What Are You Playing These Days?

By Shamus
on May 5, 2017
Filed under:
Video Games

This was going to be my first impressions on Diablo III. Yes, 5 years after Diablo III was released I suddenly got the urge to see what the fuss was about.

It all started when I watched Joseph Anderson’s critique of the expansion and I saw how some of the late-game combat worked and how some of the skill trees operated. I started thinking that maybe there was enough complexity to be worth a look. My initial impression of the beta back in 2012 was that Diablo III was very pretty, but hopelessly dull and shallow. Also the “always online single-player” was pretty off putting. It still is. I guess the $20 price tag for the base game made the decision a little easier.

As I played, my “first impressions” post grew into a mini-review, which grew into a full review, which then expanded into analysis, which made me think that maybe this isn’t the kind of thing I ought to dash out over the space of a day and a half. That’s probably for the best anyway. Making something thoughtful and analytical is usually better than just blurting out the first 1,000 words that come charging out of the atavistic crevices of my brain. But this does leave me without a post for today.

So let me ask a question that’s pretty much always on my mind: What are you folks playing these days?

I don’t mean “what mobile game are you using to kill time while waiting for the bus”. I mean what game is really consuming your thoughts and attention in your free time? Or if you don’t have enough free time, what game would you spend it on if you did? Old stuff? New stuff? AAA stuff? Indies? Platformers? Shooters? Shooters? Visual novels? Is all of the time going into one title or are you splitting your attention between multiple games? There’s a really big world of games out there these days.

For me:

Primary: I’ve been playing the new 0.15 update for Factorio. It’s a pretty big improvement across the board, but after several hours I’ve only just begun to get a feel for the new content.

Secondary: I’ve also been playing Diablo III. I can’t decide if this is the best terrible game I’ve ever played, or the worst awesome game I’ve ever played. Nothing is an accident here. Blizzard made exactly the game they wanted to. But the game they wanted to make keeps deviating from the game I expect in strange ways.

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  1. Durican says:

    I’ve been playing Dragon’s Crown after finding I downloaded it on my PS3 years ago before it got removed from the online store. I initially dismissed it as a very shallow experience, but after giving it a proper go I fell in love with the gameplay and affectionate satirical approach to high fantasy.

    Also been playing the recent HD remake of Wonderboy: The Dragon’s Trap. I loved that game as a kid, and the Calvin & Hobbes art style is so charming it won me over the instant I saw the trailer.

    • Christopher says:

      Dragon’s Crown is a really cool game, and certainly my favorite Vanillaware has made. I only picked it up last year I think, and it was still fun. Who are you playing as? I’ve mostly been playing Amazon, who’s quick and mashy enough for my style.

      (I wish it was a bit easier to change between characters. As far as I know the only way is to start another one at level 1, and the game is repetetive enough without playing through the progression with every character.)

      • Durican says:

        I’ve got a level 106 Amazon repeatedly throwing at the Infernal difficulty Ancient Dragon to kill it within 4 minutes. The only games I ever bother to do the achievements for are ones I genuinely enjoy the gameplay and the challenge of, and Dragon’s Crown definitely qualifies. I’ve deliberately built up my Amazon as a glass cannon doing as much damage as possible as quickly as possible, while dying very easily if I get sloppy. Suits me fine.

        I remember being first annoyed about the replay-dungeons-repeatedly mechanics, but found that chaining rewards across multiple dungeons and setting up equipment beforehand really recreates the feel of old-school dungeon diving for me, and scratches an itch I’d forgotten I had.

        • Christopher says:

          Nice! I didn’t get as deep in as you did(I think I got my Amazon through normal, and then I had to wipe my PS3 and got most of the way through Hard before I’d kinda had enough), but I feel the same way. It’s a game that just feels great to play, and while I can’t exactly defend repeating 9 levels or so on a logical level, I didn’t mind for the longest time playing that game.

      • Darren says:

        Have you played the Odin Sphere remake? I’d put it above Dragon’s Crown in Vanillaware’s library.

        • Christopher says:

          Only tried the demo! I played through a bit of the original back in the day, but it wasn’t all that much fun to play. The improvements they made were apparent even in the demo, though. I look forward to eventually playing through it.

        • Grampy_bone says:

          I tend to agree. Odin Sphere’s story is quite well-put together, the remake irons out all the framerate and grinding issues.

          Why did they remove Dragon’s Crown from the store?

          • Christopher says:

            The removal of Dragon’s Crown from the European PSN was part of NIS America’s and Atlus’s mutual agreement on this title. We are happy to announce that Dragon’s Crown will be available directly from Atlus in Europe through PSN.

            I didn’t know about this until right now, but apparently it was terminated because Atlus and NIS America broke off their publishing partnership. I guess they still haven’t done anything about it? The articles I found were from June 2016.

  2. CliveHowlitzer says:

    Oddly enough, I am still trucking through Mass Effect: Andromeda. Even though I have 56 hours in the game, I am still not sure how to feel about it. I am certainly more merciful on it than most but I still can’t decide.

    That and I am somehow still playing Overwatch. A game that every time I play it, I remind myself what a poorly made piece of crap it is but yet I still seem to enjoy playing it with my group of friends every time I do. Go figure.

    Lastly, I picked up the 2 expansions for Age of Wonder 3 to give it a whirl. All it is doing is making me want to play Heroes of Might and Magic 3 though.

    • Durican says:

      I’m really on the fence about picking up Andromeda. What would you say is the high point of the game for you personally?

      • ehlijen says:

        On the fence is pretty much the phrase. The gameplay is good-ish. The shooting works, the car is reasonably fun to drive, you have the usual eclectic group of companions that feel alive and are bound to include one you like. On the other hand, unskippable travel cutscenes are bad (I’m told a patch removed them later?) and the power menu is more convoluted.

        The story is good-ish. There are clear themes of where we come from, where we’re going and how we connect the two, but the actual plot seems…not that deep? And the details of the premise are poorly conveyed. A lot of the plot elements also feel underxamined.

        The polish is strangely mixed. From bad lines and freaky faces to very nice environment effects there is every level of quality present.

        It’s certainly enjoyable, and at times it feels like ME1 again. Sadly not always, though.

      • My opinion of Andromeda is “meh, it’s ok”.
        It’s not as good as ME1 + the companion quests in ME2 + the first 99% of ME3.
        Andromeda suffer some of that MMOitis that Dragon Age Inquisition had.

        Also very (super-mild) spoiler not related to the main story or nor the companion quests. Regarding reaching 100% viability for all planets you just get what amount to little more than a voicemail with cheering, and if you get 100% viability before you have progressed far enough in the main story then you hear mention of places in the voicemail cheering that you haven’t been to yet.

        I would not be surprised if there is a lot of stuff on the cutting room floor in addition to it being rush. There should still be more patches coming out (as promised by BioWare) over the next month. That should fix all launch issues.

        I’m not entirely certain, but the studio/team behind Andromeda was not the same as the one behind ME3. So new engine new team. In that respect they did well but lacked experience with the franchise and the engine. And the facial/human animation stuff was rumoured to be handled by a studio in Romania with little to no oversight/QA, artists at BioWare that wanted to do touchups was told to not waste the time on doing so/was not allowed to.

        I can only hope that EA and BioWare learns from this, or the sequel to Andromeda (the game has a proper end but does lay the groundwork for a sequel) may end up with similar launch issues.

        Is it me or are more and more game issues these days caused by upper management (aka the suits, or investors) than the actual workers that roll up their sleeves?
        One would think investors would want the best quality as that would give the best return overall (and be a “safe bet”).

      • LapnLook says:

        The combat is great fun, the driving feels good, and the story is a nice, albeit mostly low-key tale. The game raises a lot of interesting questions about the universe that have me hooked for the eventual DLC and sequels, which is more than what ME3 left us with. And I honestly love the Tempest crew, they are awesome and anything involving them is easily the best part of the game. In general the writing felt like there was a lot of heart to it, especially the final few hours when they pull of that element of comradery the the third game needed.

        On the other hand, the game is chock-full of bullshit on all levels. What little story structure there was has been completely eradicated by an abundance of terrible filler content, time-wasting travel, and game breaking bugs that take you out of the immersion. Sometimes you can go for hours on end without hitting any actual plot. The task missions just have an initial hook ranging from meh to good, but almost none of them go anywhere. On top of all that, the game suffers from a lack of mechanical cohesion: it feels like BioWare tried to cram in way too many different gameplay systems that just don’t compliment each other, and their only purpose seems to be to keep you “engaged” (read: waste more of your time).

        This is a game that would seriously benefit having a fan edit that CUTS content. So the opposite of KOTOR 2

    • Mortuorum says:

      I’m still working my way through Andromeda and don’t really have much to say that hasn’t already been said. Bioware has completed the transition of Mass Effect from hard RPG to Shooter with RPG elements. They’re trying a little too hard with the NPCs, particularly your party members. Most of them don’t really appeal to me, honestly. I would like to point out that visually the game is a huge step up from what we’ve seen before. Each world has a unique palette and outdoor environments are vibrant (mostly).

      One big surprise to me has been multiplayer. I didn’t think I’d spend much time on it, but it’s been surprisingly fun. In-game rewards are nice, but not overwhelming. Progression is much slower than in ME3’s multiplayer – probably too slow, particularly given that matches are individually longer than ME3 matches were. Latency and dropped matches have been a problem for me as well.

      In response to Durican’s question, the high point is the ability to customize your protagonist (Ryder). As always, male and female options are available and appearance is highly customizable. Instead of being locked down to one of six classes, you can mix and match powers from each of three broad categories: combat, tech and biotics (essentially space magic). It allows you to create a character that’s uniquely yours, although the design decision to only allow the player to have three active powers available at any given time can be frustrating.

  3. Wolf says:

    Don’t Starve Together
    Just light enough planning so as to not daunt me and prevent me from starting (as opposed to factorio), just skinner-boxy enough to keep me playing and just ocd-triggering enough to keep me from actually finishing my plans and moving on to a different game.

    • Echo Tango says:

      Have they made any big changes to combat recently? I stopped playing a year or two ago, when I realized that I had other less-frustrating games to play, and I really hated Don’t Starve’s stunlock-or-be-stunlocked combat. (I still really like the crafting, which is part of what I get from Factorio.)

  4. lucky7 says:

    Crusader Kings 2. Most Grand Strategy games have too much numerical complexity, but the character focus of CK2 really helps improve the experience for me.

    I’ve also been playing a lot of Rimworld: once again, the character focus and high level of detail really helps me enjoy the game, even though I’m terrible at it.

    • Crusader Kings 2 started consuming my life about 2 months ago…I am now an empty husk, unable to think about picking up a different game…send help.

    • Paul says:

      In a similar vein, Stellaris. Must go conquer universe.

      • Robyrt says:

        Yep – I’ve really been enjoying the Utopia expansion. I’ve genetically engineered my entire species to be psychic, and every 20 years I round up their non-mutant children and alter their DNA too. The other species in my theocracy are seething with envy, but there’s no way they’re winning an election against a voting bloc of telepaths.

        • Jon says:

          I’m still trying to figure out how to set up a game so that Megastructures are relevant before you’ve already won.

        • John Parks says:

          The Utopia expansion (with its Hive Mind addition) is what finally pulled me into Stellaris, and I’ve been living and breathing it ever since! It’s been a while since a 4x really caught me like this one has.

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          I just got Stellaris from Humble Monthly and while I know this is my kind of game all the good stuff I hear about the DLC is actually what prevents me from playing since I can’t really fit it into what little spending money I have at the moment.

    • Jon says:

      I tend to rotate between CK2, EU4 and Stellaris. But, somehow, the character focus in CK2 makes it much more interesting than the others. It’s so much fun to do something laughably ahistoric.

      (In my last run, I started as Alfred of Wessex and eventually restored the original Roman Empire boundaries – without using the overpowered Imperial Reconquest CB. In my current run, I’m the Norse(!) Zunist(!) emperor of Rajastan (NW India). I also have fond memories of the “Holy Romuvan Empire” (de jure Wendish Empire) I made several patches ago.)

