This will hopefully be the first of many different posts where I'll replay games that I have them nostalgic feels for and see if they still hold up. As you can see from the title the first game I'll be writing about is Croc: Legend of the Gobbos! I remember being a youngster going to Showbiz Video and renting this game quite a few times. I have quite fond memories of the game and whenever I see the cover art I get heavily nostalgic. I decided to play through it during a few Lock-Ins (Which you all should participate in).

Some backstory to the game, Croc was released on September, 29, 1997 for the Sony Playstation, Sega Saturn, and PC. It was originally planned to be a Yoshi racing title for the Nintendo 64 but was sadly canned when Nintendo backed away from letting Argonaut Games or any third party make a game with their property *cough* Phillips CD-I *cough*. Its interesting though considering because of Argonaut, Star Fox was able to be made. Croc was made afterwards with the prototype they used to demo the Yoshi game to Nintendo. There was speculation Nintendo took Argonauts ideas and made Super Mario 64 with them. After having some difficulty finding a new publisher they got Fox Interactive to publish Croc and apparently even got a Simpsons writer to create the story which is readable in the instruction manual. It's purely comical and the Lead Designer of the game wasn't very happy with it due to wanting the game to be whimsical rather than a joke. It's a nice read though, 8/10.

So now you know the backstory let's get to it. Once you start the game you begin viewing Croc's origins. He is found by King Rufus, King of the Gobbos drifting down the river in a basket and is brought into the Gobbos' care. You see Croc grow up from taking his first steps to becoming bigger than his family. Suddenly, Baron Dante arrives and imprisons the Gobbos, along with King Rufus. When King Rufus teleports you to safety you begin your quest to save your family. The game officially starts with a nice tutorial level. It has everything you need to learn in the game. Combat, movement, jumping, etc. You are also shown how to find hidden areas as well. Your health consists of crystals you collect throughout the stage. Whenever you get hit, you lose them all and if you get hit without any crystals you lose a life; just like in Sonic the Hedgehog. At the end of each stage crystals are stored and once you hit 100 you get an extra life. There are 6 Gobbos to be rescued in each stage. 5 are hidden and 1 is in a bonus level accessible by collecting 5 colored gems.

The game itself is decent more-so just a mediocre platforming title. Flawed is a better way to describe it. The main issue with it that I don't remember is how bad the controls are. It takes awhile to adjust to them. Mostly because moving him around is almost like he's always drifting. Which could possibly be leftover from when they were trying their hand out on that Yoshi game? It's easy to deal with at first, later on in the game the areas become a little more compact with little room for error. You try to avoid a fireball and you end up drifting towards another one. It's just an annoyance. The graphics are pretty good, the colors are vibrant and makes the environment really pop. From the darkness of the cave/underground levels to the outside levels they contrast very well. The level design however, is decent. Some parts are just downright irritating especially if you're going for the 100% these Gobbos can be a real pain to save. The cameras have some gripes as well. You're able to control it with the right analog stick and adjust with L2 and R2. Though when you want to view a jump below you so you land on the platform and not fall to your death ends up immediately screwing you over. Once you jump it centers your camera the second you press X so you don't end up viewing your jump and it becomes a guess on if you can land it or not. Each enemy takes one hit to beat but they respawn. It sounds like it shouldn't be an issue right? Yeah, later on it kind of is an issue. The bosses as well are quite easy, only needing three hits to end them. Remember earlier when I mentioned the 6 Gobbos in each level? You don't even need to collect them if you don't want to. That's right, you don't have to get a single thing in this game to advanced to the final boss. Which is a little aggravating due to the time I spent on trying to collecting them all. It makes it feel like it's not really worth your time to save them. The only difference is you get to the "True" boss and ending when everything is collected. Once you defeat the "Crystal Boss" you're given an amazing congratulations screen. It's not actually amazing though it's just a NES like congratulations screen. We'll stop being negative and talk about the most positive thing about this game. The soundtrack. It's so damn good.






For every positive thing I can say about Croc: The Legend of the Gobbos, there's something to take it a step back again. However, no matter the flaws, it always has me coming back. This game just has this draw to it. It's far from a great platforming game, but it is a good one. If they did more things right with Croc it could've been so much better. It could even be up there with Super Mario 64, Spyro, Crash, Banjo-Kazooie as some of the top platformers for the time. Setting these issues aside it's still a game I can enjoy when I go back to it. Would I recommend it as a game you need to play? Nahhhh. You could live without it. Though if you ever want a mediocre game to play, Croc: The Legend of the Gobbos can fill that void.



More often than not, the term "failure" is considered a dirty one. We learn at a very young age to strive to do our very best to assure that we flourish in the face of all adversity, which is definitely not a bad thing. Unfortunately, sometimes "doing your very best" can still come up short from your initial goal, and sometimes I feel like people are not prepared for that truth. That being said, we find ourselves in situations where success is not guaranteed pretty quickly in life. Whether it be sports, academics, job related events or even gaming, everyone will eventually face down that shock of total failure, that's a fact of life. The real test of character is how one copes with failure, in any form, and how it can actually be harnessed. Unfortunately, I feel a huge majority of education is focused on NOT failing, rather than how to deal with it when it shows up. Failure sucks, but it can be used as a stepping stone to success. We've written about positive and negative mindsets on our blog before so check those out if you haven't, since we touched on the importance of a proper mindset before, and I'll be doing it again. 




Recently, I've been witnessing notable stings of failure from the sidelines and they're sticking in my brain like glue. There have been three cases around the shop in just the past few weeks or so that have really had me ruminating on exactly what failure means for different people, and how they choose to deal with it. By definition, failure is "the lack of success", and while that's true, the alternative definition is way more appropriate in my eyes. "The omission of expected or required action", which implies your failure can be traced back to an action, or lack thereof. So consider what you deem as failure and how you yourself would or should react under conditions like these, or similar ones.
         

