gluttony

1. Good news:  I may have figured out how to finish my album!  Let me rephrase that:  I may have figured out how to get myself properly motivated and energized so that I can finish this album.  Until I actually do get re-started, though, there’s nothing really here to discuss, and I get that.  But it’s gonna happen.  I’ve signed up for the RPM Challenge, again, but this time I actually have: (a) a plan, (b) some actual material to work with, and (c) 10 cover songs to work on in case something goes wrong.  Considering that the last RPM Challenge I signed up for is the one that started this album in the first place, there’s a pleasing symmetry in the idea that I could finish this where it all began.

2. I don’t necessarily like to spend my time shitting on things I don’t like – at least, not as much as I used to – but I do feel obligated to mention that I just finished reading one of the worst books I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a few Dan Brown books.  I bring up Dan Brown because the book in question, Kubrick’s Game, is basically a Dan Brown book, but for Stanley Kubrick film nerds.  I am a Kubrick nerd, and I’m also a sucker for secret society nonsense.  In any event, I read this i09 review, saw that it was available for $1.99, and downloaded it immediately.  And I feel compelled to warn you, now, to save your money and avoid this piece of shit at all costs.  What a colossally stupid waste of time.   Everything about it is dumb and contrived and poorly written and just… ugh, I don’t want to talk about it any more.  Avoid it.

3. Speaking of bummers, I just want to point out that in this 2nd week of 2017 – in these fragile days before possible nuclear apocalypse because someone said a mean thing about Donald Trump – I am now 0-for-2 in terms of finding keepers from Spotify’s weekly Discovery playlist.  Considering that last year’s Discovery playlists caused me to fall madly in love with 140 songs from bands that I’d never even heard of before, this does not bode well.

4.  Can we talk about this new season of Sherlock?  And how, while it’s still problematic in certain ways, it’s far more watchable than anything that happened in Season 3?  And that last night’s episode was, for lack of a better word, fucking insane, with an epilogue that legitimately caught me completely off guard?

5.  As mentioned previously, I went on a bit of a gaming-purchase bender in mid-December.  I bought a whole bunch of new stuff, I bought even more stuff that I’ve already played (and beaten) on other consoles, and then I somehow managed to score a PSVR unit and then felt obligated to buy a whole bunch of shit for that.  This is all to say that I now have a bit of a backlog – which is fine, considering that there only probably only 2 games that I can think of off the top of my head that are definitely coming out in 2017 that I legitimately give a shit about (e.g.Mass Effect Andromeda and Red Dead Redemption 2).

I bring this up because I spent last week replaying Diablo 3 for a 3rd time.  I played as a female Monk, for the third time.  And I had a fucking blast with it, and I find it maybe a little odd that I found it as enjoyable as I did.  I don’t know what the current critical consensus is w/r/t Diablo 3 – I know that for me, when I first played it on PC, it took a loooooong time before it started to click with me, whereas I clicked with the PS4 version nearly immediately.  I will admit that I bought it for the Xbox One purely because it was on sale and because of the ‘cheevos, but I also found myself drawn to it far more than a bunch of new games that I’ve not yet finished (i.e., Watch Dogs 2Dishonored 2Final Fantasy XV).

This could be because I’m pretty goddamned great as a Monk in Diablo 3.  It’s interesting (to me, at any rate); normally whenever I play a game – regardless of genre – if I walk into a room full of baddies, I tend to pause and consider what to do.  Not so in D3 – if I’m wandering around and see dozens of bad guys in the corner, I will buff my shit up and saunter over there and just straight-up wreck shit quickly, and it’s incredibly satisfying and it doesn’t even matter if anything good drops.  There is something so very pleasing about landing a gigantic kill combo that just won’t stop because my monk is quick enough to draw other mobs towards me before the combo meter collapses.  I have a strategy, and that strategy works, and even after a 3rd playthrough it’s still fun as hell.

Not all games work this way, as it happens.  I also bought some other older games that were on sale that I thought I might replay and get some ‘cheevos out of, and some of those games are much more difficult to re-enjoy.  Case in point:  Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, which I very much enjoyed on PS4.  Coming back to it now on Xbox One, it feels… antiquated?  And it’s not even really that old, honestly.  Maybe it’s just that I’ve switched between ACS and Watch Dogs 2 of late, and they both have just enough shared DNA that make it a bit more difficult to jump back and forth.  It’s not as easy for me to go back and revisit as Diablo 3, I guess.

