2019 Half-Year Backlog Update

It is the end of June already as we reach the halfway point of 2019. Which is incredible really, just thinking how quickly the year has passed by. I thought it would be good to look at the progress made with my backlog so far in 2019.

When I last did this in December 2018, I had only been keeping track of things on this website for five months but hadn’t really played that many games. With some renewed focus it is safe to say the first six months of this year have much more successful in playing more of my games.

General update

  • Backlog down from 278 to 266
  • Games played increased from 195 to 237
  • Completed: 11
  • Abandoned: 7
  • Shelved: 5
  • Total games played: 27

14 of the 27 games played are brand new games that I have never played before.

So good news on reducing the backlog and the number of games I’ve played increasing by a fairly substantial margin. Some of this is no doubt cleaning up the numbers on Grouvee though. But it is a great start.

At the end of last year I mentioned wanting to complete or shelve around 15-25 games. I have already met this target which I set myself. In hindsight probably a bit too conservative. However unlike 2018 I have made a much more concerted effort to reduce the number of Live Service games I am playing. That has meant not playing Warframe, World of Warcraft or Path of Exile. Which has helped increase the number of games I have been able to play.

New videogames

There has been an eye watering 91 new games added to my Grouvee profile however the overwhelming majority of these are ‘freebies’ from Twitch Prime, Xbox Games with Gold, PlayStation Plus etc. And therefore not really games I will play.

I have purchased 18 new videogames so far this year. Only one of those is a game purchased on or before launch; The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr. All the remaining are games picked up in sales or at discounted prices. Only 3 games were physical with the remaining all being digital games. Mostly on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. However 2 games were on PC and 1 on 3DS.

The challenge

So there has been some creep upwards with my ‘Play Next‘ category, which are the really high priority games on my backlog that I want to play next. Now up to 66 games, from 60 at the start of the year. This will need to be the focus of my attention as we move into the second-half of the year. Ideally I would like this number to be significantly less as we head towards new hardware into 2020.

Remainder of 2019

Apart from playing some of those games on my ‘Play Next’ category it’s hard to know whether there will be any new games in the last 6 months of the year I’ll want to buy. Certainly there are still games like Red Dead Redemption 2 that are on my Wishlist. And I’m sure there will be other games being released that tempt me. In addition I still haven’t yet picked up a Nintendo Switch and this is something that might change if the rumoured new hardware is released.

So the videogames I would like to play next in my schedule, are:

  • Finish Metro Redux
  • Finish Mass Effect 3
  • Finish Doom (2016)
  • Metro Exodus
  • Tales of Borderlands
  • Forza Horizon 4
  • Fallout 4
  • The Last of Us
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Summary

A good first half of the year in terms of the number of games I have played. If I have similar success in the next six months it will make for a stellar year in terms of catching up with my backlog. Good stuff.

June 2019 Backlog Update

Half way through the year and for the sixth month running I’ve managed to complete or abandon some games on my Backlog. Woot! Although I purchased a few new games and accessories from the E3 sales.

New game pickups

  • The Elder Scrolls Online 6-months subscription
  • Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far (PS4)
  • Kingdom Hearts 3 (Xbox One)
  • Forza Horizon 4: Ultimate Edition (Xbox One/PC)

I’ve been looking to play Kingdom Hearts for many years, and indeed did own the remasters on PlayStation 3 but unfortunately never got around to it. The release of Kingdom Hearts 3 earlier this year peaked my curiosity again and The Story So Far collection is still pretty expensive, so I jumped at everything on disc for just under £40. Also after seeing the new LEGO Speed Champions DLC at E3 I finally purchased Forza Horizon 4.

I also picked up a Sony PlayStation Classic, another DualShock 4 and 12-months of PlayStation Plus in the Days of Play 2019 sale. The PlayStation Classic for £26.99 made it too interesting a proposition to ignore. In addition I also picked up the grey version of the 8BitDo USB Wireless Adaptor and a PAXO High Performance 2,000 mAh Battery for my launch DualShock 4 controller (you can read more here). And finally I managed to convert my existing Xbox Game Pass subscription to Game Pass Ultimate for a £1.

