Impressions: Paladins PS4 Beta

We heard about the newest title released by Hi-Rez Studios a while back. It was announced somewhere around the time that Overwatch and Battleborn were garnering headlines and instantly all three were compared to each other. People said a new genre was being born. Hero-Shooter was tossed around, and comparisons were drawn to MOBAs and team based shooters like Team Fortress or insert-title-of-one-similar-design-feature-that-can-compare-to-this-game-here. Having played all three titles, and not being able to think of any others that really compare, I’d still say that this game differentiates itself from the other two, just as they differentiate themselves from other titles they have been compared to.

Paladins is a team based shooter with Champions that have differing abilities and obvious strengths and weaknesses. It’s basically a MOBA. It’s basically Counter-Strike. It’s basically Team Fortress. It’s basically none of these. Depending on the game mode, objectives change. This is similar to all of the above. Each Champion has a different role. Flankers are like Assassins. Front Line are tanks. Damage is… hmm.. yep. Damage. And Support is, yeah you guessed it. This means team play is emphasized, and this is similar to all of the above as well. When it comes down to it, you can easily describe all of the games I’ve talked about so far, and you’d find similarities between them all. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy them all, and doesn’t mean they really need to be compared or that one is better than the other. But of all the games I’ve played that fall into this FPSMOBALITEWTFBBQ category, this is my favorite.

I’m not sure if it’s the art direction, because it’s cartoonish just like Overwatch, TF2, and Battleborn, but I’m attracted to it. The game play between them all is very similar, down to having plays of the game and shit like that, but I feel like the characters are cooler and have better abilities than Overwatch. Honestly being a buy to play title killed Overwatch for me. It just wasn’t worth the asking price. Nor was Battleborn, despite loving the shit out of Gearbox and their work, I couldn’t justify the cost when it really wasn’t all that fun to play. Paladins hits a sweet spot though, having a UI and systems that I’m already familiar with having played SMITE for a year now. The systems work just like they do in SMITE — Mastery is there, chests, the store currencies, it’s all so familiar that it clicked right away. Where things are different, is in the customization options. Not only can you make builds for your Champions, but there are skins for everything so you can really deck yourself out without having to use pre-made outfits. Builds are made with cards, which you can craft or earn via chests. Chest unlocks have come at a fairly rapid clip as well, so it feels more rewarding than SMITE did initially. These cards affect your Champions abilities in various ways, so you can really tweak your experience. At the end of the day though, this is still a shooter at heart — though it still touches on all the things I love about competitive PvP games from over the years. It’s different enough from SMITE or LoL for me to play it on the regular as well.

Paladins will be a Free to Play title, and judging by the already established business model it is very fair. Buying stuff with in-game currency is still possible, and if you feel like throwing some money at them you’ll be handsomely rewarded. Currently the game is in beta on PS4, but is also available on PC in full release, and Founder Packs are on sale for $15 on both platforms ($12 if you have PSPlus). You can only play in the beta on PS4 if you’ve bought in, but that also comes with all of the available characters forever. A new one has already been added since the beta went live, and if SMITE is an indicator, there will be new Champions added regularly. So far I’ve only played a little bit but I already feel right at home. I recorded my first PvP match to share with y’all, take a look:

I’m sure I’ll have more to report about the game as time goes on. If you happen to join in the fray on PS4, throw me a friend request: Built4Sin82.

Progress Report: SMITE

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my progress in SMITE. It’s worth noting that the game recently celebrated its 3rd birthday, which means a celebration of sorts. Last I talked about the game, I mentioned having played through the Odyssey quest line and that was a fun way to spend a couple of months with plenty of quests and a bunch of cool rewards. Another co-op mode was added shortly thereafter, but as with the last one it rotated out of the queue fairly quickly. There was a special event for when the Celtic Pantheon was added to the game, and with that patch there was a new God “The Morrigan” and some new quests that netted more cool shit. This year the SMITE Fantasy League was free for all in that you earn Fantasy Points for playing rounds of the game. Like prior years you still get added goodies if you buy into it, along with the ability to vote on SMITE Pro League games earning you more Fantasy Points. Throughout the season you’ll gain points to gain levels which coincide with more rewards in a similar fashion to the way the Odyssey quests worked.

