25 votes

What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them?

What have you been playing lately? Discussion about video games and board games are both welcome. Please don't just make a list of titles, give some thoughts about the game(s) as well.

57 comments

  1. [3]
    TheJorro
    (edited )
    Link
    I just finished up Dragon Age 2. This was a bizarre game and I honestly can't recommend it unless it's heavily modified at its core, but it doesn't seem those mods exist unfortunately. I've known...

    I just finished up Dragon Age 2. This was a bizarre game and I honestly can't recommend it unless it's heavily modified at its core, but it doesn't seem those mods exist unfortunately.

    I've known that DA2 is the black sheep of the Dragon Age series since it released, and was Bioware's few subpar games (until DA2, I believe Bioware only made one "bad" game: their Sonic game for the Nintendo DS). Something to do with it being much smaller in scale, only centred around one city, and generally being more streamlined than Dragon Age Origins thanks to a specific character and background, and a more action-oriented combat system.

    I was hoping going into the game now, in 2020, would yield a game that was unique and experimental, one that attempted to do interesting things but didn't quite land the execution. Especially since the game still maintains a small, dedicated fanbase who found a lot to like in it.

    And there is quite a bit to like. The story is of a smaller scale than Dragon Age Origins, but it might even be better for it. Instead of following up a grand epic adventure with another related-but-not grand epic adventure, a smaller scale story of a family establishing themselves in a single city, and all the politics of that city in that time period. One thing DAO wasn't very convincing about was the scale of a nation-wide conflict and almost-civil war when you teleport from hub to hub with only about a handful of people in each location, and you can always walk up and speak to people that are supposed to be almost entirely inaccessible according to the plot. DA2's different city districts are more convincing as actual city districts, and you actually need to earn enough influence and notriety before the city leaders will even be in the same room as you.

    Hawke is an interesting character too. Male or female, they seem to have the same personality and lines, and they wind up having more of a personality than DAO's various protagonists. The writing for Hawke isn't bad either, the inclusion of sarcastic/opporunitic lines along with a new focus on diplomacy versus aggression as opposed to good/evil is a nice touch. It encourages you to go across the spectrum instead of sticking with one, and the game throws some situations at you where you don't want to go with your usual sorts of responses anyway. Overall, going down to one distinct player character from the many options from DAO is a huge tradeoff, but I thought this particular one was handled well. Hawke is one of the better Bioware player characters, I think.

    One thing I wasn't prepared for was how small the actual gameplay worlds in Dragon Age 2 actually are. I knew it was a game centred around a city with some dungeons outside of it but I never had a clear picture of how the game was structured until I sat down to play it. It's basically a very, very small version of a standard CRPG. You have all these different maps laid out around the "world" and then you teleport between them. In traditional CRPGs, you spend time travelling between locations and, even in DAO, you'd occasionally have random encounters when travelling between places to simulate the notion of being ambushed or coming across an event on the road.

    Dragon Age 2 only takes place in and around the city of Kirkwall, but you don't really get to explore the city in a way you'd expect. I'm not opposed to being in a singular location instead of travelling the world. Many, many games have shown that it's not about the size but the density of the playable space. But this is not a single "hub world" map as I originally assumed, something akin to Deus Ex or other RPGs that also have trappings of taking place in a small locale but try to fill it with life. No, DA2 is nothing but small "dungeon" maps, dressed differently depending on the situation. And there aren't even that many of them, so they're frequetly reused. The game has a day/night delineation where you can visit a city district at either time of day, but nighttime is just an excuse to have random mobs spawn in the same maps that are supposed to be civil city streets during the day. It's a ridiculously hamfisted way to stretch what few maps were in the game, and it really stretches the imagination considering one of your companions is the Captain of the City Guard and she doesn't acknowledge the hordes of wild mages and slavers running around her districts. There are even missions where you help out the City Guard on patrol, but they're otherwise absent outside of those missions.

    Even for the few dungeon maps outside of the city, there aren't many at all and you have to repeatedly go through the same ones over and over. In one aggravating design choice, you can actually see that there are more to some dungeons on the minimap but a crappy, uninteractable door blocks the way until you're at the right point in the game to open it and then do the rest of the dungeon later, when the game forces you to replay it but with new enemies depending on whatever the quest is. Thinking back, I can think of at least one dungeon map that still had some locked off parts even after I beat the game—I suppose I didn't choose the right storyline to go there but it's not like I want to go back there anyway. The game makes you replay its few, few dungeons so many times that I'm sick of them.

    Further, not a single one of the dungeon maps are even half as big as one large area in DAO! So on top of less variety of levels, less playable areas, and less places in the world to explore, you also get less overall physical area to even walk through overall! This is a much, much smaller game than DAO in physical terms.

    The companions aren't the best of Bioware's many ensembles, this one probably ranking in the lower end of them, but some of the companion stories tie into the main plot in a much more interesting and fulfilling way than most other Bioware games. I've never actually felt the need to cull someone from my party before, even in previous Bioware games like Baldur's Gate, like I did in DA2. It's not the most nuanced or best-written but it's at least a lot more daring than what you'd usually find from a Bioware companion.

    That said, the only companion whose, well, companionship I enjoyed was Varric, who was probably the only fully planned and executed of the characters since he provides the framing narrative and seems to be planned from the start to be a companion in what would be Dragon Age Inquisition. The biggest disappointment is Hawke's brother Carver. I certainly hope Bethany is a lot better (you only get one of them depending on your chosen class) because Carver is the whiniest piece of shit I've ever had the displeasure of having attached to my hip in a video game. All he ever did was bitch and moan about being in my shadow but took no steps to get out of it. Until he did, at which point he turned into a passive-aggressive shit about my character, who at that point is the go-to person for all the city's problems, showing up when the city had problems. And on top of that, he was unselectable as a party member for 2/3 of the game. I guess he was supposed to be the "rivalry" side of your siblings with DA2's "friend/rival" system but the writing quality just wasn't there to support it. I never felt a rivalry with him, I just felt resentment with his constant complaining.

    Normally not liking a companion shouldn't warrant more than a mention but Dragon Age 2 is very, very heavily about family. Hawke's entire story is centred and focused around their family. Almost every companion plot is about their family too. Family is literally the main theme of the game and it beats you over the head with it over and over and over. And for the most part, it's fine! The companions all have some interesting familial problems with various solutions, traumas, sweet moments, and tragedies. But the way they wrote Carver is just so antithetical to the themes they were going for because he's just so unlikeable, and then unreliable! There's a plot point in the game that he should unequivocally, uncompromisingly, absolutely should be a part of and you don't hear a single thing from him during, after, or even about it! I think anyone who has played through the game knows exactly which point it is. I usually try to be plot-agnostic with these to avoid spoilers but this one is too jarring so here come the spoiler tags:

    DA2 big spoiler When your mother is kidnapped (and then killed) by a serial killer, Carver is nowhere to be found. At all. He doesn't even seem to show any concern or remorse after it. In a game that's all about family, the importance of family, and keeping your surviving family alive despite all the odds, he doesn't even mention your mother being brutally murdered through blood magic?! Even when he's a TEMPLAR?!

    To be fair, this is probably the same with Bethany and is the fault of the writing as a whole but yeesh. This is a gross oversight in the game. But, at the same time, I can't hold this against the writing team too much because, really, they had the unenviable and herculean task of carrying this game to any semblance of lasting quality. The actual gameplay is just plain awful.

    The combat is indeed more streamlined, but for the better I'd say. Dragon Age Origins had a decent, classic approach to RPG mechanics and rulesets but it had a lot of major problems like rules so broken they'd make entire types of weapons useless. DA2's streamlining makes this less of a problem and lets you jump into more useful abilities immediately. If I have any advice to give about playing this game, though, it's this: play an AoE mage if you want to keep your sanity.

    The game does nothing but throw waves of enemies at you. It doesn't make any sense how many they throw at you, canonically or design-wise. Quite literally every single combat encounter that isn't a boss fight is a horde-mode battle where you fight multiple waves of enemies. Every. Single. One. No exceptions.

