This Week I Played (June 2021)

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jun 10, 2021

Filed under: TWIP 210 comments

On the podcast a few weeks ago, Paul and I talked about the theory that different gaming communities were isolated from each other. Instead of “gamers” being a single amorphous mass, perhaps we’re really a dozen or so completely different hobbies that all happen to share a common set of hardware. Imagine if we took people that were into football, baseball, other football, lacrosse, rugby, and cricket, and acted like all of those people were into the same hobby. Maybe we’d call them “fielders” because all of their different games are played on a field.

That would be silly, right? But maybe that’s what we’re doing with “gamers”.

Now, the idea that gamers are broken into different silos is probably true to some degree. The difficult question is: What are the different silos, and to what degree are they isolated?

I was reminded of this yesterday when the new trailer for Battlefield 2042 came out…

Link (YouTube)

Okay, it’s not actually the trailer. This is the cinematic trailer announcing the release dateJune 13, this Sunday for the gameplay trailer. (Let’s just stop and admit that our hobby is very weird.)

People are going nuts about this on Reddit. One moment in particular is getting memed to death: Two fighter jets are in a dogfight. They’re in a vertical climb, and the jet in front doesn’t seem to know how to shake his pursuer. So he hits eject, pulls out a rocket launcher, and blasts the pursuing plane as it passes. Then, through the power of camera cuts, he somehow returns to the cockpit of his jet and flies away. All of this happens while a modern remix of Kickstart my Heart blasts in the background.

This is it, folks. We’ve reached Peak Bombast.

Anyway, this is apparently a move that you can pull off within the Battlefield games, and the joke is that marketing embraced the madness and put it into a cinematic.

The enthusiasm for this trailer is intense, and yet I bet that nobody on this site would be talking about it if I hadn’t just brought it up. Going by sales numbers, the Battlefield / Call of Duty players are numerous – far more numerous than (say) Mass Effect players – and yet they’re unrepresented on this site. Whenever I do one of these “This Week I Played” posts I hear about a lot of esoteric (to me) stuff: Anime hentai visual novels, number-crunchy grand strategy games, indie side-scrolling platformers. And yet I never hear people talking about this incredibly popular tentpole game. Call of Duty and Battlefield are so popular and so dominant that they’re frequently used as symbols of the hobby as a whole, and yet nobody around here seems interested in it.  (The other thing I never hear about is sports games.)

Maybe this means my website is very unusual, or maybe some silos are more insular than others. I can’t imagine how you could begin to study this without doing a massive (and prohibitively expensive) survey.

The sad thing is that EA CEO Andrew Wilson and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick are probably in a position where they could map some of this out if they cared. They have sales numbers tied to user data / account logins, and they could look to see to what degree different users are willing to cross genre lines. How many Battlefield players are also into Plants vs. Zombies? How many Call of Duty players are also into Starcraft? Valve CEO Gabe Newell could get even more accurate cross-genre data thanks to Steam, although obviously his data would be blind to the world of consoles.

It’s a shame. I’d love to know what percent of Playstation 5 owners also have a Nintendo Switch. Most of them? Half of them? Almost none? It’s hard to say. All we have to go on are anecdotes.

RELATED: Titanfall 2 On Steam More Popular Than Every Battlefield Game Combined

New Discord Logo

This is actually the old logo. Read the linked article if you want to see the new.
This is actually the old logo. Read the linked article if you want to see the new.

I was recently a guest on the Eh! Steve! podcast. Host Chris records the show through Discord, which meant it was time for me to log into Discord for the first time in six months. When I did, I saw an announcement that Discord is changing their logo. In that article, they sort of talk around what the logo is supposed to look like.

Our current logo has stuck around with us since the beginning of time itself… as in, since we first launched Discord in 2015. A lot of people aren’t aware that the little smiley icon in the Discord logo has a name: Clyde. Most people call him Discord, Mickey Mouse pants, a game controller, and of course, ugly. :(

I notice they don’t mention “Space Invaders”, which is what I see every time I look at the logo.Assuming it’s intentional, then they probably can’t say their logo is supposed to look like an invader because that could get them into legal trouble. I can kind of see “Game Controller”, although I feel like the “eyes” should be further apart for that to really click for me. I can also see “Mickey Mouse Pants”, but I never would have come up with that on my own.

I like that both “Space Invader” and “game controller” work as sort of universal symbols for the hobby, and I find it really impressive that someone cooked up an icon that can work as either.

Then again: Am I crazy? Am I the only one that sees a critter from Space Invaders when I look at the logo? Do only old-timers like me see that, or young people too? I’m honestly curious.

(I’ll link to the Eh! Steve! episode when it goes live. The episode is two hours long, so it might take a while to get through the editing process.)

This Week I Played…

Like I said on the podcast: I’m still playing Prey 2017. This game is going to be my next big retrospective.  I’ve just finished my second run of 2021, and now I’m trying to decide what I want to do for my third and final playthrough. Bump the difficulty up to nightmare? Go for a Typhon-only run? Play as male Morgan? Do a “kill everyone” run? Try New Game+? Some of these options are mutually exclusive, and I’m not sure which ones would be the most fun / useful.

So that’s what I’m up to. What have you been playing since the last one of these?



[1] June 13, this Sunday

[2] Assuming it’s intentional, then they probably can’t say their logo is supposed to look like an invader because that could get them into legal trouble.

From The Archives:

210 thoughts on “This Week I Played (June 2021)

  1. MerryWeathers says:

    Out of all these new simplified logos I’ve seen, the worst is probably Warner Bros’. Shit looks like it would come from a bootleg Chinese copy and not the official brand.

    Maybe the backlash to this whole thing will kickstart a counter-trend of new redesigned logos that are instead complex and confusing.

    1. tmtvl says:

      So I looked up the new WB logo on Wikipedia and… I don’t really see the issue? Yeah, switching from a trim to a solid background is less than impressive, but the lettering is much nicer now that the leg of the W leads straight to the middle stroke of the B and now that the B is no longer overly top-heavy. All in all I’d call it a wash.

      Though I have terrible taste in visual design (I like light themes and serif fonts), so you are probably right and I am probably wrong.

      EDIT: I just now noticed the top of the W and B form a nice symmetry in the old logo that is lost in the new, while that is bad, I’d still call it by-and-large a wash.

      1. Zaxares says:

        I grew up with the old WB logo, and so my opinion is probably (heavily) influenced by nostalgia and my ever-increasing “gitoffmahlawn!” levels with age, but to me the new logo feels… sleek. Crisp. Clean. And that’s the problem. It’s like it’s hopped on the bandwagon of companies with ever-more sanitized, inoffensive, homogenous corporate culture. It’s like when companies put out social media posts in solidarity with whatever social cause is lighting up the internet today. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good that they’re supportive of BLM, LGBTI, et al. But you just KNOW that it’s a cynical marketing ploy cooked up by their PR teams and that there’s no soul behind it. And I guess that feeling comes through with this logo change; WB is just attempting to fit in with the pack, but in so doing, they’ve lost something unique about themselves.

        1. Lino says:

          I believe a big part of the push to overly-simplified logos is due to the rise of mobile. Certainly, this is why it’s being done by most businesses that want to have a strong presence on mobile. Unique, intricate logos look great on a big screen, but are quickly reduced to a squiggly mess of colours once they’ve been shrunken down to the size of half a fingernail in order to fit on a phone screen.

          Now, should more traditional businesses like WB be doing it? As you say, trying to fit in with the pack is definitely a part of it. Because God forbid you look different to your competitors! What’s next? Releasing movies and shows based on original ideas?!?!?

          However, in WB’s case, I think it has more to do with their new streaming service. Which is a space where mobile platforms are quite important.

          1. Echo Tango says:

            They could have different versions of their logo show up on different sized devices.

            1. Lino says:

              While that may be a sensible option, try convincing a Marketing exec! Having two different logos associated with a brand is a big no-no. A big concern for marketing people is that people are stupid, and would get confused if there were two logos associated with their brand. And while that may sound like a daft reason, there is definitely something to be said about having memorable iconography that people can instantly associate with you and you alone, just by getting a brief glimpse of your logo.

              For examplee, a couple of days agon in the Diecast comment section, you used the wrong email, and your comment appeared with a random Gravatar instead of your usual cute green-hat dude (where is that from, by the way?).

              Had I been a smarter person, I could have read the nickname, and immediately known that it was you. But I’m lazy. I saw an unfamiliar avatar, and immediately assumed it was someone new. It wasn’t until you pointed it out that I finally realised that that random Gravatar was you :D

              1. Echo Tango says:

                They don’t need to have totally unrelated images for different sized logos, though. It’s commonplace to have more detailed or ornate logos on letterhead in an office, where you have clients who are sitting down, and have the time to inspect your logo on paper. On a sign on a highway, you’d be much better served with a simplified logo, because people only have half a second to notice you out of the corner of their eye. The difference between a small entry-level smartphone and a tablet or extra-wide desktop monitor is just as easy to understand.

            2. Mattias42 says:

              Seriously, don’t get why this is so horrific to a lot of ‘brands.’

              Having a big fancy symbol with gold and trimmings, a slightly less fancy version that’s still nice, and a ‘meh, go scratch it in a potato’ version for the mass produced and/or cheap stuff?

              Freaking hell, that idea goes back to stuff like heraldry & signet rings. You simply CANNOT fit the rearing lion, the shooting star, the two dancing magpies, AND the crane sword-fighting a crocodile or whatever, unless you’ve got a whole wall to put it on. So you go with ‘just’ the lion most of the time. Which in turn can be, well, simplified down to just a few lines for simple stuff, like napkins, buttons, whatever.

              So… yeah, not exactly a new concept. No idea why nobody’s tried that yet.

              1. bobbert says:

                Amen to that.

                My favorite bit of heraldry is ‘two bears ripping an atom in half’ (some city in Siberia).

                1. Amstrad says:

                  I had to look this up as it sounded too cool to be true, and the reality is close, but not quite what you said.
                  The town is Zheleznogorsk one of Russia’s infamous ‘closed towns’ and it’s flag heraldry contains a single bear tearing the nucleus of an atom apart, a reference to the fact that the town was established for the sake of setting up production of weapons grade plutonium. So while one bear tearing an atom is cool, two bears would have been cooler.

                  1. bobbert says:

                    Sorry, I mis-remembered.

                2. tmtvl says:

                  My favourite one is two bears high-fiving.

                3. Radkatsu says:

                  You’re thinking of two bears high-fiving ;)

        2. Echo Tango says:

          So, now their logo is at least honest?

  2. Joe says:

    I watched the Battlefield trailer and dismissed it as ridiculous nonsense. Some cinematic trailers I like, some I bounce off hard. The game itself holds no interest for me.

    As for what I’ve been playing, pinball. I discovered I had two simulators on my Steam account. I must have completely forgotten them. So I gave them a shot. Turns out, I have subpar aim and timing. Makes for some short games. There are good tables and bad tables. Star Trek the Next Generation for Pinball Arcade is good, but Big Shot really isn’t. Of course, it’s a lot older. But it’s also unforgiving. No ball save feature, and generally doesn’t feel right.

    Similarly, I bought the Bethesda pack for Pinball FX3. Skyrim is a good table, and even saves your progress. However, I got sick of being told to go to Bleak Falls Barrow, then losing my ball. Fallout 4… again, it just doesn’t feel right. Doom is another good one. I’m considering buying more tables in the next sale.

    Also Morrowind. I felt the urge to be immersed in an RPG. However, my problem with RPGs is that I tend to skip over the worldbuilding which in Morrowind’s case just leaves me with the subpar gameplay. I don’t know why I bother.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I’ve played most of the tables in Pinball Arcade. I kinda like Big Shot for it’s simplicity, and the taxi cab one is pretty good as well. I really like the Elivira tables and the Theatre of Magic table, though. I’m not as fond of the TNG one, but that’s mostly because it’s a bit busy/complicated for no real advantage.

      If I could get some kind of pinball simulator that did the old Data East Star Wars game, I’d be all over it. Although I refuse to go on Steam, so that kinda limits things …

  3. Arstan says:

    Yay, i am all in for your Prey retrospective!
    I really liked this game too. It’s sort of perfect ideological successor to system shock to me.
    Even deus ex games, or vampire the masquerade are not that close. They were made by the same guys, as system shock, but it all went in a different direction – and i really, really like sci-fi, abandoned dangerous space stations, mystery, alien infestations, mad supercomputers, all wrapped into that sandbox-y gameplay.
    So it sucks that Prey was not a great hit by any means, because while all the tropes that i listed are still possible to see in a ton of games, making a AAA first-person shooter-rpg is much more expensive than most of other genres.
    Also, maybe anyone knows similar games? For me SOMA springs to mind, but not much else.

    As for Battlefield, i just don’t know, i enjoy a good shooter, but both CoD and Battlefield never were in my scope, as to say.
    I am more of weird anime hentai visual novels, number-crunchy grand strategy games, indie side-scrolling platformers guy :)

  4. methermeneus says:

    I think space invader is to me what controller is to you: I can see it now that you mention it, but the eyes are a bit off (too big for a space invader). I always saw Mickey Mouse pants, which is why I knew it had to be an abstracted character: Mickey Mouse pants is too ridiculous and too copyrighted to be intentional.

    1. Fizban says:

      Space Invaders has almost no relevance to me, yet I still would have said the Discord logo was some sort of little floating alien face thing. It has eyes and arms and antennae.

  5. MerryWeathers says:

    I’m actually interested in the new Battlefield, I’ve always like the series for its scale and sandbox elements compared to other multiplayer shooters and this seems to be the most over-the-top one with huge city sized maps that can get blown to hell.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      That sounds really cool…but I don’t own hardware capable of playing it. :|

    2. Sabrdance says:

      We played Battlefield 1942 when I was in college -but the LAN parties rarely had more than a dozen people on them. Made the game less a massive battlefield and more a massive game of hide and seek with rifles. Battle of Britain was terrible -you’d spend whole games trying to find each other to shoot down.

      Counterstrike was more fun at that scale.

      I really wanted to like Battlefield One a few years back, but the game’s insistence on using rare (automatic) weapons really killed a lot of what interested me (WWI was fought with bolt-action rifles). And despite the larger number of players than when I was in college, the game was still mostly a bunch of people running around in all different directions, leading to one on one gunfights where the fastest twitch reflex won.

      At least Call of Duty usually has a single player game which -however poorly -delivered the “fighting a battle” feeling. (That said, I lost interest in Call of Duty after the Modern Warfare 3 debacle, and still consider the pinnacle of that series to have been CoDIII).

      1. Thomas says:

        It’s funny it’s so long since I played either I forgot all about the CoD / Battlefield ideological divide. It shows there’s a riches of thought in every community that can see differences outsiders probably aren’t aware of. My brother played a lot, which kept me in touch, but we see each other less these days and he’s mostly stopped playing.

        Battlefield was meant to emphasise scale and teamwork and more ‘grounded’ combat right? Even if the execution didn’t live up to it. But it’s been drifting away from those roots

  6. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Not only will your content not attract shooter bro fans, they’re games with a giant casual gamers audience, who won’t seek out gaming blogs with detailed restrospectives. Just like you won’t find a lot of Transformers mega fans on Red Letter Media’s subreddit.

    This week I’m playing Baldur’s Gate 2! I found a cool mod (the artisan’s kit) that adds a ton of new classes including my favorite one, the arcane archer. I’ve already trounced BG1/Siege of Dragonspear with it. I just like sending everyone screaming in panic with Horror and then shoot them in the back as they run. But it’s ok, I’m chaotic good, it’s morally fine.

  7. Asdasd says:

    This week I’ve been playing Broken Sword: The Director’s Cut. The extra content is nothing to write home about, and if anything the new prologue with Nico drags the pacing of the game a bit (there’s a sliding tile puzzle which in particular is a right proper bastard). But it hardly matters when the original is so charming.

    It’s full of memorable exchanges (George: I’m innocent! I’m an American!; Gendarme: Can’t make up your mind, eh?) and the puzzles are well-pitched compared to some of the genre’s excesses. Paris is a wonderful setting and still beautiful to look at. Probably my favourite adventure game, alongside Toonstruck and Full Throttle.

    1. mdqp says:

      The first 2 Broken Sword games are near and dear to my heart (me and my brother love them). Sadly I feel like the third and the fourth one are really messy and only the 5th one got back into shape a little. I still play the first 2 from time to time (the italian voice acting is actually quite amazing, on par with the english one, which isn’t always the case). I agree that most of the changes and cuts in the Director’s Cut feel less than stellar (in a few occasions, some great jokes got cut as well, which is a shame).

      Then again, I haven’t been too happy with most of the work from Revolution Software recently, and I wonder what happened in the writing department (I feel like the sequel to BASS is quite lacking in charm, retreads too many themes from the first and at times the dialogues are a series of non-sequiturs strung together).

      I even like In Cold Blood quite a bit, despite its slightly clunky moments, but I guess I can’t call myself a fan anymore, if I so rarely appreciate their efforts these days.

      1. Asdasd says:

        Oh, I had no idea the Director’s Cut actually took content out of the original. I mean, sure, it is a director’s cut, but that still strikes me as something of a shame.

        Fortunately the GOG release comes with a copy of the original game. I’m not so far in; I might install that instead and start over.

        I still liked Broken Sword 3 quite a lot. The QTEs were unwelcome and the puzzle design suffered, but I still thought the writing held up. Never did get around to playing 4, although it was impossible not to get a sense of it from its reputation. I hope to complete the series one of these days.

        1. mdqp says:

          Yeah, they cut some things. In BS 1 you can’t touch the REAL poop in the store, I think they simplified the puzzle with the goat and removed some of the interactions/observations with it, some of which were quite humorous, to name a couple I remember off the top of my head, and I heard the deaths are removed as well. I know of other hotspots which were removed in the very first screen (which was what tipped me off to the rest), but I don’t remember which specific ones right now (I think you can’t try to hide under the umbrella anymore, and you can’t try to climb the street lamp). The same is true for BS 2, but I think there it was a bit less common. Anyway, I always play the originals, even if I own the Director’s cut versions as a result.

          As for BS3, I remember finding the various screens a bit too lifeless, without enough interactive spots or characters, on top of the puzzle issues (and there were a few crate puzzles too many on top of that). Plus, the ending was pretty meh and I felt the story was kind of rushed.

          The fourth one gives more time to the story, although it too ends up wrapping things up too quickly. I remember the puzzles being slightly better, although here there is also a recurring type of puzzle from beginning to end which is kind of weak.

          I should try replaying BS3 through BS5, and see if my memories are foggy, or if I really don’t like 3 and 4 all that much even now. I think that at the very least BS5 is worth playing (despite a couple of weak moments) and if you go for it, you might as well play 4 too, right? ^_^

  8. Lars says:

    Rico Rodriges from Just Cause watches the Battlefield Trailer: ‘Yeah, been there, done that. What’s up for dinner?’

    1. Cubic says:

      Lol, my first thought was ‘welcome to San Andreas’. But perhaps this level of craziness is what we need in the year of meme stocks and who knows what else.

  9. Daimbert says:

    I haven’t really had the time to play games, so the big ones were the ones from last time: Knights of the Old Republic (I just finished a run with a character modeled on Jeffrey Sinclair) and a little bit of The Old Republic on a Dark Side Consular run. I also tried to pick up some console games again, and played a little bit of Everybody’s Golf and Pinball Arcade, but again don’t really have the time to play. I’m thinking about going back to my run on Dragon Age: Origins (Human noble on the GOG version with all the DLC) or else starting a game of Sith Lords. I might also get back into a game like Disciples 2 again.

    No time for board games, other than modding an Arkham Horror game on boardgamegeek.

    1. Daimbert says:

      Also, I finished a run of the entire story on Ring Fit Adventure. It was a fairly standard story. I tried to go for the next level up –where the story is based on you having finished the first run and so is slightly different and the gameplay is slightly harder — but got caught by a “Finish this area in a certain number of steps” challenge that I couldn’t skip and ended up starting over.

    2. tmtvl says:

      Ah, Disciples 2, I really like that game… the TBS/RPG hybrid gameplay just really hits a sweet spot for me that TacRPGs just don’t (yes, FFT is great, but it’s just not as prevalent on my rotation as Disciples 2 or Warlords Battlecry 2).

  10. Rariow says:

    Played Torna, the stanadalone expansion for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It’s not as good as the base game, but it’s fascinating in a design sense. How do you make a 100+ hour JRPG work as a 15 hour experience? I can’t stop thinking about all the ways that they had to tweak stuff to make systems designed for hundreds of hours of play be satisfying over just 15. Intuitively you’d just change numbers around, but they had to completely rework a lot of systems. They did a great job, and it’s the first time I see the concept of “concise” as being aplicable to game design. Torna is a much more concise version of the gameplay of Xenoblade 2.

