Thoughts On…Persona 5

Reviews, Video Games

One of the most interesting things about critiquing art (whether it bet books, paintings, movies, or video games) is how much a person’s own personal experiences plays into their views on the piece. For instance, when I was in high school I had all the time in the world and could immerse myself in World of Warcraft. At the time, I felt it was one of the best games on the market. Nowadays, I have a job and responsibilities, so, while I still think WoW is a great game, I’m never going to view it the same because I don’t have the time to grind out the gear needed to play the game at the same level I used to.

It’s important to bring this up because its been quite a while since I could feel my own life coloring my experience with a game like I did in my Persona 5 playthrough.

See, the thing to know upfront is that Persona 5 is an incredibly long game. In fact, even before all the padding they add through text boxes (more on this later), it’s probably a 60 hour game that took me twice as long to beat for various reasons. Unfortunately for me, the game came out at the exact wrong time. I was in the middle of Horizon: Zero Dawn and was about to leave for two months of work in about three weeks. Work where I would be unable to play any games.

Now, I loved Persona 3 and 4. I played P4 through three separate times (which isn’t really a brag, as it seems quite common in the community) and enjoyed every second of it. Needless to say, I was hyped for P5 and knew that I would have to push as hard as possible to finish the game before I left so I didn’t split up my playthrough.

In doing so, I made a pretty large mistake. I put the game on the easiest setting, “Safe”. My thought process was that save points are relatively slim in Persona games (though P5 is better than past games) and dying would lose me potentially hours of time. However, if you put the game in “Safe” mode, you can’t really die. When you do, you just respawn with full health and mana, while the enemy keeps it’s current health points. Effectively, the game plays itself for you.

What I didn’t predict was how boring this would make the game. I mean, at that point it was basically just a 100-hour text adventure. I’m all for a good text adventure, but, with little to no player choice in the game, P5 was not built to be a text adventure game.

So, for me, P5 quickly became a game that I didn’t really like, but would recommend to anyone looking to get into JRPGs or just fans of video game story in general. Sure, the supporting characters are weaker than past games and dialogue does drag at times (I don’t know how many SMS exchanges I had to endure, but it was far too many)

That said, almost every aspect of the game is improved from Persona 4. It’s incredible how far along the bland level design has come. In P4, dungeons were incredibly basic, with little to no interaction. P5 takes it up a notch and includes different types of puzzles to solve that break up the sometimes long dungeon crawls. Plus, the actual dungeon layouts are much more interesting than past entries.

On top of that, this game is absolutely dripping with style. The overlays and environments are top notch. The music is out of this world great. Heck, even the menus are among the best I’ve ever seen in video games. Even the biggest JRPG haters out there would have to agree that Persona 5 looks rad.

And for JRPG fans, I thought the combat was pretty fun. Sure, it’s a pretty conventional “this element beats that one, but loses to another one” style, but I found it fun nonetheless. My biggest gripe with the battle system is Persona’s continued use of the instant-kill spells that are guaranteed to set you back an hour or more at least once a play-through. However, that’s pretty small in the grand scheme of a 100-hour campaign.

So, at the end of the day, Persona 5 was a weird game for me. On one hand, I mostly disliked my own experience with P5. On the other, this is an incredible entry point for someone looking to get into JRPGs and seems like everything longtime Persona fans were looking for. Play this game. Just don’t play it the same way I did. Give yourself plenty of time and play on Normal. You’ll thank me later.

Thoughts on…Horizon Zero Dawn

Reviews, Video Games

For me, Horizon Zero Dawn came at very strange time. I had just come off a two-week binging of both Uncharted 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Plus, Breathe of the Wild was going to be released in just a few days. One could say that I was going through somewhat of an open-world/action game overload.

I mean, for various reasons, Uncharted 4 and RotTR are both excellent games. Uncharted does cinematic story-telling better than just about anybody and that facial animation is worth the price of admission on its own. And Tomb Raider crafted a really fun campaign filled with interesting RPG elements. Add in the fact that the hype for Zelda was at a fever pitch and it’s easy to see a world where Horizon didn’t a fair shake from me.

