Developer Appreciation Week: Gearbox Software

Developer Appreciation Week (or DAV) is technically coming to a close, but I thought I’d squeeze a post about the topic in nonetheless. I haven’t really been following any of the scheduled stuff this Blaugust, but as it is I haven’t really needed any help getting topics down. Having to rush and blow through several posts in a day has left me looking for inspiration though. I’m leaving to Vegas on Thursday morning, and won’t return until Sunday night. As such I’ve been writing ahead for those days to have scheduled posts, and well, here we are. From what I can recall I have written a DAV post in the past, and I believe I included a couple of developers in it. This time around I wanted to pick someone different, and with Borderlands 3 releasing just around the corner (and my own personal time spent with the series recently) I realized that I have rather enjoyed much of the content put out by Gearbox Software.

When doing some research to make sure I had my facts straight, it turns out that my relationship with the company goes much further back than Borderlands, thought that’s the IP that I’m most connected to at this point. Nevertheless, way back in 1999 Gearbox developed Half-Life: Opposing Force, the expansion to the original Half-Life. I loved that expansion and played it while still in high school. It appears that I may have touched on some other games that the company developed as well, but my relationship wouldn’t get as serious until early 2010 when I purchased my Playstation 3 and a copy of the original Borderlands. I would go on to buy all of the expansions, level up a couple of characters to maximum level along with beating the end game raids and things. I basically 100% that game before playing it over again with my best friend once he got a copy as well. By the time Borderlands 2 had released, I had it pre-ordered and also picked up the season pass. I bought most if not all of the DLC too, and in some cases it felt less than worth the money, but I didn’t care due to being obsessed with the gameplay and wanting every new experience I could get.

Games like Destiny or The Division couldn’t exist without Borderlands before it. By that note, I don’t think Borderlands would exist without RPGs like Diablo either. Nonetheless, Borderlands solidified the FPS-RPG hybrid as a viable model, something that can be monetized and of which a whole universe can expand. Unfortunately developers typically need publishers, and 2K being the evil corporation here might have something to do with some of the negative press around said monetization, though at this time it has become the norm of the games industry.

The company isn’t without blemish though. Besides the games that I’ve mentioned, they had a fiasco over Aliens: Colonial Marines, but that has been better documented elsewhere. It could also be said that they lost the battle of the hero shooter, as their game Battleborn released near games like Blizzard’s Overwatch or Hi-Rez Studios’ Paladins, both of which seem to have seen the most success (Quake Champions is the last game of this nature that I can recall coming out, and even it seems to be more successful than Gearbox’s entry).

It’s likely that we’ll see a return to greatness with Borderlands 3 though, and I fully hope for that outcome. Borderlands does the looter shooter thing right, is easy to jump in and out of with friends, has a humourous and well put together storyline and I just hope for the best for the company’s return to the series. We’ll know soon enough, Borderlands 3 releases on September 13th, which is just a couple of weeks away. You know I’ll be there from the start to dive in head first.

State of the Game: Fall Update

I thought I would take today to write about some of the other little odds and ends that I’ve been dabbling with since I haven’t done a round-up post in a bit. The new Playstation Plus titles for October were pretty meh compared to the month prior when we got Destiny 2, but not every month can be amazing. There was one of those asymmetrical horror games, Friday the 13th, but I skipped playing that as I had played Dead by Daylight a few months ago and didn’t find it to be a fun experience. There were a couple of other so-so titles that I didn’t have interest in either, and then there was Rocketbirds 2: Evolution.

Rocketbirds 2:

I played the original Rocketbirds back on the PS3 and if I recall correctly, it was also a Plus freebie. I rather enjoyed it, played it to completion and even downloaded the soundtrack because it was pretty damn good. The sequel changes things up ever so slightly, but keeps the same general formula that made the original good. It’s a side-scrolling platforming shooter, similar to games like Metal Slug or Guns, Gore & Cannoli. It has more similarities to the latter though, a comparison I made when writing about GC&C. There’s a sense of humor here that I enjoy, the soundtrack rocks again, and the gameplay is similar though some new tricks were added. Graphically it looks a bit better but still has the same style. Overall it was a worthy addition to my library and I’m glad I finally got to try it out.

Titanfall 2:

A while back I wrote about a handful of games that I had picked up on sale for dirt cheap. Titanfall 2 was one of them. I worried that the game would have a dead multiplayer community but it turns out that it’s still alive and well. This title, unlike its predecessor, has a single player campaign as well, and it’s been a blast.

