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.
I'm continuing my VR journey/experience this past week, foregoing traditional gaming media.
AltspaceVR: This one has continued to surprise me. I am now at the point where I check the daily event calendar and see if there are any events/presentations that are of interest to me. This led me to join a pilot for a stand-up comedy class, which I am happy to say that I joined long term. For the next 6 weeks, starting today, I will be taking that class in Altspace every Monday. I have no expectations going into it but the idea of learning in VR like this seems pretty groundbreaking to me, so I thought "Why not?"
Space Pirate Trainer: this is one of my favorite arcade-like games. I love hopping into this and playing a quick 20-30 minute session.
Half Life Alyx: still the most impressive game with the Index. I spend half my time playing the game and the other half picking up and throwing random objects
Thumper: I previously played this on Switch but am happy to replay in VR. It is intense.
Job Simulator: A fun little tech demo. I have only played the chef simulator, but I enjoyed it. I wish there were more of a game to it though. I played, expecting the tutorial to end so I could begin playing like Cook, Serve, Delicious but was disappointed when the game wrapped up.
Arizona Sunshine: not particularly impressed with this. It looks rough, especially compared to HL: Alyx.
Edit: The standup comedy class is great, but it is hard as hell. The beauty of Altspace shines in this class as when I bomb a joke, it really feels like I'm bombing in real life. I got some good notes, tips, and a decent amount of homework for next week's class. Maybe a recurring post in ~hobbies or ~talk would be a good place to post about the experiences I am getting from this class.
You should try the game Dreams! It has some amazing VR stuff.
Looking forward to the PC port! I'm definitely interested in exploring artistic options in VR.
Which device are you playing on?
Currently playing on a Valve Index. I love it! I just received my VR Optician order so I can wear my headset without glasses/contacts.
I finished Pathfinder: kingmaker. It's rather a rather meh crpg. Aside from various game mechanic issues and UX issues, the story and writing is mostly just boring and lacking in inspiration. I tend to play these games mostly for the "interactive fiction" aspect and don't care so much about the rpg aspects, so was rather disappointed. The only reason I finished it is because ... I'm not even sure why.
The Solitaire Conspiracy - This is just solitaire, but it's a very good solitaire. It's the "streets and alleys" variant of solitaire, with each suit providing a special ability when you drop a face card. For example, the first suit you unlock will cause a whole stack to "explode" by distributing the cards randomly to other stacks when you place one of their face cards on a stack. This leaves you with a face card as the only card on a stack, and the cards previously in that stack are now more easily accessible because they were randomly distributed to the other seven stacks.
It has a campaign mode, with custscenes and an XP bar. It's got eight suits with different abilties. Outside of the campaign, there's custom one-off game mode (you pick your suits and just play a single game), and a time attack mode. Also, streets and alleys is a bit easy as a solitaire variant. The result is a good looking game that's easy to lose time in and I spent 4 hours this week playing solitaire.
Amid Evil - I like this game but I'm going to be real nitpicky about something. I keep seeing this game compared to Heretic or Hexen. That's not a very good comparison. It's more like a psychedelic fantasy Serious Sam. I'm going to revisit Hexen after I finish this, but the thing I feel that's missing is careful level design.
The levels don't have much in the way of decorations. They're mostly flat affairs, even when they're not flat. There's not a lot of verticality. It's just a lot of stuff running at me on a flat plane. Also, with some exceptions, it's a lot of tubes running from beginning to end. I've never wished for a map. It's just not that hard to navigate. There's no pretending that these are real locations. They're just video game levels. Everything is just a bit too large and too sparse to be real.
edit: I finished Amid Evil. The last episode is the most visually interesting, but it's still just big geometric shapes. I'll probably play the DLC episode whenever it's released.
I also played and finished Hellbound. It took me less than 90 minutes to get through. 7 levels, 5 weapons, 7 enemies (5 of which are "dude with one of your weapons"), 1 boss. At $15, it's not a terrible game, but it suffers in a lot of the same ways as Amid Evil. It's just Serious Sam Goes To Hell.
