It’s the Freakin’ Weekend! So What are You Playing?

Friday! Video games! Let’s talk (about self-doubt)!

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For starters, God of War is finished. Man, what an excellent game that was. For a series I’ve mainly enjoyed for its stylish combat system and boss battles, this entry was quite the breath of fresh air.

It’s more narrative-focused, following the bond growth of father and son as they set off on a journey to spread a loved one’s ashes. God of War has always been set within Greek mythology, but the transition to Norse (and the tale that follows) is incredibly strong.

Combat is more methodical this time around but still feels like God of War. There’s certainly a place for both types of games, but I’m confident in admitting that I liked having fewer weapons at my disposal and having to think a few steps ahead when going toe-to-toe with some of the bigger baddies.

I’d really like to sit down, organize my thoughts, and review the game because I feel it deserves a deeper analysis than I’m willing to give here in my weekend wrap-up. Lately, though, I’ve been battling a severe case of self-doubt when it comes to my writing (which I’ve talked about with the consistently helpful and wonderful human Well-Red) and the thought of putting together a review for a major release is — for whatever reason, as I’ve been doing this for six years — intimidating. Maybe it’s because I’ve mostly reviewed smaller indie titles over the last few years?

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With Well-Red, I brought up my desire to do a more in-depth analysis of games and discussing my experience rather than a title’s back-of-the-box features and whether or not they’re adequate.

In response, he asked me this question:

“Hey so I’m interested in what exactly you were thinking of in terms of in-depth, meaningful articles/critiques. Like what does that mean to you? What do you picture? What’s rattling around in that head of yours?”

I took a day to think about it and this was my reply:

“What I mean by in-depth, meaningful articles/critiques is that I want to do more opinion pieces that aren’t reviews, but not just short blurbs with a question at the end fishing for reader engagement. In my reviews, I want to start answering questions like “why should you play this game over something else?” especially if it’s similar to other games in the genre. I want to dig deeper and put more of myself into the writing, which feels difficult after going through the motions over the last three years and reviewing a constant stream of smaller indies. And for these smaller indies, I feel like going through the motions just hits bullet points of “the story in a nutshell is…” and “this is how the game works,” without really getting into what the game meant to me, why it’s important, etc.

Games to me are more than just a form of entertainment. It’s just finding the words and the drive to get into that.

And then it’s coming to terms with the fact that I’m writing those articles because I want to write them, even if nobody else reads them. I started writing because I enjoyed putting my opinions out there, but it eventually became less about doing it for me and more about “maybe I can put in MORE work and turn this into a career.”

I just lost myself along the way.

Talking it over with a fellow writer helped put things into perspective, but nothing happens overnight. This mental hurdle is going to take time. Writing is my passion and I have no intention of giving up, even if it’s just a hobby that walks side-by-side with gaming. In the end, I just want more of me to appear in these articles and that’s something that’s felt missing for a while now.

So, maybe that God of War review will happen. But, if it doesn’t, then that’s okay too.

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After finishing up God of War, my girlfriend wanted to play through Horizon: Zero Dawn. I’d already played through the game last year (and placed it in my top 10 games of 2017), just not with her. So this time around, she played through all of the story and side-quest stuff while I took on more optional content like cauldrons, clearing corrupted zones, taking over bandit camps, and climbing the tallnecks to open up our map.

I definitely enjoyed it more this time around, for two reasons: I got to play with someone I love dearly, and last year I reached a point where I just rushed through the story because I needed to get back to (and finish) Persona 5.

We took our time exploring, did all of the side-quests, completed the optional content, and rolled credits on Horizon’s campaign earlier this morning. She loved it. I still have issues with the game’s passable combat and climbing mechanics, but otherwise feel it’s one of the stronger PS4 console exclusives. The story is fantastically paced and leaves enough breadcrumbs to string the player along Aloy’s 30-hour journey.

