Life’s an itch

I got back into World of Warcraft.

With the impending release of World of Warcraft Classic, I felt that familiar itch for some sweet MMORPG action. Since Classic isn’t even in beta yet, I settled for the current iteration.

My last run at WoW was just after the release of Legion, the previous expansion. It was my first playing since 2010, and I had a blast leveling my druid up to the new level cap and goofing around with a new guild. Eventually, I hit my peak (or at least the best I could do without scheduled and consistent raiding) and my interest waned. My subscription eventually lapsed, my itch fully scratched.

But that need for chasing an experience bar and finding new equipment slowly crept back into my brain.

So I settled for starting up a new character and exploring the gameplay changes with a new class and race since trial accounts are free until level 20. My Worgen warrior, under the name of my old druid character, was supposed to be my outlet for my desperate need for MMO-brand satisfaction.

I made it to level 18 before I completely forgot about it. I didn’t feel the need to log back in. The itch hadn’t been scratched or anything—I just didn’t want to keep going. Maybe it was the knowledge that Classic is on the way. Or maybe the WoW subreddit is right and the game’s mechanics are just straight-up unsatisfying now.

(Full disclosure: I logged back in just now to check what level I made it to and ended up making the final push to 20 and got my first mount. Wasn’t exactly a sigh of relief, but it was almost enjoyable.)

Either way, it made me realize how impossible it is truly satisfy that need for what originally got me hooked on the king of MMORPGs. There’s a very unique brand of nostalgia for exploring a vibrant world with other people, for learning new spells and forms, for persevering against tough bosses for the first time.

But there’s also that classic desire for a simpler time where I could focus on the game and learning it with other newbies—learning not just WoW specifically, but the genre itself. That’s not the game anymore, and it never will be. I can’t really put myself back in level 60 gear and figure out how to best DPS as a feral druid on my first big boy raid.

It’s not exactly a satisfying lesson, or even a particularly helpful one—I still have the desire for that warm nostalgia. But at least I can understand how to approach that desire and what state of mind I need to be in when I approach other games.

Unfortunately for my Worgen warrior, I don’t think he’s going to make it to level 120. He’s earned his mount, so I think he’s earned some rest, too.

And I’m still going to keep my eyes glued to that Classic release countdown.

Game off

I’ve been pretty confident in my desire to involve myself with the world of games writing. Maybe not professionally, but it’s something that I’d consider a natural extension  of my favorite hobby.

But here’s the thing—and it’s not a new thing, I know—that keeps my ego in check.

New games come out. A lot.

That’s pretty dope. There aren’t any long periods of mediocre games or stretches of boredom with the current trends. There’s always a 10/10 game hidden behind an unfamiliar platform.

The problem, as minor of a problem as it is, is that this means that the Must Talk About Game of the Week changes, well, every week. The gaming audience’s attention, like the attention of every fanbase, is easily shifted and quick to jump ship to the next big thing. Like I said, this isn’t the worst thing in the world and really only affects a fairly small subdivision of the gaming population.

But let’s say I want to catch the wave for a quick pitch or something I can call “trending-able.” Right now, it’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. A few days ago, it was The Division 2. In a few more days (and weeks), it’ll be Mortal Kombat 11 or Rage 2. And surprise, they all seem dope. And they’re all also going to major contenders for the spotlight. And they all cost money.

Every new release is another question about whether or not it’s worth dropping another $60 to be up to date on the most popular/easily promotable game. It’s absolutely worth it worth it, sure, $60 is an amazing value for these well-crafted experiences, but it doesn’t make the financial struggle feel any better. And there’s not really any solid answer here, other than making more money, I guess.

I’d be lying if I said this post isn’t mostly about Sekiro. I absolutely adore FromSoftware, and even after Platinum-ing Bloodborne a few weeks ago, I’m still desperately itching for that fast-paced fighting and atmospheric amazement.

It’ll still be an incredible game when I eventually pick it up, yeah, but let’s hope I can keep any spoilers alive in the shadows until then.

 

Five Games That Have Me Tamed

[I was lucky enough to correspond with the folks at Official Xbox Magazine about a year ago. I applied for a staff writer position, but I didn’t make the cut seeing as how I didn’t have a UK work visa. Womp womp (hey, I got to write a piece for the print magazine, which was a life goal). They did ask for a summary of what I’d been playing, and I really liked the end result. So here it is.]