I’m not ashamed of this, by the way; I have bought movies in multiple formats, and I’ve re-bought books in Kindle form when I already own the physical copy and I’m just too lazy to haul it around with me everywhere I go.  (Believe me, Infinite Jest is much more manageable on a Kindle.)  I’ve bought plenty of games on multiple consoles (I think I own Portal 2 for literally everything it ever appeared on), and it’s fun to experience things in slightly different contexts (or, at the very least, with more comfortable controllers).  It might not be the most cost-efficient way of doing things, but I’ve never claimed to be smart when it comes to money.

Anyway: I’m presenting my December backlog, because it’s insane, and because if I ever complain about not having anything to play I’m hoping that one of you will bookmark this blogpost and shove it in my face.

  • Xbox One sale (to play)
    • Dishonored 2
    • Watch Dogs 2
    • Gears of War 4
    • FFXV
    • ReCore
    • Sky Force Reloaded
    • Westerado
    • Stardew Valley
    • Oxenfree
    • Mafia 3
    • Battlefield 1
    • Steep
  • Xbox One sale (to replay for ‘cheevos)
    • Diablo 3  
    • Doom
    • Batman: Arkham Revisited
    • Saints Row 4 / Gat out of Hell
    • Metro Doublepack
    • Rayman Legends
    • Darksiders 2 HD
    • GTA V
    • Deus Ex MD
    • Far Cry 4
    • AC: Syndicate
    • Witcher 3
    • Skyrim HD (why????  why did I do this?)
  • PSVR and PS4 stuff:
    • Thumper
    • Rez Infinite
    • Batman VR
    • Rise of the Tomb Raider
    • The Last Guardian  (I am kinda-sorta waiting for a patch for this one before I get back to it; I am fascinated by it but the controls and camera are distressingly and distractingly bad, and I’d prefer to play it if they actually make it more playable)

The Last Few Hours: Destiny

Current Status:  Story complete; level 21.


Destiny_BG

I finished Destiny‘s story and hit level 20 on Thursday night, and then sloooooooowly grinded my way up to level 21 by Sunday night.  Did a lot of strikes, co-op missions/patrols, a few rounds in the Crucible.   (I am terrible at the Crucible.)  I’ll even cop to spending 20-30 minutes shooting at the Cave of Loot (though I didn’t get all that much for my efforts).

I am more or less done with it, though, I think.  While it’s true that the next big game doesn’t come out until 9/30 (Shadow of Mordor), I’m not really feeling the pull to keep coming back.  Destiny’s endgame is similar to Diablo III in many respects – you’re basically just doing the exact same stuff over and over and over again, grinding away for better gear, BUT Diablo III has several big advantages over Destiny, even if it’s similarly tedious after a while:  there’s far more to do in Diablo right now, the loot is far more generous, and you can also hit the pause button if you need to take a bathroom break or if your kid is crying or if your aging TV decides to suddenly switch itself off.

Now, to be fair, the launch version of Diablo III on PC had a similarly lackluster endgame and barely resembles its current form.  And as Bungie has repeatedly said that they’re playing the long game with Destiny, I fully expect new content to roll out over the next few months, and I might even come back to check it out every once in a while (though I expect I’ll be woefully outclassed when I do).

But even as Destiny’s gameplay remains mechanically solid – and it is, there’s no question about it – there’s almost nothing else that’s compelling me to stick with it.  Leveling past 20 is arduous and arbitrary (as @LegendaryEngram is so cruelly brilliant in pointing out).  The Strike playlist consists of maybe 4 missions – maybe there’s more, but it certainly feels like there’s only 4 – and I’ve done them all to death.  I’m done with final bosses that sponge up 15 minutes’ worth of shooting, and I’m even more done with final bosses that are bullet sponges AND teleport, because teleporting is bullshit.  Few things feel as cheap as when you only get one grenade that takes minutes to recharge, and then the boss vanishes mid-throw.

I’ve said before that it can be a bit of a critical cop-out to compare one game to another, and so it would be hypocritical of me to compare Destiny to its most obvious influences and contemporary titles – Mass EffectBorderlandsDiablo III, Halo.  But if I’m being honest with myself – and therefore with you – I have to admit that the game that Destiny most reminded me of is this year’s Watch Dogs.  Both games were hyped beyond all rational measure, and they both appeared to look like phenomenal games during their preview stretch.  And then they came out… and left so much to be desired.  Both games featured solidly designed mechanics and impressive-looking graphics, both games eventually grew somewhat tedious and tiresome and repetitive, and both were saddled with dreadfully poor writing and voice performances (though it should be noted that each game’s writing is bad for much different reasons).  I think there’s obviously still plenty of time for Destiny to right the ship, and as said above Bungie’s playing the long game here, but as of right now, these two games are battling for my Biggest Disappointment of 2014 award.