    Since apparently I only play weeb games now I picked up Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I tried the series with Awakening and it didn’t click with me. That sort of tile-based strategy game just doesn’t interest me and I don’t get it, so Awakening was way too hard for me on Hard and easy to the point of boring me to tears on Normal. Three Houses sets itself appart from the rest of the Fire Emblem series with a bunch of gimmicks – a different storyline and cast depending on which of titular Three Houses you join, a teacher simulator element, the ability to wander about the school and talk to people – and between that and its much bigger focus on story (or at least bigger proportion of time spent on it) it’s actually held my attention to the point I’ve actually gotten into the tactics stuff. Annoyingly, after starting the game you can move the difficulty down but not up, so since I started my first playthrough on Normal I’m stuck with fights being far too easy. I also sort of foresee the story falling apart soon – I joined a character whose whole deal was dismantling the nobility, but the storyline is now very conspicuously avoiding dealing with that since it needs the other characters, who are mostly nobles, to be around – but so far the game is very engaging.

    Started Mark of the Ninja Remastered. It’s the most generically good thing ever. It looks good, it plays good, it sounds good. I like it. It’s good.

    I also often wonder about gaming niches. I think of myself as someone deep into gaming culture, but I have a weekly call with some friends and I’m completely lost when they discuss games. It really makes me realize that what I see as the gaming world is really a tiny portion, and most people (and money!) live in the world of FIFA and a select few AAA franchises – mostly shooters. It’s odd to think about, but most “iconic” gaming series are obscure in the grand scheme of things. It makes me wonder about the Super Smash Bros. series – how many people’s introductions to a lot lf these characters are from Smash?

    1. RamblePak64 says:

      As soon as you mentioned Three Houses I thought “Oof, I hope he chose Hard if Normal on Awakening was too easy”. I’ve been playing the series since Awakening, and Three Houses is the first in the entire series where I had zero units die on the final confrontation. In every prior game, it was a given that I wasn’t going to finish it off with my heroes unscathed, and some would be falling heroically before the great godthing’s might.

      Then Three Houses rolls along and everyone’s still standing. It should have felt like a success but instead felt a bit… off.

  11. kikito says:

    Battlefield: where NPCs have fun.

  12. John says:

    Right, let’s see. I’ve been playing . . .

    Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

    Yet another GBA tactics game. It’s funny. FFTA has better art, better (and more) music, and richer, more complex mechanics than any of my other GBA tactics games, but it is somehow not my favorite GBA tactics game. That remains Tactics Ogre: Knight of Lodis. FFTA is only my second-favorite, unless you count the Advance Wars games, in which case it is my fourth-favorite. (Still better than Fire Emblem though.) I don’t think I can tell you what’s wrong with FFTA. I’m not sure that anything even is wrong with it. The story apparently drives some people bonkers, but I can honestly say that I think the story is just fine. What I can tell you is that FFTA is a bit on the grindy side and that it’s job system isn’t quite what I’m looking for.

    FFTA could, in some respects, be considered an open world game. It’s not, not really. But there is a map that you can wander at will, there are random battles aplenty that you can embrace or avoid as you will, and there’s a whole ton of optional side missions and post-ending content that don’t have anything at all to do with the main story. It’s this side stuff where the grindy-ness comes in. As you wander the map, different side missions become available depending on the missions you’ve already done and, as far as I can tell, the month of the year. Some of these missions are one-and-done and some of them are recurring. Some of them become available–that is, they show up on the list of available missions–long before you have the prerequisites for accepting them. Others require items that you can only obtain from the infrequently recurring type of side-mission. The result is that if you want to complete all the side missions, you’ll spend an awfully long time doing circuits of the map waiting for certain infrequently recurring side missions to become available again. It kinda sucks.

    As I said earlier, the game’s job system is not quite what I’d like it to be either. There’s nothing wrong with any of the individual jobs on offer (except maybe the Gadgeteer job for moogles). The disappointing thing is that there are relatively few ways to cleverly combine jobs to produce exceptional results. The game is too well balanced for that. (And who’d have thought that would be a criticism?) Combining the Assassin job with the Archer’s Concentrate support skill is about as good as it gets, I’m afraid. A 90% chance of instantly killing most enemies is nothing to sneeze at, of course, but most boss characters are immune to instant-death effects so even that isn’t as quite as good as it sounds. The only character who really benefits from a specially constructed build is Marche, the main character, who has to go solo in certain story missions. Otherwise, I think the game intends for your party to include at least one character for each top-rank job.


    I’m currently trying out life as a fanatical pacifist. It’s . . . fine? My fleet is big enough and my tech advanced enough that no one bothers me. I build structures and districts on my planets as needed. I keep my fleet upgraded. I’ve explored the whole galaxy and colonized all the planets in my territory, and now I’m just waiting for the endgame crisis to kick in. I don’t dislike Stellaris, but I don’t think I’m going to play a whole lot more of it until I see a deep-discount sale on DLC that gives me something more to do in the mid-game.

    Fantasy Strike

    It’s Season 8 now, they’ve reset the player ranks again, and I am on a losing streak that has seen me kicked back down to Silver League. Huzzah. I may have gone down to defeat in my most recent ranked match, but at least I beat his Rook, the least squishy character in the game, with my Valerie, who is tied for squishiest. There’s something deeply satisfying about beating up a rock monster who has twice your hitpoints. Ha! Where are your throw-loops now, Mr. Unshakeable?

    1. Gargamel Le Noir says:

      For Stellaris one DLC that helps a lot for the mid game is the one with the archeology! I would recommend it before the others. The other one I truly like is the one to play robot civs.

      1. John says:

        Hm. Do you remember the name of that archaeology DLC?

        1. beleester says:

          Ancient Relics.

      2. beleester says:

        I would recommend Apocalypse, as the Great Khan is a midgame crisis that shakes up the map quite a bit, and the Colossus gives you a total war CB which is really helpful for fast endgame wars.

    2. RamblePak64 says:

      As someone that seethed with rage at the announcement of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, most of the distaste comes from the choice of narrative. The original Final Fantasy Tactics was hugely political, the entire backdrop being a whole class of knights returning from a war only to gain nothing and remain bottom feeders of the lower class while the nobles went home with glory, treasure, and good feasting. Veterans that gave life and limb for their country were now starving and unable to feed their families, and thus began a rebellion. What’s more is that rebellion itself is the backdrop for the vast majority of the game, so it’s sort of a layered “cause-and-effect” where you have two stories of salvation going on. Delita’s cut-throat and political back-stabbing, compromising his integrity in order to beat the nobles at their own game, change the world, and be the savior to the people, that’s the salvation story that gets recorded in history books. Ramza’s fight against the Jesus-that’s-actually-the-devil-it-turns-out (because what’s a JRPG without a fight with a god at the end) is the true heroic salvation of the world, but goes unrecorded and forgotten in history texts.

      It’s probably one of the deepest, and arguably could be the deepest, narratives written in the entire medium, and… Square followed it up with The Never-Ending Story. It’s like if you followed up Game of Thrones with some story about a teenager being sucked into the world of Westeros and… okay, well, that’d probably be a very edgelord masquerading-as-subversive take on the concept, but you get the idea.

      Nevertheless, I’ve purchased and downloaded FFTA on the WiiU Virtual Console because I’d like to give it an honest try, playing it as its own thing. I’d much rather harass Square Enix to just release the original FFTactics on Steam at this point than hate a game that I’ve never even played and probably doesn’t deserve it.

      1. Crimson Dragoon says:

        I bounced off FFTA’s story hard. It definitely wasn’t the follow up to Tactics that I wanted. It was just a bog standard “kids trapped in a fantasy world” story.

        But even putting aside the disappointing story, there were other aspects I wasn’t a fan of. I hated the Judge system (or whatever it was called in game) that gave arbitrary rules to follow in each fight. It felt too gimmicky and out of place. Also didn’t like how abilities and spells were immediately cast instead of needing time to charge. Took out some of the strategy.

        1. RamblePak64 says:

          The Judge system seems to be what makes the game so divisive. As immortalized in Penny Arcade, there were many that had issue with the system’s imposed limitations that would probably work better on a hard mode.

          The charge time for casting and abilities is interesting, because I, too, feel it missing in most tactical RPG’s like FFT. If you look into the game’s development, however, you learn that the charge time was never part of the original design (and why it’s not only missing from FFTA, but so many other Tactics Ogre games that had similar key people involved). The charge time was included in order to make sure the CD could load the necessary assets for those abilities, which is one of the reasons those charge times can be unreasonably long at the start of a battle. I always preferred them as a tactical consideration as well, and am sad that such charge times are not implemented more often.

          1. Chad+Miller says:

            The charge time was included in order to make sure the CD could load the necessary assets for those abilities

            Oh man, I didn’t know about this. That’s not even the last time they pulled a trick like this. A lot of the big spells in Final Fantasy XII have really long startup times for similar reasons; to make sure all the visual effects could fit in the memory of a PS2, all abilities have a hidden stat that basically measures “how resource-intensive is this?” and any ability that would put the current counter over the limit simply waits in a queue until things die down enough that the machine can handle it. I think low-level runners actually used this to cheese encounters by making sure that there would never be an opportunity for some of the strongest abilities to go off.

            1. bobbert says:

              That’s beautiful!

              “Boy, I am sure you would like to squish me with your big doom-laser, but I am going to tie up all the memory with a thousand copies of dancing lights.”

      2. Henson says:

        Man, I’ve played FFT multiple times, and I’ve missed so much of this story you describe. Every time I get through the story, I feel like I’m missing half the context, like the storyteller assumes I already know the history behind all these groups and events. Is it the localization? Or am I just thick-headed…

        1. RamblePak64 says:

          It’s a combination of things. Rumors at the bar will have so much of the political politicking, and a lot of the lore is saved for the lore pages in the menu. Unfortunately, on the original PlayStation release at least, they clearly had different teams in charge of localizing the game’s dialogue and the menu lore, because you’ll constantly find differences in how names are spelled. Ophelia and Ovelia are the same person, but different translators interpreted the name differently and no one bothered to check for consistency (or, more likely, they didn’t have the time necessary). So it takes a bit more work on the part of the player to piece together everything that’s going on.

          I’ve never played the War of the Lions translation because I cannot stand the slow-down on special abilities in combat on the PSP and I just… I… I don’t game on my phone. I’m not going to download the phone version because my phone is not a gaming device. I just… I can’t do it. I’ve tried. I’ve tried and failed.

          In addition, there’s also the fact that the story as told just seems like a typical grass roots lower-class rebellion. There’s some verbiage tossed forward that makes reference to being discarded, but it’s easy to just assume these are a bunch of thugs that happened to be soldiers rather than anything more. The opening chapter is far more interested in getting the player to understand the darkness and cynicism that had been stirring inside Delita, and the moment he finally snaps and decides to cast aside his humanity in favor of his own vision and dreams. The moment he and Ramza can, effectively, never be friends again. Ramza is technically not a very interesting protagonist, but his optimism and stalwart sense of justice and righteousness juxtaposed to Delita’s cut-throat attitude is what makes the dynamic itself interesting.

          But, again, it’s stuff that’s kind of going on underneath since the game’s flashing zodiac balls that burst open and turn people into hideous demon monsters. I think maybe that’s what makes FFTactics less memorable for some than it is for others. On the surface, it’s basically “The Catholic Church is actually a Church of Satan, who would have thunk?” and therefore you have to stop it. But it’s the characters, their machinations, and Ramza getting caught in the middle of it that just… forces me to stop talking about it because now I want to replay it and I don’t have a way to hook up a game capable of playing PS1 games.

          And I’ll be fragged if I’m gonna play it on my phone.

          1. Henson says:

            Of course! The story was in the codex all along!

      3. John says:

        If it’s plot that matters to you, you would probably also prefer Tactics Ogre: Knight of Lodis to FFTA. Knight of Lodis is a side-story, so it isn’t especially concerned with the broader politics of the setting, but that stuff is definitely there in the background and backstory and it occasionally makes its way into the foreground when certain characters start yelling at each other. Also, the main character fights and defeats definitely-the-devil-only-not-called-that at the end of the game, only for his accomplishments to be largely ignored by history. Because, yeah, JRPG.

        FFTA, on the other hand, is a kids’ game for kids. It’s a pretty complicated kids’ game for kids, but that’s nevertheless what it is. I have in my entire life played less than ten minutes of the original Final Fantasy Tactics so I had no particular expectations about what FFTA would, could, or should have been when it was released. I liked it a lot, and if I’m vaguely disappointed in it now that’s mostly because (a) there’s a side mission it turns out that I can’t do right now because I don’t have the anyone in the party with the Hunter job and I haven’t been capturing monsters for the Monster Bank all along and (b) the game is a little too easy and a little too simple when compared to a more recent Final Fantasy Tactics-like like Fell Seal. The law system is, as Crimson Dragoon suggests, kind of annoying, but it’s also the one part of the game that’s thoroughly abuseable. The first thing I did in the final boss fight was play a series of law cards that made it impossible for the boss’s summons to attack or even affect my party in any way. Bosses are immune to that kind of shenanigans, but I was still able to kill her in three turns before she got the chance to use her absurdly powerful Target All attack.

        1. RamblePak64 says:

          Unfortunately it doesn’t look like Knight of Lodis is on the WiiU virtual console, and I currently do not have the ability to play GBA carts (I bought a DS before the pandemic in order to play the superior translation of FFVI without the awful Steam graphics, but when playing Scurge: The Hive on it I discovered not all the buttons worked). Once I have such a system, however, I’ll aim to add Knight of Lodis on my purchase list.

        2. bobbert says:

          If you get the (secret) good ending, Al gets to become governor-general of one of Lodis’s client kingdoms. That’s recognition.

          1. John says:

            I don’t think that the secret ending is the good ending.

      4. Chad+Miller says:

        I haven’t played it, but from what I hear most people get annoyed at the fact that:

        – The main character wants to end the fantasy realm of Ivalice so he can go back home
        – Literally no one else wants him to do this, including other people from the real world
        – The game never even tries to justify this and doesn’t seem to be aware of what it’s done

        1. John says:

          Yeah, that’s what I was talking about. All of the “This is not what FFT was like!” was a bit of a surprise to me.

          In any case, your first two bullet points are more or less true but the third is not. To believe it, someone would have to miss or ignore (a) the fact that the fantasy world is what Mewt wants but obviously not what Mewt needs, (b) that some people in the fantasy world–it’s not clear if it’s almost everyone or just a few people–are people from the real world who have had their memories and in some cases their bodies grossly violated, and (c) all the parts in the middle where Marche is obviously unhappy about fighting his friends and relations.

      5. Dreadjaws says:

        I played FFTA before playing the original FFT and I still found the story to be ridiculous and annoying. I didn’t care, though, because the gameplay was seriously engaging and deep. Yes, the whole judge system is understandably divisive. It’s something that looks unfair at the start, because it introduces an element of randomness that might mess with your strategy. On the other hand, if you play your cards right (literally, in this case), you can make it work in your favor, which makes the whole difference. Since you can actually influence the system there’s a whole new level of strategy at play, and I feel this is what makes the game.

        It was at the time when Square was starting to really get into the idea of multiple games set in the same universe, so this game is set into the same world as Final Fantasy XII. Not having played FFXII at the time I didn’t feel any particular connection to the world that the game might have been expecting. There’s a second FFTA (for the DS, I think), but I never played that one, so I don’t know anything about it.

  13. Joshua says:

    Apart from playing Civ V by myself and Valheim with the wife, the new DLC for Wasteland 3 just dropped so I briefly started that before getting really busy in the past few days after I was T-boned.

    1. Biggus Rickus says:

      I’ve been playing Civ V myself, trying out some Civs I’ve never really played (I’m kind of a late antiquity chauvinist and tend to stick to Rome, Carthage and Greece). I discovered that I don’t care for Bismarck’s coopting of Barbarians, even if it is a quick way to build an army, and quite like the Austrian ability to annex city-states. The extra land grab by the Shoshone is also pretty sweet. Randomizing most map settings was also more fun than I anticipated. It had been three or four years since I played it, and I had forgotten how much more I enjoyed it than VI.

      1. Joshua says:

        I love playing the Shoshone in maps where you have a lot of room to explore!

        And yes, playing as Bismarck can be annoying (I play with Raging Barbarians) as you start taking large money hits from grabbing too many units.

      2. Veylon says:

        I like to play as India and never settle a second city. Just build wonder after wonder and launch that rocket ship. Egypt can really snowball on a single city, too.

  14. Thomas says:

    I play FIFA very occasionally, but even when I do play it, I wouldn’t think about talking about it. On the other hand I know people who are totally devoted to it and always want to talk about their Ultimate Team etc.

    It saddens me that companies these days have so much data on human behaviour and we’ll never get to see the insights on it. Not even really because it would be useful, but Netflix must understand so much about how people watch films and TV and that knowledge will stay inside the company forever.

    I’ve been playing Rocket League as usual. I’ve discovered I play worse on days where it is very hot or cold, because my hands become clumsier. I was expecting the cold one, but the fact I play worse when the temperature gets to 24C indoors surprises me. There’s a really strict range of something like 20-22C where my hands function optimally.

    I downloaded Knockout City because I’m hoping that will be the second Rocket League, but haven’t actually played it so far.

    I’m going through the Mass Effect Legendary edition currently I’m up to ME2. A lot of things are slightly better than I remember – the companions in ME1 have more to say than I remembered, the combat in ME2 is slightly more fluid. The games feel very easy, and I’m not sure if that’s because Bioware fiddled with the experience and money systems, or if I just know how to play them. ME1 has always been easy once you hit your mid levels, but I remember struggling with ME2. But I’ve bumped up the difficulty, and it’s still smooth. The biggest issue is that your squishiest companions also tend to be the ones that walk straight into the middle of the firefight, because they’ve all got short range weapons.

    I’m still impressed how well Bioware conveys character through NPC strength. I’m pretty sure everyone who has played the games could make a rough list of how strong each character is in combat off the top of their head, and it would pretty much match the list of how strong those characters were in-universe.

    My aim was to play an idealistic Shepherd in ME1, until she loses a crew member, when the pain focuses her on harder at-all-cost strategies. Then in ME2, she becomes even more hardline after being abandoned by the council and surrounded with crew she has no real relationship with, until she slowly begins to value them more (helped by old crew returning), and realises the value of inspiration after the sacrifice of the suicide mission. And then I’d see how that makes ME3 play out, because the game rewards you for consistency and this isn’t a consistent plan.

    The problem is, there’s really no benefit to being suboptimal in the Mass Effect series. If you did something like this on an Alpha Protocol run, you’d end up seeing a bunch of stuff you’d never seen before, some things would go wrong but in other cases you might stumble onto a better outcome. All consequences are interesting.

    In Mass Effect bad consequences aren’t interesting. If you let a crew member die during the suicide run, you just get a worse version of that character in ME3, a hit to your war points and one side mission will turn out worse than it would have done otherwise. And you can’t hang out with them in the Citadel DLC. You might even outright lose a party member and all the conversations that go with that. So playing suboptimally just feels like a bit of self flagellation.

    Finally I’ve been playing a lot of Magic: Arena. More recent sets have been more complicated than previous sets and it leads to a lot of weight decisions when playing that are really satisfying. My one issue is that I like trying very janky decks (and because everything is ranked you can just find the level where decks are bad enough for yours to work). But once you get a few wins and your rating climbs, it’s really difficult to go through the period of sinking back down the rankings until you can get even matches again. I was the rating system also rated your deck – so new decks started from the bottom again. They do have some kind of deck rating system, but it’s based on the number of rare cards in your deck, and sometimes the rare cards are the really janky ones.

    EDIT: Oh and I finished Haven the ending hit me hard enough emotionally, that I felt quite drained after I realised that was the last I was going to play of it. It’s been a while since I’ve finished playing a game and even longer since I really felt the ending of one. It’s still not a game for everyone, but I played it at just the right time for it to have a big impact on me.

    1. Mark Ayen says:

      Mass Effect Legendary Edition here as well. I’m going through it very slowly since as we come out of the pandemic I’m finding myself pulled in a lot of different directions. (For example, I haven’t seen most of my friends in person since this all started, and this weekend I was invited to a party and a wedding.) There’s nothing on the radar that really excites me (and that includes Battlefield).

    2. RFS-81 says:

      I have kind of the opposite problem in Arena. I play Standard only rarely and I usually just barely climb out of Gold before the rank resets. But because I draft a ton, I have basically all the cards, and I like playing the meta decks. It feels especially dirty if I win against someone who’s playing a budget version of my deck. Like, taplands instead of temples or pathways for dual lands. (Relatedly, I think the tradition of making all the good dual lands rare is easily the grossest thing about Magic.)

      1. Thomas says:

        The dual lands thing is awful because it just makes games inconsistent and variable if you don’t have them.

