The State of the Game: Open Worlds

This week I spent time in a variety of games, not all of which were open worlds, but there are two games on the list that were, and I spent most of my play time there. The play list this week consisted of: Terraria, Defiance, God Mode, Grid 2, Sword of the Stars: The Pit, and Rogue Legacy.

Terraria:
I’ve already expressed my opinions on Terraria. Having played the game quite a bit more, I have still been enjoying it, although I wouldn’t say that I’ve made a whole lot of progress. I did some odd things just to earn a few of the trophies (and in turn, explore) like building a “ladder” straight up to the top of the world. Gravity actually starts to lessen as you get higher up and dunking on that professional size basketball hoop seems doable. Falling to your death from such a height is pretty humorous as well. Later, I built another ladder looking for a floating island that the trophy speaks of, and found one. On it was a building made of gold bricks. That’s right, gold effing bricks! Inside was a gold chest that I couldn’t open… so while I consulted the wiki (and found out you need a golden key that I didn’t posess) the building was surrounded by Harpies. Lots of them. I thought to myself, what the hell, it’s just a couple harpies NBD, and was promptly flattened by them. I’ll tackle that island again later. Deciding that I needed to upgrade my crappy wood armor to something more, well, metal, I headed off to mine some ores and metals. I am still in the process of doing so, so that I can take on harder monsters, dig deeper and try to hunt down some of the prerequisites to summon the bosses.

Defiance:
Wait what? I thought you didn’t play MMOs anymore?! Yeah that’s what I thought too. And then this game went on sale for $2.50 and how could I say no? Be that as it may, Defiance is classified as an MMO, but really it plays like Borderlands with more people populating the world. Instead of 4 player co-op, there are many players. But that hasn’t stopped me from treating it as a single player game, and playing by myself. More on this later. So I started up the game not really knowing what to expect, as I had read many mixed reviews on the interwebs. After getting through the tutorial and figuring out the buttons and various menus, it really isn’t any harder to understand than Borderlands. A good entry-level MMO, and there isn’t an unattainable cap, though it seems that there really isn’t an end game outside of playing PVP. But I really don’t know, I’m not there yet. I rolled up an Irathien Male Survivalist, but this game doesn’t have any sort of classes, nor racial advantages. So this just boils down to appearance and starting weaponry. My choice boiled down to the Survivalist coming with a Sniper rifle, which I felt would be advantageous. After playing through the story to a point where I have a vehicle and can really go exploring, being a sniper can be a good and bad thing. It really sucks only having a pistol as a side arm, so once I picked up a SMG I felt better about things. Playing solo is dangerous, and if there isn’t anyone playing in the immediate area you can get swarmed quick. If you have ample cover it’s cool to snipe, but when cleavers are running up to your face it’s sidearm time, and the SMG handles things nicely. So far I’m enjoying the solo aspect, but it requires certain EGO levels before you are allowed to participate in the co-op missions and the PVP. Those come complete with matchmaking though, so knowing people to play with isn’t required, which is a plus. I have yet to participate in an Arkfall yet, which is an open world event, or the open world PVP Shadow War. So there will be more on this game as I get into it further.

The Others:
God Mode – I’m level 10. I fully upgraded the SMG (starting weapon), and upgraded to the plasma pistol as my sidearm. Also picked up the healing special power, which is far superior to the shield and works when you’re running some oaths (thing negative boosters like in Uncharted, or a negative attribute. I have beaten all  of the levels solo on Bronze difficulty,  and have since moved up to Silver and did one level solo. Might try out gold, as one of the trophies requires beating all levels on the hardest difficulty. There still isn’t much of a player base online, so I guess the sale I took part in wasn’t very popular.

Grid 2 – I only played a couple of races thus far, and the game seems cool, but the controls are kind of wonky. But I remember feeling that way when I first played Gran Turismo 5, and I think I had to make adjustments. I’m not sure, I don’t play racing games all that much but they are usually fun. The game plays somewhere in between Gran Turismo (simulation) and Need for Speed (arcade-y).

SotS: The Pit – I started another play through, for the 2nd time I chose a Ranger. Currently on Level 9. I’m on floor 10. I started this game on normal difficulty, and used the option to skip to level 5 and utilize banked experience from my previous Ranger play through. Picked up a fair bit of gear, though haven’t made much recipe progress.

Rogue Legacy – I’ve played sporadically. Had many more deaths, many more heirs. I have started locking the castle as I have now explored all of the castle, and have moved onto clearing out the forest. I will probably continue to lock it now as I progress through the game. Currently level 30 or so (though I’m too lazy to look right now).

On the Horizon:
This week’s Playstation Plus offering was Borderlands 2. Knowing that the player base will get a kick in the pants is getting me really itching to go back and play through the DLC that I have owned since release and haven’t played (bought the season pass, but only played through the first DLC). I had friends playing the game when it first came out, but I don’t see them playing anymore, and convincing someone who has quit a game to come back isn’t all that easy. So I’m thinking of playing and letting anyone join my game, which I have never done before. I have a headset now, so maybe this is the thing to do. I’ve been missing having the multiplayer element and it seems like everyone I used to play games with is off doing their own thing. Maybe I’ll get some new online buddies this way.

