We're finally rounding down 2017, a particularly spectacular year in gaming, so it's about time for my Top 25 games of the year. My past renditions of this annual blog have been difficult, but this year has been the most difficult by far. I've lost a lot of sleep contemplating what games would make it in, because there was just so freakin' many. At one point I even considered making the list a top 35, but I decided to stick to my guns and work through the list, even if I felt guilty for not including X and Y. Also, before I get started, I would really like to note that this list is completely based on my own personal experiences and games that I'VE played this year. Obviously I couldn't play every single game release in 2017, and I'll even include a list of games I really wish I could have gotten to in part 3! Without further ado, here's the first 10 games in my Top 25 Games of 2017!

25 - Valkyria Revolution

I dived into Valkyria Revolution expecting an experience similar to the rest of the Valkyria series, deep on tactics and strategy, with pretty unique gameplay. However, Media Vision bailed on this formula in favor of a more Dynasty Warriors esque action RPG, which is definitely unfortunate. That being said, while the massive gameplay shift does this game no favors, the narrative still manages to be quite interesting and I found myself limping through the uninspired combat with my incompetent AI just to see what happens next. Thanks to that storytelling and narrative, Valkyria Revolution inched it's way in to my list!   

24 - For Honor

For Honor is a game I will most likely remember for the rest of my life. Ubisoft's unique take on medieval warfare and combat really hit all the right notes, and I absolutely loved taking to the battlefields and slashing away. Unfortunately, the game suffered from a terrible online infrastructure, which deeply affected how much you could even play the great game they created. Outside of playing private duels with buddies or lanning right here in the shop, the struggle to play a single game of For Honor turned me off to continuing to delve in. I know there's a plethora of new content including characters, maps, modes and Ubisoft eventually even added dedicated servers. I may return to For Honor sometime soon, but the first few incredibly shaky months prevented me from becoming the best samurai NA this year.

23 - Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is so many things. Firstly, it's quite the mouthful, secondly it's nothing short of a video game melting pot and lastly it's freakin' hilarious. MRKB gets quite a lot of play around the shop, and it's quite captivating for a very wide variety of players, partially thanks to the relatively deep XCOM-esque combat mixed with fun characters. Even though this game didn't break my top 20, I really can't praise Nintendo + Ubisoft enough for introducing such an ambitious and unique title to the Switch. I genuinely hope we get another look at this kind of game in the future, with even more combat depth and even more characters. 

22 - Psychonauts: Rhombus of Ruin

VR is still in a relatively early stage, and I can only say I've played a handful of non-arcade-esque games between PSVR and the HTC Vive and Psychonauts: In the Rhombus of Ruin is one of my favorites. As I mention in my review of the game, Rhombus of Ruin's strength lies in the genuine and authentic experience of spending time with the characters of the original cult classic Psychonauts. If one was to play Rhombus of Ruin without playing the original Psychonauts, I think they would be pretty disappointed in the incredibly short VR title. To anyone who has played the original game, Rhombus of Ruin is a masterly-crafted little snack to help ease the pain as we wait for Psychonauts 2...it just so happens to be in VR! 

21 - ARMS

Back in June I actually wrote a full review of ARMS, noting the game is best enjoyed in small spurts. Over the course of the year I've played ARMS with customers at multiple lock-ins which is certainly where the title shines. I would go as far as saying ARMS is one of the best casual/party games available for the Switch, with just the right amount of depth. I really still couldn't ever recommend playing the game alone, outside of trying out arcade mode a few times.At the end of the day, you can't help but praise Nintendo for another unique title for their latest console; Switch. 

20 - Hellblade

Ironically enough, I also wrote a blog about Hellblade this year! I purposely didn't call that post a "game review", because at the risk of sounding silly, Hellblade is best described as an experience. I certainly couldn't recommend Ninja Theory's eerie tale to everyone, but to those that can stomach the psychological onslaught and unnerving atmosphere it's worth playing. I think Hellblade was one of the boldest games of the year, and the only reason it didn't make it even higher on this list is because, quite honestly,  Hellblade made me pretty uncomfortable. 

19 - Berserk and the Band of the Hawk

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk is the third game ever published based on the hit manga/anime series "Berserk", and only the second title to ever be released in North America. While there are certainly issues within Band of the Hawk's gameplay, I am happy to say the glee of playing Guts in a Dynasty Warriors/Musou formula is incredibly satisfying. Berserk Musou (Japanese release title) is certainly easier to enjoy as a fan of the series, but the game's story-line does a pretty good job at delivering the narrative, with some extra cut-scenes to boot. Now if only we could get a Berserk fighting game... 

18 - Resident Evil 7

After Resident Evil 6 was so poorly received I couldn't help but worry for the legendary Capcom horror franchise. It felt like the series was slowly veering off the path that it was so well established for, but unlike the shift between RE3 and 4, this path was for the worse. However, Capcom blew every naysayer out of the water by following up RE6 with a genuinely unnerving and fresh style of horror, proving that they're capable of changing the formula once again. RE7 also had the added bonus of utilizing the PSVR, which has become a favorite title right here in the shop. I look forward to seeing what the upcoming DLC adds to the narrative and I can't help but wonder how 7 will connect to the rest of the series. 

