Tastes Change

I have a long history of playing RPGs in their many forms. From JRPGs to MMOs, I’ve dipped my toes in all of the sub genres and over the years some of those genres have died off or changed in ways that were incremental and not really noticeable at the time.

Snap judgement: I am not in love with Pillars of Eternity. I absolutely adored all of the Bioware/Black Isle games from the 1990’s; titles like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale took up much of my gaming time back then. The revival of the isometric real-time cRPG genre that’s been happening for a few years now with titles like PoE, Wasteland 2, and Divinity: Original Sin seemed like it would be right up my alley. I did of course play many of these games over the years, but as this genre moved forward into the 3D space with titles like Dragon Age and Mass Effect, I too evolved.

Because of this realization, I have uninstalled all of these titles that have been sitting in my backlog for ages that I would have believed that I would have liked but simply don’t anymore. My tastes have changed. The same could be said for a lot of other titles/genres, but this one in particular strikes me as odd. I know that with age comes changes in not only your body’s function but your mind’s as well, but I’m surprised to find myself writing these words.

I’ve been enamored with games like Shadowrun, Diablo, and some recent JRPG style games. It’s funny because Shadowrun and Diablo are both isometric like the cRPGs that I’m not longer into — but they differ because Shadowrun uses turn-based tactical combat, while Diablo is action combat and I seem to prefer both. The real-time coordination of multiple party members just doesn’t feel fun anymore. In Dragon Age or Mass Effect, the AI for your teammates can be programmed and always felt effective enough to where I could focus on my own character. In action RPGs you only have yourself to depend on so there’s never the added distractions. My tastes have clearly changed. Though I would have called Baldur’s Gate superior to Diablo back in the 90’s, my 35 year old self has flipped sides. I don’t know how to feel about this.

I do feel better about uninstalling all of those games. The backlog has shrunk and many of those games would have taken 60+ hours to complete. Gives me more time to focus on other games I would rather be playing. I’m not going to slog through something just because it *should* be something I’m into. If I’m not feeling it, I’m just going to pass. I’ve done this with other games but had this little sub genre up on a pedestal and I’ve now kicked that pedestal over. If it’s not fun, entertaining or holding my interest, it’s getting cut.

Time to dive into the games that are more appealing to the older me.

Further Thoughts on Battle Chasers: Nightwar

I first jotted down thoughts about Battle Chasers: Nightwar a couple of months back. It was a round-up post though, so I didn’t go into too much detail, and hadn’t really played it for more than a few minutes to that point. It wasn’t too long ago that I was burning through my backlog at a rapid clip, but that train had lost some steam in recent months mainly because I was having a hard time deciding what to play. I’ve spent some time in a fair number of titles but none had really sunk their hooks into me. I came back around to this game and it’s been holding my attention more than the others, so this is likely the next game I’ll play through to completion.

I’m in love with the aesthetic of Battle Chasers. It was apparently inspired by a series of graphic novels, which makes sense given the artwork in the game which appears as a hand-drawn style. The mixture of high fantasy and some sci-fi elements works, and the gameplay is the normal tried and true JRPG turn-based style but it doesn’t feel stale. You’ll be earning levels in no time, and that means new abilities and actions will become available to you. Starting with a group of three adventurers, you’ll eventually reunite with others and have a little variety in your group composition on top of the new gear and upgrades you’ll earn along the way. There’s even an alternate advancement tree that will allow you to further customize your heroes.

When I left off, I had made it to the little town that serves as an HQ of sorts, complete with an Inn to rest at, and vendors to buy/sell goods too. There’s some light crafting too, so everything you pick up tends to have a purpose. Soon enough, my party was heading into their first real challenge… a dungeon!

The Iron Outpost:

The Iron Outpost was easy enough, it was the first dungeon of the game after all. The final boss was a sword demon thing… there’s not a good way to describe it, but it looked pretty cool nonetheless! It was mostly overrun with bandits and they were XP fodder leading up to the final battle.

The Rushlands and Path of Fangs:

Long story short, we were trying to get to another part of the map and it was blocked by a large cannon that would shoot anything that came too close. Unfortunately the only way around was via a teleporter, but the power had been lost. We headed to another cave and fought off some elementals to get a power source which we used to turn the teleporter back on. Soon we were in the Rushlands, and we came across our second dungeon, The Path of Fangs. This one was headed by a bunch of lycanthropes (called something else but similar) and I was charged with killing off the leaders of a couple of tribes. After doing so, one of their kind let me pass through the other side of the dungeon. We then took out the bandit manning the cannon, and could then freely pass through a short cut back to the starter town.

Fishing:

Like many an RPG before it, there is a fishing mini-game that is fairly easy to partake in. You have to use one character in particular (pictured above) to fish, but he comes equipped with the rod and line to handle business. I managed to catch a couple of unique fish so far, some of which can be sold for some alternate currencies that can buy you some skins and bad ass gear in large quantities.

Story:

The storyline plays out over time, and like most RPGs of this style, you only get bits and pieces as you go along. We’ve met what I think is either the main villain or at least an antagonist, but she was nice enough to our faces. We later learned that she was behind some of the goings-on, so that leads me to believe we’ll see more of here soon. We eventually found one of our lost party members and he’s a pretty powerful mage. There’s also some random events where you can be attacked by a passing airship, which I thought was pretty cool, though a little more difficult than the typical battles, and confusing as to how you end up fighting on the ship itself. Nonetheless, we found ourselves heading into Junk Town, which I think may end up being the 3rd dungeon but I have yet to enter.

