Archives for October 2015

Weekend Gaming – Chaos Reborn

May I begin this post by squeezing in another type of post to serve as a sub-header. “In My Digital Hands” posts are Sir Tony Buttonmasher’s gig, but this is my post and I’m feeling saucy. So I will post whatever I want in this post. (Say ‘post’ again. I dare you. I double-dare you. Do they speak English in ‘post’?)

In My Digital Hands
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I added Chaos Reborn to my Steam wishlist as soon as I caught wind of it earlier this year. And then I removed it along with a few others shortly after because I didn’t want early access games clogging up the list. And then I added it again because of a handsome update I read about. And then I removed it again because I was still chaffing against wishing for incomplete games – But, still, it looks really cool!; better keep my eye on it. See? Even before buying it, the game already brought chaos into my world.

Now Chaos Reborn is out of early access and deemed ready for the masses. Can we confidently say the game is complete? Hardly.

But let us not bemoan this assessment. I read a message board comment that breaks CR down into being 25% PvE and 75% PvP. The idea being that PvE will be expanded by both game developer Snapshot Games as well as modders. There is a great desire in the community for more co-op opportunities in PvE and a more refined PvP experience – and more players. Yeah. More players usually helps…

This is why I decided to throw my hat into the ring. Although, in all honesty, the intricacies of most of the above doesn’t mean boo to me at this point as I am still (willingly) making my way through the tutorials. But I believe that I’ve caught the spirit of the game, managed to look at it from a distance and see what it is and what it can certainly become.

Chaos Reborn is all about risk/reward. I took the risk in buying the game even though it isn’t in its final form (and, really, why should there even be a final form?) with the hope that Snapshot will continue to be true to their refining processes. Considering the resumes and pedigrees of the minds behind the game, I trust that the reward of a tremendous game with tons of content and gameplay modes will far exceed the risk of spending a piddly discount price of $16.

What are you playing this weekend?

I paid ten dollars for a Dota 2 cosmetic set…

… and I’m surprisingly okay with that.

I’m sure someone could pinpoint the moment when “Free to Play” got a foothold in gaming and became a thing but for the longest time, my attitude toward them was firmly on the “who cares” spectrum. Paying for cosmetics in a game I otherwise did not have to buy seemed pointless. Whereas, in other paid games, paid cosmetics was just a bonus feature that I’d just ignore. I was firmly a “I’d never pay for a cosmetic item” kind of guy. Cosmetics, ultimately, didn’t have any impact on me anyway because I didn’t play anything that was free to play anyway. Then I started playing Dota 2 in earnest a couple of years ago. (I think I gave the game a try after listening to a string of Idle Thumbs podcasts where the main topic of discussion was Dota 2. I had tried a MOBA before (League of Legends) but it didn’t grab me like Dota did.) I was now playing a free to play game wasn’t in your face with their microtransaction offerings. Just the occasional “get these cool cosmetic items! Look at this sword for your dude!” My feelings remained unchanged.

Cosmetic items have been, as far as I can tell, always been available for Dota 2 heroes even if they weren’t an option for all heroes.

This is a topic that will probably fork into another post, but somehow I ended up playing and building an affinity to the agility hero Juggernaut. I don’t know if it was because it was the most recognizable name in the list or I liked the idea of a masked, exiled samurai. Either way, Juggernaut has become “my guy”. He looks cool, has a sweet sword and his ultimate is one of the more satisfying ultimates in the game.

I don’t remember how it happened, but one day there was a cosmetic set for Juggernaut in my inventory. It was a simple set called Traveler on the High Plains. All the set items were classified as Common items, meaning they weren’t particularly rare or unique but the next time I played Jugg I equipped the items and a whole new game opened before my eyes:

I had an epiphany. This was my Juggernaut. There are many other Juggernauts like it, but this one is mine.

There are many cosmetic items for Juggernaut, possibly the most out of any of the heroes (maybe research this). Between his mask, his sword and his clothing, the possibilities and combinations of your Juggernaut are endless.

