State of the Game: Backlog Goals

Despite having a pretty regular posting schedule these days, I still don’t touch on all of the things that I’m doing in my day-to-day life. I play other games besides the ones I write about, have thoughts about various titles or my progress on projects, and still mess around with my Magic cards. I also do that thing called “living” so there’s much more going on than might be alluded to here on the blog. It’s been a while since I did a round up post so I thought I’d take the time to do so today. Besides working on Everquest II and making my way through the backlog, I’ve got some specific updates and then some thoughts to round things up. Let’s get started.

I’ve made steady progress with Clash Royale, the only mobile game I play with any regularity. The last time I wrote about it, Supercell had just added another arena. The Electro Valley arena became Arena 11, pushing Hog Mountain down to Arena 10, and making the Legendary Arena #12. At that time, I was placed in Arena 11 due to my trophy count, so that was a nice little boost. I have since pushed my way into the Legendary Arena and also upped my King level to 12. Hitting 13 is a long ways off, mainly because it’s going to take 80k points to get there and I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20k at the time of this writing. My highest trophy count is 3914, which happened recently. I pushed into Legendary status a while back but then fell back down into Arena 11, and pushed my way back up to 12 where I have stayed for the last month or so. Getting to Challenger status isn’t too far off.

 

My two main decks are above. I used to only focus on one deck, but I have found that having a couple to choose from is nice to break up the monotony. I tend to use my Hog/Loon deck the most, especially when trying to work my way up the ladder, while I use the Golem deck primarily in 2v2 matches, but I have a feeling that it might be more consistent as I get up into the Challenger scene.

 

I finally got my hands on a Mega Knight (actually upgraded him to level 2 already as well) since my last post, which was the last card I needed to “catch em all” at that point. Since then the Royal Ghost released and I recently got one of them out of a chest. The most recent card is the Magic Archer, which we just got to check out in one of the Challenges, but he hasn’t released just yet. He’ll be the only card I need once he comes out. Overall the game is still a blast to play and I do so daily.

I’m still plugging away at The Order 1886, which has been a pretty fun title, but a bit more challenging than those I played through recently. There are some stealth bits that require you to not be detected, and if you are it’s instant-death which is rather frustrating. Regardless, I have worked my way through the 6th chapter and progress is steady. I want to complete this one before really starting on something new, as I have been trying to keep focused on clearing out my backlog. I have some ideas for where I’ll start next, but I’ll get back to that in a bit.

Over the weekend my girlfriend and I did some errands and while we were out I spotted a couple of older MTG starter decks that I picked up on a whim. At $15 a pop they tend to have alternate art or Planeswalkers at the helm, a preconstructed 60 card deck along with a couple of booster packs for whatever particular set they are from. I picked up the Nicol Bolas Planeswalker deck from Hour of Devastation, along with a starter deck from Eldritch Moon (a few sets back, before they started doing Planeswalker decks for each set). I really only picked them up because I wanted the Nicol-Bolas Planeswalker and the alternate art Noosegraf Mob that came with the starter kit.

The face cards are on the right there, Noosegraf mob is a card I needed for the Alesha deck I’m building, and Nicol Bolas for another EDH build I’m working on. I ended up pulling some nice additions out of the booster packs – Unesh will slot into my Sphinx deck and Tamiyo is another Planeswalker that will go into the deck with Bolas. Nice pulls!

I also resubscribed to the Humble Monthly service again for March, as Dark Souls 3 + DLC was the featured game. Steam is having a Lunar New Year sale at present, and this game was on sale for $15, but via Humble I was able to get it plus DLC for only $12. This is great for the wallet, but unfortunately I still haven’t completed the first two games in the series, so this is just more fodder for the backlog!

Speaking of which, I am having trouble deciding what to start next after I complete The Order. I have Alien: Isolation which I started just to check out and only played for about an hour, I also have Shadow Warrior 2 which I spent a few hours on but didn’t complete. There’s Monster Hunter World which I would like to dive into, along with the aforementioned Dark Souls trilogy. The latter few would be a significant time investment, but still worth doing. I also have plenty of other titles that are collecting dust, so it’s going to be a tough choice! I’ll write about The Order again once I’ve completed it, and perhaps by then I will have decided what to do next.

