Video Game Tuesday: Graphical Mods

This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering a topic that get’s overlooked by most console gamers, myself included. It’s all about Graphical Mods!

PC MASTER RACE!: Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard that before. It’s an old and tired shtick, and console gamers are pretty sick of it. There are downsides to being a console gamer, but there are also upsides. That being said, that’s a topic for another day. However there is one thing that warrants special mentioning. Graphical Improvement Mods.

Graphical Improvement Mods?: Yeah, so there are of course custom 3D model mods out there for all sorts of games, like Skryim or Grand Theft Auto. However this isn’t what I’m talking about, not exactly. I’m talking about mods that completely improve your entire visual experience of the whole game. Stuff like NaturalVision Remastered. Go check out the video I’ve linked. I’ll be waiting, and it’s definitely worth a view.

Done?: Great, so these sorts of mods are huge projects and I have immense respect and admiration for anyone who does this sort of work. It’s incredibly difficult and you rarely see something of such high quality like NaturalVision Remastered. Honestly the person behind the mod deserves to be hired like immediately into the industry. They are an amazing artist and coder who understands gaming engines and graphics to a degree that I can only wish I had even a tenth of their skill and knowledge. Of particular note is that the original NaturalVision mod aims to be as intensive as the base Grand Theft Auto V game. That’s an incredibly difficult goal, but they did it for the most part.

What goes into such a mod?: Well for a big part of it, it’s all about improving the textures to a much higher resolution and detail. That’s not an easy goal, not at all. You have to literally work on every single texture used in the entire game and improve them. That’s a massive undertaking by itself. However that’s not all, mods like NVR also tweak the physics and lighting systems and those are not any easier to deal with. The fact that the mod is attempting to do all of that and still be only as intensive as the base game is nothing short of a masterwork. Like seriously Rockstar, or any company with a decent reputation, you need to be trying to hire this modder.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday. Are there any favorite graphical mods you like and I didn’t mention? Leave a comment below!

Video Game Tuesday: Console Mods


This week for Video Game Tuesday I’m covering a subject that I find both frustrating and interesting. It’s all about Console Mods.

Why frustrating?: Because companies like Bethesda have made an effort to bring mods to consoles, but are doing a terrible job of it. They won’t properly curate the mods for games like Skyrim’s Special Edition and Fallout 4, and this causes many mod authors to have their work stolen by thieves without proper acknowledgement. I know if they did acknowledge it that a lot of mod makers wouldn’t be so upset, but the fact is that Bethesda has done a piss poor job with their efforts to bring mods to consoles. I’m not surprised that Sony won’t allow Bethesda to bring mods with unique assets to the PlayStation 4, they just don’t respect the mod authors that breathed so much life into games on the PC. Skyrim has a thriving mod community, but Bethesda has continuously screwed them over, with paying for mods on Steam and the console mod debacle.

There’s other games and companies that won’t allow mods, like Square Enix with Final Fantasy XIV. However Square Enix actually has a valid reason, FFXIV is an MMORPG and as any MMO gamer will tell you, if a portion of the audience can’t download mods the mods are next to useless. Plus theres the toxicity that comes with mods like Damage Meters, something that can quickly devolve into huge flame wars on forums and chat channels.  I used mods when I played World of Warcraft, and I required all my raiders/guildmates to install them if they wanted to raid. Some were invaluable, like Deadly Boss Mods, while others were just for fun, like Bejeweled. All of them were useful in one way or another, but I don’t regret not having them in FFXIV. I actually enjoy that I don’t need any mods or VoIP programs to succeed in doing the hardest content. Yes it’s helpful, especially the VoIP programs, but they aren’t necessary at all.

Why interesting?: Because I love mods, some of my favorite game modes in games like Warcraft III were mods like the Angel Arena maps. They had custom models and I had great respect for those who made those models. I hope one day we’ll be able to use mods on consoles properly and add fun things like Thomas the Tank Engine to games like Skyrim in the future. But until such mods are properly curated and monitored we won’t be getting them with any amount of frequency if at all.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday.

Video Game Tuesday: Thoughts on the Switch


Hey all for this week’s Video Game Tuesday I’m going to cover my thoughts on Nintendo’s upcoming console/portable system. It’s all about my Thoughts on the Switch!

Price and Release Date: It releases on March 3rd, and is priced at $300. This sounds okay, although you’ll get more pure gaming and multimedia functionality out of a PS4 Slim for the same price.

Controls: The Pro Controllers sound pretty good, although it will be fairly pricey to get extras.  The Joy Con controllers though are a bit worrisome. The halves themselves can be used individually and from the way it looks they are pretty small when that happens. I know a lot of friends who have large hands, unlike a certain orange lunatic, and they won’t be super pleased to using the Joy Con in that mode. In addition they are keeping motion controls in each controller type. That piece of news was less than welcome for me, frankly I was sick of Motion controls a day after playing Wii Sports for the first time.

