State of the Game: Spreading it Thin

It’s been a little while since I threw together a gaming round up post so I thought today was as good a day as any to check in and bullshit about what I’ve been playing. Honestly I have been playing less the past couple of weeks and I know that the next couple of weeks are going to be pretty busy as well, but I have still managed to make some time here and there. Lately I’ve been focusing on only one mobile game, and that’s Clash Royale. I was experimenting with several other titles but none have held my interest besides this gem and I’m glad I decided to give it a whirl. On my PS4 I’ve been plugging away at Final Fantasy XV (though not as much as I would like) and have nearly “finished” Killing Floor 2 until they add some new stuff in. I’ve touched on a few other games but we’ll discuss in detail in a bit. On the PC, I downloaded and installed an MMO for the first time in a long time. The last MMO I played was Destiny and many would argue that’s not exactly a great example of the genre. As I mentioned recently I had been toying with the idea of investing into FF14, but then decided to play FF15 first. What game could that possibly be?

Honestly I’m as surprised as you are that I installed this game. A long while ago it was recommended to me as someone said I would probably like it. There were a few times I had the game added to my Steam cart because it was on sale and I wanted to give it a try but I never did. It has finally transitioned into a free to play title, and so now I can try it out without spending money on it, and that seems to be the best formula for me when it comes to the genre, not because F2P is the best iteration, but only because I am so fickle about these types of games and have wasted more than my fair share of money on them without really getting much return on investment. At some point I decided I wasn’t an MMO player anymore, I had simply grown out of it. But I always want to try and recapture that excitement for a game, and I have yet to do so, but I keep trying nonetheless. So this is my latest attempt at giving an MMO a go, and it could simply be a small tourist trip but I can at least say I tried it, much like most of the titles that are out there. So far I have actually enjoyed it quite a bit, but I only played through the tutorial and made my way to Agartha. I believe I will go into more detail about this title in a separate post, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

Clash Royale

I was trying to find the first time I mentioned playing Clash Royale on the blog but it seems that I only mentioned it in passing once, and then by the time I talked about it again I was account level 7, so I must not have made much mention during the early weeks. Regardless, that first mention occurred back in December of last year, so we aren’t too far off from my year anniversary with the game. That’s pretty impressive for a mobile title in my book, because most of what I try I don’t like and uninstall quickly. Anyway, I’m up to account level 11 currently, and my deck has been staying the same for a long while. I’ve moved up to arena 10 with little issue, and I play the shit out of the 2v2 mode when it is available. The clan has been a reliable way to donate for account experience and earn cards. Currently working on leveling my Balloon to 6 (getting most from Epic Sunday requests and it’s taking forever!) and my Hog Rider to level 9. My current deck:

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It’s worked out fairly well to this point, and this deck powered me up through arena 9 and hasn’t faired too poorly through a good chunk of arena 10. I am pushing towards the upper-middle of the arena so I imagine with a couple more upgrades I’ll make it into the Legendary arena, hopefully by the end of the year. I love the game, enjoy the shifting metas and new additions are pretty constant. Think I’ll be playing this in my down time for a long while to come.

Final Fantasy XV

I haven’t played as much as I would like, but it seems that the game continues to open up bit by bit, and though I assume you could power your way through the story and open things up faster, I imagine you would end up hitting a difficulty wall and be forced to wander around and level up. As such I have decided to continue the method of doing all the side quests and hunts I can find while clearing out the lowest level quests from my journal (or whatever happens to be the most efficient route) to keep ahead of the level curve. The game hasn’t really spiked too much in difficulty, the boss battle wasn’t too bad. I have had some random encounters while wandering around where really high level big baddies appear and attack me, and have also been attacked by some big ass demons at night and those have proved challenging, but overall the game feels well balanced when it comes to difficulty. At this clip it’s going to take me quite a while to finish the game, but as the title of this post states, I’ve been spreading it pretty thing. And I play whatever feels right on a whim. Here’s some pics of my adventures anyhow:

Other miscellaneous things I’ve played recently: 

Killing Floor 2 – I’ve earned all but one trophy in the game, meaning I’ve collected all the hidden items in all levels, maxed out one of my perks, won 25 matches and won a round on all but the hardest difficulty. Hell on Earth is a challenge that shouldn’t be too difficult, however it’s been harder than I anticipated. Basically I’ve been doing alright when we have played, but my buddy who plays with me tends to not do as well. This isn’t too much of an issue, except people that we get matched up with tend to be too low of perk level to be effective. The game says hell on earth is meant for those who are already perk level 25 (I have a 25 SWAT and he has a 25 Support), yet we get matched up with people playing perks that are level 15 and shit. It’s dumb. Eventually we’ll get on a good enough team to get it done, but I sort of want to be done with it until some new map or mode is introduced.

