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So About Them “Videogames”, February 2014

February 18, 2014

オイ! Video game monthly time! While January was spent playing things I’ve already talked about in some fashion or another, February has brought on fresh new things as well as some old favorites.

Support roles in video games! One of my largest frustrations with team based multiplayer games is how rarely they acknowledge and reward support roles.
While some games have added small bonuses to say getting X number of assists in a row (as was the case in Halo:Reach [or was that Halo 4…? Or both?]), so much emphasis is placed on being the one who scored the last hit on something, and not so much on everyone who contributed. How often do you hear folks talking about their Kill/Death ratio? Now how often do you hear people talking about how many Assists they’ve gotten?
One of the easiest games to reference as being a prime offender of this is League of Legends, with its kill combo callouts. Triple Kill! Quadra Kill! and the like are all based on last hits, and make no reference to whether those kill combos were obtained through the help of a support’s healing or stuns. I have been insulted by a random group teammate for getting the last hit on an enemy in a teamfight because if I had backed off, he or she could have gotten a triple kill.
It’s a behavior that makes the game not only about competing with the opposing team of players, but also your teammates as well, which I find somewhat silly, as I consider team based multiplayer games such as League to be about cooperating with your team to win against an enemy.
It doesn’t end in strictly player versus player environments though. In World of Warcraft, Tanking and Healing are more important roles than DPS, as in most cases, if a DPS is bad at doing damage, an encounter will simply take longer to complete. If a Tank or Healer is bad at their respective roles, the encounter may become impossible to complete.
Yet you never hear people talking about “What’s your threat per second? What’s your Healing per second?” Yet it is all too common for people to spam chat channels with damage numbers after boss fights using an addon.
I think it’s due to this lack of acknowledgement for support roles that fewer players wish to participate in those roles. Who wants to help someone else do well in a video game when you can be the one doing well with the assistance of a teammate after all?
Maybe I’m in the minority in finding the lack of love for Supports in video games depressing, but nonetheless, I do.

 
What I’ve been playing:

UntitledBravely Default: 
Man oh man am I enjoying Bravely Default a whole lot!
For a game which until a week or two ago I had little to no interest at all in playing, Bravely Default has stylishly passed my expectations in just about every way.
It’s a modernized version of classic JRPG mechanics and story elements, with a world inhabited by a people who worship crystals, random battles (Don’t panic. More on this in a second!), a Job system, and one of the best art styles I’ve seen on the system thus far.
Bravely Default’s primary gimmick resides within the game’s battles, where each character, along with whatever skills they may have thanks to their chosen Job (there are over 20 of these which are obtained through main line as well as side quests), they’re also able to either Brave or Default.
When a character Defaults, this means they give up their current turn in order to more-or-less go into a Guard state. Defaulting also gives that character a Brave Point, which can be used to Brave without penalty.
When a character Braves, this means they are spending a Brave Point to take an additional turn. Each character can Brave up to three times (giving them a grand total of 4 actions that turn) per turn, which can potentially devastate whatever poor soul happens to be on the other end of the fight from them. The fun part here is that characters can Brave even if they don’t have BP. This throws them into negative BP, which means once they’ve acted, they can no longer act in the battle until their BP is once again at zero. This means if you’re grinding in an area, you can just tell all of your characters to Brave three times on the first turn, and potentially destroy all of your enemies in the very first turn (which warrants additional bonuses to XP or Job XP).
It’s such a simple system (my explanations probably do more harm than good), and since enemies can benefit from the same system, it can make battles pretty interesting.
Another neat thing you can do in Bravely Default, which is extra welcome to someone like me who finds grinding in JRPGs oddly relaxing, is adjust how often you run into random battles. You can adjust a slider to make them appear slightly more often, much more often, slightly less often, or if you’re in a bad spot and need to high tail it out to safety (or you’re just overleveled for the area and want to get to the end without wasting time) you can turn them off altogether.
Again: Such simple ideas, yet such wonderful ideas!
These features compliment a JRPG knee-deep in customization. From choosing which of the two dozen Jobs to assign to each of your four Heroes, to what sorts of buffs/debuffs/elemental damage their respective Special attacks do (and even what said Special attacks are called, as well as what sort of slick one-liner the character in question spouts once they unleash it), Bravely Default has a tooooon of things going for it.
It’s smartly structured, charmingly written (though there is some iffy voice acting), and sports a terrific art style (with environments that make good use of the system’s 3d I might add). I have been enjoying the heck out of Bravely Default, and while I’ve already put around 20 hours into it, I’m hoping there’s much more to it waiting in store.
Plus it allows you to swap between numerous languages (voice and text!) on the fly; which is a trend I hope catches on.