That’s all for this wrap up. Until next time, happy gaming!

State of the Game: Warframe and More

I’ve been managing to get some decent playtime in over the past week or so, and though I’ve already touched on some of the games I’m about to talk about already in individual posts, there has been some progress made and that’s exciting to me, because I’ve had a bit of gaming malaise recently. Hello run-on sentence! So not only have I been progressing through Bioshock Remastered and playing some of my MOBAs and whatnot, I also picked up a game that was on sale for $1.50 and is actually pretty decent. Finally, or firstly perhaps, I’ve been playing a game I hadn’t touched in at least a year:

Warframe has been around for a long time, and I’ve toyed with it more than once. A couple of years ago during one of the NBI’s, I earned a prize which ended up earning me some platinum for this game. At that point I downloaded the game on PC and went to town. I played for a bit, actually enjoyed it but was probably more enamored with something else at the time and it ended up sitting unplayed as many games do. A few years later, Destiny was out and I had just picked up a PS4 and a copy of the game. I had some friends that wanted to group up and run through the game together, but a squabble between myself and one of the guys ended up where we never played together again. That’s why Destiny sat unplayed for a very long time until I finally finished it off earlier this year. Destiny doesn’t really have anything to do with Warframe per se, but at the same time the parallels between the game are there. This was noted by Isey recently, and some discussion about the game started up when he was disappointed (but still finished) Destiny 2 and discovered that Warframe was a similar game he could sink his teeth into. Having read and agreed with his judgement on things several times in the past, I figured that I should avoid picking up Destiny 2 and instead put my efforts into playing Warframe again. For one, it’s free to jump in and play so I don’t have to drop $60 to be potentially disappointed, and it also happens to be something I had already played in the past. I’ve also been craving shooter experiences, and enjoy the RPG mechanics tacked on. Jeromai has also fully endorsed Warframe in a recent post, and it just seemed like it was time for me to dive back in.

I had a second stint in Warframe after my Destiny group fell apart, where I convinced my friend’s brother to download the game on his PS4 to play with me in lieu of Destiny. We played a few hours together before he lost interest and again the game sat unplayed. Still, I had started with the Volt Warframe and leveled it to around 13, while having similarly leveled guns and a starter sword. I really had no clue where I had left off and didn’t really remember what I was supposed to be doing, not to mention there had been several updates that probably changed a bunch as it was, but I started re-familiarizing myself nonetheless. It turns out that there was a promotion that if you have Twitch Prime, you get free access to the Frost Prime Warframe, Soma Prime gun, and Scindo Prime axe. It also turns out that as an Amazon Prime member, Twitch premium membership is included, so all I had to do was link my accounts and bam:

The Frost Warframe which is like the “standard” edition would have been pretty much on par with the Volt frame I had been running. The “Prime” variants are souped up versions that have better base stats and stronger abilities along with the ability to slot extra mods into them. The new weapons were big upgrades too, but after using the axe for a few missions I didn’t really care for how slow it was. I’m thinking I eventually want to grab some nunchucks or dual wield some blades but for now I’ve gone back to the base sword until I find more blueprints and materials. Somewhere along the lines a new mastery ranking system was added and I went through the first couple, each of which seems to unlock various bits and bobs for your account. The tests see you having to fight AI in a sort of holodeck area using various parts of your loadout. Once the waves are cleared you earn you mastery rank:

I was going back and forth between wanting to pick up my progress on the PS4 or going back to the PC. It’s too bad I can’t link my account and play on either platform and share progress. I suppose I could be really crazy and play on both accounts, but I don’t have that kind of time. My hesitation to pick things back up on PS4 was because the most recent update adds some open world bits to the game and though I’m probably not at the level to participate, I wanted to see it as soon as possible. But I read somewhere that the PS4 update was coming soon, and I saw this the other day:

So probably before the end of the month the expansion will hit the console, so I’m just going to stick here. I’m used to the control scheme and I’ve already put more time into it than the PC version. As of now my Frost Prime is nearing rank 9, so I’ve almost caught up to the Volt. I’ve cleared most of Mercury and it seems that though I remember clearing other planets that they are all still locked up, so I’ll be clearing for a while. Hoping to get the materials together to experiment with other frames and make some new weapons in the process. I’ll report back more on this as I progress!

