While I am not quite ready to throw out a complete post about it… I am swirling around in my head the notion of rebooting Blaugust this year. If I did so it would be a slightly different affair and I am sorting out in my head exactly what that might entail. There was a period of time when we had a bunch of events happening at the same time… Developer Appreciation Week, Newbie Blogger Initiative and Blaugust. None of which really exist today in their current form and have not properly for a few years. So in remixing Blaugust I would be also attempting to fill some of the niches that the others provided as well by laying out a series of themed weeks. The rough idea is it would start with the last full week in July as a sort of “Prep Week” where the remaining elder bloggers would sorta throw out “how to get started” posts from an inspirational, logistical or technical manner. It is still an idea that is incubating however so I will do some sort of a larger post once it has solidified completely in my head.
The other general thought that has been going around in my head is that Monster Hunter World has become my new Destiny: The Taken King. That sounds counter intuitive I know since Destiny 2 is a much closer simulacrum to the original game than Monster Hunter World given that they are two completely different genres. However what I am talking about is more the way I engage with the game rather than the way the game actually plays. Destiny 1… especially during the Taken King era was this game I was completely obsessed with and wanted to know every tiny bit of lore I could find for it. It was this giant box of content that allowed me to engage with it in whatever method I chose to, and also always gave me one more goal to complete once I had finished the previous one. It was this title that I could just log in and play any given night without needing to bring into it a predetermined purpose because there were so many layered purposes available that I could easily latch onto one of them and proceed happily for an evening.
I had a small group of friends playing it, that allowed me to do bigger activities if I so choose like the various raids I completed with Axioma and later Tequila Mockingbird. That said most of my time playing the game was just me roaming around and doing stuff that suited whatever mood I happened to be in. There was always one more obstacle to overcome and one more piece of loot that I was chasing and never quite obtaining. It was a perfect storm of hooks for me personally and kept me entertained right up until the point when my head was filled with daydreams of Destiny 2 and what might be. I realize I can still log in at any point I want and play the game again… but it almost feels tarnished due to the greatly diminished community surrounding it.
Destiny 2 for reasons I cannot fully explain does not contain the same hooks for me that the original did. I tried very hard to stay focused on it, and for some time I have blamed my eventual malaise towards the game on the fact that I tried to play it twice. What I mean by that is that I played the game hard and heavy when it released on Playstation 4 and then immediately turned around and went through the same manic leveling process on the PC one month later. Effectively I ran up six characters to high gear levels back to back, and I had managed to hit 305 the then cap on PS4 before swapping over to PC and grinding up to that point again. That is a lot to ask of any game to sustain interested during that sort of nonsense and I largely explained my fading away from the title as simple burnout.
The problem is there was so much more that I have yet to completely unpack. The moment to moment game play in Destiny 2 feels amazing… but there is a problem with its feedback loop. What was missing was my drive to keep doing more of it once I had obtained whatever shiny baubles I wanted to obtain weapon wise. What was missing was some larger overarching pull that kept me going off and doing individual tasks that ultimately felt like they were adding up to some big payoff. In part the problem is a lot of those items that I used to grind for… now exist as Eververse cash shop exclusives. The other problem is that when they have put in longer grinds like the weapons of osiris… they feel extremely hollow because they are so horribly repetitive and involve you doing the same limited number of activities over and over. I realize they are still trying to fix this broken loop and some of the upcoming changes might help it… but I feel like their over reliance on timed mechanics is going to be a bridge I just cannot cross given now much anxiety they inflict.
On the flip side you have the game Monster Hunter World that I honestly did not expect to get into, given my lousy track record with the handheld versions. However I am engaging with it much the way as I engaged with Destiny during the Taken King era. I find myself looking up lore for the monsters if they have existed in the series before, and if not speculations about their origins and such that are floating around on Reddit. I find myself researching bits and parts for armor and what interesting builds surround them that exploit their specific attributes. I find myself able to log into the game any given night and just find something to do because I have this massive laundry list of things I want to go acquire. I can always use more elder dragon parts…. but similarly can use the gemstones that are rare drops off of almost any creature you can hunt. I became completely ecstatic last night when I got a double gem drop off Zorah Magdaros… that I cannot fully explain why I was bothering to do in the first place.
This is the feedback loop that used to drive me while playing Destiny 1 and it is the feedback loop that keeps me doing nonsense. I have an addiction to SOS Roulette which isn’t even really a thing… just something I made up in my head to relate it to the various roulette’s in Final Fantasy XIV. I like dropping into the middle of an assortment of random events happening that people need help on and trying to push the scenario to a win condition by my interaction with it. Sure there are times we fail miserably like Monday night… but then there are nights like Last night where we somehow managed to win every single boss fight I attempted including Val Hazaak and Nergigante. There will likely NEVER be a time when I cannot use at least one or two things off the elder dragons.
