Far Cry 5 Done

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I still appear to be having screenshot issues.  Likely a reboot will take care of it, but right now thing seems to be saving an image in games…  so as a result you are going to get some recycled images with this mornings post.  Last night I finished Far Cry 5…  and I have words about it.  The game as a whole is still something I consider to be really awesome.  The story and the forced nature of it however is not awesome.  After playing through it… I have this feeling that whoever designed the narrative wanted it to be some shocking and moving work of art that would make us feel something.  However it is hard to actually feel things about an interactive narrative that you have no control over.  This is a game that told me a story, and made my character do things that I would not have done…  and the payoff is more shit happening that I was not invested in.  The shocking reveal didn’t feel that shocking when the game kept forcibly pushing our noses in it as we played along.

I think this is the challenge with telling a traditional story…  in an open world game.  The open world nature means that the majority of the time we have complete freedom over our actions and can do whatever the hell suits us.  However when the narrative path is one that would better suit an on rails corridor shooter…  there is a cognitive disconnect between the freedom you normally experience and the super linear nature of the cutscenes.  By contrast if you take something like a Skyrim or a Fallout…  you arrive at a conclusion that was driven by your actions and your interactions in the freeroam world and as a result even if that conclusion isn’t exactly what you expected it still feels like yours.  For a game that has put so much emphasis on building big open world games…  you would think that by now they were a bit better at telling stories in them.

I am still curious to see what happens in Far Cry New Dawn…  but I have also lowered my expectations significantly.

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There was more game to be played in Far Cry 5 with the DLC… but quite honestly I needed a break from that world for a bit.  Originally it was my intend to pop into God of War, but I was too lazy to go upstairs and figure out why PS4 Remote Play was not working.  As a result instead I poked my head into Assassin’s Creed…  which admittedly is yet another Ubisoft open world game.  This one feels considerably different however, and I never actually left Siwa in my initial playing of it.  I have this problem when a game gives me a big open world to explore…  yet tells me that I should leave it to move on with the story.  I want to go out and explore everything, and as a result I spent way the hell too long roaming around the desert tracking down question mark icons on the horizon.  I had this same problem with Dragon Age Inquisition and the Hinterlands.

Last night I moved the story ahead a bit and probably will be playing this for the next few nights to see if I can get re-engaged.  I like the gameplay a lot, which is shocking considering that I never really clicked with Assassin’s Creed before this game.  However considering the number of series Stalwarts that didn’t really like this title…  I am guessing maybe there is a reason?  This feels more like an action combat MMO-lite sort of feel, and I am largely on board with that.  The bow gameplay could be better, but it is passable and serves its purpose.  I know I have a ton of game play ahead of me as I have only managed to track down two of the targets I am after.  I am sorta feeling like when I kill those targets… it is going to give me a world two sort of thing and I realize that my revenge plot is only the beginning.

Bad Luck and Breach

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This weekend was on the odd side of things.  First we had an issue at work that kept me there until after 7 pm on Friday night, so by the time I got home and found food…  it mostly felt like I didn’t get an evening.  Saturday things were going mostly smoothly until the Podcast when apparently my system started having technical difficulties.  During the last fifteen minute of the show the last word of pretty much every sentence was getting cut off.  A restart of the server seemed to solve it later, but it made for a frustrating experience for myself and I am sure our listeners.  Lastly Sunday morning I was going about my normal routine and wound up getting stranded after popping into QuikTrip for Drinks… and finding out my vehicle wouldn’t start.  So I had to wait in the 30 degree weather on AAA to come do service.

I mean in theory I could have probably convinced someone to give a jump start and I had cables…  but I mostly waited the hour or so in the cold in the off case that it was something other than the battery and I would need a tow to a shop.  What makes this doubly frustrating is that I had just replaced the battery on Labor Day weekend, and something similar prevented us from going to Dallas.  By all guesstimations…  we are just assuming that I got a lemon of a battery because the rest of the systems check out fine.  Thankfully it was still under warranty, but it also made for a very stressful and frustrating day.  This morning I am remembering that there was one more thing on the list from the grocery store that we did not pick up yesterday…  and am drinking my coffee without sugar (or splenda in my case).  I hope this trend does not continue into the new week.

I am however thankfully scheduled to be off Friday, so that I can at least feel like I am getting to participate in Pax South by hanging out at home and watching the streams.  For the last two years the timing has been off, with the show effectively happening one week too soon for me to be able to go to it.  I’ve largely resigned myself to this fact, but it still bums me out more than a little bit to miss it seeing as I went to the first three shows.  Instead I’ve decided to make a batch of Chilli that day and hang out and watch the stream and pretend to be part of it.  I’m also contemplating finally using it as an opportunity to start sorting my Magic the Gathering cards which are right now in no semblance of an order.  I always have a bunch of projects that I need to do… but regularly get distracted and take forever to actually get around to doing them.

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As far as gaming goes…  on a whim I decided to look into Breach as several of my friends have been talking about it.  I am not sure if there was some sort of a specific event going on, but I signed up on PlayBreach.com and immediately got access to the game.  This had not been a title I was following at all, but it appears that they will be entering Steam Early access on January 16th.  If you have read my blog for a long while you may know my opinions of Early Access…  which is that the game is launching next week no matter how hard they might claim otherwise.  The game that is there however is actually rather fun, and I spent some time playing a bunch of different classes.  Effectively the game is a weird love child of Overwatch, The Secret World and Heroes of the Storm…  with a bit of the Destiny Strikes mixed in for good measure.  I realize that is going to sound like an incoherent game, but in truth it works pretty well together.

