Current Games of Interest: July 2019

This one’s a little odd. Usually I have another game I’m adding when I do these posts. Not so this time. But I’ve been giving my games list on the sidebar the side-eye for a while. It is very much not accurate. Beyond even the point of thinking a game there might just hold out that little longer for a return.

Nope, they’re jumping straight into the ‘removed’ bucket this time!

Changes to the Game List

Added

  • None!

Remaining

  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  • Final Fantasy XIV

Nearly Removed

  • None!

Removed

  • Nioh
  • Transport Fever

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey saw the last chapter of its second DLC release just this past week, so I’ve spent a little extra time getting acquainted again. I still have the final two chapters of the first DLC to play through too, so there is a bit of life left in this one yet! :D

Otherwise, with Final Fantasy XIV taking more of my gaming time again it isn’t too surprising that other things are dropping out. Although that is only a part reason.

In the last journal I talked about how Nioh had been put on hold earlier in the month to allow my eldest son to catch-up so we could play it together co-op. Welp; that never happened. I could carry on with it singleplayer, but the momentum has been broken.

Then all the way back in the May Journal I noted that I would likely put a premature end to the Chasing Truck Fever series. I allowed for the possibility of carrying on with it in a more typical post format. But uh, clearly that didn’t happen.

So away they go!

Time to Loot Journal: June 2019

I don’t think I’ve provided an update on my work situation since the May Journal, so here we go. I’ve ended up not leaving after all. I had put my hand up to leave in order to take a look for something new out there. I needed a change, and if it saved one of my team from redundancy in the process all the better.

I’d signed the papers and it was a done deal — but then in the last couple of weeks before I was scheduled to go I was presented with an opportunity to take up a significant new challenge on a brand new product portfolio.

Pretty exciting, with a lot of new tech to learn and play with! Which is exactly what I was after. :)

Blog this Month

Published 10 posts this month, down 2 from last month. This was maintaining a fairly consistent 2 posts a week, although this one will make for the third post this week. Originally I had wanted to run 3 posts a week, but with how I currently run things that has turned out to be unsustainable.

How do I currently run things? Well — I think a separate post on that is forthcoming, but the gist of it is that I haven’t really carved out any time in my life for blogging. It has simply had to fit around out.

In any case, this post will make for 80 published posts. By the end of August Time to Loot should be sitting slightly over 100 posts, which I think will make it my most posted to blog — although still a fair while off longest running.

Most Viewed Posts

  1. Heart of Rage: Tips for the Monitor
  2. Transport Fever: Things I Wish I Knew When I Started
  3. Humble Bundle: June 2019
  4. E3 Gleanings So Far
  5. When First Impressions Don’t Last

So my prediction of the Heart of rage post lasting in top spot for another month was true. That also probably wasn’t the most terribly difficult prediction to make. But last month I also wasn’t sure whether it would hold much beyond that.

I think now that next month we’ll see the HoR post fall into at least the second place spot.

Games this Month

RankGameHours% Gaming TimeChange
1DoTA Underlords28.335.3%New
2Nioh25.331.5%New
3Final Fantasy XIV7.59.3%↓1
4Forager5.97.4%New
5Borderlands 25.77.1%New
6Moonlighter4.96.1%New
7Dark Souls: Remastered0.91.1%New
8Slay the Spire0.81.0%New
9Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem0.60.8%Returning
10Baba Is You0.40.5%New

There was a total of 80.4 gaming hours this month, up 51.3 hours from May. Back to an almost ‘normal’ mid-90’s figure. Well. What I’m taking as normal anyway, but that was only based on two months (March & April) of data.

Where things get a bit more interesting is that the correlation between total active time on the computer and gaming time was broken this month. Total active time was only 176.1 hours, down 27 hours from even last month. Down a bit over 70 hours as compared to a ‘normal’ month.

Gaming made up 45.6% of the active hours, up 31.3% from May.