    • Philadelphus says:

      I got Stellaris when Utopia hit last month and have been absolutely loving it, but just got back into Europa Universalis IV this week and am remembering why starting to play it on a week night is a bad idea for me. I also picked up Hearts of Iron IV last month when it was on sale and need to get back into that, and someday I hope to get back to Crusader Kings II that’s sitting forlornly in my account…just can’t seem to get into it, despite really wanting to.

      Also a lot of Team Fortress 2 at the moment, which I tend to play in cycles of a few months on and off.

    • Malimar says:

      I’ve been spending half my time playing Crusader Kings 2 and the other half modding it.

    • Mistwraithe says:

      Ditto to the various other comments here. In theory one doesn’t need any other games, ever, once one finds CK2, EU4, HoI4 and Stellaris (possibly Vic2 as well but that never gripped me as much).

  5. Daimbert says:

    Persona 5. I finished my first playthrough at just under 80 hours, and now am doing NG+ because I only finished three S-links the first time around, and none of those were with my actual teammates. I also really want to do the romance part with Makoto.

    After that … I don’t know. A friend of mine has been waxing eloquently about “Gat Out of Hell” and recommends that I play Saints Row the Third first, so I might do that.

    • Christopher says:

      Persona 5 has been taking up my time for the last month too. I was a good bit slower, and clocked in at 123 hours and 33 minutes. On the plus side, I managed to max out every confidant save four(Devil, Fortune, Hanged Man and Tower). I romanced Ann, which was a bit of a mistake. She’s hot and she’s pleasant, but I’d lie if I said she was riveting conversation. I might go Makoto or Futaba if I run through it another time.

      I think it’s an absolutely wonderful game, an improvement on Persona 4 in almost every way. However, it’s definitely not for everyone, and I can’t imagine anyone who didn’t like Persona 4 get into it because of the changes they made. My main cokplaint is that P5 doesn’t take the same joy Persona 4 did in just having the characters partake in cross-dressing pageants, getting drunk on in a club or camping trips. What I loved about Persona 4 were the friends we made along the way, and that’s not the main theme this time around. P5 is way more focused on the social reform the Phantom Thieves are doing.

      Besides that, I just started playing Horizon Zero Dawn. I was really surprised by how Bioware the storytelling is, what with all the conversation trees. I thought it was gonna be all robot dinosaurs all the time, but I guess you don’t hire that Fallout New Vegas writer if all you’re gonna do is have him write robot whirrs and roars. I actually like all the characters and feel invested in the world, and it’s helped a lot by the higher-than-Bioware production values and the unique combat system and setting. I’m only 8 hours or so in, so who knows, but so far I’m very engaged.

      Finally, Nier Automata is in the mail, so I hope that’s cool.

      • Daimbert says:

        I’d be tempted to romance both Makoto and Futaba this run since you can still have multiple romances with little consequence — there’s a Valentine’s Day scene where you pay but don’t really lose anything — but I can’t bring myself to have that sort of scene with Futaba, given her history, and really DO want to focus on Makoto this run. And I see what you mean about Ann.

        As for the comparisons to the previous games, I agree with you that it doesn’t have the charm of the previous games. Even “Operation Babe Hunt” seems perfunctory compared to what it was in the previous games. So I’m not sure that I like the game better than the previous ones, especially considering how dark it is overall. But it’s definitely a game worth playing at least twice.

        • Christopher says:

          I know about the Valentine’s scene, and I think Futaba would be the only one I’d feel terrible about in that situation.

        • Thomas says:

          I don’t think any of the romances are going to be great. They all take place on the 9th social link which means they boil down to like 10 sentences.

          I’m 100 hours into Persona 5 and still going. On the one hand I’m enjoying, its fantastically put together, on the other hand I hate sinking so much time into a single playthrough of a game :(

      • Writiosity says:

        Eh, it’s a regression in every way for me. P4G is one of my top 3 games of all time though so it’s not likely 5 was going to topple it. Still great, despite some of the issues.

        edit: except the dungeons, those are a definite improvement over 4, but since the dungeons are the thing I’m least interested in I’m not too fussed either way :)

      • Geebs says:

        Nier Automata is pretty darn good although Horizon is so incredibly polished that you may find that Nier feels a bit of a let down in comparison.

        One thing to bear in mind is that if you go into Nier expecting Platinum combat as per Bayonetta or Metal Gear Rising, you might well be a bit disappointed. The combat in Nier is OK, but very shallow. It’s made up for by a bunch of other systems, though.

        • Christopher says:

          I was thankfully warned about Nier’s combat, so I’m not expecting much of it in that department, though it is a bit of a shame considering Platinum’s pedigree. I might try and go for Nioh later in the year to get my combat fix. All I’ve heard about that game is how the combat is an awesome improvement on Souls-style combat(and the demos certainly gave that impression), but not much else in it is worth writing home about.

          I’ve actually been feeling Horizon is a step down from Persona 5, polish wise. Some of it is that the Persona team have done that style of game for three games now, and added more and more stuff, while keeping it all to a simple and cool artstyle. Horizon very much does the Bioware game thing where they’re trying to go for realistic people in a cinematic/movie-like style, but as much better as they are at it than Dragon Age Inquisition, they’re nowhere near having people who are actually looking real. The weirdest stuff to me is how the camera sometimes zooms closer in on people’s faces during conversation. Not for any important emphasis, it just feels like a jumpcut to another take. I might prefer the anime faces to that stuff until we finally reach Actual Realism in the year 2045.

          The world in Horizon is stunning, though. I’ve seen some videos of Nier Automata(like the spoiler warning hangout), and there’s no comparison that don’t involve Nier looking like a game from several generations ago compared to what Horizon’s put out. It’s also entirely possible that Nier’s shooting and basic combos are gonna get old for me before Aloy’s bows. Time will show, I guess. I’m excited to see where Nier’s story goes, because it’s the kind of thing folks are talking excitedly about in a “I can’t tell you anything without spoiling everything” kind of way.

    • Viktor says:

      SR3 is one of my top 5 games ever. The characters are great and the writing is actually funny. It’s really easy to pick up and play, too. Definitely try that.

      • Cubic says:

        The later Saints Row games (Third and onward) were great fun, at least if you love GTA like I do. They were all … pretty different from each other too.

        • Christopher says:

          Yep. I don’t know about Gat out of Hell, but Saints Row the Third is a great game and I thought 4 was good too. They’re very silly, but they have a sense of humor I actually think is largely funny and not grating. And in the same sense of Persona, they were good at making me like my teammates.

          • ThaneofFife says:

            Gat Out of Hell really perfects the superpowers from Saints Row IV. It’s only a 5-10 hour game, and is the weakest of the Saints Row games overall, but Gat has the best implementation of flight I’ve ever seen in any video game–unlike the gliding from SR4. Oh, and you should play as Kinsey, since she’s far more interesting than Gat. The unexpected musical number between Satan and his daughter during the cutscene was pretty funny too, but you can just YouTube that.

            Minor spoilers for the ending of Gat Out of Hell: The entire continuity of the Saints Row universe gets reset at the end of the game, when God remakes Earth and brings back everyone who died in SR4 at Gat’s request. There are other “wishes” you can ask God for instead, but this appears to be the canonical one.

      • ThaneofFife says:

        I replayed Saints Row III last year, and loved it even more than I had remembered. The first time I played through, I went with a character that looked like me and the British male voice (the best of the male voices, IMO).

        The second time, I played through with a blue-skinned, purple-haired alien woman with a Russian voice, and absolutely made the game better than it had been. The female Russian voice is hands-down the funniest voice in the game–mixing deadpan delivery with completely outrageous statements. She made every single scene better.

        So, of course, I immediately started playing Saints Row IV, wanting to use the female Russian voice again. No dice. They replaced it with a female French voice. She has a similar personality, but it’s just not as funny as the Russian.

    • Syal says:

      As someone incredibly late to the party, I’m currently on my first New Game+ run of Persona 3. I like it about the same as Persona 4, they have roughly equal tradeoffs from each other. 3’s final boss feels like it fits more than 4’s but is also mechanically more crap (14 forms, plus regularly turns itself invincible, plus when it got to a sliver of health it charmed my healer who cast Full Heal on it and effectively restarted the fight).

      Otherwise I’m playing Shining Force 2 out of childhood nostalgia and desire for a turn-based tactics game. There’s something satisfying about one-round combat that has its own battle screen, and I like the concept of needing to stop moving to attack, but there’s annoying item hunts and the dialogue is quite bad, and sometimes they put load-bearing enemies in battles without telling you, and sometimes they put enemies that look load-bearing but aren’t.

      Recently bought Shadow of Mordor and Arkham City, it’s possible my computer will be able to run one of them. Otherwise I’ll probably try to play Momodora: RutM afterward.

    • krellen says:

      Gat Out of Hell was better before Gat made it not a musical.

  6. ZzzzSleep says:

    Puddling through Assassin’s Creed : Black Flag, and have just started Terraria…

  7. Fizban says:

    I’d kinda like to replay Dragon Warrior 3, but my GBC is dimmer and creakier than I remember and the sound has some issues via emulator. Before that I was set to replaying Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age, but I didn’t quite get through the first one. Before that was Dark Souls 3 DLCs and Total War: Warhammer, before that I still haven’t got back to finishing Pokemon Moon, and before that I still haven’t got back to do the third arc of Fire Emblem: Fates.

    But Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky 3rd Chapter is finally out so there’s a good chance I’ll play that before the rest.

  8. Rob says:

    I’ve been playing (and making mods for) a niche indie game called Starsector. It’s kind of hard to describe. I’d call it a weird mix of Mechwarrior’s combat system and Space Pirates and Zombies’ top-down design, with a dash of Mount & Blade for the campaign layer.

    The combat system’s amongst the best I’ve ever played. I purchased it out of disappointment at how arcadey SPAZ was, and it far exceeded my expectations. It’s slower and more simulationist than SPAZ, with a ton of depth and complexity that that game lacked. If you like to see huge lumbering capital ships duke it out while escort frigates dart between them, check it out.

    The game also has a surprisingly active modding community for an in-development indie game (though most mods are currently broken due to a massive game update that came out a few weeks ago). A lot of the mods meet or exceed the base game’s quality, and some of the mod ships are ridiculously good looking.

    • Echo Tango says:

      That’s pretty sweet-looking! Thanks!

    • Steve Online says:

      I’m in on this too. A shame the modding API is borked, the update can’t get out soon enough!

    • Paublo4 says:

      I was just thinking of this game last week, remembering I bought a key for it back in 2012. I figured the game was dead since I hadn’t heard about it since then. Looks like they changed the name (was Starfarer back when I played it.) Thank you for the link to the website and for jogging my memory; took me ten minutes of digging through old emails just to get my activation code which still worked, to my surprise.

      I remember having a lot of fun with this game but being remarkably bad at the combat. Definitely going to check out the changes since 2012 and these mods. I’m surprised this game is still around; I took the fact that it never appeared on steam to mean it was abandoned by the devs. Glad to see that’s not the case because even in 2012 the combat mechanics were really deep and engaging.

      • Rob says:

        The dev has said he won’t put the game on Steam until it’s ready. He’s a bit of a perfectionist so it can be a really long time between updates (the most recent took over a year to come out), and I doubt Steam users would tolerate that. On the plus side each release is polished and relatively free of game-breaking bugs, and usually contains several pages worth of changes.

        2012, huh? You’re in for a ton of surprises then. That predates most of the campaign layer, and combat’s had several major changes since then. Just wait until you meet the updated Onslaught (now with built-in BFGs!) or Paragon (now 50% more invincible!), or accidently let an Omen frigate (previously a running joke amongst the community for how weak it was) get behind you and use its EMP ship system.

        And everyone’s bad at combat at first; just keep practicing! There’s an overwhelming amount of combat mechanics to learn, some of which can require entire guides to explain the intricacies of. Luckily one of the changes since 2012 is a set of tutorials. :)

  9. Da Mage says:

    Fallout 4 for long sessions. The gameplay loop and settlement building is just so addictive, I jjust can’t seem to put it down.

