Backlog Battle Report (30th Oct 2017)

This week’s update brought to you by the DOOM 2016 soundtrack, which I am very much feeling the urge to play some more of after I’m done writing this. It doesn’t feature on the list this week, but don’t expect that to remain true for much longer. In addition to this post, I’ve done enough gaming to provide all the material I need for at least two or more reviews plus a Right Click to Zoom (at last), so I’m hoping to have some or all of that up soon. We’ll see!

Borderlands 2 (PC) — Co-op Siren song

Wasn’t planning on playing more of this due to scheduling, but one of the Discord chats I frequent has started having a game or two of this going fairly regularly. It doesn’t take long to put out feelers and then get a couple of people teaming up to go shoot some things, and that’s basically what happened to me this week. Unplanned, just decided to jump in with a couple of friends offering.

Since I’m still saving my Psycho save for the planned four man group, I picked up the next best thing I had, which turned out to be a level 14-ish Siren that I hadn’t played since 2013 or thereabouts. I had no idea what weapons I’d picked up or what skill points I’d invested, but it didn’t matter; just jumped in, figured it out on the fly, and shot some bad guys. We played that for a couple of hours and had a grand old time, during which I managed to be useful despite the level disparity just for the Siren’s ability to take a dangerous enemy out of the fight for a few seconds.

Of course, a stupid amount of poison and fire damage over time certainly helped matters, but the crowd control was the real selling point I’d wager.

Ended up just being a one-off thing this week, but who knows, a pick-up game like that could very well happen again.

Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch) — Kill a million, and it’s a statistic

So how much am I enjoying Fire Emblem Warriors? Well, since purchasing it last Monday I’ve clocked up about 30 hours of playtime. That might be impressive in its own right, but at least 10 hours of those were racked up after Super Mario Odyssey came out and started competing for my Switch’s game slot.

It only took a small percentage of those hours to beat the Story Mode. A little more than 20 chapters in that, each of which was a decent sized mission with multiple objectives and a smattering of cutscenes. The story is nothing special — you gather the heroes and beat the bad guys through the power of friendship — but it’s serviceable enough to keep you playing. I got most of the unlockables on the first run through, though some more require a second play through select chapters to be available, which I’ve been picking off on the higher difficulties here and there.

The real meat is the History Mode, however. Of the five available maps, I’ve only “completed” two and made decent headway in another two. That said, completing them to unlock the characters they award isn’t a full completion, and there’s a lot of side battles to do that don’t even become available until you finish. Some even require everything to be done with a high rank, and almost all of these are quite high level (so much so that I can only just now start attempting to tackle them). I think each map has a total of 24 battles on it, so 120 total not counting replays. And since I’m averaging more than a thousand KOs per level, that’s a bunch of dead mooks!

There’s quite a lot of video game in here. It might not technically be as much as what was in Hyrule Warriors, but they’ve cut down on a lot of the frustrating or irritating filler from that game so this generally feels a lot more enticing. It’ll almost certainly remain my “pick up, put down” game for a while until I’ve finally finished most of it… at which point DLC is slated to come out for even more stuff to do. Fine by me!

Nonetheless, this is one of the games that will be getting a full review in the coming days, so please look forward to it. I’ll talk more about specifics and gameplay then.

Super Mario Odyssey (Switch) — Wah! Wahoo! YAHOOOO~

Odyssey came out on Friday morning here in Australia, which I picked up amidst all my other business of the day and snuck in maybe five or six hours across it and Saturday. I replaced it with Fire Emblem Warriors not because I didn’t like it, but simply because I wanted a game I could play while I was half watching a stream, and Odyssey demands more of my attention.

But boy does it demand your attention.

There’s a lot to say about Odyssey so far, and I still think I’m only scratching the surface. The art design is gorgeous and the levels are large and varied, with each serving more as a good sized world that you’re free to roam about in. The individual checklist of missions that most previous 3D Mario game worlds possessed is still there, but it’s a much longer and less constrained list, encouraging you to explore and see what you find. Gone are the 7 Stars to find on Bob-omb Battlefield; Fossil Fields has something like 17 Moons (this game’s collectible) to acquire, and the level after had considerably more.

