Uncharted 4; Ultima Online; Overwatch?
Sunday allowed me to spend a good chunk of time with Uncharted 4. Of the…two people that I follow who have mentioned that they’ve played it, I’m the only one who apparently hasn’t completed it, and I feel kind like I’m lagging behind. But I managed to get to the start of chapter 15 before I had to take a break.
Like a lot of games, UC4 starts out strong by introducing you to the mechanics you’ll be relying on: the running, jumping, climbing, shooting, and grappling. Usually for me, it’s these little learning segments that pique my interest in the game, and it’s only when the game stops presenting new things that I get bored.
Thankfully for UC4, there’s more up its sleeve, most notably the driving segments. Sadly, I’m not a fan of these driving segments. I get stressed easily, apparently, and several of these driving segments are timed: if you don’t stay on the right track, you’ll quickly get a “dammit!” from Sully, and you’ll find yourself back at a load point. This happened to me repeatedly. They also use the new “slippery slope” mechanic for vehicles, which will prevent you from driving across certain terrain…unless you figure out the trick (which is obvious and doesn’t take much “figuring out”, really). You also spend a whole lot of time asking yourself “can I really fit this vehicle on that narrow ledge?” once you get to Madagascar that the “puzzle-ness” of the whole endeavour started to become a little too obvious…and tedious.
And speaking of puzzles, they really started flowing fast and furious once I reached Madagascar. They’ve been pretty alright thus far, if you can look past the fact that 17th century pirates were creating Leonardo DaVinci-level mechanisms that probably could have made them a fortune without them having to resort to all the piracy business. These are fun, though, especially to break up the shooting and climbing.
I still really love the game and the series, though, so don’t let this critique fool you into thinking otherwise. The dialog is still the absolute pinnacle of video game acting, IMO. I really enjoyed the segment where Nathan is being dragged behind a vehicle, and nodded with appreciation at the required “Nathan dangling from a vehicle that’s dangling from a cliff” scene. My favorite part, though, was how the mechanics changed slightly after Nathan and Sam arrived on the island where they were headed when the game starts. It’s raining, the ship has been trashed, and Nathan is obviously hurt and tired, and that’s reflected in the way the character moves, changing the reaction times that have become obvious and reliable throughout the rest of the game so as to put the player of his game.
And that clocktower scenario. Amazing.
What started out as an off the wall experiement has turned into a kind of go-to game. I’ve been spending a lot of time in UO working towards reaching some milestones that will be “video worthy” so I can continue my “Scopique Plays Ultima Online” video project.
I’ve already completed two quests to get my Parry and Swordsmanship skills up to 50.0, and just have my Chivalry skill left to go. I figure that those three will be the “important” skills to level for the rewards before I leave New Haven, which will be the subject of the next video.
While returning to UO hasn’t been either full nor devoid of nostalgia, it’s certainly been a very relaxing project. I installed the game on my first gen Surface Pro, so I can play from the living room while watching a movie with the family, since the game doesn’t require a whole lot of concentration. I’ve decided that I’ll ride out the remainder of the month’s subscription, hopefully getting as much video as possible before then since I don’t see myself sticking it out for the long haul with this game. I still appreciate UO‘s game and mechanics, but I don’t know that there’s enough opportunity (for making a name in crafting, for finding empty land to build a house, etc) to keep me interested as a solo player for very long.
So I’m not going to lie: I’m including this here for the SEO, although I doubt it’ll raise my rank much at all, since I’ve pretty much never even mentioned Overwatch…which is funny, because it seems like it’s the only thing the gaming Internet is talking about these days.
I am ambivalent about the game, as the preceding sentence might have warned you. I’m not a big fan of team-based shooters, especially in my old(er) age. I myself have fallen into the “I played Overwatch when it was called Unreal Tournament” trap a few times, but screw it — of course it’s popular because it’s Blizzard, and people go nuts over almost anything Blizzard puts out, no matter what genre it covers or what form it takes.
I will admit: the fandom is for good reason. Blizzard is good at what they do. They make things accessible, which under other, less fawning circumstances would be a statement of derision from most gamers, but people seem not to mind when Blizzard’s name is attached to it. That’s kind of where the “?” comes in on the header. I appreciate Blizzard’s craftsmanship from an execution perspective, but I’m not a fan of this latest mechanic, and I’m really turned off by the “cultish” following the company engenders.
But the thing is, there will be no way to escape Overwatch over the next few days and weeks. It will be the only thing people talk about (as it has been for many). It will be the only thing people are playing (for the most part). If Star Wars Battlefront has taught us anything it’s that if you want to get into something, if you want to ride the crest of the wave and not be overshadowed in the curl, you need to get on board when excitement is high. With some/so many/all of the people I follow on social media and on various friends lists and outlets having already pledged their undying love of the game, there will be no better time to ensure that I wouldn’t have to play with crybaby randos, if I opted to get into the game myself. I don’t expect the population of a Blizzard game to dip to life-support levels at any time in my lifetime, but my crowd is a fickle bunch, and once other games slot themselves into their rotation, Overwatch will become a safe harbor people return to, but with less priority. For me, it’ll be a game of opportunity, since I have an intense dislike of PUGs, especially in competitive games, and especially since getting a bossy jackass on the team seems to be a statistical certainty for Blizzard games with Blizzard-level popularity.
So I’m kind of torn. The game unlocks at 7PM tonight in my time zone, for which Blizzard really deserves an “attaboy” since this means that the game unlocks globally for everyone, at the same time (good luck, data center!). That right there is subtle, but I think important. I know everyone and their grandmother will be online and ready to go, and there’ll be absolutely no problem finding matches, especially with folks on my friends list. On the other hand, under any other circumstances I wouldn’t even look at this game, and I’m worried that aside from the current euphoria surrounding its launch, I might never fire it up again.