-Baby Rage-

If you're reading this, chances are you play video games, or a close friend/family member does. If not, thanks for reading our blog anyways! Almost every "gamer" that walks through the door started playing at a young age or is currently a youngster. It makes for an awesome environment of learning and supporting, and I can truthfully say I have felt like all the employees here at LAN Mob and even some of the older regulars are working hard to be positive influences in these kids' lives. This can prove to be very challenging on occasion, as Bossman touched on in a blog when discussing playground politics. Us employees have many discussions about supporting the growth and mindsets of the youngest of regulars and I cannot stress enough how each and every employee genuinely cares. It's very awesome to hear kids of all ages say "This is the best thing in Rome", and that means so many things. I disgress... a recent issue we have been facing and discussing heavily is one specific youngster, and how this child deals with failure. Bob (I will refer to him as "Bob" to help keep things anonymous) is a good kid at heart, and spends a lot of time here with us at LAN Mob. Here at the LAN center we play games (it's like...our thing) and games, by definition, have winners and losers. Unfortunately Bob absolutely cannot deal with losing on any scale. Bob gets extremely upset, screams, slams property, sometimes even refuses to communicate for a while in response to any dose of failure. Sometimes Bob seems to quickly recover, but occasionally things are a much more difficult. Once we identified the problem, we started off by limiting the games he can play, avoiding highly competitive multiplayer games and difficult single player ones. Bob found comfort in open world games like Zelda Breath of the Wild, Far Cry Primal and Horizon Zero Dawn on top of games like Terraria and Minecraft, but unfortunately we didn't see the end of the problem there. The problems persisted after almost every single failure, whether it be a very short-lived rampage over missing a jump to a zip-line in Horizon (which re-spawns you next to the zip-line with absolutely no punishment) or the unfortunate pinnacle of meltdowns resulting in throwing remotes at monitors. We've all been working very diligently with Bob, and we will continue to do so. We all take different approaches to help Bob deal with this anger, and I feel a personal responsibility to help Bob understand this reaction to failure is not going to help him in life. It's important to note Bob is only around 9 years old, but this aggressive and immediate response to failure of any kind is a mindset I genuinely hope he can defeat.



-Teamwork & Comradery-

As you may have seen on our Facebook and Twitter accounts, LAN Mob recently participated in a really exciting League of Legends WAN tournament ran by the awesome dudes over at ggLeap. We had two teams participating under our banner, "LAN Mob White" and "LAN Mob Green." After a very long day of intense matches, both teams found themselves short of their goals. Before I continue I would really like to note that I'm extremely proud of both teams for coming and spending the day with us and representing our LAN Center. It was a pleasure hanging out, talking League of Legends and cheering you guys on. At the end of the day, both teams were faced with failure, and I couldn't help but observe how each team dealt with this. I certainly do not want to portray this poorly and shed anyone in a poor light, this tournament had very talented competition with a lot of money on the line, tension was definitely high. However, in the face of failure, Team A gathered around with some food, watched replays of their games and genuinely discussed what could have gone differently, despite being very dismayed. Nobody was really upset with their fellow teammates, and most of the team ended up staying for our overnight lock-in to continue practicing and improving. It was inspiring to see. However, Team B had a little less comradery and took the losses much harder. Pointing fingers, blaming this and blaming that and essentially not taking the steps needed to improve for the future. Both teams discussed the matches a bit, but Team A's members were clearly much more willing to take personal and solo responsibility for certain plays and mishaps in the games. Bossman pointed out there may very well have been internalized takeaways for Team B and some people need to experience certain things multiple times for them to click, which is very true. Either way, it's clear both teams did not enjoy failing, but what team do you think is less likely to fail again, in the same way?


-For Fun-

Back in February we started running various midnight tournaments during our Saturday night gaming lock-ins. I've only had the pleasure of being able to attend a few but they have been a total blast. I think, for the most part, it is a pretty stress free event for us employees, and a stress free event for the competitors. We've run all sorts of tournaments from Rocket League, Bomberman and even Mortal Kombat and feedback has been really positive. For one of the earlier tournaments we ran For Honor 1v1s, which we promptly dubbed "Dueling Nights". Rob and I were rounding up players on our sign-up sheet when we were unfortunately met with a small amount of opposition. "But I'm bad at this game" or "I've never played this, so I don't want to play" or even "I'm just gonna lose!". Fortunately, Rob and I wouldn't take no for an answer, and we essentially aggressively peer pressured some regulars into playing, (Shout outs to Hickernell for playing in every tournament at every lock-in he's ever attended with almost no pushing. This man gets it) stressing that the tournament was free and would definitely be a lot of fun. And we weren't wrong. Players were cracking up, getting invested and even pleasantly surprising themselves with some awesome plays. When all was said and done that night, I can safely say not a single competitor stepped away from their matches without a smile on their face, win or lose. Sometimes we need to take a step back, whether it be for some silly free entry tournament, or something a little more important, and throw our fear of failure out the window. In turn, this makes the potential feeling of failure that follows a much softer blow. I wouldn't say you should go bet all your money on a poker game because you shouldn't be afraid of failing, but you get the idea, yeah?
 

It's funny how the day-to-day LAN Mob life starts to create these parallels between gaming and really critical life lessons right before my eyes. When I'm sitting at the desk looking at the shop I can't help but consider all the valuable lessons this medium has to offer and I'm happy to be living in a time where the benefits of gaming are common knowledge. I can authentically state that I personally learned all about failure and how to cope with it mostly from video games. I spent a lot of time in my youth being thrown in the Player 2 slot and getting my ass kicked. When I finally got good and started beating older siblings and peers, I remember being accused of cheating a few times. Even though we were just young and silly kids, I remember thinking "Wow, when I lose I never accused you of cheating...". I very distinctly remember getting really far in one of my all time favorite games, "Ape Escape", farther than my older brother ever got, but I got stuck again. He was pretty impressed, but the very next day he pushed past that point and I felt a distinct pang of defeat and failure for not being able to first. I proceeded to bug him until he showed me his strategy, which was certainly not the intended solution to the puzzle, but a very creative way to overcome the obstacle. I remember saving up extra money and when we would head to the holy land every Sunday (Oneida's Pepi's Pizza & Arcade), I'd drop all of my tokens into one game and get absolutely decimated. Obviously I didn't grow up an anime character, I didn't step away from the machine with iron resolve to never ever lose again at the age of 10. More often than not, I was irritated and immediately asked my mom and dad for some more tokens to try again. Sometimes they would give me a chance to reclaim my honor...sometimes my honor would stay in Nintendo's Punch-Out Arcade Cabinet for another week... 



However, after a while, you can't help but get pretty damn good because of those failures. Remembering boss patterns in Carn-Evil because you remember "that attack that does half my health" or beating the next fight in Street Fighter 2 because the AI starts to become so predictable. I remember the day I beat Vectorman and how happy I was, but I wasn't about to forget the years I spent NOT beating Vectorman, losing to the same bosses over and over. Ironically enough, the exact lessons I was learning from video games all these years can be applied to our small business that revolves around them, and my life that revolves around it. We knew from the beginning that we will continue to learn and grow, even if we fail along the way, and that's just fine by me. I certainly do not strive to fail, but I don't think it's in my best interest to fear it, and I would say the same to you!


"Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is only something we can avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing."         



Denis Waitley


Recently, I've picked up one of my old habits in an effort to better sleep at night. I dropped this alongside reading and watching shows before bed because I would be too invested in whatever I was doing go to bed a reasonable time. Lately, I've found myself more physically tired while my brain's just buzzing to do stuff and thought why not give this another shot. I've decided to brush off my 3DS and give it a go. Naturally, Pokemon would be my go-to game before bed but I'm still burnt out on it. Also, I've been craving a good adventure or platformer game so I decided to give Shantae and the Pirate's Curse a try as well as one of the Kirby games on the 3DS. To add some variety to the mix, I also included Fire Emblem Heroes for its lighter take on the tactical RPG genre. Also because it's on my phone which I fiddle with anyway before bed.

                          Shantae and the Pirate's Curse



This has been on my "To-Play" list for quite some time. I've been told the music is fantastic and  a great metroidvania, as in you explore, you gain power-ups and you backtrack through old areas using your new powers. This was a tough game for me to play before bed because I loved everything about it too much. The music was catchy, the art for the character portraits was pretty and I had to look up the solutions to a few puzzles because I half asleep and missed the hints. Despite that, I kept playing after being motivated to collect all the collectibles. To unlock the game's true ending, I have to collect all 20 of a certain collectible. I'm at 19/20 and refuse to look at a guide!!!

                                    Kirby: Triple Deluxe




I'm a huge fan of the Kirby series.  After playing one of the games in the series, you have a general idea of what to expect from them:  A platformer with colorful environments, pleasant music and a boss fight against a sentient tree. The games usually are not too difficult aside from the final bosses. The challenge comes from trying to find all the collectibles or doing the extra content like the boss rush mode. I have not played too much of Kirby while I finish Shantae but I always welcome a comfy Kirby.

Fire Emblem Heroes


It's a mobile take on what's becoming my favorite series,Fire Emblem.  Compared to the main series, many of the features of the main series has been streamlined to fit the casual/mobile audience. At its core it is a turn based game with a rock-paper-scissors weapon system, referred to as the weapon triangle. Unlike the main series, your units do no permanently die, you cannot change your assigned class and your stat growths are predetermined at the moment you obtain a unit. These changes,in my opinion, lower the barrier of entry and encourages the more casual turn-based fan to give it a try. Which is great,in my opinion. It fills my desire to play a turn-based game while not too unforgiving when I accidentally fall asleep mid move make mistakes placing my units.

I went with platformers with some puzzle mixed in and tactical RPGs because it helped me become mentally tired without making me too excited. I spent way too much time getting caught up in Nioh or as of late, Diablo 3 and Guild Wars 2 because I'd get caught up in the pace of the game. But I'm weird. If you game before bed feel free to chime in on what you play to help unwind.
RPGs are a necessity in the gaming universe. Games that are rich in every important component possible. This list was incredibly hard to make due to there being so many fantastic RPG games. From games like Persona Baldur's Gate, Star Wars: KotOR, Golden Sun, Planescape: Torment, and plenty of others; it's hard to choose which are my favorites. Each game has a different experience to offer. A year from now this list will probably have a few games switched out with another. In short, there are too many RPGs. That's not a problem however, this list was. DON'T FLAME ME THIS IS PERSONAL OPINION FREE SPEECH #ALLRPGSMATTER



Tales of Destiny
The first game in the Tales series to make it to the west. Still to this day it is a solid example of what a great Japanese RPG is. The battle system is in real-time and almost like a 2D fighting game with an RPG twist. Tales of Destiny takes place from the perspective of Stahn, an adventurer whose path brings him to the flying ship "Draconis" where he finds Dymlos, a sentient sword during a raid on the ship. Dymlos becomes the key to fame, fortune, and adventure that Stahn desires as he crosses paths with more adventurers who are willing to join him on his journey as he gets embroiled in a quest to gain a relic from the Aeth'er Wars. An extremely powerful Lens known as the Eye of the Atamoni.   






 Xenoblade Chronicles
Considered by many RPG fans to be one of the best in recent memory. 1/3 of the successful "Operation Mistwalker" project.  It was a huge surprise with the impressive open-world design, combat, characters, and even its day and night cycles which played heavily in certain areas in the game. The story begins with an explanation on how the world was created. Following eons later with a seemingly long battle between Homs (humanoids) and Mechons (mechanical beings). The Homs are only able to fend off the Mechons witht eh power of the Monado; a sword with being paired with the right wielder can stand as a serious threat to all Mechons. As Shulk, a researcher who is set on unlocking the Monado's secrets. 





Demon's Souls
Frustrating and beautiful. Those are the two words I could use to describe Demon's Souls. A one-of-a-kind title at the time of its release; it spawned the spin-off series Dark Souls and plenty of games trying to emulate the harsh but rewarding style that From Software gave to us. With a story rich with lore it can get you highly invested into world you're in.  





Witcher 3
Based on the novels, The Witcher series is rich with depth for everything. People you meet in the bar may have a sob story to tell you and you can either feel bad and help them or not bother. Slaying people turned monsters that were once a wife, husband, or child. The Witcher series has been excellent at executing a fantastic narrative and leaving you engrossed with the lore within the world. Witcher 3 is no different. It is different however; with a improved battle system, which was a really weak point with the past two entries in the series. Not to mention Gwent am I right?




Stick of Truth
As a huge South Park fan and knowing the games they came out with previously weren't the greatest I was a bit hesitant on getting the Stick of Truth. I was proven wrong. The game is hilarious and surprisingly a very well done RPG. Has everything a RPG has but with way more humor. The story follows the "New Kid" who is given the choice between four classes; the fighter, thief, mage, and the Jew. After choosing the class later on you are wanted by two factions, the humans and the elves the auquire the Stick of Truth and gain limitless power. This game is actually the first time ever that the town of South Park was mapped out due to giving you the ability to free-roam. Even though it's not incredible by RPG standards, it truly is a really solid game with a ton of humor.     