Victory — as in pay the man.

Another new Celtic God was just added with the latest patch, but the patch prior also opened up a new section of the game called “Adventures.” Again, for a small donation, you’ll be able to open up some exclusive items, and the new game mode is similar to capture the flag. I’m sure this one will rotate out as well. I think that about covers additions to the game and what I’ve been participating in.

I don’t play quite as much as I was in months prior, but I still manage to play a few games each week, usually with friends. I’ve still managed to play on some of the double or triple XP weekends, where you earn 2 or 3x everything (worshippers, favor, xp — though I’m maxed at this point) so that has helped with the progress. Just this evening I managed to get my 50th God to Mastery level 1, and that netted me a trophy I’ve been chasing for a while:

50 Gods Mastered!

There are a few other trophies left for me to earn for the game but the Platinum is finally within reach, a year later. I just need to Master twenty more Gods for the God Mastery 7 trophy, and then level one God to Mastery 10. I believe the last couple of trophies I need are for playing Conquest and the hardest of them all — to kill the entire enemy team with a single ability. I don’t understand how that one is a Bronze trophy… I just don’t see it happening. But I’ve managed all of the other feats, so I’m sure I’ll get it done eventually. The other one I managed to check off the list recently was for destroying 50 towers:

Take that, tower!

I’m glad that I’ve decided to stick with the game. It has been a fun experience, a great way to unwind after a long day and I absolutely love having at least one competitive PvP game in my rotation. Aside from the slew of games I’m already playing (or attempting to play) it’s nice to have that one standby that always entertains. Having the lengthy progression is a nice bonus that keeps me going, and though I’ve thrown some money at the game I’ve always felt like it’s been worth it. I felt the same way about League of Legends for years, but I think it’s safe to say that this one has taken over as my main game to play. For the time being I’m sure. I’m also sure that I’ll play League again, this isn’t the first time I took a long break from it. I’m also sure another game will come along to vie for my competitive whims too… and may have already done so. See my next post for more on that.

Codex of Victory

Another gem to come out of left field, Codex of Victory melds several different strategy game elements into a fairly successful formula. A low poly, semi-anime style romp, the campaign boasts 20+ hours of gameplay, of which I’ve experienced a handful of missions, but the core gameplay has made itself known.

Combining three core game modes, there are elements of Real Time Strategy, 4x, and Turn Based Strategy rolled into one game. The majority of your time will be spent on the field of combat, which will be different configuration each time, but will encompass the TBS and RTS portion of the game.

You’ll find yourself on a grid based landscape, where action points (or AP) will be spent to both build units and to perform actions with said units. You’ll capture additional points of interest to gain more AP, and with that AP you’ll decimate the enemy. From there, you’ll spend some time building your base along with upgrading your units between battles.

After sufficiently preparing for the next battle, you’ll jump on the mission screen and fly to the next tactical strike point, completing missions and earning resources to build more stuff along the way.

Clearly the latter two portions of the game cover the 4x strategic requirements by picking up new territories and plotting attacks for various resources. The latter two portions also remind me the most of games like XCOM, but still feel right at home mixed with the other portions of the game. Honestly I’m surprised it works due to the various directions the dev team decided to go in, but it does feel just right. It’s not overly convoluted, not overly focused on graphics or storyline, is easy to pick up and feels appropriately difficult. For fans of really any genre of strategy games, you’ll find something to like here. It’s a $15 price tag on Steam unless you catch a sale (current sale is for $12) and is definitely worth it, should you be looking for something easy to jump into for a cheap price. That’s my two cents, anyway.

State of the Game: Housekeeping Edition

Recently I’ve been doing some housekeeping when it comes to the backlog. As you well know, I have a problem. That problem is being sensitive to sales and bundles; having a subscription to both Playstation Plus and Humble Bundle, and being a frequent shopper when deals are presented. I’m seriously a walking Darth Kermit Meme.

That inner monologue goes something like:

Me: “You shouldn’t buy that game,  you don’t have time to play it.”
Also Me: “But it’s been on your wishlist for ages! You’ll make time! Plus it’s only $10 bucks and  you get all of the DLC!”
Me: “Damn me, you always know how to spot a great deal! I’m in!”

