What I’ve Been Playing – October 2018

Well it’s November now, and that means it’s time for a recap of what I played in October. Much like September was spent primarily playing Spider-Man, I spent the majority of October playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. I posted my review of it last week and you can find it here. Since I already talked in-depth about it, I won’t be including it on my “games I played in October” list since I’d just be retracing my footsteps over topics I already discussed.

However, despite me putting 80 hours into Assassin’s Creed, I still managed to find time to play a few other games. I played a few levels of Mega Man 11 on the Switch, and that wasn’t the only side-scroller I got into. I also played Castlevania Requiem, which is the rerelease of Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night. I also spent a little bit of time in Dark Souls Remastered. Finally, I played a really interesting game called Return of the Obra Dinn and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Toby Fox’s fantastic (and free!) follow-up to Undertale – Deltarune.

So let’s dive in and talk about some games!

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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Traversal Problem

My play timer on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey sits at around 25 hours right now. It’s not entirely accurate – I have a short attention span and will often be doing things on my computer at the same time – or sometimes I will leave the game running and forget about it until the PS4 auto-sleep modes after an hour. But I’ve definitely been playing for somewhere between 20 and 25 hours, which I estimate is about how long it took me to 100% Spider-Man on the PS4. Meanwhile in AC: Odyssey I’ve explored maybe a fourth of the map at most, the main plot of the game is only barely beginning to come into focus and I’m only level 20 out of a soft level cap of 50. (Spider-Man’s soft level cap was also 50 – in both games you can level past 50 but the rewards are minimal.)

Both are considered “open-world action” games that have an RPG element to them. Both have skill trees that you can upgrade and customize your play-style through. Assassin’s Creed has loot-drops and equipment to upgrade, along with a system of tracking mercenaries out to kill you and the ability to recruit people for your ship crew, while Spider-Man has gadgets to acquire and special suits and powers to unlock and upgrade. Spider-Man, however is a very story-focused game with a smaller overall map that allows for a high density of things to do in the playground you’re given, while AC: Odyssey gives you an extremely large map that is still dense with things to do, but is more focused on letting you explore and find those quests at your leisure.

So why is it that, even though the map is clearly larger and encouraging you to explore everywhere, getting anywhere in Assassin’s Creed is a chore? But in the smaller map of Spider-Man I had the most fun I’ve ever had getting from point A to point B?

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TV Theory: Top 150 Episodes Discussion

Alright, so this is the follow-up to Wednesday’s list of my favorite 150 episodes. What follows is going to be me just discussing some of the episodes on the list. There will be minor and major spoilers of some episodes, although I tried to stay away from anything particularly important that might ruin the impact of the episode if you haven’t seen it – but on the other hand the fact that I’m highlighting these particular episodes may be a spoiler that important twists happen in them anyway. I’ve bolded the names of the episodes that I discuss as they come up in hopes to alleviate as much risk as possible. I tried my best but if I wanted to really discuss these episodes I had to include some spoilery information!

So without further ado, here’s part two of my top 150 episodes – the discussion!

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TV Theory: My Favorite 150 Episodes

In early 2012 I started an ambitious undertaking – I wanted to rank my favorite 100 episodes of television, much like how earlier this year I set out to list my 100 favorite video games (which I swear I’m going to finish by the end of the year…maybe). It was going to be very ambitious because I was originally going to go over each episode individually and talk about each one specifically.

I got through the listing 100 episodes part – except the list ballooned to 120 and I couldn’t bear to cut it down to just 100. And that’s about as far as I got. I never wrote up anything and the list just sat in a text file on my computer for the next six years.

Which brings me to this post: I recently unearthed the list and went over it, adding in some episodes of television I’ve seen in the six years since and reordering them since over time my opinions on certain episodes have changed (as opinions often do). I ended up with a list of 150 total episodes that I’m actually pretty happy with. Instead of trying to do a major write-up of each and every episode, instead what I’m going to do is just throw all 150 into this post, and then tomorrow I’m going to have a follow-up post where I discuss the list in general and talk about some specific episodes/shows.

