I had the day off today and was so exhausted that I slept for nearly 12 hours. It was magical. But now I’m ready for video games!
I’ve been juggling quite a few games this week, though mostly online multi-player stuff that I’ve been using to both pass the time when I don’t have much of it to spare, and in an attempt to combat my competitive social anxiety. It’s been… interesting, to say the least. I don’t seem to have much of a middle ground, though, with my experiences ranging from incredibly enjoyable to downright soul crushing.
A friend of mine hooked me up with a founder’s pack for the new hero shooter/MOBA hybrid Paladins: Champions of the Realm, which is currently running a closed beta on PS4 and Xbox One. I wrote a bunch about my time spent with it earlier today, which you can read all about right here.
The TL;DR version is that it looks and feels like Overwatch, doesn’t have the same amount of polish, but has enough interesting characters and unique gameplay features that help it stand out. I like the mid-match MOBA-style progression system and the ability to meaningfully customize characters using unlocked hero cards. Hopefully the loose aiming gets addressed soon, since it makes precision characters a little weird to play.
Still, I’m having fun with it and it’ll be on my PS4’s hard-drive for a while, I’m sure.
The same development studio, Hi-Rez, is responsible for the MOBA Smite, which I’ve also started playing. I’ve always been intrigued by Smite’s character designs since they’re all based on mythological gods, but PVP has never been my thing. In my attempt to battle against my aforementioned anxiety, I downloaded Smite on PS4 and now I’m officially hooked.
I can still only withstand 2 or 3 matches at a time before I become mentally frazzled and need a break, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Smite’s quest system helps break the game down into bite-sized chunks, offering in-game currency for doing things like playing 3 matches as Greek gods or winning an Arena battle. This allows me to focus on short-term goals, which has been working out tremendously from a mental standpoint.
I don’t have the Ultimate God Pack, and as a free-to-play game that means I don’t have access to the full roster of gods, but I’m taking full advantage of my limited Medusa rental (character rentals are often rewarded as daily log-in bonuses). I also really like playing as Ra, who is a permanent freebie and my current favorite.
At some point, I’d love to support the game by purchasing the Ultimate God Pack, but $30 is a bit too steep for me right now.
I’ve been sticking with Overwatch, playing at least a match or two per day against other people. Otherwise, I spend quite a bit of time playing against the A.I. to get comfortable with different characters.
Overall, Mei is still my favorite, with her awesome crowd control abilities and brain-piercing icicle bullets. D.Va remains my go-to tanking hero, but lately, I’ve been playing Reinhardt. His shield gives my teammates something to hide behind, his melee damage is insanely good, and landing a charging kill is so, so satisfying. I started using Pharah last night and typically I don’t do too well with the flying types, but justice rains from above. She’s a lot of fun.
The only character I haven’t cared for thus far is Roadhog. His hook requires a little too much precision for my noobish aiming skills, which also means I miss a bit with his shotgun. Yes, I miss with a shotgun. At close range. There’s still quite a few characters I haven’t checked out yet, but I’ll get around to them.
Outside of the PVP stuff, I’ve been playing the new Toukiden 2 “carryover” demo on PS4. It’s about what I expected, which is more Toukiden. I’m not sure if I like the new open-world approach to questing, but at least they’ve implemented a fast-travel system. The Demon Hand mechanic I mentioned in my write-up is a little awkward as well, but I’m getting used to it.
I was happy to see that Tecmo KOEI included a multi-player lobby in the demo. I’ve had no problems thus far jumping into the games of other players and helping out with Oni kills. I’ve even obtained a bunch of crafting materials that I can use in my own demo, both for crafting armor and weapons, along with reforging their stats. This is also a good way to familiarize myself with different weapons since I was primarily a bow and spear player in Toukiden: Kiwami.
The story is surprisingly intriguing, which isn’t usually the case in Monster Hunter-style games. In a nutshell, your created character fought against the Oni in a cataclysmic event called The Awakening. As a result, the Oni obliterated most of the population and your character is sent through a portal, eventually waking up in the forest surrounding Mahoroba Village. Ten years in the future. Time travel!
Completing the demo awards you with 10 Sacred Branches to use in the full game, though I’m not quite sure what they do yet.
After speaking with an acquaintance-in-passing that works at the local GameStop, I was told that they’re not anticipating a new Switch shipment until at least May. This crushed my hopes of picking one up for spring break, so I grabbed NieR: Automata on PS4 instead.
I finished my first run last night, which took around 11 hours. On top of featuring multiple endings, the game’s story evolves with each playthrough. I think you have to play the game 4 times to get everything out of it, and it’s so fucking good that I don’t even mind.
Seriously, it’s great.
It’s a stylish hack-and-slash action RPG by the developers of Bayonetta and Vanquish (and a few turds I won’t mention, to emphasize how good Nier: Automata is), which sadly looks like a late-era PS3 release, but plays like a dream. There’s quite a few weapons to purchase and upgrade, an open world full of quests to complete and machines to slay, and the game frequently shifts between being an action RPG, a 2D side-scrolling action platformer, and a top-down bullethell shoot-em-up.
The story so far has been a surprisingly deep tale of machines learning what it’s like to be human. Humanity, however, has vacated their Earthen home and taken refuge on the moon. They’re taking the fight back by sending down battle androids in order to assist their fellow-android resistance fighters in destroying the sentient machines. The problem here is that some of these machines have begun developing emotions like love, empathy, loneliness, depression, and sorrow. Some are completely hostile, sure, but watching both androids and machines see more in each other than spare parts has been vastly more intriguing than I ever anticipated.
I’m also absolutely in love with the world of NieR: Automata and its leading cast of characters. 2B is a no-nonsense battle android that slowly develops into an understanding and loveable little ass-kicker. Her movements are stylish and fluid, and she just has a great appearance that makes her stand out in a library of cliche JRPG tropes (though I don’t recommend Google searching 2B at work since her thong-clad rear, thigh-highs, and loli-goth apparel have made her quite the popular subject of some rather lewd fan art).
9S, her male acquaintance, acts as a hacker and scanner in battle, but he’s a bit more empathetic than 2B when it comes to reasoning and emotion. They can each hold their own, but 2B is clearly in charge here.
I don’t have a lot on my plate this weekend (thank Christ) so hopefully I’ll finish up the Toukiden 2 demo and start my 2nd playthrough of NieR: Automata. I can’t wait to dive back down to Earth and see how the story shifts. I have so many unanswered questions!
What about you folks? What are you up to this weekend?