Now in graph form! While the data set is still very small, the current month is still quite an apparent anomaly. I think I can explain it though. In the previous months, my wife and I were using this computer to watch shows on as well, inflating the active time. This month we’ve been more likely to use her laptop or my Surface in bed to watch things instead. Because it’s frackin’ cold. Seasonal effect, it’s real! ;)

DoTA Underlords

I mentioned earlier discovering DoTA Underlords, bouncing off initially and then coming back for more. Way more. DoTA Underlords has filled that niche of game that can be played quite comfortably while watching a show, browsing, or being otherwise occupied on the other monitor.

I made it up to Smuggler III so far as rank thus far, but don’t let the fact that the multiplayer is ‘ranked’ scare you off. No-one is really looking at your play, you only vs. the other players in your match via AI controlled units in fact. I don’t know much longer I’ll keep playing it heavily– but I appreciate that it exists!

Nioh

My play time here has fallen away in the latter half of the month. I was hoping to play it multiplayer with my eldest son some more, so I halted my singleplayer progress while he catches up.

But uh… It’s taking him a while. Mostly because he still plays so much Fortnite. Please excuse me while I scream into this bag for a little bit. ;)

I’m at the beginning of the third island now, whereas I believe my son still has at least one more main mission on the first island.

Final Fantasy XIV

I’d hoped the launch of Shadowbringers would be a bit more exciting for me personally, but it has certainly been held back by the fact I know I still have so. much. more. to do on the ARR MSQ before I even get to see the last expansions, let alone this one!

No doubt I’ll still get my way through things, but it isn’t something I’ve been heavily investing time into as you can see.

Forager

The perfect skinner-box game. I wondered at first whether it might have a bit of a pacing issue getting started.

And it might — especially if you don’t know the general direction in which to head to unlock automation. But once you get it, things start ticking along very nicely and it is a very difficult to put down game. I think I said I was going to call it at around level 20, didn’t actually stop until around level 25 because I kept unlocking cool new technologies that I ‘just wanted to see’.

It’s still under quite active development too, only single-player right now but co-op is on the roadmap.

Borderlands 2

If you didn’t hear — Borderlands 2 released a new DLC this month with story that directly ties into the forthcoming Borderlands 3. ‘Commander Lilith & the Fight for Sanctuary’.

If you add it to your account before July 8th or there abouts — it’s free. It did highlight though how poorly some of the gameplay concepts of Borderlands 2 have aged. Don’t get me wrong — we still had a blast playing through it, but hoo boy. Bring on BL3!

The Others

I talked about these already, and recently — so I shan’t go into too much detail again.

The first main callout here is that I added Slay the Spire to my list of acquisitions from this Steam Sale. I’ve only played one round of it so far in which died horribly in the 2nd chapter/area, but did at least beat the first boss! ;)

The second is that Wolcen received a fairly hefty content patch. Act 1 is back in the game. But at least so far it is utterly unrecognisable from the ‘Act 1’ we had in the Alpha. Whether the story strands will ultimately rejoin or whether those old strands have been cut and tossed to the wind I’m not entirely sure.

It’s still very much a case of, ‘Only buy if you wish to support the developers’. But it looks great. Some of that early promise which has been missing (in my opinion) since the transition from the Alpha to the Betas is finally starting to make an appearance again.

Second Go-Round with Nioh

Ahh yes. The genuine Edo-period ‘Valve’ helm.

This has been coming for a wee while. Ever since playing Sekiro, the urge to play Nioh again has been building. Making time for it has been another matter entirely. I have been playing a bit more this month than I did last month though. Although in case you’re wondering — no, you didn’t miss the first outing with the game. Well actually you did, I guess. But it wasn’t in the lifetime of this blog.

The last time I played Nioh would’ve been the tail end of 2017. I’d somehow missed the fact it had even gained itself a PC release, but jumped right on it when I found out. I pushed through level 2 (the ‘hell level’, for new comers apparently) and a bit beyond. I’d wrapped up through most of the second area in fact. With one, significant, exception.

