Clicking on monsters until they explode in showers of shiny loot—over and over again, for the promise of a slightly better pair of pants—is quintessential PC gaming. Most action-RPGs benefit from long lifespans thanks to a steady treadmill of refining skills, acquiring better loot, and endless dungeon crawling. But even the best action-RPGs aren’t immune to the ravages of time, and genre go-tos Diablo 3 and Path of Exile have been around for years now. As they grow older, several plucky newcomers have emerged in 2019, eager to gobble up weeks of your life. Some cling tightly to the Diablo tradition while others fearlessly blow it up to take a different path.
If you’ve stayed more than awhile in the world of Diablo, and made your way through Path of Exile‘s massive skill tree, these are the action-RPGs you should be playing in 2019.
Killsquad looks and loots like the lovechild of Diablo and Destiny and plays like a co-op MOBA. It hit Steam Early Access this week as an action-RPG for up to four players, drenched in a hellish sci-fi theme that could almost be a Doom spin-off with some of its demonic alien creatures. The fast-paced action is easy to jump into, with gorgeous art design, fun attacks, and, refreshingly, zero microtransactions.
When I unlocked the Bone Prison specialization for my Mark for Death spell, I forgot to read the fine print. Though a wall of bones now encircled my enemies, my once insta-cast spell now had a nasty side effect: a 20-second cooldown. But I was delighted to find that I could now cast another spell on each individual bone piece, turning my new bone prison into a cascading wall of death.
Last Epoch‘s skill system is a brilliant evolution of Path of Exile’s labyrinthine web of upgrades and Diablo 3’s rune modifications.
Nothing irritates me more than seeing the smiling faces on happy customers. It means I priced an item too low and they scored a sweet deal. A begrudgingly crestfallen customer, one who’ll pay just enough to purchase my stock, is exactly the kind of oil that keeps my dungeon crawling machine going.
Moonlighter provides an interesting premise. What if, after exploring a Zelda-like dungeon, our loot-filled hero had to sell all that loot in their own shop, without knowing how much it’s worth?
Moonlighter offers a unique and fun combination of both action-RPG and merchant sim, but doesn’t provide nearly as much depth as games that specialize in either one.
Alright, so it’s been awhile since my last Rogue’s Adventures update. I was worried at the start of this Season (back in January) that I’d have less time to devote to backlog gaming.
Well, I was right. Things got even worse when we up and decided to sell our house and buy a new one in May, which has pretty much turned my entire Summer upside down! So a 25 hour game suddenly took me 2.5 months to complete. This Season was supposed to last until the end of June, and here we are in August.
Excuses, excuses. Suffice to say that major changes to my backlog gaming format (which has been going strong since Fall 2012) will be Coming Soon. But first, I have a Final Thoughts to get to.
Grim Dawn was one of my oldest Kickstarter games, having backed it back in 2012, just after Double Fine blew up Kickstarter with what would become Broken Age. I was a big fan of Titan Quest back in the mid 2000s, easily my favorite non-Diablo Diablo game. To have a spiritual successor, even after the then-newly launched Diablo 3 was just too good to pass up.
Fast-forward about four years later. Even for Kickstarter indie games that’s a solid chunk of development time. Thanks to half-million or so raised and some wise pacing, Grim Dawn nicely exceeded expectations with a meaty main quest and classic ARPG gameplay. Continue reading “Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Grim Dawn”
In the 2014 sci-fi action film Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise gains a power that lets him restart a day after his death. Each “run” he learns something new about the war against the aliens. Stories: The Path of Destinies features this same neat idea. The intersecting story works well, but repetitive levels and limited content prevent Stories from becoming truly memorable.
The world of Stories: The Path of Destinies takes place in a fantasy land of flying air ships and talking animals. You play as Reynardo, a charismatic swash-buckling fox. The mad emperor’s armies are bearing down on the rebel base. It’s up to Reynardo to make the right decisions to save everyone.
The story is told through a magic book you find during the prologue. After each of the relatively quick levels you’re given an important decision to make. Save a friend or find a weapon? Sacrifice the general’s daughter or appeal to your past relationship? It’s the video game equivalent of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.
Blizzard Entertainment doesn’t release very many games. They still have only a handful of franchises to their name, and half of them have “craft” in the title. Blizzard has abstained from releasing yearly entries in its popular franchises like many big gaming companies do, instead releasing just one or two games a year total, then giving players years’ worth of post-game updates, improvements, support, and the occasional paid expansion.
Blizzard’s successful approach to mainstream gaming and commitment to their games has never been more apparent than with Diablo 3. Originally released in 2012, an agonizingly long 12 years after Diablo 2, the latest entry made the surprising changes of breaking and reconstructing many of the series’ (and the whole genre’s) beloved systems. And fans were not happy.
Skill points were completely scratched, the game instead rewarding everyone with the same skills and skill-runes every level. The art style was bemoaned as being far too bright and cartoony compared to the series’ former Gothic, sinister tones. An auction house, at which you could buy other players’ in-game items and sell your own, destroyed the exhilaration of finding your own loot, and a real money store—where you simply paid the developer for stuff—threatened the game’s basic integrity.
Then there was the infamously derided always-online component, which forced even those that just wanted to play by themselves to sign into Blizzard’s servers, at the constant mercy of their internet connection. On launch day players who simply couldn’t play the game they had just purchased spewed enough bile to fill a Grotesque.
Many purists and diehards of the genre quickly dismissed Diablo 3 in 2012. But then a funny thing happened. You see, underneath all these derided changes beat the demonic soulstone of a solid action-role-playing game. The desire to swiftly kill things to get more powerful and get fancy loot so that you can then kill more things is still a winning formula. Its near universal popularity has been co-opted by shooters and action games like Borderlands and Destiny, and is particularly adept at bringing friends together in a more relaxed, cooperative environment.