17 - Crash N Sane Trilogy

I struggled a bit with whether or not I should include Crash N Sane Trilogy, since technically it's just a remake of an older series, but the N Sane Trilogy is something special. So much so in fact, that Rob and I were both inspired to write about the game. (Rob's post - Cody's Post). To put it simply, N Sane Trilogy is a perfect remaster in every sense of the word, and Vicarious Visions approached the development with an appropriate amount of care. Even if you never played the original Crash series and nostalgia aside, the remaster is a great way to play them now. 

16 - Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 surprised me in a ton of ways, and every single one of them was good. I've played the series throughout the years, but none of the previous installments had me so emotionally invested and immersed in the ridiculous atmosphere Sega creates. Yakuza 0 is like a roller coaster of immature silliness, pure viciousness and density and that just begins to describe it. Yakuza's greatest strength is its ability to represent this badass Yakuza thug, but also show those character's private moments of eating a bowl of udon and playing some arcade games. I also have to note, Yakuza 0 is easily my pick for funniest game of the year, there are some wild moments. P.S. Rob don't be mad it isn't higher up on the list!

Besides all the Yakuza drama? Mostly bowling, fishing, spending time at the batting cages, playing arcade games, karaoke, dancing and fine tuning your pocket racer?   

There you have it folks! Thank you for taking the time to read the first ten best games of 2017, and I really hope you check back soon for the next ten (15-6). As I expressed, this list has been incredibly difficult, and I've spent hours racking my brain for the final list.  To anyone else creating a list, we want to hear your thoughts! What are your top games of the year? Let us know below, or on a future post! 
Week 1 of Zehn Masters is a wrap, and we have all the juicy details below for you. If you've been living under a rock and haven't seen or heard about the Zehn Masters series, we're running an 8-week tournament series focused on 10 different games, each qualifier awarding a Rome Revolution eSports jersey and entry into a national event. If you're player in League of Legends, Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone, Madden, NBA 2K, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, Tekken 7, Rocket League or Call of Duty WWII we have a tournament coming up for you and a shot at nationals with over $20,000 in cash prizes. Beat the line and buy tickets online at store.lanmob.com

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite

Our kickoff event for the series saw Jeremy "Ladon" Lince take down the event and win the first of over 50 Rome Revolution eSports jerseys which we'll be awarding throughout the series. Ladon is a Rome, NY native and regular on the Syracuse/CNY fighting game scene. He recently won Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite at RetroGameCon, and is presently Rank 5 online. His mains include Dante and Gammora. Jeremy is a multi-game specialist and plans to appear again at our Zehn Master Tekken 7 events, and also plays BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, King of Fighters and many other fighters.

Ladon moves on to the December 15th $500 WAN event pitted against fighters from 12 other LANs from all across North America. If you want to cheer him on you can catch him playing live from the shop after 9 PM. Ladon's jersey will also be up on our shop early next week for anyone who wishes to purchase and support Ladon and Rome Revolution eSports.

Ladon also wanted us to mention the upcoming Salt City tournament, part of an ongoing fighting game series out of Syracuse.  Their next event is December 2nd at Larger than Life Toys and Comics in Clay, New York featuring Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, Tekken 7, Street Fighter 5, Injustice 2 and multiple side events! Sign ups for Salt Mines 2 begin at 10am, with matches beginning a bit later in the day!

You can catch Ladons replay here:

Overwatch 6 v 6

Much time has been spent on Project Bastion, one of two in-house projects where we're looking to put together a LAN Mob team to compete in the Zehn Masters events. We've had as many as 9 players participating in practice sessions at the shop and submitted a final roster for this event consisting of Mike "Nobody" Antonson, Jackson "CrazyNinja" Kessler, Alex "A5" Abdou, Zach "Contagion" Carr, Matt "MattBGames" Barry, and Joey "Joey4kk" Reno.

We had a great series at the tournament facing off against Team 315, another local team made up of Romans who dominated the sets winning 3-0 and 3-0.  They qualify to the national event on December 16th for a shot at a $2,000 prize pool and will each receive a Rome Revolution eSports jersey.  Congrats to Team 315 members Nick "Twitch" Tallarino, Andy "Impackt" Waite, Nathan "NastyNate" Sharpe, Lance "Niqutio" Stivers, RJ "Dickie" Hojnacki, and Jacob "Brzzy" Ruzanski.

You can catch each game here:

Game 1

Game 2
Game 3
Game 4
Game 5
Game 6

Rocket League 2 v 2

Rocket League 2v2 saw the return of two members from Team 315 - Nick "Twitch" Tallarino and RJ "Dickie" Hojnacki, who dominated once again winning the tournament 3-0.  They'll return Sunday December 17th to compete.in the national $1,000 event!  You can catch the replay here:

Next up: Madden, League of Legends & Hearthstone

This upcoming weekend features Madden qualifier on Friday night, League of Legends on Saturday and Hearthstone on Sunday.  We've capped seating on certain events so if you want to make sure you get a seat, buy your tickets online here: store.lanmob.com

See you soon!

Today kicks off the Zehn Masters series, a gauntlet of 20 tournaments over the next 8 weeks to find the best competitors in Central New York to sponsor to 20 national online events. Our jerseys are in the works with a local screen printer, featuring the Rome Revolution eSports logo with a black & red design, and a list of sponsors on the back, along with winning player name.

