Some Games I Liked From 2018’s Second Half

For the games I liked from the first half, here’s a link to the post. Assuming you don’t want to scroll down a screen’s length, anyway. Don’t say I don’t look out for you~

Just as I am somehow delivering another (hopefully) great post within a week of the last one, so too did it seem that the second half of 2018 was dropping an intriguing title in our laps at much the same pace. This breakneck schedule seemed to continue pretty much until the first week of December, whereupon it took a quite breather for the holiday season and then is slated to get right back to it in just a few days.

Looking at you, Tales of Vesperia. Can’t even give me time to fully digest the FF14 patch updating as I write, can you?

So let’s get right back to it then. First, a couple of footnotes of sorts that I could have included from the first half, then right back to the second half of 2018, culminating in a quick talk about my favourite game of the year at the end. I’ll have plenty more to say about Yakuza Kiwami 2 than what’s here, but keeping to the 2-3 paragraphs trend for this article seems to suit me well.

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Some Games I Liked From 2018’s First Half

My personal favourite game of the year for 2018 was Yakuza Kiwami 2.

Amazing how short this can be when I skip all the preamble, huh?

Regardless, welcome one and all to the other side of 2018. Love it or hate it, it was an interesting year for video games. There was a slew of stellar indie titles, some absolutely incredible high budget games from big triple A studios that were purely single player or console exclusives… and there was a continuing, unrelenting downwards spiral into a late-stage capitalist hellscape which saw more backlash and discussion from gamers than I’ve ever witnessed before despite all that.

Single player games got better, multiplayer games didn’t (for the most part), fan-favourite company goodwill was squandered, burned, and ultimately lost, and we’re all starting to feel quite bitter and jaded of the whole hobby.

With all of that in mind, I’d still like to draw attention to some of the games that I quite enjoyed throughout 2018, which I’ve picked from a list of game releases I found on Wikipedia. The list proved too long and unwieldy to fit in one article, so I’ve split it based on the first half of the year with the latter to come around Soon™.

I don’t plan to draw it out or make a spectacle of it like the hideously late Delfies, though I will draw special attention to and write at length about my favourite game that I mentioned up there afterwards. Instead, I’m going with the abridged format: no more than 2 or 3 paragraphs on each game, and the only criteria was that they released from January to June and I played and enjoyed them. Let’s begin.

Continue reading “Some Games I Liked From 2018’s First Half”

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: A Focused Look at the Systems and Flaws of the Combat

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 came out in December, and I played about ten hours of the game in that month before putting it down for other titles. I did enjoy those few hours, but there were a lot of issues with it that kept it from gripping me at the time.

Eventually, I did come back to it about six months later, and did power through it to completion. That took an additional 100 hours of playtime, give or take, with a lot more content that I could still go and do; that should give you an idea of the size and scope of the game. It did improve considerably as it went, but there were times even dozens of hours in when I found myself saying “I’m not sure if I love this game or hate it.”

But still, results speak for themselves. I got through the game and overall quite enjoyed my time. The conclusion was satisfying, and some of the plot developments and twists were quite enjoyable. There were nice and unexpected tie-ins to the first game that made it worthy of being called Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in ways that X was not. And then I ended up binging the sizeable expansion that released shortly after I finished it, enjoying that also.

Now, as much as I like the game, plenty of those flaws do stick with me. There’s a lot of questionable game design in there that I wanted to deep dive into, going over what works and what doesn’t. That was originally the purpose of this article; alas, like many of my writing projects of late, it didn’t pan out as intended. It’s been about two months since the first draft of this article was written, which probably comes as a surprise to absolutely no-one. That said, I want to put something out there, so I’m repurposing what I wrote into a more focused article.

I could talk about the Xenoblade series as a whole quite a bit on many levels, and perhaps I shall do so at some point. For now, this article is taking a good look at the fairly interesting combat system that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 offers, and why it ends up being so flawed and clunky despite the promise.

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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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