    Hear about a couple of guys scheming at the docks? You're fighting 30 people. Setting up an ambush on a deal going down? Somehow you're the one surrounded by 50 enemies even though you surprised them and they weren't prepared for you. Found an ancient road wher nobody's ever been and there hasn't been any activity for decades or centuries? How about a few dozen enemies fight you there? Imagine doing this all the time. A single dungeon run, in a small dungeon map, can have as many as a dozen encounters like this. It's never challenging, it's never made more interesting, and you can't simply run by it to your objective because the game locks you into combat when it starts. This is rather annoying because the enemies can instigate combat with you even when you're in a completely different room or part of the map! It's especially common in the Kirkwall city maps where a district you're avoiding because it's not on your way to an objective will randomly get aggroed by your party, so you have to go out of your way to fight them! There's literally no reason for this, it's simply wasting your time.

    The combat design in this game is obnoxious, it's stupid, and it's annoying as hell. It's not even like the enemies really have that much variety, they come in three forms: little health, some health, a lot of health. The only tactic you need throughout the entire game is to group all the weak enemies, use some AoE to kill them quickly, and then have everyone focus down the bigger guys, who then go down very easily since the only difficulty is supposed to come from being spammed by trash mobs.

    On top of this, most of the quest design involves running between multiple locations which means you're forced into combat more frequently than you should be. Almost every quest seems to go through this exact process:

    1. Pick up quest from NPC.
    2. Go to second location, talk to another NPC.
    3. Go to a third location, fight your way to yet another NPC.
    4. Fight the NPC and his two more secret waves of enemies.
    5. Go back to original NPC.

    So here's where we get to the root of the problem of the game: Dragon Age 2 is a mobile phone game glowed up to an AAA sequel. Between the few, small areas that are constantly reused, and the asinine approach to combat encounters along with a playstyle that almost plays itself, and the super tight turnaround time for this game from DAO's infamously lengthy development period, it's the only explanation I can think of for why Dragon Age 2 is... this.

    It's not a fun game to play. It was for the first couple of hours when you have the plot kicking off, and are seeing all these new areas, and every new level up gets you a cool new ability that's super useful in combat. But by about 15 hours in, the gameplay loop has become nothing but a chore because there's nothing new to see or do except for follow the plot to its end. I only finished the game because I liked the story well enough that I wanted to see it through, but it's been a long time since I've found a game I genuinely dislike playing. It's too easy, it's not interesting, and it's blatantly disrespectful of your time.

    I gave up on this game but then realized I was about 5 hours way from the finish line, so I finished it. Plot-wise, I'm glad I did. Gameplay-wise, I did not enjoy it. I'm glad I got to experience this game so I could develop an appreciation for Hawke, Varric, and much of the lore developed in this game but I intend to never, ever touch this game again unless I can find a mod that cuts down on all the combat to only one wave of enemies per.

    Even the DLCs, which are better than the base game, aren't all that good. They're better designed with more rewarding stories and gameplay design, but it's polished garbage in the end. I'd highly recommend watching instead of playing because this is one video game that makes you hate playing it, even if the plot and lore is genuinely worth getting into if you're a fan of the series or world. It's not often I find that time has been kinder to a game's reputation than it deserves but this may be one of those cases.

    12 votes
    1. [2]
      emnii
      Link Parent
      You've really hit the nail on the head about why I call myself a Dragon Age 2 hater. I remember my sinking disappointment when I realized that the cave map I had already seen once was used in...

      You've really hit the nail on the head about why I call myself a Dragon Age 2 hater. I remember my sinking disappointment when I realized that the cave map I had already seen once was used in another location but they blocked off some of the tunnels and doors while unblocking others. The map was exactly the same. They were just gating some areas depending on which location I was visiting.

      Some people praise the story. All I can remember about it is "apostates! apostates! apostates!"

      I appreciate what they were trying to do with DA2 and, in another form, I probably would've loved it. The actual game was far too undeveloped to deliver.

      4 votes
      1. TheJorro
        Link Parent
        Yeah, that's hammered in constantly. That is effectively the takeaway of the game since everything about DA2's story is about magic, even a lot of the family stuff. Within the context of the...

        Some people praise the story. All I can remember about it is "apostates! apostates! apostates!"

        Yeah, that's hammered in constantly. That is effectively the takeaway of the game since everything about DA2's story is about magic, even a lot of the family stuff. Within the context of the Dragon Age lore, it makes a lot of sense. One of the big mysteries over the course of the series is about the nature of magic in the universe, and why it's so volatile and dangerous.

        DA2's story is basically obsessed with it, though. I guess it's because the events of the game regarding magic were extremely important for their plans for the next Dragon Age game, and Dragon Age Origins didn't really go too heavily on it to carry it through so they made sure to really drive it home.

        But it was a bit heavyhanded in that the game didn't really show much of the flipside of magic where many mages are good and not evil because every plot point involved bad magic, and the overabundance of enemies and fights meant more bad magic. Even when it wasn't a case of bad magic, it was usually a case of bad consequences due to prejudices around magic. For a story that was trying to put magic into a grey zone, they really had a lot more black and barely any white overall.

        3 votes
  2. [4]
    VoidOutput
    (edited )
    Link
    GeoGuessr : you're dropped in Google Street View anywhere in the world and you've gotta pinpoint exactly where you are on a map. You can move around but you have to mark the starting point. You...

    GeoGuessr : you're dropped in Google Street View anywhere in the world and you've gotta pinpoint exactly where you are on a map. You can move around but you have to mark the starting point. You need to look for clues around you such as street signs, the language or type of writing system, landscape. General knowledge about the world will also help you. Additionally you can choose to restrict yourself to a zone (your country, your state/province, your city) and/or add a timer. This game is really good, I generally play 30 minutes every day. I play it in challenge mode with friends sometimes, it's a lot of fun. There is a free version but it's heavily capped so I went for the paid version.

    12 votes
    1. Atvelonis
      Link Parent
      I absolutely love this game. I'm constantly surprised by how varied the landscape is across the world; I have images in my mind of what every country looks like, but they're usually incomplete.

      I absolutely love this game. I'm constantly surprised by how varied the landscape is across the world; I have images in my mind of what every country looks like, but they're usually incomplete.

      4 votes
    2. culturedleftfoot
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      GeoGuessr has been one of my go-to recommendations for free fun for quite a while. My brother initially told me about it in its first year, and a couple years ago I started playing along to...

      GeoGuessr has been one of my go-to recommendations for free fun for quite a while. My brother initially told me about it in its first year, and a couple years ago I started playing along to NorthernLion and Sinvicta's head-to-head series. Even after falling off after they limited the free version, I still go watch a Geowizard video every now and then and just marvel.

      Funny enough, playing GG and being amazed at one of the first (and possibly best) personally meaningful third-party uses of Google's Maps data probably helped drive home a nagging suspicion that troubled me ever since I started thinking about the trickle-down effect, or lack thereof, of Google's near-monopoly on various sets of information.

      "It is telling that some townships in South Africa are just blank spaces on the map," says Brotton. "Mapping is becoming privatised, not even states have the vast resources necessary to compete, and inevitably the usual problem is that Africa comes very low down on the pecking order."

      It is hard to envisage Google Maps' particularity because there are no real alternatives. But imagine if all of Google's data and programming ability was suddenly in the hands of a Namibian agriculturalist, a Sahelian nomad or a Senegalese fisherwoman – the maps they would conjure up would be completely different. They might well prioritise soil types over Starbucks, wells over Walmarts and the state of land degradation over panoramic street views of American towns.

      Those are excerpts from this Guardian article.

      3 votes
    3. Autoxidation
      Link Parent
      I used to play this every Friday (time allowing) with coworkers in our geography department. It was a blast. The changes to the free version were awful, though I realize it was caused by Google's...

      I used to play this every Friday (time allowing) with coworkers in our geography department. It was a blast. The changes to the free version were awful, though I realize it was caused by Google's changes to data pulls and pricing that killed a lot of lightweight Google Maps related websites and freeware. Wish they never did that.

      2 votes
  3. [4]
    AugustusFerdinand
    (edited )
    Link
    The Banner Saga: Pretty game, gameplay is good but not great, most decisions in the game have actual impact on what you can do and what characters are around to do so. Being that I'm not from the...