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With the campaign out of the way, we now have our sights set on tackling the game’s DLC, The Frozen Wilds. This new zone focuses on the underutilized Banuk tribe and their plight, while giving Aloy a handful of upgrades by way of a brand new Traveler skill tree. It mostly focuses on quality of life stuff, like looting and attacking while mounted and expanding bag space. The shining star, though, is the ability to leap from your mount and bury her spear into robot-dinos.

Apparently, there’s also a quest that allows you to upgrade said spear by including an empty modification socket (as there isn’t one in the core game). We started collection “+spear damage” modifications throughout the story and couldn’t figure out how to use them. Now we know!

The Frozen Wilds is estimated to run between 8-15 hours, depending on the amount of exploring and optional content you want to partake in. We’re pretty thorough, so I’m sure it’ll run closer to the latter.

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After The Frozen Wilds, though, I’m not sure what’s on deck. We’ve tossed around the idea of playing through The Last of Us since it’s one of my favorites that she hasn’t seen all the way through. I know she’s super interested in Assassin’s Creed Origins, which I played through without her last year. We both loved The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt but never got around to the DLC, so we’ve kicked around the idea of diving into that rewarding time commitment as well.

That’s about it for me, though. What about you, folks? Do you go through periods of self-doubt with your writing? If so, any advice on writing intimidation? Got any big gaming plans this weekend? Sound off in the comments!

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26 thoughts on “It’s the Freakin’ Weekend! So What are You Playing?

  1. I don’t really have any big gaming plans this weekend, except for catching up on Star Trek Online. However, I have had self-doubts about my writing and it’s not easy getting your confidence back. I still have a hard time getting my confidence back.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So far as my weekend is concerned, it’s Alliance Alive and Friday the 13th single player mode- and I’m loving both!)

    So far as writing confidence- I hear you on that and honestly, anytime I read someone else’s stuff, see opportunities for collaboration, or just generally get into writer talk, I fall right into the ‘these people are so much better’ trap that throws me into a funk.

    Having someone to talk to about this stuff is awesome, and sometimes, just having a quick rundown of ‘why am I doing this?’ is a nice way to get back on track. Self-doubt is a tough thing to get over at times so I’m glad you’re examining it. :)

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    1. Nice! I wish F13 had a traditional single-player offering instead of just you as Jason vs. bots, but alas.

      Impostor syndrome and self-doubt are constant concerns of mine. I like to read the writing of others and use it as motivation to improve, but I don’t want to fall into the trap of unknowingly imitating their work. I write how I write, but at the same time feel like my writing is very generic/traditional and doesn’t stand out. I’m not sure if anyone reads my stuff and says “yep, that’s Brad from CBA!”

      It’s this same attitude that lures me away from collaborations and pushing myself to put my work out into a larger audience.

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      1. Yeah. The new challenges have definitely added a more satisfying single player experience. I haven’t played Hitman yet but some people have been comparing it to how those games work, I guess?

        You hit the nail on the head with that last part; I think I’m a long way from the “oh man, that’s definitely Matt’s writing” point. To be honest, though, while I find a lot of reviewers and bloggers interesting, it’s not always the voice but what they write and their views that I start to recognize. The benefit to knowing folks on Twitter and the like is that I know their personalities a bit and that helps me to shape their voice into something I enjoy reading. That’s not a constant but- just sort of an example that helps me, I guess.

        That said, while I can’t say much about larger audiences- the thought kind of makes me shiver at this particular moment- you seem like you’d be pretty killer to collaborate with!

        If you get any tips you find effective, though, feel free to share sometime. Looking forward to more of your opinions whenever inspiration strikes next!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I totally agree that following people on social media and getting to know them a little better helps sort their views and voices a bit.

          Thanks! If I come up with anything, or someone offers a “cure all,” I’ll get in touch!

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  3. Absolutely with you on the writer self doubt/confidence thing. I’m really struggling at the moment with a few things which is impacting my writing in time and ability which then leads to lack of confidence and lots of doubt. I’m finding it very hard to get a post written. I have lots of drafts but when I get near the end my confidence says this isn’t good enough and they haven’t been finished or posted so I’ve gone a bit quiet. Then the not posting gets me into a bit of a period of self doubt, as at least when I’m posting (even if none of my posts had views) I feel better about it because I enjoy what I’m doing and writing.

