say yes....not only did Sony show us a lot of great stuff, they put on a really good show! During the entire conference Sony had a live orchestra led by Bear McCreary accompanying the entire presentation, bringing attention to an aspect of gaming that frequently gets ignored. You may have noticed, the title of this blog (unlike my recap of Microsoft's) does not specify software or hardware, and that's because for the most part, Sony showed us games, games and more games. Starting with a god like surprise...

Sony opened their show with a full gameplay demo of a new God of War title. Not only was this a huge surprise because Santa Monica Studios hasn't really gave us any reason to believe a new God of War was in the works right now, but it opened the entire show! The demo portrayed an aged Kratos taking his son on a hunting quest, teaching him the ropes with a surprising calm and wisdom. It's unsure if this is a reboot or a sequel to the original series, but either way the action is exactly what you'd expect. When the elderly Kratos and his son are attacked by a troll, Kratos does what Kratos does best and beats the living shit out of the monstrosity. With no release date and almost less information outside of the fact this God of War will be Norse mythology based, we probably won't see God of War for a while. That's okay! I'm ecstatic to see more of Kratos especially in this new world.

I'm so incredibly happy to say that Team Ico's next title "The Last Guardian" finally got a reveal trailer and a release date. Dropping on October 25th, The Last Guardian is getting a sweet Collector's Edition and I can't be more excited. The game's director, Fumito Ueda's previous titles Ico and Shadow of the Collusses were critically acclaimed for their art styles and cryptic story telling, and The Last Guardian looks to follow in those footsteps. The Last Guardian's story is about a boy who has been kidnapped under "mysterious circumstances", as he tries to escape from an ancient castle with the help of a griffon like creature named Trico he has befriended. The player controls the boy and must take advantage of Trico's abilities and "animal instincts" to solve puzzles and progress through the castle of your captivity. The Last Guardian was originally shown at 2009's E3, and got delayed year after year, so to finally have a release date and a reveal trailer is so huge. Check it out below!


Next up in the presentation was a Gameplay demo/trailer for Guerilla Game's newest title, Horizon Zero Dawn. HZD is an incredibly unique title about a futuristic earth where the world is overrun by robotic dinosaur creatures. You know...robotic dinosaurs! Gameplay looks smooth and stylish and certainly unique, allowing the use of traps and a tribal (yet modern..?) arsenal at your disposal to deal with these threats. The theme of HZD seems to be the strength of modernization but the importance of tradition, in my opinion. One of my favorite games of all times was Ninja Theory's 2010 action adventure game "Enslaved: Odyssey to the West" and HZD gives me very similar vibes. Horizon Zero Dawn will release in February 2017.

Quantic Dream's newest title got a new trailer too! "Detroit: Become Human" has been looking solid since it's original reveal. As expected from Quantic Dream, "Detroit" will be a very heavy narrative focused game with an incredibly unique setting. Set in a futuristic version of the city of Detroit, gameplay will be focused on multiple characters in an overarching story line, being described by Quantic Dream as "neo noir".  The game looks incredibly tense, focusing heavily on the player's decisions to change the storyline. Check it out.


After showcasing and revealing a bunch of awesome software on the way, Sony shifted their presentation to some hardware. The highly anticipated "Playstation VR" or PSVR as many people have been calling it, finally got a release date and a retail price. Launching October 13th this year, PSVR will cost $400 retail price, which, in my opinion, really isn't that unreasonable. Originally titled "Project Morpheus" Sony has been focusing a lot of efforts towards the shift into futuristic gaming with virtual reality, working on this technology all the way back in 2011. Not only did we get a release date and a price, we got a look at  a plethora of titles coming to PSVR, including a lot of exclusives. I'm so excited to see VR technology so prominent at E3 this year. I've spent a good amount of time in the HTC Vive at LAN Mob, and it really is a completely different level of gaming, mainly due to immersion. Getting big AAA titles not only in VR, but right in your living room is incredibly powerful and should not be overlooked. I think VR is the absolute future in gaming.


Shawn Layden, a high up at Sony, came out on stage to reveal a huge block of PSVR titles such as Resident Evil 7, Star Wars Battlefront, Final Fantasy XV, Batman Arkham in VR and a new IP titled Farpoint. To be clear, each of these titles are separate and different experiences then the full retail release, excluding RE7. For example, Star Wars Battlefront in VR, is not the massive multiplayer shooter that released last year, but is an entirely separate experience. Either way, Sony bringing virtual reality in our living rooms that is compatible with a console system is an incredible feat and I'm ecstatic to give it a shot. I mean...Batman in VR...time to start saving up!