Tonight will be Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, and we’ll round out the weekend with Overwatch 6v6 on Saturday and and Rocket League 2v2 on Sunday. Next weekend will feature Madden 18 on Friday, League of Legends on Saturday, and Hearthstone on Sunday. We’ll have events every weekend thereafter for 8 weeks straight - see the full schedule below. We're committed to sending 20 individuals or teams to their respective nationals, but you can't win unless you try, so grab your tickets online at store.lanmob.com or buy at the door as tickets allow. If you want to tune in to watch you can follow us on twitch.tv/lanmob

We’re happy to bring this event to Central New York as there aren't a ton of eSports opportunities available to the area. Some of these games we’ve never run tournaments for before, so we’re interested to meet some new local players. We’re also hoping the national pot bonuses - some as high as $2,000 - draws in some new blood we haven’t met before. Tekken and CoD specifically have rumored to have some big names make an appearance. We’ll see how the weeks develop!

We’ve formed two teams at LAN Mob (Overwatch and League of Legends) to support in this competition: Project Bastion and Project Veigar. We’re providing coaching services and practice nights to help the teams gain a chemistry and improve.  Cody and Mike may write more in the coming weeks about that experience: stay tuned here.

Project Bastion putting in some late night work

I’ll also be writing up a review every Monday to capture the weekend’s action and highlight some winning player profiles. We want to promote and market your stories as much as possible and help you make an impact in your respective nationals.

Lastly below is the schedule as a reminder. We can only provide a limited amount of seats at the door so to ensure you get your seat pre-purchase your tickets online at store.lanmob.com


Friday November 24, 7 PM - MvC Infinite (qualifier)
Saturday November 25, 1 PM - Overwatch (qualifier)
Sunday November 26, 1 PM - Rocket League (qualifier)


Friday December 1, 7 PM - Madden 18 (qualifier)
Saturday December 2, 1 PM - League of Legends (qualifier)
Sunday December 3, 1 PM - Hearthstone (qualifier)
Friday December 8, 7 PM - NBA2k18 (qualifier)
Saturday December 9, 1 PM - CoD WW2 PS4 (qualifier)
Friday December 15, 7 PM - Tekken 7 (qualifier)
Sunday December 17, 1 PM - CS GO (qualifier)
Friday December 22, 7 PM - MvC I (qualifier)
Saturday December 23, 1 PM - Overwatch (qualifier)
Friday December 29, 7 PM - Madden 18 (qualifier)
Saturday December 30, 1 PM - League of Legends (qualifier)
Sunday December 31, 1 PM - Rocket League (qualifier)


Friday January 5, 7 PM - NBA 2k18 (qualifier)
Saturday January 6, 1 PM - CoD WW2 PS4 (qualifier)
Sunday January 7, 1 PM - Hearthstone (qualifier)
Friday January 12, 7 PM - Tekken 7 (qualifier)
Sunday January 14, 1 PM - CS GO (qualifier)

2017 was quite the year for video games, no matter how you look at it. Between the release of Nintendo Switch, an exciting E3 and huge game releases dropping every other week, it was honestly very hard to keep up. Which is a good thing! 2017 is easily my most memorable and exciting year of gaming in recent memory, but it's making my writing of this year's "top 25 games of the year" quite the challenge. My list is my own personal list, which means it will be based off of the games I've played and experienced for myself, and I can't help but feel guilty about all the games I haven't gotten to yet (including games like Nioh, South Park and Mario Odyssey). However, I'm looking forward to writing about all the games I did play, and one of them is a game with a terrible title; Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
Nihon Falcom
NA Release September 12th, 2017
PS4 + PS Vita, Microsoft Windows Q1 2018

First things first, "Ys" is apparently pronounced as "eece" like in "fleece", in case you were wondering. Secondly,  I've played very little of the Ys game series, which is important to note because this Ys has a very deep seeded fandom, which is pretty awesome. However, I was never part of it. Typically a game with an "VIII" in its title is part of a long series with a deep and long-standing narrative, which can certainly come off as daunting to a player looking to come in on the eighth installment of said series. I'm happy to say that, despite my own unfamiliarity with the Ys series, Lacrimosa of Dana is incredibly easy to understand and drop into. There are some references here and there to other lands and empires, as well as references to Adol's (the main protagonist) past adventures, but the story never feels bogged down in any sense. In fact it's quite the opposite.

Ys follows a very simple premise, Adol begins the game on a ship, which is capsized by a mysterious creature. Now it's up to Adol and the other castaways to come up with a plan for survival and escape from a mysterious island populated by ferocious beasts. The narrative is kept relatively simple for a while, but eventually things do get much more interesting, but I won't spoil that. As players explore the island they will meet and rescue other castaways, which will add more resources/vendors to the small village the castaways have built. Some rescued castaways even become full-blown party members! While Lacrimosa's narrative is pleasant and avoids being bloated, the gameplay is what compels me to recommend the game to everyone.

