I picked up Valiant Hearts: The Great War back when it was available for free on Xbox Gold back in 2015. It is now 2017 and I have finally made it onto its penultimate chapter. This is definitely not a reflection on the quality of the game. I have just not put much time into sitting down and playing it. After all, it had to take a back seat when games like Fallout 4 or the Witcher 3 commanded my attention. This is purely down to the spare time I have had to play games in the past few years.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War is, as signified by its title, a game full of heart. Set during World War I, it focuses on four characters each with different roles. You get to play as a French man (Emile), an American soldier (Freddie), a German man (Karl) and a nurse from Belgium (Anna). Throughout you get to explore the world as each person but also get the opportunity to complete sections with multiple characters. A big plus to all of this is that a dog named Walt also accompanies you on some of your journey. Everyone loves a canine companion.
Inspired by real life World War I letters, Valiant Hearts gives a history lesson in an interactive and engaging way. As you progress in the game you are rewarded with short bits of information about many aspects of WWI. Of course you can always skip reading these but it really would to a disservice to the game. By providing real life context to its setting, Valiant Hearts packs a truly emotional punch.
It is typical of most shorter games, in that it has a strong puzzle element. This is kept fresh as each character has unique abilities on top of the basic pull lever, climb, etc. For example, Emile has a shovel for digging, Freddie can cut barbed wire and Walt is able to climb into small spaces and fetch items. Many sections require you to use all three characters with Walt being the vehicle in which you switch between the human characters.
Sometimes you can figure things out at your leisure but there are also sections in which quick thinking is needed. Often when you are on the battlefield you have to run to avoid missiles and bombs while also clearing a path. The nurse Anna also has a unique segment in which you have to heal the injured through a series of quick time event sections.
Overall, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a superbly engaging game. It keeps you on your toes and also provides you with easy to follow historical facts. As you get to explore the relationships between the characters, it is hard not to feel for their situations. Despite the atrocities of WWI, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is great reminder of how resilient, brave and hopeful the human race can be.
I had stored Mass Effect away in my heart next to the hole I let the Harry Potter series also slip into. As far as I was concerned, Mass Effect ended with my Shepard along with all the hopes and dreams I had for the galaxy at large. I was happy that I didn’t have to experience any more emotional turmoil at the hands of the 70+ hour trilogy (dramatic, I know). Yet in 2015, Mass Effect Andromeda was announced to the world.
BioWare community manager Chris Priestly quickly shut down any hopes of the game continuing what the trilogy had set up after the game was announced. That should have solved my issues with wanting to put the Shepard thing to bed but I was still unenthusiastic. As a result I have avoided reading too much about Andromeda. Which is a miracle considering how the entirety of Dragon Age Inquisition crossed my path in the form of online chatter long before release.
The only information I have really acquired is the announcement that you will be accompanied by your brother or sister depending of which gender you pick to play as. Cool concept, pity BioWare love to kill your fictional siblings/parents/loved ones, not the family dog though…yet. I have met the family announcement with a heavy side-eye for a different reason however. Creative lead Mac Walters announced that you see their dad in one of the earlier trailers in an interview with PlayStation Access. Also very cool. That was the full Ryder family now revealed according to Walters. I really hope the non-existing matriarch of the family surprises us with a mention that she is having a great time somewhere across space. If she will be used as a motivational corpse for the plot I would rather they forgot about her. It is a wonder that any fictional character does anything when they do not have a dead or endangered woman in their life!
The latest game-play footage caught my attention also. After all, how could I resist that 4K magic? The game will apparently look good on everything but the player in the video advises you to “find” a 4K screen just to watch him play four minutes of the game. The game definitely looks quite different to the previous Mass Effect games. The environment seems more open, exploration being a big thing in this game. The layout reminds me of the environments of Dragon Age Inquisition somehow. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as they fill the space better than Inquisition did. I do not need to spend time running through a large empty space just to find a tiny collectable rock. It is pretty and definitely has depth. I might have an issue looking at a protagonist walk like they are holding in a fart but I am sure I will get over it.
It looks like out of the three companions in the preview clip, two are human. Possibly one is Ryder’s sister. That is a bit underwhelming but I would prefer them keeping the more interesting companions quiet until closer to release. There is one alien species represented, an Asari. She looks very out of place as instead of armour she has a belly revealing kind of biker jacket and cargo pants on. She seems a bit more rough and ready than most of the Asari we are used to seeing which could make for an interesting companion.
Can we talk about this though:
Anyway I am far more intrigued by Andromeda after seeing some proper footage. I do hope they reveal more information about the game as tactfully as they have been. There is few things worse than coming into a game first time knowing too much.