Thoughts on Crossout

The other night I was bored and looking for a game that would allow me to mindlessly shoot things while not being something I already had installed on one of my hard drives. Recently discussion surrounding Warframe as being a fun game that is similar to Destiny made me want to jump back into that. Finding out that the new open-world portion of the game is PC only for now (and I previously played the game on PS4) meant that I couldn’t access the new content on the console just yet. There was also a rather large patch for it since I hadn’t played in some time, so I was browsing the store as that downloaded. I stumbled upon the game Crossout, and was intrigued by the description. This felt like a sort of Twisted Metal meets Mad Max sort of game, and having now played it for a few hours, my suspicions were confirmed.

If you enjoy vehicular combat games, this is for you. It’s not going to scratch that Mario Kart itch, no this isn’t about racing and having some power-ups. Crossout has that great Mad Max-like post-apocalyptic feel to its world, but the combat feels more like Twisted Metal, though there are still differences to be seen. This is an arena brawl. You will spend most of your in-game time in combat, though objectives can change. You’ll start out with a rather rudimentary truck that doesn’t have much welded onto it, but through the game’s progression system you’ll unlock new vehicle bases, new factions, other abilities and can really make some crazy looking vehicles.

When you aren’t in combat, you’ll be in a lobby that feels similar enough to most games. A series of menus will allow you to craft new parts, unlock blueprints for vehicles, train your co-driver, and there’s even a marketplace where you can trade items for coin. It seems that much of the game’s items will be unlocked as you play, but there are RMT transactions for more coins that allow you to buy things off of the market or otherwise speed up your progression. This is standard faire, and I’ve fought against some people with much bigger and better vehicles than my own but was still able to out-play them, so it doesn’t feel too pay to win, which is a frequent complaint with F2P games.

Things can get pretty hectic on the battlefield, and you’ll see your fair share of the spectator screen, where you’ll watch your teammates after you die. Thankfully Mr. DoucheSteamboat here wasn’t too bad and our team won that round. Besides the requisite PvP modes it seems that there are some parts of the game that are PvE. The normal missions require you to use particular weapons and win PvP matches, but there are Raids where you have to participate in various modes like escorting and fighting off enemy AI. Nothing too difficult, and I think “raid” is used pretty loosely, as the one I participated in was for 4 players… not very worthy of the word.

Crossout is currently in Open Beta on PS4 and PC, though I’m covering the console version here. It definitely has room to grow, and though they are touting it as an MMO it clearly isn’t. I’d boil it down to being “like World of Tanks, but actually fun.” Here’s my current vehicle that I’ve modified to the point that I can’t do much else with it, for posterity:

I’d recommend the game based on the fun I had with it, though I don’t know how serious you’d ultimately want to get with it. Still, a good way to add some variety to one’s playlist!

State of the Game: Diverted Attentions

I have snuck in some extra gaming time here and there over the past month (has it already been a month since I last made a round-up post? Maybe it’s been longer…) though my attentions have been spread rather thin. A typical day for me involves getting up, heading into work, coming home and needing to help out with dinner or at least eat it, then having an hour or two to kill on various activities and then its time for bed just to start over again the next day. I suppose this is a normal routine for most, but when I was single and living with roommates I usually spent more time on hobbies than anything else. Now that Magic has been a big part of my life as well, there are days when I spend time on that hobby instead of gaming, and sometimes I’d rather watch a movie or binge something on Netflix rather than game. Still, I have been playing things, so let’s talk about that.

A while back I talked about Star Trek Online. In that post I mentioned that the same devs also created Neverwinter, and that it was also on PS4. Neither game really appealed to me all that much when I played them on PC, but I was also having a bit of MMO malaise at the time. I still wouldn’t say that I’m ready to commit to only one game for any length of time, but I still like to tinker, and so I downloaded Neverwinter and gave it a whirl.