    The Banner Saga: Pretty game, gameplay is good but not great, most decisions in the game have actual impact on what you can do and what characters are around to do so. Being that I'm not from the area, the frequently vowel-less Nordic naming conventions make keeping up with the story a chore as instead of attempting to make up some terrible phonetic pronunciation I know will be wrong for a person or place I'll just skip it and when that person/place is referenced later in the story I am often left at a loss as to whether it is merely flavor or important. Also for the love of all that is holy developers, allow me to speed up the caravan traveling scenes! There's easily hours of time in this game spent just watching low res characters walk through the countryside; it's like playing Oregon Trail on the slowest speed... If I can't find a way to speed up the game I'll probably skip Saga 2 and 3, it's just not worth waiting for some event to pop up. I don't need travel to be instantaneous, but the background isn't that good looking.

    The Banner Saga 2:: Finished the first one, devs must have heard complaints about speed. Traveling is slightly faster now, but mostly they've just added more frequent encounters so there aren't vast waiting periods of watching a caravan go by. Game is even prettier now, story per caravan is different, and you can speed up the caravan via console commands. Devs also heard some Oregon Trail comments as there is at least one encounter that has a direct reference to the old Oregon Trail game. Improvements make it worth playing Saga 3. Also they decided to come up with their own cuss word (faen to mean fuck) and while funny the first few times, they use it constantly. They also don't have any other forms of faen. There's no "fucks", "fucked", or "fucking" it's just faen. This is faen. We are so faen. This is going to get faen difficult. etc. The addition of animated cutscenes is a nice touch to the story, but the story in this one is weaker than in the first.

    9 votes
    1. [3]
      Bwerf
      Link Parent
      Haven't played the game, so I might be off, but faen (normally spelled fan) means satan in swedish. I have not heard it used in all those ways though, it's not as versatile as fuck in my...

      faen

      Haven't played the game, so I might be off, but faen (normally spelled fan) means satan in swedish. I have not heard it used in all those ways though, it's not as versatile as fuck in my experience. Mostly it's just used an expletive when something goes wrong.

      The game seems to be made a Texas studio, so they may just have made a lucky guess or for some other reason is using the word slightly wrong.

      3 votes
      1. KapteinB
        Link Parent
        It's spelled faen in Norwegian, derived from fanden, which is one of our many names for the devil. It is very versatile, but it usually can't be directly substituted for fuck. If the examples...

        It's spelled faen in Norwegian, derived from fanden, which is one of our many names for the devil.

        It is very versatile, but it usually can't be directly substituted for fuck. If the examples above are actually in the game, better use might be:

        • This is faen. - This is faenskap.
        • We are so faen. - This one doesn't work at all actually. I think many would rather use either fitten or rævkjørt.
        • This is going to get faen difficult. - This is going to get faens difficult. (So close!)

        Seems to me they did enough research to find a versatile Scandinavian swear word, but not enough research to use it correctly.

        3 votes
      2. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        Ha! Something just clicked for me about Divinity: Original Sin 2

        Ha! Something just clicked for me about Divinity: Original Sin 2

        1 vote
  4. emnii
    (edited )
    Link
    I "finished" Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. It's in early access, so I didn't actually finish it, but I saw the end of what they've released. Wow, I love it. It's like Symphony...

    I "finished" Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. It's in early access, so I didn't actually finish it, but I saw the end of what they've released. Wow, I love it. It's like Symphony of the Night crossed with Ikaruga. The released game is so far very short, but I'm very excited to see what the rest of it looks like. It's beautifully (2D) animated and feels great to play.

    And then I went into the Steam forums to see what the developers have said about it. They have a "feedback and suggestions" post. It's full of terrible suggestions. Stuff that fundamentally misunderstands the game, and tries to correct it by completely redesigning it. They shouldn't listen to anyone in that post.

    I'm back into Assassin's Creed Syndicate, which is one of the five main AC games I haven't finished, but I count as one of two because the other three are the Ezio trilogy that I will almost certainly never play. I have a love/hate relationship with AC that's been more love recently, with Origins and Odyssey being games I genuinely enjoyed. Syndicate isn't anywhere near as good, but it's fine. My problem is that it runs like ass on my PC. I can't help but blame some GPU specific optimizations when I'm running an AMD card and it boots up with a big Nvidia intro, but it's hitchy. It's like it's running 95% right, but hitches every five seconds. It's frustrating as my PC runs everything else perfectly.

    edit: welp, my Syndicate save just fucking vanished so I guess I won't be finishing this one any time soon. Maybe I'll give Unity a shot.

    7 votes
  5. [8]
    NaraVara
    (edited )
    Link
    I've been going between Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Streets of Rage 4, and replaying Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty. AC:NH Not much to say about this one. It's another entry in the Animal...

    I've been going between Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Streets of Rage 4, and replaying Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty.

    AC:NH

    Not much to say about this one. It's another entry in the Animal Crossing series and it basically just an idle timepass. It's a good game for isolation, since it simulates being outside and having a social life. The only real semblance of tension in the game comes from gambling on Turnip futures, which is mostly optional. Once you pay off the debt treadmill the game puts you on as a motive force, money basically has no meaning and you just focus on decorating your island with increasingly rare collectible items that randomly drop as you play.

    It's basically the same gameplay loops as your general mobile game skinner boxes, except they're not exploitative about making you turn into a whale. In fact, the game seems to be designed very thoughtfully to discourage addictive styles of engagement and prompts you to take it easy. Little things in it are just kind of annoying to do, and I think they're annoying by design. To prompt a slower paced and more meditative style of play.

    Streets of Rage 4

    I was very excited for this game as well as a revival of the "beat em up" genre. I enjoy the mechanics of a fighting game without the stress of competition. I'm mildly disappointed in the outcome, however. I feel like it's a little bit too loyal to the original, where it seems more like a well executed knock-off than a modern successor. The gameplay is tight, but the difficulty seems kind of "bullshitty" in the way that old school arcade games often were. Many of your moves just have a few frames too much recovery and beating some of the boss fights is a bit too heavy on learning a pattern and exploiting it in a way that makes it feels like you're just cheesing your way through the game.

    All that said, it's a fun game. It's hard to find any games these days that are good for short play sessions, but action games can be especially challenging and this one lands right in that spot. You can clear each level in about 10 to 20 minutes and it's challenging enough to be extremely replayable. The art style also just looks gorgeous. It's a perfect blend of that '90s "gritty" vibe with modern sprites. I'm glad they resisted the impulse to do pixel art the way so many indie developers do these days. (I, personally, have always thought it was a lame crutch).

    Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty

    Mostly I just wanted to revisit the RTS genre. I hadn't played Starcraft in a while, stumbled on some streams of the latest TSL tournament on YouTube, and thought I'd try it out again. I have neither the skill nor the will to ladder at games like this anymore, so I'm just playing the campaign. I started on Hard mode since I already beat it on normal, but I kind of got bored by the difficulty of needing to micro my armies efficiently so I dropped it back to Normal so I can just macro up and attack+move, which is much more satisfying. There's lots of artifacts of game design from the early 2010s in here that are just not that fun. The whole "meta" part of the gameplay is boring me to tears and I have zero interest in the lame progression mechanics they have (buying mercenaries, doing research, buying upgrades to certain units). I don't care about making "choices" about which mission to do when, especially if it doesn't meaningfully branch the storyline in any way. It all just feels tacked on and unnecessary.

    The actual RTS part of the gameplay hasn't aged that well either. Revisiting it again with the benefit of hindsight, I kind of feel like Blizzard was just too timid about fundamentally altering the formula around the first Starcraft. They got bogged down in arguments with eSports pros about unlimited size control groups and being able to select and build off multiple units, but the gameplay style itself just doesn't feel like you're doing cool shit. They did a good job of getting rid of a lot of the stuff that feels more like you're fighting the interface to do what you want to do than leading an army, but the core game design still feels more like you're struggling to stay on top of a queue of chores and sneaking in some cool shit in between. It feels more like you're playing Overcooked than commanding an army. When I watch the pro-gamers play, they look like they're commanding an army and doing strategy but they're at a level so far beyond anything I would ever have the time or inclination to practice towards. In hindsight, it's obvious this game would fall off hard in popularity once the nostalgia goggles wore off for less die-hard gamers, and it did.

