Last week was a whirlwind around here with a wedding last weekend, a wedding coming this weekend, back to school for Xander, and some wonderful new gaming experiences.
Last Tuesday saw the end of the standard storyline in The Elder Scrolls Online for my buddy and me. Tamriel is safe, for now. I skipped and fast-forwarded most of the story in the game, so I can't say the ending had a huge impact on me story-wise, but the final challenge was fulfilling and fun. I'm not here to listen to people go on and on, point me in a direction you need me to go and let me kill.
Now we are able to start the game over in one of the other two starting locations and explore all the lands we haven't experienced. This is pretty groovy since we are now veteran level 1 and the new starting area is raised to veteran level 1 for us. This means we get to now explore the Aldmeri Dominion's storyline at a game level that will still challenge us. I'm very happy with this, as much of the enjoyment I get from The Elder Scrolls Online is exploring the beautiful landscapes and encountering new creatures.
We are also now able to go to Craiglorn which is the added veteran content that will apparently continue the story past the end of the standard campaign, but I think we are happy to go back through the other faction's areas and see all there is to see before moving on to Craiglorn.
Last week also brought the release of my year's most anticipated game, Dance Central Spotlight...and well, hmmm.
The launch has been a little rough, there is no way to sugar coat that. The game is plagued with crashes when playing with two people. I personally have attributed the crashing to the achievement pop-ups and as these achievements lessen in frequency the game seems to operate just fine. I presume this will be corrected in an update, but it has been a little frustrating to play at times.
The other big issue is the transferring of the DLC from the previous 360 games to the Xbox One. There are 24 of the old 85 (by my count) DLC tracks available on Dance Central Spotlight at launch. They've promised to convert more tracks over time. However, at the time of writing I am only able to get 2 of the 24 songs transferred. What has happened is that I bought most of my songs in packs (Dance Pack #1, etc) and the content of these bundles is not yet recognized by Dance Central Spotlight. If you purchased the songs separately then you won't likely have an issue, but we'll have to wait for an update to get this working for everyone.
I can't complain too much, it really is a fantastic deal for the user. Not only will these songs cost you nothing to transfer over but they've designed new alternate dance routines for each of these tracks. I think that deserves all kinds of praise and recognition for Harmonix rewarding customer loyalty in such an awesome way.
There are also some other niggling issues that have me a little put off. Number one, for me, is that there is no random song choice which is something I used constantly in the last game. Something like shouting "Hey DJ, random song" seems like it would be easy to implement. Also, there is much less focus on score, so much so that I don't even see friends scores. I need scores...I need to crush people dancing.
The other minor issue I have is that some of the transitions between dance moves are a little janky. This is likely due to the changes in how the dance routines are created. It sounds like they now use dance construction software and they no longer motion capture the entire routines. I'm sure they can now use tons of the moves from the mo-cap sessions from the other games. This means there is obviously some moves that might not flow smoothly into each other. However, using the same process, it sounds like they can adjust the dances much easier to correct errors. This software will also allow them to get dances to market a lot faster, which is great to keep things relevant and interesting.
But where there have been some stumbles, the overall package is pretty awesome. The detection of the Kinect 2.0 with two people playing is miles better than the other games on 360 (and those were already pretty slick). Also, it seems that we are now treated to the entire single release version of the music tracks. No longer do we get the often truncated or mixed versions that seemed to shorten the tracks. This of course means that a tough routine can be made even tougher by the length of the track, but if you ain't here to sweat then go home.
The new music selection is fantastic and the new routines are great. Having eight routines per song is overwhelming to me at the moment, but I look forward to vanquishing them all. The visuals aren't leaps and bounds above the older games, but I love the more minimalistic approach to the backgrounds that get more and more trippy the better you dance.
So, it is all a little rough right now, but Harmonix is one of my favourite companies in the business and I have full faith that they'll correct all the existing problems. After everything is running smoothly, hopefully they will start implementing fan requested features. They've already fixed some issues and have been active collecting feedback on the Dance Central Forums. I danced for an hour and a half Thursday with my wife and we had a blast. If you have an Xbox One with Kinect and you need some exercise with your video games, the $10 entry fee to Dance Central Spotlight is really a no-brainer to try.
Oh, I also modded GTA IV successfully with the ICE 3.0 mod last week. It was actually just a matter of deleting the local content for the game, re-downloading from Steam, and reapplying the mod. I love the funny things about computers; do the same thing twice and get a different result.
But the results seem good so far without having been in the config files. Though, I'm probably not as impressed as I should be since I never played the vanilla game. I can't wait to actually be able to sit down and play after the wedding.
I won't be back until Sunday, so don't think I am ignoring your replies.
What are you playing this weekend?