Tag Archives: Reaper of Souls

My five favorite games in 2014

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Hello, end of 2014. Boy am I looking forward to seeing you come to a close. To help with that process, here’s my five favorite games from the past three hundred and sixty-five days. I know such a list is a strange thing to see this time of year and that I’m the only one doing it, but please, stick with me. If you wanna know what topped my list in 2013–and really now, why wouldn’t you–clicky click here.

If you take a look at my actual list of games played and beaten this year, you’ll notice there are not many current releases within it. That’s just how I roll, often getting to the big, new games much later in life–mine and theirs–and so I don’t have too fine of a list to pick from, but I’ll make the effort nonetheless and try to come up with some good arguments why I picked X over Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, which, if you’re a good little follower, you’ll already know I haven’t touched yet.

Let me mention some of the 2014 releases that don’t get the full thumbs up below. Transistorman. I really, really wanted to love this game, especially after how Bastion mesmerized me. In the end, I just liked it, favoring the complex and constantly changing combat way more over the muddled story, though I loved elements of how the story was told, such as the terminals and polls Red participated in. And there’s also episodes two through five for season two of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, which did not end up delivering well on the promise of following your Clem, y’know, the one you meticulously constructed via Lee in the previous season, through her next set of struggles. Plus, it stopped being an adventure game early on in the season and turned into a dialogue wheel selector. Boo to that. For season three, I will instead wait to see how it all pans out. As for Dragon Age: Inquisition, just insert a bunch of wet farts here.

All right, here they are, my five favorite videogames from 2014…

Luftrausers

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I’ve played Luftrausers on both Steam and the PlayStation 3, ending up stuck at the same spot for each version. I can’t get the blimp to spawn. Here’s the rub; I don’t care. I keep playing, keep dying, keep respawning and trying out new ship builds and listening in fascination as the soundtrack mutates this way and that, and I expect to keep playing Luftrausers deep into 2015. I don’t know if I’ll ever beat it or do well enough to get that blimp to spawn, which would then unlock a bunch of new missions to go after, but it doesn’t matter. The retro look, the killer soundtrack, the feel of launching up off the sub and into the sky, primo target #1 for every object loaded with a gun…it’s pure exhilaration. I’m not great, but it’s great.

Broken Age (Act One)

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Ahh. Old-school point-and-click adventure games with a modern look might be my new hot jam. Broken Age (Act One) is a whirlwind of imagination, bright colors, and, alas, pretty simple puzzles. On the surface, its story is cute and fuzzy, but quickly turns dark and upsetting once you begin to see how Shay and Vella are really living their lives. There’s also a fantastic cliffhanger that, if you didn’t know this game was divided into two acts due to financial, timing, and work issues, you’d believe it was planned. While I wish we could’ve seen the conclusion to these two kids’ journeys this year, I expect it to unfold early in 2015. Hopefully the next documentary video will shed some light on that. Oh, and Double Fine was kind enough to include a comic of mine in their weekly gathering of fanart. Obviously, I’m biased.

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

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My history with the Diablo franchise has been like so: played the first one on my ol’ PlayStation one, using a controller to manipulate a mouse cursor, got into Diablo II a bit on PC during my college days for all the wrong reasons, and then never touched Diablo III. But then the news hit it was coming to consoles and being re-designed for controllers. I was jazzed. However, by the time I got around to thinking of it, an even newer version of the console was released, offering more content than you can shake a stick at, if you’re the shady type that carries sticks around. Anyways, I ran through the campaign once so far with Whisper, my bow-wielding, backflipping assassin, and enjoyed the heck out of slaughtering monsters, picking up loot, and upgrading her skills. I’m not even close to the level cap, and there’s a bunch of new content to try out still. Really worth the then $40 price tag.

Jazzpunk

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Here’s a wish I wish: I want to erase all memories of playing Jazzpunk. That way, in a few months, next week, or even after I’m done posting this blog entry, I can play Jazzpunk and experience everything it offers once again, with innocent eyes. The game is only a couple hours long, but it is non-stop gags and goofiness along the way; if you’re a fan of Airplane! you’ll absolutely understand what its going for. I don’t want a Jazzpunk 2, just a chance to eat it all up again, especially the Wedding Qake section.

