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Because I am a sucker, I pre-ordered Star Wars Battlefront 2, so I got into the beta on Wednesday (it’s open to everyone starting Friday). The first game took a beating but honestly I had some good fun with it for a while, but mostly I was interested in #2 for the single player campaign from Motive. I pre-ordered because I dunno why. Retail therapy when I was down or something.

Anyway I did and played the beta a few hours last night (of the Galactic Conquest mode…everything in this post is about that mode which is, for me, the reason to get the game aside from the single player stuff) and took zero screenshots so sorry about that. I did want to list some of the changes and things I liked in this game. Hopefully they will stay the same into launch but I’m pretty sure the online e-peen gamer jerks will be raising a stink about the first one and I fear EA will change it.

So what’s the first one? At the end of a match there is no ranking of players, at least that I could see. You get a screen where someone is awarded MVP and someone else gets called out for having the biggest kill streak or the most kills, but it’s all positive reinforcement. Then you get your own stats showing how much exp you earned. But you’re never told you came in 19th out of 20 players.

I LOVE this and it seems like a perfect system for a Star Wars game that is probably going to attract a lot of casual gamers who will frankly suck in MP (that’s me I’m talking about). Playing MP games when you’re bad is frustrating enough without having your nose rubbed in it at the end of the game. You are still told how you did, but the fact that you struggled isn’t advertised to everyone else playing. I really appreciate this feature and it kept me in the game a lot longer than I otherwise would have stayed.

So that’s the first thing.

The second is how you respawn. SWBF2 rewards working as a team. You get more exp for doing things alongside teammates than if you did the same things on your own (or so they say, I couldn’t measure it). When you respawn, they hold you back for a few seconds and then spawn you in as a group of up to 4 people. If no one else dies, you don’t have to wait forever. After a few seconds they’ll still let you spawn in alone, but generally they try to release you in ‘squads’ of people. Again, a godsend for those of us who suck since what I do is follow another player and try to back them up.

Third thing is classes. There are now 4 classes: Assault, Heavy, Officer and Specialist. I played all four (there are daily goals and for yesterday one of them was to play each class for 10 minutes, which is pretty much a round). Assault is your basic grunt, I guess. His default skills are grenade, a short-term shotgun and a tracking dart that is supposed to help ID the enemy. Heavy is an armored dude. He has a grenade, a short-term Mini-gun and a Shield. Officer is a support class. He has a grenade, a buff to reduce damage to nearby friendlies, and a turret. Finally Specialist is the sniper of the team. He has a grenade, a short term stealth mode with a mid-sized gun, and thermal binoculars that can tag enemies and sees them through walls.

These are all the default skills but you can use “cards” to modify/replace them. I found I really liked the Heavy since I could lean into my ‘spray and pray’ style of gaming.

Fourth thing is specials. In the first game you’d find Icons in the battlefield that you could grab to pilot a tie-fighter or become Luke Skywalker or whatever. Regular players knew where these were and casuals like me rarely got to them. In SWBF2 you earn a currency during play, and when you save up enough you can just buy one of these specials when you spawn in. It means I won’t get to be a Hero (5000 credits) very often but I could fly a ship or be a buffed up unit at least once per round (anything from 500-2000 credits). At least it is in my control.

Disclaimer: All of the above is going from memory, which in my case isn’t 100% reliably. Caveat emptor!

All in all I had fun. The one map in the beta is Naboo where you’re either a Clone Trooper or a Droid (“ROGER! ROGER!”). I really liked being a droid because I felt vaguely silly and having droids gunned down by the dozens felt ‘normal’ to me.

I drifted away from the first game as the DLC dropped since it fractured the player base and made it hard to find games to join. This year EA has pledged not to do that. All the DLC maps and stuff will be free so everyone should be able to play in everything. I have to admit I’m really looking forward to MP in this game now.

After reading Isey’s post, I was talking on Twitter about how this passage (which I had to trim down for Twitter) resonated with me:

I know people are enjoying it and I admit that I am too – but the nagging thought that we have all been part of a big scam, a rouse, is hard to ignore when you look at how little content was actually provided with how little change.

My buddy Scopique asked how it could be a scam if I’m enjoying the game, which was a fair point and led to a mini-discussion that I thought I’d summarize and maybe elaborate on a little here.