And so it goes.

Because I have this habit, I tend to play games a while after they are new. Occasionally I’ll spill for a full priced game, and in most cases that’s a good thing, but sometimes it’s a bummer. Other times you get a game for a great deal and it sucks. These are all things that have happened recently. Isn’t going to stop me from buying more games I don’t have time for. Me is right, I’ll make time eventually. The thing is, games aren’t making the cut as often as they used to. I’ve honestly bought more games in the past 5 or so years than for the remaining 30 years of my lifetime, and yet I play less of them to completion. It seems I have become more picky, and my time more valuable. As such, some games have been marked as completed, or as completed as I’m going to get them, and other games have been marked for deletion (in some cases I’ll card farm them and then delete). Some games I desperately wanted to like turned out to be not so great. And in some cases the games were simply there to add to the collection, not necessarily for immediate use. I do this from time to time, then kick myself for not playing the damn things. Regardless, let’s move on to the games discussion, shall we?

Mobile: 

I’ve been playing Clash Royale daily. It’s my go to game when I’m not at home. This makes sense because it’s a mobile game, but I do have other titles installed on my phone. A big one coming up is Super Mario Run, which was previously an iOS exclusive. That looks like it will be fun. I’m still playing Fire Emblem Heroes as well, but I typically only play that one when I’m stationary for a while. Clash is something I can run on my breaks at work and when I’m hanging outside of the house. Progress has slowed due to the fact that I’m level 10 and getting to the upper eschelons takes a while, along with being stuck in Arena 8 for quite some time now. I know my deck works, and I’ve tweaked it here and there to make it work even better, but it seems that I’ve hit a wall, and will continue to beat my head against that wall until some of my cards are levelled up. It seems to me that I only lose when someone has a card I don’t (of which there is only a handful at this point) or they have similar cards of a higher level. I know several members of my clan are in the highest arena and have far more trophies than I, so it’s doable, but I’m not there yet. Also, I deleted Tiny Tower from my phone. It was becoming more of a chore than fun.

Console:

During a recent sale I picked up a copy of a few games on PS4. Winkings is a arcade style game in the vein of Joust, but with far more creatures on screen at once. It’s got local co-op that I have yet to try (but will soon), and feels like a fun little time waster. Nothing amazing, but if you enjoy running around and killing stuff with a variety of weapons with a viking themed character, you might enjoy it too. Plus members can get it right now for like $3. Another game that was on sale was Q-bert Rebooted, which is one of those classic titles everyone should have in their library. Not only did it come with a rebooted version of the game, but the original is included as well, and boy is it a tough game. I was interested in picking this one up as I bought a bundle of other classic arcade games including Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig-Dug a few months back, and I enjoy having old collections of games. I have a version of Tetris and of course my Sega collection on Playstation consoles as well. It’s fun for me to go back and play some of these old games once in a while, and it’s great to have on hand to introduce people to some classic titles when the opportunity arises.

Lastly, the closed beta for Paladins, Hi-Rez Studio’s latest multiplayer free-to-play title went live on PS4. I had access to the beta on PC as well, but just like SMITE, I figured I would be more attracted to the game on console. It’s a team shooter similar to Overwatch or Battleborn, but has enough there to differentiate it from the others. I’m a big fan of SMITE on the console and still play that regularly, but I’m hoping that this one picks up steam too. The console SMITE population is excellent, but so far it seems that there might not be as many people playing Paladins. It was a buy in, but with that you instant access along with some perks. I’m sure the population will level out once it’s out of beta and anyone can join in. I liked being in on the SMITE beta and watching the game take shape on the console, so being in on this game from the start should be fun as well.

Housekeeping wise, this list of games are mostly ones that are those that aren’t going to be completed, so they don’t really take up backlog space. I’ve called it quits with Destiny. I had fun making my way through most of the game, completing The Taken King and leveling to 40. But I’m just not interested in the Light grind. With talk of Destiny 2 around the corner, and other games like Mass Effect Andromeda coming out soon, I know I’d rather spend my time elsewhere. I’ll do the mad dash light grinding before Destiny 2 releases, if the rumors about some of your progress transferring over are true.

