CS:GO Update – The Major!

With 2016 over, a new leaf has been turned in the Counter-Strike scene. Rapid updates and explosive professional matches have had us all at the edge of our seats. I think I speak for all die-hard fans when I say we can’t wait to see what else 2017 has in store!

The opening major tournament of the year was hosted in Atlanta by ELeague, with the playoffs in the Fox Theatre. The excitement was high moving into the tournament, and it most certainly lived up to the hype. For those of you unsure of the format, there were 8 “Legends” and 8 “Challengers”. The Legends were selected from the previous major, Cologne 2016. These teams were:

SK Gaming

Liquid

Flipsid3 Tactics

Natus Vincere

Fnatic

Gambit Gaming

Virtus.pro

Astralis

The Challengers were selected through offline qualifiers hosted in 2016. The teams that advanced out of these qualifiers and into the majors were:

Optic Gaming

GODSENT

FaZe Clan

North

EnVyUs

Mousesports

G2 Esports

HellRaisers

While SK Gaming had taken the previous two titles, their recent decision to remove Lincoln “fnx” Lau from their roster to replace him with Ricardo “fox” Pacheco had many fans stirring. Statistically speaking, SK Gaming should have been the favorite moving into the major, but two upcoming talents contested their run for a 3rd straight title. With the addition of Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, Natus Vincere seemed like an unstoppable force after winning ESL One: New York 2016. This being said, Astralis was on the rise after taking the previous Eleague championship in season two over Optic Gaming. After a bloodbath in the group stages, 8 teams prevailed. The matches set to occur in the playoffs were the following:

Astralis vs. Natus Vincere

Fnatic vs. Gambit Gaming

North vs. Virtus.pro

FaZe Clan vs. SK Gaming

I was disappointed to see these match-ups, unfortunately the two best teams were pitted against each other in the very first match. I was very confident that the winner of the Astralis vs. Natus Vincere match would go on to take the title, and I was correct. This being said, I expected the victors to be Natus Vincere. After a phenomenal group stage run, only dropping 13 rounds in 3 games, Na’Vi seemed like the clear favorite. To the surprise of many, Astralis plowed their way to the grand finals against Virtus.pro. In a bone-chilling series, Astralis were crowned champions after three hard fought maps. Virtus.pro took their map, Nuke, 16-12 in a somewhat convincing fashion. This did not stop Astralis from taking both Overpass and Train 16-14 each. It was truly an invigorating tournament and a pleasure to watch for any Counter-Strike fan.

The most recent update has many disappointed, myself included. Dust II, a beloved map among the community, was removed from the Active Duty Group map pool. While this has not stopped it from being the most played map in matchmaking, it has eliminated it from the professional scene. Unfortunately, like many of the updates Valve releases, this was an abrupt change made without the knowledge of the players. Although we will no longer be seeing the “rush B” tactics we all know and love, Dust II will always remain in our hearts.

 

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What I’ve Been Playing

It’s has been a while since I wrote some actual content for the blog. And what better way to snip the ribbon the overhauled site then give you guys a little update about the life, times and games of me. Well, mostly the games. SO, without further ado here is What I’ve Been Playing (Cue cheesy 80’s theme song).

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Really cool art

 

Risk Of Rain

I picked up risk of rain on the steam sale (as you do) and downloaded it (as you do) and almost vomited joy to discover that this praised indie gem was just as fantastic as everyone said it was (as you do). This game strikes the perfect balance of challenge, statistics and actual style that all action RPG’s should strive for. The game feels fluid and it’s really easy to pick up. In fact it’s a pretty simple game with set objectives and a straightforward concept, but there are so many different systems that can be engaged with that hardcore rogue-like fans will find hours of fun here.

And yes it is a rogue like, and yes that can be a turnoff for some, but for risk of rain the roguish elements work in it’s favor. With so many characters to unlock and try out the concept of starting over isn’t really as annoying as it sounds. So do yourself a favor and go pick up this ridiculously fun game.


screenshot-9
It’s like this but imagine you suck at it

MechWarrior Online (MWO)

MWO is a super hardcore game. There is really no other way to describe it. It’s deeper than the Marianna trench, Harder than tom Brady’s abs and requires more devotion than scientology. If your going to play this game you’re gonna need to watch at least three beginners guides and spend six hours sucking at everything until you are at least competent, and even then you will probably be laughed out of the match because your mech configuration sucks. And I loved every second of it.

