Time to Loot Journal: December 2022

You may have noticed, but I’ve been in a blogging slump of late. Perhaps more accurate to say just a ‘slump’ in general. I think with the holidays finally landing it has become a time of letting go, at least where possible. Some things haven’t changed since earlier in the year, namely, taking care of my mother, which has become at least as much an emotional drain as a physical one.

But I try to keep this place reasonably light, if not cheery, so I didn’t much want to talk about that and it seems no one much wants to hear anything about WoW. I was playing other things around the edges too and even had some ideas for posts crop up from time to time but none that quite made it through the general malaise of apathy toward writing in the moment.

If nothing else though, this time of year offers plenty of freebie post ideas, ranging from The Game Awards (and more importantly, the trailers and game announcements that come off the back of it) to prediction reviews to simply assessing the year as a whole. Some of those things may yet break through and become something published. I hold some hope too, that simply doing this post will help. Certainly, I’ve found just blah-ing onto a page has helped break through such periods in the past. :)

From a recent revisit of Black Desert Online — there’s an optional new starting area now!

I am going to make some changes though! Starting with the format of the journal post. The looking back section? GONE. Wilhelm does this rather successfully with his month-end reviews and I still enjoy it very much as a concept. But where we differ is that I don’t, as a rule, cover more of the ‘newsy’ type things. Sure, some things are big enough to break through, but not enough to carry the section.

I think I’m also going to blast the gaming goals section, for now.

It may yet make a return, as the reasons I wanted to give ’em a try are still very much valid.

But in the effort of simply making things a bit easier on myself for the time being: Goneski.

What I’m not going to throw away though is the cataloging of games played and the time spent with each. I don’t know that it holds much value or interest for anyone else to know this stuff, but I certainly get some amusement from looking back over the data. And besides, it’s not really as much effort to do as you might think.

ManicTime (the free version is all you need) does the data collection in the background, and I made myself a spreadsheet years ago styled in part from Belghast’s tracking experiment and in part from Wilhelm’s monthly wrap-up posts.

Games Played December 2022

RankGameHours% Gaming Time
1World of Warcraft (Retail)133.976.8%
2Warhammer 40,000: Darktide17.09.8%
3Marvel Midnight Suns5.43.1%
4Peglin4.82.8%
5Elden Ring4.32.5%
6Overwatch2.71.6%
7The Witcher 32.11.2%
8Black Desert Online2.11.2%
9Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 21.91.1%

Historically, December is a ‘try all the things!11!’ month for me when it comes to gaming. Case in point, last year in December, I played 19 different games.

Many of which I pick-up in the sale (often after deciding earlier in the sale that, ‘there isn’t really anything I want anyway…’).

This year, at least on the sale front, is not much different.

*cough*

Don’t be fooled by the ‘New to Library’ tag missing from some of those games. That just means I’ve played (or at least installed) them since picking them up. Those are all purchases over December from the sale.

Very indie-heavy haul for me. Quite a bit of a theme around ‘Vampire Survivor-alikes’ and games that start with ‘Songs of’ in their name.

Of the things I did play…

World of Warcraft: Dragonflight

We seem to be making a ‘thing’ out of dubious first kills on certain bosses. The screenshot above depicts moments before the final below is landed on Terros, by the sole remaining member of our raid group — a demon hunter tank.

That on its own is all well and good — but this was well past the point of hard enrage. The rest of the raid had been dead going on a minute or so, with our DH tank having no external heals or cooldowns, taking down the final percent or so of Terros’ health pool.

Nothing to see here though! No nerfs needed! xD

Tank self-healing nerfs being required aside, I’ve been having a fair bit of fun with it. Raid has been on break over the Christmas/New Year period, so I’ve been filling in the time with a few Mythic+s both with the remaining guildies still around and with PUGs. Done pretty well for myself too, with ilvl a bit over 390 at the time of writing this. (Armory link)

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide

Ugh. Darktide needed more time in the oven. It should’ve been delayed another 6 months or so minimum and it’s a damned shame it wasn’t.

Darktide has the makings of a good game. But not a complete, nor a ready-for-primetime one.