Watch_Dogs

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

The poster child for internet outrage, Watch_Dogs served as a warning about big promises for little packages. I picked it up from Games With Gold with expectations lowered after three years of reading threads featuring the internet’s anger. Several hours and one spider tank later, Watch_Dogs is arguably my second favorite freebie in the program’s four year history, passing up hits like #IDARB and Sunset Overdrive (and falling behind Dark Souls).

Rightfully criticized for its misguided promises and bland plot, the game’s problems are easy to spot. The charm of the game, though, is in its stereotypically gritty protagonist. Sure, he’s your classic too tough tough guy, but his interactions with his sister offer a bit more than flaccid badassery. Her criticisms aren’t about his vigilantism or certain set of skills or whatever—instead, she begs him to snap out of his delusions and actually change for the better. Aiden Pearce isn’t a hero. He’s a man too stubborn to change, despite proof that his misguided coping mechanism (beating petty criminals with a baton) is only harming his remaining family and himself. Pearce is relatable in the most painful ways, making him one of the most human protagonists I’ve gotten to play.

A Dark Room

Developer: Doublespeak Games

A text-based idle game, A Dark Room pits the player and their growing band of apocalypse survivors against the ever hostile wilderness. The player, along with a mysterious stranger that offers prophecies and settlement expansions, must find a way to survive by exploring the wild remains of the world. The mystique is quickly outweighed by the tedium though. Resource management is more waiting than balancing, meaning the mysteries of the ruined world are locked behind hours of leaving the game actively running.

Fortunately, or unfortunately for the survivors, there’s no shortage of grues.

Mortal Kombat XL

Developer: NetherRealm Studios

Whereas Mortal Kombat (2009) was a breath of fresh air in the long-running series, Mortal Kombat X is a whole lungful. Of course, that lung is quickly ripped out in one of the many fantastic fatalities and brutal, er, brutalities. The new characters are all solid, making even well-explored playstyles, like Ferra/Torr’s slow but strong bashing or Erron Black’s gunkata, just as fun as series’ staples like Johnny Cage and Scorpion. Unfortunately, NetherRealm’s post-launch content continues to be sketchy. Just like Injustice 2, it feels like the complete version is only available about a year after initial launch.

Doom

Developer: id Software

When you’re in the mood for Doom, it’s hard to argue with the fwoom of a grenade firing out of a shotgun tube. Doom’s always embraced its absurdities, but Doom 3 was more slow tension than speedy slaughter. This version shoots beyond breakneck to crown the player champion of carnage; Mick Gordon’s brutal metal soundtrack is the perfect fuel on the hellfire. With the effective death of rhythm genre, Doom’s the closest thing to a music game we’ll see this generation. Every riff is an invitation to massacre demon and monster alike on Mars, come Hell or…well, Hell.

Madden NFL 15

Developer: EA Tiburon

Madden is a lot of things now. All of them are pretty much the same game, but that’s beside the point(s). Everything else I’m playing offers fresh experiences, new worlds that make me want to talk about them the second I turn off the console. Madden, on the other hand, is the gaming equivalent of my worn out, threadbare pajamas. It’s the easy comfort I can turn to when I need a no thought distraction. The mechanics are shoddy, the graphics and animations are more terrifying than not, and it’ll never be patched. But damn is it comfy.

The hardest goodbye is the one you have to take back.

Well, it’s been a fun few months.

Kidding. It hasn’t.

At the end of November, I got laid off. It was for the best, seeing as how the few weeks of not knowing when the axe was going to fall gave me the most severe anxiety pains I’ve ever had the fortune of feeling.

It didn’t feel great to no longer have a job, but at least my stomach stopped screaming randomly. I didn’t feel great though, but the holiday were at hand. I packed up and headed back down to the swamps to reconnect with my family and help my parents prepare for their upcoming move (and clear out their pantry, of course). I completely unplugged, losing myself in Smash Bros. Ultimate and The Stormlight Archive. 

I’m back in St. Louis now, and I’ve been away from words for a bit too long (aside from the book ones, I mean the words that I can do something with). So I’m dusting off the blog and reminding myself that I was someone before I defined myself as a copy editor. Don’t get me wrong, I still know my heart’s with editing, but I can’t just restrict myself to writing and rewriting cover letters anymore.

So here goes. I’m not anticipating a publishing schedule or consistent topics, but I’m going to repopulate this blog with some fresh nonsense. There are more than a few Google Docs lurking in my inbox that are half-finished ideas and drafts that I tricked myself into ignoring because, “I might pitch them (to someone?) sometime (never?) so I don’t want to post them on my blog (because words can only appear once online?).”

But I know a little better now.

Cheers.