Which is why it was so impressive to me that Horizon was as enthralling as it was. Literally everything in my life was going against this game and it still made an impression. That’s when you know you have a true gem on your hands. Often, when playing games, my real life experiences help shape how I view the game. So, when a game takes my current mood in life and just says, “no, you need to pay attention”, that’s exactly what I do.

At the core, Horizon is so captivating because the developers have nailed two major things. First, the game is pure fun. Guerrilla Games locked in what is, for my money, the best bow-play in the business. The central shooting mechanic is so perfect that it almost feels like you’re handicapping your own experience when you decide to go for the easier stealth method.

Even beyond the shooting, the way different weapons in your arsenal interact with each other and your enemies make for a deceptively deep combat system. After awhile, you sort of find what works best for your playstyle, but it’s worth it to look for opportunities to switch it up. You’ll be rewarded with immensely satisfying fights that will truly test you.

Speaking of immensely satisfying, the other thing Horizon nails is how to tell a story. Now, if someone wrote the plot of Horizon out and handing it to me, I don’t know if I would think it’s some amazing post-apocalyptic fiction. That said, Guerrilla Games understands how to string you along and keep you invested.

Countless times during my playthrough I found myself saying, “just one more quest”. Horizon’s drip feed of information is as close to perfect as I’ve seen in a video game. Every answered question comes with more questions and you have to know the answers. And, while the game doesn’t completely stick the landing, it does better than just about any other video game narrative I’ve seen.

On top of these two gigantic pluses in Horizon’s “pros and cons” sheet, the game looks incredible. The skyboxes are breath-taking and Aloy’s hair might be the best in gaming. Sure, the facial animations are a little stiff and the voice sync gets off from time-to-time, but those are minor complaints. If you want a game to show off your PS4 (or your Pro), this is a great option.

So, as you can see, I’m pretty high on this game. It became my second platinum (though the other one is Fallout 4, which is a game I kind of hate) last week and I’m currently rocking the platinum theme. I think this game is more than worth your time. It’s ability to stand out even during my open-world/action game overload made it a game I’d recommend to everyone. Do yourself a favor and pick it up, if you haven’t already.

Survivor Strategy Talk – Game Changers: Episode 7

Survivor

I honestly don’t think there’s much I can say that would add to the conversation about this week’s Tribal Council. Instead, I’d rather just direct you to Zeke’s own written response (see here) and get to talking about my players to watch for the upcoming week. His write-up does the situation 150-200% more justice than I ever could. Suffice it to say that I give mad props to Zeke for how well he’s handled this whole thing and I think it’s of utmost importance that we remember Jeff Varner is still a person.

With that said, let’s move on to the players to watch next week.

Ozzy: With the preview spoiling that next week is a merge, it’s important to keep your eye on someone like Ozzy. He’s this season’s traditional merge boot and has a history of misplaying the social game at this point in a season. This next week should really tell us quite a bit about Ozzy’s winning potential. He should have a solid core alliance with Zeke, Sarah, and Andrea. Plus, I think he has a shot to pull in Brad and Troyzan (the two alpha-males might be smart to protect each other for at least a few weeks). However, everyone knows he is a major immunity threat going forward, which makes the next few boots very important for Ozzy. If he’s able to latch onto a tight majority alliance, he has a chance to make it to Final 6, at least.

Tai: My big question for Tai is what he’s going to do with his idols going into the merge. Does he show someone to potentially strengthen/build an alliance? Does he play one just to be safe, knowing he has one in his back pocket? It’s hard to say what the right move is for Tai, but I think those idols (or Troyzan’s) are going to play a part in the next episode, even if it’s just a red herring.