PC:

I’ve more random tidbits on the PC side of things. I’ve mentioned recently playing Shadow Warrior 2. Within the last couple of days there was a 2nd free DLC added to the game, and this one adds a slew of new content. Talk about DLC done right! I have made about 30% progress through the main story, and plan to try and knock this one out soon. That is if they don’t flood me with DLCs! I’ve also toyed around with the games I mentioned in a recent post called New and Noteworthy. Along with those newer additions, I’ve also dipped my toes into some other games that came with bundles or were otherwise purchased but never mentioned. One game that popped up in my discovery queue was called Disgaea PC. It’s a PC port of a Playstation 2 JRPG. I remember seeing the title in the past but hadn’t played it, and it turned out they ported the sequel to the game as well so I picked them both up. I know of at least two more titles in the series as well, so perhaps those will come down the pipeline. The game looks like a Final Fantasy Tactics style game, but centers around the prince of the underworld rather than a typical hero type. The combat is sort of wonky, but that’s to be expected from an old console title that is just now being ported to PC. I relish these sorts of experiences; being able to take a trip into the past to experience something you missed.

Sometimes, games that you really wanted to love just don’t do it for you. Last month’s Humble Monthly provided a copy of Total War: Warhammer, and I thought I would love the game. I gave it a test run, found it alright, and then plunked down some cash to get all of the DLC. After playing it a bit more, I felt that I didn’t really enjoy the combat, the strategy, or really any facet of the game. Just putting a Warhammer skin on something doesn’t mean you’re going to automatically love the game, and that’s a shame. A painful lesson. Speaking of Warhammer, Vermintide dropped a new free DLC that adds lore page drops to the game. Having neglected to check out any of the DLC since the Last Stand game mode was added, I decided to do just that the other night. 2 new areas were added to the game, both with 3 maps each. I tried finding players to play with, but ended up running around with dumb NPCs and not getting far in any of them. The new areas look cool, but it’s really just more of the same. I’d love to run through it with some friends, had I enough to fill up a party. A shame that the population has died out so quickly, as it was a very promising title.

Lastly, I finally got around to booting up the Skyrim Special Edition. Every time I looked at it, I just couldn’t justify the 100s of hours I would put into another playthrough when I have so many other RPGs that I want to play through for the first time. But one day I had the itch, and I wanted to play it though I wanted to also play around with some mods, as I have only played the vanilla version of the game. I did some research, and though it appears that you can just install mods via the client itself, I went ahead and installed two programs that were highly recommended: the Nexus Mod Manager and LOOT. The former is a one-click install tool for mods for the game. The latter allows you to sort the booting order of mods in case of issues arising. I ended up installing 20+ mods and it ran fairly well the first time. There was a laughable bug during the opening scene, but eventually things were working great. I didn’t get far enough into the game to really see all the mods have to offer, but again, didn’t want to put too much time into it. I intend to revisit soon.

Housekeeping wise, I have put some of the above titles on farm status. They will be uninstalled afterwards. Others are works in progress, but progress nonetheless. Until next time, happy gaming.

Mini Impressions: March Humble Monthly

I’m a bit earlier with my initial thoughts for this month’s Humble Monthly lot, mainly because I have basically called it quits with Destiny and got stuck on a boss in RE7 long enough to experiment with the new games. I’ve made it a point to at least try the games I get each month (unless completely uninterested — in those cases I gift the keys or hold on to them to gift later) so as to not let the backlog completely stagnate. It’s true, I still have too many games to play and not enough time, but at least if I get a taste I can determine if a title is even worth keeping on my system. This month is the same as most months: there is one title I really enjoy and had on my wishlist, and then there are a couple of hidden gems I hadn’t really heard about prior. March’s bundle included the following titles:

Total War: Warhammer
Poly Bridge
Space Run Galaxy
One Piece Pirate Warriors 3
Flat Heroes
RIVE
Morphblade

The early unlock for April has already been paid for as well. It seems that through the early unlock you can glean a little something about the remaining titles that will come in the bundle. The pattern as of late for me personally has been either a title I know and love or one that I want being the early unlock, and then titles I’m less excited for composing the rest of the bundle, or vice versa. For example, this month’s early unlock was Total War: Warhammer and I was excited to be getting that for $12, but the rest of the bundle was less noteworthy. Next month’s unlock is The Witness (a game I’m uninterested in and already gifted to my Sister) which should mean that there will be something better coming in the bundle. Of course, this observation is clearly biased by my own opinions and interests, so your experience may vary.