Factorio. My brother played the hell out of it, and anything I'd ever heard about the game was great. I bought it knowing it would be there when I was ready, and decided to play after 1.0 and the game stability that would come with a gold release (not break-wise, but feature-wise). I know the end game, I bugged my brother about little details, and now it's just problem-solving to get my factory running, and praying my 6 walled turrets are enough to keep the biters at bay when my pollution hits them soon. I spent a surprising four hours on it and don't feel I'm making great progress, but I'm at least ready for some defense and my raw materials (Iron, Copper, Coal, Stone, Electricity) are all automated.
I'm still working through Heretic, but switched engines from Crispy Heretic to GZDoom. I noticed some accuracy issues right off the bat in GZDoom, such as the Undead Warriors falling into the lava pit on E1M8, but hopefully setting compatflags to match MBF/Doom will work. In the switch to ZDoom, which I did on E1M8n I cheated myself a bunch of items to have a similar loadout to my first save. Even with buffed health, armor, and a full inventory (which I used sparingly to avoid truly cheating), E1M8 was tough, and I died five times. I decided to slap on the Neural texture pack on top of it, and it looks pretty slick.
So last week I said I was playing Fallout 3 on x360 and I was about to meet Three Dog. Well thanks to the clumsiness of the combat system and my lack of skill playing shooters on a controller, I died before I could make it in and I kind of rage quit because the combat clumsiness had been giving me troubles since the start.
So instead I decided to just watch Oxhorn's incredibly lengthy and in-depth walkthrough of the game's story. Much less frustrating and he even points out little lore connections to other Fallout games. Technically I'm not playing it, but I am experiencing it!
And starting tomorrow I'll playing a lot more WoW because the Shadowlands pre-patch drops. They're introducing a streamlined leveling process and a ton of new character customizations that I'm very excited to play around with. Thinking about rolling a fresh mage on an RP server to play during Shadowlands
I was really enjoying Fall Guys, because the gameplay is fun and the design aesthetic is fun and I like that there’s no chat or mic spam.
What is no fun is all of the cheating, so I quit playing.
They recently added Easy Anti-Cheat which has helped immensely. I used to see a cheater every 5th game, and I haven't seen a single one since the update (I've played some 50ish games since the update.)
This did break Proton compatibility for my Pop!_OS main driver, so now I can only play in the one room of the house that has Windows AME on it.
I finished playing Heaven's Vault, and then went back and played it again to explore a few more corners of the story.
It's a sci-fi adventure game with an unusual setting and a focus on its archeological themes and translating a (surprisingly robust) hieroglyphic language, instead of the typical adventure game inventory puzzles. There's a cool timeline mechanic, and you'll find a lot of randomized artifacts with scraps of text on them, and use the nature of the object and the context it was found in to help you translate the texts for clues to the history of the game and other locations of interest.
There's a new-game-plus mode that lets you replay the story while keeping your progress on the language translation, and it gives you longer language puzzles (and thus more lore content), so I went back and did a second playthrough right away. The second run revealed more rough edges and un-accounted-for corner cases in the story branches, but overall I think it held up pretty well.
The biggest weakness of the game is definitely in the actual movement, unfortunately. Steering your character around on the ground generally works, but the game will often grab control when moving between areas or entering a dialogue, and the system for "sailing" between locations on the world map feels like a missed opportunity. The sailing mechanics somehow feel both stiff and floaty, but I can at least see what they were trying to do.
The setting was a real strength of the game, and I loved that I went from feeling that it was outlandish and weird (it's a "nebula" full of inhabited lumpy "moons" that are connected by flowing rivers of water, people sail around in winged wooden boats, the human culture feels vaguely middle-eastern, and you've got an odd robot companion), to feeling like it was pretty well thought out and that I had a plausible understanding of how everything got to be the way it was.
Reminded me a lot of Sethian, but this one's a lot easier to recommend.
