The last time I wrote about The Forest was two years ago. I’ve owned the game since it first showed up in Early Access on Steam, just about four years ago. I haven’t touched it in so long because I typically don’t get too involved with Early Access titles until they’ve finished. In the case of this game, I believe it was one of the first Early Access titles I ever purchased, so I did play it quite a bit in the beginning. I would check in periodically and usually wrote about the patch notes and would highlight new features. I grew tired of this after a while and let the game rest until the day came that it was finished — and that day has arrived. Endnight Games has finally pulled the trigger calling the game done, so I knew I had to see what had changed since the last time I played it. Immediately noticeable is the change to the game’s main title screen, with a creepy looking cave and hanging body done up in the game’s engine. Other details were readily apparent as well.
The opening cutscene has evolved drastically since the first time I played The Forest. Initially it was a pretty dull looking plane and your boy was very minimalistic, little details like the TV screens and the trays with doodles and food were added later. Your little boy’s animations have improved as well, and the sounds and animation of the crash look far better. The cutscene is still the same, though instead of just watching a cannibal walk off with little Timmy you actually crawl in that direction before passing out again. Otherwise things are mostly how I remember, graphically the game looks the same since they made the switch to Unity 5, the sounds and animations look familiar still. One big change is the survival guide, which is vastly improved:
Not only has it been streamlined, but there is also a to-do list that encompasses actual goals in the game, something that wasn’t present in my time playing before. It’s said that there is a story that you can see through to its end now, and that makes me want to do a proper run through the game, so I decided to get started last night.
Outside of some general tweaks things look the same. You still get an axe early on and you still cut down trees, gather sticks and rocks and have to build shelter to be able to save your game.
I played through the first day and had a pretty decent camp set up, with a little shelter, some storage for my building materials, a fire and torches to light up my perimeter, and a rabbit trap for daily meals. One of the tasks in my journal is to find the missing passengers from the plane. It’s something I didn’t really think about before, but outside of a stewardess you don’t see any bodies in or around the plane when you wake up after the crash. You find a passenger manifest and can set about finding them when you like. I chose to focus on my camp first, as I know that once you start running into the cannibals they start to pop up more frequently. I remember finding various little camps around the map in my prior play time, so I assume clues will lead you in the direction of the passengers, and your son. I’ve honestly never made it more than a week alive in the game and none of the story was added the last time I played so this should be a mostly new experience.
I’ll get back to you all once I’ve made some progress.
Back in May, during the NBI’s month-long event, there was a writing prompt discussing Early Access. I said my piece, and I still stand by what I said back then. For the most part, I think Early Access can be a great boon to the games industry. I don’t have a huge library of Early Access games though, as not only am I a bit on the frugal side, but I also tend to be selective in games I choose to back. My selection process probably differs from yours, but either way I have been pretty successful in the games I’ve chosen to support before release, in that they are all still pushing out regular updates. No ships abandoned thus far.
Checking up on a selection of the Early Access titles in my Steam library was included as part of my Gamer To-Do List. That seems to be the bulk of where my Blaugust writing activity will come from, so I figured this was an easy first item to check off of my list. I won’t be covering all of the games I touched upon in that NBI post, but will be talking about Ark, H1Z1, The Forest, Darkest Dungeon, Basement, and Nuclear Throne. Let’s get started shall we?
On of my more recent purchases, Basement is a strategy simulation where you play a drug kingpin. Actually, it isn’t really clear who you are, but you definitely get to control a variety of employees who will process drugs for you, be it through cultivation, chemistry, distribution or security. The last time I talked about the game it had just released into Early Access, and was a very basic concept. Since then, there have been a number of tweaks and improvements, and my initial complaint was addressed.
When I first started the game, I had a similarly sized building which I had built up to the point where expansion was the next step. I took over a neighboring building by sending some of my employees over to kill whoever resided there. After having taken the building over however, I found that I couldn’t send my attackers back to the original basement, leading me to hire new employees, but having idle hands. The green block at the top of the building now contains options to move employees back to the original basement, and that’s nice. There’s also an option to destroy garages now, and they have changed one major mechanic around.
