June 2024

Another mostly empty monthly recap, just for the sake of keeping the habit alive.


Fallout 76, pretty much exclusively. My new character is now level 220-225 (at these levels I kind of don’t pay a ton of attention) and I’ve got the Season Scoreboard thing (which started on June 12th), to about level 80. The way the seasons work is there is a new page of rewards every 5-10 levels up to 100, then there’s nothing new until level 150. Once you get to level 150 there are rewards you can claim over and over, and one of them is Perk Points which are my bottleneck. So I’m pushing to get as many of those as I can. Up to level 100 there is a repeatable “task” that fires every 10,000 experience points, so you can really ‘grind’ the Season Scoreboard up to 100. But after 100 there’s just a fixed number of points you can acquire each week. That’s why I’m rushing these first 100 levels…to have as much time left as possible to get to 150 and beyond (we don’t know when the season ends but I’m assuming sometime in September).

That said, my obsession with Fallout 76 is starting to falter a little, at least to the point where I’m ready for some variety. I’m planning on jumping into The First Descendant on July 2nd, but until then I’ve been back to dabbling in Diablo IV. I still haven’t completed the campaign so I’m doing that on the Eternal Realm. The idea is I’ll be ready to just jump in with a new character when the next season starts, but we’ll see. I’m not actually a huge fan of the ‘roll a new character every season’ system when seasons run constantly just because I never have time (not literally of course) to play my ‘old’ characters.


Sweet Tooth Final Season (Netflix) – We wound up really enjoying this show. It’s a weird one. From the thumbnail of a young boy with deer antlers, and the name of the show, you might think you’re in for some kind of Disney-esque story. Nope. Very much nope. This is a tale of an apocalypse. A plague is killing all the humans and at the same time, babies are being born which are animal/human hybrids. You can imagine how welcoming most humans are towards them. So it’s actually an often grim tale, and the ending will be either good or bad depending on your point of view. But since the writers knew this was the final season, it DOES get a proper ending, which seems so rare these days.

Night Sky (Amazon Prime) – I haven’t seen this one talked about very much. We liked it, but didn’t love it. Still it felt unique enough to be worth watching. It stars Sissy Spacek and JK Simmons as an elderly couple who just happen to have a portal to another world in the basement of their shed. They’ve kept this a secret all their lives, but now in their twilight years everything starts to change. I don’t want to say too much beyond that, but I’d suggest giving it a shot.

3 Body Problem (Netflix) – Another mind-bendy show that I don’t want to say too much about because discovery is half the fun. If the title means nothing to you (it didn’t to me) it’s a physics problem about predicting orbits in a trinary star system. Or at least that’s what I made of it all. One of the superficial things I liked about this show is that it is about very smart people who aren’t awkward nerds; I’m glad that stereotype was left behind for this one. Another show I would recommend, though I really hope we get another season.

Dark Matter (Apple TV+) – Yes, more sci-fi! I haven’t finished this one yet, but it’s about traveling to parallel universes. I first skipped this one because it sounded like it’d be too similar to Constellation (also on Apple TV+) but it isn’t. This is kind of a sci-fi mystery. So far I’m liking it but again, haven’t finished so can’t be completely sure about this one yet.

Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead (Crunchyroll) – Another one I haven’t finished yet, but that I’m enjoying so far. What happens if you are an office worker in an exploitative company, and you can barely force yourself to go to the office each morning… and then a zombie apocalypse breaks out. Well in this case, you get ecstatic because it means no more work! Akira kind of accepts that sooner or later the zombies will get him, but to maximize his time until that happens, he creates a bucket list of things to do while he’s still human. This show somehow manages to stay upbeat and fun even when so many people Akira meets end up getting eaten. I’m not sure how that works, but it does. I think it helps that the zombies tend to be covered with blotches of bright primary colors (that are never explained) which gives the whole art style an oddly happy tone for a zombie show. Pretty fun so far.


– Nothing. Stupid hot weather means my “sit under a tree and read while Lola lounges in the grass” time isn’t happening, and that’s when I’ve been doing most of my reading lately.

And that’s June. Hoping the July recap will have more than 1 or 2 games in it. Until then, try to stay cool and don’t think too much about that incoming electricity bill (ours is already double what it is in winter and it’ll just go up more for July and August).


Legendary SPECIAL Perks for Newbies – Tales From the Fallout 76 Wasteland

I’m still playing Fallout 76, pretty much exclusively. We’re coming up on another short monthly recap, folks!

My new character, created shortly after the TV series ended, hit level 200 last night. That’s actually slow progress compared to most Wastelanders but I’ve just accepted that I’m a slow, methodical gamer and there’s no upside to comparing myself to others. Level 200 sounds crazy high given that the level cap at launch was, iirc, 50. But I’ve seen plenty of characters with 4 digit level numbers.

The old hands consider levels 1-50 like some kind of long tutorial and generally consider you a newbie until level 100. Level 100, by the way, seems to be the level cap for mobs, excepting a very few bosses that are maybe 110?  But gear maxes out at level 50. So think about that. At level 50 you stop getting attribute increases (S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points in Fallout terms — you’ll have a total of 56 at level 50) and stop getting higher level gear. And now you have to go fight a level 100 super mutant. At level 50 I could not imagine how I’d ever get strong enough to fight level 100 mobs. At level 200 I take out a level 100 super mutant with 3 or 4 rounds from my rifle.

