Thoughts on Summer Game Fest Part 2

Alright.

I’m only going to talk about the stuff that excited me, which is a lot.

Redfall
Redfall excites me because it is Arkane and I love Arkane.  I know it’s kind of different because it’s Arkane Austin, but hey, we might be getting something good here.  However, I don’t…like the way the game was demoed.  It didn’t…feel very good.  For a game that’s a co-op, class based shooter it felt very tame, and not in a good way.  I’ll have to see it when it gets closer to the release date and people are playing to show it off at as a presentation.

Hollow Knight Silksong

Yeah, we’ve been waiting for this forever, and I didn’t even watch this trailer because at this point I’m just going to wait for the game to come out to experience any of it.  Still excited though.

High on Life

I was not expecting this one at all, but it looks so unique I am actually interested in it.  The dialogue and voice acting might…turn me off though.  

Forza Motorsport (2023)

This looks GOOD.  But I don’t know how progression is going to work.  I like Gran Turismo 7’s progression a ton and most of Forza’s progressions are not…like that.  But everything looks beautiful and I still want to try it.  Unfortunately, that also means having to work with Microsoft’s super high prices for their games.

Overwatch 2

I quit Overwatch a long time ago.  I still grab loot boxes every so often when they’re handing them out, since cosmetics should carry over.  I just don’t handle PvP very well.  Less of a problem if I’m actually good, but more of a problem if the community isn’t great.  …I think you can surmise which of the problems Overwatch has.  But Overwatch 2 has me interested and I will probably play it until PvE comes out and then never return to PvP.

Scorn

It’s finally going to be here!  Will I be brave enough to play it?  Maybe…

These are all games that I’m interested in, but I don’t have much to say about them:

  • Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn
  • Minecraft Legends
  • Lightyear Frontier
  • The Last Case of Benedict Fox
  • As Dusk Falls
  • Pentiment
  • Cocoon
  • Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Starfield

I admit that Starfield is looking super interesting to me.  This is especially so when I just finished Fallout 4Starfield looks like everything I ever wanted in a space RPG.  The mechanics are familiar but also different.  I’m so excited for this game.  Some people are worried the planets will be empty, but I want empty Mass Effect 1 like planets.  I love that feeling.  PCGamer wrote an article about empty planets and also referenced Mass Effect 1.  When I read that I laughed and cheered out loud.  That person knows exactly how I feel.

There’s something about that realistic weirdness of stumbling upon something that feels like “it had to happen to” be there instead of “everything designed to make you happy” be there.  The only thing I’m worried about is taking care of people in a base or a crew or something.  I hate managing people.  I’ve mentioned this previously, I always adventure alone if I can.  I’ll always tell off AI.  It’s rare that I find an AI I like enough that it doesn’t bother me.

UPDATE: Wait, wait! I forgot something. The System Shock remake. Oh, that looks so good!


Most of everything from the second half was this Microsoft conference, which I think went very well.  Capcom showed off a few more things, but stuff that was so far ahead of my obligations I wasn’t as excited.  And Nintendo showed off Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and that’s…just too much.  Unless I was lazy and just wanted a PC release of all of the Xeno series.  Yes, actually that’s just what I want and I’m stubborn.

I’ll get back to normal writing and less of this short stuff now that this is all over.  I feel like these past few weeks have been hectic, and having Summer Game Fest here is both a boon and a curse.  Good because I have something to write about, but curse because it still feels like I have a ton of work to do at the same time.

So, all in all, what games are you most excited for from all these presentations?

Can’t wait to see what Nintendo actually has in store for us.  As always, be safe, and happy gaming!

Elise

Thoughts on Summer Game Fest Part I

Summer Time Lovin’

This is just going to be a bit of rambles on my thoughts of, as the title implies, Summer Game Fest so far.  These are just selected things out of the huge group of games, so don’t expect all of them.

The Callisto Protocol

I admit I’ve never finished Dead Space…1.  I got about half way through it and it was really good.  I’m not good with horror games, but there are certain horror games that don’t scare me.  I don’t know why, because I am really easily scared.  Dead Space is one of them.  That being the case I was able to play some of it and I really, really like it.  This game captures that same feeling again.  I’m just worried about Dead Space (2023), because now it’s going to have to compete with a game that’s really meant to be almost the same.  It’s not even like, two competing games in the same genre.  It’s Dead Space and Dead Space: The Callisto Protocol.   Even more so now that the latter is no longer involved with PUBG.

I will likely be playing both anyway.

Final Fantasy XVI

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but I have a fixation on completing games in release date order.  …and this is XVI.  I still have a ways to go.  However, I’m still really excited about this.

Resident Evil 4 (2023)

Another horror game that I was actually scared of (which is dumb, because I feel like Dead Space is technically scarier than RE4), that I somehow played through.  Resident Evil 4 is my favorite game in my small pool of horror games.  So I definitely am ready for this one.  I’m excited for expanded story elements.  And Ashley, who I still feel like is one of those characters that you have to save that doesn’t feel like a derp AI.  I know she frequently calls Leon for help, but for some reason to me, she still felt kind of independent in her preemptive actions.  Maybe it was just a coincidence for me, but the AI performed well.  She showed that she was still scared (who wouldn’t be?), but that she could still do things even if she was.  I like the co-existence.

