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?

Continue reading “Backlog Battle Report (20th Nov 2017)”

Advertisements

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.

Continue reading “Backlog Battle Report (13th Nov 2017)”

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.

Continue reading “Backlog Battle Report (6th Nov 2017)”

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.

Continue reading “Right Click to Zoom — Morrowind, and why it Will Never be Replicated”

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.

Continue reading “Backlog Battle Report (30th Oct 2017)”

Backlog Battle Report (23rd Oct 2017)

As said in the scheduling update, these weekly reports won’t be going anywhere, but Right Click to Zoom is going to be unscheduled for a while and just be posted as I write them. I’ll have things to talk about soon, but in the meantime here’s my gaming for the week.

Elder Scrolls Online (PC) — Morrowind!

There was a lot of playtime in ESO this week. Most notably, I pushed ahead with my Templar all the way to the level cap of 50, unlocking the Champion Point system that allows me to keep gaining in power with experience past the maximum. It’s an interesting system; I continue earning experience for everything and it just goes into this pool instead, which upon reaching thresholds lets me apply points into different trees for incremental bonuses. The bonuses aren’t massive, but they also aren’t clearly better than each other, so they let me focus each character in more specific ways.

What’s really nice about the system is that the points are unlocked for every character in my account and can be spent for them as I wish also. As such, I’m not forced to stick with just the one character, meaning I’ll probably play around with the other classes and level those up now that the mad dash to the end is completed.

Nonetheless, my Templar will still probably get a lot of attention and playtime with all the content I still have to do. I’ve finished the Fighters and Mages Guild questlines, completed all the major plot threads for the Aldmeri Dominion, and am on the final step of the main quest (that being invading the realm of Coldharbor). I’ve also gone and picked up a lot of the additional content with the game, meaning I’ve started playing the Dark Brotherhood stuff in addition to the Thieves Guild dalliances I had previously.

Continue reading “Backlog Battle Report (23rd Oct 2017)”

Scheduling Updates

tl;dr: Right Click to Zoom is no longer being scheduled to Fridays but will now be released as I write them, hopefully with one every fortnight or so. Backlog Battle Reports shall continue on Mondays as always. Reviews should be coming soon, assuming I can finish a game to write about.


As you may have noticed if you check up on this blog for updates, I’ve not managed to put up a Right Click to Zoom for some time. This isn’t for lack of trying, as I’ve had two drafts that ended up scrapped, but it’s been getting to the point where the lack of progress on my part has been a source of frustration and even despair and anxiety. So it’s time to reevaluate.

Historically, I’ve never been good at maintaining schedules, yet I pushed this blog project ahead with that system anyway. Problem is, I hold myself to excruciatingly high standards that I simply cannot maintain, which in turn leads to a very self-destructive backlash. Furthermore, I didn’t have a job when I started this, and now that I do that added drain of time and energy is definitely affecting my ability to write when I go to do so. So once the schedule starts to slip, it keeps slipping, and I keep beating myself up over it, which just makes it worse… you get the picture.

A lot of this might not have happened if I didn’t reach the two scrapped drafts wall of Right Click to Zoom, but I did. As well as all of the above reasons, a big part of that stumbling was because I was continuing with topics that were either not personally interesting or else focused on video game publishers, developers, and the industry as a whole. I’ve set that precedent from day one, but honestly, that was a mistake. While I’ve certainly had things to say there, none of that has ever mattered to me as much as the actual video games do.

My favourite Right Click to Zoom so far has been the comparison between two Metroid titles, because they’re games I really enjoyed and I get to dive into them in depth. By contrast, getting frustrated at increasingly exploitative publishers (which has only gotten significantly worse in the weeks since I wrote those articles) is important to address but far less personally satisfying. Even worse, that Metroid article was the largest article I’d written at the time, but every RC2Z since has been about that length or word count, if not larger. The scope just got bigger despite my best efforts.

Anyway, rambling on the whys and hows aside, I need to look at rescheduling these articles. I’d like to keep making them consistently, but having that deadline just ends up feeling like a Sword of Damocles over my head, so I’m electing to remove it entirely. I’m going to aim to get a Right Click to Zoom article out every week or two, but until I get back into the groove it’ll probably just be a “when it’s done” situation. Feel free to harass me and ask when the next one will be though, as it’s a huge boost just to know that this project is being followed and read (and to this day there’s been not a single comment on this blog about them).

However, all that said, this is largely affecting just Right Click to Zoom articles as they take up significantly more time, effort and research to get right. Backlog Battle Reports are far more conversational and, really, are just snapshots of the games that I’m playing as I play them. They’re not especially time consuming or difficult to do and I like writing them, so they will remain a Monday night feature.

Finally, the third section of this blog project has been waiting in the wings for a while: game reviews. I’ve more or less decided on titles and formats and approaches to writing them for a while now, but so far I just haven’t written any because I haven’t actually finished a game since doing so. The only exception to this is Metroid: Samus Returns, and I didn’t feel the need to review that since I dove so heavily into it for Right Click to Zoom. So rest assured, reviews will be happening… I just need to stop being fickle and jumping from game to game. Expect to see reviews for Elder Scrolls Online and Grim Dawn: Ashes of Malmouth soon, at least.

I think that about wraps it up. If you’re still with me, thanks again for reading and being a part of this little writing project of mine. I’d still like to make it into proper games journalism one of these days, so every little bit of support and following I can get is a huge help. Do feel free to comment or message me however you want, and I’ll always try to get back to you. I’m verbose, but I don’t bite, really.