Generators have to be built to power new rooms, but previously, you didn’t need special rooms to hire new employees. Now an employee room is present, and it can be used to hire up to two employees. Employee rooms are to employees as generators are to other rooms. They are essentially another resource to manage. Also, there were previously only one type of dealer room, while there were multiple drug rooms. Now there are matching dealer rooms for each drug type, which allow you to specialize, since the storage rooms can only hold two types of drugs. I went down the path of having only two drug types in one basement, along with matching dealer rooms for maximum profitability. Still feels like there are plenty of features to be added at this stage of the game, but I’m enjoying the direction. Cop raids need to slow down though.
I picked up Darkest Dungeon a while back, but only played it for a few minutes before being distracted by other things. At this point, I’ve put about 5 hours into it. I picked it up one day at random and kept finding myself coming back to it. It is punishing, but still rewarding at the same time. It’s hard to describe, as most of the time games that are this damned frustrating tend to turn people off, but I find the difficulty and challenge refreshing. It’s sort of the same phenomena as the Souls franchise. It kicks your ass but when you get a minor victory it feels so good.
There have been changes since it first appeared on Steam though. For one, the Houndmaster class was added, and though it’s cool that there are so many to choose from, you are randomly assigned what shows up in the caravan, so you might not see certain classes for a while. In the end, though each are different skill wise, it still comes down to similar mechanics. Regardless of who you take into the caverns with you, you are bound to lose someone due to full loss of HP or heart attacks due to stress. You’re heroes get stressed out if you have to abandon a quest as well, so sometimes it’s better to just let someone die and try to complete the task at hand. My first estate was lost rather early due to multiple retreats and a lack of gold to continue to fund adventures. I can also report that the Cove and Darkest Dungeon bits have yet to be added to the game, but it seems that updates have stayed regular.
The Lovecraftian vibe of the game is amazing. It takes typical fantasy tropes and throws them on their heads. The torch mechanic can be frustrating and when creatures from the void appear you’re as good as dead. I took to the idea of naming my characters after Bloggers and my own MMO character naming conventions, but it saddens me even more to see all of my comrades dying left and right. Thankfully there are plenty of names to choose from in the blogosphere!
Ark: Survival Evolved
Ark wasn’t a game I was particularly keen on experiencing so soon, but it was gifted to me and I knew I should at least check it out. I enjoy playing The Forest, so I knew what I was getting into with this game, but adding in Dinosaurs instead of the typical Zombies shtick was a plus. When I first booted it up, I played alone on a private server and just ran around a bit. I didn’t really dive too deep, as the game felt a bit rough around the edges. It felt like it was lacking optimization, and it didn’t look as pretty as I thought it should.
It looks pretty damn good in the above picture, but even now that I’ve waited a while and gone back to play it more seriously, it still doesn’t look quite right when I’m playing it. I mean there’s definitely some great looking artwork, but things feel off while I’m moving around. I’ve fiddled with the graphics settings, and despite putting it where it’s recommended or at max settings, it seems to run the same. I don’t see a noticeable drop in framerate or anything, but parts of the engine feel wonky or dated. I fought past this irritation and just played anyway, and what I found was a bunch of neat concepts.
I think my biggest issue is the UI elements. They just look ugly. There’s apparently some sort of storyline and it feels a bit sci-fi meets pre-historic, so maybe that’s what they were going for in the UI. Still, it’s functional, despite not being pretty. Mainly though, it starts off like any other survival title. You gather stuff, you make stuff, you gather more stuff, and you make bigger stuff. There is a leveling system though, and the crafting system feels deeper than say, The Forest’s does, at least at this juncture.
When you level, not only can you put points towards your character’s stats (health, stamina, etc) but also spend “Engram Points.” These points are put into what amounts to a skill tree, but allows you to learn new items to craft. Eventually you’ll have a range of tools, wearable items and the ability to build buildings. Further still, you can eventually tame dinos and ride them. I didn’t get far enough to see all that the game has to offer, but as I’ve stated before with these Early Access games, I won’t play them too seriously until they’re finished. Until then, they’re just fun to mess around with and write about.
I’ve written about Nuclear Throne a bunch of times, and have posted videos as well. This time around will be no exception. The major updates of late have been less about the mechanics of the game or adding in new guns or creatures, and more about the UI and various changes to the artwork of the game. I have prepared a short video highlighting these differences (though if you don’t follow the game or my past videos, you might not notice much).
