Games Played 2019

I wrote a post at the tail end of 2018 reviewing the games I played and compiling a list of completed titles from throughout the year. Since I’m trying to get back into the full swing of things on the blog here, I thought it being 2020, I should look back on what I did throughout 2019. According to the last post of this type, I had started a fair binge of backlog titles and was completing them left and right. I know that I played less of single player games over the course of 2019, as Playstation did a yearly wrap up with some cool stats to look back on, and I spent the majority of my gaming hours on that platform playing Apex Legends.

If you click on the link in that post, you can check out your own stats. It was interesting to see how I spent my time, how many trophies were earned and how many games I played. What was a little confusing was seeing the sheer amount of hours played though, which I know can’t be accurate. I think it’s just accumulating time based on when the console is turned on, because my girl would watch a lot of streaming services and that would help to account for over 2000 hours of play time. Anyway, given the fact that I know I didn’t play nearly as many games on my PC throughout the year I think it’s safe to say that I completed less, but let’s go through it and see.

January:

In January I had recently moved back to my home town after a nearly 5 year absence. It wasn’t the ideal situation but it was less money out of our pockets and an opportunity to get closer to where we wanted to be in life. I started back at the casino I worked at years ago, and things settled into a new routine. I was able to spend more time with my best friend whom I had left behind for a few years, and as such time was spent at his house playing games, along with playing together online more often. He had purchased a copy of Soul Calibur VI which is a series that we had enjoyed playing together for many iterations. It’s not exactly the type of game you beat though, so it’s just something we played for a time. I also picked up the Civilization VI expansion Rise & Fall, and played through the campaign once again to see the changes. I had purchased a copy of Call of Duty Black Ops 4 for my son for Christmas the month before, and because he wasn’t playing it very much I decided to give it a whirl. I found it underwhelming, as CoD has been for a number of years, but still spent a little time with it during the month. Lastly, I continued to pick up and play new mobile titles, and the one I spent some time with in January was Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem. It stayed in the rotation for a while but I eventually tired of it.

Feburary:

In February, one of my favorite games of all time released a remade edition: Resident Evil 2. I managed to grab a copy as it released and played through both Leon and Claire’s campaigns rather quickly. That was how I spent the majority of the month, but it was also the month when Apex Legends was released, and I started playing that pretty regularly with my best friend and others. At this point I’ve put a ton of hours into it but again it’s not the kind of game you complete. Recently they unlocked the level cap (previously 100) and I have still yet to reach the original cap but with the battle passes released every few months, regular special game modes and new Legends added there’s always a new reason to continue to play.

March:

March saw the release of the final episode of TellTale’s Walking Dead Final Season. As such, I played through that and crossed another game off of the list. I was happy that Skybound Entertainment picked up the game and finished it off, but it sort of marked the end of TellTale’s legacy and I doubt there will be more games like it anytime soon unless someone else picks up the mantle. Through the rest of the month I was struggling with what to play next, running a poll to see what I should play. I eventually settled on picking Destiny 2 back up, and started working my way towards the Forsaken expansion that has been out for a few months at that point.

April:

April was the month of Destiny 2. I picked up where I had left off in the base game, and then started in on the expansions. I completed The Curse of Osiris shortly thereafter. Next up was running through Warmind, and that done was within a couple of weeks. I really didn’t play much of anything else throughout the month.

May:

World War Z came out of nowhere in May. It was a game that was compared to older titles like Left 4 Dead, so I knew it was the kind of gameplay I would enjoy. It has since seen some big patches adding new difficulties and modes and overall it’s a damn fine game. I moved into the Forsaken expansion during the month as well.

