Games I’ve been playing – November 2019

After recovering somewhat from my depression on October I began this month with the intention of playing ALL THE GAMES! … which didn’t last for long as I my plans got disrupted by the Ishgardian Restoration in Final Fantasy XIV and that sweet, sweet craft XP. But that also didn’t last as long as I thought it would and I end up going back to some other games I wanted to play.

In the end I played a lot of games but I didn’t feel like I played enough of them. In fact I barely touched some of them but I will mention them here anyway least I forget my current thoughts about these games.

With all that said, these are the games I’ve been playing this past month:

Rise of the Tomb Raider

I bought this game a long while ago when they released the Linux version and kept forgetting about it. I liked the first game in the rebooted trilogy and I was having a bit of an itch for more of that so this seemed like a good time to play it.

I only played through the first level so far, which is pretty much the tutorial for the game. Although I did play through it twice because I didn’t get all the optional objectives the first time and I didn’t know if their option to replay the earlier levels counted as far as any achievements go. Restarting seemed like the most guaranteed option for me to make sure I got any achievement that required 100% completion of objectives.

So far it is pretty much like the first rebooted game in terms of gameplay. In terms of story, Lara certainly feels more confident and less terrified than in the first game. But there are a few things that I find silly. Like, spoiler alert for the…. well, first 10 minutes of the game’s story or so: In this game Lara Croft is looking for some artifact that supposedly grants immortality. Partly because of her own obsession for it, partly because her father lost his life and reputation searching for it. And she only see the positive side of something like that: like the end of death and sickness and all the suffering that goes with it. Completely ignoring that it might lead to an ever bigger overpopulation problem or that terrible people would also live forever and do even more terrible things. Maybe later in the game she will realize those problems but right now I am not very impressed with her way of thinking.

Another nitpick is that the game has a mechanic where she looked at some pictures and her fluency with foreign languages grew with it. I know it is just gameplay but I can’t stop thinking how silly it is. It is like if I saw the Last Supper in a museum and then suddenly I grew proficient in italian.

Yeah, yeah, I know it is just a game and I am just nitpicking. If it was a more pulp game like the earlier ones I wouldn’t even mind all that and would completely ignore it. But with the whole attempt at making the Tomb Raider games all gritty and serious I just can’t stop thinking about he silliness of it. Oh, well, I will get over it probably and just enjoy jumping around and climbing mountains just like I did with the first reboot.

XCom – The Long War mod

Not seen here: How it will all end in tragedy and tears in just a few turns

I blame this on Naithin. He mentioned a while ago on his blog about giving a try to the Long War mod for XCom 2. That is a mod I’ve been meaning to give a try since its first incarnation in the first XCom game. This felt like a reminder to rectify that. I reinstalled the first XCom and then installed the Long War mod.

I decided to do it with the first game because I never tried the first Long War mod and I thought it was a good idea to see how much the mod changed and how it felt to play with it. Turns out it changes far more than I thought. Before I just thought it made the main campaign longer with some additional research here or there, maybe even some difficulty spike. In actuality it changes almost everything about the game. If I had to describe it in just a few words it would be like the missing ancestor in the evolutionary tree between the original X-Com games and the modern XCom.

This is another game I didn’t get to play much before the Isghardian Restoration happened. But the little I played made me actually scared of sectoids. In a normal XCom game they usually just feel like a necessary step stone to get to the real interesting enemies. In the Long War they are tough little buggers when you are just starting, only a bunch of rookies for soldiers and no good technology to fight back. I was feeling like I was getting the hang of how to beat them though but I am afraid if I go back now I’d have to relearn all the strategies again. XD

Judgement

Like any good detective story, every time I think I am figuring the case out Judgement throws a twist that leaves me trying to figure out how this new piece fits with everything else. Since I can’t talk about it due to spoilers, let me talk about something else.

