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!

Checking in on League of Legends

League of Legends is probably my most played game of all time. If it isn’t, it’s a close second to EverQuest 2, but I imagine that I have spent more time playing LoL due to the fact that I started playing the game way back in 2011, and only took a couple of breaks here and there for short amounts of time outside of my most recent break from the game. Whereas with EQ2, my only regular play time was from about 2006-2008, and then it was very sporadic and for only a couple of months at a time. My most recent trek back to Norrath was through the end of last year into early this year and only lasted for that short amount of time. With LoL I played nearly every day for years, and then when I didn’t play for like a month I’d be sucked back in by some new champion or event.

If you take a look at my match history, you’ll see that the last game I had played was in August of 2016, until the other day when I played, a full two years and a couple of months later. I honestly don’t know where that time went, outside of the fact that I know what changes occurred in my life around that time. I met my girlfriend earlier in 2016, but we were officially “an item” by August, and from then on I spent less time gaming and more time with her. That’s not to say that gaming has fallen by the wayside, as clearly I have been plugging away at my backlog along with trying new things since then. It’s just at that point I sort of put LoL on the back burner after having played pretty seriously for years prior. And somehow or another, despite thinking about firing it up on multiple occasions, it took me til now to actual do so. But hey, my backlog thanks me for the break, I suppose.

Boy, things have changed. They redesigned the launcher at some point, and apparently I did log in sometime in 2017, as my launcher was already updated there were just the normal game patches to get through. I also earned a few icons that were applied to my account last year so I know I had to have logged in, but I didn’t play as my match history has shown. Now you can see your “collection” of champions, skins, icons, ward skins and more in a handy interface that is less convoluted than it was before. It’s also neat to learn how you earned said skins/icons and when that occurred, something that was missing from the prior version of the launcher. There’s now a season pass sort of option as well, something that we’ve seen in games like SMITE and other lobby games where you pay an upfront fee to access new cosmetic items and participate in a limited-time event. Speaking of limited events, there are also still those good ol’ rotating game modes, but the most recent that I participated in was a 5 player co-op map where you kill a bunch of NPC enemies and that was interesting! I’ve never played co-op in LoL before, and in this instance I feel like you could make a skill based isometric RPG/MMO in this vein and it would be a ton of fun! But that’s a thought for another day.

Another big change is how runes and masteries work. This was a big thing for me, I spent a lot of time trying to dial in rune and mastery pages for the champions I played regularly, and I also gave general advice for building these pages here on the blog. It seems now that runes and masteries are gone as we knew them, instead of being separate pages they are now consolidated into one. This also means that there are a ton of build paths, but you basically pick a major tree, which gives you a four sets of three choices to make, and then a secondary tree that you can pick two passives from. As such, I have made a few builds to test out, each representing the different types of characters you’ll play in the game. It appears that I did not get my tank build uploaded and I’m not at home so I’ll have to add that in later, but above you’ll see ADC, Assassin, Mage and Support builds. I know I built a tank page as well but I guess it’s not all that important. These are first draft builds, so your mileage may vary.

So far I’ve played a few nights now, but I’ve only played ARAM and the co-op mode because I felt like I would be super rusty. It turns out it is a bit like riding a bike, I still have the muscle memory to handle the controls and thus far I’ve performed okay, but as you know in ARAM you get a random character, so some I’ve done better with than others. There are probably a dozen new champions that were added to the game since I last played, along with several re-worked characters, though I am familiar with most of them due to watching pro esports despite not actually playing myself. I’m actually rather pleased with the experience and intend to play more in the coming weeks. I have another post in the works discussing my backlog and play time, and I’ll cover more of why I have time to play LoL again during that time.

Thoughts on Collections

At one point or another on the Couch Podtatoes podcast we recorded an episode about collections, and at that time I was surprised to note that I didn’t really have anything I was actively collecting. I did note that I had a small amount of Green Bay Packers memorabilia, and that I had collected Comic Books and cards when I was a kid. Needless to say, things have changed!