The Legend of Dragoon
I remember going to a garage sale and finding a VHS tape with Legend of Dragoon on the sleeve for a dollar (pretty sweet right?). I convinced my dad to buy it for me and when we got home I watched it over and over. I still have it in my basement somewhere. Afterwards I begged my parents to get me this game. It looked incredible and the music was great. After playing Tales of Destiny and Final Fantasy 7; RPGs became my jam. eventually my parents cracked with my nagging and finally got me the game. With a nice twist on the traditional battle system and a gripping story, it's enough to keep you engaged the whole way through. I'd highly recommend giving it a shot should the opportunity present itself. Hopefully sometime in the future Sony will bless us with some continuation of the story. Let it be a prequel, sequel, or remake. Either one will make me happy. Just do it Sony. DO IT.




Ni No Kuni
For some people, Level-5 can't do anything wrong, and Ni No Kuni proves that opinion. They did an incredible job with this Nintendo DS and Playstation 3 release. With combining forces with Studio Ghibli's art style and cutscenes, you'll get sucked into Oilver's world as he and Drippy try to defeat the evil wizard Shadar. The story is beautiful, as Oliver tries to bring his mother Allie back to life and help everybody affected by Shadar. The game is quite adorable and can tug your heartstrings. The game is quite cheap now so if you can find it buy it. Then you'll be ready for Ni No Kuni II which will hopefully come out this year.     





Chrono Trigger
A traditional RPG game that leaps from the stone age to the distant future with characters from those different times, Chrono Trigger is hailed as one of the best RPG games ever made. With good reason, it's impossible to not love it right from the start. Just play it.





Final Fantasy 7
Obviously.


A while back I wrote a very basic guide for jungling Ivern in 6.20, and eventually wrote some Do's and Dont's for him as well. Now, in patch 7.5, I find myself playing a ton of Graves, The Outlaw. Jungle Graves was insanely strong for almost all of Season 6, for many reasons, and he saw some nerfs because of it. Despite these changes, Graves has found himself in meta once again, and he's easily my favorite pick right now. Graves burst, early game clear, dueling ability, late game effect and his ridiculously carrying potential doesn't just make him one of my favorites, but one of the best junglers in the game right now. Let's get into his kit!




New Destiny
Easily the most unique trait regarding Graves is his passive, "New Destiny". Graves' shotgun (named "Destiny") is loaded up with two shells, and each shell fires a certain amount of pellets. When Graves fires both shells, or does not attack for around 4 seconds, he will passively reload Destiny before he can continue firing, which can be a stressful couple of seconds. When a non-player is hit with more than one pellet, they will be knocked back, which gives Graves one of the fastest and healthiest clears in the game.


End of the Line
Graves' Q fires off a buckshot that goes through all enemies in a small line, leaving a trail of gunpowder. After a small time, the round will detonate, dealing damage and sending another explosive backwards along the line of gunpowder, essentially creating a large explosive "T". However, if the initial buckshot hits a wall or any structure, it will detonate immediately. End of the Line is a huge part of Graves' legendary burst damage.

Smoke Screen
Graves fires a small AOE smoke grenade to a location that slows all enemies inside, and reduces their sight to inside the smoke screen. Smoke Screen creates some very silly situations for your opponents (especially adcs), forcing them to decide how they are going to trade with you.

Quickdraw
Easily the most versatile ability in Graves' arsenal, Quickdraw allows Graves to swiftly dash in a direction. This dash allows him to clear small walls, but also resets his attack timer, loads one shell into Destiny and even adds a stack of "True Grit", a passive that gives Graves extra armor and magic resistance in combat. Quickdraw allows graves to move around the jungle more efficiently and avoid wards, kite camps more easily and close distance for Destiny to do its job.

Collateral Damage 
Last but not least is Graves' ultimate ability. Collateral Damage is a massive long range skillshot, that fires a huge buckshot, with a recoil so powerful it sends Graves flying backwards. The buckshot explodes at the end of its range, or upon the first enemy hit, exploding in a cone damaging all enemies. Collateral Damage is great for picking off low health enemies that blew flash, massive aoe team fight damage or even as a last ditch escape effort thanks to the recoil.



Runes
I've messed around with all sorts of different runes when it comes to Graves, but this page right here feels very fine tuned. Attack speed is very critical on Graves, because it directly effects how quickly he can reload Destiny. Lethality is obviously very potent in the current meta, and that's true for the outlaw as well. I like to go armor seals because of Graves' uncanny ability to combat ADCs (smokescreen!), and the ever popular picks of KhaZix, Rengar and Lee Sin. I've messed around with more attack damage, less attack speed and even some movement speed but this is definitely my favorite so far!



Masteries
I think more-so than any other champion I play consistently, Graves' has the most "viable" mastery options. For the longest time I really liked to run "Stormraider's Surge", and I even tried out "Warlord's Bloodlust" for the lifesteal effect, but I ultimately settled on "Thunderlord's Decree" as my favorite, even though all 3 felt powerful. Thunderlord's has a lot of synergy with End of the Line, thanks to the return explosion, and overall makes his burst even more ridiculous. 


Build
The current League of Legends meta values lethality quite a bit, especially in the jungle. Graves is a little different, and it's not necessary to jump right into Ghostblade and such. In almost every single game I finish up my jungle item, and I prefer Warrior Skirmisher's Sabre, then tanky boots (based on opponents) and immediately into The Black Cleaver. I seriously cannot put enough emphasize on the value of Black Cleaver. Unless I'm very far behind, or against a very fed enemy, just these 3 items make Graves such a dueling menace, it's almost ridiculous. Next I like to grab Death's Dance and Phantom Dancer due to the synergy with Graves' kit, and if they haven't surrendered by now your 6th item can really be anything AD, or Guardian's Angel. I really like Edge of Night as my last, especially against mages.


*How to win as Graves* 




Pathing
I originally had something written up for Graves' ideal jungle route, but to be completely honest, it doesn't matter what you do. Start E for kiting, pick up your preferred first buff (I like blue) and you can proceed to clear your entire jungle with little damage. If your team really requires a gank before you hit your level 5 power spike, don't waste your time unless it's an absolute kill, you REALLY need to relieve pressure, or if you're feeling greedy. You will benefit your team much more when you come back with a power spike. Graves has the unique ability of wiping camps off the face of the rift very early in the game, just doing that will get you ahead of the curve. There's some more intricacies, based on match ups, and sometimes I can steal the enemy red buff (on blue side) and gank top lane at level 2, but only if the enemy jungler starts blue, and the top laner is immobile. This is a trick specifically learned from Tarzaned, and it works more often then not. Prioritize your full clear and counter jungling and take ganks when they are available, as Graves cannot force them like some other junglers (Zac, KhaZix, etc). Make sure to rotate for towers as well, since graves is a monster at taking down these objectives.    