From Overwatch it borrows the way the narrative of the world is being told through the settings and a general graphical feel and fluidity of motion.  From The Secret World it borrows the game setting and a fantasy meets technology universe where the barrier between worlds is failing (and a premise not that dissimilar from the novel I wrote several years back).  From Heroes of the Storm it borrows the way you level up throughout the match and choose new traits to help buff your gameplay each time you take an objective.  As far as Destiny Strikes…  the levels feel a bit like that mixed with some of the objectives like guard the payload that you have in Overwatch.

There is even a bit of Dungeon Keeper as the versus play is asymmetrical where you have a team of four heroes playing against a player that controls an incorporeal demon that can do various things to effect the flow of the game.  The demon can summon all sorts of trap and damaging dealing auras, while freely possessing individual “creeps” to use the League of Legends nomenclature and powering them up in the process as well as being able to direct their actions with their own hotbar combat.  I personally prefer to play Heroes, but almost every time I have queued for a Versus match I have wound up getting stuck playing the Demon, as it appears to be way less popular than just playing a single character.

Both sides of the equation are rather fun, and you can also opt to play against bot characters if you so choose.  It is well worth checking out if you can still get into the game, but I am trying to decide now if it is worth actually buying one of the starter kits that go off sale on the 16th.  It is a MOBA like game in its structure, but it appears to be one that is designed more or less for the way I would want to play the game.  I spent most of my time playing the Demon Hunter, that sets interesting traps and runs around with a shotgun.  They however have a slew of classes already available, and the payment model going forward seems to be much like Riot and that you can try classes for free but have to buy them to unlock permanently with a free assortment available at all times.

Definitely worth looking into if this sounds like your thing.  I am curious what my readers think about the game if they have played it as well.  My only frustration was that I could not seem to get the game to register with any of my screenshot options…  so I am having to go with a shot from the press kit this morning.

Bungie Divorce

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I had a totally different post planned for today, but since the news of the Activision and Bungie split was announced yesterday…  there really wasn’t another topic that I would be discussing today.  I also committed memery last night and cobbled together this…  since yeah it is sorta relevant.  So the details that we know…  in 2010 Bungie entered into a 10 year publishing deal with Activision.  Over the last few cycles Activision has been making a point of announcing that Destiny 2 as a franchise has been failing to live up to expectations.  Behind the scenes for quite some time Bungie devs have been leaking tidbits about them feeling constrained by that relationship.

So at this point we really don’t know how the split was started…  did Bungie buy out the remaining two years of the contract?  Did Activision decide that Destiny 2 looked bad on their balance sheet and kicked them to the curb?  Bungie learned the lesson with Microsoft and seemingly retained the rights to their intellectual property going into the arrangement with Activision, and as a result it appears that we have a newly liberated Bungie with all of the rights to keep making Destiny 2 and in theory Destiny 3…  but I will talk a bit more about that later.

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I think the question on a lot of minds is going to be…  who’s idea was Tess Everis and the Eververse store…  and will this change see the focus on this as a monetization vehicle lessen.  In truth I think this was a “both of them” sort of decision and not necessarily something we can really pin entirely on the Activision Evil Empire as it were.  Going into Destiny 2 I think Bungie knew they had to have some vehicle for long tailed sales… and this new version of Eververse was their answer to that.  Now the shop has vacillated back and forth between being grossly unfair at release…  to honestly having the deck stacked greatly in favor of the player in its current state.  I talked a bit about my thoughts there in the Bright Engrams Revisited post, but I think we have seen all of the tweaks we are going to see to Eververse.

The hard truth is… there will not be a major game release that lives in the MMO space that does not include some sort of pay for cosmetics or loot box scenario.  The fact that Destiny 2 hands those Bright Engrams out like Candy for playing through the content, and the fact that you can break down anything into Dust and pick items up as direct sales during the weekly resets…  means to me at least that the system is actually pretty reasonable already.  Sure people would prefer to simply cherry pick the items that they want each season…  but I am okay with the amount of friction that exists.  It gives us a reason to keep checking the store each Tuesday and to keep doing the weekly Eververse Bounties to stockpile bright dust and whatever the cores are called that unlock items from the list.

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The other burning question is…  who’s decision was it to move away from story driven content?  This is another one that I don’t really know the answer to either…  but I would tend to land that one more in the lap of Activision, given that they just pushed out a Call of Duty game with no single player story in it.  I would love to see them return to story beats each time we get a major update, rather than a purely activity driven focus.  I think ultimately we will have to see what Penumbra ends up being like to determine if everything is going to be like the Black Armory going forward or not.  With this change however I have a whole bunch of wish list items…  some of which are wildly speculative but would be amazing.

Shared Game Saves

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If I understand it correctly… the Playstation exclusivity deals were between Activision and Sony…  and Bungie was not necessarily a party to them but in turn constantly effected by them.  I think what this means in the short term is that soon all of the formerly Playstation exclusive content will trickle down to the other platforms as soon as everything is finalized.  What I hope this paves the way for however is a shared save state between all of the platforms.  Sure I would love it if all of the platforms could play together at the same time…  but as an easier hurdle…  I would love it if I could log into my PC characters on the Xbox or PS4 so I can keep playing with friends on those platforms.  At this point it would require an account merge system but I could see various ways where that might work.