Honestly it feels better on the console, just like STO did. I can’t explain it, we’re talking a huge difference in power between the PS4 and my PC, so graphically it should be inferior, and I do notice when loads of people are around it does seem to lag a bit which probably wouldn’t happen on my PC. But the control schemes are good and I just enjoy playing it more on PS4. The same could be said about many games that exist on both, and that probably stems from my beginnings as a console gamer. I love a controller in my hands. In some cases this isn’t true though, action RPGs and RTS/4x games will always control better with Keyboard/Mouse, and FPS titles are still typically better on PC despite being easy enough to control either way. But I digress. Neverwinter seems fun enough. I picked a random character just to go through the intro and a few missions and think it would be a fun game to see through to the end, but you know me and my tendency to game hop. We’ll see how often I actually play.

I’ve also jumped onto the Fortnite Battle Royale bandwagon. Most of you will know that I played H1Z1 from day one, and I did enjoy the Battle Royale mode. The game split and that became a dedicated mode, and it was fun enough. I haven’t played Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, but it’s the same sort of thing. I’d like to check it out but it’s $30 and I just haven’t ponied up the cash. Finding out that Fortnite wasn’t that great of a PvE experience, I didn’t want to buy into it either, but the BR mode is free, and it’s pretty fun. It’s a bit different than the aforementioned comparisons, but still something that I found entertaining, if not frustrating. My buddy and I duoed a few times but never managed to place higher than the 20’s, and it’s still being developed so I’m sure it will end up being better over time.

The Amnesia Collection which is the two games plus an expansion was part of the free game lineup for Playstation Plus this month, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, my girlfriend enjoys watching me play the horror games so I tried it out. It’s actually a really creepy game. Moreso than any other I’ve played in recent memory. Very atmospheric and moody, and the way the game grabs the camera controls from you is unsettling. She was creeped out enough that she didn’t want to watch anymore which is a first. Usually horror games don’t get to either of us like this one did. I look forward to progressing further.

Grim Dawn is a game I hadn’t touched in a long while. I purchased it shortly after it went into full release (it did linger in Early Access for a while). Another Action-RPG, it’s much like Diablo but has a higher level cap and a much larger world to explore. Classes can be multi-spec and overall it feels like it has more depth than Diablo and most of its clones. Recently the devs released a new expansion for the game called Ashes of Malmouth, adding a couple new classes (Inquisitor and Necromancer) but also a couple of new chapters and new areas. I knew when I looked at the original game map that there would be expansions because there was so much unused space and finally that has come to fruition. I picked up the expansion the other night and rolled up a new Inquisitor which reminds me of the Witch Hunters from Warhammer. Pistols and magic, why not? The game is pretty excellent if you enjoy ARPGs, I’d recommend at least buying the bast game, but if you want the new classes you can use them from the start by picking up the expansion too, and for $18 it’s reasonably priced.

Last but not least, I have been playing the NES Classic a bit more recently, which also has lead into playing some 3DS as well. Initially I just started playing Super Mario 3 on a whim, and then got my girlfriend’s son involved. That lead to him creating levels for me to beat in Super Mario Maker on his 3DS. Then my girlfriend got involved as well, it turns out she used to play Dr. Mario frequently when she was a tyke, so we’ve been doing that as well. I’m not the biggest Nintendo fan these days, but I sure do enjoy the old stuff. Looking forward to finding a deal on the SNES Classic soon.

That’s all for this go-round. Until next time, happy gaming!

By The Numbers: Week 6, 2017

What a hell of a game it was. Last Sunday the Packers faced off against a recent conference rival in the Cowboys, and though I knew it was going to be a good game, I didn’t expect it to go down the way it did. The team pulled together through injury to finish off a drive in the 4th quarter down by 3, with only 1:13 left on the clock. Not much time for most teams, but when you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, that’s too much time. It was great for our fans, but Dallas fans were probably sick, because we have done this to them time and again over the last few years. Not to mention Elliot’s suspension was reinstated, so their ground game is extinct for the next 6 weeks. Maybe their season is over, but it’s too soon to say. So let’s check in on my picks from last week and see how I did.

