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.

State of the Game: Progress Report

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I had a few different games I wanted to talk about today, but I don’t think I have a full post’s worth of thoughts to write down on each, so instead we’re back with another State of the Game round up. It’s been a little while, but I should be able to fill this out pretty well. So what games are we talking about this time? Resident Evil 7, SMITE, Clash Royale and Destiny are on the menu. Let’s get started shall we?

Resident Evil 7

I mentioned getting started with RE7 and gave my initial impressions in a recent post, and I have played the game a little while longer since then. When we left off, I had just killed my girlfriend who was clearly not herself, but who then appeared to be herself again during the killing blow. She disappeared after I received a phone call, but it didn’t take long for her to show up again. I knew something was coming because Resident Evil games don’t give you a shit ton of ammo and healing supplies unless there’s a boss fight up ahead, and sure enough my lover appeared once again. This time she managed to cut my hand off, before I eventually let her have a ton of bullets to the face. She appeared dead, but then someone new showed up. I was welcomed to the family, and then attempted my escape. Unfortunately, my game time was cut short that day, but I do plan to get some more time in this week so I’m sure I’ll have more to share before I’m done. From what I’ve read, the game is only 10-12 hours long, so it shouldn’t take long to beat this one and get back to my backlog.

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Destiny

Speaking of my backlog, the one game I’ve been focused on for the past couple of months is Destiny, and I’m nearly level 40. I’ve nearly completed The Taken King storyline. I know there’s more to do in Rise of Iron, and I also know that there are raids and/or more difficult Strikes that I can go back and do. I also know there’s PvP and likely more end game content once I’m 40, but I’m still on the fence about doing the Light grind or about leveling another character. I have a boost, so it’s really only one other I have to level, but I’m thinking that once I’ve completed the storylines I’ll probably put it down for a while. There are too many other games on my list that I want to complete, and though I’ve written off some titles after a short amount of time, there are games I truly enjoy that are just collecting dust. At least I can say I completed the game, the main story, what have you. I won’t feel as guilty and will have at least gotten my money’s worth.

SMITE

I’m still playing Smite several times a week. After completing The Odyssey, there was a new Celtic event added to the game, as a new God from a new Pantheon was added and I guess that’s a big deal. I didn’t really care for the new God, but I did enjoy the event, and I got a skin for her as a result (plus a few chests). At this point I have 41 mastered Gods and I have officially hit level 30. I still need to start playing conquest and play a few ranked games, but I’m nearing completion of the Platinum trophy, and that’s part of why I’ve continued to play as long as I have. That and it’s the only game I play with a couple of my friends so it gives us something to do and time to chat.

Clash Royale

Clash has become a daily thing. The clan gets a chest every few days and we have managed to churn out the crowns and get the full reward each time. I’ve grown my deck considerably, and think I only need 10-20 cards to have them all. Leveling them up is a different story. I have 3 legendaries, but can’t seem to get extra copies of them. I have even more underpowered epics and rares, but things are progressing each day. I’ve made it to Arena 8 and am account level 9, so I guess you can say that I’ve moved up, but I’m starting to rise and fall a few hundred crowns day in and day out. It’s rather frustrating, especially knowing I’ve now spent some money on the game and still don’t have some of the best cards, while others might have lucked out and earned those cards for free. Ah well, it is the nature of the game. It’s still fun, and a great way to kill a few minutes relatively anywhere you go.

Lastly, I downloaded the new games from my Humble Monthly subscription. As usual, there were some extra copies of games I already own, some games I had zero interest in, and that’s about it. I did pay early for next month though, as Total War: Warhammer was the early unlock, and that’s a game I’ve wanted for a while but was waiting to go on sale. $12 for it is a great deal, and it’s not really all that old just yet. I have yet to play any of these new games but I will check them out and be back with another mini-impressions post on that. Playstation Plus games released today as well, and though I know I’ll probably play Little Big Planet 3, the others weren’t as exciting. I also picked up the Alien Isolation collection during the mid-week madness sale ($12 for the whole shebang isn’t bad — and a deal I couldn’t refuse), and Disgaea PC 1 & 2 in a bundle. It’s an old series that came out during the PS2 days but is similar to FF Tactics, so it sounded up my alley.

The backlog grows, and I can’t make it stop.

Taking on The Taken King

It’s been a little while since I talked about my progress in Destiny. Most of you who are used to me and my on again off again nature with any one particular game probably thought I had given up on it, but no that isn’t the case this time. I’m still plugging away. Currently sitting at level 29, around 150 light, and have just started off the Taken King quest lines. The game is still holding my interest, but I don’t play it every single day. I still have other titles that I’m playing here and there as well, but I’m determined to at least level one character to 40. Will I do the end game grinding? Maybe… maybe not. Will I level the other two classes (currently working on Hunter) to 40? Well I do have a boost that I’ll likely use on one of the other classes. My Warlock is level 7 (from my first little spurt of time with the game) and I created a level 1 Titan. So far I’ve enjoyed the Hunter enough, and I don’t know that the other classes really differ enough to warrant going through all of the content again. I also haven’t touched the Crucible yet; perhaps PvP will keep my interest for a while before the sequel inevitably makes this game obsolete.

