Backlog Battle Report (16th Oct 2017)

Proving once more that I am fickle and need to work harder on maintaining a schedule, here is Monday’s post ahead of the late Right Click to Zoom article. It’s coming soon, really. Also proving my lack of attention span is another slew of newly started games and not a lot of continuation on previous stuff. Well, at least I’ve got some things to say.

Final Fantasy 14 (PC) — Patched up

As I said last week, the major 4.1 update for Final Fantasy 14 dropped a few days ago and I jumped right back into it. What surprises me the most about this, however, is that I actually haven’t played much of it all despite expectations.

This is nothing to do with the lack of content, or lack of options and new things to do. That’s all there, with a new bunch of side content, further expansion on the Stormblood plot, a new four man dungeon, a new high difficulty trial, and a new raid that heavily ties Final Fantasy 12 and Tactics together into an interesting worldbuilding exercise. What I’ve played of it is all very well done and genuinely pretty high quality. The precursor quests to that raid had me geeking out pretty hard, and it was a joy to go through.

Thing is, I’ve still only done the precursors. The actual raid? Haven’t jumped into yet. The new main quest? That jumps into the new dungeon fairly quickly, and that’s where I’ve stopped. At the moment, I’m in no particular hurry to jump into the group content without a group to play with, and I have no real desire to queue up with random people. And even if I did have that desire, I don’t have the item level required; I played so little after reaching the level cap on both my characters that I didn’t spend much time gearing them up, so I’d have to do that for a couple of runs before I could tackle the new stuff.

Continue reading “Backlog Battle Report (16th Oct 2017)”

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Right Click to Zoom — The Value Proposition Issue of ARPGs

Welcome to this week’s iteration of Right Click to Zoom, the more in-depth article side of this blog. Today I’m going to be talking about the growing concept and issues of the value proposition of games, particularly how they relate to hack-and-slash action RPGs (referred to as ARPGs for the remainder of the article).

The idea of a value proposition is simple: it’s the idea that a product, in this case a video game, presents itself in its entirety and then asks the consumer for the purchase price. A user deciding that the game is too expensive or doesn’t offer enough gameplay, longevity, or some other criteria is saying that the proposition fails; it’s not worth the value they’re asking.

A number of these concepts can be applied to video games as a whole, but I’m going to relate them back to this one genre for the sake of the article today. This is largely because they are a kind of game that can fall into this discussion fairly quickly by the very nature of how they play. To demonstrate what I mean, let’s start with the poster child of the hack-and-slash ARPG genre: the Diablo series.

The original Diablo is one of the more iconic games of its time, releasing nearly a year before the first Fallout game and simplifying the oft convoluted RPG genre down to a more accessible format. The huge, complex and intricate worlds with fiddly systems of the Ultima series and its ilk were instead reduced to a single town. From this town, you would descend into the catacombs beneath the cathedral, diving deeper until you reached Hell itself to defeat titular demon Diablo.

While still gaining power through traditional level ups, much of your character’s strength came from the randomised loot that would drop as you explored. Some drops were guaranteed from quests that would appear within the dungeon, but they too were randomly assigned; not everyone would find the quest to kill the Butcher or the Skeleton King in their run. You could play through it multiple times and still discover something new, and the same character could become wildly skewed in power. This became the core of the hack-and-slash ARPG: the loot.

If Diablo popularised the concept and genre, Diablo 2 refined and polished it. More character classes, more intricate and variable skill trees, more in-depth storytelling and world building, a bigger world to explore and play with… but most importantly, more loot. Winning a whole slew of awards and quickly becoming the fastest selling video game in history at the time, Diablo 2 opened up the genre to more people than ever before.

The inclusion of additional difficulty levels encouraged repeat playthroughs with the one character. Combine this with a strong multiplayer aspect and options, and the game saw continual play for years afterwards. Arguably, that is where the problems inherent in the modern day perception of the genre began, and few points can highlight this better than the launch of the next game in the Diablo chain.

Continue reading “Right Click to Zoom — The Value Proposition Issue of ARPGs”

Backlog Battle Report (11th Sept 2017)

I spent some time looking at options and possibilities for extending the activities on this blog to YouTube and recording versions of this for those who would rather listen than read. Unfortunately, the internet connections and speeds available in this part of Australia effectively limit my options to “move elsewhere” or “suck it up”. Since only one of those is viable, this’ll probably remain a text only venture for a while.

Still, I like writing, so hopefully people still like the reading. With all that said, let’s get into the games.

Heroes of the Storm (PC) — Obey the Call!

Let’s start with the new patch of Heroes, which I’ve played a good chunk of games on. Of the four hero reworks in the patch, I’ve only had the chance to play two of them so far, meaning Morales and Jaina I have no comment on. Chromie and Leoric I’ve played a couple of games of apiece, and then a number of Kel’thuzad games to cap it off.

The Leoric rework is, in a word, awesome. Don’t know how he is in terms of power overall, but the adjustments to his spells and auto attack pattern feel a lot more responsive and his talent choices feel much more interesting. While I haven’t picked up a set build yet, the talents that give Wraith Walk more utility that leads into more damage makes for a decent way to start a fight. Both his ults feel like viable choices now as opposed to just the one, though I still need to play around with the 20 talents. He’s great fun.

Chromie is a little less stellar in the long run, but comes with the caveat that I might just be completely awful at her. Either way, her ability to combo and delete somebody instantly is gone unless you manage to ramp up early by getting good hits and completing your baseline quest. That said, in two games I only managed to finish it in one, and then only just before the game ended. Does that mean I’m an awful shot, or is she undertuned? Probably more the former, but either way I can’t really give a full opinion on how she is numbers wise. This needs a bit more time. Continue reading “Backlog Battle Report (11th Sept 2017)”

Backlog Battle Report (4th September 2017)

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m planning on setting up a weekly routine of a more serious and in-depth article, and then a more casual article detailing my gaming experiences for the past week. This is the first of the latter! It made sense to name it the Backlog Battle Report given the name and aim of the page, and I’ll be getting these out every Monday night/Tuesday morning as time permits from here on if all goes well. As for the other article type, that will probably debut on Friday, so keep an eye out.

For now, let’s talk about the games I’ve played over the last week. I’ll also include a few things that reach a bit further back just because I’ve been inactive for so long. Let’s kick it off.

Heroes of the Storm — As always

I won’t be mentioning this much in the future reports unless something stands out, but Heroes of the Storm is still my primary go-to when I feel like playing a competitive multiplayer game or MOBA. I’m sure some of you may scoff at the thought of calling it “competitive”, but the game is as deep and competitive as you want it to be, and I like to push myself in it.

The latest ranked season will be ending in a matter of days, so there’s something of a mad scramble to get last minute rankings for the rewards, but I’ve been abstaining and keeping to the non-ranked modes for a while. This is mostly just due to queue times for ranked being considerably longer in Australia, or else it’s because I’m playing with friends who take the game much more casually. However, it’s also because I’ve already reached Diamond 5 rank after a couple of seasons coasting in high Platinum since tanking my MMR last year. I’ve got the rewards I sought, so I can hold off any further attempts until the next season kicks off.

Kel’thuzad is due to be the next hero release in just a couple of days, and his patch comes with a number of character reworks, so I’ll have a good amount of new things to learn and play shortly. Should be a good time. Continue reading “Backlog Battle Report (4th September 2017)”