A diary of sorts, wherein I moonlight as a games writer. Under haphazard construction.
I read up on how to take screenshots in Wildstar before writing this post and spent the better part of the afternoon running around mashing the Print Screen key only to find that it had done nothing and that no screenshots were being saved. So there aren’t any! Or, at least, only some boring ones I quickly grabbed by other means.
After signing up in the aftermath of Rezzed over a year ago, I finally got an invite to join the beta of Wildstar this weekend. I’d come away from my 30-minute demo with mixed impressions at the time, and was eager to play more to see how the classes and progression paths that actually interested me held up. The promise of plenty of stuff to do besides combat including the construction of settlements, interdependent crafting and other interesting social gubbins caught my attention, as did the apparent step away from some conventional MMO tropes. After maybe… 15 hours or so over the past three days, though, I’m still not entirely sure I know whether I like it. Part of this is a sense that perhaps I’m over MMOs. That I’ve changed enough over the past decade that nothing’s ever going to capture my attention like Ryzom, or Final Fantasy XI, or Star Wars Galaxies did back when I was a teenager. I mean, I bounced off Guild Wars 2, and that was excellent, wasn’t it? Surely that’s gotta be me? Returning to the glory days of Galaxies last year using the fantastic SWG Emulator was a wonderful bit of nostalgia, but I’m not still playing it now.
Just saying that’s got me feeling tempted to go back again (and find a nice Tatooinian guild in need of a Tailor), but I doubt I’d stay particularly long.
Something’s definitely up, and I can’t tell whether it’s really with Wildstar or just me.
I was gonna just sit and try to give my impressions of the game, from the perspective of a lapsed MMO player looking for something new, but whilst writing this I realised it was taking me a long while to actually get to the point.
So, two parts, then!
I’m gonna get all the gas about why I’m not sure whether I like it or not out the way here, then go on to talk in a bit more depth about the game another time.
Soul Calibur: Lost Swords decided to cooperate this morning! Despite some absolutely miserabe load times for basic things like navigating between the quest and character screens (always online, remember!), I found myself kind of enjoying it.
I was hoping to write something about Lost Swords today, but as “singleplayer” is no longer synonymous with “offline” I’ve just been sat staring at loading screens for the past couple of hours.
So the next Soul Calibur game’s singleplayer only and free-to-play, huh? Gotta say I’m actually rather excited.
I’ve never really played fighting games with other people much, so having a solid Arcade mode and then plenty to do once you’ve finished it as every character has always been really important to me.
I absolutely loved the oddball adventure modes of Soul Calibur 2 and 3, which combined with the branching Arcade stories kept me playing long after I’d have otherwise gotten bored. Unlocking characters one by one? Alternate weapons with unique stats? Hidden character customisation pieces? Hell yes. Besides the hidden characters and alternate story endings in Guilty Gear X2 you even had EX and SP versions of each character to unlock through the Survival Mode, offering both subtly and vastly different stats and movesets for every member of the cast. Getting them for your strongest characters was relatively easy, but unlocking all of them? You’d need to practice.
I know there’s a greater demand these days for games to give you everything outright, so you can play with all their toys right off the bat, but I miss the sense of progress in fighting games. Tekken, Kensei, Bloody Roar and other games of that age would make you play with all the base characters to unlock the secret ones, slowly revealing the complete picture of their overlapping stories and relationships along the way. It gave you a reason to play characters you normally wouldn’t have cared about in order to complete everything. Fighting games haven’t completely abandoned the singleplayer stuff, and unlocking endings is still a thing, but it feels like there’s so much more of a focus on things like the training modes, scoreboards and online competitive play. All the stuff I don’t really care about, really.
Despite all the interesting character creation guff, Soul Calibur 5 was a massive disappointment compared to the old games. While the actual game mechanics might be the most polished and balanced yet, a really short story mode with fixed characters for each fight, only 5-stages in arcade mode with no plot development at all and no other special stuff besides a boss-rush mode just isn’t what I expect from the series. Even when I did try to venture online I couldn’t find any matches.
Hopefully Lost Swords isn’t gonna lay the free-to-play crap on too heavy, because there’s a lot of potential there. It feels a bit like the cuttings from Soul Calibur 5’s development could be being sold back to us bit by bit, but maybe I’m just being cynical. If they have avoided that, though, and have managed to recapture the spirit of the old games’ extra modes, I’ll be seriously happy.
It feels kinda hard to believe that Rezzed Expo was the better part of a month ago now. I’ve been meaning to write something about it in some shape or form for what seems like forever, but for some reason inspiration for exactly what to write about just hasn’t come easily.
Unlike last year, where I had a clear list going in of all the stuff I wanted to try- the Oculus Rift, Sir You Are Being Hunted, Wildstar, Space Hulk all spring to mind- this year there wasn’t anywhere near as much on the billing that particularly interested me. I’d be tempted to blame that on the show’s acquisition by Eurogamer (which totally transformed the small, PC-dev-focused, and almost entirely “gamer culture”-free atmosphere of 2013 into something more resembling Eurogamer’s loud, commercial, mass-market celebration of the whole medium), but going in to Eurogamer in the Summer I’d had a hit-list of games as long of my arm. Must just have been me, then. Or the games, I suppose. I mean, I can count nearly half a dozen with single-word titles on this page, all with logos of sans-serif black text-on white background, and I wouldn’t be able to tell you what a single one of them was about. Art, I expect.
But yeah, I digress.
Going in without much of a list of things to see was fantastic, particularly given how few of the titles I’d really heard of before. I wanted to try out OlliOlli and Broforce, and had just been reading about 10 Second Ninja and Cloudbuilt the day before, but unlike my first ever chance at playing with a Rift at Rezzed last year, or the opportunity to finally see Titanfall in the Summer, they didn’t evoke much excitement. Rather than making a beeline for them straight away, I was content to just wander, stopping at anything and everything that caught my eye. I was far from methodical, and was somewhat put off by large queues and crowds, but it made for a fantastic experience. I can only imagine what it must be like for the folks who don’t follow the gaming press and would be encountering everything for the first time. Even outside of the Leftfield Collection’s alleyway (the traditional home to all the bedroom coders and self-funded nearly-theres), and despite the show’s change in tone with the inclusion of consoles, the indie heart of Rezzed was still beating strongly, with all kinds of interesting and unusual stuff on display. I think pretty much all the games that I enjoyed most were ones which I discovered there on the day.
The advantage of having left it so long to write, I guess, is that rather than writing about what was there, I can instead write about what stuck with me. This will lead to something that’s more of a reflection of myself than of the show, but that fits far better with the nature of this blog anyway. My favourite things of the show, in no particular order based on what I can remember of them four weeks later are:
Mighty Tactical Shooter
One Spear Arena
There Shall Be Lancing