I haven’t written about H1Z1 in a while, and frankly it’s because I haven’t been playing it. There have been numerous patches since the last time I did play, which you can see a list of by heading over to the steam community page. I have already expressed being slightly worried about the direction of the game since Smedley’s departure, and seeing as how multiple items on the July Roadmap aren’t implemented yet (correct me if I’m wrong), the effects might already be visible. There has been a Team Battle Royale mode added to the game, though I’m not sure about the leaderboards, the new Zombie type (screamer) or if the Professions have been talked about or added yet. You were supposed to be able to pick a profession upon character creation and currently that’s not possible so I think some of these updates may have been delayed. Constant patches with tweaks and balances have been coming down the pipeline though, so I know the game isn’t standing still, but having a visible Roadmap and no results doesn’t bode well.
The same goes for the Forest, in that I haven’t really played it in a while. For the most part, I have gotten what I wanted out of the game as it stands. There have been several patches since the last time I talked about the game (that was back when it was v0.16 — it’s up to v0.21 now) that are mostly bug fixes and tweaks. At this point I’m waiting for the game to be finished, or for the co-op to be playable, as the last time I tried it was not. There aren’t server wipes per se, but the game usually has to be started over after a patch as the saves get corrupted, so I’m not really looking forward to starting over and over again. This game along with Ark and H1Z1 fall under the same blanket of being survival games where your progression is the point of the game, so as long as there are wipes or constant patches I don’t see the point in getting too invested. Upon release I think that will be a different story.
Have you guys played any good Early Access games lately?
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Early Access and Kickstarter: Do you support unfinished games?
A couple of years ago, my answer would have been a resounding “NO,” but times have changed. Back then I would have told you that throwing your money away was pointless. Either the project wouldn’t deliver and you’d be out your money, or you’d get access to a broken game — never to be fixed. Full of negativity, I was.
These days I have embraced both platforms, but I am picky with what I will support. I still feel like the general trend of games coming out in Early Access and then staying in perpetual Alpha or Beta stages for years is sort of ridiculous. We used to get Alpha/Beta access for free, now we pay for it. Probably the most memorable Early Access debacle for me was the $150 Landmark Alpha, but there are many more examples to choose from.
There are pros and cons to each program, and here are a few off the top of my head:
-Support developers making projects AAA studios won’t
-Support indie developers who can’t get big time funding
-Get access to a game before launch
-Gain backer rewards that can be worth much more than the asking price
-Provide feedback that can help shape the project
-Just because you backed doesn’t mean the project will be successfully funded
-Some developers tug at nostalgia strings to get your money
-Some projects are scams
-Some ideas will never come to fruition, even with successful funding
-Devs can sometimes go MIA after cashing your paycheck
Kickstarter is seemingly a safer choice because if the project isn’t funded, you never get charged. However, there have been projects like Godus and many others that were funded and then the developers go missing and/or stop updating the game. Sometimes small teams will finish these games up, or they will just release in a broken state, sad and disappointing.
My personal experiences with Early Access games are many, while my experience with Kickstarter is still on-going. I chose to back the upcoming MMO Crowfall on Kickstarter a couple of months ago, which is supposed to come with Beta access and a “free” copy of the game. However, development is barely off the ground and we probably won’t see the game until 2016 at the earliest. So I will have to get back to you on that one. Either way I’m still hyped for Crowfall, and look forward to seeing how it changes the stale MMO gameplay that has plagued us for years.
When it comes to Early Access, I believe the first game I purchased was Nuclear Throne. It’s a rogue-like shooter, and it’s a blast to play. It was a great game the day I got it, and it’s been consistently updated week by week since I purchased it a year ago. I’ve made a few videos of the game over the past year, but here’s a good run too give you and idea of what it’s all about:
I love it, but I don’t understand why they’ve let it stay in Early Access for so long. It felt done when I bought it, and it feels done now — but the devs keep adding weapons, characters, and tweaking things. Perhaps they are close, but it seems weird to be tagged as an EA game at this point.
Another game I picked up around the same time was The Forest, and longtime readers will know that I’ve gushed about that game time and again. It’s another survival game with various elements, and though they added in multiplayer, there isn’t any PvP to this point. It’s basically a more realistic looking Minecraft, with cannibals occupying the same Forest. I recommend it, as development has been steady and improvments have been great. I just hold off playing it too much because I’m waiting for it to be done, which is my policy with most Early Access games.
