My name is The Ego…

And yes, I have a problem. And yes, I know I’ve said it before. But this time, I’m doing something about it!

This has come up in my blog time and time again – backlog issues. What’s the issue? Well, I buy too many games apparently. At least this is one of those problems I can kind of track back to it’s source. When I used to work retail, I was really good at my job. And being good at my job led to me getting a lot of gift cards/free things. So I bought pretty much anything I had any inclination towards playing for about a year, and on top of that, I also picked up anything that looked even remotely interesting when it was on clearance, so I got it dirt cheap.

Oh, and fixating on one game for long periods of time. Like Overwatch and my incessant need to get those holiday event legendary skins. Takes up a lot.

Now, factor that in to a healthy attitude towards buying the good/must have releases of any given year, and you end up with nearly 30 games that have barely/have not seen the light of day yet.

So with that in mind, I’m (for the first time) making a reasonable plan to combat the issue. One of the first “adult” decisions regarding my gaming: I’m just not buying anything new until I can clear out my backlog. Or…you know, find something that is a must play day one game.

I even took it one further. Any of the games that I had coming out with an actual release date that I had pre-ordered at a discount – cancelled. Yes, I have given up on new games and good deals (though, cancelling the new Ghost Recon game came as a sigh of relief after I played the open beta…)And for anyone who knows me, this is huge. I’ve even written about the desire to buy games that might be interesting just because it’s a good deal. But I’ve given it some serious thought. Even if I manage to snag some new release at a “steal of a price” which often means at least half off, if I don’t get around to playing it till a year later, or longer in some cases, then – was it really a deal? I mean, good chance is it went cheaper at some point, so I didn’t win there, and I didn’t play it right away, so I lose there too.

So step 1 accomplished. Nothing new coming in.

(As an aside, I picked a devastating time to do that too, as Horizon: Zero Dawn, my most anticipated game of some time, is due out tomorrow)

On to step 2: Clear it out!

I will say that I am working diligently to hack my way through the library like so many vines in the jungle. So far, so good. Over the last week and a half I managed to finish Farcry 4 and Littlebigplanet 3. And I got a number of the trophies as well. So there’s that. But what I don’t is just brazenly dispense with the games in some consumerist driven frenzy. I still want to play and enjoy them, so I am.

How fast will I finish the other 28+ games? Who knows. Hopefully in time for some of the bigger releases of this year to still make their way to me within a reasonable time frame.

All that being said: I feel good about my decision. Liberated even. Frankly, aside from just picking out games I don’t foresee myself playing in a relative time frame, and just unloading them online, etc – this is really the only option. And, as a gamer, it’s nice to finally get to all of the things that had my interest – fleeting or not.

I don’t know how other people manage this. Life and gaming. Especially to the level with which I’ve become accustomed. But, I’m striving for balance. Let me know if you have any tips.

– The Ego

Double dare

I defy you to check out this video and tell me Mad Max isn’t going to be a contender for the title this year.

Yup. I went there.

So, I’m slightly ashamed to admit it, but I missed seeing Mad Max: Fury Road in theatres. I can also, safely, admit that I haven’t seen the original. Frankly, never caught my eye. Mel Gibson being incredibly terrible in, well, basically everything. The only time I got excited when I saw him on screen was at the end of Braveheart when he’s being drawn and quartered. I kind of hoped someone had actually tied him to the horse for real, and they had a set “accident” like Bruce or Brandon Lee. No such luck.

Sorry, not relevant to my posting at all. Though I do smile when I think about it.

Business at hand: I try really hard when I see new games that I am really excited about coming out to keep myself as pure as possible. Same with movies. So I try not to watch trailers or gameplay videos. But it’s also a new IP. That makes it a bit harder for me to not make a judgement call about the game’s quality. And, not having played any of the Just Cause games, I don’t know what to expect out of Avalanche Studios. So I’ve been checking out a bit here and there. Man – choice is the word of the year for Q4 2015 and 2016 in general.

I think that it’s amazing that devs are starting to keep their finger on the pulse of the industry. For a long time, new IPs – see something along the lines of Assassin’s Creed 1 – where the games, not able to predict how fans will react, or what they’ll find to be the best part of the game, take the player by the wrist and drag them through the game kicking and screaming through the game.

Instead, this year we’re getting games where completing the tasks, or matches, put in front of us in whichever way we see fit. Want to play noisy? Want to play Dirty? It’s 100% up to you to do what you think is best, most fun or best choice for a situation – do it.

