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)”

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)”