H1Z1 is the Early Access game that I jumped into headfirst that is probably the most controversial in my collection. For some reason it split the MMO community right in two. I was super hyped for it because I have been a long time SOE (now Daybreak) fan, and the initial hype surrounding the game made it seem like an MMO designed with me in mind. I love Zombies. I love survival horror. I love PvP. I bought it when Early Access came to Steam, and I wasn’t disappointed. But then they started wiping servers and making big changes, so I decided I’d let it sit for a while. I don’t like progress that is taken away, which is why most Alpha/Beta testing hasn’t been too appealing to me. Anyway, I’m still a fan of the game and I will continue to watch its progress.
There are a handful of other games I have on my Steam list that are tagged as Early Access, though I haven’t put much time into them:
Delver is a first person pixel-art rogue-like that Doone gifted me last year. I like it, but then a bigger team put out Ziggeraut, and it completely takes the cake. Still, Delver is a great game from a one man team, and with Steam Workshop integration, people can make mods for it. I look forward to seeing the finished product.
Broforce is a game from a developer that supported the NBI last year (Free Lives), and gave us a bunch of keys to distribute. I got my hands on one and some of us NBI folk got together to play some co-op, and it is a blast. The bros are great, the nostalgia is great, the art is awesome, and there are so many EXPLOSIONS. A fully destructible environment means each playthrough is going to be different, and multiple modes add replay-ability as well. A limited free version called the Expendabros is available on Steam as well.
I won a contest run by Isey of I Has PC earlier this year in which I gained a copy of Project Zomboid, which is another zombie survival game presented in a different way. It’s isometric and pixellated, but has a deep crafting system and some brutal difficulty. I haven’t played it as much as I would like, as I need someone more experienced in the game to give me some pointers, but it’s still a game I think would be worth supporting. There is a free demo on Steam that you can try if you’re interested.
In one of many Humble Bundles I have picked up, Prison Architect was part of the package. It wasn’t one of the games I was after in the bundle if memory serves correctly, but it is a pretty well designed game. If you are into building and management sims, this game would be right up your alley. For me, it was a bit of a learning curve because the tutorial is a little light and I haven’t played too many games in this genre, but the developers are consistently updating it, and it’s worth a look if this is your thing.
Lastly, the newest addition to my Early Access library is none other than Darkest Dungeon. Many of the people on my blogroll have picked the game up, and I haven’t read a single bad thing about it, save for not being finished. Apparently there is a portion of the game that has yet to be added, and some funny quirks about the gameplay that need to be addressed. In my couple of hours playing it, I had a blast and didn’t run into anything game-breaking. I have sort of left this one to collect dust though, as I had too many other additions to my gaming library right at the same time and it’s been on the back burner. I don’t feel so bad as it’s an unfinished game, so maybe by the time I dump more hours into it, it will be closer to done.
So I guess my answer to the original question is Yes, I support unfinished games. But as you can see, I don’t have that many of them, so I am selective with those that I choose to support. There are probably quite a few other alphas and betas that I have taken part in, but I’ll leave it at this. I don’t have the inclination to dig any deeper into my media/post libraries.
Here’s some random screens from some of the above games, just because:
Magic seems to be the most effective. Take that pirate boy!
It’s been a while since I talked about The Forest. The last time I played it was a few weeks ago, when I was attempting to play the multiplayer with my sister whom had recently picked up the game. It played like shit, so I stopped rather quickly, and haven’t been back to it. I would like to play it some more, especially now that the game has seen a major graphics overhaul and improvements to the netcode. I will get back to you when I manage to get a multiplayer game in, but I will include some screens of the new graphics engine after the patch notes:
This patch switches The Forest over to Unity 5. Replacing all the old shaders with new PBR materials and textures. We also went and replaced almost all our tree models, implemented a new billboarding system, and put in a first version of our new ocean shader.
Plant shaders now have sub surface scattering, our skin shaders have been rewritten, and many other visual tweaks and improvements have been made to the look of the world, we’re really excited to hear what you think.
For multiplayer we’ve introduced a new network prioritization algorithm to provide more relevant updates of remote entities to players. This means smoother multiplayer gameplay and although the lag isn’t completely removed, we’re confident we can continue to tune in the coming weeks.