What makes Monster Hunter World so sticky is that eat time I get the parts to craft a new piece of gear, it ends up opening a whole bunch of possibilities to solve other problems… and often times leads me down a path of wanting something else to try some new build out. The way the gear sets interact in interesting ways means I am constantly searching for another piece of gear to complete a specific stat packages that I have decided in my head that I need. This was the same sort of nonsense that happened for me in Destiny 1 where I was constantly seeking out a slightly better stat package that interacted more perfect with the gear I had. I had a vault full of items that I didn’t want to shard because they were useful under certain circumstances and led me to want to keep them. I am having this same problem in Monster Hunter World where I am afraid I will legitimately hit the 1000 item hard cap on equipment.
Effectively what I have realized is that Monster Hunter World is my new Destiny, and hopefully I have explained a bit this morning what that actually means. It is that game that I can pick up and play without any real reason… and find a constant stream of activities that I want to be doing… that also feel like they are working towards some larger objective. Capcom is doing an excellent job of keeping a constantly flow of events and activities happening almost every week to keep us engaged and wanting to do new an interesting things. Kulve Taroth is phenomenal and might go down as some of my favorite content in any game… but the fact that they sprung it on us completely unannounced makes it all the more exciting. While I have had friends who have bounced off of this game… I still maintain an active enough community to be able to do things together if need be. The only problem is that right now I seem to be a couple of hours off what would be prime monster hunting time… given that I tend to wind down around 9:30 my time and that is when folks are getting online.
Ultimately while this might seem counter-intuitive… if you loved the original Destiny but largely have bounced off Destiny 2… you might give Monster Hunter World a try.
Last night I was a bad human being. It was a pretty rough day at work because of reasons that I can’t really go into. So when I got home I decided to boot up Destiny and check out the newest running of the Iron Banner event. Quite literally the next thing I know it, it was almost 11 pm and I had spent the entire evening playing the game. This would have been no big deal were it not for the fact that Tuesday nights are a night set aside generally for Final Fantasy XIV and raiding there. I will have to send out my apologies later, but this is a testament to just how fun this “looter shooter” still is. For those who are uninitiated… the Iron Banner is a PVP event, and one that I participate in freely and actually look forward to. The reason behind this is that there is exclusive loot each time it runs from an awesome set of Iron Wolves themed gear and weapons. During year two this was an amazing way to get increases in your overall light levels, and with year three the gear that is available is completely new and fresh. Generally speaking each month the event brings two pieces of armor and two weapons, and this time around we have arms, class items, shotgun and auto rifle. These items can be gained through rewards at the end of the match, or by ranking up with the Iron Banner faction and purchasing specific rolls of each off the new leader of the Iron Banner… Lady Efrideet. This time around the daily quests reward loot instead of just getting packages at rank 3 and rank 5, and I managed to complete two armor packages and two weapons packages. I also managed to get to almost rank 4 in faction in the first night, which tells me that they are trying really hard to make this event feel like less of a grind. As far as drops… I got one awful roll on the Auto Rifle, and four pairs of the gauntlets… most of which are going to be used as infusion fuel for my Hunter and Warlock whenever I get around to playing them.
For lack of a better term, Bungie and Blizzard are cousins because they exist as part of the same larger company of Activision Blizzard. In fact it is rumored that during the planning for Taken King, Bungie had a sit down with the developers from Diablo 3 to talk about the lessons learned in crafting the “Loot 2.0” patch. Now it took a lot of tweaking but I feel like Bungie finally landed on a version of that formula that works for them. There are similar references in World of Warcraft Legion that draw ties back to Destiny, the most obvious is the above NPC in Dalaran that is named after the weekly NPC that shows up bringing awesome things and trading them for strange coins. However it feels like there are still a lot of lessons that the World of Warcraft team could learn from the things that Destiny is doing right. The games are designed very differently, but Destiny seems to have accomplished the holy grail of modern MMOs… being able to create static content that players will be willing to repeat over and over. The majority of the strike and crucible playlists are all pretty well worn at this point, but the way rewards are handed out makes a huge difference in the willingness of players to keep pushing forward and attacking the content.
Warcraft Legion is an expansion full of variable loot tables that shift and change through the use of the Warforging and Titanforging systems. This was a definite good step forward, because it gives a slightly glimmer of hope that something interesting might come from the forty ninth time you are running Eye of Azshara to help a guildie through it. The problem however is that it still feels like that glimmer of hope is an extremely tiny one. Lets take the Looking For Raid system for example to throw some numbers at. The baseline for all loot in that “raid” is 835, and more than likely if you defeat the personal loot boss… the item you are going to walk away with is that low item level. The zone as a whole has a maximum possible light level of 870, meaning that there is an extremely slim chance of still getting something useful from there if you run it on your main. Right now in Belghast I am sitting at 854 item level, and that means that most of the content that I run in the game other than normal or high mode raids, is not going to produce me any upgrades. However in the back of my head I know that it is theoretically possible, and I am having a hard time reconciling what is likely to happen with what might possibly happen. I mean I did manage to get a SECOND legendary last night off of an emissary chest… so I have more luck than I should have at times.
