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.

Playing

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

 

Watching

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.

Reading

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!

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.

Playing

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!*

Watching

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.

Reading

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.

February 2024

This month I’m more or less taking a break from doing a proper recap. It has been a crummy month and I haven’t been taking notes or many screenshots so this isn’t going to be much more than an overly verbose list of what I’ve been playing. I just don’t want to skip a recap because if I skip one, I might skip two, or three, or never get back to them.

Playing:

Hardspace: Shipbreaker — I wound up completing this one and even after taking my time, I still kind of wanted more. Very unique game about breaking up old space ships, ideally without breaking up yourself in the process. You’re in zero g in your space suit with various tools of destruction at hand. I even kept playing for a bit after the final credits and it is still installed. I may keep poking at it once in a while.

Shipbreaker screenshot of the termination agreement from Lynx Corporation

Horizon Forbidden West — Still plugging away at Alloy’s latest adventure. Too many distractions though and god this game just goes on forever and ever. I should maybe stop doing side quests and just push the story forward…if I could remember the story.

Snowrunner — I dunno when, or if, this one will leave the list! It is still my go-to “chill” game for when I’m feeling low energy.

No Man’s Sky — The Omega Expedition hit and it was intended as a way to introduce or re-introduce, as the case may be, the various gameplay loops of No Man’s Sky. I started yet another new save and played through it. First time I’ve completed an Expedition, but by the time I was done I’d had enough of No Man’s Sky for the time being.

Persona 3 Reload — I went hard at this for a couple days after the leak debacle, loved it, then got distracted. Really would like to get back to it.

Skull & Bones — Unlike the rest of the Internet, I love this game. Even wrote a post about it.

Helldivers 2 — Unlike the rest of the Internet, I don’t like this game much. Buyer’s remorse over this one. To be fair, the fault here is mine. It isn’t billed as anything other than a co-op game but after seeing a YouTube video on “Tips for playing Helldivers 2 solo” I got it in my head that I could play it solo. And while technically you can, there’s a bit of luck involved in getting a game session to yourself, and then it is NOT balanced for solo play.

Survivalboxes — I bought 3 PC survivalbox games in the past 5 weeks: Palworld, Enshrouded and Nightingale. Then never played any of them much. FOMO was getting at me big time. I need to stop that; I don’t have piles of cash laying around to spend on games I’m not playing. But I do WANT to play all of these so it’s not really a buyer’s remorse situation. Just I need to be more frugal.

The NPC Puck from Nightgale

Dead Island 2 — This hit Game Pass and I figured what the heck, let’s give it a go. And y’know, it was OK. Super gory, super cheesy and often fairly funny. They lean into the fact that it takes place in Hollywood, with all its unique (and wealthy) personalities. And here’s a thing: It has Alexa Voice Commands built in, and they work pretty well. You can say “Select my best weapon” and poof, your best weapon is at hand. The only real issue with Dead Island 2 is that it came to Game Pass right about the time that Dying Light 2 got a big update that added guns to the game which led me to…

Screenshot from Dead Island 2 showing globs of blood in the air from hitting a zombie, which is almost off-screen. Trying to keep the post from being too gross
I’m sure it’s just ketchup!

Dying Light 2 — I wanted to check out the guns update, but couldn’t remember how to play. So I started a new game and it kind of stuck… so now I’m playing Dying Light 2, I guess. I tried to split my time between this and Dead Island 2 but my brain got too confused and I kept trying to use the controls on one game while playing the other game. ๐Ÿ™‚

Let me compare and contrast Dead Island 2 and Dying Light 2 for you. DI2 has more of a sense of humor and feels generally “lighter” (at least in the start) than Dying Light 2. (Though both games are incredibly gory so “light” is used relatively here.) DI2 doesn’t have the intense parkour system (which can cause motion sickness in some people, including me if I don’t stay in practice) that DY2 has. DI2 lets you pick from a few pre-made characters with different abilities, while in DL2 you always play a dude named Aidan. DI2 has a shared stash so you can trade gear between characters if you want to run an alt. The parkour stuff is the biggest different. If you wanted to play a zombie bashing game but Dying Light 2 made you queasy due to its first person parkour, Dead Island 2 might be of interest.

Watching

Fall of the House of Usher (Netflix) — We’d started this last month, when I was a bit concerned about how much time was spent on the sexual depravities of the various Usher family members. I said then that I hoped we’d get past that soon, and in fact we did. We liked this series more and more as it went on and the mystery became more clear. It’s only 8 episodes and is a complete story with no loose ends or dangling bits for them to tie a season 2 onto. It was creepy, gory, and overall, a lot of fun.

Bodies (Netflix) — Murder mystery with a time travel twist! This is a mini-series (that’s what we used to call ’em anyway) about a body that keeps showing up in a particular alley in London, about every 51 years, and the various detectives who investigate it. We went into this one pretty much blind and were delighted. We really enjoyed it, but it does mess with your head a good bit. There were points where we were like “I have no idea what is happening, but I love it!”