The game I picked up for $1.50 is called Anomaly 2. It’s the sequel to Anomaly: Warzone Earth (which I believe also had a couple of expansions). I played the original back in the PS3 days and just happened upon it and well, it was a steal and I have a problem. The game is a sort of tower defense and RTS hybrid but what makes it unique is that it’s really “tower offense.” You play a commander with various abilities and run around the screen in real time. Your units will follow a designated trail and towers controlled by the AI try to stop you. Your commander heals and buffs the units, keeping them alive to push through to whatever the objective is. That’s really all there is to it, but it’s rather entertaining.

Lastly, I’ve been working my way through Bioshock. I don’t know why but it feels like I’ve damn near beaten the game, but I’ve only put in a little over 6 hours. I do know that I’m progressing towards what feels like the final showdown, and things have been fairly smooth going, though I have found a few tricky bits, and some of the groupings of big daddies with splicers and turrets have killed me. Still, I’ve found a good group of plasmids and weapons and feel like I’m coasting along. I imagine it has somewhere around a 10 hour average completion time, so I should be done with this one soon. Some shots of recent events:

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So my goal for now is to finish this off and then move onto the sequel. I’d like to be done with the Bioshock games so that I can strike a few titles from the backlog. Warframe feels like a game I can play for a while as well, so I’m going to continue with it until it gets boring. Otherwise, I’ll mess around with some of the other more session based games I’ve had in the rotation, but it feels good to finally be making some progress! Until next time, happy gaming!

State of the Game: Diverted Attentions

I have snuck in some extra gaming time here and there over the past month (has it already been a month since I last made a round-up post? Maybe it’s been longer…) though my attentions have been spread rather thin. A typical day for me involves getting up, heading into work, coming home and needing to help out with dinner or at least eat it, then having an hour or two to kill on various activities and then its time for bed just to start over again the next day. I suppose this is a normal routine for most, but when I was single and living with roommates I usually spent more time on hobbies than anything else. Now that Magic has been a big part of my life as well, there are days when I spend time on that hobby instead of gaming, and sometimes I’d rather watch a movie or binge something on Netflix rather than game. Still, I have been playing things, so let’s talk about that.

A while back I talked about Star Trek Online. In that post I mentioned that the same devs also created Neverwinter, and that it was also on PS4. Neither game really appealed to me all that much when I played them on PC, but I was also having a bit of MMO malaise at the time. I still wouldn’t say that I’m ready to commit to only one game for any length of time, but I still like to tinker, and so I downloaded Neverwinter and gave it a whirl.

Honestly it feels better on the console, just like STO did. I can’t explain it, we’re talking a huge difference in power between the PS4 and my PC, so graphically it should be inferior, and I do notice when loads of people are around it does seem to lag a bit which probably wouldn’t happen on my PC. But the control schemes are good and I just enjoy playing it more on PS4. The same could be said about many games that exist on both, and that probably stems from my beginnings as a console gamer. I love a controller in my hands. In some cases this isn’t true though, action RPGs and RTS/4x games will always control better with Keyboard/Mouse, and FPS titles are still typically better on PC despite being easy enough to control either way. But I digress. Neverwinter seems fun enough. I picked a random character just to go through the intro and a few missions and think it would be a fun game to see through to the end, but you know me and my tendency to game hop. We’ll see how often I actually play.

I’ve also jumped onto the Fortnite Battle Royale bandwagon. Most of you will know that I played H1Z1 from day one, and I did enjoy the Battle Royale mode. The game split and that became a dedicated mode, and it was fun enough. I haven’t played Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, but it’s the same sort of thing. I’d like to check it out but it’s $30 and I just haven’t ponied up the cash. Finding out that Fortnite wasn’t that great of a PvE experience, I didn’t want to buy into it either, but the BR mode is free, and it’s pretty fun. It’s a bit different than the aforementioned comparisons, but still something that I found entertaining, if not frustrating. My buddy and I duoed a few times but never managed to place higher than the 20’s, and it’s still being developed so I’m sure it will end up being better over time.

