What I’m Writing At Kotaku

1 Dec

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I decided it would be cool to put all my Kotaku articles into a single post and update it regularly. If you want to read things I’ve recently written, you can find them below.

This list starts with the current week and goes back through August 2016. It’s just the big stuff: Features, reviews, and the like. You can find a full list of things I’ve published here. I’ll do my best to add new articles each week.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

GTA IV’s Slow Opening Hours Were Also Some Of Its Best

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You can go several hours in Grand Theft Auto IV before you get a gun. Soon after that, you’re blasting your way through shootouts with SWAT teams. But for those first few hours, you’re just some guy in Brooklyn, trying to make a new life. (4/28/2017)

How To Fake Your Way Through Conversations About The Hottest Video Games

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You’re at a social gathering and the people you’re with start talking about games. Games you’ve never played. You listen along and laugh and nod, but you start to wonder if maybe you should say something. (4/27/2017)

Breath Of The Wild’s Best Rewards Aren’t Always ‘Useful’

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild does not dole out rewards predictably. Often you’ll spend an afternoon figuring out some elaborate puzzle, only to walk away with some rupees or a weapon you didn’t need. Other times the reward will be just as “useless,” but more special than any pile of loot could be. (4/24/2017)

A Look Back At Far Cry 2‘s Bleak, Bummer Ending

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I’m betting that a lot of people who played Far Cry 2 didn’t finish it. It’s a chaotic, grueling game, and it’s at least five hours too long. If you made it to the end, you got a finale just as flawed, ambitious, and bleak as the game preceding it. (4/20/2017)

Horizon Zero Dawn’s Best Armor Makes The Game Even More Fun

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One set of armor in Horizon Zero Dawn stands above the others: The shield-weaver armor. It’s really good, and pretty hard to get. It’s also totally worth it. (4/14/2017)

Real Life Should Have JRPG Victory Music

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JRPG victory music is one of the best types of video game music. Every time you emerge from battle victorious, a familiar, stirring theme plays. I want that music to play in my everyday life. (4/12/2017)

Few People Will Ever Know How Great Rock Band VR Is

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Rock Band was great, but Rock Band was also awkward and cumbersome. Now here comes Rock Band VR, a few years after most of us got rid of our last plastic instrument. It’s also cumbersome, and it’s also great. In fact, it’s the most fun I’ve had with Rock Band in years. (4/17/2017)

Tips For Playing Persona 5 uoryybj3i5vhl7mxscjg

Persona 5 is a really good game. It’s also complicated and occasionally unforgiving, with a ton of rules to learn and systems to memorize. If you want to live your best possible year in Tokyo, you may want a little guidance.

Five Thoughts After Playing Destiny For The First Time In Months

Over the last three years, I’ve played more than 1,000 hours of Destiny. Over the last five months, I’ve barely played any. This week I returned to the game, and let me tell you, it is no small feat to climb back into a game you used to play obsessively. (3/31/2017)

A Minor PC Gaming Miracle

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Building and maintaining your own gaming PC is the best. It’s also occasionally the worst. This week I upgraded my PC, fully expecting it to be a pain in the ass. Instead, something magical happened. Windows 10 actually came through. (3/30/2017)

Persona 5: The Kotaku Review

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Imagine your old high school. Picture the doors you’d pass through at the start of each day. See if you can recall the awkward conversations you had with your friends, or the smell of the cafeteria at lunchtime. Now throw all that in the garbage and replace it with something impossibly cooler, impossibly more stylish, impossibly better. That’s Persona 5(3/29/2017)

The Sweet Taste Of Zelda Revenge

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Well, would you look who it is. Remember me, motherfucker? I’m that kid you callously wasted back when I had three hearts, a pair of pants, and a stick for a weapon. (3/23/2017)

The Worst Mission In The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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After dozens of wonderful hours playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I finally came across a bad mission. It’s bad enough to serve as a point of reference for just how good the rest of the game is. It sticks out like a sore thumb on an otherwise beautifully manicured hand. (3/22/2017)