Mind you, I’m talking bog standard level 100 super mutants but still…

So how does that work? How do you get stronger after level 50? Well it’s kind of a combination of your build, your gear, mutations, food and chem buffs, and legendary perks. That’s a lot, and I’m no pro, nor do I want to write a 10,000 word post no one will read, so today let’s just talk about the Legendary Perk system.

Legendary Perks

Legendary Perk interface from Fallout 76
Here’rs part of my level 200 character’s Legendary Perks interface

Legendary Perks are a special kind of Perk Card that you put in Legendary Perk Slots. You don’t have to go find Legendary Perks cards; you get them all as soon as your character is ‘born.’ But you don’t get your first slot to put them in until level 50. Then you unlock additional Legendary Perk slots at (going from memory here) levels 75, 100, 150, 200 and I think the last one is at level 300. So by level 300 you can slot 6 Legendary Perks.

In all there are 26 Legendary Perk Cards, and there is a list of them over at the Fallout 76 Wiki. I won’t claim to know off-hand what they all do, but specifically there are 7 that add to your SPECIAL values, one for each attribute. This is, as far as I know, the only way to get more SPECIAL points beyond the 56 you have at level 50.  Each SPECIAL attribute maxes out at 15 (well there’s some nuance there but we’ll leave that for another day) so if you’re running a build that already has the Strength attribute maxed at 15 and you slot the Legendary Strength Legendary Perk card, you can now reduce your Strength attribute to 14 and use that extra point on another attribute. The Legendary Strength Perk will keep your strength at 15.

Legendary Perks can be ranked up 4 times, and the SPECIAL cards add +1, +2, +3, and finally +5 to the relevant SPECIAL attribute as you rank it up (values not cumulative, unfortunately). That means if you use all 6 of your Legendary Perk slots on Legendary Special perks, and rank them up to max, you’ll have another 30 SPECIAL points. That’s going to take you a while to hit though. Step 1, you have to get to level 300 to unlock all the slots. Step 2, though…

And Now, Some Possibly Correct Math

Then the real work begins: ranking up those Legendary SPECIAL cards. You do that via Perk Points. OK so where do Perk Points come from? Perk Points come from scrapping Perk Cards. You choose 1 Perk Card per/level, and if the level is divisible by 5, you get a “Perk Pack” of 4 random cards. Every card scrapped gives you 2 points/card level. If you scrap every card you get, you’ll get 18 Perk Points/5 levels which works out to 3.6 Perk Points/level.  Your level 1 Legendary Perk cards are free, as mentioned. Then it take 50 Perk Points to rank them to level 2, 100 to rank them to level 3, and 150 to rank them to level 4. That IS cumulative, so it takes 300 Perk Points to max out a card. So that’s about 83 levels. 83.33 exactly, and there are 6 of them, so by level 500, you’ll have them all maxed. Of course it’ll really be more than that because you’re going to want to USE many of your Perk Cards. Non-legendary Perk Cards are ranked up by combining duplicates and have a max rank of anywhere from 1 to 5.

Anyway I’m going down a silly math rabbit hole. Point is, it takes a lot of levels to max everything. But wait, there IS a shortcut! Fallout Seasons! I’m only now enjoying my second Season so I can’t speak with authority on this, but in both seasons I’ve experienced there have been bundles of Perk Points given as part of the Season Rewards. This season there is a repeatable 25 Perk Point bundle (the equivalent of 8-9 levels worth of scrapped Perk Cards) at level 150. THAT is the golden goose of leveling up Legendary Perk Cards and that is my goal this season.

By the way a couple of other Legendary Perk cards that can be very useful early on are Master Infiltrator which, for 1 Legendary slot, gives you a 3 ranking in hacking and lockpicking. That frees up 6 slots in your build if you’re lazy like me and don’t want to swap out cards every time you need to unlock or hack something. Second is Ammo Factory; great if you’re someone who crafts their own ammo and who is always running short. At level 1 it gives you an extra 50% of ammo when you craft, and if you rank it up to 4, an extra 150%.

Oh, one last thing about Legendary Slots; they are account-wide. So if you have them all unlocked and then roll a level 1 alt, they will come out with all 6 slots ready to be filled. They’ll have to rank up their own Legendary Perks, but at level 1 (or even 20, since you can now start at 20) having an extra +1 for each SPECIAL attribute would be really handy.

Back to my journey, I started with Master Infiltrator then did Intelligence and Luck since those are both always handy (currently every point of Int = +3% experience) and then added Strength and Agility just because. I still need to do a lot of ranking up, though! At level 300 I’ll probably add Perception.

OK that was a lot about Legendary Perks, but at least I scratched the writing itch I was having!

I am still very new to the game, so if you are an old pro and I got anything wrong, please let me know in the comments and I’ll make corrections where needed!

May 2024

Well this will for-sure be the shortest recap post I’ve ever had. Why? Because I almost literally played 1 game for the entire month. Aside from popping in to a few others for 5-10 minutes here and there to get a daily achievement or something, it was a monogamous month.


Fallout 76 — Like so many others, I really enjoyed the Fallout TV show and caught Fallout Fever from it. I decided to give Fallout 76 another chance and boy howdy did it ever stick. I created a new character, one that is now level 125 or thereabouts. I completed the Season Pass. I’m nearly done with the main story quest lines in spite of trying to savor them over time. I’ve learned about builds and gear and mutations and the world and the more I learn, the more fun I have. It really deserves its own post or series of posts, so I’ll leave off for now. But yeah, the only game I played for any length of time this month was Fallout 76.