After the last post I wrote about Destiny, I was about level 17 and thought that I was nearing the end of the vanilla content. I was right. Within the next play session I had completed the original game, which did appear to have an ending of sorts, but was easy to open back up as they continued the story line. Next, it was on to the House of Wolves story line, and that saw more time on Earth, the Reef, and Venus. It culminated in another piece of Legendary gear, and by the time I had done that, various bounties and finished any side quests, I was about level 27.

Tonight I jumped into the starter quest for the Taken King. I assume that running through this questline will get me to level 40 (perhaps before I finish, because leveling has been a fast clip). The Rise of Iron content is probably mostly end-game stuff. I will see this through to its end for sure, but then it might be time to move onto another title from the backlog. We’ll see how much I still want to play once I’m there. Overall I’d say it’s a great game, and I’ll get into the sequel sooner, if it comes to pass. I know that waiting til the game was nearly completed was a good call for the pocketbook, but with a game like this where they are planning a sequel rather than making a persistent world and just adding it like a traditional MMO, it’s probably better to play along as the stuff comes out. Thankfully it’s not a game where the level cap is larger and the whole game is a slog. If more traditional MMOs were more intriguing like this game, maybe I’d play some of them. I have a feeling though that this game does have that slog at the end, particularly if you want to raid and do all of the end game stuff. So that’s probably where I hang up my hat. We shall see.

Anyway, here’s a selection of random screenshots from my adventures thus far. I’ll report back once I’m into the newest expansion.

Onward, To Mars

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been playing Destiny quite a bit as of late. I’m really falling in love with the game, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been hooked by something that so closely resembles an MMO. I know, it’s not really a “true” MMO, but as far as pseudo-MMOs go, this one is about as good as it gets. I’ve barely scratched the surface, so there’s still plenty to do and it feels like I might actually be hooked enough to see things through to the end. Not sure how much I’ll enjoy end game grinding, or having to level up other characters, but at the same time I look forward to nearing the end and seeing all that the game has to offer.

I shared this picture last night, and shortly thereafter I surpassed the 100 light level, and also hit level 18. Finishing off a strike where I had to kill this horrible witch character on Earth was a challenge, but once that was done I was rewarded with my first legendary piece of gear, and that was a nice upgrade from the blue I had in the slot. At this point most of my gear is blue, and I’m starting to feel fairly powerful, despite the fact that I know end game is somewhere in the 400 light level range. Still, progress is progress, and I’m having a blast progressing through this story line and seeing all of the sights, meeting new integral characters, and of course improving my character. Perhaps I just needed an RPG in my life. Lord knows there’s plenty of those in my backlog as is.

I believe I’m moving towards the last bit of the original game’s content. I know that the first couple of expansions were “lackluster” according to friends of mine, but I’m definitely not yet into Taken King territory. The storyline has lead me from Earth, to the Moon, then to Venus, and I’ve met the Queen of the Awoken, who sent me on a mission to kill some Vex. Having completed that quest, she then sent me to Mars. This opened up a new city hub similar to the Tower, and a quest called House of Wolves which I believe is part of one of the first expansions. Regardless, that’s where I left off. The next mission is on the red planet, and from what I recall that is the last bit of the vanilla game, as I’m nearing the original level cap. I’m hoping that things continue on as smoothly and that the game transitions right into the other bits of content. I know I could look all of this up and have my questions answered, but for now I’m just enjoying the ride!

I have yet to play any games in the Crucible, but I think that should be pretty fun. I also just opened up the Strike playlists (vanguard) so I suppose that’s similar to being able to do dungeon runs at my leisure. It seems that leveling is pretty quick, at least to 20, we’ll see how the additional 20 levels go. I’m kind of sad at this point that I don’t believe there will be any more content added to the game in the way of expansions, but I guess since Destiny 2 is in the works, there’s at least that to look forward to. Honestly I’d take more content over more levels, as when you jump into other MMOs with outrageous level caps, it’s not fun to slog through all of the old content. In the case of Destiny, it’s not so bad. The story is engaging, the world is beautiful, the combat is tight, and the progression is fast going. Perhaps it wasn’t this way initially, but it’s going at a rapid clip to this point and it’s made it feel fun, rather than work. Perhaps I’ll hit that work wall at some point, but for now I’m loving this game.

If you play the game, feel free to add me on PS4, my user name is Built4Sin82. I’ll be playing this title for a while to come.

