Xenoblade Chronicles X Review [Pixelkin]

Xenoblade Chronicles X is a fantastic genre blend of the best elements of Western and Japanese RPGs.

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Read the my full review at Pixelkin

xenoblade chronicles x

Platform: Wii U

You stand on a cliff overlooking the Grieving Plains. The grasslands and lakes of Primorida stretch out in every direction. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the fascinating native creatures. Humans are the aliens here. The domed city of New Los Angeles is your last bastion of safety in a dangerous world full of tyrants and treasures.

Welcome to planet Mira. Welcome to Xenoblade Chronicles X.

Read the my full review at Pixelkin

Talking Star Wars: The Force Awakens on the Super Jump Radio Podcast

I join a fun discussion group on the Super Jump Radio podcast as we talk about Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

super jump radio banner

On the latest episode of Super Jump Radio I join a giant 5-person round table discussion on the biggest thing to hit geekdom since Disney bought Star Wars – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens!

Join me, Chris, Andrew, Stephen and host Cassidee as we compare the Extended Universe, gush about Rey’s badassness, and theorize about the future of the franchise.

Listen to the Star Wars Spoilercast at the link below and subscribe on iTunes. You can also follow Super Jump Radio on twitter.

[audio http://static1.squarespace.com/static/55af9da6e4b0da5909fd72d0/t/56805066bfe873f15c1043ae/1451249766451/SJRTFA.mp3/original/SJRTFA.mp3 ]

Rogue’s Adventures Season Six Recap

Detailed stats, rankings, and summaries of Season Six of my backlog gaming group, Rogue’s Adventures.

Follow @RoguesAdventure for live tweeting and screenshots, join the Rogue’s Adventures Steam group for updates, and Follow me on Twitch and Subscribe on YouTube for videos.

Rogues Adventure Season Six collage

Season Six represented the inevitable decline in my overall gaming time. For the previous three Seasons (a year and a half) I’d been able to play through about 145 hours worth of backlogged games in a 6 month period. That doesn’t represent my total gaming time, just the amount I was willing to set aside for Rogue’s Adventures.

As my daughter gets older and transitioned from infant to toddler to young kid, that time has naturally dwindled. On top of that I began freelance writing for several websites as well as putting a lot more time and effort into my blog and central hub at RogueWatson.com.

Despite all of that I was still able to play quite a few games this Season. I adjusted my goal from 7 hours a week to 5, giving myself more time in between games. My new goal was a little over 100 hours, and I managed to just squeak that in.

The theme this season was recent indie games. Every single game was released in the last few years, with Ori and the Blind Forest, Hand of Fate, and Tales from the Borderlands releasing earlier this year in 2015.

Season Six Schedule

(Google Sheet Link)

Game Estimated Hours to Complete Start Date Total Hours/Completion Date Goal
Ori and the Blind Forest                     9 7/14/2015 10hrs/July 22, 2015 Jul-15
Unepic                     22 7/28/2015 21hrs/Aug 19, 2015 Aug-15
Child of Light                     13 8/31/2015 11hrs/Sept 15, 2015 Sep-15
This War of Mine                     13 9/22/2015 12hrs/Oct 2, 2015 Oct-15
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse                     12 10/07/15 12.5hrs/Oct 23, 2015 Oct-15
Gunpoint                     4 10/27/15 4hrs/Oct 29, 2015 Oct-15
Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine                     14 11/03/15 10hrs/Nov 16, 2015 Nov-15
Hand of Fate                     15 11/24/15 11.5hrs/Dec 7, 2015 Dec-15
Tales from the Borderlands                     10.5 12/10/15 11.5hrs/Dec 24, 2015 Dec-15
  • Ori and the Blind Forest – 10 hours in 9 days = 7.77 hrs/wk
  • Unepic – 21 hours in 23 days = 6.39 hrs/wk
  • Child of Light – 11 hours in 16 days = 4.81 hrs/wk
  • This War of Mine – 12 hours in 11 days = 7.64 hrs/wk
  • Broken Sword 5 – 12.5 hours in 17 days = 5.15 hrs/wk
  • Gunpoint – 4 hours in 3 days = 9.33 hrs/wk
  • Monaco – 10 hours in 14 days = 5 hrs/wk
  • Hand of Fate – 11.5 hours in 14 days = 5.75 hrs/wk
  • Tales from the Borderlands – 11.5 hours in 15 days = 5.37 hrs/wk

Total Hours: 103.5 (Estimated 112.5)

Total Average Hours per Week: 6.36

Six hours a week doesn’t seem like a sharp decline from last year’s 7.25 average but over a 6 month period it definitely adds up. I’m surprised I still made it well over 5 hours a week, though Gunpoint‘s very short run time probably helped inflate that number quite a bit.

