Talk about anything and everything Squad-related here -- what you've been playing, what you're looking forward to, and how big your Pile of Shame has grown after that last Steam sale...
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Alex Connolly

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2014 - Bountiful Harvest

by Alex Connolly » Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:36 pm

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Just an observation, and relatively unaffected by the new console cycle, but crickey it has been a grand year for gaming thus far. My only caveat being that a fair portion of fun had thus far doesn't always fall into the 'finished and released' category - much of it is Early Access etc. - but I've had a ball whenever I've had the chance to try something new this year. Between the Vita, iOS and PC, a bumper crop has offered up some sumptuous treats.

Just had a quick blast of Minimum, and that's from a fellow who swore he'd never return to competitive online shooters because they demand such a time commitment. Think...I dunno...stark, LEGO-esque aesthetic meets Unreal Tournament combat? Kinda. This video gives a nice rundown. What makes Minimum most intriguing is that it was originally Timegate's baby before the ALIEN: Colonial Marine snafu with Gearbox and SEGA debacle sent the venerable developer under. It's nice to play the final legacy of a studio that produced stunning but relatively unknown strategy fare like the Kohan series and, funnily enough, the Section 8 games. Those in particular were highly tactical FPS games with the heart of an RTS.

Time will tell to see if similar organs were grafted into Minimum before it was passed on, but for a fiver, it's an easy investigation.

The larger picture paints a fine portrait of a year that has otherwise been bogged down in Gamer Bullshit. I won't say anything on the topic, largely because I don't care who you are, where you come from or why you're there; if you're a good sort, then step on in and find a free table. That, and I don't much like the crusader personality types that carpet-bomb even the distant corners of gaming free from idiocy or gender issues - make an argument against A-Train or Wargame: Red Dragon, John Walker/Leigh Alexander...go on.

Personal positives include things like Amplitude unveiling and Early Accessing excellent spin-offs from their Endless series - Dungeon of the Endless and the soon-to-be-released fantasy 4X Endless Legend (delightfully, the far-future low-tech sequel to Endless Space. Thanks, BSG finale). We got the aforementioned Wargame: Red Dragon, which might not have delivered on the naval aspect, but using ships for coastal weapons platforms? Yes. Yes please.

Spintires was released. Don Bradman Cricket 14 was released. Incredible indie multiplayer dogfighter Altitude went free for everyone on Steam. The Red Solstice exploded onto the scene, and was excellent. TxK came out and is sitting quite comfortably at the top of the GOTY heap. 80 Days on iOS blew all and sundry away with superb writing. A slew of great Early Access games deployed and didn't just sit there, partially updated or completely dormant.

This is just a meandering account as I gather my thoughts for the final few months of the year. Thus far, I'm certainly going to count 2014 as deliciously interesting and deftly serving many a niche.
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Angry Jedi

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Re: 2014 - Bountiful Harvest

by Angry Jedi » Sat Sep 13, 2014 1:20 pm

I think it's pretty telling that I can rattle off a list of 2014 games that I enjoyed and it would be completely different to yours, yet no less valid.

A good year indeed, for we are truly living in a golden age, as easy as it is to be cynical about the production-line mentality of triple-A.
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Re: 2014 - Bountiful Harvest

by Alex Connolly » Sat Sep 13, 2014 1:49 pm

Pete, you've been writing consistently on new fare from these here isles over the year thus far, so it really has been quite a grand nine months.

Looking forward to getting hands on with some interesting titles before the year is out.
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Re: 2014 - Bountiful Harvest

by RedSwirl » Sun Sep 14, 2014 12:48 am

Warning: I am going to ramble.

I'd say the last three years have been pretty great if you don't concern yourself entirely with full-priced boxed retail games. Most of my favorite games since like 2012 have been small-to-mid-sized games I downloaded on Steam. I mean, we're still getting a lot of AAA games, but the majority of them just aren't interesting enough to me anymore. I'm just gonna go through my current "GOTY so far" list to illustrate the issue:

Dark Souls II
Shovel Knight
*ponders for 30 minutes*

...that's it. Super Time Force is a really good game too. I still intend to buy Wolfenstein.

Looking back between 2012 and now, I've immensely enjoyed like five new releases that were full retail games. One was a 3DS game, one was a crazy Japanese action game, one was a niche JRPG, and the other two were Dishonored and GTA V. I mean, I liked Far Cry 3 but didn't love it. Even if you count the games I went back and enjoyed a year after their release that adds like: Persona 4 Arena, Pokemon X, and ArmA 3. ArmA 3's a huge cutting-edge game, but the main line of gaming media considers it a weird PC game they'll never understand. If I had a Wii U a couple Nintendo games would be up on that list. I have almost stopped enjoying mainline Blockbuster games.

