For 2019-08-21 to 2019-09-03:
3110 GS over two weeks (1555 GS average)
I bought Xpovos' achievements in Realms of Ancient War
, or RAW, as it's known, on a very deep discount a few years ago, after first having been involved in the production of its walkthrough. It's a pretty straightforward dungeon crawler game in the Diablo style, though it does have some well-documented glitchiness to its achievements.
Obviously RAW is nowhere near as good as others in the genre, which is also now much better represented on console in general and on the Xbox in particular. For only 200 GS and a reasonably lengthy completion, it's going to be hard to recommend to anyone these days.
But, hey, it's better on all fronts than Arkadian Warriors
. Which at one point was all we really had.
Four Starts:Pandemic: The Board GameGears POP!Where the Bees Make HoneyWoodle Tree Adventures
I commented on Where the Bees Make Honey and Woodle Tree in my previous blog, including why I started them and a little bit about each, including a clip of some awfulness from Where the Bees Make Honey.Xpovos' blog post - The Failure
The rest of the started games segue nicely into the rest of my categories.
Pandemic was the stream game for the past two weeks, so we covered that pretty thoroughly as well, there. But I know not everyone who reads the blog (in fact fairly few) stop by the stream, so I'll just say that Pandemic is actually better than I expected. I was expecting a low-quality port, and it ends up being generally average. There's some slight issues with the movement selection, and the achievement list is unnecessarily grindy, and there are a handful of tricky ones to keep it interesting, but mostly it's just playing Pandemic. The biggest loss is the lack of online coop, which for a cooperative game is baffling. Why do we need local, we could just actually pull out a copy of the board game. Playing online would be a huge differentiator. We can chalk that up as a missed opportunity and one that definitely holds the game back, but overall, the experience is as you'd expect, a digitized version of the board game.
This is fine.
Pandemic itself is not my favorite board game. It has some significant limitations, but it's a fun enough experience, for a little while, and it's presence in Game Pass was a huge boon to me, because I was going to have to buy this otherwise, and I'm MUCH happier renting this one, which is rare.
I did also stream both Where the Bees Make Honey and Woodle Tree for a bit on Saturday. Tonight we're going to be playing the Night of the Hangry Horde for Overcooked! 2
in Overcooked! 2
In addition to those previously mentioned, I spent significant time, or earned significant score in the following games.
I completed Disney Pixar Brave: The Video Game
. OK, not really. I still have some grinding out of kills, and coins to do, but I finally got through the final boss on the hardest difficulty. That was no small feat.
Sorry for the PTSD flashback, guys.
There are elements of the game that make it more difficult than it needs to be. There are slightly imperfect controls, a wildly unpredictable camera, and a certain lack of fidelity that denotes this as an Xbox 360 game. But, all things considered, what makes the "Brave" difficulty tough is that the enemies hit hard and have lots of health. Your upgrades make a difference, but instead of just letting you waltz through, like you might on an easier difficulty, you now have to be perfect for maybe 20 seconds left.
The Boar is difficult because he moves faster than you, leaves a damaging fire trail, and if he hits you with his charge move it's going to ruin your HP. The bonus fun from the adds that have different resistances is just unkind.
This was not the only boss in the game that gave me a hard time. Each of the phases of the final boss gave me at least one death, though the boar was clearly the worst, and the rock golem was easily second worst. But there was an earlier fight against the rock golem that was also brutally hard and where I had initially stopped playing the game previously. But the boar was probably 15-20 deaths over three different attempts because I just couldn't take the frustration. Normally I'm content to bang my head against the wall for a while, but this fight just got under my skin.
Well, it's done now, and Brave can join my completion list as soon as I feel like taking the time ride an elevator of death a few dozen times.
I also returned to Madden NFL 19
after starting Madden 20 recently, I decided it was time to go back to Madden 19 and finish it up. Also I recently got some incentive do so from my Random ToDo List. My memory was telling me that I only had two achievements left. My achievement list says otherwise. But what my memory meant was that I only had two "difficulty" achievements left. So I worked at those while hitting my RTDL achievement. This will be some very solid points for GTASC this week and next, as I spread things out.
Finally, I've been spending a fair bit of time in Hand of the Gods: SMITE Tactics
since the server shutdown announcement. We've got through the end of the year to finish it and they're giving out a ridiculous amount of the premium currency to help you do it. I'm disappointed. Hand of the Gods was one of the better F2P card games I've played. It is an order of magnitude, possibly several, times better than Lies of Astaroth
. It's far better than Fable Fortune
which released around the same time and has also languished with the same level of inattention. And yet, the best game of these is the one that is going down first? Life is not fair.
If you have any interest in CCGs, I recommend Hand of Fate. If you're just looking for achievements, there's a significant number in here now that are very easy to get, and many of the rest are just a grind away--though that can be an intense grind. Even in a best case scenario it's 15-20 hours of grinding for the 350 required wins (50 with each of 7 gods), not to mention the miscellaneous achievements you'd get along the way. But ultimately, the completion may be held back for some by some difficult achievements, beyond just the grind. So if you're a completionist, it's probably best to stay away still.
If you do start it and are willing to help, or need help, let me know.
Much of the past two weeks has been spent playing Gears POP!
. In a way, it's just another Clash Royale clone. There's not a ton new here. The cover system is interesting, but not amazingly novel. It just takes what is already an existing bridge mechanic and reskins it a bit. It does affect strategy more, but also more abstractly. You don't get direct powerups, ala Minion Masters
but you can deploy powerful units closer to the enemy, giving him less time to react--but also giving yourself less time to charge up power attacks for those units that have them.
Red and Blue in a constant struggle for territory.
It's a tale as old as time.
From my time-played it would be reasonable to assume that the bug had bitten me on this game, in a way that no other Gears game has. And as far as that goes, it would be true. But it's also fair to say that I'm largely unimpressed by the game and I am hopeful for some significant improvements.
It's still a long, long.... long way away, but this could easily be my first Seriously.
Because I have played it a fair bit over the past two weeks, I have at least one of every pin in the game now, and am on the long road to leveling. I made it to the cusp of the Silver League (no achievement) but because the game cares far more about win streaks than quality of the win, there's a kind of meta game happening on the ladder right now that is really unfortunate. The problem is that the solution: to make wins matter more, particularly at high levels, and reduce the impact of the winstreak chest are unlikely to happen. Because that kind of game design rewards players and might disincentive MTX purchases. Even though the player base hasn't been huge, it's been big enough and enough people are pouring enough money in that this is going to be a money maker--and no publisher is going to tweak a system that is making money--even if it's not fun, or not healthy for the game.