Since the game largely uses an entitlement system now instead of actual items for everything but Forsaken forward…  you could do some sort of a system where you choose a primary account and every other account would simply just copy over the achievements and entitlements.  Of course at some point I want the ability to play with my PS4 friends while playing on the PC… and with the consoles moving further towards accepting keyboard and mouse as an input option (something both Xbox and PS4 support in limited ways currently) it might be a reasonable option.  At the very least it should be completely fine for any PVE activity… with PVP being the outlier where they might still have a segregated “Console” and “PC” play lists.  Look we are setting up a wish list here….  so even if it is unrealistic at this very moment…  it still definitely falls on it.

Bring Back Destiny 1

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It is as simple as it sounds…  I would love to see all of the patrol zones and activities from Destiny 1…  make an appearance in Destiny 2.  They have been cherry picking elements from the first game already, but a lot of us players from Destiny 1 felt a great sense of loss in losing all the places we loved from the first game.  It will take some work, but in theory they could start shimming in zones here and there as they release other content.  I would love to be able to do Prison of Elders again or take on Oryx.  You could even bring in some sort of a time walking like mechanic that lets you run older content without effecting the flow of the current storyline.  What if there was an ascendant realm that contained pockets of these old settings or something of that sort.  The Destiny story is kooky enough to be able to support it via space magic.

Table Destiny 3

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Along the lines of the last topic…  I would honestly love to see them completely table the discussion of a Destiny 3.  Hell at this point my preference would be for them to rebrand Destiny 2 to simply be “Destiny Franchise” or something of the sort and start treating the game like a more traditional MMORPG with semi-yearly expansions that keep adding new content without doing a nuke from orbit reset every few years.  Sure a new game gives players a chance to come back into the game on the same footing of every else…  but I legitimately do not thing we will be gaining a much larger audience than the game already has.  Destiny 2 was a big push and burned a lot of people…  and getting those players back won’t happen with a new numerical release.

Keep the Course

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I like the roadmaps that they are now doing… and I like that there are little trickles of new things flowing into the game every so often.  Ultimately my hope is that we will see more content without the thumb of Activision…  but quite honestly I am not sure that is realistic.  The company will be getting a larger share of the profits…  but those initial purchase profits are already a sunk cost.  They are going to have to prove to us that annual pass is worth it at this point, and I am not entirely certain that Black Armory did that.  Additionally they are going to have to give us other things to purchase to keep the cash flow incoming.  It will be interesting to see how things move forward as we clear the rest of this year.

If they straight up released Destiny 1 for PC as a stand alone game… I would probably throw money at the screen and buy it.  However if they released the content FROM Destiny 1 as an expansion to Destiny 2 that was not part of the Annual Pass content…  I would probably throw MORE money at the screen.  I do however think they might need to rework Eververse drastically however to give us more reasons to give them money.  That does not mean that I think they need to fuck with the math and make Bright Engrams stupid, but instead offer other avenues.  Like for example… if I could spend bright dust/silver to unlock shaders permanently…  I would probably do that.  SWTOR had that functionality of buying things as unlocked for your entire account, so in theory they could do something similar.

Additionally I would throw lots of money at the screen if they created an expansion that added better cosmetic options to the game, and allowed us to create outfits of our favorite gear appearances…  decoupling them from what we happened to be actually wearing.  Basically there are ways that they can keep improving the game, but also creating vehicles that get us to spend money with them.  There are folks that are predicting a switch to a free to play model like Fortnite, but I question if that would actually work.  Destiny 2 is not exactly a game that is great at onboarding new players, and they would have to think long and hard about how to address that problem.

At this point I have rambled at length… but these are some of my thoughts.  What are your thoughts about this announcement?

Another Seed Down

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This mornings post will probably have some minor plot point spoilers for Far Cry 5… so be warned.

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I am going to have a pretty short post this morning as I need to get into work earlier than normal… and I apparently did not have the foresight to pre-stage something last night.  I am finding myself still very much enthralled with Far Cry 5, and quite honestly this is a bit of a rare occasion with me.  I am not normally one of those players that has to finish something they have started.  My super power has for years been being able to wander away like a bored toddler from literally any game and pick up another shiny object in my field of view.  This is why I have not finished God of War for example, in spite of everything up to the moment I sat it down for a bit…  being a truly great experience.  Maybe 2019 will be the year that I actually start being games instead of just playing them for a really long time and never quite finishing them.

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At this point I have finished another chapter of the game, this one involving Faith Seed…  the “temptress” of the Seed family.  This played out so much differently than I was expecting based on the media I had ingested about this game.  I was sort of expecting her to seduce the player… and in some ways that is exactly what happened…  but not in the manner that games normally try and seduce players.  Instead of sexual gratification…  Faith trades in Bliss…  a drug induced state where everything is peaceful and joyous.  In this state of ecstasy you become the unwitting puppet for whatever she wills her followers called “Angels” to do.  The truth is… I thought the section of the game surrounding John Seed was disturbing…  but Faith cranked that sense of everything being fucked up and wrong to eleven.

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From there I have moved on to Jacob Seed…  the hunter that views that the only way to progress as a society is to constantly cull the weak.  While Faith was able to invoke a sense of Bliss…  Jacob seems to be able to pervert this into a sense of animistic rage.  So far however this appears to be the weakest of the chapters… because while I prefer playing games in Murder Hobo mode…  that doesn’t exactly make for a compelling character.  There are disturbing things about this chapter, but they seem to be largely centered around the stories that the survivors tell and not the actual actions you are having to go through.  You end up working a lot for a character that is essentially the living embodiment of Darryl from Walking Dead which is always cool.