The last bit of Sony's presentation didn't slow down at all. With a goofy presentation, I'm glad to see my Crash Bandicoot prediction was correct..sort of.  There will not be a new entry in the series (yet), but PS4 owners will be getting a remaster of Naughty Dog's PS1 platformers. It seems Sony has struck a deal with Activsion to bring "Crash Bandicoot", "Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back" and "Crash Bandicoot: Warped" to the modern age, along with a special announcement that Crash Bandicoot will make a special appearance in the latest "Skylanders" title. As I've said in a previous blog, I think revisiting old and beloved characters is tricky, and requires a certain finesse, but I trust Sony to do their beloved orange bandicoot justice in his remaster. There was no news on a release date, but I can't imagine it will be too far off.

After this lighthearted and goofy announcement, Sony took it in another direction by introducing the legendary game designer Hideo Kojima to the stage. I don't want to get into any of the drama between Kojima and Konami but basically Hideo Kojima is now working on his own unique title at Kojima Productions, and Kojima himself presented the reveal trailer. Titled "Death Stranding", Kojima's new title looks...well it looks like a Kojima title, that's for sure. Check it out for yourself and try to make heads or tails of it. Kojima is well known for bizzare story telling and just being all around cryptic and we love him for that. In an interview with IGN later in the night, Kojima stated Death Stranding is still a while off from release, and they don't even know what game engine it will run in. However, he promises the title will be heavy with action and great storytelling. It also stars Norman Reedus! I kind of originally thought we were going to see something related to Silent Hills, but Death Stranding is a brand new IP and I'm stoked..mainly to figure out what the hell is going on.



The next reveal during the conference began with Insomniac Game's logo followed by a young voice over in a cityscape so I originally thought that somehow Sony had gotten right to Sunset Overdrive and we were seeing a reveal trailer for a sequel! I wasn't disappointed to see Marvels logo flash the screen as we got a reveal to an original Spiderman game developed by Insomniac. We didn't get much information outside of a pretty cool reveal trailer, but I forsee Insomniac htting the nail on the head. Sunset Overdrive had a huge focus on traversal through an urban environment and that is what Spiderman is all about! Check out the trailer! I hope we get to see more of this soon!

 

Sony closed their conference with a gameplay demo of Sony Bend's new IP, Days Gone. I personally thought Days Gone was the weakest part of Sony's 2016 E3. Another post apocalyptic story about a guy...in a post apocalyptic story... Joking aside, the new title from Sony Bend doesn't look bad, just not a story I'm personally interested in exploring. Gameplay was smooth, showing off an incredible amount of this worlds zombie like creatures, "Freakers" on screen at once. Sony Bend describes Days Gone as a story about tragedy, madness, hope, desperation, brotherhood and a few other dramatic phrases. We didn't get a release date for Days Gone but I'll keep my eye on it. Naughty Dog's "The Last of Us" was one of those games I'll remember for the rest of my life, so it's very hard to strike that specific chord twice, as the game has blaring similarities.

Overall Sony's 2016 E3 conference was a presentation I think I'll remember for a long time. A live orchestra accompanying the entire presentation was a great way to supplement their content, which in itself was incredible. For me, software is always something I pay closer attention to than hardware. If anything I'm happy that I don't have to deal with a PS4.5 or PSNeo or all these rumors. The new hardware they did show, the PSVR, was presented in a way that makes it seem so accessible, and showing us a ton of worlds to explore that we're already semi-familiar with, with a price tag that is pretty realistic considering the technology. I think my favorite part of the entire Expo so far is the legendary Hideo Kojima walking out on stage and say, "I'm back!" Sony hit all the high notes, I do think their closing was a little anti climatic and weak, but I suppose you can't run at 100% all the time, right? The core of gaming is obviously that itself...games. Without great games and software to explore and immerse yourself with there isn't much of a point to a hardware based presentation, so Sony's approach of bombarding us with games is something I'd gladly welcome any year at E3. Stay tuned for more news!
Every year E3 has people both excited and annoyed when it comes to hardware. I've seen extremes of both. On one hand it's incredibly cool to see what the newest console generation will look like, but on the other hand buying new consoles isn't particularly enjoyable. However you feel about it Xbox is in for some upgrades.

