Welcome to Pandora (again)

Posted By on Oct 15, 2012 |

Just a note before the main post, but on Saturday, October 20th, I am going to be participating in the Extra Life gaming marathon, in support of The Children’s Hospital & Research Center of Oakland. The basic premise is that I play games for 24-hours straight, raise some money, and donate it to help out sick kids. I’m taking suggestions for games to play, and will be splitting time streaming my exploits with Liore on the Machiavelli’s Cat Twitch.tv channel. Please take the time to look over my donation page, and even if you don’t want to support financially, come hang out on Saturday.

So I finally finished the main story of Borderlands 2 last night, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. It took me a little while to figure out which class I wanted to play – so long, in fact, that the Mechromancer DLC came out and I was still futzing around with characters enough to try out out. And it stuck! So I’ve played through the entirety of Playthrough 1 (and done the large majority of side missions) as the self-styled and pig-tailed “greatest engineer in the world!” Deathtrap and Gaige wandered the barren wastelands of Pandora, fighting off skags and robots and crazed psychopaths (and rakks – which can all die in a fire like so many did before them) on our way to a final confrontation with Handsome Jack.

I have to say, the game was really fun. I played through in a mixture of solo and multiplayer, which the game makes exceptionally easy to do – join a friend’s game (or they drop in on yours), and everything gets a bit harder and smarter; drop out and everything gets a bit weaker. The quests generally align themselves, and although there is some weirdness there (like potentially being able to see story stuff slightly out of order), it mostly works – and better than it did in the original. Loot is abundant and varied – they’ve done an awesome job of making sure that each weapon manufacturer (I believe there are 7 or 8) feel fairly different from each other. There’s still some crossover – so you can find decent elemental weapons that are non-Maliwan branded – but in general, each one is reasonably identifiable and different. Certain types of guns also have different projectiles – I’ve found rocket/grenade launching machine guns, a gun that shoots slower-moving lightning orbs, and one that has invisible acid projectiles with a delay on them. Basically, it’s a loot-driven game, and the loot is really fun to sort through. Which is good, because you spend a lot of time doing just that.

But WHY am I killing everything that moves?

There’s sort of this fundamental question that runs through games and seems fairly important. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Borderlands 2 seems to respond (quite directly sometimes) “Umm.. because you’re a badass?” The writing is pretty awesome in the game, and certainly pokes fun at itself. Everything is taken to the extreme, and that’s awesome. But the main story this time around is at least a little more interesting. The vast majority of the characters from the first game make some sort of appearance, and you start to develop an interest in the crazy-ass people that live on Pandora.

I felt like the main storyline turned out better than it had in the first game, which is good, because I wasn’t sold on it in the first game. I felt a lot more personal drive to take the next step, and by the time that I got to the final confrontation, I really fucking hated the bad guy. And not on a “this guy wants to do some terrible stuff” level, but in a personal “my god, that guy is an asshole” way. Which is great! I think it must be really hard to walk the line between good character development and telling jokes, but I felt like Gearbox really succeeded here.

Plus, the game looks gorgeous again, and that always helps. I look forward to getting through the second playthrough, and doing the side quests that I skipped, and killing the not-Crawmerax enemy, and getting all the achievements, and yes, even playing the DLCs. The first of which comes out next week in a “TOO SOON” sort of way that I’m not sure I’m entirely happy about. But it did push me to a) get through the storyline before it showed up and b) do some ass-on-couch version of training for Extra Life next weekend.

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So Many Games!

Posted By on Sep 24, 2012 |

As if in response to my last post about demos, I seem to have come under a deluge of beta invites and new game releases and content releases. I Kickstarted Forge after PAX, I’ve been playing Smite, got an invite to Dota 2, Glitch has reached out again (and Liore has a nice writeup on it). Also, Borderlands 2 came out – and my group of friends is a bit crazy over that (including the one guy who completed literally every challenge in the game) – Torchlight 2 is extending its tendrils, and Rift’s Autumn Harvest event is in full swing. My Rift activities recently have been very much of the “log in, do the daily quest for the sweet mount, collect a bunch of artifacts, sell duplicates, collect money” variety, and less questing/Water Saga/PvP oriented. I’m actually totally fine with that, and I love that I can basically log in at any point and have something interesting to do.

Oh, and WoW is releasing Mists of Pandaria tomorrow. I’ve more or less completely stopped playing WoW (or, really, even worrying about it), but some of the recent posts actually intrigue me. I still have a month or so left on my annual pass, but this is the first expansion I won’t have purchased on release day. It’s a strange feeling.

That’s a lot of games…

And so we come to the root of the post. There’s an over abundance of choice in my gaming life right now. And that’s sort of the problem. I feel like I am spread really thin on my gaming time. I keep having forces pull me in all different directions when it comes time to sit down and choose what to play next. I know that I want to play Rift, Borderlands, and Smite consistently. But I also know that I should take advantage of my time in various betas to see how they are shaping up. I also feel some sort of obligation to the Forge developers to actually take advantage of their Alpha test and give feedback on a game that seems like it has some fun buried in it. I want to see that style of game succeed, and so I should be playing it to help make that happen, right? Plus, I have WoW friends and Diablo 3 friends that I haven’t talked to in ages due to gaming outside that ecosystem for the last couple months.

If it seems like I’m whining because life is TOO GOOD, it’s probably because I am. I love these periods where everyone is releasing something new, and it seems like everywhere I turn there’s another cool game to play. But with so many of the games being so heavily focused on the multiplayer experience, timing is important. This isn’t a case where a game like Dust: An Elysian Tail comes out and I miss the window, but I can still go back and play it sometime and still get most of the experience. The time to be playing a beta or an MMO expansion or the next hot multiplayer game (D3/BL2) is absolutely when there is a critical mass of friends and pseudo-friends also playing it. Once those communities move on to the next big thing, you’d better hope that the single-player experience holds up. Or that you know some people who are similarly slow to the party. Otherwise, you get things like the community abandoning your game (hi, SWTOR) and you have to deal with F2P conversions, or simply not-as-great single-player campaigns for games that are clearly intended for group play.

In short, can game developers and publishers stop releasing things on their schedules, and start releasing them on mine? Awesome, thanks!

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Welcome Home

Posted By on Sep 07, 2012 |

Let’s try a thing

Apparently this blogging thing is taking. Or, at least, it’s been a couple weeks and I’m still interested in doing it. So I’ve decided to set up this here website, and to migrate all the content over from WordPress.com. I think that, generally speaking, WordPress.com is a great site that makes things really easy to use. You can even use it in the background while aiming your own domain at it. That’s probably the best way to do things for the vast majority of people. However, I kind of like to tinker, and having my own host and dealing with things myself has a certain sort of appeal. We’ll see how it goes.

Please let me know if you run across any issues, or if there are things missing that ought to be here. Yes, I know the site is very generic and doesn’t even have any header images or anything, but those will come soon!

Anyway, I’m glad you’re here, remember to update your RSS feeds/bookmarks, and email me at gryth at this site’s domain if you notice anything particularly broken/desired. I’ll see what I can do.

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