Patriots 31, Buccs 27 – Correct
Jets 20, Browns 7 – Correct
Panthers 30, Lions 24 – Correct
Colts 21, 49ers 13 – Correct
Titans 23, Dolphins 17
Bills 24, Bengals 13
Giants 21, Chargers 10
Steelers 28, Jags 21
Cardinals 24, Eagles 20
Rams 27, Seahawks 20
Raiders 23, Ravens 21
Packers 31, Cowboys 20 – Correct
Chiefs 27, Texans 14 – Correct
Vikings 21, Bears 13 – Correct

A so-so week. I called 7 correctly, and 6 incorrectly. You can see why I made some of the picks that I did, but I grossly overestimated some of the outcomes. No matter, let’s move on to this week and see how I think things will shake up:

Eagles 27, Panthers 24
Ravens 20, Bears 10
Texans 21, Browns 7
Packers 30, Vikings 21
Lions 35, Saints 31
Falcons 31, Dolphins 20
Patriots 28, Jets 14
Redskins 27, 49ers 9
Buccs 24, Cardinals 20
Rams 23, Jags 20
Chiefs 31, Steelers 20
Raiders 24, Chargers 20
Broncos 36, Giants 10
Titans 23, Colts 21

The Packers face off against division rivals the Vikings this weekend, and I expect it to be more of a challenge than the Bears were. They aren’t amazing, and they no longer have AP, but they still tend to have a pretty good defense and they still make points. They aren’t doing terribly this year, so we’ll see how it goes. I still expect the Pack to take the W. We’ll find out soon enough.

TWR: The Importance of a Win-Con

I don’t believe I’ve covered my Temmet deck yet, and I have been trying to make an effort to talk about each of my EDH creations at some point or another in this column. I recently gave him a bit of a makeover, building upon themes laid out in my initial brew, but I also added another layer that seemed unlikely but has proven to be useful.

When I ripped open my first packs from the then new set Amonkhet, Temmet was one of the first legendary creatures I pulled. I hadn’t built an Azorious colored deck to that point, and I loved the look and flavor of him as a commander. His ability to give token creatures unblockable was the first theme I tried to build upon, finding ways to make large token creatures I could then make unblockable to get free hits in on my opponents. An added benefit is his Embalm ability, where if he dies you can choose to let him hit the graveyard, and later revive him as a token himself. This led me to also include other cards from the set with Embalm to further my unblockable tokens theme. Unfortunately, it seemed that this wasn’t powerful enough, and the deck never really performed the way I wanted it to.

One thought I had was to make it into a semi-voltron deck, where I could get Temmet embalmed into a token, then equip him and make him unblockable, which is still viable, and sort of something I did in the original build. I had added some of the living weapon cards, which are equipments that create a 0/0 creature the equipment attaches to, which in turn can be made unblockable with Temmet. But since I had built Sram into a full on voltron commander, I felt it was redundant to have another. As such, I started thinking about what win-con I could utilize that would make Temmet semi-competitive, at least in my playgroup (where it pretty much always lost). Enter infect.

It seems that blue and white are not the strongest colors to run an infect theme, although they do have a few key cards that I’ve included. I also included many of the artifact creatures with infect, and an equipment which can be attached to a creature to give it +2/+2 and infect as well. Lastly, a nice mind control type spell that also grants the stolen creature infect. These pieces felt like they would do the trick, and upon testing it out, I found that I added just enough to make this win-con work. Here are a couple other cards I added for support:

The conspiracy sets have really added some nice jank to the meta. The Keeper of Keys not only makes you the Monarch (you draw a card at the end of each of your turns) but if you control this guy by the next turn’s upkeep, all of your creatures become unblockable. This means the ability to go-wide is now a threat, and it just fits the theme I was going with. The additional sorcery is some nice spot removal that also gets me a token along with some group hugs for other players. Overall the changes I made have turned the deck into one that can actually compete, and for that I’m happy.

