#508: The Quarantine, Part 3

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I’d like to talk about the picture I chose for this blog post first, before going into what I’ve been doing during this quarantine. The picture above states, “Stay home if you’re sick!” however I’d probably amend that just to say, “Stay home in general!” The way this virus works, you can be infected and still be asymptomatic. The responsible thing to do for all of us is to make sure we’re practicing social distancing so that, if for whatever reason we are actually infected, we don’t unintentionally spread it to the people around us who are more vulnerable and at risk. That’s one of the subjects we discussed at our round-table family meeting recently. I’m practicing social distancing and effectively quarantining myself even though I don’t have a cough or any of the other symptoms you would expect from the virus. Other people should be doing that, too, and I don’t think it’s wise for us to go out in public and romp around the world expecting everything to be the same as it once was. We need to be cautious and upfront about our symptoms so that other people know what to expect from us. Even as I write this I question a little bit whether I’m making the right call for everyone, but I hope it’s right.

As for me, I have been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIV. It’s an addicting, incredibly thrilling MMORPG that has gripped my attention through this whole endeavor and I’m super happy about the ending of the most recent expansion, Shadowbringers. It was fantastic. I know people in the future are likely going to think, you were playing video games during this crisis? But guess what, what else am I supposed to be doing? It worked for me to keep me from going outside and being around people.

#504: The Puzzle, Part 1

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Back when I used to live at this house, we would sometimes pull out puzzles and try to complete them in one go. They’d never get finished that easily, usually because the puzzles we had were enormous and multifaceted and full of the most ridiculous spots. It’s more difficult than it looks, I promise you, to figure out how this blue spot connects to this other blue spot that looks remarkably similar except for an infinitesimally small sky-blue dot in the upper corner. It’s all about the little details when it comes to figuring out how these puzzles work. You have to have an attention to detail and picking out the finest points of things, and you have to be able to focus. That’s always a tough thing for me: focusing. Puzzles require concentration and dedication to completing it, obviously, but also to looking at those small details and not losing your mind in the process of working all that out in your head.

I give props to my mom and sister, who are much better at completing puzzles than I am. I learn by intuition; I feel things out and hope that they make sense in the process of me figuring it out on my own. I learn in a way that makes puzzles difficult, because they’re not exactly the most intuitive things around. Of course, there are some intuitive elements, like figuring out the outline of the puzzle before anything else, looking for pieces that match each other in pattern, and so on, but more than anything, puzzles are about concentration and a will to not completely give up after staring at the same spots over and over again.

I think I’m going to write about puzzles some more in the next blog post. Stay tuned for that.

#464: The Lost Sector

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In Destiny 2, there are hidden areas marked on your map for you to explore on each of the planets in the solar system. Sometimes the areas are difficult to find, other times they’re simple and easy to access. Regardless of the difficulty level, though, the lost sectors are an interesting addition to the exploration and completion of every planet. In order to say you’ve completed your exploration of a specific planet, you have to have explored every lost sector, essentially, to earn that title.

Personally, I’m not that interested in the title or the accolades associated with exploring everything there is to explore. I did that once in World of Warcraft and that was enough. I thought it was a huge achievement at the time, to have explored every part of the map possible, and I remember getting it in Wrath of the Lich King, when achievements first came out in the game. I was playing during a time when flying was impossible in the regular old world, so I had to do all my exploration in zones like the Blasted Lands and Feralas by foot. It wasn’t especially difficult, but it was mostly just time-consuming. A lot of the achievements in this game are like that; they don’t require an immense amount of skill, just a lot of time and dedication and effort directed at one thing.

Back to Destiny 2, though. Lost sectors are part of the game, regardless of whatever complaints people may have about them. I don’t think they’re a huge source of contention in the community, although I’m not even sure if they existed back in the original Destiny game. Regardless, I think they’re pretty fun and I’m glad they’re a part of the game. Hopefully in future Destiny releases they continue iterating on the formula they started here.

#445: The Vein

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Though I’ve never played Code Vein before, I know a decent amount about it because of my friends who have played it a lot. Earlier today, the day that I’m writing this, my friends were still playing Code Vein into the morning when I woke up at 6:40am. They were doing their thing, playing the game and beating all the available levels and bosses in front of them, and I was just getting ready for work. It almost felt surreal to see them still online, still talking to each other for almost 14 hours straight. I felt exhausted after only one hour of talking at a time, because it gets exhausting not being within my own head space for awhile. I know that probably sounds a bit selfish, but what it really is is just that I am the kind of person who prefers total peace of mind. I try not to stir the pot or make things worse for anyone, but I also like being within my own head, if that makes sense.