It crashes frequently, particularly on fresh load into a mission. Although it does at least give you the opportunity to reconnect I suppose. More than that, the systems are incomplete. The crafting options are still half ‘Coming soon’ on the vendor. The promised storyline written by some vaunted author known in the WH40k arena doesn’t exist. Truly, every cutscene is another person telling you how they don’t trust you, but if you keep going, maybe someday they will.

I wish that was hyperbole, but I’ve seen that exact conversation now play out with 4-5 different ‘story’ NPCs.

The more random nature of the missions is just awful. The lack of specific character identity vs. that of Vermintide 2 is awful, too. On both fronts, I can tell what they’re going for and the logic behind it — but what has been sacrificed in coherency and ability to tell a stronger story between characters that know each other is never made up for in the promise of the structure on offer here.

Oh, and, each character type has launched with only a single spec. This is compared to Vermintide 2’s classes each having 3 specs at launch, with premium ones having launched later into the game’s lifecycle.

*sigh*

I wouldn’t be half as disappointed as I was though, if not for the fact that at its core there is a fun game here. The aesthetic of the game is stunning. The artists and visual engineers on this project deserve to be commended for their achievements. As do, for the most part1 the combat designers. The melee is just as strong here as it was in the Vermintide offerings, and some of the guns are pretty great to use too.

Perhaps in another 6-12 months, Darktide will be something to behold. Until then, it’s likely to get shelved.

The Others

Peglin

Peglin has been on my wishlist for a while. It’s basically a rogue-lite Peggle. You know, a bit of Slay the Spire meets Pachinko machine. You build up your ‘deck’ in terms of different orbs with different strengths and abilities which you then fire around a peggle board to launch bombs and generally do damage to your foes above.

It is every bit as fun as I imagined it would be, bar with one major caveat.

There isn’t really a lot to it yet.

There is just the one character class, and you’ll likely beat the full run within a bare handful of attempts. After which, there is, a rather basic ‘ascension’ system of a sort called ‘Cruciball’. For example, the first level of Cruciball makes you start with an additional Stone (a basic orb type which has no special abilities, that most builds will want to remove from play) AND makes all Stones have -0/-1 (-1 less damage per bounce on crits).

I’m really looking forward to seeing Peglin develop further. :)

Elden Ring even made a reappearance. A friend of mine — one whom never in a million years, would I have anticipated picking up a souls-like — has jumped into ER with the benefit of the Christmas sale, so I’ve made a new character to play alongside in a case of ‘single player-multiplayer‘ while he gains his footing and perhaps some actual co-op a bit later on.

However, he is now away with fam on holiday at the beach, so will be a bit of a gap before we pick it up again.

Other Media

I’ve still barely been reading. My Year in Reading stats from Goodreads show a rather woeful picture this year, with less than half of my target books read (6 / 15) actually being read.

I think I might set my target back to just 12 for 2023, and see how that goes. xD

Beyond reading though, I’ve also been watching a bit. Most recently Alice in Borderland Season 2 on Netflix. If you imagine some mix of Hunger Games and Squid Game you would be most of the way there. I knew nothing of the Japanese manga the series is based on going in (and still don’t) so I couldn’t begin to comment on whether it’s a ‘faithful’ adaptation or not — but it has been enjoyable.

…Provided you don’t mind a fair degree of violence. The games, much as in Squid Games, end with the demise of failed participants. Sometimes by way of laser from the sky, sometimes a little less… cleanly.

Next up, I’ll likely watch Kaleidoscope (also on Netflix). Looks to be fairly light (relative perhaps to Alice in Borderland, at least) and who can go past a good (well, hopefully) heist series, anyway? :)


Inform: (As this post mentions or talks about an Activision Blizzard product, or the company)

While I have chosen to break my self-imposed exile from Activision-Blizzard titles, I still feel it important to acknowledge the troubled status of the company, so you can make your own decision.

Activision Blizzard has become subject to multiple sexual-harassment lawsuits. Of note, in particular, is that it has been alleged that Bobby Kotick (current CEO) has not only been aware of, but also attempted to suppress word of, such incidents — even going so far as to intervene to keep a perpetrator hired with the company.

Even so, support for a long-term boycott was never clear cut, even amongst those affected.

Footnotes

  1. Please do something about how awfully like a peashooter the base laser rifle feels

Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

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