Game of the Week – Going on Hiatus

This is a pretty short post. I have decided to put this on hiatus for the moment for five reasons:

  1. I am currently doing a Journalism MA. It is a wombo combo with an NCTJ qualification. I am largely on top of things (which is really nice for once) apart from my shorthand. Therefore, I am dedicating more time to shorthand each day to remedy this.
  2. I am overweight. I want to remedy this as well. I live in a coastal town and would like to wear a swimming costume without feeling horrible. I am a very self-conscious individual and this has gone on too long.
  3. My mother is getting a hip replacement, so I’ll have more responsibilities helping out in that regard for the next 6 weeks or so.
  4. I am running a Stars Without Number game in a sandbox style, so I have a decent amount of preparation work to do with that. I might start writing something to do with that instead, though it depends on time.
  5. I want to get a novel published, so I am receiving my novel projects! Novels take time to write…

Apologies for this, but it’s kind of difficult to write a Game of the Week article when you’re not really playing anything. I think I played about 3 hours of Final Fantasy VII last week and that’s about it!

Game of the Week – 06/02/2017

I don’t think I could ever forgive myself if I said that Game of the Week this week was “Windows Update Adventures” but it would be very accurate. I did a factory reset on my laptop and replaced the HDD with a larger SSD. I did around 4 years of updates across a couple of days and finally came out the other end where I had to re-download all of my games. It took a long time.

So my Game of the Week this week is… Final Fantasy VII!

Yes, I restarted a FFVII playthrough. I love the game and it holds a special place for me as one of the first games I ever played. It was one of the first games I played as a child, back when I was around 8 years old, along with Tekken 2 and Crash Bandicoot. I love this game.

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Dialogue in this game is a real gem!

One aspect I love with Final Fantasy VII is that it’s very emotionally evocative. People always talk about Final Fantasy VII’s emotional moment being the end of disc 1 where a certain someone dies, leaving you in shock at what just happened. However, it’s not just this one part of the game that brought tears to my eyes! I am an emotional wreck when it comes to well made movies and video games, but Final Fantasy VII does it multiple times. Sector 7 coming down was a real tear-jerking moment, though the moment that takes the cake for me is where Cid talks about his dreams of being the first astronaut, but the way he sacrificed it all because he didn’t want Shera to die.

In terms of gameplay, I really enjoy the chocobo racing mini game, however I only managed to clear disc 1 over the course of the week, including the Wutai side quest and acquiring Vincent. I will be continuing this, as I’ve invested a lot already and really want to get back to chocobo racing, so I am looking forward to revisiting a lot of nostalgic moments hidden within this game!

Game of the Week – 30/01/2017

It’s times like this where I get very confused. Times like this I look at my life and wonder what the hell is going on. It’s times like this where I can’t comprehend the situation.

I have not played much this week.

Seriously, I haven’t really played any games this week as I spent most of my free time preparing for the Stars Without Number game that I have now started. Cyberpunk 2020 came to a climactic end last week, so I had to ensure that my Stars Without Number game was ready to go by this weekend.

So this week’s Game of the Week is, I think, VoidExpanse.

VoidExpanse is a 2d indie space sandbox game. You create your portrait, choose your starting skill package and get dumped into a starting system in a randomly generated sector, which can range from relatively small to abso-friggin-lutely huge. The goal of the game is to get back to Federation space, after being cut off when an attack against the Xengatarn, the game’s main alien antagonists, failed miserably, resulting in the destruction of the Suppression Force, a huge fleet of advanced ships.

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This is the smallest sector you can have… There’s some extra off screen as I couldn’t zoom out enough!

I’m currently playing a more trader style build, buying trade goods low and selling high. I’ve also put some points into mining, so that I can level up that way too. I am also playing on hardcore difficulty, which involves perma-death, so I have opted for a very small sector.

The game play is pretty good, though it can become a bit repetitive in a larger sector. You go from point A to point B, doing missions to level up and joining one of the factions available: Freedom, a more mercenary/smugglery group, Order, a military group of ex-soldiers and scientists, and Fanatics, an alien worshipping cult. I’m joining Freedom, as I like them the most out of the three, though I’ll probably do another quick playthrough on not-hardcore difficulty with the others. I do like the ships and the equipment system, where you get your ship’s hull, then upgrade it with  various pieces of equipment that increase upon the hull’s basic capabilities. Weapons are fired with the three mouse buttons, though multiple weapons can fire with the same button. I am running “Breaching the Core” total conversion mod, which adds a lot more ship hulls and equipment items, to further increase the flexibility of potential builds.

