I’ve been doing these joke/comedy rankings for quite some time now; they’re trendy, easy to make, easy to read, and easy to turn the structure on its ear if need be. But most of the time I’m just injecting total satire and randomness into these arbitrary rankings, to make a point or to make a joke. This time, however, I did a ton of research and have scientifically come up with the definitive list of the best exploding barrels in video game history. There is no criteria, just total facts and nothing subjective. The barrels don’t even have to be red, or traditionally shaped, but it helps. As long as they explode and are generally barrels containing flammable contents, that counts. There were some games I cut because I couldn’t find an image or footage to support my case, but if that proof doesn’t exist is it really worth adding to this list?
The boxes from Crash Bandicoot do not count, they are crates, do not tell me they should go on this list on my Twitter.
DEAD LAST is Superman 64 aka whatever the hell this is
25. Trials endings when you explode sometimes
24. The Binding of Isaac
23. Sly 2
20. Area 51
19. Left 4 Dead
18. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
17. Crysis Physics
16. Borderlands 2
15. Quake II
14. Hydro Thunder: Gauntlet Race
12. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
11. Halo 2 and Halo 3
10. Far Cry 3
8. Red Faction: Guerilla
7. Donkey Kong Country (the living kind and the ones you throw both count)
6. Resident Evil 4
4. Any Worms game, 2D or 3D
3. Just Cause 2 and 3
2. Half-Life 2 (especially when you use the gravity gun in Ravenholm)
1. Literally Any Doom
10 Bold Predictions for Video Games in 2019
+ an autopsy of everything I got right and wrong in 2018
I’ve been doing these for so many years, and yet my 2018 predictions were my best yet. So I’ll try and top them this year, but all I really want is a new Katamari game. That’s it. Just make that, and I’m happy.
With 2017, I went 7.5 out of 10. So let’s dive in and see how I did for 2018, shall we?:
1. Indie games have a weird year (WRONG)
Yeah, no, indies had a stellar year. I continue to live in the past and think that it’s unattainable for developers to hit the peak they did in 2013 where Gone Home, Stanley Parable, Papers Please, and Kentucky Route Zero all came out, and while we haven’t gotten there narratively, we did with gameplay.
Celeste, The Messanger, Dead Cells, Into the Breach, Return of the Obra Dinn, and Guacemelee 2 all crushed it, and many of those were legit GOTY contenders. I will continue to never underestimate indies ever again, and just love and enjoy them like always.
2. More and more trade shows really start to morph into something else we do not recognize, and we are all scratching our heads by the end of the year. (CORRECT)
I’m going to go ahead and give myself the point for this since we saw the turn happen, crossed the Rubicon, and are never going back. E3 is open to the public, Sony tried and failed to do something weird, they quit E3 and cancelled PSX, Nintendo had less Directs than ever before and dedicated their entire E3 showing to literally 45 minutes of nothing but Smash Brothers, and Microsoft had that thing in Mexico City and it didn’t work at all. Trade shows are dead, RIP convention halls and live events.
3. We get an all-time blockbuster in sales this year (CORRECT)
Ironically it might not be Red Dead Redemption 2, it could actually be that Spider-Man PS4 bundle. Or, if you want to count downloads and money earned, Fortnite ended up being an unprecedented phenomenon. So one of those counts, I’m sure. Smash Bros. Ultimate sold like hotcakes, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is impervious to criticism or down votes, and World Cup fever made FIFA 19 a hit. Go figure, people worldwide like soccer that much.
4. The industry will begin to self-regulate loot boxes (CORRECT)
Not out of legislation, because EA told Belgium to go fuck itself, but out of fear and pressure to backlash and poor optics and bad PR. Thank goodness, some games even advertised on them not including loot boxes aka gambling for children.
5. A significant number of high and low profile games will star women this year. (CORRECT)
Off the top of my head, I count:
Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Celeste, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Octopath Traveler, Florence, Donut County, and Moss all starred or prominently featured women at the forefront. I count that as a success, and I see no reason why the industry should stop in 2019.
6. The Nintendo Switch begins to stall (HALF POINT)
It certainly didn’t stall in terms of sales, but the lineup really only had Smash, and some ports, and some indies. It’s a strong library, but we all knew it wouldn’t be getting Metroid Prime 4 or Bayonetta 3 or Animal Crossing or something else cool. Just Mario Tennis and Mario Party and a Pokemon game that some people like. Eh.