Additional Tips/Tricks

  • End of the Line is a very unique ability, but I often see it used at max range, or valuing the initial buckshot over the "T" shaped explosion and return. If you are running Thunderlord's especially, it's really important to consider how you want End of the Line to go off on an enemy, and save it for the proc.
  • As I mentioned above, Quickdraw can clear small walls which makes for an easier time moving around the jungle, among many other things. If you're new to Graves, it takes some time to know what walls you can clear and which ones you cannot, so I recommend keeping Quickdraw off quick cast in the beginning. Ideally, you will be quick casting every ability, which I'll touch on in my next point, but being able to see the gap you can clear with the arrow indicator has some value for early players.  

  • You'll definitely want to be able to quick cast every ability in Graves' arsenal. Some people may scoff at this and think, "Of course..." but many new players around the shop prefer to NOT quick cast, or pick and choose based off champions (I do not quick cast Lee Sin Q or Zac's E). Not only does quick casting make your moves smoother, but in Graves' case it unlocks the ability to animation cancel for some insane payouts (after some practice.) Graves' abilities can be animation canceled in very unique ways to completely blow somebody up before they know what happened. Essentially, you queue up moves that cancel into the next move, creating way less time for opponents to react, and way less time for your burst to go off. There are a plethora of combos Graves can pull off and here are some

1) Auto-attack + Q + E. Not only is this combination great against a fleeing opponent, (based on your positioning the enemy may run into the T in End of the Line, but since you canceled into quickdraw, you're still standing right next to them layering the burst. This is also great for clearing camps.

2) Auto-attack + W + E. This cancel isn't useful all the time, but specifically destroys some ADCs. If you are in their face auto attacking, lay down a smoke screen and E in the direction that you expect them to head, you can continue blasting them for free while they attempt to get clear of the smoke.  

3)
This one is really common, but can be hard to pull off at first. Auto-attack + R + E. Collateral Damage sends Graves flying backwards, but if you cancel the knock back with quickdraw, essentially Graves stays in place. This allows you to continue attacking instead of being removed from combat due to the recoil.


4) Lastly, but certainly not least, is the most burst Graves is capable of doing in a single combo. Auto attack + Q + R + E. Congratulations, you deleted that guy.
  • Be wary of Destiny's unfortunate weakness of firing through minions. If you are trying to finish off a very low health enemy and just need one more auto, your autos will not pass through minions, so use End of the Line, Collateral Damage or even Smoke Screen to finish the job.



  •  As far as match-ups are concerned, Graves doesn't have many bad ones. I feel like some assassins like Rengar and KhaZix have the potential to squelch Graves before he can take them out, but they need to be ahead of the outlaw. I find myself constantly annoyed by Soraka, but honestly it doesn't matter who I play - Soraka is annoying. 

  • Lastly, when it comes to team synergy and picks that benefit Graves, my absolute favorite is Poppy. Not only is Steadfast Presence an amazing way to restrict movement while Graves is pounding on somebody in the inside, it can also prevent divers from getting in on a Graves and turning him off. However, the real MVP in Poppy's kit is Heroic Charge. Slamming somebody into a wall is all well and good for almost any champion in the game, but for Graves specifically, it adds the benefit of an instant return of End of the Line, which is massive. Outside of Poppy, champions with heavy cc like Nautalis, Thresh, Leona, etc etc. There's also something magical about a 4 man Sona Crescendo into Collateral Damage...

So there you have it! Graves, The Outlaw brings so much to the table, and is currently an important pick in League of Legends. I feel pretty confident in saying if he is not banned or picked for your team, chances are you will be facing him. Whether you're playing him yourself or against him, hopefully this guide helped in some way. It's important to note, I am not a League of Legends ranked fiend, I do my placements every year and stop, so some of these tips may be very tentative for very high elo. No matter the elo, Graves proves to be one of the burstiest and hard carrying junglers, and to top it all off, I think he's a total blast to play. What do you think about Graves, The Outlaw, in the current patch? Let us know in the comments or right in our LAN Mob League of Legends Facebook Group! 












I've gotten to the point where I have multiple games on queue and not enough time to play them all. On one hand, it's nice to buy the obscure/niche games at retail/or less instead of second hand or at a higher price due to its rarity. On the other hand, I feel it's a bad habit to stockpile games I won't play. With my gaming habits, sometimes I drop a game because it no longer feels fun to play through it, almost like a chore.  At times, I'll have a strong desire to either play or stop playing a certain genre. Or in rare cases, I have a new game on the horizon that I know will sap any game time I want to set aside *coughPersona5cough*.


Pokemon Moon




My "muse" for this blog post, you could say. I've been playing this on and off since it came out in the fall of 2016. I've played many entries of the series and the thing I hate most is the grind up to the Post-Game/ Post- Elite Four. I really enjoy the team building aspect of the Post-Game. I'm into breeding Pokemon for inheritable or "egg moves" and optimal base stats(IVs). I enjoyed and looked forward to different methods of affecting my stat growths(IVs) and was real excited to see what this generation had in that regard. It's why Pokemon Emerald is one of my favorite Pokemon games in the series because of the Battle Frontier. I get to do all this team building and then test it against (cheating) AI! With all that said, I really hate grinding through the game to get to that point. I think the spark is lost for me. Or I'm not in the mood for turn based RPGs at the moment. Not sure really. Until I figure it out, I'm shelving Pokemon Moon from my rotation.

Shadows of Mordor



I picked the "GOTY" edition on the last big steam sale. I had my eye on it since it first came out but the version available to me at the time was a buggy mess. That and the studio has a habit of cranking out DLCs and then shipping out a GOTY edition later on. I think this was more up my alley compared to Pokemon. I was expecting it to be a hack and slack action RPG with cool magic but the combat reminds me of the Batman. Which is different but I've still manged to enjoy myself. When the game was released, I was very interested in the "Nemesis System" that was advertised with the game. The short version is, you are fighting an army of Urks and each officer is given a power rating which as a strength gauge. Each officer has a random set of weaknesses and abilities and will gain more abilities the stronger/more power they gain. You can take part of the power struggle by aiding or hindering the Urks such as sabotaging a hunting party or foiling an assassination attempt between Urks. The Urks will gain power by surviving these events and can grow stronger by killing you. That last bit is quite interesting, as a random Urk can land the killing blow on the player and find himself promoted to an officer. What I find most interesting is that the strengths and weaknesses give the Urks a bit of a personality and that by you intervening you can shape their personality. For example, one of the power struggle events is an officer would hold a hunting party. You can sabotage the hunting party to prevent them from growing in power. I've read that depending on how the sabotage goes, the officer can develop a fear/weakness to that certain animal. That fear acts a debuff when exploited and can makes go much easier. Last I checked I was about 30% completed with it and I look forward to all the different ways I can interact with this world.

