[Just as a misnomer, I know I haven’t posted in a very long time. This will no longer be a regular occurence. Be prepared for some tasty Vidjagame goodness several times a week]
Holy hell has this been one hot summer so far, and I have been taking full advantage of every little bit of free time I have in order to punch away at some truly remarkable games. First and foremost, I think anyone with working fingers and a brain needs to at least put 30-40 hours into The Witcher: Wild Hunt as soon as physically possible. It’s been stressed millions of times since the game came out towards the end of May, but what CD Projekt Red managed to accomplish in a purely world-building sense is absolutely marvelous. You need to experience this game, especially now that a few months have gone past and a lot of the technical quibbles and hiccups have been ironed out.
Surprise, surprise: I’m still playing DOTA 2. With The International fever about to kick back into full swing later this month and the community once again breaking Esports Prize Pool records by recklessly purchasing cosmetics and compendiums, I continue in my endless pursuit of maintaining a respectable Ranked Matchmaking Rating. It seems futile at this point, but it does say something that nearly 900 hours later I am still enjoying sinking a couple hours in every day or so, despite the often toxic community. 10/10 would get yelled at for feeding again.
Oddly enough, I’ve been playing a ton of iOS games on my newly upgraded IPhone 6. I never really gave iOS a chance in the past and now see what I was sorely missing. Obviously old classics like Hearthstone still feature heavily in the mix, but I also have been playing a lot of the little gem Plague Inc. There is something special about slowly infecting the world with plague and then causing the entire human population to shit themselves to death. I’m glad to have finally picked up the addicting little strategy title. I’ve also been playing 80 Days, an absolutely fantastic retelling of the Jules Verne classic set in a steam punk re-imagining of the 19th century. It plays somewhat like a “choose your own adventure” book as you take on the role of the Phineas Fogg’s servant and plan, connive and adventure your way through over 140 cities in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe before 80 days have passed. It’s a really unique and genuinely charming experience, and has caused me to give iOS a little bit more credence when it comes to gaming. Not everything is a micro-transaction riddled piece of junk.
I’ve been playing a ton of games lately. 66 hours on Steam in the last two weeks shouldn’t be possible with an internship and a full schedule of classes, yet my will to remain stationary seems to transcend possibility. It’s been making me question a lot why I spend so much, if not all of my “free time” doing nothing but playing games. I don’t think I have an answer, but I do have a few random thoughts.
I’ve put 52 hours into Pillars of Eternity since I picked it up right around its release three weeks ago, and I sort of feel guilty about it. Yes, it’s one of the best games I’ve played in years (check out my “What I’ve Been Playing Lately” for this week) and yes, it has an extremely well realized tale to tell much to the standards of any top fantasy novel, but something makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong spending so much time alone in a room every single day. I love playing this game. It’s a great experience. But it isn’t a shared experience, and I’m not sure if I should be seeking that out more.
Am I demotivated or am I simply doing what I actually want to do? There is such a thing as “too much” when it comes to almost everything, so ostensibly that would pertain to gaming as well. Yet I remember going to PAX East last month and how that really solidified that video gaming is my passion. The key difference between that and 66 hours of singleplayer on a dorm room bed? The focus is on social interaction. I’m still happy with the routine I’ve been leading, I just have been asking a few more questions about it. Maybe I’ll end up playing some more Smash Bros or CS: GO.
The transition from March into April brought with it many things, including me forgetting my three year anniversary (much to the chagrin of my girlfriend), several cases of school work fuckery, and, most importantly, a hearty serving of “have fun choosing your GOTY this year.” I haven’t even found time to play Majora’s Mask 3DS yet, and that came out in February. I’ll get to it eventually (he says, as he scrolls down the 200+ yet-to-be-playeds in his Steam library).
At the moment I have been really enjoying a couple games that have come out in the last couple weeks. Pillars of Eternity is the big name that’s been commanding most of my attention. Inane “bigotry” controversies aside, their is a lot to like about this game. The lore is absorbing and has really drawn me into the world; I think the last time I was so eager to learn more about a game’s world was playing Oblivion back in 2007. The writing is top notch and is a high water mark for recent fantasy RPGs. I never played many of the old isometric classics of the early 2000’s, but I can see why Pillars became one of the most successful crowdfunded games of all time; this a type of game that still translates beautifully in 2015 and is likely going to remain a favorite by the end of the year.
Eastside Hockey Manager made a surprise return to action after over seven years as a dead franchise, and I am ecstatic to finally have a good hockey management sim back on the market. It’s only in early access, and their is no official licensing yet with the NHL, but there are easy ways to circumvent that with already strong mod support. I’m definitely glad I picked it up. BoxBoy is the newest handheld that I have been messing around with. From HAL Laboratory (Smash Bros, Kirby), it is a simple yet charming side scrolling puzzler that introduces some elements I hadn’t yet seen before in this type of game: your character (who is shockingly a box) has the ability to generate interconnected rows of boxes that can then be used in a myriad of different ways to traverse the hazards of each level. It is a really clever concept and, mixed with the black and white theme and some great animations, gives BoxBoy a ton of style and a very strong recommendation for anyone looking for a couple hours of cheap 3DS fun.
On the opposite side of the handheld spectrum, I’ve still been picking up some regular hours in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. I’ve been a huge fan of the series since Freedom Unite 2 on the PSP, and MH4U is definitely the best game in the series. I just wish I had more amicable bandwidth here at the good ole’ Uni. DOTA 2, Mass Effect 3 ($8 bucks used for Wii U and I hadn’t played it yet) and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire have all been picking up a couple hours here and there, but most of my gaming time has been devoted to Pillars, EHM and MH4U. These three games are probably a perfect example of my taste, and they all offer very specific experiences that I don’t think are replicated in most other games. Definitely check them out if you have any interest in these niche, yet wonderfully realized genres.
I want to write about video games. This is where I’m going to do it. I’ll talk about things I’ve played, things I want to play, things I wish I hadn’t played. Rants about the industry, lists, reviews and the like are all in the picture. I want to do this for me and for anyone who happens to find what I have to say interesting, annoying, controversial, informative and all together worthwhile. I love video games, and I’m going to tell you all about it.