Wait, this is about the Remake.  Yes. I’m ready.  Sorry. I rambled.

Spider-Man for PC.

Yes.

Modern Warfare II, not to be confused with Modern Warfare 2

…look.  I’m a campaign gal.  And frankly I’m quite tired of the reused-ness of Call of Duty.  It’s not that there was a lack of effort in the making of the game, but that reusing old stuff that isn’t even that old is just…it doesn’t look great.  It feels like money-making.  The reason why I like indie games and Nintendo is that they take risks.  Nintendo has had some major flops, but I really feel like they learn from them.  Unless you’re the Online/Virtual gaming side of Nintendo.  I don’t know what’s going on there.

I like weird attempts like Call of Duty: Ghosts and even things like Call of Duty: Vanguard.  I liked it when they went a different route back then with Black Ops.   I mean, Battlefield took a bunch of weird turns and look at their multiplayer fanbase.  It is torn to shreds. But I still like that they keep going in unique directions.  Man, I guess what I’m saying is all that weird stuff they were going off the rails with in Advanced Warfare and stuff, that was great.  Even if it wasn’t…great for multiplayer.  It was great for the campaign.  Well, I guess I just proved their point then, huh?  It has to be Modern Warfare II if they want the money from multiplayer and Warzone.  Okay.  Fine, Activision, be that way.  Hmph.

Aliens: Dark Descent

I like games like Alien Swarm, but…this game looks a little wonky.  That, like, five seconds of gameplay at the end looked kinda weird.  But, we’ll have to see when it’s done.  I love co-op, but finding people to play with is difficult, especially because I am super picky, and I’d rather people not have to deal with me and vice versa.

Stormgate

I love Starcraft.  And I’m really hoping this can scratch that itch.  I mean, not that Starcraft 1 or 2 are anywhere near dead.  Well, maybe SC2.  Thanks for abandoning co-op, you sickos.  Anyway, maybe this will be good?  I have no idea.  I need to see in game stuff for this to really try and dig into the wallet.

Honkai: Star Rail

…I will probably play this?  I think I know, I mean, er, yes but it’s all wrong.  I still play Genshin Impact, and, oh no, there’s also Zenless Zone Zero.  Mihoyo is trying to eat up all my time.  But I do still want to play both.  There aren’t enough games that are originally in Chinese that I can play.  I mean, some people say that it’s originally Japanese.  In that, that is, I think I disagree, but it’s nothing to get hung about unless people get colonist about it.  (Which is almost every single time.)

Warhammer: Darktide

Well, if you read my previous article, you know that I am so ready for this.

The Last of Us: Part I on PC

Yes.

Animal Well and A Little to the Left

These two indie games are the ones that I’m really interested in.  I love the weird liminal feeling of A Little to the Left and Animal Well brings me back to old, creative indie platforming days.

There are other games that I am also interested in, but I have no interesting thoughts on them other than that I am interested in them.

This has been a pretty mellow summer game time, but I’m still pretty hyped for stuff.  
Thanks for letting me ramble. 
But also…what games are you getting hyped for from Summer Game Fest so far?!    

Elise

Cheers if you noticed The Beatles.

Why I Love: Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Rat rat rat rat rat rat rat

I’ll admit that I don’t know that much about Warhammer.  But I was craving co-op games and stumbled upon Warhammer Endtimes: Vermintide.  I got a close friend to play it with me, and then we got another person.  So there were three of us just playing this random weird game about killing rats in a cool fantasy setting.  It was good.  It was fun.  Still didn’t really get it, but whatever.

Then Vermintide 2 came out and then…for some reason we just got really hooked.  Actually, that’s not true.   There are good reasons why, and that’s the whole point of this article.  Sorry for being misleading there.

When making a game, you have to make sure it is fun at its core.  Unless you’re going for something artsy, you better have something truly enjoyable at the center of it all.  You need to make the game feel good to move and to do the actions you perform the most.  Mario’s jumping needs to feel good.  Celeste’s movement needs to feel right.  Miyamoto spent an hour just climbing trees during the prototype for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  The prototypes for Splatoon were just blocks of tofu shooting color at each other.  These are all Nintendo games and I am both sorry and not sorry for that.

So long as we can convey the game design using the prototype, most of the time the graphics can just be blocks.  It needs to be fun at its core.  So, what is Vermintide’s core?  First-person melee combat.  I know there are ranged weapons, and those are great too, but the melee combat is where it is at in this game.  

Each weapon type plays differently and they each have different sets of swings, chops, and stabs.  It’s fun mastering each one’s style and how to fight in frenetic combat.  When the game calls itself (well, it was called Endtimes, but I think it’s just called Vermintide now) Endtimes, it is not kidding.  There are tons and tons of rats and northlanders that are running at you.  Chopping with your axe and cutting through an enemy and then feeling your weapon get caught in the shoulder of the next is amazing.  Smacking a chunky chaos warrior and feeling your weapon get stuck in the armor.  Or swinging really wide with a sweeping weapon like a hammer and just smashing through four or more enemies at once.  These things are all part of the intense combat.  