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD


I've added this to my rotation because of amiibo functionality. I've read that in Breath of the Wild, I can use my Wolf Link amiibo to summon Wolf Link as a companion. The Wolf Link amiibo unlocks a special dungeon in the HD edition that apparently powers up your wolf companion in BotW once completed. I've preferred playing the 2D versions of Legend of Zelda so this will be quite a treat for me. I remember when this game out on Gamecube and Wii but I avoided playing it because using motion controls was not appealing to me and the GC version was scarce. I'm about an hour into the game and it's alright. I've turned into a wolf and some sassy cat thing is riding on my back :(
I have not looked up anything about this game but I look forward to bashing my head against the wall trying to solve puzzles.

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild



This is unofficially in my rotation. I've seen people play it while I was working and it looks fun. Not what I would expect from a 3D LoZ title. That and first party Nintendo games rarely drop in price. Mine as well take advantage of my prime membership and getting games slightly cheap during their initial release. Otherwise I wouldn't be okay with blatantly adding to my queue of games. I want to experience a classic 3D Legend of Zelda, so until I get tired or beat Twilight Princess , the queue is where this will stay.

Unless I'm mistaken, I have about a month to play through the two action games(and maybe BotW) until Persona 5 comes out. I'm hoping that by switching genres I won't run out of motivation to play like I did for Pokemon but I have higher hopes for Persona.
Another year another PAX in the books! My first time going to PAX East was last year and I had a blast. From playing all the upcoming games and talking to some of the people behind the studios to attending the panels it was a very fun experience. Sadly this year my friend I went with was only able to purchase Friday passes for us and not the whole weekend. But that was okay! I was just glad we were able to go. When we arrived we went straight to the expo hall, going our separate ways I went over to the Sony booth and tested out a few titles they had. Afterwards heading to the Indie Megabooth which had quite a few longs lines which left me no choice but to try and find another game with a smaller line due to not having a whole lot of time because there were panels I wanted to attend. I got to play quite a few titles so I'll give you some short impressions!

Gran Turismo Sport
This game looks BEAUTIFUL. This is Sony's chance to stick it to the Forza series, which has had three new entries since Gran Turismo 6. With this title though I'm not sure if they're going to put up a huge fight with them. While the visuals and controls are fantastic; I couldn't help but feel it was missing something. Hopefully my doubts are proven wrong when it's eventually released because I really want this series to make a comeback.





Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy
Growing up with Crash Bandicoot, I was extremely excited to see the whole trilogy was getting the remake treatment. So far? It looks incredible! The controls are tight and it plays just like the original. There were three levels to choose from, N. Sanity Beach, Hang Eight, and Heavy Machinery. The levels are organized from difficulty and though I only played Hang Eight it was a blast to see the game getting this kind of treatment. I'm really looking forward to June 30th. Maybe if it sells well we could get a Crash Team Racing remake too?





Windjammers
Basically Windjammers is a fast paced sports game that was originally released on the Neo Geo and Arcades back in 1994. The game was recently picked up by the development team DotEmu and is going to become a title on both the PS4 and the Vita. Even though I got my ass kicked I had a ton of fun playing it. It's basically like pong or air hockey. The objective is to hit the goal behind your opponent and win two sets timed at 30 seconds each or if one player reaches the score of 12. It's a lot of fun and much like the next title on the list, will be great for parties.





Disc Jam
If Windjammers and Rocket League had a kid it would be Disc Jam. This game is nonstop dumb fun. Instead of the 1v1 aspect of Windjammers, Disc Jam throws another player in the mix to make it an intense 2v2 game. Though here they only had it set up for 1v1. As opposed to Windjammers, I'm pretty damn good at Disc Jam. I faced quite a few people and beat all of them feelsgoodman.jpg.
Essentially I'm riding on a Disc Jam high along with my other friends that have a PS4. If you don't have this downloaded you need to do it! It's free on PS Plus. This is the next big thing, Disc Jam Tournaments at LAN Mob!!!





Gang Beasts
A friend of mine has had this game on PC for quite awhile now. Once upon a time when we weren't working all the time we'd all gather at his house and play video games all night. Gang Beasts was often one that was played the most. regardless of all the bugs and issues we had along the way. To see it still getting so much attention at PAX is awesome. It was pure joy to play with 3 random people and talk trash and have an all around good time. The downside? It still has issues. Don't get me wrong, the game is so much fun and is a perfect party game. The fact that it has been close to a year since I've played it and the same issues are present kind of bugs me (huehue). Regardless, I'm going to buy it when it releases on PS4......If it ever does.





Nidhogg 2
I love Nidhogg. Its such a simple "fighting" game where you essentially kill your opponent in one hit in an effort to get to the end of the level and sacrifice yourself. In this first one; you have a sword and that's it. You have to ability to throw it and throw down with your opponent but it's not the best idea. in Nidhogg 2 each time you spawn you go through a cycle of different weapons. You start off with a sword, and following each death it goes from a regular sword, broadsword, dagger, and crossbow. I didn't pay attention enough to see if you die enough it gives you the better weapon to help turn the tide over in your favor but I like to think that's how it goes. At first I preferred the first one. I didn't like the new character designs, I thought the levels were crappy too. The more games I played though the more I enjoyed it.





Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
I have no idea what this game is. The game was paused when I decided to grab the controller and have a go at it. From what I know is that it is a new indie RPG coming out on PS4 and it looks visually stunning. I didn't spend much time actually playing it to be honest. I just ran around and enjoyed the world that was created. I heavily enjoy games that have a cartoon-style look to them. From the task that was left for me from the last person that played it seemed like your typical "gather these things for me so I can get you this item" kind of quest. I will be giving this a chance again when it's released.



 Sundered
This side scrolling action game is made by the development team behind Jotun (which I didn't play). It reminds me of Ori and the Blind Forest but more violent. Complete with a "skill tree" reminiscent of Rouge Legacy, as well, the game looks to pull everything it attempts quite well. The only downside I found was the enemies weren't difficult which I hope is just because it's the demo. There seemed to be no real direction either as you just go around until you find a place of importance. From the 10 minutes I played it though I seemed to enjoy this demo heavily and it's always nice to see another Metroidvainia title be released.





Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove
Having owned the first two entries in the series I was more a fan of the first Toejam and Earl game. It was awesome to see the new title plays just like the original, isometric view and all! This time around there are nine different characters to choose from which have their own different stats. The game controls nice and the music is as funky as ever. The art direction they went with fits the game very well in my opinion. I heard a few people playing it voice their displeasure of it but I personally don't find anything wrong with it. I'm excited for another great couch co-op game to release. It looks like Adult Swim Games may have another hit on their hands.




There were a few other titles that I played but they didn't necessarily tickle my fancy. Maybe I just didn't get the game at the time or just wasn't in the mood for it. I'm going to continue to keep an eye on all of them and perhaps even purchase them though I shouldn't keep buying games due to the giant backlog I currently have. Whatever.


Unless you've spent the last few weeks under a rock, you've certainly heard of the "titans of Q1" this year, PS4 exclusive -"Horizon: Zero Dawn" and Nintendo exclusive - "The Legend of Zelda - Breath of the Wild". Both titles are amassing a ton of deep praise from various media outlets and for good reason, they're pretty incredible. I've been juggling both games at the same time, which has been incredibly challenging but ultimately rewarding (I currently have about 30 hours in each game). Luckily, I don't even own BOTW, so I'm being kept in check there, limiting my game time to whenever the Switch is available at LAN Mob/after hours. There's a lot of buzz for both games at the shop as well, and I've had to help multiple customers decide what game they should give their current attention to. I quickly began comparing and contrasting both of these open world adventure games to help players make a well informed decision, comparing the same categories of gameplay, and I've gathered everything right here! Before we get started I'd like to note, both games are an absolute blast and honestly, if you are able to, you should play both. This just might help you decide what to play first! Oh and minor spoilers ahead!



Graphics



Horizon: Zero Dawn is quite possibly the most gorgeous game I've ever had the opportunity to play. Guerilla Games utilizes the technology platform "Decima" to create environments, creatures and human characters that are easy to confuse with real life. The rich detail saturates every facet of this PS4 exclusive and even a small bush on the horizon is as crisp as possible. Apparently it runs at an even higher level on the PS4 Pro, which blows my mind.    


 Breath of the Wild takes a different graphical approach, utilizing "cel shading". There has been a lot of debate as to whether or not cel shading was appropriate for Breath of the Wild or if Nintendo should have used the realistic style present in Twilight Princess. It seems cel shading as a style is extremely polarizing, some people love the style, where some people frustratingly refer to it as "cartoons" and shun it immediately. However you may feel about cel shading, I can confidently say Breath of the Wild is the absolute pinnacle of what this art style has to offer. The visuals are so charming and breezy, and no sacrifices are made to make the world feel whole and filled with life.  


Winner - Draw
  This may be the easy way out, but I genuinely do not believe one of these games has a graphical advantage over the other. Horizon's realism and wow factor is impressive, but Breath of the Wild really pushed the boundaries of cel shading. I truly believe this one is a matter of opinion, because both titles do what they do perfectly and both are an absolute treat to look at. If HZD used cel shading I truly believe I wouldn't like the game as much and vice versa.
    




Combat


Horizon: Zero Dawn's combat is centralized on archery, and it does it extremely well. Aloy has multiple bows at her disposal that fire a plethora of arrow types including fire, piercing, lightning, ice, etc. The simple act of pulling back on your bow and sending an arrow flying feels incredible and natural. On top of archery, Aloy has access to a few other weapons including a sling shot that fires bombs, a bunch of different placeable traps and even a spear. She is also equipped with an old technology dubbed the "Focus" which helps her scan and identify weak spots on various creatures. Aloy can also take multiple approaches to each encounter, staying hidden and striking from the shadows, using the environment to your advantage or even taking a head-on approach. Horizon doesn't have traditional boss fights but there are definitely creatures that are essentially a boss encounter, and these fights are very well designed and prove to be a total blast. 


Breath of the Wild's approach to combat has much more variation. Players can pick up a huge variety of weapons from the environment, including swords, shields, bows, spears, axes, clubs, wands and the list goes on and on. These weapons will break over time, forcing players to always keep an eye out for their next defense against Ganon's forces. Players can also utilize powerful "Runes" that grant abilities like spawning bombs, magnetism and even time manipulation. Link is also capable of parrying enemy attacks, similar to Dark Souls, as well as unleashing a "Flurry Attack" as a reward for a perfect dodge. Every encounter can be dealt with in so many ways it makes my head spin, some being absolutely hilarious. Breath of the Wild's boss encounters are also fantastic, even if they can be a bit easy.


Winner - Breath of the Wild
Surprisingly, this was one of the easiest decisions to make. Horizon's combat is perfect for what it is, and Aloy's arsenal makes a ton of sense in the confines of her world. It's important to note that Horizon's archery outshines Breath of the Wild's in every way imaginable, but there's just so much more going on in Zelda. Even though the combat is relatively simple, the freedom, massive arsenal and huge bestiary just makes combat more enjoyable. Not to mention the incredible feeling of parrying a creature 10x your size, sneak attacks, flurry combinations and the intense satisfaction of pushing a giant rock down a hill to squish the Bokoblins below.


Narrative 

Horizon: Zero Dawn's plot has kept me completely engaged for 30+ hours. Aloy's story is a compelling look at a post-post-apocalyptic world in which humanity has resorted to living in tribe-like communities. Living as an outcast for her entire youth, for reasons she does not understand, players follow Aloy as she uncovers the mysteries behind her own existence as well as the downfall of the human race. There are multiple moments in the plot that left me with my mouth wide open, and these moments are only enhanced by the incredible voice acting Guerilla Games brought to the table. Horizon tackles multiple extensive themes like racism, the impact of technology, reclamation, abandonment and authority. There is some weak and corny dialogue sprinkled about, but overall the character interactions are not only believable, but genuinely interesting.

Players play as Link, awakening from a 100 year slumber with no memory to find that his beloved home of Hyrule has been overrun by Ganon and his evil forces. Players quickly learn of a prophecy detailing Link's duty as a knight of Hyrule to destroy Ganon once and for all, following his and Princess Zelda's failure to do so many years ago. Link sets off to free the 4 divine beasts and their champions (dear friends of Link that he has forgotten) to help combat Ganon and finally bring peace to the land. Breath of the Wild doesn't bring anything particularly surprising to the plot, but fans of the series will feel right at home and newcomers certainly won't feel like this style of storytelling is taking away from the experience at all. Players have the ability to earn some of Link's memories back by visiting specific locations or simply via the main story and these flashback moments make up some of the strongest narrative bits the game has to offer. You may have heard some of the voice acting during these emotional moments is sub-par, and I would have to agree.   


