State of the Game: Too Hot For TV

The Steam Summer sale has come around once again, and this year things are unique as they usually are. The discounts are there just like each year before it, but this time around the gimmick is a bunch of sticker packs that you can use to fill up pages of a book and presumably get some sort of prize. Collecting the cards to craft the badge nets background images for your profile, which in turn are the same pictures used in the sticker book, so it’s unclear what the purpose is. Perhaps it is explained somewhere that I missed, but presumably it’s just a time waster and a way to convince you to spend more money, as if the massive discounts weren’t enough.

So far there have been games on my wishlist that were on sale, but none that I was really looking to pull the trigger on. My backlog, as ever, is filled to the brim and some games probably won’t ever see the play they deserve. That didn’t stop me from grabbing a couple items though. I’ve been toying with the idea of picking up a Steam Controller for some time now, but it’s never been something that was a necessity. I have a Logitech gamepad for my PC that suits its purpose, though I don’t use it all that often. I thought that I might lean more towards controller schemes in particular games, so I finally ponied up for one as it was on sale for $35. I also bought one game off of my wishlist — Everspace.

It’s a rogue-like shooter in space that has a feel similar to Faster Than Light, in that you have a map and you move from zone to zone trying to get to an end goal. Death is permanent, but money is spent on perk points that give passive benefits, theoretically making future runs easier. The gameplay consists of flying around these zones, collecting various materials for crafting along with destroying enemy ships. This is done in real time, in either first or third person view. It’s a gorgeous game and runs at max settings very smoothly on my rig. I’d recommend it if you enjoy space shooters with rogue-like elements. The controller hasn’t arrived yet, it should be here next week. I’ll report back on that after I test it out.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Infinity engine games are also on sale, included Baldur’s Gate Enhanced + the expansion that came out last year, BG2 Enhanced and the newly released Planescape Torment Enhanced. Sadly I already own copies of the originals on GOG, but I found that many didn’t play well with the newer versions of Windows. It seems that the enhanced editions are revamped ever so slightly and would probably be a better way to experience those titles. I’ve added them to my list as well, but I doubt I’ll buy them, mainly because I’ve got too many recent RPGs to play through but I would love to add them to my collection.

Sony’s Playstation Store also has a sale going on, though it has weekly sales that rotate year round. It does seem like there are some bigger discounts on offer at the moment though, probably to coincide with Steam. Most digital outlets have quarterly sales that save you some bucks. I found more titles that I was interested in on their store, and ended up buying two new games: The Dwarves and Worms W.M.D.

The former is a strategy RPG where you have a team of various Dwarves whom you can assign actions to, and you fight against hordes of enemies. Picture the heroes of LOTR during the battle at Helm’s Deep. You have a handful, they have hundreds, but your elite skills keep you in the fight regardless. There is a pause function that allows you to give all of your heroes commands to be executed at once, but during the live action you can only control one hero at a time while the AI handles the rest. Overall it seems like a novel concept, but I haven’t gotten too far in to add much more.

The latter is exactly what you would expect. Worms is a long running franchise and the various iterations over the years have added new features, while graphically it hasn’t changed much. The last game I played in the series was a few years back on PS3, and I enjoyed that one as much as some of the older versions I played back in the 1990’s on PC. Where this one differentiates itself from its predecessors is with the addition of vehicles and turrets. There have always been a ton of weapons and customization options for your team of worms, but now they can jump on machine gun turrets or pilot a tank to victory. Apparently there were changes to the Forts sub-game, and a bunch of people can play in multiplayer battles. There is also a ranked system that has been implemented, so I suppose this is more feature complete than past installments. It did release last year though, so I imagine there are already new titles in development. Overall it’s a good buy for people looking to blow up worms alone or with a friend or two.

That’s about all for now. I’ve been spending more time doing IRL stuff than gaming, but I will hopefully have some time over the long weekend to log more hours. Until then, happy gaming!

Killing Floor 2 — A Righteous Gorefest

I was actually gifted a copy of Killing Floor 2 last year. I had played the original during one of those free weekends on Steam — as a matter of fact I believe it was during one of those gaming events the blogging community used to take part in. I was looking forward to the sequel because I enjoyed the format of the game. Regular readers will know that I enjoy games that are first person shooters, lobby-based, co-op, and have to do with Zombies. Though Zeds have become a bit of a tired addition to gaming for a while, I still enjoy the Zombie survival game modes that have been around for a decade or more. Most famous are games like Call of Duty that had its separate Zombies game mode, or other titles like Sniper Elite that had spin-offs such as Zombie Army Trilogy. The co-op, wave based survival mechanic is not entirely over done just yet, and not having other game modes tacked on keeps things focused.