So overall a number of new games and videogame related stuff purchased this month.

Been playing (Grouvee)

  • Mass Effect 3 (Xbox One)
  • Mutant Year Zero (Xbox One)
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr (PC)
  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One)
  • Doom (2016) (Xbox One)
  • Wizard of Legend (Xbox One)
  • Metro Redux (PS4)

I have made some serious progress with Mass Effect 3, although with all the DLC it is a fairly large endeavour. I’m probably about two thirds through the main storyline so still have a lot to do. However I am getting tired of the game so it is going to be a real slog to get to the end of this one. Which I still feel compelled to do.

I started playing some of the new Elsweyr expansion for The Elder Scrolls Online. Including trying the new Necromancer class. I specifically created a Breton as a Magicka based Necromancer and get the feeling this is going to become a very useful support class.

I also started to play Doom (2016) again. I played it on PC when it first came out but didn’t get that far into it. Hopefully this is something I can remedy. And I also completed Metro 2033 Redux in Metro Redux and have already moved onto the sequel included in the same package.

Completed/Abandoned/Shelved

  • Completed: Halo: The Master Chief Collection
  • Abandoned: Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden (Early Impressions here) and Wizard of Legend.

I previously played Halo: MCC and used it to complete Halo 4. So this is really a case of correcting Grouvee on my backlog status. I had a quick look since the relaunch last summer and was really impressed with some of the changes (4K, HDR, downloading choices etc.). That said I’ve previously played and completed all of these games so this is more for when I fancy replaying some classic Halo.

Wizard of Legend has just entered Xbox Game Pass so I wanted to give it a try. I think it’s got a really awful start as the game explains nothing and is very hard. Although this is to be expected in a rogue-like. The combat system is fun, although I’m just not feeling it enough.

So that’s 1 game completed, and 2 abandoned.

Website updates

I’ve updated a number of things on the site including adding new categories with new summaries and updated the Backlog page. A few more in-depth posts are planned for the next couple of months, and I would like to look at some of the Game Tracking Websites in more detail.

Up next

Try to finish Mass Effect 3. And then try to complete Metro: Last Light Redux and/or Doom (2016).

My thoughts on E3 2019

So another year and another set of E3 live streams passes by. Often I tend to keep up with E3 more by accident rather than passionately following events. However this year I’ve managed to see quite a bit and I thought I would write down my thoughts. Obviously the way things are presented to those of us not at E3 is probably a very different experience to those actually there. Particularly as we miss out on the show floor and playable games. That said I can only talk about what I saw and so outline my thoughts based on the conference schedule.

Google

Hard to criticise the Stadia showing. They have an impressive list of publishers, games and some influential people at the helm. The initial founders pack due in November this year seems to be good value (£119 in the UK). And the two types of account; Base (free) and Pro (£8.99 per month) make a lot of sense. Also they might just beat Microsoft to market. Like all these things success may depend on the service being good enough and latency deemed acceptable. But there are billions of Chrome and Android users out there.

Electronics Arts

Unless you were in to an existing EA game, the series of lengthy live streams wasn’t particularly notable apart from the unveiling of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. I am genuinely not sure what to think of this one although it was nice to see a fairly lengthy demonstration of the gameplay.

Microsoft

Microsoft have been praised over the last few years for their E3 shows. Even though they often are filled with CGI trailers, multiplatform games with very little new IP. Microsoft’s show format was the same this year although a few notable exceptions. Cyberpunk 2077 surprised with a release date and Keanu Reeves. It felt like the big standout from this show was just how impressive Xbox Game Pass has become. The new PC service has been well received and Microsoft were keen to remind us many games would be ‘day one’ on the service. Forza Horizon 4’s LEGO Speed Champions DLC looked brilliantly light-hearted and fun.