7. Battle royale games are FUCKING EVERYWHERE (CORRECT)
8. The return of the Dark Souls clone (CORRECT)
Ashen, Below, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, God of War, Dead Cells, and Death’s Gambit all took inspirations or ripped off the Souls games, and then we actually got Dark Souls Remastered which was cool too. It was a lovely year to fight using the shoulder buttons, parry, and pick up currency where you last died. Hopefully 2019 gives us Nioh 2. And Sekiro rocks our socks. I am so fucking ready for those games, you have no idea.
9. We finally see get teases for… (HALF POINT)
Here is what I wrote last year:
Cyberpunk 2077, Borderlands 3, The Division 2, a new Diablo, a new Bioshock project, Halo 6, Ghost Story and Ken Levine’s new game, and the return of a very classic franchise. I think Splinter Cell or Crimson Skies or Perfect Dark, but maybe Left 4 Dead? Who is to say, honestly, I don’t know. It won’t be Half-Life 3, though — sorry everybody, that ship has sailed. We also finally hear more about The Last of Us: Part 2, and Kingdom Hearts 3, and the Final Fantasy VII remake, and Shenmue 3, and they are all 2019 or later. Not one of those things is close to this calendar year.
By my count, that’s good for halfsies. So I’ll give myself partially credit.
10. Sony finally announces PSN name changes (CORRECT)
Finally. Even though they did it in the worst way possible that made it seem not appealing whatsoever.
So all in all, I scored 8 out of 10, which is better than the last few years. Progress! I want to shoot for 8.5 or higher this year, so let us get to it! Here are the my predictions for video games in 2019.
1. Sony caves in, and brings more games like Rocket League and Fortnite to cross-play
I never thought they would do it, and I was wrong. Hell, we were all wrong. But the cat is out of the proverbial bag now and soon more games will come to their “beta” and be cross-play compatible with Xbox and Switch and PC and iOS and Android. Minecraft and various shooters seem like obvious candidates.
2. A new console and streaming service enters the fray
Something will get announced by some poor schmuck and it will not go over super well. Amazon, Google, somebody else, Soulja Boy, who knows! But I expect an announcement and some vague promises, but honestly, nobody should be doing this. Just misguided, especially since we are getting a new Playstation and Xbox sooner than we think. A streaming service is slightly less misguided, but it’s so likely and I really do not see anything making a dent.
3. Big time games go free-to-play, including Overwatch and Fallout 76
Fallout is absolutely getting an apology tour this year, no question. Bethesda will have to do something with no new games on the horizon, and a giant turd on their hands. A turd that makes one of the most valuable IPs look like dogshit. I expect an expansion and free shit and new updates and a massive overhaul to save face before Starfield starts to ramp up, mark my words.
I also imagine that Blizzard will be forced to do something to expand their eSports audience, with Activision looking to squeeze profits out of every square inch of that greedy conglomerate. Overwatch is the last remaining big title to reasonably go free, after Counter-Strike did it last year. Rainbow Six isn’t quite there yet, but honestly that could go free-to-play and I would still get this prediction right. Maybe even Halo goes free, who knows! Maybe PUBG, gaming is crazy and I expect nothing short of madness, pure unadulterated madness!
4. Digital stores go for Steam’s jugular
Blood is in the water. Unexpectedly, after Valve decided years ago to sit on their asses and do fucking nothing about new games or fixing Steam or their business, EA manned up and told them to go fuck themselves. Ubisoft is not allowing The Division 2 to go onto Steam, and will continue that trend going forward. More uPlay for us! And the Epic store is just getting started, and they won’t slow down, especially with all the free capital they’re getting from Fork Knife. Maybe Microsoft and Sony rev up on PC, maybe Nintendo gets aggressive (probably not), but Steam will get caught slipping and if they don’t right the ship they’ll be on the ropes soon enough.
5. No big price cuts or new SKUs, no mini-Switch or major revisions, and no new console talk this year (sans leaks, I don’t count those, those are inevitable)
I don’t expect any new consoles in 2019, or any talk of new consoles. No announcements, no news, no half-step upgrades or new SKUs. No major price cuts, no new Switch model, nothing. Just leaks, and lots of build-up for 2020. The flood gates open then, but not now. Now we just wait for the future.