Halo 2, Season 2 (Paramount+) — This one is still on-going and I sorta wish we’d gone back to re-watch S1 again. But so far, so good.

Ghosts, Season…3? (Paramount+) — We don’t watch a lot of comedy shows, but this one keeps us entertained.

Attack on Titan (Crunchyroll) — I dunno why I got it in my head to watch this show. I’d watched S1 back when it was the hot new thing and found it vaguely disturbing. But with it being finished I went back to S1 and watched all 4 seasons and I guess I’m glad I did…I think? It was this weird situation where I didn’t really like it, but I was curious enough about WTF was happening that I kept pushing forward. But man, it has been a long time since I watched a show with such a large cast of characters, all of whom were completely unlikable to me. Usually if I watch 4 seasons of a show like this I’m a little sad when it ends because there’re a least a couple of characters that I’ll miss. But not here!

I struggled more and more as we got closer to the end. I don’t want to go into why for fear of spoilers. Maybe I’ll do a little post about it. But overall, really glad to be done with it and would never, ever watch it again. I did like the world building and the mystery of the titans quite a bit, but I felt like overall the show moved really slowly and I hated most of the characters. I think maybe we were supposed to hate them. I think the overall message was “Humans are awful and the planet would be better off without them.” Cheerful stuff!

Reading

No Reading to speak of this month.

So that’s February and good riddance. Hoping March will be better. Think it will be, but I don’t want to jinx things!!

January 2024

Happy End of January for those who celebrate it. I’m never very happy about any month ending that gets me CLOSER to summer heat. Hell as I’m writing this it’s already warm enough I’m contemplating turning on the A/C. In freakin’ January. [Update: We DID have to turn it on as it was 75F in our bedroom and neither of us can sleep when it’s that warm. Since then it has cooled back down some.]

But before I amble too far down the “humans are destroying the planet” lane, let’s talk about games. I’m still deep in the rebound after finishing a couple of long games in early December. If y’all remember I was trying to stick to a small selection of titles until I finished them all. I made it to finishing two of them, then kind of exploded and that explosion continues. I played way too many games this month to list them all so I’ll just select some of the highlights.

Playing:

Horizon Forbidden West – I loved Horizon Zero Dawn and have played through it twice (replaying a game is something that I very rarely do) but for some reason had bounced off Horizon Forbidden West twice before this new attempt. Well I say “for some reason” but bounce #1 was because when I first started playing I couldn’t remember who any of the returning characters were, which elicited that replay of Horizon Zero Dawn I mentioned. And by the time I’d put 100 hours into that replay I was just kind of tired of bows and mechanical beasts and needed a break. But for bounce #2, I just sort of drifted off.
Alloy crouches in grass while scanning a machine

This time, I’m determined to finish and I’m much farther in than I’ve been before. And while I’m enjoying it, I’m not enjoying it as much as I did the first game. Not sure why…might be a case of more being less. I don’t remember HZD being this expansive and I just tend to lose focus among all the points of interest and side activities. I am also not finding the loot system all that compelling and machines respawn REALLY quickly which can be tedious if you’re trying to explore an area. You barely get the spot to yourself and the darned machines respawn. Last in my grumping, the combat system seems way more focused on matching elemental damage to elemental parts of the machine you’re fighting, which means you need to haul around a truck load of weapons so you have the right kind for each machine you encounter. I refuse to do that, so fights tend to be really lengthy for me.

Like I say, I AM enjoying it but I am not feeling compelled to play every single day in the same way I was for HZD. That in turn kind of dilutes the story since it can be weeks (real time) between story beats and I lose interest in the narrative. Interestingly, I had a very similiar experience with Red Dead Redemption (which I positively ADORED) and Red Dead Redemption 2 (which I bounced off of and never finished). Maybe I should just start avoiding sequels.

Hardlight: Shipbreaker – I talked about this one last month but I’m still trucking along and still enjoying myself. The in-game work shifts last 15 minutes which makes it a good game to play before dinner or something. A long session for me is maybe 3 shifts, then it starts to feel a little repetitive, but by the next day I’m ready for more. I just find it really fun to scan a ship and figure out the most efficient and safest way to get it to break apart. I am not sure I’ll finish it, but I’m still going to keep playing for now.

Here’s a recording of a single shift:

Nobody Saves The World – This is a 2D action game where you roam around an overworld looking for dungeons to clear. The twist is that you start as a very generic hollow-eyed nobody, and as you play you unlock new “forms” that you can morph into. Each form has unique attacks, and they’re very diverse. I’ve been a rat, a knight, a ranger, a slug and a horse (among others). It starts pretty simple but eventually you unlock the ability to mix and match skills and damage types (certain enemies are only vulnerable to specific damage types). It’s a highly rated game and I enjoyed it for a while, but I may be done now.

Combat example from Nobody Saves the World. I am playing as a slug.