I think I figured out one of the ways Judgement feels so familiar and yet so different from the Yakuza series for me. There are a few things. First in the Yakuza series the bad guys motivations always end up boiling down to power and money. It is a pretty easy motivation to understand and there is nothing scary about it. In Judgement, Yagami is after a serial killer whose motivations and identity so far are completely unknown. This plus the serial killer modus operanti makes them feel unpredictable and even a bit scary for me. It is also unclear so far how the killer is related to the potential conspiracy and Yakuza war that Yagami is uncovering.

Another difference is that most of Kiryu’s allies and friends can handle themselves in a fight. Most of Yagami’s allies and friends however are civilians which makes them easy target not only to said serial killer but also to the Yakuza that are somehow involved in this. Lastly, Kiryu can just solve the story’s problems by punching his way through to the last bad guy. Ok, some times he does need to figure out what is going on but he either can get help from someone else to get the info or just punch it out of someone. Yagami on the other hand has to do some actual detective work. Not only that but he has to gather some proof of the crimes since he is trying to get all the involved parties behind bars within the law. Kiryu just cares about punching all the bad guys until they aren’t a threat anymore and then let the cops sort things out.

I like both kind of story moods and hopefully there will be a few sequels to Judgment in the future. For now I will just worry about finishing this one. 🙂

Fate Grqnd Order

She is small but fierce!

This month saw the rerun of the Christmas 2018 event. It was the last time to get Jeanne Alter Santa Lilly (try to say that three times fast!) which was one of the servants I’ve been wanting to get since I first saw her. She is a pretty good hybrid of damage and support which will be very, very nice to my roster. I also realized that if they keep this trend going on then eventually there will be a Santa version of every servant class. It just makes me wonder what an Avenger version of Santa would even work but considering the craziness of these events they will probably somehow manage something that is both funny and still make some kind of sense.

Sadly I will never get the Rider version as I started after the Christmas 2017 re-run and that was the last time to get Santa Artoria Pendragon Alter. Unless they give some way to get past welfare servants in the future which seems unlikely. But one can dream, right?

At this moment Fate Grand Order is finishing its Thanksgiving Event which among other things had half AP for dailies. It has been a nice way to get some embers to raise my servants and get some much needed QP. I think tomorrow they will be releasing a new singularity, Salem. Apparently it is the last of the Pseudo-Singularities and people say it has the best story of those which makes me really curious about it.

Final Fantasy XIV

I already mentioned the Ishgard Restoration a few times just in this post. If you still have no idea what I am talking about just go back to the start of this post and click on the link there. Anyway, for a while working on the Ishgard Restoration was how I spent all my gaming time. The amount of crafting XP was just that good. So far I got two crafting classes at 71, another at 69 and the rest are still at 63. The gathering classes also got some level ups but I don’t remember where I left them. They are probably around 65 to 63 or around there.

The downside of this madness though is that it end up leaving me pretty much burnt out. Not enough that I will need a few months until I can get back to the game but just enough where I needed a few days doing something else. I will try to take it easy and vary things more when I come back to the game which will probably be some time this week. I think I will just do my daily tribes then do a bit of gathering and crafting for the event. Maybe do some of the patch 5.1 story too since I barely began on it. I could try to do some house decorating too now that I can finally craft myself some of the items I want for my house. One thing I will definitely not do this time is to play it to the exclusion of all other games!

Yakuza 0

I wonder how long it took for Ryuji to stop beating people for their pants

I blame this on my friend Jheina Bae. She started streaming this game and it made me feel like picking it up again. Much to my surprise I stopped playing it way earlier than I thought. I stopped at Chapter 4 but somehow I thought I was further ahead in the game, maybe in the middle part of the story.

In any case, it is nice to play as Kiryu again. As much as I like Yagami, Kiryu is just a character in a league of his own. On the other hand I forgot how Yakuza 0 still didn’t have some of the nice features that later games in the franchise would include. Like being able to see where side stories start. Or that we can just seamlessly walk into a store instead of having to have to go through a short loading screen. And don’t even get me started on how confusing those early karaoke mini-games were. None of those are game breaking, just slightly annoying in some cases.

Nitpicks aside, I am having fun playing Yakuza 0 again. I already know how the main story will develop thanks to watching another friend streaming it a long, long time ago. In fact that stream is what got me hooked in the franchise. Despite that those cutscenes still hit me in the feels like it was my first time watching them!

