Sampling the Borderlands

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For the better part of 2 weeks the only games on my gaming menu have been Borderlands, Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre Sequel. For better or for worse I’ve been bouncing between all three games depending on which one of my friends are on to play. I played Borderlands when no one was around, I played Borderlands 2 when Jay was around, and I’ve just started a play through of the Pre Sequel with Jay and CC.

I wasn’t interested in Borderlands when it first came out in 2009 on the account that I was really into the Nintendo Wii at the time and didn’t like the FPS genre all that much. I remember my friends in high school were eagerly awaiting it’s release. I didn’t even really know what it was until a few years later when I started playing it with Jay. By the time I played it with him he had played it 7 times over and new where do go and what to do andd ended up dragging me through the game. We kept restarting to play new characters and I don’t think we ever got farther than the second boss.

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Fast forward to a few days ago when I decided to fire up the PC version of Borderlands I got from one steam sale or another. The game is brutal I spent more time at the revive station than actually shooting some times. By myself there’s no other focus for the enemies so I’m the one absorbing every bit of damage. It was still fun though if not challenging. It was the first time I actually paid any attention to the story and it turns out I wasn’t missing out on that much. As fun as it was I’ve made it to level 15 where we had stopped in the past and I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to finish it.

I bought the Handsome Jack Collection to play with Jay about a year and a half ago and we still haven’t beaten it. Borderlands 2 is much like Diablo 3 where I get in a mood to play it and then it becomes my main game for a few weeks until I get bored. So every few months or so we’d pick it back up and get a lot of story done and some DLC and then we’d stop.

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It’s always been a struggle to get myself psyched to play it that first time after a long break because the co op game play is a lot of fun but the story is kinda boring even with a great cast of characters. And after a few hours the dialogue gets overdone. I love spoofs, puns, and pop culture references in games but when its all of that 24/7 it gets a little tiring.

With that being said me and Jay are currently working through BL2’s DLC Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragons Keep and it’s fantastic. I especially enjoyed a quest line spoofing Dark Souls and the whole setting of being in a tabletop game. In fact both the DLC’s that we’ve played through have been much more interesting than the rest of the game.

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Now we’ve just started the story in the Pre-sequel and it’s nothing new in terms of story telling or game play. But the Pre-Sequel, despite the story outshines the other 2 in terms of co op for one reason. I can be ClapTrap who is simultaneously the trolliest and most supportive character all in one. I can dish out tons of helpful buffs and abilities to my allies one moment and then turn us all into bouncing rubber ducks the next moment. Much to the chagrin of my friends. Since the game is set on the moon there’s very little air and apparently there’s a mechanic my friends keep talking about where they have to fill up their air canisters every now and then or they die….but I don’t really know because as a robot I don’t need air.

So after this intensive few weeks of the crash course to the Borderlands series I can say that its much more fun to play with friends than alone, the story is nothing to write home about, but the game play and co op is top notch. Your always one drop away from a gun that will change your entire play style or make you super overpowered for your level.

I Risked the Rain

Risk of Rain_20170122162045A very rare occurrence happened last week. I bought a game and within the span of a week I beat it. I guess “beat” is a relative term for risk of rain because while I got to the final boss and killed him there is still a whole lot to unlock.

I’ve been eyeing this game for a long time. It’s been on my steam wish list for as long as I’ve had a steam wish list and for some reason I never pulled the trigger. Part of this was I heard it was a great multiplayer game and could never convince my friends to get it. This past PSN  Flash sale the game was a mere $4 and I thought to myself if I don’t get it now I’ll never get it. As it turns out one of  Jay and I’s mutual friend had it too so I had someone to play multiplayer with. That and the fact that it was a PS4 and Vita cross buy it was finally time to get it.

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I knew going in Risk of Rain was a rouge like, I knew it had pixel graphics, and I knew it was highly acalimed. What I didn’t know was that there were so many classes to unlock, the difficulty increased with time, and that I would be facing a relentless onslaught of tiny creatures for an hour or more.

I really like the fact that the difficulty goes up as time goes on. It adds a little more to the rouge-like formula. You can spend time after you clear the map looking for the chests and power ups you might have missed or you can go to the next level and have a slightly easier time on the next world.