For me, the shooting mechanics of Destiny 2 are fun. Going from level 1 to level 20 and then gearing up to 260 or so is also pretty fun. And if I were in a more positive head space I could probably say that was enough to justify the purchase, but in a lot of ways I feel like I could have deleted my Destiny 1 characters and re-leveled them and had just as much fun.

And I’m with Isey that this doesn’t feel like a whole new game. There’s some quality of life changes, sure. And there are new areas to explore but for me most of them don’t really feel all that new. Most of your fights will end up being in some kind of natural arena or room that would not feel at all out of place in Destiny 1. The enemies aren’t new. There’s no new class to play.

But what feels the most scam-ish to me is this semi-hard block they’ve put on progression. As readers of this blog know I struggled all weekend trying to make progress. I know it is possible because plenty of people have done it, but for me I was really stuck at a certain power level. Three days of playing netted me a power increase of 1.

Then the weekly reset happened last night. With it came the weekly Flashpoint (a Milestone that asks you to do Public Quests in a certain zone). I did that, it took no more than an hour (4 Heroic Public Quests were enough) and my reward was gear (1 exotic and a high-power legendary) that pushed me from 267 to 272 — 5 points in an hour as opposed to 1 point in 3 days.

On the one hand I was really happy to get my power level moving, but on the other, it just feels wrong. The “right” way for me to play Destiny 2 appears to be to log in for an hour on Tuesday after the reset, do the Flashpoint and then set the game aside for a week. It’s a system the encourages you not to play, which feels odd. (Granted there are other Flashpoints if you’re a PvPer or are confident enough to do the weekly Nightfall Strike).

It feels to me like a system put in to slow people down in order to give Bungie time to slap together more content to keep us occupied. There just doesn’t seem to be enough to do once you churn through the campaign (which I’ve done twice now in the 2 weeks since launch and I’m not a hardcore player). The game feels unfinished when you get to higher power levels.

OK complete honesty: there’s a ton of stuff I haven’t done. Adventures, they’re called, and they are basically side quests. Why haven’t I done these? Because there just doesn’t seem to be a point. The narrative isn’t compelling enough to warrant doing them, and the rewards you get are capped so that they aren’t going to improve your character once you’ve hit 265 or thereabouts. You can earn experience but after level 20 that just gets you Bright Engrams that you turn in for trinkets from the cash shop. Once you’ve had a faster Sparrow and a fancy ship drop (which for me happened very early on) Bright Engrams are pointless (you can get Shaders which are important for some people).

Of course there is a random chance of an Exotic Engram dropping while you are out and about, but those feel infrequent enough that it’s like buying loot boxes in some other game. I guess I just want some reliable way to slowly progress (hoping RNGesus craps out an exotic doesn’t count for me). If I feel like I’ve made some kind of improvement in my character I’m happy. But when I play and play and just feel like a cartoon character churning my legs and not moving, it’s disappointing. Maybe the problem is that getting to 265 is too easy? It’s like Bungie wanted to rush us to an end game that never got made. (I’m not ignoring the raid, but to do the raid you really want to be 280, so how do you get from 265-280… and that’s setting aside the fact that the raid isn’t for everyone.)

So circling back to the “scam” argument, I just don’t feel like Bungie has given us enough to warrant a $60 price tag. What is there is fun for a while, but the game feels unfinished to me. The end game is just way too thin. In fairness, playing a game for 2 weeks means I probably have gotten my value out of it, but I just feel like I’ve hit a dead end before my character is ‘finished.’ Give me some way (other than “wait for the reset on Tuesday) to reliably claw my way forward and I’d be much happier, I think.

After my last post about being ‘stuck’ in Destiny 2 I watched this video:

Towards the end the author talks about how to get unstuck:

1) Create a new character of the same class
2) Level it to 200 before doing the campaign
3) Swap all your best gear from your old character to the new one
3) Do the campaign and special missions and get gear scaled to be better than the gear you’re wearing, i.e. get better gear

I decided to try it but I took the guy too literally. I did enough of the campaign to unlock EDZ then I spent 20 levels running around that zone, grinding out Lost Sectors (tip: Lost Sectors aren’t random and by the time I was done I had the location of the mobs in the Lost Sectors near the church memorized) and doing whatever public events spawned, or jumping into that battle between NPCs that happens in one corner. The dude in the video says it’ll take about 4 hours but I suspect he did it when EDZ was the Flashpoint zone. This week Nessus is the Flashpoint Zone, and Xur is on Nessus, so EDZ was pretty dead and I think that impacted how often Public Quests spawned. (Heroic Public Quests can get you a TON of exp and will level you quickly.) It took me until Sunday afternoon to get to 20.

