More New & Noteworthy

Leave it to the Steam Discovery Queue to turn me on to games I’d never heard of. Sometimes I’ll absent-mindedly add games to my wishlist, and then sometimes I will just buy them on the spot, particularly if something new and shiny has a bit of a discount. This time around, two games struck my fancy, and both for very different reasons.

If you were as much of a nut as I was for Half-Life, you’ve likely played a mod or two. The original game released in the 90’s when the Internet was becoming a thing and multiplayer PC gaming over-the-internet was in a state of growth but wasn’t an always-connected proposition just yet. Half-Life was a smash hit, and a great game to play but once you were bored of the campaign, traditional deathmatch was there for you. That didn’t last long though, and soon we had mods from creative people with plenty of time on their hands. Mods grew in popularity, but only a select few became stand alone titles, and only a few saw new iterations when Half-Life 2 released. The two biggest mods for the Half-Life era were easily Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat. I played both for countless hours through beta on to release — at school, at home and even at Internet cafes. Between the two Day of Defeat was always my favorite, and Day of Defeat Source to follow. Eventually the games grew old and people moved on, but even with the older Medal of Honor and Call of Duty games, the feel was never quite right. I absolutely loved Day of Defeat and that has been a missing part of my gaming DNA for a decade or more at this point.

Enter Day of Infamy. A project put together by the people behind Insurgency. A game I never played, but had definitely seen around and thought about purchasing a time or two, but with a modern era combat scheme that I’m just sick of. Even Call of Duty has moved beyond the modern and into Sci-Fi realms, so this just felt like more of the same. It turns out that I may have made a hasty judgement there, because if Insurgency plays like Day of Infamy, it surely must be an awesome game. A Server lobby? In 2017? I’m shocked and appreciative! Realistic combat as opposed to bullet sponges? Tell me more! A “hardcore” experience, with less information on screen and no kill confirmations (outside of your own visuals)? I’m sold.

The graphics are nothing spectacular, this isn’t AAA quality but it still runs well and feels optimized. Things are serviceable, and the focus feels to be right where it should — on gameplay. There are several game modes, including the standard Day of Defeat format of pushing (similar to Rush in Battlefield) and capturing objectives, with a tug of war mechanic allowing one team with an edge to win, or be pushed back. There are other modes as well, including coop, though I haven’t tried that out just yet.

There seems to be a progression of sorts, where gaining experience opens differing skins. Classes have their own unique abilities to master and the games are over fairly quick, with a best of 3 format. MVP style awards are given at the end of matches for your e-peen’s growth to boot.  Overall the game feel like a spiritual successor to Day of Defeat, so if that was your bag, this game is sure to be as well. For $20 you’ll no doubt have a good time. At least you can use it to break up other multiplayer experiences, and simultaneously travel back to a simpler time.

Monster Slayers is an indie game that recently came to Steam, but I suppose I should admit that it is only new to Steam, not a new game. Apparently it is a port of a Newgrounds flash game, but that isn’t to say it feels like a rip off, which one might say about paying for a free flash game. It does have a “lite” feel to it, but to be more specific, it feels like “Darkest Dungeon Lite.” Less complexity, but a similar feel. The game touts being part Rogue-like and part deckbuilding. From what I’ve seen, it melds the two concepts quite well.

You’ll start by picking a class (out of 6 with 6 more being added very soon). Each will have its own sorts of abilities in card format. Each class will start with some cards pertinent to their play style, and some other generic cards. For instance, I started with the Wizard class, and he came with basic attacks like any other class, but then had mana charge and magic missile, both of which can be found otherwise but are nice to start out with. It seems that there is some overlap, but planning your deck to work well for your class is part of the strategy.

Battles play out in a turn based format, with 3 cards being drawn for you. You then choose how to spend your action/magic points based on cards in hand. Each card will resolve and then you’ll end your turn allowing the enemy to play their cards until one of you is dead. Death is permanent, but like Rogue Legacy, you’ll be able to use fame from your forebears to improve new characters allowing you to make it further and further each run. After a brief tutorial, you’ll jump to a new level and have a map that looks familiar to Rogue-like players:

Clicking on one of the available spaces will take you to the next room, where a variety of events will occur or monsters will be present to battle you. Gaining experience allows you to open perks, there is loot to find and equip and new cards will make their way to your deck. You even get a companion with special abilities and their own skill trees. There’s clearly plenty to do, but a single run can be mere minutes if you aren’t careful. Still, there is constant progression and it’s a blast to play. I recommend it if you’re done with your current Rogue-like fling and are looking for a new one to try, or if you were a fan of Darkest Dungeon. It’s under $10, so what do you have to lose?

That’s it for this edition. What do you guys think of this column? Want more new and noteworthy games talked about more often? Let me know in the comments!

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.

Codex of Victory

Another gem to come out of left field, Codex of Victory melds several different strategy game elements into a fairly successful formula. A low poly, semi-anime style romp, the campaign boasts 20+ hours of gameplay, of which I’ve experienced a handful of missions, but the core gameplay has made itself known.

Combining three core game modes, there are elements of Real Time Strategy, 4x, and Turn Based Strategy rolled into one game. The majority of your time will be spent on the field of combat, which will be different configuration each time, but will encompass the TBS and RTS portion of the game.

You’ll find yourself on a grid based landscape, where action points (or AP) will be spent to both build units and to perform actions with said units. You’ll capture additional points of interest to gain more AP, and with that AP you’ll decimate the enemy. From there, you’ll spend some time building your base along with upgrading your units between battles.

After sufficiently preparing for the next battle, you’ll jump on the mission screen and fly to the next tactical strike point, completing missions and earning resources to build more stuff along the way.

Clearly the latter two portions of the game cover the 4x strategic requirements by picking up new territories and plotting attacks for various resources. The latter two portions also remind me the most of games like XCOM, but still feel right at home mixed with the other portions of the game. Honestly I’m surprised it works due to the various directions the dev team decided to go in, but it does feel just right. It’s not overly convoluted, not overly focused on graphics or storyline, is easy to pick up and feels appropriately difficult. For fans of really any genre of strategy games, you’ll find something to like here. It’s a $15 price tag on Steam unless you catch a sale (current sale is for $12) and is definitely worth it, should you be looking for something easy to jump into for a cheap price. That’s my two cents, anyway.