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Playing this through in multiplayer has kind of ruined the single player experience for me. With 2 people the game is challenging but not seemingly impossible. I can only imagine how fun and chaotic three or four players would be. I played the first 2 hours in single player and only managed to make it to end of the third world. But when I was playing with a friend we beat the game twice in one night. I

Being a rouge like it has a ton of replay value that’s only added to bye the many classes available to unlock. So far I’ve unlocked 4 and they all have a unique feel to them.  also think some of the classes make more sense when playing with other people. There’s just no way I’m playing through the single player with the sniper with his single shot rifle that needs to be manually reloaded. Therese also artifacts to unlock that add interesting mechanics to the game like being able to choose which power up you get out of a chest or enemies dropping bombs when they die.

My favorite experience with it so far has been when a friend and I wentaround seeing how many drones we could collect at once. We took our massive drone army and obliterated everything on the last level just by getting close enough to be in drone firing range.

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What I like most about the game is that there is a real sense of progression throughout the game. I think this has to do with the fact that the difficulty is always increasing and with it the number of enemies on screen as well as the distribution of power ups. In the beginning its fairly easy with low level monsters spawning leisurely. In the middle you are getting your bearings and are facing situations that get dicey. By the end of the run you’re done actively dodging individual monsters because you have so much health and can take out big chunks of their health. Until you get to that final boss fight and you have to dodge.

This was the best purchase I’ve made in a while. I’ve already gotten my moneys worth out of the game and still have so much to unlock. It’ll definitely be one of those games that stays installed on my system for a while.

 

January Recap/February Goals

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On the FFXIV front:

January Recap

  • After about 9 months and 300 hours later I’ve finally gotten myself through ARR. It’s not that I didn’t like the content or the story but I couldn’t decide what class I wanted to play, I had to try them all and after I found one I really liked and leveled to 50 I’d find another I  liked and start the process over. I really got to know all the ARR dungeons well after leveling a White Mage, a Bard, a Dragoon, and a Ninja to 50 before I completed the Main Scenario.

February Goals

  • Finishing the 2.XX content and getting into Heavensward: Its only been 3 months since I installed Heavensward, it’s about time I actually get to play it.
  • Level Monk to 42: I keep seeing that Mantra is a good cross class skill for a lot of dps classes.While I’m not particularly loving the pugilist right now it is fun to punch things and I’ll be using my Leveling Roulettes on this.

On the Backlog Front:

January:

  • I finished 3 games this month which is more than I’ve finished in a while. I now have Final Fantasy 1, Azkend 2: The World Beneath, and Risk of Rain under my belt.

February Goals

  • Finish a Steam game: I’ve been playing a lot of games on my PS4 and PS Vita but my steam backlog needs some love. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with my steam games organized by game length or not but there are some games on the sidebar that I’d like to play so I’ll probably pick one of those.
  • Start Final Fantasy 2

Matching Colors and Slining Arrows

I always forget that PS Plus gives me access to games every month and isn’t just payment to play online with my friends. Sure, I get excited and look at what’s coming next month to PS Plus and then I forget all about it. I end up remembering to add games to the library right before the next ones come out.. On the PS4 all you have to do is go to the PS Plus tab and hit “Add to Library” and the games are there for as long as PS Plus is active. They don’t even get downloaded to the console so it’s easy to forget about them As I result I haven’t actually played most of these games.

Since I’ve had the Vita I’ve grabbed a few games but they’ve stayed untouched as well. This weekend I saw that there were 4 Vita games this month and decided to try them out for once.

The Swindle

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This is a procedural generated rouge-lite stealth game. Scotland yard is about to developed a machine that will put an end to thievery in 100 days. Your goal as the leader of a band of burglars is to steal as much money as you can before the 100 days are up and hopefully destroy the machine all together. All of this with the steampunk setting and TONS of robots.

Each heist eats up one day even if you fail. If you fail you lose all the money you’ve collected in the level and you have to start over with a new thief. So far I haven’t noticed any differences in the thieves but I’ve only played the first 15 days or so. There are upgrades like the ability to hack computers, set bombs to blast through walls, and increase the difficulty for more money.

I like it so far and would like to try a full go of all 100 days at some point. The only real problem I have with the game is that some times there are rooms that are impossibe to get into or out of if you don’t have the right upgrade. This leads to having to cut ites with your employee and abandon them in a highly guarded warehouse and forfeit a day.

Azkend 2

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This game was my favorite out of the batch which I wasn’t expecting. It’s a match the colors game that utilizes the touch screen of the Vita. It plays a lot like a mobile game and it has a story mode and a few challenge modes.

This game took me by suprise. I fired it up not knowing what it was, saw it was a match the colors type of game and thought well I’ll try a level or two. 3 hours later I completed it and still wanted to play more.