Total War: Warhammer appears to be a great game. It runs smoothly on my system at max settings. The lore feels appropriate. I’ve played for a while and have enjoyed what I played. The only real thing keeping me from playing it very seriously at the moment is the fact that it will take some time to learn the game. Oddly enough I have never played a Total War game. They always looked interesting and I’ve almost bought several of them in various sales and bundles, but never pulled the trigger. As is I have several unplayed or unfinished 4x games on my hard drive, so I don’t want to delve too deeply just yet. I have heard positive things about it though and know it will get its due eventually. This title alone made the bundle.

Poly Bridge is one that I passed on. It’s one of those build-a-bridge-over-a-chasm type games, complete with a physics engine. Not my cup-o-tea. If you guys are reading (and we’re friends elsewhere, like on Twitter/Steam) feel free to hit me up for spare keys. I have quite a few from the past near-year of monthly bundles. This title is one of them.

Space Run Galaxy took me by surprise. At first it appeared to be an indie game that I would quickly lose interest in, but after having played it last night, I was impressed. It feels like sort of a Faster Than Light sort of Rogue-lite experience, but doesn’t feel quite as randomized. Perhaps it isn’t random at all. What is interesting is that you have a hexagonal ship that can have various parts affixed to each hex. One hex comprises your bridge, and you’ll start with certain pieces that you can add as a “run” takes place. You’ll be delivering goods too, which also take up spaces. You’ll be building thrusters to move through space faster, and laser cannons to destroy obstacles and enemy pirate ships. There isn’t twitch game play, it is purely strategic and your ship flies in a straight line to the destination while various sensors warn you of what dangers are coming. You gather resources from things you destroy to continue to upgrade your ship. The run ends, you get some upgrades and you do another, but you then have to rebuild these upgrades during each level. I’m not sure if it’s endless or if this story has a conclusion, but the gameplay was fun for short spurts and I will be spending more time with this title for sure. Take a look:

In theory, One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is a game that would appeal to me. In practice, not so much. It’s a Dynasty Warriors sort of game, which means you control a hero, mash buttons and kick the living shit out of huge groups of enemies. Sounds cool right? Well… this port leaves things to be desired. I read somewhere that it’s not even a port of a recent game, that it’s actually a port of a Playstation 3 title. It did look alright on max settings on my PC, but the controls are wonky even with a controller, and I’d imagine that it would be downright unplayable with the keyboard (no mouse support at all). The graphics weren’t impressive and it’s a manga I know nothing about so there is absolutely no appeal. I’d avoid this one were I you.

I’m not into minimalist games. Flat Heroes is one of those types, and I’m not a fan. This key is up for grabs too.

RIVE was the other hidden gem this month. A game I had never heard of though it’s been out for 6 months at least, it’s a run and gun platformer along with having some sci-fi elements. Think games like Galak-Z or Cryptark. Side scrolling, bullet-hell, shoot-em-up with some puzzling bits. There really isn’t much to say there, besides it looks great, plays great, and I had a good time with it. Would recommend. Take a look:

Lastly, a title called Morphblade. Another key up for grabs, it appears to be a puzzle game but didn’t appeal to me.

There are other titles that have been added each month that I haven’t even tried. Like other Bundles on the site, many times there are DRM-Free copies of games that are included but aren’t linked through services like Steam, and I tend to like to keep most of my games in one place. Humble Originals that are supposed exclusives to the monthly format have been there from the start and I don’t think I’ve played a single one. Just more shit to clutter up my hard drive most likely, but if any of you think I’m missing a good title in there, let me know in the comments. Have you been enjoying Humble’s Monthly service? Or do you find most of it not worth your time?