Apologies for missing the column last week, but when most of the week you’re spending time with family, there isn’t as much time for gaming, and I didn’t feel I had enough to say to make the post. This week is a different story.
So what have I been playing? The list for this edition of State of the Game includes: Elder Scrolls Online, Sid Meier’s Starships, The Forest, Titanfall, League of Legends and the Halo Master Chief Collection.
I haven’t played as much ESO as I would have liked. The problem I’m having is that I want to play it, but know that it takes a significant chunk of game time, so I have to wait until certain parts of the day to dive in. By then, sometimes I’m not in the mood, so I’ve been averaging a couple of hours every other day. But once I actually get logged in, I love what I’ve seen; I get sucked in and end up playing for a couple hours. The only other problem was my incessant need to try out every class before settling on one to play. In games like EQ2 (with 16 or so classes) it becomes a nightmare. Thankfully ESO only has the 4 archetypes, and though I realize there’s pretty infinite customization for each, I still feel the base class gives you enough of an idea of their playstyles. Previously when I spoke of the game, I had created a Khajiit Nightblade and a Dunmer Sorcerer. I have since made an Orsimer Templar, and a Nord Dragonknight. I’ve stuck with somewhat traditional RPG builds for each class, with the Nightblade going dual wield and stealthy, the Sorcerer with a destruction staff and pets, the Templar having sword/board and some healing, and the Dragonknight utilizing a 2-hander. Here’s the newbies (super new in the case of the DK):
Who knows how each with progress. For now, I’ve found that I enjoy the Sorcerer the most, and I have played it more than the others, though level 8 isn’t a huge accomplishment. My review of ESO to this point would be favorable, in that I see plenty of players, I enjoy the quests and story, it’s the best looking MMO I’ve played, and I love the lore and feeling of being in Tamriel. However, I haven’t hit any of the walls and issues people had with the game to this point, because I haven’t tried to group with anyone, and haven’t hit the level cap either. Still, I am going to keep plugging away at it. I love the buy to play aspect, as I did with GW2 (which is a game I still should put more time into) in that I don’t feel guilty about not playing, but can still play whenever I want. I see this as being my favorite pay model to date. I’ll leave it at that. Here’s a nice landscape shot:
The reason I haven’t been able to stick to just ESO is because I’ve had a few other additions to the library that have been vying for my attention, along with the old standby, League of Legends. This past week they re-introduced Ultra Rapid Fire (URF) mode for April Fool’s, though the joke was that it was going to be called NURF and have cooldowns increased and the gameplay slowed down. Then some of the LCS pros decided to fry the game servers (with sliced ham, no less) and it turned back into URF, which is super fast, low cooldowns and mana costs. I actually missed out on this the last time it happened (must have been during a LoL break) so this time around I made sure to get in on it. It’s surprisingly addicting, and there’s a lot less pressure to perform because it’s far from balanced and it’s not a ranked queue. I’ve had modest success, though I believe my win/loss ratio is sitting right on 50%. My best game came when I played a tanky Hecarim, and went 7/1 /6 and carried my team. It’s definitely a fun game mode to break things up, and honestly I’d be ok with it being a permanent queue type. The meta is different in that there’s no jungler, which reminds me of how we used to play back when I first started the game. Some really weird team comps have popped up and did well too, so it’s rather unpredictable, and keeps things fresh. I feel as good about it as I did when I first discovered custom ARAM matches. Check it out before it disappears.
Another game that has had my attention of late is Titanfall. Yeah, I know, it’s one of those Xbox games that got ported to the PC, and yes, I know it’s only available through Origin, which as a whole is a huge pile of shit. I actually played the game (and I believe I mentioned it before) at my friend’s house who owns an Xbox One, and I loved it. It’s a great game, and works very well (as well as looking very nice) on the console. PC ports of console games have a reputation for being rather shitty though, so I was hesitant to make the purchase until I saw that the game was on sale AND you get the season pass for free. Let’s see, pay about $15 for a game or spend hundreds on an Xbone? Yeah, obvious choice there. So I picked it up and have been playing it a bit here and there. It’s just as fun and I don’t really see any differences between it and the console version, but my friend who owns it there swears that the Xbone version has “more stuff in it” – his words not mine. The major issue I see is that I have a key bound for screenshots, and either it’s not working or I can’t find the screenshot folder. As such I don’t have any cool pics to share, but I did snap my stat sheet with my phone for your viewing pleasure.