    But Rocket League when I have 10mins and just want a quick game.

    Diablo 3 had a terrible launch, but after they scrapped the real money auction house it improved a lot. They added so much more that was lacking after that, and when the necromancer DLC comes out I plan to jump back in again for a bit.

    • Writiosity says:

      Fallout 4? HERESY!

      … is what I’d like to say, but I do get what you mean, building settlements is the primary reason I have some 330 hours in the game heh.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        This should be true for me, but the fact that I can’t dispose of the bodies at the co-op just ruins the whole thing for me, and I couldn’t keep playing it.

        • Writiosity says:

          There are mods for deleting corpses. I use uh… what’s it called, Spring Cleaning I think? Lets you delete corpses, all the various junk, bushes, and other things you can’t get rid of in the base game. Couldn’t be without that now.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I’m actually replaying F:New Vegas right now, on increased difficulty and with a couple mods to the mechanics.

      • ThaneofFife says:

        In the last 6 months, I beat Fallout: New Vegas (did the House wins ending), and went back in hardcore mode with a new melee & explosives focused character to play all of the DLC I missed the first time. So far, I’ve only done the Big Empty and the Treasure of the Sierra Madre (which felt a lot like the first two Bioshock games).

        I started playing Honest Hearts, but 2hrs in, I had a game-breaking glitch where my companion died for no apparent reason and the game autosaved as it was happening. So, now I have to replay the first two hours of Honest Hearts, which I’m refusing to do for a while. The story in Honest Hearts seems pretty interesting, though!

        • Writiosity says:

          If you see this reply: MAKE SURE YOU FIND ALL OF THE SURVIVALIST CACHES! Seriously, the terminal entries are the best part of the DLC, and one of the best Fallout stories ever told. Dark, harrowing, compelling. Seriously, don’t miss ’em.

  10. Zekiel says:

    Having laboured with a new-in-2010 PC for several years, I’ve just got a PS4, thus opening up an exciting array of AAA games from the last few years that my PC wasn’t good enough to run.

    So I’ve recently completed Wolfenstein: The New Order which I thought was absolutely amazing [for what it is]. Now I’m about to delve into Arkham Knight.

    Also just played Kentucky Route Zero Act IV which is also fantastic and made me feel all melancholy and awed as usual.

  11. General Karthos says:

    Mostly, I’m playing the new content in Crusader Kings II.

    I’ve actually purchased and downloaded Civilization VI, but I haven’t played it yet while I consider (yet again) having buyer’s remorse. Having gotten it at 33% off, I actually paid less for the base game and all the expansions (plus the soundtrack) plus the next couple of expansions free, than I would have for just the base game when it wasn’t on sale.

    That said, a lot of negative reviews that aren’t just complaining about the amount, depth, and price of the DLC) has me wary.

    So I’m oscillating on that.

    And I’m also playing Master of Orion II, when the mood strikes. Trying to work my way back to winning half the time on “Impossible” difficulty. It’s NOT like riding a bike.

    • Jon says:

      My recollection of MOOII is that the cheesy way to win on Impossible was as a custom race with Creative and the Psilon picture. As long as you don’t get very unlucky very early in the game, you out-tech everyone else pretty quickly.

      • Miguk says:

        Exactly. Creative is so op that I never pick it anymore. I also find that choosing which tech to research is one of the more interesting decisions in the game.

      • General Karthos says:

        I should specify, winning on Impossible half the time as a species with no advantages and human portrait for 200% score. If I play as creative, I win every time, regardless of the difficulty. (If you get the leader who brings the “Autolab” tech to you, especially early on, you also win every time, since he has researcher, IIRC, and every autolab you construct is 30 RP per turn. Also, if you spawn near the Silicoids, and conquer them early, then you can have awesome industrialized planets that churn out battleships and titans even faster than the [suuuuuuper cheating] computer can.)

      • David says:

        My favorite build was creative unification and telepathic. Once you got a medium sized ship with 2 mirv nukes you could take out a starbase … each time I had a ship on an enemy colony it was mind controlled that turn.

        By the time you reach enemies that are strong enough to resist your initial cheese tactic you have so many planets that it doesn’t matter (plus if they capture one of your colonies you just take theirs that is no longer defended since they sent their ships to you). It sounds crazy but its awesome when you instantly mind control a planet and they immediately get the unification bonus (no low morale for captured population, and +50% industry and farming).

        Even more fun is to take your mind-controlled population and exploit their racial bonuses (like sending subterranean folks to your planets to double your planet sizes…)

    • DeadlyDark says:

      I wish I had time and passion for grand strategy games. I know how awesome they are, but I’m still ended up playing more action-y stuff. I play occasionally Civilization*. But i try not to do it too often. It’s my gaming kryptonite, and if I start playing Civ, I just lost for the world. Too immersive.

      *Bought the 6, played once on big map after release. It was enjoyable.

  12. kikito says:

    I have been playing Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead. A post apocalyptic roguelike with lots of complexity and broken systems. Very complex, very addictive, but with a steep learning curve.

    My last character is a Cyber-athlete whose implants gave her great strength, which goes well with the fire axe she uses as main weapon. Unfortunately one of her legs was broken by a zombie on the early days. It has taken her a while to find a first aid book to build a splint for the leg, but now it can finally start healing. In the meantime she has learned some mechanics, and cannibalized one electric SUV’s solar panels and battery to make a second SUV work. She’s also very prone to losing her pants to zombie attacks (I need to find a book on tailoring to start reinforcing my clothes).

    • Leocruta says:

      For me, the hardest part about getting into C:DDA was having to disassociate the ASCII tiles from what they represented in Dwarf Fortress. That took a while.

      The first few runs I tried playing a sleeper assassin, figuring the electroblade would be useful. Those characters tended to die quickly. Right now (though I haven’t played for months) I’ve got a metal-head martial artist who’s doing quite well. He found a couple of atomic-powered lamps, so at night he turns on his music (for the mood boost) and reads a book from the collection he’s amassed from looting bookstores.

  13. Zak McKracken says:

    First:
    Shadowrun Hong Kong. Love it so far, but haven’t got too much time to spend.
    I can see why they changed the matrix system after Dragonfall but I don’t like that real-life dexterity and timing are now required. I’m not doing too bad in it but it’s still a break with the rest of the game (round-based strategy fights and realtime walky-talky segments). Also, I lost a teammate because I did not how some some of the new mechanics work (and they had not been explained).

    Second:
    Starcraft II, Heart of the Swarm (first expansion). Would love to play it a lot but little time, and my preferred mode is 2v2 or 3v3 (friends against strangers), and my usual co-players have either no time or no taste for PvP any more, and random 2v2 is weird. Thinking about trying 1v1 but afraid it might be a lot more stress than 2v2 …
    I’ve tried LotV (second expansion) but I have don’t have enough time to play to get up to speed with the new units, and the more micro-focused gameplay is really hard on me.

    • Redrock says:

      I got the impression that the real time mechanics were added in there to account for the possibility of low decking skills and ESP control. Gives you a way to get through a hacking session through sheer luck/speed, even though it does seem to encourage a bunch of quickloading. Also makes the Matrix gameplay feel a bit different from meatspace, which is nice. All in all, not the greatest decision, but a reasonable compromise, I think.

      • Zak McKracken says:

        Yeah, I can totally see why they changed the gameplay.
        The alarm system makes a lot more sense now (that was a bit opaque in Dragonfall), and while you have all the time to prepare for the running-between-enemies, it’s still annoying that you have to execute your moves in realtime, and the lock-hacking mechanics (whose existence I applaud, otherwise!) are not just on a timer but require visual short-term memory, quick typing and paying attention to stuff that happens fast. I bet there are people who prefer round-based strategy precisely for the absence of those things. I’m personally okay with it but it seems like something that belongs in another game.
        Also, on my first matrix visit I hadn’t grasped the concept yet, and I don’t think you can get through the later missions by just fighting whatever is in your way. You’ll have to get at least some of the real-time components right.

        I do like that I can now draw weapons and trigger round-based fight mode myself, although I feel like that should always be allowed, not just in some pre-scripted situations. There are still fights that you can see coming for a mile, but you have to walk up to the enemy and trigger the dialogue that starts the fight. I always wished in Dragonfall that I could get my people in position, with combat spells ready and on overwatch before I open a door to a room that I know has enemies. Rather, they’re always standing around in a rather random fashion. I kind-of get that allowing this always might also feel some players obliged to do it for every single door, so I guess there always has to be a limit to this ability. But at least they could have allowed it for more situations.

    • John says:

      I didn’t like the changes to decking in Hong Kong either. I’ve learned to live with them, though. The key, I found, was that you don’t have to be moving in the real-time segments. You can take all the time you want to observe enemy patterns and identify safe spaces. I find that I do much better when I have a carefully considered plan. One thing that surprised me about the game is that the NPC decker was actually really good, much better, in fact, than my character.

      • djw says:

        Her personal mission is hilarious.

        • Sebastian says:

          It was the one at that tech con right? That was really hilarious, but also kinda hard if you wanted to get through it without fighting. I head several reloads. But yeah, fun.
          The main story was much worse than Dragonfall though. If you wanted to get most of it, you had to talk to every NPC at the docks after each bigger mission. Otherwise you don’t really get what’s going on until the very end (and even then I was quite disappointed).

          • Sleeping Dragon says:

            I will agree that the story wasn’t as good as Dragonfall but I think it made up for it with the Hong Kong setting. Aslo, why wouldn’t you talk to everyone between every mission?

          • Zak McKracken says:

            I’m not very far into the story yet but I’ve had a few situations where I was missing options to act in certain ways.
            For example,. when they execute the informant early in the story, I did not have any way to say that I disliked the treatment he got, or even act in any way that seemed uncomfortable with it. And I’ve missed a few conversation options that seemed off-topic at the moment, then were gone when I wanted to get back to them later.

            I did like that the game gives me options to fill in bits of my own backstory. It’s rudimentary but about as good as you can make it for such a story. They had a little of that in Dragonfall but now it’s expanded, and that’s a good thing.

  14. Ivan says:

    I am also playing Factorio 0.15. Only discovered it had been released today. I had been waiting for this release cos I heard that high-end research was no longer dependent on Alien Artifacts, as I had been unsatisfied by that aspect of the game until now. Literally watching my starting furnace churn out iron plate atm, so no real thoughts to express yet.

    • Echo Tango says:

      I really like the update, since I was using mods to get many of the things that are now in the base game. Stuff like:
      – on the map, hover your mouse over an ore patch to instantly know the total amount in the patch
      – train-world settings (still not quite the same as the RSO mod, but if you tweak the new settings, it’s basically the same, as far as I can tell)
      – science overhaul
      – bigger stack size on belts, ammo, and…some other stuff?
      – train stops can be disabled by signals, so trains skip over them, or go to another one with the same name (useful for using a single train to pull from multiple slow ore mines, or similar situations)
      – can put all fluids in barrels and tanks
      – nuclear power plants
      and many more!

    • LCF says:

      I threw some more hours in the Factorio furnace too.
      A lot of the new things are good, but I feel a bit misled on nuclear. I read it was some mid-game energy, to get before sun panels, while it’s some late-gate (very-late-game) energy source.
      Because of the price inflation, I am likely to succumb to the biters. Things are still in control, but attacks are getting more frequent and the beasts are growing bigger. Seriously, getting that Blue Science (and now getting Yellow Science) is plain murder. I’d say the transition to Blue was harder than the transition to Yellow.

      Beside that, I reinstalled Dark Crusade, got War Thunder up-to-date (War Thunder Best Thunder) (Victory Day event with the BM-8-24 is FUN) and keep playing Heroes and Generals (get the silent medal, have an assault rifle or sub-machine gun, flank camper, enjoy).