Thanks to some much shorter games on average, I was still able to complete the same amount of games as last season, despite spending about 35 less hours. Yay indie games!

rogue's adventures

Season Six Stats (with last Season’s numbers)

  • Tweets by @RoguesAdventure: 340 (501), Total tweets: 5, 449
  • Total Number of Screenshots Taken: 1,936 (1,984)
  • Average Number of Screenshots per Game: 215 (220)
  • Most Screen Captured Game: Tales from the Borderlands 669 – 1/3 of my total screenshots this season and a new record! (Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag 643)
  • Total Games Completed: 9 (9)

Season Six Rankings

  1. Ori and the Blind Forest – Beautiful, poignant, challenging, and fun, Ori is easily one of the best metroidvanias I’ve ever played.
  2. Tales from the Borderlands – The Telltale narrative adventure is brilliantly grafted into the zany Borderlands world, excelling with witty writing and fun action.
  3. This War of Mine – Effectively combines the emotional toll and physical danger of war with a strategy layer of managing survivors and resources.
  4. Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine – A brilliantly designed and cleverly themed top-down cooperative stealth game that’s much less fun to play by yourself. 
  5. Hand of Fate – Despite some frustrations, Hand of Fate successfully layers in 3rd person combat into a highly randomized card-based tabletop adventure.
  6. Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse – A satisfying, if overly long, fifth entry that has the fun characters and varied puzzles of the venerable adventure franchise.
  7. Child of Light – Ubisoft effectively distills all the best elements of a traditional JRPG into a fun and beautiful 10-15 hour package.
  8. Gunpoint – Rewiring security in this 2D stealth-puzzler is a blast, but it’s too short to fully embrace more advanced levels.
  9. Unepic – An interesting 2D action-platformer-RPG with a few too many problems that keep it from indie greatness.

rogues adventure

Indie games are in a really fantastic place right now. Many of these titles started life as dreams on Kickstarter and blossomed into really memorable, fantastic, and maybe most importantly, compact experiences. As I get older and my game time becomes more and more precious, being able to play through an entire game in the span of a dozen hours (or less) becomes more and more attractive.

Both Ori and the Blind Forest and Tales from the Borderlands made my 2015 Game of the Year list. I like the trend toward playing more recent game – mostly afforded by the fact that I’ve gone through a good chunk of my older backlogged games in previous seasons of Rogue’s Adventures.

This Season was definitely punctuated by bulk sale purchases during Steam sales, particularly during this year’s Steam Summer Sale. Six of the nine games I played this Season were bought during the Steam Summer Sale, which is an incredibly satisfying turnaround.

As my gaming time continues to dwindle each Season, I’m thankful I still have time to play games. Between family life, running an online D&D campaign with friends, and my freelance writing career, Rogue’s Adventures has kept me constantly playing fun games. With so many awesome, big games this last Fall it has been a tricky balance, but I like the interaction and writing that comes from playing through these backlog games.

I’d like to keep Rogue’s Adventures going as long as I can, and hopefully next Season I can maintain a similar schedule and pacing. See you next year, and happy gaming!

tales from the borderlands episode 2

Follow @RoguesAdventure for live tweeting and screenshots, join the Rogue’s Adventures Steam group for updates, and Follow me on Twitch and Subscribe on YouTube for videos.

D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 15 Recap

Our heroes reach level 4 and finally journey to the titular mine – Wave Echo Cave. It’s full of bad things.

d&d

Watch our sessions live on my YouTube channel every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central. Subscribe and catch up on previous episodes!

What happens when the players get ahead of the DM’s preparations? Panic and chaos, mostly.

I’d gotten far enough ahead in prepping “The Lost Mine of Phandelver that I hadn’t had to do any major work in weeks. By ‘major work’ I mean building out the maps in Roll20, finding pics, creating tokens, creating character sheets, etc.

Every week I do about an hour of prep work. This mostly consists of notes to myself regarding the specific section of the adventure we’re in. I like to write out longer dialogue sessions so I don’t have to “um” and “uh” may way through ad-libbing, for example.

