State of the Game: Warframe and More

I’ve been managing to get some decent playtime in over the past week or so, and though I’ve already touched on some of the games I’m about to talk about already in individual posts, there has been some progress made and that’s exciting to me, because I’ve had a bit of gaming malaise recently. Hello run-on sentence! So not only have I been progressing through Bioshock Remastered and playing some of my MOBAs and whatnot, I also picked up a game that was on sale for $1.50 and is actually pretty decent. Finally, or firstly perhaps, I’ve been playing a game I hadn’t touched in at least a year:

Warframe has been around for a long time, and I’ve toyed with it more than once. A couple of years ago during one of the NBI’s, I earned a prize which ended up earning me some platinum for this game. At that point I downloaded the game on PC and went to town. I played for a bit, actually enjoyed it but was probably more enamored with something else at the time and it ended up sitting unplayed as many games do. A few years later, Destiny was out and I had just picked up a PS4 and a copy of the game. I had some friends that wanted to group up and run through the game together, but a squabble between myself and one of the guys ended up where we never played together again. That’s why Destiny sat unplayed for a very long time until I finally finished it off earlier this year. Destiny doesn’t really have anything to do with Warframe per se, but at the same time the parallels between the game are there. This was noted by Isey recently, and some discussion about the game started up when he was disappointed (but still finished) Destiny 2 and discovered that Warframe was a similar game he could sink his teeth into. Having read and agreed with his judgement on things several times in the past, I figured that I should avoid picking up Destiny 2 and instead put my efforts into playing Warframe again. For one, it’s free to jump in and play so I don’t have to drop $60 to be potentially disappointed, and it also happens to be something I had already played in the past. I’ve also been craving shooter experiences, and enjoy the RPG mechanics tacked on. Jeromai has also fully endorsed Warframe in a recent post, and it just seemed like it was time for me to dive back in.

I had a second stint in Warframe after my Destiny group fell apart, where I convinced my friend’s brother to download the game on his PS4 to play with me in lieu of Destiny. We played a few hours together before he lost interest and again the game sat unplayed. Still, I had started with the Volt Warframe and leveled it to around 13, while having similarly leveled guns and a starter sword. I really had no clue where I had left off and didn’t really remember what I was supposed to be doing, not to mention there had been several updates that probably changed a bunch as it was, but I started re-familiarizing myself nonetheless. It turns out that there was a promotion that if you have Twitch Prime, you get free access to the Frost Prime Warframe, Soma Prime gun, and Scindo Prime axe. It also turns out that as an Amazon Prime member, Twitch premium membership is included, so all I had to do was link my accounts and bam:

The Frost Warframe which is like the “standard” edition would have been pretty much on par with the Volt frame I had been running. The “Prime” variants are souped up versions that have better base stats and stronger abilities along with the ability to slot extra mods into them. The new weapons were big upgrades too, but after using the axe for a few missions I didn’t really care for how slow it was. I’m thinking I eventually want to grab some nunchucks or dual wield some blades but for now I’ve gone back to the base sword until I find more blueprints and materials. Somewhere along the lines a new mastery ranking system was added and I went through the first couple, each of which seems to unlock various bits and bobs for your account. The tests see you having to fight AI in a sort of holodeck area using various parts of your loadout. Once the waves are cleared you earn you mastery rank:

I was going back and forth between wanting to pick up my progress on the PS4 or going back to the PC. It’s too bad I can’t link my account and play on either platform and share progress. I suppose I could be really crazy and play on both accounts, but I don’t have that kind of time. My hesitation to pick things back up on PS4 was because the most recent update adds some open world bits to the game and though I’m probably not at the level to participate, I wanted to see it as soon as possible. But I read somewhere that the PS4 update was coming soon, and I saw this the other day:

So probably before the end of the month the expansion will hit the console, so I’m just going to stick here. I’m used to the control scheme and I’ve already put more time into it than the PC version. As of now my Frost Prime is nearing rank 9, so I’ve almost caught up to the Volt. I’ve cleared most of Mercury and it seems that though I remember clearing other planets that they are all still locked up, so I’ll be clearing for a while. Hoping to get the materials together to experiment with other frames and make some new weapons in the process. I’ll report back more on this as I progress!