        My deck functions fine without them, except I’m more likely to have a game where I don’t get to play Magic because the colours didn’t come up. That’s a terrible punishment to stick at rare.

        And it feels rubbish using your wildcards on lands, knowing you could be getting some awesome dragon with an intriguing ability, but the wiser option is to invest them into a boring card that taps for two colours instead of one.

    3. Sleeping Dragon says:

      That’s my problem with the paragade system, it favours maximizing one or the other extreme and actively discourages roleplaying. Add to this the fact that you don’t quite know what your Shepard is going to say from picking the dialogue options (particularly in ME2) and even the presumed consistency goes out the window.

  15. tmtvl says:

    Gaming-wise I’ve played a bit more modded Minecraft (Tinkers is now available for 1.16), having well and truly put my Ultima playthrough on the backburner. But most playing around I’ve been doing was with Rust (the programming language, not the game).
    It’s… fine? I think it’s mainly aiming to be a C++ replacement and I don’t use C++. The closest language in my toolbox (C, Java, Perl, Scheme) it could replace is Java, and I don’t think the surrounding infrastructure (mountains upon mountains of libraries) is quite there.
    I’m going to be checking out Zig next, which is promising to be closer to C, so maybe that will find its way into my toolbox.

    Regarding silos, I’m also curious about age ranges, like how many people in the 60-70 age bracket play video games, what they play, same for the 50-60 bracket, and so on. Making a complete random shot in the dark I would think we’d see the widest disparity in games played in the 40-50 bracket, but that’s just my gut feeling.

    1. RFS-81 says:

      I like Rust! It’s been forever since I worked with it, though. It’s not like there’s a formal guarantee for this, but I feel like, if I can get the compiler to accept my code but the program isn’t doing what I want, then the error is in my thinking, and not in my writing, if that makes sense.

      The game makes searching a bit of a pain. I tried to look for “Rust macros” and I find cheats for the game.

  16. Glide says:

    Uncharted Trilogy PS4 remaster: Uncharted was one of the big console exclusive franchises I wanted to get a look at when I returned to the console world after a decade in PC-land (and a decade before that in a mostly Nintendo world). I played the first three games through back-to-back in May. I thought the storytelling was brilliant. It’s easy to say that you want to have movie-like cutscenes in your games, but it’s a hard thing to do and requires an understanding of how to manage pacing and write dialogue while minimizing the disruptive nature of the switches back and forth to gameplay. Uncharted knocks that out of the park. They take something that is provably hard (given the lack of success in other games) and makes it look incredibly easy – making Nathan Drake feel like the protagonist of an action movies and his adventures feel like a series of actual movie scenes. The story is strong and the game-to-story connection excellent throughout. In the first game, they rely too much on their fairly uninteresting shooting and it drags things down, but there’s a definite spark there of something great. In the second game, they get the picture and stick to their strengths: charm, wit and shenanigans, and it is a legitimately incredible game. The third game is also amazing but you get the sense the level designers got more ambitious than the rest of the team could handle: some of the sections of the game are completely pointless in terms of the plot and serve more as an excuse to use the big setpiece level some designer cooked up. Overall, great trilogy – sparked a revival of the action movie video game and few have done it as well since.

    Tell Me Why: The latest from the Life is Strange devs is free on Steam for Pride Month. It had its weaknesses but I give it huge credit for doing some things I did not expect. 90% of the marketing and talk about this 2020 game was about the transgender lead, so I assumed that was the primary focus of the story. Trans guy comes home to rural small town, everyone is an asshole about it, and eventually we learn to be nice to trans people. That’s basically what I expected … and it was present, but it was, like, 10% of what was important here. Mostly, it was a very interesting treatise on how our childhood memories are a biased and incomplete picture of what was really going on around us, told in the form of a mystery plot with a sprinkling of Life is Strange superpowers. The walking sim gameplay was pretty boring and not a strong example of that genre, but the characters and story were pretty strong and that got the focus, so I generally enjoyed the game.

    Watch Dogs: Bad Blood DLC: Played this displaced in time by about a year from my original Watch Dogs playthrough. I love Ray Kenney, he’s by far my favorite character to come out of a Ubisoft game, so getting a look at him as a protagonist was fun. I hoped for a little innovation and didn’t get it: this is bog-standard copy and paste Watch Dogs 1 missions, mostly only useful if you loved Watch Dogs 1 (which I did not).

    I am about to start Horizon Zero Dawn.

    1. Lino says:

      Tell Me Why:

      Ain’t nothin’ but a heartache
      Tell me why
      Ain’t nothin’ but a mistake
      I never wanna hear you say
      I want it that way!

      Sorry, I don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute (never played any LiS games). But I saw those words, and I just couldn’t resist!

      1. Glide says:

        I can’t overemphasize how hard it was to not start singing this every single time I booted up the game.

    2. Thomas says:

      Tell Me Why is free? Downloading immediately! I’d heard nothing of this game, since Kotaku got rid of half their staff I’ve been using a Playstation specialist site, but you really do lose touch with a surprising amount when you do that.

      Definitely make sure you get round to Uncharted 4 at some point. They take the presentation of the story to another level, and some of the set pieces are incredible. There’s one in particular which is a take on a set piece every Uncharted game has, but it has so many routes through it and ways of playing it out it’s really the pinnacle of what they achieved. Lost Legacy is also worthwhile.

      1. Geebs says:

        I think 3 and 4 are the best Uncharteds. For some reason people seem to remember all the best bits and forget all of the worst bits of 2 (that statue puzzle and pretty much the entire last quarter of the game, IMO). Meanwhile they remember the worst bits of 3 and forget the best bits.

        4 is a complete knockout, with the best gameplay and the best story in the series. Unfortunately the Lost Legacy spin-off was a bit of a disappointment; turns out, you can’t do an Uncharted game without Nathan Drake after all.

        1. Thomas says:

          I disagree on 3. Whenever I replay it I think it won’t be as bad as I remember but it always is. It’s just too disjointed, and the story of Drake and Elena falling out and getting back together is irritating because they’re repeating 2 again. 4 finally resolves that in a way that feels good.

          I’d play Lost Legacy over 3 any day. I think you can skip 3 and not really miss much.

    3. bobbert says:

      That is why I avoid most of the political games.

      “Main character is perfect, blameless, and mistreated by a fallen world.” gets old really fast.

  17. BlueHorus says:

    I’ve been playing Prey, since I saw a retrospective coming up. I recently gave up and quit, during the final third of the story.

    The regular visits by the Nightmare, near-unlimited access to powerful abilities, and sheer *number* of Typhon monsters I have to get through while going from A to B (or just respawning!) have kind of killed the tone. It doesn’t feel like a survival horror game anymore; it feels like a slog. There’s a lot of story things I want to do, but I feel like I’m wading through trashmobs all the time, and it’s…

    Which is a bad thing to feel when I’m supposed to be scared of the game’s enemies.

    I’m wondering if it’s an issue of Rubber-Banding Difficulty. The enemy are problematic, so I make my character more powerful. The game notices this, so makes more, tougher, enemies appear. I respond by investing in more neuromods…rinse and repeat.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      I do find Prey to be game that overstays its welcome, like I feel the game should have ended earlier.

    2. Rariow says:

      I really loved Prey, right up until the Nightmare showed up. I sat out my first encounter with it in a closet, and just as I was getting into the groove of things again it showed up once more. Never dropped a game I was liking before quicker in my entire life – most of my work life involves dealing with irritating distractions from what I want to actually be doing, I do not want the same thing when I’m playing games. I do wonder whether I overreacted, but I have enough other stuff I want to play that I don’t feel too bad about it.

      1. Fizban says:

        Depends on your build- the Nightmare is probably not meant to be killable on its first visit, but by the third time I’d gotten tired of it so I dropped a save and charged (all-human build on normal), and it was far more killable than I expected. It can kill you fast, but if you can kill it fast or cheese it, it’s just a resource dump, maybe not even that. Probably not an overreaction since it’s a particular annoyance for you, especially since it doesn’t stay dead and backtracking later in the game guarantees more encounters even if you stop to do the sidequest to permanently deal with it as soon as available (I think it’s flagged after your second encounter?). But not as bad as it looks initially.

        What bugged me was trying to scan it each time, way spookier needing to get close enough with a clear line and hold the scan, within a time limit, when it can one or two shot you and you’re not setting up for a fight.

        1. Chad+Miller says:

          Wait, you’re supposed to be able to deal with the Nightmare permanently?

          I saw the “4 remaining” on the repelling signal and assumed that “you only get to do this 4 times” and treated it like a limited resource. This actually really annoyed me for a different reason; the “play last un-used transcribe” button would now play that signal, which means I’d burn it, get mad I wasted it, and reload a save.

          The only time I killed it was because I’d just finished hacking 6 Military Operators and they did it for me.

          1. Fizban says:

            Wait, the signal has a use limit? *Checks wiki* Well that’s stupid. Never noticed, my mistake.

    3. Chad+Miller says:

      I don’t think it’s adaptive difficulty so much as the game just expecting you to be that much better at fighting.

      I finished the game, and adore it, but I do agree with the criticisms that the game eventually starts to drag in the mid-late game or so. It seems like even among people who like the game the sentiment is usually that the opening is fantastic, the ending is controversial, and at some point in the middle things get less interesting, at least for awhile.

  18. Awetugiw says:

    While there is undoubtedly some “silo-ing” in video games, I do think that looking purely at which games are mentioned in the comments may give the impression that the silo walls are much more inpenetrable than they really are.

    The issue is that people have a tendency to talk primarily about those games that they not only care about themselves, but also expect other readers to care about. As a result, it is quite possible for a game that a small but significant part of the people visiting the site care about to barely be discussed at all.

    In fact, there are even some interesting phenomena related to “pluralistic ignorance” where a lot of people do actually care about a topic but they still wouldn’t bring it up because they wrongly think other don’t case, because others don’t bring it up.

    Having said that, I personally have been playing Morrowind and some Paradox grand strategy games, so I do fit the stereotype. So who knows, maybe there really are almost no Battlefield players here. But it’s almost impossible for us to know.

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      Another thing I’d add is that how interesting a game is to talk about doesn’t necessarily track with how fun it is to play. This came up in a Discord channel I hang out in recently when someone mentioned liking Call of Duty, everyone else in the room talked about rando shooters they played and enjoyed, then concluded that we didn’t talk about those games nearly as much because we just didn’t think there was nearly as much to say.

      1. Sabrdance says:

        I agree with this. I’m playing Titanfall right now as my “zen” game. It’s fun. I like it. There isn’t much to say about it.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I mean, I almost never mention the idlers I play even though I overall put a lot of hours into them and some have fairly involved mechanics.

  19. josh weiner says:

    So funny, I never thought it was anything other than a little space invader. crazy how we all see different things. its like that blue/yellow dress.

  20. Lino says:

    Am I the only one that sees a critter from Space Invaders when I look at the logo?

    Nope, Space Invaders ha always been my first association. That and a controller. And I’ve always thought it looks really good. But I guess most people found it ugly? Weird, given how I’ve always thought it design meshed really well with traditional PC gamer sensibilities (two somewhat dark colours, simple shapes – if I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought it was designed by the folks at Valve or Razer)

    Although I never saw the resemblance to Mickey Mouse’s pants, whenever I look at the new logo, that’s all I see. But they must have run some solid A/B testing on it, so it’ll probably appeal to most of Discord’s users (which I am definitely not a part of, so who even cares what I think :D).

    1. Abnaxis says:

      My first gut reading of the logo was “Space Invader,” but after after interacting with it more it seemed too round for one of the critters so I moved to “controller”

      What I don’t get is… it’s supposed to be a smiley face? Who looks at either logo and sees a face with an expression on it? If it’s intended to be interpreted as anthropomorphic it just looks like two eyes on a head with no mouth depicted, floppy ears, and a neutral expression.

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      My graphic design sensibilities are weak-sauce, but I can see the ugliness of the old logo. The new one is better, but if they really wanted to up their game, they should have made the call to Tantacrul.

  21. Nixorbo says:

    While I buy that there is some siloing, I would also suspect that your particular readership is skewed towards the people not into the latest bro-shooter. I would also not be surprised that your readers who do play would treat it as their side-hustle, as a way to hang out with friends online and switch off for a while and wouldn’t really consider it worth the mention. I, for one, bounced off of CoD and never got into Battlefield, I was always into Halo and Destiny, I much preferred Bungie’s style until I burnt out. Same thing for sports – your readership is less likely to be into them and those who do wouldn’t bother talking about them.

    Because I only have a couple of hours of gaming time a day (Thanks adulting, I hate it!), I’m still working on Octopath Traveler (I have notes) and the Final Fantasy 12 remaster. I’ve also been dabbling with MLB The Show 21 pitching for the Mariners in Road to the Show, imagining what life would have been like if I didn’t give up pitching in little league. I’d be interested in Shamus’s opinions on Octopath because the actual gameplay is interesting and satisfying but the story’s kind of a huge mess.

    And I always thought Discord’s logo was a stylized space invader as well.

    1. Syal says:

      but the story’s kind of a huge mess.

      That is to say, there are eight stories that not only don’t connect, but ignore each other to the point of breaking immersion; if two people have quests in town, you have to pick one or the other to activate, you can’t do both at once.

      I do like the stories for what they are; bite-sized generic anime stories whose various acts each last about half an hour. Go to town, discover thing, resolve thing, grow a bit as a character.

  22. Grey Rook says:

    I would surmise that the kind of player who enjoys bombastic cutscene-fests like Battlefield or Call of Duty probably isn’t particularly interested in your kind of commentary, Shamus. That, and this blog is somewhat obscure.

    Anyway, I’ve been playing a lot of Borderlands 3. The gameplay is an improvement on the second game, but the writing is worse. In particular, the villains of the main game are obnoxious and annoying rather than threatening or funny, and even their deaths in the end don’t have much impact. But then, creating a better antagonist than Handsome Jack would have been quite a feat, and the expansions are better written. I’ve been working my way through them, and am currently trying to clear up the last few quests in the fourth one; Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck.

    I really like the environment design in that one; taking place inside the fractured mind of a psycho really let the designers cut loose with surreal and trippy environments. The bullet-riders are fun too, but sadly most of the enemies are the same old, same old. Eh, it’s still pretty fun, at least as long as my mouse and keyboard don’t drop out.

    I’ve also been playing THERA: Legacy of the Great Torment, a mod for Medieval 2: Total War that transposes the action to a low fantasy setting. I finished a campaign as Avalon (not!England) and moved on to one as the Barka (not!Egypt), which is going… okay, I think. It’s still early, since I’m about sixty turns in and fighting the Vashta (not!Turkey) in order to secure the continent of Syrianna against the Romans.

    It’s a bit buggy and unfinished, and the author has long since vanished from the net, but what other games can you name where you can see Arthurian knights battle against vikings, where Roman legions can face off against Aztec warriors, where pikemen, musketeers, Renaissance swordsmen, and cannon teams can face off against Saruman’s Uruk-Hai, or Indian elephant riders?

    1. Syal says:

      I think a Borderlands game should just have a Vault monster be the main antagonist; someone let it out a while back, it developed a sense of rhetorical flourish and spends its time trying to convince visitors its “I’m going to eat you whenever I feel like it” policy is the Way of Tomorrow, sure to be picked up by other civilized planets any day now, tell your friends and spread the word.

  23. Crimson Dragoon says:

    “Maybe we’d call them “fielders” because all of their different games are played on a field.”

    I think its pretty standard to just call them “sports fans.” And very few sports fans I’ve met are into only a single sport. Most have specific games they like more, of course, and have some sports they don’t follow at all. But that’s pretty much how most gamers are, too. We all have our genres of choice, and genres we don’t touch.

    Honestly, gamers and sports fans have way more in common than either group are willing to admit.

    1. Nixorbo says:

      Honestly, gamers and sports fans have way more in common than either group are willing to admit.

      And some of us are both!

      1. Falcon says:

        Yup! I don’t play sports video games, but do enjoy watching pro sports (baseball and hockey primarily, with football as third) and am an avid athlete myself. When I’m not playing a game or reading, I’m climbing some mountain or running.

        But when I game I play the super nerdy grand strategy type games, or games like Dominions. Or if I play a sports game it is Out Of the Park Baseball, which is the Paradox Grand Strategy of sports games.

      2. Mark says:

        I think most of us are both.

    2. Lino says:

      I’ve been around a great many football fans, and there is a minuscule minority who have even a passing interest in any other sports. Most of them are into football and absolutely nothing else.

      That being said, I think this greatly depends on the country we’re talking about. I imagine these things vary greatly country to country…

    3. Chris says:

      Sports fans are definitely the bigger nerds though. They memorize players’ THAC0s and everything.

    4. Thomas says:

      When you put sports fans through the selective filter of ‘being on Reddit’, you can make practically any game reference however obscure and hit the jackpot. I’ve even seen chess youtuber references on threads about Messi.

  24. T-Boy says:

    Imagine if we took people that were into football, baseball, other football, lacrosse, rugby, and cricket, and acted like all of those people were into the same hobby. Maybe we’d call them “fielders” because all of their different games are played on a field.

    “Sports-ball fans”.

    Back to topic: been playing way, way too much modded Minecraft (specifically, the 1.16 direwolf20 modpack), and my kids have been dragging me to play hot-seat Worms WMD for as much as I can stomach it.

  25. MelTorefas says:

    I, too, am looking forward to the Prey retrospective! As for what I’ve been playing, it’s mainly one game, which I am rather late to the party on.

    XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
    A few months ago I saw a streamer play XCOM 2 WotC. I had heard about the XCOM games for a long time but never had any interest in them. I somehow had a completely incorrect idea of what they were. Watching this stream and actually seeing the game in action got me incredibly excited to play it. At that point I couldn’t afford the $100 price tag to purchase the game and all of its DLC, so I bought XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Within on sale and played that. I thought it was fun but when I finished I had no real desire to play it again.

    Once I had the money I bought XCOM2 and have been playing it ever since. It’s been about a month and my current time played is almost 100 hours. I still feel like I have barely seen anything though. I made it somewhat far in my first run (I’d killed 2 of the 3 titular Chosen), using mostly cosmetic and UI mods with a couple small gameplay changes. But I really wanted to be using the Playable Aliens mod, and the only updated version was designed for the Long War of the Chosen overhaul mod, so I finally gave in and installed that. It is a very different gameplay experience. There is a lot about it I like but it’s also a little bit much for me, so I have been cheating a fair bit. Either way, this game is my favorite game in a long time. I love tactical combat, I love the character creator (with cosmetic mods and unrestricted customization mods), I love the huge array of abilities, and I actually quite enjoy the counterplay provided by the Chosen and the general “over the top sci-fi themed ridiculousness” of the whole experience.

    Besides XCOM2 there’s a couple of others I have still been finding some time for.

    Final Fantasy Tactics Randomizer
    Abyssonym released a new version of the randomizer, and it is pretty great. I would be playing a lot more of this if I weren’t so distracted by XCOM 2. FFT remains one of my favorite overall games of all time, and I love randomizers. Github link for anyone interested. Requires a PSX ISO of the US game.

    This was a game I could never make myself stick with due to the hassle of inventory management and some other general annoyances, but all of those were solved by the Journey’s End update. Journey Mode is amazing. I love the Research system, which lets you consume items to research them, and once you have reached a requisite number researched you can then duplicate the item freely. The ‘personal power’ menu in this mode also lets you do all kinds of other things, like adjust the time, weather, enemy spawn rate, difficulty, godmode, etc, and defaults to giving you enhanced block placement range.

    I actually managed to beat the entire game (all but one optional boss) and assemble the most powerful weapon (the Zenith sword). I had a bit of a break but now I am tackling a new char and a new world, still in Journey mode but leaving the difficulty on Master and beating the bosses on this difficulty ‘legitimately’ (IE no cheats enabled). I’ve made it to the mechanical bosses at the start of Hardmode but I am pretty bad so they are giving me a lot of trouble, heheh. Great game though.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Ooh, Long War of the Chosen, eh? That sounds like it’d be worth looking into…

      …is that a third-party mod? I seem to remember Pavonis Interactive (makers of Long War 2) saying they wouldn’t be updating it for the War of the Chosen DLC.
      I’m not surprised that someone else might have don it, though.

      1. Sabrdance says:

        It’s good. I confess, maybe too good. Having finally beaten the 3 chosen, I kinda lost interest in finishing the game because I have all these cool toys and the enemies who aren’t the chosen are less interesting.

  26. MelTorefas says:

    Welp, I spent about 20min writing a reply, posted it, edited it to try and add the word ‘github’ and it got marked as spam and eaten. :(

    Short version, finally playing XCOM2 and loving it, occasionally finding time for Final Fantasy Tactics randomizer (there’s a new version out) and Terraria (journey mode is awesome, working on beating the game on Master difficulty without using cheat powers).