Juggernaut Mixed Items

I picked up odds and end pieces for Juggernaut but never could bring myself to pay more than a few quarters to pick something up. That was until the set “The Balance of the Blade Keeper” set became available last year. At the time, it cost $10.99 and as soon as I saw it, I hit the purchase button and haven’t looked back. Because the Blade Keeper set had such a unique look and style I picked it up without hesitation.

Juggernaut Balance of the Bladekeeper

The cosmetic items for Dota 2, to me, have been one of Valves most brilliant moves. Opening up the character models to freelance graphic artists basically increased their “workforce” to thousands of people with talent and know-how to customize the game and the personal experience of individual Dota 2 players. Valve lets these freelancers peddle their wares, all the while taking a little cut for being the middle man. This enables artists to develop a brand and a following, creating items for fans of the game.

Juggernaut Arms of the Gwimyeon Warrior

Juggernaut Bladesrunner

I have amassed, officially, over 1,000 hours of playtime over the past three years playing Dota 2. Steam tells me I’ve spent over 150$ on the game over that period of time. If there was some formula to determine “value” and if that formula were to be, say, dollars divided by hours, Dota would have delivered on 10 cents an hour, which I would say is a pretty dang good value, considering 1) it’s free and 2) most AAA games are luck to deliver 1.50$ an hour.

Juggernaut Gifts of the Vanished Isle

I don’t know how much longer I’ll play Dota 2 but they’ve turned me into a Free to Play believer and I’ve most certainly got my money’s worth.

Weekend Gaming – Hand of Fate, Waves, (maybe) Hearthstone

Hand of Fate continues to be on my mind this week, though I have not played it. Why? Because I had a MONSTER endless run last Saturday – The most successful ever since purchasing the game. The run feels even more glorious because most of the progress was made utilizing sub-par weapons. My skill carried me through.

I say this not to gloat, but more so to commend the control that HoF gives the player. Part of player skill as it pertains to this game is playing the cards – making tough decisions about resource management and movement, i.e. when to pursue a scenario and when to flee. And then, of course, there is the RNG, which, in this run, completely screwed me in some aspects (player loadout) but gave me slight advantage in others (the ‘High Constitution’ blessing. Nod your head enthusiastically if you know what I’m talking about!) This give-and-take setup enables very satisfying gameplay. And, specific to last week’s endless run, raised my level of expectation so high for future runs that I’ve been getting myself amped all week to give it another go.

While we’re on the topic of beating Personal Bests: I want to say a little something about a little twin-stick shooter called Waves: Hachi Machi! I sat on Waves, un-played, for nearly a year. Twelve months it was there in my Steam library, consistently being overlooked. Bruh, why did I do this to myself? This game is so good! On a whim I booted it up earlier this week and I haven’t even looked back. It is intense, satisfying, maddening, blood boiling, orgasmic, instinctive, hectic, etc, etc, etc, et-freaking-c. There are divers game modes, but, bruh,

Rainbow Bombs are Rainbowy.

Rainbow Bombs are Rainbowy.

Survival is where it’s at (Nod your head enthusiastically if you know what I’m talking about!)

Often, after blowing up, I blurt out, “I can’t play these types of games anymore! I’m too old for this crap!” And yet, there’s my high score from a previous run, taunting me, flirting with my wife, always in view. I must surpass this number. I will surpass this number. Indeed. No other game I’ve played in recent memory has me score and achievement chasing like this.

And what of Hearthstone? Will I ever achieve my PR of Rank 14 again? I accomplished this back in February, and have since fallen away from the game. I stuck around back then just long enough to incorporate Goblins vs. Gnome cards into my decks and make my way through all but one of the Naaxramas wings. Since then I have watched from a distance the release of Blackrock Mountain, Tavern Brawl, and The Grand Tournament. My monthly inactivity forced my rank back down to 25.

Come to last Friday. ‘Wouldn’t it be cute’, I thought, ‘to jump back in like no time has passed.’