June:

When June rolled around, I had pretty much called it quits with Destiny 2. I like this style of game but I can’t be assed to do all of the end game shit. I picked up another mobile game called Warriors of Waterdeep and though it appealed to me for a while I didn’t play it for that long. Dauntless, a game compared to Monster Hunter was released for PS4 for free, so I checked that out, and just like Monster Hunter I didn’t really care for it. However, a game I had been looking forward to for a while released, and I played Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled quite a bit through the summer. It too has had several patches and events and even a battle pass style progression system but all of it was added for free. It’s a great cart racer and ulitmately I feel it’s better than any Mario Kart that’s been released to date.

July:

A new style of game started to bust onto the scene last summer. The Auto Chess or Auto Battler genre came into popularity (or at least hit my radar) with DOTA Underlords. I tried it out but due to the fact that I didn’t have any attachment to the characters, it was a lot of Greek to me. One of the Playstation Plus games for July was Detroit: Become Human, which also included a copy of the company’s earlier game, Heavy Rain. I honestly wasn’t even interested, but once I started playing it, I binged it to completion in just a couple of days. I picked up a couple of other console games on sale that month, and though I didn’t play much of the Castlevania Collection, I’m happy to have it. I also grabbed Dragon’s Crown Pro, which was a slightly upgraded version of the PS3 game that I had completed a few years back. I played through it again and still enjoyed it. Lastly, another mobile title from Nintendo hit the Google Play Store, and I checked out Dr. Mario World. It didn’t hold my attention though, as most mobile games tend to do.

August:

The blogging challenge Blaugust popped back up this year, and I once again participated. It seems I spend more time writing opinion pieces and about MTG rather than gaming, but there were some tidbits in there to share. Riot Games decided to get in on the Auto Chess genre and because I am more familiar with/fond of League of Legends, I thought it might actually appeal to me. It turns out that I’m just not into the thought of setting up some options and then watching a game play itself for me, but I will say that I preferred Teamfight Tactics to the DOTA version. Another game I had been looking forward to, Wolfenstein: Youngblood released and I got a copy. I played it for a few hours but never finished it. Unfortunately it wasn’t so much like the prior Wolfenstein games, and ultimately fell short. I think if I had a dedicated co-op partner for the game it would have been more enjoyable, but it is what it is. Lastly, we knew that Borderlands 3 would be releasing in the next month, and a new DLC was released for Borderlands 2. Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary ended up being a short and sweet romp that filled in some of the story gaps between where BL2 ended and where BL3 would pick up.

September:

My will to blog started to trail off come September. Blaugust was a slog last year, and though I was successful in posting all 31 days of August, I was burnt out at the end. The only game I wrote about during the month was Heavy Rain, and I did manage to complete it. I enjoyed it nearly as much as Detroit: Become Human, but it was obviously an older game so there were some quirks that were not as enjoyable.

October:

I discovered that another game made by the same company as Detroit: Become Human and Heavy Rain (which was released between the two) was in my library (given away with Playstation Plus at another time). I tried out Beyond: Two Souls but found that I didn’t enjoy it at all in comparison to the other games from Quantic Dream. Apex Legends proceeded into Season 3, and that would turn out to be what I would play the most of for the rest of the year. Also, I picked up my copy of Borderlands 3 and also convinced my best friend to get it. We started playing it pretty regularly through the month but have yet to complete the main campaign. We’ll get around to it eventually.

November:

In November I didn’t post about gaming at all. I spent the month celebrating my birthday and I’m pretty sure I was only playing Apex Legends. My gaming started to taper off and as a result so did my blogging. I wrote about football, and then eventually disappeared for a while.

December:

I officially announced my hiatus but it had already been a pretty slow month. I was busy trying to get a new place for my family and ended up doing so. I officially came back from hiatus a few days ago, so I now have more to talk about. I did play Jedi: Fallen Order through the month but I ended up not completing it until January, so that will have to be counted on next year’s list.

