I am no longer fanatical about games

Back in the day I was all in on consuming every last bit of info for an upcoming game. We (bloggers) almost all did it for Warhammer Online, but I’ve done it many times for many titles in the past. Analyzing every screen shot, watching every interview or preview, diving deep deep into forums about the game, the works. In some ways, that part of gaming can be more fun than actually playing the game, which says a lot about both the games and the fans…

Today I just don’t have the time, energy, or desire to do that though, even for titles I’m really excited about. I still believe Crowfall will be a fun MMO, but its literally been years since I’ve kept up with its development, and can’t even bother to log into the alpha/beta/whatever that is happening right now. I invested real money in Pillars of Eternity 2, and I didn’t bother reading most of the updates prior to its release. And now today, I ‘know enough’ about Fallout76 to (mostly) stop caring about new info.

On Fallout76 specifically, do I know exactly what the game will be? Not really, no. I’m still unsure (and I suspect so are the devs) about how far the multiplayer vs letting you solo thing will go. Can you actually solo in the traditional definition of that term? If I want to play it exclusively co-op, can I do that even prior to the release of private servers? Does it have ‘real’ Fallout stories/quests, or is everything far more shallow and short-looped? Beta will answer most if not all of that, and then things will change anyway because that’s how games are these days.

But I know enough about Fallout76 to know I’ll most likely buy it (short of beta feedback being a total disaster). I can’t buy the special edition since that’s sold out, and the game isn’t on Steam (yet?), but it has my attention enough with what I have seen to remain interested, if from the outside sometimes looking in.

Posted in beta, Crowfall, Fallout 3, Rant, Warhammer Online | 5 Comments

Hard mode is often the right mode

I’ve long preached that difficulty can bring out the best in games, and today I have another example.

I’ve been playing Total War: Warhammer 2 for a bit now, first finishing a game with the High Elves on Normal, and then playing a game ‘long enough’ with the Skaven on Hard. After the Skaven game I was feeling a bit bored, and unsure if I was going to keep playing. Then, on a whim, I started up an Undead game (Mortal Empires) on Legendary, and got my ass kicked. It was great.

Legendary difficulty is not only harder in terms of the rules, but is also forced Iron-Man mode, meaning you can’t save and reload. This is especially important to keep not just the difficulty up, but the tension. The game is no longer about correctly beating a single battle or having a good turn, but about managing the larger picture at all times. Without Iron Man, if you made a mistake a few turns ago, like say sending your main army in the wrong direction, you can simply go back to an older save and ‘fix’ that mistake, right? And while that keeps your game going, it really just covers up the fact that you made a mistake, and you aren’t likely to learn from it.

The same basic principle applies to everything else in the game. On lesser difficulties, if you manage your settlements in a non-optimal way, you might not notice, since you can brute force past the inefficiency. It’s only when every little decision counts, and you are surviving by the skin of your teeth turn to turn, that you really take the time to realize its sometimes NOT the right decision to upgrade something, or that you really shouldn’t just build the same stuff in every town because it seems to be working.

The increased challenge also applies to battles. In an easier game, if you win that’s usually enough. In a life-or-death game, HOW you win is also critical. You likely can’t afford to be sloppy and lose a unit, and the cleaner you win a battle, the more likely you are to survive the next one, as you no longer have the luxury of just sitting around for an extra turn to recover. Suddenly you start paying more attention to the fact that spear units are good vs larger enemies, see the real value in skirmish archers, and protect your higher tier and veteran units like precious gifts. You start to really agonize over how to specialize your heroes and lords, and getting a good magical items isn’t a ‘hey neat’ event, but something that can actually turn your game around.

Finally, the fact that you do start over when a game goes south, rather than reload a few turns back, hammers home how many important decisions you make each turn. I’ve now restarted a Skaven campaign a dozen times, and due to that have seen just how much small changes in how you do things have a big impact down the road.

Don’t rob yourself of quality entertainment and being able to see all the little details developers have put into their games, play on hard!

Posted in Random | 2 Comments

Fallout76 is a real Fallout game!