Ring Fit Adventure

I am still trying to decide if I should write a first impressions of this game or not. Just in case I do, I will keep this short so I don’t end up repeating myself. So far I am really enjoying it and feeling pretty motivated to play a bit every day. I must admit I was a bit afraid that it would be like the Wii U where I played regularly in the beginning then would go into a cycle of stopping and restarting but so far that doesn’t seem like it will be the case.

At the time of this writing I just finished World 4. The exercises are starting to feel slightly more complicated and the monsters are getting tougher. But none of it feels frustrating and if I experiment an exercise that I don’t like much I just substitute it for another exercise or do just a little bit of it. For me this has been working well so far.

Stellaris

Look, I am just terrible at naming things, okay?

In my mood to finish some games this month I picked Stellaris back again. Fortunately I wasn’t too far off from finishing my first full playthrough of the game, something I accomplished last night.

My end-game crisis turned out to be some kind of ancient AI/robot that awoke after a millennia because it thought the moment its creators feared happened and the only solution was to eradicate all organic and non-compliant robots in the galaxy. There is a certain irony to it because my custom species had ascended to become robots a lot earlier in the game and they were pretty content to just chill in their sector of the galaxy. They weren’t picking a fight with anyone and were just happily assimilating any organic that end up migrating to their planets.

It was a bit annoying but I was able to defeat this new menace, ending the crisis and in doing so winning the game. Part of it was luck though because earlier in the game I got the head of some ancient religious prophet through some archeology research. Said prophet was worshiped by the fallen empire in my game and every time I activated the head they would send some of their ships to me. Those ships were way more advanced than anything I had, even in the late stages of the game, and they were vital in my campaign to deal with this new menace.

I am only sad I wasn’t able to test the “Death Star” that I built. Unfortunately for my own version of the “Death Star” I chose one that would disintegrate any organic lifeform. Not very useful when you are fighting against crazy robots. Also, I totally did not choose that option back when things were peaceful and I might have been considering starting a war against other empires just to expand my own. *coughs*

I already started a new game, this time with a species of sentient plants that wants to be friends with everyone. Their government is one of a religious megacorp so they might also want to sell some stuff while befriending aliens. I was in doubt if I should start a new game just right after finishing one since it is one of those games that can make you completely lose the sense of time. But I wanted to give it a try to see if I can get a better start now that I have a better idea on how to play it and before I forget everything.

Also I’d like to see how federations work before they release a DLC that will completely change it. No idea if I will be able to create a federation of my own but hopefully my friendly space plants will be able to convince some people to join one!

Pokemon Uranium

As it is probably the case in everyone’s tweet timeline there is a lot of people in mine tweeting about their adventures in Pokemon Sword and Shield. This has made me almost tempted to buy the game and play it too. The only reason I am resisting is because in the past I was never able to get into Pokemon. The last time I tried it was back in Pokemon Ruby and I don’t even remember where I stopped. All I know is that I gave up on the franchise, figuring it wasn’t for me.

Still the temptation kept nagging at me with all those tweets so I finally decided to compromise and download Pokemon Uranium just to see if my tastes changed in all these years. If you never heard about it, Pokemon Uranium is a fan game with almost all of its pokemons being original creations for the game. I heard about it a long time ago and thought it had disappeared due to legal issues but apparently it is still alive and kicking.

In terms of graphics and sound design it feels very much like the Pokemon games of the Gameboy Advance era. In terms of features and gameplay I think it has everything that Pokemon games from the last 10 years or so have. I could be completely wrong though, like I said my last Pokemon game was Ruby and I barely remember anything about that one so I could be completely wrong. :p

I am still on my way towards the first Gym but I am already feeling a bit annoyed that I have to level up each Pokemon individually. I heard in Pokemon Sword and Shield they all share XP in which case that is already a plus for me. But if my annoyances with the game continues it might just confirm that Pokemon is still not for me and that is completely okay.

Honorable mentions: Azur Lane, Dead by Daylight

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