February Game Challenge: Week One (New Games Aplenty!)

firewatch 01

February greetings! It’s hard to believe we already have one month under our collective belts in this new year.

While typically the beginning of the year is a slow time for games, this month is the exception. At least it is for me.

On February 9th we have an abundance of presumably excellent games to look forward to: Dying Light’s The Following DLC, Unravel, and Firewatch. Then on the 23rd, we have Far Cry Primal.

That’s a lot of gaming to look forward to in February.

My only goal between now and the 9th is to continue on with the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (I am easily 50+ hours in and adore the experience) and finish it by then so I’m ready for all the new gaming goodness. I wasn’t planning on doing a completionist run in The Witcher, but I am doing nearly everything I can (except Gwent, which I am terrible at) and it has made me fall in love with games all over again. I’ve just never had an experience quite like The Witcher.

And those environments.

Sometimes I find myself in the middle of a new area and just stand there for a while taking the beautiful scenery and dynamic weather in. I am so glad I came back to this game. And, as I write this, all I’m thinking about is finishing writing this, so I can go play more of that.

Last month I completed six games, so I’m a bit ahead on my yearly challenge to complete at least 50 games by December 31st. I think this month will also prove productive, and I am looking forward to all those new releases.

One thing I did over the weekend (really just a couple of hours on Friday and then a whole bunch of hours on Saturday) was take part in The Division beta. I’ve had reserved feelings about it for a while now, and the beta did nothing to make me more confident in the release.

First of all, the beta was a watered down vertical slice of the game. This didn’t make sense to me, as the game releases on March 8th, in just five weeks. That means within a very short time, the game will (or should) go gold. A lot of features were removed for the beta, and I found myself wanting for things to do to finish leveling up to 8. The game looked better than I thought it would, but the visual disparity between what we have been shown previously and the beta was (as per usual for Ubisoft) significant. And I definitely got a Watch_Dog-gy vibe from the whole thing. I don’t want to pre-judge, but I’m hesitant about the game, at best. I will still play it when it releases next month, but I’m reserved at best.

One thing I found to be a polarizing experience was The Division’s PvP area: the Dark Zone. When I first went in with a friend, we had a great time. We just wandered around, found some things, extracted some things, and had interesting interplayer experiences. You never knew if people were going to come after you or if they were friendly. Fortunately, we only encountered friendlies.

Then, later, we went in with another friend, and the experience was far less enjoyable. We encountered two groups of people who both acted friendly at the extraction zones, then, as soon as the helicopter came to take the goods, they turned on us and took all our things. They were also roaming the zones and attacking people. It was pretty disheartening, as they were consistently killing people with the highest tier weapons, which meant they had been doing this a while. I can’t say that’s an experience I can get behind.

It was frustrating.

Also, I hope Ubisoft figures out the loot system, as some items are unique, and some aren’t. With a game like this, I think a unique loot system could only benefit every player.

So while I’m glad I got a chance to play the beta, I’m not sure it sold me on the game.

With that, I bid you farewell as I have many hours of witching ahead of me. Cheers!

7 replies »

    • Which Fire Emblem are you getting?

      I’m actually putting off all Gwent related quests. I figure I will look up strategies later on when I have less to do in the game so I can focus on just whizzing through all the Gwent matches.

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    • Oh my gosh, I can’t wait for it. I always think about the man who created it when he was onstage at E3. The Trembling Man. I kept thinking, “Holy crap, someone go hug that man!”

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  1. Your description about The Division’s beta very eloquently mirrors my apprehension about the game, and really most online games with a competitive component. While I love to play cooperatively with friends, that type of experience just isn’t for me.

    The visual disparity is something I wish was better explained from the developer side. It seems to me it would be better to tease the game with a more conservative, achievable graphic fidelity, so that when the game releases this doesn’t keep happening. Do you think these early looks at the game represent actual visual goals, that are discovered to be unattainable later in development? Or are they just going all out to generate buzz? It certainly can’t help business to repeatedly raise expectations above what can be delivered in the end.

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    • I actually don’t know why they show a game looking better than it is. If they say it’s in-game, then what happens? One other thing I noticed in the beta were a lot of pop-ins. I thought that sort of died with last-gen. It really surprised me. The people I was playing with saw it, too.

      I’m just feeling very weird about it. I can’t quite pinpoint my feelings on it. I will still play through the narrative and see how it goes.

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