Tachibana Muneshige — Invitation from the Warrior of the West:
Invites you to an ‘honourable’ duel, then proceeds to cheat like nobody’s business. CHEAT I SAY.

This bugger was the true ‘hell level’ in my opinion. Stopped me in my tracks. This time through, already beaten him and on my way through the third region of the game. Even though it’d been so long since I last played, I’ve strugged far less with it this time around.

In terms of everything else going on (or not going on, as the case may be)…

Changes to the Game List

Added

  • Nioh

Remaining

  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  • Final Fantasy XIV

Nearly Removed

  • Transport Fever

Removed

  • Tomb Raider

Assassin’s Creed is in a bit of a holding pattern until the third chapter to the Atlantis DLC is out (or is to be imminently out), but the hype for that moment is still high so I’m content to hold onto it.

Transport Fever is a bit more tentative. I acknowledged in the last journal that I wasn’t really happy with how the series was going. I thought I might take to the more general, intermittent style posting, rather than attempting it as a continuous story. But since then I’ve hardly touched it.

And Tomb Raider? Well, it’s fallen onto the wrong end of the Making Time equation. I’m still interested in it, and would like to finish the series. But now will not be the time for that it seems. It’s below the waterline in terms of time available vs. prioritised list of things I want to play.

I have no doubt it will be back… At some point. :)

Making Time for Games

I mentioned back in the April Journal that playing Sekiro was, more than anything else, making me want to play Nioh again. But I didn’t really act on it at the time. I didn’t feel like I had the time for it, and instead mentally slotted it into a short-term backlog. This is not an unusual cycle for me to go through. It also happened with Final Fantasy XIV, just since this blog has been alive.

It doesn’t always happen that way though. Sometimes it’s more of a spontaneous, ‘I want to so by golly I’m going to’ type arrangement, as was the case with Transport Fever when I wanted to play something more tycoony again.

In any case, I digress! With this post I don’t mean to talk about creating more total time to spend gaming. But rather about prioritisation. Fitting the games I want to play into the time I have, and the ones that get dropped as a result.

I was reflecting on this and how things may’ve changed since I started blogging again. And how it hasn’t. I think for the most part I’ve simply become more aware of it now that it can have a fairly direct impact on what I write about here. I certainly believed my game choices to be fairly random previously, but in truth the same patterns were followed.

Perhaps just a little more… Quickly. I found that before the rate at which I would flip games was much higher.

Either way, it does have the rather poor side effect of meaning that I rarely finish a game. I imagine there being a sort of seesaw style graph where interest in the current game and interest in a new game intersect, and eventually tips from current to new. Typically well before the current is finished.

The strength of interest in the current game can shift where the tipping point is precisely, but it’s a rare thing indeed to have it occur after I finish a game.

I guess the question then becomes is this actually a bad thing if fun is still being had? I tend to view incomplete games as a negative, but also simply as a fact of life. I would never have time to play everything I wanted to if I insisted on finishing everything I started… So perhaps it’s actually OK.

But there is no other entertainment medium I’d apply this to. I finish books. I finish movies. Generally even TV shows. I couldn’t imagine even trying to apply a taster style approach to these… So why games?

FFXIV Back Again

This month has been very light on gaming. Mostly, I think, due to the changes at work. As I mentioned in that post, there were unavoidable impacts to my team where a few positions had to be cut and I know for one in particular this has been quite a heavy and heartfelt impact. Part of it is down to longer hours at work sorting through the process, including looking for redeployment options for people in other areas of the business sure. But I also find that in situations like this I unconsciously choose to drift from gaming.

Which might be a bit of an odd reaction when you consider a large part of the reason for the hobby is as a destressor.

But in any case! Updates to the Games of Interest are afoot. As the title suggests, Final Fantasy XIV makes a return. It seems the seeds I planted in the minds of a few friends when last I was playing finally took root and sprung to life. It was a near thing though, with Elder Scrolls Online’s Elswyer expansion now out I was pretty keen to dip my toes back in there, too.