But again, this post is about Code Vein, which seems to be a Dark Souls-like game that features action elements and companion-style combat. It’s like Monster Hunter if the palico was actually really useful and helpful, beyond just providing buffs and healing from time to time.

But really, it was great to listen to people talk about their game while I was driving to work. It felt totally normal to hear them and chat with them, and continue the conversation that had started before I went to bed. It felt completely natural to move from one right to the other. And it kept me busy during the drive, which is great because usually I’m just listening to music or something else to keep my brain occupied. It’s wonderful.

#427: The Great Sea

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Cabana deeds, great seas, everything you could ask for. Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is one of my all-time favorite games, unquestionably, and part of the reason for that is all the flavor absolutely oozing out of every moment in the story and gameplay. Whether you’re sailing the high seas on your boat or exploring deserted islands to scour for treasure, this game has it all when it comes to living a seafaring lifestyle. It absolutely captures what it would be like to live in that kind of world or universe, and Link is as fearless and intrepid as ever.

No matter what you’re after, this game has it all. It has adventure everywhere and every minute seems to be exciting. It doesn’t have many dramatic set pieces like games like Uncharted, but it does have a full world to breathe in and explore, which differs from other games like it. Legend of Zelda, as a series, has always been great because of its worlds more than anything else. Hyrule is a fantastic example of taking an idea and running with it in different incarnations. Hyrule always looks different no matter which game you’re looking at, but it also has some aspects that are the same, like Hyrule Castle being situated near the center, Link starting off with humble beginnings, and more like that.

When I saw on Twitter recently that a few more Wii U games would be coming to the Switch soon, my first instinct was in favor of Wind Waker HD, a game that released near the end of the Wii U’s lifespan and really captured the essence of the original game. After all, it basically was the original game minus a few changes to the late game to really speed things up and make life easier.

#419: The Spider, Part 1

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First of all, I absolutely hate spiders. Cannot stand them, would absolutely stomp and crush one with my foot right now if there were one crawling around me. I would feel fine knowing no more spiders existed in the world, even despite all the residual damage that would probably cause to other things that I don’t quite know about. Like for example, a few months ago Alex and I realized that there were webs on the ceiling high above us that we hadn’t noticed before. Those spooked the ever-living hell out of me, and I couldn’t imagine how long those have been there for. Screw spiders and everything to do with them, honestly.

However, this blog post is not going to be about spiders. It’s going to instead be about a game I’ve been playing recently, titled Marvel’s Spiderman, and it’s really, really cool. It reminds me of Arkham City, which I played a lot of and loved immensely back in the day. I think I even still have it on Steam somewhere. It’s the same basic theme, though; you sling around the city and get to play a vigilante, you work during the day and do other things when you can, and you stop crime as much as possible. You collect collectibles throughout a vast open world, and your job is essentially to either follow the main storyline or complete a whole bunch of available side quests and missions that naturally pop up around you. It’s fun to mix both, as I usually end up doing that when push comes to shove.

Spiderman sports an extremely intuitive gameplay though; you get to sling around the entire city and no one bats an eye at you, unlike in the Batman games where you’re supposed to be cloaked and hidden a bit more.

#413: The Hollow

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I’m currently listening to the soundtrack to Hollow Knight: Silksong, a sequel video game that’s set to come out sometime next year. It’s going to be a huge hit, as the first one was, and I’m really looking forward to its release even though I never beat the first one. Why, you might ask? Well, one of the reasons honestly is because of the soundtrack. It’s gorgeous, and the melodies could drift you off to sleep if you’re not careful while listening. They’re soothing and luring, like a bedtime ritual.

I might have already made a post about Hollow Knight before, now that I think about it. I guess it just has really left an impression on me in the short time I’ve spent playing it. It stays with you even though the game isn’t necessarily that long. It’s perfect in small doses, playing from time to time and dipping in and out as you find the inclination or motivation to play it. Games that allow you to do that without losing progress or anything like that are exceptional in their own ways. They’re worth playing by virtue of the fact that they’re replayable. Hollow Knight is certainly an example of this, and it’s a blast to play because of that.