All the keyboard spanning frustration is worth though. When you finally find the right mech, figure out that weapons have and an effective and stop sucking you will feel like a true MECHWARRRIOR! seriously though the payoff is fantastic.


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The game is goofier than this guy’s grin

Marlow Briggs And The Mask Of Death

If you are looking for a deep, introspective and pondering game; stop reading here. This is God of War; Self Aware Edition. BUT if you are looking for some dumb combo-tastic, button mashing fun that might make you chuckle, give Marlow Briggs a chance. I honestly don’t think there is much else to say about Marlow Briggs. It is a simple games but if you have five bucks and a little time to spare, have some fun.


So, what have you guys been playing? Let us know in the comments and hope you have wonderful day.

Cheers,

Harrison

 

Chat with us on Discord

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Overhaul

You guys are awesome. It’s been fantastic to see refraction transform over the past year. and this growth has inspired me to expand operations. This is the comprehensive outline of the process of overhauling refraction and turning it into a proper gaming site:

-Two more writers

-A media correspondent

-Official podcast

-Video content?

-One CS:GO correspondent

-Patreon

-Discord channel overhaul

The next bit of content will be actual gaming related writing, I promise, but in the meantime Please tell me what you guys think on twitter, leave a comment and if you like what we do check us out on patreon. you guys are awesome so don’t be a stranger.

Cheers,

Harrison


Check us out on Patreon

Chat with us on Discord

Apply to write with us here

We are on twitter: @refraction grey

 

Now accepting writers and social media correspondents!

Ever wanted to write for a kick ass gaming blog? Well here is your chance. As part of an upcoming overhaul of the site(Post coming soon about that) We are Informing you that we are looking for not only two more writers, but a social media correspondent.

We expect writers to write at least one post a month. The SCC is required to write at least one twitter post a day and keep the account alive. I know content is slow but we are working hard to make refraction what it was meant to be with this overhaul. So please sign  up below if you think you have the chops to join our wonderful team:

https://goo.gl/forms/Wz4hp1BmyYlyZD3Z2

Cheers,

Harrison

Find us on twitter! @Refractiongrey

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?ty=h&u=3310677

Discord: https://discord.gg/zhGzX

The Refraction Awards 2016

What a year. 2016 was a wild time to be alive with revolts, revolution and fear running rampant across the world. It was also a less destructively wild time to be a gamer. This year had the tough job of being a follow-up to the euphoric highs of 2015 and the cynical lows of 2014. It was a year of change for gaming, with old formulas being tossed out and the reclamation of ideas long thought dead. We have had flops, surprises and more than a couple of indie gems. So, without further I am proud to announce the refraction awards 2016!(AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!)

Criteria:

released or have released major expansions in 2016

Good

Me or my graphic designer must have played them


Best Action:

HITMANImage result for Hitman cover art 2016

It is hard to call HITMAN an action game. It’s definitely a stealth game but the title action game has changed so much since its conception and has extended to encompass anything that involves some sort of “Action”. And that kids is how an incredibly cerebral stealth is holding a spot normally stolen by big budget shooters. HITMAN is a stealth  game for those looking for something far more than stealth kills and simple puzzles. It is a perfect answer to the simple and dumbed down stealth mechanics seen in dishonored 2 and watchdogs 2. Its cerebral, engaging and rewarding But most importantly it is a great Hitman game.


Best Adventure:

Oxenfree

Image result for oxenfree screengrabs

Oxenfree is similar in concept to Firewatch. It’s an intensely personal game about human relationships and a very specific time in someone’s life with incredibly mysterious and paranoid undertones and spot on voice acting. Oxenfree is slick and beautiful doing exactly what is should with efficient art and simple but deep characters. Oxenfree is a joy to play.


Best Indie:

Stardew ValleyImage result for stardew valley screen grabs

Stardew is a pure form of escapism for city dwellers. It’s a low stress game about starting a farm in a small town. The characters are relatively simple and the mechanics aren’t the most complex, but goddamn. Before you know it your prepping for festivals and slowly falling in love with the tiny towns inhabitants. It’s a humble game with hundreds of hours of content. There are no dragons to slay or soldiers to kill here. It’s just the sun, moon, soil, pelican town and you.