    I go back to the WotC psychographic profiles Timmy, Johnny, and Spike. I think the eSports focus tilted the game design of Starcraft 2 a little too hard into the Spike direction, and you need to start getting into the top 10% or less of Starcraft players before you even approach being able to start thinking like a Johnny. Timmies have no home here outside of custom games or playing the campaign on easy mode. You can contrast this to an RTS series like Command & Conquer, which is tilted too far into Timmy territory and throws any semblance of balance out the window in favor of hard countering rock-paper-scissors gameplay and absurd superweapons.

    Of course, this is all easy to say as a Monday Morning quarterback. I think the RTS genre needs a revival, but I'd like to see more interesting ideas start coming in. Maybe we can play with configurable AI behaviors or differential movement behaviors that are unit dependent. Maybe we build in some sort of flanking mechanics or have unit effectiveness contingent on being in formation with the units next to it (as in a phalanx). I don't actually know, but I'd like to see what clever designers come up with when they can move away from how older RTSes worked, since they were artifacts of the technical limitations of the time. There is an old post from 2013 on the TeamLiquid forums that, I think, is kind of prescient on this. They optimized away the hard stuff, but in the process got rid of the actual aspects of the game that created a pro scene. They replaced those organic elements that came out of learning to fight the interface with consciously designed gameplay elements that try to approximate the same skills instead of embracing better pathfinding and more sophisticated unit AI to build a different kind of game. It has actually ended up taking away a lot of style or spontenaity out of the game and created more of a suggested way to play. And it has made everything just too efficient. Watching a pro-game in Brood War seems like winning or losing depends on a long-term trend-line where one player makes (or is forced to make) more errors than the other over time. The games usually work like slow progressions. In Starcraft 2 it very often seems to come down to a single play or a single mistake or a single oversight.

    I'm not sure how to design around it though. The TeamLiquid poster makes a good point that, since they made it mechanically easier to make strategic decisions, individual strategic mistakes are much harder to recover from and tend to snowball. I guess the only option is to introduce some (small) elements of change into the mix so pressing your advantage can still come with some unexpected risks?

    5 votes
    1. [6]
      TheJorro
      Link Parent
      The bit about pro-gamers seeming like they do cool things all the time instead of playing Overcooked: it's only possible because they got so good at the Overcooked part that they're almost...

      The bit about pro-gamers seeming like they do cool things all the time instead of playing Overcooked: it's only possible because they got so good at the Overcooked part that they're almost literally doing it blind with hotkeys only. If you ever take a look at a pro RTS player's view during a game, you'll notice that they're constantly selecting and queuing up units back at their base, even when they're in the middle of a big battle.

      Age of Empires 2 is having a big resurgence now thanks to the Definitive Edition but it also requires this exact same thing. A lot of DE's new QoL improvements are to make the blind economy management aspects easier. It's traditional RTS design through and through, I think, and it does seem like such sorts of play has only a niche appeal these days.

      One thing I'll always stress is that you don't really need to be that good to get to the point where you feel like a battle commander in traditional RTS games. It feels like you do, but in the same way it feels like you need god-like reflexes to play Counter-Strike—that's not really the goal but it feels like it is when starting from scratch. With Counter-Strike, it's more about positioning and timing than reflexes, and with RTS games it's more about understanding the macro game enough that your active thinking is dedicated to strategy, not queuing production. I think this is just part of the nature of highly competitive games, where the floors and ceilings of skill is so high that it looks like they're almost playing a different game than what you experience when you're starting out. Both these games, as wildly different as they are, took something around 30 hours of competitive play before I even began feeling like I was doing something than flailing wildly and actually doing cool shit. But I suppose that's where we circle around to your notion of "Do I even have the time or patience to get that far?"

      That said, I'm with you that there are plenty of ways to go with RTS games that could be interesting. There have been a few attempts like They Are Billions but there is something about traditional RTS design that keeps me going back to the classics since the macro economy management is something I actually like about RTS games, and missed it sorely when it was gone from games like Dawn of War 2.

      As a final note, I can't help but feel like there's been some romanticization about old engine limitations of classic RTS games, especially Brood War. As interesting and good as it looks on paper, I think StarCraft Remastered has proven that actually fighting and managing the amazingly stupid pathfinding of Brood War units isn't nearly as fun as people remembered it being. For every successful Mutalisk Triangle, there's two dozen frustrating games because half your units got stuck on a ramp when you weren't looking.

      4 votes
      1. [5]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        This is a big part of the problem. When I played the first Starcraft it was me and like, 8 other kids "secretly" (although, in hindsight, I'm 95% sure the teacher knew what we were doing)...

        with RTS games it's more about understanding the macro game enough that your active thinking is dedicated to strategy, not queuing production. I think this is just part of the nature of highly competitive games, where the floors and ceilings of skill is so high that it looks like they're almost playing a different game than what you experience when you're starting out.

        This is a big part of the problem. When I played the first Starcraft it was me and like, 8 other kids "secretly" (although, in hindsight, I'm 95% sure the teacher knew what we were doing) installing it on the computer lab computers and playing it after school. We were just playing around with each other and our skills kind of advanced in line with each other. When you play online it's just ELO-based matchmaking so you're up against whatever canned build-order is popular in the meta right now and everyone is playing in "Spike-mode." Fighting games have a similar problem.

        But I couldn't even really convince any friends to play Starcraft 2 with me. The learning curve is too steep if you want to play casually. Even in a 1v1 where I was intentionally handicapping myself by playing my least favored race and not letting myself use hotkeys, it was just too easy to steamroll them.

        That said, I'm with you that there are plenty of ways to go with RTS games that could be interesting. There have been a few attempts like They Are Billions but there is something about traditional RTS design that keeps me going back to the classics since the macro economy management is something I actually like about RTS games, and missed it sorely when it was gone from games like Dawn of War 2.

        I've actually been toying around with an RTS idea for something Starcraft-like, but focused entirely on macro-level gameplay and leaves the individual unit control entirely in the hands of AIs. I considered maybe you could control individual Field Marshals and give them general orders like to patrol a pathway, protect a specific region, or assault a holding. But the AI of that field marshal would decide how to do it and the field marshals themselves would have various stats that determine things like nerve (likelihood of retreat if the odds are against them), recklessness (how much time they're going to take to ascertain what the enemy is up to before attacking), or speed (just pure APM). Training or grooming your field marshals to have well balanced stats would be an important part of how you win.

        You could focus on producing the units that comprise their battalions, and even provide the commanders units that work well with their temperament and skills (like maybe put the reckless one in charge of artillery instead of cavalry). But they would make the decisions about things like where to position themselves, when to charge, when to dig in, etc. Meanwhile, your gameplay revolves around giving strategic orders, planning out and controlling the logistics of resupplying and reinforcing your troops on the front, sending out probes/monitors to make sure you have vision of the map (since your vision would be based on your probes instead of magically being able to see whatever your units see). And building up structures in your base or in captured holdings.

        So you'd actually be doing things like deciding what kinds of forces to build and how to get them where they need to "report for duty," respond to requisition requests from the front-line, tracking which transports are headed where and making sure they're loaded with the right stuff, etc. So basically it would literally be like Overcooked, except the orders coming in are determined by the state of the battlefield, a lot more like what an actual military commander would be doing.

        And then you could also have macro abilities that buff your troops in combat, send in airstrikes, paradrop reinforcements, instantly put up a wall or static defenses, etc. just so you feel engaged in the battles as they're happening (assuming you have vision).

        It's entirely conceptual though, being as how I have no programming or game development know-how.

        As a final note, I can't help but feel like there's been some romanticization about old engine limitations of classic RTS games, especially Brood War.

        Oh for sure. The old games were super frustrating to play. But when you watch pro-Brood War vs. pro-Starcraft 2 you cannot help but think the Brood War play was much more dynamic and interesting to watch. Like I said, everything in SC2 just resolves too quickly and it often just feels like you're watching a long, futile struggle once a single early mistake sets someone behind. But that's less about what it's like to play than it is what it's like to watch.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          TheJorro
          Link Parent
          Yeah, I feel very similarly about MOBAs right now. The level of knowledge I need about not just the game itself but the meta to even begin competing is just too daunting to encourage any time...

