Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Return

I have very little progress to report on Yakuza 3 or XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but both have gotten attention over the last week. XCOM much more, but with very little to show for it. The alien base invasion mission continues to frustrate me. I think I have had 5-6 complete squad wipes there, now, two due to mind-control by the psionic Sectoid commander there.

A feeling some who don't know me might mistake for nostalgia has mounted recently, possibly in part due to my choice of musical accompaniment at work. I have become acutely wistful about my time previously spent playing Final Fantasy XI, which I ceased playing just about a decade ago, after devoting a heavy portion of the 3 years prior to. It also happens to be the game's 15th anniversary, and so I decided, after having gone through the PS2 to PC account migration procedures when the former version of the game was finally taken offline last year, that I would re-subscribe for a time, to the game which I may have to finally admit to myself is my favorite video game.

My longtime exclusive main character Nascia, formerly level capped (at 75) Black Mage, Monk, and Ninja, is now being trained as a Samurai in the wilds of Sarutabaruta. I have been away from the game for so long, and so much has changed, that I thought it made the most sense to effectively begin again, retaining of course, everything I had earned previously, as you can do with the character development system in FFXI. I could conceivably level up to 99 as SAM now, though at some point I would need to either level my Warrior (WAR) support job up to 49 from the 43 I believe it is at now.

Living alone in Japan with a less demanding job and mania for this game have in the past conspired to cause me to go too hard on it, so if I'm going to be playing it again, I think one defense I need to maintain a reasonable amount of playtime with it, is to clearly define a goal each time I sit down to play it, and to try not to deviate too much from that, and to try to end the session reasonably soon after attaining it, if possible. Otherwise, to find a sensible stopping point when it becomes clear the originally intended goal will not be achieved that session.

Last night, for instance, I sat down intending to explore the zones Sarutabaruta and Giddeus, and to level up from 5 to 10, approximately. That was exactly what I did, though in the end I still ended up playing a little too long. Thinking, planning, like this for game sessions requires a long-term vision for what I want to do in the game.

I don't know that I'll make it to the endgame, or even care all that much about progressing into the post-75 world. All of my love for this game is confined to the base game, and Zilart and Promathia expansions. I played during the Aht Urghan era, but that content didn't stick with me in the way the other did. Right now, I only know for sure I want to keep leveling up and revisiting old haunts. I was really struck by how enormous the zones were, upon revisiting. I thought perhaps they had inflated in my mind, but no, they are actually pretty huge.

I think my next foray in will be to the Auction House and weapon shops in Windurst to outfit myself with a coherent set of armor. I should probably also investigate Trusts to gather an adventuring group before setting out for much more serious leveling. I have no idea what getting those involves. I'd rather not have to go and do anything on my higher level jobs, but I will if I must.

Playing again after so long and on an unfamiliar version of the game (PC now, was PS2 previously), has me wondering how to recreate the routines and macros I used to rely so heavily on. This is one major reason I hesitate to jump back onto my higher level jobs--I'm not certain I remember exactly how to play them effectively. Beginning as a low-level, I am able to easy myself back into the swing of things, while enjoying the natural progression through the levels and geographic areas of the world of Vana'Diel  I love so much, even to this day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ain't Got Me

Mobile games are often trashy money sinks that mire you in infinite fiddly management to get a paid leg up in a weak core game. So seems to be the case with Fire Emblem Heroes. I gave it a shot for a couple of hours, but I felt like I pretty quickly saw through all the dressing to the lacking center. I have played a number of mobile games in this mold before, all ultimately unfulfilling despite how compulsive the character collecting and team building might be at first blush. The presentation is very stilted, full of idiotic plotting and dialogue, and I can't stand the tedium of endless optimization this type of game asks of you.

I only mention it because it is the second real attempt at a mobile game from Nintendo, after the qualified success of Super Mario Run, which I actually like, and am keeping around on my phone.
I have other, let's call them 'real', Fire Emblem games like Awakening and Fates that I am still interested in playing, actually more now, despite being let down by Heroes' nature as a F2P Gacha-centered borefest. Hearing from a few longtime fans of the series how this game differed from other recent entries has given me increased excitement to give those a go.