Games Completed 2019:

Resident Evil 2
The Walking Dead: Final Season
Destiny 2 base game
Curse of Osiris Expansion
Warmind Expansion
Detroit: Become Human
Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary Expansion
Heavy Rain

As I suspected, my count for games completed is down quite a bit from years prior. Most of this is just DLC expansions that I’m counting as completed. However, it was still a pretty good year for gaming and 2020 has already started off well. We now know that the Final Fantasy VII remake is coming in March, as is the next DOOM title. A Resident Evil 3 remake is also coming, and that’s the only game in the series I haven’t finished so I’m looking forward to that. We’ll check back in come the end of the year and see if I did better.

Thoughts on Jedi: Fallen Order

The last time I played a Star Wars game that I actually enjoyed was the Battlefront reboot that came out a few years back on PS4. I played that one pretty regularly for a few months, but as most lobby shooters tend to do, it eventually lost steam and I stopped playing. It didn’t help that it was produced by Electronic Arts, who are notorious for bad DLC/RMT practices, and I didn’t end up shelling out for any of the map packs. Later, they would release a sequel and Battlefront II was pretty universally panned about said price gouging so I avoided it altogether. Beyond that, the only other Star Wars game I’ve played in the last decade was Bioware’s The Old Republic MMO, but it too was lacking and never stuck with me. I was skeptical about Jedi: Fallen Order until I started seeing videos and had friends at work telling me it was really good. Compared mostly to the Souls games, it was said to have “difficult” combat that relies on timing rather than button mashing. I’m hard pressed to actually make this comparison myself, because it is in no way anywhere near as difficult as the Souls games, but I can see why people made the commentary. I would also compare it to games like Uncharted or Tomb Raider, in that you have a lot of running around jumping and climbing on things, but it also has some psuedo RPG elements in that you gain skill points and there is a skill tree, though much of it is locked until you complete parts of the storyline to “repair your connection with the force.”

Visually this title is stunning. I’d put it right up there with the likes of Uncharted, because it has a cinematic quality that isn’t present in most console games. This is probably due to the fact that we are coming to the end of this console generation and the machines have already been pushed to their max, but I’m still impressed that this several year old hardware can make such pretty pictures. The voice acting and motion capture of real world actors is top notch as well. The red-head kid from the TV show Shameless is Cal Kestis, our main character. Forrest Whitaker makes an appearance, and the lady from Mad TV (I can’t recall her name) is one of your crew mates who has some major parts influencing the story.

From what I can tell, this game seems to take place somewhere between Episode VI: A New Hope and Episode VII: The Force Awakens. There is talk of “the purge” where the Empire was able to basically eradicate all of the Jedi but there’s also talk of the Clone Wars and things that happened during Episodes I-III. Whatever the case, Cal has been working as a scrapper on a junk planet though you can tell there is more to the story. Eventually it is revealed that he was a Padawan receiving training from a Jedi Master but that Master was killed during the purge and he had been in hiding ever since. The Empire comes to the junk planet and he must reveal himself as a force-sensitive individual, barely escaped on a ship called the Mantis, piloted by an alien named Greez. Cere is his companion, and also your antagonist for a time, who pushes you to reconnect with the force and rebuild the Jedi order. There’s much more to it than just that, but I can’t say anything else due to spoilers.

Eventually you’ll lead your rag tag team to several different planets, where you and your droid companion BD-1 will learn new skills and open up new areas as you go. In this sense there is a feel of a Metroidvania, because new areas will become accessible only after unlocking certain skills/abilities for Cal/BD-1. There are a bunch of collectibles, chests and “echos” to locate on each of the planets, and if you are the completionist type, you’ll probably want to make side trips back to these planets as you progress the story and unlock these new abilities. Eventually Cal will have a bunch of different force powers and lightsaber abilities and the combat gets really fun. Boss fights can be pretty intense, but once you get the hang of your powers everything starts to feel pretty easy. I didn’t really feel challenged throughout the game, but I didn’t play on the harder difficulties where perhaps the game would actually feel Souls-like.