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This chapter also seems to have my favorite companion…  Jess Black who looks like a jacked up Robin Hood.  I like her however because she stays the fuck out of the way…  as she focuses entirely on far ranged attacks with the bow.  Right now my party of choice is her and Boomer…  though as always Hurk is pretty entertaining and also arrives during this chapter.  For those who have played any other Far Cry games…  Hurk is a repeat character that links the worlds together.  He shows up in Far Cry 3 and 4…  and you find out he actually comes from Hope County as you meet his very cantankerous and very conservative nut of a father.

All in all I am still enjoying the hell out of this game, but the complaint made in the comments the other day still holds true…  the cut scenes that involve the various members of the Seed family always feel like they are interrupting the actual enjoyable part of the game.  The fun for me is running around and blowing stuff up.

Pay for Placement Scam

I am breaking my review of the games coming out in 2019 to talk briefly about a weird experience I am having with a website.  In my travels the other day I stumbled across one of those “Top 100 Gaming Blogs” lists, and I clicked through to see if there were any blogs on it that I recognized.  Generally speaking this is not the case because in my experience these lists tend to include a ton of corporate blogs managed by the game companies themselves.  The sites listed largely fit this bill, but as you got towards the bottom of the list I saw a bunch of smaller sites…  none that I actually recognized but still smaller than MassivelyOp that was also on the list.  Looking around the site it seemed to be a mishmash of two things happening…  firstly it was some sort of a RSS reader tool that seemed to suggest that you could subscribe to a bunch of sites and get their content delivered to your mailbox.

Secondly it seemed to be selling access to the blog information to marketers, since when you register a site you are providing a contact name, the URL and an email associated with the blog.  Claiming to be able to provide relevant bloggers in a given subject area.  There was a form that allows you to submit your blog and on a whim I decided to do just this.  At this point things start getting really weird and shady.  You notice I have not mentioned the site yet or linked to them…  it is largely because of the behavior that followed and my not wanting to give them any eyeballs as a result.  Within minutes of signing up for the website I got the following email in my inbox.

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So essentially on top of selling to marketers, they are also double dipping on the back end and running a pay for placement scam.  This email arrived so rapidly that it has to have been scripted, and that they did not actually take any time to review my website.  Additionally it isn’t really a “top 100 gaming blogs” list if you are letting people pay money to get onto it.  As a curiosity I clicked through to see how much it cost for this gold service, and things get even stranger.  For reference its roughly $24 a year, to essentially place your website on one of their lists, which is a thing I was not interested in.  However two hours after clicking on the link to view the pricing… I got this email.

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Of note… I am blanking out the guys name because he keeps email from his personal account on the site in question and in general I don’t think it is terribly cool to spread someones actual name around.  I am not trying to Dox the person after all.  Things keep getting weirder from here.  Roughly eight hours pass and I get an email from the site telling me that I need to verify my email address.  My working theory is that since I had not been responding to this guy at all… he is assuming at this point that I must have given him a bogus address.  At this point I am finding this whole process interesting… so I validate the address and upon landing on the site it tells me that my account is in violation and that I have signed up for too many websites.  That in order to keep using the service I will have to upgrade to Gold.

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This morning I got the above email which is honestly what prompted me to take time and write about this scam.  Notice how that it has switched from being listed on a top 100 list to being listed on a top 200 list.  Additionally they are pushing a bunch of information about the site trying to sell you on how many eyeballs your $24 a year is going to be buying you.  Back in High School there was something referred to as the “Top Scholars” scam, and there were a few perpetrators out there.  They would request mailing lists for all of the graduating seniors and send out a message targeted at the parents touting that their child had been selected as some sort of an elite scholar and that they had earned the rights to be listed in some book.  They go on at length about how much this book is going to improve their chances of getting into a good college, and that the only catch is that they needed to purchase one of these deluxe edition gold leaf adorned $150 tomes to go ahead with the listing.  Thankfully our gifted and talented coordinator warned all of the parents about this scam and as a result my parents did not fall for it…  but I know others who did.

What we are seeing with Feedspot is a confusion amalgamation of product offerings…  including something that is very much the digital version of that scam.  They seem to be targeting the bloggers themselves and promising fame and more traffic and targeting the marketers promising a verified list of contacts to get them in touch with people who could influence their customers.  For everyone else…  you have a RSS feed site that offers an email digest service.  There is nothing necessarily “wrong” with a capital W about anything they are doing, but it is nonetheless somewhat shady.  The thing is… this isn’t the only site offering a somewhat questionable top 100 list and likely not the only site that is going to offer to place your site on said list for a small fee.  This is more or less a public service announcement that when you see something like this… it is likely going to be a scam.

I’ve still not responded to any emails from the site, because at this point I find it sort of entertaining.  Hell if they actually do read my blog they might make a response here, but I have been pretty careful not to actually include links to any of their content.  Posts like this one are likely why no one will ever take this blog seriously…  however I do have an interesting product review in the works.  I’ve always said that I was willing to review products if they actually were something somewhat related to my interests… and if there were no strings attached…  and someone actually finally nibbled on my conditions.  So we will see how well that works out once the product actually arrives.

