This Dumb Industry: All These Dumb Games

By Shamus
on Nov 15, 2016
Filed under:
Column

My column this week was going to be an extra-long explanation on why Twitter is cultural poison that’s turning everyone into insane hateful assholes. On one hand, I really do think that Twitter has some nasty emergent properties when combined with human natureOn top of the usual problems we see on other social media platforms like Facebook.And no, this isn’t just a re-hash of the C.G.P. Grey video on Anger Germs.. On the other hand, I’ve just gone through a solid week of watching people be shitty to each other and I’m basically out of emotional stamina at this point. I want to get as far from controversial topics as I can get.

So maybe I’ll put a pin in the Twitter rant for now.

Since I don’t have a column, let’s have a conversation…

I’m working on my end-of-year series (which will probably run in this space in late December) and I’m wondering what I’ve missed and what I’ll be able to play before the year wraps up.

Given the sheer volume of retro remakes, remakes, homages, indies, AAA titles, reboots, mobile stuff, and good old games for cheap, we’re positively swimming in games. The number of available titles keeps going up, but (assuming you didn’t just retire or lose your job) the supply of gaming hours hasn’t. With that in mind: What are you playing these days? New stuff? If you’re playing old stuff, are you exploring stuff you missed when it was new, or revisiting an old favorite? What’s really standing out for you this year? Have you played (or avoided) anything specifically because we talked about it here on the site?

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] On top of the usual problems we see on other social media platforms like Facebook.

[2] And no, this isn’t just a re-hash of the C.G.P. Grey video on Anger Germs.


A Hundred!A Hundred!20204244 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?

From the Archives:

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  1. Traiden says:

    I have been playing CIV VI and messing around with some of my older games such as Dead Rising 2 and Kerbal Space Program. I can Dock things around Kerbin, Mun, and Minnmus now. All I need to do next is to travel to Duna.

    • tzeneth says:

      I could never get docking down. I’d made it to both of the moons around Kerbin but considering how close it usually was with my builds. I didn’t think I had the proper tech to make it any further.

      • Richard says:

        Docking is the key to going on long voyages.

        Once you can dock, you can assemble something with ridiculous amounts of delta-V to make the transits easier (ie you don’t need to do a perfect Hohmann).

        More importantly, you can put a small lander on the surface and get back to Kerbin without needing to re-launch all the fuel to get you home.

        As to how to do it – take plenty of RCS fuel and make sure your craft are relatively well-balanced with a good array of RCS thruster blocks so you can rely on the automatic stability to keep you pointed straight.

        Then practice it a lot!

        • Nimrandir says:

          I can’t help but smile at how impenetrable this lingo is. :-)

          • James Bennett says:

            For fun I’m going to translate the technical bits of the above post into (more widely understood) English and add some explanations for things that may not be obvious:

            Docking is the key to going on long voyages.

            Once you can dock put rockets together in orbit by bringing them up one piece at a time and docking them together. This lets you make rockets that have much more fuel, which lets them make bigger changes to their orbit. This makes it easier to travel to other planets because you don’t have to worry about taking the most efficient route to get there.

            More importantly, when you arrive at another planet you can land just a small part of your spacecraft. Then when you’re done you can fly back up and dock with the rest of your ship in orbit. That way you don’t need to bring all of the rockets, extra fuel and heat shields that you need for your return trip down to the planet and back up. It can stay in orbit, which saves fuel.

            To dock spacecraft: You need to use a lot of little thrusters that use a different kind of fuel from the regular rockets. You’ll use these rockets to push your rocket back and forth and from side to side. You’ll need to bring plenty of this special fuel, and you’ll need to place these little rockets symmetrically all around the ships that you want to dock so that when you use these thrusters to push your ship they don’t accidentally cause it to spin. Then you can turn on your auto-pilot to keep your ship straight.

            Then practice it a lot!

        • Chris says:

          I can’t even get two craft close enough for RCS to matter. I am just awful at matching orbits, and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. The closest I’ve even come close was when I got two craft barely within visual range and jumped a Kerbal from the craft that was stuck in orbit to a rescue craft.

          I know I could use something like MechJeb to make it easier, but I feel like that misses the point.

          • The Right Trousers says:

            Real astronauts use something like MechJeb. If they didn’t, they would die an awful lot.

            If you’re concerned about education: I learned a lot more about orbital dynamics after I installed MechJeb.

            Let go of the guilt and let it do your Hohmann transfers.

          • Trix2000 says:

            Initially going without Mechjeb might be a good idea to learn how rockets work on your own, experiment, and practice flight a bit.

            However, once you can reliably send things into orbit it starts to become almost a necessity because of how much it streamlines that process and opens up opportunities for other missions. You really don’t want to be fretting too much that you’ll mess up just getting things off of Kerbin when you’re trying for larger missions to other planets and such.

            It doesn’t do all the work – you still need to design good rockets and plan out how you will carry out a mission – but it eliminates a lot of busywork that doesn’t add much to the experience as well as providing additional tools to use.

  2. Ingvar says:

    On computers, Shenzhen I/O, MiniMetro (nopes, still haven’t managed to get 7 consecutive days of the daily challenge, because I don’t play games all days).

    On consoles, Destiny (still fun), Saints Row N (mostly, actually, Gat out of Hell lately), various other puzzly games.

    On tablets, various tower defence games.

    Board games is a bit harder, since I do play a bunch of them, but mostly what happens to be played around me. At some point, I hope that my half-formed designs gel enough for me to start building prototypes.

    • Matt Downie says:

      Tip: don’t put too much effort in any one boardgame prototype; just get something usable made quickly. 90% of the time you will find something irrevocably broken about it during the first test, and have to throw out most of your work and start again, keeping the best bits only.

      • Ingvar says:

        Yep, something that approximates a play surface, something that approximates “written rules” (even if heavily stubbed out),. something that approaches “play pieces” (enough to be distinguishable).

        But before I get that far, I need to have a better grasp of what I want the game to be. At the moment, I have several Neat Ideas, but they’re not (yet) jelled enough to be more than a pile of mechanics, with nothing to actually bring them together.

  3. Ian says:

    We Steam refuseniks do not recognise your “swimming in games” observation. As their hegemony grows ever stronger, our choice grows ever weaker.

    Anyway, to answer your question, I am playing for the first time, and very much enjoying Witcher 3 atm, having waited until the price became affordable, until a unified installer became available, and until CDPR had their chance to iron out the wrinkly bits.

    In general I find that I’m always a couple of years behind the curve. It’s better that way. The hardware is cheaper, the games are cheaper, FAQs and bug workarounds are comprehensive. All I require is the fortitude to ignore the hype (the horror).

    • Henson says:

      I’m often the same regarding buying games late, and it’s certainly better for both my wallet and the artistry of the game itself, time healing all things. But I also find that, being a part of the community of this website, I’m often missing part of the conversation because I haven’t played the games other people are talking about. I wish I could have commented on Tyranny during the last diecast, but I haven’t played it. I wish I could watch the Spoiler Warning season for The Last of Us, but I haven’t played it (and would like to someday). And once I’ve finally gotten to the interesting new games, nobody else is interested having a conversation about them anymore. It’s…a bit lonely.

      EDIT: I guess that’s why I’ve enjoyed Shamus’ last two mega-articles on Mass Effect and FFX so much. I had plenty to talk about with other people, plenty to listen to.

    • Zekiel says:

      Yeah, this ^^ (minus the bit about being a Steam refusenik). I can’t justify the cost of buying games new-ish, and getting patched versions (potentially with DLC thrown in in a GOTY version) is just the icing on the cake.

      As a result, I’ve spent a lot of this year playing Pillars of Eternity (for a second time) and have also been discovering the delights of Invisible Inc and Kentucky Route Zero, which are both amazing for very different reasons.

      At the moment I’m looking enviously at all the opinion posts about Tyranny (which my PC could play) and Dishonored 2 (which my PC definitely can’t).

    • Ninety-Three says:

      I’ve never understood the Steam-refusal mentality, could you explain why you don’t buy games on Steam?

      • Sashas says:

        I believe the idea is that, if Steam goes down, then all of the games you “own” disappear. For my own part, I believe the argument is basically correct, but I buy games on Steam anyway based on the bet that it will probably outlive me.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          Most Steam games drop an executable on your hard drive that can be copied anywhere and run without Steam existing. Of the games that do require Steam authenticatiion, Valve has said they’d patch that out if Steam ever had to shut down (and Valve is so filthy rich that it’s not like they’d ever have to shut down by surprise and have no time to issue the patch).

          • Veylon says:

            Never mind Valve itself; I’m sure the hackers will have us covered. I have little regard for pirates, but I see nothing wrong with chopping off the DRM on software you paid for.

          • Fists says:

            Not sure if there are any single player games on steam where you can’t do it but once installed if you have your details saved you can launch in ‘offline mode’ and play them without connection. Means you need to keep them installed on a hard drive (or I guess image the folder onto DVDs if you’re weird?) but that’s basically necessary with how large games are getting unless we go back to buying boxes with 14 discs in them.

        • Halceon says:

          It’s more a matter that if Steams terms of use are violated from your account, it can get banned and you’d lose all access to all the games you’ve invested a ludicrous amount of money into.

          And it doesn’t have to be you who does said violation, just someone who for whatever reason has access to your account.

          That’s in a general-concept sense. I haven’t looked into the terms of service in years.

          Gog.com, in contrast, gives you an installer file which you can store however you choose, that way even if the service goes down, you (with forethought) still get the product.

          • Syal says:

            Valve still has an F with the Better Business Bureau, however much that means.

            …actually, doesn’t that already tell us if they would make a patch if they shut down? Do banned people get a patch to play any offline games they bought?

      • Duoae says:

        Probably because if steam goes down, closes or is bought out then they will or might lose access to their games. Also, offline used to be very picky whether it worked or not (not sure about these days) and sometimes you can get locked out of your account because steam thinks you’re playing on another pc if you move between them too quickly as I have done sometimes…

        I think it’s an entirely rational decision. Gog had a good selection as do some of the indie platforms and you can download the installer and keep it ‘forever’.

      • Ian says:

        Sorry, a bit late to this (hey Shamus – how about a feature that emails us when somebody replies to our comments?).

        Why do I refuse Steam? Several reasons, which while not individually persuasive, do add up:
        – It’s spyware, and I don’t install spyware. Yes, it’s not stealthy, but it does monitor your behaviour and communicate that information back to an unaccountable server somewhere.
        – It’s always-online DRM. Older forms of DRM I can live with. CD/DVD checks were fine. As long as I kept the media I could always play the game. Once-only online DRM is (just about) ok too – for example Dragon Age 1. (Aside: I think the rot really started to set in with Bioshock – remember their “3 registrations and you’re out” model? Shamus refused that at the time and so did I.)
        – It’s DRM. DRM does not exist for the customer’s benefit.
        – I have to have an extra service running. As if my PC wasn’t clogged up enough with unnecessary security risks.
        – There’s no benefit to me from Steam. I have no interest in the “social” aspects, no interest in achievements, no interest in maintaining separate shelves of games depending on which store I happen to buy from. My shelves are made of wood. They contain DVD originals and DVD backups of GOG installers. As far as I am concerned, the Steam client is all about benefit to Valve, not to me. I’m against that sort of thing on general principles. (Aside 2: I’m the kind of guy that gets annoyed buying tee-shirts with manufacturers’ logos on them. Why am I paying to provide free advertising?)
        – No matter what people say about Valve’s supposed good intentions, there is no guarantee at all that my games would always be available to play. If Valve fold or worse, get bought, why should they issue a DRM crack? Have people not heard of the DMCA? Why do people assume that the many, many publishers would allow this?
        – Valve is building a virtual monopoly, and monopolies are very attractive to the more … rabid … sort of businesses. Imagine a future when EA (or someone just like them – say Walmart or some unholy alliance of Silicon Valley venture capital sharks) buy out Valve. How much do people think Gabe’s assurances will be worth then? Imagine a world with this guy in charge of Valve. Think it couldn’t happen? You don’t think that somebody, somewhere is having wet dreams about the kind of price rises that would be possible should the “right” sort of people get their hands on your libraries?