There was very little time spent on either xCloud or the announcement of new hardware. The Project Scarlet announcement seemed to mirror 2016’s Xbox One X acknowledgment. The hardcore fans probably understand the specifications Microsoft name dropped but the announcement lacked the impact of Sony’s recent instant loading demo.

Bethesda

Yeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!! Bethesda’s show used the lure of The Elder Scrolls Online freebies for those watching. Which is great although with short notice and a US friendly schedule perhaps there can a better way of accommodating non-US players in future (1.30am BST in the UK!). Last year Bethesda’s show was probably one of the more memorable. However this year most content shown was for existing games. In more ways than one Ghostwire: Tokyo stole this show. A great concept in the CGI trailer. Beyond this a lot of time spent on mobile games which I didn’t personally find interesting.

PC Games Show

Loads of interesting games shown, but I did like the look of Valfaris (2d retro style platform shooter like Contra), Griftlands, Cris Tales (just looks uniquely beautiful) and Songs of Conquest. Although there has been criticism of the Epic sponsorship this year, the format of this show does work really well. Particularly the presenters. I really enjoyed Larian Studios talking about how they’ve tried for a few years to get the Baldur’s Gate 3 licence.

Ubisoft

Ubisoft opened strongly with Watch Dogs: Legion gameplay. And then unless you are particularly invested in one of their existing games not much afterwards. Mirroring a larger trend with E3 this year. Personally disappointed if Rainbow Six Quarantine is just Co-Op PVE. As a solo player I would love a Rainbow Six game to play. Gods and Monsters might be interesting though we didn’t see anything of it.

Square Enix

Square Enix got off to a good start and had one of the better shows. Seeing Final Fantasy VII Remake in action and hearing the developers passionately talk about the game was excellent. Also loads of other games; Dragon Quest Builders 2, Dragon Quest XI (Switch), Kingdom Hearts 3 DLC, Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers, Dying Light 2, Outriders and Final Fantasy VIII Remastered. I liked the look of their overhead racing game: Circuit Superstars.

The only let down was ironically the Marvel Avengers unveiling. A poor trailer which probably lacked impact in part as it isn’t related in anyway to the iconic Marvel Cinematic Universe. It also didn’t help that Square Enix talked about lootboxes, business model, exclusive PlayStation 4 content and roadmaps before we’ve even seen the game.

Nintendo

A short and snappy Nintendo Direct where Luigi’s Mansion 3 opened the show and looked great. The anticipated The Witcher 3 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 also impressed. More was seen of Pokémon and Animal Crossing, although the latter is delayed until 2020. However perhaps the real measure of the success of the Switch is the flood of multiplatform games from third-party; Dragon Quest Builders 2, Alien Isolation, Minecraft Dungeons, Dauntless and Wolfenstein Youngblood etc. An impressive mix of old and new games sometimes releasing alongside other formats. And finally Nintendo confirmed a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A very good showing.

Overall

A quiet E3 which reminded me of the show in 2012 as games like Watch Dogs were shown before the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One became reality. From a trends point of view this years E3 Live Streams included; lots of CGI trailers, a lack of games probably due to the impending new consoles and number of existing Live Services games. Although there were a few games which I am interested in but perhaps the fact there isn’t much more provides a little relief for those of us that need to spend the next 12-18 months catching up with our backlogs.

2018 Review: In numbers (not that many!)

As we are coming up for the end of year I wanted to have a look at my progress against my backlog since I set this website up around five months ago. Originally my intention was to setup up a WordPress site from scratch, learn new skills, as well as being able to track how many games I own, or have access to. Sites like Grouvee are very good at logging games but generally very bad at a timeline view.

