Okay. So, traditionally, I make one of these posts at the start of each year to talk about where I’m at with my gaming, and where I am looking forward to going as the year progresses. In truth, I’ve missed the last few years. Honestly, when it came to it, I had time to either write about gaming, or just go ahead and do some gaming. I chose the latter. In the spirit of fresh starts and moving forward with some level of “the old ways” I am proud to say the Annual State of Gaming has returned! So, without further wasted words, let’s look at where TechnicoolDad is at…
Queue the nostalgia!
I was a Pokemon master back in the day. I had an ice blue Gameboy Pocket and a copy of Pokemon (Red Version). My best friend had a copy of Blue Version, and we played that game from start to finish, capturing and collecting all 150 pokemon… and eventually 151 thanks to the glitch that we only knew about thanks to the early years of the internet and fan sites.
Flash forward to 2022.
The newest Pokemon game isn’t really a “mainline” entry. It’s considered more of a spinoff, and that shows in the gameplay. There isn’t a bunch of gyms to defeat, there are no towns to discover, but there is a lot of fun gameplay mechanics to engage in and exploration is the number one objective.
My daughter and I love playing this game. We’ve recently hit 208 on our Pokedex (there’s 242 total from what I understand). The game is forgiving enough for my child to play without feeing punished, and it’s challenging enough that often times I still here, “DAD! I found a BIG one! HELP!”
There’s a lot of chaos in the world, and gaming in the new year has become a big part of how I calm myself down. This game was an unexpected blast to play and I’m so glad that I picked it up on a whim at the local store. I thought… she might like this… and boy was I right!
Knowing that we’re nearing the end of the hunt was the only thing that might be slightly depressing for us on that front, and it looks like the Pokemon Company predicted that feeling, because just last week they announced their next mainstream titles Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet, which will be available this year.
Pokemon: Arceus won’t make it through the year… at our rate of playtime, I imagine it may not even make it another month, but no game has better served to make me excited about another game coming out than this one. Here’s to the future of this franchise!
Fun. Fast. Free.
Epic Games made a game that is easy, fun, thrilling, and rapidly changing. They made it available to as many audiences as possible, and they did it all without charging a dime for entry. As a result, Fortnite has become a staple in our family. It’s on our Xbox, our PCs, and even our Nintendo Switches. Our daughter isn’t the most proficient player, but she loves shouting orders, mining rocks, and picking up “pewers” to “pew” and defeat the bad guys.
In fact, nothing (aside from Pokemon: Arceus) seems to excite her more than sitting down on my computer, which is next to mom’s computer, and playing a few rounds of Fortnite with @technicolormommy on a Friday Night. In fact, those two actually got their first Duo Victory Royale a few weeks ago!
So, why Fortnite? Is it not just another Free 2 Play game that charges you money via cosmetics?
It is. The thing is, however, Epic has managed to make a game that is not only fun to play at the core, but also fun to pay. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out. The barrage of fun skins, IP crossovers, and continual updates/changes to the game itself always makes you want to jump in one more time to see what’s happening. It has the thrill of a continually changing game, like an MMO, without the upfront cost of a subscription… or even any purchases at all.
I expect Fortnite to be a continuing cycle in our gaming schedules throughout the year.
World of Warcraft
In 2021, I had to take a break from World of Warcraft.
Blizzard Entertainment was suddenly mired in controversy over sexual assault charges, rumors of misconduct from lead developers of the years, and… well… it just kept getting worse.
I won’t pretend that I took a morale high ground. In truth, many of the developers that survived the hellish environment stayed on the team and wanted folks to keep playing the game now that the problems were being addressed.
For me, however, the issue was a personal one. In the realm of my gaming life, WoW had always been a spearhead to what I considered to be good and fun. Blizzard, likewise, was a company I trusted. I knew when I gave my money to that gaming studio, they were using it to produce quality games. I applied for multiple jobs at Blizzard over the years. I wrote fan fiction of my WoW characters and fancied someday seeing them in the game.
I got excited at the idea of meeting the people that made the game I loved.
The news that came out last year shattered all of that. Worse, I realized that my fanboy adoration of these developers, and the resulting money I had given to Blizzard, had allowed them to get away with some of their atrocious behavior because they could turn to corrupt managers and CEOs and use all that profit as proof that they were needed.