Best strategy:

Battle BrothersImage result for battle brothers art

The exact opposite of Stardew valley Battle Brothers is a heart attack of a game. This mount and blade inspired turn based game will bring you to your knees. Be prepared to feel anger and grief as you stumble towards victory and inevitable doom as your band of mercenaries either rises to the top of its industry or succumbs to the dangers of the engaging dark fantasy setting Battle Brothers takes place in.


Best MMO:

Elite Dangerouscustom.jpg

(Photo cred: CMDR Jonuss of the radio sidewinder crew. Featured: CMDR Choopsha and CMDR Spycrab Surprise)

Elite Dangerous’ recently released Horizons season pass is a massive expansion on the ideas of the main game and adds just enough content to keep me trucking around the massive galaxy that is the milky way. The player base has definitely become really tight and very helpful to new players. This space game continues to provide a deep, focused experience which excels at everything it attempts. The universe feels alive, the player base is interesting and the world is engrossing. Oh and we just made out first contact with aliens so do yourself a favor and go get lost in space.


GOTY:

Firewatch

Image result for firewatch art

Firewatch is an incredible game. It could be described as playable indie film. The voice acting is spectacular, Rich Sommer and his co-star Cissy Jones are outstanding. Their voices bring the characters of Henry and Delilah to life, every inflection and nuance of these characters makes them unforgettable in every sense of the word. The story itself is gripping and interesting. The paranoid atmosphere and total isolation contrast nicely with the serene beauty of the surrounding forest give a feeling of mystery to every word Delilah speaks and everything you see. The gameplay is light and can be made much more interesting by turning off the YOU ARE HERE marker on your map.

The art in Firewatch is fantastic and serves the game well, driving home the otherworldly feeling of the woods. The Wyoming wilderness is keenly detailed making your walk from story point to story point interesting, dialogue heavy, and gorgeous.

Every revelation is gripping, every piece of dialogue well acted, and every tree beautiful and well crafted. That is why Firewatch is the refraction GOTY.

Sincerely,

Harrison

Find us on twitter! @Refractiongrey
Email me: hkaplanearle@gmail.com
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?ty=h&u=3310677
Discord: https://discord.gg/z5YqAUW

Sequels: What we want

This year has been full of sequels, and not just any sequels; Kick-Ass, tone shifting, pace managing sequels. The spectacular thing about sequels is that any game that is released as one is guaranteed some form of sales. This is, of course, the motivation for the continuation of most long term game franchises. Of course this practice does tend to breed a certain animosity against annual franchises and mars the perception of the titles released like a blender but this unavoidable cycle is also great for business. once you nail down a fan base they tend to come back for at least the second game if your first games is at least average. Not only is this fanbase a great asset but it is incredibly important to the further success of your game and to an extent you should gauge their interest in certain features. This gaging can be done in many ways; focus groups, user reviews,  and general content. You can engage your community  as a developer as well with developer live streams and contests. A great example of this is the wonderful devs over at league of geeks, developers of armello, the fantastic fantasy Virtual boardgame (isn’t that  a mouthful). The keep their company engaged with most of the methods I have already mentioned but they do employ one technique that is essential for multiplayer games and although less important to singleplayer games still serve to breath fresh life into games to keep folks playing it.

Content updates. Not to be confused with patches or hot fixes but good old fashioned content updates. We are talking maps, endgame content, story content and new game plus options. If you are thinking “but thats all dlc that could be monetized!” and “but what does this have to do with sequels?”. Well your sequel must raise the bar for the game series. It should elaborate and improve on the main of the first game and introduce at least one new system. One way to raise said bar is Just a SHIT TON of free content updates staggered through out a year. This shouldn’t be your primary means of improvement but more of a supplement the real focus should be on mechanics. Introduce at least one per game and make sure it gels with the tone and other mechanics fucking this will produce a game like Watchdogs 2. A game about taking down a evil corporation with scissor lifts, M@d H@kk1ng skillz and your crew of cartoon characters. it’s light hearted and the writing is silly and fun but… Your fun ragtag group of people who are basically just a marketing firm for a large hacker group, Shoot People? Why does this care free exploration of San Francisco have you gunning down security guards? I’m not against videogame violence but in this case it was such a departure from the games existing tone and felt at odds with the fantastic stealth mechanics. It even felt halfbaked adding to the inkling that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to shove it in a already silly, but great game.