The game I picked up for $1.50 is called Anomaly 2. It’s the sequel to Anomaly: Warzone Earth (which I believe also had a couple of expansions). I played the original back in the PS3 days and just happened upon it and well, it was a steal and I have a problem. The game is a sort of tower defense and RTS hybrid but what makes it unique is that it’s really “tower offense.” You play a commander with various abilities and run around the screen in real time. Your units will follow a designated trail and towers controlled by the AI try to stop you. Your commander heals and buffs the units, keeping them alive to push through to whatever the objective is. That’s really all there is to it, but it’s rather entertaining.

Lastly, I’ve been working my way through Bioshock. I don’t know why but it feels like I’ve damn near beaten the game, but I’ve only put in a little over 6 hours. I do know that I’m progressing towards what feels like the final showdown, and things have been fairly smooth going, though I have found a few tricky bits, and some of the groupings of big daddies with splicers and turrets have killed me. Still, I’ve found a good group of plasmids and weapons and feel like I’m coasting along. I imagine it has somewhere around a 10 hour average completion time, so I should be done with this one soon. Some shots of recent events:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So my goal for now is to finish this off and then move onto the sequel. I’d like to be done with the Bioshock games so that I can strike a few titles from the backlog. Warframe feels like a game I can play for a while as well, so I’m going to continue with it until it gets boring. Otherwise, I’ll mess around with some of the other more session based games I’ve had in the rotation, but it feels good to finally be making some progress! Until next time, happy gaming!

Thoughts on Brawlhalla

I remember coming across Brawlhalla in the past, as it was an Early Access or Beta title on Steam for a while now. As something that looks and plays much like the Super Smash Bros. line of games from Nintendo, it wasn’t a game that I thought about playing on PC, so I likely saw it in the discovery queue and hit “not interested.” Early Access titles are very hit or miss and usually it ends up in a developmental slog before finally releasing some years later. Sometimes EA games can be gold, and feel like completed games while in their Alpha or Beta states. Other titles are less fortunate, and end up being piles of trash until they are finally released or the devs go MIA. In this case, the game was announced in 2014, has been in an open beta state for a couple of years, and officially released last week. While I haven’t played the PC version, it turned up on the Playstation Store, and having played some of the Smash Bros. games in the past, I knew I’d enjoy this one.

The last Smash Bros. game I played was on the original Wii console, and it was a blast, but I never had anyone to play with. If I recall correctly, you could still play online in that version of the game, but I eventually sold off my Wii and haven’t played this style of game since. I do have friends via PSN that would be interested in playing this game though, so I downloaded it and convinced a friend to do the same.

If you aren’t familiar with Super Smash Bros., it is a fairly basic 2-D fighting platforming game. You control one of a few dozen characters (called “Legends” in this particular title) in a small arena. 3 other AI or players will control other Legends and you fight it out. The platforming elements involve several levels of the game, running, jumping and trying to keep from falling to an early demise. Simple one-button combos unique to the Legends are your bread and butter, and you have a set amount of lives. You will do damage to the enemy players until eventually they fall to their death or you knock them out. Certain power moves will allow you to launch enemies into the nether, and unless they time their triple jumps just right, they will fall and lose a life. Last man standing wins. There are several game modes, including 1v1, 2v2 and some experimental and rotating modes. The network functionality works great, it was easy to queue up for a match and get going. There are only a few Legends available to start, I assume there is some sort of in-game currency that you can earn to open up new ones, and I’m sure there’s RMT to support the devs and speed up this process. Each Legend has a unique set of weapons available to them, and some differing moves, but overall they control similarly. Basically there is a light attack and a heavy attack button, and if you press a direction simultaneously you will perform that move. So up + light attack does one thing, while down + light attack will perform something else. Items will periodically drop from the sky allowing you to get a sword or some guns and changing up your moves. That’s really all there is to it, but there is some depth in the simplicity that veterans will pick up over time.