This is a case of “It’s not you (the game), it’s me.” I generally am not a fan of 2D cartoony action games so the fact I’ve played as much as I have says something about the quality of the title. Plus the art style, which I don’t know the name of, but it’s that deliberately low-fi style that is popular in adult animation today, is not really my thing. Still for a game I got on PS Plus, I got maybe 7 hours of fun out of it. Not going to force myself to keep playing, though.

Snowrunner – I pulled back a bit from Snowrunner for a while, but towards the end of the month I started getting back into it. Last I looked I was at 125 hours or so and FINALLY finished the first area. Or as much of it as I plan to finish. Each map has 1 or more “Contests” that are time-based and the LAST thing I want to do in Snowrunner is feel rushed. The whole vibe of the game is slow and chill, at least for me. What caused my interest to wane were some logging contracts which just got tedious as I had to haul several loads of heavy logs (which means I was going slow, even by Snowrunner standards) along the same route. I’ve since learned there’s a better way to do this but I just got bored doing those contracts and kind of drifted away. But finally done, I’ve left Michigan behind and have moved on to Alaska where there is actually SNOW!

Palworld – I caught the bug like 7 million other people. I have never played a Pokemon game but so far I’m enjoying Palworld, which seems to me like some twisted parody of Pokemon. There’s a million people talking about this game so I won’t spend a lot of time on it, but just know that this is a game where you bludgeon cute creatures into submission, make them work for you, and maybe decide “Eh, what the hell, I’ll just eat them.”

Enshrouded – About a day after Palworld hit Early Access, Enshrouded did as well. This is another survivalbox game and I need to buy two of these at once like I needed another hole in my head, but the voxel-based building system grabbed me. My immediate reaction to it has been pretty positive and I’m looking forward to seeing how the game evolves as it moves through Early Access.

I haven’t spend a ton of time with either of these last two because, as is typical of me, no sooner did I purchase them than something else grabbed my attention (this time, it was going back to Horizon Forbidden West).

Watching:

Apple TV+: Monarch: Legacy of Monsters S1 and For All Mankind S4 both finished this month and we enjoyed them both. If you’re a Godzilla fan you gotta watch Legacy, and For All Mankind covers the Space Race if it had played out very differently and never ended. In the fiction of For All Mankind we’re now at something like 2010 and we already have a permanent base on Mars.

Disney+: Echo is a ‘street level hero’ Marvel show that we went into with pretty modest expectations but wound up really loving. The main character, Maya, is a member of the Choctaw tribe, and is deaf, and the show kind of explores both those facets or her life in a very interesting way. She was also raised by Wilson Fisk to be one of his main henchpeople, and she is a total badass. It’s short (only 5 episodes) which I think was a good call as every episode feels significant. Really a good show.

Netflix: The Fall of the House of Usher was a show I wanted to watch last Halloween but never got around to it. We’re not very far into it but so far it’s delightfully creepy. My only real complaint is a bit too much emphasis on the sexual appetites of each of the filthy rich Usher family members. Everyone seems to be coercing (seemingly, at least…I suppose some of them may be willing) some underling into being a sex partner. Hopefully now that the show runners have made their point we can move on and focus on the spooky stuff.

Reading:

Slowly making my way through The Sword of Destiny, one of the Witcher books. But really not doing a lot of reading lately.

Other

I dunno where this fits, but I suddenly developed in interest in how videos are made. Maybe it was watching a YouTuber recap a ‘season’ of his videos and talking about all the things he needed to learn to make them. But I’ve been started to noodle around with this in the tinest way. I’ve embedded a couple of clips in the post, just for laughs.

And those are January’s highlights. I’m looking forward to the Persona 3 Remake hitting on February 2nd and plan to jump into that big time. Not far behind that are a few more titles that I’m really interested in: Pacific Drive and Dragon’s Dogma 2. I’ll probably give DD2 some time to age before I jump in, but Pacific Drive might be a day 1 purchase for me. We’ll see. I’m juggling a LOT of games lately!

Hope your January was amazing, and that your February is even better!!

December 2023

Hmm, I just realized that I maybe should be doing an “end of the year” recap but geez that sounds like a lot of work. I did do that ‘year in review‘ post which is more or less the same thing, at least for my gaming, so I’ll just leave it at that and do a regular old monthly recap. Outside of gaming nothing of consequence happened in my life this year, which at my age is a good thing because most consequential changes are bad ones!

Oh, I guess it might be worth noting that I started exercising in VR back in April and though I’ve had some ups and downs I’ve basically stuck with it. Lost some weight but more importantly just feel strongers and more limber. Those old-person groans when getting up off a chair are now a thing of the past. So that’s one good change from this year.

Anyway, Happy New Year to all who happen upon this post! Now on to the December recap!

Playing

I came in hot this month, finishing both Persona 4 (loved it) and Final Fantasy XVI (hated it) in a single weekend. The plan was to then jump back into The Witcher 3 and Starfield but… I didn’t. I just wasn’t ready to hop back into more 100+ hour games. Well, maybe they’re that long. I haven’t finished either so I don’t really know. So I started game grazing…

First, I jumped into playing Weird West on the PS5 because it was a game I was interested in that HAD been on XBox Game Pass but left that service, and then subsequently was added to Playstation Plus Extra. I figured before it left there, too, I should play it.ย  I really WANT to like this game but I just don’t. I lasted about 8 hours before uninstalling it.