  27. Steve C says:

    I’ve been playing Valheim. I checked it out due to Paul gushing about it on the Diecast. It is a really good game. Minecraft isn’t my thing, but this is.

    I agree btw. AAA and sports games might as well be a different hobby. I like mid-budget games. They hold zero interest for me. I look at them and can only think… Why? With just the advertising budget of a AAA game, a 100 mid-budget games could be made. Even if 90% of them are crap that still means getting 10 good games. That’s a ten times better result than if every AAA game was always guaranteed to be good. Which they aren’t.

  28. neminem says:

    > Imagine if we took people that were into football, baseball, other football, lacrosse, rugby, and cricket, and acted like all of those people were into the same hobby. Maybe we’d call them “fielders” because all of their different games are played on a field.

    No, I’d call them “sports fans”, and since I don’t give a carp about any sport under the sun, I kinda already do that. :p

  29. RamblePak64 says:

    Gaming is so vast that you can even make further separations by age group, device, and country. What people play on mobile phones in North America is probably going to have a lot of differences from what’s being played in Asia (or at least, certain parts of it). We already know Minecraft is as, or more, foundational for today’s children than Mario is, but a liked-but-largely-forgotten game like Until Dawn is one of my teenage niece’s favorites, insofar as she’s drawing fanart of the Wendigo creature in the game. She doesn’t play Dead by Daylight, she plays a Coraline-based/esque mobile imitation called IdentityV. Some of this is due to her interest in horror and the macabre, hence her efforts to play the Resident Evil franchise, but her tastes are going to be far less predictable to a Millennial or Gen-Xer or Baby Boomer’s tastes.

    I find what’s going on with Battlefield 2042 more interesting from an industry perspective more than anything. For a variety of reasons, the franchise has been on a downward trajectory the past several years among its core fanbase, and watching this trailer felt intentionally designed (as you mentioned with ejection rocket) to appeal to that core, long-time audience. Showcasing vehicular combat and huge swathes of troops on screen at once, they’re definitely attempting to convey an immense multiplayer showdown in a cinematic fashion… all while a song about a drug overdose is remixed to sound like an epic world war soundtrack…?

    That it’s multiplayer only means I won’t be checking it out myself, but that’s probably for the best after having played the campaigns to Battlefield: Hardline and Battlefield 1. The former had some interesting ideas and moments that I’d attribute to Visceral Games knowing how to structure a campaign (based on Dead Space, at least), but between it and Battlefield 1, it was clear EA was trying to strong-arm Battlefield into being a Bayhem-driven competitor to Call of Duty. The Medal of Honor reboot was likely an attempt to double-down on that effort, so if one failed they’d continue the other. While I’m no annual Call of Duty buyer, I do occasionally snag one for the campaign. But when I bought Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and Titanfall 2, it was Battlefield 1 that was far and away the weakest, most forgettable, and just… most dumb.

    So from my perspective, ditching the single player and going for multiplayer might move the game out of my wheelhouse, but I think it’s likely the best move for DICE and EA in order to make the best game they can. Now if only Respawn could get to making Titanfall 3, as they seem to be one of the few studios capable of making a first-person shooter that I can really get into in these days of a graying beard.

    In fact, it’s a perfect opportunity to bring up Necromunda: Hired Gun, a title I purchased on day-one and decided to give a spin. Outside of making a bad first-impression by being poorly optimized and needing me to fiddle around with it, there’s just… something it’s missing. I played the first two missions and it felt… fine? The mobility of things like wall-running does not feel as polished as I had hoped or expected, and their answer for making tough enemies is to just give them a ton of hit points. I dunno, something feels missing from this game, and I’m not yet in a position to put my finger on it. Perhaps if the levels were 15-30 minute chunks or something it’d make for a better, more arcade-style experience, but as it is, it just makes me want Titanfall 3 all the more.

    I also jumped back into Outriders on Game Pass after being away for about a month. After playing a far more addictive game for a few weeks, it was almost jarring to jump back in and feel so… exhausted by the time-consuming waves Outriders relies on to pad out its play time. It’s funny, because there’s so many surface-level elements that I like in Outriders that Destiny could take notes from, such as the “world tier” to increase or decrease challenge for the player based on current character and gear level, the ability to mod any equipment with buffs or bonuses gained from any scrapped equipment, and a better and more intricate upgrading system for gear. Changes like this would fix most of my gripes with Destiny 2 and its approach to the loot-chase. But the gameplay itself? It’s somewhat close to a “Gears of War sequel I’ve wanted since 2/3”, but the focus on class means the balance of encounters is way out of whack. I chose a long-range class whose health regains most when attacking foes from far away. It’s best for me to duck behind cover and pick off enemies from a distance. This is fine, because I like playing that way anyway. I like mid-to-long range gear and weaponry. The problem is when they insist on throwing melee-oriented foes at me in droves, my melee ability is unable to strike or freeze them because it’s too precise and too limited in range, and oh yeah, while I’m dancing around trying not to get a pick-axe in the head, there’s a sniper lining up a shot to knock away most of my health.

    It’s a game that makes me appreciate Game Pass on my Xbox One X. I don’t want to spend money on a game that’s this frustrating, but it’s still enjoyable enough that I’m glad to have played it. Just don’t know if I’ll be finishing it.

    Speaking of not finishing, I’m probably not going to finish my replay of Marvel’s Spider-Man, as I mentioned during our recording. I am continuing progress in Resident Evil 4, which may mark the …uh…. don’t know how many times I’ve gone through. It’s been a while since the last time, though! Campy B-Movie narrative aside, I’ve felt like this is one of the best games that’s ever been made for a long time, so much so that I am actively nervous of the prospect of the game being remade. Capcom may be on a roll, but you don’t fix what ain’t broke, ya know? But that’s the thing: coming back after so much time, with my last playthrough being a few years ago on the WiiU with Wii motion controls, I’m left wondering if it isn’t broken, though what’s broke is, in part, a matter of when it released and the influence it had on the industry. Not just in terms of controls, either, though that’s a part of it. I’m still having a lot of fun playing the game, and there’s still a lot of that “mastery” element that contributes to that fun on a repeat playthrough. But it just has me thinking if, at some point, games must inevitably retire from being “one of the best games ever made” and instead adopt a title like “one of the most influential, and still fun, games ever made”.

    Don’t know what I’ll do when I beat it, as the urge to go through Resident Evil Village on its highest difficulty has not been curbed.

    Earlier this year I was doing a really good job at conquering “the backlog”, a selective list of titles that have been sitting on various hard drives gathering dust without having been played. I decided to get back to that by booting up AI: The Somnium Files on PS4 instead of continuing my time with Marvel’s Spider-Man, and it was a great choice. I’ve recently discovered that I’m a sucker for quirky Japanese mystery/detective visual novels/adventure games. So think something like Phoenix Wright, Danganronpa, or 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors. In fact, that last one is most significant here, because the writer and director of the entire Zero Escape series is the writer and director of AI. You can tell he’s carrying over elements from the latter games, Virtue’s Last Reward and Zero Time Dilemma, as there’s a number of different routes based on choices made during certain events. On the whole, I like the focus on a near-future anime-as-all-get-out sci-fi murder mystery with a protagonist that feels unique in this day and age of teenage light-novel self-inserts (I’m lookin’ at you, Re:Zero). The game is hornier than anything I’ve played in a long time, and yet still doesn’t feel as horny as a game could get, seeing as it’s clearly expecting otaku to be playing. Nonetheless, the narrative and mystery are interesting and I highly anticipate going through all the routes in order to find the truth, and probably the true ending. It makes me wonder if these games could have a larger Western audience craving some point-and-click goodness, were it not for the anime aesthetics and tropes and/or the obvious influence of visual novels over Western point-and-click. It’s kind of like tracing the differences between Western Computer RPG and JRPG. Though both were heavily influenced by TableTop, Dragon Quest in particular made a huge splash on design in Japan by intentionally trying to simplify the mechanics for a more widespread audience. Basically, “How do I streamline Ultima” (I believe it was Ultima) was the approach taken for Dragon Quest, and thus the two countries would diverge in their influences and, therefore, expectations and tropes.

    Speaking of otaku and anime and tropes, No More Heroes released on PC yesterday, almost as if Suda 51 himself knew it was my birthday. So I decided to download and start streaming it last night, and man, it fits right alongside Resident Evil 4 in that “this game is out-dated but I’m having fun anyway”. The only difference is that No More Heroes was jank when it came out, and is definitely jank today. Where Resident Evil 4 still clearly has a lot of good design elements, No More Heroes… doesn’t. I feel like one of the reasons it works so well is simply because there’s not much like it, but some of it also comes down to resourcefulness and efficiency. Swing at the same time as an enemy? Lock blades with them, and if you circle the stick/Wiimote fast enough you get a chance to pull off a finisher. Doesn’t matter they were full health, they’re dead now. Stun that guarding enemy? Suplex him and then stab him on the ground. Again, doesn’t matter that he was full health, he’s dead now. Though the game is not deep in terms of combos, there are combos to be discovered.

    Though this game is otaku/weeb as all get-out, it’s also incredibly punk, and I think that’s the best way to describe it. It’s a tape recorded by a punk band in their garage. It is the Launchpad McQuack of video games. Suda51 may not know how to play bass beyond hammering the D-String, but he can still whip up something enjoyable.

    I played No More Heroes on stream for over 3 hours last night because I was having that good of a time. It’s weird how, sometimes, a game can surpass the jank and still be this fun, unique, quirky thing.

    And that should cover what I’ve been playing.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      I still maintain that Capcom should be remaking Code Veronica instead of RE4, especially when Village was basically a modern RE4 but with a bit more emphasis on puzzles and elements from the horror-centric games (ironic as I didn’t find the game to be scary at all save for one particular sequence that most people who have played it probably know what I’m talking about).

      I also remember a user here named Christopher who said he’d rather see an attempt to make RE4 again at the post thread I first discussed about this topic and I would think he got it in a way with Resident Evil Village.

      1. RamblePak64 says:

        I’m actually in agreement, partially because I never got to play Code Veronica fully. I tried to back in my early days of College, when I was fresh to Resident Evil and trying to catch up after falling in love with the GameCube Remake. For some reason, though, it just felt… off. I can’t really describe why since it’s over fifteen years since I tried it, but I ultimately just swapped back out to REmake instead. I also missed out on Nemesis since going back to play Resident Evil 2 after REmake had me feeling a bit disappointed. It was kind of a “this is the one everyone loves?” response.

        Village… is and isn’t delivering the same experience. It’s really hard to describe, but it’s not actually doing the same thing that Resident Evil 4 does despite being heavily influenced. It may sound strange but I’d say, on the whole, the action in RE4 is better and is probably the best in the series. What RE7 and Village do best is tension, and pacing that tension out. But when you replay Village and know what to expect, that tension is far less present, but instead replaced by that efficiency and resourcefulness that is the foundation of all the best in the Resident Evil franchise.

        Except for that one moment spoiled in YouTube thumbnails and reaction videos everywhere. Despite having gone through three times it still gives me chills.

      2. Dreadjaws says:

        I’ll take your Code Veronice and raise you a Dino Crisis. We have enough Resident Evil remakes already, but very few dinosaur games that are not some multiplayer bullshit where you fight other people instead of dinosaurs, or park builders, which entirely lack the visceral factor.

        I will echo that that part in RE: Village is absolutely horrifying. I don’t think watching it on video provides the full experience, but playing it yourself is a whole different level. But of course, the rest of the game isn’t really scary at all. That’s par for the course. These games have always been B-horror.

        1. RamblePak64 says:

          Oh definitely. If they announced a Dino Crisis remake I’d sing praises all the dang day. There seems to be an attempted revival of dinosaur games (heh, “revival”, as if they were ever a big thing even after Jurassic Park), but Second Extinction looks mad jank. My friends and I were also greatly disappointed when that Ark II trailer starring Vin Diesel was not for a new Turok.

          A good game with dinosaurs is needed now more than ever.

          Though now that I think about it, I wonder if I can get that weird Dino Crisis 3 for the original Xbox. It’s probably not officially supported, but if an Xbox One or Series could run it…

      3. Christopher says:

        I missed this, but sorta yeah, sorta no. I liked Village a lot, but part of the reason I went back to play RE4 is because Village is still so different in most practical ways. The camp is more overt, the style is grosser, the first person gameplay isn’t as suited for action as the 3rd person one was in 4, there’s more old school puzzles, there’s two long sections in the middle of the game where you hardly do any action with your weapons etc. What makes RE4 so fun and unique is the execution of what it has rather than like, any specific concepts, I think. It’s the action, obviously, but that’s not just on the side of the player, it’s all the constant setpieces and mixups and level design in each and every room. It’s not like the story of saving the president’s daughter needs some great reimagining to be told, so I think a remake of 4 should be one of these Link’s Awakening/Ocarina of Time remake affairs where the graphics get updated but it’s still the same inside. Not one of those old locked camera angles prerendered games that get retooled into a 3rd person game like 2 and 3, but the treatment 1 got. Even if I can go back to it and have fun, I’d still rather want this than some do-over of Code Veronica, whichever way it went in terms of remake approach, because I do think 4 is so fantastic.

    2. Rariow says:

      I’m a zealous AI: The Somnium Files evangelist. The game did tragically poorly in the West, which is a shame because I think it’s Uchikoshi’s best work after 999. Like most of his post-999 stuff it’s super flawed, full of offputting weirdness, and janky, but it’s also compelling and tonnes of fun. It’s definitely a very niche thing, but even the people in that niche seem to have completely passed it by, which is a shame because most of them would love it. On a more selfish level, I just want these games to do well because they’re infamously hard to get localized – even the Ace Attorney series is missing an entry (and only that few because after years of ceaseless fan demand a spinoff from 2015 and its 2017 sequel are finally seeing a Western release this year) while being probably the biggest visual novel series in the West. It’s already really hard to convince Japanese publishers to do the expensive work of translating games whose entire business model is that they’re (relatively) cheap to make and will sell to a small but dedicated market, and every commercial flop in the West makes it harder.

      1. Thomas says:

        It’s been on my wishlist for a while. I’ll take this as another reminder to take the plunge one day. Have you played 13 Sentinels?

        1. Rariow says:

          13 Sentinels has been on my wishlist for a while, and I’ll take this as my regular reminder to eventually grab it too. I love how that game looks!

      2. RamblePak64 says:

        I’m already planning to gift the game to some friends when I can. It’s funny you call it jank, but it’s probably one of the more polished games of this type that I’ve played. I’m curious what caused it to flop so hard, though. I think I bought it around launch (I bought it last year but only just now got around to starting it), but you’re right in that it feels like people have just not spoken about it.

        Maybe they’ll pick up some sales now that an anime girl streamed it on YouTube. I mean, talk about speaking to your target audience, right?

        …unless they don’t see the point now that the story was spoiled for them… fiddlesticks!

        I have a feeling I’ll be a sucker for Spike Chunsoft for a while. I think it was 428 Shibuya Scramble that led me to realize I’ve been seeing their logo a lot in games I play or wishlist lately.

        1. Rariow says:

          When I say jank I’m not neccesarily talking about gameplay and presentation, but about the writing. There’s some bits where it does some really weird stuff – in the Zero Escape series they’d stop to discuss weird irrelevant pseudoscience and conspiracy theories while on a strict timer, AI has bizarre tone shifts and parts like Date suddenly having memories from another timeline in one ending, for no apparent reason other than that’s what Uchikoshi is expected to do in his games now . I guess rather than jank I might call it inelegant writing.

          I’ve wondered about why AI did poorly as well. I’ve heard its name blamed for this – it doesn’t get across what the game’s about, and it guarantees that any searches for anything other than the full title will just come up with artificial intelligence stuff. I don’t personally quite buy that – my guess is there wasn’t enough of a marketing push and next to no news coverage of the game. I’m a big Uchikoshi fan, and the first I heard of AI was when a YouTuber I follow started playing through it a full year after its release. It just doesn’t seem anyone’s heard of this thing.

  30. beleester says:

    I picked up Final Fantasy 7 on Steam (the original, not the remake).

    Visually it’s a strange experience, because the hardware can render, like, 20 polygons on screen at most, but everything that didn’t have to be set up in real-time is beautiful. The animation is stylish, the camera angles frame the action in interesting ways, the backgrounds are pretty, and even the pre-rendered cutscenes are pretty good for something made in 1997. It’s just that the main characters look like they’re made of origami.

    I’m currently 10 hours in, which I think puts me around a quarter of the way through? I’m enjoying it so far in terms of story and gameplay, but I have a feeling it’s going to be like trying to eat an entire chocolate cake to actually finish it. Every single place I go to has been stuffed full of minigames and random encounters to the point that I’ll probably get exhausted before I actually get to the end of it. I at least intend to stick with it until the famous spoiler scene, so I can see what the fuss was about.

    Also, I have one major gripe specifically with the PC port: They don’t actually show your key bindings, they just show the name that the key is assigned to. So when one of the minigames tells you something like “Press [Camera] to squat, press [Assist] to raise arms,” I’m lost at sea because I almost never use those buttons in normal gameplay.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Every single place I go to has been stuffed full of minigames and random encounters to the point that I’ll probably get exhausted before I actually get to the end of it.

      Oh, wait ’till you get to Chocobo Breeding…

      1. Syal says:

        ARavingLoon dubbed it Bird Hell (multiple times), a term I still use for bird-related trials in games (as well as the Hell Beyond Birds that is the Huge Materia completion.)

        1. bobbert says:

          Bird hell was a thing of beauty. Watching him inch forward trying to understand the systems. Knowing all the while that there are no systems – only a hidden checklist.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      I’m currently 10 hours in, which I think puts me around a quarter of the way through?

      Oh. Oh, you poor, innocent fellow.

      1. Syal says:

        Yeah, the Famous Spoiler Scene is the end of Disk 1, of 3.

  31. Echo Tango says:

    I’ve been playing a lot of Magic: The Gathering: Arena because it’s free and a co-worker recommended it, and The Binding Of Isaac: Repentace because the DLC added a lot, but the base game is easy enough to chill out to. Unlocking a lot of the new characters is just as grindy as every, though – that requires the harder and/or slower paths in the game, like donating 10 runs worth of gold to your greed-mode donation machine (shopkeeper character), or going 75% of the way through the ultra-real-super ending path (most of the DLC characters). I was also back into Factorio for a while, but might put that down until I can get my friends into another weekend evening game. :)

  32. Chris says:

    I don’t think it’s weird that not a lot of people posting here don’t play COD/BF. First of all a lot of people come here for discussion of stuff like story (mass effect, skyrim thief guild) game design and programming, which isnt what COD/BF are about, at all. Second, a lot of COD/BF players are insular (which i also think is the reason they arent here, the lack of flow from their group to our group, rather than our group to them), they just buy the game and play it every day without playing much else. If you look at second hand consoles you can often find ones that are “PS/xbox with fifa 1 to 20” or something like that. Third, COD/BF is made for the lowest common denominator, the michael bay popcorn entertainment of videogames. And just like you wont find michael bay fans spend hours discussing movies online, COD/BF players wont look for videogame discussions. (nothing wrong with that. I dont care about automobiles, i see them as a consumer product that will get me from A to B till it burns out and then i get a new one. I dont bother going online discussing cars because i dont care about them, nor will they care about how i drive back and forth from work in a oversized grocery cart)

  33. Ninety-Three says:

    I’ve been playing a bunch more of Runeterra’s roguelite mode, which I think I’m almost done with, 100-plus hours in. I still love it to death but because I’m winding down I will talk about some problems the mode has instead.

    A normal game of Runeterra starts you with 20 life against an opponent with 20 life and you are judged only on winning or losing, a turn 2 win with full life is deemed just as good as a turn 15 win with 1 life left. The roguelite mode starts you with 30 life and has your life total carry over between games, with a full heal after every three: notice that you have 19 life to spare in a regular game, but you can only spare 10 life per game in a three game set of roguelite mode. Since the cards are shared between game modes and they were all designed for normal gameplay and this seriously warps card evaluation in roguelite mode. A big stompy eight mana creature is almost completely unplayable because your main goal is to avoid losing ten life per game and most of that battle is fought on turns one through seven. There have been multiple times the game gave me a choice between adding to my deck a reasonably efficient five mana creature or a garbage one mana 1/1, and I picked the 1/1 because having early blockers is just so important (especially on the higher difficulties where the AIs start with a free creature to pressure you with). This doesn’t ruin the game, it’s interesting to have this weird new way of evaluating cards, but you can feel something go “clunk” every time the game offers you one of those unplayable eight mana cards just because they exist in the regular game’s cardpool: a better designed version of this mode would either make eight drops way better or cut them entirely. Sadly I don’t think that will ever happen, because it’d be way more development time than they seem interested in giving the mode.

