Saturday Morning Gaming: Gaming Orc-Controlled Castles


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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24 Responses

  1. Marchmaine says:

    So XCOM2 was available on Steam for $15 and based on stuff you guys have said here, I grabbed it. Had one of those “just one more turn” moments until about 2am. Then rage quit. It seems that’s how you play XCOM2? At least from reading online guides after the fact?

    I was (and still am) a bit confused by the mission mechanics… at first I thought the game was “on rails” and that all the missions would be level appropriate… and then I got ROFL stomped by some red (do not skip) mission and didn’t have my “save game” skills up to speed – hence the first rage quit. Then I read that you shouldn’t do mission xyz until you have [something I’ve never even heard of yet] and I’m wondering why that’s a mission when all I have are squaddies…

    Anyhow, I think I’m slowly getting the hang of it – I like the tactics – and now that I’ve got the whole “save game” process optimized I can move along.

    One idiosyncratic thing I like to do (but I’m sure no one else does) is decide that then entire team has to have a certain aesthetic… and based on the first, say, Ranger… then *all* rangers have to be French women. Sometimes the game is a little racist when it gives me the Asian tech Specialist guy… but hey, rules are rules.

    I still feel like I’m discovering things that would’ve been useful to know right off the bat – like you don’t have to “explore” a region that has an Avatar plant to attack the Avatar plant. Oops. And all ship ugrades are not equal and there’s sort of an order you ought to follow, until you’re a special XCOM2 snowflake. Feels a bit like CIV in that sense.

    So, thumbs up on the whole. Thanks for the recommendation.

    As a wild tangent, I feel like the entire Total Warhammer franchise would have been 100x better if it had this sort of metagame and unit management.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

      I’m pleased that it did that for you!

      In the first XCOM, I was more interested in upgrading my base than upgrading my weapons. I mean, I upgraded my weapons… but I was always more interested in the base first. (Oh, and autopsies. If I had a choice between an autopsy and weapons research, I picked the autopsy every single time.)

      XCOM2 had me reverse that a bit. Every single weapons upgrade is worth its weight in gold. The base upgrade can wait.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        Oh, and there are individual upgrades you can do for each gun (more ammo, faster reloading, that sort of thing) but, and here’s the point, YOU CAN NAME YOUR GUNS.

        So when you get up a few levels to the point where you feel invested enough to give your heavy an upgrade for her gun? Change the color of the gun! Change the patterns on the grip! And maybe name it “Whisper”.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

          Yeah, I’ve definitely adjusted color schemes (and camo patterns!) … but still not sure how long the game plays and whether I should invest in gun names yet.

          I can’t tell if the game is unending and once you pass a certain point its self-sustainable, or if I’m 4 missions for “winning”

          But when it comes to games like this, I’m definitely small elite elven units vs. quantity is its own quality orcs… so I’m a walking a fine line between investing in units vs. over-investing. I mean, at this point I couldn’t bear to lose Genevieve “Monster” LaTour.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

            It’s been a while since I’ve played but, if memory serves, there are a number of inflection points.

            I don’t want to get into bigger spoilers than that.

            I will say that If you don’t have at least two maxed out tech trees for your guns yet, you aren’t 4 missions from winning. Like, not even *CLOSE*. If you don’t have any Colonels? Not even *CLOSE*.Report

  2. jason says:

    After the teaser for Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, I went back to Odyssey. I’ll probably finish it–it’s a beautiful game that’s fun to play. Of course, the problem is re-learning the controls. Beyond the basic attacks and dodges, there are special attacks that require holding the attack button and pressing another button.
    At this point, it’s a good game to jump into a mess around a bit, or I can spend more time in it and tackle some missions.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to jason says:

      Man, when I jump into Assassin’s Creed (any of them!) after playing a Batman game, I pretty spend the first hour just dying against jobbers. Ha-ha! Jump! Wait, that was block. Block? CRAP! I dodged!

      And it takes me a looooong time to settle back into the old button configuration.