There is, at the moment, another tactical combat-centered game that is my focus--XCOM: Enemy Unknown has drawn me back to try to finish off my Ironman campaign. I am at a much better place than before, having teched up my squad to plasma rifles and working on titan armor. I have wiped a few times on the alien base invasion mission, so I am trying to level up a squad to take that on. I also finally managed to unlock the sixth squad member slot, which should help. I would like to successfully finish this campaign, but we'll see. Either way, I think I will play Enemy Within for my next campaign, and maybe until I finish one victorious. I haven't bought XCOM 2 just yet.

I haven't spent a heck of a lot of time gaming over the last week, partly due to returning to actively studying Japanese, after a decade or more of not. One thing I can do to combine these interests, neatly, is to play the Yakuza series. I've finished the first two on PS2, and once before sat down to begin the third, entirely in Japanese. That save file was lost, though, in troubleshooting some PS3 issues. I have restarted again, and will be continuing this time, both to brush up on my language skills, but also to progress through this series, of which I already own 2 further entries past this one, after which several others await. Even if I only played the mainline modern-era games, They're up to 6 now. Throw in Zero, remakes, and feudal-era entries, and that's a pretty hefty syllabus. Not to mention the odd zombie game or the portable entries, which I think I'll just ignore.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Where is the Line? You decide.

I fairly quickly plowed through Spec Ops: The Line this weekend.

I'd heard it was good, and had meant to give it a go. Talk of a new Apocalypse Now game in the works finally spurred me on. As it turns, out, the (somewhat muted) hype was warranted.

Underneath a pretty rote third person shooter is a game that is attempting, and mostly pulling off, some pretty bold things with its narrative. It is of course to some degree standing on the shoulders of giants, but what 2K and Yager created here is something pretty special in video gaming. It's a shooter that actually tries to make you wonder about what you are doing, both in character, and you yourself, sat at home, choosing to spend your leisure time in this manner.

You might think you're the hero, going in. Capt. Martin Walker (voiced by Nolan North), certainly believes he is. But it's his self-aggrandizement, and ignoring of orders, that precipitates much of the horror that happens in this apocalyptic, sand-drowned Dubai. That hubris that echoes the actions of the John Konrad, the man Walker is trying to find in the city under siege both by nature and a rogue force of the US Army. Konrad also took it upon himself to go into Dubai with grand intentions, and neither for him did they work out as intended.

The more I think about Spec Ops: The Line, the more I admire the story it's telling, and how thought provoking it is. And the action's not terrible, it's just not remarkable. The story is excellently paced, though, clocking in at about 6 hours, all in, and that's reloading the final save to see all of the four different endings, each one in its own way feeling like the true canonical ending to the whole tragic farce.

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Little Bit of Matsuno In My Life

I had planned to begin another 3DS game this week when the thought struck me that I still hadn't played to my satisfaction of Crimson Shroud. This was a relatively small game directed by one my personal favorite game directors, Yasumi Matsuno, the very talented developer behind the best games with names like Ogre Battle, Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, and Final Fantasy XII, among others.

Crimson Shroud is interesting in that it is basically a table-top RPG campaign, complete with miniatures and dice rolls, encapsulated as a video game for the 3DS. Art and menu design, as well as the narrative flair, will be familiar to other admirers of Matsuno's work, but the way the game plays is obviously a little different.

For one thing, it's much more limited in scope, like a tabletop campaign would have to be, able to be completed in 6-8 hours, more if you go back for New Game+ and the alternate ending. It's also slower to unfold in terms of action, with how you have to make dice rolls for a lot of abilities, but interestingly, here the plot unfolds with little in the way of complication. It wouldn't make sense to tell an epic tale full of various factions and long-lived rivalries, but Matsuno goes ahead and gives it a shot anyway--artfully relying on world background to give relevance to the dungeon crawl at hand.

It's not an easy game, either. Like most Matsuno-directed games, you can find yourself kind of painted into a corner by some of the choices you've made with the system for character development, and in need of some grinding to sort things out. I do like what the team has done with that system, though. Rather than it be a straight experience points and skill tree sort of thing, All of your character evolving is done through your choices of what gear to loot and skills to take, given the chance. Additional loot or spell scrolls can be melded to what you have in a sort of craft-magical synthesis resulting in +1 bonuses to stats.