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There are a variety of game modes that have you match as many of the same colored tile together as possible for different effects. One game mode has you match tiles near fog to get rid of it, one game mode has you match tiles near bugs to damage and squash them, and the classic mode has you match colors to turn all the tiles on the board over. The story starts off with a ship being pulled into a whirlpool and the woman on board discovers another world deep below the surface of the ocean. Every chapter has a few puzzles to complete to gather pieces of a tool that the MC needs to move forward. Each of these tools also becomes a power up for you to use later on.

After each chapter there is a scene depicted and you have to find specific details in the scene to get a bonus for the next chapter. Some of these were frustrating because a scene would be mostly grays and browns and it would want you to find a specific gray blob in the image but on some of the more colorful scenes this was a fun mini game.

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I’ve always liked puzzle games and matching games so I shouldn’t be surprised that I like this game so much. I think what threw me off was that this was for the Vita and not for my phone. It’s also on PS4 so I was curious to see what it had to offer. It was a solid game play experience from beginning to end and while some of the levels were challenging, nothing was impossible after experimenting with different power ups and passive skills. The story was even pretty good and the background art was awesome.

Titan Souls

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This is a streamlined rage factory. It’s in the same vein as Dark Souls and Furi where the extreme difficulty is part of the fun. Your tasked with taking down a whole temple full of bosses with your trusty arrow. Yes, just one. You can shoot the arrow and pull it back to you. If you’re touched by the boss it’s lights out and you can go back to the start and try again. Over and over again.

I didn’t care for this game. I got passed the first boss and tried the next 2 but I didn’t see any amount of fun to be had in the future. Especially since the area you start back at is just far enough away from the boss doors to make it annoying. It may also have been the control scheme on the Vita that I didn’t like and I’ll have to try it out on the PS4 to see if it’s any better. For now I can say this was my least favorite this month.

Day of the Tentacle

While I didn’t get around to trying this one out I’ve heard really good things about it and will have to make time this coming weekend to try it out.

 

 

Backlogged: Final Fantasy

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The story is relatively simple. Four warriors of light appear in the Kingdom of Coneria each holding a darkened orb. After meeting the the king sends them on a quest to rescue his daughter from the castle next door. Here the warriors fight Garland, an evil night, and save the princess. Once they return with her the king is inspired to build a bridge and the warriors of light go on their merry way. After roughing up some pirates and stealing their ship they go on a bunch of fetch quests until they learn about uniting the crystals to save the world.

After collecting all the crystals and defeating the big bad boss monster, my time with the first installment of Final Fantasy has come to an end. What can I say about such a classic game? I’m still not really sure I had fun playing this or if the curiosity of how games used to be got me through this.

There were parts I genuinely enjoyed. The first couple of areas were fun and scratched an itch for a really simple turn based combat game. I liked the first quest where the four heroes had to save a princess from Garland. The few adventures we had along the way were also really fun. Without a map I was stumbling around the wilderness just praying my heroes could survive until we saw town again. It probably took a lot of extra time but I think that was the best experience I had with this game

Some of the dungeons are tough as nails. I didn’t think an 8-bit rpg could give me so much anxiety. In Grugu Volcano after I defeated the boss my party was in bad shape. the white mage was dead we were down to our last precious health potions. As the party made its way back to the entrance the monk and the red mage were picked off. Enemies only hit my warrior for 1 damage each turn and he had a lot of health as long as he wasn’t poisoned. 3 squares from the exit a pack of adders spawned which poisoned the warrior and then destroyed his remaining health. That was an hour of playtime gone. It was disheartening but nothing a little grinding couldn’t solve.

It was around the 10 hour mark that my interest/enjoyment started to wane. It was right around the time I actually decided to follow a map. It’s frustrating when you don’t know where your going or who the last NPC was that had some useful information. The story became not so entertaining as I was flying from point to point on the map wondering  when I would run into the next crystal.

Around the 15 hour mark I was bored but it looked like I was almost to the final location so I buckled down and pulled up a walk through for the final dungeon. Even with a decently leveled party and full inventory of items I barely made it through on the first try. The walk through explained a lot like that the healing staff could be used as an item to lightly heal the whole group.

It also gave me a map of the dungeon which would not have been fun to figure out on my own. I know it’s an end game dungeon but there are so many dead ends. This final dungeon has you face all of the previous bosses and then the big bad horribleness. I almost lost this fight. By the time I got there even with the walk through I was out of my 99 healing potions and my white mage was on his last leg. What surprised me was that he only had one form which my master and his fists of overpoweredness were able to dispatch easily.