Fallout 76 character paying respects to a child's grave
Fallout 76 can be both silly as heck, as shown in the picture at the top of this post, and very sad, as when you find this grave of a child behind an NPC’s camp.


Renegade Nell (Disney+) was pretty enjoyable. Not a must-watch but it was OK. It was a lot darker than I expected it to be. Basically it’s about a highwaywoman who has on again, off again superpowers due to a sprite or pixie or something. Swords and flintlocks and girl power. What’s not to like?

The Dead Boy Detectives (Netflix) was quite good. It is based on, I believe, a Neil Gaimon graphic novel series and (guessing even harder) I think it takes place in the Sandman universe. A couple of British ghosts wind up in Washington State (?) helping other ghosts move on while fighting a witch and dodging the afterlife bureaucracy that is hunting them to send them back to where THEY belong. They are accompanied by a few living friends who can see them. I LOVED Brianna Cuoco (sister of Kaley, of Big Bang Theory fame) as the resident adult and goth butcher shop owner who rents them all rooms.

Star Trek Discovery (Paramount+) continues to underwhelm me. In fact we kind of drifted away and need to make a point to go back and finish it as some point.


The summer heat is back and that means less time lounging outside reading. I’m in the midst of Baptism of Fire, the next Witcher novel, but haven’t finished it yet.

And that’s it! Short May recap but I am doing a TON of gaming, it’s just all been in Fallout 76!

Spring Cleaning Event – Fallout 76

There’s an event running in Fallout 76 called “Spring Cleaning” and I was talking about it on Mastodon and figured maybe I’d share the same info here. As a relative noob to Fallout 76 there were some details that tripped me up, so in case they trip other people up, too, I figured I’d share the little I know.

Getting Started

To get started, open up the Atom Shop and look in the Skins section. There should be a “Free” bug on it to help guide you. In the Pip-Boy tab you’ll find an Abraxo Cleaner skin, which is free. Buy that and log in.

Screenshot of the Atom Shop showing the needed skin
Here’s the skin you need

Now find an Armor station, and go to the Modify tab. Find your Pip Boy and you apply this new skin to it as a Paint Job. Just leave that on for the next 2 weeks while the event runs.

Screenshot of the armor station modding screen
Mod your Pip Boy!

What To Do?

Open your map and then open the goals UI. On the Xbox you do this with the right arrow button. It’s the same place you see challenges and such.

Screenshot showing week 1 of the Spring Cleaning task list
Here’s the Week 1 List

As you can see, I knocked out 5 of them last night and got some nice utility-ish rewards. You can find brooms, soap and Abraxo cleaner in kitchens and bathrooms around the wasteland.  Spoiler[ Outside of the Whitesprings Mall, near the north entrance, is a Maintenace building that has almost everything you need. ] A quick way to do the “Scrap” tasks is to create bulk items, then just scrap them. It’s a little cheat-ish but hey.

The Monkey Wrench

There is one monkey wrench thrown into the works if you’re just coming back to Fallout 76. For two of this week’s tasks you need to use the Cremator weapon, and as far as I know you can only get that via Seasons Rewards, and it is on page 4 of the Seasons (you need to be Rank 22 in the Season to unlock this page).

Screenshot of season rewards, page 4, showing the require Cremator
The Cremator is a gift from Page 4 of the Seasons Scoreboard, unfortunately for newly returning players

Given that the event runs for 2 weeks, you might (I haven’t done the math) be able to get to page 4 for week 2 if you use Score Boosters and such, but I of course don’t know if these tasks vanish at the start of week 2 or not. Basically if you haven’t been playing you probably can’t complete all the tasks (well I guess you could purchase levels in the Season Pass if you REALLY wanted to) but the interim rewards like Repair Kits and Perk Card Packs still make it worth doing, given how easy it is.

Stay safe out there, 7-6!

April 2024

Farwell, April! Hello, summer hellscape!

I almost didn’t do a recap this month. I’m just not feeling it; it’s a little crazy that writing 1 post/month is starting to feel like a chore, but that’s my brain for you. Back in the day I used to write a post a day for IT World and still had words left over to write here! Getting old…I tell you, I don’t recommend it. Though as the old saying goes, it is better than the alternative.


Diablo IV — I went into D4 with a weird mix of low expectations due to everyone I know having not stuck with the game for very long, while on the other hand having personally been waiting so long to play it. (Knowing that Microsoft was trying to buy Activision inspired my inner cheapskate to hold out for it to hit Game Pass.) When it arrived, I found I liked it in small doses. Weird thing about subscription services is, for me at least, it kind of colors my reaction to things. If I’d spent $60 or $70 on Diablo IV I might’ve been a bit sour on it too. But getting it for “free” (obviously not truly free since I pay for Game Pass) makes me feel pretty forgiving.

Horizon Forbidden West — I’ve pretty much drifted away without finishing. I do want to go back at some point. Poor Alloy.

Dungeon Encounters — This is a pure dungeon crawler with turn-based combat that is on the PS5. I’ve been playing it on the Playstation Portal before bed as it’s an ideal handheld game. It feels kind of mindless; fun for 15-20 minutes before I turn the light out but back when I first played it on the big screen it couldn’t really hold my attention for too long. On the Portal it’s ideal.

Immortals of Avernum — This hit the PS Plus Extra and it was a game I’d always wanted to check out. I was really enjoying it, and feeling a little guilty about not buying it, given that the developer has all but gone out of business based on the lack of sales. This is another one I want to get back to, though. It’s kind of a magic-shooter, almost.