I find systems that get away from straight time-investiture to personalize your characters are more interesting. I would rather choose between a heavy, slower weapon, and a lighter, quicker one, and have that be the main thing that defines my fighting style, than to just carry a generic weapon and somehow get stronger as time goes on and more battles are fought. This is one area in which the Souls series from FROM Software really succeed in my book.

I got all the way through the base play through of Crimson Shroud, but not without some considerable difficulty in the last couple of boss encounters. Witch Kings are never a good sight, I'll tell you that. And leave those ancient, fell artefacts right where you find them. Trust me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Weekly Game Reporting

I made it my goal last week to report (on GameBytesShow) on Dungeon of the Endless. I have a quick update to that. I attempted to play through on "Easy" (hard) mode, a couple of times, and my progress was abruptly cut short at about floor 7. After having finished the game on "Too Easy" (normal), though, I feel pretty good about my experience with the game, and have elected to uninstall and move on.

This week, I'm reporting on Democracy 3, which I found to be pretty great! It's a series of interlocking menus that represent the levers of power in government, and the cause and effect relationships there. It's fairly simplistic and makes some dubious assumptions and gross simplifications, but it's not meant to be a completely accurate simulation or model (one hopes).
You are given the reins of power to one of several western democracies and are able to spend your political capital, replenished each quarter (turn), to implement new policies or tweak existing ones, trying to win or maintain the support of the citizenry, or to accomplish whatever goals you set for yourself. I've been playing as POTUS, and mostly trying to balance the budget while making various changes to US policy. I once tried to stamp out religion, and was assassinated by zealots. Another time I was assassinated by leftists(!) presumably because I put too tight of restrictions on alcohol consumption, and ramped up policing too much. I had attained the Crime Free Utopia status that game, though. In my current game, I am just focusing on the GDP, and trying to maximize that by driving education, productivity, and employment as hard as I can.

I finished off Titanfall 2 last night. I kept putting off playing more of the campaign, but in the end I really had a great time with it. I don't play FPS campaigns much anymore, but this one was a blast. Every level was nicely varied and paced very well. Even the titan vs titan boss encounters were fun. Just good stuff, all around. I recommend it.

A few other quick hits:

Super Mario World - made a few levels' progress yesterday. The Vanilla Dome castle is tough! I will complete this game again for my kids, though, and for myself. It is definitely my favorite Mario game.

Duelyst - I had a bunch of unopened card packs, so I went and opened those. I don't have any actual drive to continue playing, though. It does seen very well done, and has an insane amount of lore built into it. I can't imagine anyone really cares about it, but I applaud the effort. I wonder if they'll spin the out some other implementation of it. Another game type, I would hope, a la Amplitude Studios, and not a comic or novel or what have you.

Heroes of the Storm - The game that was too good. I can't let myself play this. It would be irresponsible. One quick round, and I was out, and uninstalled. All the other RTSs have to come first.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Gratifying Gaming in the New Year Twenty-Seventeen

The first 10 days or so of 2017 have been pretty good for my gaming regimen.

I kicked it off last week by progressing further into the Titanfall 2 campaign, through the much vaunted mission Effect and Cause with its time travel mechanic, and later through a very cool multiple titan battle toward the end of the campaign. There are two or three missions left at this point.

Soon thereafter, the Diablo 20th anniversary event in Diablo III went live--a recreation of the original game's 16-floor dungeon complete with boss encounters like the Butcher, King Leoric, Arch-Bishop Lazarus, and Diablo himself. The whole thing is framed as being from the memory of Adria, down to the graphical filter to make the game look more pixellated and grim like the first Diablo. There are also a couple of other conceits, such as only being able to move in eight directions and at a reasonably fast walk, and the vintage UI bar. It was fun to jump back into Diablo III for a bit. I ended up picking up my Crusader for this, and earned a few Paragon levels while I was at it. I'm more excited for the addition of the Necromancer class, which is supposed to see the light of day this year, I believe.