The Amnesia Collection which is the two games plus an expansion was part of the free game lineup for Playstation Plus this month, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, my girlfriend enjoys watching me play the horror games so I tried it out. It’s actually a really creepy game. Moreso than any other I’ve played in recent memory. Very atmospheric and moody, and the way the game grabs the camera controls from you is unsettling. She was creeped out enough that she didn’t want to watch anymore which is a first. Usually horror games don’t get to either of us like this one did. I look forward to progressing further.

Grim Dawn is a game I hadn’t touched in a long while. I purchased it shortly after it went into full release (it did linger in Early Access for a while). Another Action-RPG, it’s much like Diablo but has a higher level cap and a much larger world to explore. Classes can be multi-spec and overall it feels like it has more depth than Diablo and most of its clones. Recently the devs released a new expansion for the game called Ashes of Malmouth, adding a couple new classes (Inquisitor and Necromancer) but also a couple of new chapters and new areas. I knew when I looked at the original game map that there would be expansions because there was so much unused space and finally that has come to fruition. I picked up the expansion the other night and rolled up a new Inquisitor which reminds me of the Witch Hunters from Warhammer. Pistols and magic, why not? The game is pretty excellent if you enjoy ARPGs, I’d recommend at least buying the bast game, but if you want the new classes you can use them from the start by picking up the expansion too, and for $18 it’s reasonably priced.

Last but not least, I have been playing the NES Classic a bit more recently, which also has lead into playing some 3DS as well. Initially I just started playing Super Mario 3 on a whim, and then got my girlfriend’s son involved. That lead to him creating levels for me to beat in Super Mario Maker on his 3DS. Then my girlfriend got involved as well, it turns out she used to play Dr. Mario frequently when she was a tyke, so we’ve been doing that as well. I’m not the biggest Nintendo fan these days, but I sure do enjoy the old stuff. Looking forward to finding a deal on the SNES Classic soon.

That’s all for this go-round. Until next time, happy gaming!

State of the Game: Spreading it Thin

It’s been a little while since I threw together a gaming round up post so I thought today was as good a day as any to check in and bullshit about what I’ve been playing. Honestly I have been playing less the past couple of weeks and I know that the next couple of weeks are going to be pretty busy as well, but I have still managed to make some time here and there. Lately I’ve been focusing on only one mobile game, and that’s Clash Royale. I was experimenting with several other titles but none have held my interest besides this gem and I’m glad I decided to give it a whirl. On my PS4 I’ve been plugging away at Final Fantasy XV (though not as much as I would like) and have nearly “finished” Killing Floor 2 until they add some new stuff in. I’ve touched on a few other games but we’ll discuss in detail in a bit. On the PC, I downloaded and installed an MMO for the first time in a long time. The last MMO I played was Destiny and many would argue that’s not exactly a great example of the genre. As I mentioned recently I had been toying with the idea of investing into FF14, but then decided to play FF15 first. What game could that possibly be?

Honestly I’m as surprised as you are that I installed this game. A long while ago it was recommended to me as someone said I would probably like it. There were a few times I had the game added to my Steam cart because it was on sale and I wanted to give it a try but I never did. It has finally transitioned into a free to play title, and so now I can try it out without spending money on it, and that seems to be the best formula for me when it comes to the genre, not because F2P is the best iteration, but only because I am so fickle about these types of games and have wasted more than my fair share of money on them without really getting much return on investment. At some point I decided I wasn’t an MMO player anymore, I had simply grown out of it. But I always want to try and recapture that excitement for a game, and I have yet to do so, but I keep trying nonetheless. So this is my latest attempt at giving an MMO a go, and it could simply be a small tourist trip but I can at least say I tried it, much like most of the titles that are out there. So far I have actually enjoyed it quite a bit, but I only played through the tutorial and made my way to Agartha. I believe I will go into more detail about this title in a separate post, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