Fallout 76 — And this was the Great Disruptor this month. Like so many others, I enjoyed the Fallout TV series quite a bit. And like so many others, it put me in the mood to play a Fallout game, and this is the one I chose. I’ve picked up Fallout 76 a few times in the past, on a few different platforms, but never got very far. I think my highest level character was 22 or so. This time I started fresh (of course) and this time it stuck. As of the end of the month my new character is level 35, and I’m around level 40 on the Season Scoreboard, earning tickets to buy things to make my camps (I have 2) shinier. I bought the Fallout 1st subscription because it was 50% off, so only $6 & change, and I’ve been bouncing between a Private server and Public servers. I generally go Private to do my daily Season Scoreboard quests so I’m not competing for resources, and Public for everything else. I’m really enjoying it this time around and I think it all has to do with sticking with it long enough to get a decent weapon. I found a “Handmade” at about level 20 and suddenly I felt powerful, at least for a while. (The game scales everything to your level.) Anyway, I have half a mind to write a whole post about it, though I know Fallout 76 is a game that brings out the worst in a lot of people who DON’T play it, so not sure I will. But I’m having fun. It just pulled me away from all the other games I’d wanted to play!

Vault Dweller kneels in front of the statue at Vault Tech University



Fallout (Amazon Prime) — We loved this and we’re excited season 2 was greenlit. I found it interesting that @partpurple enjoyed it as much as I did even though she isn’t really familiar with the games.

Sweet Tooth (Netflix) — With the 3rd and final season coming in June, we decided to re-watch Season 1, and watch Season 2. Season 1 is kind of an origin store and road-trip show. Season 2 was more about how the world came to be and classic good vs evil stuff. It looks like season 3 might go back to road-tripping. If you’re unaware of the show, it’s a post-apocalypse world where most of humanity has been wiped out by a plague, while at the same time half-human/half-animal hybrids are being born. The titular Sweet Tooth is a half-deer boy around 10 or 12, and he’s being hunted by bad guys!

Star Trek Discovery (Paramount+) — We’re a little late starting this last season. I feel compelled to watch it as a lifelong Star Trek fan but I can’t honestly say I enjoy it very much. Kind of glad this is the last season. I have to say of all the Star Trek series, this is my least favorite.


Finished Blood of Elves & Time of Contempt, the Witcher series books three & four. Lola is slowing down and our walks are as much laying in the grass as they are walks, which means I’ve been getting a lot more reading time. What surprises me most about these books is that they’re really about Ciri and not Geralt. Who knew?

And that’s April in a nutshell!

The Playstation Portal

When Sony announced the Playstation Portal, a Playstation peripheral dedicated to Remote Play, the Internet collectively jeered. It was too expensive, there were other devices that did the same thing (and more) and “no one” would buy this thing. In a lot of ways the Internet was right, except for that last part. Either Sony only manufactured a handful of these things, or plenty of people ARE buying it. I wanted one but couldn’t find one in stock, try as I might (and I will never support eBay scalpers).

Last week I finally got lucky when an account on Threads that tracks these things mentioned that Best Buy had some. I immediately hit bestbuy.com and snagged one before they sold out again.

So let’s dive in to the Internet’s complaints (don’t you like how I treat the Internet as if it has a single unified voice!). The Playstation Portal is $200 and it really does just one thing: it is a device that offers Remote Play from a Playstation. If does not run games locally and it doesn’t even support Playstation’s Streaming Game service (though many of us hope that feature gets added). The argument here is that there are other devices that you could use for Remote Play. The Steam Deck and the Logitech G Cloud are often mentioned. Both can be made to support Remote Play and both do a lot of other things, too. The G Cloud will stream GeForce Now and Xbox XCloud and the Steam Deck can be made to do both of those things and of course runs games natively. On the other end of the spectrum, you can get a peripheral for your phone (like the Backbone) that adds a controller and uses the phone’s screen and do Remote Play that way.

These are all good arguments but I still wanted the Portal. First, I have tried Backbone-style devices but my phone’s screen is just too small for my old eyes, so that was out for me. I do have a Steam Deck and have used it for remote play off the Xbox, and that was almost enough to make me bail on the Portal since there is an open source Playstation Remote Play app called Chaiki that seems to work well for most Deck owners. For two reasons I gave up on that. First, the Portal supports all the neat haptics of the Playstation controller, and second, I didn’t want to have to fiddle with things. The Xbox remote play worked great until something or other would get updated then I’d have to futz with it and of course this always happened when I just wanted to play a game.

So yeah, I went for it. If the Playstation 5 is a luxury item, the Portal is a luxury’s luxury. I’ll be the first to admit that. But so far I love it. It has a big screen (8″) which makes it the most comfortable (for my eyes) handheld I’ve used. It feels good in the hands and it just works. I kind of like the design of it, too. It just looks like a screen with a couple of controller handles attached.

I got it for two very specific use-cases. I like to watch sports, particularly football [soccer] and there are definitely times when the action slows down. I wanted an easy way to play console games at the same time I was watching TV. I’ll have a turn-based RPG (or something very pause-friendly) running on the Portal and when a team is killing time or officials are reviewing a penalty or something, I pick up and play. This might get me back to watching NFL games come fall; something I stopped doing due to all the ad breaks. And the other use case is gaming in bed, because who doesn’t want to do that?

I really only have one complaint with the Portal and that is in how they support the track pad on the Playstation controller. Since the Portal has a touch screen I assumed the screen would just act like a giant track pad, but no. In fact you have to tap the screen to enable ‘track pad mode’ which reveals two rectangles on either side of the screen. These are your ‘trackpad areas’ (and they are mirrored so you can you either hand to access them). Then you have to double tap in one of these to emulate a trackpad press. It’s a little cumbersome though I am getting used to it.

