A Game A Week – Week Four

A Game A Week – Week Four

Welcome back to my weekly challenge to play a videogame. This is the fourth installment of a series that, I’m hoping, will bring me great joy, improved focus and better me as a person. Or maybe that’s just an excuse to justify buying and playing too many games. 

This week we’re taking a huge step forward. I did not play a game. I did not play the two games I had planned to. I played three games! This takes the tally up to six games in four weeks. As for how it affects the challenge – it doesn’t. I’m not going to count these as three weeks worth of games and will still endeavour to play one a week for the rest of the year. I simply couldn’t help myself this week.

It’s an open world bonanza with the latest Zelda, the brand new Horizon and, first up, a mystery surprise! Let’s get into it then. 

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands 

I will try to be as clear as possible, but my feelings are mixed about this game and it’s largely down to confusion. Firstly, it’s actually quite relaxing to drive or fly around the huge open world and attack the bases, outposts, etc. Once you’ve done the opening tutorial type mission, I think you’re free and able to go off and do what you want. I’ve spent the majority of my time flying around Bolivia collecting weapons and only occasionally doing story missions. In fact, I’ve only completed two of the twenty one(?) regions, story-wise. That said, I’m not sure this game is very good. There are parts that are so silly, you feel like they must be deliberately so and it works. Then there are the bits around it that can be so serious that I’m not sure what the actual tone of the game is. The game is built to be a tactical stealthy shooter, but enemies can just decide to hear suppressed gunfire or spot things through walls. Taking out a bases’ alarm doesn’t necessarily mean the alarm will no longer work and doing that, only to then hear the siren and the approaching attack helicopter is an awful experience. The AI teammates you have are incredibly powerful at range and you can spot targets for them to kill from hundreds of meters away, through walls, with no line of sight and with no one noticing, as long as they’ve been marked, yet in an all out gun-fight, they seem less than useless. It’s a bit of a mess and I’m glad that I, personally, can switch off, ignore all that and run around the open world playground.  

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

This game is wonderful. I won’t get into the ins-and-outs of whether or not the game is perfect, or as good as the reviews are making it out to be, but this is the game I’ve spent the most time with over the last week, easily and by some margin. It’s really pleasant to explore the world that they’ve built. I’m firmly in the camp of people that aren’t frustrated by the mechanics of the stamina and inventory systems, though the cooking could be a little better managed. The game doesn’t hold your hand and it tries to give you the most open open-world it can. If you want to ignore all the story fluff and march straight into the final area of the game, you can. If you want to climb a mountain over in the distance and see what’s at the top, you probably can. Equipment and abilities will make your journey easier, but the chances are that if you want to do something in the game, you can. It also serves up a healthy dose of your typical Zelda game with dungeons, puzzles, lovely music and returning places and faces. It ticks all the right boxes for me.

It’s another game that I don’t want to be too specific about because the things that happen, the things you do, help to build up your own personal story and adventure and I feel that the best way to experience it is to play it for yourself. 

It’s a huge game, but what makes it magical are the little things that they’ve given so much attention. They are surprising, many and serve to make the game thoroughly enjoyable. 

Horizon: Zero Dawn 

Horizon is the game I’ve spent the least amount of time with this week, which is a shame, because it seems very well made. What it does, it does very well and it looks fantastic. I’m not sure I like the non-bow combat very much, but I think I might be doing it wrong. To this point I have managed to get by on stealth and frantic melee. The last couple of side quests I’ve done have seemed like I might need to start planning my attacks better, along the lines of a Hitman game (or actually hunting?), using the environment, tools and my wits to exploit enemy weaknesses rather than just bashing everything with a spear 

I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes, how the gameplay evoles and discovering more of the machines, which have been fairly varied so far.

Week Five – Night in the Woods 

After a heavy week of big hitters, I’m going to settle things back down with the indie darling of the moment. I don’t know how long the game is, but hopefully I can finish it this week while I continue to play around with the others. It looks lovely and I’m excited to see how it goes.  


Quite a long one this week, expect normal service to resume next week. Thanks and take care!