Pretty much the only game I've been playing lately is Legends Of Runeterra, the ccg made by Riot Games that exists in the universe of Runeterra (the same universe as 2 of their other titles, League of Legends and TeamFight Tactics. I believe their FPS, Valorant, does not explicitly exist in the universe, though I'm not really sure because I haven't played it or read much about it). Its a really fun game! I was pretty into magic and MTG:A, but the pandemic makes going to play Magic at a friend's house harder, and MTGA doesn't (or at least didn't) support Mac and just about every update (which felt like every 3 days) broke the game on Linux and I would have to wait for someone on Lutris to build a new installer and upload it. I tried Hearthstone and it just felt terrible. I had terrible cards, it took forever to unlock new cards, so they basically force you to spend money if you don't want to lose all the time. Thankfully, runeterra came out on mobile right around this time and I've been playing it almost every day ever since then. The devs put some interesting twists on the usual ccg mechanics that I've seen which I have found to be a more fun system than MTGA/Hearthstone. There is a bit of a lack of cards/options in the game right now but that's mostly because the game was released in January. They've been aggressively adding cards and card types and new mechanics to give more diversity, and since there is no paper version of the game, Riot is able to balance broken cards by editing power/health/abilities rather than just banning the card. And they have been very active and been doing a good job of balancing cards IMO. The best part is that it is actually genuinely 100% free to play. Free to install, and they are incredibly generous with how quickly you earn new cards and wildcards. The only things you spend money on in the game are (1) cosmetics or (2) More wildcards if you need them, which I don't think most people will need. I have spent approximately $10-15 on Champion wildcards (the most expensive type) and that's because I was really excited about a champion released in an expansion and I really really wanted to play a deck around them day of release and not 3-4 days after release. I easily could have avoided paying money if I wanted to, I'm just very impatient and rarely buy games so I'm fine spending $10 on a game I've already sank over 100 hours into for free. I would 1000000% suggest it to anyone. Though, that said, maybe wait a week. A new expansion dropped yesterday which introduced a new card type, 3 new champion cards, and 37 new non-champion cards so games are mostly filled with people experimenting with decks using the new cards rather than facing a diverse set of decks utilizing many of the champions and many different regions and some of the cards I think are going to need tweaking to be balanced (which I have full faith in the devs to do if there are cards that end up actually being problems and not having counters/solutions).
Last point: Mostly unrelated to the game because you can definitely enjoy the game without this, but LoR has gotten me into reading more of the Runeterra lore and its pretty decent. It isn't the best or super original or groundbreaking, but I've been enjoying reading champion biographies and stories about characters who are on cards.
Thanks for sharing about another CCG. I'm really into Eternal Card Game, and I don't think I have headspace for remembering cards and mechanics for another CCG. But try ECG if you haven't already. It's also f2p, and the value you can get (with some time investment) without spending real-world money is pretty high, especially compared to pay-to-win Hearthstone.
Oooo I have heard good things about this. I’m definitely going to try and check it out this weekend. Between you, @Contentus telling me I can play Arena on my Mac, and LoR announcing seasonal tournaments today I feel like all my free time and mental space just got obliterated.
I play a fair amount of Legends of Runeterra too, though I play Expedition almost exclusively (the draft-ish/limited mode). I think they've done a great job with it overall, it feels pretty close to the level of Magic's complexity/strategy, but without some of Magic's legacy annoyances. I agree it's a great game and does a good job of being F2P, I'd definitely recommend it to anyone that likes CCGs.
I've been getting a little less happy with LoR's direction lately though—I don't like that they keep moving into some of the randomness-heavy designs that plagued Hearthstone. The celestial cards from the previous expansion were already pretty bad, but then this new expansion added even more with Howling Abyss and University of Piltover.
Creating random cards is a tempting thing for digital card games to do because it's easy and only really possible for digital ones, but it's not good design. It completely undermines a lot of the strategy for both the player and their opponent. The "wacky" moments it creates are appealing (especially for streamers and showing off on social media), but overall it's not enjoyable to have games won and lost entirely based on what random cards appear.
I'm definitely still enjoying the game at this point, but I really hope they don't keep taking it in a direction where it often feels like the winner is decided more by randomness than skill.
MTG Arena is now available for Mac by the way. =)
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Used a random game picker to try out some stuff in my Steam backlog and after a few misses, landed on this. I knew literally nothing about it going in. It's a 3D parkour/beat 'em up hybrid that's reminiscent in form (though not in tone) of Ico, where a male main character guides and protects a female character through different set pieces.