2018 in numbers

  • Backlog: Increased by 12 (264 to 278)
  • Played: Increased by 3 (192 to 195)
  • Completed = 2
  • Abandoned = 1
  • Played = 6

So overall not that many games played, or completed although as a whole I think I managed to play a total of 17 games this year. However I only set-up tracking along with this site in July, so there may be a chance that I’ve missed a game or two. However this number excludes retro games like Tetris on the Nintendo Game Boy.

There is a discrepancy in my figures on Grouvee because I’ve realised I have played 6 new games for the first time since setting up the website: Rage, Fortnite: Save the World, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, Forza Motorsport 7, Dying Light and Starlink. Everything else was either played earlier in the year or I had started playing before. I believe the discrepancy is simply that I am not regarding a game as played on Grouvee until I am done with it (i.e. Rage).

However what is clear is that I have been playing GaaS/Live Services games and when I’m not playing these sort of games I do speed-up considerably at progressing in other games. I’ve written about this before. In addition other projects such as buying a new PC, upgrading my Unraid server, house DIY and work etc. have also played their part in limiting my time playing games.

With regards to purchasing new games it doesn’t appear too bad. However some of this is rebuying games on Xbox Live or Playstation Network which I already owned on PC and therefore hasn’t increased the numbers. Also free games from Games With Gold, PlayStation Plus or Game Pass reduced my new purchasing a little bit. Although I don’t add these onto my backlog figures, overall I nearly acquired 100 new games in the time of setting up the website. Most of these will be free games.

2019: the year ahead

I suspect it going to be hard to ignore The Division 2 in late February although I would like to avoid the launch and see what the game is like first. Partly because of how other similar games like Destiny 2 went, but also to allow time for microtransactions and the overall business model to settle. There are a few games like Anthem and Days Gone that are also intriguing to me.

Beyond that I missed out on a number of big hitters from the second half of this year that are on my Wishlist. Namely Forza Horizon 4, Marvel’s Spiderman and Red Dead Redemption 2. Depending on sales these might be games I pick up sooner than later. I do have access to Forza Horizon 4 via Game Pass but am put off by not having the VIP pack (earn in-game credits 2 times faster).

I would also like to buy a Nintendo Switch but with a hardware revision rumoured in the second half of 2019 this will be put on-hold for now.

And other than that probably continuing to move away from PC gaming. I am still playing many PC games but the fact is with the sharp increase in the cost of PC components (particularly in the UK) I have therefore stopped buying as many games on PC. And this is something I intend to continue with as we see new Sony and Microsoft consoles in the near future. Dying Light, Rage and Inside are all good examples of games I purchased or played on console that previously I would have picked up on PC.

Realistic targets

It would be nice to complete or shelve somewhere in the region of 15 to 25 videogames in 2019. I think that might be hard but achievable. Certainly I would like to have played at least double the number from this year. As the first full calendar year of monitoring this will be interesting to see if I can meet this target.

Anyway an early ‘Happy New Year!’ for everyone who read this far. Thank you.

Buying videogames at release rarely makes sense

One month ago Shadow of the Tomb Raider launched at £79.99 on Xbox Live for the ‘Croft Edition‘, or aka the most complete version with the least content stripped from it. As of today the same game is now £59.99 on the Xbox storefront (there are similar discounts on PSN and Steam). A whole 25 percent cheaper.

Indeed with Halloween, Black Friday and Christmas sales coming, it is probably likely the game will become even cheaper before the year is out. So buying early and playing for one month has cost the privilege of £20. Unless you’ve spent hours on the game and hammered it within that first few weeks it’s probably not worth the extra £20.

Now Shadow of the Tomb Raider might be selling badly and therefore not a great example. However it’s unlikely to be the only AAA game released in the last few months of the year that will be discounted. If fact imagine what price the game might be in a year from now. Maybe even on Xbox Game Pass or really cheap. And if you have a huge backlog and can’t play the game straight away then that’s a huge reason to not buy on day one.

If you purchase at release you get the benefit of content discovery, with no spoilers, and you’re at the same level as everyone else. At least for a few days. You are experiencing the launch window when everyone gets to play the game afresh and not posting in a forum weeks or months after everyone else has moved on.

