Limiting New Games in 2020

When I told my wife my New Years’ resolution this year she laughed and said: “I don’t believe you.” I told her I wasn’t buying any new games this year and would finish the ones I already had. Then I thought about it some more and I agree with her I couldn’t do it. So I refined said resolution to buying only games that I know I want to play as soon as I buy them.  Currently, there are only 3 coming out in 2020 that meet these criteria.

  1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  2. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
  3. Cyberpunk 2077

I can confidently say that 20 days into 2020 I have purchased 0 new games on a whim. So far so good.  I also decided that DLC for games I finish is fine to buy if I want to play it and free to play games I’ve already played are fair game as well. Right now my stable of games include Warframe, Monster Hunter World, Sanctum 2, and Kingdoms of Amular: Reckoning

I love New Year’s resolutions. Sure they may seem silly sometimes and cliche I think they’re still worth making. It’s a chance to look at the year ahead and think about, in a perfect world what would I like to accomplish this year.

We’re gonna get personal here for a minute. For the first time since I graduated college some 5 years ago, I’m content with where my life and career are right now. I spent the first few years out of college trying to figure out what I was going to do with a BA in History. In 2018, I started a career in IT and as of a month ago landed at one of the best places to work in my area. So I am really grateful that I can stop chasing the next job and settle into a place for a few years. Perfect timing for a less serious resolution.

 

 

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – The Second Time Around

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I spent most of my gaming time this weekend on Kingdoms of Amalur. I’m trying to make a real effort in playing games I already own this year. And what better way to start that off then playing a game you already know that you like? The benefit of playing a game 7 years after you last played it is that you don’t remember much. Go figure, it’s almost like playing for the first time again.

The last time I played this for more than a half-hour was in 2013 on PS3. I don’t remember why I stopped playing I must have had to go back to school or something. I got decently far and then never touched it again. I endedup buying it at the end of 2018 in a Steam sale with all the DLC since the PS3 has been long since deceased.

Actually, I’m surprised that I can remember so little from it’s had a lasting effect on me. I’m always quick to recommend KOA to friends when they’re looking for a great RPG. What I do remember from playing the first time is the excellent combat and the class system which allows for a lot of flexibility.

There’s also the tutorial which I could run in my sleep at this point. What ends up happening in RPGs for me is it takes at least 8 tries before I’m happy with my character. Sometimes I don’t like the hair or the face. Sometimes I don’t like how a race looks walking around. Sometimes I just want to play a different class after playing for 3 hours….So I get very aqauinted with RPG starter zones.20200118094615_1

The original plan was to make a hammer-wielding melee character. So Boris here was born looking like he was born with a hammer in hand. Unfortunately, halfway through the tutorial, I found a staff that has a very satisfying move set. So instead of starting over at character creation I know have one burly looking mage. The more I look at him the more OK I am with the whole thing.

With this in mind, I also decided to do something I wouldn’t normally do. When you level up you are given a skill point to put into one of 9 different noncombat skills. I wanted to see what happened if I put as many points as I could into Persuasion. So far all this has done is given me a 3rd conversation option that involves convincing people to give me the quest items I just found for them. Which is very useful and sometimes hilarious. At one point I convinced two thieves the hat I stole was cursed and they just believed me and left. Another encounter the option was simply to tell the quest giver that I’m keeping this ring and you’re going to pay for my trouble.

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I’m also not investing in skills that require foraging for items in the world *cough* Alchemy *cough*. I did this last time I played which turned exploration into flower picking simulator. I tend to be cheap in games opting to do everything possible to not spend my hard-earned gold on health potions. But I’ll suck it up this time, I think there’s a heal skill in my future.

I decided to play a pure mage this time around. Last time I was a Finesse/ Sorcery hybrid so I didn’t want to play the same class again. This is yet another odd choice for me in RPGs where I usually roll some sort of DPS melee character. I figured if I’m going to make all these other new choices I might as well switch up the playstyle too. Though this decision was heavily influenced by the Chakram weapon type. Still to this day my favorite weapon in any RPGs. They’re a kind of magic throwing disc that comes back to the user and they are so satisfying to use. I’m glad that the combat is as good if not better than I remember. Its fluid, it feels good, and it makes me feel like a fantasy action hero.

