Dénouement 2016 Part 2: No-Show List

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jan 3, 2017

Filed under: Industry Events 96 comments

Every year there are more games to play, but the number of available gaming hours remains more or less the same. Like always, too many games dropped right at the end of the year. This year I had the added challenge that I had a big trip right in the middle of December, cutting into those precious dollars and hours available between the start of the October gaming deluge and the end of the year. Also, at the end of the year I really started to become engrossed in Factorio, and that thing ate a lot of time.

Rather than fending off wave after wave of, “Shamus, how dare you miss out on milestone game X?”, let’s talk about a few popular games and why I didn’t play them:


Link (YouTube)

Going strictly by social media / cultural impact, I imagine Overwatch will land on a lot of “Game of the Year” lists. The game came out in May, and then people basically never shut up about it. As soon as the conversation threatened to die down, Blizzard would make an addition, or a change, or an announcement, and it would re-ignite the cycle of hot-takes, speculation, hype, backlash, commentary, and memes. Blizzard is so good at this and does it so effortlessly that it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of just how deliberate it is. With nothing more than a bit of concept art and a blog post, Blizzard can create more engagement than EA can with millions of dollars of clumsy, brute-force marketing.

Having said all that, it was clear that Overwatch is not for me. Back in the day, I played Quake multiplayer capture the flag. Then I played Unreal Tournament. Then Team Fortress 2. In all cases, I was drawn more to the community than to the competitive side of things. I liked having a fixed hangout with a collection of regulars. I liked signing on in the evening and seeing the same ten or so names, along with a scattering of transient randos. It was like going to your favorite bar. It was like going to the park for a pickup game with friends. It was like… I guess it was like the community we have here on the blog. If you boot the crazy people and make everyone else feel welcome, you can make a place that feels comfortable and familiar.

But it was clear from the beginning that Overwatch wasn’t interested in this sort of thing. There’s no such thing as a fixed hangout where you can drop in and out of the fray as it suits you. If you want to play with friends, you have to organize it beforehand. If you don’t, the game is all randos, all the time. It looks gorgeous, the characters are charming, and there are lots of fun ideas, but the game is missing the only thing that ever made these games worth playing for me. So I gave it a pass.

The memes have been fun, though.

Pokémon Go

Look Shamus, the game is easy: First you get some pokeballs. Then you catch some pokemon. Then you get hit by a car.
Look Shamus, the game is easy: First you get some pokeballs. Then you catch some pokemon. Then you get hit by a car.

Ah yes, the other major headline-grabbing game of the year.

This game never fit with my habits and lifestyle. I only leave the house once or twice a week. Usually this is when I go for a walk. When I’m doing that, I can’t play the game because I’m walking. I can’t play at home because you can’t make meaningful progress in the game while rooted in one place. I can’t make progress when I’m out & about because I have to stop what I’m doing to play a videogame.

For me this game wasn’t Pokémon Go. It was Pokémon Stop What You’re Doing and Get Out Your Smart Phone.

I don’t want to stop here in the middle of the sidewalk with the traffic roaring by. I don’t want to stop here because the weather is unpleasant and I just want to get where I’m going. I don’t want to stop here because the sun is so bright I can barely read my smartphone. I don’t want to stop here because I’m carrying all the stuff I bought and I don’t want to hold my groceries in one hand, play a videogame with the other, while standing in the middle of the sidewalk like a self-absorbed numbskull.

It doesn’t help that I have never played a Pokémon game before, so I didn’t have a love for the game or a sense of nostalgia to lure me in. I suppose I’d be willing to make the time if the game had managed to hook me in, but the game never got over the initial hurdle of making me care. To me it was just a game that was tremendously inconvenient to play. I guess it’s a game for people who get out more than twice a week and have downtime while waiting for buses and trains that makes the game useful.


Sometimes, Evil calls for best two out of three.
Sometimes, Evil calls for best two out of three.

“The combat in this game is a slog, and there’s SO MUCH of it!”

Obsidian focusing on combat is like Bethesda using that stupid zoom-in face camera for all of their dialog scenes. Why are you putting such a huge focus on the one thing you’re obviously rubbish at? I might be willing to put up with slog-ish combat if the rest of the game was right, but Tyranny is a grim sad miserable world of hard choices and grim deeds, and by the end of 2016 that was the last thing I was looking for in my entertainment.

I spent most of 2016 watching the two halves of my friends and family demonize and hate each other via social media. It’s been an emotional meatgrinder, and so I’ve been trying to counter the prevailing cultural mood with my entertainment. I ditched watching Daredevil for the same reason I skipped Tyranny – I don’t want to wallow. These days I want my entertainment to be light, fluffy, and affirming. If I want grimdà¤rk conflict and moral compromise, I’ll open up my Facebook feed or Twitter.

Mafia III

Link (YouTube)

I was pretty indifferent to the second Mafia game. I didn’t hate it, but I found it to be shallow and forgettable. So when Mafia III came out and people were saying it was heavily padded, I decided to give it a pass.

Later I heard that – assuming you can overlook the padding – it can sometimes be a pretty smart and nuanced game by the standards of the genre. Sadly, by that point in the year it was too late for me to embark on some 50-hour open-world monster.

It’s the Ubisoft problem: We took something good and made it last longer through aggressive padding. Except, the padding is so overwhelming that it’s no longer something good. It’s something predictable, repetitive, and routine.

Dishonored 2

Who came up with the idea of making a trickster god sound like an NPR host? And why didn't they fix that in the sequel?
Who came up with the idea of making a trickster god sound like an NPR host? And why didn't they fix that in the sequel?

The game launched with all sorts of technical problems. I decided to wait until they were sorted out in a patch before I gave the game a chance. While I was waiting for the patch, Titanfall 2 went on sale. So my Dishonored 2 time budget wound up spent on that instead.

I hear it’s pretty good, but it’ll have to wait for 2017.

Planet Coaster

Link (YouTube)

Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a magnificent game that blends management with creative building, and gives you all of that in the context of a fun and gorgeous little game where you can build and ride your own rollercoasters. So I was crushed to hear that the latest entry in the series is butts.

But then I was un-crushed to discover that a new franchise has come along and taken up the torch. Planet Coaster is reportedly the game RCTW should have been. Mumbles played it, and the whole thing looks really appealing.

This one came too late in the year for me. I hope I can get to this in 2017.

Final Fantasy XV

Link (YouTube)

I think I’m done with Final Fantasy at this point. I know I did a big writeup on Final Fantasy X earlier this year, but the series has evolved into something that no longer interests me. People keep saying that XV is good, but every single thing I see regarding the game is repulsive to me.

The product placement is exactly the kind of immersion-shattering cringe-worthy bullshit that I don’t want to see in games. The “all dudes” thing is off-putting, since I feel like I get my dose of dudes from other media. Final Fantasy is where I go to see teams made up of boys, girls, bunny people, cat people, old people, and giant stuffed animals. The last thing I want is four dudes in black.