But it’s not just slicing and dicing, just like its ancestor Left 4 Dead there are special enemies that fit really well because of their Warhammer background.  Aforementioned chaos warriors, assassin rats, ratling gunners, and more will keep you on your toes and force your team to work together. Bosses such as rat ogres will smash your party apart if you don’t work together and keep your wits about you.  

I’m not a person that really likes hyper violence.  Which is ironic because this game is exactly that.  And I do love the combat.  I feel like it’s the juxtaposition of us having to fight for our lives when the world is ending kind of situation that makes it not as disturbing to me.  I still feel bad about killing enemies sometimes.  Even chaos warriors.  Especially slave rats.  Especially when they burn to death.  Man, even blightstormers, which cast huge areas of effect storms that are annoying, I sometimes feel bad about killing.  Granted these people are pretty corrupt, but still…

The tension and relief design really feels like an epic fantasy adventure.  I feel like I’m in a war in the Lord of the Rings universe or something.  I don’t know of any game that does it better or comes close. Maybe Deep Rock Galactic.  But I think it’s the high amount of well designed, melee combat that really makes it great.  

While that’s all good, what makes the icing on the cake for Vermintide is how much the developers really care about their project.  Vermintide was a buggy game.  I’m not saying that it’s okay to release buggy games, but it says a lot when developers spend a lot of time actually fixing the bugs that plague their games.  There is constant progress on them fixing things, and you can actually feel the difference.  The disparity between the attitude of developers is sad.  I suppose it helps if the development studio is smaller.  It feels less like a boss saying, “Just deal with it.” and more like a friend that says, “I’m working on it.”  They feel so human.  And that’s good, both that they try and they’re clear they are doing so because they love their game, not just because people are complaining.  It means that when people aren’t complaining, they will continue to improve, and that is what really separates developers.

And that also leads me to the way they handle characters.  You can tell they love their characters.  Each character is so loveable and the way they interact with each other is entertaining.  Even now, after having played over 500 hours of the game, I’m not tired of any of the character’s lines.  I feel like they’re always adding new lines as well.  It’s something that I noticed the Path of Exile developers do.  It’s not always about adding giant blocks of content or fixing bugs.  Sometimes it’s about going back to old stuff and improving on it.  Without prompt from the players or anything.  It’s like going to an old painting and improving upon it.  It shows they really care about it.  Or they have extra time, heh.  But even then that means they’re still thinking in their extra time, what else can I do?  

Vermintide is one of the few games where I’ve played up to the hardest (non-modded) difficulty.  I love Cataclysm difficulty because it’s so intense.  You have to perform your best.  I believe I mentioned this before when I was talking about playing to just focus on something.  It really brings me out of other mindsets and just lets me focus.  If I want to just not think about depressing things I can just hop on cataclysm with my friends.  

Which reminds me of one last thing.  This was added later in the game but the Chaos Wastes update added a roguelite campaign and that has just extended the life of the game by such a huge amount of time I really feel like the game could be endless at this point.  And I don’t mind that at all.  It’s one of those games where if they kept updating it for the next ten years I’d definitely be playing it for the next ten years.  

I didn’t say anything about the classes or the talents.  I like those too, but what I really love about Vermintide is how it mastered the core gameplay of intense co-op combat and how fun and loved the game is by the developers.  I love the characters so much and I will never not enjoy this game.  It’s that thing where I love games, I love when other people enjoy games, I love teaching people to play and enjoy games, and I love when people enjoy making games.  

And there are all these elements about that in this game.  However, there is one…caveat.  And that is that this is a co-op game, and people can make or break the experience.  I am very fortunate to have a group of three to play with (which is rarely the case in other games for me),  and they’re a great joy to play with.  I hope that if you try this game you have some friends or siblings or someone close to play with, because it’s so much better like that.  Maybe the game only feels so good because I have a good group.  That’s very possible.  I apologize if it doesn’t end up as fun as I’ve written due to social factors.

I still think that the game design and character designs are great.  And I still stand by it by putting Warhammer: Vermintide II: (Chaos Wastes) at #33 on the ULTRA.  Huh, I think that’s one of the highest ranking games I’ve written a Why I Love on the ULTRA.  I think I write less on the higher ranked games because it tends to be more sentimental, but I’m sure I will write about them eventually.
Thanks for reading, and I really hope you enjoy the Skulls event stuff going on today!  Be safe!  And happy gaming!

Elise

Gaming Identity

Master of None

I’m usually trying to find a set arc of things to write about in every article, but this is also a personal “blog”, if I can call it that.  A lot of things here are based off of personal experience and opinions, but at the same time I want it to be worth reading and fun to read.

Sometimes I lament my lack of skill level in video games.  Granted, I think I am better than a casual player.  I think I am a little bit better than the average?  And yet, place anyone who has even the slightest bit more focus on a game or type of game that they like and I can assure you they will be better than me.  As I got older in high school I thought a lot about what makes my pride and identity as a video gamer important to me. The more I think about this, the more I realize there are certain things I want to be  part of me as a gamer, and some that I really don’t care about.

