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.

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Backlog Battle Report (4th Dec ’17)

Home stretch of the year, which means I’m quietly compelling a bunch of arbitrary awards of which I can laud upon the many storied games of 2017 for nobody in particular to comment on. It’s a hobby, everyone does it, and I’d like to look back on what has been a stellar year in game releases (albeit less so in industry developments) with some positive words. That’s coming soon, but for now, here’s the week’s gaming.

Heroes of the Storm (PC)

So last week I spoke about how Blizzard had introduced a PvE Brawl into the game, but commented that I felt it was too easy and would have liked to see multiple difficulty settings or more challenging versions. Well, this week the Brawl is the same, but on Heroic difficulty, and it is pretty much exactly what I was hoping for.

On the basic difficulty, you could pick pretty much any composition and have people run to all corners of the map and still likely pull through. On Heroic, going on your own is a death sentence if people aren’t on hand to save you. Enemy heroes will slaughter you if they CC chain you well, it’s pretty easy to get overrun, item effects are necessary for easing your way and the final boss is challenging no matter how you set up your team. Speaking of which, there’s numerous team compositions that I’d imagine would just have no hope.

In about a dozen attempts with various friends or people accompanying me, I’ve only cleared it once or twice. We had a full group of five at one point in voice comms, messing around with various group makeups and trying to figure out a way that suited us. We didn’t clear it, and sometimes we just messed up and got brutally beaten, but we were all laughing and enjoying ourselves immensely. It’s a lot of fun, and having to band together and focus like that is a welcome challenge.

I don’t know how much it would affect the game’s overall population, queue times, and so on if this style of mode became permanent. But if it was, I’d likely play it a fair bit. This is great, and kudos to Blizzard for trying it out. I hope to see more stuff like this soon.

Beyond just the Brawl, there’s been a few normal games but nothing too much to write home about. I’m working once more on getting as many heroes as I can close to leveling without actually doing so, since the Christmas event is right around the corner. I might as well aim to get as much limited time loot from chests as I can, and it worked out pretty nicely for me last time. Hoping to get one of the Christmas Valla skins. I’ve also got the gold ready for Hanzo and almost for Alexstrasza in addition. Should be a fun time.

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Backlog Battle Report (27th Nov ’17)

I’m thoroughly embarrassed with myself this week. I’ve worked on some pretty critical games, mostly on the Switch as usual. I’ve published both my Blaster Master Zero review and Ittle Dew 2+ review for Switch Indie Reviews. Overall, things are pretty good. But there’s a lot of playtime in one game that… well, see for yourself.

Realm Grinder (PC)

Cookie Clicker has so much to answer for. Alternatively, I’m trapped in here somebody please send help.

So Realm Grinder is an idle/clicker game, where you can click the screen repeatedly to generate coins, which you then buy buildings with to generate more coins… rinse and repeat to absolutely ludicrous examples of scientific notation. There’s a little more to do, but not really a lot; just spend your coins, leave it idle for a bit, and return every so often.

There’s very little game, and most of the time I don’t actually bother clicking it or doing much, but I’ve been checking in on it for the past week and leaving it open for a staggering amount of time. Even though I could just let it run for extended periods, I can’t help but check in it compulsively way too regularly. I’ll often be juggling it while eating meals, watching videos, or waiting in Heroes queues.

It’s bizarre why I stick with it at all, but I don’t know. I get some kind of twisted satisfaction watching the numbers creep ever higher. It’s the illusion of progress and advancement, I guess. I tend to be drawn to MMORPGs for the exact same reason, though this is far more blunt and pointless about it.

I’m curious just how far I can get it going. More “features” and aspects to manage do become available as you advance, but it’s usually a case of waiting for days to make it so. I suppose it’s harmless, but again, I’m embarrassed at how much time I’ve sunk into it even just to tune in and build things.

Anyway, there’s my secret shame. I’d give a progress report in it for those interested, but I honestly don’t really know how I’d gauge such a thing. Again, we’re at pretty stupid numbers of zeroes appended to everything already.

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Backlog Battle Report (20th Nov 2017)

I know it’s late and it’s not the 20th anymore, hush. Still counts for that day. Anyway, it’s been a long week (but overall a good one), and it significantly impacted the variety in my games played throughout. Let’s jump right in and you’ll see what I mean.

.hack//G.U.: Last Recode (Vol 1) (PS4)

Not too much progress on this front, but this remains one of my go to games of the past week when I want to wind down. I’m still not entirely sure why this game has drawn me in so much, but it’s comfortable enough to pick up chip away at a couple of dungeons or story events.

At the moment, the plot has me grinding Arena battles a little bit. Since I was mostly just going through the story missions where possible, I took this opportunity to have a breather and go grinding for a while. A few dungeons later and I should be good to proceed smoothly for a while to come.

Curious to see how the story of this will pan out, not just in this one game but in all four of them. Mostly, I’m just curious to see how they’ll handle the transition from volume 1 to volume 2, how much has changed and improved, and so on. That’ll be especially curious once I reach volume 4, since that’s completely new. How much will have changed given the 15 years of game design improvements in that time?

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Backlog Battle Report (13th Nov 2017)

Was hoping to have my first Switch Indie Review article up by this point, as the draft is online and ready to go, just needs editor approval. As such, I can’t link it here, so I’ll be omitting the game in question (Sparkle 2 EVO for Switch) from the list. Most of my thoughts on the game were in last week’s post anyway. So here’s what I’ve been up to this week.