My favorite thing from the last several days has been finally clicking with Amplitude's rogue-like, tower defense incorporating dungeon crawler Dungeon of the Endless. When I first attempted to play it, it wasn't immediately apparent how to do so, or why I kept losing so quickly and so decisively. Somehow something drew me back to the game a few days ago, determined to figure it out, and I think I've done a fair job of it. I finished my first game of it tonight, getting through all twelve floors of the dungeon, unlocking a bunch of characters and starting ships (game modes) and achievements in the process. And it's been really fun, too. It's a pretty unique blending of genres, and it exists in the world of Endless Space and Endless Legend, and actually serves as a sort of narrative segue from one to the other, which is interesting.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Wrap Up with G and B OTY

2016 has been a kind of off year. I've felt my enthusiasm for a lot of games seem to wane a bit, and so even with my top picks, I feel less than completely rapt. Without further ado, though:

My Game of the Year: World of Warcraft: Legion
Honorable Mention: Overwatch

Two Blizzard games, as it turns out. I went into the year unenthused by either, but it turns out I probably had the most unreserved fun with them throughout the year. There were a series of others games in 2016 I was more looking forward to, but for one reason or another just didn't stick, things like The Witness and Firewatch. Even stalwart series I enjoy like HITMAN and Dishonored didn't hook me the way I look for in a GOTY candidate. At least not in time for the end of the year. I still have hope for some of these.

In terms of backlog maintenance, it seems 2016 was another draw, if not a net add to the pile. I didn't exactly go crazy buying games, but at the same time I only knocked relatively few off the list, and most of those were just dabblings and dismissals. Here are the skulls I took this year, those achievements and milestones I felt notable. It's not as easy as rolling the credits on a game anymore; these days games try to be perennial, perpetual, and otherwise endless, so you have to be able to define your own goals more than ever:

Super Mario Run (Tour)
World of Warcraft (Death Knight 110)
World of Warcraft (Death Knight 100)
World of Warcraft (Death Knight 90)
No Man's Sky (Atlas)
Eisenhorn: Xenos
World of Warcraft (Death Knight 85)
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (Dungeons)
World of Warcraft (Death Knight 80)
World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade (Dungeons)
World of Warcraft (Death Knight 70)
Warcraft III (Undead)
World of Warcraft (Death Knight intro)
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II - Retribution (Space Marines)
Dark Souls
Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss
Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3: Citadel
Mass Effect 3: Omega
Mass Effect 3: Leviathan
Talisman: The Horus Heresy
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

That's 23 recorded milestones this year, however charitable I am about the definition. About average with past years' totals:


At this point I'm not going to try to put together a 2017 syllabus of any sort. I made some progress through the one for this year, but those always end up falling apart. It seems like a bit of a fool's errand. A few things I'd like to do, though, are finally crack Paradox strategy games, probably with Stellaris, which I am now familiarizing myself with, to get around to really playing The Witcher 3, and to play more real-time strategy.

2017 releases I'm looking forward to? Mass Effect Andromeda, Dawn of War III, and Nintendo's Switch and all that comes with that.


Now on to the page-turning side of things. I read a decent amount this year:

Legacies of Betrayal
The Keeler Image
The Unburdened
The Honoured
Altered Carbon
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 1
Origin (Wolverine)
Warcraft III and WoW Manuals (Lore)
The Damnation of Pythos
Vengeful Spirit
The Unremembered Empire
Vulkan Lives
Mark of Calth
Paradise Lost
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
Angel Exterminatus

That's 20-some odd works, by my hackneyed accounting. Figure a few additional, based on all the single issue comics I've read (several large volumes' worth, easily). A pretty good sum from the few years I've been keeping track. Definitely better than 2015:

2016:20-some odd

Book of the Year: The Unremembered Empire
Honorable Mention: Betrayer

Two Horus Heresy novels, which is patently unfair to other quality work, such as Altered Carbon, or mind-benders like Flatland or Paradise Lost, because of how much they draw from the surrounding Heresy universe, but there you have it. Both books were incredible, and you are missing out if you aren't reading The Horus Heresy.

I have a lot more reading queued up for 2017, including a lot more Heresy, among other things, so I'm pretty psyched about that.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Last Call for Playahol

I played some Wipeout HD/Fury on PS3 the other day. That is a very cool game from yesteryear that I could see myself revisiting more often now that I have it re-installed again. Zone mode still feels ahead of its time.

