Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Grim Dawn

Grim Dawn exceeded expectations with a meaty main quest and classic ARPG gameplay.

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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: Crate Entertainment

Publisher: Crate Entertainment

Release Date: Feb 25, 2016

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.

grim dawn

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”

My Top Ten Games of 2015: #2

My #2 Game of the Year is by far my most played: Blizzard’s all-star MOBA, Heroes of the Storm.

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

heroes of the storm

If you follow me on twitter you’ve seen my automated Daily Play reports courtesy of Raptr. You’ve probably noticed that a day rarely passes that I haven’t played Heroes of the Storm.

There’s usually a few games a year that I settle in as my primary multiplayer outlet with friends. This year it started with Evolve in February, which we were all excited about. Like most it fizzled out after a few weeks. Things were dire for a few months until Blizzard emerged onto the crowded MOBA market with their own take on the genre, starring all the heroes and champions of Diablo, Starcraft, Warcraft, and even the Lost Vikings.

Long have I disliked the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre, which has all but supplanted my beloved Real-Time Strategy. I tried DotA 2 for a few hours and it just didn’t click, despite my friends really enjoying it. Games were too long and the learning curve too steep, leading to endless frustration.

Leave it to Blizzard to finally craft a MOBA experience I could get behind. By shortening matches, streamlining leveling, and offering multiple levels and objectives, Heroes of the Storm is the easy to play, hard to master MOBA that I’d apparently been waiting for. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #2”

Three Years Later Diablo 3 Is A Whole New Beast

In three years Blizzard’s steady stream of updates and patches have improved Diablo 3’s shaky launch into the premiere action role-playing game.

Read the full article at Playboy

diablo 3

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.

Read the full article at Playboy

Classic PC Games Find New Life on Mobile

If you grew up with PC gaming in the ’90s and ’00s, the mobile marketplace has suddenly become one of the most exciting spaces in gaming.

Read the full article at Pixelkin

classic pc games

It was the summer of 2000. The summer of Diablo 2, one of the most anticipated games in my teenage life. It was also the summer my family vacationed in Hawaii. That was a magical experience, but I mostly wanted to play Diablo 2. Being away from my PC meant I had to settle with reading the latest issue of PC Gamer. I poured over the review and the few tiny screenshots to get my fix.

I distinctly remember sitting on the plane, clutching my Game Boy Color, and wishing I could be playing my growing library of awesome PC games like Diablo, Starcraft, Fallout, and Baldur’s Gate.

Fifteen years later, as I load up Heroes of Might and Magic III on my iPad, I realize that dream has finally come true.

Read the full article at Pixelkin

Heroes of the Storm Review

I’ve always hated MOBAs but leave it to Blizzard to craft the most enjoyable team hero brawler I’ve ever played.

Read the full review at CG Magazine

heroes of the storm

I hated MOBAs. These weird games that called themselves Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas have all but supplanted my beloved Real Time Strategy genre. Requiring minute micromanagement, synchronized teamwork, and a critical familiarity with dozens of heroes and hundreds of abilities, MOBAs are not exactly known for their accessibility.

Leave it to Blizzard, the masters of gameplay iteration, to create by far the most accessible and enjoyable “Online Hero Brawler”. By leveraging their famous stable of larger-than-life characters and streamlining every single aspect of the genre, Blizzard have crafted one of the most enjoyable team multiplayer games I’ve played in years.

Read the full review at CG Magazine

My Top Ten Games of 2014

You can read my full list over on my blog on Game Informer >>

The holiday decorations are put away and New Year’s shenanigans have come and gone. All that’s left to put a cap on 2014 is my annual Top Ten Games of the Year list.

What makes my list unique and interesting is that it’s soon accompanied by a Most Anticipated list for the following year. Then when it’s time to do the end of the year list, I can compare it with last year’s Most Anticipated list and see who well I can predict my favorite games. My track record isn’t so great, but that’s what makes it so interesting!

You can review my Most Anticipated Games of 2014. As a reminder I’ve posted them below:

  1. Starbound
  2. Broken Age
  3. Wasteland 2
  4. Dragon Age Inquisition
  5. Pillars of Eternity
  6. Titanfall
  7. South Park: The Stick of Truth
  8. Super Smash Bros. For 3DS
  9. MASSIVE CHALICE
  10. Transistor

Half of those games used Steam’s Early Access program and/or Kickstarter for their funding, and six out of ten are indie games. Four of them did not release in 2014: Starbound (still in Early Access beta, over a year now!), Broken Age (Act 1 released in January, still no Act 2!), Pillars of Eternity (currently in closed beta) and MASSIVE CHALICE (currently in Early Access/beta).

My friends and I were super into Starbound at the time of this list, which had just released on Early Access. I’m a bit shocked to find the game still in Early Access beta after over a solid year, and we stopped playing around Feb/March to wait for bigger updates/changes. As a side note, the upcoming patch looks nicely massive and an overhaul to gameplay, and I’m ready to dive in again.

This was definitely the year of the Kickstarter game as many of the original 2012 multi-million dollar Kickstarter projects released this year. I was very excited for Broken Age, Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity, though the latter would be pushed to 2015.

Six out of ten games on my list were released in 2014, though one of them I still have not played… Read on to see which ones made my Top Ten Games of 2014!

Read my full list over on my blog on Game Informer >>