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