In World of Warcraft we have “Item Levels” but Destiny has essentially the same concept called “Light Levels”. Getting higher light means you perform better, just like getting higher item levels in theory means you have the potential to perform better. How Bungie handled this problem of potential for drop versus actual level dropping is that they started creating items based on the players current stats. So if I get a weapon in the game to drop from a package or decoding from an engram… its light level is set based on my current converted light level. Right now I am sitting at 351 light in Destiny, and I have a handful of items that are over that level but that is my average. When I get a new item it means that item will be 351 light or better, generally within a range of 5 light, so up to 356 in this case. Legendary engrams and item drops currently seem to have a cap around 385 in game, so I will continue to be able to keep leap frogging my way through light levels by consistently receiving upgrades each time something new drops. World of Warcraft loot should work like this, meaning that each time I do a quest out in the world…. the item of the level rewarded should be based on what my current item level is. I’ve had friends who have received up to 870 items from World Quests, so it does not seem unreasonable that any loot I get from doing them… should be at a minimum whatever my current average item level is.
In order to really make this feel right, I think World of Warcraft would also have to move away from the current tiered system of item levels. Right now if we go back to the example of LFR, an item when it drops can be 835, 840, 845, 850, 855, 860, 865, or 870. Each time some combination of stats and “forged” suffix changes and tweaks up the stats and item level. It just feels like it would simply be cleaner for the purpose of giving players a constant but incremental flow of new gear… for each item to just have a variable level. So you could then get an item that was 844 or 858 depending upon what your current item level happened to be. The items we know are simply mathematical equations, with this or that stat scaling based on the item level. So in theory it should be just as easy to show you an item that was 862 as one that is 860, but the constant progression of slow bites of the apple as you keep improving your stats for me at least would feel better than running a bunch of content and seeing nothing but disenchant fodder as a result. This hit home especially hard as I have been trying to run mythic and heroics with friends to get them geared up… and so often when the personal loot boss finally submits… the end product is not an upgrade at all. As a result we have started trying to stack armor types, so that in theory at least SOMEONE in the party could benefit from the item. There are honestly a lot more lessons that I feel like Blizzard and the WoW team could learn from the way Destiny works, and I might elaborate on them in additional posts… but this loot post was a good starting place.
Back in May I decided to make a monthly ritual of “truing up” my “Regularly Playing” widget on the sidebar to more closely represent the games I quite literally was playing on regular rotation. Given that it is that time again… here is the list of things for June. I added a few new games into the mix and also removed a few more… even if one is really only temporary. Doing the thing where I write a blurb about what I happened to be doing in each of them.
In a weird bit of nostalgia, I decided to come back to Rift and give it another push. There has never really been a period of time when I have not actually at least dabbled in this game, but so many times I failed to gain traction. This time around I somehow managed to push from 61 to 65 and have started on this mad mission to raise all of my tradeskills. Now having almost accomplished that I will be pushing into the Planetouched Wilds and giving it a real amount of effort. On top of this I am focused heavily on my crafting dailies, which often times means I need to venture out into the world in search of Sarleaf and Thalasite. With the shift of WoW to the Garrison for most of your farming needs… I had forgotten just how much I really did love going off and ore farming. There is just something relaxing about wandering around a zone with a purpose, looking for the next ore pop and trying to get to it before anyone else notices. It is this weird game within a game that actually seems to work well for me. I spent many an hour flying circles around Icecrown or Sholazar Basin in Wrath… and now am loving doing the same thing for Gelboro Reef. Largely I am focused on that zone since, firstly I know it pretty well… and secondly the mobs are low enough level that I can go afk as needed and make it back to the keyboard before something actually kills me. I am certain that I could be farming ore while wandering around the Planetouched Wilds, but the mobs out there are truly brutal. Whatever the reason… I am deeply invested in Rift and its community once more and loving it.
Destiny: The Taken King
While I have slowed down considerably in this game, there are still regularly sessions of it… namely because I have been trying to get fellow AggroChat member and good friend of mine Grace settled in game. Monday night we managed to get her to level 40, and pushed through the Taken King quest content… which means that there is an entirely new world waiting for her of endgame stuff. With Iron Banner going on this weekend, I highly expect that the two of us will be working on that or at least attempting to show her the ropes of the event. We also have several more steps in the recruit a friend process, but as we get her gear level up there it should get easier to do cooler stuff. Other than that other games have taken priority over the last few weeks, namely with my return to active duty in FFXIV and running stuff in Rift. Hopefully the Iron Banner will be a good event to get me back into focus and moving forward in Destiny once more. I feel pretty disconnected, and I miss the Thursday night Challenge of Elders stuff horribly, I just had a few crazy weeks with the St Louis trip, and Kansas City trip… and a bunch of other random occurrences that knocked me out of my schedule. Hopefully I can start to rebuild said schedule and get moving forward once more.