Maybe the game really is good like people claim, but it’s done a rubbish job of selling itself to me.

Civilization 6

Again, this was a bit too much videogame for me to take on in December. I’m a pretty casual fan of the series, so I didn’t feel a pressing need to make sure I played this at launch.

Master Of Orion

I don't see a login prompt, so I guess the title screen is okay.
I don't see a login prompt, so I guess the title screen is okay.

You, too, MOO? You’re going to join in the silly trend of dropping the sequel number and pretending you’re the first game in the series? Has anyone thought this through?

Like Rollercoaster Tycoon, this is yet another long-dormant series that’s trying to recapture the glory days while also bringing the franchise in line with current trends and expectations. Based on the pre-release buzz and that one trailer, this thing looked awful.

But now it has a “Mostly Positive” rating on Steam. Maybe those trailers were rubbish and the game is good. Or maybe the whelps on Steam have never seen a proper 4X game before and don’t have anything to compare it to. I’m not sure if I want to roll the dice with this one or not.

Look, I just want one of the first two games in this series – which to be clear, is THE GREATEST 4X GAME EVER MADE – with the interface modernized. I don’t need lavishly produced cutscenes, high-resolution ship models, voice acting, animated characters, a story mode, social media integration, built-in streaming support, worldwide leaderboards, achievements, twee little animations for mundane actions, in-game chat, multiplayer, a mobile tie-in that lets me command my troops on the go, real time with pause, a character builder so I can design my leader, supporting characters, first-person mode, controller support, VR mode, Tress FX, microtransactions, a celebrity cameo for the tutorial, a tutorial, or any of the stupid bullshit developers will assume we want because they were children when the original came out and they don’t understand what made it fun.

I just want a version of the game that doesn’t need DOSBox to run and can make use of modern displays.


Batman: The Telltale Series


I have a review copy of this one, and I still couldn’t make time for it. I’ve still got Tales from the Borderlands, Walking Dead Season 2, and Wolf Among Us sitting in my Steam library that I meant to play and never did. I’m not sure why I have such a hard time getting into Telltale games. I don’t dislike them. It’s just that when I sit down to play a game, they never seem to be at the top of the list of stuff I’d like to do.


From The Archives:

96 thoughts on “Dénouement 2016 Part 2: No-Show List

  1. Neil D says:

    My list of games bought and yet-unplayed includes Rise of the Tomb Raider, Hitman, and Far Cry: Primal. I’ve spent a lot of time lately finally going through all the DLC for Witcher 3 and Fallout 4 so I can get them off my hard drive.

    I am hoping the Batman Telltale game will be the next season of Spoiler Warning. If you needed another reason, their Bruce Wayne looks a lot like Sterling Archer.
    “Alfred. Alfred. ALFRED!”
    “(sigh) Yes, Master Bruce?”
    “…I’m Batman.

    1. mechaninja says:

      Seconded, and also I would like to have H. Jon voice a Batman. Not like a serious one, that’s what Kevin Conroy is for, but a funny one, as you’ve suggested, Neil.

  2. Kylroy says:

    Mandatory spellcheck nitpick – “Rollewrcoaster ” in the second MoO paragraph.

    Also, Overwatch vs. TF2 is a reflection of social games becoming less something you do to meet people and more something you do with people you already know.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      If games are all built assuming you already know everyone, how would people who want to meet other gamers do such a thing nowadays? I could actually use such a service, because all of the games my coworkers play are games I’m not interested in. (Largely because I don’t like the type of game that AAA produces in most cases. I like my indie stuff, and my more-niche games. :)

      1. Falterfire says:

        Guilds/clans. Overwatch doesn’t have built in features for that, which is unfortunate, but plenty exist if you do some googling around (and I do mean actual clans, not just people looking for set 6-man teams to practice competitive)

        It still won’t fix the issue of mostly playing against randos, but at least you can make sure you’re always playing alongside people you know if you join a clan that’s got enough people active around the same time you are.

        1. Echo Tango says:


          I still need something for the general case of “meet people in my city who play games”, but I suppose there’s Steam groups and other junk like that. :)

    2. MichaelGC says:

      It also says ‘got for a walk’ in the Pokémon Got section.

  3. John says:

    Shamus, if you’re really serious about Master of Orion 1 and/or 2 then GOG will happily sell you both–I don’t think that you can actually buy them separately–for about $6. If that’s still too much, you can wait for one of the half-dozen yearly sales GOG seems to have these days and pay about $3. GOG’s installer will prevent you from having to deal directly with DOSBox. I haven’t tried MOO1, but MOO2 is still perfectly respectable, graphically speaking. It looks fine, even on large monitors like the big TV in my living room. Actually, it works better as a couch-based game than some modern strategy games I could mention because the text is large enough to read even at couch distances. I should also stress that my opinion cannot be the product of nostalgia, since played MOO2 for the first time just last year. It’s just a really good game.

    1. Duoae says:

      They both worked perfectly on Win XP and Win 7 when I tried them a few years ago!

    2. Shamus says:

      I own both. Like I said in the post, I’d like a version that properly uses modern displays (16:9) and that doesn’t rely on DOSBox.

      1. Matt Downie says:

        I once had a fantasy of launching a Kickstarter to buy the rights to make a Re-Master of Orion 2 – nicer interface, various built-in optional mods to rejigger the game balance for more variety, that kind of thing.

        I went as far as trying to work out who owned the rights in the first place. That was before the new edition was announced…

        1. Shamus says:

          I sometimes entertain the idea of just doing an open-source clone, as some people did for X-Com before the reboots came along.

          1. tmtvl says:

            OpenXCOM is a thing that exists, but OpenMOO2 seems to be dead, unfortunately. There’s FreeOrion, but I dunno how good that is.

          2. Confanity says:

            Have you tried Endless Space? Amplitude Studios put it out in 2012 (and I guess a sequel came out in 2016, but I almost always buy games years late because they’re cheaper and my laptop is guaranteed to be able to run them).

            Anyway, a lot of its feel and mechanics struck me as definitely inspired by MoO. Maybe it’s just that I’ve never really played any other galaxy-scope 4X games, but if your response is anything like mine then Endless Space really should scratch the same itch that Master of Orion did, but with a number of tweaks and changes to match the changing times (and not in an XCOM-style super-streamlined way; more like a smoother interface and some careful tinkering with rules to produce intuitive but interlocking systems).

            1. ThaneofFife says:

              How does Endless Space compare with Endless Legend? I liked Endless Legend a lot, and it got a lot of good reviews, but I’ve heard virtually nothing about Endless Space.

