5 A.M. GAMING: Bloodsuckers, Flesh-Eaters and Cowboys, I Await Thee

Hello again. Nice to see you back for a second installment of 5 A.M. Gaming. It’s that time of the year where everyone seems to be talking about what they are most looking forward to in 2018, so for this column I figured I would chime in with my own must-plays.

This list is more horror than usual, but I suspect that just means it’ll be a good year for genre games.

At any rate, here are three things I will definitely be playing over the next ten months, and why. (And hey, you’ll get to learn a little more about me along the way.)

#1. Vampyr

Confession: They had me at vampires. Everyone always has me at vampires. If you’ve read any of my guest posts here at Biff Bam Pop, you already know that. And in my opinion, while vampires have made frequent appearances in video games, they’ve never quite been given the same level of respect as the ever-popular zombie. But why? Vamps seem to be custom made for gaming with their mutable mythology and pick-and-choose cornucopia of supernatural powers. So I have all my bloody hopes pinned on Vampyr, a title I’ve been following like a religion throughout its development process. Not only was it there for me when all hope of ever seeing the World of Darkness MMORPG crumbled into so much undead dust, but it’s being made by the studio behind one of my all-time favourite narrative games, Life is Strange. Dontnod Entertainment and period vampires? Who do I throw my wallet at? Maybe after more than a decade I can find something I love as much as Vampire the Masquerade – Bloodlines.

Vampyr, which got bumped in late 2017 to a new June 5, 2018 release date (for further tweaking), is a third-person action role-playing game that puts the player in the shoes of doctor and vampire Jonathan Reid. Like Life is Strange, the game purportedly has a heavy focus on decision making and consequences, all of a strictly vampire bent – who to eat, who to kill, who to turn, which supernatural abilities to level up. My attraction to bloodsuckers, quality storytelling, and any game that gives players’ actions lasting and meaningful consequences places this one firmly at #1 on my have-to-own, play and suck-the-preternatural-life-out-of list.

#2. State of Decay 2

I saw another blogger only include this title in their year’s most anticipated list because “a lot of people seem to be excited about it.” My first thought upon reading that was, this person has never played State of Decay. No one plays State of Decay for the graphics or the story, we play it for the zombie bashing and the ever-escalating difficulty and the absolutely crushing permanent character deaths. I have literally screamed at my screen watching a key member of my team be torn apart by zombies right in front of my eyes. Noooooooooooo! Not just any game makes you do that. And interestingly, years later, State of Decay is the game I come back to most often when I want some mindless zombie melee fun, not the Left 4 Dead or Dead Rising series

It appears that while the sequel will get a slight visual upgrade, no one’s made any significant effort to reinvent the wheel here, which is great, because I don’t think any of the original State of Decay‘s die-hard devotees want a drastically re-imagined experience. If I can’t bash, shoot, and cream the shit out of zombies with recklessly driven motor vehicles, why am I here?

State of Decay 2 adds an online co-op feature allowing up to four friends or strangers to face the undead apocalypse together, along with improved base building and character progression (working with over 1000 unique personality traits), and a new deadly “blood plague” infection to dramatically increase your likelihood of perma-death (and senseless hollering at your electronics). The original State of Decay was damned fun for its utterly affordable price point, so I’m in for this one as well. Now, who’s got a spare baseball bat?

#3. Red Dead Redemption 2

This third entry makes an appearance on this list courtesy of my husband, a cowboy-hat-wearing displaced Albertan who pretty much thought he died and went to video game heaven when Red Dead Redemption came out in 2010, itself a sequel to 2004’s Red Dead Revolver. While I don’t worship at the western altar – the Old West is to him what vampires are to me – if there is even the slightest chance they’ll do a DLC or another stand-alone game like Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, which added zombies into the mix, I can back this 100%. Rockstar Games releases tend to be solid if you’re into the open-world gameplay the studio excels at. While not much is known yet about this title, it will serve as a prequel to Red Dead Redemption, follow Arthur Morgan of the Dutch van der Linde gang, and feature both single player and online co-op gameplay. Red Dead Redemption 2 is currently set to drop on October 26, 2018.

And now that I’ve told you mine, what are yours?

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