Clash Royale

I was trying to find the first time I mentioned playing Clash Royale on the blog but it seems that I only mentioned it in passing once, and then by the time I talked about it again I was account level 7, so I must not have made much mention during the early weeks. Regardless, that first mention occurred back in December of last year, so we aren’t too far off from my year anniversary with the game. That’s pretty impressive for a mobile title in my book, because most of what I try I don’t like and uninstall quickly. Anyway, I’m up to account level 11 currently, and my deck has been staying the same for a long while. I’ve moved up to arena 10 with little issue, and I play the shit out of the 2v2 mode when it is available. The clan has been a reliable way to donate for account experience and earn cards. Currently working on leveling my Balloon to 6 (getting most from Epic Sunday requests and it’s taking forever!) and my Hog Rider to level 9. My current deck:

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It’s worked out fairly well to this point, and this deck powered me up through arena 9 and hasn’t faired too poorly through a good chunk of arena 10. I am pushing towards the upper-middle of the arena so I imagine with a couple more upgrades I’ll make it into the Legendary arena, hopefully by the end of the year. I love the game, enjoy the shifting metas and new additions are pretty constant. Think I’ll be playing this in my down time for a long while to come.

Final Fantasy XV

I haven’t played as much as I would like, but it seems that the game continues to open up bit by bit, and though I assume you could power your way through the story and open things up faster, I imagine you would end up hitting a difficulty wall and be forced to wander around and level up. As such I have decided to continue the method of doing all the side quests and hunts I can find while clearing out the lowest level quests from my journal (or whatever happens to be the most efficient route) to keep ahead of the level curve. The game hasn’t really spiked too much in difficulty, the boss battle wasn’t too bad. I have had some random encounters while wandering around where really high level big baddies appear and attack me, and have also been attacked by some big ass demons at night and those have proved challenging, but overall the game feels well balanced when it comes to difficulty. At this clip it’s going to take me quite a while to finish the game, but as the title of this post states, I’ve been spreading it pretty thing. And I play whatever feels right on a whim. Here’s some pics of my adventures anyhow:

Other miscellaneous things I’ve played recently: 

Killing Floor 2 – I’ve earned all but one trophy in the game, meaning I’ve collected all the hidden items in all levels, maxed out one of my perks, won 25 matches and won a round on all but the hardest difficulty. Hell on Earth is a challenge that shouldn’t be too difficult, however it’s been harder than I anticipated. Basically I’ve been doing alright when we have played, but my buddy who plays with me tends to not do as well. This isn’t too much of an issue, except people that we get matched up with tend to be too low of perk level to be effective. The game says hell on earth is meant for those who are already perk level 25 (I have a 25 SWAT and he has a 25 Support), yet we get matched up with people playing perks that are level 15 and shit. It’s dumb. Eventually we’ll get on a good enough team to get it done, but I sort of want to be done with it until some new map or mode is introduced.

SMITE – Have 59 Gods mastered. Haven’t been playing too much, but some renewed interest recently due to my friend finding someone else he knows IRL to play with. That guy is actually pretty damn good, but a bit of a loud mouth on the mic. Regardless, it’s been fun to get back into after some time away.

Horror Games – I wrote a dedicated post to Until Dawn, which I haven’t played again since — though intend to finish at some point. The girlfriend lost interest so I chose to show her something else. I fired up Outlast which I never got too far into, but after playing that one for a couple hours she figured out that what is missing in these games is the combat. I have to say I agree. Resident Evil has the horror bits down but then you get to shoot shit in the face. Much more interesting than hiding under beds and looking at everything through night vision. Lastly, I moved on to The Last of Us Remastered, because I bought that a while back and haven’t played the game since it was first released and back then it was on PS3. I have to say the remaster looks pretty and runs great. I haven’t tried the multiplayer but I’m also kind of excited to play through this one again. I never did play any of the DLC and it’s included so there’s that as well. At least this one has combat, and hopefully the cinematic nature will tickle her fancy.

