Monday, April 19, 2021

On the Eve of Freedom

There is a meta-achievement in World of Warcraft for completing all of the season-recurring holiday events in the game. I finally finished it in 2019, after about 8 years of being stuck on it. I had all the requirements done but one, the associated sub-achievements for Brewfest, the Oktoberfest proxy in the game.

It's when I realized that when the leaves turn brown and the air gets crisp, I'm rarely in the mood to stay indoors and play video games. The spring is a similar time for me; the weather is just too good.

This year has been different. Most of last year too. The obvious reason. Not only am I playing more video games this spring, I'm currently playing 5 of them:
 

  • Persona 5 Royale
    • My "main" game at this time. It's a JRPG with some strong dungeon crawling. Sorta. You spend most of your time working part time jobs , reading library books, and chatting with your friends to increase your stats. I just leveled up my Knowledge stat from Oblivious to Learned. I'm hopeful to do the same in real life one day.

  • Among Us 
    • Our weekly game with friends has been cancelled the last two weeks as our social group becomes more bold at socializing in real life again. No idea why America is getting another surge in COVID cases. Must be coincidence.
  •  Dungeons & Dragons campaign
    • I multitasked finishing my taxes during our last session. I found both experiences strangely similar.
  • Demon Soul's
    • It's ... fine. The lack of pause button makes playing a hassle. So does starting over from the very beginning of a level every time you die. Demon Soul's isn't grabbing me enough to become my "main" game, which means it'll be thrown to the wayside soon enough. It requires your full focus and attention, but I'm not convinced it's earned it.
  •  Outriders
    • I had to power level another character after my previous one was wiped out by the developer's incompetence. The game is fine. It's Diablo 3 as a third-person shooter with broken movement abilities. Mostly, it's something to do with my hands while chatting with friends. It's good at that.

(It seems I'm not alone in this matter; Bhagpuss just posted his own lengthy digital agenda [https://bhagpuss.blogspot.com/2021/04/who-invented-these-lists.html].)

But I suspect all 5 games to come grinding to a halt soon enough. Tomorrow is my last day of quarantine, or at least half-day if we want to follow the two-week period after my second dose down to the minute. My schedule for the week is packed with doctor's appointments, hair cut, dentist visit, etc. that have been put off for the past year. I also have dinner reservations with the wife for the fanciest place in town. A celebration of what was a difficult year for me but near hell-on Earth for her.

I'm curious to how my gaming will be affected by this. I suspect I'll still get a couple hours of Persona in here and there. We are close to the end of our D&D campaign so that will likely persist for another couple of weeks. But everything else gets shunted to the side as I learn how to use my feet again like an astronaut returning from space.

Maybe the Switch sees use again. It's been several months. I have the 'newest' re-release of a Mario title rented. That might get pulled out during a rest break of a long hike.

I also wonder, and am slightly concerned, that nothing will change. I'll use my newfound freedom to do what I've been doing for a lot longer than the pandemic's been on, and simply stay inside all day. I hope not, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. Being a shut-in is a bit different when it's by choice. 

Either way I think this blog might change focus a bit, as it often does. I might try to capture some of my real life wanderings instead of just my digital ones. I don't have much desire lately to offer my opinion on the latest bit of gaming news. Others do a fine job of it and I'm tired of talking at people. I think my favorite posts on this blog are me mostly just talking about my day. Whether it happens digitally or not.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Outriders - Ooof

 

I'm not a big fan of looter shooters. I like looting well enough. I've done quite a bit of shooting in my gaming career. But I find when games combine the two it often ends up being less than the sum of its parts.

But Outriders was actually doing okay in my book. It is, like all of these games, a very slow start. But a couple of hours in and my "Trickster" was humming right along and playing somewhat fluidly. It also helps that the class is really just a combination of "Spin-to-Win" Barbarian from Diablo 3 and Subtlety Rogue from World of Warcraft. Two things that I like! It also helped that I was playing with friends I haven't seen in over a year. I like them as well!

 



In fact the game is really just Diablo 3 with guns and a third-person perspective. The boss abilities are literally the same. The Torment system is the same. I mean if your going to steal, by all means steal from the best but maybe change a few things here and there, just to throw the people off the tracks.

Outriders doesn't have a lot of original thoughts. There are a lot of visuals that seem ripped straight from Destiny or Anthem. The snark versus snark grimdark dialogue could be verbatim from any AAA game in the past ten years. The shooting is a bit reminiscent of The Division, but the gameplay loop in general is much more aggressive and shines for it.

Unfortunately, Outriders is dedicated to following all the trappings of the looter shooter genres. It's broken at launch. I don't mean broken as in one spec is way more powerful than the others (although it has that), or glitches have been found that allow for insanely fast leveling and gearing (it also has that). I'm talking about being broke-broke.

I read the rumors on Reddit. At random times your character can be disconnected from the game, and when logging in again you find all of your gear missing. Even worse, you won't be able to log in to that character without getting immediately disconnected. The developers confirmed there was a problem but I didn't think a whole lot about it. Gaming forums have a tendency to ...amplify... the negative. I presumed actual data loss was a relatively rare phenomenon.

Obviously you know where this is going. Here is my character in his space underwear.

 


 

Even better, the developers have chimed in to let us know that not only is it likely weeks before we get characters playable again, but they will only be replacing epic and legendary gear. And by replace I mean with random gear. Not the gear you had. So when my dude emerges from purgatory, he will be doing so mostly naked and completely ineffective. Neat.

 



The looter shooter genre is very crowded. The action RPG genre even more so. Outriders had an uphill battle before all of this. We've seen games outlast their meme status before like No Man's Sky. But we've also seen them just die on impact like Anthem. It'd be nice if they can salvage this game and turn into something worth people's time. But I'm not holding my breath.