A Game A Week – Week 2

A Game A Week – Week 2

My gaming goal for the year is to play a new game every week. It doesn’t sound like much, but it should mean I get through more than 40 games this year. This will not only start putting a dent in my (somehow ever-expanding) backlog of games, but hopefully give me a bit of focus and direction in my free time. It’s so easy to lose that time and indecision only makes it worse. Flitting between 5 minutes of this and that, or zoning out completely because you can’t make a choice and the day passing you by.

Two weeks in and I have now played two games. This week was a close run thing. I just about managed the five hours that I had set myself as a minimum. It’s probably not a good sign that I’m hitting that lower limit as early as week two, but I got there and that’s what counts!

Undertale 

I don’t want to talk about the game too much because, honestly, I think that it’s one of those games that you have to actually play yourself to experience it. It’s wonderfully charming, full of character and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s very clearly been lovingly crafted and I feel bad that I could not get on with it at all. 

I didn’t finish the game in those five hours. It was hard work motivating myself to play all week and I couldn’t work out why until I reached a particular boss and found that I simply could not be bothered to play anymore. I feel that the art style of Undertale sums the game up perfectly. It’s cute but there’s not really anything there. It seems very linear and while there’s a little more to the turn based combat than just picking an attack, it’s not much more. It’s nice, but it’s dull.

Perhaps I simply don’t get it.

Game #3: Final Fantasy IX 

To celebrate 30 years of Final Fantasy and the fact that it released on Steam last year, I’m going to play my favourite game in the series. Expect plenty of gushing about it because I love this game!

A Game A Week – Week One

A Game A Week – Week One

A game a week. That is the challenge I have set myself. To play one new game every week, for the rest of the year. My hope is that by giving my time a bit of structure I can do more with my gaming time than play the same 3 games all year as my collection gets bigger and bigger. It should mean that, at least, I play 46 games in 2017, putting a sizable dent in my gaming backlog. Why not simply stop buying games until I’ve finished with the ones I already own? If only it were that simple…

Week one is over and I played a game. That’s 100%. A huge success. 

Nioh 

I spent this week playing Nioh. I haven’t finished it, but I’ve done everything I can do (at the moment, anyway) in the first 2 areas of the game and a couple of missions from the 3rd. I’ve had a great time. It’s a difficult game and I typically take these types of game slowly, to explore and attempt to minimise the danger, which is working well for me. The most enjoyable parts of the game so far, though, have come when I have thrown caution to the wind and just opened up on an enemy, making full use of the combat skills that I have unlocked and the ki pulse mechanic for restoring energy/stamina. Linking one stance into another, while refreshing the energy and then extending the second combo with repeated, timed button presses before watching your opponent crumple to the ground, asking to be finished off with a pair of swords in the back is ridiculously satisfying.

I also take a huge amount of enjoyment out of sorting through loot and using the blacksmithing system to reforge the weapons and armour for the stats I want and changing their appearance to make myself look pretty.

The levels are probably the weakest part of the game. Some of them are beautiful, well designed, sprawling Japanese environments. Some of them are literally just caves with thin, boring passageways, that also make the combat difficult. These levels are not particularly fun and I can’t say the idea of going back into areas (that I could have happily just run through) for side missions or collection purposes really fills me with enthusiasm.

This shows through a little in the boss areas, too, with each boss room so far basically being an open arena, but the bosses themselves have been varied enough in looks and abilities that they’re still the enjoyable set pieces you’d expect. They’re frustrating, but not unfair and once you learn what to do, all that’s left is to execute it without making too many mistakes.

With that said, screw Tachibana Muneshige.

I’ve enjoyed it a lot and will definitely see it through to the end.

 
Game #2: Undertale

It’s time that I played Undertale. I’ve heard very good things, but other than positive feelings I have avoided seeing anything about it in the year or so since it came out. I am going in almost completely blind. See you on the other side.

A Game A Week

A Game A Week

I have an issue. A condition that compels me to buy videogames. A lot of the time, I will buy them and play very little of them. Occasionally I won’t play anything at all. It was I’ll just sit in my library, gathering dust or whatever the electronic version of dust is in this post-disc era of gaming.

There are hundreds of games in my library and I have completed very few of them. This is a shame, because I’m sure that those games have their merits and that they exist as more than another number in my collection.

