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've been replaying New Vegas for the first time in probably about six years. I played the Outer Worlds about a month or two ago and was pretty disappointed (guess I'll leave my thoughts on that one too), then I saw hbomberguy's video on New Vegas that came out recently, and wanted to see for myself if it was as good as I remembered. It definitely was, I remember New Vegas being one of my favorite games of all time, and I played it pretty extensively, but it's amazing how much stuff I entirely missed in my earlier 3 or 4 playthroughs. The amount of detail and content crammed into this game that was developed in barely more than a year really accentuates the shortcomings of the Bethesda fallout games in that regard.
That said, I definitely notice more now that the independent route, which was the one I took this time and in my very first playthrough, was basically an asset flip that reuses the content from the other routes strung together with a few dozen lines of dialogue to make it its own thing. It's still pretty brilliant that it was an option, and how much they managed to get in terms of content for (what I assume was) so little work, and it's great from a gameplay perspective in that it always gives the player an out if they kill the wrong person or want to switch factions late, but I wish there was a little more to it, more you could do to influence faction relations and the direction of an independent vegas post-game. As is, it's pretty much just deciding which factions live and which die, but I'd want the player, for instance, to be able to align independent vegas with the Followers of the Apocalypse, or the Chairmen or Omertas or whatever, and have that characterize the future of the city, because right now the ending for an independent vegas is pretty generic, and changes only slightly depending on the Courier's karma and whether or not she reactivated and upgraded the Fort securitrons.
I'm working on the DLCs now, I've finished Honest Hearts and just started Old World Blues. Honest Hearts was about as meh as I remembered it, mildly disappointed that the Fight the Power perk didn't give any unique dialogue as its counterpart Sneering Imperialist did. I think finding the survivor logs was more interesting than the main story of Honest Hearts, especially once you figure out that the survivor is who the Sorrows are worshiping as the Cave Father. Great bit of worldbuilding right there.
As for the Outer Worlds, I dunno, I've got some mixed feelings on it. Mechanically, visually, it's solid, good art style, reasonably original setting, though it did feel pretty Borderlands-ey. But I think, with it being an Obsidian developed RPG, I went in expecting more. For one thing, roleplaying felt very secondary to combat for most of the game: for a game with so many human enemies, most of them sure are mindless attack robots, and where available, making speech checks was difficult because they so often fell under non-speech skills, which I like conceptually, but I didn't have many points in those skills because speech was split up into 3 different skills, and I was spending lots of points to try and keep them all reasonably high.
But man, the story was just on a whole other level of, maybe not out-and-out bad, but deeply frustrating, and so much worse than it could've been. I suppose what they were going for was a critique of capitalism through the lens of a futuristic-style gilded age, but it's hard to tell because they just had so little to say. This setting is a Fallout-level over the top parody of the gilded age, which historically was an era of massive far left political movements, but the game's characters were fundamentally incapable of comprehending their own oppression in terms other than vague religious mysticism, and the best solution proposed by the writers is basically Fordism.
I get that not every game can be Disco Elysium, but it's a big step back in, say, ideological awareness, from even New Vegas, that had a joinable anarcho-communist faction trying to rebuild the wastes on egalitarian lines in the Followers of the Apocalypse, that had Caesar dropping Hegel left and right to justify his actions, that highlighted, ironically, some of the problems of liberal democracy when it comes to the growing capitalist control over the NCR's government, pushing an imperialist agenda to enable their goals of dispossession, land closure and primitive accumulation. To go from that to this? The Outer Worlds felt like a completely unintentional commentary on capitalist realism in that even the game's writers, attempting to critique capitalism, were unable to conceive of an alternative. It's not like I expect every game to push the Revolutionary AgendaTM, but if they didn't have anything meaningful to say on a subject as big as capitalism, I sure wish they'd have chosen a different subject. Admittedly the writing probably rubbed me the wrong way more than it did others because of my politics, but I do think it made for an objectively less compelling story than it might otherwise have been, which definitely stings for a game coming from a studio known for its writing chops.
My SO and I recently started up No Man's Sky again. It's such a frustratingly fun game, if that makes sense? There's parts that are fun and other parts that make me want to scream. Like my SO and I dropped it because we got horrifically stranded on a shit desolate planet 6 months ago and it took that much time for us to be like okay let's come back to this and see if was can live.
It's fun that there are such hostile planets but it is wildly unfortunate if you get there in early game stages! When we finally got off of the planet (we still died several times lol), it was much more enjoyable. Though I will say I can't fly the spaceship in first person view, it makes me claustrophobic. I think that's just a me thing.