Overall I thought it was a great game. Perhaps not worth the full $60 price investment unless you are a diehard fan, but I was lucky enough to get this as an early Xmas gift from my girlfriend so I wanted to play the shit out of it so she felt that she got her money’s worth. It won’t be long before it goes on sale though, so if you can get it for even $10 off I’d jump on it. It will give you a few weeks of fun.

League of Legends Ports and Other Riot Games

I can’t recall the actual day, but recently Riot Games had a 10th anniversary livestream featuring League of Legends and other stuff. First of all, what an accomplishment to keep LoL going for ten years and building the Esports community up around it. Professional play has gone from some nerds in back rooms of warehouses to huge arena-filling events with famous live performers and a quality of production rivaling ESPN and other mainstream outlets — all of this on what I’m sure is less income and all done over the Internet eschewing traditional TV outlets. I started playing LoL back in 2011 which was around the end of season 1 heading into season 2. I’ve seen the majority of the champions release, I’ve seen a ton of events and in-game happenings along with changes to the game, its launcher, the main maps/modes, and Riot itself. I’ve watched the World Championship nearly every year since I first heard about it. I’ve watched regular season games of each of the major regions, even participating in their Fantasy League (like Fantasy Football) for a couple of seasons. I’ve collected vinyl figures, owned T-shirts, and have a rather large poster hanging on my wall. You could say League became a major part of my life, despite the fact that I haven’t really played very regularly in the past couple of years. Still, when I heard the news coming out of this live stream, I knew I had to talk about it. To be fair, there’s even more that was announced that I’m not going to touch on, but IGN has a great article encapsulating all of the news.

What excited me the most out of all that was said during the live stream was that League of Legends will be ported to consoles and mobile. Called “Wild Rift,” this version of League is not a direct port, it’s the same game rebuilt from the ground up for these other devices. I’m not a huge fan of complex games on mobile phones because usually the screen isn’t big enough and touch controls can be pretty wonky… but on console, I’ll play the shit out of this. It’s not so much that I dislike the game on PC, no, I’d rather play it there. But I have friends who don’t own PCs and probably never will, along with having never played LoL before and I’d love to introduce it to them. Also, the potential for a nice long trophy list makes the trophy whore in me lick his lips. I did play a different MOBA on PS4 recently and it had some fairly intuitive controls, so I assume if they are anything like that, this version of the game will be very enjoyable even with a controller in lieu of keyboard/mouse.

Teamfight Tactics, which I wrote about when I first tried it (and I’m still not into this auto-battler genre) is getting ported to mobile now as well. This makes sense since their main competitor DOTA Underlords is also both on PC and mobile. I assume this would probably be more fun on a mobile device since you can be doing other things while playing it. I get bored too fast with this type of game so this news wasn’t particularly interesting to me.

Legends of Runeterra is new. It’s not an existing game getting ported to other devices. It’s free-to-play. It’s a card game. That’s really all I know. The above trailer will give more detail than I can. What I do know is that I do enjoy card games. I just haven’t really found a digital one that I can play for a long term. I did play Hearthstone for quite a while, but then it got stupid (as Blizzard games tend to do). I can’t get into any of the Magic: The Gathering digital versions because I simply like playing the paper version so much more. This is a world/lore that I enjoy, and depending on what they do to make this stand out from the competition, this could finally be the card game I play when I need a fix.

Project A, as it’s being call at this juncture, is Riot’s attempt at a tactical FPS, but also looks to be a hero shooter. So think games like Paladins or Overwatch. I’m intrigued by this one, mainly because it’s such a far cry from a MOBA and this company has only been known for one game for so long. A card game based on the world is great and all, but I’m a FPS player through and through, so this is very appealing. My hope is that they do something different enough to make this feel better than existing games on the market. Graphically it looks okay, but I think that will get bumped up a notch when it gets closer to release. Gameplay looks fine, but I want some heroes with crazy abilities and I want tight gunplay. I’d also like to see some objectives and things that are different from what’s out there, but time will tell. Keeping an eye on this one.