A loyal Call of Podcast listener gifted me Downwell, so I put some time into that, too. Pretty simple, pretty fun. Very arcadey in feel, since it is a score attack game, divided up into stages like a Spelunky or something. It only uses 3 colors in its aesthetic, but it lets you unlock and swap between different palettes, which is nice. You are a guy falling down an endless well with guns shooting from the bottom of his boots. You must progress as far down as you can without taking too many hits from the monsters on the way down.

I finally bought this year's DOOM remake/sequel, which oddly seems to be an alternate universe Doom ]|[? Unless Doom 3 is somehow set farther in the future or something... anyway, I'll suffice it to say that it feels very faithful to the first couple of Doom games, which is to say it moves very fast and feels very relentless. I like it.

Another new, 'let's get ready for GOTY talk' pickup is Stellaris. I am really going to try to hunker down and familiarize myself with a Paradox strategy game. This one seems close enough to the type of 4X games I've played before (mostly Civ) that I can get a toehold on the climb to competence. I've played a few hours, and am starting to feel like I know what I want to do next, at the very least. That being to conquer the galaxy in the name of the Commonwealth (Imperium) of Man. Yes, I will be enacting my own Great Crusade soon to claim the galaxy for humanity alone.

Revisiting The Witness tonight, I miraculously solved several puzzles that had previously given me grief. The bad part is I did them without knowing exactly why or how the solution was valid. I wouldn't call it brute forcing them, because each only took one or two tries, but perhaps it was some obscene luck. This is a nice and relaxing game to visit.

Otherwise, I've been spending more time in Skyrim, figuring out my inventory situation and what I want my character to be doing--tough when the choices consist of everything. I also jumped back into Overwatch briefly, trying to sort out where it will land in my GOTY rankings.

Finally, I reinstalled and played some more Space Marine tonight. I can confirm that it does play feel better than Eternal Crusade. I managed to get into a match of the cooperative horde mode for a while, which was actually a lot of fun. I didn't have any luck getting into a game of the PVP, however. Maybe next time. I did pop into the campaign briefly, though. This is still a very fun game.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Twisting in the Wind

The last little while has been characterized by a general sort of funk or malaise around gaming. Instead, I've been doing other things, and prime among them, reading Deathfire, the 32nd book in the numbered Horus Heresy series. There are a number that are not numbered, as it were. The series continues to ride high and epic. I should come away from 2016 with a pretty healthy, at least in terms of numbers, of titles read.

Game-wise, it's just been a smattering of things. Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade took most hours played, though it's not a great game. It wants to be Battlefield in the 41st millenium, but I think the focus is too much on close-quarters arena battling for it to work. The vehicles really seem to be of questionable value. There seem to be some other balance concerns, as well, like my Imperial Fists Astartes withering under about 1 second of Eldar fire. That's just not right. I don't really think this game has the budget to excel, and I doubt it maintains the community, either. It's too bad, because those Space Marines look pretty glorious.

Second in play time recently would be Skyrim, though I don't have much to report. I've decided to follow the main quest for the time being. It's led me to High Hrothgar to speak to the Graybeards.

In a fit of not knowing what else to do last week, I played the first mission of the Orc campaign in Warcraft III. Great game!

Cube World got in a little time, too, oddly enough. @wollay tweeted out an update of something he was working on that inspired me to go back and play a bit. I don't think a downloadable update has been made available to players since about three and a half years ago, though.

I put a couple more hours into Tyranny, making my way to the Disfavored war camp and resolving a few situations verbally on my way to locate a missing shipment of arms. It seems like a pretty good game.

Stellaris is, from what I gather, Paradox's attempt to bring their grand strategy games into space sci-fi. I have been curious to give it a shot, having always wanted to make sense of Europa Universalis or Crusader Kings, and not having been able to do so. After my first session, I don't feel all that enlightened just yet. Again, more play time will be needed, here.

I've been playing both Super Mario World and Super Mario Run lately. As a rule, I don't talk about mobile games here, but I'll just say I was very curious to see what Nintendo's first real game outside their own platform would be. I quite like it. I think it hangs as a Mario game, and I think it takes advantage of the lateral shift in genre to introduce some new mechanics that wouldn't make sense in the usual Mario platformers. I'm impressed. Nothing much to say about World, other than it feels way damn harder now than it used to, whatever the reason.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Out of Sorts with My Sort

I've been in a strange place lately with gaming. I don't know if my tastes are changing and evolving, or if I'm just getting tired of my usual things, or what. I have had a hard time drilling down into things lately, things that should really most definitely be my sort of thing. I'm trying to just go where my whims take me, though, and trust that I'll get to where I need to be that way.

