We had a little bit of a shakeup happen this month at Dragonchasers. My Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription ended as of October 28th.
So first of all, why did I let this happen? Mostly it had to do with Playstation Plus Premium. When Sony rolled out their new ‘subscription service’ tiers for Playstation Plus, I wanted to try them but I had banked about a year of old-school PS+ time via sales and so forth. I had to convert this time to Playstation Plus Premium which cost me around $60, but it set me up with PS+P until next July.
It turns out that having TWO “play all you want” subscriptions feels kind of wasteful. I only have so many hours to play games, right? And since PS+ was paid for, it seemed to make the most sense to let Xbox Game Pass lapse, at least to see how that felt. I knew I might get too much FOMO from this but I figured, if nothing else Black Friday is coming so maybe I could get a good deal on it if I took a break even for a month.
All that said, for me Xbox Game Pass is a far better value than PS+ Extra or PS+ Premium. Microsoft regularly adds new games to the library, and I mean new both in terms of “new to Game Pass” and “newly released”. Sony, so far at least, adds games once a month and they are predominantly older titles. There’ve been 1 or 2 exceptions like Stray, but for example in October these were the games added to Playstation+ Extra:
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City — The Definitive Edition
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age — Definitive Edition
Dragon Quest Builders
Dragon Quest Builders 2
Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below
Dragon Quest Heroes 2: Explorer’s Edition
Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker
The Medium (PS5)
So one additional new-ish PS5 game (The Medium is fairly new to PS5 though was on Game Pass long ago) and one new-ish (Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker launched at the end of August) PS4 game, then a bunch of older titles from last generation.
In the same month Microsoft added Scorn, A Plague Tail: Requiem, Ghostbusters Spirits Unleashed & Medieval Dynasty to Game Pass, all of which are new games. (This is not all they added, just the new titles I can think of off-hand.)
In spite of all this, the optimistic plan was to run with PS+ Premium until it expired then go back to Game Pass.
In the end, it took me less than 24 hours to resubscribe to Game Pass. A lot of this is because I forgot that without Xbox Live Gold I couldn’t play Elder Scrolls Online (which, tho I never mention it in these recaps, is a game I play pretty consistently at a low level). So I needed Gold anyway, and once you have Gold you can upgrade to Game Pass Ultimate for $15, no matter how much Gold you have banked. So I bought a 1 year Gold subscription from Amazon for $60, then I bought seven 3-month Gold subscriptions using MS Rewards points. That left me with Xbox Live Gold until July 2025! Then I bought a 1-month Game Pass Ultimate subscription (also with MS Rewards points) which converted all that Gold time to GPU time. End result, I now have Game Pass Ultimate through August 2025 and I spent $60 out of pocket (plus a lot of time spent idly clicking on things with my coffee every morning in order to earn MS Rewards points.)
Pretty good deal.
Anyway on to the recap.
Last Month’s Games
Genshin Impact took up a good chunk of my October before I finally bounced off it. Overall I played this game nearly exclusively for about 8 weeks. The first 6 weeks were SO much fun as I sat alone in the corner with my PS5, noodling around in the world of Teyvat doing whatever seemed fun at the time. Then I started getting drawn into conversations about the game and the ‘right’ way to play, while at about the same time I decided I was going to try to max out the monthly Battle Pass. Net result: instead of wandering around the world having fun, I was logging in, doing my daily commissions then focusing on most efficiently burning through my daily resin allotment in such a way as to max out my progress both of my characters and of the Battle Pass. It didn’t take long for this to begin to feel like a total chore and for me to start playing GI just as a daily commitment I wanted to get out of the way as quickly as possible. Once I hit the end of the Battle Pass I was done. So I’m setting Genshin Impact aside for a while. I hope someday to come back to it and play it for fun again because I was having an utterly lovely time before I decided to “git gud.” (I dunno why I do this to myself but I do it often.)
Spiritfarer I am still playing, barely. One or two sessions all month. I would still like to get back to it so I don’t want to let it go. We’ll see what happens; I might have to let this one go next month if I don’t re-engage more significantly.
Yakuza 0 is a Game Pass game so I dropped it once I’d accepted that I was going to let my sub run out. Now that I reversed that decision, I have to decide if I want to bring it back into rotation.
Destiny 2 has fallen by the wayside. Not for any particular reason. I think Genshin just pushed a lot of games out of my limited brain capacity and Destiny 2 was one of them.
Cyberpunk 2077 never really got going but I did purchase it so I might get back to it. I’m on the fence with it. I think I just need to decide to devote 4-5 hours to really getting going into it so I get to the good stuff.
New Games This Month
Beacon Pines is a strange little game that is part choose-your-own-adventure story and part point & click adventure. The game is framed as a story book and at certain times a page of text will come up that describe decision points. You have to fill in a blank, Mad-Libs style, but you can only choose words that you’ve collected via exploring. The twist is that at any time you can (and I think, will have to) ‘rewind’ the story to an earlier decision point and try something new. Frequently by this time you’ll have found new words (eg new choices to try).