In a similar fashion to Rift, I have suddenly become involved and attached to the ArcheAge community as well. Right now I am largely focused on leveling, but at some point I plan on doing all the tradeskilly things in this game as well. Last year the AggroChat crew made a serious push into this game, and while we faded into the background… I still found it extremely enjoyable. Additionally like I said yesterday, many of the early toxic aspects of the community as a whole seem to be gone. Right now I am trying to get back in tune with the game and try and remember how the hell to do half of the things. On the positive as I grind away at questing I seem to keep getting really nice drops for weapons and armor… however I remember that most of the best stuff I had was crafted. I just happened to time my return to coincide with some welcome back campaign, and I keep accruing rewards into my inventory that at some point I will figure out how to use. Mostly I would like to hit the level cap before worrying too much with them, but I believe some of them are xp bonuses that I might as well use now. If you are actively playing I am Belglaive on the Tahyang server, but I am not sure what all it requires to actually friend someone in game. I am not sure if cross server friends lists are a thing there like they are in Rift.
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward
I spent most of the month deeply frustrated with this game, namely because I was sitting at what felt like an artificial gear cap and being prevented from progressing in the story. Since then however I managed to get a Void Ark run with some friends and got over whatever anxiety I happened to have about tanking it. As a result I am now sitting at 205 gear score, and bumping up against the Nidhogg trial in the story. It is my hope that at some point this week I can get a few friends together and run this and hopefully complete the 3.3 patch story. I am still enjoying the game, but I lack the drive to play it… that I have in say Rift or ArcheAge right now. For at least the foreseeable future my activity in game is probably going to be limited to our Tuesday night activities, or the occasional expert or other event that I organize with friends. I love playing this game… but right now I only seem to love playing it with a group of friends logged in at the same time. It is still an amazing game, but it has shifted into the sort of role that World of Warcraft has been in the past… that game that I only played when there was an organized activity.
World of Warcraft
This one admittedly is barely making the list, and keeping its space on my sidebar. Right now I am occasionally logging in to run Garrisons and get my free gold, but not doing much more other than that. There has been talk of myself, grace and a few others doing random old world content for transmoggy bits and honestly… that right now is about all I am interesting in World of Warcraft as a whole. I feel like I am in a “desperately waiting for the Legion pre-patch” mode. Largely because I am tired of not having any bank space, and removing any of my outfits is simply not an option. I am not joking when I say that right now the only important thing to me in this game… is looking cool with my collection of old raid gear littering my bank vault. If the new transmog system were actually patched in… I would more than likely go through a flurry of activity as I once again do awesome old world content for cool threads. However I quite literally have hit a point where I maybe have 15 bag slots total between inventory, bank and void storage…. so I simply cannot play Belghast anymore without risking removing something. So instead… I run the occasional garrison mission as I alternate through my army of alts… and then log out once again.
Things Removed From List
Zero clue why on this one… but the game released and I just have had no desire to really play it. I am amped about just how excited everyone else seems to be about this game, but honestly it feels like I am more interested in talking about the world and the characters… than actually playing it. If the player versus bots game were more compelling I would likely play it more often, but right now it feels like to enjoy it I need a group of friend to play it. Ironically I have a huge group of friends playing it… but I think I am going through a “quiet time” phase where I just want to piddle around on my own in games rather than do a lot of organized play. The few nights I rode along with people… I lasted 3 to 4 games before feeling the need to run and hide again. I am certain at some point I will once again get the Overwatch bug, but the truth is I am just not that into competitive games.
Removing this one again temporarily because well…. the season is over. I have accomplished everything I could ever hope to accomplish, and now is the quiet time until the next patch. This will be returning once again as another season starts and we all go through the crazy happy madness that is a season launch. For a bit I was still farming for pets and such, but with the addition of several games this got removed from the docket. I still very much love this game and look forward to adding it back to the list, but for the moment we are in the off season and the game for me at least is dormant.
First off let me start this post by wishing all of you my readers a Happy New Year. During the course of this past year nearly 70,000 of you have visited my blog, and I am still scratching my head as to why. Whatever I am doing, I guess I will keep doing that in the next year. I do have some cool ideas for things to keep me moving forward, but I don’t really want to go into those right now…. mostly because it will involve some programming on my part to make it function. The thing I have learned over the years of blogging and this coming year will make seven… is that I am really really bad at columns. I will start a feature and then after a few weeks to months it peters out. The MMOs Worth Playing feature was one of my favorite so far, but it was also one of the more time consuming. That said in the coming year I would really like to bring it back, and maybe change its focus to be a little big more manageable…. sort of a MMO of the Month Club type thing. Each week during the MWP thing I was trying to log into that game, play it a bit to remember the things I liked about it… take fresh screenshots and get up a post every single Friday. As we got into the pre-Holiday crunch time it failed miserably. Maybe an MMO of the Month will work better because it gives me more time…. though honestly if the AggroChat Game Club is any evidence I will probably just end up waiting until the week before we record the show before attempting to play the game.