It's still a little surprising how much it HASN'T been polished considering they've been working on it for almost 6 years now. I'm sure a lot of the focus has been on larger things like base building and stuff. I say that because even the random generation of the fauna on planets leaves things to be desired. They're all technically "different" but there's a lot that are too similar? If that makes sense.
Either way, it's an okay game. Early game can be wildly cruel. Find an outpost (or whatever they call it in game) because then you can buy shit to survive and boy howdy does that help.
For the spaceship, you can change it to third person view. It's the only way I can actually fly the ship. The first person view has like a partial view in the ship so it's like you're looking out from a ship, but I can't function that way lol.
Yeah I'm not sure if I just got unlucky for the seeding or whatever they use, but it's the fauna aren't super impressive. The flora and planet variety I think is still good, there's been interesting verity there. It's the poor lil animals that aren't quite as variable as you might hope.
Did you play the game at release? Because the last couple of updates massively changed the procedural generation. Its come a very very long way from what the game used to be.
If you are interested the release log does a really great job of covering what has been added over time.
Yes, I did play it a little bit on release but it was pretty broken and I didn't have a chance after that. I've seen a lot of the progress it has made and while it's cool that they've come so far, there's still things to be desired in order for me to consider it a better game in terms of my experience with the world's. For example, I had the game list 2 of the same looking fauna as 2 separate species. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be a subspecies but it looks the same, one is just smaller than the other.
I'll have to look through the release notes, thank you for the link! It's always interesting to see what all they fiddle with.
I took a break from gaming over the last few weeks to spend time with my family over the holidays.
Cyberpunk 2077 - I played through this r ight before Christmas. I have over 110 hours played on it on PC (i7-8700K [4.6 GHz] MSI GTX1070 - 64G DDR4) and I genuinely love the game. I know its been controversial overall in the gaming community but I think I hit a sweet spot in my hardware where I can run it fine (high/mid settings) and have had basically no bugs. The story is by far the best I have seen in an RPG, pretty much ever. I have also really enjoyed the world and setting. Half way through the game I just started walking everywhere because I loved looking at the city and finding weird little spots (the in game photomode is amazing btw). I would highly recommend it, if your system can handle it. I think after some patching and DLCs it will win GOTY for 2021 and go down in history as the best RPG ever made (controversial statement, I know).
Immortals Fenyx Rising - on Nintendo Switch. I was given this for Christmas and I have only just beat the prologue but its a fun open world game. It definitely feels the the child of Assassins' Creed Odyssey and Breath of the Wild and that's not a bad thing. Its not the most serious game, it can be very silly at times. But for a casual, visually striking open world game its definitely worth buying if you have a passing interest.
Finished up DOOM Eternal.
Excellent game, and probably the most mechanically intensive FPS game I've ever played. I haven't felt the need to track so many things in my head almost the entirety of the game since I played competitive StarCraft 2.
I can understand why some who enjoyed DOOM 2016 didn't enjoy DOOM Eternal, but many others do. This is a completely different game. It's the most tenuously defined video game sequel I think I've seen in recent years—it's only technically a sequel. The games share one character (besides the Doom Slayer himself) and that's about it. I'm pretty sure the situation on Earth is completely different between the two games. Mechanically speaking, I think only Glory Kills have transitioned over unchanged. Almost everything else has been significantly changed, including the weapons and enemies.
Most critically, the core gameplay loop is entirely different. DOOM 2016 was pretty much designed to make the player feel as powerful as possible, with little effort. All you had to do was keep moving and keep using the Glory Kills to replenish health as you tore through the game in an unstoppable line. DOOM Eternal instead makes you earn that by putting resource management at the forefront. You have the main resources of health, armour, and ammo. You have four utilities: Glory Kills, Blood Punches, Flame Belch, and the chainsaw. All of these replenish different resources, outside of the Blood Punch which is an even quicker Glory Kill that provides less health but also has the benefit of good offense—it's useful for destroying enemy armour.
What this results in is every fight being a mad dash of frenetic, non-stop action while you're constantly thinking of what you need to do next to replenish which dwindling reserve is causing the most issues. Unlike the last game where all you really had to worry about is your health, you now have four or five things to worry about at once. To really hammer it home, you are now more mobile than ever. You get a double jump and a double boost ability almost straight away, and the entire game is filled with platforming sections like climbable walls and swing bars. You are expected to be in motion at all times, and not always on the ground.