There are multiple biomes and distinct areas all over the mysterious isle of Seiren.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (man, I hate typing that) is best described as an action JRPG, akin to the "Tales of" series or Xenoblade. Players control a party of three adventurers in real time hack and slash battles. Each character has a unique fighting style, such as Luxia' extremely quick rapier strikes or Sahad's slow yet massive anchor attacks. Each character also has a plethora of skills at their disposal which can be threaded and comboed together. Enemies are susceptible to "breaking" by taking too much damage of a certain attribute, including slashing, piercing and "hitting" (smashing). Broken enemies take more damage from all sources, as well as becoming CCd for a short amount of time. Each character also has an epic "Extra" cinematic special attack, which can lay waste to a pool of enemies or even boss fights. Honestly, Ys 8's combat is everything I look for in an action RPG. Controls are all clean and precise, which always helps make a hack and slash set up flourish, but the surprising level of depth in a simple to pick up combat scheme is refreshing. You can perfectly time dodges or blocks in between the fast paced onslaught to avoid damage and stay on top of the enemy. Combat is just simply fun and just challenging enough to feel rewarding without bogging average players down. It's extremely well crafted.

  "Hummel", one of the early party members brings a bayoneted rifle to the fast paced combat, and it actually works in the formula!  

However, gameplay isn't all combat. As you run around the Isle of Seiren, players can collect a whole mess of resources and ingredients which can be used in a variety of crafting systems. Once rescued, certain castaways can use said resources for things like armor and weapon upgrades, trading for different resources, improving the village's defenses and even costumes! There's even a small farm to help manage! Most importantly...there's fishing!

Fishing in Ys 8 is a very easy (and relaxing) way to get ahead when it comes to materials!

Ultimately, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana will probably go down in history as an underrated gem of 2017. Despite pulling some impressively strong reviews and decent sales numbers, the JRPG is not exactly talked about much. It's to be expected in a year of gaming as potent as 2017, but I'm glad I was able to get into Ys 8. Unfortunately, I don't believe I'm anywhere near completing it, and at my current rate of a few hours a week it might take a while. I'm currently sitting at about 30 hours, but they have been a genuinely relaxing and immersive experience. That being said, spoiler alert, Ys 8 has definitely earned a high spot in my games of the year blog, which will be coming soon!   
Nintendo Systems are always filled with great titles. The GameCube is no exception. I got this system on my birthday bundled with Super Mario Sunshine and it was one of the best birthday gifts I have ever gotten. Throughout the years I always revisit a handful of games from my library and have as much fun as I did when I first got them. Though overall this was a hard list to make. There are so many good games on this console and it took me a long time to pinpoint which ones to put on this list. Also like the PS1 List it's in no order. If it was it'd take me another two weeks of just switching games around.

Luigi's Mansion

Luigi's Mansion is still an underrated game. Luigi has been my favorite character in the Mario series since I was little so to see a whole game where you only play as him left me excited. It's still one of my favorite games to play and it never gets boring. I hope to see a sequel or maybe a remaster for the Switch sometime in the future.

Super Mario Sunshine

Hands down the best Super Mario game in my opinion. Nintendo had a tough task with having to make a follow-up to Super Mario 64. It's one of the most important 3D made games ever. In my opinion they did a great job with Sunshine.The atmosphere, controls, and characters make this one of the best Mario experiences. Even though some of those bonus levels were culprits of broken controllers for some people.

Resident Evil 4

Highly regarded as the best Resident Evil title, Resident Evil 4 is a staple in the horror genre. With it's incredible blend of horror, action, and the best Resident Evil character in the series; Resident Evil 4 is a thrill from start to finish. Though if you for some reason still have a Wii/Wii-U around, the Wii port is even better.

Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

Eternal Darkness was one of those games that pushed boundaries. It's a rare experience that made you actually feel like you were going insane playing it (To an extent). Convincing you that your save was corrupted, screen "turning off", etc. Anyone who hasn't played this game yet should because it's an incredible horror game that keeps you hooked. Throughout the game you play as 12 characters and features a engrossing storyline spanning hundreds of years.

Mario Party 4

Any of the Mario Party games could be on this list, really. It's the ultimate party game and has left me with 3 less friends in the past. In the end though it's totally worth it. The minigames (like always) are extremely fun and can get quite competitive. Plus it's a great game for Lock-Ins! (I hate you, Kolunas)

Super Smash Bros. Melee

One of the best fighters ever made and the best fighter on the GameCube. Super Smash Bros. Melee was the culprit to hundreds of hours lost but it was all worth it. The transition from the N64 to GameCube was staggering. I remember playing this when it first came out at a friends house and knowing back then that this was truly one of the greatest fighters ever made.

Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness
So far this is closest we have ever gotten to a full fledged console Pokemon game and it's great. It still has the Pokemon magic intact and while it's not the best game, it's still a bunch of fun along with Pokemon Colosseum.

Timesplitters 2

Back in the day, Goldeneye 007 was the quintessential shooter. Everybody wanted to play it and it was an early indicator of how popular a multiplayer FPS games could be. Timesplitters 2 in my opinion carried that torch. Especially since a decent chunk of the developers for Goldeneye were on the helm of Timesplitters. With plenty of objective-based story missions with plenty of action, the it was just as fun as the multiplayer. The day we get a Timesplitters for PS4/XB1/PC is the day I get rid of any other shooter I have (Until we find out it's riddled with microtransactions amirite?)