Socially, I used to be upset that I wasn’t as good as other gamers, but personally, why did that matter?  The joy people get from their competitive spirit is nothing bad, but to define myself and my value through someone else’s lens just wasn’t working out for me.  I think there are three main things I tend to focus and work on as a video gamer.


I value the history, diversity, and humanity in video games.  This is one of the driving forces behind me playing games that are perhaps more mediocre than others.  I want to see what makes games that aren’t the best still likable.  I want to see a development team improve over time.  I want to see the struggles of trying to make good game design decisions.  I love the stories of Iwata Satoru as he grew Nintendo, or the struggle of Eric Barone as he created Stardew Valley.  All of this included, I think I value my versatility and diversity in the games I play.

In terms of piracy, I am always on the front of anti-piracy, not for the sake of capitalism, but for the sake of morality and humanity.  Which is also why if it takes piracy to preserve history, I don’t necessarily discourage that side.  I think it is the moral responsibility for developers to preserve their games and the games’ history, and if they do not it may be up to the players.  This is the history side of my values.

Games that show humanity in their storylines and the poking at our lives to become better people are also very enjoyable.  Games don’t have to be deep to be good, but some games can be good because they are deep.  Undertale and some of the quests in Genshin Impact that really push what it means to be human and how we can improve are so valuable to me.  My siblings and I often poke at anime because they tend to hit the hardest notes in what makes us human.  I love the struggle between the self and what is right in Path of Exile’s implied lore.  “We see ourselves reflected in those facets, twisted beyond recognition.”  It remarks how people do not become mad in a single moment, but it is almost always a string of events unnoticed by those outside the mind.  And sometimes how certain things in their simplicity are what makes them impact how we feel and think, like in Alan Wake. I wrote an article about that.

I value the spread of knowledge that is good.  The only thing in the media industry I enjoy more than consuming is teaching about it.  I love talking about game design and helping new gamers find their place in the field.  I want them to discover what games really drive them to play.  Few things are as enjoyable as seeing a new gamer find out that they really love in a series or seeing their skill levels improve as they put in their efforts to be better at a game.  

I love seeing games as a diving board to raise interest in things.  I love studying, so learning new skills like lockpicking because of its universality in video games has been great.  Although, I’m still not as good as I’d like to be, trust me.  Learning about how politics and misuse affect the everyday lives of people in Deus Ex and relating that to real life.  Or other pokes like racism and refugee crises in Guild Wars 2.  To learn and see from outside my mind is good knowledge from video games.  

And bringing it back around, just people learning about the lore of worlds outside our own.  That excitement, the fandoms, the burning passion of it all.  These things are good knowledge because it brings people together and we carry joy together.  Just lore of games themselves, even if not as useful in real life, that is good knowledge that I love immensely.  

I value the relationship between myself and games.  This has been kind of talked about in my Breaking the Fourth Window article.  I value how games change how I treat others in positive ways.  Understanding communication and how to better be myself around others.  Setting boundaries and respecting boundaries.  I am not a social person, so all of this is a good thing.  I value how I feel about the characters and the worlds in these games.  When people cry over a beloved character’s death, and moreover why they were close to them in the first place.  Was it because they had a friend similar to them?  Was it because we loved or hated a similar situation?  Is it trauma?  …was it because they were hot?  Okay, that last one is not really something I could personally relate to, but to each their own in their video game relationships.

I think some people categorize my relationship with the game worlds as nearly as dangerous as what some…unhealthy fandoms do with characters, but I don’t relate to them in the same way.    It is a bond to strengthen my values and ties to everything around me.  I want to be with the hurt and misunderstood in games, to “talk” with them and interact and think about how I feel.  It has helped me relate to those who have been hurt in real life.  It is not that any of these relationships in our outside video games are fake, rather it is that they all uplift each other.  And in one full circle going back to my first point, it helps me become more human.


Is this all a bit cheese?  Maybe.  Does it feel a bit preachy?  Kinda.  But all in all, it’s what I pride myself in playing video games to be.  I think a lot of the reasons I play are for uplifting me and those around me.  I want to help people be more human, or even just have good fun.  Sorry if these rather personal posts are not as exciting as my other posts, but I just hope that we all have positive growth in ourselves by playing video games.  I want to prove that there is so much more to video games than just violently shooting at demons.    …although, that is fun too.

Stay safe, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

Elise

Intentional Playing

Playing to work?  Or playing to play?

I’ve written about this in the past, but I feel like bringing it up again. I have an issue I’ve been working on the past year or two.  I am so caught up in being productive.  I have a job and my art production on the side.  While those occupy a lot of my time, the thing that really occupies my time is my interest in just about everything.  I know I have a limited amount of time here on Earth, but I’ve set all my productivity for eternity.  So my ideal is to act as if I would last forever. 

I love video games.  This site was originally not going to be called Game Praisers, but something more general.  I’ve spent so much time researching and learning things unrelated to games.  I have a good foundation of  biology, chemistry, and physics.  I’ve had my foray into business, programming, accounting, and a few other unrelated things.  Just because I’m very interested in all that.