              1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                Speaking as someone who really likes 4X games but is not very good at them ES feels solid but it lacks the atmosphere and the races don’t feel as varied as in the case of EL. They started experimenting a bit with some of the expansions but it still feels pretty generic at the end of the day (mind you, a pretty well executed generic in my opinion). Also, combat is weird, for me it was a miss. I do have high hopes for ES 2, which is in early access by the way, hopefully the devs feel better about tweaking the formula after EL.

                1. ThaneofFife says:


          3. Decius says:

            I’d buy the space empire-themed 4x game that you programmed after getting professionals to help design and other professionals to art. And all the other video game making stuff.

            Provided you could build an AI that doesn’t need to cheat to be interesting.

      2. John says:

        Fair enough. I certainly understand the desire for 16:9. But do you mind if I ask what the issue with DOSBox is? I’ve had generally good experiences–in the sense that has worked well and been fairly easy to use–particularly for games for which I own on disk.

        1. Shamus says:

          DOSBox is WONDERFUL, but there are a few drawbacks. When I say “No DOSBox” I’m sloppily referring to a bunch of problems that aren’t really the fault of DB itself, but the fact that we need DB to begin with.

          * These old titles often don’t use hardware acceleration, which means they’re not using an OpenGL / DirectX window, which means Bandicam, FRAPS, and streaming software have trouble recording or capturing the window.
          * Full screen sometimes doesn’t work properly.
          * Task switching via Alt-Tab is often problematic or broken. If the game runs in 256 color mode, all bets are off.
          * The save game system is sometimes wonky, since file access was a free-for-all in the 90’s.
          * Even if the game runs full screen, it must do so via stretching, which leads to text that is both gigantic and yet still hard to read. I actually think the System Shock font gets HARDER to read when you blow it up on modern monitors.

          So when I say “Doesn’t need DOSBox” I mean, “I modernized so this stuff is no longer a problem”.

          1. John says:

            Ah. Yeah, DOSBox will take care of most of that stuff for you, though in some cases you might need to set up and use a custom config file for your game if you want to get things just so. You can tell DOSBox to do a certain amount of image-smoothing when it scales images. You can also tell it whether it should be using software, DirectX or OpenGL to render to the screen. The default configuration is to do no image-smoothing and to render in software. I find that the default generally works pretty well. I don’t usually mess with these particular settings too much, since they aren’t especially well documented or explained on the DOSBox wiki. The documentation for the “output” control–which you use to specify software, DirectX, OpenGL, or whatever–links to a forum post from 2007 which in turn links to a series of articles from 2003 about animation in SDL. It’s not quite all Greek to me, but it’s close.

            To summarize, DOSBox is magic. If only Wine worked so well.

      3. ThaneofFife says:

        I bought the Master of Orion remake at the Steam sale this past week. It’s fair to say that I’ve probably put more hours into MOO1 & MOO2 than any other PC game ever (with the possible exception of the first two X-Com games). Here’s my review:

        The new MOO shows a lot of promise, and I had a not-bad time, but it’s still not there yet. It’s got most of what I wanted in terms of features, but it doesn’t do a very good job of implementing that compelling “one-more-turn” gameplay loop that makes you want to keep playing. Here’s a more detailed breakdown:

        The Good:
        – The graphics are amazing.
        – The celebrity voices are really fun (and every speaking character is voiced by a sci-fi celebrity).
        – Colony management is nicely-balanced and doesn’t feel as micro-managey as MOO2, even though it’s essentially the same basic system.
        – The game is quite stable in the 6hrs I’ve played it, but can briefly freeze if your computer is slow.
        – Small combatant ships are once again worthwhile to build in the early-to-mid-game.
        – Lots and lots of space pirates make the early game more interesting.
        – Minor alien races now act a bit like city-states in Civ V, and grant bonuses to your colonies in their system if you bribe them.
        – Asteroid research facilities are an interesting addition.
        – Antarans still attack.

        The Bad:
        – Space combat is in real-time. I’ve tried managing a dozen or so battles, and it just doesn’t feel like I’m making meaningful choices compared to a turn-based combat system. There are ship formations, but most of the time the only meaningful decision that you’re making is which enemy to target. This is a MAJOR step down from turn-based combat. I would have preferred that all battles auto-resolve rather than do this. In reading reviews, this is also the single biggest complaint of all MOO veterans who’ve bought the game.
        – Exploration is less interesting than in either of the first two MOO games. Artifact worlds are significantly more common, but *don’t* grant any free technology for discovering them.
        – Elerians, Trilarians, and Gnolams (sp for all three) are locked behind a $10 DLC that adds very little else. Ditto for the Terrans (the evil human faction, voiced by Freddy Kruger)–you have to buy the deluxe edition to get them.
        – Star Lanes mean that you can never travel directly between one system and another–and travel distances are enormous. You should at least be able to ignore the star-lanes for a 50% speed penalty or something. Faster engine tech would be nice too. The first two engine techs only grant 20-30% speed bonuses. And, when traversing 5 systems takes 20 turns, that doesn’t help very much.
        – Anomalies are a neat idea, but ultimately disappointing. Basically, you detect something outside the star lanes when you enter a new system, and have to travel to the anomaly to investigate. Having done about 10 of these, the reward is always either a cache of 50-90BC (where a first-level building costs 400BC), or destroyer-class ship that copies your current best design. Given how rare anomalies are, the rewards should be bigger and more varied.
        – The ship models are pretty, but it looks like each race only gets to pick one of two models for each ship class. There are paint skins too, but they’re pretty subtle, and don’t add much to the look & feel of the ship.
        – Tech research doesn’t seem to have as great an impact on the game as it should. There isn’t much of a feeling of accomplishment when you complete research.

        The Ugly:
        – Fun-killing bugs are still around. Most notably, my star base and missile bases failed to repair after the Antarans attacked. They’re supposed to repair at the rate of 5% per turn, but when the Antarans returned 50 turns later, my missile base had only about 2% of its health remaining–identical to the end of the previous battle. I’ve reported this bug, but based on forum searches, it looks like it’s existed for a couple of months now.
        – Trade Agreements only last 20 turns, and cost 25-35% of their entire value up-front. The tooltips are also broken, as I consistently received fewer credits per agreement than the tooltip says I should. I don’t mind the up-front cost, but trade agreements should either last a *lot* longer or give a lot more money, given the cost.
        – No ship-boarding actions. No assault shuttles, marine posts on your ships, troop-killing ship-to-ship weapons, or ship-to-ship transporters. In MOO2, one of my favorite strategies was to try to capture Antaran and other advanced ships, and then scrap them to reverse-engineer their technologies. Not having this leaves a big hole in the game, and further diminishes the fun of ship-to-ship combat.
        – Proton torpedoes look like a great tech on paper, but there’s nothing to tell you that they’re unguided. They only travel in a straight line, meaning that they’re ridiculously easy to evade. Why in the hell would a starship have unguided weaponry?
        – If missiles and torpedoes are targeting a ship that’s already been destroyed, then they keep flying in that direction and don’t even explode when another enemy ship flies directly into them.
        – The game’s celebrity-voiced advisors are great, but keep repeating the same soundbites ad nauseum.
        – The GNN intro animations are ridiculously long. Just go straight to the news and have a skippable outro with the visual comedy that’s currently in the intro.

