by Matthew Thompson
I decided to take a break from the blog this past month, but I hope to be back in full-force for this coming month with year-end posts starting up as 2016 comes to a close. For now, here is a recap of what I have been playing along with some stuff I’m looking forward to in December.
Games I Finished
Gears of War 4 (Campaign): This is very much the safe sequel I thought it would be, but it is still an enjoyable action romp. New developer The Coalition does a good job kicking off a new trilogy and transitioning to a new cast while making worthwhile connections to the older games and not abandoning what makes Gears of War Gears of War. This fourth entry in the series is yet again all about intense cover-based shooting. The all-out action nature of the campaign might have gotten repetitive in a lesser game, but Gears 4 delivers impressive enemy variety to keep things varied. I really dug the ending story tease as well.
Titanfall 2 (Campaign): I loved this. Fun, extremely mobile combat while on foot. Great feeling weapons and inventive grenade types. The titan represents vehicular gameplay done right. There is honest-to-goodness quality platforming here. The relationship with your titan was fun, peppered with some rather amusing dialogue. And there is one mechanic used for a level about halfway through that is just so cool. I wish it was utilized a bit more. This game really exceeded my expectations and is a must-play for FPS fans.
The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine: I really liked the beautiful new region here as well as the idea of the home base they added with this expansion. I think I may have enjoyed the whole thing more if I had spent a bit more time exploring the side content available within it, but with so many games on my plate, I didn’t delve in as much as I’d have liked. The main quest to me didn’t stack up with Hearts of Stone’s, but it was still a good time. The fairy tale-inspired “Beyond Hill and Dale” certainly ranks among The Witcher 3’s best and most creative quests. Like Hearts of Stone, Blood and Wine enriches the overall Witcher 3 experience and makes most games’ DLC look paltry in comparison.
Games I Started
Watch Dogs 2: I hate to say this as someone who was a bigger fan of the original Watch Dogs than most and was looking forward to this sequel, but I’m struggling to get into this game. To be fair, in the weeks leading up to release, I kind of saw it coming and I don’t think it is a fault of the game. I was just not in the mood to play this sort of open-world game and my experience is suffering a bit as a result. It certainly doesn’t help that one of my favorite aspects of the first game – the genre-best on-foot/shooting controls – has taken a step back here. I hope I can get more into this as I play, but am also wondering if shelving it until I am more in the mood for it might not be best. We will see.
Mass Effect: After successfully completing my first RPG last year, one of my goals for this year was to finish another one. With my journey with Geralt complete and Mass Effect’s sequels’ backwards compatibility sorted on Xbox One, I finally started making progress towards that task. Mass Effect definitely has some issues like its clunky cover-based combat and the unwieldy space rover that feels like an alpha version of the Warthog, but I can certainly see the appeal of the story and universe. As I dive deeper into those, the game has certainly grown on me. I’ve made enough progress that I believe I will finish it and be able to get into the sequels which I’m told I will enjoy more due to improvements to some of the mechanics that are dogging me here.
What I’ll Be Playing in December
Along with hopefully chipping away at the above games, I have a few things I’m looking forward to digging into in December. The big new release for me is The Last Guardian. I have been waiting for over a decade for the follow-up to Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, and while my enthusiasm has waned a bit in that time, I’m still expecting a unique and moving experience from Ueda and company.
Uncharted 4 is finally getting co-op added to its somewhat meager multiplayer offerings in the form of Survival Mode and I can’t wait to dive in. It is like 2 and 3’s Arena Co-op Modes – which is Uncharted’s take on Horde – and I really like some of the new additions this time around. Along with this free update to the game comes two maps – a new one based on 4’s prison chapter and a remake of 2’s Trainwreck – which will be playable in both co-op and competitive. And I was delighted to see that I will be able to play the co-op mode solo alongside an AI teammate which will be good for when I can’t find a buddy to join in (I can do competitive modes with randoms, but not co-op).
Perhaps because I take my year-end lists a little too seriously, I hope to get to some of the 2016 releases I missed earlier in the year. In my bid to spend a bit less on games this year, I had decided to wait on many digital-only releases and have missed out on a lot of the big games in that space as a result. Inside and Unravel are a couple I’d like to try and play before the year is out. On the retail side of things, I’d love to get to Battlefield 1 and Forza Horizon 3. Hopefully I will be able to tackle some of those before 2016 comes to a close.
That will do it for this post. Thanks for reading!