This morning the idea is to do my Awards for the year, since we have officially wrapped up a year now. These are not exactly your normal awards and more like the back of a high school year book… most likely to succeed etc. Though from what I understand…. there are a lot of schools who are no longer doing that for sake of potentially damaging students self esteem. More than anything I want to thank all of you for joining me on this continued journey. The last few months of the year were pretty rough on this side of the equation, but you all kept with me and kept supporting me, and for that I am immensely appreciative. Without further rambling… here is the inaugural edition of “Bel’s Game Awards”.
I absolutely did not expect to like this game, and in truth I probably never would have played it were not for the fact that my good friend Grace chose this as her aggrochat game of the month. I expected it to be largely played on a goof, and even went to the extreme of recording my first game play session because I expected it would be a maddening experience for me. The end result however was something I did not expect, I really enjoyed it. I laughed more while playing this game than I have laughed in a long time while playing any game…. maybe since initially playing Sam and Max Hit the Road. What is even more shocking is that I continued on after the initial play through and ended up getting six or seven different endings by the time we had recorded the AggroChat show. There has been a whole side discussion since about whether or not Hatoful Boyfriend is actually representative of Otome and Visual Novels in general…. or if it just lampoons the genre. I think more than anything it opened my eyes to the fact that this sort of “non-action” game can be extremely fun, and would make me at least try some other games. So kinda like WoW is an ice breaker for MMOs… this might be that sort of Icebreaker for Otome.
I remember when I first saw this game… it seemed like this amazing callback to the Super Nintendo era of RPGs where you had such oddball genre bending hits like Mario RPG and Earthbound. The problem is that in application… the game ended up as this soulless hull that simply was not fun to play. This was our very first AggroChat game club game… and none of us really liked it. This was the game that essentially we all unanimously voted that we wanted to play… and was also the game that caused us to change gears and start letting individual members pick a game for us to play, rather than trying to all decided together what the next game we would play might be. The game was frustrating from a technical level, but the level of grind needed to get very far just made the experience simply not enjoyable. The idea of being able to recruit hundreds of potential party members was amazing… until you realized that not a single one of them was interesting at all. The part that ruined it for most people was the fact that the main character, the mayor was so completely unlikable. I think it was Kodra that said that the game would have been salvageable if you could simply leave him at home and go off adventuring without him. The stereotypes were caricatures were humorous for the first fifteen minutes, and then quickly became painful to keep playing.
What can I say about Destiny the Taken King that I have not already said. I had no real hopes for this expansion because for the most part I had abandoned all hope for Destiny before the time the first expansion patch landed. Year one was a grindy mess whose light leveling system left me scratching my head and simply not caring anymore about trying to progress. I believe I managed to get to Light 26 before hitting a wall of resource gathering, that I simply lacked the desire to keep pushing through. In year one engrams in general felt few and far between, and you were constantly having to judge whether or not an item provided enough light to make it worth swapping it in, even if in other ways the item might be superior. Year two fixed a lot of this in the same way that the Diablo 3 2.0 patch just magically fixed that game, or at least made it FEEL better. That is the thing with me and games, the moment to moment game play has to feel good and also feel like I am getting something for my time spent. While I could say that technically there is way more grind in Year 2, it feels like you are at least getting something for your time…. even if it is just weapon and armor parts. I would rather see things drop… and all of those things be crap rather than never seeing a drop… and when you finally do it decodes into a lower level than the face value of the engram. The biggest change however is the fact that the Taken King has a story… and it is actually a cool one. Through both the quest narrative and the item descriptions that can be found on the website for each of the items you pick up… the game has started to tell this epic tale of both the Traveller and the Darkness, and how the two have battled through countless races and star systems since time began. For me, I patched up my game and tried the year 2 experience long before picking up the expansion…. and I highly suggest anyone who has not given it another shot do the same.
