Monday, June 8, 2015

Eye of the Storm

With my recent separation and the horrible emptiness in my soul and what-not, like the lonely bachelor I now am, I have naturally gravitated back to video games. Tabletop RPGs, as I've said before, require a certain strength of will to run properly and I find them quite difficult to do when my life outside the game is in shambles. Besides, most of my friends are currently engaged in campaigns already, and I definitely don't have the wherewithal to "perform" for the public yet. So to the digital frontier I have gone. Following are my scattered thoughts on the various games I have used to occupy my time over the past several weeks:

1. The Sims 4: The Sims games are some of the only games I have ever played in 30+ years of gaming that make me genuinely laugh, hard. The latest one is no different. The new emotion system and the kinds of behavior/actions that unlock when a sim is happy, lonely, flirty (read: horny), or mad are absolutey hilarious. Plus, as has always been the case with the Sims games, the odd, quirky behavior Sims develop on their own, independent of any choices from me, are often brilliant. I already wrote a post about this, but as an example, my no-nonsene business sim likes to unwind after a hard day's work by trolling internet forums. It's hard for me to get too deep into this game, though, because the sadness I have over the idea of cleaning a virtual house when my own, real-life living space is in ruin gets to me a bit. Still, though, good times!

2. Pillars of Eternity: Old school CRPG gaming, reborn. The quality of the writing is what really gets me in this game. Like its ancestors Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment, this is a game written so well I'd actually read a novel adaptation of it, if it were written by the same folk. My only issue with it is the gameplay is a little too true to its older roots. I know that's what a lot of people like, but I was kind of done with it after I beat Baldur's Gate II, and I haven't exactly been hankering for more since. Still, though, an awesome RPG, regardless of whether the nostalgia play means anything to you.

3. The Witcher III: Despite the rave reviews across the net, I'm having a hard time getting into this one. It just seems like too much...I wander around big fields grabbing flowers like some goth botany student, then I fight monsters with various degrees of competency, then I play a game-within-a-game with the merchant who has stuff I want but I'm perpetually broke and too worried I'll need something later to sell anything, and occasionally, I do a quest. I can definitely see the quality of this game but it's just not sinking its hooks into me. One would think a nice, deep, open-world RPG is exactly what I need right now, but alas, this ain't doing it.

4. Heroes of the Swarm: Now, surprisingly, this is really doing it for me right now, more than any other game mentioned here. Blizzard's latest game is two things I friggin' despise in today's gaming environment: free-to-play, and a MOBA. But, in typical Blizzard fashion, it bucks the downsides of both trends and creates a game that is both deep and accessible. Plus, being a hardcore Blizzard fanboy, it is loads of fun to watch Diablo chokeslam Kerrigan, a duel between Jim Raynor and Arthas, or a pandaren monk going toe-to-toe with an ultralisk! Reviews have been a little shaky across the net (critics seem particularly mixed on the game's emphasis on objective-based play, rather than the traditional MOBA paradign of just leveling up and crushing bases), but I absolutely love it. For better of for worse, this game is to MOBAs what WoW was to MMOs: a streamlined, approachable refinement of what was previously a hardcore-only genre.

5. World of Warcraft: The old stomping grounds, the game that was my previous remedy to shitty life situations, no longer appears to hold its magic. I think it's just too old now. I login, play for a few minutes, get bored, and go play something else. Again, it seems like a nice, time-consuming MMO would be just what the doctor ordered, but I have yet to find one that can hold my attention. It doesn't help that my new computer, a MacBook Pro, is, well, a Mac, immediately taking options like The Secret World and The Old Republic off the table. At least until I can get ahold of a copy of Windows and figure out this whole Boot Camp thing...

Anyways, if you, Dear Reader, have any suggestions or thoughts on my own experiences, I am of course all ears.

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