I recorded my first game against live people, a 2v2 match where I was playing the Legend called “Cross.” He looks like a Roaring 20’s Gangster, and he performed well enough for me. We won the round and I got a good feel for the game:

For a free to play title I rather enjoy it. I’m not sure if the RMT is fair, but I’m sure the game is fun to play without spending any money. If it ends up being something I play on the regular then I’ll probably throw the devs a few bucks. If anyone wants to get a round in, look me up on PSN: Built4Sin82.

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!

Thoughts on Star Trek Online – PS4 Edition

So as I mentioned recently in my post about Secret World Legends, I was sort of feeling like playing an MMO again. I’ve also been pretty clear about my love/hate relationship with the genre, so I won’t go deeper into that. Suffice it to say that I saw SWL and downloaded it on a whim. I have yet to play it again though, so just like most games, I wasn’t instantly hooked and playing it on the regular. This will probably be a thing for many years to come, because I am just short on time and sometimes attention span. Thankfully I have some of these more passive hobbies like blogging, where I can relax and not really worry about anything except putting the thoughts onto the page. But I digress.

I was browsing the Playstation Store the other day for something completely unrelated (which I can’t recall at the moment exactly what that was) and came upon some of the Free to Play MMO choices they have. I am constantly looking for free or low cost games I can play with my best friend who is now a couple of hours away — it helps keep us in each others’ loops so to speak. I’m responsible for finding games like SMITE, Paladins, and Killing Floor 2 for us to play (this guy doesn’t even check the free games section for his plus games every month). A while back Skyforge was put up on the store, and before that games like Marvel Heroes, Neverwinter and Star Trek Online made appearances as well. I had actually played every single one of those games on my PC long before they were ported over to the console, but my friend only has a PS4, no gaming PC to speak of, so here we are. I made him download Skyforge but he wasn’t into (that’s okay, I wasn’t really either) and we played Marvel Heroes a bit but it’s been a while. I thought something with a little depth might be fun and keep us playing together more often, without it being a PvP game where sometimes you get frustrated and end the night early. He’s also a big fan of Star Trek, so I thought this might work out well for us and downloaded it a few nights ago. Unfortunately he said he had already tried it and didn’t care for it either, but I remember feeling that way when I played it on PC as well.

For some reason though, it feels at home on a console. This isn’t DC Universe where it was created with a console port in mind, but it still was a well done port. The controls are fluid and easy to manage, and it’s not a chore sorting through menus. Granted, this isn’t the game that has a shit ton of inventory management or real use for a ton of menus, so that bodes well for a port. Still, it has MMO depth but translated well.

I’ve enjoyed the away missions just fine, but the space combat is where things really shine. It reminds me of a cooler version of Pirates of the Burning Sea, which I played for a while when it launched (I don’t know if that’s an insult or a compliment). I mean, that game too had land missions that were wonky and stupid, but blowing shit up in your pirate ship was pretty cool. It did get boring after a while though. I’m hoping my love for Star Trek is enough to keep me interested here.

I imagine you spend a pretty comparable amount of time in both space and on the ground, but I look forward to getting better ships and seeing more epic battles. I can’t imagine what raid or dungeon content would look like in space, though the ground stuff would be predictable enough. Hell, I’m not even sure how grouping and end-game stuff works at this point, but I’m sure I’ll find out sooner or later. This was downloaded on a whim, so I didn’t really look into it and wasn’t expecting to enjoy it more on the console than PC.

Speaking of, I believe it’s the same company that made Neverwinter, and I remember not caring for that on PC either. Perhaps I’ll give it a whirl as well. It’s a shame having a gaming rig go to waste while you play shit on your 1/3 cost console, but I guess having fun is the most important part. So far I rather enjoy this MMO, and plan to play it some more — so we’ll have more on this later!