      • Shamus says:

        I have the same complaint about nuke power. It comes SO late in the game that it doesn’t really solve your power problems. Even if I know to start refining ahead of time and even if I focus on nuke tech, by the time I actually get nuke power I’ll be close to the end game and I’ll already have huge fields of steam engine based power. The steam infrastructure is already built and the pollution damage is already done. It’s nice that at that point I can STOP building steam arrays, but I don’t think that’s anywhere NEAR worth the extreme time and resource cost of nuke power.

        So now nuke power seems like a fun toy that doesn’t really change the game all that much.

  15. Redrock says:

    In preparation for the new season of Twin Peaks I’ve decided to bite the bullet and finally play Deadly Premonition. I’m playing the Director’s Cut on the PC, so technically speaking it’s a nightmare. Numerous crashes, freezes and one deadly instance of a corrupt savefile at about 25% completion. I actually had to find some archived save files placed on the Internet by some kind soul to be able to progress.

    That said – completely worth it! The story is fantastic in its own bizzare and quirky way. FBI special agent Francis York Morgan instantly became one of my very favorite video game protagonists ever. The free roaming structure and real-time NPC schedule is pretty neat and really adds to the immersion. There is also that very special sense of the game really respecting and constantly acknowledging the player – something of a running theme for a particular subset of Japanese video game auteurs like Hideo Kojima and Yoko Taro. Agent York in particular has a rather peculiar way of interacting with, essentially, you, the player, although to say any more would be to spoil it.

    All in all, a completely unique experience which stays in my thoughts even when I’m not playing it. Even though some of these thoughts run along the lines of “I wonder what I could fiddle with to make it more stable”.

    • Christopher says:

      It’s a shame about the technical issues on the PC port, but I’m with you, Deadly Premonition is really endearing. Francis York Morgan especially.

      • Redrock says:

        Well, as far as I know, there is actually no good way to play Deadly Premonition – the PS3 Director’s cut version has terrible frame rates and the Xbox 360 original version puts much more emphasis on the combat (which sucks) and lacks some of the story elements. So I’ll take what I can get :) Maybe the technnical issues are all part of the charm here.

        Also, when it actually runs on the PC, it runs at a stable 60fps, which is pretty nice.

        • Christopher says:

          Do you have any options to skip/make the combat easier in the rereleases? The 360 one is the only one I’ve played, and the combat sections are definitely the worst part of that game. I’d play with a friend and we took turns just to alleviate the tedium.

          • Redrock says:

            The combat in the Director’s Cut is very easy by default with no difficulty options. Melee weapons take one or two hits to kill an enemy on average, guns are relatively weaker, but an smg tends to do the trick. The best way to play the game is to get the infinite wrench as soon as possible from completing an early series of sidequests, and after that you can basically go through the whole game running around and hitting zombies with the wrench, killing them with a single blow in many cases. Since you can move while aiming a melee weapon, the combat gameplay ends up feeling a bit more dynamic and is generally a breeze.

            I do advise to also complete the “Spiritual Maps” A and B sidequests for the infinite SMG and Shotgun, which can be useful for the wall-crawlers and the latter bosses, but it’s not really necessary, since you’ll be mostly meleeing and thus accumulating vast amounts of ammo for the regular guns.

            Seems to me, the guys doing the Director’s Cut more or less realised that combat sucks and tried to make it as little of a nuisance as they could. I think that in the end the Otherworld sections actually work – they provide a sense of horror and drama, but don’t actually slow you down all that much.

            • Christopher says:

              I remember going for the infinite SMG on my own run, but I wish I’d done one for a melee weapon too. A steel pipe would reliably do in a regular enemy in one or two hits on the 360 too, but at that point the things just broke. I’m glad they rebalanced the combat so that it was less of a chore. As far as I recall, the combat was a late addition to the game that the publishers asked them to put in so it would hold more of an appeal in a Western market, and it sure feels that way.

        • PhoenixUltima says:

          I got the PS3 version for free through PS + a while back, so I gave it a whirl. And while I truly like the story and the quirky atmosphere, the actual gameplay is a joyless, soul-crushing, never-ending slog. And I’m very much a “gameplay first” kind of gamer, so I sadly had to give Deadly Premonition the boot.

      • Writiosity says:

        MY MILK GAVE ME A SIGN.

        I’m actually planning a fiction work of my own that takes some inspiration from Twin Peaks (and Persona, and Alundra, plus obviously my own original stuff). That show still holds up, rewatched a few weeks back and got the itch to do something similar.

  16. Groboclown says:

    I was paying Hand of Fate. The collectable card aspect s a really neat way to tell a story. However the combat is so frustrating that I think I’ve had enough.

    Factorio 0.15 is also on my plate. The game setup options are a big improvement, and the research tree vastly changes the factory layouts. It took me a little while to figure out why my boilers weren’t heating water, but then.I noticed the graphic had an extra pipe, and that’s where the steam is produced. Interesting.

    And of course I’m still playing Dwarf Fortress.

  17. Christopher says:

    I wonder if there’s a gene that decides whether the skinner box approach suckers you in and gives you a nice feeling of progress, or if you look at all that colored loot and your shoulders instantly feel like a big weight has been added to them. Marvel Heroes is in beta right now for the console port, I think, and I can’t really see the appeal yet. I tried the Diablo 3 demo back when it came out, too.

    It might just be a gameplay thing, I didn’t find the action very satisfying. But I’m not sure if even Bayonetta would be improved by adding chests with colored loot at the end of each encounter, for me personally. Or to take another game from the same perspective, Bastion has like a single attack with any weapon and I was still more engaged by that game than Diablo 3.

    • Ilseroth says:

      See that’s wierd because I played Diablo 3 and the expansion to completion and I’m not a loot monger. Sure if I see something super cool it’s like “neat” but overall I don’t get into the grind of trying to find loot.

      On the other hand, maybe because I didn’t play it when it first came out, when small art driven indie games were still rare, but I feel Bastion was kinda a slog. I gave up after the 5-6th samey level where nothing interesting happened. I kept waiting for something mechanically or storywise to make me want to play the game and all I got was a really good voice actor giving slightly good lines.

      • Christopher says:

        The appeal might be too different. I liked the setting and slow worldbuilding of Bastion, the narration, the cool music and the art direction, which is all 2d-ified 3d models(or sprites based on 3d models?) going around basically an evironment of beautiful 2d drawings. I think the camera might have been slightly more zoomed in than Diablo 3. It’s got smaller levels, often focused around a couple of specific weapons, where the Diablo 3 demo had big open environments up top and samey(but big) dungeons down in that crypt. There’s zero loot. I played both on 360 with a controller, while you might have played it on PC with a mouse. Bastion was one of the first games I played on my 360 back in 2011 while you played it more recently.

        There’s probably a reason why Diablo 3 ticled your fancy while Bastion did nothing for you and I was the other way around, but I have no idea what the deciding factor was.

        (It’s not like I love Bastion or anything, though I think it’s pretty good, I was trying to think of an isometric action-rpg that I thought was fun.)

    • Echo Tango says:

      Different people like (or respond to) different amounts of Skinner-boxing. It probably also changes at different times too; I myself enjoy the cheap prize-in-a-box of some games, but only as an addition to an already fun game. For example, Diablo II and Torchlight II both felt good to me, but Hearthstone and Borderlands 1/2 felt gimmicky, manipulative, and grindy.

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      Thing is, the skinner box isn’t about loot, it’s about rewards. If the “reward” isn’t desirable to the recipient, then of course the skinner box will be ineffective. If you don’t like messing with equipment in video games, then equipment-based rewards won’t work well on you, but an experience or money system might.

      I’ve noticed that one thing that kills loot-based games for me is when there are too many stats and the underlying systems are too opaque for loot to feel fun anymore unless the upgrade is gigantic enough to be immediately recognizable. I can tell that a longsword +2 is better than a longsword +1, but if the sword has ten different stats, some of them situational, and I don’t have a clear way to evaluate them, then loot starts becoming a chore.

  18. Ilseroth says:

    Lately I’ve been so damn busy making games the idea of playing them is kinda foreign which honestly is a habit I should break.

    When I do actually play video games, I picked up Yooka-Laylee on launch and played that for a while, it’s pretty good but only if you explicitly want to play Banjo-Kazooie again. Some of the powers are different and whatnot, but it plays so similar that if you weren’t a fan of the original than your opinion would probably be soured in no time.

    Also play Overwatch and despite it being out for over a year I still like playing it, surprisingly. I tend to lose interest in multiplayer shooters within a week or so of purchase but Overwatch has managed to keep my interest strong. It’s actually kind of funny, but I always thought that for a multiplayer competitive game to really hold my interest for an extended time it would have to have some sort of long term goal to push for as some sort of collective team. Something objective based that takes like, weeks/months to do. Turns out all you have to do is make a fun polished fps with pretty much no progression system. Who woulda known.

    And honestly, I have been playing various Ludum Dare entries. I took part in LD38 and had a lot of fun making a mini mmo in 72 hours, but it’s always neat to go through what other people submitted. You can see who got inspired and pushed for something experimental and cool, and who tried to make a super polished product and finally who gave up and just did something super duper standard (a 2d platformer, a physics game with janky physics). I guess you could argue that MMO is a standard genre, but in LD making an online anything is super rare so most people are finding it pretty novel.

    Sadly I will say that, maybe I have had bad luck but I haven’t found as many crazy interesting games this Ludum. Maybe the theme just didn’t inspire people much. But I’d say it still worth a look to see what things people made.

  19. Robyrt says:

    I’m playing Destiny, which recently re-released all the old raids and let you grind for new, cosmetically superior versions of the loot. That means my weekly Sherpa runs (where I round up new people and talk them through the raid) have turned from one grueling five-hour slog through the ruins of Old Russia to fight the latest, toughest boss, into a fun series of two-hour romps through the Throne Dimension to kill Crota with his own sword. It’s more fun for me because I don’t have to watch people fail at the final boss for hours, it’s more fun for them because they actually get loot, everybody wins!

  20. lethal_guitar says:

    I recently got a PS4, so I started playing Bloodborne and The Last Of Us. Been playing both of them in parallel for a while, but played more Bloodborne overall. On PC, I most recently played The Witness and Thimbleweed Park. Finished the latter, not done with the former yet (but very much enjoying both).

    I’m interested in Horizon: Zero Dawn and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (waiting until you can get the whole game with all DLC in one package though).

    I also recently started a re-run of the 1st Half-Life on hard mode after watching a LP. Didn’t get back to it in a while though.

  21. Joshua says:

    Doing my third run through Wasteland 2 (they did the Kickstarter for 3, but it’s estimated release date is 2019, sigh). Been playing an early release For the King with my wife, which is brutally hard. Occasionally get some Civ V in, and when in bed before going to sleep my wife and I are usually playing some HOS Adventure game or another.

    • DeadlyDark says:

      3rd walkthrough? Oh wow. I played right after initial release, liked it (and also have CE with Avellone’s autograph), but my hands didn’t get around to replay director’s cut. How’s the game the 2nd and 3rd times? Does it feel better / different?

      • Joshua says:

        Well, the Director’s cut feels a little different, mostly easier. The 2nd and 3rd times are definitely easier knowing the right mix of characters and skills better. The DC tried to correct the balance on some weapon skills, but did a fairly poor job (actually made some things worse). The 3rd run through I’m trying a completely different mix of companions, and rescued Highpool instead of Ag Center. Other than that, it’s a similar enough play-through it will probably be my last time.

  22. Darren says:

    I’m 60 hours into Persona 5 with no end in sight. Right now it’s my Game of the Year, and I would recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in JRPGs or Japanese culture. Hell, anyone interested in making a UI that’s not only functional but aesthetically appealing (hey, Bethesda, you need to make your UI designers play this game).

    What version of Diablo III are you playing, Shamus? I never played the PC version, but the console version has been an absolute delight since launch. I actually just wrapped up my first season a couple weeks back, and I think it’s a fantastic feature that caters to what I want in an action RPG more than endgame grinding.

    • Writiosity says:

      God no, keep Bethesda the hell away from P5. They’d take one look at it and then ruin everything that made it good.

      Though I also think the UI in P5 is a bit TOO busy and stylised. Got used to it eventually but at the start it was almost nausea-inducing.