SMITE – Have 59 Gods mastered. Haven’t been playing too much, but some renewed interest recently due to my friend finding someone else he knows IRL to play with. That guy is actually pretty damn good, but a bit of a loud mouth on the mic. Regardless, it’s been fun to get back into after some time away.

Horror Games – I wrote a dedicated post to Until Dawn, which I haven’t played again since — though intend to finish at some point. The girlfriend lost interest so I chose to show her something else. I fired up Outlast which I never got too far into, but after playing that one for a couple hours she figured out that what is missing in these games is the combat. I have to say I agree. Resident Evil has the horror bits down but then you get to shoot shit in the face. Much more interesting than hiding under beds and looking at everything through night vision. Lastly, I moved on to The Last of Us Remastered, because I bought that a while back and haven’t played the game since it was first released and back then it was on PS3. I have to say the remaster looks pretty and runs great. I haven’t tried the multiplayer but I’m also kind of excited to play through this one again. I never did play any of the DLC and it’s included so there’s that as well. At least this one has combat, and hopefully the cinematic nature will tickle her fancy.

That’s about all for this round up. Figured I should break up all the Magic: The Gathering talk around here. But don’t you worry, there will be some more of that very soon as well, ha!

Wall of Text Version 2.0

I was going to make this into a State of the Game post, but since I’m writing from work and I don’t have any screenshots or other goodies to spice it up, I decided a wall of text post was in order. I have a bunch of mini-updates about my various activities and thought a random stream-of-consciousness style of post was in order. So here goes.

I’m not sure if you guys caught it, but I made mention earlier in the month of a coming event that would change up my personal life a bit. For the past year and a half (or maybe a bit more) I’ve been dating a woman off and on. Things have had their ups and downs as most relationships go, but we have soldiered on and are stronger for it. She has lived with one of her long term friends for almost a year now, and since she moved in there, I have become friends with her roommates. Her friend’s husband is the one who got me back into Magic, and that has grown into a full on weekly playgroup and has been a blast.

Recently it was brought to our attention that the married couple put in an offer on a house. It’s not far from where they live currently, which in turn is not too far from my current house or my work. The house they are buying is in escrow until September, so this isn’t a done deal just yet, but at one point they approached my girlfriend about her intentions going forward. They wanted her to move with them but wanted to see where she stood, at which point she brought up the possibility of me moving in as well. It’s not the optimal situation in that I would prefer to live on my own without roommates, but it is going to get me out on my own again after living with family for nearly three years, and for that I was open to the idea. Things have progressed nicely in my relationship, and this is the next logical step. As such, we are looking forward to this next chapter in our lives and the big change will come soon.

How does that affect other parts of my life? Well I think once I’m moved and settled, I’ll be able to devote more time to gaming and in turn more time to creative outlets. I’ve kept up the blog but I have a more limited output than in years past. I have other aspirations as well, so I think being settled and having all my shit (and people) in one place will help to give me more time to devote to these things. It turns out that two of the members of my Magic playgroup are interested in giving podcasting (and perhaps other media creation) a whirl, so I may finally be getting back on the airwaves. It seems they are bent on making the podcast about MTG, but I may still be able to convince them to do other bits, or perhaps I’ll make the magic bit only certain episodes and do the rest solo. I will figure out the details soon, but I’d expect to see something new from me on that front before the end of the year.

We got together for our weekly session last night and I was able to debut my newly minted Locust God deck. It performed rather well, and I was able to pull off both the infinite combo with Ashnod’s Altar + Skullclamp, and a beatdown win with Shared Animosity. It was glorious. I played a round with Temmet and Molimo as well but those games didn’t go in my favor. Overall it was a fun night but we all want to play more games more often. It really is cardboard crack.