        … ahem … sorry, started ranting a bit there …

        To summarise, I’m against all of that. I know that there a a lot worse business models around (hello Free-to-play!), but that’s not an excuse. I will not participate. I wish that nobody else would either, though I do respect their decisions – especially those who are aware of all the above, know they’re only renting the software for a limited period of time, and are ok with that.

    • Chuk says:

      I lean that way myself. I make occasional exceptions (most often if it’s something my son can’t wait for).

    • Filipe says:

      Just bought Witcher 3 as well, and am enjoying it a fair bit right now. My experience with previous witchers has been mixed, but so far 3 is holding up quite well.
      I also just bought Darkest Dungeon, cool indie game and not too old (2014-2015). Played a decent amount of it so far.

      On the console I am trying to finish Persona 3 (one of the best JRPGs of Ps2 era, really unique… But good lord, the grind) and I play some Diablo 3 once in a while when I just want to turn off my brain and have fun. I bought it so late I never had to see the infamous auction house even once, which I just consider a privilege.

      In the same boat as many people here. Lots of almost-new or older games, one dating back to 2006. Money is a bit tight, but with such a huge selection of games around and Steam and GOG sales it’s amazing how you can get so many good games for so cheap.

      • I actually supported the idea of the AH in Diablo 3 (although the RMAH had severe issues) since I despise loot grinding; was playing a Monk early on in the game’s life and I managed to save up enough money to buy a weapon that doubled my DPS immediately. It was a LOT of money I spent since it was my first character and I hadn’t hit Act 4 yet, but it was a good enough upgrade that throwing my entire bank at it was worthwhile.

        That being said, while I’m sad that it’s gone, Loot 2.0 was a great replacement since it means what grinding one does yields a lot more useful stuff, if only for crafting materials that can be used to make Legendary stuff, which is only questionably useful once you’re far enough in because the drops you find aren’t a solid upgrade from what you already have.

        To explain that, one of the best drops I had while my Barb was still level 70 (got reset for some reason) didn’t actually improve any stats, but one of the properties lowered the min level from 70…

        …to 46.

  4. Grimwear says:

    I finally got around to play Deus Ex: Human Revolution which was good minus the end. I’m currently playing The Warlock of Firetop Mountain which while not an amazing game does remind me a lot of the choose your own adventure books I’d read as a kid and which the game is based on. Fun, not terribly long or complex, but unfortunately repeated playthroughs involve lots of repetition. I also went through the Penumbra series which was enjoyable as well as picked up and started playing The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Finally, I am playing a metric butt ton of Age of Empires 2 HD which is the game that got me into pc gaming to begin with.

    I guess I’m playing older games though I am sitting on The Witcher 3 except my comp can’t run it which makes me a very sad man. Alas.

    • Redingold says:

      Oh man, they made a game of that? I used to love those books when I was a kid. Probably don’t hold up so well these days, though.

      • Grimwear says:

        It honestly depends on what you find enjoyable. For instance there are around 12-15 characters you can play as (though you need to unlock most of them with souls you get from killing enemies) and each character has their own quest they want to complete as well as killing the final boss. Heck some characters can complete their quest and just bail on the dungeon and forget the final boss. But again it is based on the books so there’s some frustration. You can make a bad decision which just kills you (luckily you get 3 resurrection stones per playthrough so it’s not as punishing) but most notably the dungeon does not change ever. This means the very start will always be identical, then in the middle there’s a bunch of different routes to go (but again you’re rarely allowed to backtrack so pray you chose the area where your specific quest takes place) but once you reach the last third of the dungeon it is always the same 3 areas. In the same order. With the same tedious puzzle. Over. And over. It weighs on you.

    • Galad says:

      I’ve played some Choose your Own Adventure game books in my time, though certainly not many, and seeing one digitized – namely, Warlock of Firetop mountain – even if I’m not previously familiar with it, certainly felt amazing, when I find new nuggets of impressive storytelling, from unlocking a new character, or when I explore a new nook or cranny of its albeit limited world. That being said, I’m fairly tired by now of its randomly generated content, some 14 characters later. Still, I’d recommend it if one has at least a passing interest in tabletop, as it resembles it, and/or CYOA games.

      And it’s really nice to see this game mentioned here too :)

  5. Lee says:

    I haven’t played a game in months. Not that I haven’t had time, I’ve just focused on other entertainment, like reading blogs and watching video.

    One suggestion for you, given your perennial question “What do they eat?” Try Stardew Valley. It’s a cute little What do they eat simulator with some light RPG mechanics thrown in. ;)

    • Leocruta says:

      Far too light for me. I was initially suckered in by the hints that more of the game would open up as time went on. Unfortunately, what you see is what you get. There isn’t even an incentive to grow your farm, as thing only thing you can purchase with large amounts of cash is more farm equipment.

  6. Kornel says:

    I’ve just finnished Owlboy. Not to long but highly enjoyable and beautif. Go buy right now. Well, meatbe warch Bunnyhop review first. It’s kind of dtrange, i strongly agree witch every poit Bunnyhom makes (in short, drop dead gorgous but with medicore gamplay at best) i still LOVE this game. So sue me i guess?
    Now I’ve started … Mechwarrior 4 mercenaries. I really liked part 2 back in a day but never got around to play sequels, now I’m correcting those mistakes and loving every minute of it
    After that I’ll wait for the price of new Hitman to go down a little bit and try to play Volgar the Viking in a meantime
    Anyway, did you buy Owlboy? Go do it now, seriously ;)

  7. Halceon says:

    I’ve been consistently returning to Offworld Trading Company.
    It just grabs me with how there’s nothing else like it on the market. It taps into the good feeling of an rts where you’re managing a complex system and even competing with others, but it’s more like a race than a fight – you don’t get worse just because someone else got better.

    There’s a peculiar thing with it. I’m playing it on an aging laptop with 32-bit windows. I’ve run into games before that require 64-bit. But OTC is the only case I’ve encountered that specifically states that in the store description and doesn’t even show the “play” button in steam.
    Meanwhile the game doesn’t actually need it. It runs just fine from the .exe and even recognizes the steam layer.

    Other than that, Duelyst has been keeping some of my attention and, of course, Dark Souls.

    • I’ve actually been looking at OTC for a little while. How does it do as a trade/economic game, sort of like trading in Banished but more expansive?

      • Halceon says:

        Not at all. As I remember (played only a little bit of it), Banished had a fairly simplistic trading system. X amount of one resource for Y of another. And only when a trader comes and only to the cap of how much they have, and at a constant rate while they’re there.

        OTC is more like high-frequency stock trading. While you do produce resources, you generally mentally convert everything to its monetary value. Like upgrading your HQ costs 80 steel, 80 aluminium and 20 glass. Which, depending on the current prices, might mean 7k$ or 18k$.

        Additionally, it’s possible, but highly unlikely that you’ll be producing everything you need. So maybe you’re hitting a lucrative niche with electrolytic reactors and producing tons of Oxygen and Fuel, that sell at 200$ per unit, but your colony is consuming food and water, spending 170$ per tick to buy them from the common market. And if nobody is producing and selling the food, that price will go up, while flooding the Oxy/Fuel market will drive its price down.

        So you have to keep an eye on your profit margins and change over your entire production cluster at a moment’s notice. Because if you’re not making money, you’re not making progress towards buying someone out and thus winning. Meanwhile, you might be also accruing debt, which lowers your share price, which is your only real means of defense against buyouts. (Although there is a tactic where you tank your share price, buy all your shares, then pay off your debt and now anyone wishing to buy your stock has to pay double AND that money goes to you).

        And on top of that there’s the black market with sabotages and bribes, factions and bonuses, R&D, the secondary offworld market, price manipulation and maps that Don’t. Have. Any. Fucking. Aluminium!

        And pirates. I hate those filthy bandits.

        • The most complex Banished got was “trade/produce Orchard fruits, convert to Ale, trade Ale for stuff you need” which was one of the things I didn’t really like about it; that’s been corrected with mods (which disable achievements) and that’s one of the few games I’ve seen where achievements actually MEAN something, since if someone got the Uneducated achievement, you know they worked to get that one.

          That being said, OTC sounds more like a single-player EVE, hopefully with a better interface. :P

  8. Durican says:

    I’ve been replaying Oblivion for the first time in a decade. After exhausting the vanilla game I moved on to Shivering Isles and holy wow I adore the landscapes of Mania and Dementia. After a hundred hours of boring forests and the same three dungeon types repeated ad nauseum, it’s such a delight to have landscapes like surreal paintings and three brand new dungeon types repeated ad nauseum, but with more interesting designs.

    Also replaying the Metroid franchise again, which I do every year. AM2R got added to the pile this year, and by god Nintendo should be ashamed by this fan-made game offering the fans of the series everything they’ve been longing for and more.

    • Da Mage says:

      Shivering Isles is the best thing about Oblivion, it is just such a step above in writing, setting and themes. Hell, I’d put Shivering Isles as the best Elder Scrolls DLC/Expansion Bethesda has ever made.

      The only thing that stops me from playing it again is that it is strapped on Oblivion that has so many bad design choices that I just can’t stand to play it again.

      • Durican says:

        It’s true. Shivering Isles is the first time I found myself listening to the dialogue all the way through instead of clicking to skip it as soon as I’d read the subtitles. There were such bizarre new concepts as emotion and changes in tone. Not to mention Sheogorath’s half a dozen mood swings per paragraph.

  9. ColeusRattus says:

    Surprisingly, VR really has gotten it’s grips on me. Due to becoming a father, we didn’t go on a vacation this year, so I treated myself with an HTC Vive, and ever since, I rarely spend my nowadays quite limited game time (NO screens for my wee Little Girl, so no screens for old papa while she’s awake, and there needs to be some time for my fiancé and me to be a couple aswell as new parents) on a traditinal 2D Screen.

    So, at purchase I thought that the smallish VR experiences were a perfect fit for shorter bouts of digital escapism, but the added immersion (and the fact that I don’t suffer Motion-sickness or migraines due to VR) caused me to sink some serious late night hours into
    Onward, a military multiplayer shooter and racing sims. Surprisingly, I rarely ever touch flight sims and space games, which I too like very much, in VR, even though I thoroughly enjoy them with my goggles on. Might be because unlike racing sims and proper VR games, controlling them is a tad more awkward in VR, if you cannot fit all the controls on a HOTAS, or remember where you put which function.

