Welcome back one and all to another installment of the not quite regular "Week in Review" feature here at Total Gaming Network. This week month we have a couple of big game reviews for you to feast your eyes upon. The first is for none other than Dark Souls III, or Dark Souls 3 as I will probably type it out for the rest of this post. After that we have Battleborn, or Battleborn as I will type it out for the rest of this post. That's not even mentioning DOOM, Uncharted 4, and Overwatch!

Hopefully everyone is okay with this being incredibly late. I've just been quite busy this past month with some "IRL" things. I'm also still trying to figure out how or why people can be so incredibly cruel. It's still a mystery. Without diving into all of that, I will say that my sleep schedule has been even more screwed up than normal. It's starting to get back on track, just in time for it to get screwed up again with E3 in a week.

On the plus side, these past couple of months have seen some amazing games released.

Dark Souls III
I'm going to say first and foremost that I was given a copy of Dark Souls III for review purposes. However, even with that in mind that does not alter my thoughts about the game as it currently stands. Where does it stand right now? Well, it might be my favorite "Souls" game to date, keeping in mind that I never had the chance to play Demon's Souls. Yes, that also means I feel as though it's a better game than the OG Dark Souls, but not by much. It's a very tight race between the two but the refined mechanics in Dark Souls 3 just barely pushes it past the original.

What we have here in Dark Souls 3 is the core formula that made the previous two games so enjoyable. The combat has been refined to an almost exact science by now thanks to the work done in the previous years with Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2, and even Bloodborne. In fact, the Bloodborne influence is perhaps the most obvious when you notice that the combat feels a bit faster paced compared to previous entries in the series. Every action feels tight and responsive, with the exception of queued commands. Button mashing will get you nowhere as a command or two are queued up while animations play from your previous move. Souls veterans know about this already but it might be a bit off putting to newcomers to the series. Weapon upgrades are still there in force, with a number of easily accessible upgrade materials available to the player that allow them to mix up their play styles if desired.

I personally found a comfortable spot going with a strength based build and making use of a fully upgraded hand axe and a variety of shields for my initial playthrough. I also found that using a unique boss sword a comfortable fit for some areas, before I eventually settled on a massive Great Axe for my end-game activities. One of my friends decided on a spellcaster build with a quick dexterity based weapon for when things got too up close and personal. While it was slow going in the early game for him, the number of spells and abilities offered to him as he progressed through the game has certainly made him quite powerful in ways not offered by traditional weapons.

The environmental art is some of From's best to date. The influences from their work on Bloodborne are fairly obvious to those who have played both titles. The shift away from a pure "Souls" aesthetic is one that I welcome as I absolutely adored the look of Bloodborne's environments and boss designs. Of course, in typical From fashion, there are some background areas that do look a bit terrible due to low resolution texture work and lack of environmental geometry. Naturally, these areas will go unnoticed by most people and are far, far less obvious than they were in previous games. In the end, very few people will notice any graphical shortcomings in the game. It's a fantastic looking game that plays incredibly well on the PC.

One thing that really stands out to me as being a massive negative in Dark Souls 3 is the weapon collision with world geometry. I 'get' that player weapons should impact the world geometry (walls, etc.) and not produce a full swing. That makes sense. However, enemies do not have this same issue. There were multiple times where I was hit around corners or through pillars from enemies that simply swung through the world geometry that would otherwise hinder my swing. It was a huge annoyance, mainly in boss fights where I thought I was safe and able to heal. It just seems fair that players and enemies played by the same rules, but alas that was not the case.

To make what would undoubtedly be a long review short: Dark Souls 3 is amazing and perhaps the best Soulsborne game ever created. The combat feels like the best it's ever been, the visuals are fantastic (though I cannot speak for the console versions), the enemy and boss encounters are challenging without being unfairly difficult, and the story does an admirable job of incorporating lore and plot elements from the previous games. Some of the story, characters, and locations may be seen as simple fan service, but it works quite well for what many believe to be the last significant entry in the Dark Souls series.

