So one of the things you need to understand about my brain, that may or may not have been evident from this blog… is that I go through a bit of a cycle when I hear something that conflicts with what I currently perceive as my core interests. First I rebel against the idea, and then as that calms down… I go on a sort of quest to understand it. For example… I have talked about this before but I was an Alpha tester on Guild Wars 2… and it is the only games test that I resigned from. It was a super restrictive test that I had to get forms notarized and turn back in, so resigning seemed like the thing to do rather than simply never playing again. However once the game released I kept throwing myself at it like a puzzle that I simply could not crack. It took me years to fully comprehend why it was that people seemed to like it so much, and reach a place of peace with the game that allowed me to finally accept that it was just not for me. Similarly this whole Diablo Immortal thing has caused me to push deeper into mobile gaming, because I feel like it has been this entire segment of the market that I never really understood the appeal of.
Pokemon Go really was the first mobile game that I actually cared about. It was this specific combination of “everyone was doing it”, mixed with a familiar IP in the form of Pokemon, and also doing some really interesting things with location aware services and augmented reality (even though I largely left that shit turned off all the time). While I still technically pop it open when I am bored… I am nowhere near as active as I once was. There are a few PokeStops on the way into the building at work, but I am not going out and actively seeking things to capture like I did when the game first was released. Admittedly the instability back at launch probably kept this from moving from a thing I casually use… to a thing I am actively playing… given that at one point I was going out pretty much every night to catch stuff.
The core problem with Pokemon Go is that it is not an equitable experience for all players. When I am at work in the core of downtown Tulsa, there is a constant stream of activity… however once I retreat back to my sleepy suburb there is nothing at all. I can walk a lap of my neighborhood and maybe encounter two Pokemon, both of which from what I term the trash variety that you commonly find everywhere. Additionally the focus on face to face interaction made trading just not something that I would ever care about… because most of my friends who play Pokemon are not near me. So it feels like game I dabble in but is very much not for me.
Another game that I have recently started playing is The Walking Dead Our World, which takes the general concept of Pokemon Go but applies it to zombie survival. I’m a fan of the show even though it has figuratively jumped the shark a handful of times at this point. They have been advertising this game for a few seasons and it finally got me curious enough to download and install it. The biggest positive I have to talk about it is that it does not shred your battery in the way that Pokemon Go does, nor does it seem to only care about urban hubs. Out in the burbs there is a constant flow of zombie infestations for me to clear out. The only negative however is it doesn’t really reward moving around anywhere near as much as it probably should. I can sit in bed and clear out a half dozen objectives without actually getting out into the community and finding other objectives. I’ve recently joined a clan or whatever the hell they call them, and it adds another dimension to the game because it feels like I am contributing to larger objectives in the form of a weekly challenge card of sorts that rewards a ton of resources each time you finish one out. Definitely an interesting game, but also one that I only play because fiddling around on my phone has become my before I go to sleep activity.
I have talked at length about Dragalia Lost being the game that largely convinced me that an ARPG would work on a mobile phone. While I still enjoy it, I have very much ended up in maintenance mode with it. I log in each night and work through the daily objectives, then make sure a bunch of stuff is building in my castle before logging out and on to the next thing. I am not really spending much time actually doing content in the game apart from if there is an event going on. Once again this game has not really elevated to the realm of “I would rather play it over more traditional games”. For my friend Grace however, it has and she is spending a good deal more time playing it than playing other titles at the moment. The truth is the only real reason why I have been playing so many mobile games is… my phone hurts way less than the switch when I inevitably drop it on my face.
With the Diablo Immortal announcement, there were a lot of folks talking about how it looked like a “reskin” of another game they released called Crusaders of Light. I decided to check this out for myself, and I guess if you are just looking at the user interface they do look really similar. Then again most mobile MMOs that I have seen have a very similar interface, and if you think about it most first person shooters these days use exactly the same control scheme. Games tend to land on a thing that works and then keep doing that thing over and over. As far as play however it feels more like a mobile World of Warcraft, if I am being completely honest about it. There really isn’t much about it that feels Action RPG. As far as play… the controls are not great and the game highly suggests that you auto navigate to your objectives… which I completely agree with. However while doing this it feels sorta like the game is playing you more than you playing the game.
For reference I also started piddling around in Lineage II Revolution, which quite honestly does a lot of the same things. In fact it is probably more so with an auto questing mode that not only navigates you to the target but also starts attacking it. Weirdly however I find myself liking this title way more than Crusaders of Light, even though it actually asks way less of me to play it. You can of course go offroad at any point, and I have found myself killing three or four times the number of mobs that a given quest has asked me to. Again I am largely doing the auto nav thing to make up for the fact that mobile navigation feels so horrible in the first place. Were I playing any of these games with a controller, then life would be completely different. Mostly this is all part of my brain trying to grok what trends there are and what is popular apart from the obvious Gacha mechanics that seem to exist in all of them.
The biggest problem I have with mobile games is that I find I burn out of them way faster than traditional PC games. I tend to cycle through them like a bored toddler, so I do my maintenance gaming in one… then move on to the next one. At some point my brain realizes that I am only ever doing maintenance tasks and start checking out of it completely. I don’t even have Fire Emblem Heroes installed on my phone anymore, nor did I actually make it all of the way through that quest. Similarly I no longer have Final Fantasy Record Keeper installed, in spite of previously devoting a bunch of time of this “boredom time” to it. While I am on this mission, I am definitely open to suggestions. Is there anything you are playing on a mobile device that is more along the lines of a traditional game? I am not looking for puzzle games like Alphabear, because I already play a handful of those as well.