Generally speaking, you’ll start off by picking a class which are actually referred to as Perks in this particular title. Each perk or class has a particular starting loadout of gear, along with specific weapons they can buy between rounds that are designed for them. Classes will earn more experience by staying within their weapon group, but everyone has the option of using any gear they see fit. As the perks level up, additional bonuses unlock for that perk, allowing for some nice passive effects. For instance, the class I am currently enjoying most — the Swat perk — unlocks a passive at level 5 that gives him 50% armor for free at the start of the game and that can mean more money in your pockets for that round 2 upgrade.

Game play is standard fare, though I would like to say that the game is beautiful (gory too!) and runs smoothly even on the PS4, and the gun play is top notch. Zed AI is fairly straightforward with each enemy type falling into predictable patters, though the boss creatures are particularly painful. I should note that despite having played this on PC for a bit, it seemed that the player base was rather light so I didn’t get to give it a proper go. It ended up being one of the free games for PS4 this month via Playstation Plus however, so I got on my friend to download it and we have been playing it for the past few nights. We’ve been having a blast, and despite not being all that great at shooters, he has been holding his own. It helps that you have a team of 6, and as long as everyone is paying attention you can all help each other out. Typically no one dies until the boss fight, even on the longer round matches. I assume you wouldn’t want to move onto the harder difficulties without leveling your perks up a bit first though.

I’ve earned a few of the trophies thus far, and most of my screenshots will reflect that, though it’s pretty cool how some of them turned out, because the PS4 automatically saves a picture when a trophy is earned. There are quite a few cool action shots as a result:

I also happened to remember to save a video clip after finally getting a boss kill, and thought I’d share that with you all as well. It’s the entire boss battle, so it’s a few minutes, but it was pretty intense and I ended up being the last man standing (though my best friend was the last to fall before I got the killing blow). We did later fight that boss and take him out before he managed to run away to heal (as he did in the video) which nets a gold trophy. At this point I just have to find all of the collectibles on most maps (have the trophy for one) and play many more matches to have won 25, along with leveling a Perk fairly high. Anyway, here’s the video:

If you have a Playstation 4 the game is free right now, so go check it out. If you are a PC only type of person, I can still recommend the game, but you might want to convince some friends to buy in as well, as it seems the PC crowd is fairly small.

Thoughts on E3 2017

Despite the fact that I knew E3 was coming up fairly soon I didn’t realize it was this weekend and ended this evening with Sony’s Conference. When I realized I had missed a couple of days worth of news I figured I would make my rounds and check out trailers and whatnot. The usual suspects were present as always: EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Microsoft, Sony, and the PC Gaming Show. Most years when I talk about the games coming out of E3 it’s difficult to cut a list down to a manageable size for a blog post, but this year it was difficult to put together this list. There simply wasn’t much announced that was really amazing and the rest of the show was just more information on things we already knew about. I was underwhelmed with the total package, and the sprinkled in bits from YouTube/Twitch personalities along with some cringy e-sports tie-ins did not add to the overall experience. That isn’t to say that I don’t see some games on the horizon that interest me, it just felt like less of them than usual. Perhaps I’m just less enthused with gaming in general as of late. Either way, let’s run through my anticipated games from E3 2017:

The Crew 2

I was hesitant to put The Crew’s sequel on my list, because despite owning the first game and enjoying it, at some point I was locked out of my Ubisoft account so I can’t access any of the games (of which I admit are few) that I own that are accessed via the Ubisoft launcher. And though I purchased most of said games via Steam, you still have to use the Ubi launcher to play them. I did my due diligence as far as trying to recover my account via their various means of support, but that’s basically shit so the games I did own I deleted and the launcher was removed from my system. I will not be buying anymore games from them on my PC. On PS4 however, I wouldn’t have any problems, so I might just go that route. The added elements to this sequel feel like they’ll make the game even more entertaining than it already was, and I’m sure the title would feel great on console anyway.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

I didn’t think Wolfenstein The New Order would resonate as well with me as it did. Original trailers made it look rather hokey and generic, but after playing through DOOM I was still craving that old-school shooter vibe so I gave WTNO a try. I loved it. It had everything I enjoy in a single player shooter and played liquid smooth on my PC. I have no doubts that the sequel will also play amazing and bring back the feels.

The Evil Within 2

Admittedly I did not finish the first chapter of this game, and feel that I should do so before I play this one. I’d also say that this isn’t high on my list of must-haves, but I did enjoy the vibe of the original and felt it was more on par with earlier Resident Evil style games. This makes sense due to the pedigree of the creator, but I have to admit that the recently released Resident Evil VII was phenomenal. EW2 will have to pull it’s weight if it wants the survival horror crown.