    Well, there’s no sleep anyway in being a young father, so might aswell have fun not snoring :D

    • rabs says:

      On the desktop, this year I enjoyed playing: INSIDE, Factorio, RimWorld (first though it was a dumbed down Dwarf Fortress, but it’s different enough), and many action/arcade games (Good Robot among them) while listening to podcasts.

      But I’m mostly another satisfied Vive player. First I also tended to start playing too late in the evening, and it also messed up my nights (not seeing the time and going to bed too late, full of adrenaline). Now I only play during first half of evening, and often whole afternoons during week-ends.

      It was a weird experience the first time I started playing during day and stopped at night. When I removed the headset, I was shocked like “Oh no ! What happened ?!”. Nobody was here to turn the lights on, so I was totally in the dark since hours… I thought the real world ended, or something.

      I’m mostly playing action/arcade games like Audioshield, Soundboxing, Eleven Table Tennis, Paddle Up, Holoball, SPT, Quivr, Holopoint, Climbey, etc.
      Some racing games, mostly Dirt Rally (with Revive latest release, it’s really great) and recently finished Trackmania VR campaign (a bit over 1h to get gold or more on all tracks, hope they’ll enable the editor for VR). Also did some sight-seeing in Elite Dangerous, but didn’t really felt like playing it for long again.
      Otherwise, I did a single run of most big scenarised games or experiences, but didn’t try anything multiplayer or social. My current use of VR is mostly to chill out in my own world.

      • ColeusRattus says:

        You should really try multiplayer experiences. A free, pretty fun one is RecRoom.

        I find MP in VR to be really awesome. Due to a stronger prevalence of voice chat, the transmission of head and hand movement and the sense of immediacy and space, I feel much more connected to fellow players than in ordinary MP games. But it also has downsides, as some reports of sexual harassment show. People can more easily invade your personal space. But, as with any small comunity, I fou d the general atmosphere in MP games to be quite welcoming.

  10. Hal says:

    Having very little time on my hands, I’ve been playing (or continuing to play) Sentinels of the Multiverse. Table top card game brought to electronic format, it’s a super hero game which uses familiar CCG mechanics without any deck building. It’s tons if fun, and collaborative rather than competitive.

    • Nimrandir says:

      There’s a digital version of Sentinels?! Does it have the promo version of Haka? That dude is the jam.

      • Hal says:

        Oh yeah. They’ve been adding in the various variant heroes over time.

        • Nimrandir says:

          That’s crazy tempting. I played the physical Sentinels on TableTop Day, and I’m a sucker for a solid cooperative game these days.

          • Hal says:

            So the game is sold by expansions, same as the table top game, or you can buy it in “seasons.” But they have sales every so often; last time there was a sale, the base game was 99 cents. Super easy buy in, available for Steam, iOS, and Android/Google Play. Cross platform compatible for multiplayer, too.

            If that’s not enough, there’s even a free demo mode that gives you a single game match up (Freedom Five vs Baron Blade in Insula Primalis.) Absolutely worth it as far as I’m concerned.

  11. Da Mage says:

    What have I been playing lately? Let’s see.

    Rocket League became my new ‘multiplayer’ game a few months ago, so I jump in and play a round of it pretty often. A game only takes 5-10mins, so It’s really easy to jump in and out of.

    Picked up Civ 6 and won a game with each kind of victory. Enjoyed it with about 60 hours played, but I think I’m done with it for now.

    Installed the Skyrim Special Edition since I got it free, so after grabbing the few mods I use, I’m thinking of playing through that again. Last time I touched it was pre-Fallout 4, so it’s been a while.

    Bit of Kerbal mixed in there a few weeks ago, got to the mun, then got bored again and dropped it.

    Otherwise, not a whole lot of interesting things coming out….it’s AAA shooter season, and I have rocket league for my multiplayer now….so I’m just not interested.

  12. Daimbert says:

    Well, let’s see:

    I’ve been insanely busy the past few months, and so haven’t had a lot of time to play games. However, I have vacation coming up, and my list for that is Knights of the Fallen Empire and Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines (I’m in the middle of a game now, and would like to do a Malkavian run once that’s finished). I was also playing Valkyria Chronicles in my spare moments, but I’ve run out of spare moments recently.

    I recently bought Until Dawn because you started doing it in Spoiler Warning and the concept sounded interesting, but if I start playing that this year it will be a miracle. Especially since the posts on Saint’s Row the Third got me to buy it and I STILL haven’t played it.

    • SR3’s certainly some nice wacky-fun-time if you want some chaotic massacre with the game basically saying “go kill those people next” right besides you. There’s some more character development since most of the characters are from SR2, like Shaundi and Pierce, but the new characters are at least developed enough within their cutscenes to make them worthwhile. :P

      • Daimbert says:

        The big things that appealed to me in the posts was the insanely detailed character creation and also the idea that you could pretty much go around in the world and act like your character would and things wouldn’t make any less sense. But it’s on my list of games to finish, although every time I get around to picking a game to play there are other games that appeal to me more.

        And that’s not even counting Persona 5 in February …

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Let me tell you, the Malkavian run of Bloodlines is a thing of beauty, especially if it’s not your first playthrough and you actually get all the semi-precognitive references in the dialogues.

      • Daimbert says:

        I’d heard about that, so that was pretty much the plan: play it once first as something else — it’s Toreador this time, I think — and then do Malkavian the second time around.

        The sad thing is that my overwhelming impression of the game is that the basic adventure-style quests are really, really fun, and it’s a shame about all of those combat portions [grin].

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          It somewhat is. There are some places where you can use dialogue to avoid combat (in case of Malkavian usually with hilarious results) and Malks have obfuscation which really helps with stealthing most combat… but the finale consists of a series of, afaik, unavoidable bossfights (the exact sequence depends somewhat on which ending you get but really most of them are non-standard game overs) which really leaves you in a bit of a FTL “must build for the final bossfight” situation. Although if you do go through most of the side content exp is relatively plentiful.

          • Daimbert says:

            I’m using a walkthrough to make sure that I get all of the XP I can get. I tend to build characters as characters and kinda ignore the mechanics, and I’m not all that great at FPS-style or even real-time combat, so I always have this fear that I’ll get to a combat section and not be able to beat it, and have to ditch the game.

            But I’m playing as a very seductive Toreador, and so a lot of the other missions are her using her mental abilities to get her way, with some stealth ones thrown in. Those are the missions I really love, and what makes me really like the game. For me, if that was the game and there was an “I win!” button on the tougher combats, it’d be the perfect game.

  13. Henson says:

    Like everyone else, I have a sizeable backlog of games to play. Need to finish Soul Reaver: Legacy of Kain. Need to finish STALKER. Need to finish Betrayal at Krondor. Need to start E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy, This War of Mine, etc etc etc.

    And yet, I find that I’m touching nothing more than DOTA 2, two or three games a day. I wonder, has the sheer number of choices made the decision to start or finish a game intimidating or overwhelming? Have I lost passion for a large part of this hobby? And why the hell am I talking about my backlog as if it were a job? (idiot)

    • Droid says:

      Don’t feel guilty about a backlog, the hype catches everyone unaware sooner or later. If you don’t feel like playing them, don’t play them. If you have fun with DOTA 2, by all means, play that. It shouldn’t be that the multitude of other titles is the reason that draws us away from an old game, but rather the fact that we stopped playing the old game should draw us towards a different one.

    • Leocruta says:

      Soul Reaver, STALKER, Betrayal at Krondor and E.Y.E, divine cybermancy? You have excellent taste, sir. Though I think E.Y.E. is at it’s best playing co-op.

      • Henson says:

        Thank you much! I rarely play multiplayer games (other than Dota 2), so probably won’t get the optimal experience from E.Y.E. once I finally get around to it. Though I’d love to see the Spoiler Warning crew take a stab at it (hint hint).

    • Having most of those games, This War of Mine is easily the best-developed on the list (and it just got a new update this week :D) just beating STALKER out. The Legacy of Kain games are sort of weird on PC, and EYE is even more impenetrable than Dark Souls to a newcomer.

      At least Dark Souls tells you what the stats do in a decently-made interface without a crappy tutorial video even DE:HR wouldn’t touch.

      That being said, I WISH my own backlog was that small.

  14. Coming_Second says:

    I have been enjoying the Zubmariner expansion of Sunless Sea. I strongly recommend that and the Sorcery! series from this year, Shamus – both feature fantastic writing and in the latter’s case some superlative use of choice mechanics.

    • Chuk says:

      Sorcery! is great. It helps if you have some nostalgia for the original books, but it’s not necessary to have played them.

    • Galad says:

      Oh man, I was on the fence several times about Sunless Sea, and each time I kept being put off by someone’s review stating just how grindy and unrewarding the game feels. I even watched a stream where I was impressed with the quality of storytelling..and then I read a forum post about its makers having stated that they wanted progress to be infrequent (basically, not valuing one’s time) so I decided to ultimately pass on it. Maybe I’ll reconsider, I did play Fallen London the browser game for a while, so I know its strengths.

      • Miguk says:

        It’s really pretty good for the first 15 hours or so. It’s only later on that the grind gets terrible. I’d recommend it, but just know that you’re eventually going hit a point where nothing new is happening and it’s not fun anymore.

      • I spent a little bit of time on it myself (basically enough to finish the quests where you go to the ruins-like area just north of the starting city) and it seemed alright in terms of everything outside of the controls being odd (not in the way the game is odd, but just being obtuse) and the interface needing a bit of work. The only game I’ve seen that nails the atmosphere that well recently was Metro 2033, though with less Lovecraftian-esque horror elements.

      • MadHiro says:

        I know this makes me a horrible, terrible, very bad person… but I modded my Sunless Sea to both 1) have significantly faster ship travel ( as this is what eats up so much damned time ) and 2) to reduce the amount of time that it takes for ‘Something Awaits You’ to fire so that essentially every time you put into port there’s an event or storylet that fires because otherwise you just spend time noodling around waiting for something to happen.

        • Coming_Second says:

          Once you get the Fulgent Impeller the game becomes significantly less of a drag. I’m a masochist, but the difficulty of putting it together made whizzing around at the speed of (eldritch) light afterwards made it all the more rewarding.

          I think the Zub expansion made the drag of travelling between ports much more bearable also, since the under-layer is more heavily randomised. I don’t blame you for either modification, though – the SAW element is annoying.

  15. Christopher says:

    I don’t play many games the year they come out, they’re so expensive. The two I have been playing are Dark Souls 3 and Street Fighter V. I like both of them, luckily, and I have been playing them for the whole year through online multiplayer, DLC and additional characters. Lately I have moved up the online ladder in SFV to the point that every match is exciting and hard, but not impossible to win either. It’s been on sale recently, and it’s nice to finally see my friends pick it up. It was released too early, but it’s at last looking like a finished game.

    The game I have bought and been playing most recently is Senran Kagura Estival Versus for the PS4, which also is on sale currently. Until Dawn was on sale too, but I took a long, hard look in the mirror and realized it’s the sort of game I have more fun watching you guys play than play on my own. So Senran Kagura it is. It’s a 16+ anime fanservice thing in the same genre as Dynasty Warriors. You get extensive costume customization of each character, and then you play through a lighthearted story in which all these cute ninja girls are stuck on a beach in another dimension, have minor arguments and competitions and solve them all by fighting. The fights are completely bloodless, but involve everyone’s clothes flying off as their HP gets low and refilling their HP and gaining new moves by changing to their second costume. Every stage also has specific “finishers” that throw characters into pinup situations. Everyone has the same basic controls, which is a little boring, but the cheesecake and hilarious weapons keept it fresh(It’s a joy to try a new character and discover whether she’s using a Buster Sword, a robot, three swords in each hand, giant metal gauntlets, or a regular old box cutter).