When I finally made it and swapped my gear over I started the campaign and you get no rewards from the first few missions. I did EDZ, Titan and Nessus before I ran out of weekend and no rewards. I now wish I’d played through at least that much of the campaign before grinding. Then I could planet hop and find populated zones and stave off boredom.

The end result was that after playing all day Saturday and Sunday I now have 2 level 20 Titans stuck at 267 power. Well technically my old Titan is down to 265 or so since I swapped the best gear to the new dude. But an entire weekend spent spinning my wheels. Ugh.

[Update: Monday night I finished the campaign on my 2nd character. There is ONE reward, at the very end of the campaign, that scales to your character. The information in the video above is completely wrong. There is no reason to grind your way to level 20 before starting the campaign. Just make sure you are there and wearing all your best gear before you do the last mission. So far, spending 3 days on character 2 has netted me ONE piece of improved gear. We’ll see if there’s anything in the milestones that scale.]

And as I went to bed last night I was just really depressed. What a waste of a weekend. Why am I doing this? Why do I even need more power on my Destiny 2 character? To do the Raid? I’m NEVER going to do the raid. Jumping into a high-stress game event with a bunch of strangers, wearing a mic so they can shout at me about how much I suck is the exact OPPOSITE of fun.

I’m just desperately trying to find a reason to stretch out my time in Destiny 2. I got this far so I may as well finish the campaign on character 2 just to see if I get ‘unstuck’ but basically now I feel like I’m just wasting my time. I need either a new game to play, or maybe even better, a new hobby. I think I’m relying on gaming too much to eat up my leisure time. See also my post about getting the Platinum Trophy in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. I keep devoting huge chunks of time to doing things in games that wind up feeling unsatisfying and I’m not really having fun doing them. I know Bungie will increase the Power Cap and add more content eventually. I should just set the game aside until that happens.

One of the things I wished for from Destiny 2 was more things for solo players to do. My wish was granted, I just need to be better about making wishes. I should have wished for more things to do AND a good reason to do them.

You see, I’m kind of stuck in Destiny 2. I’m at power level 265 and I can’t seem to get any higher. Drops (aside from those rare exotic drops) seem to cap out at 260 for rare (blue) and 265 for legendary (purple). Rewards from NPCs also seem to cap at those levels.

The accepted way to push past 265 is by doing the weekly Milestones, but I’ve done those for the week. Or at least I’ve done the ones I’m comfortable doing. I have PvP ones I could do but PvP in Destiny makes me angry. Like, it enrages me and I carry that anger out of the game and have it with me for the rest of the day a lot of the time. Basically if my only option is PvP I’m better off not playing.

There’s also the Nightfall strike and I might be able to do that in another week. It’s a Strike with a time limit. Having a time limit makes me sloppy, and this week the strike is the Inverted Spire which has lots of laser beams to try to pass through and I just know I’d screw that up. Maybe next week.

So I was looking forward to Xur to come and sell me gear to get past 265, but ultimately I screwed that up. Everyone said the gun he was selling was great so I bought it without even looking at it…and it was a gun I was already using! LOL That one is definitely on me. I bought the exotic arms he was selling because I was wearing pretty low arms (260) but when I tried to infuse the 270 exotic arms into my 260 legendary arms, I was told the power level was too low. I don’t understand that one at all. I couldn’t use the new exotic arms because I was wearing an exotic helm that I really dug.

In desperation I decided to infuse my exotic 270 helm into a 265 legendary helm. That worked but it only pushed the legendary to 266, a net loss of 4 power. And the legendary helm sucks aesthetically. But now I’m wearing the exotic arms (270) and the legendary helm (266) but it wasn’t enough to push my overall power level past 265.

So my Xur experience was, spend all my shards, wind up with a duplicate rifle (my fault), a much uglier helm and no additional power to speak of. I haz a sad.

Circling back to my wish, though. There’s a TON of stuff to do on the maps as a solo player, and that’s good. There’s just not very much reason to do any of it, aside from the minute-to-minute fun of shooting something in the face/juicebox. I’ll get rewards that I’ll just deconstruct into glimmer (and I’m capped on glimmer) or shards. I guess I could stand to build up my shard reserves, not that I have much to do with them right now.