On the gaming front, I’ve spent the last month really digging into Killing Floor 2. At this point I’ve earned all but two of the trophies: One for reaching perk level 25 (maxing out one of the classes) and one for winning a round on the “hell on earth” difficulty (the hardest one available). I’m not far from being able to do both, and then I’ll have yet another platinum trophy for the collection. Recently they also added a carnival themed summer event where all of the monsters look like carnival “freaks” and they even added a new carnival map. There are some mini-tasks to complete that reward cosmetics — to this point I’ve earned a pig mask. Woo.

SMITE recently patched for the summer as well, which means new summer-themed skins and some quests to do. Quests in this game are fairly straight forward, requiring wins, or a number of kills/assists, etc. but they net various rewards during these seasonal events. Skins are usually only available for RMT. The biggest change though was that the account level cap was removed, so 30 is no longer the maximum level — it’s something over 100 now. The XP curve was leveled out and any XP earned post level 30 was automatically added, so I logged in and was instantly level 49. I assume there will be other benefits for leveling, but for now all I saw was a few new achievements, though they are in-game only and don’t net trophies. I’m at about 60 Gods mastered now, and only need a handful of trophies to “finish” this game off as well though I doubt I’ll stop playing it anytime soon.

Lastly, I’ve been spending my other free time in Final Fantasy XV. I’m about level 15 now, have made it into chapter 3 of the main storyline and have successfully cleared all of the side quests and hunts that are at or below my current level. I’m going the completionist route just because you get more trophies that way, and because the side quests give a decent amount of XP and gil, which makes traveling through the game that much easier. So far I love it. I even picked up the season pass, as a couple of episodic DLCs have released and the multiplayer expansion is coming soon. I’m curious to see how that affects the game.

That’s all for me for today. Just wanted to get some updates in and make another post before the month was over. Until next time, happy gaming!

Diving into FFXV

I’m only a few hours in at this point, but I have to say this is one of the best Final Fantasy games that I’ve played. Sure, it’s completely different than its predecessors, but that’s to be expected. The core story and feel of a Final Fantasy game is present, and as such it truly feels like a “Final Fantasy for Fans and First Timers” as the opening scene states. As a sort-of fan — I can’t really say I’m diehard because I haven’t played every single iteration of the series (though I have touched most and completed a handful) — I can say that I enjoy the hell out of this one.

Honestly all of the blogosphere’s talk of Final Fantasy XIV and the new Stormblood expansion had me teetering on the purchase of the game. I did try it a long time ago during a two week trial and though I enjoyed it to a degree, I didn’t feel like I was in the mood for really diving into a new MMO (I was toying with several others at the time). I was seriously contemplating the purchase nonetheless, as there is a new starter edition for $20 that is just the base game (all I’d need to get started) or I could opt for the whole collection for $60. As I teetered on that precipice, I realized that I have owned FFXV for several months and only played it one time, so I should dive into that rather than spend more money on another game. I’ve been talking about sticking to just clearing the backlog and not making new purchases (though there are a couple of games like Gran Turismo Sport that are on the horizon and are must-buy), so I’ve stuck to that for a bit. Hopefully I can actually scratch some titles from the list.

One cool aspect of FFXV that didn’t really exist in prior iterations is the fact that the Kingsglaive movie that released shortly before the game really does tie the story together. Yes, it’s a little spoilery I suppose, but having watched it prior to playing the game it helps to tie the story together — there are even cutscenes from the movie right in the game. As such, I have progressed through part of the main story to the point where I reached a harbor where I was trying to get onto a boat to proceed when the bad guys of this particular title attack the city and kill the king (your father). You head back, see shit going down and then proceed on your journey to meet up with your soon-to-be wife. However, it’s unclear if that’s what will happen, as the marriage was supposed to be between your family and the family who attacked your town, so everything is sort of up in the air. There is a story to be followed, but like most open world games and RPGs, there are side quests galore and plenty of distractions. I can suspend my disbelief long enough to do some fishing, camp, and generally be helpful to everyone, but it does take away from that sense of urgency you are supposed to have. It’s a common issue people point out all the time, but it doesn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the game.

