Like most of you, gaming is my main hobby. As I've gotten older however, I can only dedicate a little time to them, so for a game to really "capture" me, it needs to have something...special. I work in a primary school, and on a regular day, I'm out of the house from 8-4. By the time I get in from work, I'm usually so tired from the demands at work that I can't really play. I'll just wang Sunny or the Office on Netflix, or jump on discord with my pals. However, at the weekends, it's usually all gaming, all the time. This has really been the year of D&D for me, so I'll outline that in my little list of games I make in a moment. Looking over my list (Yes, I've been keeping a spreadsheet), I've noticed that almost my entire gaming time this year is on the PC. I think the advent of things like discord has really helped that. I like just jumping in a game, getting in a voice channel, and just shooting the shit with my friends, where gaming is the secondary action.
Without further ado, here's the list of games I played this year. I'll attach the picture first, as I know some people won't wanna read a few thousand words, and will just wanna see a list and some scores. So here's that:
Games I have, but only played for 2/3 hours and intend to play in the new year:
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- Pokemon Shield
- Into the Breach
- Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition
- Untitled Goose Game
- Disco Elysium
- Yakuza Kiwami
- Spyro and Crash HD
1) Red Read Redemption 2- All style, no substance
I didn't necessarily play this entirely in 2019. I played it when it came out, and enjoyed it...somewhat. I liked the story, and the thoughtful characters, and the great dialogue. Infact, if you look back in my thread history, I bought a PS4 Pro JUST for Red Dead 2. It was with some regret that I realise that this was, while a good shout for streaming video, an altogether foolhardy purchase. Red Dead was good. Real good. But it was another R* game at the end of the day. If you've played one, you kinda know what you're in for. I think I gave up at about the point where you take over the mansion in the swamp. That mission was superb, but following that, the game got monotonous, boring, uninspired. In terms of aesthetic, and the "Most Graphics" award of old, it wins, everytime. But in terms of actually playing the game, the part that I value over all else in gaming, I found it boring. And isn't that the worst crime for a game? Being boring?
2) Might and Magic 7- The hidden best game of the year
Might and Magic 7 is by no means a modern game. Infact, it's the opposite. It was a game I played in the 90's, on my Windows 98 with 32MB of RAM. But growing up, I never finished it. It's one of those incredibly old school FPRPGs, in the vein of Daggerfall, where you just kinda...explore the world and see it evolve around you. I went back to this in 2019, with the sole intention of beating it, and lifting a 20 year cloud off my gaming history. And what a game I found. You're a ragtag group of adventurers who get involved in some standard fantasy shit, and then you get to the end. We're talking fireballs and goblins and gold coins and maces. Then the last hour of the game has you getting into some wetsuits, equipping laser pistols, and invading a sunken alien ship full of killer droids that will absolutely MINCE your party in about 4 seconds if you're AT ALL unprepared. Then at the end, you're in an intergalactic hub, where you can explore the galaxy. I mean seriously, I didn't see that coming. Weird ending aside, it's just a great game through and through. Fantastic exploration, one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard in a PC RPG, and a sense of wonder that kept me intrigued the entire...20/30 hours I played? Now I admit, I used a guide for a lot of it. It's incredibly esoteric, and incredibly tough in that way that all 90's RPGs were. But it had a quest log! Different tiered skill trainers! Maps! Class evolutions! I remember playing it growing up thinking "Oh no, this is too much"- And it was. Here was 10 year old me, allowed on the PC for 30 minutes a day, trying to map out the world and figure out if a 1d8 was better than a 2d4 weapon (I still don't know if it is). For those who've played it, I picked the dark path, cause I loved the character portrait of the Lich.