 

2019 Looking Forward: Games with Release Dates

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Over the weekend I talked a bit on the podcast about the various games that were coming out this year that I happened to be interested in.  This morning I thought I would start a series where I talk about some of them here on the blog.  It is a really big list so as a result I felt like I needed to break it up a bit.  This morning we are starting off with the games that actually have fixed release dates…  so I would say these are the MOST likely to release during the 2019 calendar year.  I’m going to be talking about them in chronological order of release dates.  I’m also listing the platform I am currently targeting at playing the game on.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe – Switch – January 11th

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There is so much wrong with the name of this game and it represents all of Nintendo’s jacked up naming conventions colliding at once.  That said I am really looking forward to playing this on a console that I actually enjoy playing.  Sure this is another repackage of a WiiU game for the Switch… but I am in support of this practice because I have no interest in actually playing my WiiU.  It was not a great console… but it happened to have more than a handful of really interesting titles on it.  I hope they all get the re-release treatment, because the switch is just a more versatile platform.  This comes out in three days so it represents the first of the titles on the list that I am interested in.

Onimusha: Warlords – Switch – January 15th

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I loved the Onimusha series on the PS2 and am super amped about this game getting a re-release.  It is coming out on PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch…  and quite honestly I am not really certain which platform I intend to pick it up on.  Given that it appears to be a remaster and not a remake…  I figure it is going to control like a PS2 era game which leads me down the path of favoring playing this on a console as opposed to the PC.  I figure even on PC it will mostly be required to hook up a controller to be able to experience the title, so I might as well just start out on a console for the native controller experience.  At this very moment I am leaning towards Switch as it gives me a wider breadth of play options.

Metro Exodus – PC – February 15th

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This list is going to include a bunch of games that I am excited about…  but likely won’t play at release.  Metro Exodus is the first of these, largely because it is releasing in a time with a pretty packed number of releases…  and a game that I way more interested is releasing a week later.  I’ve come to peace with the fact that the Metro series is not in fact Russian Fallout as it originally appeared.  I can live with it being a mostly on rails shooter experience, because the world is so rich and interesting.  This game however supposedly opens the world up a bit giving you more freedom to roam around in the maps a bit.  There is also supposedly part of the game that takes place on the literal rails…  and I loved Snowpiercer.  It looks really interesting so it goes on the list.

Far Cry New Dawn – PC – February 15th

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This appears to be the year of neon color palette post apocalyptic games.  I talked briefly about this game yesterday when I spoke of Far Cry 5, and I am still really interested to see how that setting turns into this one.  This is also likely to get played way after the release date because once again it butts up against a game I am looking forward to more fervently.  I feel like I might be in a kick of playing single player titles, and this is another on that fits into that list.  However I still have a pretty hefty backlog of titles I have started but never finished…  like Assassin’s Creed Origins and God of War…  so it seriously might be a while before I try it.

Anthem – PC – February 22nd

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Now for the title that is holding the last two hostage.  I am super limited in what I can say about this game because NDA…  but I have an awful lot of hopes riding on it.  I also want to give Bioware a shot at making this work, because I feel like this might be the last chance EA gives that studio before shuttering them.  I am not being hyperbolic here…  EA has a proven track record of closing studios when it deems they are no longer profitable.  As a new IP… it looks really interesting and I think there is going to be enough meat on these bones to satisfy the fans that cut their teeth on the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series.  I also think this game is angling for splitting the difference between Destiny and Warframe and creating a game that probably appeals to both tribes of players.  All of those things seem really good… it just depends on how the game launches.  I will be playing on PC, so if you are also planning on playing let me know.  I have no clue what the Guild/Clan systems are going to be like but it would be nice to gather up a decent amount of folks for launch.

The Division 2 – PC – March 15th

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Now for the first of two titles that I am really not certain about.  I liked The Division for about the first twenty levels of gameplay…  and then it became a slog as things started to get more serious and the mobs became more bullet-spongey and I seemed to be wearing paper thin armor.  I finally reached the level cap back in October…  but that was a really long ride of me bouncing out pretty regularly before I finally got there.  I have not pre-ordered this game, because in truth I really want to see more of it before that happens.  I was hoping I would get into an Alpha or Beta so it could win me over, but a combination of the bleak setting mixed with the third person shooter game play…  it may not be the game I am looking for.  That said I know a lot of people will be playing it.  Ultimately whether I give this a shot depends largely on how engaged in Anthem I am just shy of a month after its launch.

Rage 2 – PC – May 14th

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I feel like I am one of the few people who hold a serious candle for the original Rage.  I loved everything about it… except for the fact that it felt like it simply was not finished.  As you near the end of the game… I legitimately thought that we were working on a world two scenario with the game about to open up in a big way and let me explore new areas.  Instead I got a credits roll… and the game was over.  I THINK that the intent was to keep releasing DLC content but the poor sales of the game and the technical problems on literally all platforms… especially console…  lead that plan to get scrapped.  Now we get a new game and it appears to be part of the ushering in of the neon apocalypse.  I am not sure if I will like this game…  because I am not sure if enough of the original still lives to make me interested in it.  If this ends up just being a neon mad max sim shooter…  I am not entirely sure how interested I will be.  I am still interested enough however for it to make the list.

What are some of the games you are looking forward to in 2019…  specifically with set launch dates?  Tomorrow I am likely going to talk about some of the things that are going to release… we just don’t have launch windows yet.

 

 

 

 

 

Far Cry 5 Thoughts so Far

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Today is a bit of a struggle as it is the first day in a week that I am actually having to get up and around on a schedule.  Traditionally I take the full two weeks off surrounding Christmas and New Years, but this year since I am now the low manager in seniority…  I wound up having to work the weird and horrible partial week following Christmas.  However that meant I was going to take all of my time off for the holidays in the first week of the year.  I allowed myself to get way out of practice in the whole getting up at 5:30 in the morning thing…  most of those days I wound up rolling out of between somewhere closer to 7 or 8.  So as a result I am paying for it this morning.