I always liked the concept of Titanfall, being a FPS game in the same vein as Call of Duty and others, but having that added element of jet packs, wall running and mechs you call down from the sky to pilot. This is still true in the sequel, though having the campaign to play through is an added benefit. Not only do you get to test out different weapons and mech load outs, it gets you re-familiarized with the controls (and since I played the first on PC, there was a small learning curve moving over to the console) before diving into multiplayer matches (of which I have done as well). I’ve put a handful of hours into it so far, and I look forward to seeing the conclusion of the story.

League of Legends:

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I have been dabbling with League of Legends again. It’s been a fun experience, and though I felt rusty the first couple of matches I played, I am now feeling myself getting back to form. I was never a top tier player, only playing for fun and used to play ARAM and rotating game modes more often than not. When I played ranked I managed to make it into the Silver tier a few times but never any further as I didn’t dedicate that much time to it but imagine I could have made it into at least Gold if I put my mind to it. I still don’t really want to dedicate that time to it, and this season ends next month so perhaps after the reset I’ll try out some ranked again.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to catch up with the changes. Summoner’s Rift is a different place compared to when I last played. The Rune system seems good, but I also don’t like it as much as the old runes/masteries system. I made some generic pages for the different types of champions in the game, but they need to be honed in before I try and play anything more competitive. I’ve made a few purchases with essence (which used to be IP) for some of the champions that released since my hiatus. Of those, I’ve only played Kled, whom I like but was not very good with. Otherwise I’ve played Swain and Graves since their reworks, and they seem fine. Another big change is that they removed the Summoner Level cap, so I’ve rolled over level 30. I’m not sure if hitting a higher level rewards anything, but I’m sure I’ll find out.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!:

Lastly, I’ve played a bit of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! As I mentioned in my last post about it, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start fresh, or try and pick up where I left off. I should also note that I thought I had been playing Jack through that session, but it turns out I was actually playing Wilhelm, who is my highest level character at this point. Jack was only level 3.

I ended up starting fresh with Claptrap, but after playing for a bit I realized that I remembered what had been going on and didn’t feel the need for the refresher. At that point I loaded up Wilhelm and worked through a handful of quests before calling it a night. I plan to add this game to my active rotation and try to clear it out of the backlog!

That’s all for this round-up. I have a new deck idea I want to share sometime over the weekend, so stay tuned for that. Until then, Happy Gaming!

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-sequel! is by no means a new title. It released back in 2014 for last-gen consoles and PC, but was later remastered for Xbox One and PS4 as part of “The Handsome Collection” which compiled both Borderlands 2 and The Pre-sequel.  My history with the series has been very positive.

The original game in the series released back in 2009. I finally got my hands on a PS3 at the beginning of 2010, and this was one of the first games I purchased for my new console (along with Fallout 3). I loved it. Not only is it one of the zaniest first person shooters I’ve ever played, but it combined its sense of humor with tight combat and loot of Diablo proportions. I played this one mostly solo, though I did jump in with a couple of friends for some of the more difficult content. I earned the Platinum trophy, played through all of the DLC and eventually moved on.

When the sequel was announced for release back in 2012, I knew I was going to pick it up so I went ahead and preordered it. Doing so got me some sort of bonus via GameStop, and I was able to pick up on release day and jump into the action. I played this one mostly solo again, but eventually my best friend got a copy and we ran through it again co-op. I also picked up the season pass but I don’t believe I ever completed all of it. It was still a great game and a bunch of fun.

When The Pre-Sequel was first announced I wasn’t as thrilled. I was more looking forward to a proper third game in the series rather than a game that was shoe-horned in between the two existing games. I knew I wanted to try it, but I didn’t want to pay top dollar. Thankfully I had become a more frugal gamer by this time, so I ended up picking up the base game and all DLCs for it for something like $10. Back when I was doing the podcast with Eri of Healing the Masses, we were continuously looking for games to play together to help feed the content creation side of things. It turned out that she too had a copy that sat unplayed so we decided to try this one out together. This was back in 2015. We put in about ten hours before we moved on to other things, and as such the whole of my experience with the game was in co-op and I honestly don’t remember much. Here are some screens of our time with the game back then:

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We clearly played for a bit, and I remember having a good time running around blowing shit up and chatting via comms. This title is very similar to the others. Graphically it looks a bit better than the first two but probably only because I played those on a PS3 and played this one on a PC. The gameplay is exactly the same though some slight modifications were made to the mechanics in that you can jump around a little differently due to the low gravity of this moon and also have to pay attention to your oxygen tank while space walking. Otherwise it’s more of the same but it’s a good same. There are some Aussie jokes that I didn’t really get but that she understood being from the same country as the devs.