A Beginner’s Guide To The World Of Mass Effect

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Hey, there’s a new Mass Effect game out this week! How about that. While Mass Effect: Andromeda tells a story independent of the original trilogy, there’s enough existing lore, jargon and backstory that you probably want to brush up before you dive in. I’m here to help. (3/21/2017)

If You’re Playing Zelda, Try Fast Traveling Less

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So you’ve been playing Breath of the Wild for more than a week. You’ve made some decent progress. You’ve finished some of the story and unlocked most of the map. It’s only natural that you’d start fast traveling. (3/15/2017)

A Short List Of Things That Have Killed Me In Horizon Zero Dawn

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I don’t know why I’m surprised, really. They’re huge metal dinosaurs. They’re dangerous. All the same, I wasn’t expecting to die quite this much in Horizon Zero Dawn(3/14/2017)

Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Is Full Of Amazing Little Details

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild manages to be both massive and unusually detailed. The sprawl of Hyrule will take weeks or even months for most of us to explore, not just because of its square mileage but because of how much there is to see and do in a given field or forest.(3/10/2017)

The Nintendo Switch Really Needs More Music

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Unlike its predecessors, the new Nintendo Switch has a boring operating system. Not only does it lack Nintendo’s characteristic oddball playfulness, it’s also nearly silent. There’s no music. It’s a shame. (3/08/2017)

Horizon Zero Dawn Gets A Lot Of Little Things Right

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The new PS4 game Horizon Zero Dawn does a lot of big stuff well. Literal big stuff, like robots the size of buildings. It also nails a lot of small things. Amazing leg animations, sure, but also things that more directly affect how it feels to play the game. (3/07/2017)

Nintendo Switch: The Kotaku Review

The Nintendo Switch is a fascinating new game console built around a novel and well-executed central idea. It also has plenty of problems that will doubtless be improved upon in a future version. Nintendo is yet again trying something new, and here we are to take the plunge alongside them. (3/01/2017)

How To Throw Your Video Game Controller

Video games are a lot of fun, but they can also be frustrating. From time to time, you may even get frustrated enough that you want to throw something. Good news! Your controller is right there in your hand.(2/24/2017)

Secret Hitler, A Fascist Party Game That Hits Awfully Close To Home

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Your ability to enjoy the tabletop game Secret Hitler will likely depend on your ability to laugh as an increasingly impotent progressive coalition fails to halt the rise of fascism. No but seriously, it’s a fun party game. (2/22/2017)

I’m Just Saying, Look At How Horizon‘s Protagonist Turns Around On Horseback

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I like a lot of things about Horizon: Zero Dawn, but for now let me just say holy shit, look how they animated her legs when you spin the camera while on horseback.

Final Fantasy XV’s User Interface Is So Bad

I like plenty of things about Final Fantasy XV, but the map and menus are not among them. This game’s interface is a mess of nonsense so carelessly taped together that it defies logic or comprehension.

Here Is A Very Specific Video Game Thing That Sucks

Sometimes, video games are good. Other times, they suck. Here is a thing some good games do that really sucks.

Resident Evil 7 Definitely Got The Doors Right

You know what’s scary? A closed door. Anything could be on the other side of that door, man. Are you sure you even want to open it?

Batman: Arkham Knight: The Kotaku Re-Review

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Batman: Arkham Knight spins one of the most ambitious video game stories ever told, and watching it thunder to its conclusion is like watching a 747 successfully land on a helicopter pad. It may not be known for its narrative, but that is its achievement—a spiraling and notably interactive tale that takes you inside the mind of one of popular culture’s most enduring and fascinating figures.

How To Enjoy Resident Evil 7 If You’re A Big Scaredy Cat

So you’ve been hearing good things about Resident Evil 7, and you want to play it. There’s only one problem: you’re a huge coward. Don’t worry! I’ve got you covered.