Dark Souls III (Developed by From Software)
Starts at $59.99 (USD) for PC, PS4, and XB1

It's sad that Battleborn came out when it did, that being right around the same time that Overwatch had its beta and subsequent release. You see, Battleborn is a legitimately fun game. I also know a lot of people have been rooting against Battleborn as they continue to have this weird hatred against Gearbox or even just Randy Pitchford ever since Aliens: Colonial Marines ended up being complete garbage. I personally find it weird that people would root for such a thing, but people have a tendency to be really pathetic at times.

The thing I see the most is how people look at Battleborn and Overwatch and believe they're the same type of game or that they look the same. Really, the only things that the two games have in common are that they're both first-person and that you select a main "hero" or role. That's about where the similarities end. Battleborn is more of an FPS action-MOBA (think Monday Night Combat) and Overwatch is more of a Team Fortress-like competitive shooter. Battleborn has A.I. controlled minions in a couple of the game's modes, including single player and Overwatch does not. Battleborn has a story driven campaign mode while Overwatch does not. Battleborn has a legitimate loot system with stat altering item drops for character builds and your player account, while Overwatch simply has a leveling system in order to receive cosmetics.

Both games have a place in the world of gaming as they are both quite different, but I know it's difficult to change the perception many people have either about the game or Gearbox in general. It's really a shame too because I do legitimately enjoy playing Battleborn. The included campaign is kind of "meh" but it's nice that there's at least an option for it for those that want it. As for the multiplayer modes, I can easily see myself coming back to Battleborn time and time again, but I know that I probably won't be able to. The audience for the game is already rather small, at least so far as the PC version is concerned. Sales haven't been all that great and the game has actually already seen some fairly significant price drops at various time. I should probably get my time in with the game now because I doubt it will be all that easy to quickly find a match even just a month or two down the line.

Battleborn (Developed by Gearbox Software)
Starts at $59.99 (USD) (but you can probably find it cheaper) for PC, PS4, and XB1

Uncharted 4
You already know what the deal is here. It's a new Uncharted game so it's obviously going to be super high quality and look amazing. Naughty Dog is great at that sort of thing. It'll just be easier to tell you what I dislike about Uncharted 4 and spare everyone the time.

The controls feel a little unresponsive at times. For instance I expected to jump or climb in one direction and the character simply didn't want to do what I told them. I sometimes climbed up when I wanted to go right. I sometimes jumped and expected the character to catch a ledge as they have done so many times before, only to see them not even try and fall to their death. I disliked how I would sometimes stick to cover instead of rolling or vice versa. This made for some frustrating enemy encounters. In an effort to beef up the stealth aspect of the game, some of the A.I. became incredibly brain-dead. It was almost too easy to avoid detection at times as a result of this.


That was all on top of Naughty Dog's usual tropes. There's a ladder that's just a bit too high to reach, better hit a button prompt to lift a secondary character up to it! There's a dramatic jump to a wall, better make sure the first thing Nathan grabs onto crumbles so that he can miraculously grab onto the ledge a little ways below it! It's just stuff like that that tended to get a little overplayed, especially after seeing it done through three games prior.

I know I sound like I hated the game, far from it, but I had to share the few things I disliked because there's just too much to like about the "final" entry in the series. It's an absolutely fantastic experience that features some of the best writing in the series to date and arguably the best visuals currently avaiable on the PlayStation 4. Hell, it easily beats out many other non-PS4 games in terms of visuals. Plus, without saying too much, Uncharted 4 probably had the best ending out of any game in the series. As an extra bonus, the game's multiplayer is also really good, especially if you're looking for something a little faster paced.

Uncharted 4 (Developed by Naughty Dog)
Starts at $59.99 (USD) for PlayStation 4

This is what Doom 3 should have been.

Just buy it. If you ever played the original two Doom games and/or Doom 64, then you owe it to yourself to buy DOOM right now. The level designs are as close as you can get to the old games while still having a very modern look and feel to them. The blue, yellow, and red card keys and skulls are back. Hell is awesome (I don't say that often). The enemy encounters are numerous and super fast paced. I love what they did with the new spins on old, familiar enemies in addition to the completely new enemy types. It completely nails the attitude of the original games and Doom It's just... yes. Everything about it is great.

