D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 36 Recap

We fight our way through a pair of Cloud Giants and mount a thrilling escape from Raven Rock with some unlikely allies.

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Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

I was still patting out the flames triggered by the statue trap that the damn tiefling woman had set off when I heard a shriek. I turned and saw the second Cloud Giant raise its gigantic mace and bring it down near the statue, right where Korinn hid. 

A blue blur darted out from behind the statue as the mace connected. Her forcefield sprang up instinctively, the mace crashing through it like wet paper, and she- 

Wait, something happened. The entire world seemed to slow down for a moment, right before the mace would have crushed her skull. I felt a weird tingling sensation, like deja vu. On a hunch I glanced in the other direction, seeing Bryseis peeking out from behind the statue. Her eyes were glowing, mouth moving, and hands twirling in some arcane ritual.

I looked back and saw, impossibly, the mace bouncing off the forcefield, glancing harmlessly to the side as Korinn finished her egress. When she turned around her arms were already outstretched and electricity crackled around her, sending a deadly bolt of lightning surging into – no, through, the first Cloud Giant, splattering blood and organs into the ceiling behind him. The Giant let out a pitiful sigh before slumping to the ground, while the second called out in a wail. 

I looked back at Bryseis, who simply smirked.

Escaping the ancient Cloud Giant library at Raven Rock proved far more difficult than we anticipated, and also far more exciting as an airship full of dragon cultists swooped in to carry us to the safety of an ancient red dragon. Er, we hope. Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 36 Recap”

30 Most Anticipated Games of 2018 [Pixelkin]

Read the full list at Pixelkin

We’ve seen lots of exciting new game announcements throughout 2017, with the inevitable disappointment when we saw ‘2018’ as the date. The new year will bring us our first full year with the Nintendo Switch, including several new game entries for Kirby, Yoshi, and even Metroid.

Several big console games have been in development for years and made last year’s most anticipated list, including Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War, Spider-Man, and Detroit: Become Human. There’s all new games like Anthem and Sea of Thieves and remasters of classics in Shadow of the Colossus and Secret of Mana. And is this the year we’ll finally see the incredibly long awaited sequel that is Kingdom Hearts III?

Here are our 30 most anticipated games of 2018!

Read the full list at Pixelkin

My Top Ten Games of 2017: Full List and Awards

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: my Game of the Year list! This is my full top ten Game of the Year list, followed by some fun individual awards.

This has been an exciting year. We saw the Nintendo Switch launch in March along with Zelda, and Nintendo would continue to dominate the entire year with an incredible lineup of games.

I finally got a PlayStation 4 this year, adding a bunch of games to my library that I had missed over the years (I skipped PS3). A good half those are still in my backlog, but you’ll find two of them in my Game of the Year list below.

It was a much better year for RPGs, both indie and AAA. The past continues to provide a wealth of solid remakes, enhancements, and retro-inspired games. Mobile games are gradually becoming more pronounced as Nintendo swaggers onto the scene, while the most popular game of the year made everyone google search what “Battle Royale” means.

For my part I continued to sink hundreds of hours into Heroes of the Storm, my defacto multiplayer game of choice. I also dabbled in other MOBAs like MXM, Battlerite and Arena of Valor. My Wii U was basically retired after beating Zelda, and I anxiously await getting my hands on a Nintendo Switch.

2017 may have been an awful year in many ways, but I’ve still got 10 great games that I loved.

My Top Ten Games of 2017

10) Fire Emblem Heroes

Adapting a turn-based strategy RPG on mobile devices can be tricky, but Fire Emblem Heroes creates a nice balance by providing miniature, single-screen battle maps and (mostly) 4v4 battles. The scaled down battles work perfectly in this format, and the theme of throwing dozens and dozes of Fire Emblem characters into one game is a blast for long-time fans.

9) Metroid: Samus Returns

metroid

Nintendo surprised everyone when they announced a full 2D remake of Metroid II with Metroid: Samus Returns, and it’s a damn great game. The level design still holds up well, and the new 3D models and improved controls work great in modernizing a classic.

8) Injustice 2

Injustice 2‘s campaign mode fell flat but it more than made up for it with the amazingly cool Multiverse and new loot drop system. Adding RPG elements is eye-rollingly common, but I’ll be damned if it’s not exactly what I needed to keep me playing a fighting game.

7) Hand of Fate 2

Hand of Fate 2 is bigger and better in every way. It doesn’t just provide new cards. There’s a much better campaign structure with unique scenarios, more varied games of chance, and awesome new companions. Hand of Fate was a fun idea, but Hand of Fate 2 is a fun game.