Game I Still Can’t Get Into
I love the Dragon Age franchise…. or at least I did. I’ve been a fan since Dragon Age: Origins… and I have beaten at least six different endings of that game. Which as a person who rarely if ever finishes video games… that should tell you something. I even managed to play through Dragon Age 2 a few different times, and largely enjoyed my experience. However when confronted with Dragon Age: Inquisition it feels like this insurmountable wall. Firstly I think the game just looks ugly out of the gate with its overuse of object shine and its strange playdough hair. The other big problem I have is that generally speaking I play roleplaying games on the sofa, where it is nice and comfy… and none of the laptops that I own are capable of playing this game with decent settings, or at least good enough settings to make it look not like shit. Recently I have picked it up for the Playstation 4 over the recent sales and it is my hope to maybe try playing it on the vita. The first statement anyone ever seems to make to me when I talk about my problems with the game… is that I need to leave the hinterlands. I promise I have left the Hinterlands… but the main storyline is just boring to me. It is nothing as awesome as Dragon Age Origins was…. and I think that’s because I just don’t like the Inquisition. I could get 100% behind the Grey Wardens… I believed in their cause and was ready to go into battle for them. I could give a flying fuck about being the Herald of Andraste. I hate this green shit that comes out of my hand… and I hate the feeling that I am constantly fiddling with the magic of the world… and my key goal in life seems to be to close rifts full of annoying demons. I like some of the characters that I interact with, but some of my favorite characters so far are characters you can’t take with you on missions like Scout Harding. My party of choice would be Cassandra, Sera, and Harding…. but instead I tend to go with Cassandra, Sera and Dorian. I wish I knew why this game is just so not enjoyable for me…. but I want to play it… I really do.
Lived Up to the Hype
The game this year that I was the most hyped about has to be Fallout 4, and that hype cycle started from the moment it was officially announced at E3. This game did so many things right, and really it was starting with the way it was announced. They held off to show any information on the game until it was already pretty damned polished, and then they hit it out of the part by saying that it would be in our grubby little hands only a few months later. In the meantime they gave us a pretty fun mobile game to keep us interested…. which I will talk about later. Fallout is one of those franchises that I place up on a pedestal for always giving me exactly what I wanted out of the game. A big open world with lots of little things to keep me interested, and a complete inability to ever truly “finish” the game. There is more content in Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and now Fallout 4 than I will ever have time to see. Hell in the few days ahead of the launch… I played some more Fallout New Vegas and was still finding things that I had never seen before… and I considered that game pretty damned well trodden. As far as Fallout 4… everything about the game makes me happy… apart from maybe the main storyline. The thing is… I don’t play Fallout games for the story… I play them to go off and inhabit the wasteland and weave my own storyline around me as I go. I thought the voiced protagonist would annoy me… but for the most part I have been able to ignore it. I really like some of the companions this time as well…. namely Piper and Nick. I wish so much that I could adventure together with Piper, Nick and Dogmeat at the same time because I love them all. The biggest moment for me though was when I realized that in this game through the settlement system I could finally make the world a better place. I have a dozen or so different settlements at this point, and I have spent time building on each of them. I feel like I am making things work…. and improving live as I go. As far as the Storyline… I find parts of it frustrating namely that I did not see a good option to broker peace between the three main factions. I would have loved a “Can’t We All Just Get Along” ending option… and maybe it is there but I just have not found it.
Hype That Didn’t Last
If I had to pick a game of the year based on sheer amount of time I played it during this year…. the award would go to Final Fantasy XIV. It has been my constant companion… that is until the last quarter of the year when I started to lose interest. I can’t say I am disappointed in the game, because the content leading up to Heavensward… and the launch content was really amazing. The problem I have had is like after the launch of A Realm Reborn there just doesn’t seem to be that much to do to keep me engaged. I guess in truth the game has always been this way… because I remember us running into the same wall a few months after the launch of 2.0, that ended up leading us to un-subscribe shortly after. Coming back when we did July of 2014 meant we had roughly a year worth of content waiting for us to progress through. This content kept us busy up until the point of the Heavensward launch, with us not actually defeating Bahamut until we did it unsynchronized. With Heavensward we lack that backlog of fun older content to work through, and our casual gameplay style just does not really fit with the Final Fantasy XIV bleeding edge. So we managed to down Bismarck Extreme, Alexander normal, and made some pretty good progress on Ravana Extreme before we petered out and started to lose interest. What is making it extra hard is the fact that there are only two max level dungeons at a time this go around. Previous expansion each content patch came with three new dungeons…. and having to run experts by only alternating between the same two dungeons gets old really really fast. I am sure at some time I will get the bug and go back to playing this as my primary game…. but for now I am just basically only playing the new story and holiday content as it arrives and the rest of the time…. simply not logging in.
Shocked I am Playing
At the beginning of the year, I had quite a bit of fun raiding in World of Warcraft, but as Blackrock Foundry drug on…. and the launch of Heavensward loomed I simply lacked the care to keep playing like I have done so many times. In June I quit playing as the chart at the end of this post shows and focused solely upon Final Fantasy XIV, and I think maybe it is this single minded focus that caused me to burn out of that game so quickly. Blizzcon is a primal force of nature that no one can avoid… and I have to say it got me started down this nostalgia trip that ended with me playing the free version of the game on my sub 20 horde characters on The Scryers server. This ultimately ended up with me resubbing to the game and I have to say I am really enjoying myself. I am playing the game in a much more casual fashion than I am used to, and while I am raiding every single week…. I am doing so with a group that only raids on Sunday nights, and during a time slot when I am normally downstairs watching television anyways. I know there is technically no new content, but what can I say… I am having fun. Playing Horde has breathed new life into the game because it is allowing me to not only play with friends I never really got the chance to play with… but also see the world from a slightly different perspective. No clue how long this will hold out but I think so long as I am playing it and OTHER games at the same time… it might just hold for awhile. I think the key for me not getting burnt out is to allow myself the freedom to play whatever I feel like playing in a given moment and not really forcing myself to keep playing something that feels stale.