I'm enjoying it so far. The gameplay is a bit on the simple side and the plot isn't great, but the game's traversal system is satisfying. My only complaints so far are that, when the level layouts aren't entirely clear, it can break the game's illusion of fluidity. Because jumping is more scripted and context-dependent (think Ocarina of Time rather than Mario 64), you get into some situations where you think you can jump somewhere but can't, or you go somewhere you weren't quite expecting. It breaks the game's enjoyable flow in a bad way.
I don't know if I'll end up fully beating the game because it gives me very mild motion sickness over time, but I've been able to enjoy it in small bursts so far.
Is this something public that you can share? It could be fun to have an easy way to pick a random game.
This reads your Steam profile and lets you filter and sort it by a lot of different criteria, as well as letting you choose a random game from within those filters. I use it when I'm in the mood for a specific genre of game (e.g. racing) but don't necessarily know what game to play.
A low-tech way to do it is just to assign your games a number and do a random number generator.
I should get back into that. I started it on PS3 and later on PC and didn't finish it on either platform. I've seen it called an underrated gem. I just get easily distracted. It's real pretty though.
After a 3-4 months' hiatus I got back to Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV). I finally finished the Stormblood expansion and started Shadowbringers. The first had its moments: I liked the main villain Zenos and I liked the story around Yotsuyu. After playing 3 of the 4 main stories the game has to offer I can say I didn't particularly like any of them. Shadowbringers starts out with a bang though, but I don't think it's enough to sway my opinion of how this game handles the story.
Basically many times you feel like you are doing quests just because the developers thought they needed more content in the game. The way your character interacts with the world is also very limited. You either talk or you fight. Which is a shame because the game does contain an interesting crafting system, but they decided to not include any of that in the story because most people would find it boring I guess. Adding to the unnecessarily big number of quests, the dialogue is not very interesting and the cutscenes range from boring to awkward to sometimes funny. Most if not all cutscenes are made with the game engine so they are very limited with what they can do.
I've been watching videos about Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) and playing Genshin Impact (GI). They just make me realize how empty and shallow the world of FFXIV is. The graphics are a bit dated but they still design beautiful areas. Alas, these are basically deserts with brain-dead monsters that attack you if you are close. But if you just keep walking eventually they stop chasing you. Villages/cities feel better. Now compare what I said with GI, a game where I constantly get sidetracked because the exploration is just so well done. You have enemy camps (with engaging enemies), secret areas, puzzles, hotspots, etc. All these things are fun to do and to make it even sweeter you are rewarded (with useful items!) for doing them.
I like some things in FFXIV but it falls way too short of its potential. And don't get me wrong, it does some things well: combat is fun and varied (there are many different classes to play with) and the visual customization of your character is vast. And a nitpick: as someone who probably suffers from some form of dyslexia, I find it way easier to read the text in GI than on FFXIV. The font is bigger, only one or two sentences are displayed at a time and there's always voice acting. It does make a difference. But GI's writing is also way more fun and engaging in my opinion. Another thing I don't like about FF is the fact that crafting and gathering are meaningless. As I said before, the gameplay is cool but not only do they not include it in the story, the only thing worth crafting is equipment for visuals. The good gear and items are all obtained outside and without crafting interaction. It's sad. Lately they've introduced a story line where you are building the (supposed, not yet confirmed) next housing district. So crafters can do that but it's not appealing to me. I want gathering and crafting to be an integral part of the game and of the economy, like in real life.
I will probably try out ESO next month as I yearn for a more immersive MMO and I did like playing Skyrim and Fallout 3. Until then I have one more month of subscription on FFXIV and I will continue the story and leveling a combat class or two I am finding enjoyable. I am also playing Genshin Impact and so far my opinion of it is quite high. It feels like at least a 50$ game, but it's free!
Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition - Pretty much all I've been playing lately. I've played 5e for roughly 5 years or so now, and it's always ok, but there are TTRPGs I'd far rather be playing. I really love Fate, Numenera, some of the WoD games, and there are tons of RPGs I've never played before that I want to try. EVERYONE always wants to play D&D though. I mean, it's fine. It's well balanced, the rules are relatively streamlined, and the classes are somewhat diverse, but it just gets to be so tedious to me.