Project L was announced as a fighting game. If this is 2-D hand drawn and plays like a Street Fighter title, I’m all in. If we’re looking at more of a Tekken style fighter, I’m less excited. We’ll have to wait for more details but I love me a good fighting game and Riot has already developed so many cool characters I’d love to fight as them. It’s unknown if that’s what’s happening or if all of the characters would be original. Also keeping an eye on this one.

Lastly, stuff that isn’t game related. A documentary about LoL called “League of Legends: Origins” was released on Netflix the other day and I watched it. It was a really good look into the origin of the company via Ryze and Tryndamere, along with the rise of the game itself and Esports. Basically all stuff that I lived through, but fun to see it in a different context. If you haven’t paid attention to LoL or Esports, or just don’t “get it,” I’d recommend giving this a watch. Also, an animated series called “Arcane” is being developed and looks to deal with stories about LoL characters. You can watch the trailer above, it looks really cool and I’ll definitely watch it when the time comes.

That’s all I’m going to touch on today, but some exciting stuff coming down the pipeline. There were a few other tidbits in the article I linked at the beginning of this post, so if you haven’t had your fill you can read more there. What do you guys think about Riot Games finally branching out?

Early Impressions: Borderlands 3

The king of Looter Shooters has triumphantly returned. I first played Borderlands back in 2010 upon purchasing my Playstation 3 (it was actually the first game I purchased during that generation) and instantly fell in love. The 3-D but cell-shaded art direction, the sense of humor, and most importantly, the RPG progression and loot system all hooked me right in. Truth be told, I played that game more than any other in the series, maxing out my character level and completing all of the DLC, also collecting the platinum trophy. I would play through it again a second time with my roommate, and from there he was hooked too. We purchased the sequel on day one. We played through it a couple of times but I only scraped the surface of the DLC, only coming back to the game most recently to play through the added DLC that bridged the story gap between sequels. Despite Borderlands: The PreSequel being a similar type of game and one that bridged the story between 1 & 2, it didn’t hold my attention long enough to finish it, and once we had the proper release of 3, I knew I probably wouldn’t go back. Having played the newest game, I can confirm that going back to the older games would be difficult. So many quality of life improvements have me spoiled and I’m not sure I could do without them again.

Fans of the series will be familiar with the above splash screens — each time we’re introduced to a new/returning character or a boss, we’ll get these art pieces displayed across the screen for a few moments, and then either the fight or dialogue proceeds. So far, nearly every character that has existed in the series has made an appearance, outside of those that are now deceased (Handsome Jack, Scooter, etc). I picked up the game a few days after release when I got paid, and my best friend got his copy as well. Once we decided which classes we were going to play, we got down to business. The new classes are sort of a mixture of new and old ideas, where my friend is playing the Operative that is most similar to the soldier class from past games in that it gets a flying drone that functions like a mobile turret. Whereas I’m playing the Gunner who gets to summon a bad ass mech suit and blows shit up real good.

As I was speaking of quality of life improvements, one thing I really like is the fact that you no longer have to collect cash, ammo or health vials, you just have to walk close enough to them and if you have the space/need, you’ll collect these pieces automatically. That alone sells this game, as there is a lot of looting to be done and I can’t be bothered to click on each dollar bill I see. Gunplay is also improved in my eyes. This is a new engine, and despite the fact that the game looks the same as it always has (with improved visuals of course) it runs smoother and I feel that the controls are more precise. Gun fighting always felt a bit floaty in the earlier titles and it feels like that’s been tightened up. I heard complaints that the game didn’t embrace a more open world model, but I don’t think that’s an issue. It’s always been sort of an instanced shooter, with dungeons and a world that feels like some MMOs I’ve played. Fast travel is still there, but the ability to actually leave Pandora presents itself and soon enough you’ll realize you can explore places you hadn’t heard of to that point. Vehicles are back, and there are multiple varieties, but now you can customize and upgrade them which is a nice touch. Vehicles will appear in certain areas that you can steal in order to get more parts for yourself as well. Changes to the skill trees means that you get multiple ways to customize your character, and you’ll be able to further augment your ultimate ability in ways that hadn’t be available in the past.

