A New Frontier Episode 4

Episode 4 of TellTales latest season of The Walking Dead series was strange. It simultaneously felt like there was less playing time (less QTEs and less exploration) than any of the other episodes in the whole series, but it felt like one of the most intense episodes. TellTale has mastered this storyline, and has dropped in subtle tie-ins to previous seasons that will tie bits of the story together and tug on your heartstrings. The little details are the most striking, and the fact that every little choice  you make will come back to haunt you is superb. Things I had forgotten doing came to light in this playthrough, and that alone will catch you off guard. There are little sub-stories going on here too, like falling in love with Kate, seeing Clementine grow into a young adult (even “becoming a woman” so to speak), and the rivalry between two brothers. I really love the lore of this game series, and it really captures what it means to be human, and how it can tear you apart if you aren’t careful.

My choices were mostly in line with others, though it seems that some people held a grudge against Tripp (I just thought perhaps I would earn his forgiveness for taking out Conrad). Others held a grudge against Joan, which makes complete sense, though I was banking on David doing something stupid to screw things up for himself. The cliffhanger here is not knowing what happened to Kate at the end of the episode, and knowing that David is likely still alive. I managed to keep one of his kids upright, and would likely take better care of him, but he still wants his father, and well Kate wants Javi, so that makes things complicated, doesn’t it. We’ll see how things wrap in Richmond soon enough, but like each season before it, I don’t want it to end. Here were my choices, officially:

It’s been nice having something Walking Dead related to keep me going now that the latest season of the TV show has ended. That was a hell of a cliffhanger ending too, and it’s a long wait until October to find out what happens next. All I know is that I’ve grown tired of the Telltale formula for the most part, but can’t get enough of this series. I hope a new season is to follow in the coming years. I’ll be back when episode 5 drops to wrap things up.

TWD A New Frontier Episode 3

The most recent chapter of the newest Walking Dead series from TellTale Games released this past week and I took an evening at home to play through it. I must say, I love the way cameos from the show and comics appear through the series. One season we saw a glimpse of Glen, Michonne got her own spin off series, and now we have Jesus making his own appearance. It also feels that the game has matured, and I don’t just mean because it has graphic elements, but moreso in the story telling itself. It feels wretched when the bad things and the tough choices come about, but there is that sense of following your own personal instincts in guiding the story. I grew tired of the same ol’ formula with TellTale games, just like I did with the same old Call of Duty every year, but because of my deep investment into this series (comics, show, multiple games) I still enjoy this one. It’s of particular note, and I’m not sure if I mentioned it in my last post about the new series, but the game runs much better on a PS4 compared to the first seasons on the PS3. I’m sure PC users don’t have this issue. I chose to stay on console because I played the originals on console. But I digress.

I’m sure that you can infer just from the choices above that there was some difficulty in what to do throughout episode 3. It seems that choices were fairly evenly split if you consider that only two were very far from center. I don’t want to spoil anything further, but just wanted to share some thoughts on my continued playthrough of the game.

Resident Evil VII Complete

I’ve finally completed Resident Evil VII and I must say that I really enjoyed the game. Simply put, this is the best Resident Evil since the fourth, which was my other favorite entry aside from the first two. Honestly this game scared me the same way the original did, while played in the dark alone with the volume way up. If I really think about it, no game has really scared me since that original Resident Evil experience, outside of good ol’ Silent Hill 2. But I digress.

This iteration took me a whopping ten hours to complete, so it was shorter than the past couple of entries, but still felt like a long experience. Hell, I racked up those ten hours sparingly — I purchased the game at the tail end of January. That doesn’t mean it was bad, too difficult or very long; I’d just manage to get stuck on something (a couple of deaths) and then not play it for a week in favor of something else. I kept coming back around though and as of last night the game is done. There is a new difficulty, more collectible bits and things of that nature that could keep me playing it, but I’m not feeling the urge to do that just yet. There are also two DLCs so far that add more tapes and things to play through but I’ve had my fill for now. I can’t recall if I mentioned it but I’ve got FF15 and Mass Effect Andromeda on my plate for now and I’m just trying to burn through some of these side games as time allows. With that said, I highly recommend picking this game up if you’re a fan. If you’re on the fence because you haven’t liked the series for a while, I’d give it a try anyway — it’s a throw back to the original games. Here are some potential spoilers in the form of pictures:

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Impressions: Paladins PS4 Beta

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

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

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

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

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

Progress Report: SMITE

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

Victory — as in pay the man.

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

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

50 Gods Mastered!

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

Take that, tower!

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