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Usually Nintendo hits whatever they do out of the park. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is no exception. Nintendo showed again that they had what it took to make another good RPG. Not to mention a great entry-level RPG at that. With that Nintendo charm intact, from funny quips from every character you talk to to the fun battle system. For anyone that is looking to get into the genre but is a little too intimidated by the difficulty/length, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is a perfect game to start out with.

NFL Street

My favorite sports game of all time. Madden is dull in comparison to the pure fun that is to be had playing this game. I would play this game religiously throughout my youth and it was the only sports game I was somewhat good at. Pickup games with friends was some of the most fun I've ever had. Not to brag or anything but since the last stint I had with this game I went undefeated, even when playing 1v2 matches.

Ty The Tasmanian Tiger

When platformers reigned supreme before the FPS came and overthrew it. We were given an overabundance of the genre, much like we've seen over the last few years for FPS. Ty the Tasmanian Tiger was one of those games that was marketed to being the next big thing. Ads showed all of the console mascots (Mario, Sonic, and Crash) all bandaged up in the hospital with Ty's silhouette in the background. Was it that good? Not necessarily, but the game overall was a ton of fun. With just the right amount of collectibles and a decent sized arsenal of boomerangs at your disposal, paced the game just right.

Metroid Prime

Come on, Retro Studios is the best and it'd be a crime to leave this off of the list.

Honorable Mentions:

Mario Kart Double Dash
Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker
Kirby's Air Ride
Star Fox Assault
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

Injustice 2 was a huge surprise for me this year. I genuinely cannot believe how much time I've sunken into NetherRealm's latest fighter, especially considering I was never really that much of a Mortal Kombat player. Alas, 300 hours later and I still find more and more ways to enjoy IJ2, which is perfect because just this last week NetherRealm rolled out a huge content patch! Outside of the content update, there was also a shell shocking reveal for Fighter Pack 3 at the  E-League finals, so there's plenty to touch on. Let's start with the newest character added to the roster - Hellboy.

As I'm typing this it's still hard to believe that Hellboy is actually in Injustice, but it's 2017! Anything can happen! After playing Hellboy for about 5 hours I can comfortably say he looks/sounds/feels exactly like I was hoping for, and once again NetherRealm has managed to push out a genuinely awesome character. Hellboy is definitely best described as a brawler; he's good at punching people in the face. This comparison has been made a lot, but he plays very similarly to how "Doomsday" played in Injustice 1. It's important to note that Hellboy doesn't offer much in the realm of mixups and zoning, but his ability to stay on top of you and just belch damage is pretty impressive. Hellboy has access to a variety of moves straight out of the Dark Horse Comics, including his trusty revolver the, "Good Samaritan", the holy sword Excalibur, bombs and traps, and my personal favorite, demonic charms. By channeling some of these charms during his character power, Hellboy has access to a multitude of buffs. One charm gives a hefty damage buff, one gives armor properties and one will even revive Hellboy from death if his health hits 0 while it is active. I look forward to putting some more time into Big Red, but I'm definitely a fan, even if his playstyle isn't one of my favorites. He also has some of the best intros in the game!

While we're on the subject of new characters and surprising guests, now is as good a time as any to touch on the fighter pack 3 reveal. A group of friends and myself were watching E League live and the trailer was quite the surprise, so check it out if you haven't -

There we have it, The Atom, Enchantress and...all of TMNT? It goes without saying that the roar of response on this one was pretty nuts. Are they all one character? Are they four separate characters? What will their gear look like? Somehow the reveal even turned into a twitter wide contest to try to decide who the "best" Turtle is. I for one think NetherRealm made a very bold call and I trust them to do a great job with such beloved characters. I never would have guessed though, even in the middle of the trailer all I could think was, "Man, why does Rorschach have a Sai?". As far as Atom and Enchantress goes we will just have to see. Atom's reveal trailer made him look unique to play, so I can only hope Enchantress is much different then Starfire, which seems to be a major concern. Ultimately, as much as I was rooting for Rorschach, I think the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an extremely pleasant surprise!

Along with the November update came plenty of buffs and nerfs to the existing cast, including some really exciting changes. NetherRealm joked that Swamp Thing and Firestorm are now S tier characters thanks to some fantastic buffs, while other characters like Batman were hit with pretty hard nerfs. One of my favorite changes were to Scarecrow -

As with any game studio that consistently works to balance their creation, NetherRealm is under some flak. Some players believe some nerfs were too hard, while some buffs were over the top, but only time will tell. Overall, I think the chances to Batman/Deadshot will make the game a bit more interesting, especially at a high level of play. A lot of players have been complaining about the state of the zoning game in IJ2, so at the very least it's nice to see NetherRealm attempt to address the problem.   

On a less controversial note, NetherRealm has also added in some more gear! For a limited time only special Justice League Multiverse challenges will be cropping up to celebrate the release of the upcoming blockbuster film. As I'm posting this there is currently a Flash and Cyborg tower that will net you the threads from the movie for those respective characters. I'm looking forward to grabbing Batman's! Additionally, NetherRealm added some extra shaders for a handful of the cast titled "Nth Metal". There's quite a few but here are a few favorites -

I've made it rather clear that I'm not a fan of the Legendary Gear system in Injustice 2. As much as I genuinely love the game, I feel like I can't really make a scratch in the Legendary requirements, especially since I like to play most of the cast. I guess I just wish I had the free time to commit to getting some of the gear, alas....there's another batch of Legendary Multiverses for me to feel bad about!