There was a lot of rumors and leaks before E3, and some suspicions were true. Microsoft officially announced the Xbox One S. 40% smaller then the current model of Xbox One, Microsoft's newest console is being called "the most advanced console ever". With a 2 TB hard drive and a 4K Ultra HD display compatibility, Microsoft is saying the Xbox One S will deliver the "clearest, most realistic video possible". One really cool addition to the console is the IR blaster. Basically allowing the Xbox One S to be able to turn on your entire set-up, while you power on your system. So simply put, you don't need to turn on your TV/sound bar and other entertainment center systems, just your Xbox if you so wish. From a LAN Center perspective a new console - especially one offering 4K - is daunting. Having to readjust the center is a difficult task but it is worth the difficulty if it means we can provide a better LAN experience for our customers.  4K is best enjoyed on larger screens, and is lost a bit on our individual 22" monitors.  It's giving us food for thought for the next version of LAN Mob. Thankfully the Xbox One S will not have exclusive titles, just hardware. The Xbox One S launches this August for only $300 to $400 based on the hard drive size you're looking for.
Xbox also introduced a new system when it comes to Xbox Live, titled Xbox Play Anywhere. Play Anywhere will allow compatible titles to be playable on Windows 10 and your Xbox console without purchasing the game twice. All add-ons and saves will upload to the cloud so you can bring your saves and even achievements wherever you go to play. This is similar to Cross Play titles on the Playstation home consoles and Vita.

A small but very cool surprise announcement from Microsoft today was the Xbox Design Lab program. This program will allow players to visit a website (I posted it below!) to design a Xbox One controller's color scheme to your personal desire and even laser etch a personal touch. This is very cool and unlike anything I've ever seen a non-third person company do. You can start designing controllers as soon as right now, but controllers won't start shipping until September.

https://xboxdesignlab.xbox.com/



Lastly, Microsoft gave us a small amount of some groundbreaking tech called "Project Scorpio". Being called "the most powerful console ever". The whole reveal was a bit cryptic but Scorpio will be present at next years E3 for sure. For now we know it will not be a new console, and there will not be "Scorpio exclusives". The machine will run at a performance speed of "six terraflops" and support 4K gaming and "high fidelity VR". I don't understand a lot of what that means, but having tech like this available in your own living room is cause of celebration.

Overall Microsoft's conference wasn't bad. I think a lot of their community changes, such as adding Looking For Group on Xbox Live and the Design Lab is pretty cool, and a lot of their software looks solid. There's still 2 more of the titans' press conferences left! Stay tuned!
One of the 3 biggest press conferences at E3 every year, Xbox had their showcase around 12:30 this afternoon. Being one of the three titans, Microsoft's conference was very long but I'll do my best to touch on what I believe to be the most important things. To make things easiest, I'll be separating our summary of Xbox's conference into software and hardware. With plenty to say about both, I'll start with software!


To start off Microsoft gave us a look at their up and coming gritty third person shooter, Gears of War 4. Gears of War is a staple to Xbox and has always been a well-received series and Gears of War 4 is looking to continue the trend. Gears of War 4 had an open beta last month and the world got a taste of the brutal multiplayer and today Microsoft gave us a dose of it's campaign mode with a live stage demo. Obviously, running on current generation consoles the game looks incredible. Check out the E3 2016 stage demo below! I think Gears 4 will definitely have a big place here in the LAN center, it certainly did in it's very short Beta. It's one of those titles that has such a devoted fan base thanks to it's incredible earlier entries in the series.


We got a pretty good look at the long awaited real time strategy game, Halo Wars 2, with a very special surprise of learning that an open beta is going live for the next week! Microsoft is offering players free Req packs in Halo 5: Guardians as an incentive to try out Halo Wars 2. I think this was a really great idea by Microsoft because some Halo fans may be hesitant to dive into a completely different style of game despite being in a universe they are familiar with. Halo Wars 2 won't be released until February 2017 but the game is looking incredibly polished. Launching with a solid campaign mode taking place directly after the events of Halo 5, players will be able to actively control some of the "largest battles the Halo universe has seen". The game will also release with at least 5 multiplayer modes utilizing different strategies to succeed. On one end of the spectrum is Deathmatch, which simply has the goal of being the last army remaining, and Domination on the other side of the spectrum, offering gameplay to the original strategy themed Halo Wars. It sounds like Halo Wars 2 will be pretty accessible to all sorts of players and bridge the gap between fast paced FPS players and RTS players alike.

Microsoft also touched on Forza Horizon 3 which is visually stunning. Launching in September, FH3 will have the largest car roster to ever grace a Forza Horizon title and will take place in Australia. With a 4 player co-op campaign and the largest open world ever built by PG, this Microsoft exclusive looks pretty solid already! Dead Rising 4 was also officially announced, but the exclusive title leaked in full before E3 unfortunately, so it wasn't really news. One of the high points in the conference for me personally was the gameplay demo of Sea of Thieves. An incredibly hard game to describe, Rare's pirate title is more or less a light hearted pirate simulator. Without a ton of gameplay to go off of, the pirate ship vs pirate ship combat looks hectic and funny and looks like a total blast to play with your mates (haha get it?). There is no current release date but I'm incredibly happy to see Microsoft show an original exclusive. Definitely a game to watch out for, check out the incredibly...unique...demo below!


