It’s been another up and down week in the games industry. Nintendo held a surprise mini-Direct as a partner showcase which immediately led to fans calling for more first party goodness. The Epic Games vs Apple battle continued, meanwhile Ubisoft are yet again in the news for all the wrong reasons.
But we love videogames, and on we march with Our Week in Games. Read on…
Intros by Chris.
I actually managed to play something other than Tarkov over the weekend. Admittedly I was 280 miles from home (visiting my brother and his new son), but it still counts. Don’t look at me like that. Stop it….
So one of the perks of going back up north is that the houses are significantly bigger up there. This has meant that my brother was able to devote an entire room for VR. Something that I decided to take advantage of to play something I’ve been itching to get my hands on since I saw it when it was first announced last year; Half life: Alyx.
Despite it being a Valve game and despite it being in my favourite game universe, I knew it was nothing i’d ever be able to get myself; the entry point was just too high for what I still see as a novelty. But It’s something special, it really is.
I think the first moment it ‘got’ me was when I realised I was physically ducking as a Strider walked past and climbed onto the buildings in front of me. That and drawing obscenities on the see-through board.
It’s a daft thing to say, but being in the game really gives things a sense of scale. I always saw the combine soldiers to be weak, almost throw-away enemies; but seeing them up close (especially having a gun jabbed in your face) you get a real sense of menace. Of their size/bulk and the potential to do violence. It brought home the occupation in this universe more than ever before.
The environmental interaction is outstanding, the combat, movement, everything it just pitch perfect but in a somewhat bittersweet way as it reminds you just how good Valve are at making games; its just so sad that they don’t seem to be doing it any more.
One moment in particular stands out- I was in a train-car facing a headcrab zombie (who are huge and terrifying up close by the way) when I ran out of bullets- 5 went in, he (?) didn’t drop. But as it advanced forward I panicked, forgot how to reload and backed up. Really backed up- tripping over the cable, falling over and pulling the VR set out of the PC. I was that immersed that my innate reflexes took over and I just HAD to back away from the threat. I’ve never had that in any other VR game, but Valve are just different at this sort of thing, and it just works.
So despite spending the rest of the day being laughed at by my brother, it’s a memory that’s going to stay with me for some time. Perhaps it’s time i planned for another trip up north…..
So I’ve still been plugging away at Assassin’s Creed 3, and I’m so surprised at how slow the opening of the game is. I mentioned last week that Haytham Kenway is a decidedly dull character, but I didn’t expect him to be so boring and for things to open up.
The setting is intriguing, especially in light of Hamilton having recently landed on Disney+. I have a new found interest in the events of the American wars, and Assassin’s Creed is always an easy (generic and gamified) history informer. It’s far from being a lesson, but something like Assassin’s Creed can be a gateway drug to diving further into the events the games portray.
Elsewhere I have of course been playing more Football Manager 2020. I go through cycles with the series, normally getting a big investment of time into it during the inevitable two week “beta” for pre-orders then slacking off when it actually releases. A bit more time comes during the festive season, and then maybe a spring or summer block of action tides me over to the next game.
With the strange football season we’ve had this year, the thrills of the final knockout rounds of the Champions and Europa Leagues have coincided with the first qualifying rounds of the competitions for the new season. Welsh clubs are always involved, and normally losing, at these stages of the competition but Football Manager gives me a chance to right those wrongs. While my Haverfordwest side haven’t made it into the group stages of Europe yet, my fifth season in charge has just started and I might finally have a side to take on TNS for the league title. My journey will continue with twenty minutes here and there during my lunch break each day…
Oh and I also took a look at the Playgrounds mode in Dirt 5, check out my preview for more details.
Gang, I did it. I played Röki. I have overcome failure – or rather, side-stepped a third week of it. There’s a review to follow early next week, and I’m pretty excited about it: Röki is fantastic.
Tarkov has again been my primary focus for the week – surprise, surprise. I mostly play with a group of friends using Discord as our comms. We all help each other out with quests and murderising other players and scav bosses when they have the sheer audacity to cross us – we’ve never even been squad wiped once, I promise! This is one of the reasons I’ve been playing so much, it’s been good fun strolling about servers as a crew clearing each others corners and achieveing objectives that, to be quite honest I probably wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. That plus when we’re not in shooty shooty mode we like to have a laugh trying to get to parts of the map we otherwise couldn’t reach or making human towers, it’s good fun!
I’ve actually managed some time this week for other games believe it or not. Mortal Shell was first up and I had a good time with this high quality souls-like. It was very hard at times but I soldiered on and finished it, review will be up very shortly.
I’ve also been trying to play some of my backlog, shorter indies especially and Eliza was the one that caught my attention this week. It’s a narritive driven exploration into technology and its place in our lives. I found it interesting enough to finish and as always with Zachtronics games there was an interesting mini-game that took up most of my brain power to complete.