6. First looks at the following…
I don’t know how I’m going to score this one, but fuck it, here is what we get gameplay footage from:
Borderlands 3, Watch Dogs 3, A Splinter Cell reboot/sequel, A Bioshock reboot/prequel, Titanfall 3 and Jedi: Fallen Order, Diablo 4, Warcraft mobile, Halo: Infinite, that Square Enix/Marvel Avengers game, that Battletoads thing, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 3, and many more games that have been announced but not shown off yet. Like Ken Levine’s game, I want that so bad. Ghost Story, give it to me now damnit!
7. You can tell Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are holding back the good stuff, because a shit ton of stuff is slipping into early 2020
Delay city, all abord! Next stop: Delay City. Nothing surprising is coming this year, nothing out of left field. The games announced for PS4 currently are the ones coming out in the fall. Gears 5 and a new Forza are spearheading the Xbox lineup. Nintendo will not suddenly have a bombshell to drop on us, we will get Animal Crossing and like it.
And boy will this be the year of broken promises, as everybody wants to save their big guns for new consoles in 2020. I would not be shocked if Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us Part II, Death Stranding, Halo Infinite, Metroid Prime 4, Bayonetta 3, and others get pushed to make the Xbox Scarlet and PS5 look better at launch. Some of those will come out, but not all of them. No way no how.
8. A major acquisition is incoming and we are not prepared for it
Somebody big is buying somebody else soon, and none of us can stop it. Late stage capitalism is coming for us all, and it will devour the world until there is but one company standing and every dollar in the world’s economy is sucked dry. So either a platform holder buys a legit studio, or two companies merge, or Tencent purchases everyone with all the money they earn under the table. Most likely Microsoft buys an indie team or mid-level studio to satisfy the fanatics out there.
9. Valve announces work on a new game
It happens: #Half-Life3. No, not really, but I think they ramp up the teases for something new, maybe DOTA or VR related, maybe something new, maybe a Counter-Strike thing, or a new Left 4 Dead. That would be great. This also does not include Campo Santo, who they bought a while back, I will not count that.
10. The Game of the Year has not been announced yet
Mystery game wins December 2019, you heard it here first!
Bonus: every video game movie coming out will be bad
Detective Pikachu, Sonic the Hedgehog, does not matter, they’ll all suck. I’ll see you in 2020 if the world doesn’t end by then, to see how I did.
Jared’s Top 10 Games of 2018 (Written Entirely in Poetry)
I will not play them Sam I Am
I didn’t feel like writing a whole big thing nobody would read. Everyone does these lists, and nobody reads any of them. Too much of the same analysis, the same games on the same lists, with the same features and mechanics praised ad nausea. I figured I would mix it up and do something more creative to express why I like the games I did this year. It was an interesting experiment, and I’m not sure I’ll ever write as much poetry again as I did in this one week.
10 through 2 was all jumbled up, those can go in any order, it was really a toss-up. Number 1 was the only definitive and easy thing going for me, my GOTY was super easy and I knew it would be the choice back in April. (Spoilers: it’s God of War.)
This is also the Hollow Knight memorial list because that game came out last year, yet everybody played it on their Switch this year. That game would be easily top two, but I couldn’t put a 2017 game on a 2018 list. Even though I have several remakes/remasters. I follow the rules that I make up. Hollow Knight is incredible, go play that on your console of choice, it’s on everything now.
Note: Many of the poems below are not totally original, they are often just classic poems with words switched in and out and around, heavily edited, or homages. I will put the original source so you can read those poems in the way they were intended. This is all a purely comedic exercise and not intended to be a work of serious criticism or legitimate poetry. This is all a goof. Enjoy, and go play Hollow Knight.
Runners up: Hollow Knight, Into the Breach, Donut County, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Holedown, Ashen, Gwent: Thronebreaker, Dragon Ball Fighters Z, Guacemelee 2
10. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Here she lies, a pretty hot bod,
Cassandra, made of flesh and blood,
The guards, as soon as they fall fast asleep
As my little blades did seep
Give her upgrades, side quests, objectives, comparisons,
None of it different or better than Origins
Too long, too bloated, a full map,
But what a cool looking legendary shoulder strap
(“Upon a Child That Died” by Robert Herrick)
9. Katamari Reroll
I sprinted, I twisted,
I tried to run about everywhere
I spun, I was spun,
I rolled into anything I could find
I was attached, I felt included,
Hey! I just picked up so much stuff!