Let me put it this way: Even though I upgraded my PC instead of getting a PS4, so far I have not bought a single "next-gen" game for it. I haven't bought a single game for my two-foot-tall tower with its GTX 760 that was designed primarily for the PS4 and Xbox One. Wolfenstein would basically be it. If I'd bought a PS4 instead Wolfenstein would probably be the sole game I'd own for it at this point. Maybe I feel this way and a lot of other people don't because I'm no longer locked to a console where AAA retail is almost all that's available to you. Would I settle for KillZone or Destiny at that point? I don't know. PS4 owners are complaining that all there is to play on the system right now are indie games and enhanced versions of PS3 games. I'm hoping the real problem here is that 1) the last console generation went on long which forced the big developers to stagnate and wind down, and 2) "Next-gen" games won't really start coming out until 2015.

Let's look forward a bit. My two main purchases this fall were going to be Smash Bros. on the 3DS and the PC version of GTAV. PC GTAV is way out in January now, and on my list that leaves: Alien Isolation, Persona 4 Ultimax, The Evil Within, Assassin's Creed Unity, Far Cry 4, and Dragon Age Inquisition. In the "normal" world I'd prioritize Unity, Far Cry, and Dragon Age but now I'm seriously considering kicking those two to the curb (for now) for Isolation, Ultimax, and Evil Within. The common argument is the bigger games have more content in them, and I totally believe Dragon Age, Far Cry, and Unity will be bursting with content. They'll probably each have 40 hours of quests with the graphics to justify my 760, but the last two Creeds, Far Cry 3, and the last couple BioWare games have just felt like flat dry expanses of "content" to me. I know a bunch of people feel this way too, but I don't know if it's to the point where they're playing nothing but games under a certain budget. Call of Duty? Haven't touched the series since Modern Warfare 3. Oh and let's not forget Azure Strike Gunvolt, Yatagarasu, Chasm, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Hotline Miami 2, Odallus the Dark Call, Frogatto & Friends, and Hyper Light Drifter. And Persona Q.

Maybe Alex is right and consoles ain't been shit these last three years (I haven't bought a single console game in 2014). Maybe this is what it feels like to convert fully to PC gaming. Maybe I'm slowly moving towards a Pete-like state where I only care about the niche. I don't know man. Maybe I'm just waiting for the "real" stuff to get back up to speed next year with Witcher 3.

Confusing times man. I've reached a point where there might be one or two games per year for which I'll pay $60. This year there may actually be none.
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Alex Connolly

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Re: 2014 - Bountiful Harvest

by Alex Connolly » Sun Sep 14, 2014 12:43 pm

It's the same as film for me. I don't want a cinematic diet consisting of the same old canned bombast. Michael Bay movies cost the Earth, but you're sure as hell not going to walk out of the theatre with a changed perspective or packing fuel for discussion. You'll wander away with short-lived recall on the expense of the shot, the level of pyrotechnics and the pleasant but disposable taste of buttered popcorn in your mouth.

The triple A realm is a risk-averse showcase of expensive iteration.

It's not even a case of being a so-called hipster in gaming for wanting something interesting. It's wanting to support the intellectual and artistic growth of the medium. I'll be the first to suggest it's not primarily from a place of altruism. No, hell no. It's because I personally want to be inspired and challenged. I want to see boundaries pushed, not nests feathered. And it seems, for the most part, the higher the price goes for games, the more boring they get.

Give me my mid-tier published titles and below any day of the week. 2014 has been stellar in that regard.
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Re: 2014 - Bountiful Harvest

by Bowley » Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:19 pm

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When you're living in gaming's past, every year is a bountiful year!
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Re: 2014 - Bountiful Harvest

by Alex Connolly » Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:24 pm

Good things await, Bowls.
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Re: 2014 - Bountiful Harvest

by Teryn » Sun Sep 14, 2014 2:59 pm

I'd have to second Bowley. I'm not looking to the future, but the past. Maybe it's cynicism, but I'd also have to agree with Red Swirl about how much games today cost, and the more expensive a game is, I naturally become more averse.

It's become like investments where you know the small stuff is cheaper, and the big stuff is expensive, but the returns on the small ones are more guaranteed, or at least have enough short-term gain that you feel like you've come away with something justifying your 2-to-25 dollars (that's my overall scale of "cheap", depending on the age of the title and so on).

So, I guess I'm happily stuck in "going back to the past", because I know the future path is full of peril and potentially fruitless scavenging. Those games can wait, they will still be there 5 years later.

EDIT: Some clarification. I get ahead of myself.
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Angry Jedi

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Re: 2014 - Bountiful Harvest

by Angry Jedi » Sun Sep 14, 2014 3:09 pm

I agree entirely. Some of the most satisfying experiences I've had in recent years have either been low-budget (hi, Deadly Premonition, Katawa Shoujo!) or a few years old. (Quite a few, in several cases.)

The only downside to this, of course, is when you try and extol the virtues of something like, say, Ar Tonelico II (a late-era PS2 game) to someone whose head is well and truly stuck in the present (or at least in the HD era) it can be a hard sell, to say the least. Still, I'm not sorry I've had these experiences, and I shall continue to express my pleasure and enjoyment about them whenever possible -- as, I'm sure, will all of you.
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Alex Connolly

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Re: 2014 - Bountiful Harvest

by Alex Connolly » Sun Sep 14, 2014 3:40 pm

Whether you're trying to pimp an ATC simulator or a Japanese dating game, it'll always be a hard sell to those who rarely, if ever, veer off the highway.
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