Mario controls much like he always has, moveset wise, but he’s now joined by the sentient hat Cappy that can be thrown, jumped off, or possess random creatures. Yes, really. Said possessed creatures serve as the powerups of previous Mario games, changing up what moves or traits you have to further expand your exploration opportunities or clear a small environment. Every world is home to a variety of creatures that are susceptible to this, which adds to their individuality.

Each world presents a sort of “main” objective that you’re guided towards to advance what plot there is, but you’re freely encouraged to ignore it for a time and go explore until you’re ready to tackle it. You’ll need to do this eventually if you do just gun for the objectives, as you need a certain amount of Moons to progress to the next world.

So, in short… it’s a 3D Mario game. It’s a very good one so far, and I’ve had a lot of fun with it. It’s a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and Mario remains one of the few game worlds that absolutely does not care about consistency or continuity and instead on just making a good game. The situations and worlds you encounter won’t make all that much sense, but that matters little if you’re having fun, and that sentiment is honestly refreshing.

If I had any criticism to give the game, it’s almost that the levels I’ve encountered are too big, and too filled with stuff to find and do. It feels more like a full blown collectathon than any Mario game prior, and while the encounters and exploration has thus far been relatively enjoyable, I could see a time where it just grows to be too much a case of including stuff for the sake of including stuff. We’ll see how it goes and if that feeling persists, I suppose.

Even with all this positive feedback and praise I’m saying about the game, though… I don’t know, it’s not entirely grabbing me or wowing me to the level that some people are elevating it to. Hell, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I had more moments of genuine cheer and astonishment from A Hat in Time than Odyssey so far. Of course, if I say that, I’d probably summon the irate and irrational Nintendo fans to knock on this blog’s doorstep…

Grim Dawn (PC) — Ashes to Ashes

After a bit of time doing side content from prior to the expansion and just trying to pad out my resistances a little, I have beaten the Ashes of Malmouth expansion. There’s more to come on it still — it’s getting a roguelike dungeon patched in a little down the line — but I’ve finished the story content. It’s a little less ending on a cliffhanger of sorts than the base game was, but it’s still quite clear that there’s more to go, and probably another expansion or two to come. Quite frankly, that’s fine by me.

I’m not sure if I’m going to try running through on the higher difficulties yet, or else take one of the other class combinations I’ve made up through the game instead. I sampled both the Inquisitor and the Necromancer that were added in Ashes, and they were quite enjoyable, but I’d probably take a Necromancer/Shaman combination through next. Otherwise, I could safely put this down until the next patch and call it done.

Aside from the sudden and unexpected difficulty spike from base game to expansion, Ashes was largely just more of the same Grim Dawn that I already thoroughly enjoyed. It’s what you want out of an iterative expansion, so I’m more than satisfied. A review of this will be forthcoming, too.

Elder Scrolls Online (PC) — Nerevar Ever

To cap the list off this week, we of course have more Elder Scrolls Online. There’s not a lot to tell just yet that I haven’t already said before; mostly just continuing on with the questlines and zones I was already up to, though I did level a Redguard Dragonknight to 15. I suspect I’ll end up making a couple of characters to get through each faction’s zones rather than doing everything on my Templar, since that’s just the kind of player I tend to be, but we’ll see how that goes.

As for the Templar, I skipped entirely on continuing the main story in Coldharbour and instead went to Morrowind as I said in the last update. I’ve been taking my time with that, exploring the place and doing the quests at a fairly steady pace. The immediate hit of nostalgia understandably faded, but I have still been thrilled to see places that I recognise while mentally comparing their ESO incarnation with my memories of the original Morrowind. It’s been a real treat.

I’m enjoying the quest lines there too. They’re nothing too special or wonderfully written, but then that’s largely true of the entire game. Still, they keep me engaged and invested, and I’m having a lot of fun. That’s enough for me. It does certainly get me thinking about the original Morrowind and how we’ll probably never get another game like that ever again… that’s probably a Right Click to Zoom article in the making right there. Having discussed some of those ideas with friends, we’ll see if I choose to write them like that.

So yes. Steady as she goes on the ESO front, and I’m trying not to feel too guilty about still barely playing Final Fantasy 14. Whoops?

I’m getting a little better at focusing on a handful of titles over the last couple of weeks, but that still leaves me with a number of games that I need to get back to. I think I should be good for not having urgent releases over the next couple of weeks though. So that leaves me plenty of time to rip and tear. Please excuse me!~

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