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).

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden (Early Impressions)

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a mid-budget videogame from developer The Bearded Ladies Consulting which was released December 2018. Set in a post apocalypse world after a global outbreak of a deadly plague, Mutant Year Zero is a turn based tactical RPG, which is very reminiscent of the modern XCOM games.

These are my early thoughts based on a few hours playtime and reaching level 20 in-game. I played the game on Xbox One via Game Pass.

What it does well:

  • Love the real time movement. Game allows you to move your party around in real-time before switches to a turn-based mode for any combat encounters.
  • This balance works really well and gives the game a very accessible feel, as you have to scavenge around the world exploring for loot and resources to upgrade or buy weapons. So although loot and gear appears to be in fixed locations it provides an incentive to explore.
  • The characters are fairly unique.
  • The turn-based combat is fun.
  • The way the story is told well early on.
  • Characters provide some humorous dialog in missions.
  • Controls work brilliantly on the controller.
Screenshot of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden on Xbox One

Things I didn’t like:

  • There are 3 difficulty levels, and even playing Normal, the lowest of these and the game still feels quite difficult.
  • It essentially rewards you for stealth and picking off enemies stragglers first. Even going onto other areas on the map to level-up before coming back to tackle the earlier encounters. It feels like the game is meant to be played one way and if you deviate from stealth you are quickly overwhelmed.
  • Medbots feel cheap as they revive fallen enemies from a long way away, potentially from earlier fights and after only one turn.
  • Enemies very quickly ramp up in Health Points.
  • A very minor point but the game isn’t Xbox One X enhanced.

Overall I do like the game although in a similar vein to Ashen and We Happy Few which I also played on Xbox Game Pass this might be one I put down for now to venture on to some of my backlog games. A fun and pretty interesting game though.

February 2019 Backlog Update

Weather getting warmer again another solid month of progress on videogames I own. Should be easier now the NFL American Football season is over and Sunday nights are free again.

New game pickups

  • Divinity Original Sin: Enhanced Edition (PS4)

I already have the original Divinity Original Sin on PC, but for less than £8 I’d prefer to play this on console. Otherwise I just purchased an Xbox One Controller Wireless Controller (Blue).

Not game related but purchased the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones. I’ve always wanted to try some Beyerdynamic headphones and whilst yet another pair of open, wide soundstage headphones I think these might be brighter and more lively than my existing AKG K702 and Sennheiser HD598 headphones. More thoughts here.

Been playing (Grouvee)

  • Abzu (Xbox One)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4)
  • Anthem (Demo) (PS4)
  • The Division 2 Private Beta (Xbox One)
  • Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden (Xbox One)
  • World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth
  • Rocket League (PS4)
  • Hammerwatch (PC)

I made some more progress with the Wolfenstein: The New Order – maybe about two thirds through the game. I tried Anthem (Demo) and The Division 2 Private Beta earlier in the month and wasn’t particularly taken with either, although for different reasons in each case.

Some games started on Xbox Game Pass; Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden and Abzu. Other than that it’s been playing games I’d already started, such as World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth, Rocket League and Hammerwatch.

Completed, Abandoned & Shelved

Completed FTL, Unreal Tournament and Hammerwatch. Although in reality you never complete a game like FTL the fact is I’ve done a few runs through the game now and feel like I’ve seen enough of it. Unreal Tournament was something I played with for a few hours and was great fun but unless it somehow miraculously rises from the ashes I can’t see me playing this again in the near future. After completing one playthrough I published my thoughts on Hammerwatch recently.

So completed 3 games this month.

Updates

A number of articles and posts written and published on the site, including a few long term hardware reviews.

Up next

To try and get further or complete Wolfenstein. There are the few Xbox Game Pass games I’ve recently started that I need to play further. I also want to check out Crackdown 3 as I loved the original game.

And finally I have a couple of new accessories arriving soon which I will likely draft my thoughts on over the next few weeks.

Don’t Pass on Game Pass

A while ago I wrote a piece stating that I was thinking about not renewing Xbox Game Pass. Apart from being annoyed at not having received a free month as part of an offer (something that Microsoft’s Customer Services never resolved), I was also not fully convinced of the benefits of the £7.99 a month service given I had played only a few games in my time with the service.

Since I got my second Xbox One earlier this year I had managed to use the free months included with the console along with offers and renewal offers to stack six months of Game Pass for less than £15. It had made the decision a no-brainer to try out the service and I enjoyed playing and complete a few games. However I was never 100% convinced the service was for me.

That said I often change my thoughts on things and this Christmas I think Microsoft have hit it out of the park with their subscription service. Ashen, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden and Below are brand new releases that have debuted on Game Pass at the same time as being release on Xbox One and other formats. Indeed Ashen is exclusive to the new Epic PC Store. This is on top of other games like Life is Strange 1 & 2 and Ori and the Blind Forest all recently being added to the service. Whilst Game Pass has had day one first party titles on there, seeing independent games like Ashen and Mutant Year Zero launching day one is a very encouraging precedent.

Either way as noted in my December update the above along with some cheap prices on 12 and 6-month subscriptions was enough to convince me to stock up on my Game Pass subscription. As mentioned before there are still issues with the service, such as games leaving too soon (i.e. Fallout 4) and the lack of DLC. And whilst Game Pass is still likely to be the bane of my backlog having the opportunity to play a game like Ashen far earlier than I might have otherwise is enough to convince me that Game Pass might just become as mandatory as other services like Netflix or Spotify in the future.

Indeed Game Pass reminds me of the good vibe PlayStation Plus first launched to on the PlayStation 3 with it’s ‘Instant Game Collection’ in 2010. PlayStation Plus arguably changed the game when it came to adding value to mandatory online subscriptions which meant Microsoft had to adapt and offer free games as well. And whilst I don’t necessarily want individual publisher subscriptions (i.e. EA Access) Game Pass is a massive advantage for Microsoft right now.