Gaming Goals in 2018

With 2017 behind us, it’s time for me to start thinking ahead to 2018 and the things in gaming that I want to achieve this year.  I haven’t gotten in as much gaming in the last couple months as I would have liked thanks to the holidays, but now that winter is upon us maybe I can get back into the groove.  I’ve compiled a list of things that I want to do this year, and it doesn’t sound like I’m going to be bored!  Here we go:

  • Participate in the ’52 games in a year’ challenge to see how many I can finish.  Last year I think I clocked in somewhere in the 30-40 range.
  • Get 100% in Super Mario Odyssey
  • Finish routes C, D and E in Nier: Automata (even though I already know how the game ends) and maybe work toward the platinum.
  • Finish finding all the Korok Seeds and Shrines in Breath of the Wild and maybe give Master Mode a shot (though I doubt I’ll have the patience to stick with it).  Might also revisit the Champion’s Ballad DLC.
  • Start a New Game+ playthrough for Horizon Zero Dawn, Final Fantasy 15, and the DS version of Chrono Trigger (gotta get the rest of those endings!)
  • Play more retro games!  I’ve started rebuilding my collection, so I think it’s time to give those old games a replay and see how I feel about them after all these years.
  • Start a fresh game of Fallout 4 with all the DLC.
  • Play more PSVR games!  Hopefully I’ll be able to overcome my bouts of motion sickness soon.

I’ll post updates through out the year marking my progress toward this list.  Stay tuned!

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Simulation Theory

Destiny, part 27

Time for the Curse of Osiris.  While I don’t find it to be as disappointing as some of the community, I do find it to be very grindy like The Dark Below was for Destiny 1.  It’s almost like Bungie didn’t learn a thing from the first game and feels like they’re making the same choices and mistakes all over again.  Meeting Osiris (finally) was cool as was getting to explore a bit of Mercury, I just wish it had been a larger play space with more to do.  I also don’t like that I can’t use my sparrow, yet I can capture and use enemy vehicles, because that makes sense.  The space isn’t big enough that you really need a vehicle anyway, but it would be nice to have that option.

Other than the Lighthouse behind me, that’s pretty much the entirety of the new space.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the new gear and cosmetic items, it just feels like it takes forever to get them unless you want to pay for in game currency (Bright Dust/Bright Engrams).  Not sure how I feel about the Masterwork weapons as I have yet to get one that I like.  I’ve so far dismantled every one of them since it’s a gun type I prefer not to use.  I do find it odd that in this expansion, the Region Chests don’t seem to be account bound but are instead character bound (for the expansion content only) and it’s pretty lame that there’s only one Lost Sector on the whole map.

I hope I get one of these for each of my characters.  I love my scout rifles.

Looks cozy and intimate, just wish it had stayed that way instead of opening the shutters.

It was also nice getting to see the revamped Lighthouse and using it as a quaint little social hub, but I’m sure in time it will be abandoned once the next expansion(s) hits.

It’s also annoying having to deal with Brother Fanboy over here.  I like the old version of him from Destiny 1 that didn’t speak as much.

As a tech junkie, I like that the Vex have a planet sized simulation machine called The Infinite Forest, I’m just disappointed that once the story quests for the expansion are over with you can’t go back in whenever you want and that it’s not used for anything else.  I feel like it’s a missed opportunity to turn the Infinite Forest into a play space similar to that of the Underground in The Division, where you could set up parameters for a mission (or in this case, a simulation) and go in and run it.  I mean, with a collectible called Simulation Seeds it seems like this would have been a no brainer.

The gateway to madness

There are some amazing vistas in this expansion.  Something I’ve come to expect in every Bungie game.

These hallways are neat, but a bit too long.

Destiny 2: Minecraft Edition.  Or how about what Minecraft would look like in 4K?

