The State of the Game #19

I made the trip out to my Dad’s house this past weekend, leaving on Friday and getting home today. As such, my PS3 collected dust this week, and all of my gaming was done on either my laptop or my Dad’s PC. Having recently upgraded, his computer stops the shit out of mine, but that also meant that I could get into some things I have yet to try. For a moment, it was like being a kid in a candy store.

Initially the idea was for me to play some EQ2 and maybe some of the other MMOs he has that I haven’t touched. I did log into my EQ2 account and wandered around for a bit, but I was hard pressed to play much, because I knew as soon as I left I’d be unable to play anymore. The same went for the other MMOs, but I was still interested in giving Rift, Neverwinter and Guild Wars 2 a try. Unfortunately Rift and GW2 have limitations on character slots, and he had his all filled up, so though I was given the option to play whatever I wanted, I didn’t want to jump on a character that was already started. So he showed me some things in those games, and that was that. He didn’t have Neverwinter installed (it flew under his radar somehow) so I downloaded that and gave it a whirl, and I could see where it would be a game I could enjoy, but it did seem a tad on the boring side. I really didn’t get far enough to give a proper assessment, so I’ll leave the MMO commentary at that.

What really got my goat was the Blizzard games that have been out for a while now that I hadn’t played before. The titles in question are Starcraft II and Diablo III of course. I haven’t touched either game series for years, probably since the 90s when the last iterations released. I was always more into Starcraft than Warcraft, despite usually having the opposite taste (I’m usually more into High Fantasy than Sci-Fi). The Diablo series was always a favorite as well, and despite playing all of the other main competitors it sucked me in more than any action-RPG has in quite some time.

I started with Starcraft, mainly because that was like crack to me when I was a teenager. Despite the updated graphics and some differing mechanics, after the tutorial it all felt like old hat. I was seriously obsessed with the game back then, and it all came back to me — like riding a bike. I played through 6 or 7 missions and got a pretty good feel for the game. My thoughts, are that it is still awesome, and really the only RTS I’ve played in years. There has never been a good replacement for the original Starcraft in my eyes, until now, and it’s more Starcraft. Unfortunately my time was limited, so I only played those few missions in the campaign and no multiplayer. Multiplayer is usually where it’s at. Plus with the staggered campaign releases (no I didn’t play any of the Zerg campaign, but they were always my favorite) it’s the only way to play the other races from what I understand. Overall the gameplay was all that I could have hoped for, in that it really stayed true to the original. The menu interface being replaced by moving about on your ship in between battles is pretty neat, but it’s still just a dressed up interface. I did enjoy the research element along with the armory, where upgrades can be purchased without having to do so in-game. Research was unique also because you had to actually locate the resources during missions, and then could allocate those resources towards differing upgrades based on the opposing races’ technology. This is a must-buy once I build a new rig.

Diablo III is where I spent most of my weekend overall. Like I said earlier, I was amazed at how it sucked me in, when I’ve played so many action-RPGs over the years. Torchlight was so-so. Torchlight II was better, but still not crack-like (though I’m tempted to go and actually finish it now). Path of Exile felt like the spiritual successor to Diablo II, but D3 really took hold of me. When I saw the character classes I was unimpressed. All of the classes seemed like the usual and the only thing that stood out was the Demon Hunter. A ranger of sorts, the DH was equipped with ranged weapons (1 or 2-hand crossbows, regular long bows), and his abilities had to do with ranged attacks, evasion, or traps. This is what was expected, and though I played through at least 2/3 of the first act, I ended up deciding to go with another character. I remembered that I had a lot of success with the Necromancer of D2, and I also loved the Witch in PoE. As such, I rolled a Wizard, and man did I fall in love. I literally played all day yesterday, and ran through the entire first act and much of the 2nd and ended up being level 32 when I finally quit before the server went down for a patch early this morning. I can’t remember the last time I sat and played a single game for that long in one sitting, but it was well worth it. Aside from the fact that it was on my Dad’s account, so he just got a power-leveled Wizard for free (your welcome). Graphically, D3 wasn’t quite as dark as its predecessors, but it was still moody. The controls were simple and responsive, and I loved all of the crazy abilities my Wizard had, and I wasn’t even all the way through the game. The new advancement tree was well done in my opinion, and allowed for much customization. I missed out on the whole Auction House debacle, so I really have nothing negative to say about this game at all. That’s saying something. This is also a must-buy when I have the ability.

Lastly, I was doing my dailies for Hearthstone and my Dad hadn’t ever given the game a shot, so he decided to download it. He ran through the tutorial and got his Mage up to level 10 and then we challenged each other to some games. Surprisingly, he won the first game. I used a custom Rogue deck and for some reason he snowballed and I couldn’t pull myself out of the hole. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t win another game. I rolled out some of my better decks and creamed him, and then thought better of it. I went back to the basic pre-constructed decks but that didn’t make a difference. In fact I seemingly did better with those than my own decks. This is part of the trouble of constructing decks, sometimes they just don’t come out quite right, and the flow doesn’t happen unless you get luck on your side. Those basic decks are pretty finely tuned despite not having some of the cool effects the expert cards come with. Either way, it was a lot of fun being able to play with someone I know for a change. It was doubly fun to be able to rub it in face to face shortly thereafter as well.

That was about it for this week. On the horizon is The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 2 which released today (glad I picked up that season pass) and the Tomb Raider reboot, which was the freebie this week.