So here’s a ranked order of my 150 favorite episodes of television – the name of the episode followed by the show. I might eventually edit in the season and episode number as well, but for now it’s just the show. And I’m just absolutely sure everyone will agree with me on every choice I made!

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Heavy Rain Is Bad

On Friday the newest game by David Cage and Quantum Dream arrives – Detroit: Become Human. It’s a theoretically interesting game that explores three different perspectives in a futuristic sci-fi world where androids walk among humans. It will likely cover the usual sci-fi tropes of whether artificial beings are actually people and I can understand why people could be excited by this. Especially since the game boasts many different branching narrative paths including the possible deaths of all your characters.

I’m personally avoiding getting the game (at least for now) due to a multitude of reasons. First off, Quantic Dream is rumored to be a bit of an awful workplace. There’s been accusations of racist, sexist, and homophobic behavior from people in charge, along with unhealthy forced working conditions. David Cage himself is an egoist who is rumored to asked to be called “God” and “Sun King” by his employees. While Cage and the studio executives have denied this and sued the media for covering the story, these rumors came from several different sources and I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, and thus my enthusiasm for giving Cage money is limited.

The other reason is that, well, the game I have played of his – Heavy Rain – sucks. When you break the game down, it’s just not a good game. I didn’t always have this opinion – in fact I raved about Heavy Rain after I finished my first playthrough of it. However as time has passed and I’ve looked back on the game, I’ve come to realize that the game itself is pretty terribly designed and a decent analysis of it can help unlock the so-called Sun King’s psyche.

(Spoilers for the entirety of Heavy Rain will follow – so if you haven’t played it and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t continue. Otherwise, read on.)

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The Curious Case of Kratos

God of War is one of Playstation’s most well-known franchises. The first God of War game came out on the Playstation 2 back in 2005 – I was an excited college student who took a bus all the way to the nearest game store of my small college town just to pick it up. I’m a sucker for mythology and a game themed around Greek mythology was right up my alley. It ended up being absurdly popular – spawning two more direct sequels and several prequels and spinoffs. The next game in the series comes out this Friday for the Playstation 4 and it’s been getting rave reviews and is one of the highest reviewed games on the platform and of this generation of games.

What makes this particular game interesting, though, is that it’s completely throwing away the formula from the previous games. Kratos, the main character, is well known through gaming circles as basically being the villain protagonist of the God of War series. He’s murderous, cold-hearted, consumed by revenge, and doesn’t give a crap about anything other than his stated goal of killing the gods. The games themselves are mature content to the Nth degree – you perform bloody finishing moves on all the creatures you fight, you sacrifice innocents to progress, and when you face the gods Kratos despises in combat you better believe they are brutally murdered in horrific fashion. And most of the God of War games have sex mini-games, too, just to tick all the boxes.

But the new God of War is taking things in a different direction and it’s brought up some interesting questions regarding moral philosophy and the idea of redemptive behavior.

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Fortnite Fervor

After dancing around it for a good while, on Monday night for the first time I played Fortnite’s battle royale mode. I’ve never played PUBG or any of the other battle royale mods of other PC games, so it was my very first experience with the genre. And I have to say, due to me staying up way later than I should have after playing a good three hours of continuous games – I think I can see the appeal of Fortnite. (And then I played for a few more hours yesterday just for good measure.)

The thing that struck me almost immediately was just how easily I got into it. It’s one of those games that is very friendly to new players – even if you suck at it. I didn’t win a match (and honestly didn’t even come close despite having a few top 10 finishes) but I still had a lot of fun playing the matches. Unlike games like Overwatch where I get frustrated with multiple losses in a row, every time I died early I was easily able to shake it off and immediately requeue without any negative feelings or frustration.

So what is it about Fortnite (and the battle royale genre as a whole) that is so attractive and user-friendly?

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