However, being a jack of all trades is time consuming, and I’ve felt that the pressure to be productive as I try to continue this hugely lateral growth is seeping into everything I do.  And that includes video games.  I think it’s very probable that anyone who has a job or is trying to get a new skill can have that same issue start to pop up in their lives.  It doesn’t help that, contextually, we are in a covid-19 world where we spent a lot of time indoors.  I know that didn’t affect me too much, because I am not a social person, but I saw other people struggle with feeling productive being indoors all the time.

That need for productivity is now in a place where I feel like it shouldn’t belong.  Video games are meant to be fun.  I’m not very good at relaxing.  I’m always having to do something.  I hate naps.  I need to be doing something “productive”, which in this case has also come to mean that I must consume media at a desired rate as well.  That Assassin’s Creed year last year probably didn’t help either.  

So now, while I’m still trying to move around and get into all these games, I want to be more intentional with playing games . Playing games with the intention to have fun and the intention to relax.  I was advised to intentionally relax.  To have time set aside.  To do things knowing that the purpose is for me to relax or to enjoy my time.  This is why movies are a very good way for me to intentionally relax.  I get focused and that’s all I can think of.  The whole purpose of it is, well, it.  But with games, especially because we have to make efforts to do things, I kind of get the feeling of having to be productive again. 

I have to level this many times, I have to get this many resources, or I have to get this far into a level.  But all that really kills the joy of gaming.  Even if I’m playing with the intention of concentration like in cataclysm mode for Vermintide II, I have to really be focused on getting to that point to really get that flow and enjoyment.  

And now, just now, when I’m already at a veteran-ish age in the world of gaming, I need to re-learn how to sit down and play for the intention of playing. This sounds dumb.  I’m kind of repeating myself, but this is something that I think is important and something that I feel like might be unaware to some people.  I think it’s a mental health kind of thing as well.  I want people to recognize that our mental health will affect how we enjoy games.  It’s an important part of our bodies to take care of, and I want us to enjoy games to the fullest.

The internet was really bad this last week, and I couldn’t even turn the computer on due to network issues.  So I grabbed the Nintendo Switch and I booted up the random game I bought like, a year ago, and started playing.  It was Final Fantasy Adventure  in the Collection of Mana.  I remember stopping several times because of the archaic systems of direction in it, but I had nothing else to do.  I mean, I had other things to do.  I have plenty of backlog research I could do.  But I really just wanted to play a game, and this was one of my only options.

So I sat there and struggled, but then I decided to try and figure out this oldschool game.  I found myself getting really sucked into it.  Time flew by just like it did in my younger days.  I played because I intended to really just play a video game.  I sometimes lament this feeling of not having time to play games and then only playing thirty minutes to try and squeeze whatever I can before I have to get back into the grind of work, and I don’t enjoy it.

Sometimes circumstances make it really difficult, but I’m going to keep working on this idea of just playing purely for the game again.  Even if it’s just the thirty minutes I have left of the day, I’m just gonna let it happen.

I did that last night on Deep Rock Galactic.  Typing this now I just realized that.  I had thirty minutes left, and I just went all in.  I planned for one game, but I committed fully to just getting into it.  I suppose I’ve come pretty far in this long journey of enjoying games again.

One last thing, for some of you, gaming might even have to take a backseat.  It might be another activity that is more relaxing.   Regardless, be intentional with your time to relax.  It’s hard and, no matter how dumb it sounds, you might have to work at being able to relax.  Keep at it though.  Ultimately, our physical and mental health is pretty important. 

So take care of yourself, stay safe, and let’s enjoy video games again.  See you next time.

  • Elise

Thoughts on Back 4 Blood: Tunnels of Terror

Contains Both Tunnels and Terror

Well, what I wrote in the subtitle explains it all.  The end.

Just kidding.  I’ve been playing Back 4 Blood since…December, I think.  And like similar intense co-op games like this, we blasted through it in like three days.  It was fun, and then that was it.  Back 4 Blood also brings with it unlockable things to keep me coming back: Cards can be unlocked.  You use the cards to make decks and you draw those cards as you play through the levels.  The cards are always in the order you set them in the deck to be, so that’s nice.  It makes playthroughs a little different every time.  You can also unlock skins.  If you know me, I’m definitely a girl who really likes making her characters look the way she wants them to.  And then there are weapon skins, which I also am a great fan of.

The characters are pretty likable..  The variance in their lines is not as diverse as Left 4 Blood, but they’re still fun to hear.  I admit it took me a little bit to like the characters, but by the end of the Recruit difficulty it was all good.  Oh, that’s right.  Then we worked our way through Veteran difficulty with only two players, because by that time most of the group stopped playing.  And then we tried Nightmare and we got slaughtered.  The most recent update made it a little easier, but we still get slaughtered and I am just not going to play with randos.

Alright, let’s get to Tunnels of Terror.

Is it worth it?  Kinda?  Let’s talk about the different things and then you can determine for yourself, because we likely have different interests.