There were a few presentations that really surprised me at the Xbox conference. The first to talk about is Final Fantasy XV. Not only is it funny to see a non-exclusive Final Fantasy game being showcased at the Mirosoft Conference, but for the most part the demo was very weak compared to the demos available to the public. The on stage demo certainly showcased how beautiful the game is looking but I think they didn't have the right person showcasing FFXV's high octane combat during a boss fight. The player kind of stumbled all over himself and made combat look a little sloppy as he got slapped around for 5 minutes. The game still looks great, it just didn't really have an impactful demo at this year's E3. The next surprise which was awesome to see was Platinum Games' Scalebound back on stage this year with a gameplay reveal. Showcasing a multiplayer that I had no idea existed, and a monster hunter style combat system, Scalebound looks pretty good! Check out some of the gameplay below! A huge surprise to see at the conference was a reveal trailer for Tekken 7, with Akuma from SF and Heihachi duking it out. Tekken 7 is expected to release in 2017, but little other news was given.


The Microsoft conference showed us bits of some indie titles coming up, which in my opinion, has always been an incredible strength on Xbox going all the way back to Xbox 360.We got to see a small compilation of upcoming games like Below, Cuphead and Flinthook, followed by an announcement that "Limbo", one of the strongest Xbox 360 indie games, is now free on the Xbox One. The developers of Limbo, Play Dead, also showcase their new title, "Inside". We didn't get to see too much content but Inside is already being called "super limbo" by the internet and I suppose that's a decent summary. I think the strongest indie title showcased at the conference was "We Happy Few". Developed by the team behind 2015's "Contrast", We Happy Few is best described as a mixture of Bioshock and A Clockwork Orange. Just trying to describe the trailer to you makes me feel weird, so just watch it and uhhh...yeah. Don't get me wrong, I think what Compulsion Games has here is special, but it's really creepy.


Wrapping up Microsoft's Software for the year was a look at a very great looking Xbox and PC exclusive titled "ReCore". Releasing in September, ReCore looks like a lively action adventure game starring a young girl named Joule and her band of robotic allies. The concept of ReCore looks incredible, and the environments really stand out, but as today's conference showed us, ReCore's character animations are incredibly stiff. Maybe by the time the game releases in September they will be cleaned up, but take a look for yourself below. A random unexpected surprise was some information on Microsoft's exclusive reboot of the classic fighter "Killer Instinct" going into Season 3 of play. Along this news was the awesome announcement of General Raam of Epic's Gears of War franchise being a playable fighter in Season 3. As a fighting game player and as a Gears fan it was a pleasant and very unexpected surprise. The last title I'm going to touch on in the software portion of Xbox's presentation is a game I have personally said "This should be it's own game!". CD Projekt Red, the developers of my favorite game of 2015, The Witcher 3, showcased their newest title, Gwent! Gwent is a playable card game within the world of The Witcher, being played in pubs and gambling dens alike and a personal addiction of mine. In a world of up and coming video game card games following the success of Hearthstone, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised by the reveal of Gwent, but I am, and pleasantly so. Gwent in Witcher 3 carries a lot of very unique gameplay mechanics and mind games and I think it will make the hop to an actual full game well. 


I think Microsoft had a much better year compared to last year. Showing us some cool exclusives and software Microsoft is on the right track, but they really hit a high note with the Hardware improvements and announcements. Check back for more updates!

Ahh Bethesda. Bethesda Softworks, the infamous developers of absolute monsters in the industry, such as Fallout and Skyrim. I think it's safe to say Bethesda always delivers at E3, showing us something substantial almost every year. Only a year ago Bethesda showed us Fallout 4 at E3 2015, and since then the game has released and reviewed nearly flawlessly, making an incredible mark on the next gen industry for Bethesda. I'm happy to say Bethesda has hit the mark again with another very solid conference, starting with a bit of a surprise.

Bethesda opened their conference with the reveal trailer of a new entry in the legendary Quake franchise, "Quake Champions". We didn't get a lot of information about the title, but it is being called a "class based first person shooter". There has been a lot of these types of games releasing lately it seems, but Quake Champions will absolutely stand alone in its style. Being a Quake title, Quake Champions will be an absolute bloodbath, which is a lot different than other "arena fps" games releasing lately . Quake Champions will feature a roster of a bunch of unique characters playing differently with special abilities, which sounds like a blast. The game will run at 120hz with unlocked frame rates, which is also really impressive. Bethesda stated Quake Champions will be designed for newcomers and quake veterans alike, and we will get even more information on it's release at Quakecon 2016, which takes place in Dallas this August. Check out the trailer below!