The Ten Stages Of Coping With Final Fantasy XV’s Chapter 13

So you just started playing chapter 13 of Final Fantasy XV. It sucks. You feel trapped in a nightmare that will never end. Take some small comfort in knowing that you are not the only one to suffer through it.

Everything We Know About Nintendo Switch

Nintendo just announced a bunch of new info about their new console, the Nintendo Switch. Here’s what we learned during the big show.

OK, Bear With Me: What If Mario And Wario Are The Same Guy?

In Nintendo’s recently released mobile game Super Mario Run, the famous plumber leaps his way through a couple dozen levels on his way to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser. Been there, done that. Yet perhaps there is a second, darker reading of this game? Maybe there’s an interpretation that shakes the accepted Mario lore to its very core??

Gravity Rush 2: The Kotaku Review

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Despite its infuriating control issues, awful stealth missions, interminable boss fights and half-baked sidequests, I cannot discount Gravity Rush 2’s mammoth ambition and abundance of otherworldly charm. If a game must be a mess, at least let it be this exuberant a mess.

The 12 Best Video Games Of 2016

First, we spent a year playing video games. Then we spent a couple weeks debating which ones were best. Here, in alphabetical order, are Kotaku’s top 12 games of 2016.

Kirk Hamilton’s Top 10 Games Of 2016

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A farmer, a hitman, and a little boy all walk into a bar. Everything’s moving in slow motion, so the bartender’s like, “Dishonored? I hardly even know ‘er!”

The Best Video Game Music Of 2016

2016 was a great year for video games, and an even better year for video game music. It was also a diverse year, with a mix of Norse folk music, spy movie histrionics, ambient soundscapes and extremely heavy metal.

The State Of Virtual Reality In 2016 state-of_vr_1024

In truth, 2016 was not “The Year of VR.” It was the year of the start of VR. Multiple major tech companies released impressive VR systems that were clearly the first of their kind; flawed and fascinating, destined to be improved upon and replaced. The age of immersive technology is upon us, but its future remains uncertain.

The Biggest Video Game Disappointments Of 2016

If 2016 taught us anything at all, it was that sometimes, things don’t go your way. For every lovely surprise, there is a major disappointment around the corner.

The Best Video Game Surprises of 2016

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Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the world of video games will surprise you in the best possible way. This year had even more great surprises than usual.

The State Of The PlayStation 4 In 2016 state-of_playstation-4_1024

The PlayStation 4 evolved this year. Sony’s flagship console got a little bigger and a little more powerful, though its potential is as yet undertapped. It also got its very own VR headset, though that headset noticeably fails to match its PC counterparts. It’s not clear whether Sony has moved their gaming system in all the right directions, but they’re certainly skipping forward.

Oculus Touch Review: The Best VR You Can Get

When the Oculus Rift VR headset came out earlier this year, it was promising but incomplete. It had this nice, comfy set of virtual reality goggles… but that was all. This week, Oculus finally catches up.

The First 10 Things To Do When Your PC Can’t Run A New Game

You just got a new PC game! Hoo buddy, you are excited. You’ve been looking forward to this one for years. You load it up and… oh, hell.

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A few hours into Titanfall 2’s unexpectedly fantastic single-player campaign, there’s a mission where everything pivots. The rules change, the story expands, and the game shifts into high gear. That mission is called “Effects and Cause,” and it is really good.

Watch Dogs 2: The Kotaku Review

Watch Dogs 2 is just a game, sitting on a screen, asking you to love it. Sometimes begging.

Should You Buy A PS4 Pro?

Short version: The new PS4 Pro is a more powerful version of an already good console. We like the PS4 a lot, and the Pro doesn’t do anything to diminish that. However, it’s going to be a while before we know just what that added horsepower will be used for.

Hitman Season One: The Kotaku Review

It’s the middle of the day, and I’ve spent the last couple of hours trying to figure out how to kill this stupid cameraman. You’d think it would be easy, but I have to make it look like an accident and I can’t harm the newswoman he’s working with. Much harder than it sounds.