I’ve used the Portal every day since I bought it, so no buyer’s remorse so far. $200 IS a lot, but it is $100 cheaper than the G Cloud and $200 less than the cheapest Steam Deck and it has a bigger screen than both of those. Yes it also does less, but if you only want to do one thing with it, why not save some money and get a device that fully supports the service you want to use. The Playstation Portal certainly isn’t the right device for everyone, but it’s the right device for me.

March 2024

This might just be the shortest recap yet! I was pretty focused on one game for most of the month though as we head into April that has all changed.


The first half of March was all about Dying Light 2. I played nothing else until I hit the end credits, then I wrote a post about it so nothing much to recap here.

With that put to bed I went back to Horizon Forbidden West; I think my save there is at something like 60 hours and the PS5 tells me I’m not even 50% through it yet (which kind of tracks based on what I know about the main quest and by looking at how much of the map is still hidden). But HowLongToBeat says it has a 30 hour campaign and their “Completionist” figure is 88 hours so, yeah, just me being me and managing to turn every game I touch into a 100 hour marathon.

The weird sidetrack this month was Match-3 games (like Bejeweled). I suddenly got the itch to play one of these and went looking. The match-3 landscape is bleak, or I was just in the wrong aisle of the virtual game store. First I tried Gems of War which has fun gameplay but the most predatory microtransactions that I have ever seen. A great example are shrines. As you beat levels you get a certain in-game currency that is used to fill up shrines. Once you finally fill one you can PAY REAL MONEY to open it and get whatever is hidden inside (I did not pay). So yeah, you grind to earn the opportunity to spend money. And there are CONSTANT pop-ups to spend $5 or $10 or $50 for some item or other.

Screenshot of Gems of War taken around easter when the skulls have bunny ears
On the plus side, the skulls got bunny ears for Easter, so that was fun.
Screenshot from Gems of War prompting a $49.99 add-on purchase
On the negative side, about every 3rd screen you’ll see is something like this. I don’t think we can call these micro-transactions any more!

Then I tried Puzzle Quest 3, a much-maligned game just because folks enjoyed PQ1 & 2 and both those games used that old-fashioned “buy it & then play it” commerce model rather than being free-to-play microtransaction farms. I haven’t played as much PQ3 but so far it doesn’t seem quite as awful as Gems of War in terms of trying to pry open your wallet. It also has an interesting mechanic (I don’t recall if this was in the earlier games) where you make 3 (or more based on buffs) gem moves before anything happens. So you set up your moves, then gems go poof, then the enemy does the same thing. Otherwise same basic principles apply. Gems give you mana to cast spells, and skulls cause direct damage. Erm, which is how Gems of War works…I guess I didn’t mention that, did I?

Screenshot of the character sheet from Puzzle Quest 3
Puzzle Quest 3 feels a little more RPG-ish than Gems of War. For example here is a character sheet which feels like it could be from any rpg.

I also looked around on Apple Arcade for a good match-3 game that didn’t have microtransactions but by the time I got around to doing that I was reaching a point of Match-3 satiety so I didn’t get too far there. I havent’t tried it yet but from what I’ve read you can sync Puzzle Quest 3 progress between Xbox, PC and Mobile (but not Playstation cuz Sony) so maybe I’ll just go with that.

And then on March 28th Diablo IV hit Game Pass so I’ve been playing that, but since it’s just been a couple days I don’t have much to say beyond that I’m having fun so far. I’m also kind of obsessed with the look of my character, Petra (the header image for this post) named after the character in Horizon Forbidden West, not the character in Destiny 2. Not that it matters!

And that is all the gaming I’ve done! I didn’t even play Snowrunner this month! *gasp!*


Not a lot here either

Constellation (Apple TV+) has a slow burn sciencey-ghosty story. I have to admit we almost bailed after like 2 episodes but we wound up sticking with it and it got pretty compelling. But if you’re a “it has to hook me in the first half hour” kind of viewer, don’t bother. Also it has such a generic name that I always have to Google to double check I have it right.

Halo Season 2 (Paramount+) was really good this season, we thought. Apparently Paramount is about to fall apart so I dunno if we’ll get a 3rd season or not, but I hope we do!

And that’s it for new(ish) stuff. We’re now re-watching S1 of Sweettooth (Netflix) because at some point a 2nd season came out and a 3rd and final has been announced, but we’d both forgotten everything about the show so are doing a full re-watch. It’s about a kid who is like 80% human, 20% deer, hanging out with an ex-football player in a post-apocalyptic world. Yeah, it’s weird, but pretty good.

Other than that I’m watching a lot of football [soccer] what with the EPL closing in on the end of its season and MLS and NWSL both just starting. Watching a lot of football [soccer] has me for the first time wondering why we Americans assign the name ‘football’ to a sport where the (non-spherical) ball is more often carried or thrown rather than kicked. Sometimes I consider using futball for the kick-the-ball sport and football for the NFL sport, but then that makes me seem like I’m posing as a European or something.