What I miss is the reputation grind, of all things. In D1 every time you turned something in to an NPC your reputation went up. At certain milestones you’d get a goody but you’d also gradually unlock the ability to buy better gear. In D2 you still turn in things to get that goody but when you do, the meter just resets. And the goody you get is junk if you’re at 265 already.

Basically there’s nothing for me to do in Destiny 2 this weekend. I just need to sit tight and wait for the reset on Tuesday and then do the milestones I can do, which takes a few hours. Or I guess I could start a new character but the campaign sucked so much I don’t really want to run through it again.

Maybe I’m done with Destiny 2 until Bungie adds more stuff to do, which I know they will eventually. I mean if I’d played a single player game for 10 days I’d feel satisfied, so it’s not like I feel the game owes me anything else. I’m just a little disappointed, I guess. All those Adventures and Hidden Sectors are out there ready to reward me with the equivalent of vendor trash. What a shame!

A couple of days ago I wrote a ‘damning with faint praise’ kind of post about Destiny 2, saying it was fine. At the time I was level 11 or 12 and working through the campaign.

I still haven’t finished the campaign but I’m pretty close to the end, and I have hit level 20. Along the way I have unlocked a lot of content-systems. For the most part I still feel like the campaign itself is “fine” but all the other stuff is pretty good and for me at least, more fun than the mostly predictable campaign missions.

Content-type spoilers incoming. I won’t spoil the story but I’m going to talk about systems that are missing early on and get added later.

So the open world areas of Destiny 2 feel kind of more constricting than those in Destiny 1. I’ve yet to find huge open areas like the Cosmodrome or Mars in Destiny 2. Titan in particular is narrow and confusing and I die more there to “mishap” (falling off the edge of things) than to enemies. I kind of miss the big areas of D1.

But in pretty much every other way, the open areas in D2 are better than D1 once you progress far enough to unlock stuff. There are the Adventures which are kind of side-missions. Early on there are only a couple of these per zone but more get added later. There are the Lost Sectors which are basically semi-hidden mini-dungeons that you can do. There are scattered loot chests laying around, and “high value targets” which also drop a chest of loot if you (and whomever else is in the area) take them down. Public events return but you can see in advance where they’re going to happen and so head there to be ready for them (and there is Fast Travel to get you near very quickly). I wish there were more of these in terms of variety (frequency is fine but doing the same few events over and over gets old) but I’m betting we’ll see more added over time.

Patrols are missing in Destiny 2 until you get pretty far into the campaign. Then you get a mission like you had on the Dreadnaught in The Taken King to re-establish the patrol network. Once you do that patrols are back.

Bounties seem to be gone for good, but Challenges have been added. Challenges are pretty similar to bounties except you don’t have to go to an NPC to get them. When you land in an open world zone you’ll get 3 Challenges to work on. Stuff like “Kill X of enemy species Y” or “Find a lost sector in area X” So they feel a lot like bounties. You get a little reward for each one and a bigger reward (that you have to return to the Farm for) if you do all three.

Anyway, the point is that I still feel like the campaign is pretty “meh” but just running around doing stuff to earn loot feels a lot more diverse than it did in Destiny 1.

I’m SLOWLY coming around on the gun system. I’ve just kind of accepted that I’ll probably never use a sniper rifle or shotgun in D2. Kind of a bummer but oh well.

I STILL haven’t done a strike, though I have them unlocked. And after you get to a certain point in the campaign you have a lot more reasons to head back to the Farm so it no longer feels as deserted as it did on that first day.

If you hated Destiny 1 this isn’t going to sway you and I’m still not totally blown away but I’m liking it more than I was a few days ago.

TLDR review of Destiny 2: If you loved Destiny 1 right up until the very end, you’ll probably love Destiny 2 as well. If, like me, you eventually grew bored of Destiny, there’s not much here to erase that stale feeling. It all feels very familiar.

I got to level 11 and visited all 4 of the new environments, so clearly this isn’t a thorough review: keep that in mind.