Tunnels/Hives:

So you can go into Ridden Hives that randomly spawn in the levels.  And these hives are actual entire levels you get to play in.  The way they’re attached to the main campaign instead of their own levels reminds me a lot of Path of Exile’s content additions.  And I love that.  I love it in Path of Exile because they keep adding more stuff and that means more chaos and unexpected occurrences.  I love that kind of chaos.  But that also means you will not be choosing hives as levels to play through.  Even when you’re playing through the campaign, they’re not guaranteed to spawn.  …at least from what I’ve seen.

The hives themselves are really fun to play.  Even though their designs are mostly just slimy tunnels, there’s something about venturing through them that makes the gameplay of them really fun, if not better than most of the levels in the campaign.  Sometimes they’re fairly straight forward, and other times they feel like mazes.  In both senses they have been really fun for me and my ally to play in.  We love them.  While in these hives you can open warped chests which drop a bunch of good loot at the expense of some negative effect like everyone in the team taking trauma damage after opening it.  Which leads me to…

Legendary Weapons:

You can find these in warped chests.  I love the legendary weapons.  They are exactly what I want from such things: unique look, flavor text, and some fancy effect.  These are unmoddable weapons that do special effects like adding burning damage to an AA-12 while giving the wielder immunity to fire damage.  I like to open warped chests just to try and find these weapons, because they’re so fun to use.  They’re a very refreshing effect to the usual guns we wield.  You can also find unique, named mods that have crazy effects like 100% recoil reduction, but lose a ton of movement speed while shooting.  Those are also really fun and great.  Also in the hives we can find…

Skull Totems/Skins:

To be clear, skull totems are not skins, but they’re related to them.  In hives you can find up to three skull totems.  They’re a melee weapon that you have to actively hold.  Switching to any other item will make you drop the totem.  Each totem can be combined with the next to make it stronger (and slower in attack speed).  This allows for convenient travel with multiple totems, uh, in one totem!  That way only one person needs to carry it if need be.  If you’re using a melee build, these skull totems are great!  If you’re not, they’re not great!  It’s annoying to have to drop it just to switch to a ranged weapon if there are sleepers on the walls, and then pick them back up again.  But if you manage to escape the hive with the skull totems, you can spend them at the convoy to get other unlockables.  Like skins!

The new outfits are great, but there are not that many new skins.  I honestly expected a little more out of something they deemed an “expansion”.  The character skins are fun, but it’s the weapon skins that I’m kind of disappointed in.  Most of them are the same style on every gun.  A new biohazard skin?  A ton of them have that same yellow-black styling.  A new hot rod skin?  It’s on a lot of them as well.  None of the skins are unique to any type of gun, and I don’t really like that.  I like it when the skins are unique to the guns.  I don’t mind if there are a few repeats, like in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but when it’s always repeated, it doesn’t feel great.  It’s just a mixed bag for me on this one. 

Some of the new talents and cards and stuff are really great though.  I’ve yet to be disappointed in the cards.  Some can seem kind of plain, but are still important for creating variety in decks, and I’m very okay with that.

Characters:

I’m glad there is another Asian.  I’m super biased about that, but I’m glad.  Heng is a new cleaner who has more utility in accessory items.  There usually isn’t a huge feeling of difference between characters in Back 4 Blood.  Even with other characters abilities and damage buffs, to be honest they tend to feel mostly the same.  I’m honestly okay with that, but so far Heng is just another cleaner to play as.  If you like to combo accessory effects though, he’s definitely someone to try out.  I like trying to make items be reusable or drop/spawn as frequently as possible and he’s just the person for that.

However, Sharice makes the game feel very different.  Sharice makes it so armor plates can be found in the maps.  Armor plates will take a heavy hit for you, and you can equip multiple.  Shooting off armor from enemies will also have a chance of dropping armor plates.  These things can make a huge difference.  Just imagine having any of the accessory items not spawn because one of the team members isn’t using a character.  I mean, that’s how big of a deal she is.  Well, quite literally, that’s the difference.  She also gives increased max temp health for the team, which is also really nice if you like gulping down meds or are using cards to get temp health.

Mutations and Monsters:

The new variations of ridden are really fun to play with.  The tallboy variant Ripper can slam the ground and send spikes through the ground as it does so, making it a ranged tank.  The reeker variant is the Shredder, which pulls people towards it.  Instead of bursting in gross goo, the Shredder’s head just pops and just kinda spews it out in a small area of effect near it.  The stinger variant is the Urchin, which shoots spiky mines.  

Parting Words:

As a last note, only one player needs Tunnels of Terror for everyone to experience hives.  Skull totems and their associated skins can be earned even if you don’t have the expansion.  Characters can be unlocked in PvP by playing PvP, but to use them in PvE you need to have the expansion.  The expansion by itself is $14.99 right now.  If it’s just the hive content you’re wanting to play, it’s not a bad price for the content for a party.  I’m still pretty mixed about how I feel about the package as a whole, but I will not deny that I enjoy my time with Back 4 Blood and the new content is a welcome experience. 

