How the hell is it March already? Just the other day it was January. Christmas was only the other week, it feels. I know it won’t — but if time could keep up this kind of pace until next Christmas, that would be fantastic. (Actually, I would accept a bit of a slowdown for any holidays and stats days between now and then, that would be pretty OK.)

Amorphous time perception aside, February was the month my heavy-time-investment phase of the current WoW expansion came to a close. I achieved what I wanted to with Mythic+ (and more than I’ve done in any prior expansion). I’ve taken a small handful of characters to level cap (Druid, Mage, Warrior, with some progress made on a few others). So outside of raiding — still pushing away at heroic Raszageth — I’m done.

I’m satisfied.

And I think therein lies one of the biggest points of difference between recent expansions and Dragonflight — there hasn’t been that same sense of souring on the game as I wrap up my crazy drive to whatever goals I had in mind. I’m happy to keep raiding and await the next season/content drop and then just take it as it comes. Will I invest as much time there as I did at launch? No, almost certainly not. But I can certainly see Season 2 Mythic+ Hero on the cards again. (Although I do already anticipate the gauntlet in Halls of Infusion being an absolute key killer of a section, and so late in the run too!)

So with the diminishing of WoW as such a huge driver of my game time, has anything else come up to replace it?

Well, not so much just yet. I thought Returnal (PC release) or Wild Hearts might do it. But each has its own performance issues (although by far Wild Hearts is the worse of the two) keeping them down in the corner at the moment. The Diablo 3 had a season with actually interesting mechanics come out (plus, it may even be it’s last!) and, even less explicable, there seems to have been a surge of interest within some quarters of my friend group in Destiny 2’s recent expansion.

Games Played February 2023

RankGameHours% Gaming Time
1World of Warcraft (Retail)58.160.6%
2Diablo III10.310.7%
3Deep Rock Galactic8.48.7%
4Thronebreaker5.35.5%
5Returnal (PC)3.23.4%
6Wild Hearts2.72.8%
7Destiny 22.42.5%
8Dauntless2.32.3%
9Last Epoch1.71.8%
10Gwent1.51.6%
Links are to posts about the game in question which were made this month — where multiple posts were made this month about a game; may link to the category or tag instead.

One problem I have with being so lax on getting these posts done.. um.. almost a week into the following month, is that I keep feeling like the things I’ve just been playing should show up here. Example: Phantom Brigade just hit 1.0 and launched on Steam. I picked it up a couple of days ago for both myself and a friend whose birthday it was. It has been the subject of some great singleplayer-multiplayer sessions already. It is fantastic.

OK look, really I’m just making an excuse to be able to talk about it a little now without either waiting til next month or better yet, doing a post for it. But dangit, it’s my blog and I’ll mismanage it if I want to. Phantom Brigade reminds me heavily of Frozen Synapse and Door Kickers, where you plan out your actions on a timeline and then watch your plan unfold in ‘real time’ when you commit and hit execute.

Add to that, a healthy dose of Battletech and XCOM with customisable mechs of varying weight classes, a strategy layer, base phase, upgrade tree, and units (mechs and pilots both) that can be destroyed and you’d be most of the way there.

On the mech customisation screen. The sniper rifle I have selected doesn’t show this off — but components can have sub-components which you can switch in and out while matching to the appropriate type. It’s… fairly in-depth. I love it!

The additional conceit of this game is that your mechs are equipped with a special prototype McGuffin that lets you see into the future, five seconds at a time. You can see in exacting detail how the enemy plans to move and even how they will react to your changing plan. You might think this would utterly decimate any of the difficulty but… It doesn’t. Sure, you can to an extent control which mechs you put forward first to become a focus fire target at the start of an engagement. Yep, you can see when you might be best off raising a shield rather than getting another shot in, and you can even (sometimes) see when an enemy pilot has had enough and is going to eject so you can shift your own focus elsewhere.

But managing all these things together for an optimal outcome is still quite the dance. Especially as your enemy starts getting access to ever scarier armaments.

In other gaming news — this time from within February itself even — I beat Shrike (the first major boss) in Returnal. First try (that I reached him), even through the stuttering the game currently has. Turns out, all I needed was a little bit of mouse and keyboard!

Other Media

Reading

Reading has still very much taken a back seat to everything else. I’ve even had a couple of moments of choosing to play mobile games over reading. I never play mobile games. Certainly not when my Kindle is literally in hand as well! But… In February that was a thing that happened. If you’re curious, it was Mini Metro, a game I played and enjoyed on PC too. It converts well to the mobile format.

But be that as it may, I might’ve stumbled across the way to turn the corner and get back to reading again.

It isn’t something I’ve actually decided to do yet. No doubt it’ll just rattle around the back of my brain a little longer until finally, at some random moment, seemingly on a whim I ‘just do’.

After seeing Belghast talking about reading The Lies of Locke Lamora, and talking to my brother about his read-through of Mark Lawrence’s body of work for the first time (he is nearing the end of The Broken Empire trilogy), both things I enjoyed reading immensely, I’ve started to wonder if it might be fun to just revisit these things. Or something else I haven’t read in a long while but loved.

Not because I’m not enjoying The Great Leveller trilogy by Joe Abercrombie — I actually am… Or ‘was’ perhaps, might be more accurate — but just as something to kickstart the engines again. If I ever thought Patrick Rothfuss was going to release the third book in his trilogy, Name of the Wind/Wise Man’s Fear would make for good fodder to consider in this pile too.

TV

As I suspect is the case for many in our little corner of the internet, The Last of Us has featured greatly in my watching. Episode 4 was as far as I’d played into the game (although it’s certainly possible with the PC release coming up shortly, this is something I’ll rectify eventually). Beyond this point — everything is new, untouched territory for me.

I’ve been enjoying it. It is hands down, to my mind, the best game to other-media adaptation I’ve ever seen. Having said that, I think some of the praise and hype have been hyperbolic to the point of doing the show a disservice in setting expectations for people so high it can never possibly meet them. Absolutely there are moments of brilliance. There is one scene in which Ellie’s actor (Bella Ramsey) responded just perfectly and the sound of it will continue to haunt and echo in my mind for some time to come.

But I think important not to lose perspective. If you haven’t started it yet — my suspicion is you will like it, whether or not you played the game. Provided of course can keep tempered expectations going in.

On a completely different note entirely, I’ve also been watching Shrinking on Apple TV. Jason Segel (of How I Met Your Mother) and Harrison Ford (I don’t need to tell you) lead, and they’re both surprisingly excellent. Segel was kind of inoffensive in HIMYM but never really a standout either, so I didn’t exactly have particularly high hopes going into this one. It just seemed the less bad of the 20(ish) minute comedy options I had available to watch with my wife.

Can very much recommend it. Give it two to three episodes and it’ll probably have you. It’s still releasing week by week at the moment with episode 8 I think it is to come this Friday.


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.

2 Comments

Nimgimli · March 7, 2023 at 5:53 am

Phantom Brigade looks amazing. Wishlisted it immediately.

Even though I have not watched Shrinking yet, my gut tells me if you like that you might like Dispatches from Elsewhere, also starring Jason Segel. And Sally Fields.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8965666/

    Naithin · March 7, 2023 at 5:32 pm

    Enjoying Phantom Brigade immensely, as you may have gathered. :) Can definitely recommend if you’re into that tactical sort of genre.

    Dispatches from Elsewhere is available on Prime video for us in NZ, so added it to watch list! Thanks for the recommendation! Trailer looks interesting.

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