You start at power level 100 but get cut back to 10 which is why my level 1 guys are the most powerful here

Basically Destiny 2 is Destiny 1 with new maps/story. They gave us 4 new locations to play in but took away the old 4. The same enemies return though here and there you’ll encounter a new type within a species, but it’s nothing earth shattering. For instance the Vex have a new unit called Fanatic who explode when shot. They’re basically Corrupted Thralls for the Vex.

The story starts out really strong and impactful but that quickly fizzles into a series of “Go here and flip that switch…oh wait, now there’s another switch.. oops and one more.” quests. Lots of pseudo-platforming. Environments that feel very familiar. Encounters that do too. So when you’re facing the Hive at some point there WILL be a wave of thrall screaming and running at you.

The big game play change is in the guns. Now your primary and secondary slots hold the same styles of guns, except primary is for purely ballistic weapons and secondary is for guns with elemental effects. So depending on drops (at the start before you really have much choice) you might be rolling with a ballistic auto-rifle as a primary and an auto-rifle with fire damage as a secondary. It’s kind of dull, IMO. Elemental effects do seem enhanced. If you match the element of your round with the element of an enemy’s shields you’ll tear those shields down really quickly.

But that means sniper rifles, grenade launches, shotguns and swords all go in the “special” slot and have very limited ammo. As someone who enjoys using a sniper rifle while heading to an objective and switching to a shotgun when I get there, this sucks. Switching loses the ammo in the gun and there’s not much to begin with.

On the other hand I feel like they improved beta issues with grenades being under-powered and special ability cool-downs being too long.

And the open world areas do have a lot more to do in them and I found them more interesting and fun than the Story Missions. This is fine since in the long run you’ll probably spend more time in the open world than re-running story missions.

I haven’t done any strikes yet; I’m sure they’re still fun but for the most part I play Destiny solo.

I’m the one guy who misses having to take Engrams back to the Cryptarch. I never had a reason to visit “the Farm” (the new social area) in my time playing and when I was there, only a handful of players were hanging around. There’s no reason to go there now.

For me, the minute-to-minute experience of fighting the same Fallen, Hive, Vex, Cabal and Taken enemies that I fought for years in Destiny 1 just doesn’t feel that exciting. I wish they’d given us a new race to fight. Maybe they did and I just haven’t gotten to it, but I don’t think so. I don’t have buyer’s remorse or anything, but I put Destiny 2 down because I’d had enough of it for now. It was fine. Nothing all that special for me.

Over the long weekend I spent a lot of time playing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate even though I’d “finished” it a while ago. In particular yesterday I played all day, and I mean that as close to literally as I’ll ever get. I walked the dog twice (because canine biology says that’s not optional) and broke for meals with Angela, but otherwise played AC Syndicate from about 9 am to 11:30 PM. No social media, no surfing the web aside from getting some help on a couple of sticking points in the game. No checking emails or my phone. Just playing.

First I earned the Platinum trophy for the main game. I’d done most of that before yesterday and had just one super-grindy trophy to get (“Without a Grudge” which tasks you with smashing through 5000 objects while driving a cart). I’d been driving on the sidewalks through most of the game because of this trophy and it still took me an hour of driving around the same block (this track) filled with street vendors to get it to pop. That was a dumb trophy that detracted from the game because it forced you to act like a maniac, running down hundreds of innocent people. Exactly the opposite of how an Assassin is supposed to behave (according to the titular Creed).

Once I was done…I wasn’t done. For some reason I wanted more so I started up the Jack The Ripper DLC. Actually glad I played that as it was pretty good. Playing through the Ripper storyline was fairly quick and when I was done I only had a few trophies left to get so figured I’d try for them. And once again, one particular trophy was a serious grind. Ripperologist tasks you with getting 100% sync. In the main game there was a similar trophy but there the 100% only applied to the main story missions. I assumed the same was true here but nope, here it means everything. Full completion on the main story missions, all the side activities and get all the collectibles. Normally I would have bailed at that point but by the time I discovered this it was the last trophy I needed. So I spent another 4-5 hours doing all the side missions I’d skipped (some of which were fun, some I had skipped because they weren’t fun) and then running all over the game getting collectibles I hadn’t bothered with since they didn’t matter in the main game (not fun). And finally I got that last trophy and felt…pretty much nothing.