I genuinely hope that in the future NetherRealm makes these pieces of gear less of a chore to get and allow more of their community a chance to actually get some. Hopefully someday! (pls NetherRealm stahp)

Last but not least, Injustice 2 has released on PC! NettherRealm released Mortal Kombat X in a similar fashion, so I'm happy the PC community gets to enjoy their latest title! It's always nice to see a studio continue to work hard to add more and more post launch content, especially when the majority of that content is absolutely free. As I've said before, if it wasn't for how sour the Legendary Multiverse makes me feel, Injustice 2 is easily in my running for GOTY, so definitely give it a chance if you haven't yet!

We've had a lot of excitement around the shop surrounding the upcoming Zehn Masters series, a large series focused on many games rewarding Rome Revolution jerseys and a shot at a national payout. New teams are forming which is GREAT to see, and we're working hard to spread the word to bring in the best local players we can find. It's going to be an exciting few months.

Have you bought your tickets yet? Stop reading and go buy them now!

We've sponsored players in the past before to local events and even some national SSB4 events, and this has usually been a skill based system, where we would send the best we could find off. For team events this often has meant teams that had formed outside of LAN Mob and already existed, and not necessarily a homegrown team. It has been the wild west in the sense that these aren't really LAN Mob teams or players - we don't coach them, or have any say over their rosters, or any ability to step in when problems arise to try to resolve.

We're facing a similar situation with the upcoming Zehn Masters series. There will be 50+ jerseys given away and a chance to represent LAN Mob and Rome Revolution on a national scale, with over $20,000 in cash prizes up for grabs. That's all pretty awesome, but when I start to think past the national event towards what sort of opportunities are available to continue a sponsorship it starts to get hairy.

  • Are the winning player(s) capable of being ambassadors for their game and for Rome? We meet a lot of great gamers around the shop, but also have met some controversial to difficult to downright toxic individuals.
  • Are they interested and receptive to being coached - or maybe more importantly, are we knowledgeable enough and capable of coaching them?
  • Do they have the support structure in their lives - family, job, time - to commit to developing their skills?
  • Does their culture and values overlap with our own?

Skill vs Support

Skill and ability to learn is certainly important in professional gaming, but even more important is building a support network around the player to help them achieve their best. This is amplified in team games where there are countless intangibles that can affect the outcome of a game. Look at any sport and you'll find dream teams that were put together of the best talent that looks great on paper, but in reality functions poorly due to poor chemistry, coaching, or otherwise. 

So we've been spending a lot of thought on what exactly eSports sponsorship should involve, and how we can grow that around our shop. That started first with a look at ourselves - what are our strengths at different games, and how can we leverage those resources to our players. There are plenty of games we can admit we're not knowledgeable or skillful enough at to provide the support needed. We also analyzed our values as an organization: what kinds of behaviors do we expect of our players, and what should not be tolerated.

What to Look For in an eSports Organization

So what should an eSports sponsorship provide for its players?
  • Financing - At its most basic level, sponsorship should offer some sort of financial support to its players. This can include: tournament buy-ins, travel expenses, gear, and training.
  • Coaching - An eSports organization needs to be capable of coaching its players. This is a broad field which covers everything from gaming skill, to mindset, motivation, and emotional control. It's all about using unbiased eyes to help players to grow and become the best they can be.
  • Promotion & Marketing - Every player has a story that makes them unique, and the organization should be heading the effort to get the player's names out there.
  • Support - Players come from a variety of backgrounds and situations and require support to help ensure their gaming gels with the rest of their lives. This can take on a variety of forms including nutrition, health & fitness, career and family support. Having trouble in any of these areas can impact a player's performance on game day.
  • Growth - It's important to provide growth opportunities to your players. This can include both growth within the organization as well as chances to make the leap to the larger professional organizations.
  • Merchandising - Players should be given a chance to monetize their own brand through merchandising provided by the organization.
This is just a short list, and larger organizations can grow to encompass much more.

Project Veigar / Project Bastion

Some of you may have gotten invites recently to our discord channels for Project Veigar and Project Bastion. League of Legends and Overwatch are two games that we feel have a good following locally and where our aptitudes put us in in a position to coach up some teams to perform at their best. We're using these channels to grow these two LAN Mob teams, and they'll each be entered into the Zehn Masters series as a contender. For now we're starting with the players who are around our shop the most and have developed familiarity with staff, and who we know can show up for practice nights. The back room will be transforming into a team area where instant game reviews can be had and discussed, and we're building out coaching staffs and player profiles for each team.

More importantly - win or lose, these are teams we plan to continue to invest resources in beyond the Zehn Masters winter series. This means a rotating roster that will be submitted to local and regional events to represent LAN Mob and Rome Revolution eSports. If you're interested in joining one of these teams the best advice I can give you is to start playing around the shop and meeting our staff. If we feel there might be chemistry with our existing team we might try you out for a few games. The rosters will be always growing and evolving and improving, but we can't sponsor you unless we get to know you first.

