What I’m Playing Now – Weekend Gaming Review

Having recently finished the mostly long, not so arduous task of getting the platinum trophy for Assassin’s Creed:Origins so I found myself once again asking myself “What do I feel like playing next?”. The platinum trophy for Origins took approximately 74 hours as I had started playing it back in January after setting out to actually complete an Assassin’s Creed game which I had only played a couple up to that time. Without spending too much time going over and discussing the game I will say that I really enjoyed the game, so much that I spent 70-plus hours completing everything and getting the platinum trophy. I don’t typically spend all of my energy(or sanity) trying to collect every trophy for every game, save for a relatively small group of games that I had loved so much that I was determined to accomplish everything within the game. Now that I had Origins wrapped up, I decided I would set my sights on another game. I am usually “juggling” several different games, on different systems at any given time. I have still been playing MLB The Show 19 pretty steadily since it released over a month ago and had just recently begun playing through Cuphead on my Switch, along with still playing a few rounds of Tetris 99 and Super Smash Bros: Ultimate on a routinely basis.

There are three games in particular that I have had in mind for a while now that I wanted to play through – Persona 5, Final Fantasy XV, and The Witcher 3(Complete Edition). All three of these games being somewhat intimidating as I’m not usually able to play a sprawling, epic (J)RPG game while still playing too many others so I decided I would finish up some other games before devoting myself to a more “demanding” game. I have played a good amount of RPGs over the years since first discovering how satisfying and addicting they can be, especially after finally “figuring out” the strategy in turn-based combat…thanks, Pokemon Red :)…but always had trouble finishing them as I would seemingly always just…not play them for a few days or a couple weeks and would have trouble getting “back into” the control scheme and story.

I woke up one morning and just decided to jump in and start playing The Witcher 3, which I am really liking so far and will make sure to keep playing consistently as the control scheme for the game is a little different and can seem more complex than some games. However, after a couple days I decided that I wanted to try Persona 5 as well and started playing that randomly one morning, the update for SSB: Ultimate in adding Joker to the roster may have “assisted” in that decision as well…I was a little hesitant to begin playing Persona as I was thinking the rumors COULD BE TRUE about a port of Persona 5 coming to the Switch and having a 100+ hour JRPG to play on my Switch to take around with me sounded fun. Well…a few days ago Atlus announced that they were bringing the Persona series to the Switch with Persona 5 Scramble – not a straight port of the game but more of a fighter-type game in the vein of the Dynasty Warriors games. So my decision to play Persona 5 on my PS4 was the correct one. I absolutely love Persona so far and have put about 15 hours or so into it already.

The last few couple days however…I felt like going back and playing through some of my childhood favorite games on my N64. I played Star Wars: Rogue Squadron – still one of my absolute favorite Star Wars games, along with some Star Fox 64 and I also dug out my old copy of Mario Golf which brought back tons of fond memories of summer days gone by. I am still in love with many games on the N64, even ones that my not have aged as gracefully like a lot of early 3d era games did, Goldeneye in particular. I do intend on bringing out my old Gamecube and original Xbox to play some of my all-time favorites like Halo(1 &2), Metroid Prime, and Eternal Darkness. I would like to also play through Timesplitters 2 as well as attempt to finally beat Viewtiful Joe which was more difficult than I could accomplish in past years.

I apologize if there doesn’t seem to be much more to this week’s post than a lengthy recollection of my weekend of playing video games(that IS pretty accurate). Part of my mission with this blog has been simply to sort out the endless rambling about “vidya gaemz”. What games are you currently playing? or what’s a game that you have wanted to play to haven’t gotten around to for one reason or another?

Keep on playing…

Here’s some Persona 5 Scramble news if curious – https://www.gamespot.com/articles/p5s-is-persona-5-scramble-a-warriors-style-action-/1100-6466463/

MLB The Show 19 – First Impressions

The 2019 MLB baseball season is finally here! Though The Show 19 has only been out for not even two weeks, I can already say this year’s offering from San Diego Studios is looking to be one of the best ever.

The most difficult thing for a developer has to be finding ways to make a sports game interesting and engaging year after year. This year’s The Show game includes the new mode March to October which is a sort of condensed season where you play mostly situational spots through the scheduled season to help your team build momentum, or “catch fire”. This can be anything from completing a series sweep against a division rival to completing a no-hitter for your starting pitcher with player rewards coming at the end of the season. Also new this year is the Moments mode where you play out significant situations throughout baseball history. The starting Moments programs include a Babe Ruth career arc, as well as Willie Mays, the Chicago Cubs historic World Series season, and rookie season for current cover star Bryce Harper. The different challenges have archived in game footage setting up the moment, which I really enjoy as a baseball fan and history geek.