Might be a case where a picture is worth 1000 words…
It’s a very chill game (honestly, the challenge level is quite low), though also kind of creepy at times. I found the story to be really enjoyable, and at around 5-6 hours it’s the kind of game you can easily play through in a weekend. I think I finished it in 3 sessions over the course of the month. Recommended.
Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below is something I bought back in 2015 and never really played. When I saw it and its sequel were coming to PS+ Extra I decided to dust it off and give it another go to see if I maybe wanted to play the sequel. I put about 18 hours into it playing it seriously, but then I started to get a little bored. It is predominantly a musou game (think Dynasty Warriors or Sauron in the flashback battle at the start of Fellowship… it is you against dozens or hundreds of enemies, but each swing sends 10 or 20 baddies flying) with a bit of tower defense in the form of placing ‘tamed’ enemies to defend areas.
It is fun, but musou isn’t a favorite genre for me and after a while I needed a break and I thought I was done with it. A few days later I was back. So now I’m playing a level or two (which is like 15-30 minutes) every other day or so. That feels like a sweet spot for me and this genre.
Here’s 5 minutes of random combat. Don’t watch it all, you’ll get bored. But this shows the kind of game it is. All the combat feels pretty much like this!
The story, such that it is, feels really shallow. The side quests are super-low effort, along the lines of “go replay earlier areas until you kill 75 of enemy X” with zero narrative hanging off them. There are a ton of characters so if you love just grinding through enemies in this type of game you might really like it. There’s also some real QOL issues. Lots of talking to NPCs that should just be menu items. Some dialogs that you can’t manually advance through and just have to wait for the game to decide you’re done reading them. Things like that. Good reasons to quit playing. And yet… I keep going back.
Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris is another game I bought a long time ago. At launch it had a ton of technical issues so I just set it aside. Genshin Impact had me in an anime mood so I decided to give it another go. So far, not loving it. The first 10-15 hours are just clicking through dialogs and cut scenes which re-tell the anime. Every so often you’ll fight an enemy. At one point I went 2 hours trying to get to where I could make a hard save but it was just cut-scene, dialog, cut-scene, dialog with no opportunity to get to a save point. TWO HOURS.
Once the game finally “opened up” I was so sour on it I didn’t care any more, and I’m having a lot of trouble understanding the combat system (there were some tutorials but they were so long ago I’ve forgotten what they said) although so far button mashing has worked fine. I think there are far better RPGs out there to play, so this one is going back into the backlog.
This month there was all kinds of fuss made about Fallout having an anniversary so that somehow translated to me booting up Fallout 3 again. I’ve never finished it, and for once I resisted the urge to start over, so I’m level 7 or so, wandering the wasteland shooting stuff in the face and selling everything I can carry. The game runs really well (as you’d expect) on the Xbox. It’s not something I can spent 3 hours playing, but it’s a fun game to just dip into here and there. Maybe I’ll actually finish it someday. Not that I can remember what my goals are!
She-Hulk ended up being really good after a somewhat slow start (for me). Mind you if you’re very serious about your Marvel content you might take exception to the more light-hearted tone (and 4th wall breaking) in the series, but I found it an absolute delight.
Sticking with the House of the Mouse, Andor is also really good, only here my caution is exactly the opposite. If you enjoy Star Wars because it is generally fairly ‘light’ then Andor might be a bit gritty for your tastes. But hey, it has the first Star Wars booty call that I am aware of.
I almost gave up on House of the Dragon after the first few episodes but I’m glad I didn’t. About half-way through, there’s a time jump (and some of the actors are replaced since the characters have aged) and at that point the series gets really good. There’s a bit less of the gratuitous and over-the-top violence and the story gets much more interesting. It is still for the most part a political drama though. If you’re tuning in primarily for lots of sword fights and dragon flame, you might be disappointed. I can’t wait for season 2. Someone please confirm we’re getting a season 2!!
Sadly Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power never really found its stride for me. I liked it, but I didn’t love it, and writing the recap of it now, a few weeks after the last episode, honestly I can hardly remember it. I do kind of feel like a more binge-ish re-watch might help me to get more out of it. We watched 2 episodes at a time with 2 weeks between each session, which probably did the show no favors.
Tales from the Explorer’s Club (Discovery) is a ‘light’ documentary show talking about the real-life adventures of members of The Explorer’s Club, an organization that’s been around for over 100 years. It’s hosted by Josh Gates who we’ve watched since he came on the scene with a silly cryptid/paranormal show on SyFy called Destination Truth. These days he deals with topics closer to reality, like some of the first polar explorations or exploring the depths of the ocean. This one was quite a surprise and we enjoyed it a lot. Sadly there are only 6 episodes.
Star Trek: The Lower Decks was amazing. It is always amazing. It’s renewed for another season too, which is also amazing!
Star Trek Voyager is really kind of dumb. I’d forgotten how dumb it is and how many huge plot holes there are in it. It is getting a little better now that we’re into season 3, but seasons 1 & 2 were like “Waaa?” constantly
OMG I finished a book. Cibola Burn is the storyline that takes place on Ilus, which I thought was a great season of the show, and the book was pretty great too. Now I’ve started Nemesis Games. I didn’t like that season of the show too much so we’ll see if I find the book more interesting.
So that’s October and good lord, I need to start doing mid-month recaps or something. This is way way too long!