#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.

#428: The Download

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Downloading, or uploading, regardless of whichever one you’re doing, always seems to take a long time. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the best Internet connection on this futon and as a result of that, I don’t have the fastest speeds when it comes to managing files and game downloads. I struggle when it comes to figuring out exactly how long a certain game will take to download, mostly as a result of having an Internet connection that’s unstable and uncertain most of the time. No one ever seems to know when it’s going to work or if it will fluctuate wildly before I start the next download on it.

At my old place in Stamford, downloads were almost immediate. The speeds were great, thanks to Optimum being leagues and leagues better than Comcast when it comes to Internet speeds. I appreciated having Optimum as our service provider for awhile, for as long as that ended up lasting, because it was seriously worth the price we paid for it. $45 a month for that amount of service? I know it goes without saying, but sometimes when I think about how different our service is now versus the service we had before, it makes me wonder exactly whether our current service is worth whatever we’re paying.

I mention all this because I’m currently downloading FF XIV onto my laptop so that I can play from home. I took my computer with me to Northford, but I still don’t want to really use it unless I have to. It’s different using it there versus using it in Stamford, and the difference stood out to me enough to write a blog post about it, even though I know this probably wasn’t the most interesting thing in the world to read about.

#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.

#397: The Towers of Time, Part 2

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This post is a continuation from the previous one, about the Towers of Time game mode in Mortal Kombat 11. I compared it a little bit to the story mode and talked about how it feels to play the game despite being less talented than the average player.

Speaking of, I completed the story mode the other day. The final boss kicked my butt for awhile before I finally got lucky and, with critical health, managed to steal a kill on the final boss in the third round of our fight. It was intense, and I could feel my heart racing as I was, of course, mostly button mashing. I’m not much of a strategic fighting game player, except for while playing Smash Bros, but even then I follow what feels right rather than following a set game plan or strategy. I guess that’s what separates my gameplay experience from other fighting game players, but ultimately it’s still fun to play these games, perform the moves, see the animations, try your best to beat other, more skilled people, and conquer the story mode. There’s still a core experience there that’s worth the purchase of the title, just not at full price. Black Friday is good for those options, and it allows you to purchase things you otherwise wouldn’t.

(I know I keep mentioning that fake shopping holiday a lot on here, but I’m writing a lot of these posts the weekend after the holiday, and it’s still on my mind!)

But yes, Mortal Kombat 11 is an exciting, worthwhile game and I definitely enjoyed my time working through the game’s intense, sometimes cheesy storyline. Some of the scenes were weird and senseless, but ultimately everything came together fine in a climactic ending that satisfied me. And really, that’s fulfilling a lot in my eyes.

#396: The Towers of Time, Part 1

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Towers of time is a game mode inside of Mortal Kombat, and it’s apparently classic to the series. Because I haven’t played Mortal Kombat before the 11th incarnation of the series, this all comes as a new revelation to me. I don’t hold my stock in traditions, but if the traditions make sense and allow for innovation, then I’ll support them. It’s only when traditions hold back franchises from innovating that I have difficulty supporting them. For example, in the New Super Mario Bros series, it feels like the games have gotten progressively less and less creative over time. Whereas the Zelda series innovates and each incarnation has something unique to it, something to give it its name, the 2d Mario platforming games of recent years are really struggling to excite. I preferred Tropical Freeze over all the other platforming games of the past few years, except for Odyssey, but those are different experiences at their cores.

Thankfully, the Towers of Time game mode does allow for some innovation, and the developers do innovate on it. It’s similar to other timed challenges from games, except it features the same exciting core fighting gameplay of Mortal Kombat. I find the gameplay itself addicting and interesting, so the ability to instantly jump into fights with progressively harder challenges in store is exciting to me. The biggest difference is the addition of Konsumables, the Dragon Challenge, and the affixes that individual fighters and enemies have. You can also augment your items and gear, so that when you go into battle against each of your foes, you’re better prepared statistically speaking. There’s a bit of a grind in unlocking everything you need, and it requires time to unlock for sure, but the Towers will keep me coming back to this game even after I’ve finished with the story mode.