Check out our Facebook page for all the upcoming Zehn Masters Events and links for purchasing tickets:

 In the ebb and flow that is my gaming habits, I've picked up Guild Wars 2 again to play the through the halloween event and finally break into the newest expansion,Path of Fire. I'm super sad to see Guild Wars' Halloween event, Shadow of the Mad King, go. I love Halloween! I spent the past few weeks bouncing between the annual Halloween event on a new character and playing through Path of Fire's story.

That's my new character wearing a sweet exo-suit costume.

Last year, I got back into the flow of Guild Wars 2 with a few days to spare before the Halloween event ended. I spent those days grinding out achievements to get a new title. I had to wander the world and interact/carve 150 pumpkins before the end of the event. Luckily, there weren't 150 unique pumpkins to carve (thank goodness). Last year, if I didn't carve up 150 pumpkins before the event ended, I would have to start from 0 in the following year. Luckily for me, a change was made this year to save festive achievement progress from here on out!

That's "Steve", The Labyrinth Horror. He hates you.

I really like the Halloween event because a special map opens up called the Mad King's Labyrinth. The map scales everyone up to the max level(80) and it's a good source of XP with veteran/champion monsters spread throughout the map and frequently spawning events. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to level up a new character while also getting Halloween loot!! As long as the map's not full, you can find people running "trains" or tours around the map hitting up all the events and bosses along the way. There are three high difficulty bosses that spawn on this map but "Steve" the Labyrinth Horror randomly spawns on the map. I tried to take a picture of him as I was running for my life!

...He got me.

Some of the mounts have idle animations! Here's one of the Raptor's.

The other half of my platy time was spent navigating the new region introduced in the expansion, The Crystal Desert! The expansion regions are level 80 content and are a bit more difficult than the 1-80 region. I had a burning desire to unlock all the mounts but I also wanted to take my time exploring the map. The region's really neat! Last night I reached the 5th and final zone but I'm still a few missions off from completing the story thus far. Waypoints(for fast travel) are scarce and spread around the map so you'll be spending a lot of time on your mount!

Skimmer idle animation!

You'll need to pick the right mount of the job to travel through the Crystal Desert! To get to the more out of the way areas, you'll need to navigate through quicksand, scale cliffsides and barricades or leap across chasms. Although I've reached the last zone currently available in the Crystal Desert, I still need to grind out regional mastery points to unlock all of my mount's abilities. I'm also combing the desert for skill points to fully unlock my new specialization/subclass on my main character. Looking  back, I still have a lot of stuff to do on my main character, so that's good! I'm hoping to play Guild Wars 2 on and off until December when a few games I have my eye on release. Hopefully I can show off any cool loot I've gained roaming the Crystal Desert!! I'm secretly hoping for a genie mini-pet.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is the long awaited sequel to 2014's wildly successful reboot; Wolfenstein: The New Order. The Wolfenstein series is synonymous with killing Nazis, but as MachineGames demonstrated with The New Order, the rebooted series has a lot more substance than the Nazi brains on the wall. The fictional alternate reality of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus not only cranks the violence and action up to eleven, it also manages to create some genuinely tender human moments which were more powerful and pivotal than I imagined going in, and this is coming from somebody who played New Order and Old Blood. The New Colossus is easily one of my favorite games of 2017 and proves a single player first person shooter can go toe to toe with some of the strongest game releases in recent memory for the title of GOTY.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Released on October 27th, 2017
Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows

The New Colossus picks up immediately where The New Order left off, just seconds after the final boss of the game. If you didn't play The New Order, fret not, MachineGames does an excellent job of filling you in rather quickly. BJ Blazkowitcz, the series' main character, is in an extremely bad state in the beginning of the game due to the events of the first. BJ is jarred awake from his 5 month coma to his current home (a U-Boat) under an aggressive Nazi attack and players are urgently forced to control a wheelchair confined BJ in an attempt to save his home. MachineGames did an excellent job of catching players up to the state of the world in the aftermath of BJ's mission in New Order, and needless to say things are grim. The introduction sequence for New Colossus is incredibly well designed and really sets the stage for what kind of titanic tasks players will be undertaking, why you should care and what kind of man BJ is and who has surrounded himself with. I feel comfortable saying The New Colossus' first 20 minutes or so may be my favorite introduction sequence of all time; it's seriously that perfect. I couldn't help but feel giddy with excitement for the missions ahead, and genuinely invested in taking down the Nazi regime, despite how glum things look early on. To do that, we have to kill A LOT of Nazis, and as expected, The New Colossus delivers on that front.

As mentioned above, the early portion of Wolfenstein II has players scooting around in a wheelchair defending their home and the people BJ cares about, which makes for a pretty unforgettable sequence. Spoiler alert - BJ is still good at killing Nazis in a wheelchair.  