Actually I felt conflicted. On the one hand, for my whole life I’ve struggled with sticking with things. I get an idea, jump in and immerse myself but then get a new idea and tear off after it. This particular character flaw is why, when I’d dead, I’ll leave nothing behind. When I was young I wanted to be a novelist and fully believe I had the talent for it (a talent which his atrophied considerably since then), but I never stuck with it. I never had the required devotion to the skill. I also probably could have made a lot of money in the dot-com bubble if I’d had more ambition and stick-to-it-ive-ness. I was in the right place at the right time with the right skill set. But nope, didn’t have the drive/ambition/focus to take advantage of it. In both cases I let myself get distracted constantly and never realized my full potential in either field.

This has applied to my gaming as well. Before the last few years it was very rare that I would finish a game. I’m finally getting better about that; if a game is decent I try hard to finish it. Getting 100% of the trophies on the main game and the DLC is kind of one step beyond finishing the game and something I’ve never done before, so from that point of view I’m proud of myself. I stuck with it, didn’t let myself get distracted, and hit my goal even when my mind was throwing suggestions of other, potentially more interesting things I could be doing.

But on the other hand, I spent an entire day doing this and what do I have to show for it? A number somewhere clicked up a notch. So what? I could’ve done a lot of different things with that day. I could have actually been productive and cleaned the house or built a spaceship or something, but even lowering my sights from that, I could have played something else. Experienced some other virtual world. I think that would have been more fulfilling then running around London opening chests to get currency I no longer needed.

So I don’t think I’m cut out to be a trophy hunter. I have a love/hate relationship with Trophies/Achievements anyway. It’s cool to have goals beyond the storyline if you want to wring as much playtime out of a game as you can, and it’s fun to look at your friends’ trophies to get an idea of how far they’ve gotten in a game. On the less cool side, I kind of feel like the gaming industry has re-programmed me. If I’m not earning ‘gamerscore’ now I have this vague feeling that I’m wasting my time. I HATE that, but there ya have it. For example there’s still more content in the AC Syndicate main game. Side activities built around Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and a young Arthur Conan Doyle. But even though I LOVED AC Syndicate, I never did those side quests because they didn’t impact trophies. I could have been playing those (and no doubt having fun) instead of opening stupid chests.

And after ALL of that has been said, when I finally shut down the game after all that grinding, my last thought was “I’m going to miss this world.” So make of that what you will. LOL

Even though I now live in the south where summer starts in March and ends sometime after Christmas, I grew up using Labor Day as my end of summer marker (helps that I lived in a resort town and all the summer residents went back to wherever they came from on Labor Day). So some part of me has decided that fall is here.

I touched on how it’s going to be a weird ‘holiday season’ in my last post, but I’m just in the mood for blogging and don’t have any one thing to focus on so I figured I’d just spew out a “What I’m playing” post. I mean, Destiny 2 comes out next week and that MIGHT consume me (and I might meet it with a giant “meh”, I really don’t know) but there’s a long weekend between now and then.

So here’s what’s going on in my gaming world.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate — I’m still playing this even though I finished it a while back. I’m slowly working towards the “Get 100% sync on all story missions” trophy. If I can get that I can probably try for a Platinum. If you haven’t played AC, story missions generally have a main goal and two optional side-tasks/challenges. You can move the story forward by completing the main goal. That will give you 80% sync for that mission. Doing the optional tasks each add 10% to your sync. So to get 100% sync for all the story missions you just have to do all the optional tasks.

So far they’re not too hard during a 2nd play-through since my characters are so mighty compared to the enemies they face. Unless stealth is a requirement I can just stride in and kill everyone and then do whatever needs doing, usually. The ‘remain undetected’ tasks are harder. So we’ll see. I try to get up to 100% on one mission each day. If I try to grind them out I just get bored/impatient and start screwing up.

Next up is Everybody’s Golf, which I picked up due to lots of enthusiasm on /r/ps4 and the fact that I had a $50 PSN gift card burning a hole in my pocket. This is the latest in the Hot Shots Golf series, only now they’re calling it what it has always been called in Japan: Everybody’s Golf. So far, it’s a hoot. It uses the traditional 3-click golf swing system and, aside from the initial loading of the course, plays really quickly. As you play you unlock all sorts of character customization options. So far I’ve only played single player because I’m trying to unlock courses. Looking forward to the online mode which sounds wonderfully chaotic. You don’t teleport from hole to hole, you have to run. Along the way you can find items or even go fishing. Why? Who knows? It’s just a feel-good, fun kind of game.

