Quick Thoughts: Games on the Cheap

Generally speaking, there are far too many games released in a given year to play them all. Sometimes you have to spend your limited expendable funds carefully, and that means skipping some titles in favor of others. What’s great about our current gaming climate, is that typically a year or so after a game releases (or stops releasing DLC) it typically has a “Game of the Year,” “Complete” or “Ulitmate” edition. This bundle will save you money, because a) you didn’t pay full price for the base game and b) you now get all DLCs included for either the same asking price or less. Give it a little more time, and you can usually catch these bundled titles on sale and save even more money. You won’t be on the cutting edge, playing the newest, hottest games on release, but in the case of most titles, you’re not missing anything by playing them late. In most cases I’d argue you’re smarter that the guy who pays $60 at launch for a title and then pays $10-20 per DLC on top of that. Nevertheless, I have found a few titles I’ve wanted to play in recent years but hadn’t gotten around to, bundled as I’ve mentioned and on sale to boot. It was very difficult to resist a copy of each of the games I’m going to discuss, and yes that means I purchased them once I saw the price was right. Let’s jump in, shall we?

I absolutely wanted to play Horizon: Zero Dawn when it released. The first time I saw it at E3 I knew it was a title that would be up my alley. I’m at a stage in my life though, that some games that I believe will be enjoyable aren’t always. I’ve also been trying to cut down on spending on games due to the fact that so many either collect dust or disappoint me. But for $10, I knew I needed to grab a copy, particularly because the Complete Edition came with bonus goodies and the game’s lone expansion The Frozen Wilds. I have not been disappointed by this title, and the inexpensive nature of the purchase doesn’t affect this — it’s a damn fine game. You play as Aloy, a young girl outcast by a tribe in a post-apocalyptic world where robot creatures roam the landscape and tribes of humans fight among themselves.

There’s a lot to digest in the early portions of the game. It’s clear that “the Old Ones” died off for some reason or another, and somehow, robots have formed into various beasts (perhaps a form of evolution or created by the dead ancients). You’ve been taken in by Rost, an outcast from the Nora tribe. He has sheltered you, but as a little girl you don’t really understand why the tribe won’t talk to you. On one fateful day, you end up falling into a cave that is a ruin from the old days, and find a “focus” which looks eerily similar to a bluetooth ear piece, but is definitely more useful. It provides information on the environment and things within it, becoming an excellent tool. Wanting to rejoin the tribe, Rost agrees to train you for “the proving” which is a ritual that allows tribesmen to become “braves,” and for outcasts to rejoin the tribe. The meat of the game is a third person shooter style, with some stealth elements, RPG progression, and a beautiful world to explore. It’s open world to a degree, though you’re held back for a time as you grow up, complete the proving, and become a “seeker.” Having that title allows you to leave the sacred lands of your people, and find answers. At certain points you are given “choices matter” styles of conversation prompts, and are allowed to choose your path. I assume these actions have consequences, but not many have shown up yet. I’m still in the early portions of the game though, so perhaps some of these will come back around. Overall the game looks great and plays great. It’s a title on the level of games like those made by Naughty Dog, where the graphics are top notch and the game play and story matches its beauty. I’m in love with it, and definitely look forward to what comes next.

I bought the original Titanfall for PC. In the past year I’ve decided to boycott Origin though, as I prefer my PC games to be linked up through Steam. As such I wasn’t going to buy the sequel on PC (and have already purchased a copy of Dragon Age: Inquisiton for PS4 so I can avoid having to use the additional platform). That might sound stupid to some, but I don’t mind playing EA games on the console, whereas I’m annoyed with the company on PC. So here we are. Titanfall 2 looked amazing when I first saw it — it’s more of the same, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. However, I just didn’t pick it up on release and hadn’t though about it for quite some time. Seeing the Ultimate Edition on sale for $8 though, and I was sold. This being a multiplayer game, there was worry about whether or not people would still be playing it, but unlike its predecessor, this one has a single player campaign, so I knew at least I’d get to experience that. So far, it’s been okay. Very similar to Call of Duty campaigns I’ve played in the past, just with the benefit of being a better game than CoD.

