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.

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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