As this is the year of rebuilding myself as a responsible adult, capable of committing to a project and of personal growth, I feel that my games project for the year should be a reasonable commitment. I’m not going to play every game I own. Nor am I going to play the same couple of games every day for the year, regardless of how much I enjoy them.

A game a week. 

For the rest of 2017, I will pick a game every week to be the focus of my free time.

That’s not to say that I will only play one game a week, however. Let’s lay down some ground rules.

  • At least one new game per week, every week for the rest of the year.
  • It can be a game that I have played before 2017, or a completely new game, but not a game that I have already used in the project.
  • I will play for at least 5 hours, unless the game happens to be shorter than 5 hours in length.

 

Nothing too complicated, or strict. 5 hours means that I can give it an hour a night during the week at the very least and gives me the weekend to either continue with it, or play something else. There’s no hard limit on how many I can play in a week, so I can play as much as I want as long as there’s one new game.

Obviously there will be some weeks that I am unable to play, but for now we’ll say that by my count there are 46 weeks left of the year, giving us a target of 46 games.

Game #1: Nioh

Nioh came out recently and it’s what I’m playing at the moment, so it seems a good place to start. I’ll check back in next Monday with my thoughts and game number 2.

Update #2

Update #2

More stuff that I played at the end of last year.

Final Fantasy XV

I was not overly excited about Final Fantasy XV when it was announced or when they started to show stuff from the game. I prefer turn based JRPGs and I also prefer the more…traditionally styled Final Fantasy games (to try to be clear, I prefer 9 to 7). As with many games though, I was sucked into the launch hype and bought it on release. It was surprisingly good and while the game has its flaws, it was easy to overlook them due to its charm and sheer playability. Only at a certain point in the story did the game feel like a grind and the usual end game leveling push was actually painless due to the way experience works in this one. The combat is flashy, although not very deep, the back and forth between the characters is actually well-done and the boss fights are, quite simply, awesome. It was very enjoyable. 

Hitman

I’ll come right out and say it – Hitman is my favourite non-Pokemon game of the year. The last episode of the first season came out in December and it’s the best one of the lot. One of the best missions ever. The episodic releases worked perfectly, giving ample time to revisit each one and complete different challenges before the next episode came along. The elusive targets are fantastic, showing up for a couple of days and giving you only one chance to complete the mission. It’s been great and I can’t wait to see what they do with it in the next year. 

Pokémon Sun and Moon

I love Pokémon. It was always going to be my personal game of the year. The game starts slow, but it is master crafted Pokémon game. Each trainer is an individual person with their own look and personality, the new Pokémon and re-imagined first generation Pokémon (to celebrate 20 years since the first releases) are, for the most part, great. The story has been changed just enough to keep it both fresh and traditional. It’s just about everything you could ask from a new game in the franchise. 

 

 

Overwatch Summer Games!

Overwatch Summer Games!

I am still playing Overwatch. Neverwinter has eaten up a lot of my time and I tend to burn myself out on online, multiplayer games which has happened with Overwatch to an extent. I get frustrated by little niggles or doing poorly and give up and go back to nice peaceful questing.

The developers have been surprisingly active and open, though.

-Balance changes are happening all the time, along with quality of life changes.

-Competitive mode! Gimme rank points.

-A new character was released – Ana, a new support sniper character that I desperately want to be good with.

-A summer games update was released on the sly (sadly it was leaked a few hours before they planned to sneak it out), including new skins, sprays, poses based around an olympic type event and a new Rocket League like mode called Lucioball.

-Another new character, Sombra, has been teased and they have been hiding all sorts of silly messages within videos and other messages for some very dedicated people to decrpyt. These are getting silly, converting this into that to see this to convert it…It’s way over my head, but it’s a neat little game outside the game for those that can do it.

-They have an active forum presence and are putting out streams and videos talking weekly.

I don’t agree with some of the balance changes. D.Va is way too strong now and even though I love him and want him to be the best, so is Zenyatta, but it’s not something I’m worried about because they’ve been so good about watching what people are saying about the changes. It’s refreshing to see a games company trying to keep people happy and make a game that people enjoy. I hope they keep it up!