Being a Titanfall game, you get the requisite boots on the ground action along with the mechs that you pilot. There’s still wall running and double jumping, fast and furious gunplay and of course, MECHS! It’s a blast to run around, jumping and sliding and calling down your titan to fuck shit up. I have yet to play the multiplayer but I did check out the menus and saw a pretty healthy population despite being fairly late when I was playing. I think because it sets itself apart from other shooters on the market it has managed to keep a following. I’m glad that not everyone is off playing Battle Royale games and still appreciates a good ol’ fashioned FPS. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts about this one soon.

The last game isn’t a bundle deal, but is a remastered version of a game I first played on PS3. Burnout Paradise was a fantastic title that came out of nowhere for me. I believe it was my sister’s (now-ex) husband who showed me the game, and I only played it at his house and didn’t get too much out of it. I just remember thinking that it reminded me of Need For Speed Underground, which was one of my favorite NFS titles of all time. The remaster here takes the original game (and appears that the DLCs are present, so perhaps this is a bundle after all) and polishes it up a bit. The intro movie is still clearly PS3 graphics, but once you get into the game it looks a bit better than its OG version, and definitely runs at a higher frame rate.

You start the game with a crappy car and have a semi-open-world to explore. Like the Need For Speed games, you can roll up to points on the map that will start up a race, or can battle with random NPCs on the road. There are also stunts and collectibles along with challenges where you can pit your high scores against those on your friends list. It’s the same experience as before, but due to my limited time with the game in the past, I can now delve further into it. I managed to upgrade my license and open up a few new cars in my first session, and I look forward to getting down with more racing — it really is a blast.

As I said, I’ll likely have more thoughts on these games as I progress. At this point I would say they are all worth your time, even if you don’t get them for as cheap as I did. Each scratches a different itch, and I’m pleased with the expenditure.

Getting Started in Destiny 2

I was late to the party with the original Destiny, and I guess you can say the same is true with its sequel. When the first one released I was slightly interested but didn’t get around to purchasing it until after The Taken King came out. I didn’t play much then either, only checked it out for a little while but had a sour experience with a so-called friend and that turned me off from the game for a while. I ended up going back to it and running through all of the main story and side quests through The Taken King, and even purchased the next expansion but didn’t put much time into it after that. I had the intentions of picking up Destiny 2 at release just so I could hit the ground running and play the game while it was still the new hotness. But then when Destiny 2 released, it was pretty universally panned by critics and people whose opinions I trust, so I didn’t bother. Well, at this point the game has just released it’s first major expansion, Forsaken, and Sony decided to give it out for free as part of the Playstation Plus program.

Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I downloaded the game right when I found out it was available early. I convinced my best friend that he should download it as well, and we have been able to get in a couple of sessions together.

Session 1:

I’m not really remembering all of the issues people had with the game upon its release, as that was a year ago and my memory isn’t what it used to be. Still, having played it myself now I don’t really see much of a difference between this game and the first. There was a little snippet at the beginning when I logged in where my Destiny save game was imported into this game and I got to see the things I accomplished in the first iteration. The two characters that I had played were still there too, one being the Warlock I started with and the Hunter I ended up running through the game to max level. The storyline is a little convoluted but essentially a big alien threat has attacked The Traveler and essentially robs all guardians of their light.

Despite the fact that my friend and I were in voice chat together, we had to play through these first bits of the story alone. We have the big attack and you’re pretty fucked up, you come too and wander about for a bit, then we’re treated to some cut scenes of the storyline and then eventually you wind up in a place called “The Farm” which is shown on the map as a separate place from Earth, but still looks very much like Earth when you are there. Whatever the case, it’s the new Tower, and you get your social interaction here along with some vendors, your bank, mailboxes and the Crucible guy.

The main story pushed us to head to where a bit of The Traveler had broken off and landed near by. We’re warned that it’s a place of death, but after killing off some bad guys, we get our light back and can move on to bigger and better things.