The Best And Worst Of Destiny PvP

There have always been at least two Destinys. There’s the Destiny that most people play, where you fly around the galaxy with your friends, blowing up aliens and carefully managing your vault space. Then there’s competitive Destiny, where players go headshot-to-headshot to see who’s deadliest.

The Running Man Is Way Better, And Worse, Than You Remember

Before The Hunger Games, before Battle Royale, there was another movie based on a book about a dystopian future where an evil government distracts the masses with a popular series of gladiatorial deathmatches. Runners, are you ready for… The Running Man?

House Of The Dying Sun: The Kotaku Review

House of the Dying Sun rushes ahead with furious focus and great urgency, and it’s hard not to get caught up in its dark current. It sweeps aside the space-opera trappings of modern sci-fi in favor of something more resolute and grim: You’re the bad guy. There are the good guys. Go make an example out of them.

In Memory Of The Guy Who Gets Beheaded At The Beginning Of Skyrim

Patience is a virtue, people.

The Nightmare War Of Battlefield 1 Multiplayer

Here’s a nightmare I’ve actually had: I’m a soldier in a war, and no one’s told me what to do. Bullets are whizzing overhead and death could arrive at any moment. Everyone around me seems to know what they’re doing, but not me. I shouldn’t be here. I’m just some guy. I sit there, paralyzed, waiting to die.

Long Live The Mouse And Keyboard, A Great Way To Control Video Games

For years, I only played PC games with a mouse and keyboard. For years after that, I played almost entirely with a controller. Now I’m back with the mouse and keyboard, and it’s been an illuminating homecoming.

PlayStation VR: The Kotaku Review

Let’s cut to the chase: PlayStation VR should be better. At its best, Sony’s new virtual reality headset manages to conjure the astonishing, immersive wonder of modern virtual reality. Just as often it is frustratingly held back by outdated hardware that can’t quite do what’s being asked of it.

The Video Game Horror Of HBO’s Westworld

HBO’s new series Westworld has probably got a lot of people reconsidering their most recent Grand Theft Auto V murder spree.

What Video Game Shit Are You Too Old For?

I am old, Gandalf. I know I don’t look it, but I’m beginning to feel it in my heart.

Avatar: The Last Airbender Is One Of The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time

When people talk about the current golden age of TV, they’re usually referring to big, serious dramas like Breaking Bad or The Wire. I am here today to tell you that Avatar: The Last Airbender, an animated show about a group of magical kids who ride around on a flying buffalo, deserves to be counted among them.

Destiny: Rise of Iron: The Kotaku Review

A brief history for those who are new to Kotaku and our on-again, off-again obsession with this game. Destiny is a first-person action game in which players fly around the solar system fighting with aliens, evil cyborgs, and occasionally each other. Collectively, our staff has played over 2,000 hours.

Video Games Are Better The Second Time You Play Them

Everyone remembers the first time they played a really good video game. The constant surprises of Half-Life, or the drama of Final Fantasy VI, or the stress and catharsis of Far Cry 2. As good as those games were the first time around, they’d almost certainly be better the second. Or the third. Or the fourth.

The Unbearable Lightness of Lost Video Game Saves

A few days ago, I accidentally deleted a batch of saved games. Collectively they represented a couple hundred hours’ worth of time spent playing a dozen or more games. Years of hard-won progress, gone in the blink of an eye.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: The Kotaku Review

Adam Jensen needs a nerf.

No Man’s Sky: The Kotaku Review

My lengthy first tour of No Man’s Sky was a disappointment. I spent 30 hours skating across the surface of an endless puddle, searching for depths that didn’t exist. I skipped and skimmed until, with great regret, I stopped.

Five Years, Hundreds Of Bad Screenshots

I’ve been working at Kotaku for five years. In those five years, I have posted hundreds of video game screenshots. I’ve taken hundreds more that never saw the light of day. UNTIL NOW.

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