6) Battle Chasers: Nightwar

Battle Chasers: Nightwar

Come for the fantastic comic art but stay for the challenging but fun turn-based combat. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is clearly inspired from 16-bit RPGs, but it also infuses a lot of fun modern elements like a bestiary, replayable dungeons, and an intricate combat system that rewards synergy and combos.

5) Thimbleweed Park

Ron Gilbert has a message for anyone who thinks adventure games are over: Fuck You. Thimbleweed Park is raunchy, clever, challenging, and funny as hell. It perfectly recreates the beloved SCUMM game engine that powered so many 90s classics, while providing an all-new story, multiple protagonists, and astonishingly fun puzzle design from one of the masters of the genre.

4) Cosmic Star Heroine

It’s been a good damn year for old-school RPGs. Cosmic Star Heroine doesn’t exactly provide the next Chrono Trigger but it is a reasonable, indie facsimile. A huge cast, fun combat system, and super awesome soundtrack made me sad that it was over far too soon, but I loved every minute of it.

3) Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn is the beautiful love child of Assassin’s Creed and The Elder Scrolls, and it’s one of the best-looking console games I’ve ever seen. The contrast between crumbling cities, wild nature, tribal humans, and robot dinosaurs is instantly compelling, and a wonderfully fun backdrop to explore.

2) Divinity: Original Sin 2

The first Divinity was my #1 Game of the Year in 2014, and the sequel is even better. Divinity: Original Sin 2 has all the tactical turn-based combat I want, with a welcome new armor system, improved skills and abilities, well-integrated companions, and a much more interesting story.

1) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was Nintendo showing the world what a psuedo-open world adventure game could do. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild proves that they’re still king of the pack. It’s expansive yet detailed, challenging yet intuitive, stylistic yet beautiful. It’s completely open, yet still tells a solid story of war, loss, failure, and redemption. And it’s my favorite game of the year.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, Monster Hunter Stories, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

Before we get to the awards, let’s compare my Game of the Year list to my Most Anticipated list I wrote in January, as well as the mini-Most Anticipated list I wrote in June. This is always a fun comparison full of face-palming, and this year won’t be any different.

Here’s my Most Anticipated Games of 2017, as of last January:

  1. Mass Effect: Andromeda
  2. Red Dead Redemption 2
  3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  4. State of Decay 2
  5. Cosmic Star Heroine
  6. Divinity: Original Sin 2
  7. Torment: Tides of Numenera
  8. Pyre
  9. Battle Chasers: Nightwar
  10. South Park: The Fractured But Whole

Alright so, yeah. It’s not too horrible if you remember that we were all really, really excited about a new Mass Effect. Oh how wrong we were.

I actually didn’t hate Andromeda at all. I enjoyed it decently enough (hell, I put it at #5 on my Mid-Year list). But I fell off, hard. I’m about 20 hours in and never went back, and nor do I have any real desire to. That’s really bad. Considering I had it here at #1, it’s very much my Most Disappointing Game of the Year.

I was pretty accurate when it came to game releases this year, with only two games slipping into next year (hopefully): Red Dead Redemption 2 and State of Decay 2 (with both games almost going completely dark for much of the year).

That leaves seven more games. Two I didn’t play at all. Torment: Tides of Numenera I kickstarted years ago, so I own it but just haven’t had the time to dive in. Argh! As for South Park, I’ve heard mixed reports, and I’m okay waiting for a sale.

Now we’re at five games, and four of them made my final Game of the Year list. I’m a big fan of Supergiant Games but Pyre just didn’t really do it for me. It still had a great soundtrack and compelling writing and art, but the actual gameplay left me wanting. The weird sports matches just weren’t my thing, though I did dig the story, characters and world. Compared to Bastion and Transistor, however, Pyre wasn’t nearly what I wanted.

Look for my Most Anticipated Games of 2018 list in the coming weeks!

Best Multiplayer: Battlerite*

Most Disappointing: Mass Effect: Andromeda

Biggest Surprise: Thimbleweed Park

Most Played: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (72 hrs)

Best Early Access/Beta Game: Fortnite

Best Original Music: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Best Soundtrack: Cosmic Star Heroine by Hypderduck SoundWorks

Best Art Design: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Best World Building/Atmosphere: Horizon Zero Dawn

metroid: samus returnsBest Writing: Masquerada: Songs and Shadows

Best Cooperative Game: Divinity: Original Sin **

Best Game Nobody Else Played: Cosmic Star Heroine

Most Improved Sequel: Hand of Fate 2

Favorite New Game Mechanic: Climbing everything in The Legend of Zelda

Most Innovative: Pyre

Best New Character: Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn)

Favorite Moment: The opening hour of Horizon Zero Dawn

Best Industry Trend: Nintendo’s back baby!

