BACKLOG is a “whenever the fuck I feel like it” blog feature focusing on how I’m progressing through video games, old and new, that are stuck in my backlog. Here I’ll generally update my progress in any and all games I’ve touched in the past 2-4 weeks. This includes updates on reviews I’m writing, games I’m looking forward to, thoughts I’ve had, and things I’ve purchased.
Look folks we all have our rough days, weeks, months, and years and I’m not about to suggest that all video games are a waste of time, because they’re fun. I would however like to suggest that most all Ubisoft games aren’t worth playing at all. It is important to take stock of your video game experience every 1-2 hours and ask yourself “Am I having fun?”, “Is this gameplay worth my time?” and most importantly “Do I need to finish this?” I stuck with Assassin’s Creed: Origins earlier this year perhaps out of love for Ancient Egypt and more likely out of a severely misaligned need to be a completionist. In breaking the completionist habit, the root of the problem in terms of my backlog of video games, I have to consciously fight a need to finish terrible experiences that aren’t fun or worth my time.
As such earlier this month I dropped several games from my final list and stopped holding onto the 25-30 or so Playstation 4/PC games that I wanted to go back and get achievements in. Empowered by the ultimate power of slashing FEZ, Hitman: Absolution, and Pillars of Eternity from my ‘to do’ list I’ve made some bolder moves towards giving up, moving on and being more selective with my time. So, say goodbye to the prospect of me ever reviewing South Park: Fractured But Whole, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Metro 2033, Monster Hunter World, and most surprisingly Far Cry 5. My thoughts on the game amount to silly complaining so feel free to scroll right past it.
Far Cry 5
Far Cry 3 was a great game, hell if you look past the frustrating difficulty and weird malaria mechanic Far Cry 2 was great as well. The third game in the series was one of the first open-world first person shooters that did everything right in terms of a reasonably coherent, but simple, plot with a compelling main story and plenty of dumb things to do in between. It was small enough that you didn’t need vehicles to get around and ‘liberating’ outposts with murder sprees, stealth, and any number of approaches felt a lot like the ‘immersive simulation’ experience of Deus Ex but clearly geared towards the formula established between Assassin’s Creed entries and Crysis‘ expansion of the Far Cry formula. From there characters became caricatures and systems became systemic as Far Cry 4 and Far Cry Primal were generic, throwaway games full of endless checklists of boring, hapless tasks.
Unsatisfied with every Ubisoft game after Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Far Cry 3 I merely abstained from indulging any interest. I avoided the hype surrounding The Division despite it looking pretty fun and by the skin of my teeth didn’t get sucked into Rainbow Six: Siege despite it being exactly my kind of shooter. Assassin’s Creed came back with a new coat of paint in 2017 and, in a daze after the grind of Origins, I bit the lure with Far Cry 5 at the end of it. With the grand unraveling of the United States into an unsatisfyingly non-science fiction capitalist dystopia happening around me it seemed like a great idea to jump into a Waco, Texas inspired thrill-ride through Montana’s boonies. So, here are the five main reasons why it was a bullshit mistake of a purchase and why I will not ever finish the retarded gameplay loop that sustains the fucking trash games that Ubisoft generally makes.
First the characters are caricatures of human beings that are barely developed idiotic robots that speak in useless cliches and provide truly horrendous allusions towards religious and political tyranny on both sides. Far Cry 5 is written like an episode of a bad network TV drama, with the plot delivered in the most obvious way possible so that even the dumbest person won’t miss anything. Chances are if you could stand the annoying fools that made up the non-essential cast of Red Dead Redemption, this won’t be a problem. The goofy, cartoonish characterizations in the midst of what is essentially militia warfare without consequences make for a completely worthless story experience.
Your character is a generic federal marshal tasked with rescuing him/herself from a cult of cruelty, mutilation, and drug warfare with rhetoric that is vaguely a juiced up resemblance of Christianity. So, in the three main areas of the game each ‘area boss’ introduces themselves through attempted conversion (typically drugging you with Bliss, a plant-derived hallucinogen) and as you kill each one you’re likewise captured or detained but never just straight up killed. Well, I’d completely derailed the cult’s presence in two complete areas and did about 90 missions/side-missions in the process and continued to wonder why their intent was never murderous. Because the story they’re trying to tell in each area relies on the fact that they, for absolutely no reason, don’t just put a bullet in your head. Clearly they can, clearly they want to, clearly the drugs would make it easy. I’d killed hundreds of civilians, thousands of cult members, and I’d seen the cult plainly killing people in every corner of the map but they wouldn’t kill me. “Oh look, you dismantled another one of my important bases! I’ll spank you later cheeky boy!” is basically what you hear over your radio every half hour, it is comical and ridiculous to the point of an 80’s G.I. Joe cartoon.