The New Colossus' narrative is possibly the best weapon in MachineGames' arsenal, which is quite the accomplishment considering some of the "firearms" at your disposal; but more on that later. The primary objective of Blazkowitcz and the Kreisau Circle is to overthrow the Nazi occupation of the United States of America. Unfortunately, a good amount of the American population is unwilling to rise up and bear the flag of rebellion, so it's up to the Circle to prove change is possible and taking back the country is well within the realm of possibility. Despite some early misfortunes, the Kreisau Circle is made up of some very capable and memorable people, including Sister Grace the no nonsense freedom fighter, the mad scientist and well of information Set Roth and Max Hass, a pacifist man child. The very distinct diversity of the Circle members is also important to note and it's ironic to the point of humor that they are the main resistance force. BJ is Aryan! There's even an ex-Nazi! In The New Order players were forced to choose between Wyatt and Fergus' sacrifice, and that choice is present/has a major effect on the story of New Colossus as well. Anyhow after some early missions, it's made clear that the current forces of the Kreisau Circle aren't large enough to take down their current target; an absolutely despicable and evil member of the Nazi party - General Irene Engel, so the Circle sets off to increase their ranks by contacting other resistance cells.

Frau Engel appeared in The New Order, but she's the primary antagonist this time around. MachineGames did an excellent job of making players feel personally motivated to take Engel out, she's pretty sickening. I hate her so much. 

The obvious political narrative is told via a plethora of cut-scenes and monologues that interrupt the action but never trespass on the absurdity that you'd expect in a Wolfenstein game. The world is masterly crafted in such a way that every ounce of character interaction is a golden moment and it's hard not to genuinely feel compassion for each and every member of the Circle/victims of the Nazi regime. The entire cast is wonderful, well cultivated and pretty deeply developed. While the supporting cast is phenomenal, Anya and BJ definitely steal the show. The multitude of interactions between the couple not only showcase Anya's raw strength; these interactions also give us a really jarring and heartfelt look at BJ's motivations and concerns. The New Colossus does an excellent job of presenting a ridiculously campy Nazi killing machine of a man in one moment, than shedding light on something even more interesting the next moment - his vulnerable human side. We learn about BJ's upbringing, his parents, and his thoughts on the state of the world, not to mention some borderline heartbreaking monologues regarding his failing body and his impending fatherhood. In-between all the mass killing and poop jokes I was pretty surprised at how dark and contemplative the game could actually be at times, and how invested I was in BJ and Anya's relationship. 

The writing in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is by no means subtle. We're talking deep seeded themes of racism, white privilege, oppression, feminism and a very particularly nasty look at what it takes to flourish in a Nazi dominated US. 

Gameplay is pretty much what you'd expect, but that's not to take away from the experience. Outside of time spent between missions walking around the U-Boat and interacting with characters, this is a pure shooting game through and through. BJ is equipped with every kind of firearm under the sun including pistols, machine guns, rifles, shotguns, explosives and even a few hatchets for good measure. The gun-play is brutal and controls are tight and responsive, and being able to dual-wield anything you want adds a special unique twist. Gunning down an entire room of  crazy enemies including dogs, heavily armored soldiers, mech suits and even fire breathing quadruped robots, with a machine gun in each hand is so ridiculous that it's hard not to crack a smile, even when you examine the blood soaked walls when you're finished. There are some pretty heavy weapons at your disposal too if you can manage to take down the big baddies carrying them, including chain guns, flamethrowers and even a freakin' disintegration beam, which only adds to the nonsense. Despite your ability to spit out a billion rounds per second some encounters can be pretty damn difficult, especially when officers are involved. There are quite a few difficulty options which can be changed on the fly, which is pretty nice, but I never really felt the need to drop my difficulty any lower. However, these officer sections can be simple if you utilize stealth and, to nobody's surprise, BJ is pretty efficient at killing quietly too. If done properly you can get through an entire area without making a peep thanks to stealth takedowns, whipping hatchets and adding silencers to your guns via upgrade kits which can be found scattered around each mission. When said Officers are around, any noise at all will sound a bunch of alarms and your position will get absolutely drowned in Nazis and you're back to gunning them down mercilessly. Underneath all the corpses there are a good amount of collectibles to find including newspapers, gold, audio tapes and various diaries which helps add to the atmosphere and world building without stopping the action for much longer than a few seconds. As an added bonus, outside of the campaign missions you can embark on some special assassination missions for some extra content, which was pretty nice to see.

The "Lasergewehr" is pretty good at killing people. A lot of people.

Ultimately, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus surprised me in a lot of ways. The game was a bit longer than I expected and took me about 16 hours to complete, although I spent a lot of time exploring and messing around at the shooting range. There's a decent amount of replayability thanks to the Wyatt/Fergus timelines (if you choose to not import a save) and said collectibles, which helps combat some complaints about the game's length. The fictional timeline is incredibly intriguing and well thought out, and I found myself reading every single collectible just so I could piece together the differences in these universes (outside of the obvious ones). Voice acting, sound effects and the heavy metal soundtrack were all on point and sometimes, even in a big budget single player game, that's not always the case but MachineGames delivers in spades. Clearly, Wolfenstein II has earned a whole lot of praise from me and, while it certainly adds to the experience, the gunplay isn't even what makes the game so special. The brilliantly written characters are robust with spirit and personality and I couldn't help but find myself ruminating on the narrative long after the credits rolled. Wolfenstein II is riddled with themes of various natures, and one of my absolute favorites is the examination of "heroes" and what that word actually means. In Wolfenstein's case, sometimes it means gunning down hundreds and hundreds of Nazis under the nickname "Terror Billy", and sometimes it means something much more human.
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