Sierra: Sierra seems to have Brad (and Troyzan, by association) firmly in her camp, but who else is a guaranteed number? Michaela might be on her side; however, I wonder if Aubry or Hali will jump given that they haven’t been shown to be super tight with Sierra and Brad’s alliance? Either way, Sierra appears to have an important part to play in this season’s narrative and I wonder what move she’ll be making at the merge.

Sarah: Is it just me or does it feel like Sarah’s game is finally starting to heat up? We’ve slowly been getting more of her perspective in confessionals and that either signifies that she’s about to get cut from the game or her arc is beginning to shape into something important for the end game. This week could be a make or break one for Sarah’s game. She needs to make some moves and now might be the time to do so.

Zeke: This one is pretty obvious. Anytime Zeke is on the screen will be must-watch after last week. How will he handle the fallout of Varner’s move? I’m assuming he’ll want to downplay it as much as possible, but will his tribemates let him? I sure hope so. Zeke is an exceptional game player and I expect him to quickly recover. If Zeke isn’t in the majority after the merge, I’ll be surprised.

That’s all for today. It’s almost merge time, people!

Survivor Strategy Talk – Game Changers Episode 5

Survivor

Was J.T.’s exit a demonstration of excellent manipulation by Michaela, Sandra, and Varner? Or is it just further proof that maybe Stephen Fishbach did all of the strategy steering during J.T.’s run to the Tocantins million?

survivor-gamechangers-michaela-bradshaw-sipping-tea-tribal-council

Personally, I think it’s somewhere in between. I mean, I cannot fathom someone sitting at Tribal Council, listening to someone repeatedly talk about how they “know they’re going home”, and actually believe that there isn’t some secondary plan I need to be worrying about. It seemed like J.T. was sipping his own Kool-Aid just a biiiit too hard and truly believed that he had pulled this masterclass move.

Unfortunately for the cowboy, it was Michaela who was pulling a masterclass at Tribal Council. She (and her alliance) correctly assumed how J.T. would react if she basically acted like she was lying down at the final moment. Sure, she was still cocky; however, she also gave off the air of someone who had given up hope. It was perfect.

And J.T. bought it. Hook, line, and sinker. It’s hard to remember a more perfect blindside from the last several years of Survivor. This one had it all. Sandra stirring up the pot by eating all the sugar. J.T. keeping that idol at camp (not even in his pocket!). Heck, we had our first “coffee sip” moment at Tribal. Just incredible. What a magnificent play by Michaela, Sandra, and Varner. They played J.T. like an Alabama fiddle and set up a dangerous foursome moving forward.

Not only was the move memorable, but I believe it was second-level smart. Listen, Jeff Varner’s last season was the twist-heavy Cambodia that saw a number of tribal shuffles. If anyone was going to sniff out the upcoming switch, it’s Varner. If they weren’t switching, you’re basically guaranteeing that you go right back to Tribal when you vote off J.T., but with the shuffle, it doesn’t really matter if you eliminate a physical player. An excellent reading of both the player (J.T.) and the game.

WHO TO WATCH

Aubry: Aubry is a great Survivor player and maybe the best confessional from an excellent Kaoh Rong cast. So, to see her regulated to maybe one confessional per episode and a minor part in the current storyline is pretty sad. Plus, she just found herself on the wrong side of a blindside at the last Tribal and has lost almost every early game ally she had. Where does she go from here? Does she stick with Varner, Sandra, and Michaela if any of them stick with her after the switch or does she look to jump ship? Aubry is not in a very good place right now, but if anyone can bring her game back from the brink, I think it’s her.

Debbie: What happened to Debbie? She was even more delusional than usual last week in her tirade against Brad. Did she even watch the challenge she was complaining about? If I’m Brad Culpepper, I would have seriously considered throwing that immunity challenge just to get Debbie out of there and protect myself from the wrath that is surely coming if Debbie makes the merge. I really questioned Brad’s choice last week in getting out Malcolm and I think this one might have been worse. He’s tossing his friends out of the game almost as quickly as he’s making enemies. Not a good look for someone with #winnersedit potential. That said, I’m really interested to see what Debbie does next. Here’s hoping she and Brad stay on the same tribe.