 

 

 

 

A Decade of Games

 

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I’ve played Trove now for almost half a decade. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

These lists are something I’ve seen around the internet in recent days. They got me thinking about all that’s happened in the last 10 years and all the games I’ve played that will hold a special place in my heart. It’s crazy to me when I think about how much things can change in just a year and even crazier when I think about the decade as a whole. In 2010 I had just graduated high school and was starting college in a different state. 10 years later I’ve somehow become a fully functioning adult with an actual career, an amazing wife, and a cat of my own. And through all of this, games have been a huge part of my life. So I wanted to take the time and go through games that have stuck with me over the past decade because I think lists like these are cool and because it’s a great way to take a trip down memory lane.

Here’s a quick top 10 list of the decade from me:

  1. Journey
  2. Monster Hunter Tri
  3. Pokemon Sword and Shield
  4. Trove
  5. Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition
  6. Oxenfree
  7. SOMA
  8. Elite: Dangerous
  9. FFXIV
  10. Monster Hunter: World

Here’s a longer list of everything played this decade. My process for this was looking through all the games released in a year (Thanks Wikipedia!) and picking ones that I a) actually remember playing and b) remember more fondly than “yeah I turned that on for an hour or two”. As a side note, I’m just looking at what came out I didn’t necessarily play it that year. The bolded games are the ones I had something to say about and don’t necessarily correlate to the above top 10 list.

2010

 

  •  Monster Hunter Tri: I ended up playing this with my best friend the entire summer between high school and college. Some of my best memories of gaming are because of this one game
  • MAG: Where I learned I was better at being a medic than playing Call of Duty
  • Dante’s Inferno
  • Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce
  • Pokemon Heart Gold /Soul Silver:  I distinctly remember the guy at Gamestop not letting me
  • APB Reloaded.
  • Phantasy Star Portable II

2011

  • Skyrim: I got this as a Christmas gift from my mom. I don’t think I left my room until I had to go back to school that winter break. Needless to say, I still haven’t beat it.
  • Rayman Origins: The first game I ever played through with my wife.

2012

  • Journey: As of right now, this is my favorite game of all time. You can experience so many emotions in just an hour and a half.
  • Kingdoms of Amalur
  • Lollipop Chainsaw
  • Orcs Must Die! 2
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Persona 4 Golden
  • Warframe

2013

  • Pokemon Y
  • Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
  • Dragons Crown
  • Battlefield 4
  • Knack
  • Final Fantasy 14: Not having a capable PC for a few years made this my go-to MMO for a number of months. I still haven’t gotten past ARR yet….maybe this year?

2014

  • Diablo 3 Ultimate Evil Edition: I have put so much time into the PS4 version of this game. It’s still the only game I’ve ever gotten a platinum trophy. Surprisingly, I enjoyed this much more than the PC version.
  • Tomb Raider
  • The Wolf Among Us
  • Elder Scrolls Online
  • Rouge Legacy
  • The Swapper
  • Valkyria Chronicles
  • Xeodrifter
  • Elite: Dangerous: When I try to explain Elite it sounds so boring but when I’m in the mood to play it I get really into it.

2015

  • Trove: You know that feeling you get when you check your /played in a game and it’s way more than you thought……626 hours in this game.
  • SOMA
  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection: It literally took me and a friend 5 years to beat this game
  • BloodBorne
  • Pokemon Rumble World
  • Dragon Quest Heroes
  • Tales of Zestiria: As of this moment, my favorite JRPG of all time
  • Fallout 4
  • Helldivers
  • Hatoful Boyfriend
  • Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star

2016

  • 7 Days to Die:  I have mixed feelings on this one. I played co-op with a friend and when it was good it was good. When we had to stockpile materials for hours it was unbearable. This is one game I have a lot of good memories with but will never play it again because I feel like I’ve seen all it has to offer.
  • Darkest Dungeon
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • XCOM 2
  • Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time
  • Layers of Fear
  • Rocket League
  • Grim Dawn
  • Stardew Valley
  • BroForce
  • Salt and Sanctuary
  • Epistory -Typing Chronicles
  • Enter the Gungeon
  • Job Simulator
  • Stranger of Sword City
  • God Eater Ressurection
  • No Man’s Sky: When this first came out this was everything I thought it would be and everything I wanted. It just turned out that what I wanted did not make for a very exciting game after all.
  • Tales of Berseria
  • Mad Max: I put 30 hours into this game when the save file got corrupted. Now I always save twice…always.
  • Titanfall 2: Yes, the single-player campaign is THAT good.
  • Killing floor 2
  • Let it Die