          But I couldn't even really convince any friends to play Starcraft 2 with me. The learning curve is too steep if you want to play casually. Even in a 1v1 where I was intentionally handicapping myself by playing my least favored race and not letting myself use hotkeys, it was just too easy to steamroll them.

          Yeah, I feel very similarly about MOBAs right now. The level of knowledge I need about not just the game itself but the meta to even begin competing is just too daunting to encourage any time investment to do it. I feel like StarCraft and Counter-Strike caught me at a very specific point in my life where I was in the mindset to study the games and practice them, but I still haven't played them competitively in over 5 years now because the time investment to even keep playing them once you're already in is so high. If you skip out on playing for a week, you can feel how far behind you've fallen. I go back and play campaigns or custom games these days instead.

          I've actually been toying around with an RTS idea for something Starcraft-like, but focused entirely on macro-level gameplay and leaves the individual unit control entirely in the hands of AIs.

          This sounds like an interesting take on RTS games that kind of does the inverse of what MOBAs did, where they focused entirely on micro of singular units, and this is instead about, well, I suppose supply chain logistics for a military, haha. But I do like the sound of it, it would take a lot of fine tuning and balancing but I can't help but feel like there would for sure be a market for live competitive economy management games.

          Oh for sure. The old games were super frustrating to play. But when you watch pro-Brood War vs. pro-Starcraft 2 you cannot help but think the Brood War play was much more dynamic and interesting to watch. Like I said, everything in SC2 just resolves too quickly and it often just feels like you're watching a long, futile struggle once a single early mistake sets someone behind. But that's less about what it's like to play than it is what it's like to watch.

          Oh man, you should check out the AOE2 scene. At least in StarCraft, it's polite to gg out when you realize it's a lost game. AOE2 players seem to play it out to the bitter, bitter end for some reason.

          1 vote
          1. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            It's probably not a coincidence that I mostly lost interest in playing Starcraft and DOTA once I created an OKCupid account. lol At some point it felt like they were taking away from household...

            I feel like StarCraft and Counter-Strike caught me at a very specific point in my life where I was in the mindset to study the games and practice them

            It's probably not a coincidence that I mostly lost interest in playing Starcraft and DOTA once I created an OKCupid account. lol At some point it felt like they were taking away from household chores and healthier hobbies (like working out).

            Oh man, you should check out the AOE2 scene. At least in StarCraft, it's polite to gg out when you realize it's a lost game. AOE2 players seem to play it out to the bitter, bitter end for some reason.

            I just discovered a YouTuber yesterday evening (T90 I think his name was?) and it was pretty entertaining. These games are looong too. In SC2 there's a lot of early game cheese that can end things in a snap, but it seems like that's not the case in any of the ones I've seen.

            1 vote
        2. [2]
          Deimos
          Link Parent
          Have you tried any of the Petroglyph "8-Bit" games or Tooth and Tail? I don't really play RTS games so I don't know specifics, but I've seen both of those mentioned over the last few years as...

          Have you tried any of the Petroglyph "8-Bit" games or Tooth and Tail?

          I don't really play RTS games so I don't know specifics, but I've seen both of those mentioned over the last few years as games trying to do some interesting things in the genre.

          If you want to focus entirely on macro-level play, I also wonder if you might actually be more interested in games that are more in the "Strategy" or even "4X" genres, instead of RTS.

          1. NaraVara
            Link Parent
            I've heard of Tooth and Tail but I think when I first saw the screenshots I assumed it was a turn-based tactics game, like Fire Emblem. I'll have to check it out, unfortunately it's incompatible...

            I've heard of Tooth and Tail but I think when I first saw the screenshots I assumed it was a turn-based tactics game, like Fire Emblem. I'll have to check it out, unfortunately it's incompatible with Catalina :-(

            I actually enjoy Crusader Kings II a lot and I've gotten into Stellaris a bit as well. But the gameplay there tends to happen largely in menus and spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are fine, but I was thinking of something that's visually more "fun" by controlling people and things rather than variables. This might just be because I spend most of my workday using spreadsheets, so I like to have as few numbers and dialog boxes involved in my gaming as I can get away with.

            1 vote
    2. hamstergeddon
      Link Parent
      This is a big part of why I enjoy the game. I don't mind that style of game in theory, but the nickle and diming that comes with it in mobile games just completely kills it. But there's still a...

      It's basically the same gameplay loops as your general mobile game skinner boxes, except they're not exploitative about making you turn into a whale.

      This is a big part of why I enjoy the game. I don't mind that style of game in theory, but the nickle and diming that comes with it in mobile games just completely kills it. But there's still a place in my life for a casual game I can hop in and out of guilt-free and right now it's Animal Crossing.

      2 votes
  6. [5]
    PapaNachos
    Link
    I picked up Control on the Epic store. If you use their coupon it's only $20. It quickly became one of my favorite games I've played in a long time. I'll try to give a relatively spoiler-free...

    I picked up Control on the Epic store. If you use their coupon it's only $20.

    It quickly became one of my favorite games I've played in a long time. I'll try to give a relatively spoiler-free overview, which is difficult because there's so much I want to talk about, but won't.

    Basically you have to save the I-can't-believe-it's-not-SCP from an otherworldly invasion using a variety of weapons and abilities like telekinesis. It's got a solid amount of exploration too, as you delve deeper into this top secret research facility and the further in you get, the weirder things get, but the more powerful you become.

    As I mentioned earlier, it feels heavily influenced by SCP, which I was actually not sure about, because IMO a lot of SCP material is really poorly written, which is part of the problem with trying to crowd-source something like that. The lore in this felt more consistent and cohesive. It deals with the themes of SCP, but it feels like it had a core writing team and several editors looking at it, so in general it felt much higher quality.

    The other major influence I felt was the original Half-Life. I don't know if the devs were intentionally using it as a source of inspiration, but for me I felt a good deal of nostalgia as I played through Control. I think the biggest factor was the level design. Exploring The Oldest House brought me right back to how I felt diving deep into Black Mesa.

    And it has easily one of the best sequences I've ever played through in a game. It's near the end, and if you've played all the way through you almost definitely know what I'm talking about. It just came out of Nowhere and I was not read, but it felt so good.

    I do have a few criticisms though. The gunplay could definitely be stronger. This isn't a game I would recommend specifically as a third person shooter. You should play this for the story.

    Also after I played through the base game I started the DLC and got stuck on the boss. Up until that point I had experienced no bugs, but that single fight forced me to restart a bunch of times. I got 2 hard crashes and a soft lock, each time as I was really close to winning. So that was extremely frustrating.

    Overall I would definitely recommend it. I've been itching for something with a really solid story and this really satisfied that for me.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      emnii
      Link Parent
      I loved Control except for one combat sequence near the end that damn near broke my spirit. That game has some wild difficulty spikes. I really should use that Epic sale to get the DLC season pass.

      I loved Control except for one combat sequence near the end that damn near broke my spirit. That game has some wild difficulty spikes. I really should use that Epic sale to get the DLC season pass.

      3 votes
      1. PapaNachos
        Link Parent
        Typically the only combat sequences I had a lot of trouble with were the ones with the invisible dudes and also the second Former fight. Eventually I got the hang of them, but they were a pain....

        Typically the only combat sequences I had a lot of trouble with were the ones with the invisible dudes and also the second Former fight. Eventually I got the hang of them, but they were a pain.

        But yeah, I enjoyed the DLC, with the exception of the one bugged boss fight that I mentioned. Thankfully if you use the coupon, you get another one, so I got both the game and the DLC with the benefit of the coupon on top of the sale price

        3 votes
    2. [2]
      MimicSquid
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I picked this up on your recommendation, and I'm really glad I did. I'm with you on the Half-Life influence; there's a couple of very unsubtle nods, including the crowbar being an Altered Item and...