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The Brick: It flies at things and doesn’t take damage.

I have yet to complete the game, because as I said earlier I have not played much at all this week, but I’ve been enjoying the game so far. If you’re looking for a game you can just pick up for an hour or so each day, this is a great game. However, the repetitive nature of it means that if you play it too much, it’s going to start feeling like a grind and get boring fast.

Game of the Week – 23/01/2016

I may or may not have missed the past two weeks due to some personal issues. However, we’re back on track now and ready to write up another Game of the Week! So, what is the game of the week this time?

Our Game of the Week this week is Tom Clancy’s The Division.

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Level 30, full 256. This is actually my 2nd character after I didn’t like the appearance of my last one.

This is a game that I have a strange relationship with. I enjoyed the game at launch and played a lot with one of my best friends. However, patches 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 pushed me well away from the game. I didn’t touch it for months as the enjoyment was sucked out of it. I honestly hated the game. However, patch 1.4 came out and fixed a lot of things wrong with the game, then 1.5 came out and breathed new life into the game with Survival. Now, with patch 1.6 on the horizon, I have been revisiting it and farming up my builds for the impending Last Stand DLC.

I’ve been farming up gear, killing named bosses for named weapons, and putting together builds with what we know is coming in 1.6. I have decided to have an Alphabridge dps build, a Frontline tank build and, my personal favourite, a Reclaimer/Tactician’s support build with the Caduceus and Historian. It took me about 10 runs total, but I finally got the Caduceus. I still need to buy the Historian from the vendor.

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This is what my 1.5 build looks like at the moment. I mostly do group content as a support

I’ve been enjoying the game over the past week, having played a lot of it and watching some Twitch streamers in between the CS:GO ELeague Majors. It’s a compelling game, though it can be a bit repetitive. I think I will probably take a break from the game over the next week, avoid burning myself out on it before 1.6 comes out, whenever it drops.

CS:GO ELeague Major group stage ends

The Counter Strike: Global Offensive ELeague Major group stages came to a close yesterday after some incredibly tense matches.

Quarter finals will start tomorrow at 10am Eastern / 3pm GMT, all streamed on the ELeague Twitch channel, where Na’Vi will face Astralis to kick off the show. If the group stage is anything to go by, we’ve got a superb weekend of Counter Strike ahead of us!

The group stages themselves saw some excellent Counter Strike being played and featured many upsets! Both G2 Esports and EnVyUs fell in the group stages, with rumours of a shuffle in the works for both French rosters. I feel this shuffle is needed as we saw some excellent play by some members of the French rosters, such as Shox and KennyS who really delivered some great plays over the group stage matches, and I feel those players that really showed up deserved to make it past the group stages. Optic Gaming had a tough run in the group stages too and were knocked out after facing a tough draw without an answer to such opposition.

The results of the group stage is as follows:

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Screen-capped while I was having internet issues. Twitch TV buffering for authenticity!

Some teams, despite scores, did not seem to play at their peak during the group stage. Virtus.pro, despite going 3-0, felt good, but not that high level we’re used to seeing from them, and North, formerly the Team Dignitas roster and certainly a team we expect to see high level play from, only scraped through the group stages 3-2.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the quarter finals as the group stages were so close. With the increased stakes as the teams get closer and closer to that $500,000 first place prize, I am hoping that the quarter finalists will up their game and deliver some terrific Counter Strike over the weekend. Bring on the finals!

Game of the Week – 02/01/2016

First game of the week for the new year. A new year is a great time for new games and experimentation. It’s a time for new horizons, especially one essay deadline down, though there is still one to go in the upcoming week. So, with all of that I am happy to say that very little has actually changed. My Game of the Week this week was Fallout New Vegas. It’s totally new, I swear!

