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.

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.

State of the Game: Resident Destiny, Evil Fantasy XV

sotg

For a long time it was difficult to find a happy medium when it came to gaming. I was either knee deep is some story-rich RPG, or for a time I was playing one MMO at a time and little to nothing else. I played nothing but MOBAs and other lobby-based competitive games for a long period of time, and I still dip my toes into new entries in all of these genres. I have always been a little wishy washy or fickle in nature, so I’ve always gone in waves where I delve deeply into one genre, grow tired of its tropes and move on to something new. I usually come back around time and again, but with that bits of real life interspersed I will also go in waves where I don’t play as much. Having other hobbies like Magic also take away from gaming, but provide valuable face time with real people. It seems that over the years I have found myself becoming neurotic over purchases made, my backlog and/or spending all of my time on one game. When I was hosting the Couch Podtatoes Podcast, it made sense for me to be on top of all the sales and play the newest games, because people who were listening to the show weren’t there to hear us drone on and on about the same game. There are game specific podcasts for a reason, and if that’s the only game you play then that podcast would probably suit you better. This isn’t to say I had a massive audience, but the people who were listening were expecting Eri to have a list of new Indie games to rave about and I’d typically have some list of recent big titles to hype up. It became our thing but also part of the stress I put on myself to actually play these games but also work and have a social life. It became a trying thing, and eventually something have to give. As such, the podcast is no more (but I long to produce another) and I’ve reduced my output on the blog. I’ve put more time into social outings (like Magic) and have actually started to get into somewhat of a routine, finding the balance to be not exactly to my liking but better for my individual personality on the whole.

The result of that stream of consciousness drivel above is that I’m in a happy head-space these days; the self-induced pressure to perform to some inhuman standard no longer rests on my shoulders. I suppose this should should have been a rant better saved for some other post, but the words keep flowing so I’m going to continue on anyway. Don’t worry, I have games to discuss in a moment. The gist of it all is that I’ve found some sort of happy medium where I’ve managed to have a few days a week to myself to game away and make progress on more than one game, and I don’t feel as guilty about the laundry list of games I haven’t completed. In many cases, I’ve cleared out games from the backlog simply because the titles weren’t engaging. If I’ve played a game for a few hours and it’s not grabbing me, I’m not pushing myself to finish it. Uninstalling has been a great weight off of my mind. There are still too many titles that I’ve procured during sales that I need to get to, and games that I currently enjoy are constantly pushing DLC down my throat (Total War Warhammer was the early unlock for next month’s Humble Monthly, but getting all of the DLC for the game was pricey… I also picked up the 3 DLC packs for Civ VI… sigh) but if I’ve already seen what I need to see, I’m okay with letting some lie in the pile. I have been making progress on more than one game here recently though, so let’s get this State of the Game on the road, shall we?

The three games I’ve put the most time into this past couple of weeks are Resident Evil 7, Destiny, and Final Fantasy XV. Yeah, the latter was finally on sale for $20 off so I picked it up. It looked too damn cool to pass up, and I’m glad I made the purchase. Despite having an RPG (Destiny) I was already working my way through, I didn’t want to miss the sale and I’m nearing the end of Destiny so that one will soon be out of my steady rotation.

I finally hit level 40 the other night on my Hunter, and managed to also complete The Taken King expansion (outside of raids). One thing that immediately stood out to me as being sort of fucked up is that despite playing through the whole game to that point, I only had a light level of 208 after finishing TTK, while Rise of Iron requires a minimum light level of 280… which means grinding for light before I even get to finish the storyline. Out of curiosity, I loaded up my Warlock who was level 7, and used the level 40 boost on him. He got a pile of blue gear, that gave him a light level of 280, just in time to run through RoI. So at this point I’m questioning whether or not I want to continue to level my Hunter until 280 light and then move on to the new expansion, or just play the Warlock through the new storyline and call it quits. Honestly I’m at the point where I’m pretty much done with the game, especially with Destiny 2 supposedly dropping this year. I’d almost rather save the effort and just quit now so I can jump into the sequel on the ground floor (and not wait until the end of its lifecycle like I did with the first game). I do want to see RoI though, as I did pay for the priviledge. I suppose we’ll see how it goes and how sucked into these other games I get. Here’s some pics of progress:

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Resident Evil is one hell of an experience. I have only played for a few short hours, but it is screenshot gold. I don’t really have much to share, and these pictures will likely be spoilery, but damn if it isn’t visceral. I will give a final impression once I’ve completed it, but if you like scary games you absolutely need to do yourself a favor and buy this. VR not required (but likely to require a diaper!).