That’s about all for this round up. Figured I should break up all the Magic: The Gathering talk around here. But don’t you worry, there will be some more of that very soon as well, ha!

State of the Game: Too Hot For TV

The Steam Summer sale has come around once again, and this year things are unique as they usually are. The discounts are there just like each year before it, but this time around the gimmick is a bunch of sticker packs that you can use to fill up pages of a book and presumably get some sort of prize. Collecting the cards to craft the badge nets background images for your profile, which in turn are the same pictures used in the sticker book, so it’s unclear what the purpose is. Perhaps it is explained somewhere that I missed, but presumably it’s just a time waster and a way to convince you to spend more money, as if the massive discounts weren’t enough.

So far there have been games on my wishlist that were on sale, but none that I was really looking to pull the trigger on. My backlog, as ever, is filled to the brim and some games probably won’t ever see the play they deserve. That didn’t stop me from grabbing a couple items though. I’ve been toying with the idea of picking up a Steam Controller for some time now, but it’s never been something that was a necessity. I have a Logitech gamepad for my PC that suits its purpose, though I don’t use it all that often. I thought that I might lean more towards controller schemes in particular games, so I finally ponied up for one as it was on sale for $35. I also bought one game off of my wishlist — Everspace.

It’s a rogue-like shooter in space that has a feel similar to Faster Than Light, in that you have a map and you move from zone to zone trying to get to an end goal. Death is permanent, but money is spent on perk points that give passive benefits, theoretically making future runs easier. The gameplay consists of flying around these zones, collecting various materials for crafting along with destroying enemy ships. This is done in real time, in either first or third person view. It’s a gorgeous game and runs at max settings very smoothly on my rig. I’d recommend it if you enjoy space shooters with rogue-like elements. The controller hasn’t arrived yet, it should be here next week. I’ll report back on that after I test it out.

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The Infinity engine games are also on sale, included Baldur’s Gate Enhanced + the expansion that came out last year, BG2 Enhanced and the newly released Planescape Torment Enhanced. Sadly I already own copies of the originals on GOG, but I found that many didn’t play well with the newer versions of Windows. It seems that the enhanced editions are revamped ever so slightly and would probably be a better way to experience those titles. I’ve added them to my list as well, but I doubt I’ll buy them, mainly because I’ve got too many recent RPGs to play through but I would love to add them to my collection.

Sony’s Playstation Store also has a sale going on, though it has weekly sales that rotate year round. It does seem like there are some bigger discounts on offer at the moment though, probably to coincide with Steam. Most digital outlets have quarterly sales that save you some bucks. I found more titles that I was interested in on their store, and ended up buying two new games: The Dwarves and Worms W.M.D.

The former is a strategy RPG where you have a team of various Dwarves whom you can assign actions to, and you fight against hordes of enemies. Picture the heroes of LOTR during the battle at Helm’s Deep. You have a handful, they have hundreds, but your elite skills keep you in the fight regardless. There is a pause function that allows you to give all of your heroes commands to be executed at once, but during the live action you can only control one hero at a time while the AI handles the rest. Overall it seems like a novel concept, but I haven’t gotten too far in to add much more.

The latter is exactly what you would expect. Worms is a long running franchise and the various iterations over the years have added new features, while graphically it hasn’t changed much. The last game I played in the series was a few years back on PS3, and I enjoyed that one as much as some of the older versions I played back in the 1990’s on PC. Where this one differentiates itself from its predecessors is with the addition of vehicles and turrets. There have always been a ton of weapons and customization options for your team of worms, but now they can jump on machine gun turrets or pilot a tank to victory. Apparently there were changes to the Forts sub-game, and a bunch of people can play in multiplayer battles. There is also a ranked system that has been implemented, so I suppose this is more feature complete than past installments. It did release last year though, so I imagine there are already new titles in development. Overall it’s a good buy for people looking to blow up worms alone or with a friend or two.

That’s about all for now. I’ve been spending more time doing IRL stuff than gaming, but I will hopefully have some time over the long weekend to log more hours. Until then, happy gaming!