Now this is just the opinion of someone who probably watched to much of this: https://www.youtube.com/user/McBacon1337/ featured but, hey customer is once in a while right, right? Any-hoo thanks for stopping bye and I hope you have a fantastic day. For real, thanks for reading.

Cheers,

Earlegrey

Find us on twitter! @Refractiongrey
Email me: hkaplanearle@gmail.com
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?ty=h&u=3310677
Discord: https://discord.gg/GjQ49

 

So you wanna heist?

Payday 2 is spectacular and engaging game. With a a butt-load of content and DLC of varying quality. It is a gem of a co-op game with blood pumping action and incredibly tense fun. I am here to help you sort through all the interesting ins and outs of Payday 2. So, you wanna learn how to heist?

The DLC

The first thing you will notice about payday on it’s store page is the ridiculous amount of DLC. Parsing through this mountain of content can be a daunting task for new players due to the highly variable quality of the content. There are a few recommended DLC and some which are universally avoided, because they’re either obsolete or just kind of useless. Here are the essentials:

-Gage Mod Courier Pack (It’s basically required)

-Sokol Character Pack (Great perk deck, fun character)

-The BBQ pack (Burn baby, burn! Also, molotovs.)

-Gage Weapon Packs (Except for the sniper pack)

-Point Break Heist Pack (The most fun you can have in Payday 2)

The Baddies

They’re angry, unconventional and in many cases extreme. So many cops, so little time. So in no particular order, I introduce to you the big baddies of payday 2:

-Bulldozers: These armor plated titans are imposing in stature, but don’t be scared by their grizzly exteriors they’re very soft and fuzzy on the inside. Always approach dozers in pairs of two, to avoid being downed and to split aggro. When shooting dozers dump bullets directly into their face mask while cutting line of sight to reload.

-Cloakers: These sneaky bastards! if you hear a low whine or see smoke run the other way. They take a lot of damage but when they down you they can be easily shot by your teammates.

-Tasers: If you hear the charging noise break line of sight as soon as possible. If you don’t hear a whine just shoot right on back. If tased don’t focus on shooting just keep your gun pointed at the blue coated son of a bitch and the impromptu electro-shock therapy will do the shooting.

-Shields: Similar to dozers approach in pairs to split aggro. And work those angles harder than Cindy Crawford, when you find a opening shoot and shoot some more.

The Builds

The 4 step process to making a overkill effective build are as follows:

-Choose a deployable and dump at least 25% of your available points into it.

-Choose a weapon class tree (each specialty has a weapon focus) and dump another 25% of your points into it

-Choose a complimentary perk deck.

-Remember to have fun kids!

The Guns

Guns, guns and more guns. Lead is your best friend and there are many approaches to sending it downrange. your weapon choice should align with whichever weapon perks you dumped points into. There are some basic rules though:

-Assault rifle damage should be above 40

-Watch the total ammo a gun has and make sure that if you choose a gun that doesn’t have a lot of extra ammo you have the perks to support your aggressively small ammo pool (you know what they say about spare ammo size).

-It is super important to make sure you spend money on mods though. Most guns are not worth it vanilla.

SO. Now you know the bare basics of heisting. sorry for the light content but i will be back to my 1-2 post a month schedule soon (Just kidding that starts now, just, please not the face!),

Cheers,

Earlegrey

Fallout 4: Nuka-World: A Review

Fallout 4’s Nuka-World expansion is a mixed bag, with some odd choices in terms of story direction. The premise is that the ‘Sole Survivor’ must go to the Nuka-World abandoned theme park, now run by raiders, to act as the leader of said raiders. There are three factions you can control.

Gameplay

Nuka-World provides fun gameplay with underwhelming story decisions. Firstly the good, characters, environment and fighting. The combat was great with a variety of monsters and creatures to kill. New weapons added variety in unique ways. Also Fallout finally received an AK variant rather than a PVC pipe with a scope attached to it for an assault rifle. The three gangs, and their respective leaders, add variety and are interesting. The way they operate is sadly not reflected in there attack methods. Other characters are genuinely well written and pleasant to hear. I found myself skipping dialogue a lot less which is always great. I won’t spoil too much, but a character from Fallout 3 makes a cameo, but only has a few idle lines and one fetch quest. Now for the bad; Choices in the story and interaction with the environment. While the ambiance of the world space is certainly there I can’t help, but feel that the rides and attractions which still work are boring. A lot of the rides will move and have places to sit in, but don’t let a player sit on the actual car, rocket or whatever other ride it is. You can only really ride one ride, which you have to clear out before hand, so you have seen everything already. Lastly the choices in the story. Bethesda makes it so that you either have to go fully through with the raider plan or kill all raiders to turn power on and ‘fix’ Nuka-World. The fact that to be good you have to kill everyone is just bad writing on Bethesda’s part. It seems strange that Bethesda wouldn’t have the foresight to allow you to talk or come to a truce over the use of Nuka-World and set boundaries for Raiders in an RPG. All in all gameplay is a little above average.