But at the end of the day it IS a golf game and so it isn’t something I play for hours at a time. I jump in, do a tournament or two, and move on. I can feel my attention start to drift the longer I play and my shots get worse and worse. So not a “main game” but still fun and it was only $40 so I’m good with it. Also I spend way too much time messing around in the character creator:

I’ve always liked the idea of Monster Hunter games but have never really gotten into any of them. With Monster Hunter World coming out in 2018 I wanted to get some familiarity with the style of game. Last summer (summer 2016) for some reason I bought God Eater 2 Rage Burst for the PS4 and it came with a free copy of God Eater Resurrection. So I’m trying to come to grips with GER. There’re so many odd systems to learn and the controls are I guess deliberately bad? Is that how it works in Monster Hunter-style games? Y’know what’s hard? Moving the camera with the right stick (in order to aim) and then using the face buttons to fire. So you can aim or fire, but not both at the same time. Who thought this was a good idea?

I do like GER because there’s a story to it, and I love a story in my games. I’m not very far into it though. Doing Difficulty 2 Missions. Trying to figure out how to play beyond the ‘button mashing’ phase. Keeping the theme alive, I can only do 2 or 3 hunts before my attention starts to drift.

So after juggling 3 games that I’m playing a little of each night, I wanted something more narratively meaty to sink my teeth into. At the same time I was reading about this weird Assassin’s Creed/Final Fantasy XV cross-over and that it was time limited. I bought FF XV at launch and put about 15 hours into it before I stopped. My recollection was that I stopped after learning of all the patches/content that were coming to it, but I can’t be sure. I decided to give it another go. Last night I just had time to do the tutorials again, and start a new game. Now I need to decide if I should go back and pick up my 15-hours-in save, or just keep going with the new game. I think I’ll probably do that latter just because I have no recollection of the story. Mostly I remember Cindy’s boobs.

When I bought FFXV I sprung for the season pass and at some point they gave season pass holders a ring that gives the team protection from friendly-magic-fire. I feel that is going to be a game-changer. I never used magic when I was playing because my pals would always rush in after the mobs and I couldn’t hit the baddies without also hitting my allies. So I just never bothered. With this ring I should be able to toss spells around a lot more casually which I think will make the game a lot more fun. So we’ll see.

So yeah, juggling 4 games. I guess that’ll fill up my weekend. We’ll see how many of them gets pushed aside by Destiny 2 next Wednesday.

[I originally had this post scheduled for lunchtime on August 23rd but for some reason it never posted. So I’m posting it now!]

Yesterday [accurate when this was supposed to post!] Uncharted: The Lost Legacy launched. For some reason my brain has decided that means the “holiday season” has arrived when it comes to big game releases. Given that, I sat down to plan out my autumn and y’know what? There’s really not that much to plan. Plus even the games I’m interested in I probably won’t get on release day.

I do have Destiny 2 for the PS4 pre-ordered and that comes out on September 6th, and I pre-ordered the Horizon Zero Dawn expansion that comes out in November I think. Between these two the only AAA games I can think of that I’m really hyped for are Middle Earth: Shadow of War (October 10th) and Assassin’s Creed Origins (October 27th).

I know there are other games coming but I just don’t get excited about the latest Call of Duty. Star Wars Battlefront 2 is a maybe and I might get some more niche titles like .hack//G.U. Last Recode, but generally at this point in the season I’m thinking “How will I have time to play all these games?” and this year that just isn’t the case.

I don’t mean this in a ‘doom and gloom” way, just in a “what a strange season” way. Early 2018 seems PACKED with releases and that’s when I’m going to have to be really choosy and only purchase what I have time to play.

Compounding the weirdness is that I pre-ordered an Xbox One X which comes out on November 7th. I won’t buy Mordor or Origins until I see how they run on the Xbox X vs the PS4 Pro. I’m generally a Sony fanboy and I really feel comfortable on the PS4 in terms of the OS and sharing and the controllers and all that, but if these games run better on the XBX I’m going to get them over there. And they SHOULD run better but you never know, right?

Additionally there are some older Xbox games that I’ve deliberately held off on in anticipation of the XBX. When the 4K patches for Forza Horizon 3 and Gears of War 4 hit, I might be playing them. Maybe they’ll be my big “holiday 2017” games and I can pick up Mordor and Origins during a Black Friday sale or something.