Within the last couple of years I started buying League of Legends merch, whenever it was that they opened up their merch store. I started picking up some of the collectible figures that they were selling, which are comparable to Funko Pop figures, though a little higher quality and a bit more expensive (though some of the Pops out there go for large sums of money).  At that time I was still playing League of Legends regularly, though I haven’t played it in over a year at this point. Regardless, I found the figures to be something I desired, so I started off the collection with those. Later I was gifted a Funko Pop figure, and that started a new obsession with trying to pick up more of them. Lastly, my girlfriend discovered some of these die-cast metal Street Fighter figures and has nearly completed the set for me. All of these are present in this picture:

From left to right, we have Urf, Zed, Nautilus, Braum and my newest addition, Ziggs (these are the League of Legends figures). Then there’s the Power Armor from Fallout, Jace the Planeswalker from MTG, Spider-Man, William Wallace (Braveheart) and Jon Snow (GoT). Above are a set of Poros and a Lucian mini-figure (also from LoL). The Street Fighter characters are on top — Ryu, Dhalsim, Vega, Bison, Ken, Blanka, Chun-Li and Guile. On the shelf below, I have my small Green Bay collection:

I’ve been getting Green Bay related gifts for years from friends and family, and have collated most of it here, with an Aaron Rodgers Pop, and other various figures and items. I do have a Jersey, hats and some wall hangings in the room as well. My girlfriend and I both have nerdy tastes when it comes to decor, so we have melded our interests together in our room and it’s become a home.

I also commissioned something extra for my room when I discovered like items online. My sister happens to be fairly crafty, and I set her to the task of making me some MTG Mana Symbols to hang on the wall. I purchased little wooden discs for her to paint which she did and the result was pretty amazing!

They look great on the wall, and the process didn’t take her too long, though I was pestering her for updates and she sent me pictures along the way:

I also had her make another set for my roommate as he is also a MTG nut like me, and I figured they would look great in the garage where we typically play the game.

For a very long time I didn’t put much stock in finding decor or things that I would want to collect, but now that I’ve started I really enjoy it. These items don’t necessarily get used, but they do add life to a room and it’s cool to be able to show off your nerdy interests with pride. What sorts of things do you find yourself collecting as an adult?

Thoughts on the LCS Playoffs

So the Spring Split has come and gone, and with the end of the regular season I didn’t have fantasy LCS to play anymore, which meant that I didn’t talk much about the professional side of the game. Over the past few weeks however, there was plenty of playoff action, which means I have something to talk about once again. It’s been an interesting half of a season so far, which brings us up to the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) and then the Summer Split shortly thereafter. There’s also a big ass patch for the mid-season, with a bunch of new features that will likely shake up the summer split for all of us, not just the pros. I’ll get to that bit in another post though. For now, let’s talk about the playoffs.

During the first weekend in April, the Quarterfinals went down. I didn’t watch much of the European LCS, but during the course of that weekend Fnatic beat out Vitality, and that was surprising considering the shaky season Fnatic seemed to have (again, I didn’t watch much of the EULCS), and Vitality seemed to be the superior team prior to playoffs. The same goes for the other matchup between Unicorns of Love and Origen. Though I called Origen as one of the powerhouses for Europe at the beginning of the split, but they didn’t deliver on that as much as I thought. They were no Immortals, let’s put it that way (more on them later).

In NA, more surprises were abound. TSM looked to be a powerhouse for North America, but they struggled throughout the split. Cloud 9 had a shaky start to the season but finished strong and were the clear favorites in this matchup. They managed to take a game in the series, but TSM dismantled them. It was surprising. Where was this TSM all spring? Less surprising was Team Liquid taking down NRG, particularly with how well Matt and Dardoch performed as rookies. NRG never really stood a chance this split. They need to find better talent in a couple of roles.

The following weekend the semi-final matches were played, and in Europe we saw G2 take down Fnatic (expected) along with Origen continuing it’s streak to defeat H2K. The latter team seemed pretty consistent during the split but didn’t have it when it counted. Origen moves on to the finals against G2, but there is a clear expectation there.

