Hands On Quick Hits With A Trio Of Switch Games & Borderlands 3

by Gary Catig

There were a ton of demos at E3 this year and we previously shared our quick thoughts and impressions on some video games with presentations. There can be much to be learned from these but nothing beats some hands-on experience. Following are some initial takeaways after first-hand gameplay on a trifecta of Switch titles and Borderlands 3.
Pokémon Sword and Shield

The Pokémon video game franchise is over twenty years old and it remains popular after all that time. There is much anticipation for Pokémon Sword and Shield not only because it’s the latest installment but also because it’s the first non-remake based console release. Before, we have reported details and new features. The mechanics are very familiar with the player-controlled trainer navigating through the land. In this case, we were in a gym trying to defeat its leader by first going through her minions. There was a puzzle aspect as you needed to hit switches in the correct order to open a path to the leader. Not much has changed combat wise either as you battle Pokémon and try to exploit your opponent’s weakness. There is the new dynamaxing element that makes Pokémon giant sized with greater attributes and upgraded attacks. This can turn the tide in any battle but even overgrown Pokémon still have the same vulnerabilities. Overall, based off the demo, there haven’t been many new innovations in Sword and Shield compared to older releases but I don’t think fans care too much. I think they’re happy enough with both new and colossal Pokémon. Although I do concede that the Max Raid Battles could be a lot of fun adding a social multiplayer component that wasn’t present in the demo. The game will be released November 15, 2019.
Luigi’s Mansion 3

Luigi’s Mansion gave Mario’s brother a chance to step out of the famous plumber’s shadow and head is own series. The third chapter takes advantage of the better hardware of the Switch and improves on the graphics compared to the earlier releases. It’s a great action adventure that incorporates clever puzzle-solving. Instead of a mansion, you explore a hotel looking for your missing friends. You still go about fighting ghosts but there are new ways to take them down. In addition to vacuuming them, you can actually beat them into submission by throwing them against the ground. Luigi is also armed with a plunger that he shoots out of his vacuum. He can use this to help move objects and remove shields from enemies. Another new aspect is the addition of Gooigi, a clone of the protagonist that is made entirely of green goo. When called upon, he can come in very handy as he can access places Luigi cannot because of his amorphous nature and also provides an extra set of hands. When switching between the two, you can still have one perform simple tasks while you take control of the other. I really enjoyed playing Luigi’s Mansion 3 as it provided a good combination of action battling all the ghosts and bosses and thinking to figure out the various puzzles especially with the added dimension of Gooigi. Keep an eye out for this title later this year.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

Ever since it was revealed during The Game Awards last December, I’ve been waiting for the next Marvel Ultimate Alliance to be released. That wait now is less than a month until it drops on July 19, 2019, but luckily, I was able to play a little bit in advance. In the demo, there were thirteen playable characters including Star Lord, Wolverine, Miles Morales, Thor, Venom and the Black Panther. In the actual version there will be over 30. Cashing in on the blockbuster movie, Avengers: Endgame, the plot of the game is an original story and involves retrieving the Infinity Stones before Thanos and his Black Order can collect them. The mission here was to battle through The Hand to get to the King Pin, who possessed one of the stones. It is a good arcade style button masher where you vanquish enemies with your four-person team. There are RPG elements as you gain experience to level up your attributes and special abilities. In addition, you can perform a finisher attack to unleash lots of damage. It can also be chained with your teammates for added devastation. I didn’t see much that differed from earlier installments gameplay wise, but I’m looking forward to a new story and the deep roster of playable heroes. It should be fun to mix and match your lineups creating iconic groups like the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy or pairing up unlikely teammates. That doesn’t count all the NPC’s from the Marvel Universe that you’ll encounter and the villains you’ll come to blows with.
Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3 keeps much of the gameplay mechanics found in the prior games that made the series such a fan favorite. It’s a fast paced first person shooter and offers four new Vault Hunters to choose from. The standout for me was Moze the Gunner who can summon her own mech to wreak some havoc. During co-op play, someone can even mount the mech on the outside and fire its weapons while someone else controls the movement. In the story, you battle the Calypso Twins and their cult to prevent them from obtaining all the Vaults in the galaxy (yes, you explore beyond Pandora). Peppered in is a twisted, entertaining humor that’s found in the campaign, locales and even the enemy designs. In addition, there’s a vast array of weapons and gear to use and each Vault Hunter has a unique skill tree to fill out as you level up. Speaking of weapons, in the multiplayer mode, you can actually sell off your arsenal of rare guns to your friends who are looking for better firepower. Borderlands 3 will be released September 13, 2019.

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