As usual, I am running a decent number of mods, as is expected with any Bethesda RPG these days, with an emphasis on making it look a bit nicer. Honestly, how I modded New Vegas was I went to the Nexus, sorted all mods by number of times downloaded and downloaded all of the most downloaded mods, with some intelligent filtering to avoid compatibility issues and avoiding all porn mods. There are a lot of porn mods. A lot of porn mods…

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A shot of my mods used. This isn’t all of them, as usual, but it is a healthy portion

What I have come to realise about Fallout New Vegas is that it’s an amazing game. I honestly love it. The characters are well written, the plot is decent and sufficiently non-snowflakey, the factions are all assholes and the ambiance suitably gives that wasteland feel. One of the mods that I downloaded definitely contributes to the feel of a fuller, more populated wasteland; A World of Pain (or AWOP) adds a whole bunch of extra locations to the Mojave, fully populated with NPCs and featuring custom quests that take you through a lot of these custom areas.

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AWOP is a wonderful mod that adds a whole bunch of extra locations. Look how populated the area around Goodsprings is!

The way I play through any RPG is I come up with a story for my character. My Courier in this play through is an NCR agent, working as a spy. Thus, when I met with Vulpes in Nipton I immediately attacked him as he is the leader of the Frumentarii, Caesar’s intelligence network. I love Vulpes, I think he’s one of the best NPCs and Jason Spisak’s voice acting is on point for him. However, my character is an NCR spy. He is literally her polar opposite, so naturally she saw a target, saw an opportunity and took it. I’m level 40 or so, so the fight wasn’t too difficult. This is a bi-product of AWOP, though combined with my level cap being 95 due to my settings in Project Nevada, another fantastic mod, I still have a long way to go. I still have the DLCs to play through, so I am really looking forward to that, and have yet to get to Novac, but so far I am really enjoying this play through.

Fallout New Vegas definitely deserves Game of the Week. It’s easily one of my favourite games of all time and I love it every time I play it. Best £3.75 I spent in a Steam sale!

Game of the Week – 26/12/2016

It’s the last week of 2016. What game will take the last Game of the Week spot for 2016?

At the start of the week I thought that my game of the week for this week would be another MMO, following the falling out I had with Star Wars: The Old Republic and my ideas for new horizons. I am honestly surprised to be saying that my game of the week this week is Fallout 4. I have taken to Fallout 4 once more as I wanted to not be a terrible human being and side with anyone who isn’t the Institute. I have a decent number of mods installed, because Bethesda games are best experienced with mods!

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I don’t even have that many mods installed, compared to some.

To that end I have decided to take up the Minuteman cause, joining Preston in making the Minutemen great again. I am running a whole bunch of mods, but the one that makes the Minutemen bearable is the We Are The Minutemen mod, which makes radiant quests pop up less often and buffs the Minutemen NPCs so they aren’t completely useless level 1s with terrible gear; they actually turn up with heavy weapons and power armour if you’re high level as they level with you.

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Elizabeth is a fully decked out General for the Minutemen. Dressing the part!

I have definitely enjoyed myself in Fallout 4 this week. I think I’ve played almost 2 days (48 hours!) over the past week, which tells you just how much I have been playing this game since Christmas celebrations finished. I’m mostly using projectile weapons, because I’ve never really understood what’s so great about energy weapons, combined with ludicrous stealth capabilities. I carry enough guns so that if I get discovered then it’s not too much of a problem, but honestly my problems are better solved from the shadows than in a straight up firefight. I think I will probably end up siding with the Railroad in the end, with the Minutemen as a side thing, because I just prefer the way the Railroad operates. However, I am curious to see how a Minutemen ending would turn out, so maybe I will leave a save game before fully committing to either.

With two essay deadlines coming up in the next two weeks, we’ll see which games steal the Game of the Week spot next. I will never have a Game of the Week twice in a row, so if I end up playing Fallout 4 a whole bunch next week too, then I will name the 2nd most played game as Game of the Week with a brief mention of Fallout 4. I think that’s how I’d like to do this.

Game of the Week – 19/12/2016

Before I go into this I would like to explain what this is. Game of the Week is a weekly column where I will write about the game I have been playing the most during the week. It will be a collection of thoughts as to why I have been playing it so much and why I have enjoyed (or not) enjoyed it this week.

For the week, my Game of the Week is: Star Wars: The Old Republic.

This is a bit of a controversial one for me, as I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with MMORPGs. So why have I been playing SWTOR? The answer is simple…

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I needed all the level 70 classes. I just needed it!