        – Overall, the new MOO feels like a remake of MOO2, but less fun, and with bits of Civ V (like the tech tree style) added in. There’s also a real-time combat system grafted on that feels completely out-of-place and is at-odds with the turn-based style of the rest of the game.
        – The new MOO is pretty and kind of fun, but still needs a *LOT* of work before it can effectively replace MOO2. I’m hoping that patches in the next few months will fix the worst of the above problems.

        1. John says:

          Elerians, Trilarians, and Gnolams (sp for all three) are locked behind a $10 DLC that adds very little else. Ditto for the Terrans . . . you have to buy the deluxe edition to get them.

          What? Tell me you can at least make a custom race. If I can’t play as telepathic, rock-eating monsters, right out of the box then I’m not playing. The ability to make a race that fit my preferred play-style was my favorite part of Master of Orion 2.

          Star Lanes mean that you can never travel directly between one system and another”“and travel distances are enormous.

          Isn’t that a direct lift from MOO 2, though? At any rate, the restricted paths in that game didn’t really bother me.

          Anomalies are a neat idea, but ultimately disappointing. Basically, you detect something outside the star lanes when you enter a new system, and have to travel to the anomaly to investigate.

          This sounds like a lift from Galactic Civilization II, which is funny when you consider how much that game lifted from the Master of Orion series.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Nope,no star lanes in moo2.As for galciv 2,while it too has “anomalies give credits”,it has WAAAY more of them,and they also give you a bunch of ships,tech,wormholes to somwehere else,random bonuses for the ship that discovered them,bonuses for your entire empire,bonuses for random planets,…..

          2. ThaneofFife says:

            I *think* you can make a custom race, but I haven’t tried it yet.

            Re: star lanes, I really wouldn’t mind them if travel wasn’t so damn slow overall. My empire was four systems wide, and it required 30 turns to traverse it from one end to the other with 3rd-level engine tech. That’s an okay speed at the start–space is supposed to be enormous, after all–but it’s unacceptably slow when you’re more than 200 turns into a game.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Star Lanes mean that you can never travel directly between one system and another”“and travel distances are enormous.

          Technically you can,but the tech for that comes waaay later,and by that time you are just bored by all the star lane jumping.And it only works in systems you own.Also,star lanes lead to the stupid exploit of you just blocking your nearest opponent by getting the system near them,and then extorting them.I hate that exploit whenever I see it.

          Proton torpedoes look like a great tech on paper, but there's nothing to tell you that they're unguided. They only travel in a straight line, meaning that they're ridiculously easy to evade. Why in the hell would a starship have unguided weaponry?

          They are great for destroying bases,and once sped up for destroying slow moving big ships.

          If missiles and torpedoes are targeting a ship that's already been destroyed, then they keep flying in that direction and don't even explode when another enemy ship flies directly into them.

          Though there is a tech that allows them to retarget other ships.But yes,them not exploding when hitting other ships,yet exploding when they hit an asteroid is bad.

          Space combat is in real-time.

          This was the worst for me.I loathe it.Its not that I dont like rts,I play plenty of them,but I just want a turn based game where all of it is turn based,and not this half and half.

          1. ThaneofFife says:

            Thanks for the tip on the proton torpedoes. I’ll have to give that a shot. I played my first game in a huge galaxy on the easiest difficulty, and have never gotten around to declaring war on someone yet.

            Re: RTS–I used to play a lot of RTS in the 90’s and early 2000’s (Warcraft III being the last one I really got into), and it seems like the new MOO takes the worst of turn-based combat and the worst of RTS combat and smashes it together. There simply aren’t any interesting decisions to make. It also doesn’t really benefit from the player being good at micromanagement, either, which kills any fun that might arise from the RTS style (maybe better micro does help with large fleets in the end-game, but I’m not there yet after 6+hrs and 250 turns).

            Wanted to ask–did you find the tutorial really obnoxious? It heavily restricts what you can click when you’re just trying to explore the interface. After 15 turns, I couldn’t stand it, and just started a game.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Yeah,rts is bad.Technically you can micromanage to victory,but its incredibly fiddly and works in just too specific of situations that its just annoying and frustrating.

              I cant remember,Ive played the game while it was in early access,so I dont know if I tried the tutorial at all.

      4. Echo Tango says:

        Hey, Shamus, I know you made a post on why you hate real-time with pause, (RTWP) but I think there’s a game that has avoided or solved enough of the problems you cited[1], that you could give it a try. I feel like it’s the true successor to MOO2, despite its RTWP gameplay, and in spite of the “real” Master of Orion game that came out around the same time. That game is Stellaris. I personally got it on something like a 50% discount, since for me it’s a $25-ish game, not a 45$-ish game[2], but I don’t know what price you personally would pay for a modern successor to MOO2.

        It really only interrupts you with actually important information, and has the tools to let you build large fleets and empires without (a lot of) annoyance.

        First, you get actual “fleets”; These are like stacks of units in Civ, which you control as a big group. They have nice UI buttons to create, split, and disband these fleets.

        Second, it’s got a pretty good amount of automation, so you can have a home sector that generates resources, and another sector that generates science. The key to understanding this is that it’s not labelled “auto” like in MOO2 or any other game, but is a sort of in-game thing, and it’s called “sectors”. They’re treated like states/provinces of a country. Imagine a scenario where a fictional king of the USA could say, “I’ll still personally govern Washington, but everything else west of and including Colorado is governed by Prince Jim. Everything east of and including Indiana is governed by Princess Lucy. Everybody else is co-governed by Duke and Duchess Smith.”

        Last, it’s got a couple of checkmarks in the options menu to mess with how often you get popups, and for what. It doesn’t have many, but I personally didn’t feel the need to use them. The defaults are good enough, and a less-annoying experience than a long-game of MOO2.

        [2] I hold the “real” Master of Orion successor game from this year to the same standard. Since they were both about the same price/discount, but I heard better things[3] about Stellaris than MOO-2016, I got Stellaris.

        [3] Mostly I used the reviews of TotalBiscuit / John Baine to make my decision.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Stellaris isnt real time with pause.It has turns,but the turns are short and you can make them pass by quickly.

          1. Echo Tango says:

            Technically everything happens in “years”, but from how the UI displays it, and how you interact with it, it’s real-time with pause. It’s like saying that because a clock ticks its seconds[1] out instead of having that hand move continuously, it’s “digital” – clearly the thing is closer to an old-timey analog clock than it is to a fully digital one.