Brad: If you’re scoring at home, Brad Culpepper is one of two physical alpha males left in the game (the other being Ozzy). Yes, Sierra, Michaela, and Sarah are solid physical competitors, but the two traditional merge boots left are Culpepper and Ozzy. And that’s largely because Brad has directly and indirectly sent three of the other alpha males home over the last few episodes. That leaves Brad with nearly no one to hide behind, meaning his game is going to become very, very difficult if he doesn’t try to team up with Ozzy and keep him in the game. If these two end up on the same tribe, they have to work together. And if they don’t….one them will go very soon.

Sandra: The last player I’m really keeping my eye on as we watch another tribe shuffle is Sandra. If you’re going to get Sandra pre-merge, this is the time to do it. You switch tribes and then you pick her off before she can wrangle numbers. This woman is too dang good at building alliances and if you don’t get her out now, you might never get another chance. If Sandra makes it through this week, I love her chances to make it to Day 39.

Survivor Strategy Talk – Game Changers Episode 3

Survivor

With my increasingly busy schedule, it’s become exceptionally difficult to find time to write about Survivor (or anything for that matter). However, there is something about this game that compels me to continue talking about it. After this past week’s thrilling tribal council, I decided it was time to get back to some Survivor strategy. Hopefully I can keep up with the season in this spot, but we’ve seen how that turned out in the past. Either way, let’s talk about what happened last week.

The first thing we have to talk about is obviously going to be that tribal council. Specifically, I want to focus on Brad Culpepper’s move. If you’re in Brad’s spot, you must be feeling good. Last week, you cut Caleb and essentially guaranteed that Tai is going to be loyal to you for quite awhile because he has no where else to go. That was an awesome move that proved Brad came to actually be a game changer this time around.

But I think Brad got too greedy this week. He seemed to pick up that Malcolm was the only person keeping JT afloat over Nuku tribe. Since it worked so well with Tai, he targeted Malcolm. After all, that would bring JT right into Culpepper’s arms and knock out another strong player. On the surface, it’s probably a great move. I think it’s going to be a big mistake.

Look at where JT is sitting now. If Nuku goes to tribal next week, he’s gone. Sure, he could find an idol and play it, but with the information we have, he’s out. If Brad cuts Sandra instead of Malcolm, JT and Malcolm could easily control where the next vote goes, dropping someone like Varner or Michaela. Then, when we hit the merge, and Brad scoops up two huge targets (read: meat shields) that will likely feel that he’s trustworthy because he knocked off Sandra instead of Malcolm.

Essentially, voting off Malcolm is (at least as far as we can see) the equivalent of a swing of four votes (you lose the two votes you would have and give them to the other side). That’s a rough place to be in. Now, I fully believe that Brad can come back from this. He’s shown this season that he learned a lot from his first time out and his duo with Sierra Dawn Thomas is extremely dangerous. However, Brad is the physical threat out of those two and without JT and Malcolm to protect him, he might be ousted earlier than he’d like.

That said, what a tribal council! I cannot remember the vote every being so up in the air and I certainly haven’t seen anyone running around discussing the vote quite like that. Plus, an incredible idol play by Tai and another big blunder from JT that has to be on par with his letter to Russell in Heroes vs. Villains. Can the season possibly top that moment? Well, before we find out, let’s take a look at some the Survivors I’m watching closely as we move through the next week.

survivor-gamechangers-jt-teary-eyed-after-malcolm-boot

JT : Obviously we have to keep our eye on JT. He’s in the worst position among anyone in the game. I cannot fathom a scenario where JT is not the next person voted out at Nuku if he doesn’t find the idol. Culpepper really screwed over his former ally. I think there might be a sliver of hope in the form of an alliance with Aubry and Varner against Sandra, but that’s probably just me trying to find a way to get JT to the merge than something that may actually happen.