Bethesda's Pete Hines showed us a bit of Elder Scrolls Legends. A card game similar to Magic the Gathering and Hearthstone but in the world of Elder Scrolls. There wasn't a lot of  game play actually shown, but they revealed a pretty cool cinematic trailer. Boasting a very unique deck building system similar to an RPG, Elder Scrolls Legends players will have a unique experience in a different type of strategy card game. Bossman is definitely interested in this game. Elder Scrolls Legends will be available on PC, IOS, Android and more, which is great for a card game.


Next up in the showcase was a bit of a touch on Fallout 4. After a small heartfelt expression of gratitude for the passionate Fallout 4 community, Bethesda showed us some upcoming incredibly unique DLC packs for our beloved wasteland RPG. First up is "Contraptions", a DLC pack aimed toward further customization of settlements and bases. Contraptions is adding all sorts of new...well...contraptions! Elevators, conveyor belts, sorting machines, weapon and armor racks and even track kits. Contraptions seems really neat but is definitely not for me, but I can already imagine the insanity the Fallout community will create. Contraptions will be releasing next week! The next DLC pack is called Vault-Tec Workshop. Similar to Contraptions, this add-on pack will allow the player to create even more, by building their very own Vault. Not only is this idea neat in lore, but I can see myself spending HOURS creating my perfect vault. Add-on 5 will release in July! The final DLC pack teased at E3 is called "Nuka-World" and looks like it will allow the player to visit a theme park in the Commonwealth, which just sounds incredible.

This isn't the only news from Bethesda regarding open world RPG games. I was absolutely ecstatic to see a confirmed Skyrim Remaster for current generation. Now, Skyrim still holds up graphically and in availability, so it's not like we NEEDED a Skyrim Remaster...but also I'm really really okay with a Skyrim Remaster. From what Bethesda showed us, the remaster is going to look incredible. The remaster is launching in October with full mod support on consoles as well, which really cracks the experience wide open.

After the Skyrim announcement, Bethesda took the conference in a very different place by showing the reveal trailer for "Prey", an upcoming sci-fi horror game. Yes, Prey is an already existing game, and yes this is a reboot. However, this current generation take on Prey is looking absolutely terrifying and was a bit of a surprise for me. We we're given too much information outside of the trailer, so take a look for yourself! Warning: it's spoopy.



Doom was next, including some new maps and add-ons coming in the future. A few of these are also improving on ID's Snapmap feature, which should add hours of content to the gorey FPS. Snapmap is something I wish would take off a bit at LAN Mob but I'm sure it's just a matter of time. Bethesda also announced some information regarding Elder Scrolls Online and it's Dark Brotherhood expansion coming to consoles. However, the big ESO news was regarding a new update coming this fall that will remove the leveling system from ESO, allowing all players to qualify for all adventures in Tamriel. This is pretty interesting news, and I'm not particularly sure how I feel about it, but I also don't play ESO. It seems that removing the leveling system will have obvious repercussions but allowing the community to work tighter together is very cool. We'll have to see how it goes this fall!

Bethesda closed their conference with a personal high note for me, by showcasing some gameplay and insight into the sequel of one of my favorite games of all time...Dishonored! Dishonored 2 will release on November 11th and is looking way better then I could have ever imagined. First of all, if you haven't played the original game, go do it right now. Just stop reading this. Go! To anyone that has played the original, good job. Dishonored 2 is taking a lot of what made the first game so incredible and making those aspects even better. The beauty of Dishonored is every single player will play the steam punk stealth title in completely different ways, utilizing technology, swordplay and magic in unique ways and the sequel is focusing even more on that.

With 2 playable characters in Corvo, the experienced protector of the empress Emily, and the Empress herself, Dishonored 2 will have even more variation between playthroughs. Corvo will have a lot of the same magic abilities as he did in the first game, but almost all of Emily's magic is brand new and insanely unique. Equipped with a spell I personally saw as incredibly strong, "Domino", Emily can chain multiple enemies together, forcing them to share the same fate. Killing one of these enemies will cause the domino effect, dropping all of them. Just that ability alone opens up so many doors for a title like this and November 11th just can't come any sooner. Bethesda is offering a pretty good deal, where if one preorders Dishonored 2, they receive a free copy of the Dishonored 1 Definitive Edition. To anyone looking to try Dishonored 1 out stop by LAN Mob, we'll have a few copies soon. I could go on about Dishonored for hours, so just watch this and be amazed.