            [1] I’ve actually seen clocks where all the hands were analog, where only the second-hand was analog, and where all the hands were in ticks, even though they were all hands on a face, instead of showing numeric digits.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              The difference is in when the pauses come.Compare stellaris to empire earth.If you put stellaris in fast mode,youll notice distinctive pauses between turns when you watch a battle.Also,if you hit pause,the current turn will play out fully before the thing stops.In empire earth,as soon as you hit pause,the thing pauses,even if it means the projectiles are in mid flight.Thats why stellaris is turn based and empire earth is real time with pause.

  4. If you’re ever in the mood to retry a JRPG, I’d suggest a “Tales of…” game, which I consider to be the series that has taken over as the “default average JRPG” game. Average in the sense of what it consists of, not average in quality; I find them consistently good. Not necessarily consistently great, but consistently good. One of the hallmarks of the series is a deep focus on the characters within the game; the story itself is generally less broken than a Final Fantasy story, which isn’t saying much, but the characters are generally much stronger. Sometimes they even have arcs, which is a thing that FF writers have vaguely heard of, but never experienced.

    I can understand what you mean about the Telltale games. I find that my brain categorizes them as movies moreso than games, because of the amount of “content” in them, but as movies go, they’re not very good, and then as games go, they’re not all that great either. I can understand how some people love them… you can say much the same thing about the JRPGs I play in a lot of ways, after all… but that’s how I find Telltale games. I’ve stopped even trying.

    1. Polius says:

      Tales of Symphonia is probably my favorite JRPG of all time. Certainly, it’s the first one I go to when I think of playing something of the genre. The characters are surprisingly deep for filling the tropes of JRPGs, the gameplay is solid, and the art doesn’t try to look hyper realistic. It has its own style that I think holds up quite well.

      It is, however, also a huge time sink with the sheer amount of content contained therein, but what JRPG isn’t?

      1. CoyoteSans says:

        I replayed Tales of Symphonia for like the dozenth time these past couple months, and despite knowing the plot and characters by heart, I still found the message and themes of the work (the need to overcome individual differences and prejudices to come together to build a better world, acknowledging your mistakes and learning more about the world to try and fix them, letting go of the cycle of revenge, and how purposely dividing people or trying to homogenize them doesn’t really solve anything in the long term) as well as the ultimately hopeful attitude it takes a much needed mental balm.

        I also decided to make Presea my bestie; aside from trying to see how much a certain endgame cutscene breaks down when you choose her (spoilers: the Welgaia illusion scene makes exactly as little sense as you think when Colette is slotted in her place), I discovered she actually has quite a lot of nuance to her character, and I found her struggle with nihilism and base urges to lash out in response to the many, many losses she’s endured in her life resonant with my own.

  5. Darren says:

    Watching my boyfriend play Final Fantasy XV, I realized what I really want is for the Final Fantasy XII re-release to hurry up and get here. I could definitely get behind the all-pretty-boy cast of characters, but the gameplay looked like it tossed out the thing I like about the series, namely customizing a team and having those things actually matter. Some Kingdom Hearts-esque action is fine, but it’s never what I turned to Final Fantasy for.

    1. Retsam says:

      Yeah; I’ve been enjoying FFXV quite a bit; but it’s definitely the least “Final Fantasy” Final Fantasy game that I’ve played, mechanically. Granted, the series is so mechanically diverse, I’m not sure how meaningful that is.

      I actually find the “boyband cast” fairly novel: sure we’ve had no shortage of white male protagonists, but the “half-dozen-or-so strangers traveling together” trope is so endemic in RPGs that “four close friends traveling together” really does feel rather new and unprecedented, in my memory.

      It gives the group an altogether different dynamic than most RPG parties; where the characters have camaraderie and history with each other, rather and the usual suspicion and division that most RPGs use to drive its cast. There’s just a simple joy to a bunch of close friends hanging out that I find fairly unique to this game.

      1. Thomas says:

        It’s a fine reason too, the boys-road-trip is a real cultural thing and you normally never get games that dare to focus on something as specific as that.

      2. GloatingSwine says:

        The cast of FFXV is a bit deceptive because they look, from their attire, like they should be a pack of moody brooders, and had Nomura not been shuffled off for taking too long they probably would have been.

        But they’re actually a set of reasonably varied lovable goofs who have a clear and easy friendship which carries a hell of a lot of the game.

  6. Echo Tango says:

    “This game never fit with my habits and lifestyle.”

    I too didn’t play Pokemon Go, because of similar reasons as you. When I’m out and about, I don’t want to interrupt my walking, biking, talking with friend, etc. I’m rarely sitting waiting for a bus, or anything else like that.

    On top of that, I have other games that offer more than Pokemon Go. When I’m at home playing games, I can get games with deeper story, characters, and plot. I can play games with a better UI, using better input devices – mice and keyboards are difficult to replace!. If I want a mobile gaming experience, I could own another handheld, like when I had a DS, which would have better hardware and better games.

    1. Duoae says:

      My friend’s partner made him drive around just so she could catch pokemon….

      Ugh….. *shudders*

    2. King Marth says:

      Pokémon Go made for a great walk with a friend who didn’t know much about pokémon but wanted to get pictures with them. That’s only something you can do once before getting bored, but it’s fun while it lasts.

      In general it’s ideal for adding a bit of interest to walking aimlessly for exercise, as there are generally enough in-game markers around (as well as the auto-updating map) that you can pick a few local goals to investigate while wandering. Otherwise, the reliance on data (not that it uses much, but that it needs it at all, I keep to bargain-basement cell service) and the inability to track steps while the app is closed (leading to battery drain, though it does turn off the screen automatically if you just hold your phone in your hand while the app is open) makes it less of something you do in the background and more of something you have to do intentionally.

    3. Hal says:

      I worked at a big university/hospital complex last year, so Pokemon Go actually fit pretty well into my lifestyle. I could sort of jab at it while I walked around, which was a nice change of pace if I had a day where I was stuck at my desk doing nothing (something that happened surprisingly frequently.)

      I didn’t stick with it for two reasons:

      1) The game is tremendously shallow. All there is to do is catch pokemon and compete for gyms, which is a shame, because . . .

      2) The gym battles are terribly uninteresting. The thing about the gyms is that they’re “controlled” by the strongest pokemon from the latest team to takeover, so it didn’t take long for people to level-cap their pokemon. If you weren’t there yet, well, that’s a portion of the game (and its rewards) locked out to you. It’s even worse if the people controlling the game have constant access to it (as might happen at a university/hospital). You can’t ever hope to control that gym for long, because the guy whose cubicle sits in range of it will just take it back over the the moment you’re not around.

      All of that to say that the game really needed more content, and I don’t just mean “more pokemon.” That was really the least of its problems.

