Following on from last week's question about your earliest video game memory, we thought we'd bring things bang up to date this week and ask about what you're playing right now.
Maybe you're working your way through a brand new title, or perhaps you're replaying something from your collection? Either way, we're interested to hear about what's currently occupying your time, game-wise.
As always, here's the USgamer team to answer the same question. Here's what they're currently playing, and why:
Honestly, I don't get a lot of time to dive into games I'm not already covering for one reason or another. In the past month or so, I've done reviews for Broken Age Act Two, Not A Hero, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Ultra Street Fighter IV, Splatoon, Galactic Civilizations III, and Life is Strange Episode 3. That's a lot of jumping from title to title, though I still find time to jump back to games; I bought a non-review copy of Wild Hunt and I get the occasional game of Ultra Street Fighter IV or Gal Civ 3 in when I can.
So it's not surprising that I'm playing another game for future coverage. Currently, I'm doing the closed beta test for Guild Wars 2's expansion Heart of Thorns and another Devolver Digital title, Ronin. I mention both because Guild Wars 2 is on a specific test schedule, so I have to fill my intervening time with writing and Ronin. It's not the worst life.
On the bright side, outside of E3, June looks to be very light, which will allow me to jump back and do some further coverage of games from the early part of this year or late 2014. Darkest Dungeon, Sunless Sea, and Frozen Cortex are on my immediate radar and I'd love to take a deeper dive into the mod scene keeping Cities: Skylines riding high. The truth is there's just so much to play and while there are way too many glitchy launches, it's exceedingly rare that I actually play a bad game. Instead, many title live up to a consistent level of craft, even when it comes to indies. Yes, there are some nightmares out there and Jim Sterling makes it a point to play them all for us, but from where I'm sitting it's rare that a game just completely tanks for me. It's a pretty good time for gaming. Hope you're finding something to enjoy as well.
Yes, I'm still playing Heroes of the Storm. Yes, it has taken over my life when I really should be playing, say, Witcher 3. Or Bloodborne. Or Chrono Trigger. Or any of the other games that I've started and I've yet to finish.
As I discussed earlier this week, Heroes of the Storm has finally managed to get me into MOBAs by smoothing away everything I hate about the genre, namely the rigid strategy, needless complexity, and long playtime. Coming in at around 20 minutes per match, it's a lean, mean MOBA that is just ridiculously fun to play.
Since starting in last week, I've been slowly learning the ins and outs of each of the maps — cleverly designed around map-specific sidequests that lend the areas character and encourage team fights — and picking up different characters. I've mostly gravitated toward ranged characters like Valla, Sylvanas, and Tyrande, but I'm also not too bad with Anub'arak, who is a fearsome tank. It's been fun getting to know the metagame, the only drawback being that it really stinks to get drawn into a bad team. But when that happens, I can always kick off another game and hope for better.
The best part about Heroes of the Storm is how the matches are never truly over until they're over. Sure, you can get way behind in leveling and get utterly annihilated, but especially late, you're always one team kill away from getting back into it. Just last night, I played a game where my team was on the verge of losing, with a full-powered golem ready to stomp into our base and finish off our weakened nexus. But we made a desperation push to the enemy core, wiped out their team, and managed to knock out their core just in time. It was a thrilling game, and it took every ounce of my willpower to keep myself from clicking on to another game.
For me, at least, Heroes of the Storm is pretty much the definition of how "less is more" can be the right way to go in a competitive game. It's a real delight to play, and I can't see myself getting tired of it any time soon.
I'm not sure if "playing" is the right word here, because the game file is huge and I'm currently downloading it. But I'm definitely eager to jump in to Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold, the remake/overhaul of Etrian Odyssey 2. I never quite finished EO2 because of a really dumb and very permanent mistake I made toward the end of the adventure, and this will be a chance to finally put that to rest. In preparation, I've been mucking around in the first Untold. I feel like I should be getting tired of the whole Etrian thing, but it's just so well done I never seem to get sick of it.
Other than that, I've been in dilettante mode for the past month or so, since wrapping my Devil Survivor 2 review. Not really committing to anything, in part because nothing really grabs me at the moment and in part because I've had so much going on in my life I legitimately don't have time to sit down and immerse myself in anything. I played a couple hours of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain last week, and that was so [embargoed] it made me want to go back and revisit the older Metal Gear games. So I'm currently poking around in the MSX original version of Metal Gear, which I've played but never finished… maybe this time will be the charm?