    Homura is my favorite for her confident, Luffy-like personality. Hikage plays great though, every move flowing into one another easily. But I can take or leave the ranged characters, and some of the ninja groups are much more enjoyable than the others. The budget is also frontloaded. I used to get several animated intro movies and an illustration after every mission, but it’s been a while, and I suspect they’re now in the endings for the girls’ specific missions/Arcade Modes. I’m having a great time, although I occasionally feel like a pig. It’s easy and pleasant. Not as deep as the other Warriors game I have played, but deep enough to be enjoyable.

    I bought Oxenfree earlier in the year and have been meaning to play it at some point before GOTY, but I don’t know. I also got Hyperlight Drifter as a backer, but considering they’re doing a patch to double the framerate I was thinking I would wait for that as well. If I had money, I would have played Overwatch, Doom and Hitman. None of those games are my preferred genre, but they seem exceptional, and I want to try them for myself.

    • John says:

      Man, I want to play Street Fighter V so badly, but I just can’t bring myself to pay for either the hardware or software that would let me do it. My primary gaming platform is an aged Linux PC, so I’ve had to content myself with playing Alpha 2. Arcade mode in Alpha 2 is a lot of fun, but it’s a little lonely. Street Fighter is the only game I can think of where online play against strangers sounds appealing.

      Sigh. I should never have watched those videos from last year’s Evo.

      • Nimrandir says:

        I have that problem when I watch fighting stream archives. They’re why I own two different versions of BlazBlue.

      • Christopher says:

        I can still heartily recommend it. Last week I discovered that people are a lot more open to trying different characters on Casual than on Ranked, so when I get tired of the same opponents I go there instead and find all sorts of characters that see no play in low ranked Ranked. That made it even more fun.

        I get the money issue, though. For me, there were just enough games that I wanted to play and that I couldn’t play on my PC or 360 that I jumped to the next generation this year. But as a result, I’m playing fewer new games than ever. Shit’s expensive, unless you exclusively love short indie experiences or roguelikes.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ill plug in The book of demons once more,even though its in early access.

    Also worth mentioning,Oh sir,the insult simulator.I did not play it,but I did watch others play it in multiplayer.Its nice to see people having fun coming with ridiculous insults.Especially after the horrible twitter insult simulator.

    • I’ve actually got the demo for Book of Demons installed. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it actually looks like it’ll end up being a good entry into the dungeon crawler subgenre, and there’s a small chance that if flavor text gets added to the cards, I’ll be the one writing them. :P

  17. MrGuy says:

    I’m another Civ VI player, mostly because I love figuring out the new emergent ideas and figuring out the new systems.

    I have to say – WAY less buggy in annoying ways than Civ V was at launch!

  18. Christopher says:

    Crap, I forgot! I have played old games here and there, but I did go back to one game in specific that’s interesting for this website: Mass Effect 3. They released a demo of Earth and part of the Salarian stage I think. I didn’t like playing it or the look of it at all. Then the ending controversy began and I just couldn’t be assed to try it, even though I had played through ME1 and ME2 the previous year. Somewhere along the way I bought it for cheap and tried playing along with Shamus’ Mass Effect blog series, but it was so dull and annoying I couldn’t.

    But sometime this fall, I just pressed on and got to the good bits. Things do improve once you get to the Genophage plot and the Rannoch plot. And whenever Cerberus reared it’s ugly head, Shepard had a stupid nightmare or we landed on another stage that was desert or metal corridors, I could read the blog or watch the Spoiler Warning season and get some relief. Mass Effect 3 feels like it’s endless. It’s such a slog, and so self-serious, and so dumb in its premise. But I did end up feeling involved in the plot by the end. After three games, even if Mass Effect isn’t even close to being one of my favorite series, I can’t help but feel affection for the characters and the world. The DLC helps a lot. I played with the extended cut, Javik, Leviathan and Citadel. Citadel is a funny and lighthearted thing that felt more like Saints Row 3 than ME3, and I loved it. Leviathan fleshed out the reapers. Javik gave the story a sense of… I dunno, progression? He had seen it all before, and it felt good to gave him a shot at making it right this time. Even if he’s more renegade than even Morrigan.

    The extended cut improved the ending immensely. I found that some of Shamus’ complaints in his blog just no longer applied, because you do get to ask the Starchild questions, probably more than anyone else in the game, and he answers. It’s stupid, but it’s easy to follow, and there weren’t any issues with the ending choice either. I don’t see why I have to die and become the same kind of thing he is to Control the reapers when he could just broker peace and do it himself, but once I was in control, I could see my actions clearly with no issue. Nobody fled for no reason, no one died in exploding relays. It’s odd, but after years and years of complaining and a tiring playthough, I like Mass Effect 3 quite a bit. The initial disappointment is four years in the past at this point, and what’s left are good memories of characters I like doing silly stuff in a really nice apartment. I don’t even hate Kai Leng. He just makes me want to play Metal Gear Rising Revengeance again.

    I wish I had played maleshep. Jennifer Hale voices femsheps with this weird, artificial voice. I suppose it’s her “military” voice. The internet loves it, but personally I think it sounds unnatural and bad. But besides that, I ended up dating Liara the entire series, and I’m regretful. Liara is sooooooo boring. I could have dated Tali if I played maleshep. Instead I prepare myself for flying to the final battle on Earth, check in on Garrus for a final farewell, and he’s busy making out with Tali through her helmet. Fuck you, Vakarien! I hope the Turian ship crashes on the way to Andromeda!

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The extended cut improved the ending immensely.

      Not really.

      • Christopher says:

        It sure improved things for me! Much of the complaining about the ending was about the unclarity. You couldn’t tell who lived or died or what the state of the galaxy was, and it seemed like a bleak ending. When I played through it, I understood all of it easily, and all in all it was a happy ending with the single sacrifice being my own body and the bonds with my friends, which I was gonna have to give up anyway now that the game was over. I’ll watch another smudboy video when he can get his points across in a way that doesn’t make me fall asleep.

    • Nimrandir says:

      I never finished Mass Effect 3 on my own Gamertag, though I saw the Extended Cut ending with my wife’s character. In an odd twist for me, the multiplayer got its hooks in me after I connected with a regular group of Xbox Live friends.

      Great — another reminder . . .

  19. Jonathan says:

    I’m playing Factorio, and play-by-post D&D on Giant In The Playground.

    Prior to Factorio, I’d been playing Civ4 off and on.

  20. Zane Desantis says:

    This has been a year of discovering old classics for me. I recently played Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap for the Game Boy Advance, and am currently working my way through Metroid: Fusion for the same system. I also bought a collection of Gamecube games on ebay, which included old favorites that I traded in or lost when I was young and dumb (The Wind Waker, Metroid Prime 1-2) as well as the first two Pikmin, which I missed when they were new and am super excited for. I want to play Owlboy badly, but as that one’s a digitally distributed game that is immune to scarcity, I can wait on that one for a bit.

    • Durican says:

      Nice! Ironically the killer app for the Wii U for me wasn’t any of the launch titles, but instead the digital release of Metroid Prime Trilogy.

    • Christopher says:

      Awesome. The GBA was so good, and Minish Cap and Metroid Fusion were some of the best.

    • Shoeboxjeddy says:

      Consider checking out Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Advance Wars (1 or 2), or either of the two GBA Fire Emblems if you’re on a GBA kick. Excellent games.

      Oh and if you’re into Metroid Fusion, check out Zero Mission for more excellent Samus action.

    • Retsam says:

      I’ll add the Golden Sun games to the list of GBA games worth checking out. Easily one of my all-time favorite RPGs. (Good story, good combat, good puzzles)

      (There’s two of them, but I think of them as one game, because they were originally intended as a single game but it ended up getting split into two parts, with the option to transfer your characters over from one part to the other at the end)

    • tmtvl says:

      When talking about the GBA, you can’t go wrong with Summon Night: Swordcraft Story. Neat bit of action gameplay mixed with a bunch of fun characters and a funny story. Definitely worth a look.

  21. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    Playing TERA, which is both an old game I played and left years ago and has new content (you know how MMOs are). Plus, I can’t stay away from its combat system. Just love it. And I am going after stuff I never did before, like the multiple achievements for the World Bosses and such.

    All the other games I have installed are games I’ve finished but like so much I want to play them more (Fallout New Vegas, Lightning Returns, Dragon’s Dogma, Megadimension Neptunia V2).

    The most recent game I got, for free, is Paladins, the supposed Overwatch rip-off, although I haven’t played that in a while.

    I’m also part of a pen & paper (well, roll20) D&D campaign right now with some friends. Pretty good fun, especially considering half the group is on their first campaign.

  22. Cozzer says:

    Just finished my second playthrough of DA:Inquisition (as a game it has its flaws, but I really love what it does with the setting, and the Trespasser “True Ending” DLC is almost perfect), which took more than a couple of months because I don’t have much time for gaming. :(

    Now I’m playing Banner Saga 2 and loving it, while also replaying the first Final Fantasy Tactics on my Android tablet when I stay at my parents’ place or whenever I have to spend more than half an hour on the bus/train. I love how I’m actually able to understand what’s going on in Tactics, with the re-translation. It’s also a story that ties pretty well with current hot topics, since “privilege” is one of its main themes (and it’s treated in a nuanced way, which does NOT tie pretty well with current hot topics).

    For the future, I’m VERY eagerly awaiting for Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera (I have both in my Steam library, but I’m not playing them until they get a proper release). I also put the new Obsidian game, Tyranny, on my wishlist, but I’ll wait for sales. I have a few games on my backlog while I wait for these (mostly GOG games I picked during previous sales).

    Also, I regularly play D&D (well, actually Pathfinder) with friends. I’m a player in one campaign, have been the GM in another that recently ended and am thinking about being a GM again in the future (though I will probably change system or heavily houserule it).

    • Thomas says:

      One day I will finish Inquisition, I love the game (well the plot and the characters and the way the landscape changes when quests are completed, the MMO gameplay is a little addictive but wears me out after a while) and I’ve started three different characters now, but my playthrough always peters out at the same place: when you invade that temple with the magic pool.

      • Christopher says:

        What? Come on, man! That’s the final area! There are like two missions after it, and they’re both boss fights.

        I actually also started a new playthrough of Inquisition this year. I was one of the people that bought it on 360 originally and therefore can’t get the DLC. I also switched to PS4, so I can’t transfer my save. But I really wanted to play Trespasser, so in the end I just sucked it up, bought Inquisition on PS4 when it was on sale and started over again. Frankly, it’s been a bother to play the same content again. But I did pick up Sera, who I showed the door last time because her intro is so bad. She’s a lot better when I’m talking with her rather than her making awful jokes about pants and then shooting someone through the head.

        • I actually thought Sera’s intro was fitting, since she’s the quasi-anarchic prankster character; sort of like Alistair if he actually had something related to a spine.

          I didn’t like her character at all, though, since she wasn’t suited to the way I was playing my character (the “save what works and burn the rest” kind of hero) which ended up giving me most of the ending I wanted.