    The other core problem it has is that at the start of the game you choose a premade deck, then gradually add more cards to it, and a bunch of the starter decks are focused synergy decks that do not want to be watered down with a bunch more cards drawn from a wider, less synergistic pool. It’s not an uninteresting dynamic to have to manage, but it means one of the default strategies is to discard your cool synergy gameplan to just build midrange goodstuff and that gets old after a while. It feels like the initial version of the mode had this conflict built in because they just didn’t think about it that much, and now that they’ve poured more development into it the problem is just locked into the game’s DNA.

    In other “finishing roguelites” news, I finally beat Atomicrops on max difficulty. I got into it and loved it nearly a year ago, beat diff 9, got absolutely stomped by diff 10 and gave up for a while. I recently made the diff 10 win a goal and achieved it after a few dozen attempts. It wasn’t great. The problem is that Atomicrops is built around this “push your luck” mechanic where you can either go out and fight things to gather resources or stay home and do some nice safe farming: on the lower difficulties I would push my luck as far as I could because fighting is fun and I was good enough to do the maximum amount of fighting, but on diff 10 it became very clear that the winning strategy was to only fight the easiest 60% of the game’s fightables, then spend some time twiddling your thumbs until the boss shows up rather than risking it all doing more fighting for rewards you don’t actually need. I’ll still probably boot the game up occasionally to do some diff 9 win more runs, but when the game really starts challenging you, optimal play just isn’t as much fun as it could be.

    I’ve also been playing Spirit Island, an excellent digital port of an excellent boardgame that I think technically qualifies as a roguelite. My first five hours with the game were a really satisfying sort of getting my ass kicked as I tried to wrap my head around a bunch of really elegant emergent complexity. I’m now 30 hours in, reliably crushing normal mode with any solo Spirit and tentatively climbing up the ladder of extra challenge difficulties. It has a nice thing where you can play “multiplayer” solo, with you controlling multiple players at once and I’ve been ignoring that because the complexity seems overwhelming but I’m sure I’ll try it eventually, maybe when I manage to rope a friend into trying the game.

    One game I’m not playing is Magic: The Gathering. I hadn’t been playing for a bit but I Officially Quit during Omnath Standard because I was tired of WOTC making stupid broken formats (sadly, they’re hitting record sales at the same time they hit record numbers of cards banned, so they’re probably going to learn the lesson that broken formats are fine actually) and eight months later I am noticing that I haven’t felt the urge to go play more Magic. All my favorite Legacy decks have been obsoleted by better decks I like less (I wish we could go back to Legacy circa 2017 when it wasn’t getting shaken up by absurdly powerful new Standard cards every few months), and Standard has vanished from my mind entirely. I still expect I’ll go back to it at some point, but maybe not for a long time.

    1. Chad+Miller says:

      A normal game of Runeterra starts you with 20 life against an opponent with 20 life and you are judged only on winning or losing, a turn 2 win with full life is deemed just as good as a turn 15 win with 1 life left. The roguelite mode starts you with 30 life and has your life total carry over between games, with a full heal after every three: notice that you have 19 life to spare in a regular game, but you can only spare 10 life per game in a three game set of roguelite mode. Since the cards are shared between game modes and they were all designed for normal gameplay and this seriously warps card evaluation in roguelite mode. A big stompy eight mana creature is almost completely unplayable because your main goal is to avoid losing ten life per game and most of that battle is fought on turns one through seven. There have been multiple times the game gave me a choice between adding to my deck a reasonably efficient five mana creature or a garbage one mana 1/1, and I picked the 1/1 because having early blockers is just so important (especially on the higher difficulties where the AIs start with a free creature to pressure you with). This doesn’t ruin the game, it’s interesting to have this weird new way of evaluating cards, but you can feel something go “clunk” every time the game offers you one of those unplayable eight mana cards just because they exist in the regular game’s cardpool: a better designed version of this mode would either make eight drops way better or cut them entirely. Sadly I don’t think that will ever happen, because it’d be way more development time than they seem interested in giving the mode.

      The other core problem it has is that at the start of the game you choose a premade deck, then gradually add more cards to it, and a bunch of the starter decks are focused synergy decks that do not want to be watered down with a bunch more cards drawn from a wider, less synergistic pool. It’s not an uninteresting dynamic to have to manage, but it means one of the default strategies is to discard your cool synergy gameplan to just build midrange goodstuff and that gets old after a while. It feels like the initial version of the mode had this conflict built in because they just didn’t think about it that much, and now that they’ve poured more development into it the problem is just locked into the game’s DNA.

      Starting with Slay the Spire I’ve seen a bunch of card games that make me think “this is a lot like Microprose’s Magic The Gathering game from the 1990s, but with added flaws” and whoever manages to avoid the second half of that sentence may end up stealing my attention for a good year.

      1. bobbert says:

        Man that Microprose game is good. Too bad it is such bear to get running on newer versions of windows.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          I feel like almost all of the digital cardgames on the market are missing out on some huge potential by not having a singleplayer progression mode (something closer to Micropose than just “you can play your existing Standard deck against bots”). Runeterra shows that it’s not that much work to put one together once you already have a working game engine, I wonder if the problem is monetization. Runeterra hasn’t made a cent off me playing their roguelite and it’s not super obvious how they could have: I’d never have touched it if it was treated like drafts where it costs $2 per run, and it’s really awkward to put “pay us $20 to unlock this weird singleplayer experience” into your PvP-focused TCG.

          1. Chad+Miller says:

            I feel kinda the same way; what made Microprose/Shandalar fun is that you had the dungeon-crawl experience but the actual battles were still an M:tG game. I’ve had similar hopes for someone taking the Slay the Spire model but applying it to a PvP-style symmetric game instead of what they do now, though I suspect that the reason they aren’t is because that’s a lot harder to design (both the AI and the infrastructure for players to play against each other)

            it’s really awkward to put “pay us $20 to unlock this weird singleplayer experience” into your PvP-focused TCG.

            I mean, this is basically StarCraft 2’s model now? Though it does still have the problem that even if you do something like this you probably now have an entire second design team for a separate product that won’t make as much as “the main event” unless it’s so good as to draw in many players with 0 interest in PvP, so again I can see the hesitation.

            1. Ninety-Three says:

              Starcraft 2 ended essentially all development half a year ago so no, but before then their business model was to give the PvP away for free and make money off cosmetics, selling the old singleplayer campaigns, and selling additional characters to play in their free co-op PvE mode (TCG analogy: you can play the red, blue or black decks for free, green, white and purple are each $5 DLC). It’s not clear what they were getting the most money from, but judging from the amount of new content each feature had been getting I’m pretty sure the singleplayer campaigns were in last place.

  34. Chad+Miller says:

    Re: Prey and alternate playthroughs

    I actually tried starting a Typhon-only playthrough as my second and so far I’m not a fan. I’m trying to give it until I at least finish Psychotronics; maybe access to a Science Operator and Kinetic Blast will make it no longer feel like “my first playthrough, except I can’t get any of the really useful stuff”. (no recycling efficiency, no repair, no hacking, no inventory space, although I understand that last one’s supposed to be mitigated by the fact that you can forgo a lot of weapons if you’re using similar Psi powers instead)

    Whether I finish this playthrough or not, I think my next one is a survival-mode Human-only character. My first playthrough was almost human-only anyway except Mimic Matter was too fun not to take.

    I did also switch genders for this playthrough because I always do that in games that give me the choice as I want to see how much it affects the game. In this game in particular, I think at the very least it’s worth exploring the initial apartment with both versions as they did include a number of touches to communicate “this is a man’s/woman’s apartment” (the shoes next to the door, the toiletries in the bathroom, the contents of the closet, the fact that lady Morgan has a purse on the counter and guy Morgan has a satchel near the door, and that’s just what I randomly noticed without trying both back to back)

    For the specific purposes of a retrospective it seems the “kill everyone” run would give the most new content to talk about, though I have no idea if it’s actually fun. Typhon-only murder-only is vaguely interesting from a roleplaying perspective.

    1. Fizban says:

      It helps if you have a plan for getting the actual offensive powers quickly, but even then yeah you can’t do much of anything typhon-only until after Psychotronics. The catch-22 of needing to scan advanced enemies to get attacks, but not having any good method of dealing with them until you do and the game not spawning many you can just passively scan and leave, is annoying. I made it up to Crew Quarters before I stalled out (wait, no, definitely went through Cargo too), and by that point things had stabilized into “welp I sure am a glass canon with one resource pool for everything relying on baseline stealth,” but yeah. Once you’ve got more than 1st level blasting, you’re basically a rocket sniper- but a set of interchangeable elemental point and click and cooldowns gets samey real fast and little else compares in efficacy.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        My first (and only) playthrough actually ended up human only, sort of by accident. By the time Typhon powers became available I was so invested in the human upgrade trees and playstyle that I didn’t feel like changing it.

        I’ve been considering coming back to the game because I never actually played Mooncrash thinking it was something slightly else (there’s apparently a much larger story component to it than I was led to believe) but I think it’s a sort of “advanced mode” and I’d probably have to replay the base game to restore the muscle memory of the mechanics first.

        1. Fizban says:

          I did the same human-only first run. As for Mooncrash, it starts out very light, so I expect you could dive right in without any buildup. The characters are different enough it feels like learning an almost entirely new game anyway.

          If you do play Mooncrash, one non-spoiler bit of advice: when you get to what feels like definitely obviously the final mission, be advised that doing so will brick your save, by essentially autosaving right before the final cutscene. So if you want to go for any more cheevos/high scores/something else, you’ll want to do that first.

      2. Chad+Miller says:

        UPDATE: I just discovered something else that may help (in case anyone else thinking of a Typhon playthrough sees this): The safe in the debriefing room at the very beginning includes a Psi Hypo fabrication plan, and the code is not randomized. I think they may have expected that players trying this kind of run will have already beaten the game or will be using a guide and therefore will already know about this, mitigating the problem I encountered of “I don’t actually want to use my abilities because Psi is so scarce”

        1. Shamus says:

          While you don’t have the code for the safe the first time you see it, you can get it very soon after. To the left of the safe is a dry-erase board. It’s obvious the code was once written there, but has since been erased.

          However, a few minutes later you get to Morgan’s office and can watch the LG video of Morgan’s past self. That video was recorded in the room with the safe. If you look over to the left you’ll see the dry-erase board, and the combination hasn’t yet been erased.

          So you just need to watch the video, note the code, and backtrack a bit to open the safe.

          Also, that combination is actually a reference of sorts.

          The whole thing really is a clever sequence.

          1. Chad+Miller says:

            Indeed. The real revelation, for this playthrough, was that something so important would be in that specific location (I didn’t recall the contents of that safe from my last playthrough since Psi was never a problem for my firearms-based build)

            The early game hell of the Typhon run is that you need the Psychoscope and a reliable supply of Psi to be anything other than a shitty human. I ended up beelining for the Psychoscope, not even realizing the hypo schematics were way back at the very beginning. (at the time I hit that safe I was sitting on, like, 16 Neuromods because I hadn’t yet hit the point where I was comfortable spending Psi points on combat anyway. Next play session I’ll find out how much I like Kinetic Blast and whether that will let me leave behind some guns!)

            1. Fizban says:

              I could have sworn that there was a Psi Hypo fab plan somewhere you don’t need to do a puzzle for it, presumably in pyschotronics, but I could be wrong? Not seeing a list on the wiki.

              1. Chad+Miller says:

                I still haven’t fully cleared Psychotronics, so it’s possible. I’ve also heard some of the plans are randomized (but I did some digging around and this safe’s Hypo plan isn’t).

                At the time I wrote that last post I was literally one room away from a Science Operator. I…didn’t really plan this run.

  35. Mokap says:

    I think the “silos” of gaming aren’t too isolated, for me at least. Whilst I prefer RPGs and indie games, I occasionally play some Call of Duty (mostly the Zombies mode), and I used to play a lot of Battlefield before their anti-cheat banned me because it thought MSI Afterburner was cheat software.

    But as for what I’ve been playing, I’ve been replaying some New Vegas, trying out the huge The Frontier mod. Ignoring the initial controversies, the mod is very strange. Similar to Fallout 3, the world and atmosphere is top-notch, exploring locations is very enjoyable, and it even looks pretty nice. The other side of the Fallout 3 comparison is the story – and unfortunately, it’s even worse than FO3. You can only go into the mod’s area by joining an NCR (sort of) caravan, which means you’re railroaded into at least doing the very first mission for them unless you purposefully go off the beaten path. This mission is 2-3 hours of almost straight combat, with no dialogue choices or anything of the sort, including cringeworthy, overblown and “cinematic” scripted sequences that feel more at home in a AAA FPS campaign – only without the (usually) solid gameplay that usually backs them up. There are interminable vehicle boss fights, endless waves of enemies, and ridiculously well-armed and organised raiders, on a mission to set mines despite the fact you seemingly kill twenty times more people on the way to the area than the mines could ever hope to kill. You’re then knocked out and captured (a staple of New Vegas mods, for some reason) and you play as another character going in to save yourself, on a fleet of vertibirds, as Legion AA guns try to shoot you down. It just feels very fan-fictiony and childish.

    After suffering through this combat for hours on end, I immediately abandoned the NCR after I checked for other people’s experiences online and heard that the rest of the NCR questline was similar to this. I instead joined the Brotherhood of Steel (sort of), which were a lot more subdued and felt more like a proper Fallout game, with the exception of a couple “Mary Sue” characters.

    Other than that, I played some modded minecraft with my partner, with a more “adventure” focused modset than the industry and automation-focused mods I usually play with on singleplayer. It’s further reinforced my beliefs that Minecraft combat is really not that great, and Mojang’s increasing focus on this is ruining the game and taking it away from the minimalism that makes Vanilla MC worth it at all.

  36. Randint says:

    I went on an FTL kick recently. This seems to be a game where I’ll just start up a new game occasionally most of the time, then about once a year I’ll get the urge to actually spend a significant amount of time playing it which’ll last until I manage to beat the game, at which point my interest will immediately die off for a few months. I think one of the issues is the weird way in which the game has great variation in gameplay styles in the early game where what you can do is determined mainly by what starting equipment your ship had, but gameplay gets homogenized in the midgame where you’ve picked up equipment to cover your ship’s weaknesses (For example, my most recent victory was with the missile cruiser — lots of picking my battles in the beginning when I only had missile weapons with limited ammo, which then completely became a non-issue once I acquired a teleporter).

    I’m also reminded on something Shamus said in his Arkham City series about the game not preparing you for the Mr. Freeze fight, because I think FTL has a similar problem: there are a wide variety of equipment configurations that will work for the first 7 sectors, then you reach the final boss and will have a very difficult fight if you haven’t acquired a few specific systems.

    I’ve also been playing Breath of the Wild. I’ve actually been playing it sporadically for a few months and keep thinking it would make for a nice comment for one of these “This Week I Played” posts, but keep forgetting to post (although it seems especially appropriate for this one, given that Nintendo franchises kind of fall into the “Popular games not usually discussed on TwentySided” category).

    Breath of the Wild is probably my least favorite Zelda game. I would say that the mechanical identity of the Zelda series is based around the loop of “Acquire new tool -> Learn to use tool in puzzles of increasing complexity -> Demonstrate mastery of tool in boss fight which is essentially a puzzle that actively attacks you to put pressure on you -> Proceed to new area (ideally by using the recently-acquired tool to access a previously inaccessible area, although this is frequently done via plot door opening up upon defeat of a boss)”. This provides satisfaction to the player in the form of 1) their feeling of increasing player capability as they solve more complex puzzles, and 2) their feeling of increasing avatar capability as they gain new tools.

    In contrast to the typical Zelda, Breath of the Wild leaned hard into the open-world “go anywhere, do anything” philosophy. All of the abilities you need to complete the game are given out in the tutorial area. Once out of the tutorial, you’ll never run into a situation where you can’t solve a puzzle due to lacking the correct tools. The puzzles themselves are short and simple, and never really do anything to build on a concept because there’s no guarantee that the player will encounter them in a specific order. Even the four dungeons (disclaimer: I’ve only done two of them) seem to suffer from this philosophy – each dungeon does have a unique mechanic that factors into its puzzles (which is a nice idea), but rather than building complexity over a sequence of puzzles my impression of the dungeons so far is that they consist of five separate puzzles of roughly equal difficulty that can be done in any order.

    In short, I feel that the game tried to be too open, to the point that the homogenization of difficulty impedes the ability for the player to feel as though they are improving, and the desire to have all content be accessible from the end of the tutorial impedes the ability to meaningfully reward the player with an increase in Link’s capabilities.

    Other than that… Civ IV mod Realism Invictus is probably the other game I’ve been playing a significant amount recently. Over the fall and winter I was part of a weekly Among Us group that has since stopped due to loss of interest. In the world of anime hentai visual novels, I was reading Wonderful Everyday a few months back and think I ended up setting it aside just as it was picking up and have been meaning to get back to it. I’ll also probably start up a new Minecraft game in the near future, given that 1.17 came out this week.

  37. Ninety-Three says:

    I think I might follow Shamus’ example and give Prey another try. My only playthrough did a couple things that kind of broke the game, and I’d be interested to try without them.

    The first time I encountered a phantom, I said to myself “I bet I can fight this thing with just the wrench”, then I spent fifteen minutes quickloading until I’d gotten its attack patterns written into my muscle memory and I spent the rest of the game effortlessly killing phantoms without having to consume any resources. Mimics could usually get one small hit on you if you tried to melee them, but overall it was still obviously the best way to kill them. A run that restricts the use of the wrench (or maybe the perks that make it good) seems like it could make the game’s resource management much more interesting.

    The other thing I should do is not take the bullet time power. Level 2 bullet time is the best PSI sink in the game to the point that it feels like a mistake to spend PSI on anything else, and level 3 bullet time is basically god mode. There’s a certain satisfaction in being able to shotgun down the Nightmare without taking damage, but it’s obviously not how the game was meant to be played and I didn’t realize how good it was until I went on to Mooncrash and had to play characters without bullet time.

  38. ElementalAlchemist says:

    I’m not much younger than you Shamus, so I’d say we likely aren’t too far apart in terms of the cultural impact of Space Invaders and its brethren (although Missile Command was far more my thing). I’ve never seen the Discord logo as anything other than a stylised controller. The Mickey Mouse pants thing never occurred to me, but I saw it as soon as I read that message back when they posted it. But Space Invaders? Nope, doesn’t evoke that for me at all. It’s far too smooth and rounded for that. Space Invaders in my mind is inextricably linked to its pixelated retro aesthetic.

  39. TFrengler says:

    Aside from playing being a dad (which is a great game btw) I haven’t played that much. Recently decided I wanted to try out Go, the programming language from Google, and I think it’s pretty great. Been working on converting one of my old Coldfusion projects to Go and having great fun with that.

    I did… errr, demo (torrent, cough) Immortals Fenyx Rising a few weeks back and to my surprise I enjoy it a lot. It’s feels like yet-another-Ubi-icon-hoovering game yet also not. Can’t explain it but it feels less in my face about all the side activities and like it respects my time more for some reason.

  40. Dreadjaws says:

    People are going nuts about this on Reddit. One moment in particular is getting memed to death: Two fighter jets are in a dogfight. They’re in a vertical climb, and the jet in front doesn’t seem to know how to shake his pursuer. So he hits eject, pulls out a rocket launcher, and blasts the pursuing plane as it passes. Then, through the power of camera cuts, he somehow returns to the cockpit of his jet and flies away. All of this happens while a modern remix of Kickstart my Heart blasts in the background.

    This is it, folks. We’ve reached Peak Bombast.

    Anyway, this is apparently a move that you can pull off within the Battlefield games, and the joke is that marketing embraced the madness and put it into a cinematic.

    I guess you’ve never played the Just Cause games, huh? This is peanuts.

    The enthusiasm for this trailer is intense, and yet I bet that nobody on this site would be talking about it if I hadn’t just brought it up. Going by sales numbers, the Battlefield / Call of Duty players are numerous – far more numerous than (say) Mass Effect players – and yet they’re unrepresented on this site. Whenever I do one of these “This Week I Played” posts I hear about a lot of esoteric (to me) stuff: Anime hentai visual novels, number-crunchy grand strategy games, indie side-scrolling platformers. And yet I never hear people talking about this incredibly popular tentpole game. Call of Duty and Battlefield are so popular and so dominant that they’re frequently used as symbols of the hobby as a whole, and yet nobody around here seems interested in it. (The other thing I never hear about is sports games.)

    Personally, I’ve never been interested in the great majority of multiplayer-focused or multiplayer-only games, so I tend to bounce off titles like this one. Now I hear this game isn’t even going to have a campaign, so that’s a massive no-no for me. Some of these games do have campaigns, but they’re mostly an aftertought. The last Call of Duty campaign I played was for the PS2.

    What have you been playing since the last one of these?