Similarly, I've been continuing my personal vision quest through the Game Boy library, experiencing games both mediocre and surprisingly good. I was astonished to discover the incredibly unremarkable shoot-em-up Solar Striker has a very vocal fanbase (but it's a Nintendo first-party title, so I guess that's hardly unexpected), even though Konami's Nemesis came out about a month later and was vastly better. Also, I discovered the game of gomoku renju (a go variant) through an import title called Taikyoku Renju, and it's really great! Like Connect 4, but much more complex. Actually, that seems to describe most Japanese board games: "Like [familiar Western game], but more complex." No wonder we were so scared of Japan in the '80s.
That doesn't look to change any time soon; the summer is looking pretty sparse for new releases between mid-June and Sept. 1. Bad for business, but good for me. Maybe things will settle down enough that I can maybe play some of the games on my backlog. I hear this "Dank Soles" or whatever is pretty good?
I have a few games on the go at the moment, but the one that I just keep on playing is Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. It's basically replaced World of Warcraft as my go-to daily PvP fix.
To be honest, I'm pretty sad about the current state of World of Warcraft. The PvE side of the game is still decent, especially when you consider the upcoming 6.2 content update, which will deliver a new raid, a large, all-new PvE zone, timewalking (which enables you to tackle classic dungeons at a contemporary difficulty level), and the new shipyard quest system for the garrison. However, I'm not really that interested in PvE content. It's the PvP side of the game that I've always enjoyed the most, but, right now, it's feeling seriously stale. Not so much on the balancing side of things - I think the game is actually in great shape in that regard - but simply because nothing exciting or new has been added to WoW's PvP content for a good few years.
Well, apart from Ashran. This expansion, the developers went all in on this new, large-scale PvP zone, but it just isn't particularly fun. It's sucked up a lot of development time as the devs have continually tweaked and fettled it to try to make it enjoyable, but so far, despite a great deal of tinkering, it's still a bit of a mess. And the changes being made to it for this content update don't look like they're going to change the status quo. The bigger issue, however, is that because so much PvP development time has been invested in Ashran, that's resulted in the rest of the PvP content being left untouched. So there've been no new battlegrounds or arenas, and as a consequence, WoW PvP players have been stuck with the same content for far too long. No wonder the game is facing a precipitous drop in subscribers at the moment.
So while I wait for World of Warcraft's PvP to be refreshed - which probably won't happen until the next expansion - I'm sinking a lot of time into CoD: Advanced Warfare. I'm not that great at it, which makes it a really enjoyable challenge to me, but I'm slowly but surely improving as I invest a couple of hours a night into it.
What keeps me playing is a combination of constant personal incremental improvement, and the random Supply Drops, which have resulted in me amassing a huge armory of weapons and gear. This has enabled me to create a ton of interesting class builds. Depending on my mood - and the particular setting for battle - I have all sorts of different setups, from super-fast run-and-gun to sneak and snipe builds. That's really helped keep the game fresh and interesting, and while other games have come and gone out of rotation, CoD: Advanced Warfare continues to hold my attention.
Let’s talk about a game I’m always playing: League of Legends.
I’m addicted. Every year I think, “Soon this game will lose steam and everyone will slowly stop playing it.” But it never does. Riot Games has done an amazing job at keeping the game fresh and the community heavily engaged. To this day the r/LeagueofLegends subreddit is still one of the most active on the site. So what’s going on in League of Legends this week? A new Champion of course!
Meet Ekko: the boy who shattered time. Another oddity in the roster of Champions, Ekko is an AP assassin with some serious crowd controlling abilities. For those of you who don’t mess around with Moba’s let's get into why this is a bit strange. Typically assassin’s are built with some ability that serves as a gap closer to get in, lay on the heavy damage, and get out. They don’t need CC, they just need to kill. Ekko is different. He has a ranged cc ability that slows, a passive that speeds him up, a shield that heals off of HP, and an execute. An execute!
Somehow I’m not surprised. Over the years the Meta has become a bit restrictive, constraining the same Champions to the same lanes. Maybe developing Champions with unique skill sets and various build paths is Riot's way of shaking things up. Player choice matters to them and they want the players to know that. This could just be there way of encouraging it.
Or they’re just messing with us. Touché Riot.