Disney Magical World

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I was hoping to, at this point, already have written a blog post about what Disney Magical World meant to me this year. Still means to me. Unfortunately, I haven’t found the words for that yet, but let’s just say this little Nintendo 3DS title out from left field provided comfort, control, something to focus on when everything else was chaotic and spinning away. Its arrival was timely. I played it every night for a few hours for months straight over the summer and fall, putting it behind Dragon Quest IX and Animal Crossing: New Leaf in terms of hours played. It’s special, an unexpected mix of item collecting and difficult dungeon grinding, of saving up a single ingredient to make a specific recipe to give you that perfect café theme to get a new Disney character to show up and give you special collectible cards or gems to make new wands. It’s full of cycles and things to check in on, and it was a go-to when I needed a distraction. Truthfully, I could still be playing it now, today, but had to put it aside to give some other handheld games their due.

And there you go. My five favorites, with words to boot, and I expect to play Luftrausers, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, and the conclusion of Broken Age in 2015, so that makes these games even stronger cases for me.

Here’s the real question though–did you play any of my five favs this year, and, if you did, are we on the same page? Let me know in the comments below.

The real Diablo III adventuring begins after defeating Malthael

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There were a few hours during my Extra Life live-stream that I didn’t actually stream anything live, and that was around 3 AM to 5 AM. I moved over to my couch to play some Xbox 360, most notably more Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. I’d been picking away at it for a good while now, inching closer to the conclusion of Act V, which was never part of the original Diablo III campaign. For this act, you are chasing after Malthael, a former member and leader of the Angiris Council. He has claimed the Soulstone for himself and plans to eradicate humanity. Short story even shorter: I couldn’t keep my eyes open and ended up putting it aside for a quick cat nap instead.

Zoom forward a week, and I finished up the remainder of the campaign for Diablo III: ROS while my father visited and took a quick nap himself after we hiked a bit over at Bushkill Falls. Taking Malthael down was not very tough, but then again, no fight in the game really was considering I was rocking the lowest difficulty setting possible from the very beginning. I don’t know, I liked the casual nature of beating up swarms of dudes and getting gear without constantly using a health potion every few seconds. Regardless, everything ended in a whimper and fountain of mediocre loot, with a menu prompt pop-up saying that the story was over, but Adventure mode had now been unlocked. Strangely jarring, this lead to credits–my father couldn’t believe how many people worked on a videogame–and then back to the main menu.

With Act 5’s six hours or so of story content done, I had the choice to either start Diablo III: ROS all over with a new character/class or continue on with my demon hunter Whisper in Adventure mode. Given that she hasn’t even hit level 50 yet and the cap is 70, I wanted to see her grow some more. The newfangled Adventure mode removes nearly every single story aspect–so long lengthy dialogue chats that I only listened to in order to check off a challenge–and instead simply assigns you with specific quests (called bounties) across each act’s map, giving the player the freedom to do as they please. There’s even a new currency to acquire, which you can use to purchase mystery items; I bought one, found it to be complete garbage, and most likely will never take the chance again, but hey, options are options. At this point, I’ve knocked off five bounties, though there is an Achievement for clearing 500 of them. Eep.

In addition to bounties in Adventure mode, there are also Nephalem Rifts, which are randomized gauntlets that ramp the chaos meter all the way up. You can only open a rift after collecting five key shards, which you seem to get with each bounty you complete, so the two are interconnected deeply. Basically, you run around these dungeons killing X amount of enemies until a super difficult elite boss shows up. Shortly before doing my first rift, I switched the difficulty setting from normal to whatever the next one was…maybe hardcore. That said, Whisper the demon hunter died for the very first time so far in one of these rifts. They mean big business, but they also provide unpredictable fun and empowerment unlike anything seen in the main campaign. For example, I came across a new Pylon shrine that filled my character with lightening bolts that struck out at anything within a few feet. It’s really cool. Looked like after you beat the Nephalem Rift boss, you can continue exploring the dungeon, but I popped back to town to sell some mediocre gear; as I did, the rift’s portal closed after thirty seconds, so you have to choose wisely what you want to do.

Like I said earlier, I want to see Whisper hit the level cap and check out some of the high-end gear, but I will probably now only play this in sporadic bursts. Like while waiting for the laundry to finish or kettle water to whistle, which is just enough time to do a bounty or two. I really don’t know how interested I am in playing through the campaign ever again, even with a completely different class, which is a shame because it means I’m missing out on experiencing like five-sixths of Diablo III: ROS in terms of abilities, dialogue, and specified loot. Granted, I really ate up the one-sixth I got, and you can’t shake your head at things that made you happy, even if only for a sliver of time.