Aubry/Jeff Varner: Sticking with the Nuku tribe, I really want to find out what’s going on with these two. We have heard from them in bits and pieces, but they have yet to feel important to the season’s ongoing narrative. That leads me to believe that neither has a big impact on the outcome of the season, but they are both so bright and such good narrators that it’s hard to see their talents being wasted in the early part of the season. Here’s hoping that changes next week because I believe this duo could do some real damage if they get together.

Cirie: The “Original Gangster” made it through what was always going to be one of the tougher parts of the game. Those first few votes, players tend to want to keep “strong” people around and Cirie is never going to be seen as a physical asset (though the girl can do her some puzzles). Plus, she had Ozzy gunning for her due to her past betrayal. Now that she’s through the early game rush, what can this strategic mastermind pull together? We’ve seen Jedi mindtrick her way into a great situation in the past and it feels like something is brewing. Very interested to see what she does from here.

Debbie:  Debbie has to be on the watch list this week after her volatile scene for next week’s preview. And if we didn’t know something big was coming for Debbie, the broad’s a gamer. You know she’s going to bring great TV until her very last in-game breath. I’m captivated by Debbie on most occasions, so going into an episode knowing she’s about to explode on someone is a real treat. Here’s hoping episode four delivers on what are sure to be sky-high expectations.

Thoughts On…Inside

Reviews, Video Games

Note: This post may contain some spoilers. You’ve been warned.

If you asked most players what stuck with them from their playthrough of Inside, I think many of them would point to “That Moment” at the tail end of the game. If you’ve played, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, the simplest way to describe it is that there is a moment that occurs about 30 minutes through the game that completely flips the entire game. It’s what people were talking about in the weeks after release and it’s what I want to focus on in this post.

Now, when we think of moments or “twists” in games, they’re often story-related. Like an M. Night Shyamalan film. The story hits a point where a “new thing” is introduced that automatically re-contextualizes everything that came before and, when it’s a good twist, answers most of the questions the audience had about what exactly is happening. In Inside, the developers went with a different twist. One of the gameplay variety.

A gameplay twist isn’t exactly novel. After all, many games play one way for awhile and then introduce a new element or weapon that completely changes things up. What is striking about Inside is that the change comes so suddenly and so close to the game being over.

For most of your playthrough of Inside, you’re a little boy solving environmental puzzles in some strange, post-apocalyptic world. Like developer PlayDead’s first game Limbo, the puzzles are decent (one that sees you mimicking zombie-like humans is particularly fun) and the art style is exceptional. On its own, that portion of the game would best be categorized as “fine”. However, something happens at the end that completely changes how I felt about the entire game.

With about 30 minutes remaining in your play time, the boy enters a vat of liquid that contains a mass of human body part. The boy starts pulling plugs out of the mass to free it from its constraints. As the last of the restraints come off, the player is sucked into and becomes the blob.

What follows is a thrilling sequence that sees everything change. The blob has a real weightiness to it and controlling the monstrosity is when Inside is at its best. Plus, the environmental puzzles get a lot more fun the second the little boy gets a lot bigger. There is just something deliciously gleeful about seeing a mass of limbs barrel through walls and tear apart scenery.

You’d think this crescendo of great gameplay would be the cherry topping on what is a great game and, for most reviewers, I think it is. However, just like when you find out Bruce Willis was dead throughout the Sixth Sense, when the game flips your character from a little boy to a monstrous blob, you’re forced to reevaluate the entire game.

When that moment hit me, I realized that the three hours I’d spent with the little boy weren’t as fun anymore. The switch didn’t make me love the game even more. Instead, I was a little annoyed that the truly great part of this game was relegated to a 30 minute sequence at the end. I hate to equate fun to numbers, but I essentially played a game that was only fun for 1/8 of its run time. If a game is only really fun for one sequence, is it a good game?