While plenty of folks have commented on the lack of exclusives on the Xbox One, Sony has had a banner year for great exclusives on the PS4, but they’ve been spaced out over the entire 12 months rather than all being packed into the 4th quarter. Really I think this is a good thing and maybe how it should be. It’s just going to take a bit of a mental adjustment if this is how things are from now on. Or maybe this year is just an anomaly. I guess we’ll see.

PS: If you’re a fan of Uncharted, don’t miss The Lost Legacy; it’s really good so far even without Nathan Drake!

This afternoon I finished up the storyline of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. I was a little confused and baffled by the fact there were no ending credits, but after a while of looking for the next ‘story’ mission, I checked google and this seems to be the way it goes.

As is typical of AC games, my “Total Synchronization” is nowhere near 100% (it’s 59%) and there’s a lot of stuff I can do if I feel like I want to keep playing. Chase Trophies or whatnot. I might do a little more, it’s a pretty good game.

This time out we’re in Victorian England playing as Evie and Jacob Frye, twin assassins. If you played Black Flag, you know how it was kind of a pirate game and an assassin game stuck together? Same kind of thing here only Evie is the assassin and Jacob is the fighter. I mean both characters can fill both roles but each of them has a few unique skills that make them better at one thing or the other.

During open world stuff you can play as either one, but the story missions force you to play one character or the other (understandable). Evie is looking for a Piece of Eden while Jacob just wants to take over the gangs on London to weaken the Templar hold on the city. Each sibling kind of thinks the other is doing it wrong.

It’s one of my favorite AC games. I think I still like Black Flag the most, and AC2 was I think objectively a ‘better’ game but I liked this one more than AC2. Part of it is the setting, part of it the characters (Evie in particular I really liked and I played her whenever possible) and part of it (yes I’m shallow) the graphics.

The weird issues where you stick to things (due to the sometimes wonky climbing system) are still here but not as bad as they are in some AC games, and early on you get a grappling hook so you can ascend buildings really quickly and grapple between rooftops. In general I felt like I spent less time climbing around than I have in other AC games, and that was fine with me.

My biggest complaint is they’ve taken away non-lethal combat methods. If you sneak up behind someone you can knock them out, but once in combat you have to either kill your opponent, or flee. Considering there are times when you’re sneaking around places filled with ‘good guy’ guards, it’s kind of frustrating. In the end I just gave up and killed innocent guards just to get through the missions. If I could’ve at least attempted some bare fisted combat against them I think it would’ve made the game better, but there’s no way to unequip your weapon and fight non-lethally.

On the other hand, the GTA-esque sequences where you’re driving a horse and carriage were a complete hoot. Really fun, and a new thing for AC games. Side missions come from characters like Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and a very young Arthur Conan Doyle. There’s a good variety of side missions should you choose to do them but I didn’t feel pressured to do many of them.

Once again you never leave the Animus/Helix though there are some cut scenes showing what Rebecca, Shawn and Bishop are up to. (And of course they end in a cliff-hanger.)

there’s a good deal of RPG-ness to this one, too. You level up, gain and spend skill points, spend money and resources to craft gear and to get better control of the city and you have a selection of gear slots to fill with a pretty good stream of new goodies. I always enjoy that stuff.

Anyway, so that’s that. I’ve now played all the major AC games to completion except for the original Assassin’s Creed (which, long ago, I opted to experience via watching all the cut scenes on YouTube). And in fact played them all this year! In order I played Black Flag, AC 2, AC Brotherhood, AC Revelations, AC 3, AC Rogue, AC Unity and AC Syndicate. I guess I’m a fan.

Still curious about Origins. I wonder if they’re going to cut out the animus stuff completely? I guess Origins is about the Egyptian Magi forming the first brotherhood of assassins. I’m looking forward to it but still a little worried about how much of reboot it’ll be.

[UPDATE] After posting this I fired up the game to putter around some more. There’s a “rift” that opens somewhere around chapter 6; I ignored it until I was finished the game. It leads to a World War 1 level where you get play as Lydia Frye, the grand-daughter (I guess? The main game takes place in 1868 so you do the math) who is working with a young Winston Churchill. It’s a fun section of the game but it also is the only time in this game you learn more about the Isu (or precursors, if you prefer). So if you’re into the mythos of AC, e sure to play this section!