Worst Industry Trend: Too many loot boxes

Didn’t Have Time to Play: Torment: Tides of Numenera

Too Long; Didn’t Finish: Divinity: Original Sin 2

Favorite 2016 Game of 2017: Dishonored 2

*I may have to eliminate this category, because for a third year it’s really Heroes of the Storm, though we dabbled in Battlerite a bit.

**Cheating with this category as it’s not a 2017 game, but I’ve had a blast playing the first Divinity on the PS4 with my wife.

My Top Ten Games of 2017: #1

My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Fire Emblem Heroes
#9 Metroid: Samus Returns
#8 Injustice 2
#7 Hand of Fate 2
#6 Battle Chasers: Nightwar
#5 Thimbleweed Park
#4 Cosmic Star Heroine
#3 Horizon Zero Dawn
#2 Divinity: Original Sin 2

#1 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

I was a relative latecomer to the Zelda franchise. I’ve owned every Nintendo console, but never really got into the series until Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64. Ocarina of Time remains one of my all-time favorite games, but The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is demonstratively better, and one of the most overall impressive games I’ve played in years. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2017: #1”

D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 35 Recap

We explore the rest of the Cloud Giant library at Raven Rock, solving puzzles and battling a sentient spellbook.

Streamed, recorded and uploaded every week. Subscribe for our weekly adventures. Join us live on Fridays at 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern!

Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

I took three short, quick breaths and yanked the jagged piece of wood out of my shoulder. Pain lanced through my body as blood dripped all over the ancient stone floor. I glared at Halfred, who pretended to intensely scrutinize the runes he had just so carelessly trod upon moments before, bringing those demonic tree creature barreling down on us.

I seethed and licked my wounds with my healing skills while Korinn and Bryseis began to explain how we had solved the rune puzzle on the opposite side. Without tripping the alarms and summoning tree monsters, mind you.

Slightly refreshed I joined them and we worked out the correct order to touch them in order to open the door. Halfred grinned at me mischievously “Go ahead!”

I admit, I snapped. I bodily grabbed the halfling, thinking to hurl him onto the rune so he could step on them, correctly this time. The little bastard planted his feet and stood his ground, matching me strength for strength. The two of us grunted and struggled.

I became vaguely aware of a Mage Hand floating past us, the words lighting up, and the doors opening. Bryseis walked up and slapped us both in the head, sending us tumbling into each other. We sheepishly disentangled, nodded at each other, and proceeded into the room.

We explored the rest of the underground Cloud Giant library at Raven Rock this week, including a trio of rune puzzles and a boss fight against a sentient spellbook.

Continue reading “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 35 Recap”

My Top Ten Games of 2017: #2

My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Fire Emblem Heroes
#9 Metroid: Samus Returns
#8 Injustice 2
#7 Hand of Fate 2
#6 Battle Chasers: Nightwar
#5 Thimbleweed Park
#4 Cosmic Star Heroine
#3 Horizon Zero Dawn

#2 Divinity: Original Sin 2

Larian Studios have quietly been crafting RPG classics for years (and I’ve dabbled in a few), yet none really hit the big time until Divinity: Original Sin in 2014. It was my #1 Game of the Year that year. The sequel is better in every way, and it’s only a testament to how amazing #1 is this year that I’m slotting it here. But make no mistake, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is destined to be remembered as one of the best RPGs of its time. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2017: #2”

My Top Ten Games of 2017: #3

My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Fire Emblem Heroes
#9 Metroid: Samus Returns
#8 Injustice 2
#7 Hand of Fate 2
#6 Battle Chasers: Nightwar
#5 Thimbleweed Park
#4 Cosmic Star Heroine

#3 Horizon Zero Dawn

I’m very late to the party on Horizon Zero Dawn, but better late than never. I’m still in the midst of playing through this absolutely gorgeous game that somehow balances beautiful fantasy vistas with post-apocalyptic destruction and sci-fi horrors. It plays like the perfect marriage between Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim, but its true power lies within its unique, memorable world-building. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2017: #3”