Games: So we got confirmation that Breath of the Wild is going to be a launch title, which is great. That being said it only running for 3 hours on the go is a bit of a bummer. New titles that were announced include, 1 2 Switch (think Wii Sports but party games), Arms which is a crazy motion controlled fighting game, Super Mario Odyssey (A new Mario game that takes place in our world) and Splatoon 2. There were others, but those were the highlights from Nintendo.

Third Party: We’ll be getting various third party games, including Skyrim (although it’ll launch in Fall 2017 for some reason) and a Bomberman game. Bandai Namco has said they’ll be bringing Tales games to the system, but frankly I’ll believe that when I see it.

Online: Probably one of the biggest shockers was that Nintendo is finally going to be charging for Online play, which is unsurprising albeit very late to the game. There will be a free game each month people will be able to try out. Unfortunately when that month is over, so is the try out period. Frankly that was a really stupid move on Nintendo’s part, but if it includes major first party titles and AAA games relatively soon after their retail launch it would be better.

Overall: Frankly I’m on the fence still, there were lots of interesting things, but I don’t know if they can interest me to pay $300 for a system that won’t run games as well as my PS4 will.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday!

Video Game Tuesday: ESO vs. FF14:ARR


This week on Video Game Tuesday I’m doing yet another versus column! This time it’s ESO vs. FF14:ARR!

Recently Elder Scrolls Online released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and it’s launch has been absolutely terrible. Servers have crashed spectacularly and caused all sorts of issues. That is to be expected with an MMO, but it shows the lack of forethought from the developers.

Gameplay: ESO only has 5 abilities for each of the four classes’s 3 specializations and that’s kind of sad. I mean even Diablo 3 has more skills than that for each class and it has more playable classes.  FF14: ARR has many more abilities, with some being cooldown specific and off the global cooldown, which for console players like myself means I can be crafty and macro them together to save precious bar space.

Sideskills: Other than Gathering, FF14: ARR has the better sideskill system. Crafting actually takes skill to do, and isn’t just gather materials and hit a button which is nice.

Artwork: Both are pretty good looking, but I’d have to say the animations for FF14: ARR are better. The FF14: ARR emote system is incredibly varied and very well done, ESO on the other hand doesn’t do that as well. That being said, the musical instrument emotes in ESO are pretty cool.

Music:  Both are pretty good, but I’ve always preferred Final Fantasy’s music over any Elder Scrolls music.

Cross Platform Play: Well this is easy, FF14: ARR allows all platforms to play together. ESO doesn’t and therefore significantly limits the Massively in MMO, and will probably end up as deserted as Destiny’s public spaces.

Overall: FF14 is the clear winner in this console MMO versus match. It’s not even close, you get so much more from the game even if you have to pay a subscription to play it’s well worth the money.

Retro Game Friday: The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind


This week for Retro Game Friday I’m covering my favorite Xbox (Original) game of all time. It’s The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

Plot Synopsis: After a storm and a strange vision in his dreams, the player begins fresh off a boat from a mainland prison in a town called Seyda Neen, freed by the string-pulling of the current ruler of the Tamrielic Empire, Emperor Uriel Septim VII, with the task of meeting Caius Cosades, a member of the Blades, a secret group tasked with the protection of the Emperor and the Empire.

Plot: The plot is very much uncover it as you go along, and while more recent entries in the series have held your hands with waypoints and fast travel, Morrowind had none of these things. In addition to being able to fly through the sky, players were free to kill anyone even central characters to the plot of the game. Of course doing so would cause a warning saying you screwed up and that you should probably reload a save file prior to your murder of that character.

Gameplay: This game plays quite similarly to Skyrim and Oblivion, but it wasn’t nearly as easy to complete the main story quest. This was due to the fact that you didn’t have a handy compass telling you which way is north and no waypoints for each quest. You actually had to read the in game journal and correctly interpret what was written in there. Probably the thing that caused me to play as a mage in this entry rather than a thief like I did in the later entries was the fact that you could levitate. If you had enough mana you could do it endlessly, and would be able to dodge all sorts of nasty things. Of course the sky was filled with weird creatures that could attack you while you flew around, but it was generally the easiest way to get around. Also diseases and curses were much more damaging to you than they were in Oblivion or Skyrim.

Music: The music for this game was amazing, and stands up to more recent works in the series as an equal. I actually prefer the soundtrack of Morrowind over Skyrim or Oblivion’s soundtrack.

Art: The worst part of the game was the artwork, it was very ambitious, but it clearly shows its age now. If you played on the Xbox version you were subject to frequent crashes, but if you saved every 5 minutes or so you were okay. In fact you were encouraged to do that in case you messed up and created an unsolvable problem due to a mistake.

Overall: If you’ve never played it, give it a shot on the PC. Download some graphical mods and make it look a bit better and enjoy the game.

For those who like: The Elder Scrolls games, RPGs, Open World Gameplay, Difficult games.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.