So far, this has led me directly back to The Last of Us. I've always had issues with the play in Naughty Dog's Uncharted series, while yet still wanting to play through each for their cinematic aspects. The same goes for this game. I've decided to take another run at it, having lost the save of my first attempt. I'm about 2 or 3 hours in, and not quite back to where I had left off previously. I'm trying to look at it like a dramatic TV series as opposed to the kind of video game I typically enjoy, because it (and the Uncharted series) excel at aspects of the former, but are deficient at aspects of the latter. Maybe I can buckle down and get through this game with that mindset.

Super Mario World - I want to get through this on my SNES with my daughters. It seems harder than I remember, though. I wonder if lag on my HDTV might be to blame. Probably not, it's probably just faulty memory and degrading motor skills, though. I made it to the Vanilla Dome, though.

Skyrim - I wanted to play some yesterday, but wasn't too attached to any of the quests in my log. I am still not sold on either side of the civil war going on here, either. I figured I would chase down the next leg of the main, dragon related quest, then, to compensate for my jack-of-all-trades approach to character specialization with some draconic superpowers. I walked halfway across the province to a barrow, having small adventures along the way.

Titan Quest Anniversary Edition - Long story short, it is still a dull action roleplaying loot game, but one that has been nicely spruced up by its new publisher, THQ Nordic. I wish them success in future endeavors.

Duelyst - I played a few more puzzles and practice matches. I don't have too much more to say other than I'm using this to substitute for Hearthstone for the time being. I need to get into it at least to the point where I can appreciate the 20 booster packs I got for it.

Elite: Dangerous - I made a conscious decision to get away from playing this game and try to find things that are more novel in the same space. There may not actually be a real replacement for it, but at the present, I just can't justify spending any more time in it without investigating alternatives.

Assassin's Creed Unity - I just couldn't do it anymore. I didn't care about the plot, and I wasn't looking forward to Syndicate at all. Uninstalled. Maybe I'll be back with the next incarnation of the series. I am planning to see the upcoming movie, but I don't have high hopes for it.

WoW - Filling out my trilogy of quit games this entry. My flame with the game has run its course this time around, and longer and brighter than previously. The Suramar quest grind and lack of additional zones to explore finally bored me, and the idea of powering up my artifact even more, while attractive, was not ultimately enough to get me to play enough that I felt it was worth the subscription.

Finally, I began Obsidian's new 3/4 view party RPG (not Infinity Engine), Tyranny. I'm only a couple of hours in, but it seems very cool so far. I'm enjoying the very gray territory the decisions I am making are in, being a sort of enforcer for a conquering power as the conquest winds down, bringing the conquered lands and people into compliance. The emperor Kyros seems like a really bad guy from afar, capricious and uncaring. The whole setting is very reminiscent of 40K and the Horus Heresy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Giving Thanks for Gaming This Thanksgaming

The last week or so has been a whirlwind tour of many games. Progress updates!

Skyrim - Got back into it with my Nord character, who is by turns a brawny two-hander warrior and a stealthy backstabber ranger. Fence sitting in this way makes the game more difficult in terms of combat, but in the end I should rule all. I have a whole lot of ground to cover, though. I'm not fast traveling at all in this playthrough.

Dishonored 2 - I found the Crown Killer at the Addermire Institute, and solved that affair peacefully.

Hitman - I did the Paris mission at the fashion show for the first time, using a spiked drink to lure the male target into a bathroom, where I drowned him, and then snuck up on and strangled the female target in an empty room, and stashed her body in a corner somewhere before escaping via helicopter.

Dawn of War II - I was really only revisiting this to earn the Steam trading cards and badge. I played a couple of campaign missions and a few rounds of The Last Stand. Can't wait for DoW III!