The State of the Game: More Sessions

In my last post, I mentioned the sales I got in on as a part of Black Friday. Of the games mentioned there, I didn’t play all of them all that much. I did at least try them all, but I didn’t play the four games I purchased from GoG.com beyond their tutorials. Of those games, I liked Celtic Kings and Imperial Glory the best, and will probably pick one to delve into at some point. For this week though, I was concerned most with the following: Faster Than Light, Rogue Legacy, League of Legends, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger and God Mode.

Faster than Light:
I finally had a multi-day session with the game. I decided to stick with Easy mode just so that I could possibly make it far enough along to unlock another ship that could possibly make normal a little more do-able. The progression of these rogue-likes is so much different than games of old, or even the way traditional games work these days. Rather than playing to a save point and then returning to it upon death, you are constantly starting the same journey over and over, but earning something more valuable than gear — experience. That experience will allow you to progress further than before. The mechanics of earning something to advance further play-throughs (new ships in this case) makes starting over feel better than it would normally. Maybe I’m a sucker for punishment, but this is something that kept me coming back for more with games of my childhood, and it keeps me coming back today too. I managed to make it to the final sector of the game on this run over the course of the week, though I died while en-route to intercept the final boss. However, many records were set:

FTLnew

It was that experience of previous runs that lead me to such a great success this run. I learned to upgrade shields and that made a world of difference. Luck also provided me with better weapons than in previous games, and I took that luck with me to the bank. My reward for the run was the Engi ship, which I have yet to take out for her maiden voyage. Soon.

torus

Rogue Legacy:
I have completely fallen in love with this game. When I was toying with the idea of buying it last Friday, I could only look at the video and be reminded of the countless hours I spent playing Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins and Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts on the NES and Genesis respectively. Really, the similarities stop at the pixellated graphics and the overall feel of the game.

roguelegacy
The makeshift town outside of the castle

The mechanics of this game are definitely rogue-like, where the castle your adventure takes place in is procedurally generated, and death is permanent. There are no lives. But Rogue Legacy takes this a step further in that death is a tool for progression. You are the heir of a Legendary Hero. When you die, your heir will take up your crown, and delve into a new version of the same castle. This means you get to keep all of your equipment and runes and skill points as they were bequeathed to your children. Upon death, you return to the title screen, where you are prompted to choose your heir. You are then taken to a great wall of portrait paintings of your family line, and the newest addition to the line will be your next character. There are four classes to choose from at the beginning of the game, with more unlockable classes in the skill tree. You can choose from one of three options for your heir, each with a name, class, spell, stats, and negative “birth defects.” Not all heirs are created equal, and sometimes you will have to choose the lesser of three evils.

Sir Useless, I choose you!
Sir Useless, I choose you!

Some of the birth defects aren’t so bad. O.C.D. gives you MP for smashing breakables, and there are a lot of breakables in the game. A.D.H.D. makes your character move faster. But some of the defects are detrimental, and quite annoying. Nostalgia makes the game a sepia tone; similarly there is a “colorblind” grayscale version. Dyslexia makes things harder to read, and Dementia disables your map. Still, this all adds a dimension not seen in the classic games from generations past. The skill tree adds another level, and in it you can upgrade your character, but also open new classes, which can make playthroughs a bit easier.

tree

This stuff isn’t cheap though, and as of right now I’m on my 26th heir, only having beaten the first boss monster once. It will take some time to build up to a level to be able to clear the whole game, this is for sure. But it took me months, maybe even years to get good enough to beat the GnG games I mentioned from my childhood. So no harm, no foul. Get this game if you are a fan of these types. I would recommend using a gamepad though, as platformers aren’t great with a mouse/keyboard. If you’re like me and don’t like the Xbox controller, there is also software that you can download so you can utilize your PS3 controller, which is what I did.

League of Legends:
My play time has consisted of getting my first win of the day and then logging out. I’m really looking forward to the new featured game mode, Snow Down and further preseason changes, so until then I won’t have much to say about the game. I did decide to roll the dice with a mystery gift and ended up getting the Full Metal Jayce skin, which is normally a whole lot more than 490 RP. I’m glad Riot gave us the opportunity to self-gift, because I don’t really know too many people in-game that I’d want to spend money on, but the gamble from the mystery gift is worth it. At the very least, you get a skin that is normally 520 RP for 490. Best case scenario you get an 1820 RP skin for 490, which is what happened for me. Worth.

Samus with a Hammer
Samus with a Hammer

PS3:
I spent most of my time playing God Mode on the PS3. I really like this game in that you get to mow stuff down and it’s light on story. Like the Call of Duty multiplayer, you get experience and gold with which you upgrade and customize your character. Mine is starting to look pretty cool, and the upgrades to the weapons are making the game easier, even when I can’t find someone to play with. However, as of late I have been finding random people online at random times, and that has made the game much more fun. I still have yet to play a game with a full party of four, but even with just two people it’s good fun. The only detriment to playing with others is that your lives are shared, so if you have a weaker player, you can suffer the consequences, even without dying much. My first game the other day I managed to beat a level and me and the other player only died once each. The next game I got into was with a different player, and he died 7 times to my 2, effectively causing us to lose. This is where I need more people on my friends list to play the game with, but that’s life.