I think I managed to plow through the story content in about 5 to 6 hours on launch day and have been playing off and on since then, doing the usual loot grind treadmill thing that I’ve come to expect from Destiny 2.  The rest of the clan doesn’t seem so hot on the game right now, especially the clan leader.  He makes it sound like he’s not coming back to the game at all and is very vocally negative about it and has even gone back to the first game because it feels more rewarding and fun to him.  This is also coming after his tirade a few weeks back about how most of the clan left in his absence from the game and he vowed to play it more, and planned on helping people level up and so on and so on.  If he and the others aren’t willing to continue playing then why do I bother to grind for Clan XP so everyone else can benefit from my work?  I might be the next to jump ship and join another clan or make my own, I haven’t decided yet.  I suppose it all depends on what happens with the next expansion in 2018.

Anyway, story wise I thought this expansion was interesting, but a bit short with overused tropes.  Like, why is it when we encounter a hive mind race in something, there’s always a “mastermind” at the center of it.

In this case, it’s this guy: Panoptes.

I’m also not too hot on the idea that instead of adding anything of substantial value to the game in the form of new strikes or even a new raid, they bolted on a new section to the already existing raid and called it a “raid lair” and turned a couple of the story missions into strikes which is a little disappointing and feels rather lazy to me.  I just wish I could get the clan to commit to and actually complete the raid (or the lair) and do it regularly, but at this point it’s whatever.  I feel that if I’m ever going to see that raid or the lair to completion I’m just going to have to turn to outside sources for help.

Overall, I think this expansion adds a nice little touch to the game in terms of lore and story, but I feel like it should have been given out for free or sold at a significantly lower price (like $5).  There are a few cosmetic items that I want, like a couple ships and ghost shells, but I’m not going to throw anymore money at the game hoping that I get them.  If I don’t get them through grinding the traditional way then I’m just not going to get them.  This will hopefully lead to me breaking the habit of playing this game/franchise altogether so I can move on to my backlog and play something else.

Until I decide what my relationship with this game is going to be, and whether or not the rest of the clan decides to come back, I guess I’ll be over here in the Lighthouse with Brother Stupid keeping the faith.

What I’m Listening To, part 11


The way these posts work is, I’m going to post the lyrics with my thoughts in between the lines like this.


Haddaway – Another Day Without You

There are moments in our lives
When everything goes right
And we’re making love
Endless love
And then we have all these days
Where we go separate ways
A heart full of pain
And no one’s to blame
It’s just another day
Without you
Without you
It’s just another day
Without you
Without you
Many times we throw away
What we regret the next day
And we say Good-Bye
Forever Good-Bye!!
And I don’t know what it is
Just a game of hit and miss?
I wonder how long
We can go on?


For everyone that I’ve ever lost in my life:  momma, daddy, granny, aunt Jewel, Mr. & Mrs. Crawley, Tyler, Max, Jeffery, Ivey and Candice.  It’s just another day without you, but I’ll be fine. 


 

Game of the Year 2017

This year feels like it has been very, very long in terms of gaming and other personal life events.  It’s definitely going to go down in my books as the year that games gave me lots of feels: anger, happiness, anxiety and disgust to name a few.  So, without further adieu, here are my top 10 games for the year 2017:

10.  Destiny 2

While at first it seemed that Destiny 2 was the answer to all our Destiny prayers and complaints, it seems now that we’ve reached the end game loot grind treadmill that maybe our hopes were misplaced and our expectations were a bit too high.  Nonetheless, Destiny 2 shows a lot more polish than its predecessor and is overall an enjoyable experience

9.  What Remains of Edith Finch

In a world where the majority of gaming consists of run and gun games or games that are heavy on action, What Remains of Edith Finch is a nice departure from all of that to tell a nice, yet creepy, narrative about the Finch family and what happened to each of it’s members.  I loved how each family member’s story was told in a different medium and I also loved exploring the Finch family house with its bizarre structure and equally strange decor.  It also didn’t hurt that I was able to complete the game in one sitting either!