Assassin's Creed Unity - Jumped back into this in an effort to go ahead and finish it off at some point, after not having played it for maybe a year and a half. I'm about to begin sector 8, having just found out and killed the murderous mutinous Assassin brother. I am trying to ignore most of the ancillary content in this game and just focus on the core story missions, which are all I care about in the series at this point. Paris is nice enough, though.

No Man's Sky - I returned to the game with the recent Foundation update, only to be very quickly overcome with boredom and despair at having to jump back on that resource grind. 45 hours of this was probably enough, I am thinking now. I should go back to Elite: Dangerous, instead.

Hearthstone - A few savage losses and the meager enjoyment felt when winning have put me off it again. And on the eve of the new expansion, as well. I think I'll play more Duelyst instead. I did leave my account with enough gold to do an arena run at some point in the future, though.

World of Warcraft - More Suramar quest progress. I made a few levels of artifact research and upgrades, and got a 5th piece of class armor (of 8). I kind of feel my enthusiasm flagging, but I'm going to continue playing here and there for now.

I should also give a booklog update here. I finished The Honoured and The Unburdened, the Calth novellas, then read the new Eisenhorn short story, The Keeler Image, and have now begun Horus Heresy book 31, Legacies of Betrayal. I'm really looking forward to the next grip of Heresy books, especially book 41, Master of Mankind, just released. Not sure when I'll make it that far, though.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Big Game Weekend

I had several good game sessions this weekend, wherein I really feel like I made some good progress. In chronological order:

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne - Friday afternoon after I got home but the family had not, yet. I found my way from Shinjuku to Yoyogi park and Shibuya, where I met Chiaki and Hijiri again, and got access to the magical webway to head toward Ginza to meet a human male there, either Hikawa or Isamu, presumably. The game is pretty light on plot, so far, which I think kind of works. You have the odd premise, and a general goal, to either return the world to how it was, or to remake it in whatever way you wish. It's kind of Fallout-like in that regard.

Dishonored 2 - Friday night, late. Made it through the first mission in Karnaca, on my way out to Addermire to meet with Hypatia. Stealth seems harder than in the first game, but then I am playing it on the Hard setting for Dishonored veterans. I've tired repeatedly to engage guards after being caught, but most of the time I end up being killed. That may be because I'm trying not to kill them, but incapacitate them instead. I should probably just retreat and lose them unless there is only one.

Hitman - Saturday evening. Being a longtime fan of the Hitman series, the unanimous praise the new episodic game has been getting finally convinced me to pick it up. The 50% off sale on Steam this weekend helped, as well. At first blush it does seem pretty great. I have played the first 3 training scenarios, and poked around briefly in the first real mission, in Paris. It really seems like everything good from Silent Assassin, Contracts, and Blood Money just brought forward to the modern era. I have never played Agent 47 or Absolution, though I guess I should at some point just out of curiosity.

WoW - I made some more progress through the Suramar quests and a few other odds and ends Sunday midday. I need to focus mostly on order hall resources for artifact research and order hall modifications. I want to finish the thrust of the questing before concentrating on world quests and dungeons and raiding, though. I think there is quite a bit of that left, yet. Suramar got a whole other load of that stuff in a patch, recently.

Duelyst - Sunday night. I had been meaning to get back in and play more of this, especially to contrast it to Hearthstone. I played a couple of rounds last night as the Lyonar(?) faction, including my first match online, which I won. It's a cool game, most definitely. I have to wonder at the size of the playerbase, but I was able to find a match partner right away, so that's a good sign, hopefully. I'll try again tonight and see how it goes.

Hearthstone - Sunday night. Playing Duelyst and chatting with Esteban made me want to hop back in, and I did, after a good long while. As a welcome back, the game awarded me with three free packs of cards and a quick 3-round onboarding of games against easy opponents, I guess to refamiliarize myself. I did all of that and then, again, played a match of ranked online and won, using a Shaman deck the Innkeeper had assembled for me. What a nice guy, what a nice tavern, what a nice game. I'll play more, I'm sure. There is quite a bit of new stuff in the game since the last time I'd played, which was around the time the Goblins vs Gnomes card set was coming out. I think since there has been a grand tournament set, an Old Gods set, and soon there will be a Gadgetzan set.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Playlog: First Half of November, 2016

Dishonored 2 is out now, but I haven't had as much time to play it as I'd like quite yet. I began a game on Hard playing as Emily Kaldwin, and I'm currently beginning the second full mission, the introduction to Karnaca.