My demon hunter Whisper in Diablo III is one to fear

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Here’s the thing: I’m a sucker for “complete package” versions of videogames, especially in this era of post-game DLC and pre-order bonus bull-doody items and unlocks. This gels well with my high patience stat, meaning I can wait the many months–and sometimes even up to a year or so later–for the games’ developers to realize they need another quick burst of cash-money, thus releasing some kind of Game of the Year edition which packs all the extra bits and bobs in with the main game for one, more often than not, easy-to-swallow price. That said, I’ve still not picked up the latest GOTY versions for Borderlands 2 and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but my heart rests easy knowing they are out there; truthfully, it’s all about preservation because, one day, you might not be able to purchase that slice of DLC separately off Xbox Live or PSN if–and I dearly hope not–they no longer exist.

All of those words were written so that I could totally tell you that I picked up Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition over the fine Labor Day weekend, and it was priced nicely at just under $40. Mmm mm good. This package includes the original Diablo III campaign, its expansion Reaper of Souls, and some other new goodies, all of which I’ve never touched up to this point. The PC mouse-driven action RPG has been updated for consoles and console controls, just like how Torchlight was, and I have to say, besides a bit of clumsiness when sifting through inventory menus, it all feels really good and intuitive. Especially the combat, where it matters most. But more on all that in a hot cooldown.

Before you can even begin killing and looting legendary gear in Diablo III, you have to pick from one of six available character classes: the witch doctor, the barbarian, the wizard, the monk, the demon hunter, and the crusader. What is appreciated is that you can play all of these classes as either a man or a woman. I went with a female demon hunter as I’m big on crossbows and rolling away from enemies in these kind of games, and the random name generator eventually came up with Whisper, which I think is the most badass name a demon hunter can claim. In truth, all the other classes seem like a lot of fun (the monk was a close second), but like with Borderlands 2 and Dead Island, I need to just pick one and focus on it all the way to the end.

Well, let’s quickly cover the weakest and easiest to ignore aspect of Diablo III: its story. The game takes place in Sanctuary about twenty years after the events of Diablo II, a game I played a bunch of, but never really got far in, though organizing your inventory was a masochistic joy. Deckard Cain and his niece Leah are in Tristram’s cathedral, investigating a bunch of loose pages from ancient texts regarding yet another ominous prophecy. Then, without warning, a mysterious star falls from the sky and crashes through the Cathedral, creating a deep crater and sucking Deckard Cain down. Evil monsters quickly reveal themselves, and your character is on his or her way to Tristram to see how you can help. It’s good versus evil and pretty generic at best, but at least the voice acting is enjoyable; I’m proud that I rightly recognized Jennifer Hale’s voice for Leah after a minute or two.

But one doesn’t play Diablo III for its novel stab at videogame literature, right? You play to click on things, lot of things. Well, in my case, hit the A button on things, lots of things. And the right trigger a lot, too. The left analog stick moves your character, and the right analog stick is a dodge move for whatever direction you push it in. The face buttons all relate to a skill move, and right now Whisper can drop a handful of caltrops to slow enemies, as well as get herself out of a mob of enemies with some swift gymnastic flips. Right trigger is for my favorite active skill so far–Rapid Fire. This uses up Hatred–regenerating mana for demon hunters, basically–but is able to take out a ton of enemies in one gulp, often revealing a yellow orb for killing at least ten of them and doubling Whisper’s damage for a short window of time. Even though she is using a bow for it, the attack sounds like she’s wielding a machine gun.

I’m still fairly early in Act I, and all I want to do is go home right now and play some more. Yeah, it’s that kind of game, where you’re always close to leveling up or you just found a new weapon or piece of gear and want to see it in action, and before you know what is what, you’re five levels deep in some dank crypt, killing zombies and ghosts and having a blast. Given that this is both Diablo III and its expansion, which offers up Adventure Mode and more, I’ve got plenty of road still to travel with Whisper. Also, I’m using followers, and unlike in Skyrim, I am not 100% hating them, though I still think they could be a bit more proactive in battle and a whole lot less whiny.

Stay tuned for further updates about Whisper and the many denizens of Hell that she’ll be slaughtering…