  23. baseless_research says:

    hitman, kerbal. Edging towards restarting dark souls 2. And one of these days I’m gonna do a proper playthrough of star ruler 2.

  24. noahpocalypse says:

    I game very little during the semester, but now that finals week is almost over I’m considering replaying Deus Ex: Original Flavor. Or perhaps Majora’s Mask. Wish I had a Switch, then I’d binge Breath of the Wild.

  25. Arakus says:

    Playing lots of Crypt of the Necrodancer lately with the Amplified expansion which is in early access right now. It’s a really unique rhythm based rougelite and Amplified adds a new zone, new characters, and tons of new items. Also they figured out a way to allow gameplay mods on steam workshop without screwing up the leaderboards, so a lot of interesting gameplay mods have started coming out (I especially like Dirge and Baroque, who both have pretty interesting playstyles).

  26. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Still craftin’ me mines as a base state. You should check out my server sometime.

    I actually gave Diablo III a shot recently, since there was some kind of free-to-play guest pass or something. I forget the details.

    The game did not impress me. My primary impression was that I was spending far too many clicks to kill enemies who were nowhere close to being a threat to me. I think I played it for about an hour, at which point combat still hadn’t become anything more than tedious. The story has also move too far away from the atmospheric slow-burn into Blizzard’s typical ham-fisted storytelling.

    If anyone is looking for a more classic Diablo feel, and hasn’t tried it yet, Path of Exile is free-to-play (with a very relaxed monetization model) and much more fun. Every big Diablo fan should check it out.

  27. Nick says:

    Hollow Knight, occasionally Long War and trying to get myself to finish Dishonored 2

  28. Ninety-Three says:

    Typo patrol: The new Factorio expansion is 0.15, not 1.5.

  29. Bespectacled Gentleman says:

    For me, it’s Darkest Dungeon and Sunless Sea. I feel really lucky that I’ve been able to find two games that scratch that same Lovecraftian horror itch of discovery and secrets and madness so well. Both have mechanics for the stress of adventuring and the weight of the secrets one learns, both are a long, hardscrabble struggle toward victory or even solvency, and both have their own delicious unique lore and tone to sink one’s teeth into. Not exactly for everyone, but for a capering madman such as myself… I love them both so much.

    • tzeneth says:

      This is why I stopped playing both games. It felt less like a “struggle to survive” and more like a grind to finish/continue/get anywhere. I liked the story bits of Sunless Sea but getting a decent boat or any money whatsoever took way too long for me to be happy. I also stopped “struggling” once I learned the islands and which places were fixed.

      Darkest Dungeon may have improved with a few of their more recent updates (I believe you can recruit people at a higher level than 0 now) but the game was just a grind to get through to the end because you had to create the right party for the darkest dungeon, not have the rng hate you and instant crit kill/drive insane your people, and then create a completely new party because the last one refuses to go back into the darkest dungeon.

      • Groboclown says:

        Darkest Dungeon also used to have the problem of needing to kill off characters to explore the lower-level content. That doesn’t seem as much of a problem anymore.

        Perhaps I’m a Dirty Cheater, but I found I had a lot more fun with Sunless Sea when I started editing my saves. For me, the time investment to ensure I get to the right dock to fully equip with supplies wasn’t fun, and the grind to get better equipment was just a full stop for me playing. When I figured out how to “magically” resupply my ship to keep the story going, I found that I enjoyed it much more.

  30. kurt says:

    I’ve been spending most of my free time with Horizon: Zero Dawn. I love me a good post-apocalyptic game. I hadn’t expected to get quite as hooked as I am, as I had just finished what amounted to an eleven-month play-through of Fallout 4 and its various DLC. The backstory audio logs, text logs and, currently, the vistas with their connective bittersweet story have me trekking around looking for more. I also didn’t expect to be quite so attached to and affected by some of the things that happen to some of the minor characters (I hope that was vague enough). And the metal flowers. And the ancient “relics.” And the varied ecosystems. And the. . .you get the point. I’ve been playing since it released (around work, yard-work, shoulder surgery and life) and continue to find new surprises in almost each session.

    I find the combat has various options that have piqued my curiosity as well. I like trying to find different ways to overcome the challenges the various machines pose–especially when it all goes to pot, and I get swarmed from several unexpected directions.

    My wife and I have also been fooling around with What Remains of Edith Finch. But that has only been one session, so I can’t speak too much to it. It does appear to be promising.

    • Phill says:

      Horizon: Zero dawn is my go to game when the PS4 is available for much the same reason. It’s a lot of fun, an interesting story and surprisingly engrossing and immersive. And (playing hard difficulty on my first play through, it had a fair bit of what I like about Dark Souls: if you learn the opponents they become relatively easy, but without that “being griefed by the game” feel and frustration that I sometimes get from Dark Souls.

      When the PS4 is not available I’ve mostly been playing Aurora 4X for the ultra -nerdy detailed 4X galaxy conquering space fun, and to a lesser extent Civilization VI. In joint third place is Combat Mission: Red Thunder, a tactical WWII sim.

      Only game I can think of that I’m looking forward to is an MMO, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen (all these games with colons I their names!), burr that’s unlikely to see the light of day for 2 years or so.

      • Kurt says:

        You’ve reminded me of another thing that I have been enjoying about Horizon: Zero Dawn: the way that the combat rewards patience and the task of learning the enemies and their weaknesses. I recall fondly how long it took me to defeat my first Watcher and how intimidating the creature seemed. Each new creature takes some time to learn how to defeat and running away is often a first option. As I’ve progressed through the game, I’ve found that the Watchers are easy pickings now even as they were replaced by Scrappers, which were later replaced by Longlegs and Snapmaws. Each creature presents a challenge and the reward is a pleasant sense of accomplishment. It isn’t just my character who is leveling up; I feel as thought I, too, as a player, am leveling up as well. It is a well designed game, and I am enjoying it immensely.

  31. Ander says:

    Talos Principle has risen from the Steam backlog to occupy my little free time. It’s so pretty. The puzzles are thus far a bit straightforward, though.

    • Leocruta says:

      Well, some of them are. That damned 24-hour clock puzzle is anything but straightforward. I dislike puzzles that require out of game knowledge/actions.

  32. Nixorbo says:

    I’m going through another Destiny upswing depending on if my Raid team is online or not. When they’re not, I’ve been slowly working my way through Mass Effect Andromeda.

    Oh, and I’ve been consistently playing a Be a GM game of NHL 12 a night for over 5 years now.

    I also have the New Vegas DLC on hold and every now and then I work on the remastered Bastion. My wife and I also have a Marvel Ultimate Alliance playthrough going.

  33. Christopher says:

    I forgot, which isn’t a great sign, but I still occasionally play Street Fighter V with my mates, usually during weekends. I’ve played that game for over a year now, and while it’s a good time, I can’t see myself playing it forever if Capcom can’t get their act together. I get the impression that they haven’t got a lot of resources, because the improvements come slowly and piecemeal. They still haven’t got a basic arcade ladder in more than a year after release, and the stage-specific finishers are limited to just a few stages at a time, while costumes of the original looks of redesigned characters that they teased months ago are nowhere to be seen. What keeps me coming back is having two friends that play it, as well as the occasional new character. They’ve all been fun to try out.

  34. Jeysie says:

    Sentinels of the Multiverse and Invisible Inc. still suck up a lot of my time. They have just the right mix of story and gameplay that takes strategy but can still be played in sessions rather than marathons.

    Sentinels in particular has a lot of story involved in it that keeps drawing me back, especially with the new official lore podcast.

    Stuff that’s on my list to play in the near future:

    I need to install Shadowrun Returns on my PC (already played Dragonfall and loved it, still need to play Hong Kong). I had bought the Android version as a bundle pack, but found out during the new level after you join up with a certain shadowrunner who likes hanging out in morgues that there’s a bug with on-demand saving that’s only on my tablet version and they seem to have no interest in fixing it. Sigh.

    Banner Saga is definitely on my list.

    As is Hard West and Civ IV… been on a turn-based strategy kick for a while now.

    Also should finally give Freedom Force a whirl; been on a superheroes kick too.

    And last but not least, finding out whether the enhanced version of Planescape: Torment turned out OK or not.

    • Redrock says:

      Hard West is really nice, if underappreciated. My advice is to move it up on your list, you won’t regret it. Provided, of course, that you like weird westerns as a genre. If not – Banner Saga is probably the better game, although it’s tough and I don’t think it’s always fair, although I may just suck)

    • Hal says:

      Ah, SotM. That’s pretty much the only game I play these days. (For better or worse.) I really can’t get enough of it, and playing it on a tablet means I can still be in the room with my wife instead of holing up in the office with the PC or down in the basement with the Xbox.

      Freedom Force . . . well, you’ll enjoy the superhero theme, but it has definitely not aged well. Best of luck if you open that door.

      • Jeysie says:

        Yeah, it’s such a great game, and the fact that both the cardboard and digital developers are so approachable (especially the latter’s weekly streams and previews) is very appealing. I cannot wait until Villains and OblivAeon come out on digital.

        I mean, it’s the one game in the universe where the bard character is top tier in usefulness. That alone should give it several stars.

        Speaking of bards, the digital version has the best video game soundtrack; it’s even unseated Star Control 2 from the top for me. I so can’t wait to hear the Villains themes and then when the hero themes are finished.

        As for Freedom Force, depends on how it’s aged, I suppose. I don’t really mind retro graphics or anything.

  35. Distec says:

    Due to being paralyzed by my Steam library/backlog at this point, I’m making a point of clearing out some older games or classic re-releases.

    I’ve played all of the Quake games, but never from start to finish – with Quake 2 being my biggest blindspot (played Q1 first on N64, Q3 on PC, and never tried Q2). The recent Turok 2 remaster and FEAR can also be thrown in as other FPS nostalgia romps I’m currently on.

    Starcraft 1 going free is making me play through its campaign again, which subsequently awakened a yearning to play Warcraft 3 and TFT. So those two series are being switched off in tandem. I’m now debating if I want to go back and play Warcraft 2. The first game is too aged for me to get into any more, but I was very fond of its sequel when I was a kid. I never played without cheats, though. In fact, I used to always play RTS games with cheats until I turned into an adult, and by that point I found I’d warmed up to turn-based games that allow me the time to deliberate. I’m curious as to how badly I was shortchanging myself.

    • stomponator says:

      Good call! I started playing SC1 as well, wich in turn awoke some deep seated desire to play WC3+TFT. However, I seem to have misplaced my CDs, so I went to the BNET store to buy a new copy and quickly decided not to spend 20$ on a fourteen year old game without widescreen support.
      So I’m playing through the Wings of liberty Campaign again.

  36. Mephane says:

    * For Honor. It filled a niche that I wasn’t even aware needed filling until I saw the very first announcement trailer, and now that it is released I am hooked. For all its technical issues, the gameplay is top notch. Also has naginatas, my 2nd favourite melee weapon after the bo/quarterstaff.

    * Overwatch. I don’t think I have to explain this.

  37. tremor3258 says:

    Dawn of War III got me back into playing the first two.

    ….Yeah

  38. Cilvre says:

    Currently I am playing I am Setsuna and working on my youtube channel. I’m uploading a co-op Dark Souls 3 playthrough on the weekends and I am Setsuna at other times. I’m also planning on uploading some Magicka co-op with 3 of my friends (2 have never played before). Black Desert Online and Witcher 3 are also on my list to start after the current games.

  39. Writiosity says:

    RimWorld. Still. That game is way too good, and if you enjoy Factorio, Shamus, I’d highly recommend RimWorld, too. Different type of game but still heavily simulation-focused and you can do all sorts of fun things with it. Case in point, a story that played out in one of my colonies:

    An escape pod crashed on the planet to the north of my colony. One survivor, an elderly lady, late 60s but still in good health. I rescued her and brought her back to base, healed her up, and she went to work. Helping around the colony, she turned out to be a really good hunter. Great.