Make sure you have a win-condition that makes sense in each of your decks. Throwing together a bunch of good cards haphazardly might not get it done in the end.

Clash Royale: The Epic Quests Update

Clash Royale has quickly become the only game I play on my phone. I keep up on my crown chests and clan chests, logging in daily. New cards keep coming out, special events occur weekly, and developers SuperCell have certainly kept me busy. That isn’t to say that you can play the game non-stop for hours, but in a sense that is what keeps it appealing. Just like my desire for participating in MMO Raiding for 6+ hours a sitting declined and lead to a desire for more lobby-based bite-sized gaming sessions, I have found that only really “needing” to play the game for 20-30 minutes a day with occasional check-ins is low pressure and entertaining. Of course, this is a basic design of the game, as the rounds are meant to be 3 minutes a pop and though you can keep playing as much as you want, after a time you are no longer earning crowns towards rewards, nor are you rewarded with gold until after a cooldown. So I typically have a stint in the afternoons to complete my crown chest and then log in for clan donations and occasional matches at other times in the day. It’s a solid formula, and I don’t think I’ve played another single mobile game for such a long period of time.

With that said, it’s pretty obvious that my go-to mobile game has held my interest for a while. Today a new patch went live introducing some interesting new ideas (and some old ones too). Coined “The Epic Quests Update,” the devs have added daily/weekly quests that are basically the same as the achievements in the game, but that will provide points towards extra chest rewards. This screen should look familiar to most — repeatable quests are present in nearly everything these days. At the top there you’ll notice a purple quest that appears to be a designation color for temporary ones, in that the 2v2 Touchdown Draft was announced last week as is a limited time event. Quests end up being a sort of “meh” feature only because it’s been done a thousand times before and the reward being a Golden Chest is fairly weak in my opinion. It does give you extra reason to play 1v1 again though, as I’m sure many players have found that they can earn their rewards without risking a loss of rank by playing 2v2, which itself was a limited time thing until recently when the button was added permanently. The same might happen for modes like Touchdown (here’s hoping) but it made it so that if you aren’t pushing the upper echelon of the leaderboard you might get complacent enough to leave 1v1 behind (the main reason you’d want to reach at least arena 10 is because you can then open up all cards). The quests that I received all had to do with 1v1 Arena matches, so if you want that extra reward, you’ll have to play that mode and go back to worrying about your rating. I think were the chest a Magical+ perhaps that would be more of an incentive, but at the same time I will likely participate despite sounding negative about it.

The Touchdown game mode is a blast. I love football, as I’m sure regular readers will know, so naturally making a football themed game mode in CR tickled my fancy. It basically plays the same as the normal game, but because there aren’t towers defending the end-zones, you’ll have to provide the defense for yours while also trying to run a creature into theirs. The same creature rules apply, in that building-haters will ignore normal troops, some troops can’t attack air targets and vice versa, etc. I found it to be a nice diversion from the regular game modes, and I like the fact that SuperCell is attempting to branch out a bit. I’ve loved it over the years when games have added additional game modes, from shooters to MOBAs, sometimes you need a break from the same old thing. Diversity is good.

As far as the main game goes, I haven’t advanced beyond Arena 10. I know there are quite a few levels of the rating system to go, but I’m not in any rush to get there. I have hit a bit of a wall when it comes to gold generation and the ability to upgrade cards though. I have something like 10 cards that need 20k gold each to upgrade, a few more at 8k each, and one of the cards that I’ve finally earned enough copies of via clan donations is in that 20k category. It seems that eventually your rating will stagnate due to the fact that you need more gold to upgrade the cards in your deck. My deck hasn’t changed in months. Upgrading is slow and expensive. Perhaps after a few more upgrades occur climbing the ladder will resume, I know I’ve hit spots like this in the past. That isn’t to say it frustrating either, it’s just taking a while. Overall I really enjoy this game and look forward to all of the new things to come.