That basically wraps up Bethesda's conference, minus one thing. Bethesda VR! Bethesda showed us Fallout 4 and Doom will be coming to VR and that's pretty huge. VR is still not particularly available to the public due to price and limitations, and in this unique case, LAN Mob gets to shine again. VR is complicated but we have been showcasing the HTC Vive right here in Rome, NY and people love it. With titles like Doom and Fallout 4 hitting VR it shows that triple A titles are more than capable of running on VR, they can flourish. I can't wait to see what other titles will see their way into the virtual world. Stay tuned for more E3 2016 news!








E3 2016 kicked off yesterday afternoon with the EA press conference. Unfortunately, without going in to too much detail, I fractured my ankle and missed a majority of EA's conference, but I'm here to recap and catch everyone up on anything they missed yesterday!

To anyone unfamiliar, Electronic Arts (EA) is a development studio known for quite a few things but this year's focus and highest anticipation for me personally was Titanfall 2. This is exactly what EA started their conference with! Titanfall 2. Boasting an incredible single player experience (unlike the first game) and showcasing a very unique multiplayer experience. Titanfall utilizes mechs and mobility in multiplayer, which kind of sets it apart from other shooters and will definitely find a niche community. Zipping around with grappling hooks and jetpacks definitely sounds like a lot of fun.

Up next EA showcased some new information about some of their "best" sports franchise, Madden. Madden 17, releasing in August, the newest addition of this sports game titan will include a new mode called "Franchise." Franchise mode will allow you to take the team you built and created all the way through an entire championship run. I missed a lot of this conference but immediately caught up when I could, and I'm not a huge sports game player, but it seems Franchise mode is something that has been highly requested, so good on EA for making it happen!


Next EA gave us a behind the scenes look at the Mass Effect Andromeda and it's environmental art. Mass Effect is well known for making unforgettable worlds and environments by creating entire galaxies. Obviously Mass Effect Andromeda is looking great, and it's release is anticipated, however, Mass Effect is not the type of game set up to flourish in a LAN Center environment and that's okay. There may be a few gamers that sink a lot of time into the title at LAN Mob but for the most part LAN Center is about community and grouping up, and Mass Effect is a demanding single player experience, at least to me.

At this point everyone is familiar with EA and Dice's next Battlefield title, "Battlefield 1". This game is going to be huge. I'm still kind of in shock with how insanely well received it's trailer was, and it has had a huge presence at E3 so far. E3 showcased some game play of this World War 1 shooter (played by a bunch of celebrities, including Snoop Dogg and Terry Crews) and the game looks...intense, to say the least. This game is massive, with a 64 player game mode with gigantic maps and weapons I don't understand at all. Battlefield 1 drops in October and looks like it is deserving all of it's hype.

To anyone following our blog live, I'm about to recap Bethesda's conference (which I watched intently) and move right into Xbox's presentation this morning. First, I'm going to hobble around my house and try to make some food. Stay tuned!

   
I believe in gaming as a great equalizer.  While playing games, all of the numerous little things people use to differentiate and draw lines between each other suddenly no longer matter.   Status, age, nationality, gender, orientation, religion, politics - once the game starts everything just blends into one and everyone is purely focused on the pursuit, whatever it may be.  I have seen customers come through the shop who are complete opposites in every other way, but when set to the task of gaming towards a common goal they can easily set aside their differences.

Gaming levels the playing field and forces people to connect at a human level.  That's an important connection that's too often missed, and the kind of understanding that carries with a person through life.  Our shop is one of those unique places where this type of thing can happen, and I'm happy to continue doing my part in maintaining an outlet where that transfer can take place.
I've been trying to blog more, I really have been. Typically my reason for not writing is "I don't know what to write about!" but after discussing it with some regulars and coworkers I'm going to write, at the very least, once a week about what I've been playing even if I think it's not particularly exciting to me. Unless I just don't play anything that week...which would be a problem in itself. Luckily, I haven't written in a while so I have a bit to talk about!