For now I’m using this post as a jump off point, as I’ve been eyeing the game for a while now and want to get back into it and finish it off. It’s likely I’ll play solo but I’ve always enjoyed that anyway. I’m just wondering if I should try to pick up where I left off or just roll up a new character and start over. I played as Jack’s Doppleganger the last time and remember him fondly enough, but I know there is the other DLC character and a couple of the originals that I wouldn’t mind trying as well. So for now, this is a preview post for things to come, but I do plan to grind this one out soon and strike another title from my backlog list.

State of the Game: The Short Edition

sotg

Late again, but I was debating just calling this post off for the week because I didn’t want to get into too much detail when talking about any of the following games. However, I think I’ve piled up enough smaller experiences that I can just do a small summation of what’s been going on. This is mainly due to the fact that my sister is coming out this week to visit for a few days, so I know I won’t be posting much if at all, so this is what you get til after she leaves!

League ELO hell continues. The story thus far: Started Bronze I after provisional matches. Dropped to Bronze III. Rose to Bronze I. Dropped to Bronze II. Stayed for a month. Dropped to Bronze III. Got into promo series to go back to Bronze II, lost. Stuck in Bronze III. I guess I suck. Sort of taking a break from taking it so seriously. Maybe I’ll luck out and get back to Silver before the season ends.

Helldivers: Progressed through several missions, and then finally tried out the co-op multiplayer, which is a lot of fun. Since it’s made by the same guys who made Magicka, you can “accidentally” kill your buddies. Tons of fun. Haven’t had a problem with population thus far, but I feel like I should devote some significant time to this one before populations eventually die out.

Hotline Miami 2: Progressed through Act I. Feels more difficult than the first game, but mechanics, atomsphere, graphics, gameplay are all the same. Perhaps I’m just wrong in thinking that the first one was easy.

More sales got the best of me. I picked up Banished for $5, and Starships for some odd discount as well. I was bummed that I later saw a package where Starships and Beyond Earth were both really cheap, but that’s how it goes. Banished is a fun city builder that I’m surprised to be enjoying as much as I have. I usually get bored with these types of games. I actually was looking into getting Cities: Skylines because it’s been all the rage, but again, I usually get bored with these types of games. So I figured I’d skip it, but I’ve had my eye on Banished for a long time, and $5 is a steal, so I went for it instead. I have enjoyed trying to get everything in working order to the point where you can speed things up and it’s on autopilot.

Starships is a 4x-lite. It’s a game designed for the mobile market, and as such many people said it wasn’t worth your time. I am normally one of those types of people as well, but it just looked like a great way to get some strategy gaming in, without the time committment. Having read some reviews and commentary, it seems that was the conclusion most people who were happy with the game came to. Having tried it out, I can tell that I was going about things all wrong in my first game, so I have a better idea of what I want to do in the next go-round. I think it’s fun, but I’ll get more into it at a later time.

During that same sale I was also tempted by Borderlands The Pre-Sequel, and ended up getting it as well. I would have preferred to get it for the PS3 because I have the first two games there as well, but it wasn’t on sale over on PSN, so I couldn’t pass up the deal. However, having purchased Borderlands 2 back when it came out (and the season pass) I know that it’s one of those money sinks, so getting the bundle all at once was helpful, and still cheaper than just the base game would have been on PS3. I never did finish the last couple of DLC packs for BL2, so that was reinstalled on my Playstation to get tackled before jumping into TPS.

Lastly, my Dad gifted me a copy of Tamriel Unlimited. I wasn’t expecting that, and had suspicions that it might not run on this system, but I’m happy to report it runs great. Having played a Khajiit stealthy character in Skyrim, I obviously had to roll a Khajiit Nightblade in ESO. I started out doing all the quests I could find, and then ended up taking a boat to another zone and doing more quests. It feels just like Skyrim, though I see other people doing the same things as me. It’s weird, but cool, and I rather like it. Coming back for another session, I decided to roll a Dark Elf Sorcerer, and I was instantly hooked, and now I’m wanting to try the other classes. I have a full post ready to write about this game that will probably hit next weekend.

Here’s some screens of some of the aforementioned games.

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#stateofthegame #roundup