Backlog Battle Report (11th Dec 2017)

Yep, okay, this one’s late. It’s been a week, and I’ve got no excuse. Doesn’t matter, it’s here now, so let’s get into it. Not a lot of games this week but here’s what’s been there nonetheless.

Realm Grinder (PC)

Need to bring this one up first again because, quite frankly, it’s becoming a problem. Addiction to the notion or sensation of progress isn’t uncommon for me, and I’ve bounced around between a few idle games offering similar stuff, but something about this one is keeping me checking on it to the point that it’s actually inhibiting my other gaming or writing.

It’s seriously gotten to the point where I will set up things or do what seems like a maximised build for this run, then sit and see it through. I’m not spam clicking the entire time or anything, but I’ll be watching Youtube or chatting on Discord in between managing that when I should be doing other things. It’s not entirely to blame for my hold-ups and delays, but it is a factor and I need to start really limiting how I go about maintaining this.

All that said, I’m a way into Reincarnation 6. More upgrades and challenges are right around the corner of unlocking, I think. Seems like more aspects of the game go quite a way back if you keep running it… which I will probably do, but in the background. Or offline.

World of Warcraft (PC)

I’m keeping this here for completion’s sake, but true to my word last week, I basically didn’t play this at all. There was a brief stint where I logged on to join my friends in getting an achievement from a Wrath dungeon for proto drake purposes, and that’s about it. We were going to clear Ulduar since we were in the area, but then due to internet failures we got held up and I had to leave before it could happen.

That’s literally it, aside from putz around in character creation/selection and ponder possibilities. With that said, these friends have now hit or are right about to hit 110, meaning newer content will probably see me called in to play. Until then though, it’s still on the wings.

Tokyo Xanadu eX+ (PS4)

This… this actually hurts to play. But not for any negative reasons; the complete opposite, in fact.

See, this is a JRPG made by Falcom, the creators of the Trails of games. Two of my favourite games of last year (Trails of Cold Steel 1 and 2) fall into this umbrella, and they really hit just about every note that I wanted from a good JRPG. In some areas they even bested out Persona 5, though not as a complete package.

Tokyo Xanadu is more of an action RPG in dungeons, with real-time combat and a heavy focus on timing dodges. Outside of dungeons, though, it follows practically the same game patterns as the Trails of Cold Steel games. It’s set in a modern setting as opposed to a fantasy powered mid-20th Century one, but gameplay routines are the same, graphical styles are the same, and there’s even one character lifted directly from Cold Steel and tweaked in design as a nod to those players. At one point, there’s literally a poster on the wall in a store advertising Trails of Cold Steel 3.

But… it isn’t Trails of Cold Steel 3. That game is out in Japan but has no localisation date in the West, and could be months if not years away. It might never get translated, though I refuse to even consider that possibility. But it’s still something that I want and cannot have, and given how badly I want it… all those teases from Tokyo Xanadu really hurt.

Sigh. So with all that out of the way… this is still actually a pretty solid game, which isn’t really surprising given the similarities. It’s been a bit slow to start, but it plays like a lot of Falcom games, with strong focus on building huge networks of interesting characters where even the most minor NPCs get their development if you go talking and looking around.

The setting is, again, modern and more inspired by Persona than other Falcom games. As such, the cast is largely high school students by day, and fighting with psychic weapons against shadowy monsters by night. I’m not quite far enough to tell too much, nor have I had a chance to dive into too many combat-filled dungeons, but I’m enjoying it. I need to review this one soon so I’ll be focusing on getting through it and putting most of my thoughts into that, so stay tuned.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Switch)

Due to Tokyo Xanadu’s release and its place on my official review list, Xenoblade 2 has to be put on the backburner for now. That said, I’ve had to fight that decision on at least one occasion because I wanted to play it instead, so take that as you will. I’m intrigued to see more of this, and just going off and exploring in random directions or hunting for hidden items and named enemies is an enjoyable little experience.

Many of my complaints from last week still hold up to some extent, but I want to stress once again that while I can go on those for a while, I’m still overall enjoying much of what I’m playing. The plot is very anime, and more so than the previous Xenoblade games, so it probably won’t appeal to everyone. I’m still interested in seeing how things unfold and getting all the details of this world and its environs, not to mention seeing how these characters develop.

