Monday, February 13, 2017

Huh. I think I might be done with Overwatch

Not sure why, really.  It might just be that, this past weekend, my games were consistently terrible.  Maybe it's just that I was consistently terrible, but it didn't feel that way.  It felt like one-sided stomps, repeatedly, that I was helpless to effect.

It may be that the community has diminished?  It certainly feels like the PA forums, at least, have really slowed down on the game - and it certainly took me a lot longer to find games this weekend - so the game is pulling players for me from a much wider swath of skill levels, and it often feels like my teams don't really understand the power of grouping up and focusing fire.

But I don't want to blame the community.  That's not fair.  I'm part of the community.  Maybe it's just that...

Every time I turned the game on, this past weekend, I did not have fun with it.  And that's kinda' the thing about this whole pastime, isn't it?  So... I dunno.  I don't know that I'll start it up again.

Never even got my golden guns.  Shoulda' played comp more.

I don't like Nioh as much as any given Souls game.  The combat does not feel as tight and balanced, to me - but maybe that's just a side-effect of the game kind of being Ninja Gaiden Souls.  I never played Team Ninja's contributions to the brawler genre on Xbox (or PS3), so perhaps it's simply that it's speaking a combat language I'm not quite fluent in.

But maybe that's giving the game too much credit.  I've put what feels like a dozen or so hours into it, and I'm simply enjoying it less than Demon's Souls, Dark Souls I-III and the sublime Bloodborne.  Its world is less compelling to me, its enemies less iconic, its combat less... solid.  A lot of it, here, seems to rely upon stats and - tragically, cruelly - a huge skill tree for each weapon type (there are only like five), with moves that you have to unlock via skill points.

The complexity of its combat feels unnecessary, and its complexity does not make it any more rewarding than that of a Souls game.  Instead, it feels needlessly finicky - starting with the fact that they've turned the Souls stamina bar into a painfully limited resource that can only be properly maintained by executing a "ki pulse" during combat.  As a result, I'm often spending half of a fight watching a meter in the top-left of the screen to properly time my ki pulses in order to have enough stamina at my disposal to finish it.

Oh, and imagine a Souls game where instead of a beautifully subdued narrative, you get the wackadoodle cutscenes and story presentation of a Ninja Gaiden game.  Schlocky cheese for days, here.

I hate this chick she suuuuucks.

At the same time, there's a lot to love, here.  I love the setting.  I love fighting Oni (called Yokai here, which I thought just meant "ghost"?), I love switching sword stances from low to mid to high, and the fact that it has this ridiculous challenge (frankly unpalatable to me, someone who adores the legendary challenge of Souls) does in fact call me back, repeatedly, at the thought of overcoming whatever kicked my ass last time - or at the promise of what will kick my ass next.

But the world isn't open.  This isn't a grand, sprawling and interconnected world to explore this way but maybe that way instead.  Nioh is a series of (very large!) levels that offer the same shortcuts as a Souls proper - a door blocked on one side here, a ladder to kick down there - but it freakishly doesn't save that state.  Missions and side missions see you returning to areas you've already fully explored, but all the unlocking and shortcut-opening you established your first time through the area have been undone.

It's like playing the Undead Burg for the first time, in the same way, over and over - but now enemies are in a different spot, or there are new ones.  It works in a "here's another thing to complete" kind of way, but denies a Souls' game's sense of meaningful exploration and mastery of an area.

So yeah.  It's okay.  I feel a bit compelled to return to it to overcome whatever ridiculous thing it's thrown at me now - or to discover what the next madness will be - but I'm less inspired and absorbed than I'd hoped.

It takes the level-up mechanics and the return-to-where-you-died-to-pick-up-your-XP and the stamina bar and levels with shortcuts of Souls, but in its pursuit of something more complicated, it's ended up with something that seems far less meaningful.

Or at least is, to me.  Oh, and the art direction isn't as good.  Graphics are pretty meh, to me.