Perhaps its just me, but was this the first E3 in years that mattered? Perhaps in years past big news happened for console plebs, but this year a lot of big announcements happened for the master race. The biggest two for me are the details about Fallout76, and the announcement of Elder Scrolls 6.

The ES6 announcement is important for two reasons. One, it finally puts to rest the idea that since ESO exists, we can’t have a real ES game. Two, I think the fact that it was announced means ES6 is further along than most are predicting right now. Not this year of course, but it would not shock me if we see ES6 in 2019. Bethesda traditionally doesn’t do the whole ‘announce game, release in 5 years’ bit.

I’m thrilled about the info we got for Fallout76. I’m glad that ‘leak’ about the game being Fallout ARK was wrong. I’m glad Fallout76 is a ‘real’ Fallout game. And I think I get where the multiplayer thing is going. In all Fallout games, you always had a companion, right? I think (hope) that the twist here is rather than an NPC companion, the game is designed around your companions (now more than one) being real people. I’m perfectly fine with that, for a number of reasons.

They stated you can play solo, which means content isn’t hard-coded to be played with others. That’s good. They also said the game doesn’t support hundreds of players, so there won’t be a focus on content designed for a large number of people. That’s also good and more along the lines of traditional Fallout content. They didn’t say if PvP was in the game at all, but I suspect it might be a ‘tacked on’ feature for people who want to enable it, which itself might be worth messing around with if the basebuilding and shooting gameplay are improved over Fallout 4.

Right now I expect that Fallout76 will be a game that I will enjoy solo, and potentially also play it co-op with a friend or the wife (we have been looking for a game to play together for a long time now). I’m debating getting the collectors edition too. That glow-in-the-dark map is pretty sweet, and I do have some shelf space for that helmet…

Posted in Fallout 3, Mass Media, The Elder Scrolls Online | 11 Comments

Murder, nazis, and hentia for everyone!

Here is my toss on the burning fire that is blog posts about Valve changing its policy to allow any game that isn’t illegal or trolling on Steam, in which I argue its a good move that will likely have zero impact on you personally. TAGN has a post up that has links to other blog posts (lazy linking ftw).

First and foremost, I don’t want Steam deciding what is or is not appropriate content for me as it relates to videogames. If I feel like loading up a school shooter sim, or roleplay a nazi hunting down jews, or whatever else offends you, I should be able to do that. I won’t, personally, but I don’t care or get offended because Steam has that option for me. Far more offensive stuff, like shitty asset swap games or achievement collector ‘games’ already exits on Steam today, and yet life goes on. Videogames aren’t drugs or cigarettes, where actual real side effects exist and we do need to protect the young and/or dumb from themselves.

Second, anyone who thinks that suddenly THIS will make it too hard to find a game on Steam is missing a screw or three. Right now, before this change goes into effect, 40+ games are added EVERY SINGLE DAY to Steam. Currently Steam has 22000+ games, yet you think after this change THEN Steam is going to be overcrowded? El oh El.

And here’s the thing, good games make the news. Maybe not the front page of a major site, but if a game is good, it will get buzz. Maybe you have to read a great blog like this one to find out about a game like Battle Brothers, but it will happen. Plus not only will it happen, its not even that hard. If you want an RPG, do a quick search for “Best RPG of 2018”. How many rape simulators came up in your search? Zero (unless you’re personal search history is… questionable…). How many good RPGs did you find that you can now easily grab off Steam? A bunch right? Wtf is the problem with finding games again?

Overall its a good thing that Valve will no longer be wasting their time deciding what form of videogame sex is ‘too much’ to put on their platform, or if a game about murder is ok because the people being murdered ‘deserved it’ or whatever justification someone comes up with. It’s fine. All of it, really.

(And yes, of course this is likely to change in the future, but not because someone puts something on Steam that the majority agree is ‘too much’, but because some vocal minority gets a bunch of ‘likes’ on their protest page.)

Posted in Rant, Steam Stuff | 9 Comments

Paying full price for a reskin

I’ve been playing Total War: Warhammer 2 lately and really enjoying it. Funny enough, I actually pre-ordered it way back, but am only now finally getting around to playing it. At least it’s still $60 on Steam, so it’s not like I could have bought it today for half price or anything.