One thing about Monster Hunter World that would take some getting used to is all the controls for each of the individual weapons over time. It would be difficult to get back into the game if I took an extended break from it, which is why I usually end up playing at least some Monster Hunter when I can. It’s a fun game no matter how you slice it, but it’s definitely the kind of game that’s difficult to pick up and put down without committing a sizable chunk of time to it.

#408: The Deathmatch, Part 2

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So, gonna continue talking about the deathmatch format for another blog post because I’m just so jazzed about it, I couldn’t fit everything into just one post. It’s just that interesting for me to write about! Hopefully it has the same effect reading it as it does writing it.

So, participating in deathmatch games is always high-stakes. Your deaths directly contribute to the enemy team winning the game, and even if you’re carrying the team on your back with your amazing kill streak and combo moves, it won’t matter one bit if the rest of your team is slacking off. Now, that is to say that playing in the deathmatch format gives you more leeway to carry than say in the objective-based format. You actually have the opportunity to contribute to the score that wins the game for you, instead of having to push the payload in one direction for awhile.

I’ve played deathmatch games for as long as I can remember. When I first played Halo 3, for example, I was hugely into Team Slayer, which was essentially the same thing as Team Deathmatch. It involves picking up weapons throughout the map and letting them dictate how well you do in that mode. I also played deathmatch games in Call of Duty, specifically the Modern Warfare series and the first two games of that.

Nowadays, I play deathmatch mostly in Overwatch. It’s a game mode that’s sometimes available in the arcade, if I get lucky and log in at around the right time of the day for it to be available. It’s not always an option, which sucks.

I also went back to Halo: Reach again recently and that has Team Slayer as well, so it feels like going back home in some ways. Like I’m reverting to an old past.

#407: The Deathmatch, Part 1

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This blog post is going to be about deathmatch as a game mode.

Whenever I’ve played first-person shooter games, I’ve always gravitated away from the objective-based formats and more towards deathmatch fights. Here’s the major difference: objective formats have you work as a team to push a payload, capture a point, or hold a certain amount of ground, whereas deathmatch formats deal with killing the other team a certain amount of times to reach the end goal of 30, 40, 50, etc. It’s more exciting, in my opinion, and it allows for more relaxed, quick gameplay when you’re just focused on fragging your opponents and not so much on whether or not the payload is being pushed correctly.

This isn’t to say that those formats and game modes aren’t fun; they have their uses too. I like when I’m queued with a specific team and we go into battle together, as it means we’ll actually focus on the objective rather than if there was someone random on the team who might not focus on it at all. That tends to happen more often than not, and it leads to frustrating games. In deathmatch, the objective is so obvious that everyone is naturally doing it anyway: killing the enemy team is easy, fun, and quick.

Now, there are different ways of playing deathmatch. There’s the team deathmatch format, which involves teams of four or six people working together to take down the enemy team’s score, or there’s free for all deathmatch, in which you have to do it all by yourself. I don’t know if I have one I prefer over the other, but I’ve definitely put more time into free for all, if I’m being honest. That’s because it’s available more often on Overwatch, but that’s besides the point. It’s also just very fun.

#399: The Champion

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The battle with the Pokemon champion is always one of the more difficult and epic fights in the course of the game. It’s usually the one that culminates the entire game’s story, and after it’s over, you’ve generally beaten the game. There are of course more objectives for you to complete, if you choose to do them, like EV training, Pokedex completing, and battle tower scaling, but for me, the game is pretty much over as soon as the “final boss” is taken care of. I don’t care much for the other stuff going on, so once the champion is beaten, I feel like I’m able to put the game away without having to worry much about what I’m missing out on.

In my eyes, I have so many games that need to be played and completed as soon as possible that it’s a little unrealistic to expect me to want to play more Pokemon after beating the game. Monster Hunter World, on the other hand, I’ve played for countless hours and have devoted lots of time to, even after beating it.

But back to the champion. The champion of this game is Leon, and he’s a brash, directionless character who you see throughout the whole region’s story. He’s involved from start to finish, and when you face him, you won’t be surprised at all with who’s on his team, either. He practically announces it to you during the introduction to the game: he picks the starter you and your rival didn’t pick, and he has a Charizard that follows him around forever. Being able to face off against him with the crowd cheering for you and the music reaching an epic intensity felt great, though. I’m a huge fan of the new Pokemon game, if anything for the change in atmosphere between this one and the last few.