Another year in the books. Continuing the tradition I started in 2011, here’s a quick look back at what was popular/going on for the year!
- Winter: “How the **** are we supposed to burst down tendons?” I wrote up a quick guide for this, which ended up being one of the highest-traffic pages on the site. The press event (and subsequent opening of the beta) was the big news in March, and dominated discussion. I made some predictions (which turned out to be pretty good), and then shared my thoughts on the press event reveals.
- Spring: The big site redesign went live and I started up World of Monkcraft! Sadly, I had these big dreams of being the “Icy Veins of druids/monks” until real life reminded me of responsibilities and such. Lots of beta discussion as we pushed for an additional tier of DPS talents: as you may or may not recall, the original level 90 talents had no DPS benefits. I also defended HoTW to the death against tides of angry moonkin (okay, not really) and am happy to see that it’s retained most of it’s original design.
- Summer: I predicted the release dates of 5.0 (wrong) and MoP (right, to the day). Lots of pre-release info was written, most of which got incorporated into the guides that still need updating for 5.1. Lots of plans for full guides became…
- Fall: Real life sucks. I spent six weeks in the hospital with my wife, snatching some occasional playtime on a 4G tethered laptop. On the bright side, Treant Form became ignitable with Patch 5.1, so that’s one dream fulfilled.
I got back from my deployment in December, and promptly dived back into all the console and AAA PC games I’d missed out on. A quick list, roughly in the order I tackled them in:
- WoW: Well, I guess this one has to go first, eh? Came home, jumped back into raiding, got jumped by my wife, stopped raiding (priorities :)). Still playing every week, but totally solo since I like the freedom of calling it quits at any moment.
- Portal 2: I ended up playing this a LOT because my son loved it (he called it the “robot game” and loved it when I knocked over turrets and things). Great game, never got a chance to try the co-op.
- Saints Row 3: Good GTA-style game,reminded me a lot of Vice City, which was my favorite in the series (not coincidentally, the last one before they starting taking it “seriously.”) Unfortunately, the multiplayer was buggy as crap and the storyline was hokey. Still good fun.
- Rift: Hit up a free-trial weekend. Great game, interesting raiding scene, overall good but no room in my heart for what is essentially a prettier clone of Burning Crusade.
- Red Dead Redemption: Tried it, couldn’t get into it. Too Serious(TM).
- Super Mario Galaxy 2: Another one of my son’s favorites, and mine as well (though I think I preferred the first SMG).
- Kingdom of Amalur: Even though it got overshadowed by the collapse of 38 Studios later in the year, this is actually a really good game with some minor flaws (that sadly will never get patched). Play it on hard to postpone the feeling of getting too OP for the content.
- Skyrim: Played at a friend’s house for an hour or two. I’m just not a sandbox gamer, I guess; the combat mechanics felt terrible compared to something like Dark Souls, and I just lost interest a few hours in. That’s also about where I stopped playing Oblivion, too.
- Mass Effect 3: Man, this series went and changed fast. The original ME was one of my all-time favorites, even though the RPG mechanics were somewhat awkward. ME2 simplified things, but had some cool plot moments and coherence; ME3 became a corridor shooter with sci-fi elements and a rushed ending that pissed everyone off. (A “good” corridor shooter, mind you, but a huge departure from ME1.)
- SWTOR: Free trial weekend. Ugly art, dated UI, boring storyline (apparently, the non-Jedi are better). Ugh. Now that it’s F2P, may give it anothe shot.
- Arkham Asylum/Arkham City: Played both of them, loved them both to bits. Everybody designing a third-person action game needs to take notes from how they did combat. (Yes, Assassin’s Creed 3, I’m looking at you.)
- Bastion: Fun, but I didn’t find it as groundbreaking as everyone else said.
- Diablo 3: This is what happens when you design a game by committee. It wasn’t a bad game, but the planning for longevity was really poor, and the always-online requirement for single-player mode…yes, I know, RMT is bad, but so is a million people not buying your game over the long-term because the word-of-mouth was terrible.
- Xenoblade Chronicles: This was an amazing RPG for the Wii. Sadly, I no longer have time for amazing console RPG’s. :(
- Orcs Must Die/OMD2: Played the heck out of these. Great action/strategy titles. Less quantity but more quality than Dungeon Defenders.
- Fallout 3: *crash*
- Guild Wars 2: I had a really good time in the beta with this, but it really strikes me more as a single-player game with multiplayer elements than an MMO. That means I can wait for a price drop.
- Borderlands 2: Scratches the checklist part of my brain perfectly. Still playing this actively; am about level 38ish.
- XCOM: Man, I loved the original X-Com, and this is like a perfect redesign. The only thing I don’t like is not having time to burn attempting to complete a playthrough on the hardest difficulty setting.
- Planetside 2: I’ve been playing a bit of this recently. I find the give-and-take of the territory and the constant battles to be fascinating; I wish the Battlefield series implemented something like this. I’ll stop playing in a few weeks when I remember how bad I am at multiplayer FPS’s.
If I had to pick a GOTY…hmm. Arkham City. Yes, I know it came out in 2011, but I only played it this year, so it works for me.
The Future (ooh, scary)
Well, last year, I was planning on taking the blog big-time, and that didn’t pan out so well. Now? We’ll just take it a week at a time. I’ve got another deployment coming up soon, so I’ll be stockpiling lots of indie games for that, I suppose. We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, if you’re still reading this, thank you for visiting! Have a happy 2013!