If the Katamari comes, shall we go out
To the back alleys and walk with it, swaying, swinging, strolling?
Hey! Look outside the window! A lonely rolling star!
Well now as we roll around
Oh! Its growing BIGGER
Milky way love, Katamari we love you
And as we stare at sweet, sweet moon
The two of us will burn for each other
(Various lyrics from the soundtrack)
8. Marvel’s Spider-Man
among the collectibles, and references, and QTEs,
and villains, and stealth sections, and crimes,
from the wrist
a spider, a hero
in my home, the streets
(“Ode to a Large Tuna in the Market” by Pablo Neruda)
7. Return of the Obra Dinn
I sing requiem
for the dead, caught in that
We have not built lasting
monuments of severe stone
facing the sea, the watery tomb,
so I call these songs
shrines of remembrance
where faithful descendants
may stand and watch the smoke
curl into the sky
in memory of those
devoured by the cold Atlantic.
In every blues I hear
riding the dank swamp
I see the bones
picked clean in the belly
of the implacable sea
Wait what the fuck is that
is that a fucking crab monster
holy shit this game
who what why how fucking what
jesus fucking christ this game went places
(“Requiem” by Kwame Dawes)
6. Dead Cells
punishment, crushing, savage
the pitter patter of swords and traps
the chitter chatter of blood and steel
poison and gore and viscera and madness
crisp, flashy, cool, smooth
it flows like water through a stream
death, recycles, over and over, and over
again and again, and again
the sweet release of relief
wholly awesome loot
wrapped in a blanket of grace
(“Dead Cells” by Jared Russo)
5. Super Smash Brothers Ultimate
Oodles of gold, tickets and spirit points
Ultimate smashing, music and references
Gathered he through all bloody means
Giving not a damn to humane feelings
Unlocking characters is but Sakurai’s patient strategy
Tamed is he by crippling ailments
So sad! Spends life like Peach’s thrown vegetable!
(“Nuggets” by Sathya Narayana)
4. Red Dead Redemption 2
“There once was a man from the west
whose game was not quite the best.
The immersion was swell,
the controls made me yell,
but the story truly made me digest.”
(“Red Dead Redemption 2” by Jared Russo)
3. Spyro: Reignited Trilogy
nostalgia, old wound
my love for the dragon soars
spyro’s back, fuckers
(“Spyro” by Jared Russo)
I wonder just how much of me
will die with it, whatever I have
inside of me, my heart, my head
I could have been, was. Her insides speak
through a hundred deaths, now, more
than she can bear, platforms around her,
jumping, dashing, then, What is this thing she serves?
This soundtrack owns, this metaphor tears at me
we are all depressed, this game is cathartic
(“Nani” by Alberto Alvaro Rios)
Game Of The Year: God of War
What flesh my axe have kissed, and where, and why,
Wonder, and what carnage has Kratos lain
Under my giant turtle till morning; I leave them all slain
Midgard is full of ghosts today, the quests are nigh
Upon the decapitated head and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered gods that not again
Will rage with Atreus at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what beasts have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot overstate what I love have come and gone,
I only know that wonder sang within me
And after around 30 hours, I could not believe what I had played could go on at this level for more.
The art of gaming is hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be seen and earned that their design isn’t hard to master.
Then combat foes and dive into lore, traveling farther, living faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. I wish it had gone on forever laster.
They lost their mother. And throughout it was
second-to-none, of three loved realms went.
Touched, by lovely ones. And, vaster,
some armor I owned, two warriors, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
It was the game of the year.
(“What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why” by Edna St. Vincent Millay)
(“One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop)
Bottom 3 (Not in Poem Form, Because These Games Do Not Deserve Poems, Only Scorn):
3. Far Cry 5 sucks, it’s not worth playing and this series needs to stop for a while.
2. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is incredibly disappointing, I want a new Deus Ex game, damnit.
1. Fallout 76. They killed the franchise. Those bastards.
You Won’t Believe This, But That Live-Action Halo TV Series Is Facing Development Troubles!