My biggest issue is the difficulty variability. The set up is that you’re a bounty hunter in a version of the old west that is just rotten with supernatural baddies. You have a quest line, side quests, semi-random bounties to pursue, random treasures to find. All of which sounds good. But when you accept one of these activities there’s no way to determine how difficult it is going to be, and many of them have time limits. Frequently I’d take on a side quest only to find I was completely unprepared to finish it, leaving me with the choice to either fail it (when time ran out) or reload an earlier save. If the designer had just given some kind of difficulty rating to activities it would’ve helped an awful lot.

Screenshot from Weird West showing (well, really NOT showing) my character hiding in a bush in an enemy camp

The other issue is on me: the game relies heavily on stealth and as much as I tell myself I enjoy stealth games, in practice I never have the patience for them. I sneaky-sneak into a camp and stealthily take out one, two, three baddies, then I slip up, alert that camp and get gunned down. Reload and try again. Fail. Reload and try again. Ugh. You’re supposed to be able to Quick Save, and sometimes you can which makes things tolerable, but a few hours in both the Save and Quick Save stopped working unless I was in a safe area. I am not sure if that was a bug or a feature, to be honest, but it was super frustrating.

Anyway I gave it 8 hours at which point I decided I have SO many games I really want to play, and I didn’t purchase this one so… I decided to drop it. If there’s a Weird West 2 I’d definitely still give it a try because I loved the setting and the world; I just didn’t have the patience for all the trial and error it required.

I went back to having a blast in Snowrunner (itself now a 100+ hours and counting game for me) but also kind of exploded all over the place onto PC gaming.

Y’see, I’d been having issues with my dual monitors where my PC would stop recognizing one of them and it would take me all kinds of hoop jumping like uninstalling/reinstalling video drivers to get them both back. I finally got fed up and used this as an excuse to get an ultra wide screen while Black Friday deals were still running. I got the Dell S3422DWG, which I cost me about $350 (regularly $500). It isn’t a super fancy model but it was a big upgrade from 24″ 1920 x 1080 to 34″ 3440 x 1440.

Of course I then discovered that one 34″ monitor does NOT have the same real estate as two 24″ monitors (of course) so I STILL have two monitors, with the better of the older 24″ units sitting in a very tall portrait mode off to one side, but happily the old issue hasn’t returned. {knock on wood}

Anyway I’m digressing all over the place. The end result of all of this is oh my goodness this monitor is a beauty and it makes me want to play PC games! Now my problem is… which PC game to play? I had a run at Astroneer, a game I’d once played a good bit of on the Xbox until I got frustrated with the wonky controls while playing with a gamepad. I had it in my Steam library so fired it up and played it for a few days but even with mouse & keyboard the controls still felt wonky to me, and it was just a little tooย  sandboxy. I’m not sure what my goal even is. So it was fun for a couple evenings but I moved on.

Example of a Train Valley 2 map

Christmas always triggers an interest in trains for me, as when I was a kid model trains and Christmas trees just went hand-in-hand. So I was delighted when I saw that Krikket was giving away a Steam key for Train Valley 2. This is basically a puzzle game with a transport theme. You have a small-ish map with a several hubs and you have to connect them with tracks and then trigger trains to run from one to the other. Each hub either produces a resource, or converts one (or more) resources into something else, or requires one or several finished products. So for example you connect a log-generating resource to a lumber mill to get boards.

It’s a fairly charming little game that can be played pretty casually (at least the early levels). For more challenge, each map offers a variety of goals, some of which get tricky. My only gripe is I found actually laying the track (which is basically the crux of the game) was kind of finicky, particularly when it came to intersecting two sections of track. Too often just as I released the ‘draw a track’ button things would snap into the wrong spot and I’d have to spend $$ to destroy and rebuild it. In the Steam reviews there are lots of calls for an “Undo” button which I think would improve the game a good bit. Still, it is a fun diversion.

View of the ship I'm breaking down. Full wide-screen image

I guess Krikket is my gaming mentor this month because another game I’ve been playing, Hardspace: Shipbreaker is inspired by her posts. Once again I’m not yet very far into it and honestly I haven’t committed myself to finishing it, but what I’ve played so far is quite entertaining. Krikket’s post will give you a fuller understanding of what the game entails, but basically it’s about cutting up and re-cycling space ships (reminds me of the start of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order), and trying to make a profit while doing so. It’s been a while since I played a game that has you maneuvering around in 3D space, which is definitely fun when it isn’t frustrating. Bonus points for this one as it is on Game Pass, both PC and Xbox, and is cross-play so I can work on the same campaign on both PC and Xbox, depending on my mood.