With most co-op games, how fun it is really depends on who you’re playing with, and even though there is only one other person in my party left, we have a really good time with the game.  I hope there can be more improvements at the next expansion.  

I don’t really give number ratings for games, but that was my experience.  Some people express their concern that I am fairly positive about everything in games, but this does not make this thought process for naught.  I’m sure there are things about the game that I said that you might think, “Oh, I don’t really like that,” or maybe, “I don’t think this is enough content for me.”  And if any of my words help clarify any of those thoughts, then I believe myself to have succeeded.  I just want you all to be able to find the fun in games wherever you can, and if you can’t find it here in the Tunnels of Terror expansion, that’s okay!

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next time~

Elise

No Post This Week

This is a busy week. There are a lot of stressful activities going on at the moment. I won’t be able to post this week. I hope any of you going through final exams and whatnot are having a balanced time of relaxing and working hard. Keep it up!

The Big DLC

The Great Paywall

Sometimes I think about gaming and how expensive it is.  Although it’s not necessarily required to get a gaming computer because there are plenty of good low-end PC games that are super fun, usually gamers will get a gaming device.  That could be a used 3DS for like $200 or less.  Or it could be something more expensive like a Playstation 5 for like, $500 (or more unfortunately).  Or it is a gaming computer for $900+.  And then you gotta buy the games.  And deal with the pains of learning accessories and whatnot.

And it can get expensive…most of the time.  There are so many good, free to play, major games like Path of Exile, Guild Wars 2, Starcraft II, Warframe, all of the free battle royales, and many more.  And then there are giveaways all the dang time.  Epic Store has been giving away major games every week for the past like, I don’t even remember anymore.  Two years?  So maybe getting the games part isn’t expensive.  There is, however, the major and valid hurdle of what kind of games you like.  So I’ll have to leave that up to you and the availability of games that you like.

So what is this big DLC I’m talking about then?  I’m talking about life.

Life has the most DLC out of any game.  You think about other hobbies that involve standard real life applications, and you are going to be spending cash on every single little thing.  Need a small part for your car you’re working on?  DLC.  Need to get some more paint to replenish your “mana”, by which I mean your oil paints for your canvas?  Pay to win.  Want to travel?  Dang, you’re gonna be paying hundreds of dollars, and you don’t even get the DLC permanently, because you’ll be back home.  I hate to say it, but games have very little DLC compared to standard hobbies.

The difference is that most of the time you can apply those other hobbies to being “productive”.  Everything is seen as more productive than playing video games.  Let’s be honest, the stereotype that gamers are trolls in the basement is still a thing.  Unless you’re rich, attractive, or famous.  Apparently they get a pass.

Maybe it’s about getting our money’s worth?  Learning how to cook a new recipe always costs a lot, but it always comes with the bonuses of eating good food, sharing with family and friends, and upping your cooking skill.  I’m not hating on games or anything.  Come on, this is Game Praisers.  But the weird thing is that game DLC is both really great and not great at the same time.  My new adventures in the snow for Monster Hunter don’t teach me anything about survival in the snow, but I get to go to lands I never would see in real life.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I am so grateful for media.  I am grateful for content.  Because this huge world that pummels us with unwarranted updates like Covid and hate is also the same one that demands us pay for DLC whether we want it or not.  Let’s be real, that’s a low standard to be pitting video games against.  That’s even lower than comparing gaming to other hobbies and their expenses and rewards.  But… I’m at least grateful for it.  

Rarely would I get free food just because, like I can do on Epic Games.  Never could I travel so easily to foreign lands and learn cool lore.  Never could I have met friends as a cool engineer character I’m totally not like in real life other than personality.  And also, rarely could I do the same in reverse.  I’m so glad I bought those ingredients to make a cool recipe in real life to make for my family.  I’m so grateful that the darn cleaning product worked in the bathroom when I cleaned it again.  

I’m so grateful for content in both worlds.  

…but sometimes it still gets so darn expensive.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll see you again soon.

Elise

Lone Wanderers Together

Single Player Co-op

I’m definitely a single player gamer.  If it has to be multiplayer it better be cooperative play, and even then I might just play through the whole thing by myself.  For example, The Division series I played 98% by myself.  I like taking things at my own pace and style.  My playstyle tends to conflict with a lot of my friends’ styles so I’d rather just not be a burden on the whole group.  

I love being a long wanderer.  I have a harder time with games where you need to control a squad unless it’s a top down view like an RTS or MOBA game.  In the Fallout series I never travel with a companion unless I need to for a quest.  Same goes for the Elder Scrolls series.  Sometimes I’ll still have to go through it though, like in Baldur’s Gate or Mass Effect, but I can grit my teeth and “get along” with people.  Perhaps I’m just not a people person.

After all is said and done, one of my favorite things to do with single player games is to talk with other players who have finished it and hear their sides of the story.  What choices did they make that differ from me?  In my previous article I talked about how I tend to make choices that are more like myself, and that also means not experiencing a lot of things that other people chose.  I love to see why people choose different choices especially concerning factional, emotional, or moral matters.