But we’re also super close to the new content of FFXIV’s Shadowbringer expansion. I’m nowhere near ready at level 35 and running through the Realm Reborn’s main story quest — a mandatory linear chain of quests which you cannot skip or otherwise short circuit by simply leveling past. *grumble*

Changes to the Game List

Added

  • Final Fantasy XIV

Remaining

  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  • Transport Fever

Nearly Removed

  • Tomb Raider

Removed

  • The Division 2
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

AC:O I’ve taken a pause on while the DLC catches up. Episode 2 of Atlantis just released the other day, so roughly 5-6 weeks until Episode 3 is out concluding that series and I’ll binge through the lot. ;)

Tomb Raider is holding on for now, as I still have a clear intent to go back and finish the second and third games — whether that intent will materialise into action in the context of limited time and an MMO back on the table though… We’ll see. ;)

Sekiro should come as no surprise to be removed. It had been holding on by a finger nail for a while. While I wouldn’t say I bounced off it hard like my very first encounter with a Souls game, it failed to grab me very firmly either. I noted during the April Journal that playing it made me want to jump in Nioh instead. With Nioh 2 starting to make more of an appearance that feeling grows ever stronger. Perhaps it will end up replacing Tomb Raider? ;)

I guess what might come as a bit more of a surprise is the removal of The Division 2. I gave the raid a try in the hopes it would revitalise the game for me. It didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, the raid is well constructed and the boss mechanics are actually interesting.

It was better than I expected, speaking frankly. But the decision not to raise the ilvl from the raid’s drops struck me as odd. Although I suppose even had they raised it, it would have been a short lived extension to the game. So! Making it official. The Division 2 is off my list for the time being. I expect I will want to visit again when more story content comes though. :)

Time to Loot Journal: April 2019

April was a comparative breeze to last month. It seemed to go by so fast, too! Possibly helped somewhat by the extended break that Easter and ANZAC day allowed for by taking just a few extra annual leave days to bridge the gaps for a bit over a week off.

Blog this Month

I published 12 posts this month, settling into an average of 3 posts per week. This seems sustainable and will likely become the pattern I aim for. Looking back over April, there isn’t much regularity as to which 3 days I post, but I think that’s OK for now.

There are a grand total of 59 published posts (including this one), and at the current rate it’ll be another 4+ months before I hit 100 posts. However I have passed the 100 day mark. One of the very first milestones I knew I wanted to break through.

So Huzzah! :D

Most Viewed Posts

  1. Heart of Rage: Tips for the Monitor
  2. The Practice of Review Bombing
  3. Anthem off the Games List
  4. Gaming Outside your Normal Genres
  5. The Division 2 Private Beta – The Dark Zone

Heart of Rage tips still drives a large portion of the site’s traffic, with roughly 6x the views of the second most viewed post this month. But the significant drop-off I expected for this article last month is starting now. The overall hits for April are around half that of March where this article was performing like a monster.

In more positive news though, ranks 2 through 4 were posts from this month!

Games this Month

RankGameHours% Gaming
Time
Change
1Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey54.856.0%New
2The Division 216.216.6% ↓1
3Tomb Raider7.87.9%New
4Transport Fever6.26.4%New
5Rise of the Tomb Raider4.74.8%New
6Northgard1.71.7%New
7Overwatch1.51.5%New
8Nioh1.31.3%New
9Far Cry: New Dawn1.21.2% ↓6
10Anno 18001.21.2%New
11Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice1.21.2% ↓6

‘New’ does not necessarily mean the game is new to me (although it may). I’m not quite sure yet how, or if, I want to represent a returning game that has skipped some time from the list.

That was a total of 97.7 gaming hours, up only 4.2 hours from last month. Given there was a week off, that does surprise me a little! Although I suppose I did catch up on a fair few shows.

Total active time on the computer was 262.8 hours, up 21.5 hours from last month. Gaming made up 37.2% of the active hours, down 1.5% from March.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

I’ve mentioned before, but this one coming in such a big way this month really took me by surprise.