Screenshot of the ship as I'm about to pass through the open hatch into the interior

And this isn’t all! I dabbled in a few other PC games, and started a few more console games, but this recap is becoming boring to write so it MUST be getting boring to read. If I stick with any of these games (many of which I started just in the past couple days) I’ll include them in the January recap. But the header image gives a clue as to one of them!

Watching

Lots of hold-overs from last month. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters and For All Mankind are still running (or if they’re not, we haven’t caught up to their ends yet) and we’re still enjoying both.

New this month is Lessons in Chemistry, a show very different from our normal viewing. It’s about a brilliant chemist (Brie Larson) who, mostly due to the patriarchal snobbery of her time (it takes place in the 50s) leaves her lab coat behind and becomes the star of a cooking show. It’s really good, and it feels like a ‘one season and done’ show that tells a complete story (it’s based on a novel). Very sweet story.

As for my ‘me time’ viewing, I’m still grinding through Attack on Titan but I’ve been watching a LOT of year end and Steam sale gaming recaps, primarily concerning strategy games that I’ll probably never play but think I would enjoy playing if I’d just devote the time to them. It’s always that lack of time that trips me up… maybe if I didn’t watch hour long ‘year in gaming’ YouTube recaps I’d have more time to spend playing, eh? I don’t know what it is about these videos I find so compelling but they are something I look forward to at the end of the year.

Reading

A Christmas Carol because I read it every year at Christmas. ๐Ÿ™‚

So I guess it’s time to say farewell to 2023 and brace ourselves for whatever new disaster 2024 has in store for us. Expect the worst and hope for the best, right?

November 2023

It is time to bid a fond farewell to November. I LOVE November, it is one of my favorite months. The weather finally gets cooler, we eat lots of delicious things (left over Halloween candy, then baked goods and feasting for Thanksgiving), and along with that I get a 4 day break from work without using vacation time. In gaming terms some of the YouTubers I follow start doing these long videos on upcoming games for the next year or two, and I tend to enjoy those. All in all, just a fine month and I will miss it. I’m counting down the days to Nov 1, 2024!

On to the recap, which I could really just sum up as “more of the same.”

I’ve set a few games in my ‘rotation list’ aside so that I can maybe finish something. I’ve been leaning heavily into Persona 4 Golden this month, a game that first appeared in the recaps in August! I picked it out of my list because I’m playing it on Game Pass, which used to have Personas 3, 4 & 5 on it, but Persona 5 left the service so I was concerned that Persona 4 might as well, so I’d best finish it.

HowLongToBeat says the main story should take around 68 hours, story + extras should take 84 and completionists should be done with the game at around 136 hours. I’m at about 70 hours but don’t feel anywhere near finished. The story of the game follows our protagonist over the course of a year beginning in mid-April. I’m currently in October which makes me think I’m at the half-way point, though time kind of moves in fits and starts. I still don’t think it’ll take me 140 hours to complete since I’ve spent a considerable amount of time grinding and I’m currently somewhat ‘over-leveled’ for the content I’m doing, but it still may take me 100 hours. I would like to finish it before the end of the year but not sure I can squeeze in 30 hours in a month; at least not without abandoning other projects.

Another game from my rotation that I dabbled lightly with is Final Fantasy XVI. This one entered rotation in June and I don’t even like it very much. At this point I’ve turned the difficulty down to the easiest setting because I just want to follow the story, but even with that there are so many aspects of this game that just waste the player’s time that it grates on my nerves to play. So I pop in, do a side quest or a chunk of a main quest, then set it aside for another week. I’ll finish it eventually though!

The big disruption in my gaming life continues to be Snowrunner, which I started playing on a whim since it hit Playstation Plus Extra, and it has just stuck. In fact during Sony’s Black Friday sale I bought a bundle with the base game and 3 years worth of seasons (expansions). I’m closing in on 100 hours with the game and have primarily played on the 4 maps of the first region, and I now have in total something like 37 maps. That should last me a while.

Snowrunner is a hard game to describe. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say it is hard to describe what is enjoyable about it. The basic premise is that you’re hauling cargo from Point A to Point B, but always in places where the terrain is really rough. The first region is Michigan which has been devastated by a flood and you’re helping to rebuild the infrastructure. That’s the 10,000 foot view. But the minute to minute gameplay is mapping out a route that seems like it would be most efficient and then coaxing your trucks through mud and snow and over rocks, often by using a winch to pull yourself through tough spots. Trucks can tip over, which means driving out with another truck to do a rescue (again, using the winch). Cargo can spill, gas is a constant concern, as is wear and tear on the trucks themselves.

It is generally accepted to be a hard game, even on “Regular” mode (there is a “Hard” mode that I haven’t touched) and there are ways you can choose to make it more difficult for yourself. For example there is a “Recover” option that will teleport your truck to the nearest garage. You can use that if a truck tips, breaks down or runs out of fuel, but I try not to use it because to me this is one of those games where some of the most interesting things happen when trying to recover from a disaster. I guess kind of think of it like recovering from a party wipe in an MMO where you need to do corpse recovery to get your stuff back, and doing it without using fast travel. I read one review of Snowrunner that said it was a hard game but that it tests your patience rather than your skill, and I guess that is fair. Though there is definitely some skill involved, just in the sense of learning what a truck is capable of (each has its own strengths and weaknesses and there are a lot to unlock) and learning some tricks to keep yourself on the move.