State of the Game: A New Year Edition

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It’s been a bit since I talked much about gaming, so I thought another round up post was in order to share what I’ve been up to. We’re looking at the usual suspects here, although I did make a purchase over the holidays that inspired me to finally give a game a chance that I’ve had in my library for almost a year now, but hadn’t really played much. Playing this game has been a two-fold endeavor, in that it’s a pseudo MMO, but it’s also something that can be struck from the backlog once I’ve played my share of it. You all know by now that I have no real love of MMOs anymore, basically writing them off but dipping my toes here and there. The most recent toe-dipping was with World of Warcraft, where the Legion hype managed to suck me in, but I didn’t play for more than a couple of months before writing the game off again. There’s still hope for Crowfall, and supposedly the beta pledges will be able to play the game finally this year, so that’s something, though I don’t know how well that will keep me occupied considering the game isn’t done. I’m still in the guild that was started up about a year ago for Crowfall, but I have been less than active as of late just because I’ve spent less time at the computer than I had earlier in the year.

So the game that I’m playing currently is Destiny. I received a PSN giftcard for Christmas, and decided to use it to buy the Rise of Iron expansion. Previously I had purchased The Taken King, and I mostly did so because I had several friends playing the game at that point in time. I had a bit of a falling out with one of those friends, and a couple others had refused to buy the expansion saying that it cost too much money. Hence, my play time with the game screeched to a halt despite the fact that I could have been playing it solo this whole time (not to mention knowing several bloggers and others on Twitter who play that I could have taken up arms with). Having spent more money on the game, and knowing that a Destiny 2 is in the works, I figured now was the time to really give it a fair shot. I’m glad that I did.

I must say that Destiny is one hell of a game. It’s not a “true” MMO in the traditional sense, but it has plenty of elements that make it feel MMO-like. It’s really more of a lobby type game, but there are plenty of open-world areas and you’ll see other players running around, sometimes joining forces with them while doing a strike mission. It’s also one of the best looking games I’ve played on my PS4. No, I haven’t and don’t intend on upgrading to the PS4 Pro version of the system because I suspect in the next couple of years we’ll see a new Playstation altogether, and I’ve only had mine for a year so spending the money to upgrade didn’t really make sense. Also, it’s not necessary, as the upgrade isn’t really all that impressive. My system works just fine as is, and most of the games I’ve played for it still look great, even if the architecture of the platform is lacking compared to my gaming PC.

To this point I’ve leveled a Hunter to 11, and have been burning through the storyline at a rapid clip. I do have a boost to 40 from buying the expansion, but I figured it was best to go through the game from start to finish first, and then perhaps boost one of the other classes so I don’t have to level through everything again when the time comes. I have a Warlock that is level 8 from my first romp with the game as well, but I’m unsure if I’ll boost that character or if I’ll boost a Titan. Time will tell, but so far I’m enjoying the Hunter very much. I have yet to dip my toes into any of the PvP matches, but I look forward to seeing all the game has to offer. Something about Shooters always pulls me in more so than traditional MMOs, so this has been a great fit, despite the fact that I didn’t think it would grab me like it has.

Otherwise we’re looking at the usual suspects. I’ve played SMITE nearly daily for months now. I’ve mastered over 30 Gods, and I’m nearly level 30 account level with would max me out and allow me to play in the ranked queues. I still have a handful of Gods that I prefer playing, and I still feel like I’m one of the better players in each match that I complete. You can see some evidence of that over on my YouTube channel where I’ve shared some dominating matches. Going forward I want to hit that max account level, try out ranked and continue mastering gods. Oh, and I finished up all of the Odyssey quests, and that was a fun distraction.

On the mobile front, I’m still playing Clash Royale. I joined Syncaine’s clan, Supreme Cream! and have been contributing as I can. There are various aspects of the game that are simply not available without a clan, so it’s been nice to have that. We trade cards back and forth and you can also play in friendly battles. Tournaments are also a thing, but I’m not quite high enough account level to participate. I’ve hit level 7, but 8 is required. The main issue that I’m having at this point is not having the best cards available, as most are earned semi-randomly. I’ve been running my head into the wall against players who have had better luck upgrading their decks, but eventually that should even out and I’ll be back to climbing. I’m in arena 6 currently, but there are a few more to go that require gaining rating. I’ll get there.

Lastly, I’m still building up my establishment in Tiny Tower. Nearing 80 floors and have over 150 bitizens housed. It’s really just maintenance mode at this point, with a little bit of min/maxing regarding the optimal placement of bitizens in their jobs. Still a fun little time waster, but not nearly as engaging as CR.

I was gifted a few games for Christmas, and I tried those out over my break. Some were pretty cool, others were only so-so. I’ll try to share more about those at a later date. But for now, I’m going to finish off this work day so I can get home to play more Destiny!