Quake Champions

We saw Quake Champions announced last year, and I didn’t really think much of it. It’s been quite some time since I’ve played a true arena shooter with any regularity, but I did spend many hours playing Quake 3, Unreal Tournament and later Quake Live, so I do have that itch on occasion. The addition of some interesting layers such as individual champions and special abilities makes me think it will fit right up my alley. I love the shit out of Paladins, and though I know they aren’t an apples to apples comparison, the similarities are there and give me the feeling I’ll enjoy it.

Anthem

A new Bioware game comes with bated breath. Though I didn’t see anything wrong with what little I’ve played of their last two releases (ME:A and DA:I before that) there have been plenty of stories about broken releases and uninspired content for both so I look at Anthem as a possible must-have, but I’m not sure yet. From the trailer I gather that it will be a multiplayer RPG, and it looks like it’s Mass Effect style gameplay. I assume this is EA’s answer to Activision’s Destiny, similar to their yearly battle for profit shares via Battlefield and Call of Duty franchises. I’d also assume Bioware took lessons learned from their multiplayer formats for Mass Effect and Dragon Age and hopefully do this one right. Knowing the things we know though, it’s hard to say. I’ll be watching this one for sure.

Beyond Good & Evil 2

A long awaited sequel to a beloved game from early adulthood. I played the original back in the Playstation 2 days and then played it again when the remaster hit on Playstation 3. The cinematics alone show the sheer amount of time that has passed between the two games, we never imagined games looking like that when we were playing the original. Still, no real gameplay yet, so who knows if it’s really going to release? I think we’ll probably see it next year at the earliest. Still one I’m looking forward to!

BattleTech

An interesting looking title that came out of the PC Gamer show, it appears to be a turn based strategy game, but I only saw bits of combat. Will their be base management or other meta games? Time will tell I suppose. Still looks pretty cool even if it is just battles all the time!

Playlink

Sony introduced their Playlink program. An interesting new development, but not the first time I’ve seen apps on our phones try to interact with other devices. Companion apps are nothing new, but games where you get to play the game using your phone as a controller aren’t quite so common. The only one I’ve played was made by fellow blogger Talarian, called Eon Altar. The games they teased were nothing like the aforementioned RPG, but still the idea is a novel concept. I’m hoping something interesting comes out of this line of games.

Gran Turismo Sport

One of the games on my list that isn’t a new announcement, it’s actually supposed to release in Q4 of this year, but it’s very highly anticipated for me. I absolutely adore the GT series and I can’t wait to get my hands on this one!

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

It was definitely teased at the end of Nathan Drake’s run of the Uncharted franchise that his daughter would pick up the reigns, and in the trailer we find a grown up daughter ready to follow in her father’s footsteps. It’s unclear if the game will be co-op, but it sure looked that way in the trailer. Though older entries have always had companions, so perhaps it’s still traditional AI. Regardless, Naughty Dog are great at what they do so I’m sure it will be a blast no matter how they tell the story.

Days Gone

This one came out of nowhere and has a very Last of Us sort of feel. I liked what I saw, but who knows what the game will actually play like.

There were many other titles showcased, and of course there are still a couple more days dedicated to Nintendo and I’m sure there are more indies to be announced, but this was the bulk of what I saw that I was the most interested in this time around.

A New Frontier Episode 5

This week marks the completion of the latest Walking Dead series from Telltale. Regulars will know that I have a mixed relationship with the company, in that I have loved some of their series, but I have become a bit burnt out on the gameplay style as a whole. I couldn’t help but want to see what happened next with Clementine and some of the various characters from the lore who have dotted the series, so I did pick up what could be called “Season 3.” This episode is the conclusion of that series, and as usual, we get to examine our choices made throughout the episode. This time around the concluding episode came with some other interesting stats that I hadn’t seen in other series from Telltale, and I’d like to share my personal results as well. To get things started, here’s the traditional ending screen with the choices from episode 5:

It seems that in most cases, players had similar responses to me. I’m surprised that less people fessed up to being into Kate, and that less people had Clementine stay around. I have treated Clem with the utmost respect throughout the series, and watching her grow has been fascinating. Regardless, the stats are interesting. What was even better was all of the additional information they added in subsequent screens:

I’m curious what the different results are and despite the fact that I know I could probably Google that shit, I’m not going to. If you have played the game and would like to share your experienced results, comments are open. I ended the game having had a Dysfunctional relationship with my brother. It’s not as if the game didn’t already set that up to be the case, but apparently I kept that dysfunction going. I tried to walk the line with him, but by the end he had proven to be an asshole and died anyway. So I guess the result doesn’t matter all that much in my case, but perhaps other endings exist where he lives. I see in the main header graphic that I used it appears that Kate is a zombie, so perhaps things could have swung another way.

