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.

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: MOBA Madness

sotg

It’s been a very long time since I’ve done one of these, but with my lack of posts as of late, I thought this would be a handy catch-all for the gaming I have been doing, which has been focused mostly on MOBAs, once again. That isn’t news, but it’s still surprising that the genre has been able to keep its grasp on me for so long. It’s also surprising that I’m pulling this column from the grave, after nearly a year (the last time I wrote one, it was December 2015). With that said, let’s jump into it.

MOBAs:

Normally I’d be writing about League of Legends right about now, but I haven’t really been playing it all that much. I started off loving all of the changes that came with Season 6, played some random game modes, played some ranked, and then sort of fizzled out. I still love that game, but I go in waves with it. This is one of the periods where I put it down. I can’t seem to quit playing MOBAs altogether though, and I’m always trying out the next new thing, along with keeping up with my usual suspects. Outside of LoL, the usuals are SMITE and Awesomenauts. Yeah, I still play the latter, and it’s finally happened where the PS4 version of the game is nearly on par with the Steam version, which wasn’t something that was happening with the PS3 version of the game. Awesomenauts Assemble launched caught up, but then fell behind for quite some time, and has recently been patched, so I’ve jumped back into it head first. I already had the Overdrive expansion on Steam from a few months ago, but hadn’t really touched it. I hadn’t intended on purchasing it for my Playstation either, but it was on a deep discount and I knew my best friend IRL still played, so it ended up being worth it. Most of the expansion stuff was included for free, though a small $6.50 donation was required to open the Overdrive characters on PS4. No biggy. He sucks at the game though, so that can be a drag at times, but I still have fun playing with him.

I also got him into SMITE a few months back. I’ve explained how I started that one too on PC but didn’t really care for it, and then somehow got hooked once I played it on the console. With that reiterated, I’ve been focused on earning the trophies for the game, and once those were patched in sometime after the official release (I started playing in the console beta) I had a nice chunk of them already earned. An irritating side note- the PS4 automatically captures a screenshot when you earn a trophy; the waterfall of trophies earned once they were implemented netted a bunch of useless screen shots. Back on point, I have been working my way through god mastery. Having 5 of any of the classes mastered is a trophy each. There’s one for 10 gods mastered. 30, 50, 70 gods mastered. There’s also a multitude of random trophies that I’ve also earned along the way, but as of right now I’m working on the 5 Guardians and 5 Warriors. I have 5 each of Mages, Hunters and Assassins mastered. I think I’m around 17 total gods mastered. Then there’s a trophy for leveling one to mastery 10. So yeah, my work is cut out for me, but it’s been fun playing the game with my friend (and even solo). I should also note that my prior scathing review of the cash shop was slightly unfounded. It turns out you can earn gems by doing the daily log ins, and certain quests, and some skins are also earned through seasonal events, such as the recent summer event where I unlocked a skin for Bacchus, and it was easy to do. So honestly if you’re patient you don’t really have to spend any money, you’ll end up with some cool stuff. And in the event that you do spend money on gems, avoid the damn lock boxes and just buy skins direct.

Other Games:

As I mentioned previously, I am subbed to WoW and I’ve purchased Legion. I’m still standing behind my thought that boosting a character and missing out of much of the content isn’t a great idea for players like myself who never really put much time into the game. The hype train left the station and within hours of Legion’s launch I was basically bored already. I feel like I enjoy the leveling more than I enjoy the end game grinding, but I still want to do some of that as well. My brain tells me that I want to play this game. I want to play Destiny. I want to beat the Witcher 3, and the plethora of other games I have. Then I end up playing SMITE instead, and just go to bed. Having a girlfriend doesn’t help these matters either, because when the opportunity to hang with her arises, I’m not playing games. I’m not complaining about that either, it’s a great problem to have, but I really probably should have avoided adding more to the pile when I should really be playing the shit I paid for months/years ago. But that hype train had me, and I was stuck. I’m still subbed, I haven’t canceled. I don’t intend to either. I am going to play more, but by the time I’m relevant people will be quitting in droves because of the infamous Blizzard content droughts. Like I said before, don’t expect much written about it, but you can definitely check my blog roll for people talking all about it.

I’ve also purchased a few games over the past couple of months I haven’t really mentioned. One of those is Halcyon 6, which is an indie Starship command sim. It’s recently come out of early access and during it’s full release they released a big patch that is supposed to wrap everything up nicely. It’s had good reviews and what I played of it while it was still in early access was fun. It mixes some captain of the ship scenarios (on the bridge), JRPG style ship combat (which sounds weird but works fairly well) and other tidbits that are quite interesting. If you like pixel art indies with a fun spirit, you’d probably like this one.

The other recent indie I picked up is called The Curious Expedition, and that was a title I had on my wishlist for a while, but picked up because it had a minor discount. It’s a rogue like exploration game, and though I’m not really too huge on exploration, it has a fun premise. It’s sort of like Oregon trail, in that you start in one area and move along, but you have more direct control of the path  you take. When you come across settlements or monuments, you’ll get some story bits, some dialogue options, and some opportunities to trade/rest/etc. Once you’ve found the end goal for that particular expedition, the game ends, and you get points that you can use for perks. You then head out again, and this series continues until a winner is determined due to finds. You’re actually in a competition with other great explorers, and they will randomly earn fame each round. Each expedition is random, so there’s some replay-ability there as well.

On The Horizon:

Outside of WoW, and probably more time spent on those pesky MOBAs, I have a few other games lined up that I want to play. I downloaded Hi-Rez’s new game, Paladins, as it’s entered open beta and it looked interesting enough. I haven’t played it just yet though. I also downloaded Duelyst, which I had been following for a long time but hadn’t tried yet, and also due to some of what Eri had said on several episodes of the podcast. It looks great, I just haven’t played it yet either. During the Steam Summer Sale I also picked up the Bioshock trilogy because I haven’t played through any of them, and the remastered editions were just released. From what I hear they’ve been having some bugs and issues on the PC version of said upgrade, so I’ve only downloaded them, I haven’t played yet. Hoping it’s all worked out soon so I can run through them, as I’ve heard nothing but good things. I’m also craving some Destiny… as I’ve not really played it much either, and it’s been in the back of my mind for a long time now… the new expansion also releases very shortly, so perhaps some of my friends will actually be playing. But will they want to help me level up? That is the question.

That’s all for this edition. Looking back on that, it seems like I’ve played a lot, but when I sit and think about it, I don’t spend nearly enough time gaming these days.