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Last but not least, as I mentioned I picked up Final Fantasy XV. I’ve been a fan of the FF series for a long time, with some stand out favorites were Tactics, 6, 7 and 9. I actually recently bought the FF9 port because I didn’t get to finish that one back in the PS1 days. FF7 will always be incredible and I still can’t wait for the remake. Tactics is my all time favorite just because I loved the setting and the gameplay. 6 is a classic that would also be great for a remake. I have played most of the others classic titles, but for some reason lost touch with the series during the PS2 era. I never played X, XI, XII or XIII. XIV was a decent MMO that unfortunately came at a time when I wasn’t really into MMOs. With that said, I was really impressed with XV when it was revealed and knew it was a game I wanted to play. After it released and I read some reviews, I knew I’d purchase it. I told myself I wouldn’t buy it when it was $60 because I couldn’t rightly justify the cost knowing I have other deep RPGs sitting on my hard drives. But $20 off? Yeah, I’ll buy that. Overall the game is completely different than any FF game I’ve played, and that’s not a bad thing. Having more of an open world is a nice touch (though I hear it becomes fairly linear later in the game) and I love the main characters and their banter. The combat system is awesome, if not a little confusing at first. After a few battles though, it really takes off. I look forward to seeing this one to its end, and will really start powering through it once Destiny is off of my list. Here are some pics of the early game:

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That’s all for this edition. Happy gaming!

State of the Game: Progress Report

sotg

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.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier

I’ve written about TellTale Games’ Walking Dead series before, and there’s finally a new game in the series to discuss once more. The first season of the game came out a few years back on PS3 and was eventually ported to the PC as well. I loved the series, being a fan of the comic and TV show, which all encompass events within the real world, but are separate tales of different groups of people. It is a nice touch that characters we’ve met in the comics and the TV series have made appearances as well, and this game series has followed many familiar faces as well. I went into pretty excruciating detail the last time around, as far as explaining my actions, the general story and finishing off with my choices. Well, I can’t exactly do that at this juncture. The reason being is that not only did I pick the game up a couple of weeks after release, I also only played the first episode when I first loaded up the game. I don’t recall all of the scenes where the major choices took place, as you don’t really know what major choices you are making until after the episode is over. I decided to fire up the game and play episode 2 last night, and though I do remember that episode more clearly, I still don’t really feel the need to spoil things for you. I’d rather just talk about the game, and I’ll share my choices in case you want to compare.

If you’ve played the first two seasons of The Walking Dead games, you can import your save (if you actually uploaded those saves to the cloud years ago, and still have the ability to download them to your system of choice, that is). There is also an option to make the key choices from the first two seasons as you start up a new game, and then you can play with those prior choices coloring the outcome of various parts of the game. Personally, I couldn’t remember the exact choices I made, so I made my best guesses and moved along.

The game plays like other TellTale games, but I had come to a point that they weren’t really doing much for me anymore, and I hadn’t purchased one of their games in quite some time. It was all too samey, and without killer IPs, I couldn’t be bothered (Minecraft and Batman, I’m looking at you as being likely snoozefests). I will note that this title plays very well on the PS4, whereas I was noticing issues with framerate drops with the other titles that I played on my PS3. Its likely performance is even better on the PC, but I have made a tradition of playing these games on the Playstation, so I didn’t want to steer away from that.

Story-wise, we pick up some time after the 2nd season. Clementine isn’t present until a while into the first episode. Instead, we meet a new group of survivors, watch flashbacks to before the zombie apocalypse, and eventually come to find Clementine is a little more grown, and definitely less trusting than she used to be. She’s definitely a survivor, but has grown up with the world having gone to shit, and she’s starting to show it. Eventually shit hits the fan as it always does, and then we pick up in episode 2 shortly after some traumatic events. More of those are thrown on the pile during the second portion of the game.

Overall, it’s still my favorite series from Telltale, and I’ve played nearly all of their games (except for the last recent entries, which didn’t appeal to me). I look forward to seeing this one through to its end, and I’m curious if this series will continue, or if this will be the finale of a trilogy. I suppose time will tell. Here are my choices from Episodes 1 & 2. I’ll be back when the next episode releases. Until then, happy gaming, where ever you find yourselves!

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Episode 1 Choices
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Episode 2 Choices