Alright, so the multiplayer is kind of bad. BUT the Snapmap feature is super great and makes up for the lacking competitive multiplayer component! Snapmap is built into the game and allows you to create your own maps, scenarios and game types and share them with the world. It's not as robust as say Unreal Editor or allowing custom mods, but it does allow you to quickly put something together for you and your friends to play. id Software included a number of ways to seek out and find the newest and the best Snapmap creations from all around the world, regardless of the platform you're playing on. They even included a lobby system for co-op with up to four players on those created maps that allow for it. If you ask me, it's a pretty neat addition, even if custom mods are still a pipe dream for the new DOOM.

As I finished the rather lengthy main campaign the only thing I could think was, "that was fucking awesome and I want the sequel right now!"

DOOM (Developed by id Software)
Starts at $59.99 (USD) for PC, PS4, and XB1

Overwatch feels like Team Fortress 3, but instead of hats, you have some really amazing looking alternate skins that you can unlock for each character. I feel like by now everyone has already a pretty good understanding of the game. It's a Blizzard title, so you know it's been "polished to a shine", even if there are some potential minor balance issue here and there.

The game has already sucked up a fairly significant portion of my time and it shows no signs of stopping any time soon. It's a juggernaut that knows no bounds and is probably my favorite competitive FPS since the early days of Team Fortress 2 or Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Every character has a unique personality and play style. There isn't a single character or class type that I feel is "terrible" as I honestly enjoy playing with any of them as needed. There are snippets that creep out here and there by character dialogue that comes out prior to the round starting. Of course, this really only happens when you have two characters in a match that have story elements together. The game plays like a massive, intense game of rock, paper, scissors. Every character has another character or characters that they are "weak" against and those that they are strong against. This is why Blizzard has made it so easy to change heroes in the middle of a match, as it is often beneficial to change to a character that can more easily deal with an enemy that is just demolishing you or your team.

If I can fault Overwatch for anything, it would be the fact that there just don't seem to be enough maps. To be fair, the maps that are included are gorgeousGetting into and out of a game is usually very fast, though you do sometimes run the risk of the system placing you into a game that's already in progress. This is, fortunately, a fairly rare occurance. Blizzard has also included another mode (in addition to Quick Play, vs. AI, and Practice) that cycles through each week. Every week this fourth mode changes the rules of the game up a bit compared to normal gameplay. The first week it provided health boosts to all characters and greatly reduced cooldown timers on all character abilities. This made for rounds that where incredibly chaotic and fun for a short diversion from the incredibly addicting normal game.

Blizzard promises that a ranked mode is coming soon and has also promised to update the game with new content such as maps and characters. These content updates will be free to everyone that owns any version of the game. Overwatch does include optional microtransactions, but they are only for Loot Boxes containing cosmetic items such as character skins, sprays, player icons, and voice lines. All of these items can be obtained simply by playing the game and leveling up. It would be nice if it were easier to obtain the in-game currency to purchase specific skins, or at the very least allow users to pay real money to get a specific skin. The whole "paying real money" for more rolls of the dice can be kind of a bummer.

As it stands, the game would be a solid 5 out of 5 if it had a few additional maps. Right now, think of Overwatch as a shaky 5 out of 5 that will undoubtedly give you more enjoyment and gameplay than many "perfect" games out there will provide. Once the game starts to receive some updates, it will easily jump into that "perfect" category for whatever that's worth to you. Also, as another nice bonus, the game is only $40 for the "cheapest" version on PC. Console owners do not have that luxury going for them and only have the $60 "Origins Edition" available for purchase. I will say that I have roughly 30 hours of Overwatch already played. The game just came out on May 24 and I'm not the least bit tired of it yet.

Overwatch (Developed by Blizzard)
Starts at $39.99 (USD) for PC, PS4, and XB1