 

256px-World_of_Warcraft_-_Mists_of_Pandaria_Box_ArtWorld of Warcraft:
WoW is a weird game for me. I’ve probably (or rather, “easily”) put more time into this game than any other I’ve played, but I wouldn’t consider it one of the best games I’ve played.
The writing is gibberish, the story isn’t presented in an interesting way, the gameplay is some of the most mechanical feeling gameplay I’ve seen in a video game, and the player feedback loop is tremendously long. It’s a video game that I’ve often said “Feels like the job you pay money for, and not the other way around.”
And despite all of this, I’ve still given it what is likely nearing a full year of playtime, and while I don’t play it as much as I once did (what with work and study and all), I still can’t help but check in on it from time to time to see what changes have been made to it.
At the moment, WoW is in its end-of-expansion state, in which gearing up your max level character has become tremendously easy, and seeing all of the content which has been added in the expansion (raids/dungeons and such) is more a matter of putting in the time each day to get your character geared up and less about whittling away at any sort of challenge posed by the content itself.
This is good, because if you’re like me and no longer wish to play WoW and only WoW and have your free time allow for nothing else, it makes seeing what there is to see quite easy. The irritating things come from seeing players with high-end gear queue for Tank or Healing roles in dungeons with no intention on performing those roles just to avoid long queue-times.
By terms of group content, I’ve enjoyed Mists of Pandaria the least out of the expansions released thus far, and as someone who tires quickly of playing one specific character, Mists started out pretty “anti-alt”, in that a lot of the way you gather up gear is based around reputation with the various factions, and required getting out in the world and questing a ton to raise said reputation. Luckily, this has been improved over the course of the expansion.
The only thing that is appealing to me regarding the next expansion (Warlords of Draenor? something like that?) are the updated character models. The whole building your home town feature just doesn’t seem all that interesting to me.
But WoW is a game that, regardless of where it goes, good or bad, I’ve sunk so much time into it that I can’t help but come back to see what has changed.

 

1841439-box_ikarugaIkaruga (Steam version):
There are a few games out there that, while I don’t play them obsessively or anything like that, are about as close to “perfect” video games as I can imagine. One of those games is Sonic 2, and another is Ikaruga. These games are so excellent and I’ve had such positive experiences with them, that I’m always happy to support their release, regardless of which platform they pop up on.
I’ve mentioned Ikaruga before, so I won’t spend too much time explaining what this game is again, but that was the Xbox Live version. This time it’s the Steam version.
You never know how well older games will run when they’re released on the PC. Luckily, this version of Ikaruga is emulated wonderfully and runs perfectly fine (on my lousy machine anyway).
Gone is the (unplayably laggy) online cooperative play which was found on the XBL version, as well as the slow motion mode in the Gamecube version, and in their place is the dual player mode, in which you can attempt to shoot your way through the game as both 1P and 2P, but on one controller. As if that’s possible or something…
Save for the dual player mode as well as some extra monitor rotation settings, the Steam version of Ikaruga is yet another fantastic version of what I consider one of the best games ever made.
If you’re interested and just haven’t had the right console up until now, it’s available for a measly ten bucks.

 

…And I’ve also been playing Call of Duty: Ghosts, and checking out the recently released map pack. I’m unsure whether it’s merely due to me playing far less Call of Duty than I used to, or if the maps are genuinely pretty good, but I’ve been enjoying myself more playing the new maps than I recall beforehand. There’s still no Headquarters though, and I still don’t understand why.
Also word has it Michael Myers makes an appearance on one of the new maps, although I’ve not encountered him thus far.
That’s sort of it so far in February though. The new Strider game will be coming tomorrow (for Xbox and Steam. Playstation already has it I believe.) and I’m thinking about grabbing it. Although my knowledge of that series is severely lacking, I understand it’s somewhat Metroidvania-like, and that has me pretty interested, as those are some of my favorite types of side-scrolling platformers.
March will be a monster. There are several big games coming. One of the largest on my radar being Dark Souls 2, so there will likely be some talk about that next time around, but we’ll need to wait and see.
じゃね。

From → Games

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  1. Spitz’s Year End Wrap Up 2014 | Spitz's Soapbox

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