          I also finished nearly all of the side crap in the base game, with a few dragons left to kill, two difficulty achievements left to earn, the Orlesian ball to fully please, and an achievement I need to look up how to get to finish the base 50. :P

          • Cozzer says:

            Aww, come on, I love Alistair. He has problems regarding spines and the lack thereof, that’s true, but I really don’t think he’d be an “anarchic prankster” like Sera if he could do what he wants. Alistair uses sarcasm and jokes as a defense, but in the end he’s a good boy who desperately wants to be part of a system, something bigger than him, and to be acknowledged.

            I like Sera, but my problem with her is that I can usually understand about half of what she’s saying, even with subtitles on (I’m not a native English speaker, but my reading skill is good enough to understand college-level textbooks… but not Sera’s dialogue, apparently :P ). But I love the last entries in her diary in Trespasser (after it became apparent to everyone what was about to happen to the Inquisitor’s hand).

            • Christopher says:

              Sarcasm as defense is the description I’d use of Alistair too. Alistair always reminded me of a Chandler from Friends, or maybe a Marco from Animorphs. Sera is like a Deadpool in her intro. Different strokes for different folks, but in my case my reaction was eeeeeeuuuuuugghhhhhhhh. She’s all right in her dialogue tree though, so I guess we’ll see. I have no idea what dialect she’s using, but the words I don’t get are made up for by how good it sounds.

            • Haven’t played any of the DLC yet. :/

              That being said, part of it is easily the slang she’s throwing around. I AM a native English speaker and I have to think fairly hard to understand what she’s saying. She’s easily nowhere near the best character in the game though…Varric still takes that spot, with Iron Bull nearly pulling ahead.

              Who would have thought Freddie Prinze Jr. would be excellent in video games? :P

  23. Dragmire says:

    I bought Owlboy but haven’t played it yet.

    I enjoyed Stellaris for a while but want more content before I invest more time in it.

    I had somewhat high hopes for I Am Setsuna earlier this year but it didn’t grab me.

    Once my import arrives, I’ll be completely devoted to Ouendan 2(Japanese rhythm game) since I’ll be aiming for mastery.

  24. Nixitur says:

    I’ve been playing hackmud almost religiously. It’s a hacking MMO with a hugely connected world. It has actual scripting (Javascript, to be precise) and no bullshit like leveling or skills or anything like that. It’s just you, your skills at social engineering and your scripting against other people. It’s at the same time quite shallow (because most of the PvE content is pretty static and can for the most part be scripted) and incredibly deep (because the world is other people and everything they can come up with).
    The variety of stuff that exists in this world is staggering and it’s mostly player-built. We have several banks, an entire corp (basically a guild) devoted to mercenary work, gambling sites, information brokers, spies spying on other spies and a stupidly high number of really intricate scams.
    It’s not for everyone and you’re gonna have to accept that people are going to try to and probably succeed at scamming you. But it’s one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had playing a game ever.

    • Alex says:

      I thought hackmud would be a game for me, based on the review at RPS, but in the end the game I wanted to play was one were the list of scripts the game provides you with contains the actual callable objects, not just names. This was not the game the creator wanted to make and I quickly lost interest.

      I do not lament the 13,37 units of currency, I paid for the game. This kind of thing deserves support. It’s just, like you said, not a game for everyone.

      • Nixitur says:

        I’ll be frank, I’m not sure what you mean by “actual callable objects”. You mean that you want to be able to call the scripts inside your own user scripts? Because you can do that.

        • Alex says:

          What I want to do is either do eval on the list of script names the game gives me or, ideally, been given the callable rather than a string in the first place. In other words autodiscover runnable scripts.

          I know that it is possible to call other scripts from your script if you know their name at the time of coding and I know that it is possible to pass a callable to a script from the in game command line. This both is not what I want.

          When I played the game there also was a FAQ stating that what I want is impossible. Maybe I was social engineered by that FAQ – having and guarding the knowledge that this is possible would be quite an edge. Maybe there is a non-straightfoward way to do what I want. Maybe the game has changed in the meantime. Or maybe it is just that I suck with JavaScript.

          In any case the game is challenging where I expected it to be straightforward and does not provide the challenge I was interested in. I fault me, not the game.

          To give this a more positive spin, however, I’d be interested in your advice for new players, in case I decide to give it another chance.

          • Nixitur says:

            Ah, yes, you can’t turn strings into callables. That’s a deliberate choice as it would completely and entirely break the system of security levels if you could.
            For example, imagine I get a script name from my database (or simply obfuscate a string) and run that. The game couldn’t know what security level my script has until you run it. This would be a massive vulnerability, allowing me to do literally anything, even with a FULLSEC script, making scripts.get_level completely useless.

            I think the biggest advice I can give to new players is to join the Discord server where basically everyone hangs out. New players, veterans, the richest player in the game and sometimes even the dev. It’s where you find out if something new is happening (special PvE events, for example), you find out about new changes to the game and it’s where corp leaders look for new recruits. And organized corp stuff is the most fun you can have in this game.
            You don’t even need to be an exceptional coder to be valuable to a corp. There’s plenty that concentrate on just PvP, PR, intel gathering, scamming or spying. If you’re dedicated, I can guarantee that there’s a corp that would like to recruit you.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      I remember being really interested in that game until I stumbled upon a detail of how it worked. Apparently one of the most successful scammers in that game got that way by publishing a script that’s one letter off from a builtin script that everyone will want to use, so if you ever make a typo then you end up accidentally running this script which steals everything you own and sends it to the scammer. And that’s kind of interesting as an exploit, but fuuuuuuck actually playing Suicide Linux: The Game.

      • Nixitur says:

        That specific user doesn’t play the game anymore. In fact, after a rather short-lived war between the most powerful groups in the game, she and a few others have forged an agreement and agreed on a ceasefire, the conditions of which included that she take down those scripts. Which she did.
        Of course, there’s more people who do similar scams, but auto-completion of commands makes them pretty ineffective.

      • Agamo says:

        This kind of exploit is actually used in the real world (well, as real as you can get on the Internet) for squatting domain names, in order to trick people into viewing malicious websites; it’s called typosquatting, for anyone more curious about it, though there isn’t really much else to it beyond that in terms of technique.

        There’s also a somewhat more subtle variant, called bitsquatting, that takes advantage of single-bit errors that occasionally occur when a packet is in transit. If you have a domain that’s 1 bit off from another domain, there’s a small chance that a request to the legit domain might become a request to the fake domain. Most research into this subject (I don’t think there’s been an instance of this found in the wild yet) seems to focus on domains that aren’t really visible to most people, but focus more on stuff like CDNs that don’t get requests directly from end-users.

        Anyway, thought someone might find that interesting, so there you go.

  25. Echo Tango says:

    The one new game I’ve been playing recently[1] is Stellaris. It’s like Crusader Kings[2] that Josh played one time during a stream, but instead of controlling knight-armies, kingdoms, and states, you control spaceships and inter-stellar colonies. You still can have vassal states, and stuff like that, so I guess a lot of the game is kind of a pallette-swap. OTOH, I’m not into the knights-and-kings stuff but really like that style of gameplay, so it’s really been working out well for me. Especially since I realized that the “auto” button which is usually a meta- / gaming-abstraction in other games, is actually an in-universe thing called “home sectors” and “vassals” or whatever space-jargon they’re using. :)

    Actually there’s another game you should try, especially if you can get 4 people total from the Spoiler Warning crew to try it for a 20-minutes-with: Space Food Truck. It’s a 4-player short game[3] where you build up a deck of cards from random finds in the game map, and you get dealt a hand of cards each round from your deck. Thematically, you’re a bunch of aliens running around the galaxy, in a game of Futurama delivery boy meets Iron Chef meets late-night sci-fi TV movies. :)

    [1] That hasn’t already been mentioned here, or already played by any of you guys on this website.

    [2] Or was it Europa Universalis?

    [3] Play on easy, or else the game drags on. It’s not balanced very well, unfortunately. :S

  26. Grudgeal says:

    My great time-consumer this fall has become Atlas Reactor, somewhat to my surprise I must admit because I normally loathe multiplayer.

    Atlas Reactor is something akin to what happens when a MOBA marries a game of chess, or XCOM multiplayer if that’s easier to understand. You pick from a gallery of colourful and unique characters, you’re dropped into an arena with three friends, and fight four other colourful and unique characters in a fight to the death (five of them to be exact), in a game that takes 15-20 minutes max. It’s turn-based, and all moves are put in beforehand, meaning it becomes a guessing/bluffing game to predict the other team’s moves and strategy and counterplay it through teamwork.

    With no random elements at all and all moves belonging to a green-yellow-red order (green moves go before yellow ones go before red ones go before movement) it comes down to a great deal of skill, teamwork and psychology, and the the game requires clicks-per-minute skills in the single digits which is a godsend to my old man reflexes.

  27. Deadpool says:

    I would just as soon not have that Twitter chat at all… At least not this year. It’s way too tied in politics. Ignoring it in a discussion would make the discussion feel half empty to me…

    I moved a year ago and still don’t have a PC so much if the game talk here doesn’t really affect my purchasing as primarily a PS4 guy.

    Destiny has become my “neutral” game, I.e. The thing Inplay when nothing else is in. This year of almost no DLC made that a little less likely than last year…

    My niece was born the same month I moved so I spent most of this year saving up for a trip for her birthday. Had to be a bit frugal with the gaming…

    But there were some good games. I dug into Wasteland 2 a little late but loved it. Tales of Zestiria were great but I still haven’t finished. Deus Ex WAS a rental because I knew it’d be short. Super Robot Wars released its first game already in English in Singapore and I had to test out the translation quality (it was more than acceptable) sonnownsuper lookong forward to Super Robot Wars V (not 5 mind you).

    I got the PS4 version of XCOM2 and an incredibly frustrated that not a SINGLE website picked up the story that load times increase with play time to BEYOND TEN MINUTES by end game. Sure I’m mad at the compan for the memory leak but I’m also pretty frustrated at the lack of anyone giving a shit.

    I’m pretty glad about Until Dawn Spoiler Warning as it’s the first game I’ve played and you’re doing a season on since… Deus Ex I think…

    • Elemental Alchemist says:

      I got the PS4 version of XCOM2 and an incredibly frustrated that not a SINGLE website picked up the story that load times increase with play time to BEYOND TEN MINUTES by end game. Sure I’m mad at the compan for the memory leak but I’m also pretty frustrated at the lack of anyone giving a shit.

      It still runs like ass on a top-end PC 9 months after launch, so it’s unsurprising that what is essentially a laptop in a plastic box struggles with it. Both the Xcoms have been great, but sweet Jesus are they ever rough as guts from a technical standpoint.

  28. Jarenth says:

    I just bought Stabbing With Your Dad Simulator 2, and fully intend to have some good times with the game’s titular stabbing-of-fools mechanic. I’ve also been playing Grim Dawn (or ‘what if Titan Quest was an apocalyptic pseudo-Victorian hellscape’) and Clockwork Empires (or ‘what if Dwarf Fortress was an apocalyptic pseudo-Victorian hellscape’). And then there’s the latest expansion to Endless Legend, and the Pillars of Eternity expansions I haven’t gotten to yet, and Duelyst, and, and, and… you get the idea.