I felt uncomfortable playing the game.
So, I left.
The fallout extended to our guild as well, and a lot of the gaming mindset that I’d gotten myself into was shattered. No more raid nights, no more Mythic+ grinds… honestly… it was a relief.
Since then, a lot has changed. Blizzard fired almost 30 people, investigations found and started working to rebuilt employee trust, and overall the vibe and reports from folks that gave personal testimony to how bad things were have reported that things have gotten better.
Microsoft even stepped in and purchased Activision Blizzard in a shocking twist of events.
A few weeks ago, I decided to dip my toes back into the MMO. I’d tried several other options during my time away and, ultimately, I realized the same truth I learned almost a decade ago when I jumped from MMO (Rift, Terra, SWTOR, Wildstar) to MMO. Nothing quite had the same vibe, polish, and overall feel that World of Warcraft could provide.
I do, however, feel more measured in my view of the company that makes the game. I’m skeptical of their dealings, I am weary of giving any money to them, and that means I’ve even taken to subscribing one month at a time, cancelling the sub each moth after I pay to make sure I never fall into a complacent trap of giving them money I don’t feel they deserve.
The old me didn’t mind. I’d stay subbed even when I didn’t play. I wanted them to be successful and keep making the game for me even if I was away. Now, I see that view as foolish. Microsoft has given them plenty of money. They don’t need mine.
I’ll pay for content. I’ll pay to play, but I understand moving forward, Blizzard isn’t my friend, or a cool place where I want to hang out. It’s just another developer. I hope they make content I enjoy, and if they do, I’ll play it. I owe them nothing beyond that.
While that’s a grim rollout, it’s important to know that I am actually really enjoying their latest patch, and I’m glad I have found myself back to Azeroth for now, but once that content runs out, I’ll move back to other options.
While Anno 1800 was originally released in 2019, Blue Byte studio has done an impressive job of updating the game with new and exciting modes and features that pulled myself and @technicolormommy back to the world of tall ships and island settlements. Our latest kick began in the wake of the Blizzard Activision controversy. When we left World of Warcraft we found we had more time for other gaming activities and while we tried out another MMO last year, that brief spark of excitement quickly faded and left us looking for something else.
The literal mounds of content waiting for us in Anno have led to a renewed interest in the game, and the addition of a new gaming companion to join us in multiplayer has made the experience even richer. I know we typically run this one into the ground and then head to something else, but it is fulfilling nonetheless. With the recent announcement of even more content, I suspect this one will cycle through our playlist a bit in the year ahead.
Guild Wars 2
My sister-in-law loves Guild Wars 2. I had never touched it before, but when the walls of WoW came down, our availability opened up.
I’ll be real with you all. It’s not my favorite. The graphics look dated, the mechanics are… janky… and the overall purpose feels less than thrilling.
That being said, it makes a great game to log into and run around doing nonsense with family. We’ve been on break since the extended family had their newest baby, but I suspect I’ll find myself back in this world before long…
Halo has been a long-standing tradition in my gaming routine. Whenever a new entry is released, I’m there. So, Halo Infinite’s release late year seemed like an upcoming adventure that would consume a lot of my game time. Especially since the latest release was going to hit us with a battle pass, cosmetics, and all sorts of fun new ways to engage in multiplayer mayhem!
Then the announcements came…
No multiplayer campaign until May. Limited playlists in Multiplayer. Grinding out events that last for a limited time rather than the persistent unlocks that you were told about during the Battle Pass explanations.
The game plays really well. It’s a lot of fun. It’s probably the most fun I’ve had playing a Halo game since Halo 3.
The problem was the Battle Pass progression was terribly slow. The unlocks for your armor are lackluster. There’s no pizzaz to dressing up another spartan that looks mostly like the other spartan. As much as 343 tried to keep their game locked within the lore of HALO, the problem is that Battle Passes genuinely only work for games like Fortnite, where unlimited ideas can be explored and introduced to keep things fresh.
As we push through 2022, Halo has landed as a Friday Game Night option with a few rounds of fun and then leave it be until next week.
When the game’s second Battle Pass season launched in May, we’ll get a better look at what 343 plans for the game long term, and with the addition of multiplayer campaign, I plan to jump back in with my friends and try to tackle some content… but time will tell if it’ll be enough to pull me back to anything more than a casual now and again kind of game.