Titanfall 2 - continue to play some multiplayer, still have not finished the campaign yet, despite all the positive word of mouth around it. Have enjoyed what I played so far, though.

World of Warcraft - Focusing on Suramar zone quests before moving on to more dungeon running and world quests toward the end of finishing Order Hall and Artifact quests, or what is currently available, anyway.

Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne - Picked this up on PSN on a great sale price last night. I'd like to put more time into it again this time. I never got past maybe halfway in, if that, when I tried it years ago, but I never lost interest in its premise.

The Egyptian Prophecy: The Fate of Ramses - a 3D-in-the-sense-of-Google-maps adventure set in ancient Egypt, one with a sort of magical realism. I didn't get too far in, not caring for the genre, but that's one more off the backlog.

Reading, I'm in the middle of the Horus Heresy novella The Honoured, set in the aftermath of the betrayal at Calth, in the underworld war on that world following the poisoning of the local star.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Warcraft Booklogsta Spook-y Mechany

I finally finished off Altered Carbon, the cyberpunk noir novel starring Takeshi Kovacs. It was pretty entertaining. There are a couple more books with the same character, but I'm not sure I'll read those. It's a big bookshelf and booklog. I'll go back to some Horus Heresy material soon, but I'm also in the middle of a couple of other things, one being the Warcraft chronicle.

Speaking of Warcraft, much of the last couple of weeks I have spent plowing through the remaining quest lines of the new Broken Isles zones. At some point I'll run out of the authored stuff and into a sort of endgame phase where what's left is to either do PVP, more hardcore PVE, or seemingly repetitive World Quests, which it seems are procedurally generated. I'm not sure how much of that I'll be interested in doing. I do like how podcast friendly the game is, though, and I would enjoy finishing off my Artifact!

I mentioned Endless Legend previously. I went back and completed the tutorial to re-familiarize, and then jumped back into the game I was playing before. I feel a little more acclimated to the game now, but it'll definitely take more time to satisfy myself. I haven't even finished one game yet.

I seem to have stalled out in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I finished a bunch of side objectives in Detroit and have been sent elsewhere to a mission, at this point. Some sort of industrial location. I forget what the objective is.

New on the agenda as of late is Titanfall 2. I lucked into a copy at no out of pocket cost, so I have been giving it a go. I'm two missions into the new single player campaign, which is fun, and I've played a few rounds of multiplayer, too, which is also fun. I'll put more time into this for sure, even though I feel more and more distant from the FPS genre as time goes on.

Friday, October 14, 2016

God from Endless Warcraft

Amplitude's Endless series of games was on sale on Steam the other day, and it occurred to me that I still wanted to play more of Endless Legend, and that I could economically substitute that in my rotation this week as compared to purchasing the newly released Civilization VI, even when accounting for the 10 bucks' worth of DLC I purchased to bring me more up to speed with the state of the game. I thought I should probably replay the tutorial, since it had been a while, and I don't think I ever finished a game when I played it, previously. I'm about 45 minutes into that tutorial now, I think.

I also began Deus Ex: Human Revolution over the last week or two. I should have played this game sooner, because it seems to have aged kind of roughly. The graphics are below my expectations for a game of the prior generation, and there are ugly 720p loading screens and CG cut-scenes everywhere. The play holds up, though. I suppose it's pretty timeless, since it feels more or less identical to that of the original Deus Ex, which released in 2000, if I'm not mistaken. The game has style, too. A roundly mocked style, admittedly, but a style nonetheless. I happen to like this genre, known to some as the immersive simulation, so I'll keep playing it, but I don't know for how long. Dishonored 2 will be out in about a month's time, after all.

I also managed to make it all the way to 110, the level cap, in WoW with my Death Knight, Phoenixian, and I'm working through all the questing content in Legion in order to see everything in the expansion and power up my Artifact weapons as far as possible. There are a million things to do in this game, of course, but for my own purposes, I plan to do all of the one-time quests I can, and play through all of the dungeons and raids I can, at least once or twice. Given an abundance of time, I'd also like to go back and explore the rest of Azeroth/Outland/Draenor some more as well. In other words, no end in sight.