2017

  • Pokemon Duel
  • YS Origin
  • Rime
  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
  • Lego Worlds
  • Fortnite
  • A Hat in Time
  • Oxenfree: I binged this game in a weekend. When I went to write about it and grab screenshots, I ended up playing through half of it again.
  • Destiny 2
  • Portal Knights

2018

  • Monster Hunter: World: Funny enough I played this very little in 2018 but I’ve been playing it hard the last month and I can see that it’s the best thing to come out of 2018 for me.
  • Laser League: I wish this game had become popular…I was actually good at it.
  • Hollow Knight
  • Forza Horizon 4

2019

  • Pokemon Sword and Shield: This one snuck in there at the last minute but it’s my favorite game of the year. This game gives me the same feels pokemon red and blue gave me when I was 9 years old.
  • Slay the Spire
  • Apex Legends
  • World of Warcraft Classic
  • Spyro Reignited
  • Borderlands 3
  • Planet Zoo

October Gaming Goals

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Yes I’m still here after all!

Towards the end of every year, I have periods where I totally lose all interest in gaming. I’m never sure when it’s going to be but it’s usually around November/December. I never know how long it’s going to last and it’s usually because my interest shifts to reading more. I think sometimes I just need a break from the hobby. I always come back though, and with a renewed vigor. This year it happened to come in September and it turns out it’s hard to post to a gaming blog when you don’t actually play any games. It’s safe to assume I didn’t hit any of my gaming goals last month. Well except for Trove. Getting dragons isn’t too hard when there are a ton of podcasts I wanted to catch up on.

But alas, it’s October. I love October. In the beginning, Fall is starting to get underway and all the colors change., in the middle we have horror movies galore, and we cap it all off with Halloween,

As much as I love the horror genre, I’ve never played through a horror game. I picked up 2 in the summer sale this year, Outlast and Observer, for just this occasion. I’m hoping to get through at least one of them. They aren’t too long, 5 and 7 hours respectively, so even an hour a night I can finish them by the end of the month. I’m leaning towards playing Observer first due to its sci-fi setting.

Progression in Trove has been slow going. I’m still working towards getting more dragons that I already have the eggs for. Upon the docket this month is Aurym, Keeper of Histories andDraccolatl, The Mellower. Aurym because he looks cool and Draccolatl because the fragments have been sitting in my inventory for a good 6 months.

Finally, I plan on puttering around Star Wars the Old Republic a bit this month. One of the books I’ve been reading in September is Champions of the Force by Kevin J Anderson. It’s the third book in the Jedi Academy Trilogy and it’s reminded me how much I like the Star Wars expanded universe. Plus with an expansion on the way at the end of the month it seems like a good time to dip my toes in.

Quick Impressions: Remnant From the Ashes

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This fog door looks very familiar…

I don’t often buy games at full price. In fact, I don’t even remember the last time I did so. This month I’m going to do it twice. I’m getting Borderland 3 at the end of the week and I purchase Remnant from the Ashes last weekend.

I learned about Remnant maybe a week before the release date. From the trailer, I wasn’t sure what kind of game it was. It looked like a third-person shooter that might have been a looter shooter a la  Hellgate London. All I know is that the setting and the monsters made me want to play it. I held off on release day though because I was out of spending money for the month and because I wanted to know what the game was.

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The reviews came out: “Dark Souls with Guns!” Which was confusing because it didn’t look like it had all that much to do with Dark Souls and it kind of put me off to the game. I don’t hate Dark Souls but I never got into them as much as other people. I enjoyed Demon Souls, some of my best memories from gaming were because of that game but Dark Souls-Bloodborne did nothing for me. To this day Bloodborne is the only game I’ve ever traded back in when I was done with it.

Anyways, a few more days passed and the reviews changed their toon. It wasn’t that much like Dark Souls, after all, it was it’s own game, imagine that. I had the money, I had the desire to play something new, I was kind of hoping my friends might pick it up on sale one day. So I bought it.

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I’m 5 hours in and I can tell you that I’m very much enjoying it. See, it is a little like Dark Souls after all but it’s taken the good things about Dark Souls. The level design encourages exploration to find hidden items, lore, and short cuts. Learning enemy attacks and movements and finding the most efficient way of taking them out. Most importantly, the combat isn’t clunky and the roll animation doesn’t take an unnaturally long time to finish

The boss fights are fair but difficult. Sometimes it does seem like they’re tuned more for multiplayer than single-player campaigns. Which is fine because as long as you’re playing in a public lobby, anyone can join you on your adventure. The first 2 boss encounters I had to do a few times before I beat them but, man, did it feel good when I finally downed them. Especially the first one. The first 2 boss encounters were so much easier with a second person and a third probably would have made them trivial. That’s ok with me too. I’ve always liked exploring the levels more than boss fights anyways.