Another bit that I rather enjoy is how your companion/friend Prompto randomly takes pictures throughout your play through and periodically when you rest you get to see his snaps. It makes the game feel more alive than it already does, and gives your companions some character that is rarely seen. Overall I’m enjoying it very much and can’t wait to see what happens next. In the event I’m still feeling like I want more Final Fantasy, perhaps I’ll give FFXIV a whirl, or maybe I’ll play that new remaster of FFXII, as that’s one of the titles in the series I never played. Time will tell. I’ll be back with more updates soon, but for now here are some random screens (partially mine, and partially prompto’s shots):

 

State of the Game: Resident Destiny, Evil Fantasy XV

sotg

For a long time it was difficult to find a happy medium when it came to gaming. I was either knee deep is some story-rich RPG, or for a time I was playing one MMO at a time and little to nothing else. I played nothing but MOBAs and other lobby-based competitive games for a long period of time, and I still dip my toes into new entries in all of these genres. I have always been a little wishy washy or fickle in nature, so I’ve always gone in waves where I delve deeply into one genre, grow tired of its tropes and move on to something new. I usually come back around time and again, but with that bits of real life interspersed I will also go in waves where I don’t play as much. Having other hobbies like Magic also take away from gaming, but provide valuable face time with real people. It seems that over the years I have found myself becoming neurotic over purchases made, my backlog and/or spending all of my time on one game. When I was hosting the Couch Podtatoes Podcast, it made sense for me to be on top of all the sales and play the newest games, because people who were listening to the show weren’t there to hear us drone on and on about the same game. There are game specific podcasts for a reason, and if that’s the only game you play then that podcast would probably suit you better. This isn’t to say I had a massive audience, but the people who were listening were expecting Eri to have a list of new Indie games to rave about and I’d typically have some list of recent big titles to hype up. It became our thing but also part of the stress I put on myself to actually play these games but also work and have a social life. It became a trying thing, and eventually something have to give. As such, the podcast is no more (but I long to produce another) and I’ve reduced my output on the blog. I’ve put more time into social outings (like Magic) and have actually started to get into somewhat of a routine, finding the balance to be not exactly to my liking but better for my individual personality on the whole.

The result of that stream of consciousness drivel above is that I’m in a happy head-space these days; the self-induced pressure to perform to some inhuman standard no longer rests on my shoulders. I suppose this should should have been a rant better saved for some other post, but the words keep flowing so I’m going to continue on anyway. Don’t worry, I have games to discuss in a moment. The gist of it all is that I’ve found some sort of happy medium where I’ve managed to have a few days a week to myself to game away and make progress on more than one game, and I don’t feel as guilty about the laundry list of games I haven’t completed. In many cases, I’ve cleared out games from the backlog simply because the titles weren’t engaging. If I’ve played a game for a few hours and it’s not grabbing me, I’m not pushing myself to finish it. Uninstalling has been a great weight off of my mind. There are still too many titles that I’ve procured during sales that I need to get to, and games that I currently enjoy are constantly pushing DLC down my throat (Total War Warhammer was the early unlock for next month’s Humble Monthly, but getting all of the DLC for the game was pricey… I also picked up the 3 DLC packs for Civ VI… sigh) but if I’ve already seen what I need to see, I’m okay with letting some lie in the pile. I have been making progress on more than one game here recently though, so let’s get this State of the Game on the road, shall we?

The three games I’ve put the most time into this past couple of weeks are Resident Evil 7, Destiny, and Final Fantasy XV. Yeah, the latter was finally on sale for $20 off so I picked it up. It looked too damn cool to pass up, and I’m glad I made the purchase. Despite having an RPG (Destiny) I was already working my way through, I didn’t want to miss the sale and I’m nearing the end of Destiny so that one will soon be out of my steady rotation.