Unfortunately due to the general busyness of the holiday season, our sessions finally caught up to me. At the last minute we decided to move our normal Sunday session up a day earlier, and I spent a good chunk of the day making the titular mine – the final area of the adventure.

Wave Echo Cave is a mega-dungeon, a large area with over a dozen rooms with various creatures, loot, and other treasures and dangers. Thankfully I’d already found and downloaded some great-looking battlemaps that someone had created, and had spent the painstaking time to line them up to Roll20’s grid. I still had to get all the tokens placed, roll hit points, set up dynamic lighting, and create a few new character sheets for unique NPCs.

Since the dungeon is a bit open-ended, I felt like I had to do the whole thing just in case. I got about 90% finished and called it good enough. And of course, my players (newly leveled up to 4) stumbled on that last damn 10%. Continue reading “D&D 5E – “Lost Mine of Phandelver” Session 15 Recap”

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Tales from the Borderlands

The Telltale narrative adventure is brilliantly grafted into the zany Borderlands world, excelling with witty writing and fun action.

I have finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts below and also on my gaming blog on Game Informer.

Developer: Telltale Games

Publisher: Telltale Games

Release Date: Episode 1: November 25, 2014, Episode 2: March 17, 2015, Episode 3: June 23, 2015, Episode 4: August 18, 2015, Episode 5: October 20, 2015

rogues adventures

There’s a now-infamous puzzle in the first episode of Telltale Games’ 2012 The Walking Dead adventure game where you have to find and put batteries in a radio. It’s ridiculously simply to the point of insulting, but I remember thinking “Hey, at least we got a classic inventory puzzle in this otherwise very narrative-heavy game.”

Since then, Telltale has doubled-down in their unique subgenere of adventure game that tells an incredibly solid story filled with choice-driven dialogue and action-packed quick-time events – and almost no actual puzzles. Their latest adventure, Tales from the Borderlands, exemplifies this philosophy to the point where I feel like I’m watching a series of cutscenes at least half the time.

And yet, the story is good. Really, really good. It begins as a classic thieves tale and zany con-artist scheme and expertly weaves together a fantastic mix of cultures and players within the Borderlands world to create a truly memorable and fun experience. I ranked it #8 on My Top Ten Games of 2015.

For the first time in a Telltale adventure, we get to play as dual protagonists, Fiona and Rhys. Fiona is a native Pandoran, an orphaned thief with a good heart and a sassy sister. Rhys is a corporate stooge working for Hyperion in the orbiting space station Helios. Thanks to an elaborate con being pulled by Fiona involving a valuable vault key, Rhys tries to take advantage and the two become embroiled in a much bigger plot. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Tales from the Borderlands”

My Top Ten Games of 2015: Full List and Awards

My annual Game of the Year list ranks my favorite games of 2015, as well as other fun awards and categories.

ori and the blind forest kuro

This year I wanted to do something a bit more fun with my annual Top Ten Games list. I wanted to give each game their proper due, with their own blog post for each of the 10 days leading up to Christmas. I barely kept pace but it was a lot of fun.

So if you’ve been following my blog you already know my Top Ten Games of the Year. This final list is important for other reasons: I directly compare the results of last year’s Most Anticipated list and 2015’s Mid-Year Top Five list, as well as assign various fun awards and rankings at the end.  Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: Full List and Awards”

My Top Ten Games of 2015: #1

Obsidian’s delightfully old-school RPG Pillars of Eternity is my #1 Game of the Year for 2015!

My Top Ten Games of 2015

#10 MASSIVE CHALICE

#9 Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

#8 Tales from the Borderlands

#7 Ori and the Blind Forest

#6 Super Mario Maker

#5 Yo-Kai Watch

#4 Fallout 4

#3 Xenoblade Chronicles X

#2 Heroes of the Storm

#1 Pillars of Eternity

pillars of eternity

My #1 Game of the Mid-Year remained on top despite some truly excellent games released in the Fall. Obsidian’s record-breaking (at the time) Kickstarter project recalled the computer RPG nostalgia of the late 90s and early 2000s, such as Baldur’s Gate and Fallout. Needless to say, I jumped all over the chance for one of my favorite RPG developers to tackle a wholly original project.

I’m pleased to report that Pillars of Eternity is a smashing success. It manages to invoke all the best mechanics and themes of the classic isometric, tactical role-playing game while infusing lots of modern designs and philosophy. All of that plus Obsidian’s trademark superior writing create a wonderfully immersive new fantasy world that I spent over two months and 70s hours getting lost in. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #1”