Annual State of Gaming Address: 2016

Today we’re talking about video games.

A lot has happened since 2015. It’s been a year full of interesting new games, many of which have passed into obscurity while others went on to claim new achievements.

Battlefront

The big winner for the past six months? Star Wars Battlefront.

Namely, Heroes Vs. Villains.

Battlefront quickly proved to be one of the easiest and more casual games in our arsenal. Loaded with the limited gameplay aspects, we’ve easily killed dozens of hours (and hundreds of storm troopers) during our weekly game nights.

The downside? Not a lot of new content. We’ve been playing weekly for nearly four months now and each week we’re still running with the same guns, same heroes, same levels, etc.

The Jakku content was a nice addition to the game, a few extra maps for free to players, but it came so fast after the game’s release that it felt pretty much like part of the game’s launch effort. Nothing big has happened on the Battlefront since then, which left us with less enthusiasm to play each week.

On top of that, the promise of fresh maps, new heroes, and game types also carries with it the burden of requiring more money to participate, something that we’re not so eager to jump at without knowing the impact of our dollar.

Of course, on the heels of the new year, Battlefront developers made some big announcements, mainly that they reworked the weapon damage mechanics, something my friends will be pleased to hear, and that they have several free updates coming to players over the next several months.

Regardless, after months of weekly gaming, Battlefront feels like it’s on its way to the back burner for now, but that doesn’t mean it’s down and out for good.

 

Halo 5: Guardians

Halo 5 feels like a game we’re going to be cycling back to now that Battlefront ages. First released just a few weeks before Battlefront, Halo had all of my attention for over a month. The arena multiplayer was a lot of fun and now the 343 Industries has announced new maps and game types that will be coming to the game “free” to players.

Nothing is ever free of course, but the real cost is hidden through the ability to purchase req packs.

As we look for a title to fill the slot on our game night, Halo seems to be vying for our attention once more. I love the multiplayer diversity with different game types each weekend to help mix things up, and their concept for steady content to fans appears to be working on at least some level. The real question is whether there is room for casual gamers like me in this new Halo multiplayer universe. I like shooting up bad guys as much as the next person, but I am fearful of my poor skills bringing down the ranks of other players.

 

Ark: Survival Evolved

Another game holding out attention this year is Ark, a survival game about living on an island with giant dinosaurs, many of which would like to eat your face.

The pacing of Ark means it’s not a game night kind of game. It’s a slow-burn, like Minecraft, and requires your full attention over some of the other more casual options out there.

We’ll burn out on this one within a month or two, but being able to host our own server means we’ve been able to enjoy some dino danger without fear of being attacked by the most dangerous game… other humans.

 

World of Warcraft/MMOs

I don’t know where I stand with WoW. We’re still subscribed to the MMO and I imagine that our attention will take us back there, especially with a Warcraft movie and new expansion coming this year.

My biggest concern in the MMO department is what the addition of a newborn will do to the time scale. WoW has been a big part of my life for over a decade now, and Amanda is already over two years with her own character, so saying goodbye doesn’t seem like the easiest option. Perhaps WoW will be relegated to the “baby is asleep, we have an hour together, let’s play” category in our future, or perhaps the time to put Sionis and Iliera to rest will come this year. I’m not ready to make that call.

 

Skylanders/Toys to Life

Skylanders has been a big part of my wife and I’s gaming schedule. Skylanders: Superchargers was a great game, and we loved playing through the campaign. The cutscenes were cute, the combat was fluid, and the gameplay was very entertaining.

Unfortunately, a lack of things to do once the story mode was complete left us feeling a little let down. Even the hunt for new figures dried up with the limited selection available for this new entry.

That led us down the road of checking out the Star Wars Infinity play sets, which opened up a lot of great gameplay, but with the split screen functionality I think we’ve found our experience to be somewhat separated. We still haven’t finished the “Prequel Trilogy” levels.

Regardless, Skylanders and other Toys to Life games have been an “investment” for us. With the future of parenthood, a bucket full of toy figures and several games aimed at younger audiences are something we can use to spend time with any children that come our way.

 

Looking Forward 2016

As you can see, the state of gaming is very important to me. Of course, to play a lot of games, you have to have a lot of free time, and with a baby on the way I imagine that next year the state of gaming will be very different.

For now, though, raise your controllers and keyboards and give a cheer for digital entertainment!

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