    I’ve been eyeballing Tyranny — some people are saying it has an hour-long character creation process, which I’m sure is intended as a negative — and Owlboy, but I have no idea how I’ll ever get to either one. Especially with the advent of my seasonal descent into visual novel insanity

    • krellen says:

      Tyranny’s “hour long” character generation is a choose-your-own-adventure “how you got here” story choice thing and is kind of amazing. And those choices actually matter – they’re referenced throughout the game thereafter.

      • Ringwraith says:

        It’s much quicker than Pillars was in the pure generation step too, as there’s no race option, or class, you simply pick what combat style you were primary trained in, and what you were secondarily trained in. So you don’t need to read a dozen abilities and their effects.

        There’s only a couple of background options, then it’s off to the choose-your-adventure (if you want, you can skip that and pick from some premades, but there’s no reason to do this).

        • Henson says:

          I personally found character creation in Pillars of Eternity to be my favorite part of the game, very open-ended and malleable for role-playing (almost as good as Arcanum). But this system sounds pretty good too, I’m always up for something different.

        • Thomas says:

          Tyranny also fixes a long problem with Obsidian character creation too, in that this time it includes quick and easy ways to go back steps and change around things in character creation without having to restart the game. When I’m choosing my character things like appearance and name and character class are going to change depending on how it interacts with the other bits – particularly backstory.

          Dragon Age: Inquisition was the worst though, having a cutscene and small tutorial between choosing character stuff and choosing character appearance. So bad.

        • Jarenth says:

          Stop enabling me, you monsters. There are only so many hours in a day!

    • I would add something to the description of Grim Dawn, since you’re missing the “…pseudo-Victorian hellscape that refines the mechanics present in aforementioned Titan Quest.”

      They both have the Borderlands problem of too much worthless loot, but at least they’ve got loot filters so you can ignore anything below Magic quality. :P

  29. Paul Spooner says:

    Been busy with education, changing jobs, and then working 12 hour days at the new job. I just don’t have much free time left, and I’ve been using it to work on projects and read books. Good to know there are lots of options out there! I wonder how this glut compares to the 1983 crash?

  30. Syal says:

    There’s a few games I’ve played because people talked about them here (Saints Row 3 and 4, Planescape Torment), and several more I’ve bought (Balder’s Gates, Pillars of Eternity, New Vegas), but the only one you talked about that I’ve played recently is…
    er…
    Huniepop.

    I finally reopened my boxes of old games, so I’m replaying my old copies of Chrono Cross and Kingdom Hearts 2 (I blame the FFX review for both), as well as continuing Disgaea 2 item-grinding. Probably going to start another playthrough of Hand of Fate soon, got to the final boss but never beat it and it’s been bothering me. Just bought Darkest Dungeon and Spelunky so I’ll give those a shot pretty soon probably.

  31. galacticplumber says:

    Xenoblade Chronicles is in my running for best RPG of all time. It innovates in a lot of extremely important areas. For example one of the primary pieces of the story is that the main character gets visions of the future. This is not unheard of in games, but you know what IS unheard of? The devs actually taking advantage of this feature to hone as many facets of the experience as they can.

    Remember the old problem of a game that lets you find quest items before getting the quest not telling you you need them and how this could lead you to selling them? Not here. You immediately get a vision telling you not just that you need them, but often who you need them for, and even how many. So good.

    It’s also built right into the combat. Often times powerful or unique enemies will use attacks that are dramatically overpowered for their level. You specifically get a warning about this when it happens including what the attack will be, who it will aim at, and how much it will hurt. You then have several seconds to about half a minute to setup a counter to nullify the attack, a defense to mitigate the damage, get the enemy to target someone who won’t die, heal the target so THEY survive, outright kill the enemy so it can’t get its move off, or warn someone else in the party so that you can immediately use any one of their actions even if it was on cooldown before the warning.

    Worried about character stupidity in the plot with the main character either not warning people about what he sees or not being listened to? No! One of the first things that happen early in the story is someone figuring out exactly how important these things are and pointing out that the most efficient way to use them is often actually talking to people rather than just acting on the vision himself. It then goes on to show how meaningfully good this choice was by repeatedly saving people.

    This is before we even get into the fact that the game deliberately eschews sheer graphical fidelty for the boon of absolutely goddamn massive, sprawling areas and aesthetic flair. Also no invisible walls from what I’ve seen. If you can see it you can go to it and probably will latter. It also takes advantage of all this space to hide secret areas with some of the best views that will award you with piles of experience just for finding them.

    Every single area in the entire game has two separate themes to set the mood some of which I’ve just stopped and listened to for minutes at a time.

    I realize all this gushing may be getting a little obnoxious so I’ll just recommend you pick it up and try it. You did have a WII right?

    • Xedo says:

      Love that game so much.

      Oddly, while the followup on the WiiU, Xenoblade Chronicles X, is also a favorite of mine, it’s strengths and weaknesses are almost perfectly reversed. Xenoblade has a lengthy, wonderful central story and poor, mmo-ish sidequests. XCX, on the other hand, has a downright anemic and poorly written main plot… but the side missions and character missions shine. (I heard once that the game director was attempting to make the jrpg answer to Skyrim, which isn’t too bad a comparison).

      XCX didn’t get a lot of attention when it came out, which is a pity. The most staggering thing about it to me is that it’s an example of phenomenal level design in an open world. You play with characters on foot for the first 20-30 hours, then have a mech, then have a flying mech. And the game is a completely different experience each time, which the new transportation system recontextualizing the environment and the monsters. Everything feels organic, again with no invisible walls.

      The other staggering thing in retrospect is its an open world game with almost no bugs. In that regard they failed at being inspired by Skyrim. The fact that these devs got assigned to the open world Zelda after making XCX is a great sign.

  32. John says:

    The two games which ate my brain this year are Crusader Kings II and the Shadowrun Returns series. The two games are very different in most respects. (Obviously.) One is a real-time grand-strategy game where you (can) manage kingdoms and empires and spend most of your time looking at a continent-scale map and the other is an RPG with turn-based tactical combat where you’re never responsible for more than four people at a time. But as it turns out, they both offer a tremendous sense of possibility. In Crusader Kings you can have a very different experience from one game to the next depending the starting position you chose and the goals that you set for yourself. In Shadowrun Returns you can play as one of about half a dozen different archetypes or–because there are no actual character classes–you can make your own fun by mixing and matching abilities from different archetypes.

    Of the two, I have spent by far the most time in Crusdader Kings. Perhaps it’s because I spent too many years playing 4X games where you start off with a single city and go on to conquer the world, but my favorite thing to do in Crusader Kings is to start as a Count (or Earl, or Jarl, or whatever–the ruler of a single province) and work my way up to Emperor. (I don’t think it’s actually possible to conquer the entire world in CK2. Not starting as a Count in 1066, anyway.) The most refreshing thing about it, I find, is that you can’t really lose aggressive wars in CK2 the way you can in Civilization. You can fail to win them, of course, but you can’t lose territory in a war that you yourself started. It’s liberating. I’m a shameful, save-scumming sinner when I play Civilization or Alpha Centauri but in Crusader Kings I am an Iron Man and I love it. Sometimes the game seems the most interesting when things are going horribly wrong. The other noteable thing about Crusader Kings II is that you can’t actually win the game. There is no win state. (There’s a lose state, but no win state.) The game simply ends in 1453 and it’s up to you to decide if you won or not. You can do that on the basis of score if you want, comparing your score to the hypothetical scores of various actual historical dynasties. But instead I feel like I “won” if either I accomplished what I set out to do at the beginning of the game–be it conquer Britain, drive the Moslems out of Spain, become Holy Roman Emperor, or even just manage not to get conquered by my larger neighbors–or I simply had a sufficient amount of fun while failing to do so.

    I like Shadowrun Returns partly because I just really like squad-level turn-based tactical combat and partly for the replayability. Shadowrun supports a lot of different archetypes. There’s Street Samurai, Deckers, Riggers, Physical Adepts, Mages, and Shamans, but these represent different skill-sets rather than distinct character classes. The games in the Shadowrun Returns series offer a lot of replayability not only because each skill-set approaches combat very differently but because the various skill-sets also give you different conversation options and different ways of interacting with the world outside of combat. For example, characters with high strength scores (which is to say melee-oriented Street Samurai or Physical Adepts) can sometimes physically intimidate NPCs to useful effect. If you’re playing a different kind of character with lower strength you will still see that you could have intimidated that NPC if only your strength had been higher. And–if you’re me–that will make you want to play the game again with a high-strength character just to see what happens when you take that option. In other words, Shadowrun really appeals to the part of my brain that likes to ask “Okay, but what would happen if I did this?”

    • Philadelphus says:

      In a similar vein, the games that consumed the majority of my time this year have been Europa Universalis IV, Team Fortress 2, and Minecraft, with EU IV taking up by far the lion’s share. I think the only game I bought this year that wasn’t more DLC for EU IV was XCOM 2 (including the season pass), and though I played it a few times when it came out and enjoyed it I just haven’t found the desire to go back and play it with the last two DLC; there’s just always another achievement to strive for in EU IV!

      I only discovered EU IV (and CK II, and grand strategy games in general) in 2014, but it feels like I’ve finally found my True Calling™ in gaming, if that makes sense; my early teenage love of real-time strategy (Age of Empires II, primarily) and late teens/college-age love of turn-based strategy (Civilization III & V, XCOM) were, it turns out, mere precursors to my current love of real-time-with-pause grand strategy.

    • Matt Downie says:

      It’s certainly possible to turn the entire map your color in CK2. It’s easier if you’re playing as the Mongols or someone like that since they can conquer entire kingdoms without needing a claim. If not, there are certainly ways of gaining territory very fast, such as fighting multiple simultaneous Holy Wars. I’m sure someone’s found a way to rule the world starting from an Earl in 1066. Heck, someone figured out a way to build an empire ruled by horses.

      http://kotaku.com/that-time-a-horse-conquered-the-ancient-world-1757913762

  33. Ilseroth says:

    I still have been playing Overwatch, it’s just great fun, as well as playing a bit of Skyrim due to the special edition (I actually haven’t had it crash at all on PC, Lucky!) and the DLC for dark souls 3.

    However As I had the last couple days off from work, and I just got my hands on to Dishonored 2, that swallowed up those couple days. As Chris and Josh said in the Diecast, the story is poorly written, but the gameplay hits the nail on the head. Really gets the Thief memories going, while ramping up your non-lethal options quite a bit. In addition, while the previous game had an achievement for not using powers besides blink, in this game you can outright choose a no power mode, which makes it feel even more like thief since you’ll be relying pretty heavily on your bow and memorizing map layouts.

  34. Xedo says:

    Recently finished Arkham Knight and Last of Us, and now I’m playing Trails of Cold Steel 2, a JRPG on ps3/vita that has some really great combat and world building.

    But every now and then I turn on my wii u to play a weird game called Rodea the Sky Soldier. Now let me tell you about a crazy business decision.

    This is a game by the maker of Sonic the Hedgehog and Nights into Dreams. It was apparently feature complete in 2011 and was made for the Wii. It used the motion controls great – you just point, button press, flying charge. Point at a sequence of objects to get into a high-speed rhythm as you fly forward. Learn the levels to master some challenging high speed, score-attack style gameplay. It’s fun!