Firstly, League of Legends. Above all else, League of Legends is taking over LAN Mob like wildfire, myself included. I finally finished my provisional ranked matches and got plopped in Silver 4, which is fine by me! I don't really have any desire to climb the ranked ladder unless this season's gold skin is for a character I really like. It's an awful motivation I know, but Skinz 4 Winz, ya know? However, LAN Mob's own Slooze and Spydude have been actively playing Ranked as well as many of our regulars, which I think is great. I used to grind out Ranked games in various fighters and shooters throughout the years and I definitely see the value in it. Slooze put it a ton of games the last few days and climbed 2 or 3 divisions! It's great to see players devoted to a game with such an incredible amount of depth and variation. I don't want to ruin anyone's ranked experience or get hooked in myself, but I'll happily play normal matches with anyone who wants to! I like playing Jungle and I'll play anything but my current favorites are Graves, Kha-Zix, Zac, Ekko and Lee Sin. I've also been trying to play solo lane Taliyah when I can, but I'm still not very good. An interesting aspect of League that has directly affected the LAN center is the newest Mastery system update. Without getting too detailed the new system rewards players for getting S ranks after games, earning you a cool banner and a mark on your character card. This is a semi grindy system and has made for some pretty laughable situations in the center such as support Ahri's that build full damage (Thanks "Taggles"), all of our Bard players falling into deep despair and the most frequent, screams of "How did I only get a B!?". Overall, the mastery system is a positive thing, pushing the mobbers a bit to work hard and show off their champ masteries. If you wanna play some league with the mobbers stop by the shop any time of day! Most likely you will see somebody playing.

The second game capturing all of the mobbers interest in Overwatch. Enrique and myself have posted about this game a few times already, so I'll spare the rundown again. The new shooter by Blizzard is way funner than I ever could've imagined and the LAN Center is eating it up. I still get pretty annoyed with Mei, but I understand her role in the game. Still feelsbadman. This Sunday is our first Overwatch event, which should be a total blast. I look forward to Ranked coming out at the end of the month as well! I tend to get very very addicted to particular shooters every once in a while, and Overwatch was definitely not an exception.

Lastly, when I'm not at LAN Mob I've been chipping away at the Valkyria Chronicles PS4 remaster. When I'm finished with it I also picked up Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, which is another incredible JRPG that has been remastered. While I'm on the subject, I definitely think remasters are a good thing. A lot of people like to rip on developers for being "money grabbing" and choosing to do remasters, but for the most part they enable people to revisit an incredible game they may have missed. The originals of both of these titles are definitely underrated and don't really have the exposure they deserve. Nothing would make me happier then these remasters selling very well! My JRPG queue doesn't stop there! Thanks to the guys at my local Gamestop, I snagged the Lionheart Edition of Trails of Cold Steel for pretty cheap. I've never actually played this series so I'm super exciting to dig into that too. Lastly, I'll be playing through Suikoden 2 this summer. Undoubtedly my favorite JRPG of all time, I try to revisit this game every July. I have an incredibly difficult time putting into words how I feel about Suikoden 2, but check back here this summer and maybe I'll manage!

That's it for now, I'll be posting again next week! Hopefully I can make some progress in Valkyria Chronicles. To anyone unfamiliar with the title, look into it. It's really unique!

   
Oh boy, I love this time of year! Every June ESA throws the biggest press conference in gaming (among other things), also known as E3. The Electronic Entertainment Expo takes place in Los Angeles this year and is already looking really promising. I decided I'm going to try my best to cover this event right here on the LAN Mob Blog! I'll be posting about every major conference starting with EA's conference at 4pm on Sunday June 12th right after they happen. I'll also do my very best to absorb as much information as possible from developers that don't get the honor of having their own major conference. Unfortunately, due to the size of E3, I think a lot of people miss some of the gems hidden on the showcase floor. Some of my favorite games of all time had E3 debuts but didn't get a lot of recognition for that. Obviously, every major gaming website will also be doing their best to keep you informed (IGN, Gamespot, Kotaku etc etc) but to see what effect all these releases and previews have on your local LAN Center check back here all next week!

Just like every year, there are already an incredible amount of E3 leaks and rumors. Just this morning Injustice 2 has officially been let out of the bag, possibly due to leaks. Ed Boon has been hinting at this by changing his Twitter picture to a roman numeral 2, in the same font as the original Injustice. LAN Mob's regular Snapop23  has suggested Ed Boon's mysterious random tweet of "Sub-Zero and Raiden." is a cryptic hint that these MK regulars will be playable in Injustice 2, similar to Scorpion in the original title. Obviously we will have to wait and see but that sounds about right to me. I really fell in love with the original Injustice so obviously I was ecstatic to see the trailer for Injustice 2! Hopefully there is even more information to come. Check out the trailer below!

Another HUGE rumor circulating the internet about E3 2016 is that Bethesda will be announcing a Skyrim Remaster. I don't know exactly where the rumor started, and at this point no amount of internet digging will answer that question, but reportedly there was a link from a German "inside source" to a picture of a completely remastered view of Riverwoods from Skyrim. After seeing what Bethesda can do with current gen in Fallout 4, I'm sure I'm not alone in saying a Skyrim Remaster is absolutely fine by me. Bethesda's press conference will go live at 10:00pm Sunday June 12th, and we'll just have to find out then!

