OMG you beautiful people, the hellscape which is August is OVER! Against all odds I have once again survived the heat of the North Carolina summer. Heck this year felt easy compared to other parts of the country. I think we maxed out at heat indexes around 105F or so which would’ve felt danged comfortable to the folks in Lawrence, KS who at one point ‘enjoyed’ a heat index of 133F. I can not even image what that feels like.
Forgive me, I’m old. Talking about the weather is about all I do these days. And when I say “talking” I really mean “bitching.”
Anyway, on to the recap, only 1 day early this month. I’m ditching the ‘last month/this month’ format. I’m generally pretty happy with this new ‘system’ of picking a handful of titles and sticking with them. My only real regret from this month is I’ve done so little VR gaming. A lot of that is just down to heat and humidity. I know it doesn’t make sense since I do my VR inside the air conditioned apartment but I still always somehow feel hot and strapping on the headset just doesn’t feel appealing. I’m also doing my VR workouts 4 times a week which, I fear, is conditioning my brain to try to avoid the thing because “visor = hard work and sweating.” I talked about this more in my VR workout post from the other day.
This month I’ve focused on five games:
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: I finally finished the Dawn of Ragnarök expansion which I quite enjoyed. In it you play as Havi/Odin rather than as Eivor and I kind of preferred him to Eivor. It was also pretty easy since I was over-powered for it. It meant I could just walk into a camp and take on all comers in a glorious whirlwind of arrows and axes. Once Dawn was completed I finished the final “farewell” quest wherein Eivor leaves her clan to go in search of new adventures. Which is a spoiler but not really since at the start of the game we’d found her grave in North America so we knew she’d eventually head that way.
The only major aspect of the game I haven’t completed is a rogue-like mode where you once again play Havi who is trying to rescue Baldr from Niflheim. I’m not generally a fan of rogue-likes though in this one you do get to carry forward some progression from run-to-run, which helps. But between being past the 200 hour mark on my save and the fact that the game (with all the DLCs) is a chonky 150 GBs (and my drive is rather full) I decided to bail on poor Baldr and move on. And while I still preferred AC: Odyssey to Valhalla, that 200+ hours doesn’t lie: I really enjoyed this game. And damn is it ever pretty.
If I really wanted to, I could stick around and chase achievements as there are still MANY things to do in the open world. Here’s a map that shows just a part of the base game and you can see all the white, yellow and blue dots that indicate treasures and artifacts that I never got around to collecting:
After spending so much time with Eivor it was actually hard to click “uninstall.” I mean I could always reinstall it but it felt like saying goodbye to a friend. Yes, I’m weird.
Persona 4 Golden: Initially I started playing the console version of Persona 3, but then a remake/remaster was announced so I decided to wait for that, and switched to Persona 4 Golden. I just really wanted to finally make a serious attempt at a Persona game and it felt like something that I could play comfortably via Remote Play on the Steam Deck. It is early days yet… I’m under 10 hours and this is a long game. So far I’m liking it. I love the aesthetics and the music. There’re a lot of gameplay systems I’m still sussing out. So quietly optimistic about this one so far.
Redfall: When this came out it was so universally hated that I kind of had to play it (since it was on Game Pass). My inner contrarian was sure that the game must be better than folks said it was. I did wait until after their first big patch which I’m told increased the encounter rate, among other things. Given that the world can still feel kind of empty I can’t imagine how it felt BEFORE they tweaked that.
So I started playing and y’know, I was liking it OK. My plan was to just finish the main story and MAYBE to take one character to level cap. I was feeling pretty smug, given how clearly it seemed that my refined videogame palate that was letting me find the good bits that others missed. Then I kept playing and found myself liking it less and less, and the smugness faded pretty quick. I still don’t think it is awful but neither do I think it is good enough to keep playing, and I only got to level 10 (the cap is 40). I also didn’t spend $60 in it which probably softens my reaction to some extent.
The story is making so little an impression that I can’t even tell you what the plot is, but what finally got me to decide to pack it in is just how every fight kind of feels the same. I haven’t seen a new weapon in a while, just higher level models of the same handful I’ve had since early days. A lot of the character skills relate to multiplayer so it might be that playing in a group makes it all more fun but as a single player game, there’s just not much to hold me. I’m glad I tried it and if I didn’t have any other games to play I might keep playing but I have a lot of good and great games I want to get to. I can’t spare more time on what is, at best, an OK game.
Final Fantasy XVI: To be blunt, I don’t understand the universal praise FF XVI is getting. I am not enjoying it all that much, which is odd because I played the demo and LOVED that to the point where I pre-ordered the whole game at full price, which is something I rarely do these days. What I’m finding is the full game is basically the demo recycled over and over. Fight some trash mobs then a mini-boss followed immediately by a Boss boss which will have several phases. There is very little exploration and the combat system, to me, doesn’t feel great. It is definitely a pretty game and the story is fine. I think I’d like it as a movie more than I do as a game. Side note: At one point I had to skip some cutscenes (the game has a habit of stringing together cutscenes without giving you a chance to save) which led me to seeing if I could find a YouTube video so I could watch what I missed. I found a video with all the cutscenes from the game and it is, get this, 20 hours long! That’s a lot of cutscenes.
I could, and might, do a blog post about all the things that bug me about FFXVI [spoiler: a lot of it has to do with pacing] but for now I’ll just mark it as being something of a disappointment. I’m about half-way through it and decided to just flip the difficulty to “Story Mode” just so I can finish it as quickly as possible.
The Witcher 3: When we finally got around to watching The Witcher S3 on Netflix it got me in the mood to play the game again. I’m proud to say I did NOT start over but picked up where I last left off. I still am not as far as I’ve been in earlier (eventually abandoned) saves but I’m slowly making progress. There’re so many side quests and I KNOW I should ignore them and just follow the story line but…shiny lovely side quests! How can you resist them? Suffice to say I’m enjoying myself though I still don’t really understand “builds” in The Witcher 3. You have so many skill points but so few “slots” for skills. Fortunately not knowing how to build a powerful Geralt hasn’t really held me back. I guess thanks to being over-leveled due to those delicious side quests. 🙂
The Witcher S3 which we enjoyed aside from the cliffhanger ending and knowing, what with strike and all, that it’ll probably be 2025 before we learn what happens next.
Secret Invasion was OK, but for me just OK. I found myself glad it was only 6 episodes. And yet they still managed to kill off a (somewhat minor) character that I liked.
Halt and Catch Fire is an old show on AMC+ that is about the start of the PC revolution. It ran for 4 seasons but by the middle of season 2 my interest was starting to wane.
Ahsoka is another one that, so far, I just find is “OK” though I think PartPurple likes it more than me. It’s early days so maybe it’ll ramp up but so far it kind of feels formulaic to me. And adult Ahsoka is so completely different from the young Ahsoka from the animated shows.
I guess we’re watching a lot of TV these days because I still haven’t listed Foundation or Invasion. Both of which we’re enjoying but in neither case do I feel like imploring you to watch. And with the writer’s strike still going on I’m leery about getting too invested in any show because it is really up in the air as to if or when anything is going to get a next season.
I finally finished Leviathon’s Fall and the Expanse series and I’m really glad I stuck with it. As a series it was definitely 5/5 stars even though a couple of the books as stand alones dropped to a 4. I kind of feel like The Expanse has ruined all other space-based sci fi for me now.
And that’s the recap. Next up, September and Starfield. I wasn’t honestly paying much attention to all the Starfield hype until just recently, and now I’m kind of excited for it. I’ll be able to start playing on Thursday evening since I sprang for the enhanced edition upgrade (which was around $35 if you’re a Game Pass subscriber).