Note I am going to be talking about Far Cry 5 this morning and there might be some minor spoilers.  Going to try and stay away from a lot of the specifics, but I have to say some things to explain the shape of the narrative.

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The Video Game Awards produced a shocking number of announcements that made me greatly interested in some of the games coming out.  One of those was Far Cry: New Dawn which is a post apocalyptic game set in the same setting as Far Cry 5.  This intrigued me greatly given that as far as I am aware…  the Far Cry series has never actually made a direct sequel to any of their games.  They’ve had several cases of the same game using the engine from the previous title…  aka Far Cry 3 and Far Cry Blood Dragon and Far Cry 4 and Far Cry Primal.  Far Cry 5 had been on the list of games that I wanted to play since I saw the initial trailers, but I never picked it up because I always had other things to play.  Over the break I caught a sale and wound up grabbing it and have been playing a silly amount of the game.  It’s weird that the thought of a sequel was what ultimately pushed me into gear to get going with playing it.

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The elevator pitch for Far Cry 5 is that it is set in Hope County Montana, and draws heavily on the history of various religious cults that we have had here in the United States.  The game centers around one such Cult that has a home base of operations in the Montana country side called Project Edens Gate.  Instead of worshiping the Bible, they worship something they call the Book of Joseph…  which was written by Joseph Seed the man the cultists refer to as The Father.  He has predicted a collapse of society, and when you are called upon to serve a warrant to arrest him on Kidnapping charges that signals the opening events of his prophecy.  You barely escape the compound and are now a hunted man…  as the Project Edens Gate…  or Peggies as the locals call them…  swarm out capturing everything in the Valley.

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You have the set up for a game that works pretty much like so many other games where you are the opposition to a larger force…  your job is now to destroy the foothold the cult has on the area and save as many locals as you can in the process.  The game is divided up into a bunch of sections, as each one of the “children” of Joseph Seed act as lieutenants over a different region of the valley.  I wound up going after John Seed, in part because it felt like the game was directing me there… and the person he was holding was the one I was most interested in saving.  As you take actions against the regional “boss” you raise a resistance meter, and every third of that bar there is a stopping point that triggers a specific event that plays out.  By the time I reached the conclusion of this “zone” of the game I had successfully worked up quite the hatred for John Seed, and wanted to see him die.

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Which admittedly plays in really nicely to the narrative of the game.  My sin is that of Wrath, and as you tear through wave after wave of brain washed cultists…  you start to think about that specifically.  I love killing baddies in games, but in truth…  I am the embodiment of Wrath each time that occurs.  The final fight unfortunately is one of the most frustrating I have ever encountered in a game, largely because it centers around a dog fight.  While I enjoy flying planes in Far Cry 5…  the controls themselves do not lend themselves to aerial combat.  There are a couple of options here…  you can hire one of the townsfolk to be your wing man and let them get the killing shot.  If you are far enough in the game you can buy a heat seeking rocket launcher and take him out that way…  or you can go the route I did and purchase the attack helicopter which is way the hell more maneuverable in the air for fighting.  Thankfully at that point in the game I had a lot of cash and had unlocked the Helicopter shop.

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The best part about the game however is that you get to run around…  if you choose…  with Boomer that dog.  He is so much better than any of the human options when it comes to your partners…  because firstly he alerts you to any trouble that might be ahead.  Secondly he retrieves stuff from the bodies that you kill along the way, meaning that other than cash you don’t have to be quite so concerned about making sure you loot every single body that drops.  You are going to be killing a lot of people in this game and as a result producing copious amounts of bodies that you have to painstakingly loot.  The dog short cuts a lot of that, and unlike some of the other companions he rarely gets in the way of what you are actually trying to accomplish.  The game has a photo mode and I used it in the above shot to focus in on the good boy that I am regularly running around with.

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I think the most interesting thing about the game so far is how familiar it feels to me.  I grew up in very humble and very rural roots.  I came from a town of 2000 and graduated in a class of 60…  while that was Oklahoma and this is Montana…  there is a shocking bit of detail that stays exactly the same no matter what rural environment you are traversing.  The people remind me so much of people that I knew growing up, so I have to give massive credit to Ubisoft for getting that feel completely dead on.  Even the cultist thing feels a little familiar as we had a local Want-To-Be-Megachurch Preacher that paid kids to attend church service in the form of scholarships.  The amount you got was a formula based upon how many services you attended and how many other kids you recruited to the fold.  So sure it wasn’t a dooms day cult, but it felt no less creepy.  Essentially I relate to this game and setting way more than I ever have in the Far Cry settings, and I am looking forward to getting home tonight and starting another area.

Great game so far, but unfortunately given the release window for Anthem of February 22nd…  I doubt I will be playing New Dawn the sequel when it releases on February 15th.  Tomorrow I am probably going to talk some about the games that are coming out in 2019 that I am looking forward to… but if you want a preview we talked about it at length during the podcast this weekend.

Cleansing Twitter

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On Wednesday I talked about some of my hopes for the new year, and one of them…  I have already made significant strides towards.  Unfortunately it is not the exercise and losing weight one… because in truth I am largely waiting until I am no longer on vacation to try that.  We also have a bunch of sweets and stuff that we need to remove from the house before that can properly begin.  That said, once I return to the swing of things I will begin that one in earnest.  Another stupid one that came up this morning is that we are going to try our best to triage the mail every single day instead of letting it stack up for a week before looking at any of it.