I finally hit level 40 the other night on my Hunter, and managed to also complete The Taken King expansion (outside of raids). One thing that immediately stood out to me as being sort of fucked up is that despite playing through the whole game to that point, I only had a light level of 208 after finishing TTK, while Rise of Iron requires a minimum light level of 280… which means grinding for light before I even get to finish the storyline. Out of curiosity, I loaded up my Warlock who was level 7, and used the level 40 boost on him. He got a pile of blue gear, that gave him a light level of 280, just in time to run through RoI. So at this point I’m questioning whether or not I want to continue to level my Hunter until 280 light and then move on to the new expansion, or just play the Warlock through the new storyline and call it quits. Honestly I’m at the point where I’m pretty much done with the game, especially with Destiny 2 supposedly dropping this year. I’d almost rather save the effort and just quit now so I can jump into the sequel on the ground floor (and not wait until the end of its lifecycle like I did with the first game). I do want to see RoI though, as I did pay for the priviledge. I suppose we’ll see how it goes and how sucked into these other games I get. Here’s some pics of progress:

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Resident Evil is one hell of an experience. I have only played for a few short hours, but it is screenshot gold. I don’t really have much to share, and these pictures will likely be spoilery, but damn if it isn’t visceral. I will give a final impression once I’ve completed it, but if you like scary games you absolutely need to do yourself a favor and buy this. VR not required (but likely to require a diaper!).

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Last but not least, as I mentioned I picked up Final Fantasy XV. I’ve been a fan of the FF series for a long time, with some stand out favorites were Tactics, 6, 7 and 9. I actually recently bought the FF9 port because I didn’t get to finish that one back in the PS1 days. FF7 will always be incredible and I still can’t wait for the remake. Tactics is my all time favorite just because I loved the setting and the gameplay. 6 is a classic that would also be great for a remake. I have played most of the others classic titles, but for some reason lost touch with the series during the PS2 era. I never played X, XI, XII or XIII. XIV was a decent MMO that unfortunately came at a time when I wasn’t really into MMOs. With that said, I was really impressed with XV when it was revealed and knew it was a game I wanted to play. After it released and I read some reviews, I knew I’d purchase it. I told myself I wouldn’t buy it when it was $60 because I couldn’t rightly justify the cost knowing I have other deep RPGs sitting on my hard drives. But $20 off? Yeah, I’ll buy that. Overall the game is completely different than any FF game I’ve played, and that’s not a bad thing. Having more of an open world is a nice touch (though I hear it becomes fairly linear later in the game) and I love the main characters and their banter. The combat system is awesome, if not a little confusing at first. After a few battles though, it really takes off. I look forward to seeing this one to its end, and will really start powering through it once Destiny is off of my list. Here are some pics of the early game:

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That’s all for this edition. Happy gaming!

#E32016: Most Anticipated

I’ve made a tradition of sorts to nerding out about E3 for the past few years. In that spirit, I present to you now, my ten most anticipated games that I saw come out of E3 this year. It was near impossible to narrow down this list, and there were games that I didn’t know about that sort of snuck into this top ten. Other games I’m looking forward to I already discussed in yesterday’s podcast, and there are many other titles that I wanted to put on this list. But for now, let’s dive into the games I’m most looking forward to after E3 2016.

Oh, and yeah I know that Nintendo hasn’t even done their stream yet, but I’m not a Nintendo guy anymore, so I already know there isn’t anything I’m looking forward to out of that.

Titanfall 2

I knew about Titanfall 2 already, but after having seen the above trailer plus the multiplayer trailer, I was instantly sold. I really enjoyed the first one, which I played on my friend’s Xbox and later on my PC, so I was already fairly certain I’d go for the sequel as well. The addition of new animations, improved graphics, and a single player campaign, I think this one is going to knock it out of the park. How can you go wrong with mechs?

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Speaking of Mechs, how about Mechanized dinosaur robots? The first time I heard of this game I wasn’t as excited for it as others I know (Like Eri). After seeing this gameplay footage, I was aboard the hype train. I’m pretty sure this one is a Playstation exclusive as well, which is good news for me, but might force some people (like Eri) into buying the console after all. Regardless, this game looks ridiculous, and I can’t wait to play it!

Prey

Coming out of left field (sort of) is Prey. Apparently there was a game by this name some years ago, and I never heard of it. Then there was a sequel in the works that was canned, and now the game has been rebooted. Eri mentioned it to me prior to the announcement, but after seeing this trailer, I am so psyched to check it out. Psychological Horror and Thrillers both make me giddy, so I’ll definitely be checking this one out, but not until next year it seems.

