Xbox Game Pass Update for March 2020

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Honestly, a bit of a weak showing so far in March with the best game being an expansion bordering on remaster for State of Decay 2. Fans of Ori will be pleased to know that the sequel is as pretty with an even better soundtrack. Overwatch fans can try out the new kid on the block with Bleeding Edge. Unemployed people can pretend they have a government job driving trains with Train Sim World. The mentally ill will feel right at home with puzzle platformer Pikuniku. Fans of casino gambling (and basketball) have NBA 2K20.

NBA 2K20

Every generation I pick up a Madden game. I like video game football and while my favorite is and I suspect will remain NCAA Football, this generation alas does not have one of those so Madden it is.

What this generation has had is numerous sports games eventually being given away for free through PS4 Plus and Xbox Games with Gold. I have gotten a hockey game (NHL 19), a basketball game (NBA 2K16) and most surprisingly Sony’s baseball game MLB The Show 19.

One of the reason’s I only buy one Madden a generation (two this generation Madden NFL 17 and Madden NFL 18 due to the siren song of 4k) is that all I need is a franchise mode and a hopeless Jets team to turn into champions (Pro Tip: First thing trade away all the current Jets players.). The other modes I have no interest in.

If I liked basketball, I would play NBA 2K20 the same way. In fact, I might take the WNBA out for a spin since the ladies game seems more fun and open (much as I preferred the NCAA to Madden last generation)

Unfortunately, the WNBA isn’t a fully formed section of the game. It is without a decent franchise mode and, for reasons yet to be explained, without online play. In fact, the complaints about NBA 2K20 are similar to the complaints I have about Madden football but on steroids. They neglect the franchise mode; there is one of those story modes with stilted acting, embarrassing cutscenes, and stupid mini-games; the game seems to be designed to get microtransactions from our most vulnerable citizens rather than to simulate a sport.

Now I am not against microtransactions in theory or practice. I bought horse armor for Oblivion so I am practically patient zero. In addition, EA was very wise to give me Sims 4 for free last year considering I have purchased around $200 of DLC since then. But including a slot machine and having blind loot box style card packs for a temporary service that will be gone in a year seems wrong.

If you want to just play basketball by all accounts, NBA 2k20 is a good game (assuming they fixed that bug that shut down the service after the NBA itself cancelled its season). But beware serious micro transactions, endless advertising, and some dull non-basketball activity ahead.

Train Sim World 

Robbing a train is exciting; having sex on a train is exciting; even building train lines, driving other tycoons out of business and destroying the economies of small cities can be exciting.

Train Sim World doesn’t allow you to do any of those things. It is like an updated version of that old Penn & Teller joke game Desert Bus. And like driving a bus from Los Angeles To Las Vegas in real time, it turns out driving a commuter train from one city to another is an actual job that we have to pay people to do. There is a fine line between a fun simulation and a deadly boring one. Train Sim World lands squarely in the latter category after the first few minutes.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Will of the Wisps at least visually reminds me of one of those Trine games. Beautiful with saturated colors and on the Xbox One X with HDR. In addition, the soundtrack is once again above and beyond the norm. I listen to the soundtrack of Ori and the Blind Forest on a regular basis on Spotify, and I am looking forward to the soundtrack of Ori and the Will of the Wisps.

Gameplay is the only place where Ori and I don’t seem to see eye to eye. Some frustrating boss battles and platforming combined with swimming levels doesn’t exactly make me rush out to grab a controller. However, if this type of platformer is in your wheelhouse, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is an excellent choice.

Pikuniku

While I am no great fan of puzzle platformers, Pikuniku is just weird enough and easy enough to tempt me. One of those games that your wife will see you playing and then will sit down and make you finish in one session.

State of Decay 2 – Juggernaut Edition

Stae of Decay 2 added a lot of different activities onto State of Decay’s original gameplay. I confess I really didn’t like it that much.

I loved the original State of Decay. Yes, it was a janky mess with substandard graphics, but there was something lovable and homebrewed about the thing.

State of Decay 2 still looked janky, but they added so many menus and things that honestly I was lost after an hour. Even worse, I was bored. It didn’t help that the new infection mechanic/ storyline created a time crunch in a game where puttering around avoiding zombies was kind of the point.

The other issue State of Decay 2 had was the starting characters. They had such a forceful personality/ backstory that it was impossible to roleplay with them. I didn’t much care for them to begin with but some finding myself controlling two sides of a bickering couple gave me Children of the Corn flashbacks (The horrible remake not the original)

State of Decay 2 Juggernaut Edition fixes a lot of the issues I had with State of Decay 2 and gives you a starting area to learn some of the ropes and ease you into the gameplay. Plus, they made the game at least look like it was from this generation. Well worth giving the game another chance.

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

Kona

The Surge 2

Bleeding Edge

Speaking of quirky… the new multiplayer, character based squad, cooperative shooter Bleeding Edge takes quirky up to 11. Want to get in on the ground floor of the next Overwatch? Bleeding Edge has you covered.

What do I think? Might as well pay Overwatch. Bleeding Edge’s characters are bluntly too wacky. There really isn’t a normal one in the bunch. It is like releasing a Tekken game with only Combot (a robot), Bob (morbidly obese American), Kuma (a bear), Panda (Also a bear), Mokujin (wooden training dummy… basically Pinocchio) and Roger Jr. (a Joey or baby kangaroo). You need some normalish folks to balance it out like in Tekken’s case a grandfather who keeps killing his children and rules half the world through at traditional Japanese samurai clan… you know something relatable to modern audiences.

Another hit on Bleeding Edge is that rather plain arenas and lack of various modes. I know it is early days still but so far Bleeding Edge is no Overwatch killer.

Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid

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[…] As I stated in my Xbox Game Pass Update for March 2020 Ori and the Will of the Wisps at least visually reminds me of one of those Trine games. Beautiful with saturated colors and on the Xbox One X with HDR. In addition, the soundtrack is once again above and beyond the norm. I listen to the soundtrack of Ori and the Blind Forest on a regular basis on Spotify, and I am looking forward to the soundtrack of Ori and the Will of the Wisps. […]