Most years here at Reticule Towers we do some sort of review of the last year in games, or celebrate the games of the The Reticule years. While we took a break last year, this year we’re back with a mixture of Our Year in Games where we review our gaming stories of the last year, and we’ll also take a look at what we consider to be our Games of the Year. Here we have Chris talk about how his 2020 in games has shaped up.
To say that this year has been a strange one would be a massive understatement, but with Christmas around the corner and a vaccine on the way, there is a chance that the world will look ever so slightly brighter once we start 2021. But as it is December, and this is my take on Our 2020 Year in Games, it’s time for a retrospective look back.
A year of racing
This year I have played a lot of racing games ranging from arcade classics like Sega Rally through to modern takes on the rally genre with Dirt 5. I’m not sure whether any of the racers that I have played this year are going to make it into my Games of the Year list, but there have been so many that I would be doing them a disservice by not highlighting them. A real highlight was the Colin McRae expansion to Dirt Rally 2.0 which added some evil stages in Scotland and some welcome tributes to the Scottish great. I’d still heartily recommend Dirt Rally 2.0 for your off-roading, while F1 2020 offers an example of what the F1 season might have been like without the Covid-19 interruptions. If you want to try and re-create this interrupted year, then Project CARS 3 has the mix of tracks and cars, albeit lacks the handling of F1 2020. I’m still disappointed that a new Gran Turismo wasn’t ready for the PlayStation 5, but it remains a great year for the racers.
Finding solace in a classic
Surprisingly I didn’t write about my adventures with Battlefield 2 and the -=256=- clan at all this year. A shame as during the early stages of lockdown (remember when the NHS clap was a thing?) a few of us were spending a night or two each week back in our old stomping ground causing carnage as servers full of randoms didn’t know what to do about an organised (drunken) force of old warriors. It was a wild ride and great fun, and I even achieved a promotion to 1st Lieutenant, my first promotion in the game for well over a decade. The clan have moved onto Command and Conquer: Remastered while I’ve been busy with the PlayStation 5.
A new generation
The last few months of the gaming year have been dominated by talk of the new consoles. My focus has been on the PlayStation 5, but that’s not to say the Xbox Series doesn’t deserve some love, but time is short and my writing these days focuses on my current passions rather than the broader hot topic items in the industry. It was back in June that Sony finally unveiled their chunky new console properly, and from that moment on I was in full preparation for the new generation.
I mentioned in my review of the console itself that I was very happy to have been able to jump onto the new generation from day one. A week after writing that review, I am still very happy with my new console, and while playing something like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla I think the biggest quality of life improvement that the new generation brings is the vastly improved loading times. Fast travel actually feels fast!
It’s a shame that anyone had problems with deliveries of their new machines being delayed, cancelled or even stolen, and I hope that more machines can come into the supply chain soon enough so more people can join the new generation.
Hardware, hardware, hardware
The joys of being in a comfortable financial position (until we move at least) is that I’ve been able to spend some money here and there on new hardware, and not the PlayStation 5. Working from home for the day job has had an influence on some of my decisions around what I do at home. One of my earliest decisions was to change my office chair from something my Dad had owned in a previous lifetime, to something modern with arm support and much more comfortable back support. Feeling like you can sit back properly in a chair comfortably is a life changer. One day I have no doubt I’ll invest in a chair which has support all the way up my back and neck, but getting a good chair was an essential component to working comfortably from home.
Another expenditure what seemingly self-indulgent to the outside, but did in fact offer a massive psychological change was purchasing a new keyboard and mouse. At first this setup was designed to give me a clean break between my work setup and my personal setup, but during the Welsh firebreak with my girlfriend Leanne working from home she had to use my work keyboard and mouse. Cue a week or so of me switching between the USB ports on the back of my PC and Surface Pro dock. That wasn’t entirely sensible, so purchasing a small USB dock has allowed me to comfortably use my fancy Razer keyboard and mouse for work and leisure. The fact that nobody has complained on work calls about the sound of the keyboard is a plus!
My final purchase was a new 4K monitor for just £200 on amazon. Was it required? Not really, my rig certainly can’t handle 4K games! But the expanded screen space is very welcome.
The Reticule Itself
Anyone who has visited our little corner of the internet will know that we aren’t as active as we were back in our heyday, but we now twelve years old and I’m looking forward to us reaching our teens. For the professional sites out there stats are everything, they’re the metrics which they use to prove to potential advertisers that they can provide a return on investment. We don’t live on ad money so stats aren’t as important, but I’m quietly pleased that over the last twelve months we have maintained a steady readership, with the last six months seeing a very nice year-on-year rise.
I’d like to take a moment to give Ross a shoutout who joined us over the summer. I worked with Ross many moons ago on the old halflife2.net, and since then he has gone onto great things with the A Place in the West comic set in the Half-Life universe. I’ve long been a fan of his work and was honoured when he asked if he could share his words on The Reticule, thank you Ross.
There’s also a nod to Kevin who asked me one day about whether Our Week in Games should make a return after a five year break. It was a wonderful idea, and I’m so happy that since the middle of August with Our Week in Games Week 107 we have offered a little slice of our own personal gaming stories. Thank you for bringing the OWIGs back Kevin.
I can’t forget Jon and Nick either. Jon produced a phenomenal bit of work with his mega guide to Escape from Tarkov, while Nick regularly pops up with gems such as his look at Lakeview Cabin II. Thank you both.
Away from the writing itself, we had a mini facelift thanks to Leanne, while we have also kicked off our Discord server which we’d love for you to join to take part in some gaming chat. We also launched a Patreon, so take a look at that too while you’re at it!
Finally, a big thanks to all of you who have taken a moment to read any of our work this year…or even if you have just found one of our pages at random and quickly clicked away to something else. Here’s to 2021!