The State of the Game 10/29-11/4

I’m starting up a new column that will be posted every Tuesday. This column will consist of short stories about the multitudes of games I’ve been playing throughout that week, and various commentary that doesn’t fit into my other themed posts (such as patch notes or the Playstation Plus previews). So welcome to this week’s edition of “The State of the Game.” 

This past week has been a little different because of the fact that my laptop’s power adapter had died, as I had mentioned. As a result I didn’t play as much League of Legends as I normally would have, and played more on my PS3. The majority of my gaming time was spent in another MOBA: Awesomenauts. I also played Dead Island, downloaded and played demos for Terraria and Spelunky, and towards the end of the week got back into playing some League.

I initially started playing Awesomenauts back in 2012 when it first released on the PS3. I earned all of the trophies back then, and played for a bit longer before shelving the game in favor of others. Before that happened, I ended up showing the game to my roommate, and he picked up a copy for Xbox when he still had one. He played the game longer than I did, but eventually sold off his Xbox and picked up a PS3, and probably forgot all about the game. Back in September, we had a conversation about how much fun we had with that game, and I told him that I still owned it, so he would just have to get another copy — which he did. So we’ve been playing pretty regularly for the past couple of months. The game is still a lot of fun regardless of the fact that there really isn’t any incentive to play outside of Prestige and Leaderboards. There isn’t options for skins or anything else to customize your characters, nor are their more characters to buy, so the only reason to play is for fun or to improve your ranking. I suppose this is the reason we are supposed to play games in the first place isn’t it? My major complaint with the game is that it was later released for Steam, and PC players have the advantage of extra characters, and they have the option to pay for skins. These are factors that would make the game that much more fun, but us PS3 players (it released originally on consoles mind you) are assed out. Recently Ronimo Games decided to start a Kickstarter campaign for an expansion that would add maps, characters and game modes (plus more via stretch goals). This is supposed to be available on PS4, so maybe at that point it will become more like its PC counterpart. This game is going to be in my rotation for a while, as I have climbed up to Prestige level 6 (out of 10 I believe) and my Rank on the leaderboards is floating around 3,000 (out of 90,000+). If nothing else I’ll max out my Prestige level before I shelve it again.

Dead Island:
I’ve already mentioned that I’ve been playing Dead Island after picking it up on sale for $5. I have had enough hands on experience with it to know that it’s a great game, if you can embrace its flaws. Despite the patches that went into the GOTY edition, it’s still rather buggy. The combat is weird. There are guns, but they are just now becoming more available that I’ve entered the city portion of the game in Act II. The whole first act you’re swinging baseball bats, shovels, paddles, machetes, kitchen knives and whatever else you can get your hands on. This portion of the game reminds me of Skyrim, as it’s first person hack ‘n’ slash. The fact that the items you find throughout the world are color coded and just about everywhere you look is reminiscent of Borderlands (and other loot-driven games like action RPGs or MMOs). The crafting system is too much like Dead Rising, but I wasn’t as fond of that series. That said it is still very satisfying upgrading/creating new weapons, and seeing how they work in combat. But as most loot-driven games go, you’re constantly upgrading your gear, so getting attached to that spiked baseball bat isn’t advised — just make a new one. The setting is really what gets me going, when you get a moment to just stare into the horizon the game really is beautiful, and the open-world aspect makes you feel like you’re really stranded on an island. Add in flesh-eating zombies, the thick desperation-filled air, and the sense of urgency becomes apparent. I chose to go with the “tank” class, Sam B, otherwise known as the one-hit-wonder-rapper. I’m sitting right at level 30, and have chosen to go down his survival tree first, and then started mixing up where I spend the points since then. Not sure exactly how many points you have to work with by the time the game is over, though it doesn’t seem that there is an option to re-spec. This game is going to be in my rotation until after I beat it at least once, though my roommate picked up a copy as well and we have yet to play any co-op, so that might keep me playing for a while longer.

At some point in the last couple of weeks I read a blog post about someone’s adventures in Terraria. I don’t recall which blog it was, and this writer was speaking of the PC version, but it piqued my interest and I remembered seeing that there was a PS3 version as well. Either way it wasn’t a game I was going to get for free, but I wasn’t sure that I would like it either. Upon inspection of the PS store I found that there was a demo available and picked it up. From what little I played, I’m still not sure that I’m into it. Comparisons can be drawn to Minecraft, though I never played that game either, and the idea of just building things isn’t exactly appealing to me. Exploration and killing things does appeal to me however, and both of those elements are present in this sandbox game. Really though, the console controls are a bit wonky, and it does seem like it would be easier to play on the computer, especially when wanting to play co-op. There is a local multiplayer option on the console, but that requires split-screen and for someone to come to your house specifically to play that. Multiplayer doesn’t seem to work that way very much these days. On the console, there is no option to join a random person’s game. You must have the other player on your friends list. This is not the kind of game most of console friends would want to play, so it seems like I would be playing alone, and I feel like I would get bored too easily. I’m on the fence about purchasing a full version, regardless of the platform.

Another Indie game that released recently, Spelunky is a little more up my alley from a single player point of view. I can tell that I would be able to enjoy it without needing to play co-op, though the option would be there should I choose. It’s a platformer in the vein of metroidvania games, where you must collect as much treasure as possible, avoid traps and kill baddies from level to level. The interesting part is that the levels are completely randomized, so you never play the same one twice. They are so randomized that you actually get a new level every time you die, so you can’t even eventually learn the level and pass it. This scales the difficulty up a bit, and seems to give the game a replay-ability that wouldn’t be there in a standard Mario game. I am not going to spend the money on this game right now, but I may in the future, or perhaps it will be a free offering at some point.

League of Legends:
I only played a handful of games this week, due to the laptop issues. A new patch dropped, the Harrowing started, and Sivir was reworked all while I was gone. Preseason changes are in the works. There will be much to talk about with this game in coming months. On a personal level, I mostly played a few ARAMs and I finally brought myself to play some more ranked last night. I lost the first game while playing Hecarim in the Jungle, but our “support” Shen really bit the bullet with 0 kills and 10 deaths, and I don’t believe he bought a single ward all game. Frustrating, but I still played another game before calling it a night. I was rewarded with a good team, and we actually snowballed enough early on that we caused a 20 minute surrender. My win percentage with Sona is now at 70% in ranked games. This brought me back into a promotional series, so perhaps I will beat the deadline and make it into Silver league after all. More on this later.

That’s all for this week. Tune in next Tuesday when I’ll be discussing Dragon’s Dogma, which is installing as I type this!