      And, on top of that, Batman/Talion have different goals than members of the Assassin’s Guild… which makes 4 the last Assassin’s Creed game that I was able to play to completion.Report

    • veronica d in reply to jason says:

      I honestly wish everyone settled on a single control scheme, at least for 3rd person action RPGs. Of course, that single scheme should be Dark Souls 🙂

      Oh, and AC-O is pretty great, although clearing out forts got monotonous after a while. That said, the Medusa boss fight is one of my faves. It’s not super hard, but it’s really exciting.Report

      • jason in reply to veronica d says:

        Yeah, switching schemes is hard. I dig the forts–but some kinds of repetition work for me, plus using the arrows that go through walls is sweet.
        I really dig the format of the AC games in Origins and Odyssey. Making the games more open world is cool, and they took some good elements from the Witcher 3.
        Medusa fight? I haven’t got there yet, but now I really want to.Report

        • veronica d in reply to jason says:

          It’s a lot of fun.

          Needless to say, I’m super stoked about the upcoming Valhalla game. My gf and I are both big Vikings and The Last Kingdom fans, so we’ll play tf out of that.

          I loved AC-O. My only complaint was the difference in power levels. I’m cool with your character getting more powerful, but the difference between (say) level 10 and level 20 feels enormous, like vast. It’s as if one level 20 character is worth 394230840234089830948 level 10 characters.

          The fact that different regions have different “base levels” means that your average chump in Lesbos (a late game area) could fight off thousands of Spartans (a mid game area). That seems ridiculous to me.

          I mean, I understand why they do this from gameplay reasons, but it still feels wonky as heck to me.

          I’d really love to see a 3rd person action RPG where your overall “power level” stays in a reasonable range, while still having character advancement that feels rewarding. I’m not sure how exactly to do that.

          (I know that I hate “level scaling.” It’s like, yeah you’re more powerful now, but so are the trash mobs,” so what did you really gain?)

          I feel like there must be a way to reward advancement by _diversity of tactics_ instead of just raw attack/defense values.Report

          • jason in reply to veronica d says:

            Yeah, I’m 53 now and I notice most areas scaling to like a few levels below me, which is annoying, but I have cool stuff to deal with them, so it’s okay.

            I think Skyrim did leveling fairly good on leveling/advancing: some enemies would scale with you, but you’d still run into trash ones that you could easily take out.Report

            • veronica d in reply to jason says:

              I prefer no level scaling, although I understand how that messes up open world games. That said, a town guard should have kind of a set power range. I feel like PC badassitude should be an objective fact of the world.

              Nioh 2 has a neat approach. Once you reach NG+, you can replay NG missions at their original difficulty, with their original rewards, which at that point are trivial, or you can scale them up, in which case the rewards are scaled up. It’s nice. Sometimes you want to speed through a mission, perhaps to get a missed plot element or collectable or whatever. Other times you might want to have a challenge — although in the latter case you can just play the NG+ version. In any case, you have the choice.

              The ability to rerun missions, of course, makes no sense in a story logic sense, but being able to refight bosses is, in a gameplay sense, pure awesomesauce. It’s fun to go back to a boss you struggled with and smack them around till they beg for mercy.Report

      • JS in reply to veronica d says:

        My favorite is when they change a control scheme inside a series. All your hard earned muscle memory goes “Wait, what?”

        I think ME:A was the one where you couldn’t remap powers in MP — which drove me nuts when I ran a character with a similar power set as my single-player character, because the controls were WRONG and I couldn’t change them.Report

  3. George Turner says:

    I don’t know if anyone’s been following the upset over some gaming things which will not be named (Sony’s minions are filing false copyright claims against anyone who mentions what’s going on), but the ugly dust-up has kept me entertained all week.

    Here’s a quick summary.

    One of the big British Youtubers is taking them to court tomorrow, on advice from his Youtube handler. His barrister is chomping at the bit.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to George Turner says:

      Ah, yes. Spoilergate.

      My first Naughty Dog game was Jak and Daxter so I’ve had a bunch of good associations with Naughty Dog for a good long while.

      The Uncharted games were *AMAZING*. Holy cow! This is, like, CINEMATIC.