3)Assassins Creed: Odyssey- A tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing
There's not much to say about AC:O. I platinumed AC2 and Brotherhood, and had a great time doing so. I played 4, but got out of it the SECOND you get into open waters. I enjoyed the time I spent with Odyssey, which was substantial. I think I must have put 30 hours in, and I felt like I'd barely scratched the surface. As someone who has responsibilities and shit nowadays, I couldn't keep grinding away. The tree of people you killed was cool. The gear was cool. The look of the game is the best I've ever seen on a PC, even on my dated 1050ti. But the gameplay dragged it down. To the extent where I'd stayed up till 2am clearing out fortresses, and then thinking "What on earth have I just done for the last 4 hours". The story was kinda arse, even as Kassandra, and I found myself getting bored by the Perikles story point. A good game, if you have a lot of free time. Like, a LOT of free time.
4) Pillars of Eternity- Played once, not a second time.
I thought I was gonna love this. It sounded like a love letter to the kinds of games I grew up on. I was really dissapointed by this. I don't know what I disliked, cause all the working parts seemed fine. I played about 5 hours in a session, then had absolutely ZERO desire to go back to it. I'm sure it's good, I just had ZERO desire to give it a go. A real dissapointment from a genre I historically love.
5) Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void- A let down in any regard.
Back in 2010, I was excited. Wings of Liberty was coming out. I even won a competition on twitter for a copy and I was overwhelmed. A mature, thoughtful story about cool guys doing cool shit, but in HD. Best in breed multiplayer, of which I played a substantial amount. I played 1s and 2s with a friend, and it was one of my fondest gaming memories.
Now cut to 2015. I mean nevermind the fact that it was FIVE YEARS later. The game was kinda...boring. I still watched the GSL, and found new love in the ASL, the premiere Starleagues of their respective games. I just remember playing Legacy and thinking "Is this it?" I powered through because of Brad's impassioned speech in GOTY 2015, but I kinda wished I didn't. I liked playing the Protoss leaders, but the missions themselves were just...boring. They weren't thrilling, or exciting like Wings was. And the ending...woof. I played that game 4/5 months ago and I couldn't tell you a THING about the ending except "Kerrigan was big and gold?" and even that's a stretch. I don't have much else to say about LotV except that I'm thrilled that there's still an e-sports scene around it, and that we have the best commentators in the business casting it. Special shoutout to my good friend, who went to the GSL studios and got my name shown on a sign, live on Korean TV.
6) Grim Dawn- A poor mans Diablo 2
I remember making a thread a few years ago when I built this PC asking for game recommendations. Grim Dawn came up. As someone that played Diablo 2 EXCLUSIVELY for about 2 years (I'm not joking, I think I played ONLY Diablo 2 for the last 2 years I was at school), I was thrilled by the look of Grim Dawn. It looked like everything that Diablo 3 didn't....Literally a Grim setting with the best in breed click-em-up subgenre that I loved so much. I actually played this quite a bit before dropping it, a whopping 11 hours. I got to about level 25, and realised that it just didn't...do it for me. When I played Diablo 2, I remember being really excited by all the different classes, and skills, and gear. When I played Grim Dawn, I just played a guy who had his weapon buffed with extra damage, and occasionally dropped a giant meteor. I tried a summon build, a ranged build, a magic build, and none of them really sparked that delight that I had with Diablo 2's Necromancer class. I really have high hopes for Diablo IV, if it ever comes out, but it's contemporaries haven't done it for me. If you're reading, you don't need to recommend Path of Exile to me. I have zero desire to play that game.
7) Civilization 6- Trajan Owns
I mean it's a Civ game. I found it largely lacking, as the base game has such basic, bare bones content. I hear that the expansions are good, but I don't fancy paying £70 just to SEE if it's good. Even when they're on sale, they're £25 a pop, which is a lot of money. It's a Civ game. Even with friends, it's still just...another Civ game. Trajan straight up OWNS early game though.
8) Risk of Rain 2 - The best Multiplayer experience of the year.
