No Man's Sky NEXT
"Microsoft was dragged kicking and screaming into the video game space." Virtual Cities, from a game developer with a PhD in urban planning and geography, is an illustrated book exploring the urban landscapes of 40 video games. And the Washington Post is now streaming video games of its own reporters getting beaten by members of Congress.
So, what are you playing?
The Witcher 3 is finally over. After 120+ hours of (mostly) enjoyable gameplay, I finally wrapped up the story. There's a number of other quests left unfinished, but for now I'm content to let the game go. Instead, I'm focusing my time on Assassin's Creed Origins. I have a few hours of playtime and so far I'm loving it, so I'll undoubtedly be putting in a lot of time this weekend. Other than that, I've found myself pulled back into Smite again, so we'll see how far down that rabbit hole I'm willing to go.
God help me, but I'm actually getting back into No Man's Sky to check out the Next update. I haven't touched the game in a year, since the underwhelming Atlas Rises patch dropped, but so far I am very cautiously optimistic. There's a lot more structure and balance here, with hints at a much deeper and more rewarding game. I'm only a couple hours into my new run, so I'm still worried that the exploration and fun is still buried behind a mountain of grind. That's what always killed the game for me—hours and hours of tedious resource and economy grind between me and the ostensible purpose of the game; it felt like for all their incremental improvements, Hello Games didn't understand balance and that was sabotaging their vision. So far the progression moves at a healthy pace, so hopefully that stays consistent. I still won't trust anything Hello Games ever says again until I have product in hand—fool me once, etc.—but it looks like they've redeemed themselves and delivered what they originally promised.
That said, if you want a space game that's fun from the beginning and stays that way, you could pick up Red Faction Guerrilla: Re-Mars-tered, which is what I've been playing between No Man's Sky sessions. Defeat a neo-fascist police state on Mars by blowing up/smashing everything they own into fine rubble, using nothing but mining explosives and a supernaturally sturdy sledgehammer. It's hard to put into words how satisfying and guilty-pleasure fun this game still is, several years later.
I’m not playing this week—I’m visiting airplane heaven at the big EAA fly-in at Oshkosh. Not entirely coincidentally, I also got a half hour “test drive” of Thrustmaster’s awesome new TPR rudder pedals. Rudder pedals are critical in things like the DCS Huey but the available peripherals have traditionally not been up to the task. The TPR pedals are very, very good, but the $499 tag may cause issues with the spouse. I figure two weeks of the cold shoulder treatment might be worth it, though.
I am now ashamed to admit that I am still playing Fallout Shelter. I spent $300 on a Switch, and I have spent far more time playing a four-year-old mobile game than anything else on the system. That said, my shelter is super dope. I have limited the population to an even 100, and am now working to complete epic costumes and weapons for everyone. Deathclaws come, and Deathclaws die. I am also running a program to maximize the stats of every worker in their relevant fields, and I have entire teams of superheroes out destroying missions and gathering materials.
Beyond that, I have mostly been playing VSR: Void Space Racing. I am hoping to have a review complete soon. I'm just so awful at the game, it is difficult to determine what my feelings about it are. Life tip: if you are ever invited to ride in a Void Space Racer with me, you should decline. You will surely die.
No Man's Sky NEXT Update. I envy anybody playing No Man's Sky for the first time. We might finally be reaching No Man's Sky 2.0. Or, well, 1.0—depending on how complete you felt the initial launch went, two years ago. We're getting real four-player co-op, third-person cameras, and weekly community events. Regardless of how you felt at launch (heck, even how I maybe felt), it's hard not to acknowledge that Hello Games has made good on a lot of its promises.
The Banner Saga 3. It's been a heck of a journey for this tactical-combat Viking-fantasy RPG'er. It's never looked or played quite like anything else in my library. Games that've emulated threads of The Banner Saga are, so far, unconvincing. But I can count on only one hand the number of studios that put together more thoughtful writing. And the fact that I am starved to learn more about the super huge cast only proves to me that the character building is par excellence.
The Elder Scrolls Online. I don't dislike MMOs. I just can't live that life anymore. At least not the way I used to play MMOs in my 20s. But TESO tossed me right into the Morrowind expansion, right from the get go, and so I have to give ZeniMax Online its props for knowing exactly what I wanted. Even with the original Morrowind sitting comfortably in my Greatest of All Time list, it's not the easiest game to go back to. Thanks, TESO, for helping fill the void for the next few years until The Elder Scrolls VI: Probably High Rock launches well into the next console generation.
Wow, glad to see I’m not the only one who’s playing Fallout Shelter. I feel your pain, Eric. As for me, I’ll be playing Nier: Automata again. I’m feeling the side quests, I’m feeling the existentialism, I’m feeling the philosophy. I love video games.
I've been playing Earthfall off and on again for a week now and I can honestly say it is a decent co-op game with a misplaced solo campaign. I can say, however, this is just another copy machine runoff of the same 4v style that has become the go-to game in the industry. It's problem has to do with bringing almost zero innovations to the table after having a gob of time to make something to stand out. More in next week's full review.
On the side, I've been taking some laps in GTA V, for no reason other than it has been a while. I took one of my finished game saves and was using the tons o' cash to buy the remaining cars I wanted, some businesses, a few choppers, and a few rounds of golf. There is still something to be said for the game with this much content and fun. Funny too how much more I am enjoying this rapidly aging game over The Crew 2's two-month age. Cannot wait for Red Dead Redemption II...just can't.