I’m not sure how I ended up with Mixed Signals for Kate. Honestly, I poured it on thick with her while the game was just getting started, and later on I did things as politically correct as possible to avoid tensions with David, up until the point where I finally had to confess, but they were on the road together for years raising kids that weren’t theirs… I don’t know anyone in that situation who wouldn’t have done the same. It’s no different than Rick’s Wife and Shane really, it was the “once the secret’s out” bit that unfolded differently.

Really curious to know how else Clem could have turned out, but I’m proud to have had this effect on her development. The end of the game presented us with a single sentence: “Clementine will Return” or something with similar sentiment, so I think we’ll see another season eventually. How this could affect future developments of the story could be sweeping, but with these sort of curated experiences, I doubt it will be so exaggerated. Perhaps though, these stats will affect something on a grander scale. Time will tell I suppose.

This episode also came with a handy body count, for your reference:

Again, I’m curious to see what others got for their results. If you happen to have played through the game, drop something in the comments!

State of the Game: Let’s Call Them RDA’s

It’s been a minute since I pulled out a round up post, so I thought I’d do that this fine holiday. The last time I checked in I was finishing up Destiny and Resident Evil VII, and it’s been quite some time since I wrote those games off to move onto something new. My recent posting history has been fairly balanced between pieces on individual games, the Humble Monthly write ups, and my MTG series, but I still manage to play other games and not really talk about them. Not long ago, I posted a poll to see which “time intensive” game I’d play next. I have so many, and there were several other options not presented, but these were ones that had been in my library for a while but not completed:

As you can see, The Witcher 3 took the top spot in the poll. I was cool with this, because it’s been a game I’ve been wanting to give a proper try. Those of you who participated in the poll are probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned playing it yet, so I thought this was a good time to explain. I bought the game on my PS4 because it happened to be on sale with the expansions. I figured I’d want to be able to get the full experience, so it was a no-brainer purchase. So many people raved about what a great game it is, but despite a couple tries at it, I just don’t concur. It seems interesting enough, it runs well enough, but it just feels so wonky. I don’t like the combat, I don’t like Gwent, I really don’t like anything that I saw. I honestly believed that Fallout 4 was the better open world RPG that year, and I still feel that way a couple of years later. So I uninstalled and tried not to think about the wasted money. I feel like I’m going to have a much better time with either FFXV or ME3, both of which I want to dive into soon. I haven’t put aside the time to devote to either just yet, having dipped my toes into each and liking what I saw. They just control so much better than the Witcher. This isn’t the first time a shitty control scheme turned me off of a series. I’m hoping that Red Dead Redemption 2 fixes the ailment.

So what have I been playing? I’m still doing my rounds with a multitude of lobby based games, including SMITE, Paladins, Battle Islands Commanders, Minion Masters and Clash Royale — the latter 3 being part of an emerging genre I’m going to start calling RDAs, or “Real-Time Duel Arenas.” You can go ahead and spread that around. I’ve also played a bit of a game that was given out for free during Humble Bundle’s Spring Sale called Dungeons II which I have rather enjoyed. Lastly, I’ve picked up a couple more free to play games on the console to play with my best friend, as PS4 is our only way to play and he’s on a tight budget these days, so free to play is the way to go. Those titles are Marvel Heroes Omega and Skyforge — two games I’ve mentioned here on the blog before, but I was playing them on PC, and solo. Which is probably why I never got all that far. Still, I have found that I enjoy them and they feel great on the console!

SMITE has been more of the same, though I’m not playing it as regularly the past couple of weeks due to spreading my time around elsewhere. I’m nearing 60 Gods mastered and have just been plugging away at quests when I get them. It’s starting to get to the point that I don’t crave playing it as much as I used to, and that’s what happened with League of Legends a couple of months before I started up with SMITE (which has been over a year now, by the way). I’ll keep it around and play it often enough but less often than before. Paladins has been keeping my interest and breaking up the monotony of having only one game to play with your buddy. SMITE is great, but playing the same game day in and day out (on the days you do get together) gets old. I think we’ve retired Awesomenauts too, but Paladins has seen steady play.