Winner - Horizon: Zero Dawn
Despite the authentic charm present in Breath of the Wild's narrative, Horizon Zero Dawn just has much more meat on its bones. I found myself extremely engrossed in the world of Horizon, telling myself "one more hour" not necessarily to topple another mechanic behemoth, but sometimes just to see what was going to happen next. I certainly believe Breath of the Wild is tackling some heavy themes of degradation and destiny, however Horizon is digging a little deeper to really entice players with a master crafted plot. 




Environment
I was struggling a bit with some game mechanics present in both titles and how to compare and contrast them, and ultimately decided on naming a category "environment" instead of "Things to Do" or something silly. This does not mean how pretty the game world looks, rather how players can interact with it.





Horizon's world is pretty vast, with multiple biomes including a lush forest, snowy mountains, forsaken deserts and even taboo underground technological marvels. There's plenty to do in each area like collecting documents and relics of the old world, completing various "Hunting Grounds" to earn accolades, climbing up "Tallnecks" to unveil portions of the map, taking out bandit camps, hunting machines and wildlife and harvesting materials to create ammo or upgrade various carrying capacities. Aloy can get from point to point by running, sliding, sneaking, swimming and climbing very specific areas highlighted with yellow rocks and ropes. After a certain point in the main plot, Aloy becomes capable of "overriding" certain machines, using them as mounts. Players are also capable of fast traveling to areas they have been to previously, but they must craft a pack to do so. One of the most unique and memorable places of interest are called "Cauldrons" and have players solving some puzzles and combating some machines in very high tech and mysterious areas to unlock certain abilities.


Breath of the Wild's world map is absolutely massive, so much so that when I first opened it up and zoomed out I believed I was looking at the whole thing. I was pretty impressed until LAN Mob regular MattBGames walked over and told me I could zoom out again, revealing even more of Hyrule. Hyrule is filled to the brim with any type of environment you can think of, from forest to deserts to snow covered peaks, swamps, canyons, castle ruins and on and on. However, these areas aren't just for ambiance, Link actually reacts to whatever environment he is in. Players must dress appropriately, or heat themselves up with a meal. That's right, meals! Players can collect a massive number of ingredients (30 hours in and I'm still finding new ones) and cook them together to create all sorts of stat boosting meals, which prove to be insanely useful. On top of collecting ingredients for food, the world is littered with treasure, spread out in nooks and crannies, enemy camps, and one of the many shrines in the world. There are 120 of these shrines to explore, and they're always a treat. Each shrine usually presents players with some sort of puzzle which upon completion gives progress towards a heart container or an increase to the stamina bar and a hidden treasure chest. On top of all these shrines, players are tasked with finding 900 Korok seeds, which can be uncovered in a variety of ways, and these are used to upgrade inventory space. With all these things to uncover, Breath of the Wild gives you a plethora of travel options to get to where you're headed. Not only can Link can run and swim as expected, he can also climb ANY surface, only limited by your stamina bar. Link also has access to a paraglider, sailing, shield surfing and various mounts (even Epona!) as well as a fast travel option to any shrine he's been to previously.


Winner - Breath of the Wild

If you couldn't tell simply by paragraph length, Breath of the Wild brings a lot more to the table here. Not only do the environments have a direct effect on gameplay via Link's ability to withstand weather, but they are fully explorable. If you see it, you can probably get there! I find myself getting completely side tracked in Breath of the Wild almost constantly, but due to the nature of the game I'm always being rewarded for it instead of being let down by finding nothing. I do think Horizon's fast travel mechanic is way cooler, forcing players to sacrifice some resources to hop around the map, but that dwarfs in comparison to Zelda's sheer ability to eat your time up.    


Music

 

The game's soundtrack was composed by the same man who took on Guerilla Games' previous title Killzone, Joris de Man, working in tandem with The Flight and Niels van der Leest. The soundtrack features over 80 tracks and clocks in at over 4 hours long, and is available in full on Spotify. In an interview with Playstation's official blog, the team stated the OST's focus was centered around the three pillars of Horizon, nature, machines and tribes. There are some very interesting sounds at work to accomplish the goal the team set for themselves including, but not limited to, bowed dobros, guitars, fujaras, live strings, massive taiko drums and even circuit-bending synthesizers.   



Breath of the Wild's soundtrack was composed by Manaka Kataoka, who previously worked on The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, and newcomer Yasuaki Iwata. According to the soundtrack team, a lot of focus went into creating an ambient sound as opposed to a melodic one, written and based around the piano. There is an upcoming documentary chronicling the development of Breath of the Wild, and I'm ecstatic to learn more about the soundtrack.
  Winner - Breath of the Wild This one was extremely difficult because music is insanely subjective, more so than any other category in this post. The deciding factor for me was the simple fact that I find myself listening to the Breath of the Wild soundtrack outside of the game pretty consistently. I believe Horizon's soundtrack fits the game perfectly, but Zelda's OST is more timeless.



Fishing





Neither game has proper fishing. Aloy and Link are capable of jumping into the water and catching fish with their hands, as well as utilizing archery or, in Link's case, bombs.

Winner - Nobody
I'm deeply disappointed.




There are some small features I didn't touch on, like Horizon's excellent photo mode, and customizable HUD, as well as Zelda's uncanny ability to set up game states and have NPCs comment on them. (for example, if Link is not wearing a shirt, NPCs will ask him if he is cold or if players complete a task before being told, NPCs will comment on his memory loss). As I tried to document above, each game has very potent strengths, like Aloy's intriguing dialogue in a mysterious world, or the goofy and unique characters in Hyrule, and some of these strengths may be subjective. It's important to note, that despite the very loyal fan-base the Legend of Zelda series has amassed so far, Horizon has managed to outsell the latest entry in Nintendo's mainstay and that's incredibly impressive for a brand new IP. However, at the end of the day, I feel no shame in saying Breath of the Wild's charm has me under its spell. I think Horizon has changed the game and upped the bar for open world games in general, but Breath of the Wild brings something to the table that's very hard to measure. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who love Horizon more, which is awesome, and I'd love to hear their own perspectives! It's funny how March 2017 already has two very real competitors for Game of the Year. It's going to be a great year for gaming!     
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