8.  Final Fantasy XV

A very polarizing title among the community to say the least, I feel like the long wait for what we got was worth it.  While the end of the story ultimately left me feeling sad and left a few things unresolved, I feel like Square Enix gave us a brilliant masterpiece that they have since beaten like a dead horse.  I appreciate the continued support for the game post launch but I feel like it’s time to move on to the next project!

7.  Batman:  The Enemy Within [Telltale]

Telltale strikes gold yet again with their spin on the Dark Knight.  Season one was a riveting ride from start to finish and thus far season two doesn’t disappoint.  My only real issue with these games is the long wait between episodes and no matter how many times they patch it, the game still thinks I haven’t purchased the season pass.

6.  Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

This game was what sold me on buying a Nintendo Switch.  I loved the idea of Rabbids invading the Mushroom Kingdom and having a new tactical RPG to explore!  The battles are challenging enough with smart A.I. and lots of varied and beautiful environments to explore.  I’m a fan of tactical RPGs so this game was a no brainer day one purchase for me.

5.  Friday the 13th

By far the funniest multiplayer game of the year.  I used to think a 7 vs. 1 game style was not at all balanced and wouldn’t be fun but after several sessions I was proven that it’s not just about playing the game but about how much fun it is to play this with your friends.  The night where I was the last survivor will definitely go down in the history books as one of my most intense games this year.

4.  The Legend of Zelda:  Breath of the Wild

A stark departure from the traditional Zelda formula, Breath of the Wild is a challenging but enjoyable ride from start to finish.  I plan on eventually going back to find all the Shrines and Korok Seeds and maybe even give Master Mode a shot (I doubt I’ll have the patience to complete it) but for now, my Zelda itch has been sufficiently scratched.

3.  Nier: Automata

I really don’t know where to start with this game.  RPGs with multiple endings based on what I did (and didn’t) do in a game have long been a weakness of mine, so this game sounded like something right up my alley.  After a bit of goading from someone special I decided to give it a try and I’m glad I didn’t pass up the chance!  Hopefully someday I’ll have the time to go back and acquire all 26 endings and get the platinum trophy in this amazing game.

2.  Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Sorrowful, terrifying, heartbreaking, breathtaking, amazing, fulfilling…I could go on all day about how great this game is.  Just thinking about poor Senua and the journey that she must take to save her love brings tears to my eyes after all this time.  This is another fantastic journey that I’ll never forget.

1.  Horizon Zero Dawn

The crown jewel in my 2017 games of the year.  Released very early this year, I think at this point almost all but the most diehard fans have forgotten about this game.  The post apocalyptic world that Aloy and company inhabit is one that I enjoyed exploring and the overwhelming sadness of the game’s story will stay with me for a long time to come.

Honorable Mentions

Metroid: Samus Returns – not quite the 2D Metroid game I was hoping for but still an enjoyable game for the most part.

Fragments of Him – all the gaymers on my friends list owe it to themselves to play this game at least once.  Make sure you have a box of tissues handy when you do.

Nex Machina – every now and then I like to indulge in a little arcade shooter action and this release from Housemarque doesn’t disappoint.

Superhot – definitely one of the neatest and most innovative FPS games I’ve played in a long time.  I enjoyed the mix of action and puzzle solving along with the existential strangeness of the “outside world” in the game.  I’m looking forward to giving the VR version a spin in the future.

Soma – definitely a soul crushing experience from start to finish and one that I’ll never forget!  I think after all this time I’m “recovered” from the tragedy that happens in this game but it’s a horrifying experience that I cannot recommend enough.

Games I Championed But Never Got Around To Playing

Prey – I played the demo and loved it and constantly talked about how great it was to everyone and I bought it at launch and even spent the extra cash to get the Best Buy exclusive steelbook aaaaaaaaaaand I never touched it after that.  I’m a bad gamer.  This game is definitely going into rotation sooner than later.

Kinda regretting naming my blog after one of the most hated games in the industry right now.  Thanks Bungie!