Graphically it’s still a beautiful title. I really thought Destiny was up there with games like Uncharted that can really push this system to its limits. It’s surprising that a game can look this good on a stock PS4, considering most games are a bit more washed out. I assume on a PS4 Pro or on PC it looks even better, but it was free here, so this is where I’m going to play it.

By the end of our first session I was level 3, as we took a couple hours to get to the point where we could even play together, and by that time it was getting late so we called it a day. We got together to play again last night, and ended up pushing further into the story.

Session 2:

More fighting on Earth as my Hunter and my friend’s Titan leveled up and went on Adventures, participated in public quests and followed the story to it’s end here. Clearly there will be more to do on Earth at a later time, but for now they’ve sent us to Titan to help out with some network building.

We also see Cayde being held captive by our antagonist, and because I’m not blind or deaf I have already heard the spoilers about his demise and the plot of Forsaken having to do with getting revenge for him. But since I don’t know the particulars, I’ll play my way through and see for myself. If this ends up sticking like I think it will (we’ve been having a blast so far) I will likely pick up Forsaken once we’ve completed the main story.

When I was playing the original Destiny, I never did end up playing any of the game’s PvP mode, Crucible. I decided that I wanted to try it out. That was probably a bad idea. I assumed that as you entered into matchmaking, you would be paired up with and against other players of similar level/power. That doesn’t seem to be the case, as one guy was level 20 and the other 50 (?) I think. Either way they were much better equipped and felt way to hard to kill. We did get kills nonetheless, but lost the match and decided that we should level up a bit before bothering with that again. It does feel pretty good as shooters go but I didn’t like the level disparity.

By the end of our second session I was level 7 and had looted my first exotic from a quest. Nothing too special but I’ve found my groove. I don’t really like the new subclass that you’re stuck with at the beginning, and look forward to opening up others. I’ve found that while playing in a duo, I can experiment with my weapon loadout more though, and have settled on a Scout Rifle as my primary and a pistol for the side arm. I do like me some auto/pulse rifles and sub machine guns too, but for now these have worked as my friend’s titan is typically using a shotgun so he heads in first and I take out the long range targets. Overall it’s been a blast and I look forward to progressing through it!

The Old Blood Complete

Wolfenstein: The Old Blood ended up being quite a bit shorter than the other two titles from MachineGames. Being a prequel to the events of The New Order, and only 8 chapters long, I had estimated that it would take me around 8 hours to complete — but I managed to finish it off this weekend after having spent just over 5 hours on it. As I said in my initial post on the game, it looks and plays much like the other Wolfenstein games from this company, but there are a couple of big differences.

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The first major difference is the inability to manually save, and despite there being frequent check points where the game is auto saved, you’ll still end up dying quite a bit — even on the normal difficulty. Some checkpoints are harder than others, and for the most part it’s a manageable difficulty but I did find it more challenging than The New Order and New Colossus. The other major difference is that this title is pretty story light. The other two games were very cinematic in look and feel, and while this game does have some cut scenes, there are very short and to the point. Everything is very short and to the point. Your mission here is to find out the location of Death’s Head’s hideout, and it takes the entirety of the game to do so. You’ll start by infiltrating Castle Wolfenstein, and eventually escape and fight your way through the nearby town of Wolfsburg and finish things off in the catacombs underneath the city’s graveyard. At some point Nazis start turning into Zombies and its a bit reminiscent of the DOOM games, culminating in a final fight against a huge mummy monster thing. You’re rescued by Fergus, and he will be your buddy through the next two games until his untimely demise in The New Colossus.

Overall it’s a short romp with less focus on story and more focus on killing Nazis. I enjoyed it, and it did fill in some story gaps from the overall epic. I’m very curious to see how things go in Youngblood, but we have to wait until next year to find out. That one being co-op is exciting, I’ll have to try and find a partner to play it, or perhaps pick it up on PS4 and play with my bff. One way or the other, my journey through this alternate timeline is complete for now, and I’m satisfied with the experience. I’d recommend all three Wolfenstein games highly, particularly if you enjoy killing Nazis in your spare time!