You’ll have to answer that question on your own. For me, I’m left feeling like I got invited to an expensive five-course meal seconds after I finished downing a few cheeseburgers at McDonalds. The food I could eat on that mostly full stomach was great, but I sure wish my friend had called earlier. Here’s hoping Playdead gives me a little desert with some blob-centric DLC

Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X -Week 8 Power Rankings

Survivor

Another crazy week in both Survivor and Real Life. Posting this mostly for my own records. Hopefully will get back to actually writing about Survivor next week…

Requiem for a Michaela: This one seemingly came out of no where and I wonder if this will screw Jay over in the long run. He needed numbers with Figgy out of the game and he just lost two in Michaela and Hannah. Oh well, I didn’t see him actually winning this game anyways. Great moment though!

1) Adam Klein

2) Jay Starrett

3) David Wright

4) Ken McNickle

5) Zeke Smith

 

6) Chris Hammon

 

7) Jessica Lewis

8) Michelle Shubert

9) Taylor Stocker

10) Hannah Shapiro

11)  Will Wahl

 

12) Sunday Burquest

13) Bret LaBelle

Running Point Total: 35

Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X – Week 7 Power Rankings

Survivor

NOTE: When looking up some last names for this post, I went to Wikipedia where episode seven is seemingly spoiled. Please stay away if you want to stay pure! I’m going to keep my rankings the same, but I wanted to be upfront about everything.

Howdy folks! It’s been a crazy week and I honestly have zero time to make these rankings today. Thus, I’m just going to post my list here for tracking purposes next week. Sorry for the lack of commentary!

Requiem for a Figgy: I hate to say I told you so, but……this was not a surprise to anyone watching this show. Hope you found love on that island Figg!

1) Adam Klein

2) Jay Starrett

3) David Wright

4) Ken McNickle

5) Hannah Shapiro

6) Chris Hammon

7) Zeke Smith

8) Jessica Lewis

9) Michaela Bradshaw

10) Taylor Stocker

11)  Will Wahl

12) Bret LaBelle

13) Sunday Burquest

14) Michelle Shubert

Running Point Total: 26

Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X – Week 6 Power Rankings

Survivor

Well, there you go. In four or five seasons of blogging about the game I’ve never had a winner pick go this early, but CeCe is officially out of the game following The Great Redistribution. Might as well get on with my queen’s requiem.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CvOa4xCWEAATMPy.jpg

A Requiem for a CeCe Taylor: So, this was as obvious as the day is long. CeCe is a big minus in challenges and, though Chris is a fellow Gen Xer, you knew he had zero loyalty to the two people who had helped blindside him in back-to-back weeks. I have no idea why CeCe was so confident in her “majority” after the switch. Chris had every trait imaginable for someone who is about to flip and David’s only real loyalty is to himself. If the numbers aren’t there, neither is David.

This was an extremely weak alliance and CeCe’s confidence was supremely misplaced and misguided. I placed CeCe at 11 last week, so I’d have gained 11 points. Of course, I haven’t been blogging this season so my current total is….11 points.

Oh well, on to the rankings.

Jay Starrett: Jay slides into the top spot because I simply cannot see any way his tribe can afford to cut him this week. Ikabula would be dead in the water with Jay’s skills at camp-building and swimming. To stay away from Tribal Council, they need Jay. I think he’s safe until we merge back down to two tribes (or hit the real merge).

Chris Hammons: It might be a mistake to place Chris this high, but I really loved his move to flip his tribe and align with Zeke and Michelle. This lets him sort of decide what happens if they lose again next week. Obviously, David could throw a wrench into Chris’ plans with his idol (more on that in a second), but I see zero chance of Chris getting the boot.

David Wright: If Vanua loses immunity, David is the easy vote. Everyone there knows it. However, David has an idol and you can bet that he’ll be playing it. So, does he show the idol to Chris and maybe try to swing votes onto either Zeke or Michelle? Does he show the Millennials and jump on a chance to boot Chris? Or does he tell no one and just decide for himself who goes? This could turn into a very important week for Mr. Wright. Just not one that will see him going home.