Screenshots don’t really convey the pace of the game, so I’m sharing a couple of clips of me doing dumb things with bad results. In both these clips you’ll see I’m moving pretty slowly, and what you see are typical speeds in the game. These trucks do NOT do well at high speeds, if they can reach such speeds at all.

Anyway this is a recap, not a Snowrunner review, so I’ll leave it at that. If you decide to try it, know the first hours are pretty painful as you have crummy trucks and no upgrades and nothing to do but drive around. As you unlock stuff and get to where you can drive around in a truck with fat offroad tires that has a loading crane and can easily pull a big trailer, things get more fun and more interesting. Still, I would say it is an acquired taste, but you can try it for ‘free’ on Xbox Game Pass or Playstation Plus Extra. If you want to get a leg up, here’s a great YouTube playlist from zOrShix who is much better at the game than I am!

Over in VR land, PartPurple got hooked on PowerWash Simulator VR and now she’s got me into it. I have objectively better VR games I could be playing (Assassin’s Creed Nexus, for one) but she finished PWS VR so now I feel compelled to finish it as well! Family rivalry in action!

Watching

I feel like we’ve been all over the place this month. We went back and finished Invasion (thumbs up) and The Changeling (thumbs down) on Apple TV+ and now we’re into Monarch: Legacy of Monsters and For All Mankind Season 4. Both have been good so far.

On Amazon Prime we finished Wheel of Time Season 2, and we watched Upload Season 4 (I think?). We really love Upload and want to get everyone to give it a try. It’s about a young dude (Robbie Ammell) who is in an accident and about to die, and is uploaded into an exclusive but micro-transaction heavy virtual world by his control-freak (and very rich) girlfriend. It pokes a lot of fun at our current culture while telling an amusing story using characters that we’ve come to love. Hoping we get more of this.

On Netflix we watched Life on Our Planet which is a documentary about… you guessed it. Life on our planet, from the beginnings up to now. If you like nature documentaries you’ll probably enjoy this one. We did.

For my ‘me time’ viewing, I’m watching Attack on Titan (Crunchyroll) now that the series has come, or is about to come, to an end. I struggle with it a bit as it has a lot of that Shonen-style eye-bulging screaming going on. I hate that. Better was Blue Eye Samurai (Netflix) which was an anime-style show about a half-Western warrior in Edo Japan when xenophobia reigned. The warrior’s blue (and somewhat round) eyes mark them as a monster to many people they encounter. Really good show but it does have a lot of explicit violence and sex (though the sex serves the story and isn’t, y’know, ‘fan service’ stuff).

Reading

Virtually nothing. Duolingo Japanese study has taken the place of my reading lately. 60 days in, I can now say “rice and green tea, please” fluently in Japan. Another few months and maybe I’ll learn how to preface that with “May I have…” Crazy!

And that’s the recap! Lots going on in December. More games, the apparently now controversial The Game Awards, the winter holiday(s) of your choosing, and watching people who live in places where there are proper seasons having fun skating and skiing. See you next month!

October 2023

The end of October kind of snuck up on me and I haven’t been taking notes during the month, so I guess this is going to be a short recap. Particularly since things haven’t changed all that much since last month.

For the first half of October I stuck to my new “system” and kept playing the same 4 games I’d been playing in September:

  1. Starfield
  2. The Witcher 3
  3. Final Fantasy XVI
  4. Persona 4 Golden

But cracks started showing in my system because even though three of these are great games (sorry FF XVI, I’m just not that into you) I was still starting to get bored playing the same stuff for what was approaching 3 months at that point. I think I’ve learned that I need fewer games in my rotation so I actually make progress, or at least mix in a couple of shorter games.

Anyway for some reason about halfway through the month I started playing Snowrunner. This is a game I own on Xbox but when it hit Playstation Plus Extra I decided to do a fresh start. Turns out I like it more on Playstation for a strange reason: the speaker in the controller. In Snowrunner you drive around in beefy but not-very-elegant trucks and when the gears shift, you get a nice metallic clanking from the speaker in the controller. And since generally the controller is down below your head, it sounds right: it sounds like these clanks are coming from the transmission. I know I’m being really strange here but that was enough to make the game more enjoyable for me.

I’m super addicted to Snowrunner but it isn’t something I’d generally recommend as it can be very slow-moving. Once, I got a truck stuck in some water and it took me 2 nights of playing to retrieve it. The basic idea is you have to drive around in very rough terrain (in the starter areas there’s been a flood and you’re trying to help with recovery) doing tasks that earn you experience and cash that you use to upgrade your trucks in order to do more difficult tasks. I guess it falls into the ‘simulation game’ genre which generally isn’t well represented on consoles.