Magic: the Addiction

So this finally happened Saturday after a little bit of an internal struggle.

Hi, my name is Ben and I’m an addict.  Well, not a drug addict anyway, more like a game addict.  I was first introduced to Magic: the Gathering way back in 1996-1997 when 4th Edition was the newest core set and players were first beginning to explore the continent of Jamuraa in the Mirage expansion.  I was hooked immediately on how the game was both simple and complex at the same time plus I loved the collectability and how each card had it’s own unique art.

I looked forward to playing it in the mornings at school with Jason and Candice and devising new strategies for my decks when what I was trying wasn’t working.  Once I graduated from high school and life happened, that all came to a screeching halt and my cards and decks were put in storage for two and a half thousand years.  Or at least that’s what it felt like when the game came back to my attention in full force in 2011.  In the years leading up to 2011, I still kept abreast of the game’s existence at my local game store, The Time Tunnel, but not with any sort of extensive research.

Back in the spring of 2011, right after I had broken up with my second boyfriend, my friend Ron had purchased a fairly large collection of Magic cards from a coworker of his.  At first, the thought of getting back into the game disgusted me.  I remembered having a lot of fights over rules and people cheating at school.  I didn’t want to get back into the game.  I forbid Ron from bringing his cards into the house because I knew I’d get sucked back in.

And boy did I ever :-\

One day, after much nagging and a moment of weakness, I helped Ron unload boxes upon boxes of cards into my kitchen.  I offered to help him sort them all out in an effort to have something to keep me occupied.  After unloading his collection, he left for work and I got started.  I opened one box and simply began trying to sort them all by color.  That’s when it hit me: none of the card designs were at all like I remembered them!  I slowed down and started to appreciate the stark contrast between what the cards looked like before and what they looked like now.  For example, I was used to land cards that looked like this:

But now they looked like this:

Huge change huh?  They introduced the huge mana symbol in the text box near the end of my high school career in a set called Unglued (I think) and I didn’t really care for it, I felt like the game was being dumbed down by doing that.  I was a bit disgusted when I found that, all these years later, that had become the standard for land cards.

I also noticed that the trademark font of each card’s title had been changed from the fancy script to more pedestrian (and more legible) typeface.  I didn’t mind the change so much as I’m sure trying to mass produce card sheets with that specific script was a pain on Wizard’s bank account.

Slowly over the rest of the week (I was off work I believe) I did nothing but sleep and sort cards.  I would spend hours sorting cards and reading the text boxes, my mind on fire with strategies, card combos and deck ideas galore.  I remember at the end of the first day of emptying boxes and sorting, Ron came back to my place after work to find stacks of cards scattered all over every inch of my kitchen table, counter top and I think a few on top of the dryer as well.  Upon the horror of hearing the screen door open, his entrance was met with a glower and me telling him “Don’t touch anything!” since I had several ideas for decks running through my head and stacked here and there around the room.  Showing him the madness of my genius, he quickly realized I knew what I was doing.  I was back in the game whether I wanted to be or not.

I had left the world of Dominaria when we were first exploring the continent of Jamuraa upon the deck of the ship The Weatherlight and I had returned in an age when Phyrexia threatened to spread beyond its boundaries and infect every inch of the multiverse with its plague.  I was also introduced to the concept of the Planeswalker cards and how they could quickly ruin someone’s day.  It was a good time to return to the world of Magic: the Gathering and picking the rules back up was like riding a bike, only they had undergone a bit of tweaking in my absence, some for the better and some still questionable (looking at you Protection From rules.)

The stuff dreams are made of

Over the course of 2011, we slowly got the rest of our gaming group back into the game.  Friday Night Magic wasn’t just a thing that happened at friendly local gaming stores, it happened at my house too.  We would eat, unwind from our collective work weeks and play Magic until all hours of the night.  Ron introduced me to a new local game store, The Dugout, where we would spend hours at a time looking through random cards week after week.  We would spend quite a bit of money on new trickery to use during games as well as more deck boxes and playmats.  Then in 2012 when I had the biggest breakup (and worst time) of my life, my interest in Magic started to falter.  It didn’t help that the 2013 Core Set wasn’t all that great either and subsequent sets of cards were so-so.  We still continued to play though my heart just wasn’t in it like it once was.  Then in 2013 we pretty much just stopped playing altogether by the end of the year.  People grew tired of each other, work schedules got changed, interest was lost.