Speaking of cost though, TW:W2 is basically the first game, just with a reskin and a tweak to the main campaign (massive oversimplification). In the past it would qualify as an expansion, and not a full-priced title that itself has additional DLC you can buy. Outrage city right? Nope.

I’d gladly pay $60 today for Bethesda to release a reskin and tweak to Skyrim ala TW:W2. Here is another $60 for a Fallout 4 ‘reskin’ as well. Divinity Original Sin 2? Take my money. I could go on, and I’m sure many of you have your own personal list of games you’d pay to get more content for.

The point is that times have changed. Graphics aren’t evolving as quickly as they once did, so using the same engine for another game doesn’t instantly mean the graphics are outdated. And with how complex AAA titles are now in terms of coding, building on top of a solid base engine you have already fixed up is also a major gain.

Ultimately the market will let you know if your ‘reskin’ is worth a buy, and TW:W2 has sold very well, for which I’m happy about. I already know TW:W3 will be another ‘reskin’, and I’m already in line, cash in hand.

Posted in Random, Rant | 3 Comments

Snap reaction to Fallout 76 announcement

If its a full Fallout game, awesome, though West Virginia seems a bit odd for a location. Guess they can’t all be Boston though, now can they?

If its a spin-off titles using the Fallout IP, we’ll see. I could be up for a city builder of some sorta though, as others have suggested it might be. That said, if this spin-off is instead of a full Fallout or Elder Scrolls game, then that sucks.

Bethesda releasing a Fallout game now however is yet another reason to hate ESO. Give me a real Elder Scrolls game already, it’s been 7 freaking years since Skyrim!

Posted in Fallout 3, Mass Media, Rant, The Elder Scrolls Online | 9 Comments

Pillars of Eternity 2 review

I’ve now completed Pillars of Eternity 2, so its time for a quick review. Do note however that I somewhat rushed to the finish in the final stages of the game, and I know I missed a lot of content because of that. More on that later however.

As I mentioned previously, one of the things that stands out to me in PoE2 is the world building, and the fact that PoE2 adds layers to what was established in PoE1. I don’t want to spoil the main storyline, but it fits perfectly with PoE1, and is again a grand discovery that will help shape the storyline going forward into hopefully PoE3. I appreciate this because it truly feels like you are playing a sequel, rather than a standalone game in a series. In the videogame sense, you actions in Pillars matter, both in the first and now in the second, and that’s pretty cool. I also like how your character is central to the story, but not because of the cliché of being the worlds one and only savior (in fact, if at the beginning you insist you don’t want to help, the game will inform you another Watcher will be given your task, and the game ends, which I found pretty amusing.)

PoE2 is going to get a lot of comparisons to Divinity: Original Sin 2, both because the games are somewhat similar (RPGs in the spirit of Baldur’s Gate) and because they were released fairly close to each other. I liked both games, but for different reasons. D:OS2 has a more complex, and turn-based, combat system, while the one in PoE2 is real-time with pause and doesn’t have the complex elemental and structural interactions. Which one is ‘better’ is a matter of preference, because while D:OS2 will have more ‘wow’ moments, it can also be a bit more grating than PoE2, where simpler or smaller battles are quick and don’t tax you as much.

Graphically D:OS2 is the brighter game, and likely the technically prettier one. That said I really like the art style of PoE, and it all fits the world well. Speaking of that, PoE2 has a single large world, while D:OS2 has you complete chapters before moving to a new map/region. Both games are fully voiced, and I liked the acting in both. Story-wise I prefer PoE, though D:OS2 was much improved in that regard over its first game. Both titles ran well for me. Post-launch support was good for D:OS2 in terms of bug fixing, though it doesn’t have any expansions/dlc. PoE2 has expansion/dlc plans, just like PoE1 did.

Perhaps the highest praise I have for PoE2 is I’m excited to play it again. I’m going to hold off on that until all the dlc arrives, which is also why I intentionally didn’t do a ‘full clear’ this time around, but I will certainly return. I want to see the remaining content in the game, see how things change when you make different choices, and hopefully the DLC additions will also be worthwhile.

Highly recommended to anyone who is a fan of RPGs.

Posted in Kickstarter, Random, Review, Uncategorized