It does seem like progress isn’t saved unless your hosting. I had a nice run with a stranger through a part of the game I was struggling with only to find out when I logged back in that I had to do that part over. It did give me a bunch of crafting materials though so it wasn’t all bad.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of the story and exploring more of the world.

Audio Drama Sunday: The Black Tapes Season 1

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The Black Tapes is a weekly podcast from the creators of Pacific Northwest Stories, and is hosted by Alex Reagan. The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both. Do you believe?

The Black Tapes is all I’ve listened to this week. It’s consumed my commutes, it’s taken over my gaming time, I can’t stop listening to it. I finished up season 1 on Friday and I’m on the first episode of season 2 now.

What’s keeping me hooked is the style and the consistency with how the story is told. It sounds exactly like a documentary podcast and sometimes I find myself forgetting that it’s fiction. The cast does a great job selling the authenticity of the story.

So let’s talk about that story. It starts with Alex Reagan, the host, going on a ghost hunt. While she’s talking to ghost hunters and paranormal researchers, the name Richard Strand keeps coming up. Strand turns out to be a skeptic in the field and has an institute that’s sole purpose is to disprove proof of the paranormal. There is a million-dollar prize offered for those who can provide unrefutable proof of the paranormal. Alex set’s out to interview him and in his office, he has a set of black VHS tapes. These are videos of paranormal occurrences that can’t be proven false yet because the technology isn’t there to do so. Sounds like a bit of a cop-out to me…

The show focuses on Alex and Strand revisiting the Black Tapes and talking to people who were involved in them. The first few episodes lead you to believe that this is going to be the format of the show. But as Alex reveals more Black Tapes content the more connected they all seem.

What makes this show work for me is the opposites that are Alex Reagan and Dr. Strand. Alex is the journalist with an open mind and although she says she doesn’t believe in the paranormal it seems very clear that she wants to believe. Strand on the other hand, is a full-blown skeptic. Everything can be disproven with science and logic. Every time Alex brings up a piece of evidence that seems like it’s irrefutable, Strand is there to knock it down.  The show wouldn’t be as interesting without that dynamic. It would be like countless other horror shows and movies. It leaves me waiting for evidence so compelling that not even Strand can disprove it.

I’m glad I’m listening to the show after it’s finished so I don’t have to wait between episodes. Especially between season 1 and 2. Season 1 doesn’t end with wrapping any of the plot points up. In fact, there’s even more questions raised. It’s not a satisfying finale but luckily I can just press play on the next episode.

I’m a bit worried though. I’ve heard from friends that the podcast ends on a pretty big cliffhanger. The Black Tapes released it’s final episode on November 7th, 2017, it’s not coming back. But that worry is offset with just how well this story is told so I’ll take a disappointing ending to be able to listen to 2 more seasons of this.

 

RIP Fallen Earth

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Just a man, a horse, and his frying pans

There was some sad news on Tuesday. Fallen Earth will be taken offline on October 2nd, 2019 following its 10th-anniversary event. Little Orbit cited low population and bad server performance as the main reasons to shut it down.

Fallen Earth is one of those free to play steam games that I always like to go back to every now and then. Earlier this year, I was getting back into it and playing it fairly often. It has a unique setting, decent combat, and a very in-depth crafting system.

The player population was in the 50s on any given night. While it made the game feel as empty as a post-apocalyptic world should be it didn’t give me much confidence in the longevity of the game. Eventually, I just didn’t want to put more time into it because I didn’t know how much longer it was going to be around. I kept an eye on Fallen Earth to see if there were any updates to the game over the year. While there was some developement it wasn’t a whole lot to inspire confidence.  

There is some hope though. While the game in its current form is being taken offline there are plans to continue working on a new version. It’s hard to say how this will play out. I’m giving it a 50% chance that Fallen Earth will return to us. I personally hope it does. Fallen Earth is such a unique game in the MMO space I think a fresh coat of paint and better server performance could do it some good. I also think reworking the free to play model would also help in the future. When your game has such a heavy focus on crafting, it’s frustrating when you can only craft 2 items at a time that take 15+ minutes without paying.

This month  I plan on revisiting Fallen Earth one more time. I’d like to see as much of the world as I can before the servers shut down. Road tripping seems like the best way to say farewell to the game.