I am a completionist. I needed to have every class to level 70, especially considering I had pretty much every class at level 65 before the release of the latest expansion, Knights of the Eternal Throne. Pair that with the mercenary class being incredibly powerful and I had quite a bit of fun.

However, this got a bit repetitive. The main draw to MMORPGs for me is not the gameplay, but the roleplaying side of it. The Old Republic has a roleplaying community, however it is not one that I have ever really felt a part of since near the launch of the game. I have enjoyed roleplaying with certain guilds and groups, but on the whole it’s just not fun. Now, combine this with the issues that KotET has brought and I have ended my subscription to SWTOR, so this is the last time for now that I will be playing this game.

It is a shame, as my main character Na’iida is a very interesting one to play. She’s a mercenary who hides her heritage, due to the Sith Empire’s approach to Force users being “Korriban or die” and the fact that she herself is a Miraluka, a Force-sensitive race that don’t have eyes and perceive things through the Force. She generally looks very human, but whenever I roleplay as her I give subtle hints to her not-so-human heritage. It’s very fun, but I can’t stick with a game on just the experiences of roleplaying with a select few people.

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My totally human and not Miraluka Na’iida…

I think I will be moving onto The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 primarily, as subscription-less MMOs, though I have returned to Overwatch after following the game as an eSport. I’ve decided to play a lot of quick play, playing heroes that aren’t Mercy (shocking, I know!) as I want to improve with Ana, Widowmaker, Pharah and Sombra. After all, my current portfolio of heroes I am good at is… limited at best.

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I don’t have a problem… Mercy is just… so compelling!

Anyway, it’s an hour until Christmas, so I’ll leave this one here. Happy holidays!

Trouble for North American Counter Strike: Global Offensive Teams Continues

The Professional Esports Association has released an open letter in response to Scott Smith and the North American Counter Strike: Global Offensive players he represents.

The players were not happy over the PEA’s decisions, specifically over the limitations placed and that players would be forced to pull out of the ESL Pro League.

The players said: “When the PEA and our owners first spoke more openly about their ability to tell us where we can and can’t play, we asked them what gave them the right. Their response was very direct: It’s in your contract.”

However, the PEA have responded, explaining their decisions and giving the reasons why they have come to their conclusions, as well as apologising for making the players feel left out of the decision making.

Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals, said: “I believe every author of the player letter wants to participate in the PEA league, as well as EPL. Unfortunately, that option is not on the table.”

Mr Whinston continued: “I sympathize with the players’ sentiments around not feeling more included in the decision-making process and I acknowledge that we could and should have done better. That’s why, in good faith, we’re going to give this decision to them.”

Titanic clash as NRG and Lunatic-Hai compete for a spot in the APAC finals in Shanghai

The semi finals for the APAC Premier in Shanghai had fans on their toes as giants clashed for a place in the finals.

The first match saw two favourites to win clashing head to head, with NRG from the United States facing off against Lunatic-Hai from South Korea, starting on Numbani, then moving to Nepal, Lijiang Tower and finally Ilios, ending with a victory for Lunatic-Hai three maps to one.

However, the final score didn’t accurately show how close the matches were, with NRG putting up an excellent performance against the Korean squad.

Seagull had some exceptionally strong Mei plays on Numbani, putting up ice walls to isolate fights and save one of his team mates from being dragged in by a Roadhog hook.

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NRG Gods put on a very good show as Roadhog

On the king of the hill maps, we saw Gods pull some very strong Roadhog gameplay.

It wasn’t enough. NRG managed to take back Lijiang Tower and then force Ilios into the fifth stage, but couldn’t keep Lunatic-Hai out, losing a crucial engagement where graviton surges and pulse bombs were exchanged, but NRG didn’t have a sound barrier ready to defend whereas Lunatic-Hai did, costing them the map and the series.

The second match featured Rogue from Europe against NGA Club from China.

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Rogue and NGA faced off for the opportunity to face Lunatic-Hai in the finals

Rogue put on a very strong performance, the matches appearing very one sided as the European squad almost completely shut NGA out on every map, with NGA only capturing a single point on Hollywood across all three maps.

Now all eyes are on the finals tomorrow: a rematch between Lunatic-Hai from South Korea and Rogue from Europe. Can Rogue make something happen in this third match up between the two teams?

– Lexi Taylor