      I picked this up on your recommendation, and I'm really glad I did. I'm with you on the Half-Life influence; there's a couple of very unsubtle nods, including the crowbar being an Altered Item and the section where the elevator breaks, and you outright say that it's time to get down to the next level the original way, jumping between vents and catwalks to descend.

      I agree that the gunplay is weak, but I feel that the telekinesis absolutely makes up for it. It's fast, effective, and it feels good to rip chunks out of the scenery and just absolutely paste people with a chunk of concrete. The visuals are good, and it's really powerful. For me, guns were only used to finish off weakened/flying enemies or for a brief moment while telekinesis was on cooldown. Playing that way, the fundamental weakness of all of the gun options didn't bother me too much, but I agree that the guns just feel bad.

      Edit: For the flying enemies, I've found something amazing: you can telekinetically grab and throw the small missiles that the Charge gun fires. So you can shoot a missile at one of the flyers, and if they do their quickdodge, you can grab the missile and throw it sideways into the flyer. They seem to have no response for that.

      2 votes
      1. PapaNachos
        Link Parent
        I'm glad you liked it! It's one of my recent favorites. It feels like the story and style of a much older game with the mechanics, graphics, and UI of a modern game. If that makes sense. And yeah,...

        I'm glad you liked it! It's one of my recent favorites. It feels like the story and style of a much older game with the mechanics, graphics, and UI of a modern game. If that makes sense.

        And yeah, in my run through I didn't really invest in telekinesis until mid-game. I went heavy into shield/shield rush for the early game and used those to bully enemies all day long. But as you mentioned, you really need the guns to deal with the flying enemies. I'm guessing if you invest in telekinesis early it can be useful the entire game, as opposed to the guns and mods that need to constantly be swapped out for better versions.

        2 votes
  7. vord
    Link
    I just played through FAR: Lone Sails. It's been out a while, but I'm so glad I played it. Beautiful game, great mechanics. Wish it was longer, but not unhappy about it. I would advise against...

    I just played through FAR: Lone Sails. It's been out a while, but I'm so glad I played it.

    Beautiful game, great mechanics. Wish it was longer, but not unhappy about it. I would advise against watching any videos or promo materials. This is one better experienced with no prior knowledge.

    In short, you're playing a character solo-driving a vehicle across a vast distance. If you happen to have played Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (also a fantastic game), you'll be generally familiar with the mechanics, just solo and not co-op.

    4 votes
  8. [6]
    streblo
    Link
    I picked up AC: Odyssey and while I like the core gameplay I hate the overall game design. This game feels like a novel someone worked on for ten years and then self-published without taking it to...

    I picked up AC: Odyssey and while I like the core gameplay I hate the overall game design.

    This game feels like a novel someone worked on for ten years and then self-published without taking it to an editor. There's too much to do, and not in a good way -- it's overwhelming. I can't imagine how many hours it would take to 100% this game.

    4 votes
    1. [4]
      MimicSquid
      Link Parent
      Look at it from a different perspective: because there's so much to do, there's few wrong choices. Because everything scales to your level, you can wander wherever you want, and it'll be the right...

      Look at it from a different perspective: because there's so much to do, there's few wrong choices. Because everything scales to your level, you can wander wherever you want, and it'll be the right choice. You can do the specific things that are the main plot, but you can also wander and that's also ok.

      1 vote
      1. [3]
        streblo
        Link Parent
        Yea but do I really want to play a story-driven single player game for a year just to complete it?

        Yea but do I really want to play a story-driven single player game for a year just to complete it?

        2 votes
        1. cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          The main story only takes about 20-30 hours to get through, since there is nothing forcing you to do every sidequest and gather every collectable before you progress. Some of the sidequests are...

          The main story only takes about 20-30 hours to get through, since there is nothing forcing you to do every sidequest and gather every collectable before you progress. Some of the sidequests are pretty great and still worth doing IMO, especially the Sokrates and Alcibiades ones, but you don't actually need to do them to get to the story's conclusion. And worth keeping in mind is that the game also allows you to keep playing after the main story is finished too, so you can always come back later to finish off the rest of the stuff you missed, if you feel like it... though some main character driven sidequests will be blocked off after you reach certain points in the story IIRC.

          1 vote
        2. MimicSquid
          Link Parent
          Yeah, I dunno. How much do you enjoy sneaking up behind people and making their blood fall out? If you tire of that core experience, I can't imagine the story carrying the gameplay.

          Yeah, I dunno. How much do you enjoy sneaking up behind people and making their blood fall out? If you tire of that core experience, I can't imagine the story carrying the gameplay.

    2. emnii
      Link Parent
      That's pretty much exactly how I felt about that game. I liked Origins a lot more. Odyssey has so much. So much landmass, so much weapons, so much systems, so much stories. But Origins doesn't...

      That's pretty much exactly how I felt about that game. I liked Origins a lot more. Odyssey has so much. So much landmass, so much weapons, so much systems, so much stories. But Origins doesn't have the cult system, which is easily my favorite part of Odyssey.

  9. [4]
    monarda
    Link
    So last week I talked about Zen Sand, the game where the puzzle is to get sand into vases using bamboo sticks. Very relaxing. I tried to find something else like it and got a game called Zen Koi,...

    So last week I talked about Zen Sand, the game where the puzzle is to get sand into vases using bamboo sticks. Very relaxing. I tried to find something else like it and got a game called Zen Koi, and it looked to be just as relaxing. In this game you're a koi swimming in a pond eating bugs, and other koi come along once you get large enough and mate with you. I guess it's what you would call a collection game, because every time you mate, depending on the color you are and the color of the new koi is, you have a chance at certain colors of other koi to hatch.I've never played a collecting type game, and it seemed okay, and relaxing. Except it wasn't. The entire game is set up for you to buy more pearls so you can buy more slots for eggs and koi. The other koi come around for mating often enough that you quickly run out of slots. With slots costing hundreds of pearls and they only give you one pearl to watch a video, and watching videos isn't at all relaxing, and the anxiety of not knowing if I would see a certain combination again if I didn't get it this time. I deleted it. It's too bad, because I actually liked the game play, and just swimming around and eating bugs. It's something I could see myself buying outright, but not something that can make me make emotional purchases.

    And this next one isn't actually a game, but it feels like a game to me. I downloaded iNaturalist from natgeo. And it's the best app I've ever had for identifying the natural world. They have some underlying machine learning to match up your photos to possible organisms to help you make a selection if you don't already know what it is, and then people from the community agree or disagree until there's 2 people who agree. I've been uploading a lot of photos and get a thrill with the low level interaction. But I also go through photos of other people geographically close to me and do the same. Sometimes I spend a lot of time trying to identify something that is listed as unknown, and get a rush when I see others confirm that I made the correct identification. So it's not really a game, but I play with it like it is one.

    4 votes
    1. [3]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      While not even remotely the same as Zen Sand, I found Osmos to be similarly super chill, beautiful and relaxing as well, so you might enjoy it too. Since you're into puzzle games, Zen Bound 2...

      While not even remotely the same as Zen Sand, I found Osmos to be similarly super chill, beautiful and relaxing as well, so you might enjoy it too. Since you're into puzzle games, Zen Bound 2 (also on Switch) is pretty neat and super relaxing as well.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        monarda
        Link Parent
        I downloaded Osmos on my tablet last night. It was perfect! I played for about 20 minutes, put it away and went to sleep. Exactly what I was looking for! I looked at Zen Bound 2 and it might just...

        I downloaded Osmos on my tablet last night. It was perfect! I played for about 20 minutes, put it away and went to sleep. Exactly what I was looking for!

        I looked at Zen Bound 2 and it might just be too engaging for me :)

        2 votes
        1. cfabbro
          Link Parent
          Nice, glad you're enjoying Osmos. And yeah, Zen Bound is a little more involved and can be a tad frustrating at times if you really care about quickly solving the puzzles, so I totally understand...

          Nice, glad you're enjoying Osmos. And yeah, Zen Bound is a little more involved and can be a tad frustrating at times if you really care about quickly solving the puzzles, so I totally understand not being totally into it. :P

          2 votes
  10. [2]
    parsley
    Link
    Still playing Crosscode. I'm in the second mcguffin dungeon. The game is much more about puzzles and platforming that I though, which is great. The plot is starting to happen, but it's still...