    4. Pokemon Go is not a good game. It is, however, just good enough at gamifying exercise to get me on my bike.

      At least, it’s good enough until it snows. And then it’s good enough again when the snow melts. But it’s not very good today. 8-/

      Which, since my company has stopped paying me $1/day for walking fast and far with a pedometer, is useful to my overall health.

      1. Griffin says:

        I have precisely the same relationship with PG. It’s a pretty bad game, but somehow it’s enough of an incentive that it’s got me regularly walking the dog, going for runs, and discovering new parks and cool places. It’s been a very good thing for me. Imagine if it were actually a decent game!

  7. Jokerman says:

    Your not played list almost looks like my top 5 list… if i made one. But really, not much gripped me this year, id have games in the top 5 i didn’t like that much, that wouldn’t be near a top 5 last year.

    Uncharted 4 would in there, even though i was underwhelmed by it, it was good, best gameplay and best story of the series, i just think i might be a bit tired of the formula at this point, i enjoyed the 2 game more even though i can see it’s not as good in multiple ways.

    Dishonored 2 is kinda in the boat, really great game… 2 for me, but i was never as ‘in to it’ as i wanted to be. It’s hard to even explain why, i will get back into it for new game plus though, being to combine the two protagonists powers sounds fun.

    Mafia 3 is my favorite game of the year… the game that got so much hate, i didn’t feel it was as repetitive as most, it was bloated, which hurts the pacing of the story, but i never got bored of the tasks i was doing… and i love the story and the characters. But i don’t think this game would top my list in any other year.

  8. Duoae says:

    The real question is not ‘why didn’t you play X?’ but ‘which game can we gift you to make you play it next season of Spoiler Warning! Snarf!


    Somehow, I managed to not play too many games this year. I kinda got a bit burned out on the hobby and instead spent my spare time doing other things like cooking or recording music. Maybe next year I’ll get back into the swing of things. On the plus side, I didn’t buy many games on Steam – only Civ 6, Ace Academy , XCOM2 (which I’m ending up playing on PS4) and DOOM. That’s pretty good considering they have a bloomin’ sale every three weeks these days!

    Though, to be fair, the sales are less enticing than they used to be as the discounts tend to be smaller and I tend to own most of the games I ever wanted to own on the platform anyway!

    I think my next purchase I’m actively looking forward to is Final Fantasy 12 on PS4 as I never got to play that on PS2 because someone decided to burgle our house not long after I had bought it. They left my copy of FF12 but ran off with the PS2…

  9. Cinebeast says:

    “These days I want my entertainment to be light, fluffy, and affirming.”

    Sounds like it’s time for Shamus to finally watch Steven Universe!

    Anyway, I didn’t really play many games last year either. I officially watch more games than I play them for myself — I’ve always liked watching let’s plays, but last year was when I really got into them. These days most of my free time is spent watching them.

    With that said, I got Final Fantasy 15 for Christmas. I’m still in chapter one, but I really like it so far. But it’s my first foray into the franchise — not counting Crystal Chronicles, which I played ten or twelve years ago — so that probably makes a difference.

    The “all dudes in black” thing bugged the hell out of me when I first heard about it, but seeing them in action is actually pretty cute. I still wish there were more women, but these guys are okay. I like them. Also, I prefer active, real-time combat to the turn-based stuff the franchise is known for, so that probably makes a difference as well.

    I heard the game loses steam later on, but in the meantime I’m over six hours in and having a blast. The game is surprisingly relaxing.

    1. Lachlan the Mad says:

      I would dearly love Shamus to watch Steven Universe and blog and/or talk about it. It’s a fabulous show.

    2. Phantos says:

      Steven Universe is the only TV show I’ve seen that jumped the shark… and then came back stronger than ever.

      Somehow it escaped its’ own event horizon.

    3. Christopher says:

      I wonder if Steven Universe would work for him. It’s a good show, but I parted ways with it some time into season two. They want to have superpowers, alien invasions and fusion dances to create situations that have drama. I want drama on the edges of my superpowers, alien invasions and fusion dances to frame the spectacle and establish stakes and characters. So if you go into Steven Universe like I did, interested in the anime influences and wondering when they’re actually gonna start using the shonen fighting tropes for actual shonen fighting, you’re out of luck. It’s much more like a regular American children’s cartoon, which to be fair I suppose it is. My point is, I didn’t personally find the drama in Steven Universe to be all that light and fluffy. When I’m in a downer mood, I want some fun action. I’ve been watching a LOT of shonen fighting this year.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Oh yeah, this absolutely isn’t the type of show you were hoping for. It also goes into some pretty dark places but it does an excellent job of maintaining a fluffy facade, and overall it’s very good for making you feel good at the end of the episode (or an arc if it runs several episodes).

      2. Phantos says:

        Season Two is a trash fire, and Season Three is the phoenix that rose out of its’ ashes.

  10. Lorpius Prime says:

    Aww man, I was hoping to read your commentary on Tyranny’s story. It took some unusual directions and I still don’t fully understand my feelings about it. For whatever it may be worth, it’s not necessarily as grim as its marketing implied, and that expectations gap probably has much to do with why I still don’t quite know what to make of it.

    1. guy says:

      My main gripe with Tyranny’s story is that we learn almost nothing about Kyros and Kyros makes some bafflingly inexplicable decisions to the point where I wonder if there was a palace coup in Act 3.

  11. Christopher says:

    I talked about this in yesterday’s comment section, but I’m not a big fan of the FF15 character designs. They scream J-Pop and J-Drama to me, real bishie looking dudes in similar clothing that are one crossdressing female character away from being a Reverse Harem show like Hana-Kimi. Meanwhile, the rest of this game seems to be a road trip with bros that features a vulgarly sexy mechanic, dinky gas stations and plastic camping chairs. It’s a real bizarre mix of a look, like some reality show where celebrity fashion models have to make it on their own in the American desert wilderness.

    (The game seems preeetty good though)

    1. Phantos says:

      Final Fantasy games aren’t always good, but you can usually depend on them to be interesting.

      They’re like a flamboyant car accident.

  12. Geebs says:

    I finally took the plunge and bought a PS4 Recreational.. My favourite game of the year is therefore Bloodborne*.

    My least favourite game of the year has been learning Swift. It’s kind of the Dark Souls of programming languages for people who only otherwise know C; the lore is completely garbled and nonsensical, summoning somebody to help has a high chance that they’ll just run in circles or push you off a ledge, and unwrapping variables carelessly will result in your head getting bitten clean off**.

    * the thatGameCompany games are great, too, especially Journey.
    ** it’s still better than Visual Basic for Applications.

    1. tmtvl says:

      With the notable difference that Dark Souls is actually good ;-).

      I’m trying to learn Perl 6 concurrency, which is pretty darn interesting.

  13. Christopher says:

    So Shamus ditched the last Diecast so he wouldn’t spoil all these columns, right?