However there are arguably more benefits to waiting; you might get the game for much cheaper, bugs and issues have been patched out or improvements made, you get to see the reality of the business model (i.e. just how aggressive is the monitisation) and if the game has staying power (i.e. not a Lawbreakers, Evolve or Battleborn).

Indeed I wrote earlier this year about really looking forward to Forza Horizon 4 but having not had a chance to play it yet – I don’t feel like I’m missing much. Indeed it feels nice to be able to play other games rather than compelled to play a new release. And whilst the game sounds great it also sounds like more of the same. And I never did quite finish with the third game.

Now of course there are going to be scenarios where buying a game at release makes sense. Particularly if you are buying a game to enjoy with friends or don’t want anything spoilt. Or indeed you are really looking forward to the game. And if you leave it for too long certain multiplayer games can become far harder to catch up in if you are late to the party. A game like Star Wars Battlefront 2 where more experienced players have unlocked all the cards or weapons. Even time spent in a game can make a difference. The Twitch streamer Shroud mentioned that he thought Call of Duty Black Ops 4 – Blackout is a hard game, and people could bounce off that game in a month or two when coming up against more experience players.

With high prices for many AAA games now and aggressive monetisation on many games, you really need be playing the game a lot to begin with. And unless you have lots of spare time and a very small collection of games there is a real limit on just how many games you can play. At certain times of the year, like the busy autumn release schedule we are now in, it can feel like there is a major release every week. So for me at least with new games being so expensive I think I’m going to wait on most and pick up when they are much cheaper. And in the meantime try to catch on WoW or my backlog.

Of course that does mean staying away from Twitch and YouTube and not going near reviews or streams to limit any spoilers for relevant games. However I don’t think that’s a bad thing given just how many games get spoiled this way.

Tracking the backlog after 3 months

I thought it would be worth a few thoughts on how I have found setting up a backlog tracker for my games and whether it has made any impact to my gaming after a few months.

Lots of time required

Firstly the time investment on listing every game you own, or have access to, is not to be underestimated. It probably took me 10 hours, or thereabouts, to go through and log every game on my Grouvee profile. And even that is with the automated import of my Steam library which took some of the work away.

Adding every game on my backlog tracker was made easier because fortunately many years ago I had already setup a spreadsheet with all my physical games listed. This undoubtedly made the job easier.

However it isn’t just listing the games once, but getting into the discipline of maintaining my Grouvee profile to show what I am playing, moving stuff from Playing to Shelved or Completed, adding new games and updating any notes or comments. This itself probably takes at least an hour or two a month.

So is it worth the time investment?

Obviously this depends on the person but I have found the exercise quite cathartic. It has made it obvious that I have been buying too many games and probably need to be even more choosy, or at least wait for a sale. For example Forza Horizon 4 might be a game I will really enjoy, but do I need day one? Probably not. At £80 for the most complete version it makes sense to wait for a sale.

Unfortunately it is too early to answer whether it helps more easily identify what game to play next. When I have started playing a new game, i.e. Rage, this wasn’t really due to the backlog tracker. However it certainly helps to see my entire backlog across all platforms but it is almost too long a list to know where to start first.

One thing I have noticed is that it has been fun setting up and blogging about my games. Setting up a backlog tracker has led me to set up hosting and putting together a WordPress site. This is something I likely wouldn’t have done otherwise.

And finally one other positive has been the Grouvee website, community and support. I found one bug which I raised on their forums and have continued to have been impressed with the really passionate and positive engagement of Grouvee’s members. I think they really have created the Goodreads equivalent, but for videogames. I really have enjoyed using Grouvee to the point where it was very easy to decide to become a subscriber to their site and support them. A really useful website and service.

I might return to do an update after a much longer timeframe and revisit this post to see how I feel about my experience with tracking a backlog.