I could talk about E3 rumors all day, but as far as confirmed E3 content goes, it looks like there will absolutely be a new Watch_Dogs title. Due to leaks, early Twitch ads and an early IGN article, Watch_Dogs 2 has basically been announced in full. Ubisoft's original title of Watch_Dogs has a ton of history with the Electronic Entertainment Expo, and I definitely hope Watch_Dogs 2 fairs well. It already has a trailer too! Check it out below! Another confirmed title is Dead Rising 4. This one is of absolutely no surprise to me, as Microsoft has been promising some sort of exclusives for E3 2016, and I didn't really expect many IPs. Capcom isn't saying anything (which I respect a lot!) and we'll have to wait until they show up on stage. There's also a lot of talk about Capcom showcasing a Resident Evil 7, but we'll see! I hope for a new Dragon's Dogma!

Monday June 13th at 11am, Monday June 13th at 9pm and Tuesday June 14th at Noon will be the Xbox, Sony and Nintendo conferences, in that order. Obviously, the main question on everyone's mind is "Will there be new hardware!?" and I'm here to tell you with the utmost confidence....I have no idea. We will have to wait and see. However, rumors of the "NX" and the "PS4K" and the mysterious "Scorpio" have been swimming around news feeds for a while now, so I kind of suspect something hardware related.

 As far as personal opinions/predictions go, I suspect to see SOMETHING substantial from Microsoft. They almost don't have a choice. There isn't even a console war anymore, Microsoft is blatantly losing. I know they have things up their sleeves, they just need to show people something. I also suspect either this E3 to showcase some really cool VR stuff, but I don't expect any huge developer titles until next year, as the technology is so new. However I believe VR will be taking a bigger and bigger place in E3 every year from here on out. Personal wishes of mine is to see a new Crash Bandicoot. There's a lot of reason why I don't believe this is too far fetched to believe in, such as Uncharted 4's easter egg, Andrew House saying "I definitely wouldn't close the door yet" in regards to our orange friend, and the insane Twitter movement #BringCrashBack. I'd also really like to see anything at all regarding Kingdom Hearts 3. It's hard to stay hyped for a game for years on end without being shown too much. I'd love to see Ninja Theory have some sort of presence at E3 with their new title "Hellblade". Ninja Theory is a developer that I've followed from Day 1, and I love almost everything they have a hand in, so "Hellblade" is high on my list.

There's a ton of content coming in the next 3 days, between announcements, trailers and interviews, I'm personally using Polygon's beautiful Stream Schedule to develop some sort of plan for the storm. We'll be posting a lot during E3, and viewing various streams right here in the shop, so keep checking back or stop in! I hope everyone gets to see a little bit of something they've been wanting to.
I recently moved up the League of Legends ranked ladder.  Working my way up from bronze III, (my lowest to date) I'm now a happy silver V player.  It's still nothing to brag about, but it feels good to get back to silver after not being able to climb out of bronze last season.  

As I mentioned in my last blog about the league grind, you need to have a strong mental game if you seriously want to climb.  You have to put aside how good you think you are and where you 'ought' to be playing.  You get out of bronze by carrying.  Carrying very hard.  With that being said, your reason for playing ranked in the first place should be rooted in playing with increasingly skilled players.  You will hit a wall and that's where you have to learn.  If you are constantly blaming your team, you will stagnate.  

A new aspect of the grind that I'm feeling as of late is the time sink.  Typically, I would play 4-5 games with mixed results each time.  This weekend was the first time in a while where I could binge on league, which I took advantage of.  I played 12 Ezreal games in two days and won more than half of them.  With a few more games on support/mid I'm already in my series to get promoted to silver IV.  

Another fresh experience during these last few days was not being torn up by heart-breaking losses.  There's no worse feeling than trying to get back into the swing of ranked, playing a few games, losing all of them (while some were very close to being won) and knowing that you won't be able to play again for a period of time. Those games weren't as heart-breaking!  This is partially due to how much I was playing and shaking off the rough games, but also because of how even some of the games were.  Team fights seemed a little more challenging.  With each time I died I could more clearly see the game unfolding at a macro level.  That's how I know I'm moving forward.  

Well, that's all for today.  Just thought I'd share a personal ranked experience and some things I've learned along the way.  Keep on going if you're out there and reading this.  There's still five months ahead of us.  As long as you have two hands, eyes and a brain you have everything you need to succeed.  I'll shoot out another update once I've made some progress.  I'm going for gold!
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