Overall I think the game is great, and it’s been on sale recently on both PSN and Steam. If you like JRPG style games, I’d highly recommend this one!

Monster Hunter World: Calling it Quits

I was told today that I have matured in my decision making when it comes to video games. In the past, if I spent $60 on a game chances are I’d attempt to play through it, even if it ended up being one of those games that “takes a while to click.” Generally speaking I will refuse to admit that perhaps I purchased the game too hastily, that I left myself get caught up in the hype. I admitted when I first wrote about the game that I did read about it on various blogs and that I was given a glowing recommendation from someone who’s opinion I trust, but therein lies the trouble with long-running series you’re just getting involved in. Monster Hunter is an established franchise, but I haven’t played a single entry. Going into things blind is sometimes a boon because there aren’t spoilers, but at the same time this is the type of game that defies definition. Though I was told it could be compared to a From Software title (and I understand why it was referenced as such) I just didn’t see it. I didn’t have the desire to explore this world. I didn’t feel immersed. Running around chasing a monster around a rather large map and stabbing it until it dies wasn’t appealing either. I assume that this game would be better with a dedicated group of friends that could co-op their way through it, but as the layers of complication added on I simply couldn’t be bothered. At this point in my life my time is too valuable to be wasting on something I’m not enjoying. As such, I deleted the game from my system and brought it into Gamestop to trade it in while it’s still considered a “new” game and get me the best return on investment.

That’s a laugh.

Gamestop offered me $25 store credit for a $60 game that came out just over a month ago. Not to be deterred, I scoured their shelves to find something that I knew I would enjoy. I saw titles that I wanted to play but would prefer to get on my PC, and then there were a couple of console exclusives that were tried and true games that I felt were worth the money. The trade-in value covered most of the Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy, and then I picked up a copy of the newly remade Shadow of the Colossus. The former is a collection of PSOne classics made by Naughty Dog (of Uncharted fame) of which I’ve played but I don’t think I ever completed one.

I have a longer history with Shadow of the Colossus. It’s unclear if it was before or after we lived together, but at some point or another my best friend showed me this game back in the Playstation 2 days. It looked interesting enough, but I didn’t play it at the time. Later on the Playstation 3, an HD upres remaster released and I purchased it. Perhaps it was too soon to play again for him, but I had some fun with it despite not really being all that much better looking than the original game. Like the Crash Bandicoot title, both of these games were remade from the ground up for Playstation 4, so they are supposed to be the same as the original games with up to date graphics. I’m excited to see them in action, and you know I’ll report about them here.

In other news, I had been trying to find the next game to strike off of the backlog list after completing The Order 1886, and tried picking up Alien: Isolation. I’ve had it for a while and being on a FPS kick lately it was a good choice, but I ended up getting stuck and calling the whole thing off. I deleted that one from my hard drive as well, and I’m sticking to my guns about this. It’s not to say that this is the first time I deleted a game without completing it (I couldn’t get into The Witcher 3 either despite rave reviews from literally everyone) and it’s not to say that I haven’t traded in a game at Gamestop a short time after buying it either, though usually it’s because I’ve completed it and have no use for it anymore. Nowadays I plan to play them through if I enjoy them, and delete them if I don’t. It should help speed up the process, at least.

I’m unsure if I will power through one of these two titles immediately or if I will pick up something else to run through. I know that I have an itch to play an RPG and I mean aside from EQ2 which I still am subbed to and need to spend some time on to at least clear the new expansion before breaking away until later in the year when there’s new content again. I am a good ways into Shadow Warrior 2 which has been on hold for sometime, but I’m tempted to start up the Dark Souls trilogy or Pillars of Eternity/some other isometric RPG that’s in the back log. Or perhaps it’s time to finish of Final Fantasy XV or Mass Effect Andormeda?

Clearly I’m still torn on which way to go but I will figure it out soon and continue on my journey to clear out the backlog.

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):

 

More Setsuna Screens

Another quick post as I’m busy watching the NALCS semi-final matches for today, and I don’t want to miss anything! I’ve been trying to wrap up I Am Setsuna, and have made further progress into the game since the last time I posted about it. I’d guess I’m nearing the end, but that isn’t for certain. I can’t be assed to actually see how much further I have to go, but I’ve been enjoying the game. It’s certainly not a challenging title, and is perfect for playing while lying in bed prior to crashing out. I’ve enjoyed the story so far, and though it’s no Chrono Trigger (or classic JRPG for that matter — I still believe the classics are better titles) it still captures just enough of that era’s magic to keep me playing it. I know once I’ve finished it will be uninstalled and I’ll no longer care about it, but I still feel like it was a worthy investment, even at $40.

The following gallery is likely to contain some spoilers, I’ve basically just shared moments from the playthrough here, without commentary. I think the game looks great given their aims, and it’s been a fun diversion from other more serious titles I’ve been playing as of late. I highly recommend it to JRPG fans, just don’t try to put it on a pedestal before you try it out.

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