On top of this, enemies are tweaked so that exploiting their weaknesses is more important than ever. If you let a Cacodemon go unchecked, it can cause significant problems for you when you least expect it but dealing with it is easy: fire a grenade into its mouth. It's a rather specific action that only two weapons can perform, but you'll need to remember it, plan it, and execute it in the middle of a giant combat section when you may already be planning to get health or ammo from other enemies first. And when you're facing down a dozen other different kinds of demons, you can imagine how complicated all the planning planning and executing gets. It's a difficult game but most of the difficulty comes from keeping on top of resources more than it does from raw aim-and-shoot ability. This might just be the first FPS game that could be harder for FPS fans than strategy game fans as a result.
An average fight could have you using at least 2/3 of your arsenal (along with the various mods they all have), all of your utilities multiple times, and moving the entire time. If you stop moving in this game, you get overrun and die. When you're cornered, you really feel cornered. All of these things can't be done willy-nilly either, you get the best results when you plan ahead and know what comes next. There was an achievement in 2009's Batman: Arkham Asylum for using all of your gadgets and moves in a single combo, and it wasn't an easy one to get. DOOM Eternal's fights all evoke the same sort of approach, and that's just as a baseline.
The result, when you manage to pull it off, is a state of flow with a much higher satisfaction level than what DOOM 2016 served up to you on a platter (relatively speaking). While you're still told you're the baddest creature in existence, it feels like this time you are actually given the space to prove it instead of simply adopting the role.
The game looks, runs, and sounds amazing too. Unbelievably good performance for how good it looks, and from what I hear this holds true even on lower end machines. The soundtrack isn't quite so IN YOUR FACE as the last game's but it's no less impressive as it incorporates more "heavy metal choir" vibes into the mix. It matches the game's new aesthetic very well. Gone is the boring old stock space station look. Instead you fight through destroyed Earth civilization, with bodies of demons and mechs the size of buildings strewn everywhere. You go through some kind of weird alt-Earth places, home to a race known as the Sentinels, and see their strange cyber-gothic architecture everywhere. Then you go to the place of an all-new group called the Makyrs and then see a whole new mecha-angelic architecture there.
It's fascinating, I did not expect DOOM Eternal to have some of the most colourful, vibrant, and artistically unique vistas and environments in years but here we are. And, on that note, this is probably the first DOOM game that has almost no horror elements at all. It keeps all the scary looking enemies, sure, but it presents it all in a context that would usually be associated with bright and happy games, if it weren't for all the gore and carnage around. The game isn't afraid to get gory either, as you'll soon discover when you navigate through some of those aforementioned building-size demon corpses.
What struck me most about the game by the end is how different it is than pretty much any other FPS game in recent memory. I've played a lot, shooters are my comfort food genre. DOOM Eternal feels like a natural evolution of classic FPS games, if the genre was never so totally impacted by the likes of Half-Life, Halo, and Call of Duty. There aren't any aspirations to realism here, and so the challenge doesn't boil down to how fast you can shoot, like pretty much every other FPS game out there. DOOM Eternal instead feels like an evolution of those classic FPS games in the modern day, when lateral thinking and movement could be just as rewarded as raw shooting ability. It's not perfect, of course, but it's such a novel step in a new direction for the genre that I can't help but marvel at id's audacity to all but throw away their last runaway success almost entirely and push the genre in new ways.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill - put a dozen hours into this over the past week and am enjoying it as much as I expected. it took me about 8 hours to unlock and play through all 26 trails, now I'm going back through each and finishing all the challenges. the number of potential lines on each trail makes it super fun to explore, and the different bike choices each feel relatively distinct in that certain paths are more or less viable for the one you're riding. it doesn't seem like there's a definitive best option, which is a good thing. I also managed to score a couple top 100 freeride times, where you have to finish a whole trail with no crashes but also aren't constrained by having to hit specific checkpoints, so that's certainly a motivator to play more.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider - Not much to say about this other than the Dishonored world rules and I can't get enough of it even after playing through the series all within the past year. Arkane is one of my favorite developers around right now, I have pretty high hopes for Deathloop.
So a year's gone by, and I'm still playing Slay the Spire nearly every day. Slightly ashamed to say I still haven't achieved A20 on any character other than the Ironchad, but I'm still having fun, and that's what matters. I'm just one achievement away from Eternal One, Who Needs Relics?, and that might take a few weeks more.
In a slightly similar vein (strategy and pseudo-analog), I've picked up chess as of late. Not playing against anyone really, but puzzles, studying tactics and endgames, etc. to feed my perfectionism in a hopefully-productive way. My ChessTempo standard puzzle rating has gone up by 300-some points since I started a couple weeks ago, so I'll feel confident enough to actually lose a game against a real human pretty soon, I think.