Was it fun? Yes, for a little while but it got old after the first 3rd. My total play time was 20hrs I felt like I got my moneys worth out of this one though. It was interesting to play through a game that is one of the pillars of classic RPGs. It wasn’t as basic as I thought it would be. I was surprised that I got to form my own party in the beginning. On top of that,I could pick different classes too. It really made me miss tool tips, item descriptions, and quest journals a lot.

Since I got the Origins edition for the PS Vita I also own Final Fantasy 2. I’ve heard some terrible, awful, horrendous things about FF2 and it’s weird leveling system. I’m excited to try it out. How bad could it really be?

 

 

Maptastrophy! Mapocolypse! Mapstravoganza!


You don’t realize how important maps are until you don’t have one. You end up wandering around in circles in the wilderness until, exhausted, you and your friends are eaten by bears.

In video games, maps are also important in preventing being eaten by a bear. It’s a feature I’ve always taken for granted. There’s either that helpful mini map in the corner or at least somewhere in a menu. It’s nice to have even if you don’t need it and the absence is really felt when it’s not there.

I’m still making my way through Final Fantasy and up until recently I didn’t have a map and it wasn’t so bad. I found that if I vaguely  remembered the direction of places I’d been to I could stumble my way across the world but this only took me so far, about halfway through the game. Now, I’m not old enough to remember but I’m told there was a time when games came with physical maps and they weren’t packaged away in some insanely expensive collectors edition. After visiting Jay who collects retro games he showed me the map for Final Fantasy and it was then I learned I missed a whole lot of stuff and many hours could have been saved it I was given this at the start.

The map not only shows the land but it also has all the important places listed and numbered. Turns out I had missed the Ice Cave which I thought might get me another crystal. It gave me a Levistone and I think one NPC   had told me next to nothing about this Levistone or what to do with it. So I looked at the handy dandy map and went to the next number on the map and voila, this patch of desert I had been to before that had absolutely nothing there birthed an air ship. So I took the airship to the next point and got a rat tail. At this point not one single NPC told me what to do with said rat tail so thankfully the map led me to the right place.

From then on I’ve been completing one area at a time making my way to the next number on the map and the game has become enjoyable to play again. I’ve been trying really hard not to look up a walk through but I’m getting really close to throwing in the towel on that one. Either I didn’t pay close enough attention to NPC dialog or they just never told me but I’ve completed the Sunken Shrine and have no idea where I’m going next even with a map!

 

 

2017 Resolutions

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Well it’s a tad bit overdue but the year is still fresh. Only 10 days in and already 2017 shaping up to be an interesting year. As the New Year struck I was struck by an awful cold that left me out of commission for a few days. On my way to work last week my car’s driver side power window motor died leaving my window stuck down for a few days, not a lot of fun to drive in the cold and snow. Finally, this past weekend I drove back to my parents house, about 4 hours away from me, and in the middle of a white out my windshield wiper fell off making the last few hours a real challenge But it’s not all bad, the year can only get better from here!

Buy Less and Play More

This goes for games as well as books. I have a bad habit of buying more than I can play or only playing a game for a few days before moving on to something else. I rarely finish games and it’s part of h reason I started my personal backlog challenge. So the goal for the year is to play/ finish more games and books than I buy which shouldn’t be that hard because there’s nothing coming out in the nex few months that I’m looking forward too. Though I said the same thing last year where the only game I wanted wasn’t suppose to release until July, I ended up buying at least one game a month anyways.

When It Sucks Stop Reading/Playing It

This one goes more for the books side of things. Every year I set a reading goal oer at Goodreads usually around 20 books. Last year I tried 25 books and I was able to meet my goal, even exceed it by 6 books. The thing is some times it felt like a chore to read and the looming fact that I had to read at least 2 books a month to finish made reading just a little less enjoyable. I’m finding the same as I’ve been working though my backlog. Originally my goal was to finish every game. I thought if I liked it enough to buy it I should be able to finish it. I’ve found that not everything is great and not everything interests me enough to finis it. I think this year I’ll just play games until they no longer interest me. I also have to get better at putting down books when I know they aren’t good instead of forcing myself to finish them.

Change Things Up.

I read a lot of fantasy last year. In fact more than half of the 32 books I read last year were fantasy and quite frankly I’m sick of it. So I’d like to read a little more outside my comfort zone. I’m thinking some murder mysteries, some drama, maybe a romance, and I need to read way more non fiction this year The same goes for games, I feel like I played a lot of the same kind of game last year and while it’s fun to play things I know I’ll like I also have a wonderful library where I can take some chances on other games for free. And PS Plus gives me access to some different games every month and I never try them out. I’ll try to do more of that this year.