I got a bit more time in with Call of Juarez, and it’s fun, if nothing else because the setting is different from most games out there. Aside from the Read Dead series, there isn’t another western themed game I can think off of the top of my head. Though it isn’t session based, I still feel like I can drop in, complete a chapter or two, and not play again for a while. Somehow, I’m turning into the most casual of gamers, where I don’t complete anything and add more games to the collection than I can play. Speaking of which:

On the Horizon:
The first round of December’s PS Plus dropped today, and along with the free game Grid 2, there were quite a few sales. Of what was on offer, I pulled the trigger on this year’s weird TV-show cross-over MMO Defiance, and the 2-d Minecraft-like Terraria. You may recall I had played the demo of the latter, but never bought it for the asking price of $15. Between the two, I spent $6.25 so I don’t feel like I’ll lose out on much if I don’t really get into either. I just can’t pass up a good deal. I’ll go over my impressions of these in the coming week.

Viernes Negro

I made out like a bandit this Black Friday, and didn’t even have to leave the house. I only spent $26.43 and ended up with 7 games. There were some merchants that I’ve dealt with in the past that also had Black Friday deals, and had I a fortune to spend I would have loved to have picked up some items that weren’t gaming related. But that’s ok, this is the first time I’ve really participated in the Black Friday thing, and I’m anxious that Cyber Monday will also try to empty my wallet.

I started thinking about all of the advertisements I had seen that also had an online counterpart, and thought that I’d look into what was on offer. I was up past midnight last night, so I thought I’d try to be like the people who camp out, and “get there early.” I didn’t really see much that I was interested in, and I visited Amazon, Wal-mart and Gamestop. I know there are many other retailers out there, but those were the ones screaming at me via email. I knew there had to be more coming, so I went to bed with the intentions of checking things out again today.

This morning I looked at my phone and had new emails. Some were repeats, along with one from a band merch store. There was some good stuff there but the discounts weren’t deep enough. After sifting through them all I ended up at GoG.com, who’s whopping 70% off of a large selection of games was too good to pass up. I was bummed that none of the games on my wishlist ended up on sale, but I did end up picking four games out of the selection. Strangely enough they are all strategy games, and that is something that has been missing from my gaming diet as of late. I used to be a big RTS/TBS nut, and aside from playing Civilization V a couple years ago, I haven’t played many games from the genre in too long. All four of these games also come from a time period when I didn’t have a computer in the house, or from when I just got back to having one, and started playing MMOs. Here’s the games:

Celtic Kings – Picked this mainly because I’m of Irish/Scottish decent, but also sounded interesting.
Imperial Glory – This reminds me of Civilization and the Total War games.
Praetorians – This is more like an Age of Empires clone.
Warlords Battlecry 3 – This one is supposed to mix RPG/RTS elements, and that’s intriguing. I only got the 3rd game of the series because it was the only one on sale, but if I enjoy it enough I might pick up the first two, which are both available through the service.

I then checked out the Humble Bundle Store and Steam. I’m more into the DRM-free stuff from the former (and GoG) so I avoided purchases on Steam. I’m also using a shitty laptop for gaming right now, so I can’t run half of the games that I’d want anyway. Indies and old games run just fine, and the HBS is all about Indies. Rogue Legacy was on sale at HBS (and their own home site) and was one that I was interested in when I saw it on GoG, but it wasn’t on sale there, so I purchased from HBS. All of the games I’ve mentioned thus far I have yet to play, and will be detailing them either individually or via the State of the Game column.

Next up was a stop at the Playstation Store. I had heard rumors that there was going to be a Black Friday sale on the actual store, and those were true. It wasn’t a huge selection and other retailers more games on offer, but these were all digital downloads and that has become my preference as of late. I’m not sure that the two games I picked up were part of the holiday sale, but they were on sale nonetheless. There were AAA titles that I would have liked to purchase but the discounts weren’t that great as they were featuring games that released within the last few months. The games I picked up:

God Mode – An arena based 3rd person shooter. This is more session based, in that you enter an arena and kill stuff, pick up power ups, and earn xp/gold from individual matches. You can then buy/upgrade guns and customize your character. 4-player co-op. I convinced my roommate to buy as well, and we’ve been having fun with it.
Worms Revolution – I think Worms 2 was the first in the series that I played. It was back in the 90s, but the series still feels the same. They have added classes and other bits and pieces but overall it’s easy to jump right back into. I have yet to try multiplayer but it sounds promising.

And there you have it. 7 games for under $30. As if my backlog wasn’t crowded enough. I need a 2-3 month vacation from life just to complete them all. What can I say I’m becoming a collector. How did you make out for Black Friday?