I wasn't sure about RoR2. I hadn't played the original, but when I looked at it, I thought it looked...kinda bad. A 2D roguelike, but this was a little different (?). How glad I am that I gave ROR2 an honest go. I bought the 2 pack with a friend, and we've never looked back. What's good about RoR2 is that every run is the same, but also meaningfully different. You can try to build certain items, thinking "Oh I'll do a Soldier's Syringe Commando build" then not find a single Syringe the entire game. Instead of that, you'll find 6 Back-Up Mags by level 2, and play really differently. Our local meta was to do "The Fireworks Build", which revolved around getting the fireworks (Which, when you open any chest/interactable, a large amount of fireworks flies off to get the nearest enemy) and running around just wrecking shop. We also came to love the "Rusted Key", being a huge meme item in our game. If I had to pick one thing I didn't like about it, it's that I'm...not very good at it. The guys I play with have over 3 times the hours I have, and I have like 50, and they're all really good at a few characters. I kinda pick someone different every turn, finding a particularly affinity for the Huntress, whose homing arrows came in very handy for an older person like me, who's kinda crap with mouse and keys these days. The "Skills 2.0" update breathed new life into the game in our local meta, with my friends having a like for Mul-T's saw blade. At the point of writing, the only unlocks I have are Mul-T's bomb, and the Engineer's walking turrets. I hope to play MUCH MORE of this coming into the new year.
9) Devil May Cry V- The fastest I've dropped a game all year
I don't wanna talk much about DMC5. All I'll say is locking Dante behind MULTIPLE V missions was not what I wanted. Nero was kinda boring to play, and I hated his arm mechanic, and V was even more boring. I loved the style, the aggression, the visceral thrill of comboing enemies. But I kinda come to DMC for Dante, and the fact that I didn't play him after like...8 missions made me give up. Maybe it was less and I was just being a huge baby. Either way, this is my biggest dissapointment of the year, hands down.
10) Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward- A great resurgance for my favourite franchise
I enjoyed FF14, despite its many flaws. Infact, looking back, I didn't like a lot about FF14. The ARR story was bad, long, and got hyper boring by the end. I heard that HW was wonderful, so I gave it an honest go. I even bought Stormblood to unlock the Samurai, as playing White Mage solo was staight up painful. The last...25% of HW was an absolute delight. From that dungeon where you're in the church onwards, it just kinda...went, like someone with a rocket up their arse. The foot was 100% on the gas, with no brakes in sight. And that was what made it good. An emotional climax, combined with probably the best dungeon/raid that I've ever seen in an MMO made this game one of my unexpected delights of the year. It's a shame this didn't carry over into Stormblood. At the time of speaking, I just got to the underwater part, and gave up 2 months ago, jumping into WoW classic, which I'll discuss shortly. I think if I got into VinCo, I might have enjoyed it more, but it was inaccessible for months, with no entry in sight.
11) Warhammer: Vermintide 2- Hogger's Bridge!
This is that post Left 4 Dead 2 game I never knew I needed. I always kinda admired Warhammer from a safe distance. One far away from paying £75 for one model. I played a LOT of the Dawn of War games, but never the actual normal WH universe. After hearing my friends talk about how good Total War: WH2 is, I thought I'd go in on Vermintide 2. Now I'll say this up front: I think the actual game of Vermintide 2 is a 2-3/5. But when you're playing with a stack of good friends, where the kills flow, and you're just having a good time, it's just this sublime harmony of fantastic, easy to play gameplay. For the record, I took Bardin, 'cause I love Dwarves, and I like him. One of my VT2 pals said "I like playing Bardin cause it's like playing Goldeneye on N64" and I kinda agree. He's just this absolute unit in melee form, to the extent where I've been chastised by my friends for "clicking relentlessly", when I just swing wildly when we're just walking around. I figure I need my WPM (Wallops-per-minute) to be at least 400. Eat your heart out FlaSh.