Resident Evil 7

Speaking of Horror, one of my favorite franchises has finally revealed a sequel, and this one seems to be worthy of the title. The trailer was in first person, but I’m not sure if that’s how the game will play or not. Apparently there will be the option to play the entire game in VR mode, so I assume first person it is. This one looks super creepy, didn’t show any of the original cast members, and might be something completely original. Time will tell.

Death Stranding

Another title from one of gaming’s most recognizable names, featuring a recognizable actor from that one show we all watch. The trailer leaves us with more questions than answers, and there was clearly no gameplay, but at least we finally know what Kojima Studios has been up to. I’m looking forward to finding out more, but these sorts of teasers don’t give me the same sort of hype as the gameplay trailers do.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Continuing with the theme of no gameplay in our trailers, comes another teaser from Bioware. We saw some artwork with the last announcement about the game, and now we’ve got some in game assets. Perhaps in the coming months we’ll see more, but I highly doubt they’re going to meet that original December 2016 release window. Still, it’s Mass Effect, so we know it’s going to be good. I can’t wait for more information!

Skyrim Special Edition

We talked about the Skyrim remaster on the podcast, and it was a known thing prior to E3 that the remaster was coming. No, we didn’t get any Elder Scrolls VI announcement. There were other bits from the universe, in the card game and more stuff for the MMO, but no TES6, alas. Before seeing the above trailer, I thought that the Skyrim remaster was sort of a crap idea, but now seeing the ridiculous difference between the two, I’m sold on the idea. It was also announced that those of you who bought Skyrim and all of the DLC (or GOTY bundles) would get the upgrade for free. It’s unclear though, in the case of someone like me who bought the game on PS3 along with all of the DLC, will get the PS4 version for free (same goes for Xbox 360/One users). This version brings mod support to the consoles, along with a bunch of graphical improvements. It’s been pointed out that you can already make Skyrim this pretty with mods and a decent PC, but once the upgrade comes along it looks like it’s easier to switch mods on and off, so that’s a plus for you too. Now I’m trying to decide if I should just buy the Legendary edition on PC prior to this release and get the upgrade that way, or wait and see about the console edition. Either way I think running through Skyrim again would be fun. It’s been a couple of years since the last time I played it.

Final Fantasy XV

I’m surprised by Final Fantasy XV. I haven’t really paid attention to the series in a long time. I’ve played most of the classic titles, though few to completion. VII was the first I actually finished. I loved IX. I recently bought that again when it was released on Steam, with the intention of finishing it this time around. I’m hyped about the FFVII Remake. But after IX, I stopped caring about Final Fantasy. I never played X, XI, XII, and when I saw XIII in action I was turned off. I also didn’t really care for XIV. However, XV has that open world feel, amazing graphics and actually looks like a really fun game. It will be interesting to see what they’ve done with the battle system, and to see how that might correlate to the FFVII Remake. Either way I plan to check this one out.

God of War

God of War is another surprise on this list. I never played a GoW game. I missed it on PS2 because I was playing MMOs. I didn’t pick it up on PS3 because I was late to the party and didn’t care. I’ve seen a few other iterations over the years and have even watched them played but never really felt like it was the title for me. This trailer sold me on this new reboot, which seems to be moving from whatever mythology used in prior titles to a more Norse oriented one. And I like that shit. That is all.

X-Wing VR 

I had to include at least one VR video, because this conference actually sold me on the concept. They’ve been talking about Occulus, Vive, and other smart-phone based VR for a while now, and I’m not typically an early adopter when it comes to these sorts of things. VR hasn’t really looked that good until very recently. Seeing the announcement for Sony’s Playstation VR (formerly Project Morpheus) has opened up the possibility of VR for me. Occulus is $600 or so, Vive is $800, and I’m sure both would require hardware upgrades. The Playstation VR is only $400, and is said to work with existing PS4 hardware, meaning it won’t be necessary to upgrade to PS4.5/Neo. Seeing the above video along with several others during the presentation really sold me on the idea. I’m sure that in the future, better tech will come along and will be less money, and it will be more affordable to get the hardware for PC, but I think now I’m heading in the direction of VR on the console.

What games were you most excited about this E3?