Completely unrelated, since I was gifted a Nintendo Online gift card for Christmas (thanks, sis!) and the letdown of Pokemon gen 8, I've been playing Nexomon: Extinction on my Switch. The average degree of creativity in the design and concept of the various 'mons isn't incredible, but there are so many quality of life improvements between it and the last Pokemon game I played (Ultra Moon) that it's hard to put down. The wild encounters are actually somewhat challenging since they scale, random trainers aren't practically rolling the dice on every move, and while the world isn't huge, it still feels fun to explore, since it's an open world once you complete the basic tutorial and there are side quests around every corner.
I mentioned in another thread I was reading The Secret History of Mac Gaming. (The book itself is so-so. The topic is very interesting to me, but the writing was hard to follow, frankly.) They had an entire chapter on Bungie, which reminded me that they open-sourced the Marathon games a few years ago, so I went and downloaded them and am now playing through the original Marathon. I remember trying it once or twice at a friend's house and thinking it was really hard. I'm not sure what led me to that conclusion, but certainly by today's standard's it's not too tough. But I'm having fun seeing what I missed out on all those years ago.
That part of the book was pretty interesting. They talked about how when they got the offer from Microsoft, they were running out of money, so it basically saved their bacon. When users found out, they were furious. The angry letters and emails they got from users basically had the opposite of the intended effect and caused them to be glad they were moving on from the toxic people sending them all the angry letters. Can't say I blame them!
I played a ton of games, but most of them were for less than an hour. I'm just trying them out to see what catches my attention.
Murder By Numbers - this is one I put more time into than most, and I'm putting it down. I thought the story would compel the Picross puzzles, but the puzzles are simple and it's lacking the modern Picross tools. I can just play Picross. I don't really need the cute VN parts.
Fatum Betula - I found this game unsettling but not scary. It's also the kind of adventure game that you're supposed to finish repeatedly and find all the different endings, which I loved in Don't Shit Your Pants, but this one starts off the same way for all of them and the walking speed is very slow. I played it for an hour and I'm done.
Valfaris - If Slain was Castlevania, then Valfaris is Contra. It's cool. I like it. It's difficult. This is one of those games I'll pick up every now and then, maybe finish a level or two, but never finish the game.
Panzer Paladin - This one's a bit like Shovel Knight with a little Blaster Master. It's got a look and feel of an 8bit NES game that I love of but it's a bit more mechanically complicated. It's got the Mega Man choose-your-boss-fight thing going on, but I haven't figured out whether or not there's an order to them.
Blaster Master Zero - Speaking of Blaster Master, this isn't what I wanted. I played the original but not a lot of it. I generally enjoy Inti Creates games. Two things about this just don't feel great: platforming with a car sliding all over the place, and the top-down parts. Just didn't enjoy the 15 minutes I played.
Katana Zero - Oh. Oh. There's a reason this has an Overwhelmingly Positive rating on Steam. It looks cool and it plays great. It's difficult but not impossible. I'm told this game is short, so I should really just blast through it.
Horizon Zero Dawn - I really enjoyed the intro/tutorial level of this game. And then it technically fell apart. It started scaling visual LOD up and down like crazy, and then it bottomed out. All the characters on-screen were missing detail. All the world was missing details, like trees and grass. It just became unplayable. I tried changing the graphical settings with no success. It just broke. So I'm refunding it. Really disappointed.
The Sinking City - I've been waiting for this to come back to Steam or GOG, and it came back to Steam briefly last week. I jumped on it before they could take it down again. I love how it just starts. No long drawn out cutscenes, or slow walking levels. The game starts and you're just living in it immediately. I solved the first case and I'm interested to put more into it.
There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension - I loved this. It's what I spent the most time last week playing because I had to finish it. Unfortunately, this is the kind of game where the more I talk about it for people who haven't played it, the less enjoyable it's going to be. This game is best experienced going in without knowing what it's going to throw at you. I liked it a lot and if you enjoyed games like Pony Island, The Hex, or The Stanley Parable, you'll probably like this too.
Jet Lancer - This game is Luftrausers without the Nazis and monochrome color palette. I loved Luftrausers. This one has a mission structure and single player campaign with a story. It's a better Luftrausers in almost all areas, except the music. Fun arcade-y action.
Panzer Dragoon Remake - I don't know why this user reviewed so poorly? It's a very pretty version of Panzer Dragoon. I guess it's still just a rail shooter, but I like it and I knew what I was getting when I bought it. I like Panzer Dragoon, so I like this remake.
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla - This one I just started last night. It starts with a slow walking introduction level. Thankfully, it gets to actual gameplay fairly quickly. Too early to form an opinion.
Not sure how far you are into AC:Valhalla but be aware it takes a while before you get into the actual gameplay. I recommend sticking with it for a bit if you feel like the early game is sluggish.