    Well, I started a playthrough of Prey in anticipation of your retrospective and wow, I don’t remember this game giving me so much motion sickness last time. It is seriously on a massive level. I can only play for like 15 minutes before having to completely stop and lie down. I haven’t had an FPS affect me like that since the original Unreal. I’m gonna try to mess with the settings as much as I can to see if I can improve, but we’ll see.

    I’m also playing The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark. These are these cute humorous point and click adventure games. Really fun if you’re into the genre.

    Not much more gaming because I’ve had weeks of massive amounts of work and sleep deprivation. I’m sleepy all day after being tired from work and have trouble gathering enough concentration to get myself in the mood for playing something, but if I try to sleep I just can’t, so I’ve defaulted to watch some series on streaming or YouTube videos, since they don’t require interaction. I found a YT channel called Fairbairn Films and I’ve been binge watching their videos. They’re all short sketches, so I’ve watched a ton. They’re the worst actors in the world, but they’re goddamn hilarious. On the streaming side I enjoyed Camp Cretaceous much more than either of the Jurassic World movies (unless you count the “so bad is good” aspect of the second one). I watched the first episode of Loki and found it painfully bad. Yet people on the internet are loving it, so I guess it’s going to be one of those things that you can’t criticize without being called a contrarian. I’m just going to steer away from it altogether.

    1. Lino says:

      I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but have you tried messing with Prey’s Field-of-View settings? I played it ages ago – when it first came out, but I remember having the same problem as you. Which is strange, because I have never gotten motion sickness from an FPS.

      But after a quick fiddle with the FOV slider, I had no further problems. Apart from the ones that turned me off from the game, but that’s a different story :D

    2. Baron Tanks says:

      I’m curious on your take on Loki. I meander a lot with all of this (I thought WandaVision was so so and stumbled in its execution, not in its concepts. I thought WinterFalcon was mediocre, but actually had a couple of good highs and when it did have to say something, it resonated with me). So I think versus the internet love, I don’t fall squarely in either camp. I had no expectations for Loki, but ended up watching it y’day and surprised coming away with really liking it. I’ll give my impressions and I wonder in those, which parts did not resonate with you or even worse, bugged you. My summary (spoilers follow, not massive, but better safe than sorry):

      I don’t mind zaniness and I stopped caring for what goes on into the MCU at large. It’s amazing it managed to tell a sort of consistent (if mostly improvised) story up to Endgame. Everything that happened since suffers from the typical, there’s too much money to be made to stop making this syndrome. But “It’s all connected. It leads to something.” magic from the first phases (anything up to Endgame), which was amazing to see on the big screen, is now turning into a weight that is dragging things down, I feel. Basically, they brought comic books to the screen and in its wake we are now in the middle of all the downsides to continuity over the longer term.

      So with that, I went into this with my expectations set to: “Is there enough entertainment/engagement here to merit this as something to watch to stand on its own feet?”. With that expectation set, I found it okay to wait out the fish out of water hijinks the episode leads off with. I feel if I took the premise at its face value (this TVA is more powerful/serious than anything else out there) the tone would really bother me. But I could laugh at some of the simple juxtaposition jokes (look at this wannabe royal/godly figure suffering from mundane bureaucracy). Basically it was fish out of water crossed with The Office. Not particularly inspired, but not annoying enough to put me off. If this was all it had though, I don’t think I’d be back for more. However, as often in the MCU, the casting and the sheer force of will of Hiddleston’s personality really had me on board for the rest of the episode. I could actually relate to the humanity (pun intended) of the dichotomy between your outside image and what is really going on. Also Hiddleston has enough chops that I buy his pain, when the mask starts to slip. Combine this with the writing and acting of Mobius (Owen Wilson, I had to look this up) and the on screen chemistry and I enjoyed this way more than I expected. I think my positive feeling that I walked away with is that the things that would bother me are in line with what I expected (fluff and inconsequentialness), but didn’t expect any strong positive takeaways.

      That said, going forward I’m still skeptical cause everything they set up plot wise is about as interesting to me as a bag of potatoes, I just hope there’s more room for the character stuff. The preview of course emphasises the larger story, but I couldn’t really care less ;). Funnily enough, this is largely how I feel about Mass Effect 2 to this day. Love the character stuff, hate the plot and lack of logic and consistency everywhere else, don’t know what that means for my “ultimate” opinion.

  41. Ramsus says:

    Recently I’ve finished playing Slay the Spire, have played some more Among Us and Goose Goose Duck, an erotic Harry Potter (parody?) dating sim called Innocent Witches (which is of amazing quality in my personal opinion, otherwise it’s the kind of thing I might not mention here, especially if you hadn’t noted other people mentioning hentai games), and just in the last few days have started playing Griftlands.

  42. The Rocketeer says:

    Don’t forget that the apparent consensus of what is popular, noteworthy, novel, or important can be manufactured to a frankly uncomfortable degree by a journalist, critical, or professional class and need bear no resemblance to the interests or activities of the lay class that they supposedly speak to or for. The lives and interests of people who make their living writing about an art form cannot be assumed to closely represent the real consumers of that art form. Games writers generally, especially those who write for magazines and outlets like RPS or The Escapist or the like, tailor what they play and write about to the needs of their vocation, both in the sense that they necessarily write with drawing an audience in mind, and to that end are drawn to the novel, the controversial, and anything to which some large or reliable readership can attach a sense not merely of freshness and relevance but importance. Slightly less obvious than “chasing clicks,” but still blatant to any mildly-attentive observer, is that their interests and thoughts are shaped by an intraprofessional milieu in which they seek and demonstrate status, influence, virtue, worthiness, obedience, and intellect to their guild and to the tribal encampments with which that professional milieu overlaps. The most obvious examples of the lay interests and the guild interests diverging most noticeably may be fashion or art, in which the incomprehensible self-absorption of the critical and professional classes are a familiar cliché.

    But I find a more useful illustration of this comes from television. If you’re like me, you had to spend years holding your hands over your ears as the television-watching world seemed to be consumed entirely by Game of Thrones. Everyone had opinions on it. Everyone wrote about it. Everyone wanted everyone else in earshot to know what had happened and why it was important and meaningful and ruined the universe, and everyone wanted everyone else to know what would certainly happen and what it meant and why it vindicated or repudiated this or that righteous or befouled group of people, and wanted you to know the results of their “what House are you” quiz, and why and how the show and the books were different and why this illustrated the doom of human thought and how George has betrayed us all. You could drive a herd of cattle with the cacaphony about the sagacity or atavism of the shows philosophy or unthinking vacuum of philosophy or unwitting but very obvious ideology and why it was so clearly (if only to the real smarties) enlightening, hopeful, hateful, retrogade, oppressive, subversively brilliant, timely, timeless, timeworn, and critically important to understanding all of the real evils in our world and who must band against them to save humankind.

    Who watched Game of Thrones? Not very many people. It was on a premium cable service most people don’t pay for and lots of the people who did pay for that service didn’t watch it. The same is true for most prestige TV that provides nearly all fodder for television writing and everyday watercooler talk. What were people watching? Well, NCIS of course. It may have finally fallen off more recently, but NCIS has or had been the most-watched television program in America for several years running, often well out in first place. A show with no cultural or critical penetration at all. A show can simultaneously be the most popular thing ever and completely unheard of, and a different show can be a mostly-unwatched money-spinning exercise for an elite niche audience and the most important cultural event in recent memory.

    It’s not different for the gaming hobby.

    1. Henson says:

      If RPS writes with the goal of drawing an audience in mind, they seem to be doing a pretty awful job of it.

    2. Thomas says:

      Game of Thrones was the most pirated program in the world on most major pirating sites, so it’s fair to say a lot of people were watching it.

  43. Geebs says:

    Resident Evil 7. It’s a pretty solid entry in the series and the PSVR implementation is great (even if aiming with my face feels a lot like the original Virtuality arcade games).

    Creaks, which is by the Machinarium guys but is a lot more fun to play. It’s rather charming.

    Divinity Original Sin 2. It’s alright, I suppose. I noped out of the first game within five minutes due to LOL WACKY overload and I’ve lasted about 2 hours with this one which I guess is an improvement, but I don’t really see what’s so great about it yet?

  44. lethal_guitar says:

    I’ve been playing through and recently finished INFRA, a game where you play a structural analyst going through the infrastructure of a big fictional city. You’re documenting the state of things with your camera, solving puzzles, exploring, and sometimes there are sequences where you have to be quick to escape death due to getting crushed by falling concrete or other dangerous things. There’s no combat but I wouldn’t call it a walking simulator, you can die and have to act fast at times.

    It’s built on the source engine and I don’t know if it’s just because of that, but it does somehow have a Half-Life vibe at times (minus the combat and gravity gun, of course).

    If you enjoy first person exploration, puzzle solving and uncovering a conspiracy via documents and environmental clues, maybe give this one a shot?

    1. Fizban says:

      I watched a full length LP (Seleminar’s on, and while I can’t say I’d have enjoyed playing it myself, it was definitely interesting to watch.

  45. Falcon says:

    So I have a thought about the silos, and I’ll explain my perspective on how I engage. Because ultimately it is what I know best. I suspect This is common and a significant contributor, but don’t actually know this for sure.

    So my perspective on why things like COD and it’s ilk are invisible here is because, really, there is a million places that this shows up. Places like Reddit, Twitter, most mainstream gaming sites, etc. will have posts and discussions about the game and trailer. But places where in depth narrative analysis take place are far less common. So a place where you can contemplate the thematic elements of Shepard’s relationship to the Krogan are going to draw more focus for that.

    Even though I may like sports, I’m not going to be taking up my favorite hockey teams here. I can get that many places. I’m also not going to be talking up my favorite tabletop game of all time here either, X-wing miniatures, because it is incredibly niche and I’m going to focus that on the dedicated community for it where I can get in depth conversations on it. Instead a place like this is focusing on what makes this community unique. Because the quality of conversation on that scope will be more satisfying by doing so.

    If I want to talk about X-wing I want to do an in depth analysis on how the maneuver dial of V-wing and the N-1 starfighter make flying in formation with Torrents and ARC’s difficult, and how to utilize their respective strengths in order to maximize their strategic use. How use of certain pilots or upgrades can restrict or increase choice in the game, and how to list build to enable low initiative pilots to block and trap high initiative aces, and how to leverage your strengths to compensate for their greater ability to control board position. I don’t want to explain the basics of why focus is the most important action in the game, or how the Y-wing and A-wing dials work, and no the A-wing can not go 1 straight and the Y-wing can’t go 5 straight.

    Same for sports. No reason to talk with people about it who are a) very geographically dispersed so unlikely to follow the same team, or even sports b) have a non insignificant number of people who are hostile to sports and throw around derisive terms like ‘sportsball’ to signify how they look down on it. Nobody here is going to care about the Blackhawks, and their aging core and how the championship core is no longer together. It would be an exercise in frustration and annoyance for both myself, and others here, to bring in that conversation.

    The thing about silos is you can exist in multiple. And the benefit is that by focusing and sharpening the focus of a silo, you can get greater depth and conversation on that topic. Trying to spread general conversation topics like ‘let’s talk COD because this is a gaming site, and that’s the most popular game’ is only going to dilute the conversation.

    For things like games, or sports, movies, tv, I say embrace the silo. But acknowledge it and exist in multiple. Don’t buy into the exclusion, I like Grand Strategy therefore I can’t like Nintendo, type nonsense. Like what you like and let others do so as well. Be glad you can exist in these multiple spaces and really dig in to what you enjoy.

    For non entertainment things like economics, politics, world events, environment, etc. this sioloing works far less well and has more significant deleterious effects. But that is a whole separate, contentious, and not desired here topic. Sorry for even bringing it up Shamus, but it is important to acknowledge I think.

    As for games I’ve been playing? Breath of the Wild. I’ve played more new games this year since getting a Switch than I had the last 4 years combined. That said Battlestar Galactica Deadlock and Europa Universalis 4 are beckoning once more.

  46. Chad+Kreutzer says:

    This week I’ve been playing Skyrim–again. I always find myself coming back to Skyrim and Fallout 4. For this playthrough, I am doing a heavy armor-wearing, two-hand weapon wielding fighter for the first time (I pretty much always default to a stealth or magic-user build) And have intentionally not done the Mages College or Thieve’s Guild questlines in keeping with the character concept.

  47. evilmrhenry says:

    Path of Exile:
    I completed 36/40 challenges, which was my goal. This wasn’t the best league content, (It was a bit basic, and the league had some issues at the start) but there’s enough stuff in here that I can have fun.

    Picked this up for cheap in the Devolver Digital sale. It’s a good retro platformer(?). It’s obviously a mobile port, but playable on PC. I played through normal and hard difficulty (hard remixes the enemy attacks and moves some secrets around). There’s also a third difficulty, but that one has a strict time limit, one-hit kills, and you need to clear every level, so I didn’t feel like attempting it.

    Darksiders III
    To be clear, this is a Souls-like, but it’s much easier than you might expect once you get the hang of dodging. I’d prefer the Zelda-like design of the first game over what I got, and the design has issues, but it’s still good.

    High Hell
    Another cheap game from Devolver Digital. This is a very precise FPS, with short, intense levels. Good to play in short bursts.

    Knight Swap
    A short puzzle game. It has some technical issues; I had to restart puzzles more than a few times because pieces got stuck in impossible places. Other than that, it’s not attempting anything awesome, but it was fun.

    Samorost 1
    Saw this was free on Steam, and I had played through the other 2 game already. Unfortunately, this one’s only 12 minutes long.

    Awareness Rooms
    A short adventure game. It feels like a failed prototype. Needing to inspect items to actually see what they are seemed like a good idea in theory, but I don’t think it actually works.

    Portal Reloaded
    I tried this, but hit eject after a while. I just can’t manage the puzzles here. It really feels like it was made by and for people who have been playing user-made Portal puzzles since Portal 2 came out.

    NGU Idle
    Still plugging away on this. I feel I’m nearing the end of content, (I’ve just entered the Nether Regions) so there’s probably another year before I finish this.

    Territory Idle
    Gave this another shot after a few years, and I’m having a better time now. I’ve left the first continent, which unlocks a few improvements. The second continent is going much faster.

  48. eldomtom2 says:

    I’m a player of CoD and Battlefield, they scratch that itch for FPS multiplayer action, but both have gone so hard into GaaS and microtransactions that I’m just turned off at this point.

  49. Dragmire says:

    Currently playing Sakuna, of Rice and Ruin. Rice farming sim and side scrolling platformer. It’s a bit clunky but rather endearing too.

    Also playing Project X Zone on 3DS. Tactical RPG(think Final Fantasy Tactics) with the combat screen having a timing aspect to it for crits. The system is a little hard to explain. The main draw is the crossover characters from many other games being present like Ryu(Street Fighter), Megaman, Frank West(Dead Rising), Segata Sanshiro(Japanese mascot for the Sega Saturn) etc..(There’s a LOT of characters).

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      I’ve been interested in Sakuna, but I’ve been wary about dropping forty bucks on it. Do you mind telling me a little more about it?

      1. Dragmire says:

        No problem! (side note: I have a long weekend starting now and I’ve started drinking so I might not be as coherent as normal. I’ll answer/clarify things tomorrow.)

        Okay so in Sakuna, you play as a deity. This manifests in gameplay as being able to use special moves and your core stats are increased by yearly rice harvests.
        There are 4 seasons and each season is 3 days so your stats will increase every 12 days with better stats going with a better quality harvest.
        The farming is quite the in depth affair. You need to keep an eye on water level, temperature, manure quality and timing for all the separate processes that come from planting to processing. Various decisions will determine quality and quantity of a harvest.
        All processes in farming start out tedious to the point of frustration but you get skills as you farm to make it much more manageable.
        Rice itself is used for food which gives timed bonuses in combat(you need it, regen is your only healing and as far as I know, you only get it through food buffs)
        Combat is a bit clunky and takes some getting used to. It’s a hack and slash similar to Muramasa though not as good.
        Combat is necessary to get new areas to explore and get materials for meals, weapon crafting, weapon power unlocks, armor crafting, and manure additives.
        Enemy variety can be seen as lacking but I don’t really mind it.

        If you want to know anything else, just ask. I’ll check back tomorrow.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          Thanks! That sounds really cool, I’m sure I’ll pick that up sooner or later.

          1. Dragmire says:

            A couple things to add:

            I’m playing on Switch, not sure how the Steam version is.

            I’m finding the story mediocre and the characters aren’t great. The exception is when various characters talk about their views and culture, I find that very interesting.

            There’s a day/night cycle that really pushes you to move quickly in the side scrolling combat portions of the game. At night, enemies get much harder and suddenly you’re doing 1 damage per hit when you were just doing 50. You will eventually be able to battle through nights.

            There is no time limit and story sections can be put off.

            All areas have unique objectives(*) and completing those objectives are what unlock new areas to go to.

            (*)defeat x number of enemies, defeat boss, defeat boss within time limit, collect x resources, defeat x enemies at night, find hidden item etc..

            I’ve done about 80 of these objectives, I think less than 5 were grindy to me and most can be done in one pass of the area.

            I hope that, if you get it, you’ll enjoy it.

            One last thing, I mentioned that the farming started tedious before. This is an understatement. I was fascinated that a game would be that deliberately tedious to make a point so I pushed through. Thankfully, stuff that took more that 6 minutes of a monotonous sequence of button presses now takes 40 seconds to a minute.

  50. BlaezeL says:

    So that crazy plane sequence in the Battlefield trailer isn’t just there for bombast. It’s a reference to the the stunt videos that were very popular on YouTube around when BF3/BF4 were in their prime.

    That special move is called a RendeZook. Here is the original clip. And this is a short history lesson and explanation of the move. They are short, I really recommend them.

    I never played much Battlefield myself but I really enjoyed watching the stunts on YouTube (ponylionHD is another favorite in the category).
    Now some of the other commenters brought up Just Cause. Did you know that game also has a couple of dedicated people doing stunt videos? The Battlefield ones are great because they manage to pull Just Cause levels of crazy out of a physics engine calibrated for mostly realistic behavior in the very serious world of pretend online warfare. The Just Cause ones are on a whole another level.

    Well, I guess I’m losing this evening re-watching the old favorites….

    1. DeadlyDark says:

      I didn’t watch BF2042 trailer yet (I will), but Shamus’ description immediately reminded me of that stunt video

  51. Sabrdance says:

    Since the last one of these I beat XCOM: Long War, though I mentioned that at the time. I liked the flexibility the game offered, but hated the increased difficulty and that it took over 5 years to beat the game. I then went to play <XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, and beat the three Chosen. Which was fun. But now I have more gadgets than squad members, and am in the late game slog of promoting my last couple main fighters before doing the final mission. I like the game well enough, but I also haven’t touched it in a couple weeks.

    Warframe continues to be a good zen game, but is often replaced by Titanfall. Not much to say except that wall-running multiplayer shooters are fun. Officially I have some quests I’m working on for Warframe, but I’m just not excited about them, and my ability to log on with my friends is limited because of conflicting work schedules. Titanfall is… Titanfall.

    My new Modded game is Star Wars: Empire at War: Thrawn’s Revenge, which is a very fun game with ridiculously load and save times, and I’m still waiting to find out if they have fixed the “any new faction ground structure that gets destroyed looks exactly like an undestroyed structure, so you’ll keep shooting it for no reason” problem.

    I got tired of Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail, which surprised me. Part of it is the gimmicky level design. I am still on the same level I was on 3 months ago. I just can’t get excited about this stupid “meet up with a damaged ship, fight off 3 corvettes, and then try to destroy or capture a Ship of the Line.” No. Give me reasonable fights, please. If you want me to be Cochrane -fine -but don’t make me do the stupid “fight 3 corvettes” nonsense first.

    So my new History game is Kingdom Come: Deliverance, which it is a good thing that game is historically interesting, because good lord it isn’t fun or stable.

    And so I’m also spending a lot of time playing Kerbal Space Program again. There have been several updates since I last played.

    And I’m eying a bunch of the recent releases and realizing my computer just isn’t quite powerful enough to play them anymore -so no new games. Just old games, and thinking about replacement hardware.

  52. Syal says:

    Haven’t been playing much recently. Nothing’s really replaced FF7.

    Still playing Chess, of course. Classic “I can’t think of anything” go-to game.

    Picked up Disco Elysium again, started over with a Physical/Motorics character and had to make like half a dozen attempts just to survive the first few white checks. Low morale is a kick in the teeth.

    Played Binding of Isaac again for a while, but the curses just kill the game. Tried to find a mod to remove them, but can only find ones for the DLCs, vanilla Rebirth seems to not have anything. So, back in the trash, Isaac.

    Slay the Spire is still a good game, in case you’ve forgotten.

    Finally played a bit of Shadow of Mordor; fun so far, but not addictively so, don’t know if I’ll be back. Had a really rough start where I spent twenty minutes trying to figure out how to save, only to die and discover the game autosaves or something. Still don’t know how to save.