  14. Baron Tanks says:

    Planet Coaster is SO MUCH FUN. I hope you make time for it as soon as possible, if you like the old ones this will be great. It’s not a perfect product, but a beautiful high resolution version of Rollercoaster tycoon that allows you to ride the rides like you always dreamed of, that’s what it is.

    I’ve been anxiously paying attention if you were into it or people in the comments were. Haven’t seen much of it, but go for it, it’s great :) And with support too, it’s getting better every couple of weeks!

    1. Mephane says:

      I second that notion. I have been enjoying Planet Coaster greatly and can wholeheartedly recommend it. :)

  15. Droid says:

    Not related to the article, but that new design is neat!

    1. droid says:

      There is a new design? Of the site? That sounds interesting, I hadn’t noticed. Let me scroll up and see if I can figure it out.

    2. droid says:

      Spoiler alert: it was the background.

      Nice username by the way.

      1. MichaelGC says:

        I don’t think these are the ones we’re looking for.

        Wait! I screwed it up! DAMmit…

  16. Andy_Panthro says:

    I think the last game I actually finished was Dark Souls 3 (to date, the only souls game I’ve completed).

    But I’ve been playing Bloodborne (Xmas present) and Dark Souls 2 (on sale) on PS4, and bought a bunch of other games to add to my backlog from Steam.

    The one game which I’m hoping lives up to it’s early promise is Steamworld Heist, in which you control a space-faring crew of steam-powered robots/pirates. I’ve also started Undertale, which I didn’t bother with before but again it was cheap. My uselessness at dodging things on the “combat” screen is making things a little harder than it should be, although it seems a lot of that can be avoided.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      I don’t have anything to say in response to the content of your comment, but would like to remark on a site detail which your avatar has made apparent.
      Because your gravatar is a PNG with transparency, I can tell that the little white dividing line between your name and the timestamp extends all the way to the left size of the div, probably because it’s easier to justify everything left than to justify to the gravatar image.

      1. Andy_Panthro says:

        Damn… I hadn’t noticed the change! Hmm… Should I change the gravatar or just ignore it? I suppose I could put in a nice colour gradient or something behind my head…

        1. Christopher says:

          Please leave it like that, it sort of looks like the head is looking out from under a half-opened window.

          1. Andy_Panthro says:

            Ah, too late! Going to try this very red background for a while.

            1. MichaelGC says:

              Looks good! Although now you look a little like a Darth_Panthro.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “The combat in this game is a slog, and there's SO MUCH of it!”

    Not really true.Theres not much random combat,its mostly stuff that happens sometimes due to your choices.And theres not that much of it.

    Also,I think the biggest problem with tyranny is its marketing.Its not really a bleak depressing world full of evil,its a harsh and brutal world of a roman empire where you are one of the high ranking officials.

    Though that distinction isnt of much importance to some.For example,I still think you wouldnt have liked it,mostly for the same reasons you outlined.Even though you can technically play on the side of the rebels.

    1. Andy_Panthro says:

      My brother (who has played Tyranny but not POE), suggested there wasn’t really that much combat.

      He was especially shocked by POE when I told him I’d got the “Super Murderer” achievement (to kill over 1200 monsters/NPCs in a single playthrough). My brother thought off the top of his head that he’d probably killed fewer than 200 in his playthrough of Tyranny.

      Steam tells me that 17.1% of people have the “Super Murderer” achievement… whereas only 11.9% have completed act 3. Which suggests that there are far too many combat encounters! There’s a “relative pacifism” achievement that requires you to only kill fewer than 175!

  18. CoyoteSans says:

    Like Shamus said, I strongly suspect one of the reasons Tyranny had lackluster sales is the same as the one of the one’s* Pokemon Sun/Moon became one of Nintendo’s all-time best sellers: they both came out at a time when the collective mood was desperate to escape from the oppressive negativity of the real-world into a light, fluffy romp far removed from the troubles of the real world. In fact, that may be another reason why Overwatch has and will continue for quite some time to come dominate the video game market: a bright, fun joyride with little resemblance to the real world.

    When times are economically and socially good, people are willing to have some grimdark, depressing “realistic” fiction since they can just go back to their pretty good lives afterwards. When times are… harder, people naturally want to retreat into fantasy and optimism in their fiction. It’s just simple mood modification.

    Of course, this means we’ll probably get SICK of the saturation of bright, colorful happy things in the next few years and start wishing devs would do something more grounded and serious and washed-out and perhaps even… “realistic”?

    * The other, of course, is Pokemon Go successfully reinjecting the franchise into the western mainstream consciousness and conversation months prior in a way I don’t recall happening since the original craze in the late 90s.

  19. Khizan says:

    If you liked the Borderlands world and sense of humor you owe it to yourself to play Tales of the Borderlands. It’s really a fantastic look at the Borderlands world and it gets pretty much everything right about it.

  20. Phantos says:

    As much as I believe that the tone of a story shouldn’t dictate it’s quality, I do have to echo Shamus’ sentiment about grimdark stuff after the nightmarish hellscape that was 2016. Even if The Walking Dead games weren’t full of stupid problems, the world I live in is way too bleak to want to escape to some place worse.

    Especially since I hear the newer seasons are somehow even MORE railroadey and married to insulting false-choices… Which I guess is true of ALL Telltale Games, so I can also understand not really getting into their Batman thing yet.

    Also, I was going to suggest “World of Final Fantasy” as an alternative to Final Fantasy XV, but it turns out that one’s just as much up its’ own butt. All of the overdramatic characters blathering exposition are just chibi-fied.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      the world I live in is way too bleak to want to escape to some place worse.

      Sometimes its actually more helpful to get into a really dark fantasy.You know how in the summer if you go under a hot shower,the air outside seems cooler than when you went in?Such a contrast can make the real world seem more pleasant if you just slog through a particularly grim bit of fantasy.

      1. Phantos says:

        Sometimes, yes. Sometimes dark content can be a way to cope with how bad things feel.

        But last year was such a never-ending downpour of crap from top to bottom, I lost any desire to even think about something depressing. At least for entertainment purposes.

        I was actually planning on writing a zombie-outbreak story, but I just couldn’t stand having misery in my heart and on my mind ALL OF THE TIME. It felt like there was never any break from everything sucking. Another bleak story in 2016 would have just felt like someone pouring salt in a wound that keeps getting bigger.

        So I’m going to shelve that for now, and work on my game about the pelvic-thrusting robot.

          1. Phantos says:

            I’d appreciate it if you didn’t compare my work to anything by Penny Arcade.

            That demeans us both.