Seriously though, how cool is that? It’s such a small freedom. But that freedom is paramount. I see it every time I watch a review, read Metacritic or any forum like playstationtrophies.org, the number one thing people complain about is that the game is on rails, or doesn’t allow the player to impact the world or make the choices to take the game off of the pre-destined linear path. I see games like Assassin’s Creed trying to branch out that way. The other (potentially amazing) line-up they’re putting out as proof in the pudding. That’s enough about Ubisoft for now, though.

I really do think that Mad Max is going to be the game to watch. It’s almost too bad that the game is coming out in the same year as Fallout 4. I only say that because the game that is taking that award is definitely Bethesda’s big gun. That certainly won’t detract from the quality of Mad Max, but it’s Fallout’s GOTY award to lose.

If you can handle it, check out some more of the gameplay videos posted on IGN. The commentary on some of them (as a general rule) can get pretty tedious, but there is some extremely cool footage to work through.

I think the saddest part of the game is it’s going to just be showing up on my doorstep in time for me to go on vacation. Thankfully, that is going to be so cool and immersive, that I probably won’t even remember that it’s sitting there waiting to be played.

For the time being, I think that video is going to be the last one I watch before the release date. I’ll just have to avoid the internet. That shouldn’t be too hard right? Right?

– The Ego

Value selling

I think this is the question that has plagued me for the entirety of my adult, gaming life:

Can a game stand on quality of gameplay alone?

What do you think super-fans? For the longest time, I’ve been a vocal proponent of the negative. Shooters, for example, have always been the genre where I’ve found that I need a lot more. CoD, Battlefield – how many brown people can you kill before you’re just fed up? How many times can you go online, get racial slurs and curses thrown in your direction while listening to people arguing who is the bigger “noob” because their K/D ration is .1 better than the other guys?

I think this is the easiest genre to pick on. Well, other than say, sports, racing and fighting games. All those games have ever had was gameplay to stand on. And, frankly, that’s fine. It’s just one of those things.

But with shooters, if I’m going to spend a bunch of time, immersing myself into a world, I need something to sink my teeth into. Give me a Borderlands. Give me a Bioshock. In the case of the former, yeah, you need to have the same sense of humour you had when you were fifteen. That’s a given – but at least there’s something there. Some reason to keep killing bandits and bosses. The sheer thrill of the kill just isn’t enough.

The latter, the Bioshock series (excluding 2, to some extent) are some of the best games I’ve ever played. In all due deference, Bioshock 2 did have a good story on it’s own. Against the unadulterated brilliance that is Ken Levine, nothing is comparable. Yes, one is a little too Ayn Rand-y for my tastes. Even with that in mind, it’s still easily one of the best games of the last generation – and don’t get me started on Infinite.

The reason I ask this question is: when I see games like The Division or Ghost Recon: Wildlands – to me, those games look like the sort of thing that can stand on their own two legs without needing the high quality story telling that I’m used to. The level of freedom, the ability to decide what you want to do in any given situation, gives the player back the power.

I think that’s the real appeal of story heavy games. You get immersion, so long as the quality of the story is there. With games like The Division, allowing you to decide the actions of your character – whether it be to team up with those strangers, or to back-stab them at the last second to take their booty, that is real freedom. No rails. Just personal choice.

Bear this in mind, gamers, it’s still a little early to tell. Ubisoft has a bad track record of showing off stuff that looks amazing and has unprecedented levels of promise *cough* Watch Dogs *cough*. So I might end up eating these words in the next year or so. But I’m hopeful, and totally willing to give Ubisoft the benefit of the doubt, despite some severe let downs.

All I’m saying is: My view has been a bit narrow up till now. Mechanics are important, but I would have never put them ahead of anything else.

That’s not to say that all story-heavy games are good. I’m sure I’m going to make a pariah of myself by saying this, but I’ll say it anyway. Last of Us, well, it wasn’t as good as everyone made it out to be. Not to say it wasn’t great. Because it was. I just don’t think it lived up to the hype. The gameplay mechanics weren’t bad, though at times they could be pretty frustrating on the difficulty level I generally play at, but it wasn’t all mechanics that dragged the game down. There were some pretty slow parts of that story and it felt kind of disjointed at times. Ok, I’ll finish up so you can all get your pitchforks/torches ready.

– The Ego