New Toy Segment

Oh and tangential to what we’re watching… I decided to buy an Apple TV. We’d been using a Google TV w/Chromecast streaming device and it worked well, but a few things aligned. First, for some reason Halo on Paramount+ on the GTV stuttered a lot. As weird as this sounds I found other reports of this specific show (and one other, which I’ve forgotten) on this specific service streaming on this specific device, stuttering. So it wasn’t just us. Second, I discovered there’s a free service called NWSL+ that lets you stream replays of all (I think?) the NWSL games, but the app isn’t available on Android devices, but it is on iOS devices. Third, the GTV was full and I kept having to remove apps to install new ones (there are work-arounds for this involving external USB storage), and fourth, I just was having that “Need a new toy” itch.

So I bought the biggest, fanciest Apple TV 4K with 128 GB of storage and an ethernet port. @partpurple was dubious; this thing is stupid-expensive ($149) compared to the GTV 4K ($50) but it turns out, I was right for once. It is super snappy to use and we both swear content looks better. Maybe this is observational bias or maybe I had something set wrong with the GTV, but we’re both pretty happy with the purchase so far.


Slowing working through Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski (it’s one of The Witcher novels) but mostly just while I’m out walking the dog and she decides to flop down in a patch of grass for a while.

And that’s the recap for this month! Guess it was longer than I expected. I just talk too much.

GeForce Now Revisited

Last November during all the Black Friday madness I bought myself a new wide screen monitor. Nothing crazy fancy, it’s a 34″ curved Dell, 3440×1440. I didn’t go for 4K both due to cost and the fact that I didn’t think my PC could push 4K’s worth of pixels at a decent rate. I’ve got an RTX 2070 Super that feels like it is showing its age. I wasn’t even doing much PC gaming but I was having some issues with my setup of two 24″ 1920×1080 monitors. Anyway, point is, I bought a monitor that was much nicer than what I had. Higher resolution, HDR, curved screen.

It made PC gaming a lot more fun. One of the many reasons I enjoy console games is that playing in front of a 65″ 4K HDR TV with a good sound system is so immersive compared to sitting at a 24″ 1080P SDR screen with crappy speakers. A new monitor changed that (aside from the sound…still working on that). Problem now is that aging video card. I can still run older and indie games OK as long as I don’t push the settings too high, but I started thinking about either upgrading the GPU or just buying a nice new gaming PC. I really didn’t want to lay out all that cash though.

Then I noticed Scopique had started using GeForce Now again, and he seemed to be having good luck with it. I’d tried GeForce Now in the past and it had been OK, and I’m kind of fascinated by the idea of streaming games. I was a big fan of the Stadia technology, if not the business model, and playing games on Stadia had always felt good. On the other hand, playing on Microsoft’s XCloud always feels pretty bad. One thing I’ve learned is that your experience with streaming games is highly dependent on where you are and who your ISP is. I know folks who say XCloud works amazingly and I believe them. It just doesn’t work very well for me.

Anyway I decided to give GeForce Now another go. These days we have 1 GB Internet via Google Fiber with no data caps or anything. In practical terms a speedtest usually shows around 700 mbps up & down from my PC, so that includes any loss of speed due to internal networking and such. And my PC has a wired connection, so I was feeling pretty confident.

Screenshot from New World as played through GeForce Now.
My current system actually can play New World without too many issues but being able to jump in without the install and patch times made it kind of a treat!

I tried the free tier of GeForce Now and that was NOT impressive. First, the queue’s are crazy long. One night there were 210 people in front of me. I waited. After 20 minutes I was at 180 people; I figured at that rate I’d get a rig at about 1 am so I quit. Eventually I snuck in early on a weekend but even then there was a queue and when I did connect it was to a data center in Miami, and I’m in North Carolina. For folks not in the US, that means a data center about 800 miles or 1290 km away. I know that there are at least two data centers much closer to me, including one just over the state line in Virginia. I suspect that I got connected to the first usable slot and it happened to be in the Miami data center. With this set up the service worked but it wasn’t a great experience.

Undeterred and based on Scopique’s experience, I finally bit the bullet and bought a month of the Ultimate tier, which is required to go above 1080P anyway. And, aside from one glitch caused by some ‘optimization’ software running on my PC, so far the experience has been almost magical. At least for me and my puny PC. I’m playing on a 4080 rig with settings cranked way up and I’m getting 120+ fps on the server, though closer to 60 fps at my machine. But still I’ve never seen games look this good. Since becoming a paid member I’ve connected to that Virginia data center every time, and no more queues.

So now that I’ve drunk deep of the Kool-Aid I thought I’d talk about some pros and cons.


The Premium tier is $20/month which initially seemed really high to me. You can save a bit by going 6 months at time, which is $100 or $16.66/month (or $200/year). But remember, you’re playing on a 4080 which would cost you about $1000 right now. Spending $200/year instead might make sense depending on your needs. I kind of compare it to buying vs leasing a car. My brother has been leasing cars since forever and he just keeps rolling over to a new lease period and getting a new car every 3 years or so. This kind of feels like the same thing. It’ll take 5 years of GeForce Now to spend the same as you would on a 4080 today, but presumably Nvidia will keep bumping up the hardware so by then we’ll probably be playing on some even more powerful hardware. If you spend $1000 on a 4080 today, in 5 years it will no longer be state of the art.

On the other hand if you’re a “buy it once and run it into the ground” person then the monthly fee might sting a bit. My truck is a 2012, paid off long ago and no plans to trade it in. I’ll run it into the ground. So the monthly fee for GeForce Now is a little more concerning for me. My brother would love it, if he was a gamer. On the third hand, I pay $90/month for YouTube TV; the idea that I can cancel that for 2 months/year and cover GeForce Now is so compelling that I just canceled YouTube TV!


