State of the Game: What Have I Been Up To?

It’s been a good long time since I pulled out a round up post (over 6 months, as a matter of fact), but given my absence for most of a month, I actually accumulated enough gaming experiences to make one. I was tempted by the holiday sales, and ended up purchasing a few games, including Rage 2, Devil May Cry V, and Risk of Rain 2. Apparently the past year was good for sequels.

Of these, I never played the original Rage but being from iD Software, I’m sure I would have enjoyed it to some extent. I heard mixed reviews over the years but never picked it up. The same goes for the sequel — I’ve read plenty of mixed reviews about it, but getting it for less than half of the original asking price meant that I could take reviews worth a grain of salt. I’ll throw $20 at the wall and see if it sticks, I have a harder time with $60. Gaming time is a luxury at this point in my life as well, so I want to make sure that I’m spending my time wisely, so I’ll drop a couple bucks here and there on some titles that seem like a “sure bet” and most of the time I end up enjoying myself. But dropping $60 on a turd is harder to swallow. Whatever the case, I have found a level of enjoyment out of Rage 2, and that’s good enough for me. On the surface, it’s just Borderlands with a different graphical engine. There’s still the psuedo RPG elements of gaining skills and different gear, but then there’s vehicles and a semi-open world to explore. I say semi because despite having large swaths of landscape to roam around, there really are only so many points of interest and most of them aren’t all that fleshed out. Think of the minutemen settlements in Fallout 4. Sure, you could babysit them all and rescue as many as possible, but in the end it ends up being the same gameplay loop and eventually you’ll get board. There are a ton of places you can find on the map, but in effect most will just reward you with some XP and coin for clearing them out. It also seems that enemies end up respawning so stuff is never really “cleared.” At the end of the day it’s a solid shooter, and it does have some cool things going for it, but it’s also nothing stellar. For me it kind of feels like the latest Wolfenstein, in which they took a likeable engine and then forced it into this co-op mission based looter-shooter that it never really should have been. That’s not saying Rage 2 suffers in the same way Wolfenstein: Youngblood does, but it also doesn’t set itself far enough apart from other games in the genre to really shine.

I do have a prior relationship with the Devil May Cry series. I played the first two thoroughly, but didn’t play the third or fourth installments. I also completed the sort-of-reboot, DMC: Devil May Cry on the PS3, and it was good but didn’t really fit into the ongoing story. Devil May Cry V apparently picks up on this story, and also treats you to a little catch up movie right at the beginning so you sort of know what’s going on. This was appreciated for someone like me who missed some of the games and would have no idea what was going on. You start off playing as Nero, who is clearly not Dante. He has a similar weapon set up, and you do see Dante getting fucked up in a cutscene. Apparently at other points in the game you’ll be able to play as Dante along with another character who has been introduced, V. So far the game is what I would expect from the series, though I don’t remember all of the complicated button presses to get shit done in the earliest games. Things have progressed though, so I suppose this had to happen. From my first impressions, I think the game looks great, it runs smoothly, the action and combat is fun albeit a little taxing at times. I can’t really comment on the story as I’ve only played the first couple of missions, but having finished off the last game I was steadily working on, I think that I’ll be able to get this one done in the near future. Fans of the series will appreciate the graphical upgrades and the fact that it still feels true to its roots. New players might be turned off by some of the complexities but it’s really not that difficult to get going. No one says you have to be a combo master straight out of the gate.

I also played the original Risk of Rain. I believe I wrote about it here on the blog, but I can’t be assed to look. Whatever the case, the game has made the jump from 2-D side scrolling pixel art, to low-res polygonal 3-D from a third person perspective. Otherwise, it is very much the original game. You start a round on a planet, and you’ll run around shooting the flora and fauna, picking up items and coins as you go. Some crates and shrines will require payment to unlock or gain bonuses. Eventually a boss will spawn and you’ll have to defeat it to move onto the next world. Being a Rogue-Like, certain bits carry on to the next run, but overall you’ll be doing the same things over and over again for a while until you unlock new characters and whatnot. Apparently this one is multiplayer, which is cool but I don’t know anyone with the game so I haven’t tried that out. I assume that would be much more fun, as Rogue-Likes end up getting boring after a time. If you like this style of game you might give it a whirl, but if you aren’t into the genre I’d probably skip this one.

Yet another game series I’ve had a long term relationship with. I have played every iteration of Marvel vs. Capcom, though the one I spent the most time with was number two, in which I played on the PS2 originally, and then again when it was re-released on the PS3. Also on PS3 was the third iteration, but that too was re-released on PS4 as Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and I played both versions a bit. Finally, the jump from sprite based to polygon graphics was made for the series, similar to when Street Fighter made the switch with Street Fighter IV. Otherwise, it’s the same sort of game, but I have to say that the story mode was a fantastic romp! There were probably too many cut scenes, but the storyline was interesting, you got to play as most of the characters in the game, and it familiarized you with the controls and systems. The variety of characters is pretty good, but apparently there are other DLC options, which is typical of Capcom fighting games. I don’t think I’ll invest anymore money into it, but I did enjoy what I played and I look forward to the next gathering when I can challenge some friends to battles. I also intend to jump online to play some random opponents but I have no idea if the game has a population online still. I would assume, but you never know. It’s not exactly a new game so I suppose I’ll find out. If you love fighting games, this one is a blast but it’s obviously a personal taste sort of thing. You might like Mortal Kombat better. You might also be wrong.

Released for free for Playstation Plus users last month, Titanfall 2 is a title I already owned, but this gave my friend an opportunity to pick up a copy of the game for free, and the population was bolstered with an influx of new players. We haven’t played it as religiously as some of the other games we’ve played together in the past, but it has been a fun diversion from other things we’ve been spending time on. Like its predecessor, Titanfall 2 boasts a ton of multiplayer modes in which you play as pilots. As you fight you’ll charge up your Titan which you can eventually call down to pilot against the enemy. Where this game differs from the original is in the fact that there is actually a single player campaign and its rather good. I’ve blown through a few chapters but have spent more time with the multiplayer recently. If you’ve played the original I’m happy to report that the gameplay is just as good as you remember. If you enjoy Call of Duty or other competitive shooters, this one is probably better. It’s from Respawn too, so if you like Apex Legends, you’ll see a ton of what made its way into that game with abilities and weapons. Honestly, it’s a great game and getting it for free is worth the download. Sometimes you just gotta jump in your mech and blow shit up, man!

So there you have it. Several games I’ve dipped my toes into as of late. Hoping to finish some of these up soon so I can share some individualized proper thoughts.

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!

#E32016: Most Anticipated

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

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

Titanfall 2

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

Horizon: Zero Dawn

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

Prey

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

Resident Evil 7

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

Death Stranding

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

Mass Effect: Andromeda

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

Skyrim Special Edition

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

Final Fantasy XV

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

God of War

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

X-Wing VR 

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

What games were you most excited about this E3?