    I’m glad you had a chat about things and you are working things out for yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Best of luck getting out of your funk too. I’ve been through everything you just described and it seems like a common theme for would-be writers. On one hand, I want to take my time and write better articles, but on the other, I “feel bad” if I don’t put SOMETHING out there every so often. Feeling bad about not writing in a hobby blog is kinda silly to think about, but it’s a thing that happens. I think that’s why I commit to at least doing this Friday wrap-up post. Anything I post in-between is just gravy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks I hope I get out of this too but I think once the real life stuff improves my writing will follow. Unfortunately that means waiting for other stuff to improve at some point and just trying to get posts out when I can in the meantime. Feeling bad about not putting something out is silly when you think about it but it doesn’t feel that way when you aren’t putting something out there. I need a weekly/fortnightly series I can fall back on haha.

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  4. I never liked writing reviews. What I write and call a review probably doesn’t fit the form of what the industry calls a review. Usually I do a quick intro then hit some key points and tell why I did or didn’t like them. Then wrap up whether I like the game overall or not. Finding your style and confidence can be tough but I know you’ll be fine. I write what I take an interest in because I know if I force myself to write about something I don’t care about people will be able to tell and it won’t be very good.

    As for gaming, I put some more time into Battletech. There is a lot I like about the game but managing all the inventory is a pain and some of the combat restrictions are frustrating. Still looking forward to putting more time into though.

    Battletech isn’t a game I can play long stretches of though so I’ll be jumping in and out of some other games. So far I’ve hit The Division, Rayman Legends and I just downloaded H1Z1 Battle Royale to check out.

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    1. I hear ya. I just got lost along the way somewhere and want to get back to writing for enjoyment’s sake, not for writing’s sake. Just not sure how to get there.

      I remember GB complaining about Battletech’s inventory system and it not having a loadout feature. Looking forward to your thoughts on H1Z1. Seems like that’s been in console development forever, along with DAYZ.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can relate to how you feel. I started a 30 Day Video Game Challenge around 8 weeks ago now and I still have 3 things left to post about. At first I enjoyed it, and I thought setting myself deadlines would really dedicate myself to writing… But it actually did the opposite. The pressure took the enjoyment out of it, and I passed on writing about other things I would normally talk about because I was working so hard on the 30 Day Challenge. I’ll be glad when I’m finally done with it and then hopefully I can get back on track!

    As for gaming, I’ll be playing more Hakuoki Kyoto Winds! I’ve finished 3 endings so far and I want to get 100% completion before moving onto Edo Blossoms. I think I can say it’s got me hooked!

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    1. I get the same way with reviews. I used to just talk about whatever game I picked up and played, but over the last few years I’ve been reviewing a lot of smaller titles that were sent my way by publishers and developers looking for review coverage. I put those ahead of my own wants and ended up paying the price — my motivation plummeted and whenever I played a game for “me” I didn’t want to write about it anymore because then it felt like “work.”

      I’m glad you’re still digging Kyoto Winds! It’s such a well-written otome.

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  6. Every day I go through self-doubt. Not just in writing, but at work, analyzing how I feel at any given moment. Lately, I’ve been feeling a little off. Maybe it’s the stress of my pedestrian job. Maybe it’s the stress of figuring out what’s wrong with me. Who knows?

    Anyway, I think everyone goes through lulls, where the creative spark doesn’t feel as potent. But in my experience it always comes back eventually. I generally try to ignore some of the self-doubt, and put things out there anyway. Sometimes I find a much better than expected reaction. Other times not much of a reaction at all.

    As far as what I’m playing? Well I’ve been streaming my playthrough of Ys Seven. It’s really good. I don’t know if it’s my favorite in the series, (I still don’t own the newest one, and it’s been years since I touched IV.), but it’s up there. A slow build, but the story eventually picks up steam, and throws a few curveballs. Usually in games you can see a face or a heel turn coming from a mile away. This one honestly surprised me a few times. I’ve still got a little ways to go yet, but I’ve been enjoying it.