So far performance has been incredible. Games look amazing and the performance is so high it almost feels too high for me. I tried Doom Eternal and almost made myself sick, everything was so quick. I’ll have to get used to everything being this snappy. But what about the lag? I’m sure lag is there and if you’re a competitive gamer than a service like this isn’t for you. But as a 60-something dude with 60-something reflexes, I honestly can not detect any lag. I am NOT saying it isn’t there…just that my brain is too slow to notice it. Also bonus points for my PC staying completely quiet while I play. No more fans kicking into overdrive when I play a demanding game.


This is a mixed bag. The good news is, I don’t have to worry about driver updates or anything. I can play on any machine. I don’t have to worry about drive space. I am not a sequential gamer so I like to have a bunch of games installed and my hard drive is constantly full. No longer an issue. On the other hand, if the service goes down or something, I’m totally out of luck. I can’t install mods. And of course not every game is on the system. So if I’m interested in a new game I have to both find it in a game store like Steam and also make sure it is supported on GeForce Now. And I had to assume that games LEAVE the service too so you could wind up owning games that you can’t play without upgrading your PC.

I initially thought I’d also be playing GeForce Now on the TV in the living room via the Nvidia Shield streaming box but that doesn’t work as well as I would hope. The tech works but so many games pop open some kind of login field or anti-cheat dialog or something that it feels like more trouble than it is worth. If I were willing to connect a mouse and keyboard to the Shield I could solve this issue, but I’m not really interested in doing that due to the “Cluttering up the living room” factor.

Some games also come with their challenges. Forza Horizons 5 (on PC Game Pass) would not run in widescreen mode and it is new enough that I have to think it is capable of doing so. And Metro Exodus (Epic Game Store) would only run at a low resolution or at a higher res but tucked into a corner of the screen. I haven’t really spent time debugging either of these issues but I think it boils down to “When it works, it works great. When it doesn’t work… well you’re just out of luck.”


Overall I am absolutely delighted with how well the service works. I still don’t know if I’ll keep it past this initial month just due to the cost and the fact that I have the Xbox and the PS5, both with big backlogs, and do I really need a 3rd gaming platform that comes with a monthly fee? Probably I don’t. But damn, games look SO good on this widescreen monitor with a Nvidia 4080 pushing the pixels!! Decisions, decisions… 🙂

Dying Light 2 Main Story Finished

I bought Dying Light 2: Stay Human at full price when it launched, and I played for over 50 hours before drifting off. That said I never completed the story. When developer TechLand announced a new update that introduced guns to the game I decided it was time to go back and finally complete the game.

Of course the usual happened. I booted it up, realized I did NOT remember how to play, so started a new game. The plan was to just play through the tutorial then move back to my old save but of course I never moved back. 99 hours later the credits finally rolled. Not that there isn’t a TON more content to do if I want to. It’s a huge game. But with all the other titles that are calling to me I’m thinking 99 hours is enough zombie bashing for now.

Overall I (obviously given the number of hours I put into it) liked the game. The combo of over-the-top violence to zombies and lots of first person parkour traversal worked together nicely and kept the gameplay fairly varied. Some times I’d be in the mood to get down on the streets and battle the hordes, other times I preferred to flit across the rooftops using my parkour skills. As you move through the main story you get new tools like a paraglider and a grapple that makes traversal even more fun.

A first person shot of the player paragliding over the city
Look ma, I’m paragliding!

The actual story was less interesting to me. You play as Aidan, a wanderer who is looking for his little sister Mia. Aidan and Mia were experimented on as children, and then were separated. These experiments are what make you such a super zombie slayer. It sounds like a decent setup but honestly I never really warmed to Aidan and didn’t really care about his sister. Maybe I’m the monster! The supporting cast was a little more interesting and I’m not really faulting the voice talent or even the writing. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but the story just never grabbed me.

The story also has some branches. Do you support Faction A or Faction B? Do you save Person A or Person B. I generally like these kinds of choices but for some reason Dying Light 2 doesn’t make it easy to explore the various branches. There is no manual save system so you can’t make a choice, then go back to an earlier save and make a different choice. You’re expected, I guess, to replay the entire story over and over again to see the different branches? On PC I expect you could just manually back up your save files but that’s not quite as easy on console. But if the devs think I’m going to put in another 100 hours to see if my decisions change things, they’re fooling themselves!

Zombies flailing about as they burn
Officer, I did not set these zombies on fire. Another zombie set them on fire.

Another aspect of the game that bugs me personally, but this is 100% a personal thing, is that there are lots of Challenges. I am pretty much turned off by anything that is timed and awards bronze/silver/gold medals based on how fast you get something done. I DO NOT like being rushed; I’m by nature methodical. There’re a LOT of these Challenges in DL2 but happily you can just not do most of them.

Changes Since Launch

In the years since the game launched TechLand has made some changes to it. Some are good, some (to me) bad. They’ve added some toggles to make the parkour stuff a lot easier on your stomach, if you’re a person prone to getting motion sick in first person games. I remember when Dying Light 2 first came out I had to play in short sessions until I built up a tolerance. (It doesn’t help that it is one of those games that from time to time takes control away from you and swings the view of the world back and forth as your character looks around…this never works well since we don’t keep our eyes fixed straight ahead when we move, but that’s what happens in games.) Anyway whatever magic they did (I turned on ‘motion sickness mode’ and turned down head bob) I was much more comfortable playing now. They also added some parkour toggles so you can make it a little more automated, or give yourself more control. Whichever works. Both of these are great additions.