Adam Klein: Adam still has the idol? He’s still on a tribe with Figgy? Okay, I think he’s good.

Taylor Stocker: I really thought we’d finally see Taylor and Figgy split last week and give us a chance to see what Taylor would be without her. Sadly, it didn’t happen and I think that’s probably good for Taylor’s game (?). I mean, it seems like Figgy is being seen as the brains behind their operation, thus Taylor should be safe if his duo is targeted. If I’m a FigTails fan, I’m much more worried about our girl Figgy.

Ken McNickle: We didn’t get to see much from Ken this week, but his role in the season’s overarching story still feels significant. It could be a swerve from the editors, but I venture to guess that Ken easily makes the merge.

Hannah Shapiro: Hannah was someone I’ve been worried about for awhile; however, I think she’s done a great job of slipping under the radar after seeming like someone who might get annoying on the island. Her anxious personality irked Zeke and Adam early, but we haven’t seen any more of that. A good sign for Hannah.

Zeke Smith: This week might be make or break for Zeke in Survivor. He hasn’t felt like a major player in the early goings, more of a “second fiddle” to some of the other players on his beach. However, with David making a potentially huge #BIGMOVE, we might get to see Zeke’s full game come out this week. I expect that he will out-maneuver his opponents and skate through the week, but I’m not completely confident, hence the lowish ranking.

Will Wahl: I’m not getting anything from Will. He’s had no screen time and is obviously not a factor in how this season shakes out. Maybe that changes this week, but I doubt it.

Jessica Lewis: I was concerned that Jessica take charge attitude might come out after the redistribution, so I was happy to see that my concerns were unneeded. That said, we haven’t been given evidence that Jessica will be here for long and I think she’s the easiest boot if Takali loses immunity.

Michelle Schubert: If Vanua loses immunity, you have to assume David plays his idol. I think he believes he can work with Zeke and maybe Chris moving forward, which leaves Michelle as the odd woman out. Plus, we know that, when Michelle is in trouble, she tends to push waaaay too hard. I think she’s gone soon.

Michaela Bradshaw: Michaela said in the pre-season that she struggles to control her emotions and we saw that this week. Will outbursts like that shoot her in the foot this week? Maybe not, but I’m betting it happens sooner, rather than later.

Bret LaBelle: Now that Bret doesn’t have Chris around, he’s become a much less compelling character. Sure, he was just Chris’ lackey in the early game, but now he’s much closer to being a bump on the log. Ikabula has a Millennial majority, meaning that both Bret and Sunday are in trouble.

Sunday Burquest: Sunday is firmly in the minority with Bret at Ikabula and, like Will, we have seen nothing from here. Sorry, Sunday!

Figgy: If you read this blog, you know my thoughts on Figgy. She’s an interesting player who lacks social awareness and has done an incredibly poor job of reading her tribe. Her relationship with Taylor is a mistake (in Survivor, I’m not judging them as an actual couple) and will likely cost her the game.

Running Total: 11 pts

 

Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X: Week 5 Power Rankings

Survivor

So….Survivor is still thing! A thing I still watch and then rewatch every single week. A thing I really want to write about. Unfortunately, life (and World of Warcraft) have gotten in the way the last few weeks as I finish moving, start  new job, and play hours and hours of WoW. Now things are settled and it’s time to get back to making power rankings, but first…a Requiem for a Lucy!

Requiem for a Lucy Huang: Lucy got  very Monica Padilla in Second Chances adjace edit in her boot week. Like Monica, Lucy was completely invisible through the first of her season. She wasn’t even on the show, as far as viewers were concerned. Now, Lucy could have been doing things behind the scenes that we’ll never seen, but, as far as viewers are concerned, Lucy had no impact on the game through three weeks. So, when she suddenly became the most heavily edited player on the show, you knew she was getting her torch snuffed.

I will give her credit though. At least she got idoled out by David; unlike Monica who completely misread her tribe and went home in a classic 3-2-1 vote. That means Lucy was able to control most of her tribe and convince the person going home that the fake plan was legitimate. I’m not saying Lucy was a better player in this season than Monica was in hers, but I’m not not saying that…

Anyways, on to the rankings!