The gameplay only holds up for a third of the game. If you take the time to work through a full third of the map, like I did, you’ll basically experience everything you can in terms of vehicles, mission types, companions, and weapon combinations. You almost immediately gain access to the rocket launcher, helicopters, and several types of explosives along with more than enough money and loot to craft enough firepower to take on any of the game’s hardest combat challenges. The game’s AI is terrible and the exploits are unchanged since the last generation of games making it identically easy to cheese through encounters with explosives, fire, and automatic rifles. The missions are so repetitive that you’ll find yourself repeating fetch quests, bunker unlocks, and horrible vehicle missions far too often.
You’ll be forced into story missions regardless of what you’re doing in the game as your reputation increases in each area. This means viewing unskippable cut-scenes and putting up with the terrible dialogue for each bad cartoon villain that inhabits the three main regions of the game. Every story cut-scene involves some sort of gore or blasphemy meant to thrill the thirteen year old audience that plays this sort of game and it’s about as shocking as a tame episode of The Walking Dead to an old dip-shit like me. Oooh, you cut a SIN into their chest, then cut the SIN out to free them! Deep, man, deep and raw bro! The worst is when I entered Faith’s area playing the game with a friend, she drugs you in an extended hallucination that introduces her story. Not only was I cringing at her five minute long atrocious voice-acting but over the headset all I heard was “Man, we need to play a different game.”
I figure this seems like a petty, long-winded rant and I could have just said “Whatever, it sucks. Next.” but for whatever reason I could write pages and pages more about how not fun Far Cry 5 is, how bad the AI and voice acting is, how terrible the vehicle controls are, how buggy the physics are compared to previous games, how awful the music is, how people from Montana aren’t all fucking hicks, and the gist of it is that I don’t have to keep trying to like Far Cry games just because I had a great time with the third one. I don’t have to finish every game I start and it is actually healthier to dump a crap game and be happier playing something fun. Don’t buy Far Cry 5, the story is worthless and the gameplay is rote repetition.
> Far Cry 5: YEE HAW!
God of War
Maybe the experience of God of War set the bar impossibly high for any other console game to live up to, but I consider that the natural order of derivative capitalist art. Some greater resource gatherers reach better artists as poorly-funded ‘better’ ideas fall by the wayside. God of War is one of the better games I’ve played on the PS4, at least up there with Dark Souls III, The Witcher III, Horizon: Zero Dawn and Bloodborne. I felt like I was fairly exhaustive in the full review so I won’t say much. It will undoubtedly not be topped for me this year considering how few 2018 games are coming out between now and Fall season. Highly recommend God of War if you like action RPGs and have a PS4.
>God of War (PS4) 100% Complete!
So, as I progress in Dishonored 2 for whatever reason I just began killing every living thing around me. This is a trend I’ve seen in my habits since Kingdom Come: Deliverance where I try and kill every person around me to see what consequences the game offers. Dishonored 2 provides consequences in the form of game progression, enemy reactions, and actual changes to the storyline. By creation high Chaos levels I actually make the game harder and more combat focused. Arriving in the first open area I went way overboard and I’m considering restarting the game for the sake of doing something more stealth focused rather than another stabbin’ n’ killin’ fest.
So far I prefer the voice acting and story of the original Dishonored as I feel like Corvo‘s affect is oddly dramatic compared to the tone of the first game. For this reason I might end up playing as Emily if she has a power similar to Blink. If not, perhaps not murdering constantly will change the overall tone of the game’s narrative. After I’d killed about 50 people the tone of the game became decidedly darker. I was so impressed by Prey that I’m hoping Arkane Studios‘ work on Dishonored 2 ultimately lives up to that level of quality even though the world and gameplay is already very familiar to me. I took a few days off the game to focus on seeing if I should finish Far Cry 5 and now I’ll jump over to Dishonored 2 in full.