First person shot of the player doing a drop kick
It took me a lot of tries to grab a screenshot that takes place mid-drop kick.

On the other hand, at some point they made the nights much more deadly. I guess long-time players were complaining the game was too easy. At night super-zombies called Volatiles come out and if they spot you they Chase you. Chases are a discrete aspect of the game and you get bonus xp based on how long you survive a chase. With the new update there are volatiles everywhere and as soon as you step out of safety they start chasing you and at low levels they WILL kill you if they catch you. So yes, night is much harder now, but that is a problem because there are areas, some tied to quests, that you are intended to go to at night. The fiction is these places are like nests where the zombies stay during the day. There are HUGE numbers of zombies in these locations while the sun is up, so you have to go at night when all the zombies are out on the streets roaming around. With the new update getting to these spots at night is really difficult since there are so many Volatiles waiting to chase you. In the end I just skipped most of these locations, which I remember being quite fun back at launch. Now when I had to do one I’d get near the location then hide in some bushes and wait for night to come. By which I mean I’d set the controller down and flip through social media on my phone or something while time passed in game. Not a great experience.

I’m hoping at some point TechLand adds a toggle for the “More Volatiles” mode so you can opt for the original experience or this new “challenging for long-time players” mode.

There’s a DLC pack called Bloody Ties that is now free, but it is all about doing more Challenges so I noped out of that pretty early on. The entire point of the DLC is that it is a fighting contest where you have to score well to advance.

What About The Guns?

Lastly, about this gun update, which is the entire reason I came back to the game. After 99 hours I have a pistol and that’s it. Guns aren’t found with the rest of the loot you come across. Instead they are purchased from a vendor for a special currency you earn by grinding stand-alone side missions. The game encourages you to do these in co-op though they can be done solo. I didn’t do many of them because I was focused on finishing the main story, and maybe this is by design. Maybe the devs don’t want you to have guns until the post-story game because even the pistol you get is pretty OP. I personally found this system disappointing; I was hoping to find guns out in the world.

Dying Light 2 is kind of a quasi-live service game, I guess. You have the story and the world that was delivered at launch, but there are a few of these reputation systems that you can grind to get better stuff so that you can kill stronger zombies and get better gear to kill even stronger zombies. In the base game the character level cap is I believe 9. I was 6 when I finished the story. Post level 9 there is some kind of Legendary level system which I don’t expect I’ll ever see.

The player about to hit a zombie with a scythe
Me beating up low level zombies post game

So those are my thoughts on Dying Light 2. As is typical of me, I think I’ve focused too much on the negative. I have put 100 hours into this game in the past 3 weeks or so. It is pretty much all I’ve played, and I was hooked to the point where I was getting up early to play a bit before work. So yeah, I really enjoyed my time with it and if the idea of over-the-top violence (and I should note you decapitate a fair number of humans in addition to zombies) and a robust parkour system sounds fun then I would absolutely recommend the game. I’m very glad I played it.

Shot of the player grappling with a zombie
When a zombie wants to eat your face

Why Am I So Weird (When It Comes To Games)

I’ve been thinking about my taste in games recently, mostly spurred on by Skull & Crossbones. The general vibe on the Internet is a negative one, and yet I really enjoy it. If this was a one-off I wouldn’t think much about it but it seems to happen fairly regularly with me. I loved No Man’s Sky when it first launched and was getting pilloried online. I loved Anthem when it seemed to get nothing but hate. Snowrunner is another example to a lesser extent. While it does have a dedicated fanbase it isn’t a widely popular game. In general when “open world” is starting to become a dirty word (or phrase) I still love open world games. All those towers that Ubisoft gets mocked for? I f’ing LOVE climbing those and getting that panorama fed to my eye holes!

I just started to wonder if I just like things to be contrary. Y’know? Like back in high school when you were too cool to like the popular stuff so you liked the other stuff.

But no, I think there’s a more practical reason. I think I just like to travel & explore in games. I loved No Man’s Sky because I enjoyed flying to different planets and seeing the sights, and the fact that I could lift off, fly to another planet and land without any loading screens. I didn’t let a single planet go Unexplored (which is part of why I never made much progress). Anthem I loved because flying around in those suits felt so damned good, and the more you played the better you got at it. Snowrunner is all about driving around, albeit slowly. And Skull & Crossbones? I just ADORE sailing around that world. Some nights I hardly do any fighting. I love trimming the sails way back and gliding silently through a strait between two islands, listening to the sounds of the surrounding jungle and watching the sun set and the moon rise.

The more I think about it, the more this makes sense. I tend NOT to use fast travel options (which is a big part of why it takes me so long to finish a game). I spent like 200 hours in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey just traveling back and forth across the map seeing new things and exploring. It’s almost like actual gameplay is just an excuse for me to travel around these virtual worlds. I am never particularly interested in being challenged by games (as long as they’re not so easy as to feel trivial, I’m fine). If combat is serviceable, that’s OK for me. I do want to be able to take my time. Really fast paced games, like Warframe for example, never last with me. I want to be able to smell the roses and poke around. Back when I played MMOs what drove me was getting strong enough to move into the next zone to see what was there.

I won’t deny I don’t also enjoy seeing numbers go up, but really it is just important to have a new vista to explore over the next hill.

I guess I’ll need to keep this in mind going forward, and before I recommend a game to anyone I’ll have to stop to decide if it is actually a good game, or if it is just an interesting/pretty world that weirdo me enjoys exploring. Because I know many, maybe most, gamers are much more gameplay and goal driven than I am.