    Restarted Dragon Quest 5, and am reminded of how charming the first few missions are; you’re a kid who’s father is busy with adult stuff, so you spend the afternoon on kid adventures, beating up moles and ghost stories and evil fairies only kids can see. No wonder I liked 5 so much. More games should do that.

    Also Bloons 6. Super laid-back Tower Defense game where you pop balloons with various monkey weaponry, including Monkey Superman. Simple and entertaining.

    1. John says:

      As best as I can recall there is no user-controlled save system in Shadow of Mordor. I think it just automatically saves when you die or quit.

    2. Syal says:

      Well, I suppose it’s tradition now that I throw another game on my list several days after the original post was made.

      Started playing Cat Quest again, a casual action RPG powered primarily by cat puns. It’s fun; all enemy attacks have large windups so you can dodge out of all of them, and your level 1 character can access (prominently labeled) level 99 dungeons at the beginning of the game, so you can take on whatever level of challenge you want.

      Getting Octopath Traveler vibes sidequest-wise, you can only have one quest active at a time and they mostly come in three or four phases so there’s a lot of “let’s turn off this quest to activate this other quest instead”. I’d put it in roughly the same category as Octopath Traveler, actually; not my favorite game, probably not one I’ll replay anytime soon, but it’s a competent story with fun mechanics and a nice visual aesthetic that kept me wanting to play more of it while the content lasted.

      Then New Game+* lets you completely turn off leveling and/or equipment, so you can fight through the whole game at level 1 with no stats of any kind if you want. Cat Quest is exactly like Dark Souls, is what I’m saying.

      *(They call it “Mew Game”. Did I mention the cat puns? There’s an atrocity of cat puns)

  53. baud says:

    Since we’re talking about CoD, since last time I (re)played Black Ops 1 and 2, mostly because I saw a tweet talking about 1 and had nothing to play (well, nothing I wanted to play at the moment). I’d say 1 is better, both in the story presentation, writing and gunplay; for the gunplay, I felt 2 a little too imprecise and had way too many gadgets, accessories and power ups, that detract from the shooting. Though I appreciate the innovations brought by 2, like the load-out selection before the start of the mission (though it’s missing a gun range to test it) and the branching story (branching that mostly happen in-gameplay, not “press A to kill Ashley, press B to kill Kaidan”).

    I also started playing Diablo 2, since I’ve never played it before (I might have played 15 minutes of a demo 15 years ago) and even there’s a few things that are archaic compared to other ARPG I’ve played (Path of Exile, Titan Quest & Van Helsing I-III), the gameplay loop is tight and the ambiance very good. Exploding monsters and seeing numbers go up is still fun.

    Played also an adventure game called Strangeland, which I enjoyed a lot. It’s dark but not grim (even if it deals with rather hard themes), well-written and well voiced. The puzzles mostly make sense in the context of the game. I also want to play it again, because some puzzles have multiple solutions and to listen to the dev commentary, which is very interesting.

    On a lighter note, I’m also playing Blades of Time, an action-adventure game. The combat’s fun enough, but not very deep and is often obscured by particle effects (as in I’m not seeing the character I’m controlling). There’s a time rewind mechanic, a bit like in the PoP Ubisoft games, except you can’t use it when dying! That’s the whole point of being able to rewind time!
    Instead the devs opted that when you rewind, you go back in time and find yourself alongside the past self of your character: it can be used in combat (there’s a few enemies that can only be defeated that way) and in a few puzzles that mostly mean using your past version to stand on switch. The game would be almost pretty if the (bright) colors weren’t horribly washed out by the lighting, but it get better in the later levels. Though to be honest it helps that the main character is strutting around in a bikini top and hot pants (though the game would still be fun if didn’t).

  54. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I restarted my Minecraft sever with the new Caves & Cliffs preview databack (, so I’m going to be playing that again for a while. I’ve got a pretty big backlog of games, but I just haven’t had the time to start one that I really need to dedicate a lot of time to. I’m still waiting for graphics cards to become available again before I play Cyberpunk 2077.

  55. baud says:

    More meta, I think people here don’t talk a lot of CoD/BF because it’s never been part of the subjects of the blog posts, which usually is a little more high-brow, so the discussion around the blog posts will follow that trend to. Just an idea.

  56. ngthagg says:

    Breath of the Wild has taken over my video game time. The game is a masterpiece, yet flawed. My most recent return has been generally positive, I think because I’ve accumulated enough stuff that I’ve trivialized the difficulty. My only real gripe right now is what a chore cooking is. I finally looked up a guide to learn how to cook the best food possible, only to discover that there is a hard limit on the number of cooked dishes you can carry. They seemed to have designed the whole system in a way to discourage experimentation. But the benefits are enormous. Skipping cooking isn’t really an option. (The benefits of full health or stamina restoration are obvious, but maybe more important is strength boosting, which not only makes fights easier, but lets your best weapons last longer, since you need fewer hits to kill the same enemy.)

    The most important part for me is that it’s a relaxing experience to play. If I don’t feel like doing something, I just teleport to a different part of the world and do something else. I’ve got a limited amount of time these days, and that’s perfect for me

  57. Christopher says:

    That jet fighter duel is really funny, lol

    Since last time I’ve been buying a buncha retro stuff – retro being Wii and Playstation 2 in this case. Which might sound mad but they came out like 15-29 years ago so the treshold is passed as far as I’m concerned. I just had my old consoles sitting around lacking various cables and stuff, so I got what I needed to get them working again online and have played through Super Mario Galaxy 2. It’s a wonderful game, tho it does feel like a level pack for Galaxy 1. It’s probably the hardest Mario game I’ve played, I don’t think I’m gonna do a lot of the challenges in this one.

    Before that all went down I bought and beat Resident Evil Village. Easily my second favorite Resident Evil game besides 4, which it takes a lot of inspiration from, while doing a pretty different thing in actuality. Beating this game also made me replay Resident Evil 4, which I already liked long ago, but after this playthrough is one of my favorites. It’s wonderful, I think. I’ve watched the HD texture mod guy’s videos after replaying it, and that’s been fun too. Lot to learn.

    I beat Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth, the newest Team Ladybug metroidvania game based on the old 90s fantasy anime series Lodoss. Good game, they really know how to nail the right gamefeel and keep you thinking despite the game not being all that difficult. Story was mostly nonsense but the concept is so inherently moving that I still teared up a bit during the ending sequence.

    I’ve also been prepping to buy a Nintendo Switch, finally. Haven’t owned a nintendo console since the Wii so I’m way overdue and there’s so much I wanna play. I’ve ordered the lan cable, the pro controller, various games and SD cards – I’m just waiting on ordering the console itself since rumors are there’s gonna be a Pro version announced soon and I’d hate for that to be announced right after I buy one.

    Guilty Gear Strive is finally out for everyone tomorrow. I adored the game in the open betas, so I’m really looking forward to playing it whenever.

    For the record, I’ve never been into sports games(or sports) or competitive shooters/a military themeing. Just not my thing, either of those.

    1. Smosh says:

      I wish Strive had XRD’s art direction. I just can’t play a game that’s so desaturated. Maybe my eyesight is shit, but I literally can’t parse what’s going on, and I hate every moment of looking at it because it’s just so ugly to me.

      Capcom started that trend by making the RE-engine to be desaturated as hell (Monster Hunter, RE, DMC all look terrible on any monitor that’s properly calibrated), and now it seems the whole of Japan follows suit. We just got out of the Grey/Brown era here. Now it’s their time, apparently.

      1. Christopher says:

        I’ll grant you the characters’ colors in Strive are slightly more muted in Strive than Xrd(which was very, very saturated), and DMC5 is a very dark game compared to 4 and its sunlit jungle and Vatican-looking town, but comparing it to the sorta bloom/brown Gears era stuff is really unwarranted lol. It sounds even weirder when you talk about Monster Hunter, ’cause I remember Tri looking like this. It was actually a game from that desaturated bloomy period, similar to like Twilight Princess. You gonna tell me World or Rise are less colorful? The PS4 Resident Evils are less colorful than gray-ass Resi 4, green filter 5 or 6, which I mostly remember as dark?

        I know there’s no accounting for taste but jeez louise. I think they’re doing pretty amazing jobs over at Capcom and Arcsys. I’s sorry you’re having trouble following the action, but Strive looking as beautiful as it does is how I’m able to rope friends less enthusiastic about fighting games into playing it with me in the first place.

        1. Smosh says:

          That’s why the desaturation in Strive bothers me so much. I want to like the game, and ArcSys makes utterly gorgeous games, but Strive is like making a perfect cake and then covering it in pickles.

          1. Christopher says:

            Well hey, fair enough.

    2. RamblePak64 says:

      You and I not only share names, but taste in games, I see.

      1. Christopher says:

        I feel like I’ve heard a lot of people went back to RE4 after 8, so maybe we just all got that spark reignited by Village lol

  58. Fizban says:

    I’ve been playing Bug Fables. When Ikenfell came out a while back I remember people going “oh hey, it’s like Paper Mario” with the turn-based rpg combat with timed button presses for spice. But Ikenfell used a tactical grid and normal jrpg quest inventory and a pixel aesthetic and magic school thing.

    Bug Fables, a game I didn’t hear even the tiniest whisper about, came out back in November 2019 (Steam algorithms, you failed), and it’s literally just Paper Mario with bugs. And three characters in combat, and tighter numbers requiring more skilled play and resource use, and a hard mode which is actually a little bit too hard, until you get some breathing room and abilities and then the game really starts popping off. And a bunch of optional bosses. And rather than continuously recruiting and choosing who to level up out of a wide cast of minions with a potato leader, you get three individuals with backstories who form a team, with responses for every enemy and conversation snippet flavor for almost every room and NPC, and use a more unified level system.

    It’s great. It’s $20. It’s nearly two years old. It’s on Steam and Switch. If it hadn’t just had a friggen artbook release bump it back to the front page at exactly the moment I was browsing, I’d have never noticed it. So time to shout it out. Bug Fables!

    1. Syal says:

      Seconded, Bug Fables is very fun, and wears its Thousand Year Door influence on its sleeve face. The battles are great, the story is cliche but with twists, and the sidequests are both numerous and demanding. I didn’t like a lot of the environmental puzzles*, which are prominent, but still heartily recommend it to low-number RPG fans.

      *(especially the stealth sections; you notice how all the good stealth games let you continue if you get caught, and the non-stealth games with stealth mini-games almost never do? Maybe look at the genre again, guys.)

      1. Fizban says:

        I’m noodling around before properly starting chapter 6 catching up some sidequests for things I managed to miss and minigames I never actually did*- while I didn’t find the stealth sections too annoying, I have found a couple others annoying: like having to log jump across a water room then walk off the log at just the right moment while the water is lowering, or one where it looks like you need to chain freeze juggle to enemies in order to get one up an elevator to drop down to activate a switch. The latter I’m not going back to, period. But aside from that one puzzle and the (extremely common) jrpg problem where two chapters have had “hurry up!” story and yet sidequests continue (and therefore must be done, as is tradition), I’ve no complaints yet.

        *Do you like card game minigames in your rpgs, dear reader? ‘Cause Bug Fables has one!

        1. Syal says:

          I remember being very confused about that second puzzle; there’s an elaborate setup to get a cube up high, but then I couldn’t find a use for it once it was up there. It’s possible I just missed something, but I think they gave the player an extra cube.

          1. Fizban says:

            I was back in the area for a sidequest and figured it out with a fresh start. It might be possible to carry an extra non-thawing water cube from the far right side of the area by freezing an enemy there instead, but the easier option is to delete your non-thawing cube by freezing a new one. To clarify:

            This is the puzzle in the swamp, where you have to hold down switches to move platforms. In the middle of the room you go up a level, but you can see a third level. Just to the right there’s also a small “half” level, with a hold switch on it. Starting from the bottom: freeze your water block from the nearby source, kick it onto the bottom hold switch, stand on the switch and kick it onto the lift, then freeze the flying enemy and kick it onto the switch, board the platform, wait for the enemy to thaw, taking you to the first cliff level, all the same way as you would normally. Kick your water block to the cliff ledge. From that first floor cliff, kick the water block off to the right so it lands on the middle step switch, which will lower a platform from above which you can reach from the ledge you’re already standing on. In order to get that platform to move back up, however, you need your block to go away- and if you creep to the left of the platform, you can just reach far enough to freeze a drop from the same source you used already, causing the old block to disappear, and letting the platform you’re on move to the top of the cliff. From there you just go left and pick up a self-poison build medal.

            If you already did that *and* got another water block to the top, yeah I don’t think there’s any use. The detector medal stopped ringing once I picked up the described reward.

  59. Smosh says:

    The first thing I think of when I see that trailer is the scene in Bojack Horseman where there’s a walk & talk scene, in which the rich movie executive and some director discuss how to change their currently in production movie. They shot a ton of action scenes where the good guy fights off badguys by the truck load in a mall, and today a mall shooting happened, and now the whole thing seems in bad taste. They discuss this while walking through a corridor where the wands are covered in insanely aggressively violent movie posters. The sentence: “We just can’t explain why there’s so much violence in the country!” is muttered.

    Or put differently: I find that trailer 3% funny due to how much meme is in it, and 97% uncomfortable because of how much violence glorification is in it. It does start to make me uncomfortable when it’s this blatant. I was basically waiting for the US Ministry Of War (weirdly abbreviated “DoD”) to show up as the main sponsor.

    1. John says:

      D.O.D. stands for Department of Defense. The United States has Secretaries rather than Ministers and Departments rather than Ministries. For most of American History what is now the Department of Defense was called the War Department and run by the Secretary of War, but they re-branded at some point after World War II.

      1. bobbert says:

        Sort of. The DoD was a merger of the War Department and the Navy Department.

  60. RFS-81 says:

    I started Skyrim again, this time with survival mods. I killed the first dragon and I’m already not sure if I want to continue. PSA: Think about why you stopped playing last time before wasting time picking out mods. I think I’ll just try to finish Prey in time for Shamus’s series.

    Yesterday, I played the board game Oath by Cole Wehrle for the first time. It’s got this really interesting gimmick where it tries to simulate the history of a fantasy empire. The deck (and goals, and some starting cards etc.) for the next session is sort of procedurally generated depending on the outcome. Who won, and which of the many victory condition, stuff like that. Some buildings can leave ruins that can be rebuilt, or get lost completely. We’re planning to play it with a regular group, but it can easily handle players dropping in or out. It also has “factory reset” instructions if you want to start again at the beginning. The rules are a bit clunky, but having a game that evolves like that is extremely fascinating to me. And the art by Kyle Ferrin is great. He also did Root, but this time he gets to draw all sorts of weird Fantasy critters.

    Another board game I played was High Frontier and I hated it. The ratio between the number of decisions and the moves to implement those decisions is too damn low. And then you get screwed by a dice roll and can start over.

    Still playing MtG Arena and rarely MTGO, still having fun drafting. Not much to say.

  61. Simplex says:

    I played Battlefield games around 2010-2014. Putting the famous “RendeZook” manouver in the trailer warmed my heart.

  62. Taellosse says:

    I’ve, weirdly, been churning through visual novels lately, a genre that has historically been pretty uninteresting to me. But of late my sleep cycle has been a mess, my stress levels high, and my depression up to a pretty steady treading-water-and-my-toes-can-reach-ground-if-I-stretch level.

    So games that require a deeper investment of attention, planning, skill, or reflexes have been feeling like too much effort. I’ve taken a swing at several of my usual genres of RPG, action, RTS, etc. but I just keep bouncing off them right now.

    Visual novels, on the other hand, have engaging narrative (if it isnt engaging, I’ve learned to drop them pretty early) with some light decision-making. The choices are generally untimed, and typically I can save right before them to see how different alternatives play out (unless there are longer-term consequences, of course), which means I don’t need to stress about most of them.

    My kids’ school year is about to draw to a close and I was able to set them up in a summer program this year, our household finances have recently taken a sharp upswing, and I’m actively working on wrangling my sleep habits, so hopefully my mental state will start to improve soon, and with that, my capacity for interactive entertainment will adjust accordingly, it’ll also be nice to start spending time in-person with people I don’t live with, now that I and they are generally vaccinated, which should also help.

  63. The Rocketeer says:

    I’d like to chip in a strong recommendation for a game that took me by pleasant surprise: Days Gone.

    I got Days Gone free with PS+. I remembered the game being extensively marketed, seemingly with the expectation of positioning it as a system seller. There was a fairly famous sneak peak of the gameplay showing a huge fight at a sawmill, which seemed to me at the time nearly as staged as an Ubisoft gameplay reveal. And then when the game released, the hype seemed to disappear with the snap of a finger. I actually have no idea how the game performed commercially or critically, but when I notice that kind of instant vanishing act from a seriously hyped game, I get the impression that the game must be very humdrum. Not terrible, or that would be a story (“huge title crashes and burns!”) but just middle of the road, no one with much to say about it. It’s also a zombie game, and it feels like I’ve been burned out on the whole zombie concept for around a decade or so now. So I must admit, I went into the game with pretty middling expectations, with nothing to lose but my time since I’d snagged it for free. And throughout the early game, I was more or less just pleased to find the game functional and fun to play from moment to moment.

    By the time I was mid-way through the second act, my opinion was basically formed and ably held aloft by the game all the way to its conclusion: Days Gone is one of the best-written games I’ve played. Now, I want to make it very clear that I’m talking about a few particular areas. I’m not saying this is some kind of epic setting with tomes full of fascinating lore— it’s Oregon. The zombie framework is a serviceable one for the story they’re telling, and the plot is itself not a stunner by any stretch of the imagination. Why, then, do I open with such bold praise of this game?

    Because Days Gone has the strongest cast and the best character writing I may have ever seen in a game. The developers seem to have an unequaled sense of what a character is. That is, the game establishes a strong, consistent core personality and identity for each member of its extensive role call. These characters might change significantly as their circumstances change, as events weigh on them, as they interact with more and different people with whom they have better, worse or more complicated rapport, and as they discover new things about themselves and the world around them. But these changes are so genuine and natural that they never seem as if the character is simply being rewritten on the fly to match the beats of an arc and keep them on script; always, I got the sense that each character’s deep core identity was being shown through a new lens, just as a real person’s would be. The relationships between Deacon and the rest of the principal characters have this enthralling, visceral sense of reality to them. In particular, the relationship between Deacon and his best friend Boozer may be the greatest relationship between two characters I’ve ever seen in a game, particularly two male characters.

    And the game never fails to establish that deep, engaging sense of character, thanks to two indispensible assets that work hand-in-hand: an excellent script and the superlative voice work and performance capture necessary to sell that script to the audience. The dialog in this game— and there is a lot of dialog, which would normally grate on me, but never in Days Gone— is written very naturally, never feeling script-y or indulgent. The voice of the writer is inaudible and the literal and figurative voices of the characters are engrossing, captivating. Particular credit must go to the voice and physical performance for the lead character, Deacon St. John. He has a very distinctive voice that I gather must be a Pacific Northwest particular. The delivery sells dialog that would be disastrous for a less talented performer; there’s a lot of vocal fillers, umm-ing and uhh-ing in Deacon’s dialog that, while realistic, tend to come off as very artificial tin-eared except in the care of seriously talented professionals. On the performance side, characters all have a body language of their own that amply sells their physical or emotional state without ever feeling awkward of drawing undue attention to itself. One of the earliest moments when I realized I was falling in love with the game was when I knew, a split-second before it happened, that Deacon was about to respond to another character with his “I’m choosing to be an obstinate asshole” face where he stoops his neck and refuses to look directly at them. I realized that, although I would call the game a slow burn through the first act, that I had already developed a kind of subtle familiarity with the characters’ personalities, their moods and mannerisms, and their emotional limits and buttons that I have with my family or close coworkers.

    And this large, superbly-rounded cast of characters is excellently utilized by a narrative driven almost entirely by their choices and wants. Not at all a left-to-right story written as a series of responses to a cavalcade of exigent circumstances, the narrative thrums along briskly as characters actively and intelligently pursue goals relevant to their personal interests by means appropriate to their well-established identities. The game is also a masterclass in the nuts-and-bolts details of screenwriting, particularly excelling at establishing a wealth of setting information (people, locations, history, relationships etc.) while never feeling expository. No “as you know,” no awkward standing around droning about something we have no reason to delve into at this moment but have to establish for later. It’s all woven together as finely and durably as a new pair of dungarees. Another moment where I had stop and sit back in surprise at my own high opinion of this game was, ironically, after one of maybe two total lines I thought was written somewhat clumsily. I held on to that line as closely and jealously as I might hold onto my last matchstick, realizing that after playing Days Gone for about half a week at that point, an imperfectly-written line might itself sum my complaints with the writing. Much related to the game’s talent for never feeling expository, the game is also elegant with foreshadowing. Any given line or action in a scene might be the basis for a larger event down the road; likewise, almost no significant scene or conversation passes by without setting up something down the road. Yet it’s never unduly obvious what the writer may be using to set up future events and never predictable what further developments a scene may be setting up. The consequences that advance or wrap up a given plot thread may have been established by a totally different plot thread, which itself spawned from a different plot thread that resolves into another that will be advanced by that very first plot thread.