The new Moments mode where you can “call your shot” as Babe Ruth or make “The Catch” as Willie Mays

The XP/Rewards system this year is a little different, and for the better I believe. There are two different paths that you can earn rewards from player cards and equipment to simply more stubs…to purchase more cards and equipment 😉 The first is the XP Path Rewards in which you receive a new reward every five or so levels you increase your profile which is looking to pay off with some pretty nice cards for your Diamond Dynasty team. There is also the Star Program rewards path, which is pretty much the same as the XP path only you receive varying amounts of stars as a result of winning a game or completing the rotating in-game missions that are offered. This too, results in some nice rewards as I already picked up a level 95 diamond-rated Goose Gossage to add to the bullpen of my Diamond Dynasty team.

The game mechanics have been tweaked a bit over the offseason; the player defense is the most realistic I have seen in a baseball simulation game meaning no more awkward throw animations or bumbling fielding attempts. The hitting has also been altered ever so slightly, there is actually good, solid feedback when you get the bat on the ball which is an improvement over last year. I genuinely hope San Diego Studios doesn’t feel the need to experiment with batting physics again this year. There is also an array of different home run calls and animations that can be used for your Road to the Show players which are fun to set, even if it doesn’t affect how the game plays.

There are a couple very minor dislikes about the game such as there isn’t really any additions or improvements made to Franchise mode, or simply the fact that the game boast an overwhelming abundance of game modes and settings and cards that it is near baffling to first play. There is also a feeling that the Live Series player cards actually have a “live” bat versus some of the Flashback Series cards I have used in the past few years…nevertheless, I have truly enjoyed the 40 or so hours I have put into the game so far and have to remind myself that the baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. MLB The Show 19 is another home run!

Apex Legends – No Titans, no problem

There are 8 playable characters you can choose, though the characters Caustic and Mirage initially need to be unlocked

Any given week I’m usually playing several different games, however the past couple weeks most of my time spent playing games has been playing Apex Legends and with over 8 million players in the first 48 hours after launch, a sizable portion of the online gaming community has been too(understatement). 

Apex Legends was launched completely unaware by just about everyone two weeks ago on the date. I awoke Monday February 4 to read news that Respawn Entertainment had announced their newest project; a class based battle royale shooter “set in the Titanfall universe” and was launching immediately. I have to admit I was unsure what to think upon hearing the announcement as I, along with many others were hoping for news of Titanfall 3. I absolutely loved Titanfall 2 and regard it as one of my favorite first-person shooters I’ve ever played, alongside games like Goldeneye, Halo, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. As mixed…well…generally negative feelings as I have for EA, I wanted to support Respawn and give Apex Legends a chance. 

The premise of Apex Legends is standard battle royal fare, (drops, shrinking area of play, random weapons scattered throughout map) but with 8 class-based “Legends” to select from at the beginning of the match. I find the class-based angle interesting in a battle royale game, as each character has different abilities to use throughout the match. Each character has a passive, tactical, and an ultimate ability. This being similar to Overwatch…I’m curious to know how long Blizzard has been contemplating creating a BR mode for Overwatch?

I have been playing Apex Legends for two weeks now and so far I have been very impressed. My favorite aspect of the gameplay would probably have to be the Smart Comms system, where you simply tap a button to point out or “ping” anything from your next map destination to items and weapons to pointing out enemies on the map for your squad to see. This intuitive context sensitive design lets you do ALL of this without having to get on the mic to talk to you squamates. Ask anyone who has ever tried to play in a squad with random players online or simply prefer not to use a mic can tell you what a blessing this is. There is also a respawn ability where even after you are knocked down and killed your teammates can grab your player beacon from your loot; a “death box” and bring it over to a respawn beacon and you will get another chance as your character jumps down from the next dropship. This gives away your position to the other remaining players as well, so you will need to move quickly as soon as you hit the ground.

Your teammate can bring your player beacon to respawn you from an incoming dropship.

The gameplay itself in Apex Legends is as smooth as it gets, this comes as no surprise to anyone that marveled at the gameplay of Titanfall 2 (also the fact that Respawn was founded by Jason West and Vince Zampella from Infinity Ward – developers of the first two Cod: Modern Warfare games). The shooting feels good and tight, the movement has enough “weight” to it, but you don’t feel like you’re running through quicksand. 

King’s Canyon – One large island but has multiple areas and terrain from mountains to swamps and desert

There is currently only a single map you can play – King’s Canyon, but it has become one of my favorite maps in any battle royale game. The map has different terrain, from dry sandy wastelands which look like something out of the Borderlands games to green swampy lowlands with streams running through, reminiscent of SOCOM games.

As with most battle royale games, there is a very slight learning curve. Mostly just familiarizing yourself with which weapons are what and what the attachments and ammo types are, which in turn makes it more satisfying to utlitlize all the different gameplay aspects and see your squad as Champions.

Apex Legends is definitely worth checking out if your are a fan of the battle royale genre and it plays well enough to give a chance even if you aren’t a fan. I am having a blast playing this in the meantime. Here’s hoping the enormous success of this game in such a short time may result in Respawn making Titanfall 3 in the future…