May 2019 Backlog Update

Warmer weather approaching as another month passes by. I’ve made a lot of progress at the start of the month clearing games but that has slowed down over the last few weeks. However a real sense of clearing some long standing games from my current playing list. Also a few high profile games added to my collection.

New game pickups

  • Divinity Original Sin 2 (Xbox One)
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

I made a couple of pickups in the last of the Easter Sales. Namely Divinity Original Sin 2 but this time on Xbox One. In addition I added one of 2018 PlayStation exclusives to my collection, Marvel’s Spider-Man. And I decided to take a punt on Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection as it was only £12.99 for the original trilogy. I played the first Uncharted years ago on PlayStation 3 but never got around to the second or third games. These seems a good price to have a go at the PS4 remasters. I might add Uncharted 4 or Uncharted: The Lost Legacy if I enjoy these enough.

At the time of writing there is a Xbox Live Backwards Compatibility sale with a few Xbox 360 games that I would like to pick up and therefore will probably be on next months new pickups.

Been playing (Grouvee)

  • The Elder Scrolls Online (PC)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4)
  • Ashen (Xbox One)
  • We Happy Few (Xbox One)
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (PS4)
  • Far Cry 5 (Xbox)

It has been a busy month. I finally beat Wolfenstein: The New Order and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (I really enjoyed this). In addition I played a couple of Xbox Game Pass games; Ashen and We Happy Few. This was the first time I played the latter. Also made played quite a bit of Far Cry 5. The 5th year anniversary event was something that I spent time in The Elder Scrolls Online during the early part of the month.

Completed/Abandoned/Shelved

  • Completed: Wolfenstein: The New Order and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.
  • Abandoned: Ashen and We Happy Few.
  • Shelved: Far Cry 5 and Borderlands: The Handsome Collection

I written about We Happy Few already, however not Ashen. It can probably can be described as a ‘Souls-lite‘. You can have an AI companion but this was broken for me as summoning didn’t seem to work even with multiplayer switched off. I’m not a huge Dark Souls fan, but with this fairly unique feature not working and other games to play I decided to move on.

Borderlands 2 is a game I’ve played a load on PC so really the The Handsome Collection was a cheap chance to try The Pre-Sequel! for the first time. I may return to this later but don’t feel too much pressure to play. I will review Far Cry 5 although I’ve just got to a point where I am really bored with the game so going to park for now.

So 2 games completed, 2 abandoned and 2 shelved. I did also move a few games around on Grouvee (such as Rocket League etc.). But overall some nice progress made with the backlog.

Website updates

I removed the Main page which didn’t really serve a purpose but added to the About page. I plan to add a new page to the website shortly.

Up next

I currently only have 2 games on my playing list and therefore there’s a real opportunity to start playing some new games. That said I suspect I might go back to Mass Effect 3 which has long been on my backlog and needs to be cleared.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition Review

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition reminded me of playing Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Given there are similarities between the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot and Sony’s Uncharted series, this clearly isn’t an absurd comparison. However there are definitely a few things this Tomb Raider did much better than that original Uncharted. For example not filling your screen with inordinate amounts of enemies shooting at you. Indeed although the combat probably isn’t as strong overall, I much preferred this slightly more realistic approach.

I have a sporadic history with Tomb Raider. I played the first one in 1996 and marvelled at it, much like everyone else at the time. And after playing the sequel I then didn’t pay attention to the series until Tomb Raider: Legend on Xbox 360. I also played a bit of Anniversary at a friend’s. So whilst not the biggest fan of the series I do appreciate the impact the games have had.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition screenshot of Lara in action.

There is a lot to like about Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. Which came out nearly a year after the original release, in early 2014, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition updated the 2013 release for the new (at the time) Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles. It has some open-world components and there is some freedom to explore or revisit certain areas on the map. However this is largely a game pushing you on to the next part of the game.

On PlayStation 4 the game runs at 1080p and 60fps, although it does struggle to stay near the 60fps target with frame drops frequently occurring. And this can vary by level. Some of the more wider, open vistas can particularly cause the framerate to stutter. However I didn’t personally find this to be that irritating but this is subjective. It’s worth mentioning I don’t tend to run my PlayStation 4 Pro with boost mode enabled but my understanding is that that it can get the game much closer to the 60fps target.

The game got stuck on a loading screen once, although closing the game and reloaded resolved this. The graphics are muted and they definitely appear to be dated in places looking very much like a game that was designed with previous generation consoles in mind. Although with some great close ups and cinematography the game still has plenty of wow moments. The rendition of Lara Croft here is extremely impressive (particularly the facial features and hair).

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition screenshot of a cutscene moment from the game.

Overall I liked the story, although I thought the first third of the game was when things were at their best. As the story progresses enemies encounters ramp up, in difficulty and number. And the story advances into fantasy elements. It’s fine but earlier on there is more of a survival aspect. A sense of Lara working through every hurdle. Enemy encounters are more sporadic and shorter. The story takes a slow burn approach to build-up Lara which works very well. The realism is conveyed brilliantly, particularly when Lara gets injured. The weapons and combat are OK, but without crouch and cover button (you go into cover automatically where near some objects) it can get a bit frustrating and simplistic at times.