At that same friends house on the same Xbone, we’ve been playing through the Halo Master Chief Collection. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before or not, but the only Halo game I had ever played to that point was Halo 2, and I had only played the multiplayer (LAN parties back in the day mostly). I wasn’t a big fan. So I wasn’t really going into this with excitement, though my friend assured me that the co-op campaign was fun. I was skeptical but went along with it, and I have mixed feelings having completed Halo 1 the other day. First, the story line isn’t engaging whatsoever, and the voice acting and animations are garbage. Yes, I realize this is an old game and what not, but this is an HD update and it still looks shitty. The game design was simple and repetitive to the point where everything starts to look the same. It has very dated combat, most guns lack ironsights/zoom and a cover system is basically non-existent. I’m not a fan of the first game, and don’t think I would have been when it released either (especially because there is a button you can press in game that shows you exactly how bad the game used to look before the update). Soon we shall move onto Halo 2, which I now think will be an improvement on the original game. Apparently #3 is where it really starts to shine, from what my friend says. We shall see, all 4 games are in this package, and Halo 5 is on the horizon, and I’m sure I’ll get suckered into playing through that one with him as well. The major upside I can give the game is that playing it on the hardest difficulty (which we have been doing) presents a real challenge. There were checkpoints that took us quite a while to get through. All I know is I’m ready for the combat to evolve.
I’ve been playing Starships a bit here and there as well, and I really don’t have a lot to say about it. I’d recommend it to 4x newbies, or to 4x veterans who want something that isn’t so time consuming. It’s really a 4x lite, and that’s ok. I enjoy it in short bursts, and have already started amassing an empire while meeting the other AI counterparts. The strategy is a bit limited, but it’s a fun experience for when you want to jump in and jump out.
Lastly, I started up a co-op game in The Forest with my sister. It’s been out a while, and I believe I mentioned that the multiplayer is now integrated into Steam as well, so invites are a piece of cake now. There was a day when I started up a public server and played for about an hour but no one joined, and to this point anyone I knew who had the game wasn’t playing it so I had no one to invite. Well, during my sister’s visit I had to go somewhere for a couple of hours and set her up playing The Forest on my computer. She ended up playing it the whole time I was gone and was hooked. She bought her own copy of the game when she got home. Here’s where the funny part comes in. See, when I play The Forest single player, it runs fantastically. I mean there’s a little pop-in here and there or something that might be buggy (it’s still Alpha after all) but overall it runs great. As soon as you add one person to the mix, it bogs down like crazy. I’m not sure how that puts such a load on my system, but it surely did. And it didn’t matter if she was the host or I was, it happened. We still played for a while but the optimization was disappointing. However, the developers have recently stated that they are upgrading the engine to Unity 5, so it’s supposed to have better graphics and performance soon. I’m hoping that helps the multiplayer in particular.
It’s interesting that the voice chat is directly linked to these walkie talkies, and the amount of detail they put into them is awesome. If you start swimming, you can’t hear or speak via the WT. If you put it down to carry something, same effect. Your voices actually kind of sound like they’re going over WT’s as well, which is a nice touch. I missed that in the patch notes somewhere, and yes, I realize I haven’t posted a couple of the patches, but I hadn’t really been playing the game. So anyway, I noticed that the game ran smoother the further away we were from each other, though it did seem to normalize when we had a big rock to our backs and set up our base camp. Perhaps it was something to do with the time of day (peak hours) or our distance from each other. Not sure, but I hope it improves soon.
That’s all for this week. Until next time.