Some new graphics options should help those with slower computers get the game running faster, including a new level of detail setting which will allow you to raise or lower the view distance of most elements from Ultra all the way down to Ultra low. Across the board everyone should see some performance improvements.
Sick of dying in a cave and having no idea how you got there? We added a drag away by cannibals system! You’ll now see yourself carried off through world.
New bendable grass means you can see it part slightly as rabbits run through it, making them easier to track.
Some major animal improvements mean geese can now fly from lake to lake, and if you like you can follow them and watch how they spend their days. Plus, Deer now no longer run headfirst into trees!
Player audio has been partially implemented, along with a new take on the female skinny audio.
Due to the massive re-working of some of the environment and terrain we’ve had to wipe save games this patch!
As always, please continue to post your bug reports and feedback in the Discussions area of the Community Hub
Version 0.16 Changelog:
New options menu setting ‘Render Type’ will allow you to switch between new deferred renderer(recommended for modern computers) and Legacy renderer (recommended for older computers)
Full pbr shaders on all items. Reworked most textures to fit new lighting.
Reflection probes added.
New ocean shader (work in progress)
Better bow aiming – sight added to bow. bow tracks better with camera view when aiming up and down. Looks better now when viewed by another player
Animals will now attempt to dodge trees, obstacles and other animals
Fixed rebreather’s air resetting to 0 after loading a saved game
(Multiplayer) Reworked the network prioritization algorithm to provide more relevant updates of remote entities to players (Smoother, less jittery enemies)
Upgrade balance: Inverted bonus curve, it now goes from small (10%) to big (100%)
Fixed booze upgrades still not showing up for some weapons
Added a small outline to chat text to make it visible in bright lighting conditions
Fixed issue preventing to lock floors/roofs on multiple walls on the same height level
Grabber system now turned off when in in inventory/book/pause menu or while placing a building (ie, placing a building near water will no longer trigger drinking)
New snapping grid gizmo to help with manual placing of experimental floors & roofs (tip shows the current lock position and is big enough to be seen from either side of a wall)
Experimental Roofs now snap back to closest edge on current support (ie the wall you’re putting it on)
Goose simulator added. Geese will now fly between lakes and swim around acting like geese
Fixed Bon Fire not lightable
Fixed flying food on rock fire pit
Fixed burn lizard scale
Added generic meat burnt
Fixed drying generic meat
Fixed Treehouse + Treehouse Chalet floor not buildable
Deer will now drink at lakes
Fixed issue where deer would run right through trees!
Dead birds now have a chance of spawning feathers when hit
Revamped cooking to allow eating burnt food but with far lesser gain
Player will now see himself briefly dragged away into a cave when knocked out but not killed.
New art added: Improved airline foodcart
Fixed bug where climbing rope for first time would sometimes cause it to release right after climbing
New trees! New bark and leaf types.
New billboard system with lit billboards and rotation
Unity 5 reflection probe system added
All shaders switched to use new unity pbr
Dirtied up and improved regular enemy textures
New pbr skin shader!
In game controls remapping, both in Title & Main scene options
Falling particle leaves now accumulate on ground
Fixed logs flying up into air when trees were cut
Fixed physics on some trees not colliding with terrain when falling
New art added: dead small trunk
Graphics options: added rendering patch selection
Graphics options: added new setting to turn off sunshine occlusion
Graphics options: added new setting to tune Level of Detail
Graphics options: SSAO setting now also changes sample count
Graphics Settings now properly show the saved preset name after restarting the game
Graphics Settings: Renamed “Laptop” level to “Ultra Low”
Fixed survival book entries not clickable on occasion
New art added: new version of plane food! plane tray, styrofoam cups and trays
New bushes- replaced 2 of the worst looking bushes with new type
New lake shader added! reflective and with murkiness
New dead trees! Better textures and models, and now all cuttable!
Better shark ragdoll
Jump animation added to player
New combat move – Flying axe attack. Attack downwards with axe while jumping to perform a powerful ground chop.
When falling from high up, player will briefly stumble to his hands and knees
You can now cook arms and legs (and … eat them – but you probably shouldnt)
Dead trees replaced and now cuttable!
New log type for buildings that matches carried log
(audio) New player sounds!
(audio) New female skinny audio!
New blueberry bushes!
New multiplayer octree based priority calculation
New art: Re-done plane seats
Fish and sharks are now also in multiplayer games!
