Before last weekend I was pretty sure I was going to have to give in my gamer card. Life is busy and I have learned to prioritize work/life/gaming balance much better than the past. Family, then work, then gaming. Sadly, the realities of a job that demands a lot and a family that I want to give a lot to leaves gaming as something I wish I could make more time for (but normally can’t). Sometimes it feels as though I spend more time reading about gaming, listening to podcasts about gaming, and blogging about gaming than I actually play games in a week. This has lead me to all sorts of crazy thoughts from stopping blogging (I love it – but is it genuine enough if I am not gaming much?) to allowing myself that hour to two hours a night to enjoy a hobby I am extremely passionate about (when you hit 40, there is so much more in your life you feel like you *should* be doing instead of gaming). We have the NBI, and Blaugust, and Bragtoberfest – do we have gaming blog counselors? Where is our Dr. Phil, I need to talk to him! Good news about all of this is while searching for a “video game character on a couch getting psychiatric advice” I stumbled on a nice new web comic line.
Then, something miraculously happened on Sunday. My son was going to a movie/play date with a friend, my wife wasn’t feeling well and wanted to go lie in bed for the afternoon and I suddenly found myself with free time on a wet and cold day. I didn’t need to exercise because I had played a hockey game the night before, I could do work (as I always could) but I had a pretty good week the week before and felt good about where I was (I have one of those jobs that I am never “done” work. Finishing work just opens up new work.). The dogs were sleeping in a puddle of sun coming through the window which masked the cold and wet outside. The house was peaceful.
I was free. Free to game.
I fired up the gaming laptop and started updating everything – I wasn’t even sure what I was going to play! GW2? Landmark? I have uber fibre internet so literally updating 5 or 6 games at the same time doesn’t make anything chug. At the end of the day, I got in 6 hours – which is more than what I have been getting in a week (not counting phone games). So, what did I play? What were my sessions?
The Secret World
I bought this on a Steam Sale (duh) and while I had played through all three factions to see which resonated I hadn’t played much of the game itself. I ended up messing around with a bunch of weapons and I didn’t really fall in love with any of them – but I took pistols and off to Kingsmouth I went. The good is what was expected (story), the bad is how silly ranged weapons fit into the game (and MMOs in general). Having to empty 40 bullets into a zombie to kill it isn’t right. I am going to stick with it because I want to see how the story progresses but this is one of those examples where the game play gets in the way of the point of the game. In my initial impressions the mission would be better as a first person shooter style (which I know is silly, but really, 30 second kill times on your first main mission in an MMO is a huge disconnect from sensibility. No surprises here though as I have heard that complaint before. The ability wheel is intimidating but you really don’t have that many choices to begin with. I am glad I got to dig in a bit deeper – the setting and mood are top notch and my initial impressions is that the game play may hurt the style more than vice versa.
I won this game (among others) from Contains Moderate Peril who runs a monthly contest. I was always interested in the setting and after playing TSW and thinking it should be a FPS, I figured it would be a nice segue into a proper FPS. The setting didn’t disappoint and the game did a good job of pacing between high intensity and breaks in the action. There was a lot of “fluff” in the opening sequences (NPC’s, families, background chatter) that did a good job of setting the tone of a community stuck underground without much hope for change. I am looking forward to this as my single player game that I can pickup and leave off. The strangest part for me is that this is the first THQ game I have blogged about – I tag categories by producers/developers typically, and that is my first THQ. I wonder if the setting is foreshadowing on the future Russia if they don’t stop screwing around in the Ukraine.
Heroes of the Storm
I don’t know if it is now open Alpha or what is going on, but when I was hovering on the “install” button for World of Warcraft I noticed that there was an option to install HOTS. So I did. I was a big League of Legends fan so I was definitely curious what Blizzard’s offering was going to look like. I ended up playing this game the most! True to Blizzard fashion it is well polished (already – in alpha) and pretty big simplification of the genre when using LoL as the comparative. Truth is though, it is less intimidating so far. I stopped playing LoL because they reset every season and I didn’t want to relearn the items and champions that I had become very familiar with. Items are the great equalizer in LoL and allows for a lot of customization as you can select items to change the balance of power in any match. It also meant you needed to understand the match-ups of 100’s of champions and how to fight against certain item kits and champions. It took a lot of effort to be “in the know”. HOTS takes out items altogether but still leaves a lot of choice in the game for talents. I am only level 6, so a long way to go but will be interesting to see if Blizzard can do to MOBA what it did for MMO. That statement is either beautiful or ominous depending on your view on Blizzard.
I still have barely touched my PS4 and haven’t played a round of Destiny in a month. I miss being “sold” on a title. I miss being “all in!”. You know, that realization that when you do have free time you are spending it in one place and one place only. Right now I am so overwhelmed with choice and options that I actually miss the day that I was dedicated to a single title and it received all my spare time an attention. I think there are so may places I want to play in right now that I just can’t focus on one. At the end of it all, I am just really happy I was able to take some time to myself and enjoy some really satisfying and fun gaming hours. It has been long overdue.