The new antagonists aren’t as interesting as Handsome Jack was. Nor are they as funny, but they serve their purpose. A pair of Sirens that have formed a cult and feed on their followers, they seem pretty twisted but also non-threatening. We’re working for Lilith and fighting for Sanctuary, which is now our flying space ship after the city itself was destroyed. A corporate war is raging, and some of the planets you’ll go to house complexes where these corporations have weapons and armies stashed, and it’s our job to fuck shit up. We end up working for Rhys as well, but in the process are putting together vault keys on other planets. It’s not quite as engrossing, but the mechanics and gameplay are still amazing, so I’m not as keen on the story anyway. I’ve put in close to 20 hours so far, but am exclusively playing with my best friend for the time being. I think after we complete the main story I might start up some new characters, but we also know DLC will be out soon enough, so there should be more to do soon enough. I’m having a blast so far, and I haven’t been this hooked by a game in a while. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re bored with the Destinies and Divisions out there.

Thoughts on Beyond: Two Souls

I spoke very highly of two of Quantic Dream’s games already, and had mentioned that I would also be diving into a third game that came out in between Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human. That game, is 2013’s Beyond: Two Souls. This is going to be a relatively short post on the subject, because unlike the previously written about games, this one didn’t sink its hooks into me like the others did. I’ll now attempt to explain why.

Graphically, the game leans more towards the Detroit side of the scale rather that the first game, mainly due to the fact that the latter two games came out on PS4 while the former came out on PS3, so that explains the difference in fidelity. That isn’t to say Heavy Rain looked bad, it was just a sign of the times. It still had a better story line than this game, as did the third chapter. You begin play as a little girl, and there are various current time frame and flash back scenes that lay the ground work for the story. It seems that as a little girl, your character has an “imaginary friend” that ends up actually being some sort of entity that has a link with her. It’s not so much that she has control of it, but more so that she can ask it to do things. In gameplay terms, yes,  you do control this entity at certain points, and are able to choose to listen to commands or not. There’s still branching dialogue choices and things you can do that affect the story, but the story itself was less grounded in reality and I think suffered because of it. I realize that robots becoming humans is also currently far-fetched but still something I anticipate could happen whereas this spirit/entity is complete bullshit and made it harder for me to suspend my disbelief.

I do however, think it’s cool when games get fully motion captured actors and portray them as themselves in games. Willem Dafoe ends up being the girl’s “handler” so to speak, and it appears as time goes on, she becomes more than just a girl with a pet, and more of her own CIA spy bad ass. That’s cool and all, but it’s less cohesive with all of the jumping around the game did. Heavy Rain ended doing some flashback stuff but it made sense when they did so. Detroit: Become Human ended up making more of a beeline to the end of the story but you played multiple characters so you could tell it was all happening simultaneously. Beyond: Two Souls ends up making a stack of layers that when unshuffled makes sense, but otherwise seems like a mess. This is probably why they included an option to play the game in chronological order, but I wanted the “authentic” experience.

What frustrated me the most was controlling the entity. Early on you have to fly through walls to “cheat” and see what card a person is looking at so that you can match it to a card on the desk in front of you. Then Willem Dafoe asks you if you can do anything else (at this point they seem to think she is psychic/telekinetic) and you can throw shit around the room. Like the other games though, this is controlled via QTE/weird button combinations and it just didn’t do it for me. There’s some forced stealth with an invisible spirit and that’s where I drew the line. It just simply didn’t hold my attention like the others. As it stands now, I can’t recommend this one, but if you are a fan of their other games, you might be able to power through it. That’s all I have to say about it, so I’ll see you all next time!