  21. Galad says:

    ” I guess it's a game for people who get out more than twice a week and have downtime while waiting for buses and trains ” – so, about half the world’s population?? No wonder it was popular :D :D

    This might be a stupid thing to say, but if you don’t invest yourself in its story heavily, Tyranny is a good game. Of course, it’s still a videogame story, so don’t expect Pulitzer writing, and expect some railroading and other gripes you are likely to have with it. That being said you shouldn’t let the real world derail you from trying that game. While I wrote a post that erred on the negative side, rather than the positive about it, on the forum, that was mostly because I wish we had more games with tactical combat, and an interesting story.

    As for me, I can’t exactly make a list like that, because just about all the stuff I’m interested in, I’ve already played. I can’t make space for Pillars of Eternity, for example, but I am not interested in Planet Coaster, FF 15 (ewwww, advertisement in my games, I hope they crash and burn, what a bunch of assholes), or Poke Go, or half a dozen other new releases.

  22. Taellosse says:

    I'm not sure why I have such a hard time getting into Telltale games. I don't dislike them. It's just that when I sit down to play a game, they never seem to be at the top of the list of stuff I'd like to do.

    This is exactly my response to them. I bought the full season for the original Walking Dead, and I also have the whole of Wolf Among Us. Plus, though it isn’t TellTale, I have Life is Strange. I’ve even got them all installed. In both Telltale cases, I’ve played them for a bit, and mostly liked what I saw, but wasn’t grabbed enough to keep playing. I keep meaning to get back to them, or give LiS a try, but I’m never in the mood.

    As a result, I’ve mostly ignored the Batman one.

    1. Christopher says:

      I’ve done the same, except I actually beat Life is Strange. I think my problem is that they’re mostly fine, but they look and feel too similar and are mostly spinoffs of existing properties. Life is Strange was a breath of fresh air in the Telltale genre(Which I guess is just Point & click Adventure with choices instead of mechanics?). So was Until Dawn. I played Oxenfree this year, too, which I believe was an ex-Telltale folks project. It wasn’t my favorite game or anything, but the art style and overlapping dialogue system was enough to make that feel fresh as well.

  23. Perceptiveman says:

    Am I the only one who felt that Sword of the Stars was the true successor to the legacy of MOO1? It had reasonably abstracted colony management, which one of my favorite things about MOO1 (no bu****** “and now I build a hydroponic farm!” Civ-style nonsense) interesting space combat (Which neither MOO1 nor MOO2 had), races that feel honestly and sincerely different, an awesome tech tree that randomizes what tech is actually available so the game doesn’t turn into a “first one to death rays wins” race every time, and wow I lost a ton of time to it.

    Really recommend it if you’re into the 4X Space thing, honestly.

    1. Decius says:

      MoO space combat was hella interesting. It’s just that the interesting parts were on the ship design screen and not on the combat map.

      1. Perceptiveman says:

        Well, SotS has a crazy interesting ship design screen too….

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      The biggest problem with sword of the stars is,like with any post mmo 4x,that it has real time combat.Its not bad,true,but its my pet peeve in these games.

      1. Perceptiveman says:

        It’s realtime with pause though, and not even particularly fast realtime. And it does have autocombat if you just want to skip it. So I think the options are pretty good. And honestly, combat was bland as heck in MoO/MoO2, so I consider it a win.

  24. ann on says:

    I suggest you to give Tyranny a try. I was one of those people who quit PoE because it had just way too much combat, but I found Tyranny quite manageable in that regard. It’s not also as bleak a world as you’d think – sure, it’s not cheery, but I found it lighter than Witcher for example, because among other things there’s far less gratuitous violence and when happens, it’s less graphic. The context in which you make decisions is also refreshing for the genre: you’re not a hero who’s expected to save the world – instead you’re the lieutenant of a demanding master and are accountable only to him. This makes you much more free to construct a moral standard that’s unique to your character and also makes the “good” choices more significant: you’re not necessarily going to get a tap on your head for them.

    Let’s put it this way: I find that I’m in accord with you 99% of the time about games, and I found Tyranny to be a positive, likeable surprise.

    1. Sannom says:

      Tyranny is already “lighter” than The Witcher or Dragon Age by not having anything inherently awful about its world.

      Unlike the citizens of The Witcher, they don’t have to contend with the common threat of monsters on top of everything we have/had to deal with in real life : famine, plagues, bigotry, etc. Sure, Tyranny has the Banes, but they’re confined to very ominous constructions and it didn’t stop someone from building a town next to one of those!

      Unlike the citizens of Dragon Age, they don’t have to deal with magic that is inherently corrupting and dangerous, which lead to widespread marginalization of those born with magic. Also, they don’t have to deal with the Blights.

      Basically, all the evil and awful things in Tyranny are man-made.

      As far as the amount of combat goes, it seems to really depend on the path taken. Like, it’s hard to compare The Burning Library, which is only one area with two “mandatory” hard fights (more if you’re not in the good graces of the Scarlet Chorus) and the Blade Graves campaign, which is a lot longer, with many more areas and problems to deal with.

      1. Volvagia says:

        Wait, is all the awful things being man made really “lighter”? I mean, okay, we’re not being corrupted by external forces or picked off by incredible monsters. But that just means humanity has nothing external to blame. And having nothing external to blame? That fuels some of the darkest stories of all time. Your Breaking Bad’s, your Godfather’s, your There Will Be Blood’s.

      2. ann on says:

        Tyranny is already “lighter” than The Witcher or Dragon Age by not having anything inherently awful about its world.- -Basically, all the evil and awful things in Tyranny are man-made.”

        Well this depends on your point of view. Personally I find Colonel Kurtz much more depressing than Sauron…

  25. Volvagia says:

    Final Fantasy XV: 1. The characters ARE much better than the all-black humans look would imply. 2. The cup noodles thing is one, admittedly dumb, side-quest. But since one side quest is maybe 5-10 minutes of a thirty-five+ hour game? Definitely not nearly as pervasively immersion breaking as Man of Steel or your typical Adam Sandler effort. 3. However, those two things said, the main plot is okay at best and a threadbare wasteland at worst and the back half of the game’s chapters is…not great.

  26. Scampi says:

    Concerning Telltale…I actually actively dislike Telltale. I got into Telltale Games when I found Tales of Monkey Island and continued with the Sam & Max Games (I think I played something else in the meantime, but I can’t remember), which were mostly nostalgic for me. Even with the factor of Nostalgia I couldn’t get myself to like them. I didn’t enjoy their graphics, art, vision for the used IPs and control schemes, especially in the later S&M-Installments. I was highly annoyed by lots of their decisions and came to the conclusion that I actually despise their general approach to adventures and storytelling.
    I still enjoy adventures if they use point and click controls and seem inspired and entertaining to me, but this just is not how I would describe TT games.

  27. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Look, I just want one of the first two games in this series ““ which to be clear, is THE GREATEST 4X GAME EVER MADE ““ with the interface modernized.

    Your wish has finally been granted!Behold,Stars in Shadow!Spread the word,brother,for our prayers have been finally answered!

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