I of course forget to take screenshots but here’s a video clip. This isn’t actually typical gameplay. I was tasked with ‘rescuing’ the red truck but the mud was too deep for me to reach it AND get enough traction to tow it out. So I kind of did this daisy chain maneuver. If this looks fun you might like Snowrunner. If this looks tedious, well let’s just say that PartPurple sees me playing this game and just shakes her head sadly and tries to figure out what is wrong with me that I find this to be entertaining. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, I’m having fun. Also been doing a bit more VR gaming. Drums Rock on the PSVR got a little expansion pack of songs so I’ve been playing a bit of that, and dabbling in Asgard’s Wrath on PCVR. November is a big month for VR though. Looking forward to Power Wash Simulator in VR, as well as the VR Assassin’s Creed game.

Watching:

We drifted away from both Invasion and The Changeling on Apple TV+, mostly because we ‘caught up’ on them both. We’re not great about watching shows week by week. We always switch to something where all the episodes are available.

The exception this month being Star Trek: The Lower Decks which continues to delight us. Thursday is the season finale though, and I’m sad about that.

We also watched both seasons of The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime. I’m sure fans of the books hate this show, because I am NOT a fan of the books and I kind of like the show. It isn’t my favorite but hey, one can’t be TOO picky about finding live action fantasy series these days.

For my late night solo viewing, I finally got around to 1923 (a Yellowstone prequel starring Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren — I watched on Paramount+) which was GREAT aside from having not one, not two, but THREE cliffhanger endings, and Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (Crunchyroll), an anime about an elf who was part of a party who defeated the Big Bad but now faces life alone as her human companions grow old and die. It’s kind of melancholy but I’m finding it quite compelling. It’s still airing so not sure how it’ll turn out. Oh, and I also watched Summer Time Rendering (Hulu) which had both time travel and body snatching in it, so what’s not to like?

Reading:

Not much reading going on. I’ve picked up Duolingo to try to learn a bit of Japanese and I’ve been focusing on that during the times I usually read. Like when Lola is laying in a sunny patch of grass and has decided we’re not going anywhere for a while. I’ve just hit the 30 day mark and boy can I ever ask for rice and water like a champ!

And that’s it. Here comes November and probably a lot more of the same!! ๐Ÿ™‚

September 2023

September has been a pretty good month for me, once we got past the stupid heat of the first half. We’ve had days where we were able to keep the doors and windows open for a few hours in the mornings and evenings and having some fresh air has been lovely. October should be better. I love October and November.

Gaming wise, I kept to my plan of choosing a selection of games and sticking with them. I dabbled a bit outside of this group, mostly to earn Microsoft Rewards Points, but overall here’re the games I played in September:

  1. Starfield
  2. The Witcher 3
  3. Final Fantasy XVI
  4. Persona 4 Golden

The first two weeks of September were pretty much 100% devoted to Starfield which I almost instantly fell in love with. I racked up 25 hours in the first week (thanks in large part to the long Labor Day weekend) which, for me, is a huge number of hours to spend gaming in a single week. About mid-month it became clear that this was a game that I was going to stick with for the long term, so I started mixing in the other 3 titles.

Persona 4 Golden was in second place, I reckon. I don’t actually track my play time but I had a couple of weekend days that were 100% Persona so I assume it comes in second after Starfield. I think a Persona game finally got its hooks into me, though I have to admit I find the actual dungeon diving pretty dull (well, aside from discovering the truly bizarre enemies we have to fight). It’s the social stuff and story and I’m invested in.

The Witcher 3 continues to be a slow and enjoyable burn. I play it almost like it’s an MMO. There’s something about it that just feels comfy to me, even though old Geralt is slicing off heads and cutting foes in half. A lot of times when I play I just run around exploring. “Oh, I’ve never been to that section of the map….let’s run over there.” Over the years the devs have added a LOT of fast travel markers but I just trot past them. Heck I don’t even call Roach. I just love to stroll around killing monsters and bandits.

Final Fantasy XVI is in rotation but I still am not enjoying it that much. I’m not sure why I’m forcing myself to finish it. I guess because I bought it at full price. I keep thinking I should do a post about the things that bother me about it but then I think maybe there’s enough negativity on the Internet. Perhaps someday when I’m feeling cranky.

Watching:

We’ve become big fans of Apple TV+ lately. Three of our shows this month have been on Apple TV+

Invasion season 2 is still airing. We’re liking it though we’re a little sad about how Aneesha’s character is written. She was so fierce in Season 1 and now she mostly yells “LUUUKKKEE” to her kid. And I don’t like her kid at all. But all the other threads keep us tuning in.

Foundation season 2 is over and I think we’ll do a 2nd watch; this is a dense show that rewards re-watching. Or at least season 1 did.ย  And we’ll watch anything with Jared Harris in it.

The Changling is a horror show that we’re still in the middle of. It has this way of being a little dull for like half the episode and then totally hooking me in the 2nd half, forcing me to come back for more.