Touch bending grass added! enemies, rabbits, animals and player will now slightly rustle the grass as they move through it (this is a first pass at this, next version will include better bending)
You can now climb fishing stands
Experimental Walls now block AIs (mutant & animals) from going through it
Fixed fire particles staying up after cutting down a burning tree
New world art: cliff wall variations.
Lighter now stays equipped when exiting/entering ropes
Added some additional optimizations and memory tweaks for 32bit machines that have less than 4gigs of usable ram
Fixed molotov fire never shutting down
The game looks fantastic in the new engine, and does seem to run a bit smoother. I won’t comment on the multiplayer improvements just yet, but here’s some shots of various areas in the game so you can see the improvements to the graphics:
Apologies for missing the column last week, but when most of the week you’re spending time with family, there isn’t as much time for gaming, and I didn’t feel I had enough to say to make the post. This week is a different story.
So what have I been playing? The list for this edition of State of the Game includes: Elder Scrolls Online, Sid Meier’s Starships, The Forest, Titanfall, League of Legends and the Halo Master Chief Collection.
I haven’t played as much ESO as I would have liked. The problem I’m having is that I want to play it, but know that it takes a significant chunk of game time, so I have to wait until certain parts of the day to dive in. By then, sometimes I’m not in the mood, so I’ve been averaging a couple of hours every other day. But once I actually get logged in, I love what I’ve seen; I get sucked in and end up playing for a couple hours. The only other problem was my incessant need to try out every class before settling on one to play. In games like EQ2 (with 16 or so classes) it becomes a nightmare. Thankfully ESO only has the 4 archetypes, and though I realize there’s pretty infinite customization for each, I still feel the base class gives you enough of an idea of their playstyles. Previously when I spoke of the game, I had created a Khajiit Nightblade and a Dunmer Sorcerer. I have since made an Orsimer Templar, and a Nord Dragonknight. I’ve stuck with somewhat traditional RPG builds for each class, with the Nightblade going dual wield and stealthy, the Sorcerer with a destruction staff and pets, the Templar having sword/board and some healing, and the Dragonknight utilizing a 2-hander. Here’s the newbies (super new in the case of the DK):
Who knows how each with progress. For now, I’ve found that I enjoy the Sorcerer the most, and I have played it more than the others, though level 8 isn’t a huge accomplishment. My review of ESO to this point would be favorable, in that I see plenty of players, I enjoy the quests and story, it’s the best looking MMO I’ve played, and I love the lore and feeling of being in Tamriel. However, I haven’t hit any of the walls and issues people had with the game to this point, because I haven’t tried to group with anyone, and haven’t hit the level cap either. Still, I am going to keep plugging away at it. I love the buy to play aspect, as I did with GW2 (which is a game I still should put more time into) in that I don’t feel guilty about not playing, but can still play whenever I want. I see this as being my favorite pay model to date. I’ll leave it at that. Here’s a nice landscape shot:
The reason I haven’t been able to stick to just ESO is because I’ve had a few other additions to the library that have been vying for my attention, along with the old standby, League of Legends. This past week they re-introduced Ultra Rapid Fire (URF) mode for April Fool’s, though the joke was that it was going to be called NURF and have cooldowns increased and the gameplay slowed down. Then some of the LCS pros decided to fry the game servers (with sliced ham, no less) and it turned back into URF, which is super fast, low cooldowns and mana costs. I actually missed out on this the last time it happened (must have been during a LoL break) so this time around I made sure to get in on it. It’s surprisingly addicting, and there’s a lot less pressure to perform because it’s far from balanced and it’s not a ranked queue. I’ve had modest success, though I believe my win/loss ratio is sitting right on 50%. My best game came when I played a tanky Hecarim, and went 7/1 /6 and carried my team. It’s definitely a fun game mode to break things up, and honestly I’d be ok with it being a permanent queue type. The meta is different in that there’s no jungler, which reminds me of how we used to play back when I first started the game. Some really weird team comps have popped up and did well too, so it’s rather unpredictable, and keeps things fresh. I feel as good about it as I did when I first discovered custom ARAM matches. Check it out before it disappears.