    Some time passed and I noticed her performance slipping. Checking her stats, I saw she had an addiction to a drug called Go-Juice, which isn’t something i had (because this colony doesn’t do drugs). So she went into severe withdrawal and over the next two seasons she suffered like crazy, had multiple mental breaks, wandered around in a daze, and eventually went berserk. This happened twice and both times I had my marksman put her down and take her to my medic bay.

    Eventually, after much heartache and pain, she got over her withdrawal and went back to hunting like a pro. She’d never really got along with the others in the colony, not least I imagine because of the withdrawal making her someone no one wanted to deal with. But she had one friend there, a good friend who’d been there for her from the start, the one who originally rescued her from her crashed pod.

    With the addiction cured, she was finally free to go back to hunting like a goddamn pro. I felt so good at persevering and seeing her through that whole experience. I could’ve euthenised her after that first psychotic break, I could’ve left her to die from the elements, I could’ve been a cold-hearted bastard. But no, I persevered and saw things through with her.

    Then, over the winter, a couple of raiders appeared – one of whom turned out to be related to TWO of my own colonists – lobbing grenades and shooting the colony up. Guess who was first on the scene to repel the attack? Yep, my heroic drug recoveree. She rushed in, supported by a couple of my other colonists, taking cover behind some sandbags… but sandbags unfortunately don’t protect so well against massive explosions and she was the first casualty, instantly killed by a grenade.

    I felt genuinely sad when that happened, and used her only friend in the colony to murder the bastard who killed her, the very same bastard who had fathered one of my best colonists. This left me one colonist down, short of a good meat source because my hunter was dead, and with two other colonists sad that a family member was dead (even if said family was the one who shot my colony up in the first place).

    Love this game :D

    • Miguk says:

      Should I play now or wait until it gets out of early access?

      • Writiosity says:

        It’s a feature complete game already, the Early Access tag isn’t like other EA titles. It was kickstarted originally, Tynan (the dev) created a feature complete game, then he’s been doing basically what Paradox does; adding new content for free in big patches.

        Alpha 17 is due in the near future and will be a pretty big update, then it’ll likely be months until anything else happens again. He prefers not to mess up people’s mods (which tend to break with updates until the mod devs fix them for the latest release) so you’ll normally only get a single big release occasionally.

        Also, the price now is cheaper than it will be when he finally decides to make the game final, so grabbing now will be less expensive than waiting. And really, there’s MORE than enough there already to consider it a complete game, anything he adds extra is just icing on an already delicious cake :)

        And most importantly, the game is stable and largely bug-free, unlike most EA titles. So yeah, grab it now :)

  40. ehlijen says:

    I’ve been playing ME: Andromeda, and am now wondering if I’m reading too much into the possible sequel hooks, given how shallow the main story thread of this game seemed to me in the end.

    Other than that, I spend a lot of gaming time with Panzer Corps and MegaMek, i.e. hex strategy games.

    That’s the computer. Tabletop, it’s Exalted, Rogue Trader and Song of Ice and Fire RPGs.

    • Leocruta says:

      I’m introducing my tabletop group to Cyberpunk 2020, so they’ve got some context for when CD projekt finally finishes 2077. I mean, I expect it to be an excellent sci-fi RPG(of which there are too few), but I have some doubts about how cyberpunk it will be.

  41. Jack V says:

    Getting back into tabletop roleplaying :)

  42. spelley says:

    Randomly playing Dwarf Fortress whenever I get that particular type of “itch.” Final Fantasy XIV has been my mainstay lately. Just got back into it knowing that Red Mage is coming in the newest expansion. Storytime!

    My dad was an interesting guy for his time. He was in construction, was a hunter and basically was “old-school” and traditional in most of the ways you’d expect of someone who was almost 40 when I was adopted. However, he was also really interested in technology and REALLY enjoyed video games. In fact, we were one of the first people in my area to have a Computer as well as a Nintendo when it came out.

    Many evenings dad would fire up the Nintendo and we, as a family, would gather around and play “Final Fantasy” as a family. Each of us were a character in the game. My dad was the Fighter, my mom was the Black Belt, my sister was the Black Mage and I was the Red Mage (I picked it because I liked his hat).

    We each had a “job” when we played. We would each tell dad what we wanted to cast/attack. The game came with a big sheet with a map and a list of all the enemies and their elemental weaknesses. My sister’s job was to tell dad what enemies were weak to when we encountered a new one or he forgot. My mom’s job was to tell him which direction to go to get all the treasures. My only job, being very young was to remind dad to buy 99 Potions before we went into a dungeon. Later on, mom would get me to count the numbers in French to help me learn them.

    We played through the whole game like that. We got through the Temple of Fiends and got down to Chaos. I specifically remember my Red Mage being the last one standing. Dad asked me what I wanted to cast and I told him…FIRE. Not FIR3 or FIR2, just FIRE. To dad’s credit, he cast it (knowing we’d probably wipe on the next attack anyway). Apparently that was enough, and Chaos keeled over from a sub-30 damage FIRE spell. We all cheered.

    In the years following that we’d play a lot of games together. Taking turns playing Dragon Warrior, teaming up in TMNT the Arcade version, later on playing Super Mario 64 (me and mom would intentionally save shells to knock him off the big jump in Wario’s Speedway or whatever it was called so he’d have to start over). We played, sporadically, Final Fantasy once or twice over the years but never to the end.

    ———————————-

    Years later my dad got sick. and his kidneys were failing. He was pale, couldn’t go out much and was generally in pain. He slept a lot. I was almost 13 at the time. All throughout my childhood I would wake up in the middle of the night to go play video games really quietly as dad was a light sleeper. In the past, he’d often come in and tell me to go to bed half-asleep and annoyed.

    Then there was the night that I woke up and dad was already awake, in the TV room. He had the old Nintendo hooked up and he was playing Final Fantasy, same party setup with the same names as always. Instead of telling me to go back to bed, he got me to sit beside him. He was gonna go to the Marsh cave and I reminded him to go stock up on potions. We played for a while (it felt like hours) after that and then he told me to go to bed. I’m pretty sure he didn’t go to bed that night. We did that a couple other times, me waking up to “catch” him playing and picking up where we left off more-or-less. Think that last game session only got so far as the Ice Cave (I still remember the swearing over that one).

    A few months later, dad passed away after complications from the kidney transplant (a kidney my mother donated to him, actually). It was actually the day my mom came home from the hospital. I barely remember anything about the months before or after it. I literally couldn’t tell you the exact day or anything about our visits to the hospital before then.

    What I can remember is those nights with dad, playing Final Fantasy, him ever the Fighter and me the Red Mage.

    ———————————————————————-

    Sorry for the extremely long post that’s only tangentially related.

  43. N/A says:

    Mostly Total Warhammer and Titanfall 2.

  44. Kizer says:

    Primary: Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild . . . for the Wii U. I got Nintendo’s worst console a while back to play Bayonetta and Hyrule Warriors, and as an avenue for SNES Virtual Console titles I never played as a kid. Breath of the Wild is a fantastic game that plays surprisingly well on the older hardware. It’s beautiful, it’s huge, and it’s absorbing my life.

    Secondary: Just finished Her Story (AWESOME game!), have been dipping into Civ 5 and Torchlight off and on to go achievement hunting,

    Tertiary: I decided to dust off my GameBoy Color and finish the Pokemon: Red Nuzlocke challenge I started 3 years ago. Since I started the challenge up again, nothing has died, so things are going pretty well!

    • Lisa says:

      I’ve been doing Breath of the Wild on the Switch. Though from what I’ve seen there’s not much difference between it on the two platforms.

      While my wife has now finished it twice, I’m still on my first playthrough because I diverted for Andromeda, and also I just love wandering aimlessly and climbing things “Because I can”.

      Otherwise, I’m playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Welcome Amiibo) on the 3DS and occasionally divert to things like “What Remains of Edith Finch” or Psychonauts on the PS4.

      But mostly it’s Zelda!

  45. Cybron says:

    I play a lot of fighting games with a friend of mine who’s in my tabletop games group. We also recently picked up The Speedrunners, which the whole group is loving. It’s super fun and resembles an arcade racer crossed with a 2d platformer.

    As far as single player games, I’ve been playing Stellaris while biding my time and waiting for the last of my new computer parts to arrive. Once those get in, I’ll play Dishonored 2, which I’ve been wanting to play for a while but couldn’t because I did not meet minimum spec.

  46. DeadlyDark says:

    Well, last half a year was mostly about SoulsBourne games. 1 playthrough of Dark Souls PTDE on PC, 1 playthrough on Bloodborne with Old Hunters on PS4 and and I’m playing right now Dark Souls 3 with both DLCs on PC.

    I started to play Dark Souls 1 more than a year ago (marth’17 I believe), and the thing I’m noted was a) huh, it isn’t that hard as people said, and b) I like how the combat and world looks like they came from first two Gothic games. And back in the day I loved Gothic 2. I think, more then even KOTOR 1. Blasphemy, I know. But I was, er, DS1 is Ok for my five bucks I spent on them. So I occasionally launched the game, played a little, returned to other things. Stopped right after Gargoyles. But in December I launched DS1 while waiting for my sister to return for holidays from other country, and then it suddenly clicked. I explored the Forest, found some ways to go deeper in Undead City, found myself in Depths. I found how world was connected even more than I initially imagined. And I just started to love combat system. It’s very enjoyable, because it’s clear (no flashy effects), relatively simple, responsive and mostly fair. I loved DMC 3 and 4 when they were released on PC, but now it’s too dynamic for me (though, they can be as hardcore as Souls games if you ramp up the difficulty). Souls combat also had that good visceral feel, because all animations are slow and deliberate enough, and sounds have that perfect punch so I’m just happy to play just to go through these mobs over and over again. I think, mostly because of that I became somewhat addicted to DS1’s gameplay. DS1 was a little too long and 1st half of the game definitely better, but still, I liked it all the way. And probably ended up the game a overleveled. Oh well, no one is perfect. And, while I tried do things mostly on my own, couple playthrough details (like final DLC boss strategy) I just looked online. Also – Gaping Dragon intro. My favorite.

    Bloodborne had that very stylish look (kinda wish Dark Souls had that look a bit). And I spend one week each trying to kill Ludwig and Orphan of Kos. These two bosses were very hard (for me) but it was very satisfying to finally kill them. I wouldn’t say combat was better or worse than DS1/3. It’s different, but on the same, visceral side. I must say, corridors on that Asylum (from Old Hunters), with dozen-two of these creatures, that are under blankets, being among them and trying to survive, well, I felt like I’m the main hero from The Raid. It was awesome. I spend a lot of time also on dungeons, mostly because of the combat. But because some bosses were harder versions, it was surprisingly more enjoyable to relearn them, and actually define winning strategy, unlike the main game, where I could just outDPS them.

    Dark Souls 3. I’m still playing it, killed 3 Lords of Cinder, stopped at that Dancer boss (lvl 60). This was the first game in the series where I found the joy of coop and pvp. DS1 interactions with other players were rare – few coop here and there, helped some guys, some helped me, couple duels, that’s all. On PS4 I refuse to buy psn+. I don’t play on console that often, and as a “proud PC player” TM (c) I see no point to pay for online access. So Bloodborne was solo fly all the way. DS3 on the other hand… Well, it became fun on it’s own. Well, in theory, because lags and latency do ruin fun half the time. But still, it’s enjoyable to find myself in honorable duel, or fighting against stronger player, and hell, even occasional gank sometimes (key word) is fun. I kinda disappointed in fairly linear way of BB and DS3, but at least DS3 lets me look and gaze on all the way you’ve made. It’s awesome and give me sense of accomplishment. And hell, make world looks whole. Overall, it looks Ok game.

    I think, Dark Souls series showed me that I’m actually very sensitive about how game feels and controls. How responsive, smooth and satisfying… And Souls series probably the best in business in that regard. That also explains, why Dishonored 2 felt worse than 1 in that regard (shaky fps does made controls to feel unreliable), or why Thief 1/2 feel more fluid than Thief 2014.