It made a believer out of me for the inclusion of ‘Photo Mode’ in games. Something I’d been a little ‘meh’ on previously. Neither for nor against. I kind of want it in everything now. ;)

But most impressive of all, for me, is that it has carried me through to and even beyond the ‘end’. Since that post I’ve cleaned house of the Cult of Kosmos, got my way to the top of the Mercenary foodchain.1

I’ve made a bit of a start into the first DLC, with the rest to come. :)

The Division 2

The 16 odd hours I have on TD2 were fairly heavily front-loaded into the month. I’ve not really touched it in a few weeks.

I had expected to jump in with the release of the Raid, but that was delayed until next month. I’m happy with my gear setup with the context of what is currently possible already, so back to being ‘done’ until the raid arrives. Unfortunately Tidal Basin and the new gear tier from there didn’t provide much more play time for me. When next month the Raid is put into our hands on Live will determine how much time The Division 2 gets next month.

Tomb Raider (and Rise of the Tomb Raider)

The ‘planned’2 series for the month. I finished the first game of the rebooted series and made a start on the second entry.

Almost immediately I was taken by the degree of iteration and change that occurred between the entries even though they were barely 2 years apart. I still intend to finish these after I’m done with Odyssey, but we’ll see. I’ve also been on something of a Tycoon game kick lately, which leads into…

Transport Fever

Setup some basic inner city town village horse and carriage loops, with longer paths connecting the depot to another village entirely.

I’m not entirely sure what triggered it, but recently I started to get a real hankering to play a Tycoon-style game again. I went on a bit of a YouTube and Reddit Prowl and ultimately landed on Transport Fever.

It is rather aptly named I must say, I went in ‘just to take a screenshot’ for this post. Almost 3 hours later, I’m finally back. At least I remembered to get the screenshot!

Transport Fever has a number of quirks to it, and a rather arcane (at first) signalling system for trains. So I’ve been immersing myself in a lot of YT Let’s Plays and Tutorial videos as well. I have a much firmer grasp on things now, but still learning some things as I go — like what the AI people preferences are when provided with options.

Transport Fever 2 has been announced, and looks beautiful but I was really wanting something to play now so still went with the original. Didn’t hurt that it was 70% off on Steam when I was looking. To go along with scratching my Tycoon itch though, I also picked up Production Line, but haven’t yet given it a go.

The Others

Quite a few games with less than 2 hours played this month. Overwatch and Northgard I spent some time playing with my brother. Overwatch for one of the events that promoted playing of an arcade mode where the skill cooldowns were (basically) eliminated. Made for some quite intense rounds, I will say. And allowed me a Play of the Game! As Moira! xD

Northgard

Northgard as I gave him a spare copy from the last Humble Monthly Bundle. We both really enjoyed it until we came to the realisation, too late, that you cannot save game for multiplayer.

If you can’t finish in the single sitting you just have to abandon. I remember this being a thing in RTS’ of old, but I never expected to encounter it in a modern title.

Ah well.

Nioh: Midway through the first boss fight. Ultimate form incoming!

Nioh I loaded for the express purpose of checking whether it cloud saves or not. (It does, if you were wondering.) Ended up starting a new game and played through the entire tutorial area and a bit of the first mission to refresh myself on the game.

Playing Sekiro actually made me want to go back and play more Nioh instead. It probably isn’t a good sign for a game when it makes you want to play something else instead. Nonetheless, I haven’t quite given up on it yet. That may come soon, or I might surprise even myself and make some time for it. It’s been known to happen!

Far Cry New Dawn on the other hand I have removed. I acknowledged even in the March Review that I was starting to drift from it a little. In the extra hour or so I played, I simply beelined the main story and made some good progress against it as a result.

From what I understand the FCND storyline is not all that long, so just given that I may go back and finish. Will have to see.

Anno 1800 is one I’ll be back to. Although who knows when. It is a beautiful game at times, and the beginning masks a fairly deep and detailed game once you start stepping through the civilian classes, eras of technology and more. I picked it up on Steam before it left that storefront, and then just had to give it a go. :)

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