I kept the faith for a while.  I kept up with new releases and tried to stay on top of the game’s already convoluted metaplot and would still read random cards on Gatherer, but even I have a breaking point it seems.  It was pretty much a 1-2 punch, first in the form of the disappointment that was the Battle for Zendikar / Oath of the Gatewatch block then the Shadows Over Innistrad / Eldritch Moon block.  Battle for Zendikar wasn’t as interesting or inspired as the original Zendikar block and the return to Innistrad was equally as uninspired as the new Zendikar block.  I was so done at this point.

The cards, for the longest time, have been sitting in my front room taking up valuable space that I could use for something else.  Then it occurred to me that Dugout buys people’s collections, so I figured I’d shoot them a message and see if there was any interest in buying what I didn’t want and now here I am $475 richer and with a little bit of free space in my house.

A few of my cards from the 90’s that I decided to keep

It felt a little liberating dropping off all those boxes.  All the anger over games that I lost, all the hurt feelings over games and rules, the relief of not having to keep up with the current sets (not that I ever played in Standard Legal tournaments anyway, except that one time for the release of Avacyn Restored because I was dying to find out what happened storywise), all of it was finally gone.  I still have a very small amount of cards though…

The one game variant that I loved the most next to Commander/EDH was Archenemy and I decided that I wanted to keep those decks and maybe a few of the other cards.  I definitely kept all the cards that I had back in the 90’s but anything after that had to go.  Do I have any hope that the group will get back together like before and weekly games will happen at my place?  Nope, not even a little bit.  But maybe, just maybe, someone someday will reignite my spark.

October Horror Gaming 2017

So for the month of October, some online friends like to play horror themed games and this year, I decided to join in the horror.  So over the course of the month I played (and finished) the following:

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Soma.  This game still haunts me after all this time.  You can read my thoughts on the game here.

deliriant-listing-thumb-01-ps4-us-19may17

Deliriant.  A rather disappointing first person game where you are walking through a house that’s rather unsettling.  The only oddities were the “moving” wallpaper and the hole in the wall that served as the exit to the house.  I was able to 100% the trophy list in one sitting.

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Dear Esther.  A very sad walking simulator where you’re a ship wrecked man alone on an island.  Not really a horror game per se (I thought it was, hence why I played it this month, plus I was told by a friend that it was very short) though the atmosphere is, at some points, a bit creepy.  Definitely worth playing with the commentary turned on.

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Among The Sleep.  A very boring “horror” game where you play a two year old kid who is running around in an Alice In Wonderland-esque nightmare world trying to find your mother.  I was bored most of the time since there was no real consequence for getting caught by the monsters in the game and also a bit aggravated by the collectibles since there’s no way to tell how many you have versus how many there are total.

TheBunker

The Bunker.  A creepy game set in a cold war era nuclear bunker, this game is the first in a long time that I’ve seen that uses pre-rendered backgrounds where you have to click to direct your character to do what you want him to do.  It was definitely enjoyable for a night (finished in one sitting) and had a nice twist ending.

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The Town of Light.  The story of one woman’s harrowing journey in a 1930’s insane asylum.  The story was, at times, a bit more than I could stomach.  The story is based on actual events, which makes what happens even worse.  Most of the story is told through flashbacks and collectibles.  A walking simulator with a painful story to tell.

twd-telltale-UK-release

Even though the plot to it has been spoiled for me over and over, I finally decided to come around to the game that arguably put Telltale on the map.  Despite knowing a few key plot points, the emotional impact of the game still hit hard at times.