90% of the gameplay is combat unless you really go out of your way to not make it about combat, and combat is what D&D is about, so that's what people are expecting. This wouldn't be so bad if most of the combat wasn't just kinda rote. If you're a caster, you're casting the same 5ish spells and cantrips every round. If you're a martial character, most of your rounds are just going to be "I attack the goblin with my sword." There are other options, but they're all pretty much suboptimal so no one ever does them. There's not much environmental interaction, there aren't that many different things you can do in combat, and after you've played about 50 combats in the game, they all tend to go the same way.
Don't get me wrong, I still have fun, but RPGs can be so much more. I don't think it's the fault of the current iteration of D&D. The game has so much baggage and history that you can't fundamentally change that without pissing tons of people off. I just wish it wasn't the pen and paper RPG that everyone knows about and is willing to play.
I tried out Epistory - Typing Chronicles because it was on sale. Not really my cup of tea (and not very challenging because I can type pretty quickly), but I can see how it can appeal to the casual gamer market. The narrator voice actress is pleasant to listen to, and the imaginary world is kind of nice to look at and wander around in.
Otherwise, been doing the usual daily play with my current games, Battletech and Eternal Card Game. Continuing the nice campaign (story mode) of the former; got to Master rank (again, for this new month) in the latter. Otherwise, joining the occasional Among Us game or three with friends.
I’ve had The Last of Us for a long time and never really played. All the hype and praise as a masterpiece of “game-art” that would single handedly affirm the sophistication of the medium was a little too much for me. I’m not looking for an interactive Citizen Kane.
I get how the acoustic guitars, the beautiful landscape and engaging relationship between a teenager and a rugged middle-aged man just screams “take me seriously”, but to me that’s just another example of “look how that’s awesome for a videogame”. For every average videogame narrative there are ten excellent stories in other media.
That said, besides the hype, TLOUS is a decent game that presents a well balanced challenge, effective straightforward mechanics, and a minimalistic interface that really helps immersion, letting the settings shine for themselves.
Well, I tried playing Torment: Tides of Numanuma recently, but managed to get about ten minutes in before the soupy fog of technobabble almost made me audibly say, "Oh my god, I don't care." Quit and reinstalled Killing Floor 2 instead. That hooked me in again surprisingly quickly considering how long I'd been away. I guess you never get completely tired of shooting things in the face.
It's a shame the weapon packs cost as much as they do, because I really like a nice Mosin-Nagant. Especially when the firing sound has that distinct crack to it. It's as important as the leading edge sound on a Huey.
There is a slight hump to get over in Torment because of the world building, but I found it to be one of the best CRPGs I’ve ever played by sticking with it.
It really helps going into Torment: Tides of Numenera with some familiarity of the setting. It's a civilization built on top of 8 previous civilizations. Some of them were terribly advanced, but the current one isn't, so technology is functionally magic. It's so far flung sci-fi that it's wrapped back around to fantasy. I personally think that's pretty neat, but I can understand how unapproachable that makes a video game. Sort of an odd setting for a sequel to Planescape: Torment but the kind of weird that Torment warrants.
edit: forgot to add, it's built on the table top RPG, Numenera. http://numenera.com/
I've been playing Dreams on Ps4. Been enjoying the heck out of it. I think it has become my favorite game.
World of Warships - I like the slower pace, though with new ships coming out so quickly it can be tough to keep up with all of variants and details about how to react to each one's abilities. I love that I can choose the ship level instead of being required to play at whatever "player level" I end up at. Not being able to play more casually at a lower rank is why I ditched LoL. Once I ended up about lvl 20 there, everyone started taking things so very seriously. One little mistake and you were in for twenty minutes of bitching by idiots that I don't care about. WoWs has some of that feeling at times, but it's pretty isolated if you play at a lower tier ship.
Paper.io - for when I'm stuck in a meeting or want total brain dead activity to keep me zoning out. Every so often I take it seriously enough to win a map, but usually I'm just dorking around.