    But instead of releasing in 2011 on the Wii, at the height of the Wii’s popularity, with a game uniquely designed to use its hardware… they shelved it. And released it in 2015, on the Wii U instead. And not only did they release it on a substantially less popular platform, but they ported it to the 3DS first, with an awful control scheme and terrible compressed graphics… and then ported that version to the Wii U. Seriously, the WiiU version is considered to have worse graphics than the Wii version (that never independently released).

    But the Wii U retail version includes a bonus disc with the Actually Pretty Good wii version, which is really fun.

    But nobody knows because the only reviews were for the 3DS and wiiu versions which metacritic’ed in the 40’s and deserved it. It’s baffling. I can’t think of any other time a company has killed and buried a good game so thoroughly.

    Anyway, been playing the wii version of Rodea and it’s a fun time.

  35. Ninety-Three says:

    This comments section is going to be full of recommendations and no one’s going to have time to check them all, so I’m going to make a recommendation to a very narrow audience in the hopes that it’ll be interesting enough to get their attention.

    If you liked Creeper World, Infested Planet is a weird hybrid of RTS and squad-based tactics and it’s satisfying in the same ways as Creeper World.

    • PPX14 says:

      Creeper World was dangerously entrancing. I sat down with it on the laptop for a few minutes that became 3 hours. I’m not sure if it was satisfying but it was definitely engaging. Given my backlog of story based games, I’m going to give Creeper World &co a wide berth :D

  36. 4th Dimension says:

    What have I been playing? Not much. Anime has become the big time sink recently. But if I want to listen to a podcast I play things that will probably not interest you like World of Warships and if that is updating I free fly around in a helicopter in Digital Combat Simulator. For a long time my go to game for this was Rebel Galaxy a 2D space ship combat/trading flying game.

    I played Fallout 4 but never finished it because I got overleveled and the enemies become bullet sponges, so that is kind of on the menu but not really. Started the New Vegas playthrough for the first time but again I did not find time after a while to return to it. I REALLY need to return to Stellaris now that all the patches are out, that might be a nice podcast game since there are large stretches of time when you are simply administrating the empire.

    Of the new stuff I started Tyranny, it’s interesting but I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish it.

  37. TheDecoy says:

    Just finished a playthrough of Deus Ex:Mankind Divided, thought the gameplay was a lot of fun but the ending felt like a halfway mark. In the past I’d have felt 40 hours was short, but now my free time is much more limited it seems suitable. Despite the heavy-handed message I felt involved in the world and the small sidestories. Things like being harrassed for my ID by the cops whenever I’d take non-Aug routes in the train stations actually had more of an impact than I thought they would.

    Tempted to pick up Dishonoured 2 to continue the sneaky-stabby vibe but performance rumours have scared me off. In the meantime I’m playing through civ V campaigns as I realised while watching the Civ VI hype that I hadn’t played half of the factions yet. I figure that will keep me busy until VI is a bit more polished. Dark Souls 3 is likely to be next on the slab unless I feel the need to go isometric which would lead me over to Pillars or Tyranny.

  38. Mortuorum says:

    I’m revisiting an old Twenty Sided “favorite” after a five-year hiatus: Champions Online (now rebranded as Champions Online: Free For All). It’s still too silly in places and too self-serious in others, but the mechanics are greatly improved and (as a lifetime subscriber) I get some very nice benefits. Yep, beating up supervillains is still fun.

  39. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    I am playing Destiny: Rise of Iron. The new content drought from October of last year to April of this year was the first time I’d taken a sizable break from the game. The tiny size of the April update meant I played very casually or not at all until ROI came out. Since then, I’ve been quite satisfied with the smoother progression, fun new Raid and variety of new stuff to collect. I do think it’s about to dry up for me, all I have left are maxing out various bars, making those numbers go higher. The story, collectibles, and new activities are basically over now.

    To play for year end: 3DS games. I have Phoenix Wright Vs Professor Layton to finish, then Zero Time Dilemma to dig into, then the 6th in the proper Phoenix Wright series to get into. I also have Gears 4 that I haven’t properly gotten into.

  40. Sean Mattox says:

    For what it’s worth, I do hope you’re able to find the interest to revisit the Twitter topic later, Shamus. I think your level of analysis applied to the subject could make for a fantastic piece.

  41. Duoae says:

    I’ve mostly been playing old games but I did really get into hyper light drifter recently. I completed it and am now working my way through the hard mode. Five bosses down and one left before I reach the ultimate boss. Is a bit like a dark souls version of a link to the past.

    I also played through headlander this last Saturday (finished it in around 8 hrs) and enjoyed that – not for the writing but the aesthetic and sound track. Some of the puzzles were good too but it was quite a light game.

    Looking forward, I’ve got mankind divided, witcher 3, doom and Bloodborne to finish off, civ 6, life is strange, dishonored 2 and xcom 2 to go. …

    I just don’t have enough time to play, let alone write reviews!

  42. PPX14 says:

    I’ve finally got round to Thief 2 (The Metal Age). Played Deadly Shadows many years ago, and finished The Dark Project about a year ago. It’s just so great, the world the game creates.
    Just started the Left Behind dlc for The Last of Us too, finished the main game a few weeks ago. It’s just difficult to get in the mood for a heavy drama experience and the gameplay isn’t exactly gripping. Not when I’d rather be learning about the Mechanists and the Keepers.
    Tried starting Shadow Warrior the other day, as some eye candy on my new UHD tv, but it doesn’t look as good as I imagined. Might play it in 3Dvision instead. Didn’t really get the hang of the sword play in my hour of play.

  43. Cilvre says:

    I’m playing Star Ocean: The Second Story again all the way through on multiple playthroughs. It hits my nostalgia factor and I still love the combat and story to this day. Also still playing Witcher 3 and Dark Souls. Personally, I’m hoping I can get my friends to play Magicka, as I recently moved to Seattle and want to keep playing games with them online.

  44. This year I’ve been mostly playing

    – Darkest Dungeon
    – Sunless Sea
    – Doom 1&2
    – Heretic/Hexen
    – Old SNES Games. Again. And Again. I must’ve completed all of Super Metroid three times this year, and Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger twice.

    Yeah, I’m kinda stuck atm. But then, all my energy for new stuff goes into music this year.

  45. Collin says:

    I’m big on Stardew Valley lately, it scratches an itch I didnt know was there. I made some permanent mistakes with my character, and I wish there was a way to respec my character’s class. Played a bit of Salt and Sanctuary and restarted a Skyrim game.

  46. krellen says:

    I’ve been playing a lot of old games (dabbled with some old MMOs like Star Trek Online and Champions Online during my unemployment stint earlier this year), with a lot of Crusader Kings II and Stellaris taking up the bulk of my play.

    Lately, though, I’ve spent a bit of time playing Skyrim SE because I got it free – and then I stopped because I realised it’s still Skyrim and I got something better to play: Tyranny.

    You really need to check out Tyranny, Shamus. The system is Pillars of Eternity but with a lot of the worst parts removed, and if you just play on Easy you never really have to worry about combat. But the story is amazing. You start in chargen going through a series of choices about actions your character has taken in the war that is the setting, and each choice you make there is remembered and referenced throughout the game. There are reportedly four different paths, each of which has content exclusive to it (I’ve already seen some things different in my Anarchist playthrough from others’ allied playthroughs.)

    Companion interactions are great, and there are benefits from building both Loyalty and Fear with them – a companion can both love and fear you. A similar system also rates your interactions with the various factions and patrons throughout the game, though those are named Favour and Wrath and are similarly balanced (you can have both Favour and Wrath, but it’s harder.)

    It absolutely consumed my weekend, and I’m already looking forward to my second play-through, where I will make very different choices. (If you want to wait for me to confirm there are significant differences, I won’t be insulted.)

    • Ninety-Three says:

      I’m playing Pillars and I’m still confused about the Fear/Wrath system. Is it… good? Like do I want those things? I can see that they grant combat bonuses, but I’ve also observed that having high favour causes NPCs to act differently to me, so I foresee NPCs also acting differently based on Wrath. If I get my Wrath high, it seems like I would suffer some negative consequences (ie an NPC refuses to help because they hate you), but the fact that you’re mechanically incentivized to do it suggests otherwise.

      So do Wrath and Fear have any negative effects, or are they strictly beneficial in the same way as Loyalty, serving only to unlock “good” effects?

      • krellen says:

        When I betrayed the Disfavored, my Disfavored companion stuck with me – it was implied to me it was because he Feared me too much to oppose me.

        I’m not sure if that’s actually true, though.

      • Sannom says:

        “So do Wrath and Fear have any negative effects, or are they strictly beneficial in the same way as Loyalty, serving only to unlock “good” effects?”

        Pretty much this. Think Planescape : Torment, KOTOR 2, Alpha Protocol or Dragon Age 2, in which positive and negative reputations both had gameplay benefits on top of simply tracking your roleplay decisions.

        • Ringwraith says:

          As an addition: often you get abilities, either usable or passive, for having certain levels of favour/loyalty/wrath/fear with people, which is a bit like Alpha Protocol, as long someone feels strongly about you in some way, positively or negatively, you get a bonus from that.
          Unlike Alpha Protocol, they don’t cancel each other out, so you can have all the abilities from both. Also it’s kinda rare to drop the positive reputations slightly, but it can happen, whereas it’s nearly impossible to lower the negative ones at all, so they just keep accumulating.

          Oh, and obviously people react differently.

  47. Merlin says:

    This makes for a funny bit of reflection in that I am just hilariously out of touch with what y’all are playing. I flipped through recent Diecast headers to find the 3 most recently-discussed games that I’ve actually played, and I came up with… FTL (Diecast 161), Team Fortress 2 (Diecast 158), and Final Fantasy X (Diecast 152, and of course the plot discussion articles). I haven’t played any of those in years. In fact, apparently there’s been exactly 1 game covered this year that I actually played this year: Massive Chalice back in February on Diecast 140. (This discounts incidental comparisons, like Dishonored or Deus Ex: HR coming up in the context of talking about their sequels.)

    At the start of the year, I wanted to make 2016 a year to catch up on a lot of “classics” that I missed the first time around. That… has only sort of panned out. Most of my time has ended up going to big ole JRPGs: Persona 4, Final Fantasy 9, Final Fantasy 5, and Final Fantasy 1. The first three, I’ll give hearty recommendations to. That last one, very much no. Aside from that, I filled in a couple holes in my Point And Click Adventure credentials by way of Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle, so I’m at least staying somewhat on task.

    Right now, I’m mostly wrestling with the decision to either plow through some short indies in the backlog – Kero Blaster, Life is Strange, Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star – or to pick up and dive into XCOM 2. Intellectually, I’d like to tackle either Baldur’s Gate or System Shock 2 before the end of the year, but I kinda think I’ve had enough jank for a while.

  48. Groboclown says:

    I still am playing The Long Dark, and really enjoying it. They’ve created a new game mode making it very, very challenging, as well as special challenge scenarios.

    Based on the “20 minutes with” videos, I’ve tried out Death Road to Canada and Salt and Sanctuary. DRtC is a great pick-up game, and can give a full, satisfying experience in an hour. Salt and Sanctuary just frustrates me. It’s the second Dark Souls-like game I’ve played (the first was an interesting, super-indy title DarkMaus). Maybe it’s because of my life style, but I can’t dedicate a full, uninterrupted session that these require. I get constant interruptions, which means I really need that pause button. That, and perhaps I don’t have the full patience to “get good”.