    Though, it’s not the games positive side, but since they feature little to no music and dialogues, when I play them I just play podcast on a background. So I just listen to different podcasts and play – double win! Perfect games for that.

    But I didn’t play Souls games only. Last couple days I played Dead Space 3. Thanks to that Mark Brown channel I was reminded that I have that game on my Origin library, from humble EA bundle. I liked DS1 (irony abbreviation, I know), loved DS2 (I hated each and every enemy I encountered and wanted to kill them so bad, I liked the reveal about “4 steps”, was at awe with that helicopter/big monster in space setpiece, and was disappointed about Hollywood ending, cause how before that Isaac just sat and was tired was so perfect). So, I launched DS3 (Dead Space one, not Dark Souls 3 or Darksiders 3), was… I don’t know even the word I should use? Well, I guess world is disappointed is too weak. Prologue and first chapter were atrocious. Then they let me fly in open space and I was, well, that’s nice, I like that. Then there was four-five chapters on these derelict ships, and gameplay was very stale and unimaginative. Boring corridors, no plot reveals, similar encounters, no hallucination things I loved about DS1 and 2. At least I could wear my Mass Effect N7 suit, from cross-promotion that EA done back then, and fly and navigate in Open Space for 15 minutes in that suit. Since no other games provide such experience, I guess I’m happy. May be? Then game moved to icy planet and I’ve got a distinct feeling that developers wanted to make that part more, and while encounters wasn’t very interesting, overall game felt more fresh and interesting. Plot resolution was kinda good (if only dialogues were improved). And hey, now we got that the Thing vibe in game, so that’s nice. Also, often on that icy planet, there were too many melodies that was too similar to KOTOR themes. Like, I’m on Hoth, why there is a theme from Tatuin? That was jarring and puts me out of game (I mean, I was uncanny similar). Crafting was useless and terrible, though. Main game was mixed bag for me, but Awakening dlc was return to form. All these hallucinations, all these chants “They are coming, they are hungry”, it all works on the atmosphere. And now I want DS4. How sad of me.

    And speaking of other games, in January I played through Until Dawn, Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls. And the only thing I liked about BTS, was that whenever developers gave me control of Eyden (or something), because it was separate entity, that wasn’t controlled by main heroine, it kinda let me to be a dick and throw staff at people, etc. Usually I play nice and good, but in that game since I’m an ethereal spirit I felt free to do different things. And I also like in meta-narrative sense when little Ellie (or how was she named?) tells that “she can’t control her powers, it’s like I’m controlled by some other force” (I’m paraphrasing). That was, probably unintentional, nice narrative touch. These two moments were very surprising fo me.

    I’m done )

  47. Viktor says:

    Breath of the Wild. I’m basically addicted. It nails the “just one more X” cycle that makes MMOs impossible to put down and does so without having to put up with other people. I wish I hadn’t discovered the crafting, now I’m trapped trying to grind item drops forever.

  48. Warclam says:

    Lately I’ve been trying out Dragon Quest VI. Not bad so far, but I haven’t gotten to the ability to switch jobs yet, which is the reason I’m playing it in the first place.

  49. DeadlyDark says:

    Shamus, if you interested to listen about D3’s quest design (why things the way they are) Leonard Boyarsky, that worked on quest design in Diablo 3 made a talk recently. It was mostly about Fallout 1 and Bloodlines, but there were a bit about D3, that was insightful. Highly recommend, very interesting to listen.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTQG_iLXyFU

    Also, I would recommend Warren Spector about Deus Ex development on latest GDC, now that an engaging speaker, that a joy listen
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tffX3VljTtI

    Like I said, when I play Souls game I need something to listen, so these talks are perfect for me.

    • LCF says:

      Thanks a lot for the Warren speech. Very interesting.
      Part of why I absolutely could not stand Wolfenstein New Order despite awesome NPCs and a quality narrative is related to what he said regarding shared authorship with the player.
      DX lets you do things the way you want because your decisions are important. WNO makes you do whatever the Spielberg-wannabe who organised it wanted because you are unimportant and the only thing that matter is the director’s purest vision.
      WNO is no game, it’s a movie you need to push buttons to keep watching. Fuck that line of thoughts.

      (Seriously, was no-one else revolted by that obvious Bubby-in-an-air-vent you see kilometres away and can’t do a thing about? It’s the vilest, worst case of grenade-proof plot armor I ever saw and Blazko knows I chugged grenades like a maniac in that damned air vent.)

  50. Hal says:

    I’m still stuck on Sentinels of the Multiverse, mainly for practical reasons.

    Occasionally, my friends and I still get together to play L4D2 on the Xbox 360. It’s the only console we share, so that’s the game we return to. We all recognize we could really use a new game to share, but there’s zero agreement on what that would be.

    In any case, what would I play if I had the time? I don’t know. I’m so disconnected from gaming anymore. I have a huge backlog of free “game of the month” games on the 360 that I could play, but I’m not sure I see any point. I put about 30 minutes into Darksiders 2, for example, and was just bored.

  51. Jeremiah says:

    I’ve mostly been playing 2 games, both old school.

    A while back I realized I’d never played all the way through Thief 1 (had only played the first couple levels) & Thief 2 (never played at all), so I decided to do a proper playthrough. played through Thief 1 a couple years ago. Started on Thief 2, but eventually got distracted by other things. A month or so back I started it back up and I’m a little over halfway through at this point.

    It holds up pretty well for me. One of my favorite things about Thief 1 & 2 is that the difficulty levels just add to your objectives; usually requiring you to kill no one and some times even restricting you from knocking anyone out. I have a great time sneaking around and dodging guards (and knocking them out and hiding their bodies) and looting everyone/everything for what they’re worth.

    Thief 1 had some pretty weak levels, but I’ve really been enjoying all of Thief 2 so far. I’m looking forward to replaying Thief 3 and eventually playing the newest one. I know the reviews haven’t been kind, but I want to experience it myself.

    On top of that I’ve been replaying the original Starcraft since they just released it for free a couple weeks ago. I’m generally not great at rts games, but there’s something about Starcraft that I still enjoy (just the campaign, I don’t do pvp). Maybe I’ll finally get around to playing #2 after I beat this one again.

  52. I’m playing DDO as usual, although I took some breaks to play Skyrim Enhanced Edition, Grim Dawn and Torment: Tides of Numenera. There’s a Ravenloft expansion coming out for DDO soonish that I’m really excited for.

    Shamus, if you’re writing a long analysis of Diablo 3, I suggest you pick up Grim Dawn and do a compare-and-contrast of the two games, there are some REALLY interesting differences and similarities between them.

    Torment was interesting to play but I found the ending to be kind of a let down, maybe because there were some key decision points that I didn’t grasp that changed the outcome. I had the same problem with the original Torment, but at least the reveal at the end was still impressive. In Numenera it was more “really? You told me this 6 hours ago and that’s all there is to it? BLEH.”

    • DeadlyDark says:

      I started Numenera right after release, then I was forced (for good reasons) to use my PC for other things, so I stopped and then developers are talking about returning cut content (at least one companion). So now I’m waiting for directors’ edition.

      And that’s the thing with these Kickstarter RPGs. I played DDOS and W2 after release, then they improved, but I’m already play other games and have little desire to play them again (I liked them, but they are too big to replay, because there’re too many games now). So with Torment, I’ll do the wise thing and wait for full edition.

      Still supported W3 on fig

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        It’s what I usually do, wait for a complete/director’s/whatever edition that is, in large part because I’m not very hot on replaying games, not unless a bunch of years have passed. The fact that I don’t have a whole lot of spending money really helps me hold back on the purchase until they finish putting all the bells and whistles on a game…

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      Torment was a straight-up misfire, IMO.

      The most immediate problem was that the game was 90% based around reading text, and the text wasn’t very good. It was gratuitously wordy without a whole lot of value in those words. I wound up being trained to skip, skim, or avoid a lot of the time, which was bad because it wasn’t like the game had clearly marked segments where the ‘meat’ of the story was that I could know to pay more attention to.

      Even beyond that, though, the game didn’t seem to know what it really wanted to say. I’ve heard that the theme was supposed to be “what is the value of one life?”, but the only time that question ever came up for me was when someone directly asked about it. Most of the time the game was rambling on about memories, and weird things happening to people’s memories, but it felt more like it was just being repeated than it was being explored.

      I was left with the sense that there was something going on somewhere beneath all of that mess, but the game never infused me with the will to dig into it to suss whatever it was out. I felt like I’d missed at least half of the story, but I can’t accept blame for that when so much of the story involved overwritten wall-of-text flashbacks.

      They tried to replicate the trappings of Plancescape: Torment, and it definitely feels like that game on a surface level, but the structure under it was too wobbly to replicate the deeper qualities that made PS:T memorable.

      • Redrock says:

        I thought that the Numenera setting in itself is much weaker than Planescape. Planescape, with its central idea of the universe being malleable and reality often bending to people’s will, resonates beautifully with the big question. “What can change the nature of a man in this world that is all about change?” Planescape is built around an idea. Numenera, I find, is just a “cool” setting, where you can jam all sorts of “cool” stories. But it doesn’t seem to have an idea beyond that and certainly nothing to build up to the question “What does one life matter?”.

        Still, I didn’t think the game was a total failure. Some of the storylines are great. A few of the relationships felt worthwhile. Combat being avoidable and non-combat skills being usable in fights was a nice touch. So, not all that bad. But not a new Planescape:Torment by any stretch.

        • Bloodsquirrel says:

          Numenera is supposed to be about exploration and discovery. The game didn’t really play off of those themes, though.

          The game didn’t feel too much like Numenera at all, come to think about it. The idea behind Numenera is that all of the technology is the lost remnant of past civilizations, and that the ability to understand and use it is limited. In Tides it was so commonplace that none of it felt unknown.

      • djw says:

        I notice that a lot of people complain about the writing in Tides. I personally disagree with that sentiment. I found that the weird, roundabout phrasing helped to evoke the setting. It reminded me very much of “Book of the New Sun” and “The Dying Earth”, which are books that I really like.

        In fact, I would go so far as to say that the writing is the one thing that I did like. I liked it enough to keep me going most of the way through the game, even though the mechanics were (IMO) crap. I did *not* like the ending, but after 30ish hours of actual entertainment I can’t really complain to much. The choice at the end was marginally better than ME3, but not by much.

        • Ofermod says:

          I found that my big issue with the mechanics was how swingy it was, especially outside of combat. Early on, every skill attempt is a challenge, and you don’t have the shins to rest and recover effort. Later on, if you just stack edge, everything starts at 85% chance to succeed.

          I did think it captured the setting rather well, though. And I quite enjoyed my party.

          • Redrock says:

            Well, you CAN get a chance to rest for free with the cultists, if you play your cards right. I was much more annoyed by the fact that some quests are time-sensitive and will be gone after a few days. So you actually have to be smart about resting, which is not a bad mechanic, but could be better telegraphed.

        • The evoking would have worked better if there’d been a PAYOFF to it, but the most convoluted stuff had the least payoff, whereas the major stuff was just boom, there it is. It wasn’t just straightforward, it was SHALLOW.

  53. Ivellius says:

    Typically I would say League of Legends but have barely played in a couple of weeks thanks to end-of-semester stuff and getting distracted this week by Lords of the Realm II (incredibly old, I know). But I did beat the expansion campaign yesterday, so my 18 hours since Tuesday is probably done for a bit.

    And honestly? The game has some cool stuff to it, but it also has a lot of flaws for its time.

    I still need to get to some of the other story-based stuff on Steam.

  54. Cinebeast says:

    Breath of the Wild on the Switch. It’s almost everything I was hoping it would be, so I’ve been a very happy camper for the past month.

    I’m near the end now, though — in fact, my last session left me right outside the final boss room, so I’ll probably finish it today.

    After that… hmm. My mom wants to replay Witcher 3 (neither of us have played the DLC yet), but my dad’s still invested in Skyrim (his first playthrough), and we want to convince him to play alongside us. I don’t want to drag him away from something he’s enjoying, though. I might have to pick up something else in the meantime.