In NA, I was rooting for Liquid to take down CLG. Honestly I don’t think CLG is that good of a team, despite winning the summer split last year. Darshan pulls off some pretty amazing stuff, and Aphromoo has his moments, but I’m not too big on their other players. I think CLG of last year was a better team. Liquid felt like the new hotness. I wanted the rookies to win and for Piglet/Fenix to get some real recognition for their efforts. I think a different top-laner might make up all the difference. Why don’t they pick up Impact? Imagine that team? But it was not meant to be, as CLG took the series 3-2, and moved onto the finals.

The most shocking part of the entire playoffs happened in the other semi-final game. Immortals, the team that only lost one game the entire split, though looking a little weaker towards the end, was expected to completely dismantle TSM. But this wasn’t the TSM from the split, nope that part of their lives was already done. They put together a monster series, and swept Immortals right under the rug 3-0. It was incredible to watch. The tilt was real. I’m really beginning to love esports!

The finals were less exciting, and more exciting at the same time. CLG vs TSM, the dream. The rematch. The same result. Meh. Again, less impressed with this year’s CLG as opposed to last year’s. More impressed with TSM stepping up when it mattered, but they still lost overall. In Europe, G2 triumphed over Origen, as I expected. A new crown over there, the same crown for NA. Either way, it was a fun split, and I look forward to watching all summer long. MSI soon, I may have more thoughts.

League of Legends: March Highlights

Despite the fact that I have a lot less free time on my hands the past couple of months, I’ve still managed to play League in between other games and tasks. For a while there I was playing almost daily, and multiple games per day. But as is pretty normal for me, I tapered off to about one game per night, and for the past couple of weeks it’s only been a game here and there. I still love League, I’m not sure when/if that is going to change. My play time with the game didn’t start to taper off until the latter part of March, so I still had enough videos to cut down and splice into a highlight reel for the month. This was something I had considered doing for a long time, and since I started recording all of my games back in January, it’s not only good for my YouTube channel, but it’s something else to write blog posts about as well. However, I feel like playing Normals for three months straight is getting kind of stagnant. I think it’s time that I finally get started with my Ranked placement matches, and see how far I can climb up the latter. We’re nearing mid-season, and that means that time is running out to get the ball rolling.

This season feels more tumultuous than previous ones. The pre-season changes really mixed things up, and we’ve been seeing champions that were designed to be played as a certain role excelling in multiple roles. It’s been great for the game in my opinion, but one thing that was bothering me was the fact that the games felt so much shorter and less forgiving. Bouncing back when the death timers are high was becoming nearly impossible. It seems that Riot has noticed the same thing and there have been changes to death timers at certain points in the game. It also feels like each knew patch has had more flavors of the month, rather than just one or two. What I mean by that is, in past seasons it seemed like each new patch would buff one or two champions who would be played nearly every game until the next patch, and then a new “flavor” would take over. This season, it feels like there are several “new meta” picks each patch, and as a result I’ve been playing champions I hadn’t played in a long time due to their new found power. Champions like Poppy, Pantheon and Quinn, not to mention old favorites of mine like Nocturne and Twitch have all seemed to spike in power and popularity. The constant reworks of champions (like Shen and Poppy, and the upcoming Taric rework) has brought the older ones up to speed and it feels like most of them are viable picks now. There are very few champions that have been completely neglected anymore, and I love seeing weird picks that work.

I forgot to post the video for last month here on the blog, so I’ll do so now:

Here’s the new one that I just finished editing, for March. It’s a bit shorter due to less games played but I think that’s good for people with short attention spans anyway. If you guys can do me a favor and like, share and subscribe that would also be great. I seem to have hit a subscriber wall and would like to continue to grow!

So as I said, my plan for April is to at least get my 10 placement matches in to see where I’ll start this season. It will likely be Bronze I just like last season, but hopefully I’ll promote into Silver more easily this time around. See you then.