    Still playing Crosscode. I'm in the second mcguffin dungeon. The game is much more about puzzles and platforming that I though, which is great. The plot is starting to happen, but it's still mostly about people having fun in a pretend rpg world. Very enjoyable.

    Got back to Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe / OpenTTD. It's great to play in small bursts, creating new lines or just watching trains move around. The economic side is rather weak but it plays great as a virtual model train.

    3 votes
    1. emnii
      Link Parent
      Re: Crosscode I can't remember if it was the second or third dungeon, but I got hung up on that game hard. I'm stuck in a place where I can't tell if I'm doing the puzzle wrong or I'm missing...

      Re: Crosscode I can't remember if it was the second or third dungeon, but I got hung up on that game hard. I'm stuck in a place where I can't tell if I'm doing the puzzle wrong or I'm missing something about the game mechanics. It's the worst things I hate about Zelda games. But I really enjoyed it up to that point, so I'm routinely tempted to just reinstall, Youtube the solution, and continue on. The game world is really cool.

      2 votes
  11. [5]
    aymm
    Link
    I played mostly Deliver Us The Moon, a short (~5-6h) adventure. It's pretty good, although I had to dial the graphic settings quite a bit down to get a stbale 60FPS. It's very narrative/story...

    I played mostly Deliver Us The Moon, a short (~5-6h) adventure. It's pretty good, although I had to dial the graphic settings quite a bit down to get a stbale 60FPS. It's very narrative/story driven and reminded me in many cases a bit of Firewatch (which is also an excellent game btw). I wish it had manual save though, because I like manually saving, especially before tricky bits. (and also because Ravenholm I guess). Other than that, it's short, fun, and overall pretty good!

    Other than that, more Borderlands 3, more Dota, more Beatsaber. The usual suspects!

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      vord
      Link Parent
      Greatest pet peeve related to gaming. Save points waste so much time, especially when needing to quit. I can get that for some games not having manual saves makes sense, like roguelites. But there...

      I wish it had manual save though, because I like manually saving, especially before tricky bits.

      Greatest pet peeve related to gaming. Save points waste so much time, especially when needing to quit.

      I can get that for some games not having manual saves makes sense, like roguelites. But there should always be a quicksave on exit to resume where you left off.

      For any game that allows you to load from a prior save, there is rarely a good reason to disallow quicksaves.

      3 votes
      1. aymm
        Link Parent
        Yep, I'm with you on that one! It felt especially jarring this time, because I played it directly after two lengthy games with manual saves. And I made extensive use of it in both! It's not as bad...

        Yep, I'm with you on that one! It felt especially jarring this time, because I played it directly after two lengthy games with manual saves. And I made extensive use of it in both!

        It's not as bad in this one, because it's rarely needed. There aren't many points where you can die (and those do have auto save right in front of them), but there was one longer platformer-like sequence where I fell off and had to repeat it all, and once when I wanted to quit to go eat something I couldn't save

        2 votes
    2. [2]
      Douglas
      Link Parent
      Hadn't heard of Delivery Us The Moon, looks great! If you don't mind my asking, how did you hear about it? I feel there's a lot of walking sim/story-driven games put out that I missed on account I...

      Hadn't heard of Delivery Us The Moon, looks great! If you don't mind my asking, how did you hear about it? I feel there's a lot of walking sim/story-driven games put out that I missed on account I didn't have a good gaming rig for the longest time, and their advertising's never the best.

      1 vote
      1. aymm
        Link Parent
        I was browsing through the Xbox game pass games on windows, and because I enjoy a good sci-fi setting I decided to try it. I don’t have the most capable system either (2012 wants its CPUs back)

        I was browsing through the Xbox game pass games on windows, and because I enjoy a good sci-fi setting I decided to try it. I don’t have the most capable system either (2012 wants its CPUs back)

        1 vote
  12. [5]
    feigneddork
    Link
    I’ve been playing RDR2 from last week. I’ve been getting on better than last week, but that’s because I gave up and did the main missions. Before I was desperately trying to earn money by hunting...

    I’ve been playing RDR2 from last week. I’ve been getting on better than last week, but that’s because I gave up and did the main missions. Before I was desperately trying to earn money by hunting animals and robbing stores with little luck and many bounties. Then I do a few missions in chapter 2/3 and suddenly I’m earning $$$. It’s disappointing to come to the realisation that this game is essentially an animatronic - if you follow its path, you’ll be fine. Try to do anything it deems unexpected and veer off course and you will be met with failure.

    That is until the game locks up and freezes, which I give up and boot up The Witcher 3. I haven’t completed it, but it feels like this incredible epic journey so far with complex characters and side missions that should feel stale given how many hours I’ve put into it but for some reason never feel boring. A nice wind down from RDR2.

    I picked up Huntdown on the switch. It feels like a mega drive/sega cd game bought to life, it really is great and fun if you don’t go into it with any expectations than a “Robocop vs The Terminator” tribute act with some extra 90s references thrown in to put a smile on your face.

    Oh, and I’ve been playing a bit of Rollercoaster Tycoon, or more specifically OpenRCT2. Man, that game still holds up to this day. Incredible.

    I recently bought an Anbernic RG350M from eBay to play some retro classics on the go. The switch is good, but my internet connection is choppy, and this unit seems to play a ton of retro games in one sturdy handheld unit. Will report back to let you know if it is any good.

    3 votes
    1. [4]
      vord
      Link Parent
      I really wish RDR 1 was ported to PC for these reasons. It was a fantastic open-world experience, and numerous review of RDR 2 hint that it won't be nearly as enjoyable for me.

      It’s disappointing to come to the realisation that this game is essentially an animatronic - if you follow its path, you’ll be fine. Try to do anything it deems unexpected and veer off course and you will be met with failure.

      I really wish RDR 1 was ported to PC for these reasons. It was a fantastic open-world experience, and numerous review of RDR 2 hint that it won't be nearly as enjoyable for me.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        TheJorro
        Link Parent
        I previously wrote a long thing about RDR2 and came to a similar conclusion, but at the same time I wouldn't say it's unlike the first game either. It's more than open world game design has...

        I previously wrote a long thing about RDR2 and came to a similar conclusion, but at the same time I wouldn't say it's unlike the first game either. It's more than open world game design has shifted quite a lot since Rockstar set the standards. The first RDR feels kind of like it's just as much of a theme park as RDR2 but the biggest difference is that there's just so much more in RDR2 that there are more avenues to develop that sentiment from.

        3 votes
        1. NaraVara
          Link Parent
          Both RDR games left me with mixed emotions. The storylines themselves and the missions you go on are mostly excellent. But it really falls down and detracts from it with the GTA style shenanigans...

          Both RDR games left me with mixed emotions. The storylines themselves and the missions you go on are mostly excellent. But it really falls down and detracts from it with the GTA style shenanigans when you’re not doing the story activities. The hyper violence seems to have a point and make a statement when it’s framed as part of the story, but it’s gratuitous and kind of gross anywhere outside that context. The game has some great, emotional story driven highs and lows but it just cheapens itself constantly along the way.

          2 votes
      2. feigneddork
        Link Parent
        I actually played RDR 1, and honestly it was fantastic. The main missions were okay enough but the side missions and the strangers you encounter at random was fantastic. Not to mention there was...

        I actually played RDR 1, and honestly it was fantastic. The main missions were okay enough but the side missions and the strangers you encounter at random was fantastic. Not to mention there was physics and animations, but it wasn't this elaborate.

        2 votes
  13. braingoo
    (edited )
    Link
    Champions of Regnum. Been playing this game for 7+ years now -- it's just a simple casual open RvR pvp fantasy old-style mmo. I guess over the years the devs have had the time to ensure the combat...

    Champions of Regnum. Been playing this game for 7+ years now -- it's just a simple casual open RvR pvp fantasy old-style mmo. I guess over the years the devs have had the time to ensure the combat is really fun and addictive, and they keep working at it too. Its closest alternatives are GW2, Return for Reckoning and DAOC -- but Regnum has its own sort of "latin" feel to it. So its different, especially in combat control precision/hardness. Some people call it clunky, but its very tactile combat once you become familiar with it. It's the largest indie mmo in the latin speaking world, but has lots of english speakers. They just released an update this week called Squid Island which allows new players to go straight into the mini warzone and experience RvR (everyone is leveled to the same level there).