Made Me Almost Care About Mobile
As I said above, one of the things that Bethesda did right with the launch of Fallout 4, is that they gave us a fun app to play with in the meantime. Fallout Shelter is essentially Sim Tower or the later Tiny Tower mobile game…. set in a Fallout Vault. This was actually a lot of fun for a few weeks and gave me a reason to play games on my phone. The problem is I eventually got bored with it the same way I seem to get bored with all mobile apps. There were a lot of times I thought that I would keep playing it, were it for the ability to play on my desktop while doing something else. But for a brief period of time I found myself caring about a mobile game, and that deserves some recognition. My lifestyle just doesn’t really support mobile gaming, in that if I am going somewhere… I tend to be the one driving. Then when I am at work… I should be you know… working and not playing games. When I am out shopping… most games simple require too much to get into them and do a few moves before you need to move on to the next area. Then when I am home…. I would far rather be using my laptop, gaming desktop, or one of several different consoles than spending time on a mobile device. The one thing that might change this is the fact that I have started spending some time on my new Kindle Fire before going to sleep. Right now that time is mostly occupied with reading comic books… but I could see eventually playing a game like Fallout Shelter while trying to fall soundly asleep.
Game I Wish I Enjoyed More
If you were to write out every single feature that I would want in an MMO on paper… you would pretty much get the feature set of Rift. That said for whatever reason I have struggled to get into this game since the launch of the first expansion. I will come back and play for a bit but find it far too easy to walk away from. I love Trion, and I love the awesome people that work there. I love some of the awesome folks engaged in that community like Kiwi. All of this said… I just struggle to get into the game itself. I think it is several problems, namely that I just don’t have a large friendly and active community to be part of. I mean I have the House Stalwart guild but it has been dead since the last resurgence several years ago that lead me to go found it. For a long time my hope was Machiavelli’s Cat community, but during Storm Legion the Rift contingency pretty much died, and it lead us to merge into Alea Iacta Est…. who then also seemed to die out. During this awkward period I tried a few other guilds, and never found a home… eventually creating House Stalwart on Faeblight. The big problem that Rift has that WoW does not… is the fact that there is no cross account id system that you can use for communicating with friends regardless of what character they happen to be playing. However with the recent “Glyph ID” that is now showing up in the launcher… I am wondering if they are crafting that infrastructure. I feel like I simply have not put in the necessary legwork to find a new home, because it seems like so much effort. That combined with the fact that finding a workable spec itself is a challenge, has left me in this phase of logging in… playing for a bit and then fading out again. I want to love this game, but it has been a struggle.
Most Emotional Experience
This is a strange one for me… because I’ve technically never played this game. The game itself is more of an experience… a visual novel of sorts… than a true game. Sure there are gameplay elements and mechanics… but those remind me of the video game equivalent of one of those pop up books that has levers and such that allow you to move the characters or animate a specific story element. I watched a let’s play video on this game, and in that I pretty much experienced all of it. The end result evoked some of the strangest emotions in me.. and actually lead me to cry at a few points. I think any creative type can understand the emotions that you go through in the experience, and I know for myself…. who tends to suffer from a fairly unhealthy amount of imposter syndrome… it hit incredibly close to home. I am not sure if it was a positive experience, and for all I know given the timing… it might have been the start of my recent funk. The rollercoaster I went through… was not exactly healthy. That said I feel like I have to give the game credit, because it made me feel things… like deeply feel things. Very few video games can do that, and ultimately I ended up purchasing the game as a thank you for the experience…. even though I doubt I will ever actually install it or play it.
Game of the Year
The only thing I can really give you… is a hearty shrug. I don’t know what my game of the year would be. If you judged it on sheer excitement and the eventual execution… it would probably be Fallout 4. If you judged it based on the amount of time I spent playing it through the course of the year, then it would be Final Fantasy XIV. If you based it on the sheer shock that someone got me to play the game in the first place… then Hatoful Boyfriend. Basically every game on my list deserves its recognition, and for the most part that recognition is positive with the exception of Citizens of Earth. I played a lot of games this year… and I hope to play even more next year. Game of the Year is honestly a silly concept… and just like I can’t really give you a firm answer for “Favorite Movie” or “Favorite Song” I could never tell you my absolute favorite Video Game. My mood plays such of a huge role in what I want to play at a given moment…. and if I want mindless destruction right now Destiny is giving me everything that I could ever want. But as soon as my mood changes… so does my preference in games… and I often times fall back on sheer comfort gaming like whatever MMO I happen to be into. So yeah… all of the games on this list… I mentioned because they were important to me, so they are all my Games of the Year.