    I’ll also look to get in some Splatoon 2 if possible, the Octo Expansion is only two months away so there’s that. I’ve also got a considerable number of NES, and 2600 games to check out, as I’ve had a couple of lucky finds this month. But it’s also Memorial Day weekend so gaming may get scuttled if I end up at a relatives’ for burgers, and Nerf gun shootouts. We’ll see how it rolls.

    Take care man!

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    1. It’s easy to let everyday stresses affect things that we normally enjoy. I go in and out of these funks like anyone else, but they just seem to be appearing more often these days and it sucks.

      Glad you’re digging Ys Seven. I haven’t played much of the Ys series at all but I know most of them are on PSP/Vita digitally so they’re wishlisted on the PlayStation webstore waiting for a sale. I do own Ys VIII on PS4 but haven’t touched it yet. I got it to review back at launch, but a week later received an email that the developer was going to overhaul the game’s translation after drawing heavy criticism for their poor efforts. Thus, the review was shelved!

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  7. I bought Bloodstained on Vita, but for some reason it won’t download. Might ask for a refund and buy the PS4 version instead. I also bought Dark Souls Remastered. Maybe I can use the co-op feature to beat the tough bosses this time. As the game has just come out I imagine there will be many people playing it.

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    1. That’s… odd? Did you ever get it to download?

      Seems like some other folks are having the same issue with the Vita version and they ended up having to get it refunded by Sony.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I started watching Chris Odd’s let’s play of God of War, but put that on hold because found out it had an easier mode, and I want to play it. My brother wound up giving it to me for my birthday, so it’s on my backlog.

    I’m currently playing Final Fantasy VI and loving every minute of it. I’m so happy I finally got back to that one after years of working on the play/replay project. I just couldn’t get into FFV’s job system. I think I like it when the job classes are more stable, but a LOT Of people like that game, and the story is interesting. I found a new LPer who’s okay, though I wish one of my regulars did it.

    I’m still play Rabbids and have been getting more into The Room: Old Sins, which is freaking fantastic. I love that series ad hope they continue it. I got a new phone last month, so I switched to playing Brave Exvius on it, which has made it much easier. Ah freemium games hehe.

    Fact: I’d love to read a review by you of GOW, though I’d have to wait until I finished it so I wouldn’t be spoiled :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh, which new LP’er? Cry hasn’t been doing a whole lot of YouTube stuff so I’m on the lookout for another person to add to the mix.

      FF6 is really good. I haven’t played it in nearly 20 years, but I remember really liking it. Is Old Sins a new Room?

      I actually have most of a GOW review in the draft bin, so maybe one day I’ll finish it. I try not to touch on specific story beats in my reviews, so if it goes up before you play it you should be pretty safe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. His name is Chronos. He’s…okay. I get a little annoyed with how he reads some of the dialogue, but he knows his stuff when it comes to FFV at least. I’ve noticed Cry hasn’t been doing as much, and I’ve pretty much watched all of the ones I’m interested in. I’m sure he’ll do a play through of the new Ori, but that’s not coming out until 2019.

        Old Sins is the new Room and I freaking love it. I can’t put it down. I hope they put out another one soon. FFVI is just a really fun game. It’s the perfect challenge level and they did such a great job with so many characters (something I wish they’d stuck with with Chrono Cross).

        Oh cool! I like being able to read reviews, but I’m really careful if I haven’t played the game. I’ve noticed most of the reviewers here are good at marking spoilers.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, Cry spent a lot of time playing through all 3 endings of NieR Automata, but that finished on Twitch in April and just got its last episode last week (I think?). Other than that, he finished the new season of Telltale’s Batman, which I wasn’t interested in, BUT he did start playing Vampyr — which is far more interesting to watch than it is fun to play. At least, that’s how I’m finding it. I wasn’t a huge fan of the gameplay aspects but liked the aesthetic. It’s a vampire RPG with choices/consequences in the storytelling.

          Liked by 2 people

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