    The interface is a great help in more ways than one; rather than tracking some series of “main quests” in a great big chain from start to finish, the game opens and tracks individual story threads that generally track a particular problem or your relationship with a particular character, and individual missions in the game note which of any storylines they will progress… though whether any of the storylines to which it’s related will be advanced in direct, major ways or tangential, minor ways (or direct, minor ways or tangential, major ways) has to be found out in the doing. I appreciated this solution to tracking the goings-on of such a sprawling spiderweb of character and plot threads. I’m miserable at keeping track of these kinds of things on my own, and just seeing how many of these threads are open at once as the game wears on drives home just how many plates the narrative is spinning. Showing the missions’ storyline associations was also a smart move, I think; it lays a little breadcrumb trail for players like me, who will think, “Oh, I want to keep following this character’s story!” or “I want to see how this complicated situation plays out” or “Wait, these four threads all converge in this mission?” While it may seem odd that the game shows each storyline’s completion percentage as you work through them, I found as the game progressed that the developer’s use that information to tantalize that player and screw with their expectations. You might begin a storyline early and not get to make significant progress on it until later, and seeing it sitting at a low percentage in your list gives you a sense that it’s looming out there in your future. On the other end, you might all but complete a storyline only to have the last little bit remain unresolved. Especially when these storylines involve particular characters, it made me nervous speculating about the moment I’ll see them again, possibly for the last time.

    I’ve used the words “natural” and “genuine” again and again to describe the writing of this game, because I think they really hit the heart of it, especially with the last, but certainly not least part of the writing that the game simply nails: the tone. Part of my general dislike of zombie games is the sophomoric bitter glee that so many of them take in the end of civilization, seeming to take it as a welcome opportunity to spew forth an uncomplicated resentment of mankind. The lazy way to make these games serious is to make them dark and fill them with bad events, and the more serious and sophisticated you want to make your zombie game, well, the darker and more tragic it needs to be at every moment. Days Gone seems to find a golden mean between the dark circumstances in which our species finds itself and the relatable, believable spectrum of responses to those circumstances we see lived by the cast, major and minor. The game deftly avoids indulging in stock characters to drive the plot. There are two characters that seem to draw a little closer to recognizable stock zombie story characters, yet they serve as exceptions that prove the rule; in both cases I have in mind, they establish believable and compelling reasons for them to feel the things they do, they give those characters more to their personalities than those few traits which they would need to fulfill their equivalent role in a dumber game, and, like all the rest of the cast, their individual actions which end up driving the plot are realistic and understandable responses to the prompts of the narrative, and the rest of the cast around them responds relatably and logically to those characters. Fittingly for a good zombie game, Days Gone doesn’t lose sight of its humanity in spite of its often bleak subject matter. It manages to describe a more nuanced and complicated worldview without feeling muddled or non-committal. They say the distinguishing characteristic of a serious thinker is the capacity to draw nuanced distinctions. If the same can be said of games, then I would call Days Gone a serious game, not merely a dark game or a dour game or a bleak game, any of which might also be dumb games.

    Days Gone pried a couple of belly laughs out of me. A rare accomplishment.

    Having praised the storytelling of the game all I need to, I don’t want to make it sounds like Days Gone has a strong story half propping up a weak mechanical half. I’m not an open world superfan, but I’ve played my fair share of them and I did enjoy this one. It’s a strong point in this game’s favor that they nailed the feel of riding the motorbike, because I generally can’t stand video game motorbikes and you spend quite a lot of time on it. The combat is fairly basic and focuses less on clever gunplay and more on choosing and creating favorable circumstanced for combat encounters. Stealth is based more around ambush tactics than ghosting, even against human enemies, though the latter is certainly possible for a careful player. The survival/crafting mechanics and the need to refuel your bike may be a sticking point for some players. For what it’s worth, I’m not a fan of that kind of thing generally but thought they found a sweet enough spot for this game. It calls to mind the on-the-spot crafting and inventory capacities of something like Horizon: Zero Dawn, which I greatly enjoyed. The bike’s fuel capacity is just piddly enough at the start that you really appreciate tank upgrades as they become available. It’s also a beefy open world; after the map opened up to about the size I thought felt like a full map, there was still another 30-40% of the game area left to explore for the third act.

    The distinguishing feature of the gameplay is the hordes, as featured in that much-hyped preview I mentioned above. I’m pleased to report that horde fights are very tense and fun, and the presence of the hordes roaming the open world makes for one hell of a monkey wrench in what might other me humdrum activities. The opening of the game implies that you can use your bike to kite hordes away from locations or items of interest, and I found later on that this is a perfectly viable plan in live gameplay. The way hordes move is pretty captivating; dozens or hundreds of zombies flowing like crashing water over open ground, funneling through bottlenecks, spilling down inclines… Squeezing off a few rounds at a couple of zombies lazily milling out to clear them away from some piddly supplies you wanted, only to see that your gunfire attracted the attention of a massive horde now rampaging downhill through the trees toward you is an “oh SHIIIIT” moment with few equals out there. And, of course, when you do finally get ready to take on hordes directly, it feels nice to scout your environment and identify environmental hazards and natural channels and firebreaks you can use to outmaneuver them and thin them out with traps… before accidentally triggering them too early and having to improvise on the spot, or quickly see the always-shocking abruptness of how a horde totally envelops Deacon before a jarring cut to black. When you find yourself nearly depleted of explosives and traps, with no automatic weapons and half of the much-larger-than-anticipated horde unwisely scattered around the mostly open ground you engaged them on? That’s when the game separates the mice from the Mongrels.

    The three acts of Days Gone together feel like the first three seasons of an excellent zombie television program. I really could not be more impressed with the quality of writing craftsmanship, and if they can do it again someday in a sequel, Bend Studios will have proven themselves miracle workers.

    1. Thomas says:

      I had the opposite impression of Days Gone marketing. I felt Sony were deliberately downplaying Days Gone as a niche franchise as opposed to their flagpole franchises. My assumption was that the game was mediocre and the marketing execs had decided to protect Sony’s image by not pushing it too hard. So I never even really thought of buying it at launch. Perhaps I will play it after your praise, but I have to admit it’s hard to get excited about Yet Another Zombie Game.

      Apparently Sony nixed the pitch for a Days Gone sequel. Sony Bend are working on a new IP now.

  64. Misamoto says:

    Tried Biomutant which I was looking forward too, but it turned out to be boring af

  65. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I remain somewhat shackled to FFXIV and Warframe although I’ve found I only log into them every couple of days which honestly doesn’t do either game justice, particularly FFXIV which is a subscription game but eh… I just can’t make myself drop it completely at this point.

    I’ve ended up bouncing off from Pillars of Eternity again. I don’t know, I just cannot. Both times I got to around to the part where The White March unlocks. First time I’ve finished both chapters, got back to the main game, called it a day… and never picked it up again. This time I’ve explored a little of TWM and same deal, next day I just stared at the icon and didn’t feel like running it at all. The thing is I am really curious about the story and when I look at it on paper I don’t find anything particularly despicable about the mechanics (except for it being real time with pause but see below) but I just don’t feel like playing it.

    About a week ago I’ve finished my nightmare playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins. Attempting it on nightmare as part of creating my new “canon playthrough” before DA4 was inspired by a streamer and while everybody told me DAO was just plain unfair on that difficulty playing a “control mage” I’ve found it doable, even if some of the fights required multiple attempts and certain encounters were a touch luck based depending on whether or not spells pushed past resistances. Going to start Awakening after a little breather. Oddly enough I’ve noticed that in this particular game real time with pause doesn’t bother me at all and I’m not sure why.

    And with my newly discovered passion for replaying games on high difficulties Skyrim on legendary with some mods that mostly rebalance the game towards more challenging gameplay (but also make playing more involved in general, the vanilla magic system is kinda boring now that I think abou it). Not sure if I’ll stick with it this time as there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

    Going through Control at the moment after I realised that the version I got from Humble Choice actually came with the DLCs bundled in already. In my experience with Remedy games they have strong initial ideas for both mechanics and the setting but then don’t quite know where to lead those ideas. So far this is a very Remedy game in that the powers are fun but by now combat has somewhat devolved into a “waves of dudes” situation with nothing in the enemy repertoire or the environment making a given encounter unique or interesting. The story has been ramping up and I think I’m about to hit a major point… after which I suspect it’ll peter out into vagueness and non-resolution.

    Stellaris. This is The Game for me. I may stop playing it for a week but whenever I fire it up I’m not going to play anything else for the next. By now I’ve gotten into heavily modding it (even though every update breaks something) so it’s stuff like reshaping entire star systems and fighting a super-empire from the core of the galaxy all over the place. Also roleplaying various ideas for empires which results in suboptimal playstyles but more interesting emergent narratives.

    Oh and still dipping into Hades for a run a couple of times a week, still got a bunch of stuff to unlock but at this point I find it a great game to just take in smaller doses knowing that I’ll eventually get there.

    And I’m sure I’m forgetting something that I might add later once I’m home and have a look at my library.

  66. DeadlyDark says:

    So I’ve watched Yakuza 1 and 2 videos from Tehsnarkerer (to compare remakes with originals I never played and to refresh the story) and I remembered that ,Yakuza 3 and later ones released on steam, so I play that one. Actually glad, that I didn’t buy those for PS4, because now I can install restoration patches on those.

    The Yakuza games that I played (0, Kiwami, Kiwami 2 and now 3) always put me in the mood, when I start thinking about game design – putting all the side-content in the check-list, map-markers for quest givers, the idea of using the same map in every game of the series, etc.

    What I like about 3, so far, is that it also talks about what is so unique about Okinawa, compared to mainland Japan. Unique language quirks or differences in mentality. It’s interesting, actually. I don’t enjoy talking with hostesses in Yakuza games (at least, as a client, it just feels so very awkward, to pay for this kind of service), but just a couple of dialogs with them gave me a lot of new information about Okinawa. Also, since I recently re-read the chapter about Steve The Colonist (and subsequent absence of presentation of people you supposed to care about in ME2), I also wonder, if you can go the opposite way completely. Meaning, that in Yakuza 3 a portion of the story way longer, than you expect, is dedicated to helping kids with their problems, and I just have to assume, not a lot of people liked it. I’m ok with it, since it’s a part of Yakuza storytelling charm (going into these unrelated side-stories), but still, it made me think.

    I also played few missions from Death’s Cold Embrace for Thief The Metal Age, and all I can say is wow. I never expected to see scripted in-game cutscenes on this engine. I’m impressed

  67. Corvair says:

    I’ve had that impression for years that many – if not most – people who play “a game” cannot really be classed as “gamers” in the sense that they “generally play games”; They usually stick to one or a few franchises, and are only knowledgeable and interested within those.

    As an example: I am part of a guild in Classic WoW with around 100 active players. Out of those 100, I would estimate that roughly 25 even play *any* game outside of WoW. And of those 25, maybe five have a general interest in gaming, that is: I can talk to them about game design, we can armchair about mechanics, or recommend each other games on a “Tell me which games you enjoy, and I tell you if you would enjoy this” basis.

    Most of those 100 people aren’t interested in anything about games beyond logging in and playing WoW. Many do not even read secondary sources (wowhead or icy-veins), and if you talk about “Bobby Kotick”, more than half do not know who that is.

    My impression is that such “Insular” communities shape around big games rather than smaller ones – simply because in order to even know about the smaller titles, you kind of already need to be in the information flow of “general gaming”; The number of non-gamers that stumble upon Dwarf Fortress, Graven, Rimworld or Europa Universalis is probably rather small.

    Of course, if a small game gets the focus of a “mainstream-adjacent” outlet, it may generate an audience out of “not-general-gamers”, like Among Us possibly did.

    1. My experience with playing DDO pretty well follows this, and it’s not what you’d call a hugely popular game. There’s just a substantial proportion of the population who Just Play. They don’t follow the updates, they don’t read the release notes. They just bumble around.

      Then you get weird outliers like me who are hardcore into game design for RPG’s and who aren’t that into quite a few genres of game, but will also occasionally go off-genre for something really intriguing.

  68. Mephane says:

    I actually am into Battlefield type games. As in, large battles with soldiers on foot, vehicles, and a heavy focus on objectives.

    However, most of the Battlefield games leave me cold. Mostly because of the setting. If you want to go historical, it’s gotta be medieval or even further back (Mordhau is the closest you can get to a medieval style iteration of the formula, and it’s pretty good). Otherwise, it’s gotta be scifi. Hence the last original Battlefield I played was Battlefield 2142.

    The upcoming Battlefield 2042 is too close to just being another modern era shooter. No scifi, no futuristic feeling whatsoever about it. Which is fine, of course, for those who prefer that (or don’t care), but it’s not for me.

  69. Baron Tanks says:

    Deep Rock Galactic! My unwillingness to play with others (funnily enough, especially friends at at times as I don’t want to tell them, I don’t feel like playing with anyone on voice comms, including you) had left me to push this one down the road, time and again. Anyway, 6 weeks ago or so I did take the plunge and I’m really enjoying it, it’s a great game with charming design. It feels made to be interesting and rewarding to the player. The classes are quite a lot of fun to play I find and there is paid careful attention to both differentation and synergy between the classes. The most straightforward example: engineers can launch platforms while the scout has a long range grapple gun. This means that the engineer can create places for the scout to go to, to retrieve objects or materials. What this does is it makes the engineer more useful than when he was alone and same for the scout (it saves you having to design a huge path to something, by either digging around or using for example loads of platforms) but the team as a whole also benefits. Even if I’m neither the scout or the engineer in this scenario, it benefits me greatly in terms of rewards and speed of progression if this builds out. The game is riddled with these examples. Beyond this, since rewards are completely equal among all participants and the game oozes with charm, it naturally creates a healthy and fun ecosystem. There’s still enough frustration at incompetency, but there is almost no room in the design for intentional griefing so you see very little of this, since the rewards for the griefer are just not there. This is probably compounded by being a popular, but not ginormously popular game.

    TLDR: Deep Rock Galactic is a lot of fun and whole-heartedly recommended, even if you don’t default to playing with others. A modern day co-op gem.

  70. Philadelphus says:

    I’ve mainly been playing two games I picked up roughly for my birthday last month:

    Crying Suns is basically the first “FTL-like” I’ve seen: it’s clearly inspired by FLT and copies a ton of its gameplay and design language. Its combat is a bit different by being primarily conducted using little squadrons of ships (drones, fighters, frigates, and specials) on a 2D hex battlefield between your and the enemy’s ships (almost like a pseudo-RTS), though. It robs it of a bit of FTL’s magic for me, but it’s interesting enough.

    The other game I’ve been playing, which is definitely not in my usual ‘silo’ but I’m enjoying immensely, is CrossCode. I think it’s described as an action-adventure game? It’s essentially a “single-player MMO”, in that the other NPCs you meet are meant to be other player avatars in the eponymous CrossCode game. One interesting idea is that the game-within-the-game is taking place on a real alien planet that humans have colonized, with players controlling physical avatars in the world (sort like an enhanced VR). It’s been in development for nine years (according to the devs when they released a single, final expansion for it earlier this year), and is incredibly polished, from the animations to the combat to the puzzles in the dungeons. Combat is fast, flashy, and feels awesome to master as you have multiple elemental stances to switch between and unique combat arts for each one. It’s also got one of the more compelling stories I’ve ever experienced in a game, and some amazing writing for your companions. I’m about 36 hours in and maybe 50% done at this point, have just uncovered a (the?) major twist, and can’t wait to continue on.

  71. unit3000-21 says:

    I’ve started Doom Eternal, and it definitely isn’t overhyped – don’t know why but somehow all this glowing praise, and hearing about combat being even more about specific demon weaknesses made me wary of it not being really my cup of tea.
    But it turns out the game is awesome, I don’t know if I would call it better than nuDoom, but I find all the changes (both in combat and in tone) more welcome than a simple “NuDoom but more” approach to making a sequel would be.
    I’m pretty meh on the plot/lore though, I really prefered when it was simple “greedy corpos tried to milk revenue from exploiting literal Hell, Doomguy fixes the problem by ripping and tearing”.

  72. I’ve been playing DDO as per usual, and also my PnP game, whee! But one thing I did do was to discover that Aspyr has ported both Jade Empire and KotOR for use on mobile devices, so I decided to get Jade Empire and try playing it on my Kindle Fire. It’s not some half-assed port, it’s the WHOLE GAME and it runs better on this cheap little Amazon tablet than it did on my computer when I first got the thing! I just find that so weird.

    I also picked up Dark Sun: Shattered Lands and Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager on Good Old Games and had myself a little trip down nostalgia lane. I have to say, Dark Sun: Shattered Lands is still a really good game with a well-designed interface (much better than Baldur’s Gate and the Infinity Engine games that came later) and lots of interactivity and inventory puzzles and other really fun stuff.

  73. Dalisclock says:

    Been playing Breath of the Wild for the first time and so far I’m digging it. Normally Open World games tend to wear on me after a while but this one feels refreshing for how it’s not full of STUFF put there to fill out the map or waste your time like a lot of open world games love to do. I am truly enjoying just exploring the world and getting into the occasional monster battle here and there and I’m coming up on the first Divine Beast(the Elephant one near the Zora city) so I’m interested to see how that plays out.

    Also playing through the early Castlevania games on the Konami Castlevania Anniversary Collection on Switch. I’ve had the collection for a while now but after watching the end of the show(well, this series anyway, they just announced a new series) I felt like I wanted to go and play through all the notable ones. So far I’ve finished the Original NES one and CV2: Simons Quest and man, I heard they’re hard but now really realize just how hard they are.

    CV2 is an interesting concept that’s marred by it’s poor translation and the fact the NPCs outright lie to you half the time when they’re not being incredibly cryptic. It also has the issue of a very fast day/night cycle where nothing is open at night(and since you can only heal in churches, which are also closed at night) getting caught out at night means trying to survive relentless monster attacks and hope you don’t die as a result. It is clear FROM software loves these games though considering the amount of inspiration they took from them.

    1. RFS-81 says:

      WHAT A
      NIGHT TO
      HAVE A

      I haven’t played Castlevania 2 much. It seems like a game that was ahead of its time, but not in a good way. They already had all sorts of cool Metroidvania-like ideas, but they didn’t even have good controls yet. It’s like the Castlevania 1 devs caught a glimpse of Symphony of the Night from the future and then tried to make a game like that. (I think Rutskarn used that comparison in his Elder Scrolls series once…)

      But that collection looks pretty cool, I didn’t even know about it. Too bad that the Metroidvania-Castlevania games aren’t on the Switch.

  74. whitehelm says:

    I recently finished Gnosia (on the Switch but it’s coming to Steam later this year). It’s a single player version of Werewolf/Mafia against a variety of AI personalities/playstyles. You’re in a timeloop playing against them repeatedly, and as you do you earn XP to increase stats such as Intuition(detect lies) and Charisma(get others to back you) and learn abilities from the other players such as Say You’re Human (have everyone say they’re human and risk getting caught in a lie). As the game goes on you unlock the ability to customize the starting game parameters so if you like a certain role or need to adjust the difficulty you can (though easy games give less XP). You’re also looking for special scenes that reveal the backstories of the others which may require keeping them alive/having certain role combinations ultimately leading to finding a way to end the loop.
    Also I played the new Your Turn to Die update after a long hiatus. For those who don’t know it’s a story similar to Zero Escape or Dangan Ronpa involving a bunch of people stuck in a facility and they have to eliminate each other through a series of “trials” to escape. It’s also completely free to play (and can be played in the browser) so worth checking out.

  75. TLN says:

    I feel like every entry in the Battlefield series since Battlefield 3 has been worse than the previous one, but it’s still the only series in the “competitive FPS” genre that I really enjoy, and I’ve played them with more or less the same group of friends for well over a decade now.

  76. Galad_t says:

    Had a friend recently share their game library with me, and that more than doubled the amount of available games to me from 530ish to about 1200, so I’ve been trying a few games interesting to me that I’ve missed previously. That Chime game you were so fond of (it’s very nice indeed, at least for a few hours!), MTG 2012 (yeah, not that polished and stuff), Chainsaw Warrior (sounded like a silly little title, and it is, but not in the way I expected, it’s actually a digital board game), Typing of the Dead (kill zombies by the power of fast typing, enjoy a silly story that adds a lot of alliteration, and a little titillation). There’s always the comfort foods of Vermintide 2 with its new rng-lite Chaos Wastes mode, and Deep Rock Galactic, which should be known even here (mining dwarves in space)

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