One thing the game does is encourage you to explore and rewards you for this. You need salvage for improving weapons and other items for XP to unlock skill points. And if you explore then you find more that will unlock things faster. It isn’t particularly in-depth but they have added puzzle elements to some of the things you can find. I think Crystal Dynamics nailed this balance of exploration and rewarding you for it. And indeed the pacing of unlocks was such that it was fun unlocking more moves or tools.

In terms of annoyances the game does rely on Quick Time Events (QTE) far too much for my liking. You often die if you relax as these play and it then becomes a Dragon’s Lair style game of trail and error to pass these segments. I wasn’t a fan of these which I found broke up the flow of the game if you didn’t pass first time. Although the frequent changing of the camera to scripted locked angles makes the game feel very cinematic. Which I’m sure was intended and again really helped to improve the presentation.

Although I knew the Tomb Raider reboot had been very well received back on release in 2013, I wasn’t necessarily sure I would like it. However I am glad to say I thought this reboot was brilliantly done and pretty much a perfect duration. It fits in well with a more modern and relevant Lara Croft. And I am looking forward to soon trying the probably equally as well received Rise of the Tomb Raider. Looking back on this game and it’s probably not an overstatement to regard it as one of the best Tomb Raider games I have ever played. Indeed it’s one of the best games I’ve probably played recently.

Played on PlayStation 4 Pro.

April 2019 Backlog Update

The month of Easter and a few new additions to the backlog this month, from discount and sales on PSN and Xbox Live.

New game pickups

  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag & Season Pass (PS4)
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection (PS4)
  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (Xbox One)

I picked up Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag again. A game I’ve picked up before; free on PC and Games with Gold. And back in 2013 I actually purchased a version of this with my launch PS4 but never played it and sold it on. Given it’s one of the most highly regarded Assassin’s Creed I think it’s time to right that wrong. Also in a flash weekend sale, so just over £12 for the whole package (Season Pass unlock everything apart from ‘time saver’ packs).

I also picked up Borderlands: The Handsome Collection for PS4 for £8.99 (reviewed here), and in the Xbox Live Easter sale and grabbed Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Although I’ve barely played Origins this discount was too much to pass up the opportunity to play the latest release in the long running series.

As already mentioned on this site I also purchased (and written my thoughts) on the Cooler Master MH751 Headset.

Been playing (Grouvee)

  • The Elder Scrolls Online (PC)
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (PS4)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4)
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection (PS4)
  • Crackdown 3 (Campaign) (Xbox One)
  • Abzû (Xbox One)
  • Gran Turismo Sport (PS4)

Started this month where March left off. The Elder Scrolls Online has been running regular (Jester’s Festival, 5th year anniversary) events for tickets and double XP which has meant logging on for daily quest and playing the game. However I have now reached Champion Points 211 and completed the main original storyline.

Amongst the other games I have been playing are Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel. The games are still as fun as ever and I’ve easily had £9 of entertainment from the The Handsome Collection.

Completed, Abandoned & Shelved

Crackdown 3 (Campaign) I abandoned, and Abzû I completed. So that’s 2 games played and finished with this month. Unfortunately neither were on the backlog as both were via Xbox Game Pass.

Up next

If I can clear Wolfenstein: The New Order (getting closer to the ending but it seems to be the umpteen month I’ve been planning to play this one!) then there are a number of games on my radar that I’d like to put some serious time into.

March 2019 Update

Incredible that the year is nearly three months old already. I have been playing with two new toys and have some more incoming. The return of a very old classic joystick design and putting a budget gaming headset through its paces. Game wise not really much in the way of buying anything new. Anthem and The Division 2 beta/demos basically put me off both games but for different reasons. Which is good in a way as it has allowed me to keep playing some existing games.

New game pickups

  • The Elder Scrolls Online 90 day subscription
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr Digital Collector’s Edition Upgrade

As already mentioned on this site I also purchased (and written my thoughts) on the:

For the second month running I’ve spend more on accessories than actual games. Although getting into The Elder Scrolls Online again has meant I’ve pre-ordered the new Elsweyr chapter for the game. I very rarely pre-order these days but this is relatively safe purchase given the state of the game.

Been playing (Grouvee)

  • Far Cry 5 (Xbox One)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4)
  • The Elder Scrolls Online (PC)
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (PS4)
  • Crackdown 3 (Xbox One)

Used Far Cry 5 as a test for my new headphones but ended up playing the game again (a flawed game, but probably my favourite Far Cry to date). I’ve also continued with my Wolfenstein: The New Order playthrough and started playing the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider following playing the game on Xbox 360 at a family catch-up. And trying out Crackdown 3.

However most of my time has been spent in Tamriel via The Elder Scrolls Online and getting my main character to CP160+ (i.e. endgame).

Completed, Abandoned & Shelved

2 games Shelved; Overwatch and Rocket League as I’m not really playing either but will likely return to at some point.

So at the quarter stage, that’s the following video games:

  • 6 Completed
  • 2 Shelved
  • 17 Games Played, of which 9 are NEW games

Up next

Continue to try and complete Wolfenstein: The New Order, a game that has been on my playing list for far too long. And it would be nice to experience Abzu again. Beyond that I’ll probably fall into a pattern of playing some more The Elder Scroll Online.

September 2018 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.