> Dishonored 2 (PS4) ~5-10%
SteamWorld Dig 2
The progression in gameplay and mechanics of SteamWorld Dig 2 has been brisk and relatively easy to jam through with access to resources made easier with remote bombs and various new platforming mechanics like the grappling hook. This means less backtracking and faster progression through an expanded version of the original game’s world progression. I like that I’m not simply digging deeper but discovering side-caves and exploring the surface areas as well. Along with new powers comes a series of perks that are activated by upgrading your armor/lamp/pickaxe/etc. but you’ll need to slot a certain number of golden cogs into the perks to use them. Finding secrets typically nets golden cogs and this has been fun because you can sort of shift around ‘builds’ to suit areas. If there are areas where you fight a lot of enemies you can slot damage reduction or increased rewards from killed enemies to benefit the situation.
There is even more of a metroidvania feeling this time around but the music is a weird ass mixed bag of the first game’s twangy nonsense and what sounds like a more science fiction leaning ambient soundtrack. It doesn’t really work and I can’t stand how you can’t adjust the volume of the music / noises separately because the music is far too loud. It is a simple game but I’ve been told it gets more difficult and is much longer than the first game. I like the idea of more difficult puzzles and skill challenges but I’m not liking the game so much that I will go out of my way to make it challenging or extend the experience artificially. I had thought of tossing this game and starting Hollow Knight instead but will put that idea aside with two Bloodstained games coming up that are higher priority. I’m considering focusing on a series where I play through metroidvania titles, but will see where that goes.
> SteamWorld Dig 2 (PS4) ~30%
Other than that I’ve decided to cancel my pre-order for Dark Souls Remastered. Why would I do that when it is one of my favorite video games of all time? I don’t feel any strong need to revisit the game along with other people. I still have the PS3 version and if I really wanted to pick it up again after my first couple of playthroughs I would have. There is no great reason to spend $40 on a polished version of Dark Souls when I’m camping on new experiences in the meantime. There’s no good reason at all hurry to pay full price for an old game, like I did with Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age when I have Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, some awesome Batman games, Odin Sphere, and Dragon’s Crown all of which I’ve either never played or finished due to distractions. Also, Beyond: Two Souls and Rayman Legends were free this month so… might try those out too. Nothing on PC interests me outside of Hollow Knight lately.
The rest of the year is fairly slim in terms of my interest in video games. Some rogue-like/metroidvanias seem mildly interesting like Children of Morta and 20XX. Chasm looks amazing, but I need to learn more about it before I’m sure. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is basically something I’m going to buy because I know it will be well done and within a genre I like, and yes despite hating the second game. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, is a single player game and an exciting prospect later in the year. Spiderman and Metro: Exodus are yet to reveal anything warranting immediate purchase. Agony and Vampyr turned out to be completely uninteresting despite their compelling art styles. So, I don’t anticipate being able to have anything near a Top 10 for the year but E3 typically brings with it a small oasis of things to look forward to.
BACKLOG: Unfinished titles, in order of importance. % progress noted.
- Dishonored 2 (PS4) 5-10%
- Persona 5 (PS4) 10%
- Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir (PS4) 0%
- Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (PS4) 0%
- Dragon’s Crown Pro (PS4) 0%
- The Surge: A Walk in the Park DLC (PS4) 0%
- Risen 3: Titan Lords Enhanced Edition (PS4) [Recent purchase]
- Tales of Zestiria (PS4) ~1% (in first town across bridge)
- Arcania (PS4) 0%
- Thief (PS4) 5%
- Battle Chasers: Nightwar (PS4) 0%
- The Technomancer (PS4) ~5% finished introduction
- Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4) 0%
- Batman: Arkham City (PS4) 3%
- Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition (PS4) 0% tutorial
- Divinity: Original Sin (PC) 0% (restarting)
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4) 60%
- Metro: Last Light (PS4) 0%
- Deus Ex: Invisible War (PC) 0% (restarting)
- The Witcher: Enhanced Edition (PC) 0% (third restart…)
- The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (PC) 0% post-tutorial
- Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS4) 0% tutorial
- Dust: An Elysian Tale (PS4) 0%
- Bioshock 2 (PC) 0%
- Guacamelee! (PS3/PS4) 0% (restarting on PS4)
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