Another game that has had my attention of late is Titanfall. Yeah, I know, it’s one of those Xbox games that got ported to the PC, and yes, I know it’s only available through Origin, which as a whole is a huge pile of shit. I actually played the game (and I believe I mentioned it before) at my friend’s house who owns an Xbox One, and I loved it. It’s a great game, and works very well (as well as looking very nice) on the console. PC ports of console games have a reputation for being rather shitty though, so I was hesitant to make the purchase until I saw that the game was on sale AND you get the season pass for free. Let’s see, pay about $15 for a game or spend hundreds on an Xbone? Yeah, obvious choice there. So I picked it up and have been playing it a bit here and there. It’s just as fun and I don’t really see any differences between it and the console version, but my friend who owns it there swears that the Xbone version has “more stuff in it” – his words not mine. The major issue I see is that I have a key bound for screenshots, and either it’s not working or I can’t find the screenshot folder. As such I don’t have any cool pics to share, but I did snap my stat sheet with my phone for your viewing pleasure.
At that same friends house on the same Xbone, we’ve been playing through the Halo Master Chief Collection. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before or not, but the only Halo game I had ever played to that point was Halo 2, and I had only played the multiplayer (LAN parties back in the day mostly). I wasn’t a big fan. So I wasn’t really going into this with excitement, though my friend assured me that the co-op campaign was fun. I was skeptical but went along with it, and I have mixed feelings having completed Halo 1 the other day. First, the story line isn’t engaging whatsoever, and the voice acting and animations are garbage. Yes, I realize this is an old game and what not, but this is an HD update and it still looks shitty. The game design was simple and repetitive to the point where everything starts to look the same. It has very dated combat, most guns lack ironsights/zoom and a cover system is basically non-existent. I’m not a fan of the first game, and don’t think I would have been when it released either (especially because there is a button you can press in game that shows you exactly how bad the game used to look before the update). Soon we shall move onto Halo 2, which I now think will be an improvement on the original game. Apparently #3 is where it really starts to shine, from what my friend says. We shall see, all 4 games are in this package, and Halo 5 is on the horizon, and I’m sure I’ll get suckered into playing through that one with him as well. The major upside I can give the game is that playing it on the hardest difficulty (which we have been doing) presents a real challenge. There were checkpoints that took us quite a while to get through. All I know is I’m ready for the combat to evolve.
I’ve been playing Starships a bit here and there as well, and I really don’t have a lot to say about it. I’d recommend it to 4x newbies, or to 4x veterans who want something that isn’t so time consuming. It’s really a 4x lite, and that’s ok. I enjoy it in short bursts, and have already started amassing an empire while meeting the other AI counterparts. The strategy is a bit limited, but it’s a fun experience for when you want to jump in and jump out.
Lastly, I started up a co-op game in The Forest with my sister. It’s been out a while, and I believe I mentioned that the multiplayer is now integrated into Steam as well, so invites are a piece of cake now. There was a day when I started up a public server and played for about an hour but no one joined, and to this point anyone I knew who had the game wasn’t playing it so I had no one to invite. Well, during my sister’s visit I had to go somewhere for a couple of hours and set her up playing The Forest on my computer. She ended up playing it the whole time I was gone and was hooked. She bought her own copy of the game when she got home. Here’s where the funny part comes in. See, when I play The Forest single player, it runs fantastically. I mean there’s a little pop-in here and there or something that might be buggy (it’s still Alpha after all) but overall it runs great. As soon as you add one person to the mix, it bogs down like crazy. I’m not sure how that puts such a load on my system, but it surely did. And it didn’t matter if she was the host or I was, it happened. We still played for a while but the optimization was disappointing. However, the developers have recently stated that they are upgrading the engine to Unity 5, so it’s supposed to have better graphics and performance soon. I’m hoping that helps the multiplayer in particular.
It’s interesting that the voice chat is directly linked to these walkie talkies, and the amount of detail they put into them is awesome. If you start swimming, you can’t hear or speak via the WT. If you put it down to carry something, same effect. Your voices actually kind of sound like they’re going over WT’s as well, which is a nice touch. I missed that in the patch notes somewhere, and yes, I realize I haven’t posted a couple of the patches, but I hadn’t really been playing the game. So anyway, I noticed that the game ran smoother the further away we were from each other, though it did seem to normalize when we had a big rock to our backs and set up our base camp. Perhaps it was something to do with the time of day (peak hours) or our distance from each other. Not sure, but I hope it improves soon.