    I played Diablo 3 at launch and barely remember it, but I know I finished it. I think I liked it? I haven’t even thought about it since then, though. I’m super interested to hear Shamus’ opinion.

    • djw says:

      I played it on my PC at release for long enough to get my monk into the inferno levels, where I ground to a halt midway through Act II.

      Recently I purchased it for my PS4 so I can play it on my brand new TV in the living room. They seem to have changed quite a bit. The most obvious change is that you no longer have to complete the entire game to get to the next difficulty. (eg. no more normal->nightmare->hell->inferno). Or, rather, they are there as difficulties that you can change to at any time (even in the middle of a play through).

  55. Josh says:

    I’m playing the waiting game. There are several games in development, some of which are supposed to come out this year, which seem nice. There’s nothing current that seems all that interesting, and I’ve played out the recent good ones (Skyrim, Borderlands 2).

    So I’m looking forward to Shroud of the Avatar, Borderlands 3, and State of Decay 2.

    My feeling of Diablo III is also that it was hopelessly shallow. It’s common for developers to strip out the spirit of their games when releasing sequels. Torchlight II is another example. Torchlight itself was fairly weak, but its successor was even more boring. The same goes for Starcraft 2.

    What am I *actually* playing? World of Warcraft. When the boredom becomes too much to bear. Also Northgard (gets old quick), Rimworld, and Minecraft.

  56. Thanatos Crows says:

    The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd just got localized. That’s gonna take up most of my free time for a while. Old school jrpg, check. A new story I can get sucked into, check. All the continuity and world building of the series and the speculation those bring (came out in 2007 originally and have managed to dodge spoilers for the game and all subsequent installments), check check check.

  57. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    My main story game is Witcher 3 -I started with Witcher 1 back in October and have worked my way to here.

    It is in competition with XCOM: Long War (which I decided to give another go to on the theory that I kind of know what I’m doing now), Kerbal Space Program, and Xenonauts.

  58. Gabriel Mobius says:

    Sadly, the game I’m playing and thinking about most is a mobile game. I’ve been just utterly consumed by Granblue Fantasy. Something about this weird combination of classic 4-man JRPG and MMO, all packaged into some really great art and music really keeps my mindshare well. The gacha system is worryingly effective at keeping me drip fed with shiny things, but even outside of that I just genuinely like the game.

    Outside of that, Dark Souls 3 has pulled me back in. I have never played a main Souls series DLC before, and I’m feeling the drive to now that the series is ‘complete’.

  59. Grey Rook says:

    A while ago, I encountered an obscure indie action-RPG called Crosscode, which turned out to be pretty good once I got around to buying it. It’s still in development, but it is largely feature complete and actually rather fun. The graphics are functional and I actually find them rather charming, the combat system is simple but works, and the puzzles tend to be rather complex and generally fun to figure out.

    The plot is nothing special – young woman wakes up and discovers that she has lost her memory, and plays an MMO while trying to figure out how to get them back – but it doesn’t get in the way either. That there are apparently people looking for her with intent to do Bad Things to her doesn’t really seem to come up after tutorial, but then I’ve only gotten to the first major dungeon, the Temple Mine.

    I got pretty far in before hitting a puzzle that I’m honestly not sure where to even start solving, so I dropped it for a while and went back to Total War: Warhammer, a hybrid real-time strategy/turn-based strategy set in the world of Warhammer Fantasy. My current campaign is about a hundred turns in and sees me as the Von Carsteins slugging it out with the Warriors of Chaos (Terrorgheists are fun, but pricey) and doing pretty well at the moment. It’s a pretty cool game, but pricey in both money and system hardware.

  60. Droid says:

    I recently played all the Saints’ Row games on Steam for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised how much fun I can have with something so obviously (and proudly) stupid.

    Also, Warcraft III because I got reminded of it, and I gotta say, Blizzard really knew how to make graphics that still look pretty today.

    Also also, Gothic, a game by a then small German studio, because I had a severe case of nostalgia.

    • Scampi says:

      Saints’ Row IV is in my current gaming slot mostly.
      Last I played my way through Pillars of Eternity and suffered the at times horrible localization. It was still very enjoyable but I think it’s fair to say that, if a translation sucks, it’s better to remove the original sound files so you don’t make your failures too obvious…there would still be enough sloppy localization left without this.

  61. John says:

    The game that ate my brain last month was Satellite Reign, an open-world, real-time, squad-based cyberpunk-heist game. It gets compared to Syndicate a lot. I’ve never played Syndicate though, so I’m not sure what that’s supposed to signify. I got into it for the sake of the heists. I’m a sucker for heists and cyberpunk, apparently. (This would also explain why I was so in to the Shadowrun games.) Satellite Reign is full of heists. It isn’t strictly necessary to do all of them. In fact, none of the heists is mandatory except for the last one. You’ll need to do a lot of them–perhaps even most of them–in order to level up your squad, raise money, and acquire good equipment, but should you ever run into one that you just can’t stand you can skip it. I’ve done all the heists. I have all the money and all the things. My characters aren’t fully upgraded, but I don’t think that the game really expects you to do that. All I have left is the last heist, which is not so much a heist as a boss-fight and which I have not particularly enjoyed. I’ll probably finish it eventually, but I’ve had other things to do lately.

    One of the things I most appreciate about Satellite Reign is the running away. More games should have running away in them. Imagine the following. Your squad is deep in enemy territory when they are discovered by a group of guards. The alarm is sounded. Enemy reinforcements are pouring in from the left and right. Your squad is pinned down, outnumbered, and outgunned. Now what? Well, in some games your squad would just die. Other games would expect you to use clever tactics to defeat all the enemies. And while that might work some of the time in Satellite Reign, I discovered–to my great delight!–that running away is generally far more successful. Your squad isn’t there to kill guards, after all. Your squad is there to steal stuff and get out. This isn’t a combat game. This is a heist game, and the most thrilling part of any heist is when it starts to go wrong, when the crew has to scramble and improvise and escape by the skin of their teeth.

    • DeadlyDark says:

      Oh, running away in SR is awesome. It actually looks a lot like GTA3, just with 4 guys instead of one. And I agree, it’s better to escape and, may be divert their attention to something else. I love how systems interact with each other in that game (you can even make factions to fight each other!).

      Also. Nice music and that cyberpunky look.

      • Scampi says:

        you can even make factions to fight each other!

        I remember I even cleared multiple paths into bases by doing this.
        Also: the great applicability of sacrificial stratagems as usually you need only to get one of your guys out alive (the one with the current loot). It grants very interesting possibilities to approach a heist and its escape.

    • Leocruta says:

      I recommend Syndicate (or at least the second one; I’ve yet to play the first). I got it around the same time I got satellite reign, and I’ve put more time into the former. My favourite tactic is to compel all the civilians I can catch to swarm the objective, backed by a couple of snipers and a mini-gunner. Every enemy that falls only serves to arm my mob. If I find a suitable vehicle to compact my horde into, then there’s basically nothing that can stop my rampage across the map.

  62. Collin says:

    Replaying Witcher 3, enjoyin the sidequests and the characters, resenting the exploration and putting up wih the combat. Romancing Triss, but all the same Geralt and Yennefer are being uncomfortably familiar. Geralt! You said you loved Triss, I know your wish for Yennefer affects your judgment but please, focus.

    I wish the game had more hairstyles for Geralt.

    Also playing Darkest Dungeon. Satisfying but confusingly random. Dreading my first run into the actual DD so Im dragging my feet hard.

    Rereading Atlas Shrugged by audio book. The book is equal parts terrifyig, aggravating, inspiring, and shame-inducing. By god, I know poeple who sound just like James Taggart, sometimes I whine childishly like Phillip Rearden. Its one of those shut up and stand up straighter, be stronger and do better moments.

  63. silver Harloe says:

    I’m on my 4th playthrough of Dishonored 2, trying to play it after refusing powers and being really, really being bad at it. Apparently there are people who can ghost this on Very Hard and I can’t even on Medium :/

    • DeathbyDysentery says:

      If you want my advice, I’d say to focus hard on accomplishing objectives rather than trying to get the ‘ghost’ rating for missions or doing everything perfectly. It’s finnicky and obnoxious to do total stealth at the best of times in that game, but it’s even worse to do it without powers, especially considering pretty much all the stealth mechanics they give you come from those powers.

      They give you a lot of tools to kill or KO enemies in open combat, especially if you have the drop on them. Drop attacks and slide attacks are especially useful. Did you know that you can insta-kill or insta-KO almost any human enemy just by sliding into them and combo-ing an attack? Sliding + slash = instant neck stab, and sliding + choke = instant KO slam. You do need to time it right, though, pressing the attack button just as they’re stunned by the slide.

      Also, don’t underestimate the utility of climbing, even when you can’t blink. They put in plenty of things for powerless people to climb on; the easiest way to circumnavigate enemies is still to go over or around them. If you need to get down, remember that both kinds of drop attacks negate all fall damage.

  64. Apopei Viorel says:

    I’ve been playing Subnautica and Warframe.

    I checked out Subnautica also after watching one of Joseph Anderson’s vids. I think it’s one of the best takes on the whole “survival-crafting” genre, and I genuinely wish someone would make a game like this in deep space. (Preferably based on that bit in Dead Space 3 where you’re exploring that ship graveyard)

    I’ve been playing Warframe on and off for the last 2 years. It’s a pretty good game , but it seems to be conflicted on what kind of game it’s trying to be.
    On the one hand it’s this over the top combat sandbox (but not open world) like Saints Row 4 and Prototype, where you kill mooks in various creative ways, and on the other it’s this gear-based, grind-focused action hack and slash in the vein of Borderlands (or the late Hellgate:London). Each of these genres conflict with the other and bring the game down overall. It’s too grindy and slow-to-progress to be played like Saints Row 4, and it’s too shallow and easy to break by min-maxing to be played like a proper hack-and-slash game.

    I always felt the developers were hamstrung by the free to play model they embraced for the game. Like , they wanted to make this over-the-top action game with space ninjas and cool guns, but added the grind, gear-treadmill, and quest for ever larger damage numbers to keep players hooked, and never invested the proper time into properly fleshing out all the mechanics. I think with some more focused direction and a bigger team behind it, Warframe could probably topple games like Borderlands or Destiny, but as it is, it’s just… ok.

    • Falterfire says:

      Warframe is one of the few MMOs that can just eat me and all my free time for weeks in one go. It’s full of both really interesting weapon designs and really satisfying gameplay and also a bunch of really bizarre, boneheaded, or outdated decisions.

      Sometimes it feels like the devs just don’t understand their own game (For example, any late-game modded explosive weapon will kill the user in one shot if they screw up a shot, but don’t do significantly more damage to enemies than shotguns), but they still keep adding new and interesting weapons that feel different in a way that few shooters manage.

      An example of a few of my favorite decisions: If you have a gun, you have that gun. There’s no rolling for the best possible version of “Corrosive Double Barrel Shotgun that can shoot through walls”, you just build the double-barrel shotgun and then add the modifiers for Corrosive damage and Punchthrough. They also have a lot of weird guns, as opposed to (for example) Payday 2, which constantly adds more guns that all just feel like they fit into one of maybe five categories. With Payday 2 weapons, my response is often “Oh boy, another assault rifle with slightly different damage, accuracy, and fire rate numbers. How exciting,” where Warframe takes advantage of being sci-fi to add things like wrist-mounted lasers and exploding shurikens.

      I also like (some of) the monetization choices they made: Weapon & Warframe (character) slots cost about $0.40 and $1.33 each respectively, and they’re the only non-cosmetic things you can’t acquire through regular gameplay. You don’t _need_ them, and as I mentioned there’s no random drops, which means when you buy one it’s for something you personally decided you wanted.

      On the other hand, although you can build everything through gameplay without too much effort for any single item (once you get enough time in the game to know how everything works at least), the game is full of lots of ways to spend way too much money on things that aren’t worth it.

      I think Warframe could give Diablo 3 a run for its money as either “Best Terrible Game” or “Worst Amazing Game”

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