September 2018 Backlog Update

Autumn has arrived. It has been fairly busy with DIY, a new PC setup, looking after the children, new NFL season (go Bears!) and work. These are all keeping me away from playing videogames. However the big news is that I jumped back into World of Warcraft after buying some game time. As I mentioned in my earlier blog post the temptation proved to be too strong.

New game pickups

  • World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth (game time)
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (PlayStation 4)
  • Forza Horizon 2: Storm Island DLC
  • Animal Crossing amiibo Festival

I purchased Tomb Raider Definitive Edition for PlayStation 4 in a recent PSN sale. I also picked up Storm Island DLC for Forza Horizon 2 following the recent news that the game is being removed from Xbox Live at the end of this month.

Animal Crossing amiibo Festival was really cheap from Argos. Although I won’t play the game, it feels like a nice addition to my small Wii U collection.

Been playing (Grouvee link)

  • Rage
  • World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth
  • Forza Horizon 4 Demo

Continuing with Rage but I have not made much progress. In World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth I’ve been enjoying levelling my main (Blood Dead Knight).

Also tried the Forza Horizon 4 Demo. The new 1080@60fps Performance mode for Xbox One X is great and the updated handling model makes the game seem closer to the Forza Motorsport series in the way the cars drive. The addition of seasons might just be a masterstroke too.

No games completed or shelved this month. Eek!

Updates

I have purchased an ASUS Strix GL703GS Scar Edition laptop. The main specifications are: Intel Core i7 8750H, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, Nvidia 1070 and 17.3″ 1080p 144hz IPS G-Sync Display.

I purchased this as an attempt to downsize my gaming PC setup. I’ve sold the old PC parts and moved some of the storage drives over to my Unraid server. Only a small downgrade on my previous PC although I’ve wanted to try out a gaming laptop setup for a while now.

Initial impressions are the build is solid, G-Sync is stunning but the laptop can be noisy. Playing any games and it sounds like the original Xbox 360 design. #hairdryer

Also I have updated the About page of the site to include a bit more detail about the current gaming hardware I own.

Up next

Largely the same as last month. A few older games I would like to progress and complete (Rage, Wolfenstein: The New Order and Mass Effect 3). With regards to WoW:BfA hoping to get my Death Knight to max level.

My most anticipated games for 2018/19

At the height of a crazy hot summer, it might not be the obvious time to think about games that aren’t out yet. Still here are my thoughts on some of the games I am most looking forward to over the next 9-months or so. Particularly after the recent annual E3 show in June.

Definite

Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox One) – a great series, particularly the last release. Now prefer these to the main Motorsport entries.

The Division 2 – the first game was a flawed diamond, but I still racked up over 200 hours playing it. Concerns are that the map is ‘only’ 20% bigger and whether Massive/Ubisoft abandon the game after the main release and DLC as they did with the first game. The first game was crying out for proper paid-for story/PVE content for years 2 and 3.

Likely

Marvel’s Spiderman (PlayStation 4) – looks really interesting but given the backlog I suspect I might be able to save some money and wait for a sale.

Red Dead Redemption 2 – love the first game. Main worry is how riddled this will be with microtransactions. However if single player is unaffected then I will pick up. Makes sense to watch the early opinions and reception roll in.

Would like but no deal

Fallout 76 – genuinely intrigued but the complete lack of detail so far and the possible huge monitisation/PVP element is a total put off.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – looks very much like the 2017 AC, which is still on the backlog so may as well leave this one.

Destiny 2: Forsaken – regret buying Destiny 2 so not going anywhere near this. Worried for the future of this franchise given the pressure the contract places Bungie under. Suspect that future sequels like Destiny 3 (2019) will stick to the ‘cut and paste’ four areas, campaign, PVP and lack of content model that the first two games have been. Arguably a GaaP with some support rather than a true GaaS/Live Service. Also as a solo-PVE’er Destiny 2 seems to be refocusing on grindy, group activities again. Which is fine, but not for me.