The Old Blood

You’ll have to pardon my absence over the last few days, I went on a mini-vacation for Independence Day to visit family and was pretty disconnected during that time. Just before we left, I finished off Wolfenstein II and was thrilled with the game. When I was nearing the end I got to talking with my lady and she was asking if there were any other Wolfenstein games out there, and aside from the original and older reboots, there was a lone game I had yet to play. Back in 2014, Wolfenstein: The New Order released and I played through that one, but when its prequel released in 2015, it was overlooked. The Old Blood is a prequel to The New Order, and thereby another game in the series that I hadn’t played and wanted to. It was still discounted via the Steam Summer Sale while we were having the conversation, so for $10 I would be able to complete my collection and potentially fill in some plot holes. I didn’t start it until we got back into town last night, but I can already tell it’s going to be enjoyable.

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What I have gathered so far, is that this game takes place in the 40’s, and at least starts in Germany. You’re still B.J., but you’re a younger version of him compared to the other games. In this timeline, you are facing the Nazi war machine head on, but the Allies are clearly losing the war. Continuing on, during the events of The New Order, the war is over and the Nazis control America. During The New Colossus, B.J. and co manage to start a revolution during the 1960’s and potentially start the downfall of the Nazi regime… we were teased with Youngblood during E3 this year, and that is supposed to take place during the 1980s and focuses on the twin daughters B.J.’s lady is carrying during The New Colossus. Perhaps then they will finally force the Germans out of America? Time will tell.

Back to The Old Blood. Thankfully because it is a prequel, playing it after the other two games hasn’t really affected the telling of the story. You’re undercover as a Nazi officer and entering into Castle Wolfenstein it seems. Much of the set design is reminiscent of the old Wolfenstein games we played decades ago, being a big sprawling castle and having a ton of Nazis inside to kill. There seems to be more puzzling portions, and you’ll gain some different abilities as compared to the other titles. One piece of equipment becomes a mainstay in your inventory – a big metal pipe. You can use it to climb walls, pry open doors, and most importantly stab people in their necks. Otherwise it’s a very similar game made by the same developers so you should feel right at home. I know I do. I’ve enjoyed the couple of chapters I’ve played through, but this does feel like a game I’ll complete faster than the others. At this time The New Order took about 10 hours, while The New Colossus took just under 9. I’m a couple hours into The Old Blood and on chapter 3 of 8 so I assume this one will clock in around 8 hours at this rate. Either way, still fun to be blasting Nazis and filling in story gaps.

I will report back once I’ve completed it, most likely by the end of the week if not sooner.

Wolf 2 Complete

Wow, that was a quick turnaround! I managed to play Wolfenstein II for a couple hours here and there throughout the week and made a final push over the weekend, finally completing the game last night. It turns out I was at the very end of the game on Sunday but had stopped to go play some MTG with my roommate, so within 30 minutes last night it was over. There are DLCs and things but I’m going to pass on those, as my girlfriend bought me a copy of The Old Blood, which is the prequel to the original game and should hopefully fill in some story gaps. I should be able to complete that one long before Youngblood comes out, but at least I’ll be able to say that I played all of Machine Games’ Wolfenstein titles on offer.

What a crazy adventure this game was. There are some spoilery screenshots ahead, so if you haven’t played this year old game, you might want to skip this post.

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From getting beheaded on national television to having your severed head put in a jar and then attached to a cybernetic body, this was surely a crazy experience. Seeing an aging hitler, and finally getting your revenge on the Frau was an amazingly fun time. I was hooked from start to finish, and though there wasn’t anything too challenging to complete, it was still not the easiest shooter I’ve played through. There are varying difficulty levels, so most players should be able to find their sweet spot. Graphically the game was amazing, if not a little gory. As a matter of fact there is a bunch of adult oriented content in this title, from sex scenes, to the aforementioned gore, to various vulgarities and slurs. But if you aren’t a snowflake, you’ll probably be able to take it for what it is. I’m not sure why this game got some negative reviews, as there wasn’t anything I took issue with, but perhaps I’m part of the crowd the game was designed for. I look forward to the next iteration that’s for sure!