The one however that I already made a big dent in is taming twitter.  As of posting on Wednesday I followed just shy of 1200 people and as a result my main timeline was impossible to keep up with.  In the past I had made an attempt at creating a “Timeline 2.0” list that contained the people that I did not want to miss posts from… but I was phenomenally bad at keeping it updated.  Additionally there were a few cases where I unfollowed someone for a reason… and then kept seeing their post not realizing that I had them in that timeline as well.  Basically it was not a great solution.

Twitter unfollows are always a fraught experience, because I am certain that I have a few mutuals that would be hurt if I unfollowed them.  So instead of entering the difficult territory I decided to start with a simple change.  Essentially I went through my follow list and added any “Brands” to a new list that I could assign to a column and immediately unfollowed the account.  This also included anyone that I interacted with as though they were a brand or at least a brand ambassador like Deej for example from Bungie.  Now this did not include anyone that I have what I would consider a personal relationship with that has been built up through interaction over the years.

I also created a “Cute Stuff” feed that has most of the various animal accounts that I follow and a few other things that I find funny… essentially to give me a concentrated column of pure enjoyment.  The end result however is that I removed 166 accounts from my main feed… and it is shocking just how much of what I would consider spam to be coming from those accounts.  I did not realize just how much Funko for example tweeted until I punted them off the island.  Sure this means that I will no longer be eligible for the various “follow and retweet” contests…  but seeing as I have been using twitter ten years and never actually won one of those…  I think I will be fine without them.

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Now even after this…  there are a bunch of people that I enjoy as human beings but don’t necessarily want to see the constant feed of mostly political based retweets.  So in those cases I have been going one step further because something I did not realize was that twitter allows you to now block retweets on a user by user basis.  We will use my account that I use to get screenshots off of my PS4 and Switch as an example in the above screenshot.  You have to click through to an individual users account page on Twitter and then if you expand the menu on the right side you can see the option of Turn Off Retweets.  This will be specific to this one user and still let you see retweets as a whole for pretty much everyone else.  After a few days of further pruning by turning off retweets for some of the highest volume accounts…  my twitter is once again a happy place.

Now the only negative here is…  this will not stop quote retweets.  This is one of those times where I really like the fact that Mastodon and MMORPG.social for example does not have a quote retoot option.  Now please don’t take my trying to make Twitter a happier place a sign that I am detaching from the Fediverse again, because that could not be further from the truth.  The instance that Gazimoff is running for the community has turned out to be a hopping place, especially for those who are into FFXIV.  I think this might be the year that I start giving up on some platforms… for example I cannot be arsed to care about Instagram at all so I might just stop trying.  Facebook is just a place that I re-syndicate my content but no one actually reads it.  I have this overwhelming desire to complete reboot this blog, but I am not sure if that will actually happen.

All of that aside…  Twitter is a much better environment for me personally after making these tweaks and I thought I would post this morning talking a bit about it in case someone wants to steal some of my ideas.  It is funny that Scopique was doing this exact same thing the same morning I was…  so great minds think alike?

Seasonal Light Cap Get

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As promised yesterday, today we return at least for a bit to proper gaming news…  or more so the news of the gaming I have been up to over the break.  I’ve been spending a significant amount of time playing Destiny 2 which is not terribly shocking.  That said I did manage to hit 650 light, the current cap for the rest of the current season and even have managed to push up my standard loadout of Breakneck, Ikelos Shotgun and Thunderlord to that level as well.  Now begins the slow process of bringing the other things I care about up to that level as well.

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I also managed to get my Hunter to 50 and have finished the Warmind content now and am slowly chewing my way through Forsaken.  I’ve swapped over 650 weapons and am using them to slowly push up her light level which I have managed to get to 625 in a day of trying to do this.  I will probably be spending a good deal more time working on her than the Titan seeing as I hit my initial goal of hitting the light cap during the break.  At some point I will probably also start working on pushing up the Warlock, but seeing as that is my least favorite class to play… it always ends up lagging behind significantly.

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The core problem I am having with Destiny 2 is a pretty good one to be having.  There is more content to do each week than I have time to really do it in.  At launch time I could push through all of the powerful gear options in a single night, and could easily run out of things that I felt were “worth doing”… and as a result spent a good deal of time working on alts to spread out that list of things to do enough to get me through the week.  With the current state of the game there is no way I have enough time to do all of the things that could create progress so instead I just focus on the things I feel like doing in a given night.  I am leaving so much progression on the table in a given week that I am having to learn to be okay with it.

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Lastly I have been tooling around with a weird Dark-Soulsian game called Ashen that is currently only available on Xbox One and the Epic Games store.  Once you get over the fact that all of the characters are faceless poppets, the game does a much better job of making you care about the world that you are exploring in the fact that you are essentially recovering after an apocalypse.  As you roam around you meet new people that you can help and in turn they join the village that you are building.  They start to offer you whatever it is that they can do from forging weapons to letting you futz with your stat layout.

There are times the game reminds me of Breath of the Wild as well…  albeit with way more hardcore combat.  It is very easy to die in this game as pretty much everything in the world hates you.  This can get a little frustrating because in my rush to attack before  they can attack me…  I have accidentally killed a few NPCs.  I am enjoying myself quite a bit, but I am not really playing it anywhere near as much as some of the other games I have on my plate.  I still thought it was worth mentioning in case anyone else was interested.  They have managed to create a game that is very much in the Dark Souls genre… that is also very hopeful and not quite so soul crushing. I linked to the original trailer above.