Sound

The sound of Nuka-World sets a tone for the DLC. While usually I would discuss the new radio stations they are not very important. Instead the soundtrack itself provides ambiance and is better than any other soundtrack from Fallout 4 and its extra content. Inon Zur has done well at supporting the setting of Nuka-World through his music.

Narrative

Nuka-World begins with a radio signal and brings you to a monorail taking you to the park itself, now run by raiders. The raiders give you a test, but rather than join them they make you their boss. The story revolves around you, just like Fallout 4’s base game which is undesirable in an RPG to say the least. Additionally while Fallout 4’s base game made it difficult to be a bad guy Nuka-World makes it too hard to be a good guy. In both the base game and Nuka-World you are forced to kill everybody and essentially skip all the quests and the fun if you don’t want your preferred companion to dislike you. The only problem is that Nuka-World has no companions that fit into its story except for the one added with the DLC. Overall the story, in terms of choice, is weak.

Graphics

Graphics are the same as the base game of Fallout 4, but special effects such as mist are used. New textures were added but at the same low quality, even on Ultra settings. Also like Fallout 4 in general assets and junk are littered about, with very little care given. Graphics are average to weak.

Verdict

Nuka-World provides a fun experience, in terms of its environment and stages of gameplay. The story lacks a good choice and makes it hard to play as a good character, which is bad writing on Bethesda’s part. However this expansion is very fun to play, and doesn’t force settlements into the gameplay.

score: 6.5/10, Better than Average

Cordially

N1sFoop

Hotline Miami: Blood, Bullets and Violent Reverie

(So we begin our normal stream of once a week content, Rejoice!)

You stand in front of a door. Inside there are bad people; Drug dealers and murderers. You slip on a mask to hide your face from your actions, enter and attack. As soon as you pass over the threshold of the building pounding techno music starts up, spurring you into a fast and violent frenzy. You break bones, bash heads, fire bullets and then its over. One final smack and the music dies down to a dull drone as you walk back to your car and take off your mask. It’s this contrast which makes hotline Miami so great. One moment you’re zipping between rooms taking out russian mobsters and the next your either bleeding out on a kitchen floor or walking back to your DeLorean covered in that days work. Both offer reflection into your next blood spattered try.

Gameplay is lightning fast. You die and kill in a single hit and you move incredibly fast  which makes combat frantic. Although your body count is high, you never feel like a god, in fact you feel more like a survivor. You scramble around avoiding bullets and backpedaling away from melee enemies, jockeying for firing positions. You kill and retry and kill and retry and kill and retry and win. Every victory feels hard-won and gratifying, like you have mastered every move at your disposal. The pace is also helped along by the music, OH THE MUSIC. It’s loud, techno, gets your heart beating and pushes you to take more risks with its pounding beat.

The pixel art is brutally efficient and distinctly detailed. It depicts stains on rugs and dying men with shockingly vivid abstractions. Occasionally between spurts of action you will see “Jacket”, the protagonist (if you can call him that) do something that makes you flinch and even feel guilt. See, under the phone calls and mass mobster murders hotline Miami is questioning you and  it’s asking “Do you enjoy hurting other people?” as well as “Who are you?” and my favorite “Who is calling your home phone and giving you gangsters address?”. The game’s story is cryptic and engaging. It tell’s a tale of psychotic murder, broken men and anti russian organizations fighting against a america which has been occupied by the USSR in 1985. Hotline miami is one of the first games that I would safely call insane. Go play Hotline Miami and it’s sequel then but in the meantime leave your thoughts in the comments.

Cheers,

Earlegrey

Find us on twitter! @Refractiongrey
Email me: hkaplanearle@gmail.com
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?ty=h&u=3310677
Discord: https://discord.gg/GjQ49