Knowing I could come home at the end of the day to just bash some rats was a real life saver as the year went on. I think the game kinda faltered a bit when they added the Beastmen DLC however. I like fighting the Minotaur, but the beastmen as a whole have kinda fell flat.
Oh also, we specifically play as a 3 cause we like Gruber bot so much. He's the MVP of the entire operation
12) Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night- A miserable little pile of boss fights
If you want a succint understanding of BD, just watch Vinnyvania. There's not much else I can say except it's another Metroidvania, only done to an extreme level of polish. I actually didn't like the game after you split the moon though. I found it to be FAR too difficult. Maybe I didn't cook enough. Maybe I picked the wrong combination of shards, maybe my gear wasn't "there". I just know that once I got to about the Ice level (There's always a bloody ice level) I kinda fell off. I got to the librarian bossfight and stopped playing. I played Super Metroid and Sympony of the Night a LONG time ago, but I don't remember them being as obscure as this was. I'm specifically talking about the piece of armor you have to get when you get invert. You'll know if you got it.
13) Borderlands 3- The Claptrap Effect
I wanted to love Borderlands 3. The first game was smart, and I believe did a lot for the shlooter (sorry not sorry) genre. Borderlands 2 compounded on that in some smart, intelligent ways. 3 kinda just...sucked all the air out of the room. It tries REALLY hard to be funny, and it's not. Admittedly, I'm not very far. I played on PS4 up until the point where Lil gets her powers absorbed, and you go into space. I then got the bit where Claptrap gets his arse stuck in the ship, and promptly turned it off. It was SO unpalatable. I bought it on the cheap on the EGS, so I think I might give it another go. I just kinda....hate everything about it. For a game that's meant to be about the humor, the humor is the worst part. And maybe i'm just early on, but the guns are uninspired as shit. I used a white bolt action rifle for a LONG time because of how unbearable the SMG's are to use.
14) Octopath Traveller- A love letter to the 16 bit era
I played this game last year on the switch. I remember clearly where I stopped. I got to the second acts, and got to Cyrus' dungeon. I went in, fought a spirit, and it 2 shotted my entire party. I sold it the next day.
I wish I didn't. I'm now at a part where I'm ready to do the 3rd act with everyone, and it's my favourite JRPG experience I've had in a long time. The depth is just...there. I can spend a lot of time grinding out skills to REALLY optimise my party EXACTLY how I want them. Olberic is my guy, but I've come to enjoy Tressa's story too. Now I think about it, this year has been great for soundtracks hasn't it? At least in the games I've played. Octopath's aesthetic wears off after about 10 hours, but it's the exciting, thoughtful, tactical combat that'll keep you coming back for more. The stories are kinda whatever, but the bit where you control your guys is A+
15) Stardew Valley- Best chill game 2019
I bought this in early 2017 after hearing Dan's sheer passion for it in the GOTY stuff. I played it solo on the PS4 and I don't think I lasted past the first week. I've been playing it on and off with a friend, and we're halfway through summer. Stardew just has this...relaxing feeling that I haven't had since Animal Crossing on the 3DS. It's nice to wake up, water your crops, then go to the mines, kill some slimes, come home, crack some Geodes, talk to your special girl/guy and then do the same again. I think adding Multiplayer was VERY smart, as it takes all the monotony out of the game. With 2 people, you can sort your crops out in 5 minutes, then get on with your day. As it stands, he does the fishing, I do the mines. I look forward to playing this more into the new year, and romancing my girl Abigail
16) World of Warcraft: Classic- I am playing WoW in 2019
It's WoW Classic. You've probably heard of it in the last 16 years. I won't harp on, but it's good. It brings me back to that time when I was at college, and life was easy, and I'd quit a job I did for a day cause my schedule didn't line up with my Serpentshrine Cavern raid schedule.
I'm playing a Dwarf Paladin, and I've just hit level 37. I'm desperate for an SM Cath run, so I can get the axe, and replace the hammer I got at level 22.