Early Reaction & Hype for Marvel SNAP

There was a time in my life when I was living and breathing an online digital collectible card game. I played Hearthstone daily for years, hit Legend a few times, and truly enjoyed it – until I didn’t. It was about a year ago that I stopped playing Hearthstone for a family vacation and decided to take a longer break. I have not opened the game since and have marveled (pun!) at the time that has opened in my life. Between starting a new job last year, spending time with my son, and catching up on books (The Expanse was excellent) and shows (Arcane was AMAZING) it’s been a nice break from the card-game scene.

Then I caught the preview for Marvel SNAP, and I’m ALL IN again!

(more poker parallels later!)

The announcement below potential players a quick overview of how Marvel SNAP works, and immediately it should feel both familiar and different compared to games like Hearthstone.

Numerous elements of the game jump out to me as if they were designed to satisfy frustrations I’ve had with other games. First, each card is a character from the Marvel Universe. It should go without saying that winning a game with cards the likes of Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine is pretty damn cool. Second, there is no turn taking between players because both players commit to their plays during the same time frame – or Round. Marvel SNAP games are 6 Rounds unless one player Concedes early. The timer for each Round is the same for both players so there is no scenario where a player plays their turn and then waits for their opponent. There is no waiting for your opponent to take their turn and watch that infernal rope (Hearthstone) burn down!

That’s enough to get me excited, but wait there’s more!

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The Last of Us Part II Strives to Disappoint

Spoiler Warning: The following post contains massive spoilers for The Last of Us Part II.

It was almost seven years ago when I wrote this after completing The Last of Us:

Joel’s life was filled with nothing but misery and pain for 20 years. Can you blame him for stopping at nothing to keep his final connection to his deceased daughter alive? He kept Ellie alive because he could not live in a world where she no longer drew breath. The experience of empathizing with Joel during his journey across the country and merging with him in that final sequence was harrowing. After the credits rolled, I was thankful I could put down the controller and turn the game off.

And not live in Joel’s world.

Earlier this year, I stepped back into Joel’s world by replaying The Last of Us and then playing The Last of Us: Left Behind for the first time. With The Last of Us Part II coming out, I wanted to refresh my memory about of all the elements of Joel and Ellie’s story that riveted me years ago. The backdrop of a real-life global pandemic made playing through the games unsettling in a new way.

I was curious to learn how the team behind the original game would answer the questions left hanging from the conclusion of The Last of Us. Joel’s lies about The Fireflies not needing Ellie because they’ve already found others with immunity seemed more flimsy this time playing through the game, and Ellie seems fully aware Joel is bullshitting her as the credits in The Last of Us begin.

  • How would Ellie discover definitely that Joel lied to her?
  • What will Ellie do once she learns that Joel killed The Fireflies to save her life?
  • What will happen to the relationship between Ellie and Joel once that reveal takes place?
  • Are surviving members of The Fireflies searching for Ellie because they still believe she can provide a cure? Or searching for Joel for revenge?

As I’ve said more than once about the long-rumored Kenobi show, “I don’t care what it’s about. Just give me Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan quieting drinking tea and musing about his past failures with Anakin. Everything else is window dressing; I just need that!” Any sequel to The Last of Us has to focus on the powerful dynamics between Ellie and Joel.

Everything else is window dressing.

ellie-lostCertainly knowing this, the team behind The Last of Us Part II provides a lot of window dressing. The game owes a debt to shows such as Lost, Breaking Bad, The Wire (especially Season 2), and Game of Thrones. The primary moments I was truly invested in as a player are told in flashbacks (Lost). The image on the title screen shows a pivotal scene from the conclusion of the game though you do not realize that until the very end (Breaking Bad). Instead of focusing solely on the characters already established, the game introduces a variety of new characters including devoting a significant amount of playtime as Abby (The Wire). And to top this all off, the player spends hours of time as Abby after we see her brutally murder a prominent character, Joel, quite early in the game (Game of Thrones).

The Last of Us Part II was designed to be disappointing; quite on purpose. As I’ve been in my own state of quarantine since March, I was able to avoid spoilers and still have not reviewed commentary about the game. I am honestly not sure how others have reacted to the sequel. What follows is a bit of a running diary of how I processed the purposeful disappointment that plays out during the experience.

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