    I’ve also started playing Journal again. I’m still fascinated with its narrative framing. Yes, the kids suffer from “trying too hard to sound like kids”, but it’s told through the perspective of an adult. It comes across as an adult thinking through a specific time in her life, and what could have been if she made different choices, which is perfect for a video game.

  49. Mintskittle says:

    Do you have a PS4? Do you like Dragon Quest? I know you really like Minecraft. Check out Dragon Quest Builders. It’s pretty much third person Minecraft with a story mode. I had good fun with that.

    You’ve already played Factorio, so I can’t really add anything to that.

    Duneyyr bought me Windward. It’s an age of sail game where you can explore, trade, fight pirate ships, and build settlements to expand the reach of your chosen faction. I haven’t put too much time into it, but I intend to play more.

    • Retsam says:

      I bought a friend’s PS4 and accidentally borrowed his copy of DQB with it. With the 5ish hours I put into it, it’s an interesting take on the Minecraft formula. It’s neat how they make the building more objective and score-based rather than self-motivated creativity.

      I might just be missing something, but I found the building controls with a PS4 controller a bit frustrating. A lot of placing things in the wrong spots, and while they make certain things easy (building a two high wall) certain things were annoying. (Building a one high wall)

      • Mintskittle says:

        Yeah, build placement can get a bit wonky since your controlling in third person, but if you hold both shoulder buttons for adjusting your placement cursor up and down, it’ll stick to the center and you can place one high walls much easier.

  50. DTor says:

    I burned out on Overwatch in October, trying to get enough coins to nab that witch hat before it went away. So, as always, I’m working through my Steam backlog. I just came down off a Sunless Sea bender; the writing is so, so good. You can visit the island where all undelivered mail in human history has wound up, and you can be a double agent for literal Hell, and you can steal from the dream snakes that live behind mirrors, and… it’s just so good.

    Finally played The Witness, too. It was very polished and nice to play, but not super impressive for something that was in development for seven years. Very cerebral, not much emotional content.

    Now I’m playing Invisible Inc. It’s good. Reminds me a lot of XCOM.

    As far as tabletops, I still have my Shadowrun game and my D&D game. New D&D is nice and simple.

  51. James Young says:

    Hi Shamus

    I’ve been playing “This is the Police”. You can grab it on GoG. Pretty good.

    Check it out

  52. Urthman says:

    I’ve been playing The Witness with my teenage daughters most Sunday afternoons since March, and it’s my favorite gaming experience of all time. The last four Sundays in a row (and more than once much earlier) we sat down and said, ‘Well, we’re basically done except for maybe finding one or two more little things,’ but then discovered yet another interesting and satisfying surprise, or those last little bits were much cooler than we expected. The design of this game is so artistically satisfying, it makes me happy just remembering how certain sets of puzzles are introduced, how the game leads you into deducing yet another piece of the grammar of the puzzle language you’re learning. The way the bridges work and the clever things you can do with them, it’s so clever and satisfying.

  53. Jabrwock says:

    Mostly playing things I can pick up and set back down, my schedule is so busy.

    Factorio – found this thanks to your original article on it.
    Subnautica – kids saw it on a youtube channel and thought it was cool, now I play it more than they do!
    Lego Harry Potter – kids are binge watching HP movies nearly every weekend because my eldest is reading all the books.

  54. Tektotherriggen says:

    I’m currently dividing my time between Terraria and The Witcher 1. Terraria keeps getting updated (another big update is due to drop today), though that doesn’t really apply to me since I’m still at the stage of building a giant farm before I trigger hard mode.

    GOG gave me Witcher 2 for free, so it seemed churlish not to buy the first one when it came on sale.

    Also this year I finally played System Shock 2, Nihilumbra (indie puzzle platformer), Portal Stories Mel, Telltale’s Sam and Max season 3, Toki Tori 1 & 2 (indie puzzle platformer) and Where is my Heart (indie puzzle platformer, notice a theme?). Oh, and Limbo, which is, well, guess.

    I did play Good Robot when it came out this year (you should really get those guys on the Diecast for an interview…), but I think that’s the only game I’ve played in the year of release for absolutely ages.

  55. Doomcat says:

    Mostly I’m playing Guild wars 2 (Still, heh.) and catching up on Witcher 3 now that it’s stopped being a part of people’s conversations.

    The latter is…very engaging, but looooong.

  56. Galenloke says:

    I’ve gotten back into Guild Wars 2 after a long absence. Playing through the original ‘campaign’ is a huge chore and shockingly terrible from a technical standpoint (cameras are constantly pointing the wrong way, audio is off, etc.) but the newest stuff is beautiful, well voice-acted, and generally fun.

    As to game’s played or avoided based on this blog, Salt and Sanctuary was an impulse buy based on the playthrough here. No Man’s Sky on the other hand was avoided after Shamus’ (and others) scathing review.

  57. PAK says:

    I’ve been playing Thumper since its release last month. The most entertainment I’ve milked out of twenty bucks in a long time. Probably an 8-10 hour campaign if you rush through and don’t care about score, but I’ve spent almost 50 hours trying to optimize my play in various levels. It’s somewhat like Hotline Miami in the way the euphoria-inducing light show and music combine with the feeling of reward from pulling off a high score. I feel like I’m mainlining dopamine.

  58. Peter H Coffin says:

    GW2 sometimes. It’s tough to stick with it when you’re a solo player because half the guide is playing Battlefield and the other half is playing Overwatch. Neither of those is interesting to me in any visceral way.

    I bought a Saitek X56 not too long ago, so I’ve been flying airplanes again. It’s weird-feeling because I’ve NOT been doing that for … three years or so? And there’s been basically nothing really new that’s happened since then. The X55 came out in the meantime, but that was basically the same thing as the x56 in design, but it didn’t feel any better (and in fact worse) than what came before. X56 is a good stick, though. It feels nice, and comes with replacement springs and everything. SOOOOOOOOO many buttons. There’s about 8 that are arguably trigger buttons, 16 momentary contact “switches”, 6 rotary/slider controls that AREN’T the two main throttle rotation, 5 8-position joysticks, 2 mouse-look joysticks that AREN’T the main stick, which is a full three-axis thing all by itself. ALL those things can be easily found by touch reliably, presuming that you can remember the assignments you made to all of them. And a knob to change between three DIFFERENT profiles. The marketing materials make great hay about “This is the sensible way to do VR because those things never let you see a keyboard anyway” and I think they’re right about that.

    It’s good that it came out because other flight controls….. well they don’t really exist anymore. The nerdy flight yokes you used to be able to buy used for moderate prices are now ALL in the hands of people that don’t want to part with them or speculators, because they’ve been out of stock and nobody’s made more in like five years. You can get a cockpit with custom made controls for about $5k starting now, but you used to be able to build your own out of available modules for less than $2k, and that’s simply impossible now.

  59. kikito says:

    Since some months ago I am playing “Oh-my-god having a baby takes a lot of time”, pretty much exclusively. I can’t remember the last time I turned on my PC. I can still read about videogames and listen to the Diecast, but that’s about it.

  60. Jeff says:

    I have been playing, almost exclusively, Age of Wonders III and Absolute Drift.

  61. Dork Angel says:

    I’m playing the Remastered Version of COD Modern Warfare a lot (the one that came with a copy of Infinite Warfare that I have hardly played). Fallout 4 is sitting just before I teleport to the Institute (meaning I haven’t watched any more Spoiler Warning after that point). No Man’s Sky gets a play when I want to chill before bedtime. I’m trying to look for a really really stupid looking creature so I can name it after my mate then send him a screenshot so he know’s he’s in the game forever. :) Busting to play Dishonoured 2 but it’s still in the queue…

  62. Volvagia says:

    I’m waiting on library borrows of Dishonored 2, Battlefield 1 and the Frogwares Sherlock Holmes games (after LA Noire failed, I’ll settle for AA games that try that kind of detective thing). Other than that, if I feel like playing something, I’m doing what I think is my fourth or fifth run through of Sonic Generations, waiting for Project Sonic 2017.

  63. Kathryn says:

    With two small boys, I can’t play much. The baby obviously needs a lot of attention, and the older one is having trouble understanding that just because Tidus is swinging a sword on the TV doesn’t mean that he can build a sword out of his toys and swing it at real life people. We’ve had to really restrict what makes it onto the big screen. (Please, no comments on that choice; there is way more to the story, and I don’t want to get into it here.)

    Nevertheless, I am playing Avadon 3 on the small screen. Having fun with it so far but haven’t gotten very far because my time is so limited.

    In the backlog: Final Fantasy I, IX, and Tactics. I *might* give Skyrim another chance someday, but I doubt it because I can’t see what I disliked about it last year changing this year (except that I was ten weeks pregnant last year, so the mouselook might not make me as nauseated now).

    • Merlin says:

      Have you played FF1 before? Far be it from me to disparage if it’s an old favorite of yours, but I just finished my first-ever playthrough of it a couple days ago and found it kind of unbearable as it went on. I was on the original NES version for the historical perspective though, and I’ve heard that the re-releases make some quality of life changes that may help matters a lot.

      At first I found it kind of novel to get the old-timey D&D experience, sizing up each random battle for its threat level and running away from half of them even in the endgame. But even that’s unreliable – initiative is purely random, so you can get smacked around, stunlocked, or just instakilled before you even get a chance to flee, much less fight. And probably more importantly, it’s just agonizingly slow. Dungeons quickly balloon to massive size, encounter rates are fairly high, and in-combat actions take quite a while to resolve. I ended up picking up a copy of Reigns to play on my phone in part because it a single round could take an entire minute or two to resolve.

      Again, the PSP/mobile/whatever release may fix some of that, but I can’t say for sure.

      For my final piece of unsolicited, crankypants advice: Fighter, Black Belt, Thief, Red Mage. At least 1 Fighter is basically required for tanking purposes, the BB will blossom into an incredible damage dealer, the RM and Thief (post class-change) give you two units that can cast FAST and act as reasonable second-liners throughout the game. I ran this party but with a Black Mage instead of a Black Belt, and that was a mistake – by the time the BM had enough spell slots to actually *be a wizard*, I’d picked up a couple items that could cast infinite spells for free.

      Anyway, sorry if I’ve been a jerk here, just trying to provide a heads up if this is your first go round with the game.

      • Nimrandir says:

        The NES Final Fantasy is unforgiving, granted (I mean, it has NES in the description), but the pace of battles isn’t that slow. Where did you have the message speed set? If you meant that you can’t go straight from one dungeon to the next without grinding, that’s largely true — just as it is for most games in that mold.

        I also wouldn’t recommend that a new player run without a White Mage. The ‘rocket tag’ approach doesn’t work all that well, in my opinion, and healing potions are expensive in the early game.

        • Merlin says:

          I don’t remember seeing anywhere that you even *could* set a message speed in the NES version. But yes, I definitely meant the in-battle resolution time, not grinding time. It’s most notable when AOE effects start getting common, because you get an individual animation, pause, and damage readout for every target rather than showing them all at once like later games would. When one of your units is spamming Heal helms or Zeus gauntlets because that’s the strategically sound thing to do, that adds up quickly. Especially with enemies getting no small number of AOE effects of their own.

  64. Mephane says:

    Currently I am mostly playing Overwatch and Shadow Warrior 2. They are both competing for my personal game of the year spot.

    Overwatch:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oozuU1LI6XM

    Shadow Warrior 2:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEIC3K6v4PY

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