Hopes for the New Year

I’ve started this post a half dozen times this morning only to keep backspacing it away.  So as a result I am just going to go with it as not to waste anymore time.  I am not used to blogging while sitting downstairs, and I think that might be harshing some of my mojo.  Either than or the fact that I am effectively writing the first blog post of 2019, a new year…  and don’t want to mess things up.  Regardless this morning I thought I would write a bit about some of my thoughts for the coming year.  I am not generally one to do resolutions, so I am going to participate in the practice without actually calling them that.  So here goes some of the things I hope for the next year.

Figure out Discord

I know this sounds like a silly topic, but I am being completely serious.  No I am not meaning figure it out in a technical sense, but instead figure out how it fits in my life.  Right now I am legitimately in fifty different discord servers, and have probably since its launch left about that many as well.  Hell there are a half dozen that I set up myself for various reasons.  This fragmentation means that I end up using none of them on a regular basis.  While I use Slack and Microsoft Teams for work purposes…  and that gave me a fixed reason to use the social Slacks I am in…  I don’t have a similar need for Discord other than when I am wanting to use voice chat for some reason.  As such we have a bunch of general purpose discords that serve as a ready voice chat option when we need one.

All of that said there are awesome people and interesting conversations going on there, and I would like during this new year to figure out how to become part of that.  I’ve been pleased to see the Blaugust discord is still active, and I love hanging out with the Moogle’s Pom crew when I remember it is a place that exists.  Unfortunately I think discord has way too much noise to really make it a constant destination.  Too many people are scattered among too many different servers to have it feel like a cohesive experience.  I think the other challenge is everyone is struggling to figure out how exactly to use it.  Every single alpha that I am in wants to use it as their primary means of communication and as a replacement for the traditional forum experience.  The UI doesn’t exactly help to identify what are things I actually should be reading, and what is just so much more spam.

It would be nice if there was a way to group servers into folders… so you could have a half dozen ones that you regularly use and then the rest neatly hidden behind a wall.  This is a problem that I want to solve this year but I am not even sure where to start apart from simply leaving every server I am in and adding them back more judiciously.

Get Over Anxiety Tanking

I am not sure where it came from but lately I have been super anxious about getting back into tanking again.  This is a big part of why I have been largely bouncing from Final Fantasy XIV is that I cannot seem to get over the hurdle of just tanking for randoms.  That is what I need to do so I can get the currency I need to upgrade my gear to be able to run the dungeons to be able to finish the main story line.  Yes I realize that was one hell of a run on sentence but I absolutely did that on purpose.  Everything in that game seems to be gated by something, and the answer to all of it is just to tank queue as a Warrior and be done with it.

That said I keep logging in, playing the cactpot and then logging right back out.  I think a lot of why I have not returned to World of Warcraft in earnest with the recent patch is that I have a similar wall that has built up against the responsibility of tanking.  I want to figure out a way past this so I can get on with my life and start to enjoy MMORPGs again.

Organize My Vault

Another huge problem I am having with Final Fantasy XIV is that I am avoiding my inventory.  I have six retainers full of shit and I cannot begin to figure out how to sort it all.  I know there is a good deal of it that I can stick in the glamour chest and be done with it, but I am so paralyzed by the mountain of items that it is effecting my willingness to go do anything that might add more to it.  I am similarly having an issue with Destiny 2 where I am running out of vault room.  I need to go through and get rid of everything that I can buy back again through the collections…  but right now I am willfully avoiding touching anything.  I am struggling with an irrational fear that I might remove the wrong thing and with no undo system and no buyback vendor…  I could accidentally get rid of something I can’t get back.

Quite honestly so many of the things I am dealing with are anxiety based…  anxiety over interacting with people, anxiety over responsibility, and anxiety over possible loss.  If I could figure out a way to solve that core problem a lot of these would disappear.

Figure Out Streaming

Another one of these anxiety triggered things is the fact that I would like to stream more…  but always struggle to push that “go live” button.  I think one of the big problems is that a lot of what I do on a nightly basis does not exactly make for “must see television”.  I don’t play the type of games that lend themselves to streaming, because in a narrative experience… the fact that I am streaming seems to get in the way.  Additionally does anyone actually want to see me grind public events in Destiny 2 for an entire night?  I would love to come to terms with this and figure out a way to work it into my life.

Figure Out Social Media

As it stands I follow way the fuck too many people on Social Media and I have been paralyzed to start trying to tackle this problem.  On Twitter I follow just shy of 1200 people and that is way too many to make it usable.  Similarly I have allowed my Mastodon profile to balloon up to 226…. which means I am setting myself up for the same sort of problem there in the future.  Again like so many of these I need to take the hard step and just start slashing those follow numbers, because it is completely unsustainable the way it is now.  There is no way in hell that I can actually interact with that many people.  Twitter vacillates between being extremely enjoyable and being a wall of noise that I cannot seem to push past.  I need to figure out how to reduce the noise.

I have not done this thing because I have not been willing to risk upsetting some people in the process.  I need to get over that and rip the band aid off.

Minimize

A lot of this has been about gaming or social media… but this one is more personal.  I have reached a point where I am larger than I have been at any point in my life.  I will never be a small person, but I need to be less big.  So this year I need to get back on the wagon and reduce my calorie intake while also increasing my exercise output.  I’ve done this numerous times in the past and I need to do it again.  The problem is something will happen in my life that causes me to stop giving a fuck about it… and then this happens.  Caring about my weight is not my default state, it is something I have to work at caring about.  So this year I need to devote serious effort into fixing this before it gets worse.

Tomorrow I will return to games blogging, since the last few posts have been more on the personal and serious side…  but I wanted to get them out of me as they appear to have needed to be written.