RDA’s have started to become a thing, and I’ve covered them here with increasing frequency. I’m sure just like with MOBAs before them there will be a lot of copies and a lack of innovation for a time until the few remain and another new sub-genre emerges. Still, I have been becoming more invested in this style of game, mainly because of the dueling nature of it. In MOBAs or other team-based games you have to worry about yourself, but also try to work with your team to completed objectives. In these dueling games, you only have to worry about the opponent you are facing. Bite sized rounds also means more time to play multiples, and though some rely on time-locks to keep you from playing non-stop you can find those that don’t have these limitations. Obviously I started with Clash Royale, which I think just might be the originators of the concept (correct me if I’m wrong), so let’s check in there first:

I’ve finally gotten over the hump and have solidified my place in Arena 9. Like other choke points before it, I was teetering on the verge of staying in Arena 9 and dropping back down to Arena 8. I kept tweaking my decks trying new strategies and listening to what guides and others had to say, which ended up hurting me for a while. Finally, I picked my style of deck and put something together that I can say works pretty well most of the time. Well enough that I got over that hump and am currently sitting at my highest ever trophy total. I still don’t have all of the cards yet, as new ones keep being added in, and the meta shifts quite a bit between the Arenas. This is what my deck is looking like at this point:

I like the “Hog Cycling” style of deck, where the majority of the spells are cheap and your main win condition is using Hog Riders often. I was trying to avoid using E-barbs because people tend to complain about them pretty loudly, but they are a good form of defense and tend to help with counter-pushing. I just recently added in the Log as I finally pulled one from a chest, and am currently working on leveling my Dart Goblin to level 7 so that I can use it to replace the archers, as I think for the elixir cost it will actually benefit the deck. I know trading out Arrows for the Log did. I’m not getting 3 crown wins every time with this deck, but it has been winning pretty consistently, even against some of the hard to counter Golem and Royal Giant decks out there.

In Minion Masters, I have settled on this deck, and this Master. I haven’t been playing it super regularly, but when I do I’ve enjoyed it. The Early Access is plugging away and keeps being enhanced. I’m still not as committed to this because it’s not in full release, but I look forward to that day. Not having to upgrade cards and not having a time limit on rounds makes this game play differently and I enjoy the nuance. Wonder how far they will go with things before release?

Dungeons II is a modern version of Dungeon Keeper. It plays nearly identically, save for the little intro that played more like a traditional RTS (perhaps other bits of the game will as well) but the first couple of levels felt so similar to Dungeon Keeper, but in the best way possible. If you enjoyed that game, you’ll enjoy this one. Hope you got your free copy! There isn’t much else to say there. Here’s pictures instead:

I also picked up a copy of the newly released game Killers & Thieves, which is from the same company as The Banner Saga. Not sure if I mentioned it before, but I did back The Banner Saga 3 on Kickstarter a few months back, as I own and have completed the first two games and really enjoyed them. It basically just got me a pre-order copy of the game. Anyway, K&T is made by one of the developers from Stoic, who was coding this game as a side project and almost completely alone. It’s got that great hand-drawn art style, some interesting ideas behind it, but as many people will mention in the reviews, there are some basic settings and tutorials that are not there yet (but are supposed to be patched in soon). Turns out that the reviews are right, and though I don’t mind a bit of a learning curve, I didn’t get to far into the game without feeling like I’d rather wait for it to be patched a time or two before I get further. At the end of the day, it’s a Thieves Guild management sim, and it seems to do that fairly well. The heist bits were entertaining, but a bit frustrating. I honestly think it will benefit from some patches, and I’m hopefully that it turns out well, but at this point I wouldn’t outright recommend it.

Lastly, I picked up both Marvel Heroes Omega (the newest rebranding of the popular MMO-lite from Gazillion) and Skyforge for PS4, as I was looking for something new to play with my friend. He’s not terrible at the games that we already play, but sometimes the competitive nature of those games get on our nerves. There are times when it’s nice to play some co-op too, so I wanted some titles we could check out together, and because I was already familiar with these it seemed like a good idea. MHO just went into open beta so anyone with a PS4 can jump in right now. Founder’s packs are still available and usually come with a hero or heroes and skins. They aren’t too over priced, and you do get enough in-game currency to open up at least one character from the get-go. Apparently it’s not too much of a grind to open up others, but otherwise it’s the same exact game you already know. Apparently couch co-op is also available, so that’s pretty cool. It runs well and the controls are intuitive. I think we’ll be putting some time into it.

Skyforge hasn’t been played as much. We were trying to get through the tutorial bits today so that we could finally group up, but it takes some time and he’s not exactly an experienced MMO player, so I’m sure the systems seem a bit complex to him. Once we do get a chance to play I think we might have a good time with it too. They both feel oddly more at home on console, just like SMITE and Paladins (for me, that is).

I think that’s it for this round, nearly 2k words later. Adios.