Video game roundup; Oct 2014

Good news everyone! For all the time and effort I’ve put into this site, I made $0.59 yesterday! Some kind soul tripped and fell on his mouse, accidentally clicking an Amazon Affiliate link in the process, and didn’t manage to recover before buying a video game. To that poor soul, I hope you, your mouse, and your wallet are all recovering quickly, and I promise not to ever mention to anybody that WordPress’s demographics say that you’re a single suburban male and that Amazon says you bought Barbie’s Dream Adventure 7.

(To be clear, I don’t really get that kind of demographic information, and the purchase was Borderlands: The Presequel, which I’m REALLY tempted by now that I see you can play as a Claptrap droid.)

In all seriousness, to celebrate the sale of that game, I thought I would share where I’m at with my current video game selections. Since my grand adventure of repairing my brand new Xbox, I’ve really been enjoying the four titles that I own for it: Destiny, Titanfall, Diablo III, and Madden 15. I rotate between all of them based on how involved I want to be in the game, and if I’m playing solo or with a group at the time.

Destiny‘s story fell a little flat, I can’t lie about that, but the rotating bounties and PvE quests add depth, and there’s PvP to consider too. I’ve hit level 20 with my Titan, and I’m working with Smurf and one of our buddies to start climbing up the gear grind ladder. The PvP isn’t bad, for obvious reasons it feels very halo-esque, but I don’t feel like I have enough abilities, and I just don’t enjoy it as much as the PvE content. Maybe some other games have spoiled me.

Titanfall, on the other hand, is pure PvP mayhem. There’s actually no way to play this one solo or PvE, outside of the basic training missions. I was way behind the skill curve on the game, coming in so far after the initial release, but I’m catching up quick. With the ability to send your Titan on autopilot or jump inside, built in wall running and double-jumps, cloaking devices, x-ray vision, and guns ranging from magnetic grenade launchers to auto-targeting pistols, the action comes fast and furious in this one.

I didn’t have a great first experience with Diablo III. Purchased at release for the PC, there were just way too many things wrong with the title. I burned out after a couple of play-throughs, and my account got hacked twice. The second time I just gave up and walked away from it, not even bothering to respond to the account lock and salvage my CD key. But there was a part of me that always wanted to give it another shot, and I had heard there were major fixes implemented, so Smurf and I decided to give it another shot. To quote him, “it feels as though [Diablo] was built for consoles” and ported to PC, not the other way around. The Reaper of Souls expansion pack added a new Paladin character class, which has added a whole new dimension to our team strategy.  With the ability to debuff and taunt our enemies, he holds down the front lines while my Demon Hunter lays waste to the enemy with a never-ending supply of crossbow bolts. In all seriousness, I’d love to know how many bolts I’ve shot already now as we’re approaching the end of Act II. I’m really excited to see the new end-game features added since I’ve last played the game.

Madden NFL 15 is… well… it’s Madden, with a bit more flash and some new camera angles. I do feel like I am better at this version than prior editions for some reason, and it’s my go-to game for single player. On difficulty level 3 out of 4, my hometown franchise just completed an undefeated season (far beyond how they’re currently performing in reality). But there were some tight games and hard lessons learned along the way, such as “If you think there’s a slight chance that ball is going to be knocked down by the defender, and you throw it anyway, the ball will be intercepted”,  “My defense interprets ‘Cover-0’ as ‘take a 5 minute break’ 90% of the time”, and “It’s not Blood Bowl; intentional injuries are frowned upon”. I don’t know that I want to go for online multiplayer, I don’t tend to have a good experience with that for sports games. I do have some legitimate issues with Madden 15’s user interface that I haven’t found a way to fix yet. The halftime highlights are eye candy for a demo environment, but when I’m burning through multiple games in a single session I would love to be able to go straight to the second half, because it takes forever to reach the point where you can skip ahead. There’s no indication when players are auto-subbed until you’ve called a play, and my running back platoon members all have drastically different styles and thus really need different play calls. And on a similar note would be great if I could see which way the wind is blowing BEFORE I commit to a directional kickoff/punt alignment. But all in all, it’s a very enjoyable game if you’re into NFL football.

On the PC side (because sometimes other people want the big TV and I can be bribed with food), I’m continuing to get sucked in to Neo Scavenger (click for an in-browser demo) or Out Of The Park Baseball 15 from time to time. Each of these are varying degrees of indie games, and I’m inspired by both development teams. Neo Scavenger is a post-apocalyptic RPG created single-handedly by a BioWare veteran. You can check out his development log and find links to buy Neo Scavenger on his site, BlueBottleGames. I don’t know as much about the creators of OOTP Baseball, but they’re making good money without selling out to a major publisher, and I’d love to be in that position with a game of my own design one day. Both of these titles are essentially turn-based games, so while I’m between chapters of my current novel of choice or while brainstorming what to write about next, I can shift my lineup to hopefully manufacture a couple more runs per game, or have a fight to the death with a mutated Dogman over a backpack full of medicine and snack cakes.

And then there’s the title that won’t be so easy to walk away from… I’m ecstatic about the upcoming launch of Civilization: Beyond Earth. I’ve already preordered my copy, which means hopefully I will have it downloaded by the time I get home on the release date of October 24th. Maybe I should warn my girlfriend that I’ll be out of touch with the world that weekend (and maybe I should also take the next week off from work while I’m at it). Having pumped hundreds of hours into the previous version, Civilization V, I had recently turned to imitations like Eador, Masters of a Broken World, and the Warlock series to get my fix for the same formula with new material, but there’s no match for the real thing. I can’t wait to explore the new version. I’ve been a fan of Sid Meier and his games since I wandered across Railroad Tycoon in the electronics section of a local Wal-Mart back in the early 90’s. I might need the multiple choice format, but I’m pretty sure I could still pass Railroad Tycoon’s copyright protection check without the manual even to this day. Civilization, and it’s offshoot of Colonization, have caused many a late night in my past, chanting the magic mantra of “…one more turn!”. Beyond Earth looks to take everything that has been built up through the years of maturation of Civilization as a game, and take the training wheels of human history off of the product.

And for those of you wondering, I do sleep sometimes, just not for long.

– The Tabletop General

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