From other services, we’ve been watching Star Trek: The Lower Decks which we just love. It’s on Paramount+

We’ve pretty much lost interest in the Disney+ shows, particularly since we’ll be cancelling soon due to the stupidly large price hike. But even before that happened we both just drifted away from Ahsoka and I can’t get too excited about any of the Marvel stuff anymore either. That’s OK… looking forward to having that $$ in my pocket instead of Disney’s.

I’ve also been solo watching some anime: The Faraway Paladin & Ascendency of a Bookworm. Neither was mind blowing but both were enjoyable with a minimum amount of screaming. I bounce off a lot of anime because of the constant screaming. Also worth noting that I know nothing about anime. I’ve been told all the screaming is a hallmark of ‘shonen’ but I dunno how to tell if something is shonen or not before I start watching. I need an anime sensei. ๐Ÿ™‚

Reading:

Finished The Last Wish & started Sword of Destiny; a nice pairing with my time roaming around in The Witcher 3. ๐Ÿ™‚

And that’s September done. October should be great. The Quest 3 comes out and it just so happens (it was legit a coincidence) that I have a week’s vacation booked starting the Monday after launch. Also looking forward to Honkai Star Rail hitting the Playstation. Plus, y’know, spooky stuff all month! Woohoo!

August 2023

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 Ragnarรถk 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:

So many tasks left unfinished. If you tried to 100% this game I can see where it might make you a wee bit crazy.

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.

The vampire plague seems to have been caused by technology rather than magic and here I think we’re supposed to be learning how but it is all so disjointed that I can’t follow it.

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.

One of my big gripes about the combat system is how hard it is to ‘read’ the fight since everything always looks like this. What is the enemy doing right now? I have no clue.

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

Watching:

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.

Reading:

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).

 

July 2023

Summer in the south is never a good time, and this July wasn’t any exception. Going to be a pretty short recap this month because I haven’t done much! Well, except for work. Lots of overtime in the second half of this month.

My days have been going something like this: Get up and start working. I’ve been working from 7:30 – 8:00 am through to 5 pm, with an hour break for lunch when I can get it. Then I walk the dog in the sweltering heat. Get back in and do my VR workout (always a struggle given I’m over-heated before I begin), then shower. By the time that is all done its dinner time, which these days has crept later and later until now we eat around 8 PM. Generally watch some TV, usually an episode of Jeopardy and an episode of whatever show we’re into. So that takes us to 9:30 or so. Then often another couple hours of work and… as you can see not much time for gaming except on the weekends.

Last Month’s Games:

I finally finished Ghostwire: Tokyo early in the month. I wound up enjoying it but it was a game that I dropped and came back to frequently. It didn’t really stand up to that obsessive “spend every free moment playing” pace. Mostly it was my weekend mornings game. I might have kept playing past main story end except I’d already hit level cap and that took away a lot of the incentive of exploring and rescuing souls. I still got something like 30 or 40 hours of fun out of it though. If there’s ever a sequel I’ll be there for it.

I’m still playing, or trying to play, Walking Dead: Saints & Sinnners. The PSVR2 has mostly been sitting idle, though very much NOT by choice. This isn’t about getting tired of VR; it’s about struggling to find spots where I have the free time & the free energy & the free living room to devote to it. (Unfortunately with the setup I have, I pretty much have to take over the living room to do PSVR so I have to wait until @partpurple is off doing something on her computer.) Lately those 3 things just haven’t been coming together.

[EDIT: This is what I get for posting my recap early. After talking about S&S in this post I REALLY had the urge to play so I did and… finished. I had no idea I was so close to the end. Great game though! Now on to the DLC!]

I’m also still noodling around in Final Fantasy XVI but struggling to get into it. I loved the demo and immediately pre-ordered as soon as the demo ended, but the full game hasn’t grabbed me. I think that is more on me than the game; I don’t think it shines when you’re playing for 30 minutes every 2 or 3 days. I might just set it aside until life settles down some.

New This Month

Early in the month I jumped back into an old Oculus Rift game, Shadow Legends VR. I played through it using the Quest 2 and Oculus Air Link. Even finished it and wrote a post.

TV

All the usual subjects are in rotation: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (still excellent), Foundation S2, The Witcher (@partpurple needed a refresher course so we went back to rewatch the first two seasons.) Our lunch time guilty pleasure is a re-watch of Stargate SG-1. We sneak in an episode at lunchtime when my schedule permits. If we watch the whole thing that’ll keep us busy until well after Christmas! My end of the day wind-down show was Walking Dead: The World Beyond, and I would not recommend it. I more or less watched it to mock it.

Reading:

I finished Tiamat’s Wrath and started Leviathan Falls, the final Expanse book. I’ve been reading this series for so long I’m not sure what I’ll do with myself when I’m finished!

And that’s been July. I have a 4-day weekend coming up; I just knew by about now I’d be in desperate need of a mental health break and boy was I right. One of the work projects that has been causing all the overtime is due this week (and should be delivered on time) so after that things should chill out a bit. Maybe next month I’ll have something worth talking about!