1) Adam Klein: Adam has to be this high because, with an idol in his pocket, there’s no way he’s going home this week. If he so much as sniffs a chance of the votes going his way, he’ll save himself and no one knows he has an idol, so they can’t purposefully blindside him. Plus, I firmly believe that Adam’s story is key to how this season plays out, making him a major player this season. I fully expect Adam to make Final 7, at least.

2) Jay Starrett: I wasn’t super high on Jay going into the season, but it only took a few weeks before I became a believer. He’s very aware of everything going on around him and makes great observations in his confessionals. I think he’s one to watch going forward.

3) Ken McNickle: Ken’s story still seems crucial to the overarching plot of the season. Plus, it would be a mistake to get rid of someone who so obviously excels in challenges this early.

4) Michelle Shubert: Michelle is locked to Jay right now and, with a swap coming, that could quickly change. That said, she’s already shown an ability to flip numbers her way, so I like her chances at surviving another week.

5) Michaela Bradshaw: Michaela’s social game has been lacking in subtlety, but she makes up for it with her ability to stay fluid with her vote. That “anyone but me” mentality could be her saving grace this week.

6) Zeke Smith: Zeke was a major character in the first four episodes and I don’t feel like we’re anywhere near the culmination of his arc. I think after Taylor and Figgy’s arc culminates, we’ll see much more of Zeke.

7) Taylor Stocker: Like I said, Taylor and Figgy have been THE storyline on Millennial beach and were the big talking point of this week’s swap. To me, that signifies that we should be worried about at least one member of the couple. Figgy is much less socially aware than her man, so I would not be surprised to see her go home this week. Additionally, Taylor has dominated the screen all season, leading me to believe that he plays a major part in how this season shakes out.

8) Chris Hammons: Chris started the season on top of his tribe and, given his personality, I think he’ll find himself in a similar place after the swap. This guy is a born leader and, while it won’t serve him after the swap, I think it keeps him safe for now.

9) Will Wahl: Will has been almost nonexistent in the edit this season. That signifies to me that he’s going to be gone in a random spot at about 12. The swap boot is usually a major player, so I don’t see Will going this weekend.

10) Sunday Burquest: Sunday feels like the older, female version of Will. She’s just…been there(?) this season. Neither feel like a player of significance.

11) CeCe Taylor: It’s sad to rank my preseason winner’s pick this low, but unfortunately, this is where we are. We haven’t really seen why she’s found herself on the bottom, we just know she is. For her, it all comes down to who she ends up with this week. She needs a new tribe to readjust her position on the ladder.

12) Hannah Shapiro: At this point, I’m looking at players who have a potentially grating personality when you first meet them. I’m not saying Hannah is a bad person or is hard to be around, but swaps come down to luck and first impressions. She’s very anxious and struggles to correctly read social cues. That puts her low on the list with a swap.

13) Jessica Lewis: Jessica can be bossy at times, which could hurt her if she ends up with a majority of Millennials on her new tribe.

14) Bret LaBelle: Bret is in the same place as Hannah and Jessica. I’m not saying he has a bad personality, just that it’s the type that could leave a bad first impression.

15) David Wright: David just played an idol. That tells people he’s here to play. If he ends up on a tribe with Chris and Bret, you can rest assured that he’ll need to scramble again. David needs some luck on his side to stick around after a bold Week 4 performance.

16) Figgy: The preview for Week 5 suggests that we need to be worried about this season’s showmance. Now, I’m not a huge believer in reading the edit; however, we know that Figgy is not self-aware of how she comes off. Thus, it’s not a huge stretch to see her losing her camp boyfriend and then getting booted by a tribe that doesn’t want to put up with her crap.

So, is Figgy your next boot? We’ll find out tonight! Let me know in the comments how terrible my rankings are and thanks for reading.