      And then The Last Of Us was the first Citizen Kane of video games, they said. Here’s what I said at the time:

      So I’m in The Last of Us. This is the game that’s getting all of the “Citizen Kane” awards from folks and I’m struck by how linear the storyline is. Maybe that’s the price to pay for this sort of thing… but, so far, it’s like hearing that they made a Citizen Kane Video Game, then made all of the action scenes interactive between walking scenes with dialog exposition. That’s not what made Citizen Kane Citizen Kane, guys.
      Which is not to say it’s a *BAD* game. It’s an awesome game. The main thing that I want to say about it so far is that it’s the first zombie movie where I haven’t yet said “WHY IN THE SAM HILL ARE YOU DOING THAT???” at one (or both) of the protagonists. That achievement alone is worth something.

      The game was *HEAVY*. A lot of moral situations and a story in which people make choices. Hard choices.

      And I beat it and I never wanted to play it again. It was An Experience… but it wasn’t “fun”.

      All that to say, I’ve encountered the spoilers for The Last Of Us II and… yeah, it looks like it’ll be An Experience that isn’t particularly “fun”.

      Life’s too short, you know?Report

      • jason in reply to Jaybird says:

        I gotta agree with you. The Last of Us was a pretty game. It had intense moments, but much of it struck me as kind of bullshit. At the time, lots of people discussed its “difficulty.” It was harder than other games, but it was a phony kind of difficulty. The police characters would constantly shoot at you and when you take them out, you get two bullets. You would hit something with a bat once or twice and it would break. Like, I guess my complaint is that you could see that the game was doing things just to be a difficult game. This format did work to make the game tense, but it also wasn’t very fun.
        You’re right; it was fairly linear. It was a good game, but not really my cup of tea.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to jason says:

          Yes, making shivs. I want to say that there was a skill that let you use a shiv twice? Am I remembering that correctly?

          Ugh. That irritated the heck out of me at the time. (Though, I’ll grant, it did provide a sense of urgency that otherwise would not have been there.)

          The problem with making games that are so heavy into theme without also making them “fun” is that you can just say “yeah, I see what they’re going for” after you’ve played the first one.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

        No game could possibly be as entertaining as the rants about Spoilergate. Game of Thrones wasn’t this entertaining in its best season. ^_^

        Of course, if you ask yourself “who benefits?” the clear answer is Lesley Headland and Kathleen Kennedy at Lucasfilm, who just got dethroned as the focus of Youtube media critics’ outrage. It’s been days since their epic disasters even got a mention.

        Other than that, things were so quiet with the lockdown that a bunch of us have been watching Anna (That Star Wars Girl) do a first-time play-through of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II from the 2000’s. Her male Jedi character looks like Space Jesus and a few nights ago she finally encountered Visas Marr. “OMG! These girls just want my junk! They all want Space Jesus’s junk!” Then she had to go back to an old save because she’d been so snuggly with Visas that Handmaiden wouldn’t speak to her anymore, and she screamed “Why are women such jealous b****es?!” Anna is extremely entertaining.

        My dad used to tell me stories about the Great Depression, but now I’ve seen things he wouldn’t have believed. “Yeah? Well I’ve seen a tipsy girl in a stormtrooper onesie lured toward lesbianism by a blind force-sensitive Sith assassin. So there.”Report

        • Jaybird in reply to George Turner says:

          A mister Pixel, erm, “butts” has a thread in which he breaks down what happened.

          It, apparently, wasn’t a disgruntled employee (like everyone had theorized).

          It was, instead, someone who knew about one hell of a vulnerability.


          • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

            So far as I know, nobody cares who leaked it. Their first reaction would be the same if nothing had leaked and the game was released normally. Their second reaction is to getting their channels struck with bogus copyright claims because they discussed their opinions about it, which clearly falls under every reading of fair use or the world wouldn’t have reporters and movie and book reviewers.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to George Turner says:

              Well, back when the main rumor was that it was a disgruntled employee who was upset at being asked to crunch and then the game was delayed and that meant that certain bonuses weren’t getting mailed out (despite the executives getting *THEIR* bonuses), I saw a great many people clear their throats and explain that, well, they didn’t *CONDONE* the leaks but you had to understand…

              Now that it’s a bug?

              Well, that’s a different kettle of fish entirely, innit?Report

  4. North says:

    Still playing Stellaris. I’m enjoying it, pondering starting to acquire DLC and play online with friends.Report

  5. veronica d says:

    I’ve been playing Nioh 2 since release. The gameplay is super fast paced and challenging. The co-op mode is a lot of fun. I’ve had some great times teaming up with other players to smash a boss.Report