I also like to hear where they wandered off to and what side areas and quests I didn’t see.  I purposely only do quests and side quests I truly run into on my own to make it more of a personal experience (unless I desperately need an upgrade or something), and so hearing of other’s exploits and adventures makes theirs even more unique.  Like, hearing a friend run into a legendary monster that I never knew about is so cool.  Them talking about some secret loot from it and what it was like is such a fun experience.  We’ve both played the game, but their treasures are all different.

This is a little harder to do with open world games where quests and areas are more laid out for you.   In Assassin’s Creed: Origins I ended up going to nearly, if not all, the markers on the map.  It didn’t feel very unique.  I was just checking off a list of things to do.  Every once in a while I’d run into something unique that made me smile, laugh, or be in awe.  I found the things that really hit that single player adventure spot were those few things that I ran into that were unmarked, or events that happened due to certain sandbox-based natural events.  

Guild Wars 2 kind of hits that same note, even though it’s an MMO.  MMOs are a little less like the nature of long wanderers together because of obvious reasons.  However, the way the game’s event based quests and renown hearts work, you can always just run into people and work together to fight some map boss or help a town of NPCs out.  Immediately after, we say thanks or share a cheer, and then off we are back again on our own adventures.  

Single player games offer that weird feeling of being back at base, and everyone shares their experiences and loot.  I hear their stories and I get amped up to go on another adventure.  In a weird way, I don’t feel alone in a single player experience, because we’re all on this smattering of timelines in our own worlds and I can hear what happened with them.  I know this is ironic because I don’t talk to a lot of people in general, but still.  All of this becomes more and more exciting as system based games like Dishonored and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild take shape.  They need not be super open world, but their dynamic systems allow for unique experiences that I continue to be amazed at or laugh at.  

It reminds me of times being united with gamers playing Super Mario World or other older single player games of the olden days.  We were all together because we all went on the same adventure, but when we reunite we all tell differing tales.  

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you again soon.

Elise

To Play a Game

Getting lost in getting lost

ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m going to try and post more regularly now, but the posts will focus less on game design and more like a blog for me as a gamer.  I understand if this is less interesting or too different and if you don’t want to continue following that is fine.  Okay, on to the article.

There were a couple times in the past year where I realized I wasn’t really having fun playing a game.  I lost the whole point of playing games.  I wasn’t enjoying my time.  

There are a lot of different reasons to play video games, and honestly, I don’t think joy has to be one of them, but I wasn’t feeling any of those good reasons.  Due to mental health, sometimes I just play because I want to zone out or fend off some ill feelings.  Sometimes I am trying to get an achievement, and it’s not surprising that times like that are actually more frustrating than enjoyable, but it has a good purpose.  Sometimes I am just hanging out with friends while other times I want something where I can put my all, like Cataclysm mode in Warhammer: Vermintide II.  

And then there are times where I’m playing and I’m thinking, “Why am I doing this at all?”  Why am I spending time gathering herbs or searching for resources that I will then deposit into my bank and I will never ever use them because I am a hoarder?  I sometimes think of the lapse of time that goes through as I do menial tasks.   I admit I also find myself skeletonizing my tasks and thinking, is this all a waste of time?  It feels like the same thing as “game x”.  This can occur  on some of my favorite games as well.

Perhaps it’s my depression, or I really am just out of it, because those same moments can be reversed.  The best cure I’ve found for these moments is just…to stop caring about time.  I have such a hard time relaxing.  It really seems like a skill for me because I always have to think about progress or productivity.  I miss the days when I could sit on a chair in Maplestory and just chat with friends about random stuff.

Not too long ago I was playing Fallout 4 and I kept glancing at my phone because I had an early work meeting and all I could think of was, “Am I going to get enough sleep?  How much more can I squeeze in?”  Going through a tower full of raiders was not as exciting as it was when all I could think of was being productive with my time in a game that is known for being a time sink.  It took a while but I had to really let myself go and not think about time.  And soon I was  just having fun mowing down raiders.  It is really unfortunate that the culture of productivity dug its claws so deep into my life that it entered into the realm of my video game experience.  I would not be surprised if you, as a gamer, have felt that same dreadful feeling.

I find that not only do I perform well, but I also enjoy myself more when I let go of time.  The same kind of fun I had when I was a tiny child playing Goldeneye 007 on the N64 and we just…straight up played.  Sitting on the ground or a couch playing Super Mario World over and over and over again.  Or when I spent so much time just wandering around in Morrowind, sometimes just to see the sights.  I miss those times, and I feel the closest thing I can do to bringing back those times I played just to play is to stop worrying about time.  Either that or play with close friends or siblings.  Those times can get rambunctious and super fun.  

However, these days most of the time I play single player games, and because I spread my interests so thin, I always believe I need to be productive with my time.  In the end, I think the most productive and best use of my time is to just…play for fun again.  Not to worry about time and just…do what you’re supposed to do when you play a game and just get into it.  I hope that we don’t forget that passion that we had as gamers when we just played for fun or without regard to time.  We just let ourselves get lost in a different world.  And it was good.

Thanks for reading.  I’ll see you again soon.

Elise