Weekend Recap: Destiny, Sword & Poker

Firstly, some housekeeping:  I wrote an essay for the most recent issue of Unwinnable Weekly.  I’m a big fan of Unwinnable, and I helped to fund their Kickstarter, and to be featured in their pages is kind of a dream come true.  It’s not available for free, so I can’t pass out any links, but it’s a great magazine and worth your $$ if you’re into terrific writing about games and comics and such.

Secondly, today’s Gamemoir column is about something I’ve talked about at great length here – about hoping that games will find a way to evolve past the act of shooting things.  And I say all this as someone who played the hell out of the Destiny beta this weekend, too.

Speaking of which: my understanding is that the Destiny beta is temporarily offline for the next few days while they clean up some stuff and get it ready for the Xbox side of things.  This is fine; I could probably use a break.  (Especially since Oddworld: New & Tasty comes out on Tuesday!)

I got my lady Titan to level 8, and got a dude Warlock up to level 3.  Dabbled a little bit in the Crucible (aka the multiplayer), but I am profoundly terrible at online shooting; all I’m really good for is to help neutralize/capture control points and maybe wheedle off someone’s health a little bit before getting destroyed.

The singleplayer, though, is fantastic.  Narrative quibbles and Peter Dinklage’s lackluster performance aside, I am totally, utterly hooked.  And running through difficult gauntlets with strangers is surprisingly easy and fun, and those massive player events (where an overpowered enemy suddenly appears in an open-access area) can be exhilarating to pull off; it makes me wish there was an option for giving high-fives.  (As of now, you can dance, point and wave.)

I don’t know that they’re going to be adding any more single-player content to the beta; I wish they would, but I understand why they wouldn’t.  I suspect most people will be playing the Crucible stuff long after they finish the game (or, rather, before they even start it), and making sure the Crucible works is more than likely the beta’s primary reason for existing, so… I may take the opportunity to get all three classes fully leveled, because it’s still fun to go through that stuff, and I think that there’ll be some tangible benefit in doing so when the final retail version is available in September.

In other news, Sword & Poker is back in a big way on iOS.  On the one hand, this is terrific news; I was (and still am) a huge fan of the first two games.  And why not?  An RPG where the combat mechanic is to make the best 5-card poker hand?  Absolutely.  Those first two games have been in and out of the iTunes store over the last few years, leading some of us to wonder if they’d ever return with a sequel; now our wishes have been granted.  Retina graphics, all new weapons and enemies and a customizable magic system!  This is all great, right?

Except… it’s a free-to-play model, and the in-game purchases are gross, and grossly overpriced, and the customizable magic system is a sham, and the whole thing is depressing as hell.  I’m still addicted to it, and I even paid to get rid of the energy timer (because OF COURSE there’s an energy timer, because when I get going with S&P I can’t put it down), and so I feel tremendous shame.  It’s hard to recommend unless you are a true and depraved addict like me.

This week:  Oddworld on Tuesday!  Oh boy oh boy oh boy.

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