When I'm not feeling up for attacking Nioh (or after getting frustrated with whatever it's asking of me next), I'm running through a new game of Transistor.  It kinda' stuck in my craw, a bit, when Alex insisted that Transistor was inferior to Bastion on last week's podcast, and - one night over the weekend, while pouring over my PS4 digital library in the search for something that's not Nioh - there it was, down near the bottom of the list.

I started it up.  I'd forgotten that Transistor doesn't have menus.  It doesn't have like a pause menu!  It doesn't have save games!  So it went directly into the NG+ I'd left it at years ago, and I had to manually delete the save off my hard drive before I could start a new, fresh save.

I think Alex might be right, in a way, but I don't think it actually makes Transistor a lesser game than Bastion.  Transistor is Supergiant's attempt to produce their own "triple-A indie."  Its production values are far higher, its world far more ambitious, its mechanics far more complicated than Bastion's.  By attempting to be better, grander, more than Bastion, Supergiant has ensured there are more facets and moving parts - and thus, more opportunities to make a choice the player may not agree with.

That being said, I still think I love Transistor more than Bastion.  It's fair to say I prefer Bastion's action, but I love Transistor's combat (if that makes sense).  I prefer its beautiful, weird, mysterious world.  I prefer its mute, humming hero and the curious question of what, exactly, the titular Transistor is, and whether or not it truly contains the consciousness of your recently-deceased lover, or is simply using his voice to achieve its ends.  It may not be as uniformly perfect as its tight, earnest predecessor - but it's more ambitious.

It reaches higher, and its achievements are grander.  It's less perfect.  But it's better.

Oh, so back to Overwatch, for a moment.

Another thing is, my Overwatch career - though singular, when compared to any other gaming experience of my life - has been at the expense of countless other games I would have loved to check out.  I never finished Dishonored 2!  I fucking love Dishonored!  I never even started XCOM 2.  Fuck that.

And I haven't finished Gravity Rush 2 and I'd really like to show Nioh who's boss and we've got Night in the Woods next week and a week after that there's Horizon: Zero Dawn and a week after that it's Nier and...

I'm gonna' miss it.


  1. There's no shame in stepping away from a game that you don't find fun anymore. I've written about it on the PA forum's OW thread, one of them anyways, about not playing OW for a few months, playing other games like BF1 and FFXIV ARR, and coming back for the Year of the Rooster event made the game feel like new again. The CTF mode just really 'clicked' for me and it's basically all I played for the entire event.

    I often get put in matches with people from bronze through diamond rank, and it's led to some 'interesting' games. I'm not sure here Blizz is ranking me not having played in Comp this season, but the games feel the best when it's a mix of gold and plat people. I have no real desire to suffer through the placement matches and have a rank stamped on my profile. Getting regularly matched with gold and plat people is enough of an indication to know where I'd end up.

    It's possible in a few months after playing through Dishonored 2, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Nier Automata, Persona 5, or any of the plethora of games coming out this Spring that you feel the urge to try Overwatch again. Coming back after months away might allow you to rediscover what made Overwatch fun for you.

    For me, I was just so turned off of competitive mode in Season 2 that I have little to no desire to play that mode every again. Sticking to quick play, CTF or other arcade modes, and trying to get good with Ana is where my happy place in Overwatch is. The stress and expectations on a healer in Comp mode is just not something I need in my life.

    Mercy will always be my favorite though.

    1. For some reason FFXIV is the one that keeps bouncing around in my head over the past few days. One of the things I love about OW is (positive) interaction with other players, and it'd be nice to be the highlevel who helps lowbies with their quests or exploration again.

    2. I got back into FFXIV over the Christmas holidays after quitting nearly 3 years ago. I played at launch on PC with the PA forums guild and rejoined with them. The guild isn't what it used to be, but I think that's down to the majority of people have stopped playing until new content comes out (pretty normal for any MMO though).

      The best part of FFXIV is the story. The culmination of the story before Heavensward is just amazing. A 30 minute cutscene where my mouth was agape in awe the entire time. Things slow a bit at the beginning of Heavensward but it's really ramping up again as I near level 60.

      For me, FFXIV is what I've been playing to relax. The world is gorgeous, the combat flows well, and the quests are very much a 'ok, just one more and I'll log out."

  2. Ok. Wow....