    Example video of combat. In this video-- there's a group of barbs who have stalkered themselves with a Hunter archer's ability. They then sneak into the center of enemy formations and use their area effect giant weapon attacks: https://youtu.be/Xume-VA5qvQ

    edit: Just wanted to say i saw a gameplay video for GW1 just today --- the gfx and environment and combat look somewhat similar to Regnum, but Regnum's gfx detail is somewhat less. GW1 is really expensive though, while Regnum is f2p.

    3 votes
  14. Douglas
    Link
    Finished Alyx! Made it through without any spoilers, and am glad I did. Good stuff! Now I'm onto Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners which is OK so far. I don't know if I'd missed some stuff in the...

    Finished Alyx! Made it through without any spoilers, and am glad I did. Good stuff!

    Now I'm onto Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners which is OK so far. I don't know if I'd missed some stuff in the tutorial, but it feels very hands-off once you get to your starting base. I'm not generally a fan of open world games wherein you're shown all of the potential stuff you can earn right from the start; I'd rather it trickled out to me. But I also just started, so we'll see if that gets better.

    Other than that.... paintball matches in Rec Room. It's a fun little workout. Yes there's a lot of little kids and there can be bigoted trolls, but there's also enough mechanics in place to mute/block/report them that they're never debilitating. I also suspect-- because I have an old account with them-- that their report system trusts users after a set amount of reliable reporting; often times if I report someone for bigotry/trolling, they're removed within the minute, which is very satisfying. ...it's also satisfying to be reasonably good at paintball and be able to physically dab with my controllers on the kids screaming names at me, or floss in the waiting room in front of the score board to my wife's chagrin. ...hey man, I work customer service, I need an outlet somewhere!

    2 votes
  15. hamstergeddon
    Link
    Recently beat Uncharted 4. It was my first game in the series and I really enjoyed it. At times it felt like a glorified rock climbing sim with some gun mechanics sprinkled in, but it was still a...

    Recently beat Uncharted 4. It was my first game in the series and I really enjoyed it. At times it felt like a glorified rock climbing sim with some gun mechanics sprinkled in, but it was still a blast. Got a little tired of the "sorry the princess is in another castle" storyline at times, but it did make the final chapters all the more fun in the long run. Seeing Nathan and Elena settled down while Sam and Sully are out having their own adventures was heartwarming, even if I'd never known the characters before I played this game.

    What's cool is that I got Uncharted 4 as well as the first 3 games remastered via PS+. So I've got the first 3 available to me if I want to delve into Nathan, Sully, and Elena's histories together.

    2 votes
  16. [4]
    kfwyre
    Link
    I'm several hours into Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It's exactly what I want in a sequel: more Ori! Blind Forest was a favorite of mine, and this one feels exactly like a continuation of that...

    I'm several hours into Ori and the Will of the Wisps.

    It's exactly what I want in a sequel: more Ori! Blind Forest was a favorite of mine, and this one feels exactly like a continuation of that should. The movement is absolutely splendid, and traversal feels amazing, especially as your moveset opens up. The graphics and settings are beautiful, and the story is resonant. It's like a playable children's book, albeit a pretty dark one. The first game set a very high watermark for metroidvanias in my opinion, and I'm happy that the second is meeting that bar with ease.

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I'm happy to see you're finally in a good enough place to feel able to play it, and I'm glad you're enjoying it too! :) Once you finish it, if you feel like discussing the ending, lemme know! p.s....

      I'm happy to see you're finally in a good enough place to feel able to play it, and I'm glad you're enjoying it too! :) Once you finish it, if you feel like discussing the ending, lemme know!

      p.s. For others who may read this, I wholeheartedly recommend both games, as it's one of my favorite series, and the second game is a wonderful followup that didn't disappoint at all. From another comment of mine on Ori 2 (no spoilers):

      I just finished Ori and the Will of the Wisps last night, and IMO it was every bit as good as the first game, if not better!

      Aesthetically, the environments were absolutely gorgeous, the music was beautiful, the animation was fluid, and the new character design was fantastic.

      Story-wise (no spoilers), I was drawn just as deeply into it as the first, similarly fell in love with all the new characters, and also teared up and got the frisson tingles a few times throughout. And at some point I would love to discuss the ending with people too!

      Mechanically, the controls were just as tight and intuitive as the first, but they also added a bunch more movement mechanics and combat moves which made navigating the world that much more challenging (in a good way). And the level design was perfect for highlighting those new mechanics and forcing you to actually use them all too, especially during the boss battles and escapes.

      There were a few bugs here and there, e.g. the physics acting wonky got me stuck under a platform once, and I got pushed out of bounds a few times during combat and couldn't get back in-bounds... but since it was relatively painless to reload, and I didn't lose much progress when I had to, it wasn't a major impediment to my enjoyment of the game. The only exception to that was when I got shoved out of bounds near the end of a rather difficult boss battle. But TBH it was such a fun boss battle that I didn't even mind that too much either. :P

      So, yeah. Overall, I really loved it, and really enjoyed the experience, so would highly recommend people pick it up and play it... but definitely starting with the first game (Ori and the Blind Forest) if they haven't already played that one yet.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        kfwyre
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Thanks! I've actually felt better for a while now, but my lack of playing it shifted from personal anxiety about the wider situation to waiting for it and Proton to get patched so it would play...

        Thanks! I've actually felt better for a while now, but my lack of playing it shifted from personal anxiety about the wider situation to waiting for it and Proton to get patched so it would play nice with Linux. I was fully prepared to wait until it was flawlessly playable as I didn't want any technical issues dampening my playthrough, then I went ahead and got a living room PC that's running Windows. I didn't build it myself! Don't hate me! :D Given that the game runs flawlessly on Windows (and they just released a big patch for it), I figured what better game to inaugurate my new system than the new Ori?

        I'll definitely be looking to talk about it once I'm finished. I've put 8 hours in so far, but I would describe my playstyle as "slow and thorough and also kinda bad at the game" so I'm nowhere near finished. I expect to get through it in the next week or two, depending on how much time I get to play.

        2 votes
        1. cfabbro
          Link Parent
          Heh, no hate. I recognize that building PCs is not for everyone. And nice... MSI is a pretty solid company, and the specs are pretty decent on the Trident 3 so it should last you quite a while....

          Heh, no hate. I recognize that building PCs is not for everyone. And nice... MSI is a pretty solid company, and the specs are pretty decent on the Trident 3 so it should last you quite a while. Ori 2 is a lovely way to christen the device too. :P

          1 vote
  17. Icarus
    Link
    I'm still playing Risk of Rain 2. 65+ hours in so far. I'm at 70 runs with Loader so far. I have one more challenge to go which is to beat the first 8 stages on Monsoon difficulty. I actually was...

    I'm still playing Risk of Rain 2. 65+ hours in so far. I'm at 70 runs with Loader so far. I have one more challenge to go which is to beat the first 8 stages on Monsoon difficulty. I actually was able to do this but instead of a celestial portal spawning at the end of the 8th stage, I instead received the blue portal that you would get for praying at the Newt altar. Apparently this is a glitch that can rarely happen. At this point though, I just want to be done with Loader. I can get soooo close to Stage 8 only for a Malachite elite to one shot me.

    The game is fun though. 60+ hours in and there is just so much more to do. If anyone wants to do these achievement hunts in the game, PM me and I can add you on Steam. I'm sure it would be a bit more fun to play with others!

    2 votes
  18. Weldawadyathink
    Link
    I just got ftl for the iPad. It is still a wonderful game. After a few false starts in the kestrel, I managed to unlock the mantis and rock cruiser in a single run. I was on my way to unlocking...

    I just got ftl for the iPad. It is still a wonderful game. After a few false starts in the kestrel, I managed to unlock the mantis and rock cruiser in a single run. I was on my way to unlocking the crystal cruiser too, but I didn’t have enough sectors to get it. That was a fun run.

    1 vote