The series has lost director Rupert Wyatt, and reports of budget concerns put the adaption’s future in jeopardy. But what else is new?
I’ve been following film and TV news for the better part of a decade and a half, and writing about it for nearly as long. And, in that time, you start to become numb to the cycle of development — creatives are always leaving, executives are always balking, and yada yada yada. Let’s just say there’s a reason why most of the movies in development hell stay there — once a project begins circling the drain, it’s hard to really pull it back out. So after years of this painful back and forth — this developmental ballet — I start to lose faith entirely. For pop culture that has been developing for years, my optimism for it actually get made morphs into the fun category of “I’ll believe it when I fucking see it.” Which, for the record, is why I still don’t believe Kingdom Hearts III is coming out next month. I don’t care that it has a release date, I don’t care that it has gone gold — until the damn thing is in my hands, it’s just vaporware. And you know what else is just vaporware? That goddamn Halo TV series.
Or should I say live-action Halo movie. Really, it’s all the same tale — Hollywood has been trying to monetize the Halo brand since shortly after the first game was released, and became one of the defining video game titles of this millennium. Creating a movie just seemed like the next logical step, and Hollywood recruited Alex Garland to do just that. And Peter Jackson to do just that. And Neil Blomkamp to do just that. And D.B. Weiss to do just that. And so on and so on. Eventually, that entire project stalled and Microsoft, with the live-action rights back in their hands, decided to shift the game’s adaptation to the world of television, and partnered with a pretty big name to do it: producer Steven Spielberg.
That was five years ago. Just to show how much the world of TV has changed since then, Microsoft initially planned to release the series independently, through the Xbox TV brand. That brand no longer exists which, to these outside eyes, would seem to indicate the TV series was no longer happening. But, nope! After years of silence, Microsoft returned and announced that the TV series was still happening (sure), and that it would be released on Showtime (sure.) A little more time passed. I assumed the concept of a Showtime produced Halo TV series was just some weird fever dream I had. And then, boom! the Halo TV series was off towards the races, with Showtime hiring on showrunner Kyle Killen, a bunch of writers, a big name director — everything! The plan was set for filming to commence at the tail end of 2018, for a late 2019 launch.
And I never believed that shit for a goddamn second. This is a Halo live-action project we are talking about. It’s doomed to fail. And if news from today is any indication, the process has begun in earnest.
As reported by Variety, the “big-name” director hired to helm many episodes of the project, Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), has departed the series. On the surface, it seems like an innocent enough departure: standard scheduling issues. Wyatt even released this statement corroborating the reported reason:
“It’s with great disappointment that changes to the production schedule of Halo prevent me from continuing in my role as a director on the series. My time on Halo has been a creatively rich and rewarding experience with a phenomenal team of people. I now join the legion of fans out there, excited to see the finished series and wishing everyone involved the very best.”
So yeah: “changes to the production schedule” is the culprit. But the question must be asked: why did the production schedule change in the first place?
Well, thankfully, /Film looked into just that, and found that production on the series is not going as smooth as it might have sounded like it was a few months ago. The budget “has spiraled out of control” according to the website’s sources, and the people in charge are none to happy about what the series is becoming. Well the first few scripts were in line with what Showtime was looking for, latter scripts saw “the entire series balloon in size and cost, leading to some cold feet.” Well it’s possible the series might work through these issues (Game of Thrones, which Showtime is clearly hoping to ape here, ended up doing so), history is not on this franchise’s side as it paves its way to the live-action realm.
And, in my mind, that makes absolute sense. Putting aside the curse an old Hollywood witch doctor performed upon this franchise some time ago, I always thought that TV was a weird fit for the Halo brand. The games are massive, large scale explorations of intergalactic war. They are big war movies, essentially. Unlike Game of Thrones (which peppered its big fantasy moments with plenty of scenes involving political intrigue, dramatic exchanges, and other TV budget friendly concepts), there’s not a whole lot more to Halo than the big action sequences and massive, universe spanning lore. Which is fine and dandy for a big blockbuster movie to tackle. But a TV series? I literally did not see how this could happen. And if these troubles just continue to get worse and worse, that may indeed be the case. Will yet another live action Halo project fall apart right before it reaches the starting line?
Also published on Medium.
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