I’m also getting a bit more into the combat as I advance and get a few more options. There still is a fair amount of “I’ll either win or lose based on current stats rather than how I play or execute this fight”, but I can see how it’ll get more in-depth and allow me to make better use of it as we go. All in all, it’s just a game I’m enjoying exploring in every sense of it, and I look forward to seeing what’s around the next corner.

Sadly, that corner may be a ways off. But I’ll probably still try and find time for it.

Endless Space 2 (PC)

True to my word, I picked this one up again this week and started a brand new game as the Cravers. They have a very different playstyle from the previous race I was playing (still can’t recall their name), with a much more military focus. After all, their primary goal is to kill and devour everything, then move on.

What I like the most about Endless Space — both original and this sequel — is that the individual races, species, or factions all actually have fairly strong unique aspects that pushes even into the gameplay and story. While a game of Civ 6 or other 4X strategy titles will still largely have the same approach and maybe require a change of tactics, Endless Space is far more impactful.

This is demonstrated by the Cravers quite well. Since they eat everything in their path, this is represented by all their planets having a resource counter. While the worlds still have resources, their yields are better than they would be for other races, but their depletion counter increases each turn. When it maxes, the world now has half the usual resource yield permanently. That means you need to keep expanding, colonising, and conquering worlds just out of necessity to stay relevant or fall behind.

The inclusion of the racial story quests also helps drive their purpose and agenda forward. In the case of the Cravers, I’ve uncovered a Virtual Endless which is currently serving as a hero unit in my empire, and who is encouraging the Cravers to “return to the hive”. I can only imagine this is going to go badly for everyone involved, but hey, I’m curious.

Putting a bit more focus in military technology and messing about with ship designs has seen me be much more effective too, which coupled with the “not yet depleted” resource bonus has me doing much better this time around. Annoyingly however, I ended up starting next to an AI player that is also Cravers, so we’re basically ignoring each other and trying to expand as rapidly as possible to not depleted planets. We’ll deal with each other later when there’s no better targets available, no doubt.

Heroes of the Storm (PC)

I’ve continued to play this a fair bit throughout the week, even after the PvE Brawl ended. There weren’t many chances to assemble the squad of friends and conquer it properly together, and I’m sad that those of us who got our victories did so apart. Still, by most accounts that I’ve been able to witness, the Brawl was a massive success compared to many of the others. More in that vein will hopefully follow.

Nonetheless, the Christmas event should be beginning shortly, and so I’ve been doing what I can to get as many characters close to levelling without going over. Should be able to get about 10-15 level ups in no more than two games, and hopefully I’ll net some desirable skins. I’ll have plenty of opportunities to play with all the additional changes made in this patch, though.

The stealth rework is finally here, singling the departure of the eye test and instead replacing it with “strategic” stealth, which is clearly easy to see but still cannot be point and click targeted or seen on the minimap. There’s a number of people I chat to who think this is a poor change and devalues stealth completely, but I argue that that’s the point; by removing such focus on the stealth, Blizzard are able to put power and balancing factors into other aspects of the character’s kit.

As it stands, Nova is the absolute pubstomp character who will completely destroy all newcomers until you learn how to deal with her… but in Bronze and Silver ranks, that may never happen. Try playing her in higher ranks though, and even if you don’t spot her often she probably won’t accomplish all that much compared to other characters. Buffing her to improve her success at high ranks would just make her nightmarish for the lower end of players, which is the majority of the Heroes playerbase regardless what people may think. So I still say this is a step in the right direction.

Beyond that… changes to the way laning works, removal of tower ammo but general buffs to minions, and a few other little balance tweaks will likely shake up the meta a lot, so a bunch of additional games to get a feel for how the game plays will likely be coming.

Oh, and Hanzo’s being released. There’s that too.

I think this might be the smallest selection of games for one of these thus far. Well, I’m doing a lot of writing and research into the end of year project so that’s probably where it’s all going… hoping to have plenty of new posts here for that, but I suppose at this point it’s all about backing up those words by doing so. Watch this space!


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