Well. It wasn’t cute. Hearthstone has moved on without me. It has become a foreign, scary place with all kinds of new devious machinations. Being a stranger in a strange land made gleam the things about Hearthstone that turned me off all those months ago – Primarily, the realization/inevitability of my worst fear which pressed so deeply upon my heart as I sat high upon my Rank 14 lookout: Hearthstone is now exclusively pay-to-advance.

This was an obvious, bitter pill to swallow as I sat there playing my old burst Shaman against these new confangled monstrosity decks. Likewise, I play against decks at these low levels and it is clear they flushed a considerable sum to obtain so many legendary cards… And that turns me the hell off.

So, will I ever achieve Rank 14 again? Probably not. I just don’t care enough to make it happen. I used to enjoy earning the gold from daily quests. But now it will just feel like a grind. Buying packs on a shoe-string gold budget is a total wash because there are so many new cards.

The wild card here is the Arena. I was never very good at Arena. But, as I want to continue dabbling in Hearthstone, this may be the last bastion of hope. The gameplan for this weekend will be to do a few quests and bank up enough gold to buy a few admissions into the Arena, and to hopefully get to a point where my Arena career can be self-sustaining. Nod your head enthusiastically if you know what I’m talking about!

What are you playing this weekend?

October Releases

I’ve been doing these lists going on eight years, and I always dread October and November. It’s when the games avalanche begins. Games of all types start coming out close to the holidays and things get a little out of hand. This month it looks like the Dancing genre continues unabated and the Plastic Rhythm Music games are back with a vengeance. So much to see here! With that said, on to this month’s releases:

Xbox One

Week of October 6th
Rock Band 4
Transformers Devastation – This game may not be very good (most Transformers games haven’t) but holy cow if this game doesn’t look like it is straight out of 11 year-old me’s dreams!
Dragon Age Inquisition (Game of the Year) – You know you’re behind on your backlog when Game of the Year edition of a game you’re currently playing is slated for release.
Ride

Week of October 13th
Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut
Back to the Future: The Game – 30th Anniversary

Week of October 20th
The Jackbox Party Pack
Adventure Time Finn and Jake Investigations
Hasbro Family Fun Pack
Just Dance Disney Party 2
Just Dance 2016
Guitar Hero Live
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Week of October 27th
Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition
Minecraft: Story Mode
WWE 2K16
Halo 5: Guardians
WRC 5


Week of October 13th
New Super Mario Bros. U + New Super Luigi U
Yoshi’s Woolly World

Week of October 20th
Adventure Time Finn and Jake Investigations
Just Dance Disney Party 2
Guitar Hero Live
Just Dance 2016


Week of October 6th
Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash

Week of October 13th
The Legend of Legacy

Week of October 20th
The Legend of Zelda: TriForce Heroes – I feel like this joke has been made, but what happened to Purple Link? Did his agent mess up his contract renewal? He sign a free agency deal with Microsoft or something?
Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden – Purple Link would fit in well with this color group.
Gravity Falls: Legend of the Gnome Gemulets
Adventure Time Finn and Jake Investigations

Week of October 27th


Week of October 6th
Read Only Memories
Caffeine – Replace “coffee” with “diet Coke” in the description and you have my attention.
Novus Inceptio
This Book Is A Dungeon
Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth – Rising Tide
Sublevel Zero
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Final Cut
SKYHILL
TRANSFORMERS: Devastation

Week of October 13th
Ancestory
Minecraft: Story Mode
Hyperdrive Massacre

Week of October 20th
Sword Coast Legends
Overlord: Fellowship of Evil
Wurm Unlimited
Tales of Zestiria

Week of October 27th
Albert and Otto – The Adventure Begins
Outpost 13 – Everything about this games sounds so amazing that I’m just going to quote the Steam Store description: “Outpost 13 is a point and click adventure strategy game where you, a monster, must escape an icy planet by strategically killing off crew members while maintaining your cover as “Fen” the crew’s pet dog. Play smart and you might just make it off-world alive.”
Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide


PS4 Banner

Week of October 6th
UNCHARTED: The Nathan Drake Collection
Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance
Transformers Devastation
Rock Band 4
Dragon Age Inquisition (Game of the Year)
Ride
Teslagrad

Week of October 13th
Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below – Certain JRPGs feel wrong on high-end consoles. Dragon Quest and Disgaea are two games I think belong on handhelds exclusively.
Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut
The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Hearts of Stone

Week of October 20th
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Tales of Zestiria
Guitar Hero Live
Just Dance 2016
Air Conflicts Pacific Carriers
Hasbro Family Fun Pack
Adventure Time Finn and Jake Investigations
The Jackbox Party Pack

Week of October 27th
WRC 5 – PlayStation 4
WWE 2K16
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition
Minecraft: Story Mode
Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition
MX vs. ATV: Supercross Encore Edition


Week of October 6th
Farming Simulator 16
Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax

Week of October 13th
Corpse Party: Blood Drive – Everafter Edition

Week of October 20th
Code: Realize Guardian of Rebirth
Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space

Week of October 27th
Superbeat: XONiC

What are you picking up this month?
(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)

Weekend Gaming – Hand of Fate, Dota 2

Hand of Fate possesses a strange kind of appeal for me. It adroitly plucks a happy nerve that I didn’t even know I had, one that is deep in the quagmire of my psyche. Because of this, I find it difficult to put into words just why this game resounds so strongly. This is new territory, compelling and frightful.

After loading the game, I will often stay on the main screen and soak in the environment presented before me: I approach the dealer’s table empty-handed. He greets me with a mesmerizing cloud of cards, flaunting his power to control.DealersSpite Are the cards whispering or is that sound just the breeze flitting through the main hall of the citadel where the dealer’s table now sits? The music washes over me, adding to the intoxicating effect. I look into the dealer’s eyes and wonder how many players before me sat in this very chair. How many failures have these steely eyes witnessed? How has he honed this game, refined it? What does this current iteration hold, and how will the dealer adjust it after I am through? Yes. I sit trying to gain a deeper understanding of just what is happening here, and how this new-found wisdom can alter how I play the game once it starts. The game seems so simple and I can become so very powerful, and yet the dealer is the one drawing the cards. Who truly has the upperhand?

…Of course, all of this is not really applicable to the game; I could just log in and go, go, go. But Hand of Fate is presented so soundly, so confidently – it is so utterly sure of itself that I can’t help but fall under its spell. Even now, after completing the main story mode, I still play endless runs because the game is just that much fun.

At some point this weekend, while in the depths of Hand of Fate, Sir Tony Buttonmasher will message me. Like a finger tapping on the fish tank, the head-splitting boom will jolt me, jolt me back to the immediate world.

“doto?” He will ask.
“k”, I will reply.

And just like that, the gears will shift from immersive single-player happy time to international multi-player potato fest. We’re never the potatoes. Never.

Lately, I’ve been mostly playing offlane. I do not have the patience to be a hard carry and I got bored playing support all the time. I want to start kicking up dirt right at the horns. Offlane affords me the opportunity to be ham-fisted and just a little bit reckless. And I. Am. LOVING. it.

Phoenix was a surprise pickup for my limited yet growing hero roster. I tried him (yes, Phoenix is a ‘he’) in a bot match and was initially repulsed, nothing about this stupid fire bird made sense to me. James Buttonmasher suggested I try again. Long story short: Phoenix is now my most successful hero and is on the fast-track to becoming my most played. He is the embodiment of what I want out of Dota: I want mobility; I want disruption; I want team fights; I want to befuddle enemy carries.

Offlaners may not have the stats to crow about, but that’s because their influence is on a grander scale. They operate outside the bounds of K/D/A. They adapt. They create space. They are the wild cards.

What are you playing this weekend?

“WHY. AREN’T. WE. DOTO?!”