My wife is always awesome, but every now and then she does something so cool that I have to brag on her. This weekend she was out shopping with a friend when I got a series of excited texts from her about something she found for me. Awhile back I picked up some Star Wars shoes with this “A New Hope” artwork spread across the two shoes. The problem being that they were expensive as shit and I hate the idea of wearing them out in my normal shoe rotation. I wear a mixture of Vans and Airwalk slip on style canvas shoes and I seem to be able to destroy them pretty effectively. My wife however found the above pair that is absolutely Star Wars print but not to the level that I wouldn’t want to wear them constantly. She didn’t end up picking them up, mostly because she wanted me to try them on. We get up yesterday and they were apparently also on sale at Target, so I am not sure how much we paid but I think they were under $20. I just think its awesome that she saw the shoes and immediately thought that I would want them. My wife isn’t necessarily a geek like I am, but she has always “gotten” the fact that I am and supported me in my quirkiness. I am exceptionally lucky, and every now and then I feel like I need to acknowledge that fact publicly.
I had all of these intentions to make a big push yesterday in Star Wars the Old Republic, but in reality I only ended up playing it in the evening while watching television. I did however manage to finish up all of the end of chapter one back and forth for the smuggler. I now have Risha as an official companion rather than just someone hanging out on my ship. Granted I will likely never end up using her, given that the Tank/Healer combo of Treek and I allows me to pretty much take on anything with ease. Overall I do like the character of Risha and it is going to be interesting to see how the rest of the game plays out. I figure she is going to remain being a vocal participant in the content. Now we are going to enter into some spoiler territory, so you might want to stop reading if you have not completed the smuggler story line and intend to do so. One of the absolute best moments in the game so far… was when I finally got to take down Skavak. Up until this point I kept thinking to myself… god why will this game not let me just kill this guy already!
Now that we have moved into Chapter 2 we get a new set of bad guys. At this point I don’t really care much about this Voidwolf character, but I am absolutely all about taking on Rogun the Butcher. Up until this point I have had him looming over my head and he has sent the occasional bounty hunter after me. My hope is that when I finally am able to take him down it will be just as sweet as it was for Skavak. I feel like as a smuggler I probably shouldn’t want to have a stand up fight against these Kingpins, but then again Leia did slay Jabba in rescuing Han… so there is that example to follow. There are moments in this game that I know are traps… but you pretty much have to go through them anyways. The “rescue” mission on the derelict freighter for example, was absolutely going to be a trap and it was. I did not however expect Port Nowhere to be the trap that it ended up being. I guess it makes sense, because pretty much EVERY map you go to that is not on a main world ends up being a trap. Looking forward to pushing through Balmorra because I can tell you right now I am ONLY doing class story quests here. This is the planet that often kills my progress on Sith side, so will be looking forward to getting through it here on Republic.
Yesterday was a day almost entirely lost to Destiny. After finishing my blog post, advertising the podcast, and finishing up the youtube version we ended up running out to Target to pick up my shoes. We got home around 11:30 and from that point until around 3:30 I was engrossed in this or that activity within Destiny. I wound my way through the Taken King story, largely because I wanted to open up the Dreadnought patrol zone. I have to say Oryx was one of those fights that was probably way worse in my head than it actually was in reality. The entire time during the fight I was tense beyond reason because I did not want to die and have to start over again. So I spent most of my time dodging and running away while trying to regroup and get some solid shots in. I don’t want to go into too much detail for those who have not done the fight, but there is a moment where he goes invulnerable except for a specific moment when you can attack. This phase… freaked me out more than anything I can remember in this game.
I kept trying to time my sunbreaker super attack for when he was becoming vulnerable again all the while dodging taking damage. The only negative about the encounter is that the adds definitely felt like nothing more than ways for you to regenerate your ammunition, and they were less of an issue once I realized this. At first I kept trying to run from them and focus down Oryx, but I quickly realized that if I kept doing this I would get overwhelmed. The big takeaway from the weekend is that I managed to hit 240 light, which is the first heroic level. I did a couple of the Vanguard strikes on the play list, and I am going to keep trying to do those periodically. I also started getting quests to do various “end game” content. My main goal for the week is to regenerate enough Strange Coins to be able to buy something next Friday if Xur has anything interesting. I am really happy that I had enough to buy Hawkmoon since I pretty much exclusively use Hand Cannons on my Titan. At some point I plan on working my way up on either a Warlock or a Hunter, but for the time being I am really enjoying leveling Sunbreaker. I am not sure exactly why Destiny has this renewed life for me… but for whatever reason I am grabbing on with both hands while the fun lasts.