The Elder Scrolls Online (PC) — Notable only by its absence

After having been my go-to game for just winding down and exploring or questing, this week saw practically no playing of ESO at all. I did maybe a quest or two and logged in to do crafting daily quests as well as keep researching rolling, but that’s about it. Haven’t completely lost interest, but with no sign of friends coming to rejoin me anytime soon, I’m starting to feel the loneliness. That and I’ve been busy with other games (as this report will show), so it’s largely just on the backburner for the time being.

I do want to go through and finish off the Morrowind quests again soon though, so perhaps in the coming days.

Battle Chasers: Nightwar (PC)

In an effort to keep from falling too behind on the variety of games that I put down for something new and never return to, I resumed playing Battle Chasers for a little bit. Progressed through about half of the second dungeon before I had to stop, and didn’t get back to it just yet. Still, it’s on my mind and I’m going to resume in between the cavalcade of Switch and PS4 games on the horizon.

As well as being as gorgeous as it was the last time I commented on it, I do still quite enjoy the battle system and the amount of options it presents. The overdrive system is an excellent touch, providing temporary disposable mana so that you can keep using your abilities throughout a whole dungeon. Biggest issue with that is that things die far too quickly to get much use or strategy from it, even bosses… and if they¬†don’t die fast enough, odds are that I will, since the damage count goes both ways.

Hopefully the story will start picking up soon, too. There’s a few interesting snippets but at the moment, that aspect isn’t particularly grabbing me.

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Backlog Battle Report (6th Nov 2017)

Couple of things before we go into this week’s update. Firstly, you might notice that there’s been a new Right Click to Zoom at long last in the post below this one, so if you didn’t know about that I’d strongly suggest checking it out. I spoke at length about Morrowind, one of my favourite games, not to mention one of the most influential on me when growing up.

Second, I’m giving a quick plug to a new website called Switch Indie Reviews which, well… is a website for Nintendo Switch indie reviews. Go figure, right? It’s brand new, it looks really shiny, and I just so happen to have applied for and been accepted to be a staff writer for it. So if you like my work and want to see more of it, there’ll be articles there in the coming days. I’ll be sure to link all those reviews back to this blog for conciseness, so please look forward to that.

On to the games, then!

DOOM 2016 (PC) — I’m a man of my word

Last week I was in the mood to play some DOOM and listening to the soundtrack, so this week I followed suit with that and played a bit more. I rarely invest a lot of time into it, but it’s fantastic for just picking up and playing another level or two of the campaign every so often. Shouldn’t take me much longer to finish it I’d imagine, but no big if it does; it’s just a very satisfying and visceral experience that’s great to just pick up, play, and put down without commitment.

The game does occasionally get a little bit of criticism that it just falls into the pattern of “find an obvious arena, trigger it filling with demons, kill the demons to proceed”. Personally, while this is obviously a big part of it, I haven’t found it nearly as obnoxious or as one-dimensional as some claim. There is a small chunk of downtime in between each of these encounters, where you’re given a chance to explore, find secrets, and wind the tempo down a little before building back up explosively.

Perhaps this changes as the levels get later, but regardless, I find that I’m often in a fairly good rhythm with it. All that said, I did immediately dump my upgrades into having secrets and collectables appear on my map so I can hunt them all down and get back to the shooting quickly. My completionist tendencies are likely to get the better of me if I keep wandering too long.

Damn, even thinking about this game makes me want to play some more. What a great shooter DOOM is.

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Right Click to Zoom — Morrowind, and why it Will Never be Replicated

Welcome back (finally) to Right Click to Zoom, the more in-depth article side of this blog. For today’s topic, we’ll be looking at Morrowind; primarily the original release, but also the more recent visit to it in Elder Scrolls Online, alongside a number of attempts to mod it into more recent game engines.

It’s said about the Elder Scrolls series that the first entry you play is likely to be your favourite. This seems to hold true of most people I’ve spoken to, with people rising to sing the praises of many games in the series but rarely able to overcome their original. Whether it’s Skyrim, Oblivion, or even Daggerfall and Arena, the series is well loved and it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t have that favourite.

In my case, my first Elder Scrolls game was Morrowind, and my favourite is Morrowind. I’ve spoken about it at length on this blog, mostly before these article types were defined, but in the time since my respect for the game and its design continues to grow. I’ve continued to discuss and debate this with multiple people, and it’s come up enough that I decided it was high time to use this article structure and space to look at aspects of the game with more focus.

So what makes Morrowind so great? It boils down to a key word: design. Allow me to elaborate.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

The scope of the Elder Scrolls series — and the scope of video games as a whole — has continued to expand over time, with each new entry proving bigger and more content packed than the last. While few would say that this is a bad thing, there has had to be some sacrifices to achieve this with each new iteration. Corners are cut on some aspects, and liberties are taken on others in order to achieve this vision, with mixed results.

A large focus for Bethesda on Oblivion and Skyrim was trying to achieve the sense of a living, breathing world. Rather than having limited paths and patterns for what they would do, many NPCs in the game will attempt to go about their lives regardless of the player’s intervention. They’ll discuss matters with one another, eat food that’s around, interact with objects and react to various stimuli around them. Granted, it’s not always well implemented, with Oblivion’s systems being the source of quite a bit of humour in retrospect, but a living world was always the intention.

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